The large number of Minnesota women on our fantastic gold-medal-winning Olympic hockey team has been facilitated by two Minnesota laws. The first, passed in 1975, strengthened Title IX (the federal law requiring female equity) by encouraging coed teams and allowing girls to play on boys' teams when their skills were appropriate, even for contact sports. The second was passed in 1994 to address gender equity for access in indoor ice arenas. This law requires that ice arenas open to the public must provide equitable prime ice time to women and girls.
I don't think any other state has similar laws, and this helps explain the prominence of Minnesota women on the national (and international) hockey scene. I have noticed that most of the college teams playing the University of Minnesota have more Minnesota women than women from their own states.
Phyllis Kahn, Minneapolis
The writer is a former member of the Minnesota House and was the sponsor of both laws.
GUNS AND PUBLIC SAFETY
A tale of two police officers, acting (or not) in the face of fear
There's an interesting contrast between two police officers who reacted differently to one of humankind's most primal instincts: fear.
In Florida, a deputy sheriff failed to enter a school building to confront an active shooter ("Armed deputy did 'nothing' as shooting went on, sheriff says," Feb. 23). I can understand his fear. Not everyone is cut out to charge into the face of violence. I'm sure he was well-trained and psychologically vetted, but you just can't predict a person's actions until they are confronted with a particular situation. Especially a violent one.
In Minneapolis, a police officer took the life of an unarmed woman who approached his car in her pajamas after reporting a possible sexual assault in the alley behind her house ("Grand jury testimony begins in Noor case," Feb. 6). Mind you, this happened in what is probably the safest neighborhood in Minneapolis. No doubt he also reacted due to fear. I'm sure he was also well-trained and psychologically vetted.
So where is the contrast? Nationwide, the Florida deputy is being vilified by pretty much every news outlet and pundit that you can find. He resigned and will never work as a police officer again. In Minneapolis, the investigation continues, but given the long history of officers being excused for taking a life simply because they were afraid, there probably isn't much hope of the victim's family seeing justice served.
Two tragedies, two officers acting out of fear. Two different outcomes? We'll see.
S.J. Hanson, Minneapolis
• • •
President Donald Trump has intensified his calls for arming highly trained teachers. Who will pay when the teacher, coach, janitor, nurse or anyone employed by the school shoots someone other than the "bad guy with a gun"? Should that person live the rest of their life with that honest mistake?
Bruce Kaufman, New Hope
• • •
While the thought of arming police, teachers (voluntary, well-trained, permit-holding only) or security guards seems like a bad choice for our schools, what do we tell our children after the next shooting where that school had the option to arm certain people but opted out? Whether a parent, teacher or administrator is anti-gun, anti-police or just believes that the solution for dealing with an active shooter is not a gun, they must ask themselves: Who can get to an active shooter sooner? An armed person within the school, or the police who have to be called, get there and then figure out where the shooter is and how to safely enter the building to reach that person? The latter of those choices takes away precious time that the kids don't have when these incidents, such as the last one, last minutes not hours.
I am not a gun owner and never will be, but the reality of today, at least until things get "fixed," is that perhaps the only way to lessen the number of deaths from an active shooter is to have armed people on the spot. This along with metal detectors and better access to mental-health facilities may just be what ultimately needs to be done, and the federal government, along with the states, needs to provide the funds necessary to once and for all secure our schools and protect our children. It may sound like a building becoming a fortress, but would kids really object to a greater feeling of security? I don't think so.
Mary McIntosh Linnihan, Minneapolis
• • •
The students at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School give me renewed hope for the future of this country. Their thoughtful, articulate and passionate activism about gun violence follows in the footsteps of the woman who bears the school's name.
She was born in Minneapolis in the 1890s but left when her father bought the Miami Herald, thus beginning her wide ranging lifetime of activism, living 108 years. She was involved in everything from war refugees in World War I, women's suffragettes, civil rights, urban planning, sanitation issues, etc. The last half of her life she fought real-estate developers, the Army Corps of Engineers, politicians and presidents to try to save the Everglades. She wrote "The Everglades: River of Grass," which helped change the perception of that region as a worthless swamp to a treasured and essential part of the ecosystem.
I can't help feeling her smiling down on the students and giving them her blessing. A key quote of hers: "Be a nuisance where it counts, do your part to inform and stimulate the public to join your action. Be depressed, discouraged, and disappointed at failure and the disheartening effects of ignorance, greed, corruption and bad politics — but never give up."
Kay Martin, Shorewood
Talk of valuing older workers may not reflect the experience
I'm skeptical of the findings and optimistic sentiment portrayed in a Feb. 18 article suggesting that older-age workers are suddenly feeling the love from employers when companies try and fill the void of qualified workers as baby boomers transition out of the workforce ("Employers say stay … just a bit longer"). I think most folks would agree that it's a reasonable expectation for employers to respect every older age, contributing worker. This includes permitting employees to exit under their own terms. The far greater challenge, however, is getting employers to actively embrace the over-55 crowd in the hiring process, especially when it comes to salaried-level workers. I fear there's a disconnect between the glowing accolades that HR professionals routinely shower on older workers, juxtaposed with their hiring statistics.
I challenge our largest state public entities, along with Minnesota's Fortune 500 employers, to pull back the curtain and show us actual new hire data as it relates to the hiring of older workers. I fear the results would be sobering.
Larry Robertson, Bloomington
AFTER A SNOWSTORM
One way you can make a difference: Clear those sidewalks
Many of us feel powerless in the face of mass shootings, child abuse, the conflict in Syria and other violent situations. However, there is something we can do to actively improve public safety. All residential and commercial property owners in Minneapolis are expected to responsibly comply with the city's "Snow Removal Rules":
"[T]he Minneapolis ordinance requires that property owners clear sidewalks after the end of a snowfall within 24 hours for single family homes and duplexes and within 4 daytime hours for apartments, commercial buildings and all other properties." (From Minneapolismn.gov.)
Timely and thorough snow and ice removal can prevent falls that may result in fractures, hip injuries and even head injuries. My wife needed four to six months of physical therapy last year because of a serious fall on ice. A daily walk in my neighborhood is part of my regular exercise routine. Unfortunately, most property owners are very slow or completely negligent in clearing sidewalks.
Thankfully, as a retired 67-year-old, I am still able to shovel snow. I prefer that to a fossil-fueled snowblower. Yes, public safety is enhanced by clear sidewalks and minimal use of gas-powered engines. Please join me and other responsible neighbors by grabbing a shovel (or a snowblower if you must) in a timely fashion after a snowfall. I certainly don't want Minnesota Nice to become Minnesota Nasty-ice.