The debate between the two political parties in the Minnesota Legislature over public safety reminds me of this quote from the late Desmond Tutu: “There comes a time when we have to stop just pulling people out of the river. We need to go upstream and figure out why they’re falling in.” The Republican-led State Senate is proposing tougher consequences for crimes and more policing — a downstream approach (“The ‘Tough Proposal’ on crime’ advances, front page, April 26. The Democratic-led House and Gov. Tim Walz are offering services and supports for youth and families — an upstream approach.
The challenge facing our legislature as a whole is to find the best evidence-based policies to make Minnesota safer for all. My hope is that a real conversation takes place behind the scenes and beyond the “soft on crime” and “tough on crime” labels.
Helen Henly, Minneapolis
Another reader (“A Fine Example of a Bad Approach”, April 11) commented that Rochester was using public funds to fix sidewalks, calling it a “local problem, locally caused…why the hell should Minnesota taxpayers- they’re shelling out nearly $3 million to fix?” This is a fine example of the needless greed of taxpayers’ money.
The project involves replacing a sidewalk in downtown Rochester, with most of the money coming from the state’s Destination Medical Center (DMC) fund. The sidewalk was built in the 1980s; a quick Google search tells us that the lifespan of a sidewalk is usually 25 years. Other research tells us that the DMC fund was hotly debated before it was passed in 2013, and the fund will enhance Rochester as a destination for health and medical research. Former Governor Mark Dayton said it well: “If this expansion and this leap forward weren’t happening in Rochester, it would be happening somewhere else in the country. … We’re so grateful it’s here in Minnesota. “
This is how public spending should work. The state has debated and set aside funds for local infrastructure improvements at the home of our largest employer. In addition to making Rochester more pleasant, tax revenue from Mayo and other city employers will be reinvested for the rest of the state. Seeing this as a waste of public funds is short sighted. I’d rather see state legislators invest our tax dollars in projects like this that improve the state and prevent local tax hikes than use “tax cut” language. to turn a temporary surplus into a permanent deficit.
Evan Perera, savage
I disagree with Bloomberg’s op-ed piece in Wednesday’s newspaper, “Democrats at Risk of Losing Gerrymander’s Bet” (Opinion Exchange). Gerrymandering results could hurt Democrats in the near future, the article says, but competitive precincts mean candidates need to reach a wider range of voters. Right now, we have congressional candidates who espouse far-right or far-left views easily winning elections in partisan-configured districts. A competitive constituency requires candidates to address voters on either side and take a more moderate stance on issues, which would allow for compromise on the important issues facing our country. In my view, we need to remove the far-right and far-left crazed candidates from power in order to solve our country’s problems with common-sense, bipartisan solutions. Primary candidates would soon learn that taking an extreme partisan stance would not win in the general election.
I think if Democrats and Republicans created competitive congressional districts, voters and our country would win.
Douglas K. Jones, Columbia Heights
UnitedHealth Group is the reason America has the worst health care system ever imagined (“UnitedHealth leader steps down from board,” April 23). Its apparent profit-first, last, and always policy has resulted in unaffordable insurance that covers nothing. Most Americans today are only a minor illness away from complete financial destruction. Instead of praising the guy who created a health insurance monstrosity that indiscriminately allows people to suffer and die unnecessarily, perhaps the focus should be on how Americans are supposed to survive an insurance company. profiteering insurance that will destroy them financially at the first opportunity.
Donald Voge, Robbinsdale
Unfortunately, you don’t need to look any further than Bright Health’s executive compensation article (“Bright Health CEO’s Salary Skyrockets”, April 22) to get some insight into the stupidity of our national health system. First, keep in mind that Bright Health is just a very small player in this obese system. Like countless other “innovators” – as well as giant insurers – they came to “transform healthcare” in our “complex and expensive” environment. (They are apparently immune to the irony that they are all responsible for complexity and cost.) Anyway, what do we get? Another complex and costly small business with overpaid executives and broken promises sticking their snouts into the huge monetary dip that accounts for 20% of the country’s GDP.
We have great health care in this country, but we have a terrible health care system — and it’s going to kill us. Luckily for the system, we Americans are bullies for punishment.
D. Roger Pederson, Minneapolis
With all due respect to the author of “Schools are the wrong messengers” (Readers Write, April 22), schools are precisely the right messengers for sex education. What happened to her in the bathroom as a child is horrible. There is nothing anyone can say or do that can change what happened to him or make it better. But we can prevent this from happening to other children. One of the ways to achieve this is to provide early and comprehensive sex education in schools. Several studies have shown that good sex education decreases susceptibility to abuse. Teaching children the difference between a good touch and a bad touch helps children identify when they are being abused and should tell an adult.
Parents can draw on their own experience of sex education when having conversations with their children about their bodies, gender and consent. This means that the information they pass on to their children is most likely outdated and may not include vital information for children. We now know that “stranger danger” does not adequately reflect the source of most child sexual assaults, as 93% of perpetrators were known to their victims. According to the National Rape, Abuse & Incest Network, 1 in 9 girls and 1 in 53 boys under the age of 18 have been sexually abused or assaulted by an adult.
Sex education for young children is not about sex. It’s a matter of security. Children need to know the proper names of their body parts. They need to know about personal boundaries and consent. They need to be told how to identify a dangerous situation before they get there. The writer described herself as innocent when she found herself alone in the bathroom with someone who shouldn’t be there. Giving children knowledge does not take away their innocence. It gives them the tools to protect themselves.
I’m not sure I can stay civil while expressing my thoughts on her views on transgender issues, so I’ll just say I hope she educates herself and sets aside her unfair biases.
Sina Grantier, Saint-Paul