One marvels at the redistricting shell game playing out in the Minnesota Legislature and the amazing disappearing incumbent principle. Where, oh where, has it gone?
Last year, Rep. Sarah Anderson introduced a bill to enshrine districting principles into Minnesota statute. In the first version, she included 11 districting principles, which lacked any prohibition of districting to favor or disfavor an incumbent. Further, the Legislature could use any additional data it deemed necessary — like, say, incumbents’ addresses and detailed voting data, opening wide the door for political gerrymandering.
However, in the second version, possibly bowing to pressure, Anderson added a 12th principle, that “districts must not be drawn for the purpose of protecting or defeating an incumbent.”
Lacking bipartisan support, the districting principles were ultimately removed. But recently, without committee debate, they’ve been inserted deep into the must-pass omnibus supplemental budget bill (HF 4099). And, lo and behold, presto chango, we’re back to just 11 principles — no pesky incumbent principle and again allowing use of any additional data, like, say, incumbents’ addresses and detailed voting data.
We’re watching. We recognize blatantly self-serving behavior when we see it. Minnesotans deserve a clean bill. We deserve fair and nonpartisan redistricting and clean elections that are fought fairly, not with behind-the-scenes machinations to stack the deck and undermine our democracy.
Deborah Zvosec, Minneapolis
When you pick a side, you also need to pick a time frame
The writer of the May 15 letter “New Middle East violence: Embassy move is not the trigger” has a good grip on recent history, but you cannot talk about peace in Israel/Palestine without taking everything that has happened since the late 1940s into account. We can argue that the world took the horrific wrong that was the Holocaust and tried to make it a right by turning their collective heads as the Jewish people took back most of Palestine. That would undoubtedly be followed by debates over who owned the land at what time going all the way back to the times that precede the Bible. Many people are so passionate about the subject that they would argue until they’re blue in the face before it finally comes to blows.
My thoughts on the situation in Israel can be summed up in a cheesy analogy involving the 1984 movie “Red Dawn.” Can you imagine a situation where another country invades the U.S. and takes two-thirds of our land? We would fight back with every means at our disposal, and it would often look similar to the resistance we see from the Palestinians. We would accept no less than the complete return of our land, and we would have almost 250 years of history on our side — that is, until the American indigenous peoples staked their claim.
Dale Jernberg, Minneapolis
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The May 15 editorial (“Far from a ‘great day’ in tense Middle East”) forgot to mention the most important thing. What would the Palestinian crowd do if they breached the fence and got into Israel? There are 4,000 Israelis living within 2 miles of the fence. Do you think these attackers would just have a sit-in? If Hamas is willing to induce its populace to die at the border, what do you think they would do to the Israelis? Israelis don’t want to commit suicide. If they did, they would probably finally get a positive editorial from the Star Tribune.
Leland Frankman, Hopkins
What letter calls bias is actually statistics. But I get the frustration.
If it’s any consolation to the May 15 letter writer who questioned the validity of polls about gun laws published in the Star Tribune (“The paper keeps citing that ‘9 of 10’ poll. I don’t believe it.”), I’m guessing many of us have been in his shoes in the past over other polling results. Not the part where he questions the integrity of the paper or the pollsters, but his immediate gut reaction to the results of the poll. The disbelief. The incredulous, “What?!? Who are these pollsters talking to? Certainly not me, or anyone I know.”
I’ve been there (on a different issue). I’ve complained at my kitchen table into the thin air, “Why don’t these pollsters ever call me?” But I’ve had a couple semesters of statistics, and I happen to live with a statistician (hubby), so words like “sample size,” “sample selection” and “margin of sampling error” trip off the tongue fairly regularly around here.
Bottom line: We don’t know everybody. And even of those we do know, we can’t really be sure how they would respond to any given question in a poll. Plus, people’s minds can change over time, which is what we’re seeing with the gun law polling results. As deaths to gun violence continue, increasing numbers of people are favoring gun legislation to help prevent more carnage.
Lisa Wersal, Vadnais Heights
Open mouth, insert foot
The May 15 issue of the Star Tribune provided two fine examples of politicians opening their mouths and letting words dribble out, apparently without thinking.
On the front page (just above an article on drugs laced with fentanyl) we get state Rep. Pat Garofalo saying that legalizing sports betting “is like Sunday liquor sales on cocaine. That’s how excited people are going to be.” (“Decision ups ante on sports gambling.”) So I assume he thinks we need cocaine to get excited. Perhaps he doesn’t know that the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, in its National Drug Threat Assessment, says people typically add fentanyl to cocaine for the purpose of “speedballing,” which combines the rush of cocaine with a drug that depresses the nervous system, such as heroin.
Then, on the front of the Minnesota section, we get Minneapolis Council Member Lisa Goodman talking about the Peavey Plaza makeover and saying “Like all 45-year-old women, sometimes you just need a face-lift.” (“Peavey Plaza, built in 1974, to get $10 million makeover.”) Guess the #MeToo thing and concepts of treating women with fairness and respect escaped her notice. Perhaps she’d like to post some before and after pictures of the face-lift she must have had at that age.
At least the over-under on this is that I’m only directly represented by one of them. I’m off to the pay window …
Marc N. Burton, Minneapolis
TWINS ON WCCO
Tune in, drop out
Nostalgia moves me as much as the next guy, but the primary goal of radio is to convey sound (“WCCO and the Minnesota Twins: Things are back where they belong,” Readers Write, May 13). AM occasionally works on my car radio and the one plugged in, but FM was 100 percent audible. Furthermore, instead of just punching in the button to listen to Twins games, I have to now go through the rigmarole of leaving my usual FM setting and locating AM. This inconvenience wouldn’t annoy me so much if, afterward, I could hear the game!
Mike Clifford, St. Paul