Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey's nominee for community safety commissioner, Hennepin County Chief Judge Todd Barnette, indicated that his top priority was to "restore trust" but didn't offer any specifics ("Frey names top public safety pick," Sept. 12). And when asked about the Minneapolis Police Department's historically low staffing level that makes both crime prevention and police reform very challenging, Barnette simply pointed to Chief Brian O'Hara, suggesting he did not consider that crucial issue to be his responsibility. Barnette also said that "for so long we've just talked and talked and talked around issues." I agree, so maybe it's time to spend less city financial resources on "talkers" like him, and more on the people who actually help keep the public safe. Before confirming Barnette, the City Council should carefully consider whether the funds needed to pay him and his projected staff of eight might be better spent on financial incentives to help fill badly needed open positions for police and 911 call center operators.
Jerry Anderson, Minneapolis
Barnette would bring three important qualifications to the position of community safety commissioner: defense attorney, judge and Black man. It is noteworthy that the people who commented online on the news report of his selection — almost to a one — expressed concern about two of those (defense attorney and Black man).
Minnesotans need to consider, especially post-Derek Chauvin and the many others, that community safety is about justice. "Tough on crime" too often has meant trampling on rights. The goal of community safety should include preserving people's rights under the Constitution — exactly what a public defender does! Finally, that anyone thinks Barnette is disqualified because he's a Black man speaks loudly to precisely why being a Black man is an important qualification.
Barry S. Edwards, Minneapolis
The writer is a criminal justice attorney and former public defender.
My thanks to the Star Tribune for the wonderful pieces about former Gov. Al Quie in his final days over the last month. I'm thinking especially about the editorial "Mourning Al Quie — and his era" (Aug. 22), Jennifer Brooks' column "Al Quie, the Hernandez family and the lasting legacy of kindness" (Sept. 7), and the article about his funeral, "A life of faith, public service and 'deep humanity'" (Sept. 9).
As a member of the governor's staff in the early 1980s, and then 15 years ago, his biographer, I'm grateful they all captured him so beautifully.
The word "unique" is overused, but Al Quie really and truly was. The best person I've ever known.
Mitch Pearlstein, Eden Prairie
I was there Saturday when they celebrated the life of former Gov. Al Quie.
Yes, and I was there in 1978 when most thought Nancy Brataas would be the lieutenant governor candidate. After all, she was a state senator and longtime Republican activist and leader. I mainly was unknown. My candidacy was advanced and promoted by conservative activist party women who did not know that my private beliefs were more liberal/progressive than those of Brataas. Instead of selecting his own running mate, Quie left it to the convention. And so the Quie/Wangberg ticket went into the election.
I was there on the Wednesday before the election when a small group of close advisers to our campaign gathered and the polling indicated we were going to lose. The decision was to go out and put on as good a front as possible as we closed the failing campaign.
I was there on election night at about 9 p.m. when the votes came in from the Range ensuring our surprise victory.
I was there after the election when Quie decided I should be an active member of the team.
I was there in the governor's reception room on Jan. 1 when we gathered to take the oath of office from Chief Justice Douglas K. Amdahl early before the inaugural activities later in the week.
I was there in 1981 when the finance commissioner repeatedly failed to provide accurate projections. I was there advising Quie to fire him, which he did not do. One special session after another eroded Quie's support.
I was there serving as chief of staff for the governor for several months.
I was there in January 1982 when Quie announced he would not seek a second term.
I was there when he endorsed my own candidacy for governor even before I declared my intent to run.
I was there throughout my struggling campaign that ultimately failed. Quie remained supportive.
I was there in my own primary election night gathering when Quie took me into the hotel bathroom and told me the bad news. I had lost the election.
And yes, I was there on Saturday when we sang Happy 100th Birthday to one of the greatest governors and public servants Minnesota has ever produced.
Lou Wangberg, Oakland Park, Fla.
The writer is former lieutenant governor of Minnesota.
Make us feel at home
Since Life Time plans to reduce club access hours for those on Medicare Advantage or other supplemental health insurance plans ("Life Time limits access for Medicare seniors," Sept. 8), perhaps they could throw seniors a bone and pipe in more age-appropriate music during the allowed hours.
Clearly Life Time wants to funnel seniors away from times when the club experiences the most use. Health clubs are generally busiest during member influxes before work, after work, after school and during the very popular Saturday mornings. Arriving instead during the prescribed hours of 9:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday to Friday and after 2 p.m. on Saturday would shift seniors on these health insurance plans into "slower" times at the health club. (Seniors can still have unlimited access if they are willing to fork over $80 a month for upgraded membership.)
If corporate heads want to make this requisite clock-watching feel somewhat less restrictive to seniors, they might change up the music a bit during the hours they wish to especially welcome the older set. Entice us with some more familiar music of the 1970s, '80s and, yes, even back to the '60s to help us feel more energized, instead of the steady stream of ultra-contemporary sounds that already make this senior feel "old" and out of place.
Lisa Wersal, Vadnais Heights
On the subject that Life Time is limiting hours to seniors with Silver Sneakers, I want to suggest a compromise. I am a senior and work out regularly. When I found I could join these facilities free with Medicare Advantage, I joined LA Fitness, Life Time and the local YMCA. I have since stopped going to Life Time and LA. My first thought is that two fitness centers are being paid a fee for a membership that no one is using. That cost the insurance companies extra without benefit to the insured. My suggestion is that a member should be required to actually use the fitness center to receive the free (or reduced) membership. Something like eight times a month. I think this will encourage seniors to work out, which would be beneficial to the insured and provide the fitness benefit that the insurance company is trying to encourage. Seems like a win-win to me.
Jack Boder, Oakdale