It's discouraging that the Star Tribune gave space to community organizer Roxxanne O'Brien's scurrilous attack on U.S. Rep. Ilhan Omar's primary challenger Don Samuels ("Don Samuels should call off his campaign," Opinion Exchange, March 22). To take issue with the positions he holds — or the stands he's taken — is fine. It's part of the game. But to put a malicious spin on a tragic event in his personal life — and to suggest that it's somehow disloyal for a fellow Democrat to challenge a representative who, in the eyes of many, has been a disaster — is off-base.
Omar has shown that she is more interested in burnishing her image as a "changemaker" than representing the people of Minnesota. In stark contrast to U.S. Sen. Paul Wellstone, who she claims as a hero, she has shown zero interest in working across the aisle to accomplish meaningful work, and the anti-Semitism she has exhibited on numerous occasions has been deeply offensive. Samuels' candidacy is a welcome ray of light to many with liberal and progressive values — who care more about the future of the world we live in than the number of followers their candidate has on Twitter.
Martha Davis Beck, Lake Elmo
O'Brien wrote that Omar fought for the Build Back Better agenda that President Joe Biden campaigned on and brought $17 million of federal spending into the district. She failed to mention that Omar voted against the bipartisan infrastructure deal, which will bring $6.8 billion into the state of Minnesota and is a critical part of Biden's Build Back Better plan.
Blake E. Andert, Minneapolis
O'Brien's commentary demonstrates that Samuels has a shot at winning. Thou doth protest too much. Go, Samuels, go!
Kiki Magner, Minneapolis
A wise man once reflected that the list of rules for navigating life is short and consists of this: Show up and stay in. Don and Sondra Samuels have done this during many years of organizing communities of justice in Minneapolis. I have long wondered what would happen if members of Congress lived and worked together in their shared-power, humble, listening, personal, deep and wide ways. I look forward to hearing more of their vision during the upcoming campaign season.
Kathleen McDonough, Richfield
More of the status quo
I urge Minneapolis City Council members to vote against the proposed contract with the Minneapolis Police Federation when it comes before the council this week.
After last year's rejection of City Question Two, the message from residents was loud and clear: We want a Police Department, but we don't want the status quo. After all the city has learned and suffered over the past two years, I'm stunned and disappointed by the city's failure to negotiate a contract that includes greater accountability for police officers. And I'm appalled that the proposed contract gives officers the names of individuals who request their disciplinary records.
For more than a decade, city leaders have promised to reform a department that too often lacks accountability for errant officers and uses excessive force against low-income and minority residents. Since George Floyd's killing, we've been repeatedly, painfully educated about the depth of the problem and resistance to change.
Yet over and over, mayors, police chiefs and City Councils kick the can down the road. They blame state law, the courts, the arbitration process, the police union. Saying the city will negotiate harder for the next contract feels like another instance of kicking that can. Now is the time to insist on clear, firm disciplinary consequences for cops who fail to protect and serve Minneapolis residents with responsibility and respect.
I understand that there's a risk: Without higher pay, more cops could quit and recruiting new officers will continue to be difficult. But paying more while keeping the status quo on accountability seems like a damn poor bargain to me. The residents of Minneapolis deserve better.
Lynda McDonnell, Minneapolis
I could not believe reading the March 20 front-page article "MPD contract called lax on discipline," then reading the local section article "Sweetening the pot for police jobs." Talk about cause and effect!
I am the mother of a Minneapolis police officer. My child has wanted to be a police officer since age 5 and, like fellow officers, is a college graduate. These officers truly believe in "protect and serve." They want to make their communities a better place. Their jobs have been hampered by the 0.1% of officers who are truly bad. They don't like these officers and do not feel such people should be officers.
They get no support or encouragement from their police chief, mayor or City Council. When have any of those in the media talked about the other 99.9% of MPD officers who, despite being spit upon, called names and put under siege in their precincts, show up daily?
What about the 99.9% who do their jobs, who answer calls, who feed the hungry child who comes into their station or help with that child's homework, who save the lives of the person having a heart attack or overdosing or being stabbed or shot, or who find the missing child? Who tells these stories? Not their chief. Not the media.
I challenge these officials to do a shift ridealong and see what the life of an officer is really like. I did my first ridealong as a college student in Washington, D.C., and since in all the metropolitan areas I have lived in — St. Louis, Chicago, St. Paul and Minneapolis. It is a truly eye-opening experience.
When was the last time you thanked a police officer, just because? When did you see an officer taking a meal break and pay for their meal? I see plenty of "defund the police" signs in windows, but when you call 911 the police will be there 24/7. They don't choose their calls; they don't decide if they will answer; they just do.
Be part of the solution, not the problem. Support your local police.
Judy Haigh, Tonka Bay
MINNEAPOLIS TEACHERS STRIKE
Students matter most
I am a teacher, and my children attend Minneapolis Public Schools. I think teachers deserve better, and I think ESPs deserve much better. I am also deeply concerned about the strike's impact on students and their families.
As the strike hits the two-week mark, we continue to hear plenty of talk from the Minneapolis Federation of Teachers about "equity." Yet Sondra Samuels of the Northside Achievement Zone seems to be the only local leader speaking out on the strike's impact on students. After two years of devastating learning loss, does anyone else care that our children — especially students of color — are falling even further behind each day schools are closed? (In case anyone needs a reminder, MPS offered an in-person learning option for middle- and high-schoolers in April 2021 — about two months after most teachers were fully vaccinated.)
Once upon a time, I'd have expected to hear from government and business leaders concerned about the education of our future citizenry and work force. Today, I hear silence. Why? Perhaps they worry that any criticism of the strike would be considered "anti-teacher." Or maybe they've simply given up on MPS, assuming they can ignore us and rely on private schools, the suburbs, St. Paul, charter schools, and open enrollment to provide for the future of the Twin Cities. Whatever the reason, the inaction is glaring and the impact on students is devastating. If union leader Greta Callahan and Superintendent Ed Graff can't resolve the dispute, let the state take control of the district.
I support our teachers, but I am more concerned about our students. They deserve better than we adults seem able — or willing — to provide. End the strike now.
David McCarthy, Minneapolis
We want to hear from you. Send us your thoughts here.