It's disheartening to see longtime policymakers and public servants like Steve Cramer ("Why the defund amendment must be defeated," Opinion Exchange, July 28) and Jay Kiedrowski (Readers Write, Aug. 2) line up against the proposed Yes 4 Minneapolis charter amendment. They, of all people, because of their involvement in government and policymaking, surely know and see that successive mayors and City Councils have tried to "reform" the Minneapolis Police Department. Yet nothing changes.
I'm not a big fan of radical changes. And I'm very leery of giving our dysfunctional and ineffective City Council a hand in reimagining public safety in Minneapolis. Yet the inaction of the mayor and the chief of police make it seem as if they have no plan for the "reform" that Cramer and Kiedrowski think is possible.
I'm voting Yes 4 Minneapolis.
Louis Hoffman, Minneapolis
Supporters of the drive to limit the MPD fear an explanatory note could mislead voters. This is even though the charter amendment potentially represents a threat to the stability and well-being of Minneapolis ("City sued over policing ballot language," July 31). Therefore, every resident needs to understand what the proposal entails. The Yes 4 Minneapolis website claims that "a comprehensive Department of Public Safety in Minneapolis ... will set our city up for success, foster community safety, and better protect the most vulnerable among us." Nowhere in the group's statements or website do they provide detailed plans or specify how success would occur, how community safety would be fostered and protection of the most vulnerable achieved. If these are their true aims, why would there be an objection to a clear explanatory statement of fact?
Emanuel Gaziano, Minneapolis
On one side of the public safety debate, we see fearmongers like Steve Cramer idolizing individuals like Chief Medaria Arradondo. On the other side, we see a movement unifying to shift power away from the police union and into the hands of Minneapolis residents.
Structuring our government around the personal qualities or popularity of a single person is reckless. It's unfair to expect that Chief Arradondo single-handedly has the power to solve issues that have plagued Minneapolis for over 150 years. It also ignores the fact that under the current city charter, the chief answers to Mayor Jacob Frey — who ultimately has complete command of the MPD.
The Yes 4 Minneapolis charter amendment would remove the language that gives the mayor complete power over the department and instead make the mayor share control with the City Council, which already has authority over other city departments. Fear-based arguments claim that there would be too many cooks in the kitchen, and it would lead to confusion. We disagree.
We find comfort knowing that our representative would be involved in policy decisions regarding the MPD, and that involving the City Council means these policy debates would be brought out of the mayor's private shadows and into the public. We can't sit around and wait for a knight in shining armor to save us. That's why we are voting yes for the public safety charter amendment and standing with the side that is taking our future into our own hands.
Josh Martin, Jerome Rankine and Sarah Tschida, Minneapolis
I had faulted the whole City Council for its wishy-washy approach, especially since the George Floyd riots.In my opinion, in an otherwise nice city, we have high taxes and only mediocre city services with the City Council that basically governs the place.Our Longfellow neighborhood was reapportioneda few years ago and my council member went from Gary Schiff to Cam Gordon.
I get Gordon's monthly newsletter, and it seems to me that many of his topics are what I call "boutique issues" rather than "meat and potato" issues that I consider of higher importance (crime, homelessness, infrastructure, street maintenance, etc.)These "boutique issues" are nice to have only when the basics have been addressed.
Tom Anderson (running to unseat Gordon) rang my bell recently and we had a nice conversation.It seems that he's in agreement with the priorities I consider paramount.So, I decided to support Anderson.Then, just a few days ago, Gordon rang my bell and we had a thorough conversation about what I consider most important, and he basically agreed with me!Now I don't know whom to support.(My initial view was to "throw the bums out" and get new ones.Not so fast.)
Right now, I have both Tom Anderson and Cam Gordon yard signs up side by side.I'm in quandary as to whom to support in the fall election with ranked-choice voting.Hopefully, there will be a debate or two before Election Day.I'm hoping the Star Tribune will devote space to look at each ward in Minneapolis and educate us as to who's running and where they stand.
Barry Margolis, Minneapolis
My deepest regards to the resident of the Jordan neighborhood of Minneapolis (Readers Write, Aug. 2) who has decided to move out after years of frustration for lack of police protection. We, too, after 46 years of homeownership, have moved out of the city. It was where I came of age and raised my kids, but we decided to move for more tranquility and the common sense of the distant suburbs. The difference was that my home in southeast Minneapolis sold for asking price and was a snap to sell in three days' time. Folks much more hip than I still want to live in certain areas of Minneapolis. Me, I'll take the lawn chair and read about the preposterous dysfunction happening in the city I once loved.
Roger Kiemele, Little Canada
A letter writer on Monday voiced frustration with the Police Department's lack of manpower to monitor the drug dealers camped out across the street. The current policing model seems to reward results: arrests, ticketing, seizures. Just hanging around to make sure bad stuff doesn't happen is way down the list — not "productive." What if, instead of SWAT teams, the police focused on plain old "sweat" teams — groups of officers who, instead of marching around as highly armed and armored warriors, gathered in troubled neighborhoods not looking to make arrests but to prevent them. Highly visible, friendly, looking out to see where kids are walking to school or gathering to play, where seniors or the disabled need to move safely, or noting dangerous areas where folks looking to make trouble gather and being, instead, a preventive presence. Good old-fashioned beat cops. Maybe the model needs to move from rewarding arrests made to awarding arrests prevented. The very idea that there's nothing to be done until there's an excuse to come in guns blazing is the reason we need to rethink policing.
Lesley C. Hendrickson, Edina
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