The Star Tribune's four-part series (Oct. 1-4) on the lack of consequences for Minnesota police who break the law reveals some devastating truths about our Minneapolis police force and the utter inadequacy of our statewide accountability standards. I was horrified to read the story of Laura Bloomberg, whose ex-husband repeatedly assaulted her but continues to patrol northeast Minneapolis in the Second Precinct.
Domestic violence is one of the most reliable predictors of future violence. Police officers with domestic violence convictions should not be tasked with protecting and serving our communities, period.
State Rep. Tony Cornish fought in 2013 to make sure domestic violence is not a crime that triggers automatic revocation of a police license, saying the decision should be up to local departments. However, the Minneapolis department has not consistently enforced discipline for unacceptable behavior. Without consistent enforcement, individual cases of discipline rarely survive arbitration.
When the police union contract comes up for renewal again in 2019, the mayor and City Council must work together to make the contract crystal-clear that a domestic assault conviction is unacceptable from a city officer. Where the state has refused to act, the city must step up.
As we mark October as Domestic Violence Awareness Month, we must remember that domestic violence permeates all spheres of public and private life. As we honor survivors, we must fight for the policy changes we need. Thank you to Laura Bloomberg for breaking the silence and sharing her story.
Jillia Pessenda, Minneapolis
The writer is a candidate for the Minneapolis City Council in the First Ward.
Voters at ease, but candidates aren't using this to their benefit
Lori Sturdevant's Oct. 6 column ("The third time around may be the charm for ranked-choice voting") suggests that while Minneapolis voters are comfortable with — and grateful for — RCV, mayoral candidates this year aren't fully capitalizing on its benefits. I concur.
In this race, most voters with whom I've spoken have multiple favorites. Yet we're not regularly hearing candidates ask to be a second-choice vote — which will likely be essential to win. Writing off voters who have identified a top choice isn't just unnecessary, it's foolish. By intention or by accident, the next mayor will win only with a combination of first-, second- and third-choice votes.
Luckily, it's not too late to win with intention. Mayoral hopefuls have three weeks to shore up additional support. Sophisticated campaigns will use this time to "close the deal" with confirmed supporters and with voters who, despite preferring another candidate, want a backup option or two.
Find that common ground and continue the conversation. If the voter chose her favorite based on transportation policy, talk about your candidate's strength in that realm. Stay issue-focused and make the case for why your candidate is a logical second choice. This voter may be your voter, too.
I'm proud to have helped bring RCV to Minneapolis a decade ago. I've experienced firsthand how it encourages more substantive, "grown-up" campaigning, broadens voter engagement and yields more representative outcomes. It's the kind of structural reform that, as folks in St. Louis Park are concluding, we need more of.
But RCV's full promise remains unfulfilled — and while democracy itself is under siege and the nation veers alarmingly toward authoritarianism, it's more vital than ever that cities set an example of what politics could look like. Should look like. Minneapolis voters can show the country how to make elections more inclusive, civil and meaningful; we're counting on candidates' help to do it.
Elizabeth Glidden, Minneapolis
The writer is vice president of the Minneapolis City Council and represents the Eighth Ward.
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Sturdevant made an excellent point, bringing to our attention that St. Louis Park is considering a change to ranked-choice voting after the City Council and the mayor voted to eliminate the city's primary election. The reason for the primary was to limit the number of candidates in the general election. By eliminating the primary election, the potential for an increased number of candidates in the general election is greater, along with increasing the chances of an election winner without a majority vote. This presents a problem for democracy in SLP. If the mayor and the City Council want to guarantee the potential for an election winner without a majority vote, then the elimination of the primary election without installing RCV is a recipe for it. RCV, with its ability to create majority-vote winners, will help SLP solve that problem.
As a homeowner and voter in SLP, I hope the mayor and the City Council will install RCV. The future strength of democracy is enhanced by elections won by majority vote.
Bruce Fisher, St. Louis Park
Hennepin leaders set example that ought be followed statewide
While daily headlines warn of the continued growth and devastation of the opioid epidemic, I would like to thank the folks at Hennepin County who are taking positive steps and advancing the fight against this deadly health crisis.
I'm grateful that Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman is committed to prosecuting prolific drug dealers who cause deaths. Because of his leadership, one such dealer was recently sentenced in the deaths of two young men. Without his commitment, and his dedicated team, the dealer who contributed to my son's death would not have been punished.
Hennepin County Sheriff Rich Stanek has worked hard to raise awareness of the growing epidemic and loss of life from overdoses and has advocated for and implemented the use of lifesaving Narcan by his officers. He continues to encourage schools throughout Hennepin County to take advantage of opportunities to educate their communities on the issues surrounding opioid use.
They are both great examples of people who are working hard to reduce the number of people who might become addicted as well as having a positive impact on those already battling the disease of addiction. Their efforts will save the lives of many people. They're setting a standard that should be modeled by other leaders in our state.
Despite a 9 percent increase in overdose deaths last year, Minnesota lacks policymakers who will take decisive action. Why can't Minnesota's leaders come up with an organized plan to combat this epidemic from a statewide perspective rather than leaving it to up to each county to battle on their own?
Everyone has a role to play in affecting positive change with regard to this devastating issue. I'm very grateful that Hennepin County has leaders who are stepping up and saving lives. I hope other county and state leaders will start doing the same.