I was deeply disturbed by the article about Hennepin County Sheriff Dave Hutchinson's car crash near Alexandria in December 2021 ("Drunken sheriff going 126 mph before his crash," front page, Jan. 21).
I wonder what my sentence would be if I found myself in the same situation as the sheriff. That is, driving drunk (blood alcohol level almost twice the legal limit in Minnesota), going 50 or 60 miles an hour over the speed limit (if not more), not wearing a seat belt while driving, lying to the police about who was driving the car, and carrying a loaded weapon.
Is the "standard" sentence for ordinary Minnesota residents merely probation and a relatively small fine for such egregious and dangerous behavior? If this is the law, it is time for a change. If a judge made this decision knowing all the information in that article, the judge should resign.
Sheriff Hutchinson, do something honorable as your last act in office: Resign.
Leonard Lichtblau, Edina
Consider these three reforms
This February, Minnesota's legislators should take a moment to offer the voters three simple amendments to our state's Constitution to reduce future wasteful gridlock of state government:
1) Stagger state senators' four-year terms so that odd-numbered Senate districts' two-year terms will follow just after each 10-year reapportionment, and even-numbered Senate districts' short terms will fall just before it. This will refresh half the Senate every two years and make it more responsive to swings in community sentiment. It will also make sure that all but the first biennial general election of the five in the reapportionment cycle will leave half the state Senate in place as ballast against wild swings in public policy. (To prevent gaming the location of even- and odd-numbered Senate districts, number them continuously; zigzag across the state.)
2) Provide that if a necessary appropriations bill hasn't passed both state House and Senate by a prescribed number of days before adjournment, then for purposes of deciding the appropriations bill the Legislature will act as a single unicameral body, with each senator having two votes and each representative one vote. (There are two representatives for each state senator.) Such unicameral action could also be provided as a fallback if the two chambers fail to agree on a reapportionment bill by some specified deadline.
3) Provide that appointments by the governor that require Senate confirmation must be voted up or down within 60 days or else be confirmed by default. The amendment should provide that Senate-confirmed appointees would still be subject to impeachment for stated good cause by the House, with conviction and removal by the Senate. Both parties have cynically used long-delayed rejection of appointed agency commissioners in attempts to usurp executive branch functions. This hampers, for private political gain, the orderly and thoughtful performance of government's proper work. Senate review of appointments is good. It checks qualifications and character. It was never meant to give one part of the Legislature ongoing coercive power over the elected governor's supervision of the daily work of the executive branch of our government.
Paul Farseth, Falcon Heights
No need for such attacks
Thank you for printing the article submitted by Kendall Qualls, Republican candidate for governor, outlining why he running for the office ("Why I'm running for governor," Opinion Exchange, Jan. 14). I have met him, listened to him articulate his vision for our state and found him to be a man of integrity, goodwill and thoughtful insight.
That is why it was so disappointing to read a recent letter whose writer concluded his thoughts by saying, "Minnesota needs a uniter like [Gov. Tim] Walz instead of a divider and extremist like Qualls."
I suspect the writer has never met Qualls personally. I encourage him to do so. I believe he would discover that Qualls is anything but a divider or extremist. As we engage in the upcoming political season of elections (a season that seems to have no end), I believe most people are hoping we can move forward without falling back on unqualified personal attacks against those with whom we disagree.
Tom Hagen, Plymouth
DEALING WITH COVID
Not like that, please
Doug Loon, president of the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce, hailed the decision by six members of the Supreme Court to block Biden's vaccine mandate last week ("Court blocks vaccine mandate," front page, Jan. 14). Loon says, "We continue to believe that employers know best how to manage their workplaces, and keep employees and customers safe." The constant refrain of the GOP during COVID has been to reject mandates because we are told that we can trust people to do the right thing. Wrong! Imagine if every person had done the right thing — that is, get fully vaccinated, properly wear an N95 mask and socially distance — where we would be today regarding the pandemic. It would be under control and life would have returned to near normal, which would have been much better for all the businesses in the state — not to mention schools and hospitals.
Instead, we have consistently had about a third of the population doing their own thing — enabled by the GOP and folks like Loon, whereby they brazenly, recklessly and selfishly refuse to protect themselves, their families and their neighbors. Of course, when these people get seriously ill from COVID most of them turn to the same medical professionals who cajoled and begged them to do the right thing and demand care! Business and the GOP may have applauded the decision by six members of the Supreme Court but medical professionals who must care for those with COVID did not.
Roland Hayes, Shoreview
The piece by Drs. John Hick, Michele LeClaire and Heidi Erickson about medical futility and scarcity of resources could not be more timely, nor could it have come from more authoritative sources ("Difficult choices must be made when death approaches," Opinion Exchange, Jan. 20). As a colleague of theirs I can attest that they know what they are talking about.
It is sad that it has taken a global pandemic to shed light on a problem that we in the health care profession have known about for decades, and it is even sadder that this has done little to sway many people's views on the matter. There remain those who, in the name of "defending life," are more than willing to expend valuable medical resources for no discernible benefit, even as hospital beds become scarce and we become strained in our ability to provide even basic care. And when we are unable to deliver the miracle they expect, these same people are more than willing to threaten us with lawsuits, bodily harm and death.
Phil Jacquet-Morrison, St. Paul
The commentary by Rachel R. Hardeman and Eduardo M. Medina ("'Colorblind' treatment decision won't promote racial justice," Opinion Exchange, Jan. 20) is in itself racist because it argues for prioritizing treatment based on skin color. Matching statistics that vary from population to population compared to any social issue is invalid unless all of those in each population grouping are affected equally. All of those in the BIPOC groupings (based on skin color) as well as those in a "white" grouping (based on skin color) are not banned from access to the treatment referred to. Any other factors (economic, general health, age, etc.) can affect individuals in all of the groupings. Using buzz words such as structural racism, equity (which requires unobtainable equal outcomes because of other variable factors) or other terms such as white supremacy, white privilege and systemic racism that are developed to further a narrative ends up being an artificial distortion. Calling "structural racism" a pandemic is an attempt to try to embellish one's argument with a gross exaggeration of the term.
Keith Behnke, Eagan
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