See more of the story

Opinion editor's note: Star Tribune Opinion publishes letters from readers online and in print each day. To contribute, click here.


Marshall H. Tanick's takedown of "camera cops" suggests that such efforts are biased because authorities disproportionately place cameras in minority neighborhoods ("Camera cops: Something's wrong with this picture," Opinion Exchange, Dec. 1). Let's take him at his word that this bias will continue. However, a full consideration of this issue needs to include the benefits of taking cops out of the business of routine traffic stops. As the data show, and as recent notorious incidents attest, when cops stop drivers, minorities are more likely to face police action, whether a mere ticket or worse.

Assuming both forms of bias exist going forward, which is optimal, biased cameras or biased cops? I don't know the answer, but let's carefully consider the benefits and costs of both options when considering the question.

David Fettig, Minneapolis


In his editorial counterpoint, Tanick succinctly summarized the shortcomings of attempts to enforce traffic laws using fines generated from an automated system of traffic cameras, implemented without authorization from the state Legislature. Yet the top letter to the editor on the facing page ("Enforce limits, save lives") points out the effectiveness of a speed camera in improving safety at a dangerous intersection.

There might be an approach that would achieve at least some of the traffic safety improvement goals, without issuing fines for traffic law violations, by outsourcing the problem to auto insurance companies. All states require a minimum level of liability insurance for each car issued a license plate. Insurance rates are set by many factors, including the driving safety record of the car's owner.

The insurance industry deploys a fleet of cars equipped with license plate recognition cameras and GPS to collect volumes of car location data fed into a Digital Recognition Network. This data is used to locate stolen cars and cars insured fraudulently. If the Minnesota Legislature authorized the installation of license-plate-recognizing speed cameras at dangerous intersections, speeding violation detections could be used by insurance companies to increase liability insurance rates for frequent violators, and possibly offer more attractive rates to habitually safe drivers.

Daniel Burbank, Minneapolis


I think an easy step to affect the ongoing speeding problem is to look at the fines and increase them significantly. The current fines do vary by county but in my opinion are too low to discourage dangerous speeds. Fines for going 86 to 90 mph in a 60 mph zone are typically only $200. Maybe if this amount was $1,000 or more, people would slow down?

Steve Holm, Mahtomedi


I could've use some — the right kind

When I lived on N. Oliver Avenue around the corner from the NorthPoint clinic on Penn Avenue N. in Minneapolis, I longed for better lighting when I left my home for the airport in the late evening and encountered a dark and foreboding Penn Avenue bus stop. I believe that adequate street lighting is a mainstay of public safety, neighborhood enhancements and wayfinding as well as instilling a sense of pride in one's surroundings. Having said that, I want to clearly state that the amount and type of lighting is critical. I have visited cities and stayed in hotels where street lighting has impacted my sleep patterns and ability to function clearly the next day. The wrong lighting can also impact traffic patterns in a negative manner. It is through these experiences that I understand the importance of light voltage, light location, light usage (when the lights go on and off) and other elements of light selection.

I implore Mayor Jacob Frey to be extremely intentional and scientific in his lighting selection ("Please don't blue-minate Minneapolis streets," Opinion Exchange, Nov. 30) because his good intentions may not yield the desired results without his careful attention to the lighting selection and installation. Surprisingly, there is such a thing as too much light.

Catherine Fleming, Minneapolis


Increasing light in the city would be a smart, efficient and lifesaving idea, especially if those lights were the low-intensity LED type, which create little or no glare in the eye. Cheaper to run, longer lasting and far better on the eye, these lights would improve the aesthetics as well as the livability in all areas of this beautiful city.

Anne Leary Skenzich, Minneapolis


We need these associations

At a time when we should be investing in activities that can contribute to healthier and safer neighborhoods, Minneapolis' neighborhood associations are facing reductions in funding ("Mpls. neighborhood groups fade," Nov. 25). Reducing funding from $20 million to $4 million seems extremely shortsighted to me. With a pandemic that contributed to isolation, George Floyd's murder, which rightly so had a significant local and worldwide impact, and increasing crime in all of our neighborhoods, now is the time to invest in neighborhoods and the structures that support them. Work that helps reconnect neighbors with neighbors feels essential. We are Minneapolis' greatest asset; investing in activities that help us come together as neighbors to identify needs and strengthen our neighborhoods is the right work. If the existing structure of neighborhood associations needs updating, let's do that work and invest even more rather than letting it die a slow death from a lack of funding. There is a public hearing on Dec. 6 where you can voice your opinion. I hope to see you there, neighbor!

Laura Kinkead, Minneapolis


Where was this wisdom before?

The Scott Jensen quoted in Wednesday's editorial cartoon sounded tolerant and sensitive, two qualities that did not emerge in the recent gubernatorial campaign. What I recall from that campaign was his talk of "furries," his comparison of COVID mandates to Nazi Germany and how he attempted to find fault with Gov. Tim Walz for resigning from his 24 years of service in the National Guard to run for Congress. I daresay the Jensen in Wednesday's paper would've done better in the election.

Mark Brandt, Minneapolis


Scott Jensen is quoted in a Wednesday editorial cartoon as saying, "Help me understand where you're coming from ... we need to talk." To "understand," we need to consider the nature of human moral psychology. Jonathan Haidt's book "The Righteous Mind" has some ideas worth considering.

Evolution has endowed us with a structure to catalog and exercise our moral foundations. There are six pillars per Haidt. Each has evolved and contributed to our successful journey from primitive beings to the present day. We are born with the intuitions structure, refined through upbringing, education, relationships and experiences. Care/harm intuitions trigger compassion in response to a child injury, for example. Liberty/oppression intuitions are aroused by unjust limits on free speech. Fairness/cheating triggers gratitude for sharing of rewards or anger in response to business fraud. Loyalty/betrayal triggers patriotic pride, or rage at traitors' misdeeds. Authority/subversion produces deference to respected professionals, and sanctity/degradation can produce piety.

Haidt's research suggests that classic liberals are more sensitive to the first three pillars, conservatives respond more equally to all six. Liberal liberty/oppression morals are more sensitive to the rights of the disadvantaged, conservatives to individual rights. Fairness/cheating triggers can sometimes depend on sharing "according to means" vs. "according to contribution." Classic conservatives value loyalty and respect authority and sanctity as important in our culture and social order.

Classic liberals and conservatives confront a position from "the other side," experience the emotional moral response within a second, and their mind is predisposed to generate a rationale to support the intuition. That's our nature. We don't listen with intensity, consider other moral perspectives and avoid assigning motives.

Jensen's plea to "Help me understand where you're coming from" needs to be heard and honored. Human nature has evolved but has impediments to dealing with modern life in a democracy. Haidt's book offers insights that could help.

Donald Bailey, Bloomington