Mary Moriarty, Joan Gabel, “Gun Bingo”, Literacy, Litter

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Most of the recent letters to the Star Tribune about Hennepin District Attorney Mary Moriarty miss the point that young people’s brains are immature by the time they are 25 or 17 for murder as an adult. But that’s not the case: in her short tenure, she approved five charges against minors before the adult court.

Instead, she only talks about post-prison rehabilitation. On the one hand, society can send minors to adult prisons for a decade or more, where almost all research suggests they are more likely than not to become practiced antisocial criminals. Or we can send minors to juvenile detention and a guided probation period afterwards, which – again according to research – will be more likely to help them become productive members of society. If they violate that parole, we can put them in adult prison.

She also says she’s happy to listen to pretrial investigative reports and evaluate each case on its merits. Apparently, she doesn’t give young psychopaths a free pass out of prison. Nor should society force them to send troubled children to adult prisons, where they become functioning psychopaths that are eventually unleashed on all of us.

Richard Jewell, Minneapolis


University of Minnesota College of Education Dean Emeritus Jean K. Quam advocates that the outgoing US President April 18).

Prof. Quam may be right in drawing attention to Gabel’s leadership in such difficult circumstances. However, that is what is expected of the president of a large university. Also expected to know the state of the country i.e. that the university is very dependent on good relations with the legislature and that getting a potentially comfortable and well-paid board position at a key service provider to the U is a major conflict of interest .

University presidents worth a million dollars need to be able to chew gum and walk at the same time, even if the unexpected catches them by surprise. Aside from the red herrings of misogyny (“I’m not sure there would have been the same criticism for a male president”), the U president does not receive a job description and some sage advice that includes the president’s more subtle expectations of the job, and doesn’t the U President need to invest the time it takes to address such issues?

Bob Meyerson, Atwater, Minn.


When the regents consider candidates for a new president, they must first look at internal candidates from the eight colleges and five graduate schools. The most reliable and talented of all recent presidents have been Robert Bruininks and Nils Hasselmo – both recruited from the company.

Resist the temptation to make a high-priced hiring after a long search and instead select a new president who’s been around a while, has proven loyalty to the U, and may not even demand the continued pay increases demanded by a sought-after, high-priced setting are required.

Keith Summers, Wayzata


I find it a little hard to believe that after the almost daily parade of articles documenting American gun violence in the newspaper’s news sections, a feature article could uncritically report on the benefits of giving away guns at community fundraisers (“Unusual? Bingo! ” Variety, April 16). Given that the US has the highest number of firearms and firearms per capita in the world and the highest rate of gun-related violence and fatalities among developed countries, the wisdom of increasing access to firearms, even for a good cause, should at the very least be scrutinized.

Sergio Francis M. Zenisek, Minneapolis


Unusual? Really? That is not the word I heard as I have told this story to friends, family and relatives who live in the Glencoe/Hutchinson area. Rather, their reactions expressed shock, dismay and horror. “They’re giving handguns as prizes? That’s absurd.”

I am sad when I think of what my hard-working farmer father would have said. He owned a shotgun, which I never saw on him. He would have been horrified. He might have shaken his head and called them fools, about the strongest expletive he’s ever used. I’m glad my father isn’t here to witness this stupidity. I’m sorry the rest of us have to see it. I am appalled, saddened and ashamed to see what is happening in the area I once called home.

Maryann Nieberle Weidt, Minneapolis


They come to me with plastic book baskets with their names neatly written in large print on the outside. Every Tuesday morning at the elementary school closest to my house, I sit in a storage area away from the classroom and each first grader comes in turn to me with their bin of books they have chosen, and we read together.

This is an initiative called VESL (Volunteers for Elementary School Literacy) developed by the Rotary Club of Stillwater. It’s a wonderful way to spend an hour or more and reinforce reading at this early stage when reading is a new, exciting adventure.

In an April 16 commentary (“If Cuba can eradicate illiteracy, Minnesota surely can”), painted a very bleak outlook for the 500,000 students who never learn to read properly. According to the article, these students are much more likely to drop out or end up in an interface with the juvenile court.

No doubt spending about 15 minutes reading books with a first grader won’t make them lifelong readers, but I’m just one of a group at this school that comes and does this, and other schools in District 834 have a relay of mostly pensioners helping children to practice their reading. The program continues to expand, and there are other programs such as Reading Partners that can also have an impact on improving literacy skills. As with the Cuban model that was so successful in eradicating illiteracy, volunteers would provide the bulk of literacy support. There are enough of us boomers in retirement to create a fleet of reading enforcers and really make an impact on literacy in our state. It will probably just take a background check to support these young readers.

If you have the time, I strongly encourage you to look for a way to get involved in increasing literacy in your community. It’s doable and a wonderful way to make a difference.

Peggy Ludtke, Stillwater


I have news for the writer of the “litter” letter (Readers Write, April 15). Most of the polluted landscape we both detest is not man-made. It mainly comes from dumping and spreading garbage over the roofs of sanitation trucks as they lift the big metal dumpsters and catapult them into their trucks. Once spilled from the truck, if not retrieved, everything flies away – anywhere the wind blows.

My experience is that most people make an effort to get rid of their litter outdoors. When the public bins are full, the rubbish piles up right next to the bin and then it’s carried by the wind.

The letter writer’s suggestion that convicts help pick up the garbage in the countryside is one way to clean it up. But a serious redesign of garbage trucks to stop the garbage from flying in the first place will save a lot of cleanup next year, not to mention the extra plastic bags needed to collect it all.

Sarah Renner, Minneapolis