Uhh . . . You Might Want to Get a 2nd (Legal) Opinion
There may be valid reasons to keep Lake Calhoun, “Lake Calhoun,” but I very much doubt that it’s because no one has the legal authority to change it:
Last week, Minneapolis Park Board attorney Brian Rice issued an opinion saying the organization has no authority to change the name of any city lake. State law prohibits even the state’s commissioner of natural resources from changing the name, Rice’s opinion stated.
–Corey Mitchell, “A Lake By Any Other Name“; Star Tribune (6/15/2011)
It’s been 20 years since I last practiced law, but something about the above just doesn’t seem right.
Even the Constitution, the secular equivalent of The Ten Commandments, can be changed — for example, if Congress passes an amendment and three-quarters of the states subsequently ratify it (check with Sarah Palin to be sure on that, though).
“Reagan National Airport”
Nationally, plenty of landmarks have had their names changed to posthumously honor a national hero (“Reagan National Airport” and “Kennedy Space Center” come to mind).
In a democracy, names are not decreed by the sovereign or written in stone, but decided upon by the people; if the Park Board looked hard enough, my guess is that they could locate the legal authority to officially change “Lake Calhoun” to “Lake Humphrey” (or “Lake Wellstone,” or any other name people agreed upon).
Whether or not that makes sense is another issue.
One of the hoariest principles in law is something called “stare decisis” — Latin for, “leave settled decisions alone.”
P.S.: Note any similarities between the photo (above) and in this blog’s masthead?
They’re both of Lake Calhoun, looking northeast towards the downtown Minneapolis skyline.