Editor’s Column – April 2008

March was sure a strange month — snow one day, sun the next. And everyone kept saying they’d had enough […]

March was sure a strange month — snow one day, sun the next. And everyone kept saying they’d had enough of winter, which in itself isn’t odd, but it really seemed to be that for everyone it has been a long winter. It sure makes you wonder about global warming when a winter they say was “normal” seemed so much harder and colder than recent ones. I wonder what we will be talking about in the September paper? Probably something about the fact that global warming really is affecting everything. Right now, though, I think I’ll be happy if I get to say, “It’s been the hottest summer ever!”

As you know, the wrangling is going on at the Minnesota State Capitol. We have a massive deficit ($935 million shortfall) and we need to solve this continuing problem. I do not think that fighting over which side of the aisle you’re on is productive; and I wish more of our politicians felt that way. I believe that in-fighting between the two parties is a big part of how we got into this deficit-cycle problem. Also, when our political leaders talk about cutting the fat out of the budget, it seems to me that social services (“$298 million from a fund created to pay for MinnesotaCare, a health insurance program for low-income people”) is less fat than a new enclosure at the zoo. Maybe a new park at one of the most northern locations of Minnesota should be considered a little more fatty. (OK, the new enclosure at the zoo and the new park wouldn’t come close to making up for the $298 million the governor plans on cutting out of the health and human services budget but geez, I wish we could get our priorities straight.)

I do agree with the House and Senate that we don’t want the governor to just do his own thing on line-item cuts, again. We’ve seen the results of his unallotment slashing before and it hasn’t been pretty. Some lawmakers suggest that they should send budget bills to the governor that they know he won’t sign—just to force him to do his own allotments cuts.

As we go to press, it’s pretty obvious how bad a strategy this has been. The governor just used his line-item veto to slash funding for the Central Corridor rapid transit and many other items. Have you ever been to Washington, DC, Atlanta, San Francisco, or another city with plentiful, accessible rapid transit? Then you know why we’ve just lost a great opportunity. Maybe we should all get SUVs and move to the suburbs. Wonder why we haven’t thought of that before?

I will likely be talking about the budget cuts next month; the constitutional deadline is May 19 and if the last several legislative sessions tell us anything, it’s that our politicians aren’t able to make decisions until the eleventh hour. Margaret Anderson Kelliher, DFL, Speaker of the House, and Assistant Senate Majority Leader Tarryl Clark, DFL, are reported to have said, “they’d like the session to end earlier but refrained from predicting that lawmakers would go home before they have to.” Uh, sure.

We received some nice letters this month from readers but the real topper was the success of Sherry Gray’s work in publicizing the need for the hair salons to be more accessible. See the article, A more comfortable shampoo, to see her follow-up and how again accessible features are not only helpful to people with disabilities but also to the general population — or in this case, to the beautician doing a service for the community. If there are other things out there that we can help with by publicizing, we sure would like to be part of your success. Write us.

Finally, our own Pete Feigal sent us a very nice letter thanking us and reminding us that it’s ten years this month that he has been writing for Access Press. I know from all the letters and calls we get that Pete is well-loved in our community. I know I always look forward to Pete’s articles. So I will speak for you, the readers of Access Press, and say a heartfelt thanks to our good friend, Pete, for sharing his stories and insight with all of us. Congratulations, Pete, on ten years of writing moving and meaningful — and often very funny — stories with us. I hope you’ll be sharing your thoughts and excellent writing with us for many more decades