Editor's Column - December 2008

timbenjamincolorThis year’s Charlie Smith award banquet was the best ever. If you hadn’t heard, the winner of the Charlie Smith award for 2008 is Pete Feigal. Pete was introduced by his friend Vicki Dalle Molle, MPA, executive director of Southeastern MN Center for Independent Living (SEMCIL). You can read excerpts of her speech, but words cannot express the emotions in her delivery. Pete’s acceptance speech brought on strong emotions to all, it brought tears, laughter and a standing ovation. He is quite a speaker. The musical entertainment by Larry Mc-Donough and his daughter Rosie was delightful. The management, staff and chefs at Black Bear Crossing on Como Lake again created a fabulous homey atmosphere with delicious food. We had the largest turnout ever. It was great to see everyone!

Our keynote speaker, Luther Granquist (the writer of our History Notes) gave us a short reminder of the history of the disability rights movement in Minnesota. He talked a bit about the struggles of institutional life for people with disabilities. As with most of Luther’s work on the history note, his spoken lesson was an eye-opener for most of us. Sometimes it’s very hard to hear about the difficulties and the way our brothers and sisters with disabilities were treated in years past; less like humans and more like animals.

Besides the Access Press banquet this month the State Council on Disabilities honored a pretty impressive slate of award winners and people who have served the community. It was unfortunate for the disability community to lose Rep. Shelley Madore, at our State Capitol. We all hope that Rep. Tara Mack will stand as strong on disability rights as her predecessor.

Well, the elections are over. Or almost! We still don’t know who the Senator from Minnesota will be. Will Al Franken prevail or will Norm Coleman remain in the seat in Washington? It is looking like it will come down to some lost unaccounted ballots and probably many judges deciding the future of this race. I hope democracy prevails and the man who had the most real votes will be determined. That’s the candidate I’m voting for now.

It’s rather disheartening that in this era that the parent of a developmental disabled individual would not allow their son or daughter to vote. And it’s of special concern when the parent is not allowing their adult child to vote when the adult child is voting for the opposing candidate. And the parent is saying that the adult child has been swayed to vote for the opposing candidate because of undue influence by group home employees. We are all given the right to vote and competency is determined by the court. As far as I’m concerned, if someone denies another family member the right, they are the one that is swaying the vote. I wonder if the family member would allow the other family member to vote if they were voting for the same candidate. Sometimes I wonder, when listening to some of the advertising that political candidates put on the air this fall, if they think in general that the public is not competent to understand the issues in detail. Maybe there’s been too much judgment of other’s peoples’ competence in most elections.

I want to remind you to get your subscriptions renewed and your donations sent in to support Access Press. In this economic environment, it is difficult for all of us to make ends meet, but I truly do want you to try to find that extra few dollars to help us keep Access Press active. We are planning a new Web site that will be very interactive. I’m sure all of you will enjoy the new features and will find them very useful. If there’s anything that you would like us not to forget on our new Web site, please don’t hesitate to call or write about what features you would like.

Until next month, enjoy the holidays, stay warm and stay safe!