Editor’s Column – January 2003

“The passion—the fire—is gone from this community.” – Lolly Lijewski, Access Press, July 2001 Most months we spend our time […]

“The passion—the fire—is gone from this community.”
– Lolly Lijewski, Access Press, July 2001


Most months we spend our time at Access Press looking forward.  However, we have spent part of this month looking back—at the December issue.  It caused a few sparks.  I’m thankful for that—good or bad, it shows we are reaching people.  I received three letters, all printed either below or on page 3.  I also received a couple of phone calls from members of the community whom I respect.  What elicited so much attention?  First, my article on recently appointed Commissioner Goodno contained a reference to his new, higher salary that was said to sound more like commentary than reporting.  Second, Laurie Eckblad Anderson’s commentary, “The Republican Win,” was criticized as being petty and nasty, even unethical.  Both pieces, the critics said, jeopardized the paper’s credibility.  “It is far too controversial right before the legislative session begins,” I was told.

I should note that I didn’t hear from either of the politicians mentioned in the commentary or from Commissioner Goodno.

When I printed these pieces, I certainly had no intent to jeopardize our credibility or to damage anyone’s name.  My reference to Goodno’s salary increase in his new job did go beyond reporting the facts.  I merely attempted some winking humor that fell flat and that admittedly did not fit the rest of the article.  As for Laurie’s commentary, both she and I knew it might be challenged, but I think it’s appropriate to give writers of opinion pieces some latitude.  Even though (or because) the commentary’s tone was pointed and the humor sarcastic, I hoped it would create interesting dialogue within the community and the administration.  Our new officials, I still think, need to express a stronger disability awareness and plan of action for our community than their pre-election statements contained.

The point of our December issue was to get us talking about what may be bad times to come, unless we can hold politicians and state administrators accountable.  A newspaper like ours, whose mission is to serve and inform the community, always has an obligation to focus attention on the issues, and sometimes, to provoke people into paying attention.  Lolly Lijewski wrote in her Access Press column in 2001:  “There is no right way or wrong way to do advocacy.  There are many strategies and approaches that work and can even work together in an organized fashion including both confrontation and incremental change work.”

Parts of our last issue may have been too confrontational, but I stand behind them.  I’ll also admit that I’m still learning.  It’s when I stop learning that you would really want to question me.  And I’m asking for more reader input—on our December issue, on the letters just printed, on anything that strikes you.  Let me know your opinions and I’ll consider all of them.  Tell me how to best serve our community, and how to interact with the legislature, during one of the worst times, financially, in the state’s recent history.  I’d like to know whether we as a community can light the fire that we are going to need to keep us going.

Join us! 2023 Virtual Legislative Forum. December 16th, 2022. MN Council on Disability