Editor’s Column – January 2008

Wow, 2008 is here already. How did that happen? The years seem to be flying by. This year, Access Press […]

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Wow, 2008 is here already. How did that happen? The years seem to be flying by. This year, Access Press will be 18 years old, and I will be, well, “really old.”

How about those Iowa caucuses? Three months ago, not many people would have thought Senator Clinton would take third place among Democrats, and on the Republican side, who knew then very much about Mike Huckabee? Maybe it is too soon for me to be nudging you to keep up with what is going on with the candidates, but I urge you to listen for any of the candidates who are talking about disability issues. Access Press will be searching to bring you as much information available concerning each candidate’s platform on disability issues. I invite you to send us any disability platform information you come across.

The Minnesota caucuses are February 5, and I hope you are all planning to attend. The Iowa caucuses had record numbers of new caucus participants, and Minnesota can beat those numbers. Although the polls during the last week were awful close, they (CNN, e.g.) say it was the new participants who helped push Senator Obama over the top with 38% of the Democratic Iowa caucus goers’ endorsement. Whoever you decide to vote for is your decision, but you have to participate to have any influence. By the way, choosing a candidate is only part of the caucus function. The fun stuff is introducing resolutions, which ultimately develop the party’s platform. Go to the web www.mnblue.com/caucus_ guide to get a sample and an explanation of how to draft your own caucus resolution. Writing a simple resolution is a simple procedure that can have some astounding results.

My #1 resolution topic: health care. It is great that the candidates are all talking about the desperate need for affordable health-care coverage for everyone. Whatever term they use for revamping our health-care insurance—universal health care, or socialized medicine, or single-payer coverage—this time it is vital that people with disabilities are included and involved in the design and development. The February caucus will be prime time to make sure that the disability community’s issues are addressed, including the big issue of livable income for our direct support professionals (DSP). We need a stable workforce to get many of us out of bed and ready for the day. Keeping people up, involved, and active in their communities will not only keep everyone happier and healthier, it can also save money that can in turn be used to pay for qualified DSP and other health prevention options.

Need more ideas for caucus resolutions? We also need available public transportation (and safe bridges!) for everyone in all parts of the nation, in order to get everyone out into their communities. Transportation presents even more challenges with gas prices as high as they are. And, as long as we’re out in the community, and as long as we have transportation, we might as well have good-paying jobs with built-in incentives for employers, so that those who want to work can find satisfying, gainful employment that won’t disqualify them from the necessary social services that keep them independent or interdependent. We desperately need more taxpayers to help support these services, since if enough people are working we might not need to raise taxes all that much. (Of course, we still have the war to pay for.) These things are not too much to ask: health-care, transportation and jobs. Seems to me like these are all opportunities that everyone should have.

Finally, the new Twin Cities chapter of ADAPT is coming together nicely. They’re developing a local mission and direction, and are also working on plans for a group training with some veterans of ADAPT. It is a great time to get in on the ground floor. I am told volunteers are needed at all levels. For more information contact Galen Smith at [email protected]

Happy New Year’s!

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