Editor's Column - January 2011

Our 40th Governor, Mark Brandt Dayton, has taken the oath as Chief Executive Officer of Minnesota. His inaugural speech was loaded with themes of cooperation and our need to work together. He said, “Let’s get Minnesota working … together. We can’t succeed without you. You can’t succeed without one another…. Let us recognize all that is good about Minnesota and make it better … by working together.”  His three main goals are more jobs, a fair balanced budget and improved government services. He said we have the talent, and the spirit, and a priceless quality of life that can bring more jobs to Minnesota. On balancing the budget: “My proposed budget solution will be reasonable, balanced— and painful—because I see no easy alternative. I will insist that any final solution make Minnesota’s overall tax burden more progressive, not more regressive.” As to improving government social services, our new governor suggests that we all must get involved. He quoted Roman statesman Cicero, who said that in a democracy, the most important office is that of citizen.

As the state’s resources continue to fall short of needs, we must all get involved in some capacity. I still suggest that those of us who depend on state social services can look for ways to save state money by recycling or safely reusing some state-supplied products. We can exercise our current or future job skills by volunteering at libraries, schools, hospitals or nonprofits. Whatever else you decide to do, make sure you’re at the capitol to tell your story and educate our new legislators. Help them understand your needs and thoughts on how to save vital financial resources. Dayton said he wanted a more progressive state tax, and if those with higher incomes will have to help out financially, those of us with low incomes ought to contribute in other ways. We all have to contribute.

Minnesota Disability Law Center’s Patricia Siebert stepped up for this month’s history note. Luther Granquist is taking a brief sabbatical. (He and his wife, Anita Schermer  are both tremendous contributors to Access Press, the disability community and the quality of life in Minnesota. Siebert does an excellent job of recapping the history of what we know today as NAMI Minnesota. Like so many nonprofit disability rights organizations, NAMI began at a kitchen table. Some concerned parents of children with disabilities were determined not to let down their children, and they saw it as their parental obligation to ensure that the state fulfilled its social responsibility to all children.

Anne Henry, also from Minnesota Disability Law Center, gives us a view of service options available to the disability community, from federal government funding to state medical assistance. Henry explains two programs, Money Follows the Person and the Community First Choice Option, that you may have heard about but never completely understood. This easy-to-understand article will be useful for new legislators in coming to appreciate the massive savings that federal grant programs offer to our state budget. Many thanks to the Disability Law Center for good articles this month.

Courage Center’s John Tschida contributed two articles this month. Since Tschida is one of our com-munity’s finest lobbyists, readers can use his legislative analysis to get the expert’s view of what’s coming up. On page 4, Tschida responds to Billy Golfus, one of our finest, most outspoken disability community activists. Golfus has expressed his concerns about what he sees as shortcomings of Courage Center and his legislatively enforced poverty. Golfus has a very long history of involvement and photojournalistic documentation of the disability rights movement, and is nationally known for his award-winning 1995 documentary “When Billy Broke His Head … and Other Tales of Wonder” (www.fanlight.com/catalog/films/136_wbbhh.php). If you haven’t seen it, put it at the top of your list. It’s a must-see film about the history of the disability rights movement, as well as the brave, funny story of Billy’s life.

It was a hectic ending for 2010 at Access Press. The day after Christmas a pipe burst and began flooding our offices. Because of the quick work of the staff, disaster was diverted. Jane  stopped into the office Sunday shortly after the pipe ruptured. She moved the phones and computers out of harm’s way while waiting for maintenance people to arrive and shut off the water. The following morning Dawn came in and with a little help from Griggs Midway staff, moved things back into place and had almost everything up and running by noon. On-Site Computer’s Michael Stier was there to get the computers back up and running and Dick Johnson, of Sound Services, had the telephones working again by 3 p.m. Tuesday morning we were sending this edition to our desktop publisher. We are back functioning as if nothing had happened! We wish you all a happy, dry 2011.

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