Editor's Column - July 2006

Summer’s half over already and I have not even made it to the beach once. That’s a bit of a joke, really: the beach is not a place where I usually spend my time in the summer or any other season. I much more enjoy walking around the neighborhood with my wife and my dogs. But I have not made the time to do much getting around the neighborhood either. It is either too hot or there’s something else on the agenda to keep me busy Do you find yourself busy, too, in the supposedly relaxed “good old summertime”?

Now that the state legislative session is over and the precinct caucuses and endorsement processes are behind us, the primary and general election are ahead of us. We need to make sure we’re informed! As we do in all state and federal elections, Access Press has put out a questionnaire to all the candidates for governor and for US senate. We will be encouraging the candidates to answer our questions this month so that we can print their platforms in the August edition. When you are talking to the candidates ask them to take some time and respond to Access Press survey.

Also in preparation for the elections, the Minnesota Consortium for People with Disabilities has put together a number of Medicaid/Medical Assistance Forums to update everyone on the Deficit Reduction Act (DRA). These forums will be a great place to acquaint yourself with the cuts that are looming because of the DRA. Knowing how the DRA will affect you will be great information to have when you question the candidates on their platforms. Over and over we’ve got to ask them directly, “How are you intending to support the disability and aging community?” We need to let all the candidates know that we are informed and will be voting and will be influencing our family and friends on how to vote.

If candidates are not responding with committed pledges to the disability community, I think we should not only withhold our vote, but we can tell politicians that we’ll do like Sam Sullivan did and run for office ourselves. See our profile of Vancouver’s mayor who is disabled. I know that there are plenty of people in the Minnesota disability community that are well equipped to join Mayor Sullivan as visible political leaders replacing some of our current elected officials.

Once we are informed and ready to vote, there’s increasingly good news about the technology to support us as voters. We have an article on the new voting machines. On the front page we also have a list of locations for you to go try out and experiment with the new machines so you will be more comfortable using them on Election Day, November 7, 2006.

The Americans with Disabilities Act is celebrating its 16th anniversary on July 26th. Cindy Tarshish, executive director of ADA Minnesota, has put together an outstanding and fun agenda for this year’s celebration. On July 26, plan to attend the free ADA birthday event at Radisson University Hotel, 615 Washington Avenue, SE, Minneapolis to hear Berry Taylor, an Illinois attorney who has worked ADA cases for many years. I look forward to hearing his insights on the future of ADA. In addition, anyone who has seen actor and storyteller Kevin Kling knows that a free opportunity to hear Minnesota’s (and National Public Radio’s) own funnyman is an opportunity not to pass up. Michael “The Hook” Deutsch is also quite a talent, and if you get a chance to speak with him, you will quickly recognize his passion for the music. See the bios of each of the entertainers. This will be a night to remember. Hope to see you there!