Editor’s Column – May 2008

Finally, it seems, we have made it through the winter. This last month has been a roller-coaster of weather. One […]

Finally, it seems, we have made it through the winter. This last month has been a roller-coaster of weather. One morning, the warm bright sun would wake you by 6 a.m.; then the next day you wouldn’t even see the sun, and a wet chill would remain throughout the day. But this is Minnesota! And no one knows that better than legislators.

What are those legislators doing? John Tschida does a great job of explaining some of the goings-on at the Capitol. I sure hope that some of the health-care reforms he writes about come to pass. With health-care costs consuming 25 percent—an unsustainable amount—of the state’s overall budget, the “health care home” Tschida describes sounds like a very positive restructuring, rather than a patch-the-hole fix. Rewarding providers through financial incentives for preventive practices and for delivering the best products and services sounds like a good idea.

Maybe after the upcoming elections there will be some serious proposals to change the whole health-care system throughout our country. I think we have to think positively and get very involved as a community for our health-care coverage problems to become a thing of the past. The only way that this can work, though, is if we all start getting involved in the politics of health care for everyone. At least one way to get involved is volunteering for politicians that are like-minded. Another is getting to know the policymakers we already have. I think our leaders really do want what is best for us, but unless we tell them what that is they can only be “those politicians.” Get to know them on a first-name basis, and let them know what you need. I know I would fight much harder for someone I know than for someone I have only heard about.

Have you ever heard of Doha, Qatar? I hadn’t, until Mary Kay Kennedy from Advocating Change Together (ACT) came to our office and said that she had just been invited by the Princess of Qatar to come with one of ACT’s board members and check out their new Center for Children with Special Needs. ACT board member Roberta Blomster and Kennedy took the short trip around the world to see how the disability rights movement is expanding in the Middle East. Don’t miss the article.

There was some concern that last month Access Press was disrespectful to our police department through the choice of words used in an article title and subtitle. Policing our communities is an honorable profession, and I can’t imagine the stress, challenges, insults, assaults, danger and even chaos that police officers face every day. I thank every police officer for the respectable work that they do and I meant absolutely no disrespect. I believe that the community and the police department should show one another the utmost respect for their human—and professional—dignity at all times. In this particular situation, we were reporting a story concerning the Crisis Intervention Team (CIT), where officers are trained both to prevent and de-escalate mental health crises. I did not intend for the paper’s wording to be perceived as appalling or disrespectful. We are printing the two letters we received on this topic. Maybe, like one of the letters said, the words we chose showed my ignorance on the topic, and I will work on correcting that. It’s hard to always pick the right words, but where I can correct an offense, I will.

Along with those two letters we are printing two other letters that concerned other words that have multiple meanings.

This month our history note has been expanded. Luther Granquist reports on a topic that seems both appalling and incredible in this day and age. The sterilization of people with cognitive disabilities at the hands of government and the scientific community can only be described as barbaric and criminal, yet at the time the decision makers were sure that they were doing the right thing for society. We can only hope that these kinds of horrendous acts are recognized in the future and that as a society we will be wise enough to acknowledge and admit wrongs, and apologize.

Clarence Schadegg fills us in on what National Crime Victims’ Week has brought to the disability community. Olegario D. Cantos, Special Counsel to the Acting Assistant Attorney General of the U.S., explains a new federally granted initiative to improve public safety and broaden public awareness, civil rights training and greater crime reporting efforts. This new initiative should help in many areas, including making available more factual information on crimes against people with disabilities.

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