Editor's Column - November 1991

Best news of the month is Senator Harris Wofford’s victory in Pennsylvania over the administrations candidate, former Attorney General Dick Thornburgh.  Senator Wofford’s strong advocacy of a national health care program was apparently the big issue, and his win was not a squeaker as polls predicted, but with a big margin.  Looks good for our side.  I’m sure Paul Wellstone will welcome another ally in the senate on this issue, especially one with a strong mandate from the voters.

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Cynical comment of the month attributed to Thornburgh’s “handlers”:  “We should have moved sooner to counter Wofford’s health care pitch”.  And that’s how our administration treats these issues, folks, as political gamesmanship.  No wonder Senator Wofford prevailed.

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The Regional Transit Board (RTB) met last month to set the new Metro Mobility fares.  It was done without much fanfare – with thirty to forty people with disabilities watching the session.  Mr. Erlichmann paid lip service to the crowd, informing us how badly he felt about the hardship this was going to cause many of the Metro Mobility riders.  He said the fault lies with the legislature, not with the efforts of the RTB.  Sorry, Mr. Erlichmann, some of the responsibility does belong to the RTB, and to you.  If you and the board members had made a strong case for full funding before the legislature, the budget might have been adequate.  Instead, you seemed to rather meekly acquiesce in the budget chopping process.  The program deserved a lot more than that from it’s leadership.

Governor Carlson seems to have forgotten he promised to help with Metro Mobility’s budget shortfall.  Last June in front of the Governor’s mansion, he told all of us he would try to get the program a loan.  That didn’t materialize, so he told us he would try to set up a discount coupon program to help people who could not afford the fare increase.  The Human Rights Department stepped in next charging the RTB with discrimination.  At that point the Governor halted all meetings which were in progress, intimating the whole problem would be solved by the Human Rights decision. Last week the Governor’s office told ACCESS PRESS there is nothing they can do, the Human Rights Department has made a decision and the case is closed.

So much for the concern of Governor Carlson.  Remember when he told us he understood the problem — that his mother, in fact has a disability, etc., and that he was not responsible, it was the legislature (those villains, again) and that he would see that something was done immediately?  And of course he has said he is going to work out a new health care plan.  Let’s not hold our breath… Maybe the Fair Fares Coalition should picket again. 

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The Director of the University of Minnesota Medical School has decided the Occupation Therapy Program should be closed.  Please see the article below.  It’s ridiculous to close a program that is successfully turning out graduates whose skills are in demand.  It should be expanded.  We thought the University’s role was to serve the people of the state, not the whims of the administrators.  The decision to eliminate the program will be discussed on December 12th, and you still have time to express an opinion by calling the Regent’s office: 612-625-6300.

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ACCESS PRESS is proud to bring you a series of articles on using the PASS program from the Social Security Administration to become self-sufficient.  Many of you who are on Social Security and Medical Assistance may find this is a way for you to make the transition from total reliance on State assistance to self-sufficiency.  Please read it carefully, I know it is complicated, but it could change your life.  Look for part II in December.