Editor's Column - September 2007

On the last Saturday before Labor Day, I spent the afternoon at the State Fair with a few family members who came all the way from Arizona — and 200,000 of my fellow dehydrating Minnesotans. It was great fun, but I did what I warned everyone about earlier this summer; darn it, wouldn’t you know, I overheated. It’s great that the Fair offers wheelchair accessible park-and-ride vans (at Oscar Johnson Arena), but there were tons of us using them, and I waited too long in the sun and had to keep dowsing myself with cold water. Hope your own Fair visit was safer. Next month: my tips for safe cold-weather travel, maybe I’ll follow my on advice!

Mai Thor gives us a quick summary of “Instant Runoff Voting.” The article, “No More ‘Lesser Of Two Evils,’” explains it in very simple terms. IRV may make the voting process initially more difficult for the voter, since we will need to plan for what our first, second and possibly third picks would be in any particular political race. But it would also eliminate primary elections; think of the money and effort saved if there were no primaries. It might even mean that someone other than a millionaire could be elected for political office. Read the article and let us know what you think about Instant Runoff Voting. Will it save costs, offer full participation and bring out more voters?

We have a couple articles about unionizing personal care assistants. I’m not sure how unionizing will work, but it’s reassuring to know that the National Council on Independent Living and the Service Employees International Union are working together to look at how unionizing the PCA program will affect the independent living model. It’s a topic that I hope our top advocates and lobbyists will become involved in to make certain that unionizing is in the best interest of the clients, the PCAs, the PCA agencies and the state of Minnesota. We certainly wouldn’t want the program to become unaffordable for the state, and we surely don’t want to lose the personal care options that we have worked so hard for in Minnesota. Still, we do want our PCAs and agencies to make living wages! I think this whole issue is something that we all need to be involved in to ensure the best outcome for everyone. Please write in and tell us your concerns on this issue, pro and con.

The Disability Linkage Line and the Work Incentives Connection offer an explanation of “Impairment Related Work Expenses” (IRWE). These are deductions that can be used to make sure your income other than Social Security is correctly counted so that you stay eligible for the appropriate amount of your social security disability check (SSDI or SSI). This is very important information to clearly understand before and once you become employed. Read the article, but also contact the Work Incentives Connection, the Disability Linkage Line or Social Security Administration to get complete details on how best to maintain your benefits while becoming gainfully employed. Join the ranks of the taxpayers of Minnesota, and make sure you understand all the incentives that have been built in for people with disabilities.

We received a letter from an anonymous writer (which is all right at Access Press; if you want to write a respectful letter to the editor and remain anonymous, we will respect that option and your opinion). The writer makes several valuable points concerning vulnerability, asking how much of our vulnerability do we create ourselves out of our own fear, and how much fear has society created for us by reinforcing our inabilities or limitations to fend for ourselves? I agree with the writer that a fearful person can be spotted by an abuser and may be abused. If you feel strong and stand up for yourself, there is less chance of becoming a target. In the 1940s, Franklin Roosevelt called for a guarantee in America of Four Freedoms: freedom of speech and worship, freedom from want and fear. An Indiana group, at FifthFreedom.org, is working for people with disabilities to also be guaranteed freedom from exclusion. I wish for this writer, and for all of us, the exercise of those five freedoms.