Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Is it only "au revoir" for the MPCA Board?

Today the Board of the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency is having its last schedule meeting. I happen to be pretty much in agreement with this analysis, recently published in the Star Tribune about how that came to be. I also lean very heavily toward the perspective provided by Senator Elizabeth Warren on trade policy: "Fix the System," rather than the opinion expressed by the Editorial Board of The Star Tribune on Trade Policy: "Get to Yes." It seems to me that too much of this past legislative session in Minnesota was consumed by efforts to just find a "Yes" a minority of three people could agree on. Solutions to major issues for both the Twin Cities metro and greater Minnesota failed to be developed by that process. We need to fix our own system to get better results.

Several years ago, when Minnesota agreed to commit hundreds of millions of dollars to what many claim, and I agree, was (and still is) an unneeded new bridge across the St. Croix River, I wondered why we couldn't put contractors and their employees back to work around the state fixing existing roads and bridges. In light of the recent legislative session's transportation funding failure, I think that the St. Croix Bridge decision is even more questionable. I'm not prepared to let that go and move on because I continue to see what I consider to be extremely short-sighted decisions being made by those "representing" us in our political system.

From once being known nationally as "the state that works," Minnesota now seems to be following Wisconsin and Michigan in a race to the bottom. That, by itself, would be surprising and unfortunate enough. The fact that Democratic-Farmer-Labor (DFL) politicians are leading Minnesota in that competition is unexpected and, to my way of thinking, extremely unfortunate. Enough so that, while I may support individual candidates running as democrats, such as Bernie Sanders, I won't consider voting a straight democratic ticket or cutting a check for the Democratic party until or unless the party changes its priorities and once again provides noteworthy support for its three major constituencies: labor, environmentalists and the middle class.

Have you ever thought about why it is that one major party focuses on shrinking government while the other works to expand it although neither pays enough attention to making government work well. Is that why both democrats and republicans voted to eliminate the MPCA Board? Yet both parties have avoided politically unpopular decisions on correcting Minnesota's Sex Offender Program. Neither can claim to have appropriately addressed our child protection system's deficiencies. Such failure seem to me to be further examples of DFL politicians running from the electorate rather than leading us to worthwhile solutions. That's not why I've voted for politicians in prior elections. That's not the kind of politician likely to get my vote in the future. There are some worthwhile politicians out there, there just don't seem to be enough of them. Nevertheless, I look forward to future opportunities to vote for someone I can believe in, although these days that looks likely to be someone who's a member of the Green Party or an Independent wearing a DFL cloak.

Of History and Hope

By Miller Williams

We have memorized America,
how it was born and who we have been and where.   
In ceremonies and silence we say the words,   
telling the stories, singing the old songs.
We like the places they take us. Mostly we do.   
The great and all the anonymous dead are there.   
We know the sound of all the sounds we brought.   
The rich taste of it is on our tongues.
But where are we going to be, and why, and who?   
The disenfranchised dead want to know.
We mean to be the people we meant to be,   
to keep on going where we meant to go.

But how do we fashion the future? Who can say how
except in the minds of those who will call it Now?
The children. The children. And how does our garden grow?   
With waving hands—oh, rarely in a row—
and flowering faces. And brambles, that we can no longer allow.

Who were many people coming together
cannot become one people falling apart.
Who dreamed for every child an even chance
cannot let luck alone turn doorknobs or not.
Whose law was never so much of the hand as the head   
cannot let chaos make its way to the heart.
Who have seen learning struggle from teacher to child   
cannot let ignorance spread itself like rot.
We know what we have done and what we have said,   
and how we have grown, degree by slow degree,   
believing ourselves toward all we have tried to become—
just and compassionate, equal, able, and free.

All this in the hands of children, eyes already set   
on a land we never can visit—it isn’t there yet—
but looking through their eyes, we can see   
what our long gift to them may come to be.   
If we can truly remember, they will not forget.


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