Friday, March 18, 2016

Can broken governnance fix broken climate?

This morning's snow-covered ground came as a surprise. I hadn't expected it to "flurry" that much last night. It's brought even more birds than usual to the feeders. It also made it easier this morning to spot the handful of whitetails as they headed through the gap (back behind the dwarf cedar in the middle of the photo). That's the first time in weeks, perhaps months, I've seen either deer or turkeys this Winter.

St. Patrick's Day is supposed to be green, not white
St. Patrick's Day is supposed to be green, not white
Photo by J. Harrington

A week or so ago we noted that the Legislative Auditor's Report on the Iron Range Resources and Rehabilitation Board (IRRRB) was due to be released today. It's available here. These are the major findings:
"We found that the IRRRB has not adequately overseen the use and impact of loans and grants it awards. We also found that Giants Ridge, a resort owned by the IRRRB, has had a large and growing operating loss for many years. In addition, we concluded that the law that establishes the membership and powers of the IRRRB Board is vulnerable to a constitutional challenge."
If you add these findings to what's passing for a political primary season, providing platforms for race-baiters and apologists for the status quo, plus the refusal of the Republican-controlled Senate to do its job and hold hearings and a vote on a Supreme Court nominee, and the fact that the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency has a number of expired permits to process for mining operations, and the failure, across all levels of government, to protect the citizens, especially the children, of Flint Michigan, it should come as no surprise that the guardian newspaper has concluded that government in this country of ours is broken. That's a theme we've been articulating for some time now, particularly about the finding of "adequate" for what we consider to be a deeply flawed environmental impact statement for the PolyMet project and insufficiently aggressive responses to global warming.

If it weren't for the fact that billions of people are looking to the US for leadership in responding to the global warming climate challenge, and that Minnesota, which was noted for the quality of its governance, could, I believe, provide much improved leadership in a number of areas, I might not care. At the time I moved here, I consciously chose Minnesota, not Mississippi or Louisiana. It's getting harder to tell the difference, except for the snow we can get 11 months of the year. Maybe you think the answer to this list and similar items is to vote for those who promise to cut your taxes. Let me point out that will probably just cause China to laugh at us all the more.


By Dorianne Laux

When you’re cold—November, the streets icy and everyone you pass
homeless, Goodwill coats and Hefty bags torn up to make ponchos—
someone is always at the pay phone, hunched over the receiver

spewing winter’s germs, swollen lipped, face chapped, making the last
tired connection of the day. You keep walking to keep the cold
at bay, too cold to wait for the bus, too depressing the thought

of entering that blue light, the chilled eyes watching you decide
which seat to take: the man with one leg, his crutches bumping
the smudged window glass, the woman with her purse clutched

to her breasts like a dead child, the boy, pimpled, morose, his head
shorn, a swastika carved into the stubble, staring you down.
So you walk into the cold you know: the wind, indifferent blade,

familiar, the gold leaves heaped along the gutters. You have
a home, a house with gas heat, a toilet that flushes. You have
a credit card, cash. You could take a taxi if one would show up.

You can feel it now: why people become Republicans: Get that dog

off the street. Remove that spit and graffiti. Arrest those people huddled

on the steps of the church. If it weren’t for them you could believe in god,

in freedom, the bus would appear and open its doors, the driver dressed
in his tan uniform, pants legs creased, dapper hat: Hello Miss, watch

your step now. But you’re not a Republican. You’re only tired, hungry,

you want out of the cold. So you give up, walk back, step into line behind
the grubby vet who hides a bag of wine under his pea coat, holds out
his grimy 85 cents, takes each step slow as he pleases, releases his coins

into the box and waits as they chink down the chute, stakes out a seat
in the back and eases his body into the stained vinyl to dream
as the chips of shrapnel in his knee warm up and his good leg

flops into the aisle. And you’ll doze off, too, in a while, next to the girl
who can’t sit still, who listens to her Walkman and taps her boots
to a rhythm you can’t hear, but you can see it—when she bops

her head and her hands do a jive in the air—you can feel it
as the bus rolls on, stopping at each red light in a long wheeze,
jerking and idling, rumbling up and lurching off again.

Thanks for visiting. Come again when you can.
Please be kind to each other while you can.