Many people are not aware of National Police Week coming up May 13-19. This year, the National Law Enforcement Officer's Memorial in Washington D.C. will be adding 382 names to the Memorial Wall -143 of which were killed in the line of duty this past year. A total 17,917 officers names have been inscribed in sacrifice.
May 15 is National Peace Officers Memorial Day -as signed into Public Law 87-726 on October 1, 1962, by President John F. Kennedy. President Kennedy honored our law enforcement personnel and their families who gave the ultimate sacrifice by declaring all American flags be at half-staff - this remains in effect 45 years later.
To see the Memorial Wall in Washington D.C. is sobering. To know that a friend's name is on that wall is heart-wrenching. Please, remember all officers - federal, state, county, city and tribal at sometime during this upcoming week.
To quote an inscription on the marble wall at the NLEOMF in Washington, D.C. - "It is not how these officers died that makes them heroes - but how they lived."
Officer Kerri Johnson
Akeley Police Department
Health care costs hurt business
Our huge and growing health care costs are hurting American business as it competes world wide. Every developed nation but the U.S. has a single-payer health system, and they have better health statistics and lower costs for the foreign companies that sell against us.
Opponents of single payer programs argue that it is "socialism" and represents alleged government inefficiency.
Actually, our single-payer Medicare system is very efficient, with total overhead costs in the 3 to 4 percent range. Private insurance companies and HMOs have overhead costs of 20 percent to 30 percent. And our socialistic Social Security System also works. It was opposed by nearly every Republican congressman when it was adopted in the 1930s. But today, senior conservatives and liberals alike go happily to the mailbox on the third day of each month for those checks which have meant financial security for millions.
President Bush wants consumers to reject the federal government and use Health Savings Accounts to "shop and compare". On the Feb. 16, 2006, PBS News Hour, he said, "When you go buy a car, you know, you're able to shop and compare. And yet in health care that's just not happening in America today."
The president apparently believes the individual patient has more bargaining power than Medicare, as he goes from doctor to doctor, hunting for a deal while his fever is rising or appendix dripping.
The single payer approach to health care will be a major issue in the 2008 election, with increasing public awareness of its virtues.
AFSCME: C-I actions illegal
I have been following the actions of the Crosby-Ironton School Board and its legal counsel with concern, and curiosity. Concern because of the hostility displayed towards their own hardworking, caring employees, and curiosity because what the board is proposing to do is clearly illegal under Minnesota labor law.
The AFSCME contract is valid and enforceable even after the "expiration date" of June 30, 2007. In Minnesota, a public employee union contract cannot be canceled or terminated until two things happen; 1) true, good faith, negotiations take place, and 2) the Union files a strike notice with the BMS, and actually strikes. (See Mn Statute 179A.20, subd. 6.)
The Crosby-Ironton School District cannot legally terminate the labor contract with AFSCME. The action the school board has taken in voting to terminate the contract before any negotiations have taken place is, in my opinion, also an "unfair labor practice" under MN Statutes 179A.13. MN Statute 179A.13 says an unfair labor practice takes place when a public employer is:
"...refusing to meet and negotiate in good faith with the exclusive representative of its employees ... (or) ...interfering, restraining, or coercing employees in the exercise of the rights guaranteed in sections 179A.01-179A.25"
To threaten to terminate a public employee contract, which legally cannot be terminated, in order to coerce the employees to comply with demands for concessions in negotiations is, in my view, an unfair labor practice. I urge the School Board to reconsider its actions and to give negotiations and mediation a chance to take place without issuing premature and illegal threats. And I urge further research on the legal implications of the action taken thus far.
I do hope that the parties can set aside their differences concerning the scheduling of negotiation dates and move forward from here on a more positive note.
Teresa L. Joppa
AFSCME Council 65
Pawlenty hurts the middle class
Again we see our higher-office-seeking governor giving his veto to the health and human services legislation that would have brought health costs down and would have started many of Minnesota's uninsured children toward better health and lower insurance costs. He also vetoed a bill that would have given citizens the right to sue insurance companies when they fail to pay their claims in a reasonable and timely fashion. Additionally, he would prefer loading highway costs on our children and grandchildren, rather than pay as you go.
Why? Pawlenty has built his political ambitions on the backs of Minnesotas poor and middle-class citizens. What people don't know is that he is politically in bed with the Minnesota Taxpayers League, made up of the top-income citizens of this state whose main objective is to keep taxes from the 50,000 super rich, but it is OK to stick it to those least able to pay. Don't be fooled, voters - he is not doing most Minnesotans any favors. Instead, he creates a lucrative personal future at the expense of most middle-class taxpayers. Because of slick-word trickery, lawyer Pawlenty and his many Republican supporters in the Senate and a few in the House will surely get thrown out of office. Then Minnesota will return to the honest mainstream values of its hardworking citizens - especially those left out now because of Pawlenty's politics.
Follow the money: When this governor leaves office, he and his lawyer wife (former judge) will be both rewarded. After all, they can and will be able to afford the lifestyles of the rich and famous - yet the poor and middle class in Minnesota will continue to struggle with basic health-care costs and taxation that does not consider the ability to pay.
Governor and friends, we will remember.
M. Fritz Bertelt
Good news should be reported
On May 4, the Dow Jones Industrial Average closed at an all-time high of 13,264. On May 3, the Standard & Poors 500 closed above 1500 for the first time since Sept. 2000. Unemployment and inflation have been extremely low. All of this good economic news has been largely ignored by the mainstream media, Brainerd Dispatch included. These extraordinary economic accomplishments can not be ignored. They are a result of standard, Conservative Republican policy: tax cuts; free market; less government Intervention and regulation; personal responsibility and accountability. As we witness the current feeding frenzy of attempted tax increases in St. Paul by the DFL, it is good to know that Republican economic policies get results. Everyone who contributes and participates benefits from sound, free enterprise economic policy.
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