The Minnesota Partnership for Action Against Tobacco, which faced off with state Attorney General Mike Hatch in court today, certainly has its critics. MPAAT's foes say it has overstepped its authority and veered away from its proper mission of funding smoking cessation programs.
Still, it makes us nervous when politicians start eyeballing a pot of money such as the $202 million fund which was created by Minnesota's 1998 settlement with the tobacco industry. There is a natural temptation for state elected officials, particularly in times of state revenue shortfalls, to try and grab the money and use it for projects that will please their constituents. Look at how lawmakers felt no reluctance to borrow some of the anti-tobacco money so they could juggle their books and balance the budget.
The money from the settlement in the tobacco lawsuit was earmarked for anti-tobacco purposes by a court-sanctioned agreement. Any use of that money to help bail out legislators or constitutional officers who face budget woes is inappropriate.
The education of minors about the effects of tobacco, the enforcement of laws prohibiting the sale of tobacco to minors and efforts to encourage restaurants to prohibit smoking strike us as appropriate uses of the anti-tobacco money.
Building highways or funding education might be commendable projects but they're not what the court intended that money to be spent on.
Let the court decide if MPAAT is not administering the money properly but let's not use the money for politicians' wish lists.
Dog owners must be held responsible to control their pets
The Crow Wing County Board acted wisely when it unanimously approved a dog ordinance. There was a time -- an era fondly remembered by many residents-- when our county was more rural in nature and dogs were given the freedom roam on their own.
Take a look around at the influx of population and businesses in Crow Wing County, even in the outlying areas. Those bucolic days are gone.
It's just plain common sense that dog owners must be able to control their dogs. Too often, citizens who are merely trying to take a pleasant walk on a public road are accosted by a threatening dog that is unleashed and out of control.
If "Old Shep" respects his master's property lines and isn't disruptive he'll have no problem with the new dog ordinance. Neither should his master. The new dog ordinance is a regulation that makes sense.
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