THUMBS?UP: Two important political events are on the horizon in Marshall, just weeks away from the mid-term election. On Tuesday, House 21A candidates Democrat Ramona Larson and Republican Chris Swedzinski and Senate District 21 candidates Democrat Al Kruse and Republican Gary Dahms, will take part in a legislative candidates debate in Bellows Hall 102 at Southwest Minnesota State University. Following a meet-the-candidates reception at 6:30 p.m., the House 21A debate will run from 7-7:50 p.m., followed by the SD 21 debate at about 8 p.m. The debate, co-sponsored by the SMSU Political Science Association and Marshall Area Chamber of Commerce, will include questions from the audience. On Oct. 27, Marshall city council candidates, Lyon County sheriff candidates and Lyon County commissioner candidates will take part in a candidates' forum at the Marshall area YMCA. The first half-hour - from 7-7:30 p.m. - will be devoted to the Ward II city council race. That will be followed by the sheriff's race from 7:30-8 p.m. and Lyon County commissioners from 8-9 p.m. It's a big election year in Lyon County, where all three districts are being contested. There is also a Minnesota Transportation Alliance Marshall Transportation meeting and candidate's forum taking place at 10 a.m. Monday in the main meeting room at Marshall Municipal Utilities. These events give the public the chance to arm themselves with knowledge of these candidates and the issues, and we strongly encourage everyone to attend as many as they can.
THUMBS?UP: The American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy this week released their best and worst states when it comes to energy efficiency and Minnesota finished in the Top 10. Minnesota is actually tied at No. 8 with Connecticut. The fourth edition of ACEEE's State Energy Efficiency Scorecard is a comprehensive state energy efficiency policy Scorecard to document best practices, recognize leadership among the states, and provide a roadmap for other states to follow. The Scorecard benchmarks state efforts on energy efficiency policies and programs with the goal of encouraging states to continue to raise the bar in their efficiency commitments. With Washington twiddling its thumbs on clean energy - it talks a good game, but what has it done? - it's important that states like Minnesota are moving ahead. States, ACEEE Executive Director Steven Nadel said this week, are "getting done what Congress has so far failed to do." Congress in 2010 failed to take major action on climate and energy legislation this year and because of that states need to continue to do more to pursue clean energy and boost energy efficiency; this must be an on-going campaign.
THUMBS?DOWN: There's not a school in the state of Minnesota that isn't faced with adversity, most of which has sprouted from the state's financial situation. As the state continues to delay aid payments to schools, every school will continue to feel the ever-tightening pinch and will have to keep making tough decisions in the not-so-far-off future, decisions that could cost more people their jobs and will end up hurting the students. But for rural schools, the grass on the practice fields is a lot greener than it is in Minneapolis, where a school is on the brink of closing its doors. North High School Superintendent Bernadeia Johnson recently recommended the school close. In response to that, the NAACP in Minneapolis is now urging parents to pull their kids out of the Minneapolis School District and has accused Johnson and school board members of failing to educate the children who attend the school. The outcome and future of the school is currently up in the air, but hopefully this is not a sign of things to come. Hopefully, this won't turn into a trend. The state's political leaders, including its new governor, need to do their part in easing the burden on schools, beginning next year, by ceasing to hold them hostage when it comes to state aid. When school districts lose money, they lose resources, they lose good teachers and, in the end, they lose students to other districts. On the surface, a lack of funding might not be solely responsible for North's plight - there are other things at play, too, but its tanking enrollment is a symptom of less funding and continually keeping aid from schools means more could be on the fast track to a similar fate as North's.