Sound bites on tragic events not always necessary
THUMBS DOWN: This goes out to all public figures, especially politicians. Please don't think you have to make a statement about the Colorado theater shooting just because people know who you are and it's the right thing to say. It's not necessary. It's one thing for the president or elected officials from Colorado to speak out, but we don't need politicians from other states or professional athletes chiming in all the time. Plus, it can backfire. Former Arizona state Sen. Russell Pearce wound up putting his foot in his mouth after posting a knee-jerk reaction to the shooting on Facebook, writing that lives were lost because nobody acted to stop the shooting. He later apologized. For politicians who can't help but give their two cents, we hope they choose their words a lot more carefully. Better yet, just avoid doing it altogether.
Keeping time in Minneota
THUMBS UP: It's not just a clock in Minneota, it's a symbol of history. The Minneota Mascot reported this week that fundraising efforts to rebuild the clock have nearly reached $10,000, and it will soon be returned to its place at the corner of 1st and Jefferson streets in downtown Minneota. The clock had been replaced by a digital version, which is fine, but it's nice to see a community come together to hold onto a piece of its history.
FEMA?lets Minnesota down
THUMBS DOWN: Saying the damage to dwellings from June flooding wasn't severe enough to warrant individual assistance under major disaster declaration, FEMA on Wednesday denied Gov. Mark Dayton's request for such assistance for areas of northeast Minnesota. Dayton got the ball rolling later Wednesday to appeal the decision, but it's pretty sad the feds aren't coming through for an area that was so ravaged by flooding. Dayton did secure a major federal disaster declaration for 13 Minnesota counties and three tribal nations following the severe storms and flooding after preliminary damage assessments revealed more than $108 million in costs and damages to public infrastructure in Aitkin, Carlton, Cook, Crow Wing, Dakota, Goodhue, Kandiyohi, Lake, Meeker, Pine, Rice, Sibley and St. Louis counties as well as the Fond du Lac Tribal Nation, the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe and the Grand Portage Tribal Nation. If the appeal doesn't fly, you can bet there will be a special session called in the coming weeks to get something done for these people. Let's hope, for the sake of the residents of counties hit by flooding, that any pursuit of an alternative source of help, if the appeal falls through, turns out better. Let's also hope our elected officials remember the purpose of a potential special session and keep other political issues in their pockets until January.
THUMBS DOWN: We're not against the Second Amendment of the right to keep and bear arms, but something clearly needs to be done in this country when it comes to attaining assault rifles like the ones used in the Aurora, Colo., theater shooting last week. Unfortunately, it's become far too easy to purchase these weapons, whether it's in person in gun shops or online, and unless our nation's next leader, whether it's Barack Obama or Mitt Romney, does more than pledge to get assault rifles off our streets, incidents like those in Colorado will happen again. Want to buy an assault rifle? Just Google it and go from there. That's pathetic. There's a difference between buying guns for hunting or protection purposes and buying rapid-fire weapons that, as Obama said this week, belong only on the battlegrounds of war and "in the hands of soldiers." Our next president needs to make reinstating the federal ban on assault rifles one of his top priorities next year. Making honest efforts to promote legislation that will make it more difficult for people to possess assault rifles won't guarantee mass shootings will cease, but not changing laws doesn't make sense, either. Do politicians need yet another tragic shooting to occur to get the message? Whether you're a guns-kill-people person or a people-kill-people person, there's no arguing that this country can do more to rid the streets of guns that kill lots of people in the blink of an eye (or, if you prefer, guns that allow people to kill lots of people in the blink of an eye).