Editor’s Column – September 2012by Tim Benjamin // September 10th, 2012
It’s past Labor Day and the close of the Minnesota State Fair, school has started and it all adds up to what most Minnesotans consider the end of the summer. Let’s keep our fingers crossed and hope that we have more warm weather before we get overtaken with cold and snow. Seems to me that the end of every summer, we think we had a terribly hot summer and a light winter and at the end of the winter will say what a terrible winter we had and hope for the beautiful summer like we had last year. The weather is one of those things that we’re only satisfied with on the day after tomorrow about the day before yesterday.
Across Minnesota, there is a lot of political conversation about the two constitutional amendments proposed for the November ballot. The marriage amendment and the voter ID amendment are controversial. An unnecessary part of the controversy is that the wording of the bills has made it difficult to understand which way to vote. The yard signs are saying “vote yes” or “vote no,” like the political commercials and short clips in the mass media. Few ads really explain what voting yes or no means: is yes for and no against? If I vote no on the marriage amendment, does that mean I am against everyone having the same rights to marry? Does a yes vote on voter ID mean that I want people to have the same rights to vote? It’s confusing and the way I’ve resolved the confusion is to remember: each amendment is trying to change our constitution. I ask myself, do I think that those changes need to be made?
I’ve said there are implications to these amendments (especially the voter ID amendment) for our community. Republican, Democrat, Green or none of the above—it doesn’t matter which party you’re aligned with, most of us don’t want to disenfranchise or take away the rights of our neighbors. I’m not advocating for anyone to vote yes or no, just encouraging you to consider carefully which way your vote goes.
The national Republican and Democrat conventions are over, like summer, but the rest of the political season is guaranteed to be hotter. Mitt Romney and his vice presidential choice, Congressman Paul Ryan, R-Wisc. became the Republican candidates. The Democrat convention confirmed President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden as their candidates. I watched some of both conventions, and plan to keep listening to as many reports as I can from both presidential candidates. I hope you will too, using as many sources as you can find so that you understand each candidate and what they represent. It’s important for all Americans to stop being forced into one-sidedness and to cast votes that represent educated and ethically right choices for themselves in every election.
We’re excited to announce that Charles “Chuck” Van Heuveln will be awarded the Charlie Smith award this year on Nov. 2. The Access Press Board of Directors had a very challenging task in selecting the Charlie Smith award recipient from this year’s outstanding (and large) slate of nominees, and we’re all proud of their choice. Readers probably remember Chuck from the articles we wrote during the legislative session concerning his retirement and the age limitation on Medical Assistance for Unemployed People with Disabilities (MA”EPD). He lobbied and advocated and didn’t give up, and finally the legislature did make some appropriate changes in the age limitation. Read our front page article about Chuck’s many accomplishments over the years.
Thanks to all of you who nominated a candidate for the award. The board received a record number of nominees, all of them incredibly worthy individuals. It’s very pleasing to know that so many people are recognizing Charlie Smith and the distinction of the Access Press award. If your nominee didn’t win this year, please nominate him or her again next year. There have been several winners who were nominated more than once, and each year highlights different aspects of an individual’s record.
I hope each of you will be able to attend the award banquet to honor Chuck and the other nominees and join in on the celebration. It’s a great opportunity to meet and mingle with all of your friends and associates in the disability advocacy world. And of course there are some great treats in the silent auction and raffle that could be worth your time—and support the paper, too. See you all in November!