"Where Fillmore County News Comes First"
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Wednesday, August 20th, 2014
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The lesson congress should learn from the VA scandal


By Lee Hamilton

Fri, Jun 27th, 2014
Posted in All Commentary

Like other federal scandals before it, the mess involving VA hospitals has followed a well-trod path. First comes the revelation of misdoing. Then comes the reaction: a shocked public, an administration on the defensive, grandstanding members of Congress. Finally, major reform bills get introduced, debated, then put aside when the heat dies down, or the target agency gets more money thrown at the problem.

With the VA, we’re at the reform part of the cycle. The House and Senate have each passed their own legislation to fix the VA’s health system, including a massive infusion of money — at least $50 billion a year — to allow veterans to seek private health care. Fiscal watchdogs are crying foul, and the measures have ignited a furious debate over whether Congress should cut other programs. In its rush to address public outrage, Congress is proposing dramatic changes that could have benefited from more thorough consideration.

The irony is that this need not have happened — not with the VA, nor with the IRS or FEMA, or any of the other cases in recent years where the federal bureaucracy proved to be dysfunctional and Congress rushed in with a half-baked fix. Mostly what is needed is for Congress to do its job properly in the first place.

This means exercising its oversight responsibilities and catching problems before they mushroom. Diligent oversight can repair unresponsive bureaucracies, expose misconduct, and help agencies and departments become more effective. A lot of federal employees are doing good work, including at the VA; Congress needs to encourage that work while ridding the government of shoddy practices.

To do this, it first needs to know what’s happening. Each committee and subcommittee with oversight responsibility should be keeping track — on a close, even intimate basis — of the department and agencies in its purview. Performance, budget, personnel, management challenges, major and minor problems: members of Congress ought to be experts on them all. They should also listen carefully to their constituents and interest groups focused on the performance of a particular agency, which are often in a position to give Congress valuable information. Understanding the facts, working cooperatively with the federal agency, and anticipating problems is a far more useful approach than Congress’s usual pattern of throwing up its hands at a scandal and blaming everyone else for the p .....
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One Moment, Please... Welcome to Whiner-ville?

Fri, Jun 27th, 2014
Posted in All Commentary

To be quite frank, while I greatly appreciate our Democracy, I loathe elections. It’s not the process itself, or even the outcome. It all relates to how some candidates interact with media. I’ve been dealing with this for over 20 years, so I ..... 
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The Future belongs to those who show up!

By Yvonne Nyenhuis

Fri, Jun 20th, 2014
Posted in All Commentary

“The future is decided by those who show up!” On this premise I packed up my lack of expertise, my self doubts and headed to the DFL Convention in Duluth May 31, 2014. Saturday morning it was raining so I was delighted when a smiling young woma ..... 
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One Moment, Please... Never give up

Fri, Jun 20th, 2014
Posted in All Commentary

All around us we can find inspiring individuals who encourage us to find our passions in life and never give up. With Team U.S.A. taking center stage in the 2014 FIFA World Cup, proudly limping away with a 2-1 victory over Ghana -- America’s nem ..... 
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Brutus is an honorable man

Fri, Jun 13th, 2014
Posted in All Commentary

It has been a wonderful treat over these past few weeks to hear from the area’s own State Representative, one Greg Davids. It’s not often we get a chance to see inside the mind of our elected officials, and it’s even rarer to get to see into t ..... 
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One Moment, Please... Slender Man not the issue

Fri, Jun 13th, 2014
Posted in All Commentary

You may have heard in the news that two 12-year-old girls from the same school in the Milwaukee area lured a classmate into the woods where they stabbed her 19 times to please a fictional Internet character known as Slender Man. In another case in ..... 
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What our country needs from the press

By Lee Hamilton

Fri, Jun 13th, 2014
Posted in All Commentary

These days, the scandal involving long wait times at VA hospitals can feel like some made-in-Washington spectacle generated by politicians looking for headlines. But it isn’t. It had its genesis in a late-April report on CNN that as many as 40 vet ..... 
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Thoughts on liberal leadership

By Col. Stan Gudmundson

Fri, Jun 13th, 2014
Posted in All Commentary

“It drives everything I do in this office.” Obama says that is “income inequality”. Here are more of his thoughts on the same subject. “The growing inequality is not just morally wrong, it’s bad economics and that’s why reversing the ..... 
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Modern family structure: What is the cost?

By Jeff Erding

Fri, Jun 6th, 2014
Posted in All Commentary

Much has changed in the last 40 years, especially in the structure of the family. Pre 1960, single parenthood was rare and same sex parenting was nearly unheard of. Out of wedlock births are now nearly as common as are births to married couples, in ..... 
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