"Where Fillmore County News Comes First"
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An Invitation to Democracy


Fri, Dec 5th, 2008
Posted in Commentary

It's practically an American sport to criticize our elected officials. I probably did my share of thoughtless criticism, too, until I took a job "moonlighting" as a reporter and started regularly attending my local school board and city council meetings.

I think the phrase "you can't please everyone" applies especially to the life of an elected representative, particularly those in small towns like you find in Fillmore County. Unlike national politicians, our local officials get to mingle with their constituents daily, for better or worse.

I empathize with these local folks who I see, for the most part, truly doing what they can to make the right decisions. When you watch them month after month studying issues and trying to do what's best, it's easy to start thinking they really don't deserve some of the unkind criticism they receive.

But, this being America, and one of our rights being the right to free speech, there's nothing intrinsically wrong with criticizing our officials.

Yet there's one criticism that annoys me a lot: when citizens complain that decisions are being made "without public input."

Excuse me? All meetings are public. The times and agendas are set and published in advance. There's ample seating in both the city council chambers and the room where school board meetings are held. But seldom are those seats full.

As a reporter, I am often one of the only people in the audience. Both boards offer time near the beginning of each meeting to hear from concerned citizens. Rarely does anyone use this time.

I also think there's confusion about what a democracy with a representative government really means. Democracy does NOT mean that each citizen gets to help decide every issue. Of course we can offer opinions, but we elect people to study the issues and ultimately make the best decisions for the community. I can't help but think that government would come to a complete standstill if each citizen had to provide input into each decision, large and small. Yet when I listen to some people, that seems to be what they want.

As citizens, we have a responsibility, too, and it is to stay on top of current issues-that is, if we want to have something to say about them. When I hear complaints that certain issues were decided somehow in secret, I just have to shake my head.

For the most part, because of my job, I was there. I know that there are ample opportunities for citizens to lea .....
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Corporate Welfare in the Medicare Program

Fri, Dec 5th, 2008
Posted in Commentary

How would you like to have a health care insurance plan that allows you to help pay for your neighbors' healthcare insurance plans? That includes neighbors who have six figure incomes. Welcome to the world of Congressmen who succumb to the blandishm ..... 
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A Time to be Thrifty

Fri, Nov 28th, 2008
Posted in Commentary

Because I was born in southwest Iowa in the very middle of the Great Depression, and have never been even moderately wealthy, some of my favorite places to shop are the Salvation Army stores, Saver's, Saint Vincent DePaul, and the Depot. Having grow ..... 
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Meet me in the poetry section

Fri, Nov 21st, 2008
Posted in Commentary

I must confess, I was a nerdy little kid. I didn't much like other kids; they always wanted to play outside, go to the park, and organize teams and clubs. My family forced me to answer the door when kids came to play, and made me go outside at least ..... 
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Political ruminations on Southeast Minnesota agriculture

Fri, Nov 14th, 2008
Posted in Commentary

As American families sit down at the supper table these next few weeks and chew over the collective political decisions we made in the voting booth this year, can we also take a moment to ruminate on agriculture?

It's a good time to realize ..... 
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Change is more than a word

Fri, Nov 14th, 2008
Posted in Commentary

It's over. The long, long, long campaign for the Presidency is behind us. The run for the top spot seemed to be a lifetime in length. Now we can relax. Or, can we?

The lightness of spirit many felt immediately after the election has been te ..... 
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A view from the other side

Fri, Nov 14th, 2008
Posted in Commentary

Over most of my adult life, I have been a faithful follower of politics with my own strong held opinions. I've grumbled at times in disgust with some policy decisions and/or personal actions of people serving in public office at various levels.
< ..... 
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McCain can show how bipartisanship works

Fri, Nov 7th, 2008
Posted in Commentary

The election is now one for the history books. The pundits and party faithful of both sides are busy analyzing and rationalizing the results.

McCain was correct during the campaign - he is not George W. Bush. No matter who was elected chang ..... 
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Changing the Subject

Fri, Oct 31st, 2008
Posted in Commentary

The holidays are coming. I can tell by the weather and the fully stocked shelves of canned pumpkin. Here we will be again, driving to an event with all those relatives that we love and carrying our lists of topics not to mention. You know, John and ..... 
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