I attended the Governor’s SWLRT Discussion today in St. Paul, the room was packed. Initially, an overview of the process and current statistics was presented, The problem is that there is currently a need for $144.5 million and a decision needs to be made before August 31. Two options were given. One option has local governments and agencies providing the money. Option 2 is to shut down the project.
There were numerous comments, pro and con, afterwards. Most of the comments wanted the Southwest Light Rail project to proceed. Most opponents seemed mainly concerned about the cost of the project. The primary exception is the group that has the lawsuit against the project. The issue is the environmental damage and the lawsuit is scheduled to be heard in September 2017.
On Thursday, August 18, the Commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Health was in Dakota County to talk about ways to improve the health of the people in Dakota County as well as in Minnesota. He talked about the improvements of health is some areas and virtually the lack in some areas. Dr. Ehlinger related the improvement in childbirth statistics once women had the right to vote. He emphasized the concept of health equity and the importance of including health in all policies.
He said he once talked with Governor Anderson about the major achievements that took place during his administration. The Governor attributed these achievements to Social Conscience, Investing in the Common Good, and Cooperation. Attributes which seem to be lacking today.
Bell Labs celebrated its new location in Eagan on Monday. Governor Dayton was among the officials present at the ceremony. Since Bell Labs is taking over an existing building, their CEO, swung a sledgehammer into a wall to commemorate the construction that will take place to provide their new home.
For over twenty years, Bell Labs has been a Minnesota-based contract manufacturer for the health and beauty industry. In addition to having more space, Bell Labs plans to hire 100 more people as part of their expansion. Good news for our economy!
Wendy Davis addressed a group in Eagan yesterday. As a Texas state senator, she received a lot of attention when she did an 11-hour filibuster protesting legislation that would restrict abortion access for women. The Supreme Court recently confirmed that the state law was unconstitutional.
Ms. Davis initially talked about her life and the problems she faced and overcame. She also shared why she holds Hillary Clinton in high regard and that she was a strong supporter during the first presidential campaign and continues that enthusiasm this time around,
She is very warm and articulate. She is quite passionate about the need to have more women in leadership positions and as role models. I think many look on Wendy Davis as a modern day hero.
I attended the opening night performance of THE LITTLE MERMAID at Eagan High School with Tammy and Olivia, my five-year old granddaughter. Looked like a packed house and the performers did a great job! There was a standing ovation at the end. I was also impressed with the clever costumes. I highly recommend this production, especially if you have some young people that you would like to show a good time.
Afterwards, we each named our favorite character. We each picked a different one.
Women In Government is holding a Summit on Mental Health & Substance Use Disorders today and tomorrow in Bloomington. William Moyers, Vice President of Public Affairs, at the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation talked about “Eliminating Barriers to Success.” He said that he appreciates the use of “Substance Use Disorders” over “Substance Abuse.” He said we need to eliminate the stigma attached to the problem and repeatedly said that “addiction doesn’t discriminate.” People need to know that it is okay to ask for help.
Kelly O’Brien, the Executive Director of The Kennedy Forum started her presentation with a video about ” The System We Need.” Both she and Sue Abderholden, the Executive Director of NAMI Minnesota, concentrated on the parity of mental health treatment to physical health treatment. Basically, it sounds like mental health has a ways to go.
Senator Barb Goodwin of Minnesota and Ira Burnim, Legal Director of Judge David Bazelon Center on Mental Health talked about mental health concerns in the Criminal Justice System. The sad fact is that we are imprisoning people that should be treated in mental health facilities. Not only is this barbaric, it is more costly and it hardly achieves a positive outcome.
The evening concluded with a screening of If Only, a movie about drug addiction among teens. Two men who worked on this project gave passionate presentations about the need to have community discussions on this issue because so many children are dying from this addiction.
On Sunday, the Eagan Historical Society hosted the Reopening Celebration for Eagan’s 1914 Town Hall. It is evident that a lot of work went into the restoration of the building that was damaged by arson in 2013. It is great to see so many interested in the history of their community!
In the evening, there was a Celebration and Concert dedicated to the life of Tony Caponi. The event was held in the Caponi Art Park, a marvelous legacy for our community.
Senator Jim Carlson and I conducted a Town Hall Meeting on June 9 at Metcalf Junior High. A summary of the 2016 Session and the option of a special session were the main points of the agenda.
Probably the most discussion was on components of a comprehensive Transportation Bill.
Many thanks to all who participated.
I attended the dedication of the Ascent Fountain this afternoon. It has an impressive sculpture of soaring eagles. The soaring eagles symbolize “the synergies that lift and encourage the aspirations of others.”
To the side is a statue of a lone eagle. The “LONE EAGLE” represents the difference one person can make by mentoring others, with dedicated service to family, community and nation.
Foster Willey, the sculptor, was in attendance.
Memorial Day is a day to pause and reflect on the lives that were lost fighting for our country, for our freedom. A time to offer gratitude to those who have secured the freedom we enjoy.
The weather today was beautiful for the Memorial Day observances. In Burnsville, the main observance was held at the Bicentennial Garden. It is a lovely area in the midst of trees, next to a fountain, and lots of flowers in the area.
In Eagan, the memorial ceremony was held at the Memorial Plaza. The Eagan Mens Chorus sang the song of each branch of the Armed Forces.
While it is important to pay tribute to those who gave their lives for their country, the question is how many lives have to be sacrificed before we find ways of settling our differences without resorting to war.