Star Tribune, Oct. 26
Flip Saunders lived life the Minnesota way
It may have come as a surprise to some readers of news about Timberwolves head coach Flip Saunders' death that he was a native of Ohio. Saunders, who died Sunday at age 60 after battling Hodgkin's lymphoma, had been such a prominent presence in Minnesota for so long that we suspect many Minnesotans assumed he had always been "one of us."
Philip "Flip" Saunders arrived in Minneapolis from the Cleveland area to play basketball for the University of Minnesota. There, he met his future wife and found his home. Though he coached a few stints elsewhere, he and his wife, Debbie, raised their four children in the Twin Cities.
There have been few more durable figures in this state's sports scene. From his start as a savvy, gregarious Gophers point guard from1973-77, Saunders matured to become a reliable exemplar of leadership traits Minnesotans prize — optimism, hard work, loyalty, personal warmth, grace under fire. He was the kind of sports hero whose judgment fans trusted off as well as on the court and whom parents encouraged their children to admire.
As he was mourned Sunday, Saunders was remembered as much for his compassion as his competitiveness, and as much for his devotion to his family, alma mater and adopted state as to his professional team, of which he was a part-owner and head of basketball operations as well as head coach. Stories were told about Saunders' interest in the little dribblers at summer youth camps, his mentorship of promising local high school players, his boosterism for Gophers sports of all kinds, not just basketball.
He reportedly told an inquiring ESPN interviewer that he remained a Minnesota resident during years when he was employed elsewhere because of "the loyalty and the passion that the people have here." Plenty of Minnesotans would say that's what they liked about Flip, too. His loss to a cruel cancer is felt well beyond the confines of Target Center.
The Free Press of Mankato, Oct. 24
Community has a role in stemming abuse
While October is domestic violence awareness month, the prevalence of domestic violence in Mankato and elsewhere warrants that we be vigilant and aware every month of the damage domestic violence causes to families and the community at large.
In 2014, Mankato's Committee Against Domestic Abuse responded to and helped 2,415 survivors of domestic violence. The group provided 270 women and children with emergency safe shelter.
For Minnesota in 2014, 16 women, five family and friends, and two men died or were murdered as a result of domestic violence, according to Minnesota Coalition for Battered Women.
In 2015 so far, the group has raised its Live Free Without Violence flag for an additional 25 victims who died in domestic violence-related incidents in Minnesota. Aitkin County Sherriff Deputy Steven Sandberg was the latest victim of a domestic-related murder, as the man he was monitoring in the hospital was a chronic domestic abuser and had been arrested for assaulting his wife, including dragging her into their house by her hair.
The group also reports 62,000 Minnesotans seek domestic violence services each year.
Mankato-area law enforcement, courts and social service agencies have teamed up in recent years to develop a domestic violence response program that calls for intervening earlier in domestic violence cases and closing legal loopholes in prosecutions. The Minnesota Legislature also has implemented new laws that restrict access to guns for convicted domestic abusers. There also have been pilot programs to allow victims of domestic abuse to know via GPS technology when they might be in danger from a former abuser.
CADA is participating in a statewide program that allows domestic violence victims to receive important mail without having an address that would allow previous abusers to find them. The nonprofit also has greatly increased its community outreach and education programs in the last few years to teach the community about domestic violence and what they can do. From one-act plays to a series of educational programs, the group is bringing to the forefront the serious issue of domestic violence.
CADA Executive Director Renita Robinson says domestic violence needs to be normalized into our everyday conversations. It shouldn't be taboo to discuss. She's right.
We all have a role in preventing domestic violence, reporting it, and supporting victims with programs whenever and wherever we can.
Mesabi Daily News, Oct. 24
Dayton all-in to control PolyMet decision
All those phrases, unfortunately, accurately describe Gov. Mark Dayton's announcement on Thursday that he wants an outside law firm that focuses on environmental issues to review PolyMet's finances as the company nears permitting for its copper/nickel/precious metals operation on the Iron Range.
He will seek legislative approval to spend state taxpayer money for the unnecessary legal work that can be done by lawyers within his own administration.
Lawmakers should say, "No, governor. We trust those in charge of your state Pollution Control Agency and Department of Natural Resources, along with the Attorney General's Office, even though you obviously do not."
Gov. Dayton played a game of "I have no opinion to share on the proposed PolyMet project" for years.
However, he had been sending signals the past few months that he would all of a sudden take over and become the decider on a final go-ahead for the state's first nonferrous venture, rather than allowing the Department of Natural Resources and its commissioner to follow state laws, rules and regulations already in place for the permitting.
Now, as many Gov. Dayton watchers and skeptics predicted, he's all-in with the environmental extremists and preservationists, who far too often voice outlandish claims based on untruths — and they just get away with doing that without being called out by the governor, some other officials and legislators and way too many members of the media.
And, in doing so, Gov. Dayton tossed DNR and MPCA officials and skilled professionals under the environmental bus.
That's just not right. These are people who take pride in their work and have given solid environmental marks to the PolyMet project because those who are working on the venture to make it the best possible project have earned that trust.
The governor and Lt. Gov. Tina Smith will certainly be traveling to several communities in the coming weeks and months to help celebrate new businesses and the jobs they create.
They should be doing the same this coming summer on the Iron Range to mark permits being granted for the PolyMet nonferrous mining project.
They should then be hailing construction commencing on the venture that will create about 350 permanent jobs, hundreds more in indirect work and more than 2 million hours of construction.
They should be applauding at that time so many new jobs in the one region of the state that continually has a higher unemployment rate than do others in Minnesota.
But instead it's quite possible they will be making sure that state checks have been cut for a law firm's duplicative efforts on the PolyMet issue.
That's not leadership.