“It’s to late for us, but it isn’t to late for our children and grandchildren to have a better life”.
Those are the emotional words of Mary Stodola of Hoyt Lakes, Minnesota as she testified before legislators at a public hearing on June 28 in Mountain Iron regarding the Minnesota Department of Health’s withholding of information about asbestos related cancer among taconite miners. Her husband has been diagnosed with mesothelioma and faces a deadly future.
I first wrote about this on June 22 where I suggested that Governor Pawlenty should ask for the resignation of Commissioner Mandernach. She is still there and the Governor seems more interested in his national aspirations. The good news to come out of the hearing is that the Universtiy of Minnesota will take over the study of the mesothelioma-related deaths. Congressman Jim Oberstar in a letter to the International Falls Daily Journal has pledged to do whatever he could do on the federal level to secure funding for the study. He also said that he was not aware of any attempts by the MDH to secure federal funding. The bad news is that so far no one is being held accountable for the year long delay in the release of the information.
State Senator John Marty (DFL) has a very good commentary on this issue on the Workday Minnesota website. Here are a few paragraphs:
Commentary: Health Department cover-up – mistake or malfeasance?
By Senator John Marty
9 July 2007
|ST. PAUL – “If this is leaked in any way and there is some digging by the media, we will have hell to pay…”
The MN Department of Health’s decision not to disclose additional mesothelioma deaths among iron miners is not a “mistake” that an apology will fix.
Commissioner Mandernach repeatedly has stated that they did not want to release the information about health risks to the miners until the administration had “all their ducks in a row.” Forget about the Pawlenty administration’s ducks. How about showing some concern for the miners and their families?
No, this was not a mistake. It was a cynical attempt to protect the Pawlenty administration’s political interests. It is time for Commissioner Mandernach, and the those in the Governor’s office who were involved, to be dismissed.
Read the entire commentary here.
There are several very important issues that I believe need to be resolved.
Senator Marty is right to call for the dismissal of Commissioner Mandernach and any other people in the Governor’s office who were involved. The credibility of the Minnesota Department of Health needs to be restored.
Governor Pawlenty should not get a pass on this. His history of disregard for the health and safety of working men and women is clear. The people of Minnesota need to be reminded again and again what this guy really stands for.
The miners need to know why 58 of their brothers died. It is good that the Universtiy of Minnesota will take over the study but there needs to be assurances that budget cuts will not cut it short. Funding should be secured.
All of the stakeholders need to be involved in finding a solution to protect the health and safety of the workers. The miners and their unions are critical to this process because they are on the front lines everyday.
I hope this issue does not get “lost in the noise”, as GOP pundit, one-time governor wannabe, sockless Brian Sullivan stated June 29 on Minnesota public television’s Almanac program, (say it ain’t so, Brian).
The noise should be coming from the working men and women of this state. Call your representatives. Call the Governor. Write your local newspaper. Call or write the McCain campaign office and tell them the guy (Pawlenty) who is helping John out is no friend of a lot of people who vote.
Protect the health and safety of all workers in this state. Do Something!
Peace & solidarity,