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Posts Tagged ‘Tim Walz’

Town hall meetings on health care reform seem to be the hottest ticket in town these days for the media, activists, and constituents on all sides of the issue. Representative Tim Walz from Minnesota’s 1st congressional district held a town meeting on August 2oth in Mankato at the Mankato East High School. Concerned citizens from across the district traveled to Mankato from Worthington to take part as did I and two of my union brothers. Unfortunately for us, our 90 plus mile trip was marked by unavoidable delays in getting started and detours on Highway 60. We arrived  a few minutes after the doors opened but the place quickly filled to capacity. Many of the people that came to participate left but there was still a crowd of people from both sides of the issue that stayed to show support or protest. Initially, there was anger  and demands to be let into the building from the anti-reform folks but they soon realized that was not going to happen.

Teamsters Local 120 had a  good contingent of people there on the outside with signs in support of reform and of course they drew the ire of the opposition. Although they were called “union thugs” and accused of unfairly loading up the auditorium they remained calm, even engaging some of the opponents in lively but peaceful discussions. I noticed other people doing the same, each side trying to convince the other that they were right. I doubt if there were any serious conversions amongst the outside crowd.

There was one tense moment before we left when a man came walking over carrying a sign that can only be described as despicable. It was met with cheers from many of the right wing crowd and boos and groans from the supporters of health care reform. Several people confronted him and it wasn’t long before one man got very angry and emotional. Fortunately the Mankato police department had several officers on the scene and one of them walked over to observe. He did not let it escalate and escorted the man away from the crowd to calm him down. We left about 15 minutes after that but I did have an opportunity to take a number of random pictures which I have put together as a video below.

Bluestem Prairie editor, Sally Jo Sorensen, was inside at the town hall meeting and has her observations and a summary of news accounts in, CD-1: Post health care town hall meeting media roundup and CD-1: Post health care town hall meeting media roundup, part #2. She also gently nudged me to write  my observations in her post, Outside the Walz town hall: LaRouche “Obama as Hitler” sign stirs passions.

 

 

 

Peace & solidarity,

 

CHC

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Minnesota’s 1st Congressional District Congressman Tim Walz drove to the end of the world district today (a few minutes more and he would have been in South Dakota)  for a listening session about the economic stimulus package recently passed the the U.S. House of Representatives. One of several throughout the 1st district over the last couple of days, the event in Luverne was well attended. walz-luverne-jan-30-09-aLocal elected officials, school administrators, business people from the private sector, ag interests, social workers, organized labor and concerned citizens were there to hear what the congressman had to say and to ask questions and share their concerns.

Congressman Walz was straightforward about the seriousness of the

Congressman Walz making a point.

Congressman Walz making a point.

economic crisis we face as a nation as well as the pros and cons of the stimulus package. He would have preferred more infrastructure spending (as do I) but also touted the fact that the transparency measures are unprecedented. The congressman and his staff received valuable input on projects from the assembled crowd and will use that information to pass on to state government officials who will eventually receive the stimulus money and be tasked with its distribution. They will also use the information gathered today in Luverne and from previous listening sessions to help shape the final look of the stimulus package. The Senate will deal with the legislation next and eventually the two legislative bodies will have to reach an agreement on the final package. Representative Walz  says this will all be done by February 15 but there is still time for citizen input.  A Bluestem Prairie has a summary of the plan posted here.

I continue to be impressed with the Congressman’s willingness and eagerness to constantly get out and meet with the people he represents. There may be more voters  in Rochester and Mankato but he also came to Luverne because he sincerely wants to represent all the people of the 1st District.

walz-luverne-jan-30-09-b

 

Oh, just one more thing. My youngest of five grandchildren, at 11 months, had his first face to face meeting with a congressman. It was a proud moment.

what-do-you-mean-ive-got-to-pay-for-this-mess

 

Peace & solidarity,

CHC

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Since I will be dedicating my time to GOTV efforts my ability to provide content on this blog for both of my readers will be curtailed. I do have a number of recommendations for the faithful.

For news and views about southern Minnesota and the 1st CD’s Tim Walz, the first place I go to is A Bluestem Prairie. Ollie Ox keeps the stories coming and provides facts and insight on politics in the 1st CD. Ollie also keeps a watchful eye on the MSM and does not hesitate to tell ‘the rest of the story’.

Charlie Quimby provides an an eclectic mix of content at Across The Great Divide. From reviews of lemonade stands and bar cuisine, commentary on biking (the kind of biking as my mother used to say, “you pedal you legs off to give your ass a ride”), and short, powerful essays on the economy, there is always something interesting for the reader. His serious stuff is at Growth and Justice.

McPherson Hall always provides thoughtful, well researched analysis and commentary on legislation, public policy and candidates at Minnesota Central.

Some of my other favorites include Blog of the Moderate Left, Mercury Rising, Liberal in the Land of the Conservative, BlueMan in a Red District, Tild, and The Mississippifarian.

All progressive or Lefty Blogs but if you want to read what others have to say in Minnesota go to Blognetnews/Minnesota for a line up of left, right and everything else on the blogosphere.

Check the blogroll to the right for others that I frequent.

Well, that was fun, but a little labor intensive.

Peace & solidarity,

CHC

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The Minnesota AFL-CIO along with rank and file union members who are veterans gathered in St Paul at the capitol today, July 10, to launch the Union Veterans Council.  The AFL-CIO Union Veterans 2008 website states:

Some 2.1 million union members, or 14 percent of all union members, are veterans of military service. The AFL-CIO is bringing together union leaders and members who are veterans to speak out to and hold government officials and candidates accountable to the needs of our returning heroes—not only for Labor 2008, but beyond.

The event coincided with similar events in Milwaukee, Denver, Dayton, Ohio; and Charlston, W. VA. WorkdayMinnesota covered the event and has this quote from MN AFL-CIO President Ray Waldron:

Like all working people, veterans are worried about our future and our children’s future. Our country is headed in the wrong direction,” said Minnesota AFL-CIO President Ray Waldron, who participated in Thursday’s event. “The first-ever union veterans council will bring union veterans together across Minnesota on the issues that matter most to veterans, our families and all working people. And we’re starting by working to elect leaders who will put working people’s concerns first.”

Public News Service Minnesota also has this story and audio with MN AFL-CIO Communications Director Diane O’Brien.

The AFL-CIO will be running tv ads in selected states featuring Jim Wasser, a Vietnam veteran.

 

 

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Speaking of veterans issues, Ollie OX at  A Bluestem Prairie has two posts up today:

Click on the titles

Wa Times on hearing: “Why Does the VA Continue to Give a Suicide-Inducing Drug to Veterans with PTSD?”

and

House passes Homeless Vets bill; Bush threatens veto

 

The Veterans Council is a welcome addition to the AFL-CIO and will help bring together veterans to focus on issues and to elect reperesentatives( like 1st District Congressman Tim Walz) who will be responsive and accountable to their constitiuencies.

 

Peace & solidarity,

CHC

 

 

 

 

 

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An email from David Wellstone alerts us to the possibility of a compromise and final vote on H.R. 1424,  the ”Paul Wellstone Mental Health and Addiction Equity Act of 2008”. From the Wellstone Action website is this description of the bill:

The Paul Wellstone Mental Health and Addiction Equity Act is legislation that would end the practice of insurance companies discriminating against people suffering from mental illness. Sponsored by Representative Patrick Kennedy (D-RI) and Wellstone’s friend Representative Jim Ramstad (R-MN), the bill would compel insurance companies to treat mental illness the same as physical illness, given the overwhelming scientific evidence that mental illness is a disease every bit as real and serious as physical illness. This practice is often referred to as “mental health parity.”

David Wellstone had this to say:

…the final touches are being put on a compromise between the House and Senate, and we believe that a bill could go to the President’s desk next week.  But, if it doesn’t happen then, it’s likely we’d have to start all over again with the new Congress next year.

The Senate and House have passed different versions of the legislation and have been working on settling their differences since the House passed its version in March of this year. 1st District Congressman Tim Walz was a co-sponsor and supporter of this legislation. Representatives John Kline (R-MN2) and Michele Bachmann (R-MN6) were both in the NAY column, continuing their tradition of voting against the best interests of their constituents.

A favorable editorial in the July 5th Minneapolis StarTribune praises the Wellstone family and Congressman Jim Ramstad for their efforts on the bill and concludes their remarks with this:

Many business groups have long opposed coverage parity, saying costs could drive up premiums substantially. But one estimate by the Congressional Budget Office concluded the impact would be relatively small: a 0.4 percent premium increase for group health insurance. In addition, the federal employees’ health plan has had a parity policy since 2001; one study found no significant cost increase as a result. Part of the explanation likely lies in the value of treating mental conditions early and avoiding expensive complications and hospitalization later.

Many states already have laws in place that provide some protection for patients struggling with mental illness or addiction. Minnesota has one of the strongest. A federal law would not preempt those laws. What it would do is make sure no one falls through the cracks. Mental disorders are one of the most devastating diagnoses families can face. Their health insurers should work with them –not against them — at this difficult time.

A final call-in day to members of congress will is scheduled for Wednesday, July 9. Stay tuned for details on the call-in!

David Wellstone testifies before Congress in March of this year:

 

 

 

 

Peace & solidarity,

CHC

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“Eighteen months ago, we began with the simple concept that those who have been serving since 9/11 should have the same opportunity for a first class educational future as those who served during World War II. Today, we have accomplished that goal.”

Senator Jim Webb of Virginia spoke those words on June 26th after the Senate passed the 21st Century GI Bill that was part of the 162 billion war supplemental spending measure. The legislation passed 92-6 with 2 not voting. Today President Bush signed the measure into law and in a press release from the White House the President spins all the positives and thanks numerous people for their work. One line from the press release did raise my blood pressure.

“And I want to thank members who worked hard for the GI Bill expansion — especially Senators Webb and Warner, Graham, Burr, and McCain.”

Graham, Burr, and McCain? This is the same trio that opposed the 21st Century GI Bill and introduced legislation in an effort to sabotage Senator Webb’s bill. GOP presumptive nominee John McCain is now jumping on the bandwagon and trying to take credit despite the fact he was a vocal opponent and didn’t even bother to show up for both of the votes on this bill. McCain has proved that he is consistent in one way-having it both ways!

Ollie Ox at Bluestem Prairie has the press release from 1st District Congressman Tim Walz who has been consistent, vocal and hard working on veterans issues. In the statement he notes that over 20,000 men and women from Minnesota have been deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan. The Congressman also offers up the assistance of his Rochester, MN office (507-206-0643) for veterans that are experiencing difficulties with their benefits.

Peace & solidarity,

CHC

 

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With the passage of the 162 billion Iraq war funding bill last week it appears that the 21st Century GI Bill will become law. The Senate still needs to act on it but the White House has indicated it would sign the legislation. The GI Bill was included in the war funding along with a 13 week extension of unemployment benefits, disaster relief in the amount of $2.65 billion for the Midwest affected by the recent tornadoes and floods, additional money for the construction of military hospitals and some important Iraq policy provisions as noted by Minnesota Central in the comments section.

Senator Jim Webb, co-sponsor of the GI BIll, expressed his gratitude to supporters:

“I would like to again express my appreciation to the veterans’ service organizations, many of whom communicated their support of this bill directly to a skeptical White House, and to the 58 Senate and 302 House cosponsors of this landmark legislation. This bipartisan coalition consistently rejected the allegations of this Administration, and of Senators McCain, Burr and Graham, among others, who claimed that the bill was too generous to our veterans, too difficult to administer and would hurt retention.

“It has now been nearly seven years since 9/11 — seven years since those who have been serving in our military began earning the right for a proper wartime GI Bill. I am looking forward to the President living up to his word, and signing this legislation at his earliest opportunity.”  Read the entire statement here.

DFL Representative Collin Peterson, from the 7th district, which is just a tad more than 60 miles from my corner of the state was a supporter and his comments are covered by the Bemidji Pioneer.

A Bluestem Prairie covers 1st District Congressman’s statement on the passage of the new GI Bill and also comments about the process of getting the legislation passed:

“Like the final passage of the increase in the federal minimum wage, final approval of the New G. I. Bill came–eventually–at the cost of continuing to fund the war in Iraq. Those who feel that Congress should quit funding the war and pull out immediately will be disappointed with Walz’s vote for another amendment to the bill that continued money for the war in Iraq.”
It has been said that making laws is a lot like making sausage. Well, I work in the meat industry and I would consider that an insult. It is tragic that the continued occupation of Iraq was the price to pay. Just about everybody (416-12) in the House of Representatives will be able to pat themselves on the back for supporting the GI Bill. How many more GI’s will they be making eligible for the benefits?
Peace & solidarity,
CHC
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

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