This is Sunshine Week, the seven days each year since 2005 when people who believe in transparent, accountable government draw special attention to the laws that • allow us to know what our local, state and federal governments are doing every day of the year, and • point out where laws could be stronger to ensure open government today and tomorrow.
A GOOD FLOW: Dakota County held a dozen Fix-in Clinics in 2017, bringing renewed life to old items. According to the county: • Forty-three volunteers gave their time, patience and knowledge. • More than 300 residents took home mended and restored items. • These repairs prevented or delayed 2,650 pounds of items from ending entering the trash stream. • Of the nearly 600 items brought in to Fix-It Clinics, 82 percent were repaired on site or the resident was shown how to fix it later with the right parts.
The First Amendment protects people's right to say hateful things — including hurtful and false words about minorities, religious groups, men, women and more. We call that freedom of speech. As long as such incendiary words aren't spoken in a setting that evokes violence, just about anything goes, as courts have confirmed over the years. But just because someone has the right to say something doesn't mean that person has a right to have those thoughts published on this page.
Families living in the upper Midwest should be feeling pretty good — subzero weather and all. The cold, hard truth — when you look at the WalletHub survey data — is that states with four genuine seasons lead the nation as the best places to a raise a family. Coincidence? Don't tell that to local kids who all seem to love the recent snowfall.
You'll go to bed Friday night and wake Saturday as you did today, living in a free land. You can thank every veteran — from those determined Minutemen of the Revolutionary War to the dedicated service men and women of today protecting our nation, from the forgotten Spanish American War soldiers to the spat-upon Vietnam War veterans who did what their nation asked of them.
Minnesota and Wisconsin state laws require vehicles to stop for school buses when the bus driver activates the flashing lights and has the crossing arm fully extended. Drivers need to stop at least 20 feet from the bus and remain stopped until the arm is closed and the bus begins to move. Despite this, an estimated 828 vehicles per day illegally pass school buses in Wisconsin, according to Wisconsin School Bus Association. Minnesota isn't far behind, where as part of a School Bus Stop Arm survey 3,659 bus drivers counted 703 violations in one day.
Midwest gold is flowing. We refer to corn. Farmers and custom-combine professionals are hard at work harvesting 2017's bounty. This means motorists need to be alert for large, slow-moving ag vehicles transporting crops to markets, grain elevators, processing plants, river barges and railroad yards. The risk is especially great on rural, two-lane roads like those in Dakota and Washington counties. Several related factors make encounters between standard vehicles traveling 55 mph or greater with farm equipment going perhaps 25 mph risky.
Again and again people make the wrong choice. They have two, three, four drinks too many and then get behind the wheel. In Minnesota, 41 percent — that's 2 out of every 5 people — arrested in 2015 on a DWI charge had at least one previous drunken driving conviction. The Department of Public Safety also reports that nearly 260,000 of the state's licensed drivers have more than one DWI on their record.
The region's measles outbreak ended just in time as thousands upon thousands of children return to classrooms and young adults head to college. All it might have taken to turn this outbreak into an epidemic was another round of exposures with unvaccinated and under-vaccinated children gathered en masse. Given western Wisconsin residents' proximity to the Twin Cities — center of the outbreak — the good news as well as the renewed health warnings are just as important to them as they are to Minnesotans.
Back to school. Back to the routine. Back to the unpredictable, too — at least until things settle down. Young children's reactions often deny predictability or explanation. That's especially true when children get excited. Plenty of children are excited about heading to school, whether they're seeing friends again after the long summer, meeting a new teacher or entering elementary school for the first time. They dart into the road. They cut across the parking lot. Hop out of the car before it comes to a complete stop. They run around a corner and "disappear."