The Free Press, Mankato, MN

October 26, 2013

Keep working at beneficial relationship

The Mankato Free Press

---- — Thumbs up to both the North Mankato City Council and Greater Mankato Growth for continuing to work on repairing relationships of old. Under previous leadership, the city divorced itself from GMG and struck out on its own both in economic development and tourism attraction.

On its face, the recent decision by GMG to withdraw its offer to join the regional economic development group and Visit Mankato looks like a courting ritual that went bad. But actually it gives both parties time to better understand what each brings to the table.

And there appears to be an acknowledgement that regional strength is better than going alone. Because if the result is all area cities competing against each other, no one really wins in the end.

Panel makes sound proposals

Thumbs up to a task force making some solid recommendations on improving the state’s system for indefinitely confining its most dangerous sex offenders.

The sex offenders, housed in St. Peter and at Moose Lake, are committed by the courts after they have served all of their prison time. But the system has been under attack by the courts and others because virtually none of the 700 offenders ever gets released.

The draft recommendations would ask the Legislature to adopt a higher standard of proof and create a panel of professional experts to screen those who are being considered for commitment. The panel also wants the state to create a central court that would decide who is committed and when those in the system should be released.

Committing dangerous sex offenders for treatment is necessary to protect the public from those who are most likely to re-offend. But the system has to be one focused on treatment and the ability for release or it simply becomes a way to hold people for the rest of their lives even though they’ve served all of their prison time.

Minnesota has the highest civil commitment rate in the country, in part because there is too much political pressure on county prosecutors to commit offenders. The task force’s recommendations would provide a more objective way to commit offenders by giving more authority to state-appointed experts.

Kitten abundance avoidable

Thumbs down to the apparent anonymous customer who keeps dumping unwanted litters of kittens at the door of the Brown County Humane Society on a predictable basis.

The repeat customer is taking advantage of a nonprofit by irresponsibly not neutering or spaying their adult cat or cats. When it’s obvious the litters come from the same parent or parents time after time (three years running), then the pet owner needs to get a clue. The redeeming part of this situation is that the kittens appeared well-cared for before they are dropped off.

The Humane Society does its best to handle the animals that come their way, but it’s a strain on every shelter that takes an excess number of animals. It doesn’t have to be this way. Pet owners have a responsibility to make sure they are not contributing to the overpopulation of unwanted pets. Birth control for animals is an important part of managing the care of our furry friends.

Generosity returned in a big way

Thumbs up to Robert and Patricia Kern for providing one of the largest philanthropic gifts in Minnesota history.

The Wisconsin couple recently donated more than $67 million to the Mayo Clinic to help build a center that uses medical data and scientific rigor to improve health care.

Robert was the benefactor of charity and of Mayo as a child. He came to Mayo for the first time at age 5 in 1930 and received charitable care there as the son of a pastor.

The couple, who are the retired founders of Generac Power Systems, has a a long history of giving millions to charity. Perhaps just as telling of their character, the couple has been very generous to their employees. In 2006, the Kerns mailed checks to their employees ranging as high as $50,000 each.

At a time of cynicism toward the very wealthy, the Kerns have demonstrated the ethos of generosity and selflessness.