The Free Press, Mankato, MN

December 21, 2012

Our View: Gridlock in Congress has reached a low point

The Free Press

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To congressional gridlock over the last two years, which has resulted in “the least productive Congress in contemporary history,” according to congressional expert Thomas Mann at Washington’s Brookings Institution.

Mann said there is no question about the lack of productivity and partisanship. He sees the problem going beyond ideological polarization between Democrats and Republicans but a darker kind of abuse of the process where congressional leaders use votes and debate to further partisan politics like never before.

That’s a pretty big indictment that goes beyond business as usual. This Congress has left hanging such important laws as reauthorization of the farm bill, the defense bill that funds our troops and even disaster relief for Hurricane Sandy victims.

Add to those issues, the apparent inability to make a deal on the fiscal cliff and things like unemployment benefits, and it seems like government has reached an appalling level of dysfunction.


Maple River High School band gets plumb gig

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To the Maple River High School band for once again being invited to perform during halftime of a prestigious bowl game — this time the Sugar Bowl at the Superdome in New Orleans.

This is the forth big bowl game where the band has performed in recent years. It was selected after submitting an audition tape and its past performances at other bowl game also won it a spot this year.

The trip is a great opportunity for students who’ve worked hard to put together a top notch marching band and their appearance should be a source of pride for the Maple River school community and the Mankato region as a whole.


North Mankato making wise decisions

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To the North Mankato City Council for showing restraint and solid consideration for the city’s future on various decisions recently.

Citing, among other things, the need to first secure a new city administrator, the council did not grant variances for the controversial Marigold project. It also hinted at the need for a comprehensive plan for the city and decided to table re-establishing a partnership with Greater Mankato Growth.

All of these decisions would have a considerable impact on operations in the city and the council rightly decided it would be better served with some leadership and expertise shown from a new city administrator.

And even the decision to reopen the search to find the right candidate — and involving a newly-elected but as yet unseated City Council person in the decision — shows the right respect and sound judgment for elected officials.


Not the end of the world as we know it

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To the Mayans messing up. Since you’re reading this today, you know the Mayans’ prediction of the apocalypse was off the mark. And although some people may be irritated they made a lot of preparations for the end of the world for nothing, others will take it in stride and realize that someone still has to clean up even after an End of the World party.

The really nice thing about the continuation of humankind is that it gives us a chance to plan improvements for the new year and to enjoy the life we do have.


Missing the jolly ol’ elf

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To the loss of a local man who knew what Christmas was all about. Clark Oftedahl, who played Santa to area children for decades, died a week ago at age 73. Not only did the big guy look the part of Santa with his natural white beard, but it was his patient, gentle way with children that will be remembered and missed in years to come.

Oftedahl treated each of his little visitors with care and respect, giving the child at the end of the line as much time and attention as the one little one at the beginning of the line.

His absence is certainly felt this holiday season as it will be many Christmases to come. But it’s comforting to know he touched so many  hearts and that his spirit lives on.