The Free Press, Mankato, MN

November 16, 2013

Our View: Highway 14 news is great

Why It Matters:

The Mankato Free Press

---- — Thumbs up to to all of those who worked for decades to get the state to pay attention to a deadly stretch of Highway 14.

This week the state announced it will fund a four-lane upgrade between North Mankato and Nicollet in 2015 instead of two years later and will pay for a $15 million to $25 million bypass of Nicollet. The funding, announced by Gov. Mark Dayton, comes from the Corridors of Commerce program.

Highway 14 will also see a four lane upgrade between Owatonna and Dodge Center.

The announcement is rewarding to the Highway 14 Partnership, a group of elected, civic and business leaders, which has been lobbying for funding since the 1990s. The group showed that when communities band together for a common — and legitimate — goal, good results occur.

The Free Press has long been willing to participate in that effort through an in-depth series on the highway that highlighted its poor safety record in 2010 and was encouraged by the support the community gave to getting that information before legislators and doing the hard work of lobbying.

Still, the upgrade was painfully slow and is still incomplete. The partnership must continue to unify behind finishing the final stretch from New Ulm to Nicollet, resulting in a four-lane from New Ulm to Rochester.

And the local success does not address the state’s larger problem of continuing to fall further behind in paying for transportation infrastructure. Solving that problem is a major but necessary challenge for the governor and Legislature.

Better late than never on Gettysburg Address

Thumbs up to the Patriot-News of Harrisburg, Pa., which on Thursday deemed it wise to retract a 150-year-old judgment by its Civil War-era predecessor, The Harrisburg Patriot & Union.

The Patriot & Union, a Democratic paper critical of President Lincoln, dismissed his Gettysburg Address, delivered some 35 miles from Harrisburg, as “silly remarks” deserving a “veil of oblivion.”

The speech, whose 150th anniversary will be Tuesday, is now regarded as a high point of American oratory, and one can hardly blame the Patriot-News for wanting to join the crowd of admirers regardless of the precedent set a century and a half ago by the Patriot & Union.

Perhaps a more important point is the folly of immediate judgment based on blind partisanship. The Harrisburg paper at the time couldn’t see what we do today because it wasn’t willing to look.

Obama is trying on health care

Thumbs up to President Barack Obama and his advisors to seeing the reality in how the Affordable Care Act has been mismanaged by his own team and attempting to correct some of the problems.

Obama announced Thursday that he would allow people to keep their health plans for one year or possibly more until problems can be worked out with some of the law’s glitches. It’s clearly an embarrassment, but Obama is taking his lumps and admitting where he and his team have failed.

First, the website roll out has been barely short of horrendous. Next, the president’s promise that people can keep their health care turned out to be false. The only thing worse than making those key mistakes would be making them and being unwilling to correct them.

...but it shouldn’t have gone this far

Thumbs down to Obama and his administration for not having some general competence and political will to anticipate these problems and prevent them or delay the implementation before real people were affected by things like cancellation notices from their insurance companies.

Clearly, there were bright minds in the administration that knew these things were going to happen. So, the Obama administration either failed to act on them or feared the political repercussions. Either way, the administration fell short of Americans’ expectations.