The Free Press, Mankato, MN

May 25, 2013

Safety event helped special kids

The Mankato Free Press

---- — To the Lake Crystal Fire Department for organizing an educational and fun event for autistic children.

Firefighters, law enforcement and emergency personnel offered the children a chance to learn about fire and rescue and to more importantly not be scared when they come across a real fire or rescue situation.

The children, from area schools, were able to hear sirens, see rescue vehicles use fire hoses and even be strapped to a gurney for a ride in an ambulance. Assistant Lake Crystal Fire Chief Gary Reed organized the event at the urging of his wife Julie, who drives a van that gets autustic children to their school.

Children with autism or other disabilities might normally run or become scared when a rescue vehicle showed up. The might be freightened by the noise or men showing up in funny-looking big suits wearing gas masks. The simple class made fun helped them understand they don't need to be scared.

The firefighters and rescue personnel also learned how to deal with children who might have autism or other disabilities. They learn what things can calm children down and other techniques for more effective communication.

The event was a win-win all around. Everyone learned about each other and enhanced the cause of public safety in the meantime.

Levin doth protest too much

Thumbs down to U.S. Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., who apparently is indignant that Apple hired some people smarter than Congress to follow the tax laws Levin’s committee created.

Levin accused Apple of parking much of its outside sales’ profits in Irish subsidiaries that paid little if any taxes. Levin pointedly avoided suggesting that Apple broke any laws but rather said it wasn’t fair because small companies or individual taxpayers would not have such ability. This is so much hogwash.

If Apple did not take advantage of any tax credit it could find, it would be guilty of fiscal mismanagement by not protecting the assets for its shareholders to the best of its ability. It is the responsibility of the U.S. government to determine what is fair and not fair and write a tax code that gets us there.

Is it any surprise there are loopholes crafted for special interests in tax law? Of course not. And who put those in? Congress. And who can take them out? Congress. But we shouldn’t chide anyone for not paying taxes they didn’t have to.

Youth recognition warranted

To the continuation of the Spirit of Youth Awards.

Sponsored by the Mankato Community Education/Recreation Department, the awards used to be part of the Mankato Area Healthy Youth initiative. When that group dissolved, the community ed. and recreation department made sure to carry on the tradition of recognizing those who work to improve the lives of area youth.

This year's winners were the Project for Teens mentoring group, which is made up of West, East and Loyola high school students who teach younger students about high-risk behavior. The adult winners of the Spirit award were Todd Waterbury, East activities director, and Sam Ward, a ACES school-age care provider and YWCA Girls on the Run mentor.

Recognizing efforts, especially of young people, is important not only as a reward but to motivate others to follow in their footsteps.

Boy Scouts make good decision

To the Boy Scouts of America for opening its ranks to gay Scouts.

The contentious issue was approved more easily than most expected with 61 percent of 1,400 voting members of the executive committee approving of the change Thursday.

The decision is certain to cause fractures in the organization as members and some church financial supporters opposing the move threaten to leave the Scouts.

The vote for change wisely accepts the reality that boys should not be barred from a valuable experience because they were born gay.

Liberal Scout leaders were disappointed the Scouts did not also lift the ban on gay adults being members of the Scouts. That is a debate that will have to continue and will undoubtedly bring a change in policy in the future.

Regardless of the fallout, the Scouts will remain an organization providing boys a rewarding and educational opportunity.