The Free Press, Mankato, MN

September 14, 2013

Special session on disaster relief avoidable

The Mankato Free Press

---- — Thumbs down to holding special sessions of the state Legislature to approve relatively small amounts of disaster aid.

Lawmakers and the governor could end the too-common events during the next session by creating a disaster aid fund that state emergency management officials could tap, rather than having to call a special session to approve funding.

State disaster aid is often needed in a timely manner so that larger amounts of federal aid can be leveraged. In the recent special session, the Legislature approved $4.5 million of aid for 18 counties in southeastern Minnesota because of summer storms.

Creating a permanent disaster aid fund has been brought up in recent years but was never approved because of ongoing budget shortfalls and budget fights. With an improved economy and stable state budget, now is a good time to find the money to create a disaster fund.

Rain or shine rink

Thumbs up to the donation from Denny and Carole Dotson via the Mankato Area Foundation to provide a synthetic ice rink for use at the Kiwanis Holiday Light display.

The display is becoming a huge tourist attraction to the area that also brings in donations to the local food shelves. The synthetic rink, which doesn’t rely on weather conditions to make it usable, will complement the growing display in Sibley Park. When the rink isn’t used for the light display, the city has the option of using it elsewhere. The synthetic substance is to last up to 10 years and cost about $50,000.

The Dotsons recognize what a bonus the light display has been to the region and took steps to make it even better.

E-gambling flop

Thumbs down (in the department of we warned you!): Looks like Minnesota won’t be getting as much revenue from those electronic gambling machines to fund the new Vikings stadium.

Gov. Mark Dayton told Minnesota Public Radio News on Friday that there were “multiple mistakes” in the first year and now admits that gambling officials were “terribly wrong” in their predictions of 2,500 bars installing 15,000 games something we warned about earlier this year. In reality, the most recent update has 300 bars with 1,300 games. That’s quite a poor prediction.

MNsure security lapse

Thumbs down to unsecure MNsure data. A MNsure employee accidentally sent an email to an Apple Valley insurance broker’s office containing Social Security numbers, addresses and other private information of more than 2,400 insurance agents.

While the data were deleted, it raises questions about the security of MNsure client information. Users of the health insurance exchange will need to give confidential information to be eligible for health programs or tax credits. Maybe this stuff should be encrypted?

Free Press editorial board

Flowers beautify the city

All summer, I have enjoyed the gorgeous hanging flower baskets, planters, medians and Sibley Park flower beds. I join Mankato residents and visitors in saying a huge “thank you” to the workers of the Mankato Park Department for their part in making our city so beautiful.

Nadine Sugden


Highway maintenance appreciated

Many thanks to whoever mows both sides of southbound highway 169 where it enters North Mankato. It provides a very pleasing look and gives a wonderful first impression of Mankato-North Mankato. It is looking the best we’ve seen since we moved here in 1961. We enjoy it every time we travel on it.

Floyd and Judy Backstrom

North Mankato