— Thumbs down: To Senate Majority Leader Dave Senjem’s posturing on civic center funding.
Senjem, in Mankato a week ago, talked of how well-positioned Mankato should be to get funding for its civic center expansion through a state grant program.
Days later, in his hometown of Rochester, Senjem told local business leaders that a lobbyist working for Mankato was to blame for Rochester and St. Cloud being left out of a bonding bill for their civic center projects. (Mankato was not included in the initial bonding proposal and eventually all three cities were left out.)
Senjem also told the local group that the criteria for the state grant money were written in a way that would make it obvious Rochester will get its civic center funding.
We understand Senjem, under pressure at home for not being able to deliver bonding money, is trying to find some political cover. But blaming Mankato for his failure as the Senate leader to craft a bonding bill is bad form.
Peddling the biking message
Thumbs up: To organizers and participants in Greater Mankato Bike and Walk Week.
The effort tries to get more people to leave their motorized vehicles at home to get around on their own power, benefiting personal health and the environment at the same time.
The League of American Bicyclists says bicyclists in the U.S. save $4.6 billion per year by riding, instead of driving.
The week’s observance was timed well since Mankato/North Mankato just got word it has been recognized for its commitment to bicycling with a “bronze” designation from the league.
This area has put a lot of focus on providing more bike-friendly paths into plans, benefiting the local population as well as drawing tourists who are always looking for new places to explore.
This week’s Bike/Walk Week efforts offered a large list of activities, from picking up a free bagel and coffee at Tandem Bagels to swapping bike parts at Key City Bike’s club headquarters. Today is a big day for trail enthusiasts as the Red Jacket Trestle Reopening will be celebrated from 10 a.m. to noon at Red Jacket Park. Refreshments and displays are part of the event.
Of course, you’ll want to bike there.
Loyola first in fair trade
Thumbs up: Loyola K-12 school was recently named the first fair trade school in the country after many hours of work by teachers and students.
It’s quite a plaudit to be recognized as the first fair trade school in the country that brings with it a commitment to use fair trade products, develop a fair trade procurement policy and commit to fair trade education.
Some 30 members of the Loyola community have been on the school’s fair trade committee promoting to the school and community the socioeconomic movement to cut out middle men and pass revenue back to hard-working producers.
The school received the designation after adhering to a set of criteria by Fair Trade Colleges and Universities USA.
The city of Mankato became the first fair trade city in Minnesota after the City Council endorsed the idea and met the standards of Fair Trade Towns USA.
While the fair trade designation often doesn’t require organizations to spend large amounts of money to purchase fair trade products, it mainly helps keep focus on the idea of fair trade and how by doing little things like paying a little extra for coffee or chocolate, we can support hard-working producers around the world.
Teen pregnancy rates drop
Thumbs up: To teens being smart enough about their sexual activity that the teen pregnancy rate in Minnesota has dropped significantly.
The birth rate among the state’s teenagers has plunged nearly 40 percent in the past two decades. A state health department expert noted that sexual activity has actually held steady or climbed a bit, but that teens are apparently being smarter about using contraception.
Experts also attribute some of the drop in birth rate to peer-led mentoring groups that use older teens to educate younger kids about high-risk behavior. Mankato’s own Project for Teens, a program of the local nonprofit CHAP, recently won a state award for doing that work from TeenWise Minnesota.
Judith Kahn, executive director of Teenwise, said understanding the consequences of pregnancy can have a real influence on teens’ actions — and ultimately the birth rate.
It’s good to see that teens are making better decisions about their behavior now so that they have a brighter future.