THUMBS DOWN: Last weekend's snowstorm turned the landscape into a winter wonderland, but it should also serve as a reminder to slow yourself down a bit and pace yourself. There were hundreds of crashes and spin-outs across the state Saturday and Sunday, and one of those crashes was fatal. Also, a man died while doing the most pedestrian of winter chores - shoveling snow at his home. Give yourself extra time when driving from Point A to Point B (the roads were still icy two days after the storm) and be careful when shoveling wet, heavy snow. And remember anglers that lots of snow and a couple freezing nights doesn't automatically mean thick ice on our area lakes. Make sure you know the thickness of the ice before setting up your fish house this winter. Last winter, four people in Minnesota died after falling through thin ice. Four inches is considered safe for walking, 5 for a snowmobile or ATV, 8 to 12 for a car and 12 to 15 for a medium-sized truck. We're nowhere close to that range yet.
And so it begins
THUMBS DOWN: During a contentious media session that took place Monday at the Capitol, House Minority Leader-designate Kurt Daudt was quoted as saying DFLers who control the House and Senate "don't need input" from the GOP caucuses to pass their agenda. That may be true, but what sad commentary that is for the upcoming session. No, they don't need input - they're in the majority and have the same party affiliation as Gov. Mark Dayton - but that shouldn't stop Republicans from giving it to them. Have lawmakers already given up on the prospect of working together weeks before the session even begins? Are Republicans already benching themselves when it comes to decision making at the Capitol? Are they throwing in the towel when it comes to making decisions that will affect everyone in the state simply because the DFL has the inside track in pushing through its agenda? We sure hope not. If the ill will we saw at the legislative preview is any indication of what will transpire in 2013, we're in for a long session.
Years of Jolly-good times
THUMBS UP: This isn't a thumbs up for the end of the Jolly Mixers Square Dance Club, it's a thumbs up for the years of enjoyment it gave to so many who enjoy the timeless dance. Facing a decline in numbers, The Jolly Mixers had its last dance Tuesday, and it's sort of sad to see this tradition's run come to an end.
An emotional Walz makes his point
THUMBS UP: Whether or not you're a big YouTube person, we encourage you to check out Minnesota Congressman Tim Walz's impassioned speech on the House floor from Thursday morning. Walz implored House leadership to bring forward a bill to extend middle class tax cuts immediately - a move that, as he said, will get rid of "a big chunk" of the "fiscal cliff." A snippet of Walz' speech: "We came out of a Constitutional Convention, and when they asked James Madison what the secret to this new government was; compromise, compromise, compromise. Mr. Speaker, to sit here and do what we're doing, not bringing this forward and releasing the tension on the middle class, making sure the economy knows there's stability amongst taxes, is holding our economy back, and to be very honest it's insulting to the American people. This is a nation that won two world wars,"?he said. "This is a nation that split the atom. This is a nation that put a man on the moon. This is a nation sending pictures back from Mars and Curiosity. You know what? Sign the discharge petition, bring it to the floor, get 435 votes, put it online for 24 hours, send it to the president and by three o'clock tomorrow a big chunk of the fiscal cliff is done. Don't insult the people with things that aren't true, don't tell them that it's not about compromise, and don't sit here and pretend like we're working when we're not. They know better, they're smarter, they deserve better." Speaking like a football coach at halftime of a game his team is trailing by three touchdowns, Walz, who serves District 1, really got into his speech, using hand gestures and pointing to those in leadership. He blended energy with anger, and, like him or not, you have to agree that more of that is needed in Washington, especially with the clock ticking on the "fiscal cliff."