News Tribune Editorial Board
Easily and unfortunately lost in all the noise about President Donald Trump's border wall and his declaration of a national emergency was the abundance of good for our Great Lakes contained this week in the 2019 federal budget. Nearly $4 billion were included to support programs to restore and protect our Lake Superior and the four other Great Lakes and their regions, as the National Wildlife Federation and others were quick to tout.
It'll never not be an odd thing, that late-winter moment every year when hundreds of community leaders from Duluth and across St. Louis County pile into cars, travel en masse for two and a half hours, and then reassemble to talk about the Northland's needs. But the annual chamber-led citizen-lobbying blitz to St. Paul — the first of its kind in the state and still the largest — also will never not be needed, those who organize and participate insist year after year.
It certainly didn't take long for Minnesota to get left behind on a sure-bet windfall. Less than a year ago, in May, the U.S. Supreme Court took action that opened the door for states to join Nevada in allowing legal betting on professional and college sports, specifically the outcomes of games and even plays within games.
The occasional reminder is as welcome as it is encouraging — the reminder of all the 148th Fighter Wing means to Duluth and all Duluth means to the Air National Guard base that has been a fixture, a point of pride, and a reason to feel safe in our community for 70 years.
The list of Democrats lining up to try to dethrone Republican President Donald Trump is still coming together. Already, nine have announced their candidacies, and at least two others have created exploratory committees.
As much as Sen. Amy Klobuchar's presidential candidacy can be welcomed, anti-Semitic remarks can be condemned. And that was precisely the appropriate and bipartisan response that followed a congresswoman's tweets Sunday accusing lobbyists of paying members of Congress to support Israel. Of particular concern to us in the Gopher State was that the tweets were from U.S. Rep. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota. She apologized a day later. Mostly. She used the "apology" to also reaffirm "the problematic role of lobbyists in our politics." Is an apology with a disclaimer a genuine apology?
During late January's cold blast, Duluth police called a news conference to drop some chilling statistics: Five people had died from opioid overdoses in Duluth in just the first 23 days of 2019 — the highest number of overdose deaths Duluth had ever seen in a single month. Another 11 who overdosed survived, thanks to the heroic actions of officers and first responders.
With Duluth joining the ranks late last month, at least 430 local governments in 23 states now have raised the legal age for purchasing tobacco to 21. In Minnesota alone, 22 local governments have taken the action in the name of getting vaping and tobacco products out of our high schools and in an effort to head off lifelong nicotine addiction. Nearly all smokers and users of tobacco — 95 percent of them, according to the American Lung Association and others — start before turning 21.
Cheers went up last week, and applauding right along could have been — should have been — regional centers like Duluth that provide libraries, parks, and other amenities and services to thousands of non-residents who pour in every day for work or play.
Lost in all the criticism and the clamoring for more in the wake of the opening of a warming center this winter in West Duluth has been this: "We didn't have this at all last year," as Adam Fulton, manager of the city's community planning division, offered as a reminder during a sit-down last week with the News Tribune Editorial Board.