“what we do to our children, they will do to our society” (Pliny, 2500 years ago).

David Strand, a fellow guardian ad-Litem, had an audience with Tim Pawlenty a few years ago and made an appeal for the soon to be governor’s support for abandoned/abused children. Tim Pawlenty told David (and Andy Dawkins) “children that are the victims of failed personal responsibility are not my problem, nor are they the problem of the state of MN”.

At least economically, this is a false statement. Youth that do not graduate from high school are much more likely to lead dysfunctional lives and end up preteen moms and adolescent felons. Also, 80% of youth aging out of foster homes are leading dysfunctional lives.

MN spent 500 Million dollars on prisons last year, and our recidivism is as bad as the rest of the nation (about 66%). About 60% of the youth in juvenile justice have mental health diagnosis, and fully half of that number have multiple and serious diagnosis.

The state pays for children that don’t become contributing members of society in many ways. Today at the Pilgrim House Church the state economist Tom Stimson explained the need for trained workers in the coming years and how it will be negatively impacted by the falling graduation rates.

20 years ago 92% of youth graduated in MN. Today, 46% of minority youth graduate.

As a guardian ad-Litem I am saddened by the lack of resources for the youngest and most vulnerable among us. And in my experience, most abused and neglected children go onto lead dysfunctional lives.

Not valuing children is costly to the state, a terrible display of misplaced values within our community, and it hurts all citizens by lowering the quality of life in MN. Vote for people that support Minnesota children.

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Strand tidings and view  AITKIN AGE NEWS

By David Strand, Aitkin, Minnesota
dlstrand@msn.com
General interest, politics, public policy
Friday, January 14, 2011

Hypocrite Tim Pawlenty tried to silence me

David Strand

Hypocrite Tim Pawlenty tried to silence me

This week (January 12) Tim Pawlenty was a guest of Jon Stewart’s on the Daily Show. Stewart asked Pawlenty if he agreed with GOP leaders such as Newt Gingrich, John Behner and Rush Limbaugh that the Obama administration was expanding government in socialistic directions, even though President Bush had also grown government with no such criticism from the Right Wing?

Again and again, Pawlenty ducked the question. He kept referring to the freedom of speech as a legitimate right of critics of the president and government. Pawlenty, suddenly big on freedom of speech, is the same guy who tried to silence me when I wrote something he said to me several years ago. It proves he is a hypocrite.

Six years ago I wrote a column for the Aitkin Age that included these words from Tim Pawlenty. “Children who are victims of failed personal responsibility are not my problem or are they the problem for our government.” He said that to me and my Minnesota representative during a meeting with Pawlenty when he served as House majority leader. His comment, stunning to me at the time, came after I had enumerated a long list of statistics showing that American kids are living in the most hostile environment among modern industrial countries. The statistics included child poverty, homelessness, infant mortality, high school drop outs, teen pregnancy, teen abortions and teen births.

Pawlenty was governor in 2004 when I included his comment in a column, fully believing that those words were an accurate reflection of his stance. Republicans are big on personal responsibility, plus his choice of words were so foreign to me they literally stuck in my mind. I could not have fabricated such a statement about children.

What did Governor Pawlenty do? He ordered his lawyer, Karen A Janisch to write me a letter stating that the quote attributed to Governor Pawlenty was false and inaccurate. I was told

“to immediately cease any action to further publish in any manner or to in any manner take any further action to attribute this purported quote to Tim Pawlenty. We have already notified the newspaper about the inaccuracy of the quote.”

In fact, I had every reason to believe his statement was a reflection of his beliefs. I had earlier written letters to both Pawlenty and to Dan McElroy, Pawlenty’s Chief of Staff, that included the same quote. Neither Pawlenty nor McElroy responded to object to the accuracy of it.

So here is the upshot. Pawlenty, who considers himself qualified to be president of the United States, is perfectly willing to use the constitutional right of freedom of speech to answer questions from Jon Stewart, but also obviously comfortable to sick his attorney on me in an attempt to silence me.

In several letters of response to Ms Janisch, I related my past correspondence to the governor and his commissioner (enclosing copies), adding that my representative Andy Dawkins fully corroborated my version. Of course she did not have the decency or good manners to respond to my letters containing the aforementioned evidence. All I received was silence.

Actually, I was initially relieved to learn that his earlier words were uncomfortable to Mr. Pawlenty. That relief did not last long. Any hope for him as a governor who cared about these victimized children was dashed by the evidence certainly of his 8 years in office. Children fared badly during those years, as evidenced by any number of statistics on education, health care, poverty and homelessness. He was certainly not “the children’s governor”, instead he was “the rich people’s governor”, carefully shielding them from tax increases that would have reduced the unfairness of Minnesota’s current tax structure.

I am very happy Pawlenty is gone. And yes, he did say those words.

1 Comment

  1. When will we learn that intervention is not only more cost effective than remdiation. Remediation is only warrented after the situation escalates. Intervention and prevention quite possibly would thwart the negative self efficacy instilled in youth as they age out.

    We are not only looking at a financial obligation but a moral one as welL. Society owes these youth a chance to succeed and realize their innate talents. By not providing them with training and support programs and proverbially throwing them out to the wolves at age eighteen, we are losing the chance to have future successful adults who can be productive members of society.

    No question, the end result – jail, psychiatric issues, drug addiction and more, cost society far more in the long run than prevention and transition focused programs. Transition programs are cost effective as they are short term measures that can produce life long skills that help these kids succeed in adulthood. Remediation, such as deviant behavior, incarceration, and psychiatric issues are life long.

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