June 2020 Retiree Council News
I CAN’T BREATHE...
The shocking video of the murder of George Floyd has shaken our pandemic-stressed world like an earthquake. Our hearts go out to George Floyd’s family and to the entire black community for the pain and anger surfaced by yet another police murder. But words are hollow. It is change from entrenched systemic racism that is required.
Widespread outrage has led to demonstrations of more than 100 people in 500 US cities according to Wikipedia. The gatherings are marked by uplifting, unifying diversity along every spectrum of race, religion, occupation, and age. In a June 8 CNN poll, 84 percent of citizens express belief the demonstrations are justified. See AFL-CIO President Rich Trumka express labor’s commitment to continue the fight against racism here .
Burning and looting occurred too and that creates further hardship for people and businesses already hit hard by the COVID disease and the related recession. The protests directed pressure at the Minneapolis Police Department and the MPD union. Read the MN AFL-CIO’s statement calling for the resignation of the MPD union president here.
On June 9, the AFL-CIO joined in that call and added a call for the resignations of the Secretary of Defense and Chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff for their misuse of military troops against demonstrators. Learn about it here.
Organizations with contracts with the MPD acted rapidly to cancel them. The Minneapolis School Board program for School Resource Officers will cease, as will the Minneapolis Park Board park event use of MPD officers and back-up coverage by Park Police for MPD calls. The Walker Art Center and First Avenue will quit using MPD officers for security.
The Minneapolis City Council has a majority supporting “defunding” of the police. Read the Minneapolis Star and Tribune article here for a discussion of what that may mean.
This is a painful but hopeful moment that could move us ahead in unity.
You can read thoughts and feelings of some of our leaders ---Recording Secretary Mary Sansom: 2020—1968 on Steroids; President Emeritus Bill Moore: Since the killing of George Floyd; Founding Board Member Tom Dwyer: Reflections...Bloody But Unbowed. And reactions from Board members: Judy Schultz; Harry Grigsby; Cindy Barnes; Russ Thornell; and Cheryl Jones; here. President Ken McInnis calls on us to act here .
FOR THE TIMES – THEY ARE A-CHANGIN’.
CORONAVIRUS – IT’S STILL HERE
The COVID 19 pandemic remains with us. The Governor’s STAY HOME Executive Order that started March 23 has now converted to a STAY SAFE approach. The first steps away from STAY HOME started on May 11 and have progressed weekly with more businesses opening and their operating capacity increasing gradually. That means most businesses are now open for limited customer service at varying levels depending on the business.
All citizens are now in STAY SAFE mode, except for at risk groups including two large groups --- those over 65 and those with underlying health conditions. In the Executive Order, at risk groups are strongly urged to continue to STAY HOME. The details on testing, number of COVID cases, demographics of cases and deaths, and much more, can be found through the Governor’s Dashboard here.
Here are the reminders for protecting yourself and your loved ones from COVID-19:
Stay home when sick.
Keep 6 feet of space between yourself and others.
Wear a facemask or cloth face covering when keeping space between people is difficult, such as at the grocery store or pharmacy.
Wash your hands often.
Don’t touch your face.
Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.
THE ECONOMICS OF COVID
Despite the most recent good, but possibly misleading news on unemployment rates, the devastation of lost jobs and closed businesses is real. Two reports point out the impact on women’s employment here and job losses in education here. Read Board Member Bruce Yernberg’s reflections on who ISN’T stepping up to the plate during this economic crisis here .
MAIL VOTING CRITICAL
At-risk group members are justifiably worried about how they can vote safely in the upcoming elections. Widespread mail ballot access is the best way to avoid COVID exposure. So NOW IS THE TIME to go to the Secretary of State’s website here and request your absentee ballot.
There is a primary on August 11 and you want to allow time to check out endorsed candidates, mark your ballot and secure a witness who can verify you are “yourself” with plenty of time to get your ballot returned. You can read here Labor 2020 Coordinator Carol Freeman’s report on our goals and the kind of election work there is to do during a pandemic.
Because staffing of polling places could be problematic, the state should mail each registered voter a ballot. That avoids a Wisconsin or Georgia scenario.Because of that, the Retiree Council has been organizing Letters to the Editor on this subject throughout the state to educate people about mail voting and create support for it. Thanks to all of you who have sent letters and had them printed. Board member Tim Gella’s letter is reprinted here.Feel free to copy or modify it and send it to your local paper. And please send a copy to Governor Walz.
SAVE THE USPS
The United States Postal Service must have support from the next stimulus bill. The pandemic-induced loss of revenue facing the USPS is no less dramatic than that for airlines and other corporations. The Postal Service needs the same level of assistance. And we need the USPS for many reasons, including to be able to vote by mail! You can do your part to help the Postal Service by signing this petition oniine. Then send a letter via US mail using your favorite stamps to your US Representative and both of Minnesota's US Senators. Find their addresses here.
LEGISLATIVE SPECIAL SESSION
So far partisanship has not been one of the victims of COVID 19. Friday June 12 our legislature meets to deal with the huge financial issues created by COVID, by property destruction in Minneapolis and St. Paul, the justice and equity issues demonstrated by the murder of George Floyd, and the extension of Governor Walz’s emergency powers. Can they figure out that a bonding bill could be a big help in creating jobs? The House will probably be up to this very difficult job, but we will all have to STAY TUNED to see if the Senate can do their part.
NEW WEBSITE WITH TAPES
Our new website at https://www.mnretired.org/ with big elder-friendly typefaces and pictures is now up and going. One of the site’s best features is a page for our most current videotapes here. There are 3 short tapes with Senator Matt Klein about Health Care Access and a tape on the 2020 Census with Elaine Rothman, chair of the MRRC Census Committee. Check it out!