Columns

Wed
06
Nov

No mulligans in criminal court

The young pastor at the church I attend recently gave a sermon about “mulligans,” that is, our desire for “do-overs” when we mess up in life. A “mulligan” is a do-over in golf even though not allowed in the rules and permitted only among friends. When the player makes a very bad shot, he calls “mulligan” and is allowed to do-over that shot. When I heard the “mulligan” sermon, it brought a question to mind: are there “mulligans” in criminal court?  Put another way, can the court grant forgiveness to someone who commits a crime, even a minor offense? Can the court “wipe the slate clean?”

Sun
03
Nov

Mississippi River Sojourn

I lured my desert-dwelling father to Minnesota last weekend with the promise of fall colors and a camping trip along the Mississippi River. “Warm weather,” I said over the phone. “It’s a little cool at night but that means no mosquitoes around the campfire.”

Sun
03
Nov

Your legal rights: beware of look-alike websites

More and more people use the Internet to access government services and for personal business transactions. People can change mail delivery, renew license tabs, sign up for health insurance and order credit reports online. But with this accessibility there is a risk: look-alike websites that charge unnecessary fees, provide inaccurate information, or do not deliver any services at all. It can happen like this:

Sun
03
Nov

Help our food shelves help others

A couple of years ago I read the following quote from Lesley Boone on the Second Harvest Heartland website (www.2harvest.org). It is a powerful quote and a great reminder to help within our community whenever we can.
“We are a country that prides itself on power and wealth, yet there are millions of children who go hungry every day. It is our responsibility, not only as a nation, but also as individuals, to get involved.”

Sat
02
Nov

Washington County 2014 budget

The county budget funds a diverse set of county services, from county roads and bridges to safety net services for elderly and disabled residents. We operate parks, libraries, administer elections, provide prosecution, protect public health and offer public safety protection to our communities. Much of what we do is required because of state and federal mandates. Not all mandates are bad, but if state and federal funding is not provided along with the mandates, the cost of providing that service is shifted to county property taxes.

Sat
02
Nov

How to dress babies

Last October, my daughter gave birth to a baby girl, and while in the hospital, she was instructed by the nurses about how to dress her baby during winter and summer seasons. I, as a new grandparent, found this to be enlightening since I had never heard these recommendations.

Mon
28
Oct

Why a newspaper column?

As a judge I really enjoy public outreach: speaking to citizens’ groups and school children; hosting a cable television show; and recording commentary on a local AM radio station. Recently I submitted article No. 100 (since November 2006) to newspapers in the eight counties of the 10th Judicial District. But why would a judge write a column for a newspaper? Isn’t that simply asking for criticism? A senior judge once suggested “you should keep your head down” like being in a foxhole on the front line.

Mon
28
Oct

Affordable Care Act: What do changes mean in your community?

Nearly everyone has heard of the Affordable Care Act by now, but you need not feel alone if you still want more of the facts.  You may have a parent, child, relative or friend able to enroll in an affordable insurance plan for the first time.  Or, you may just want to know you’re getting the best plan your money can buy.  After all, who wants to spend more than they have to keep their good health?
The goals of the ACA, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, are the “3 C’s,” Coverage, Cost and Care.  A fourth C, “Choice,” is a critical tenet of the ACA as well.

Sun
27
Oct

Sunrise, sunset

It’s a glorious autumn day; the sun is shining down on leaves that have turned lemon yellow, dusky orange and mahogany red.
As I pause every so often to gaze out a window, a few lines from a Rodgers and Hammerstein song run through my head:
“I’m as restless as a willow in a windstorm, I’m as jumpy as puppet on a string, ... I’m as busy as a spider spinning daydreams, I’m as giddy as a baby on a swing.”

Sun
27
Oct

Fighting flu

As the leaves turn their final shades of yellow, orange and maroon, we are all reminded of the fight that is right around the corner. Flu season is here, and it is time for a reminder on what to do to prevent it.
Influenza, which is commonly mistaken with the “stomach flu” or the “common cold,” is caused by a virus that attacks the nose, throat, and lungs. It can cause mild to severe illness and at times can lead to death. Symptoms come on quickly in the form of fever, cough, sore throat, headache, extreme tiredness, stuffed-up nose, and body aches.

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