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Perfect symbol of state shutdown

July 10, 2011
by Chuck Hunt, Register Editor
Nobody asked me for my opinion, but if they did, I would say this whole shutdown of the State of Minnesota is about the dumbest thing I have ever seen.

The state legislature and the governor have but one job to do. Run the state in a fiscally responsible manner.

Seems to me they have failed – and failed miserably – in this endeavor. That is pretty obvious, since the state is now operating not at all, much less in a fiscally responsibly manner.

What they seem to do best is blame the other side for the failure.

Republicans in the legislature say they passed a budget bill, Gov. Dayton just didn’t sign it. He wants to raise taxes on the rich, Republicans want to cut government spending. Neither side can agree on solving a $5 billion shortfall. Or how much the next budget should be.

I know this is overly simplistic, but the end result is the state is shut down.

And, it is dumb. Asinine. Ridiculous. Embarrassing. (Pick your own word, but I sort of favor ‘dumb.’)

Locally, the effects of the shutdown are being felt around Faribault County. Most of the pain is because of lack of state money coming in.

But, perhaps the most visible of all the effects is the closure of the county’s one rest stop area along Interstate I-90, right outside Blue Earth. All of the rest stops from South Dakota to Wisconsin have orange cones and barricades across the entrances with large “closed” signs across them.

Perhaps the closure of the rest stop might actually be a boon to some local businesses. With the thousands of travelers on I-90 unable to stop at the rest stop to, ah, rest and relieve themselves, they are pulling into Blue Earth. I suggest the gas stations near the interstate are having to stock up on extra toilet paper.

Of course, while they are pulling into town, they are buying some things, eating at local restaurants and also visiting the Green Giant statue.

But, the closure of the rest stop has had some adverse affects.

For those of us who bike or walk along the Unity Trail that stretches from the water tower all the way past the one rest stop and ends at the other one, it was a bit of a shock to see a barricade across the trail.

This seemed a little odd to me, since the trail actually goes past – and not in – the first rest stop and then ends just as one arrives at the second rest stop.

So, it never actually goes into the rest stops. In fact, there are signs that warn us bicyclers that we would have to walk and not ride our bikes onto the rest stop trails.

My guess is that since the rest stop is closed due to the shutdown, the state is worried that we who use the trail will need to, ah, rest and relieve ourselves sometimes, and the toilets are not open at the rest stops. I have noticed an abundance of trees there, however.

The rest stop closure also affected Giant Days in Blue Earth this weekend.

Blue Earth Chamber of Commerce executive director Cindy Lyon had arranged for a tour of the wild flower plots that have been planted along I-90 and the rest stops as part of the garden tour at the Blue Earth celebration. It would have included a guide from the state and a rented bus.

It didn’t happen. The state guide isn’t working, and the barricades are still up.

If anyone is looking for an unofficial symbol of the state shutdown, my vote goes for the little barricade by the Unity Trail in Blue Earth.

C’mon you elected officials. Do your job so we can take down our symbolic barricade.

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