Throw away people

I tried to link to today’s Trib story from Lisa Kaczke on candidates addressing poverty. I don’t think it made it to the Trib’s online paper. Symbolic perhaps.

Yesterday’s forum at Denfeld was one of the few my wife has ever attended. Since getting her degree in Religious Leadership and interning at the Central Hillside United Ministry’s homeless shelter she’s been invested in the issue of poverty. Watching a sick woman being released from a hospital to a cot in a Homeless Shelter alters one’s focus.

I can say she didn’t have any superlatives for any of the many candidates who addressed poverty – including me. Claudia’s view of the event was that for once politicians had to listen to those in dire straights rather than the other way around.

There wasn’t much we candidates could say in the minute per question that was given us but we did hear extended life stories. The one that sticks with me was from an ex felon whose entire family finds itself blackballed in every regard because of the father’s past legal infractions. One thing the very Christian legislators have insisted on is that there is no Christ-like redemption in our legal system. Its all mandatory sentencing, a lifelong mark of Cain, and permanent disenfranchisement from citizenship. Even the Old Testament seems humane by comparison and if you are rich like our President you can commit all manner of larceny and get off scot-free with an army of attorneys.

So, this morning our church men’s group had a guest speaker from the State District Courts, Justice Dale Harris. He gave a sober talk that will keep me in deep thought for a while. He began by mentioning that last year there were 1.3 million cases brought to the Minnesota Courts. Heck, there are five million Minnesotans so that means one-in-four of them on average go to the courts each year. Whoa! I know I’ve been in court about once every three or four years myself fighting over the schools or family law or probate issues.

I had many questions for Justice Harris but I had to wait in line to ask them after my fellow attendees. I finally asked him about a concern that a black friend recently brought to my attention – the frustration of the St. Louis County attorney’s office with penny ante juvenile infractions brought to the courts from the schools such as “tobacco tickets.”

We had a short but useful discussion after the meeting and I hope to tap him for more insights in the future……provided I remain on the Duluth School Board. We have a lot of suffering children and I need to know more about Child Protective Services.