Monday, March 30, 2009

Official State Silliness (April 24th, 2007) Minneapolis Star-Tribune

I recently read an article in the March 30th edition of The StarTribune. It detailed the efforts of a presumably well-intentioned but misguided legislator from Fairbault. In an attempt to either demonstrate her worth as a legislator, or to please the powerful amusement ride lobby, Patti Fritz – a state representative of the DFL persuasion, has found an opportunity to fritter away more taxpayer money by introducing a bill to make the Tilt-A-Whirl the official amusement ride for the state of Minnesota. If she gets her way we may all be required to whirl ourselves sick.

To be clear – the Tilt-A-Whirl is a fine example for an amusement ride. I like the sound of the click clack, click clack it makes as it twists and twirls around. It has remained unchanged and predictable in a world that doesn’t offer much of either. And with all of the technological advances in the past several decades- it is still operated by just one guy moving a couple levers. I have ridden in the Tilt-A-Whirl, the Scrambler, the boats, and the cars. But for lately all that spinning just leaves me feeling a bit woozy. Now I just enjoy snappy conversations with my old friends at Bar-B-Q days in Belle Plaine.

This little legislative league Rep Fritz belongs to has a tradition of proposing inane bills such as this. Over the years there have been no less than fourteen different bills debating the merits of the White-tailed deer over the Eastern Timber Wolf as the official state animal. I say let the animals fight it out.

Twenty years ago an argument ensued over whether to name Schell’s or Cold Spring as the official state beer. Now I ask you – why didn’t they consider Hamm’s? It may have saved the brand. There was an even a bear associated with the Hamm’s label. We could have had the state bear drinking the state beer.

Before we get too far ahead of ourselves let’s slow down and consider the past. Amusement parks have a grand history in Minnesota. Aren’t we at risk of offending Valley Fair by not consulting them? How will this honor the memory of the legendary Excelsior Amusement Park or Como Park? As long as we are legislating official fun what’s next - will it be cotton candy or the latest trick on a stick for the official state fair food?

Yes, I am aware that the Tilt-A-Whirl and Rep Fritz share a common home town (hey, I read the papers). But doesn’t Fairbault also have the Woolen Mills and the State hospital? What’s next on her agenda? I think we need to check her to-do-list.

In the article written by Chuck Haga Rep. Fritz noted that she has received some negative feedback. Apparently people are disappointed with the legislature for not addressing issues of a more pressing nature - such as lowering taxes and paying teachers more. “There’s a lot of anger out there.” Fritz said. I am not angry Rep Fritz. I just don’t think you completely understand what you were elected to do. To paraphrase Jerry Seinfeld – You know how to get elected; you just don’t know what to do once you are elected.

I have an idea for a new law. When the serious issues have been debated and voted on, when our elected officials can no longer find any more money to extort from their constituents, send them home before they get silly and start giving official status to snack cakes and socks. I wonder will people be allowed to smoke on our official state amusement ride?

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