Editorial -- Another step toward a better Graham Park

When it comes to the future of the Olmsted County Fairgrounds, seemingly everyone has an idea. Now, with the formation of Friends of Graham Park, those ideas will get a hearing.

The future of Graham Park, the official name of the fairgrounds, has been the subject of this year’s Leadership Greater Rochester class, and three members of that class will be on the board of directors of Friends of Graham Park. Other members of the board of the private, non-profit organization will come from users of the fairgrounds: Rochester Youth Hockey, the Olmsted County Agriculture Association and others.

The goal is to turn the fairgrounds into a year-round events center and destination for visitors and local residents alike. Proponents would like to do that and make the fairgrounds self-supporting.

Can it be done? Not if all the ideas amount only to talk. The establishment of Friends of Graham Park gives those ideas a chance of coming to fruition.

Buy copper bullets


Last spring, a doctor in North Dakota kicked off a firestorm of controversy when he said he found traces of lead in venison that was to be distributed by food shelves. Since then, plenty of hunters have scoffed at the possibility that they might be putting their health at risk by eating deer that were killed by lead bullets.

No one should be scoffing anymore.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, along with the North Dakota state health department, did blood tests on 700 state residents. The results of this study, released last week, indicated that people who ate wild game killed with lead ammunition had higher levels of lead than did those who ate little or no wild game.

Admittedly, none of the test subjects were experiencing any health problems, as their lead levels were relatively low, but the 400,000 deer hunters who were in Minnesota’s forests, fields, and swamps this weekend are warned not to feed venison to kids younger than 6, and pregnant women are advised not to consume any game animal killed with a lead bullet.

We now know that lead projectiles fragment when they hit game animals, and that lead is finding its way into the blood of those who consume wild game. The next appropriate step is for Minnesota to ban lead ammunition for all hunting.

Straight-ticket isn’t for us

In Olmsted County, 51 percent of voters supported Sen. Barack Obama. Yet in the U.S. Senate race, Republican Norm Coleman claimed 47 percent of the vote here, compared to Al Franken’s 38 percent.

We don’t want to make too much of these figures, but they bear out a simple truth about Minnesota voters. Not only is our turnout rate always among the highest in the nation, but many of us clearly don’t concern ourselves with party loyalty. We vote for the person, not for the party.


We think that’s a good thing, and applaud a voting system that requires us to make a specific, individual choice in each race. Voting the party line — known as straight-ticket voting — isn’t facilitated by our voting method.

That’s not the case elsewhere. Straight-ticket voting is on the decline, but 16 states, including Iowa and Wisconsin, still have a ballot system that facilitates it, and it’s been the cause of some serious problems.

In North Carolina, for example, people can push one button and thus vote for every Democrat or Republican that’s on the ballot. The problem is, there’s one race that’s NOT included in the straight-ticket option. So, in 2004, 92,000 straight-ticket voters walked out of the booth without casting a vote for President of the United States.


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