Short takes for Jan. 4

Peterson tells it like it is

THUMBS UP: Few men or women in Congress these days would qualify for a “thumbs up,” but we’re giving one to District 7 Rep. Collin Peterson for his candor in describing the state of affairs in Washington these days. We don’t agree with his vote against legislation to avoid the “fiscal cliff,” even though it barely qualifies as a short-term solution, but at least Peterson, in interviews with the Independent and the Associated Press, tells it like it is and pulls few punches; we respect that. The approval rating for the U.S. Congress is at an all-time low for good reason – it has simply failed to get things done this past year, and Peterson is smart enough to know not to try to patronize his constituents and lead them to believe everything is, and will be, OK.

Flu packs a punch

THUMBS DOWN: Flu season is really ramping up, so make sure to keep a close eye on your children and elderly parents in the coming weeks. A teen from Texas who was visiting relatives in Wisconsin died Saturday at a St. Paul hospital – the third flu death in Minnesota this season – and another, a 14-year-old girl from St. Louis Park, contracted Influenza A and is fighting for her life. Health officials have predicted this could be one of the worst flu seasons in some time in Minnesota, and the AP reported that more than 120 Minnesotans were hospitalized with the flu in the week ending Dec. 22.

2013 Legislature

SIDEWAYS THUMBS: The 2013 legislative session gets going Tuesday, and as usual we don’t really know what to expect. But we do hope for one thing: that this year’s Legislature will deal with the $1 billion-plus deficit with zeal and common sense and not try to implement budget gimmicks and shifts. Surely that will mean some difficult decisions will have to be made and both sides will have to find areas where they are willing to compromise. That’s an abused (and unfortunately ugly) word in politics these days, but we hope the new Legislature, now fully under the Democrats’ watch, can work together to do what’s best for Minnesota. There will be Republicans standing in the way of what the Democrats want to do, and we expect nothing less – this is, after all, politics we’re talking about – but it’s up to both parties to worry more about the people of Minnesota and less about the letter after their name in 2013. Rural Republicans and Democrats in Minnesota have built up somewhat of a track record of working together on certain issues that affect their non-metro areas, but all of our elected officials need to follow that lead when it comes to fixing the deficit.