FROM THE DESK OF THE PRESIDENT (DECEMBER, 2002)

 "There are two ways of spreading light; to be the candle or
the mirror that reflects it." - Edith Wharton


The above quote pretty much sums up how I feel about Paul Wellstone. He lived his life being the candle by which the rest of us were lucky enough to reflect the light of in our mirrors. His energy, his unwavering dedication to fighting the battles for all those who had no voice, his integrity in standing by his statements, his love for life were all traits which endeared him to many of us. And even those who did not share his political views expressed their respect for his willingness to listen and the strength of his convictions.

My first memory of Senator Wellstone was watching him on TV speaking up for farmers. I wondered who that curly-haired person was and how he could speak as long as he did with such fire! Coming from a farming community, he spoke to my heart and I so appreciated the fact that he was out there trying to help our communities save an integral part of their fabric. Those of you who know me know that two of my earliest heroes were Hubert  Humphrey and Bob Hope. I always admired their ability to get up and speak with seemingly ease. Although there are those who would not agree with me, I saw that ease in speaking as one of Paul's best traits. As the years passed and he ran for office, my respect for him grew and my admiration for his ability to hit the podium at full speed - top volume - never diminished.

As you know, I am short. So, to be able to speak to someone at eye level is always nice. I also suspect that height did not matter to anyone speaking to him, though, as he had a way of making you feel as if you were the only one in the room when he spoke to you. You had his full attention as he listened to you and looked you in the eye. When he came walking toward you with that big grin on his face and that ambling gait, you knew that you were going to enjoy what was coming. The amazing thing is that he would not forget that conversation and years later would ask if you needed more assistance or information to resolve the issue.

So, after mourning for Paul and his family and aides, I am beginning to believe that it is now our turn to be the candles whose light is reflected in the mirrors of our friends, our families, our neighbors, our fellow employees. We are the ones who must speak out for those without voices and fight for the rights of our fellow citizens. Get involved in the community in politics - in church - in whatever activity will enrich the lives of you and others. Be a candle!

Contract Survey: We had our first meeting of the Master Negotiations Committee for our Local on November 7th.  We discussed the goals of the Local and how to obtain information from our membership on what they see as priorities for the next round of contract talks. We decided that we will send out several surveys to garner opinions, comments and suggestions on the direction we should take. You will see the first survey distributed with this newsletter. We would very much appreciate it if you would take the time to think about the questions and then complete the form. The contract protects your rights so it is important that you provide input for this important process. We represent almost 2100 members in over 40 job classifications with more than 20 work sites spread throughout the County. We need to hear from everyone so that all viewpoints are considered when determining how to proceed. If you would like to serve on this committee, please call me at 348-0266.

"There's absolutely no reason for being rushed along with the rush." Robert Frost

Please remember to not only take time for family and friends but also for
yourself during the coming holiday season. Breathe - laugh - sing - relax.

Happy holidays!

Jean