Alright – so, Lt. Governor of Minnesota has been appointed by the Governor of Minnesota to replace the outgoing current Senator Franken. What does this have to do with autism – everything.
Most autism research comes from the federal government via federal agencies who are charged to either do autism research, fund it or provide services and resources. Autism Cares Act is a huge autism legislation that allows autism research funding, services and resources. It also governs IACC which we all know is an extremely important autism committee. Sen. Franken voted for this bill few years ago and is part of the congressional autism caucus. I guess Franken has somewhat come along in autism issues, although not nearly as good as he could have been. Initially, his office in particular the state office headed by Ms. Peterson has been difficult and defensive in every corner. I remember back when I was advocating for the Autism Cares Act – Franken’s office complained about me to the Somali community’s director. Of course, that only energized me. Then his office refused to meet with us initially nor write any letters supporting our advocacy efforts. I think they wrote couple of letters after we complained to his chief of staff and Franken met with us. I must say in that meeting, he said a lot but nothing significant nor did he do anything for the autism cause.
He also was a member of the HELP committee which is an important committee. Now, things will be even worse as Ms. Smith is a lot meaner and less caring if you can believe it. We (autism parents) contacted Smith back when she was Dayton’s chief of staff and requested a meeting with Gov. Dayton who met with non-minority autism parents and others. She told us to take a flying leap through Ken Martin – MN DFL chair. Martin told us while Dayton is too busy for us, Smith can meet with us. We declined and told her to take a flying leap.
Fast forward when Dayton picked Smith as his running mate and they won (sad). Then Smith became in my humble little opinion – a heartless hammer and did zero, nada, nothing about autism issues. This included MDH not doing any autism research, any meaningful outreach or anything autism at all despite our repeated requests. Previous Mayor of Mpls – RT apparently nick-named Smith “velvet hammer”. In my opinion, there is nothing velvet-like about Smith. Instead, I think she is a heartless hammer with a hint of Minnesota passive aggressive personality.
In summary, Sen. Smith will do even less than Sen. Franken which is sad for all of autism children and their families in Minnesota. Hopefully, she won’t win in the election. Dayton should’ve appointed Rep. Ellison (who is more qualified than Smith) given the low number of African Americans in the Senate, but of course he didn’t, instead he gave the job to his friend – Smith.
Above words do not represent any committee, agency or candidate.
Idil – Autism Mom & Advocate