consultants are sandburs

Thursday, March 27, 2008



SD48 Convention (new Location)
Lord of Life Lutheran Church (new location)
14501 Nowthen Blvd

Date: Thursday March 27, 2008
Time: Registration begins at 6:30 and will convene at 7:00 PM

The District 48 DFL site can be reached, here.

NOTE: I apparently have mischaracterized this as a second "caucus" level, and have been corrected, it is a convention - for those "elected" at the earlier precinct cacus level. At that level, if you could fog a mirror, and wanted to go on, you would. It will be interesting to see the process this cycle. Anyone can attend is my understanding, since at the last cycle's session I recall at least one person there who I believe is GOP. Observing, as a citizen and city official of Ramsey, within the senate district, and interested in seeing what happened. I believe it a good thing that the process is open to observation that way.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

The Sunday Sixth Congressional District Debate held in Anoka City Hall has been posted online.

Political Muse has the links to the Debate segments, on You Tube.

Have a look.

The Candidates Q & A, where Elwyn Tinklenberg unilaterally changed the format, only taking but refusing to ask any questions, is the segment where the question of taconite tailings use as paving aggregate arose, and where it was claimed that Larry Zanko of NRRI had "certified" the stuff as safe, when the question was about Health Department certification, not anything else.

The Q & A segment is also where the revolving door lobbying issue, and its implications was asked and ducked.

I posted on my impressions after the debate, here.

I have not reviewed things to see if I have made any mistakes of recollection.

I do not think I got a single thing wrong, however. I invite any/all readers to comment if in reviewing the segments they catch me in an error or misstatement. If so, I appologize in advance, and will note and retract anything wrongly stated.

Have a look.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Taconite - If I read the dates right MnDOT and NRRI idiots have put the cart before the horse.

NRRI. It appears to be doing a study. Or being a part of a study. An "Is the dust a problem study." See the undated slides, here.

In the URL line it is titled "... particulate study - 121707.pdf" [1217087.pdf, as previously posted, was in error].

To me, with no other evidence, I presume that it was the topic of a slide presentation on Dec. 17, 2007, and there was this:

SLIDE 2. "3-year long field study of airborne particulates in communities across the "Mesabi Iron Range"

SLIDE 3. "The community study will address the following questions

"1. What are the characteristics of the airborne particulates in the communities that surround taconite operations? Do they differ from the particulates in other communities in Northeastern Minnesota?

"2. How many mineral fibers (of various types, shapes, and sizes) and how much airborne metal are residents in Iron Range communities exposed?

"3. Have the mineral particles and fibers emitted from taconite operations changed over time in response to increased regulation and the implementation of more effective dust control procedures?"

SLIDE 7. "Samples of western and eastern Mesabi Range lake sediments will also be collected and studied to reconstruct the historical composition of airborne dust generated by mining activity. Other geological materials will be collected and analyzed as-needed."

Two things are noteworthy. Use of the future tense - a study apparently started at the end of last year, if the title has date information as I am presuming.

Second, encouraging news:
SLIDES 9-11 show a real spectrum of research skills and interests are represented in this study, and a spectrum of agencies are participants. It is NOT merely Zanko and the Lee lab with a questionable sampling of piles on the range, and hints of bias.


What is funny is it looks to be launched Dec. 2007, the identical date to this already linked MnDOT blacktop spec, from Dec. 2007; saying go ahead and use the stuff, East is East, etc., with the closest thing to an attempt (a long-overdue attempt) at trying to reach a consensus effort (if not a consensus opinion) on safety and health threat - to get reliable science starting finally, when the equally dated MnDOT spec says, go ahead, or what's probably worse, continue using it in roads and never mind that a study is now three-years out to decide whether this is a good or bad idea at this time.

That sucks. It is bad logistics. It is cracker-jack marketing.

That grades Tinklenberg Group - the logistics and marketing gurus - at 50%, which is as good as pure chance, flipping a fair coin.

Elwyn, that does not cut it.

So, again, Elwyn, 'splain it, and make it simple - but not too simple - was that MnDOT decision making during your watch; or due to your lobbying for the tailings to be used, whatever the questions left begging?

And Elwyn, if I am wrong and that three-year study's been wrapped up, then I 'fess up to error. But, Elwyn, why do you go about talking about Zanko, when it is this host of better supporting scholars and specialists that represent the better study. That fact, East is East, and trust me, trust Zanko - all that suggests the jury is NOT still out, but will have to wait three more years, to be sent out to deliberate.

Cart before the horse, ass-backwards, however you term it; it does not cut it when the safety of an entire state's population is being subjected to unwarranted risk.

More helpful information, again undated. Tamara Diedrich is the lead investigator for NRRI’s portion of the research. The item puts a picture of Ms. D on the webpage; but no date. I would rather have a timeframe than a "human interest" photo. But there is this:

“When it comes to human health, what we’re interested in are the particles that can be transported into the lung,” explained Tamara Diedrich, lead investigator for NRRI’s portion of the research. “Your nose and throat are pretty good at filtering out the larger particles. It’s the smaller ones, less than five microns, that can be retained by the body.”

Diedrich holds a doctorate in geology from Arizona State University.

UMD’s new electron microscope will be used to study the tiny particles (one micron equals 1,000,000th of a meter) that are specifically three times as long as they are wide. Why so specific?

The Mining Safety and Health Administration uses the 3:1 length-to-width ratio to describe “asbestos.” The crushing of taconite ore by mining operations across the Mesabi Iron Range produces similar elongated mineral particles. Only on the easternmost portion of the range, near Northshore Mining, are some of the particles chemically identical to amosite asbestos, causing longstanding concern about their exposure to workers and the public. Geologists know that the elongated particles on the western portion of the Iron Range have a different, non-asbestos composition, but they will also be studied by NRRI researchers. Silica dust is also generated by taconite industries and will be studied.

“We’re characterizing all of the dust, all of the particles that meet the right size criteria,” added NRRI geologist Larry Zanko. “We’ll have quantitative data of what they’re made out of, how much there is in the air and in what size fractions.”

The sample gathering will be in full swing this spring. NRRI is a major sponsor of the research, providing up to $500,000 from the NRRI portion of the Permanent University Trust Fund. Legislative funding will be needed to move the scientific data collected into answers to the questions about Iron Range air quality.

All that is fine, for the mine safety question. But, that stuff is in piles. The piles get disturbed, and there are cleavage fragments. It gets loaded into rail cars and unloaded, and there are more cleavage fragments. So, from the East Iron Range, or the West Iron Range, if they test both for mine safety, then wait until the tests are done to see what is learned. And then, with more thorough sampling east and west, do some animal testing. Mesothelioma is nasty. It kills. Why risk it? Why let Elwyn profit from "marketing" the putting of the risk onto and into everyone else's roads? Elwyn has enough cash flow from Ramsey, Elk River, Albertville, Hassan Mainstreet, LLC, Anoka County Regional Railroad Authority, East Bethel - he can ease up on the NRRI cash cow. There's enough else to be milked.

Talk about hiding things under a hat. Yes, that study is an infant with three years to go; proof of the Dec. 17, 2007 date being here. See also, here for participant biographies, here and here (same text as quoted from above, another undated website, but with updated indicated as 2008, not 2003, as the earlier item). Also, see here, here and here. Those last two little hummers look as if each could have been authored by a logistics and marketing consultant, in exchange for a fee.

Not taconite exposure, but vermiculite, where it was mined in Libby Montana. Shocking new results.

And this is why risk averse regard for use of taconite tailings statewide is wise for now, until health authorities reach a consensus.

Of the 431 workers from the original group who were still living, 280 participated in the follow-up study and were interviewed about their lung health and work history, including particular exposure level and the numbers of years they worked. They were then given chest x-rays, which were assessed for pleural plaques, thickening and interstitial changes by professional radiologists.

When the researchers analyzed the workers with pleural changes by exposure levels, they found a significant trend of increasing changes with increased exposure. Workers with highest exposure levels had an average of 6 to 16 times the risk of pleural changes when compared to those who were minimally exposed. Moreover, the changes were significant even at levels of exposure currently permitted by law.

The findings indicate that “a significant number of workers exposed at the current limit would experience pleural abnormalities,” wrote Gregory Wagner, M.D., of the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, in an accompanying editorial.

Furthermore, regulations governing legal exposure limits to hazardous materials apply only to specific fibers, not to all types of fibers that have similar and predictable biological effects.

“When humans are exposed to any mineral fibers that are long, thin and durable in human tissue and can reach the pleural membrane, these fibers can cause health problems,” said Dr. Lockey. “Six types of asbestos are currently regulated, but other existing types of fibers that share similar characteristics are not.”

Perhaps most importantly, the research highlights the need to anticipate the health implications of occupational exposures.

“The initial Lockey investigation found a relatively modest prevalence of pleural abnormalities,” wrote Dr. Wagner. But the current study “found over 10 times that level, despite the fact that contaminated vermiculite had been removed from the production process by 1980.”

That italicized thing, radiologists indicate a belief about "mineral fibers that are long, thin and durable in human tissue" being problematic even when exposure levels were below present thresholds - that sure makes that Zanko geological engineer up at NRRI in Duluth look "exposed" beyond a reasonable limit too. Not to asbestos, but to criticism for delving where his expertise is inadequate - health and exposure issues.

Then this -- We see, 2007, PubMed has an abstract for an article not openly published in full on the Web; but the ending sentence from our very own Minnesota DNR is important:

Asbestos first became an issue to Minnesota's iron industry when it was revealed that mineral fibers similar to those in Reserve Mining's tailings were being found in drinking water for several communities that used Lake Superior as their primary water source. This discovery turned what had largely been an environmental court battle into a case concerning public health. The courts listened to much conflicting and uncertain scientific testimony on the size and distribution of the mineral fibers and on the potential health effects imposed by them. In April 1974, the plant was ordered to shut down by a federal judge but the company quickly appealed the decision. The appeals court granted a stay and ultimately ruled that the plant's closure could not be justified based on the unknown health effects of the mineral fibers since the consequences of such an action would have immediate and severe social and economic impacts. The plant was allowed to continue operation, but ordered to abate emissions to air around the plant and to switch to a land-based tailings disposal system. Much of the scientific uncertainty and public concern over mineral fibers in Minnesota's taconite industry remain today.

So - then we see the lab that Zanko's study relied upon, the one in Pennsylvania, the Lee lab, splitting hairs over "fibers" and long, thin, pointy "cleavage fragments" that are from minerals close in chemical makeup to asbestos "fibers."

Does that suggest the Zanko-labjockies etc., are sufficiently risk averse, to you, with your health risks? Not to me, no sir.

This to me sounds like pure lies, sophistry and excuse-making -- and hairsplitting over "fibers" when that above language was about "mineral fibers that are long, thin and durable in human tissue" and you look at some of the stuff, in the illustrations the Lee-Zanko labjockies offer in pictures, sharp points and all, while saying the functional equivalent of "Don't worry, be happy," to the MHSA, Mine Health and Safety Administration, a federal agency,

All of the identified particles shown in these photographs fail to meet the minimum definition of a fiber – there are no parallel sides on these particles. The laboratory acknowledged that these particles were not asbestos fibers, but were cleavage fragments ("… the fibers in these photographs were more 'fractured' in appearance …", page 30 of report). To compound matters, MSHA interpreted the data to show the vast majority of counted airborne particles to be asbestos ("… the total percent asbestos … ranged from 85% to 100% …", page 7 of report).

If a correct definition of fiber had been specified in the MSHA regulations, none of the reported particles would have been counted as fibers.

And, so you know what dots connect to others, back to vermiculite, the industry appologists there at work, same BS distinction the Lee-lab people are fobbing off - those pointy mean-looking "cleavage fragments" are not "fibers" because they lack parallel sides. Do you suppose it is the long sharp and durational stability, and chemical makeup, that caused the pleural degenearation reported in the first item; or did "parallel sides" make a big difference. Get serious. Yet, vermiculite advocate-appoligists at "" are just like the Zanko-Lee crowd:

The elongated particles identified in the air tests as asbestos by the phase contrast light microscope test (PCM) were further analyzed by the more powerful electron microscope (TEM). These particles had the width and length typical of “cleavage fragments” under OSHA’s protocol 29 CFR 1926.1101 Appendix B2 and none of the particle widths were less than 0.1 to 0.2 microns which is the reported diameter of true actinolite-tremolite asbestos fibers.3 The fact that the particles identified as asbestos fiber were single fibers and were never found in bundles by EPA, OSHA or NIOSH is a further indication that the particles are likely to be cleavage fragments.4 Another test, the “Fibrosity Index”,5 which is a statistical method to identify “cleavage fragments” from “true asbestos”, shows these particles are cleavage fragments. The NIOSH reports did not differentiate actinolite-tremolite cleavage fragments from true asbestos nor did they calculate a Fibrosity Index.

So it's parallel sides, and a "Fibrosity Index" or some such that has Zanko saying it's safe for you and your family, in the paving in front of the home.

Closing question, do you suppose the bike trails this guy uses are paved with taconite tailings for which he'd sense no risk? If all the animals on Animal Farm were equal, it might be, but ... I just bet the trail-riding bike jockey has cause to smile broadly and safely, on HIS trails.

The Tinklenberg credibility gap IS widening.

And as a part of it, the date on this spec is Dec. 2007, but when do you suppose that p.3 thing about taconite tailings being an approved aggregate item, for MnDOT, as long as East is East and West is West, -- as a thought experiment, who might have been MnDOT commissioner when that specification was first approved? I do not know. I could only find this document, without any administrative history behind it.

But, again, the onus is on Elwyn Tinklenberg to explain himself. To say, "During my watch, I did it," or to say "Not during my watch." Then the fact-checking the GOP probably already has done, bent gussets and all - half as thick as they should have been - in 2003 where during prior years, before Oct. 2002, the view under the bridge could not have been too different. So, fact checking, Tink was or was not MnDOT commissioner when that p.3 "go ahead and use the junk" text was first promulgated; and he was MnDOT commissioner when the bridge gussets were half the right thickness and bent; and he says, "Metallurgy."

And, "Approved taconite tailing sources are on file with the Department Bituminous Engineer," being the 2007 MnDOT story, just when did the "Department Bituminous Engineer," collect (or more likely have handed to him) the "approved taconite tailing sources?" Tinkster, are you there? What's the story?

Finally, feature this, even if that spec came into being Dec. 2007 for the first time, did it do so, as part of a "logistics and marketing" contract effort, out of Tinklenberg Group? There's some 'splaning due, that is for certain.

BOTTOM LINE: The man has an awful lot of baggage to think he would be hauling it all to DC to take over the Michele Bachmann seat.


Hubris and baggage. It defines the man.

I gave my thinking in an earlier post about sampling - good protocol and bad. Apparently it was no twenty samples from around each pile, but a TOTAL of eighteen from the various piles, and then the Lee lab did the lab work, guys and gals peering through microscopes, etc., and they as well as Zanko have advacatorial positions publicly advanced. It is like the concern some are expressing for pharmaceutical company funding of drug screening clinical tests. The incentive to call the close pitches one way rather than the other exists if the umpire is being paid by one team, not the league. Or if the umpire "likes" one team's image over the other. Or if he has background ties, one way or the other.

I don't think the sampling is clear; and I would prefer the lab work done by a university lab and not an outfit like the Lee lab, with its "cleavage fragment" distinctions from "fibers" having "parallel sides."

I think the vermiculite people are correct in pointing out, fiber bundles are different from isolated cleavage fragments - more threatening - but how many particles, puncturing and lodged into lung tissue does it take to start a cancer?

I sure doubt the Lee lab techs, Zanko, or Tinklenberg know that answer. I believe it fits with the DNR comment, quoted above, Much of the scientific uncertainty and public concern over mineral fibers in Minnesota's taconite industry remain today. With El. He is certain where his cash flows from. Independent of any "scientific uncertainty" he knows that - since his contract is not about science, but about logistics and marketing. Huckstering is not the heart and soul and core of the scientific method.

US Iraq troop death toll reaches 4000, days after fifth anniversary of the start of war & weeks before the "Mission Accomplished" fifth anniversary.

And that is the military toll, not counting wounded - high because of the body armor and the emergency evacuation and ER methods of today.

AND not counting the Blackwater and other contractor deaths, most of which I think were truck drivers.

Stories online, here, here and here.

It's time for a new commander in chief. I expect those bloggers who are veterans will each have something to say, especially if Iraq veterans.

There were some digital pictures on the web a while back from the early days of the incursion. With digital date stamping on some. Here are three, honoring those who were then at risk.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Tinklenberg as Rudyard Kipling on the simplicities of taconite tailings for paving.

East is east and west is west, or Elwyn wishes to draw simple distinctions that way, never mind Kipling's Kamal and the Colornel's son, stolen horses, or such.

Tinklenberg, last Sunday in Anoka when Olson raised the question, answered little more than that, "East is east and west is west." He said so, in saying some tailings east of a boundary are problematic, west are okay; or is his story the other way around? I don't recall, and I don't believe a single bit of it.

Elwyn can bleat all he wants about such distinction being valid enough to take the risk of putting taconite tailings onto roadway surfaces statewide, BUT it just does not make any real sense. AND - The more you think, the less sense it makes.

"Shake the hand, that shook the hand, of P.T. Barnum and Charlie Chan."

I posted my understanding that sampling integrity is the heart of a study's reliability and the sampling rationale and procedures, to my understanding are not completely published out of NRRI in a way to say whether my view of valid sampling was or was not met.

The NRRI advocacy of using the stuff would postulate a counter argument on sampling, arguing that geological formations of high consistency are at issue, formed differently over geological eons, with a dividing line clear enough to a trained geologist or geological engineer; and while taconite is generally a flinty mineral, East is east, and West is west.

That's the Tinklenberg mantra, and by his allegations the Larry Zanko trained geologist's answer on sampling. Zanko would have to come out of hiding and speak for himself on this one, and absent that, Tinklenberg's speaking for him. He's the one on contract with NRRI to handle logistics and marketing, so he is out in front of Zanko, marketing. If Zanko has any problem with the integrity of the marketing effort, he presumably knows how to call a press conference. Absent that, he is in the tent with Elwyn Tinklenberg on this issue simply by silence when there would be cause to speak if he is not happy sharing that tent with Elwyn, that he's "certified" taconite tailings as safe for use in paving and patching Minnesota roads and indeed, the entire nation's roads, and that he's competent to make such a "certification" as Elwyn Tinklenberg has attributed to him.

If he's comfortable enough with that to take a hike on the issue at this point, then bless him.

The counterargument to my sampling suggestions would be that the two formations are differing, but there is basic uniformity within each, and even, for purposes of argument, even only one single sample from one pile East, one pile West, not fines but a sample of golfball size or larger, would do. You could chip off the outer weathered part of the sample, get to the central unleeched core material for analysis, powder it as much as needed for standard lab protocols, and see what's to be seen. Do not overburden simple science with complexities that are irrelevant and immaterial. To "complexify" a simple truth is sophistry, not the other way around. That in a nutshell would be the counterargument.

Well, a thought experiment: Each of those formations, uniform as the other-side's orthodoxy would go --- then why are there mines somewhere but not anywhere; and why is ore dug but then the digging stopped? If there is this great uniformity, then once you've a mine, keep digging away there because it's all the same anyway isn't it, so why go to the cost of shutting down one mine and digging elsewhere?

Well, if it has an economically productive iron content to start with, distributed over a limited locale at a particular site but not everywhere, and it can be "mined out" at any particular mining site - then we can explain what in fact has actually happened based upon such a view of non-uniformity. And, once saying the iron is not uniformely distributed; then why would you say, "Not the iron, but the asbestos, it is uniformly distributed."?

That flies in the face of ordinary common sense, and I have not seen any science that would reliably back up such a notion.

Once you have to admit that the iron is unevenly distributed, then do iron and asbestos co-occur with frequency? I don't know. However, I would not want to risk putting tailings anywhere [not even in Elwyn's grand-childrens' sand-box] without having the science being unequivocal.

So, next question - for homework, go out on the internet, and find what kind of asbestos is thought to be a carcinogenicity problem, which is not, and find for me a consensus voice on that basic question.

That is my challenge to Larry Zanko.

To the Lee lab in Pennsylvania.

To Elwyn Tinklenberg.

Either pin down the truth beyond debate as an accepted consensus among professionals; or pin down that there is the lack of a consensus truth and "the jury is still out;" or leave the trash piles where they are now unless and until you can PROVE the use of that junk in paving is wholly risk-free.

That's the only sane way to allocate the burden of proof, given the magnitude of the risk of spreading cancer unwisely if you are wrong

I am risk averse that way. Aren't you?

When having greater incidences of mesothelioma deaths is the risk, why take it?

Why risk killing people, so that Elwyn can earn his NRRI logistics and marketing fees and commissions, for himself and other Tinklenberg Group participants?

Why do that, other than that from Elwyn's perspective it's a really great idea to flow the cash flow to him and affiliates that way.

Perhaps he is more convinced than that, less cynical, and will show up somewhere and eat a platefull of tailings to prove he sees absolutely no risk.

Short of that, indeed - even with that, I would not use it in paving without real science, by people with real expertise, with medical degrees and skills in epidemiology and such, reaching an undeniable consensus.

And that simply, for now, is wholly lacking. More will be posted on that situation, subsequently.

A house divided cannot stand, etc. That's as good a taconite tailings cliche as, "East is east and west is west."

So, Tinker folks - disclose what the cashflow's been from that NRRI stuff; and disclose the contract terms under which the flow began and continued, for however long, possibly even now in the Nov. 2008 election ramp-up.

Otherwise your bona fide objectivity is doubtful. And if you disclose anything like the high six-figures taken out of City of Ramsey, then the objectivity becomes even more doubtful. So, if there's no big cash incentive, there'd be disclosure. If the amounts are great, then presumably, there's motive to circle the wagons and hunker, without sane disclosure.

I have my disclosure request in to both NRRI and to Elwyn Tinklenberg's campaign. And I see no cause for any stonewalling unless the truth is an embarassment.

It is not as if the request is complicated. I am not requesting something requiring two years more of study. Simply this: Give me contract details for Elwyn and the Tinklenberg Group to be logistics and marketing consultants for using that garbage within road repaving where people may face a serious health risk, and give me an accounting of cashflow to Tinklenberg Group from start of the contract relationship, to the present, arising from being an advocate of such a thing.

It should take less than half an hour's work to provide that. Simply scan the documents and email them to me, print out the disbursements detail in a spreadsheet, and then have in that half-hour ten minutes of the time left for a comfortable coffee break.

So, U. Minn. Duluth and NRRI folks, get cracking.

I want more than to shake the hand, that shook the hand, of P.T. Barnum, and Charlie Chan. There's been too much of that nonsense already from Tinklenberg.

Either he can and willingly will give the fitting disclosure, or NRRI - U.Minn.Duluth can and will; or both in concert can stonewall me.

What will we see? What will each of those camps do?

Friday, March 21, 2008

Taconite tailings: It’s the Sampling, stupid.

Photo: Elwyn Tinklenberg, in Anoka on Sunday, March 16, 2008, saying Larry Zanko had "certified" taconite tailings as safe for use as aggregate in paving Minnesota roads. And he will get you a copy of the study. Just ask him.


I certainly would like to review all the field notes of the geologist taking tailings samples for any study NRRI does. Otherwise, what’s the study worth?

Without that detail, it’s only, “Trust me,” from NRRI, which clearly admits it has an innovative and advocatorial bias not an objective safety-assessment role in things. It is tasked with ways to fob the waste off as a useful product, and if that’s not a starting bias, what is?

Can you imagine the legitimacy of a study and its process if it is only a call from a NRRI desk over a cup of coffee, to each mine manager, “Could you go get and then UPS me some tailings samples? I want to assess safety and suitability of removing the waste piles from your life and concern, by using the stuff statewide and possibly nationwide, in paving?” Plant managers being who they are, on the payroll they are on and all, say, “Sure,” and then call laborer Jankevic from whatever he’s doing at the time, and tell him, “Go over to the windward side of that pile, where the rain and wind hit it and wash the fines off, and off the top, at the edge say five feet from the edge, fill this gallon ziplock with tailings from the top. And here, take this Tyler #8 sieve screen, and screen out the fines, anything that passes through that sieve, before you package any of the rest of it.” Great protocol, that way, eh? No matter what lab precision you use after that, how worthwhile is your data? How worthwhile are your conclusions?

So like I say, look for a trained geological engineer doing the sampling, and look for and expect careful and sensible field notes. If you don’t find that, the study is trash, and not worth your time to contemplate.

Clearly, sampling is the first and probably the most pivotal step in any legitimate study.

And it is not simple. And I am not a trained geologist, but I have worked in the chemical industry where product sampling and quality control is understood.

I do not know what a taconite tailings pile looks like.

I do not know what a holding pond, a mining hole filled with tailings and allowed to accumulate rain water looks like.

I have not been up on the Iron Range visiting any mines, or seeing things on the ground.

But I have some idea of how you’d probably have to legitimately sample a tailings pile.

First, imagination; the beast is 200 – 400 feet tall, covering six acres, a big rubble heap. And for what I know that could be a tiny heap, in the nature of taconite tailings pile sizes. Or larger than actual piles on the ground, but I doubt that would be the case.

How do you legitimately and representatively sample the thing, taking say twenty baggie samples, i.e., taking a gallon size ziplock for each sample.

First you get an accurate GPS device from Garmin or some firm, because without it you have no really good way to say what sample came from where. Then you walk the perimeter of the pile getting a baseline height profile. Or you would hold an accurate and reliable aerial mapping of the pile to start with, giving the pile’s outer topography. I presume a magnetic compass would be worthless to use around there, given the iron content and magnetite left in the tailings. Best to have aerial mapping first, then the GPS readings can be converted to map points.

Twenty representative spots on a pile that size. Not a simple thing to set. However, with a starting aerial map of each pile you have a valid place to start. But, if it’s two hundred or more feet deep, how, short of core drilling, that type of thing, do you proceed? Make things simple. Get a 25 foot galvanized pipe, sink it, tilt it to not spill, and pull a sample from the bottom 20-25 foot level of what you can reach. And understand you still are only sampling the top of the beast. Then, near the perimeter, to be fair in having an idea of what’s deep and not being scrubbed by rain leeching, you go to the pile-soil interface, and grab GPS noted samples from both parts of that interface. That gives you a notion of how the fines get scrubbed down to the soil level, presuming that fines accumulate atop the soil and are not washed deeper into the soil. That’s a big presumption. The interface could be tailings atop rock, so sampling there would differ. You go at least 5 – 10 feet into the pile if the incline is not too great. You do that to avoid edge bias. Any you shovel away the overlay to get to the interface, and carefully pull each of your interface samples that way. Who knows whether thats deep enough to avoid biased sampling at the very edge of the pile, but try to go into the pile for something more representative. You have to go into the pile and shovel and do that carefully.

Then, twenty soil-pile interface samples from the perimeter, twenty tailings-only samples from within the pile, taken from at a depth you can reasonably reach. And you will be looking at all of that for asbestos fiber to get a feeling for leeching and what might, absent rain in dry weather, blow around from a storage site. All sampling must be carefully labeled on the bags and noted on the topographic map. Then you review the completeness of your notes, in a notebook and not loose paper that later can be lost or edited, and if satisfied, you leave the site for the next one.

It’s not sampling representative of things deep in the belly of the beast, but tell me short of drilling into a pile how you’d reach that?

Then, off to the lab. You ship the samples if you are not yourself at NRRI doing the lab work, and if it is an industry sweetheart lab in Pennsylvania that you use, do you really control your study, no matter how good your sampling protocol was?

The allegation of using a sweetheart Big Steel friendly lab has been made with regard to the NRRI studies, so in investigating the protocol that question would be the next thing to investigate. Thoughts about that may be in a subsequent posting.

There are two Achilles heels to the thing. One bottom line is that an entire study is only as good as the sampling protocol, and the reliability of the testing lab and what it does in handling the samples is the second most important factor. If either is insufficient, your study is garbage.

And there is a third factor. Dusting and the fines abraded in shipping and handling is an obvious safety concern for truckers or rail workers, and for citizens living near where the stuff is off-loaded for the local asphalt or concrete plant. Nobody wants mesothelioma. It’s a killer.

So, is there a testing protocol to assess dusting? To simulate shipping and handling to get a measure of abrading and dust content and a proneness of susceptibility to airborne dissemination? You tell me? I don’t know. Does NRRI know? Have they thought over that question? Have they tested or had testing of that done?

BOTTOM LINE TO ALL OF THIS: You always want to know as much detail as you can learn about procedures before believing anybody’s study, unless you are a total fool. And anyone “selling” you somebody’s study is a totally unreliable sophist unless he has and can communicate a convincing knowledge of details of the reliability of procedures involved in a study. Not just conclusory, “Tailings from the east are fine. Tailings from the west have problems.” If that’s what you get, and believe it reliable, bless you because your vote counts as much as mine, anyway, despite your extreme gullibility. P.T. Barnum loved the trusting and believing people he could lure like that. He made his living off them. P.T. was a shill. But he never went hungry. He made a good living gulling folks.

Yet, we live in a more sophisticated time, don’t we?

Hunter-Garcia have a lyrics line, "Shake the hand, that shook the hand, of P.T. Barnum and Charlie Chan."

UPDATED -- "Upriver into the Heart of Darkness" will periodically be updated. Keep checking.


My post, "Upriver into The Heart of Darkness. Trying to track down the Tinklenberg Group's taconite tailings marketing and logistics contract with NRRI," so far is an ongoing saga. I will update things at that post, end of things ever lengthening, rather than new-post-by-new-post. Other taconite related things would be posted differently. Getting the facts from NRRI will keep its own onging thread. The link above will always get back to that post and its updates.


Hopefully there will not be a stonewall.

That would hurt, not help Elwyn Tinklenberg. I expect his hope is that I have fair and full aid and discovery of public data from NRRI as quickly and troublefree as feasible.

Anything less would look like a coverup. And that kind of thing can be orchestrated from a number of focal points. It can be viewed as attributable to a range of people or factors. Suspicions can grow from stonewalling when the law clearly is a sunshine law. The legislative intent is not at all confused or equivocal. Give disclosure. Be reasonable about it. Be prompt. Be thorough. Don't play games.

I made a few Tinklenberg-related requests of City of Ramsey. City staff was courteous and generally responsive.

This NRRI is a new experience, but based on Ramsey I anticipate the best of outcomes.

Yet, my mother had a saying, "That's about as hard as pulling hen's teeth."

Let's hope that NRRI disclosure, our state University system responding to a public data request, acts as responsibly as I anticipate, as Ramsey did. Without having to try pulling hen's teeth.

Triple-A, on the Met Council extra taxation.

He does not like it.

I do not like Met Council.

Their planners, the whole lot of them and the comprehensive planning process seems to be writing a floor for Crabgrass developers to stand on while picking the public pocket or ruining a community with stupid but potentially profitable bad housing.

They, the Met Council planners, are not worth a pinch of dirt as best as I can see what the planners do to screw communities up and over.

I think the Met. Council should be stripped of all planning functions and their planners go unfunded and be fired.

That said, public transit is a good idea and it will have to be paid for. Elwyn Tinklenberg and I agree on that basic premise, but we diverge on what's best re the Northstar and his being paid to take a position on that/those questions - a paid lobbyist.

Triple-A and I disagree on that. Run the sewers, build a 21st century transit system, flush the planning staff and the comprehensive plan process - welfare for planning consultants such as Bonestroo, Phil Carlson, in Ramsey. Before him, the folks from Hoisington. Public cash, tax dollars, down a rathole for nothing but ultimately promoting the interests of Crabgrass; however comprehensive plans end up. And invariably the will of the land-speculation and other Crabgrass contingent somehow always prevails. Go figure. Not good, but how it seems to be.


Triple-A ends his post, "A republic, as long as you can keep it ...".

I have seen the quote before, but forget the founding father -- commentator to whom it's attributed.

Ben Franklin, at a guess.

The problem, Triple-A, this is a republic functioning exactly as one. The elected representatives doing their deeds, without a referendum.

I would prefer a more direct and participatory democracy.

A Met. Council tax would go down in flames big time if put to a popular vote.

Met Council IS unpopular.

They are so ashamed they will not even call this particular quarter-cent sales tax hike exactly what it is - a Met Council tax.

In a way I do not blame them. I would be ashamed of promoting that operation too. I would try to hide what I'm up to if I'm up to helping that body mess up seven counties while wanting to reach further where other counties have to sanity to strongly oppose the ongoing steady power grab attempt pressures.

Anoka County Watchdog, Triple-A, and I agree on this tax. Not good.

The vote where Abeler and Tinglestad broke GOP ranks, to the extent it was a tranportation and a transit vote, was needed. But earmark funds to Met Council, and even say "for transit only" and that means they can jiggle the other allocations and do more planning mischief. More total cash to the coffers, more planning mischief. That is cause and effect. Transit is good. Their planning mess-ups where communities are induced to sacrifice their better judgment to Crabgrass is counterproductive to quiet enjoyment of what we have vs. what Met Council would want us to become.

Consider this about this latest tax: Dan Erhart will vote FOR it. That's another reason to dislike it. A litmus test, of sorts.

If Dan Erhart is for it, it can't be that good.

To the extent that veto override gave county boards the excuse to hang a Met Council tax on us, it was reprehensible.

But omnibus bills are like that. Castor oil with sweeteners.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

UPDATED Upriver into The Heart of Darkness. Trying to track down the Tinklenberg Group's taconite tailings marketing and logistics contract with NRRI.


Here is the email I sent today, a half hour ago, forcing the issue as a public data disclosure matter, since NRRI is an agency of the state and subject to state law on disclosure and transparency [Sunshine is the best disinfectant].

Subject: Please Provide contact person ID for public data law compliance

[This message was also sent generically, via the contact us page on the NRRI website]

My email is

I need contact info, mailing address, phone number, and email, for whoever at NRRI is tasked with compliance with the Public Data Law; Minn. Stat. Ch. 13.

See statute online:

Under that law, as an agency of the State of Minnesota, and please check with NRRI's lawyers if you doubt, you are obligated to comply and part of that compliance is designating an official for me or others in the public to contact with Public Data Disclosure requests. See; Minn. Stat. Sect. 13.05, Subd. 13.

I presume that University counsel, or the Attorney General would be who'd advise you. I wish to obtain copies of contract information between NRRI and a marketing and logistics contractor on taconite tailings use as aggregate in highway paving; see slide 39, this link:

If you'd like, send me contact info for whoever is the top person there, and/or the lawyers, if there is no compliance official as yet designated.

But I do want prompt compliance with the law, and copies of the information I seek.

Thank you.

Eric Zaetsch
6521 154th Lane NW
Ramsey, MN 55303


Principle Investigator
– Donald Fosnacht, Ph.D., NRRI
– 218 218-720 720-4282
– eduProject Coordinator
Project – Larry Zanko, NRRI
– 218 218-720 720-4274
Project budget and task reporting oversight
– Steve Hauck, NRRI
– 218 218-720 720-4273
– eduUniversity accounting and contracting oversight
University – Denise Endicott, NRRI
– 218 218-720 720-4290

This thing was Feb. 2006, the slide presentation, and at Slide 39, big as life and twice as ugly, here it is [After Slide 35, "Task assignments and strategies for implementation," there is the tasking info of Slide 38, and especially, Slide 39]:

Two update items:

[1] Thursday morning, March 20, 2008, I have the following reply:

from Nora Kubazewski hide details 7:09 am (1 minute ago)
Larry Zanko ,
Steve Hauck ,,
Michael Lalich ,
Denise Endicott

date Mar 20, 2008 7:09 AM
subject RE: Please Provide contact person ID for public data law compliance

Thank you for your inquiry. I have copied our geologists on your request and they will respond to you directly.


I sent Ms. Kubazewski this follow-up reply

from eric zaetsch
to Nora Kubazewski
date Mar 20, 2008 7:22 AM
subject Re: Please Provide contact person ID for public data law compliance

Thank you. I expect the inquiry will not end up lost, falling between chairs. There should be procedures, and, Nora, your contact information does not directly indicate you are a NRRI person. However, a Google yielded the fact that the "Northern Lights Technology Center" is a NRRI affiliate or subordinate organization. I presume you are then the contact person for disclosure according to the Public Data Law requirements. Referring this to the engineers may be a misunderstanding of my request. I am not in pursuit of technical reports. I am in pursuit of contract papers showing how Elwyn Tinklenberg and his business, Tinklenberg Group, is paid for its "logistics and marketing" services - and how much over time he and his firm have received. The matter is being published and this link [which I am in the process of updating today] might be helpful in firming up your understanding of the nature of my concerns:

Again, thank you for the prompt initial reply.



[2] In the interest of notice and directness, I also sent this email:

from eric zaetsch hide details 7:10 am (17 minutes ago)


date Mar 20, 2008 7:10 AM
subject Voluntary disclosure of financial stake in promotion of taconite use as road aggregate

Thurs. Mar. 20, 2008

To: Elwyn Tinklenberg, and/or his designate at his Congressional Campaign

Will you voluntarily release a complete set of your contract(s) with NRRI and/or others, personally or through Tinklenberg Group, disclosing to the public the amount of money you have attained over time for marketing and logistics services in promoting use of taconite tailings as paving aggregate on Minnesota roadways.

The question is clear. Follow the money. See what incentive, that way, exists which might make the position on taconite tailings safety from Elwyn Tinklenberg be what it is.

I recall from the Sunday, March 16, 2008, quite clearly Elwyn Tinklenberg saying that NRRI had "certified" use of taconite tailings in paving as safe, as a public health matter affecting the health of citizens of the state. The only qualifying statement made by Elwyn Tinklenberg was that tailings from eastern and western locations differed and one but not the other had been certified safe. Certified and certification were the actual words used. My understanding is the Zanko work has done no such thing and that the claim of such a certification is a falsehood. My understanding is that Larry Zanko holds a master's degree in geological engineering and has no medical training nor any epidemiological experience, nor any position with health authorities to make medical certifications.

If you care to explain, revise, or extend that contention you stated in Anoka last Sunday, I will publish your response, and any contract papers you willingly provide will be published. I presume the documents are in digital form and can be provided that way. My email address is a part of this mailing. If you would like a mailing address, please reply stating that, and one will be provided.

Thank you.

Eric Zaetsch

On that one, sent minutes ago, I await the prompt and responsive answer I trust Elwyn Tinklenberg is capable of giving.


________FURTHER UPDATE_________

Some interesting comments. I do not monitor traffic here, but blueman says he's seen some traffic. There are a good dozen or so sites I have looked at and can post more about, showing the issue is wholly open - is this a health hazard or not? Has it been used more widely than so far publicized or not is not as easy a question to pin down, given the first rate Ramsey engineer says it is neither specified or barred for use in Ramsey and he does not know if it's been used on the roads where I live or whether it's been delivered to the asphalt plant along the BNSF tracks within a mile of City Hall and the Ramsey Town Center, where dust would presumably be a factor. It is an unknown whether those private parties are using it or not - unknown to me, to Ramsey public works people having local police powers, and I expect MnDOT, if asked, could not say with certainty whether the piles are being worked down via use as aggregate, or not. If the federal DOT is concerned, as a blueman comment indicates, then, can they say if its staying in the Oberstar district until proven safe, or not?

Here's a thought. If the stuff gets used, and a safety determination is that its use was not a sound idea and a health risk is posed; are they going to go rip up the paving? Not likely. So, go figure where that leaves those living next to that paving.

The error now, with the jury out, is to err on the side of safety, not the side of spreading it where it will not be removed if the Tinklenberg advocacy is proven wrong.

And that last thing the Tinklenberg campaign put out - is it disingenuous to say, if the stuff is proven a hazard, we are sure to withdraw advocacy and expect NRRI to do so also? It seems disingenuous to me, given the risk threshold being real - and it cannot be put into Lake Superior, that it stay put where it is until the proof - the reasonable burden of proof is met - the other side, those wanting to use it prove there is no discernible or major risk. I saw something about a very limited sampling procedure, possibly, on the NRRI work so far as well as a charge that the lab chosen and used is a sweetheart lab of Big Steel. That I have read on the internet but cannot say one way or the other whether the possibility of testing bias, other than experimental error which is always possible without knowing the details of how sampling was done, by whom, whether rain-washed tailings atop or on the edge of a pile or pool of the stuff was taken, or whether deep sampling of what would or could end up shipped was sampled, etc., etc., all technical questions that would have to be publicly debated.

Here, to keep current, is the latest email from NRRI to me:

from Nora Kubazewski hide details 7:24 am (4 hours ago)
to eric zaetsch
Larry Zanko ,
Steve Hauck ,,
Michael Lalich ,
Denise Endicott ,
June Kallestad

date Mar 20, 2008 7:24 AM
subject RE: Please Provide contact person ID for public data law compliance

Thank you. You are correct that I am affiliated with NRRI. I am not the contact person you wish and the NRRI geologists who are working on this study will respond to you directly. They are the correct people to explain the relationship with Tinklenberg. We will be in touch!


Does anyone have a clue who the one unidentified email address belongs to:

__________THIRD UPDATE_______
[to be announced]

Monday, March 17, 2008

Now for something entirely different. JOHN WAYNE.

Enough of local political things, respect for unions and what they should be, etc. That was for earlier posts. This is a time for something entirely different. A light-hearted what's your favorite John Wayne film reflection. Cool, eh?


Head and shoulders above True Grit, Green Berets, Rio Bravo.

However you say it, it was a classic. It is typical white hat, black hat western, the good guy in the white hat, the twisted troublesome community menace of a scoundrel, he always wears the black hat. And one way or another, good undoes evil. White hat triumphs. It is the lore of John Wayne, whatever the rightwing sickness his political leanings degenerated to later in his life aside, it is the lore.

First, Liberty Valence was bad. He was a menace to the community. Pushy, taking things that were not his due, bad to the bone. You can see it in his face, a poor mask of the dark heart and soul, pictured here, I believe outside the saloon or hotel lobby.

(note the hat color) And as you would expect, he hung around with a bad bunch of cronies, each a menace to the community, based on hubris, truth-bending, mayhem, whatever goes with the black hat. Just an entire pack of scum-sucking bottom feeders, each and every ... the kind that would rob stage coaches, shoot healthy horses, put together real estate deals -- slam the door, never wipe feet, wear a hat indoors --

Well, there were two good guys, James Stewart who you might not at first recognize, and, of course, the Dukester.

The Dukester is special. You can see that. He wears his hat indoors, and it's okay. And, so, with two good guys, which one of them took down the evil Liberty Valance, took him out of play so that the other could survive, prosper along with the rescued community, and go on to become governor after territorial advancement to statehood?

Well, if you want that answer, how it happened, how the weaklings in the community were nonetheless rescued from threat and risk --- Then go buy or rent the DVD.

I'm not going to spoil the plot for you. Would I be that crass? Never. It's not in my gentle nature to spoil an ending.


Bottom line, however, bless the fighting never-back-down spirit of John Wayne -- the mythic hero, the legend if not the actual man, standing up when you should not stand down. Dispatching evil. In a direct or indirect but necessary and conclusive way as best he could.

This is the quintessential American Hero. Shane, Bronson in Death Wish, Eastwood in the Dollar films, they all play on that same theme. It is JOHN WAYNE.

Sometimes for the good of the community a man has to do what a man has to do.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

The Sunday March 16, 2008 Olson - Tinklenberg Debate in Anoka.

These are impressions. Loosely edited. Not heavy on the issues. There was an amazing overlap on the stated views on issues. Olson was far more direct on Iraq. It was a mistake, he said, and we were lied into the morass and should get out quickly and show a willingness toward diplomatic solution rather than sabre-rattling - my term, not his.

Tinklenberg waffled, saying we should do what leadership says, and press the new executive administration for direction on its exit strategy. No. The legislature should instruct and control, not the executive. The legislature was intended when the Constitution was written to be the preeminent voice. "Commander in Chief" of armed forces has been stretched way too far already. One big Bush problem has been arrogation of power to the executive, and in that way the man resembles the imperial presidency of Lyndon Johnson and Nixon more than Harding, his intellectual guidepost.

There were prepared questions. There was the candidates confronting one another.

Tinklenberg wanted to read his endorsement statements from McCollum and Ellison, in answer to whether he'd inflated claims of being endorsed.

Clearly the question was about Walz and Wetterling, and Tinklenberg ducked it entirely.

Walz and Wetterling is where the man previously stretched the truth quite far, and reading nice things Kieth Ellison said about him was crass unresponsiveness by Tinklenberg.

In his total silence about Walz and Wetterling, it appears Tinklenberg is backhandedly backing down from earlier expansive claims, for now, by ignoring both of them and what he had earlier claimed. Flat out ducking the question and the apparent truth of things.

Anyway, hey, I vote on what I think.

Not on what Betty McCollum thinks.

I trust my judgment and not somebody's coattails.

I am generally unimpressed by this other politician endorses me.

Oh, McCollum said that? So?

Do you attribute much impact to such coattailing?

On the direct question of how much of your time, Elwyn, has been spent lobbying, Tinklenberg ducked that issue yet again by saying that there's a federal statute and under the statute he does not have to register.

That was unresponsive to the question Olson asked. It responded to a letter inquiry I cosigned with Jerry Hiniker, but Olson did not ask that.

Such glide-and-slide rhetorical responses suggest someone I would not be able to tolerate in Congress, because he insults my intelligence with answers phrased that way.

I have seen the same tendency to ignore a question and give a "speechlet" instead by in Michele Bachmann, and I equate the two, her and Tinklenberg, on that score.

And that's not meant as complimentary to either. Trust me. Not a compliment. Just as John Ashcroft, the man who did what Norm Coleman did not, lose an election to a dead man, was the only Attorney General in history to go from that office to being a revolving door registered lobbyist; Tinklenberg is equal in my mind to Ashcroft; without the registration but excuses for not doing it. Bachmann's peer. Ashcroft's.

Olson is direct and did not duck a single thing.

Olson did not glide and slide. He gave broad big-view thoughts and explanations. Tinklenberg wanted to talk about his this and that in Anoka County over the years, as if he were running again for mayor of Blaine.

To prove you'd be worthwhile in Congress, small moves in a small fish tank are unimpressive.

To me, if you run and gun for Congress, then you show something Congressional, not mayor of Blaine and what's been done in the north metro mayors' meetings.

Size your perspective to the job being sought.

One bottom line, I respect Alexandra House and what it does, and I respect Elwyn Tinklenberg's participation in its efforts. I regard much of what it does as a public responsibility of government and not a matter of discretionary private charity. I regard it as false for those who would say one can substitute for the other. However, I see parallel help to families in distress as positive, and I commend without qualification any time Elwyn Tinklenberg has dedicated that way.

Stylistically, Tinklenberg was the slicker by far, but Olson's answers were deeper and more reflective. I prefer the substance of a Bruce Vento, even if not smoothly delivered. Slick can be shallow, witness Bachmann, whereas reflective is seldom a bad sign.

Tinklenberg simply came across as not the kind that would ever have thought to say we need a Trumanesque Marshall Plan for the Middle East or we fail; something Olson said that made a lot of sense and showed a cleaner understanding of reality than anything I heard from Tinklenberg.





I capitalize all that because it is important to many DFL regulars, as is the endorsement question.

Myself, I don't judge Tinklenberg by Ellison putting out a statement, McCollum putting out a statement, or by whether he will mount a primary challenge.

It's his right to do so if he wants.

It hurts the endorsed candidate, but Tinklenberg's crony Town Center Tom Gamec did it to Amy Bodner, so, his circle of supporters has a precedent.

I judge Tinklenberg by his ongoing ties to Dan Erhart and James Norman. By the fact Tom Gamec likes him, likes his style, his approach to getting transportation funding.

To me that is mediocrity among close cronies. It says more to me than Kieth Ellison's endorsement.

Oberstar, Tinklenberg mentioned that tie but did not overdo it. Oberstar is not mediocre by any measure. I would not say or imply that. The man is very smart. He also appears capable of incisive action, and willing to test his seniority by throwing his weight around any time he chooses. I have not heard anyone say Oberstar backs down from confrontation.

The earmark garbage the GOP is trying to inflate and package, was largely a non-concern to either of the two. I don't recall the issue coming up and that was good to see.

Both said sane immigration policy is needed, and Olson was stronger on saying we will need to assure that the work force size later will be sufficient. But neither said directly that the demand for baby-boomer retirement and health funding would need to be sufficiently carried by a broad tax base, or by a few workers paying an awful lot each, so that boomer retirement is a driving force behind the immigration debate, yet a force that is often too conveniently ignored.

Olson at one point in college at Bethel Colleger read Biblical Greek.

Mastering that shows something. I never developed such a skill, but higher math is "Greek" to some, and I did okay with that.

Tinklenberg was confronted over being a pro-life individual who says now he would not act to overturn Roe v. Wade, nor favor any bill or measure to criminalize the relationship between a woman and her doctor. That's carefully crafted hairsplitting that should be cold comfort to anyone having a passionate belief in choice.

Both candidates unequivocally support stem cell research for whatever human progress it may yield. Each said he would go the full hundred yards on it.

Each voiced the opinion he could beat Michele Bachmann. What else would you expect?

Olson could.

Tinklenberg it he gets the endorsement, will lose.

He will go down in flames, Janet Robert style.

Tinklenberg falsely claimed that Olson's calling him on lobbying, on flip-flopping on positions, and on a Taconite-tailings indiference to the health issues was only helping the GOP. The man knows better than to give out that false rhetoric. The GOP has research capabilities to find out truth on its own. Exposure of weaknesses in Tinklenberg credibility now does nothing but trying to forestall a bad DFL choice and a bad DFL loss to a bad GOP incumbent who could be ousted by the right opponent. It shows Tinklenberg's candidacy, itself, plays to Bachmann's benefit by showing before regretable decisions might be made how Tinklenberg is vulnerable, for who he's been.

Tinklenberg falsely said that there had been a "certification" of some taconite tailings as safe and not a health hazard because some guy with a master's degree in geological engineering named Larry Zanko, from NRRI, said so. Zanko basically is a highway engineer-geologist tasked at NRRI to find market potential for the tailings. My understanding is he did no direct lab work of his own, has no epidemiology background, and he has not held any official position where he could certify the health aspects of taconite use in roadbed paving. More on that in another post.

Taconite tailings use in paving statewide is a medical science qustion, a public health question, and the epidemiological proof would all be statistical rather than definitive.

In Ramsey where I live, the lead civil engineering head of public works admits it use of Taconite tailings is neither specified for road work nor banned; and he has no knowledge whether it's been used in Ramsey or not.

He is aware of no precautions needed, in the event it were to be used. He did not say none were needed, only he is not aware. And he is a first rate civil engineer, who is competent, honest and direct - without obfuscation.

So, does that make you comfortable?

No definitive medical science Tinklenberg can point to, yet he says it's up there in Oberstar's district, in piles, so we should use it. Huh?

That simply is risk-taking of a kind I do not want or think wise. Not when MY health is at stake. Go use the stuff in YOUR home driveway for several years, Elwyn, let the grandchildren play with it like a sand pile, and then I might be more receptive to your saying it's perfectly safe -- for ME.

Tinklenberg falsely claimed the Olson campaign had issued the letter seeking official inquiry into his federal lobbying status. I cowrote it. Jerry Hiniker, to my knowledge, is not involved with Olson's campaign. I am not connected to that campaign. I had never met Bob Olson until yesterday, at the debate.

I had the chance to discuss with him after the event, in the back of the hall, how he and Tinklenberg both missed my question and my sister's related question about the sensitive maintenance of postgraduate research excellence in the Twin Cities U.Minn. campus - the sensitivity to inconsistent feast and famine, drought and flood funding, and the troubling trend of a nationwide decline in basic research funding.

Olson said it was not his core expertise, and suggested a follow-up with his staff on the issue and its dimensions.

The ability to say, "I do not know, help me form an understanding" is the mark of a very, very intelligent and self-confident person.

The tendency to not admit limitations is false, since we each must specialize and cannot be all things on all issues.

I did not bother to follow up that question of assurances of maintainance of the U.Minn. Twin Cities campus as a first rate postgraduate research institution with Tinklenberg. The research is the seed corn of our future question. I really don't care what he understands. He's glib, and I find that offensive. He's shallow, from all I have seen.

Forget trying to discuss research funding with him. Leave it to the Bob Olsons, the Rush Holts.

I did confront Tinklenberg personally, after the session, on his saying my complaints were part of the Olson campaign. The simple fact is I dislike his actions and style wholly independent of Bob Olson. I told him I judged him in large measure by his ties to James Norman. He replied he regarded that as "guilt by association." I regard it as birds of a feather flocking together.

And more. He prospered by James Norman's decison making while Norman was a Ramsey administrative official. He was awarded contracts aiding his cash flow and needs, with James Norman instrumental in shepherding things. He allegedly then helped Norman, as a Tinklenberg Group associate, after Norman's leaving Ramsey. Each helped the other prosper. Was it quid pro quo or coincidence? They would have to say. I was not privy to planning or discussions so I can only form my opinions by guesswork, and what, for me inspires trust and confidence.

To a large measure it is an intangible, and I see in Bob Olson something that, in my experience, rings the trust and confidence bell in my mind, in a way Elwyn Tinklenberg fails to ring that bell.

Wholly a personal judgment thing. Something every voter understands, in chosing to cast a vote. This is NOT saying whether I have any factual basis to tell you to not trust Elwyn Tinklenberg. I have never said that. I have stated the factual patterns that I have found personally troubling and which raise doubts in my own mind. I have suggested there is some objective basis for skepticism.

Yet, my initial reaction to the Bob Olson candidacy was, "Owning a bank and being a tax lawyer, he's running in the wrong party." I learned that was too prompt a thought, and a misjudgment of the man.

Clearly, the more I learned, the more I saw of the courage to tell the unvarnished truth, the more I came to fully understand Olson, by far, is the better man.

But everyone makes a personal decision, and there's reason for putting the curtains around the voting booth.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Strib reports - sound and fury, over earmarks. Does the Central Corridor in the McCollum district relate to endorsing lobbyist Elwyn Tinklenberg?

Strib reported:

Light-rail funding becomes entangled in earmark battle
By KEVIN DIAZ, Star Tribune
Last update: March 12, 2008 - 10:52 PM

WASHINGTON - When Minnesota officials asked Congress to earmark $25 million for the Central Corridor light-rail project this month, U.S. Rep. Betty McCollum's office insisted that Gov. Tim Pawlenty personally sign a statement backing "Congress' authority to direct project specific funding."

Translation: If the governor wants the money, he'll have to endorse Congress spending money on home-district projects, a process known as earmarking -- and one that's generated a lot of smoke in congressional and presidential politics this year.

Pawlenty, a co-chairman of the Republican presidential campaign of anti-earmark crusader Sen. John McCain of Arizona, balked at McCollum's request.

"The earmarking process," Pawlenty said in a letter back to her, "is in need of reform."

While there is little doubt that McCollum will still vouch for the $900 million rail project in the heart of her St. Paul district, analysts say her attempt to extract an earmark sign-off from Pawlenty raises the rhetorical heat in the congressional battle over so-called pork-barrel spending.

Minnesota seeks $160 million

Minnesota alone has nearly $160 million in earmark requests before Congress, including $25 million for the Central Corridor Light Rail project connecting Minneapolis and St. Paul.

Backers of the rail project, who include Pawlenty, say it hardly qualifies as pork. Nevertheless, they have been caught up in a tussle that has seen two GOP House members from Minnesota -- John Kline and Michele Bachmann -- pledge not to seek earmarks in their districts.

There's more to the article. It is worth reading, and you should read it at Strib.

The leading and subsequent excerpting, above, is what I found interesting, given the recent endorsement from McCollum of transportation lobbyist Elwyn Tinklenberg's Sixth District candidacy.

Might, just perhaps, there be some fashion of quid pro quo at play? Politics, as usual? Perhaps. Perhaps not. What can Bob Olson do for the McCollum district? Is the answer to that an endorsement factor? Consider further information:

Ramsey County Regional Railroad Authority meeting minutes, Feb. 6, 2007:

Federal 2008 appropriations requests

A motion was made by Commissioner Parker, seconded by Commissioner Carter, to approve the Federal 2008 appropriations requests.

Commissioner Parker noted that the language for the Rush Line request read “Commuter bus service”; she recommended the language be changed to “transit service”.
Roll call vote was taken:
WHEREAS, The Minnesota Congressional delegation has recognized the importance of transit improvements to Minnesota and advocated successfully for funding for the improvements in previous years;
Now, Therefore Be It
RESOLVED, That the Ramsey County Regional Railroad Authority requests federal 2008
appropriations for:
(1) Central Corridor: Preliminary and advanced engineering
Amount of request: $15 million

(2) Union Depot: Engineering, property acquisition, construction, to facilitate implementation of the multi
modal transit hub
Amount of request: $5 million
(3) Rush Line Corridor: Design, construction of park ride facilities and funding for startup of transit service
Amount of request: $5 million
7. Cambridge Line presentation
Commissioner Reinhardt noted that the RCRRA had requested a presentation of the Cambridge Line, as it is the passenger rail line that runs from Duluth to Hinckley and then Hinckley to Minneapolis. Commissioner Reinhardt commented that the Rail Authority had expressed an interest in having the line run to St. Paul.Commissioner Roecker indicated that St. Louis County is open to developing a cost for the passenger rail feasibility study to include analysis of the Hinckley to St. Paul portion of the line.
Mr. El Tinklenberg, of Tinklenberg Group, gave the presentation.

Folks at a meeting together can get to know and trust one another, a possible cause and explanation of the endorsement, irrespective of their own pet projects, or in Tinklenberg's case, pet cash-flow yielding contracts.

Also, a Nov. 2007 Triple-A pro-GOP report, with this interesting factoid:

The $750,000 comprehensive feasibility study for the Rush Line will be financed by $600,000 in federal money that Oberstar also earmarked for planning the Rush, Red Rock and Central Corridor lines. The remaining $150,000 match will be contributed by municipalities along the proposed line, including Duluth. Another is the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe which operates Grand Casino in Hinckley, a presumed major destination within the Rush Line corridor.

And Triple-A linked over to this Isanti County March 2007 newspaper item on the same regional rail dream, Twin Cities -to- Duluth, a casino in between (that Indian gambling thing is what brought down lobbyist Abramhof, while the below quoted reference to the most powerful folks in Washington certainly appears as if it is first-person information from this quoted individual, i.e., one non-registered as a federal lobbyist but knowing or representing he explicitly knows what "the most powerful folks in Washington" think and do):

Elwin Tinklenberg from the Tinklenberg Group has attended several meetings regarding forming a passenger rail system, and said the idea has been very well received.

“It’s really interesting to be a part of a project that within six months went from a discussion phase to being talked about among the most powerful folks in Washington,” Tinklenberg said. “There is a lot of interest in this and a lot of support for it.”

The commuter rail system would offer rides for people to commute between the Twin Ports and Twin Cities with station sites along the way. These sites have yet to be determined, but may include north Minneapolis, Fridley, Andover, Bethel, Cambridge/Isanti, Mora/Pine City, Braham, Hinckley, Sandstone, Super, Duluth and Two Harbors.

Tinklenberg said a proposed budget of $585,000 is being looked at to form a joint powers board for the rail system. The most expensive portion of the budget is $385,000 budgeted for a technical feasibility study.

Triple-A's article pointed out:

The company tapped to perform that study is The Tinklenberg Group, and surprise surprise, guess who is running around Minnesota trying to con Cities and Counties into ponying up money to pay his company to perform the study, that will of course come to the predetermined conclusion that it makes perfect sense Federal funds be used to build the rail line.

Triple-A implies that Tinklenberg went about touting the thing without a shred of fair disclosure that his touting the thing was putting actual dollars of loot into his personal pocketbook. That is something he clearly also did in this "Summer 2007" tout-and-spin piece in's Commercial Real Estate Guide, where he authored profusely about public-private transportation development partnership and specifically the Stone's Throw and Hassan Township thing involving Hassan Mainstreet LLC, for whom he was registered as lobbyist, at the time he wrote. But even with his and Tom Gump's photo featured in the article [Gump is a Tinklenberg campaign contributor], he writes the thing without a shred of any fair disclosure that his touting the thing was putting actual dollars of loot into his personal pocketbook [something that appears to bear frequent verbatim repeating when discussing Elwyn Tinklenberg's touting of things]:

This new intersection is critical to achieving the full job, tax base and development potential of the Stone’s Throw project in Hassan, but will benefit a much larger area as well. Hassan Mainstreet LLC, the folks behind Stone’s Throw, are using private dollars to help advance planning and environmental engineering work associated with the interchange and to match possible federal contributions to the project. The town and the city have entered into a joint powers agreement [...]

I just cannot help but whenever I hear or read about Elwyn Tinklenberg's touting anything, my first mental red-flag question is, "What's in it for him?"

How about you? Are you as much a skeptic?

So Tinklenberg, more of the same, the non-lobbyist knowing what the DC movers and shakers are discussing among themselves; and then the McCollum question unanswered.

So, why is this man smiling:

Do you think this smiling bike enthusiast may be a factor of any kind in the McCollum endorsement of Tinklenberg? Do you think that he might be a factor in her getting federal funds for that $900 million dollar project in her district? Do you suppose there might be more quid pro quo and mutual backscratching, in some three-way form beyond just one individual, McCollum, endorsing another individual, Elwyn Tinklenberg?

Interesting questions - and true answers would be interesting also, I expect.

With three people, two in Congress and one wanting to be, would we be foolish in considering it wholly proper to expect true answers from each of them?

One of them likes to go speak and write without disclosing to the people he's trying to influence about his financial stake in things, that we know, and then there are the other two - what should we grow to expect from each? We already know about taking anything Tinklenberg says with a grain of salt. And with that persistent and justified question, "What's in it for him."

Something the union bosses should have asked months ago before endorsing Elwyn Tinklenberg.

A simple thing. "Elwyn, how do you treat your hired help?"

There are two parts to this question, which the union bosses might have asked, but with disclosure of the responses never reaching the voting public.

First aspect, what is the benefit package - pregnancy leave, healthcare coverage, sick leave, etc. The nuts and bolts.

Second aspect, do you use at all the "independent contractor" ruse?

Since they either never asked, or never to my knowledge released any responsive information - I ask the question:

Elwyn Tinklenberg, how do you treat your hired help?

At the Sunday, March 16, 2008 Anoka Candidates' Forum, Olson and Tinklenberg each answered that question. Each provides healthcare coverage. Neither uses independent contractors, except for very special, out-of-the-norm things, where each has an immaterial exception and each freely said so. This is good news. Next the question needs to be posed to Michele Bachmann. Is it still the case that the Bachmann family Christian mental health counseling clinic, a health provider, is without healthcare coverage for hired help?