consultants are sandburs

Sunday, August 31, 2008

The Kiefer family running for Ramsey City Council gets press coverage. Is it good for Ramsey, or more cause for ridicule? You decide.

I missed it when it was fresh. Now a week old, I hope it's not like old fish. Brady Gervis, Pioneer Press, reported online about the Keith and Mary Kiefer candidacies, with this an excerpt:

Ramsey / These candidates are a couple
Husband and wife run for mayor, City Council

By Brady Gervais
Article Last Updated: 08/23/2008 10:27:33 PM CDT

Mary Ann and Keith Kiefer figure after being married for 30 years and raising five children, they can certainly lead a city together.

The Kiefers are running in the September primary in Ramsey for mayor and an at-large spot on the City Council. The couple have lived in the Anoka County suburb for three decades, and they've done blacksmith work, been youth leaders and baked a cake in a microwave together. Now they're pursuing politics as a couple.

"Ramsey is going through a lot of growing pains. Our nephew and daughters had growing pains, and we helped them get through it," Keith Kiefer said.

Initially, Mary Ann Kiefer didn't want her husband to run for mayor. He received harassing phone calls while he served on the Charter Commission, she said. She didn't want that to happen again.

She eventually changed her mind, and as a way to support him, she decided to run for office, too, seeking the at-large seat. They filed July 15 — the last day for filings.

"If we're going to do it, we're going to do it together," she said.

Mary Ann Moran and Keith Kiefer met in Las Vegas on Jan. 17, 1978. Moran was visiting from out of town to help her sister-in-law who was "very pregnant" with her second child.

Moran's brother and Kiefer worked together in the same squadron at Nellis Air Force Base. One evening, the brother invited Kiefer to his home to look at his car and have dinner. He made a good impression on Mary Ann and got many more invitations.

"We had a romance over doing dishes and walking dogs," Keith Kiefer said.

Two months later — on March 24 — they were married at the Candlelight Wedding Chapel in true Las Vegas fashion.

They describe themselves as an "atypical couple," but as in marriage, they pledge to support each other in politics till death do they part.

Should one of them get elected and not the other, they plan to back each other, though Mary Ann Kiefer said she'd miss her husband "quite a bit" if he makes it into office and she doesn't.

Their challengers have varying views on the prospect of a married couple getting elected to the City Council.

"It's not against the law, but to me, it seems to be a little bit ridiculous," said Bruce Bachler, who has lived in Ramsey for 32 years and is running for mayor.

He questions the fact that the Kiefers are running at the same time, and he worries the duo might often vote the same way.

Bob Ramsey, a Ramsey resident for four years who is running in the mayoral primary, said he's OK with the fact that the candidates are married to each other.

"I think any citizen should run," he said. "I don't think it matters if they're married or not."

Brady Gervais can be reached at 651-228-2171.

The Kiefers got separate individualized attention, from Anoka County Union - ABC Newspapers, in their regular pre-primary candidacy features, with this online, here, and here [please read the original articles since they discuss other candidates, ones I consider more meritorious, besides the Kiefers].

Keith Kiefer, 50, 6203 Rivlyn Ave. N.W., has lived in the community for more than four decades. I’ve been married more than 30 years to the same woman, raised four daughters and a nephew. My higher education is in the science and engineering disciplines.

I have served the country and community in the following ways: U.S. Air Force veteran, eight-plus years, past volunteer Ramsey Charter Commissioner (part of the time as chairman), presently six-plus years as a Ramsey Economic Development Authority commissioner (part of the time as vice chairman and treasurer), volunteer one year as chairman of the Ramsey Housing Committee, six years as Ramsey Happy Days Committee volunteer, junior high and senior high youth leader, Sunday school teacher, Youth First volunteer, America’s Promise volunteer, jury foreman, certified manufacturing technologist, past Society of Manufacturing Engineer (SME) member.

I have many hobbies and interests including fishing, wood working, metal working, member of the Central Blacksmith Guild and Artist Blacksmith’s Association of North America, Inc. (ABANA) and volunteer for Twin Cities System Safety Society, etc.

Mary Ann Kiefer, 6203 Rivlyn Ave. N.W.

Age: 50

Years lived in community: 30

Family: Married with four daughters

Education: Certifications in tool and die making and mold making, Anoka-Hennepin Technical College 1997. Anoka-Ramsey Community College, College of the Desert

Occupation: Wire electronic discharge machining specialist.

Member: Hope Fellowship of Ramsey, Central Minnesota Blacksmiths Guild, International Bible Givers

Service History: Sunday school teacher, youth leader, unofficial volunteer for Ramsey Happy Days as husband Keith Kiefer’s helper.

And that is what the regular press has to say.

If you want more, I guess you go to the blogs. Minnesota District Court docket and other information is online. See the screenshots below relating to the two candidates, and as always, click on an image to enlarge and read.

Make what you will of that. And of this last item, below, on the City website, online documents, about an item set for a City Council Special Meeting, 7 pm, Sept. 2, Alexander Ramsey Room. Seldom would a matter like this be on a council agenda, without a history. I have filed a public data disclosure request with the City of Ramsey for disclosure of the history, concerning that location on Rivlyn, the Kiefer property. My guess is some of the history might be discussed at the special meeting, and with the council primary election soon upon us, every citizen wondering whether or not to vote for either of the Kiefers should attend. You owe it to yourself to be an informed voter.

Friday, August 29, 2008

VOTER EMPOWERMENT: Sept. 9 Primary Election Info. is Online at the Anoka County Website. My home, in Ramsey, by example.

This info is broken down into two sections - Polling place voting, and Absentee voting; with polling place info given first, as I will be voting that way.

POLLING PLACE VOTING: This will be Anoka County specific, but the process is generic. Anoka County voters can access a sample ballot online, by starting here. You give your town, then street, then house number range; and that allowed me to see my Ramsey, Ward 1, Precinct 1 ballot sample, here.

You can see from this screenshot that once I entered my home site info the website returned the location of my polling place [click to enlarge]:

Because all ward seats up this term in Ramsey are narrowed to two candidates, all the Ramsey ward and precinct ballots should look the same, for example, the Ward 2, precinct 1 ballot, online here, is the same as mine, or appears to be - and that Ward 2 seat is up this cycle, but with only two candidates, and each going on to the general election.

Where I need help from the comments, is the Supreme Court seats. Usually the incumbent prevails there, because voters know little, and go for incumbency. If you, readers, know anything about any of the candidates, particularly on the pro-choice, anti-choice issue; please post a comment.

It used to be you could vote an incumbent and feel safe in not having selected a rabid anti-choice zealot. With Pawlenty having had a hand in appointments recently that's not a fully reliable thing anymore. So, readers, help me and one another out.

Is it endorsement time now? Yes, in the sense that here's my ballot, with my choices, (and as an independent I am unsure of which party ballot I will use).

So, if I chose to vote GOP, see the red marks; if I choose DFL see the blue marks; and though highly unlikely, if I choose IP, see the black marks (but the truth is I will not be voting that ballot).

It's either GOP or DFL, click to enlarge:

For the Ramsey mayor seat, I see Bob Ramsey and Terri Cleveland as the two left in the running after the primary. For the at large council seat, I am undecided and will make my choice in private in the voting booth - but I have marked my Ramsey choices in Green - Bob Ramsey for Mayor; and Jeff Wise and Melody Shryock, at large.

My reasoning is: Bob Ramsey seems a generally trustworthy person who is against municipal waste and excess. He and I have points of agreement and disagreement. He is someone I feel I can talk to and not doubt things being said to me, which is a refreshing thing for me to feel about the mayoral position. Cleveland got appointed by the entrenched-incumbency cabal, to the planning commission, and she has a background as a planner. There has been too much Gamec - Elvig - Haas Steffen unanimous council voting and entrenched insider action already, and too much planning failure to last Ramsey for years. Planner failure is all too apparent in the Town Center debacle, having the expensive Ramp in the middle of nowhere and the $19 million City Hall that would have lost resoundingly if the planners' and entrenched politicians' cabal had put it on a referendum ballot, as straightforwardness and courage would have suggested proper.

Bob Ramsey, I believe, understands the referendum sentiment I and others feel. Cleveland ran against Berg for County Council last cycle, posturing against the Viking Stadium thing and speaking about referendum then, but not now. She's a lot of generic BS on the website, but nothing saying "referendum" and nothing saying she has any position or thought of any kind, about sewer/water proliferation. Looking at the website makes her come across as a real lightweight fearful of taking a real or sensible stance on anything. A planner.

So, Cleveland, a light-weight planner tied to that group for which the broom is needed - and there is the Kiefers, with more entrenchment on appointed boards and such.

And Kieth Kiefer when I ran for mayor against Pattiann Kurak and Gamec in 2004 put out an election eve attack mailing against me which he did not sign, and I have called him to his face a coward for doing so, that way, without putting his name to his handiwork. He filled out and signed the "Coalition for Ramsey's Future" disclosure form that the law required him to file with the City Clerk, but the negative mailing had him declining to put his name to it and behind it.

That Coalition thing previously was headquarted at the Elvig cabinet shop site in Anoka, a corporate gift of free rental to an issue-oriented advocacy group, but in the month or two before the 2004 general election the website registration was changed to use Kiefer and the Kiefer home address instead of Elvig and the Elvig business address for the "Coalition" and its activities.

Hence I personally would never vote for either of the Kiefers. But others might feel differently. Perhaps, to be as informed a voter as possible, you might want to ask the Kiefer neighbors along Rivlyn, down by the river, who they're voting for and why.

The only coin-toss choice in my mind is Ramsey Council, at large.

Jeff Wise is a Ramsey business owner who has told me he would like to see "those people" - the Ramsey government - have to operate under the constraints they would face as if they were competing, as a business, and I feel quite favorable toward that fiscally responsible line of thought applied to this municipality at this point in time. Waste and error have been rampant. Melody Shryock has a planning background, a degree in planning, which I view as a major strike against her; however, she has indicated a firm grasp of the view of many in Ramsey (her parents included) who have lived here a long time (at least since the 70's) with older homes on larger [1+ acre] lots with working paid-for private well and septic tank systems, who fear a cram-down forced hookup somewhere in the future, at a mid-five figure tax-and-assessment cost; and not at any lesser more tolerable value. The present mayor and I got into a heated conversation at one of the Comp Plan sessions when he verbally downplayed the forced-hookup fear and characterized my position as fear-mongering, and I in turn accused him (with the words "bullshit" and "pile of crap" used if I recall right) of posturing that all cause for such fears were unjustified when in fact there had been an actual attempt in the past during his term(s) as mayor to achieve forced hookups, (an effort around the old Nowthen Blvd. City Hall location), that led to protective Charter language we presently have that Terry Hendriksen was most influential in our attaining.

Things were different back when Hendriksen, Margaret Connolly, and Jerry Zimmerman held three of five council votes. It was a time which I refer to as "the good old days."

Regarding the actual threatened cost many face, and for the forthrightness for which I respect Brian Olson, see here. It's real and it's the truth and anyone characterizing that household worry as fear-mongering is, well, you decide.

Brian's honest numbers were sobering.

So, Shryock understands that historically motivated aspect of some in Ramsey not liking sewer-water proliferation, yet she also might have drank some Town Center Planner Koolaid - she will have to define that aspect of her candidacy herself if she, as I expect, is one of the two at large candidates left standing for the general election.

I expect I will vote for Jeff Wise, in the booth, this time, this primary. But it's not a certainty as yet that I will go that way. Hence the dual ballot marking for only that race.

ABSENTEE VOTING: Apparently, absentee ballot forms can be filled out and filed with the Secretary of State, online. Start with this entry link.

The form can be downloaded as: standard Adobe pdf format; Microsoft Word format; and large-text pdf. From the link URLs, saying "english" I presume there is Spanish text available.

(During the Kiffmeyer regime as SoS, things were not that easy, were they, she wanted picture ID cards and such, didn't she?)

YOU MUST CONFIRM all details about steps needed to cast an absentee ballot with the Secretary of State or Anoka County election people, not from anything I post here.

This is a lead-in to try to be helpful, but it is not a substitute for you getting things correct. If there's an error and somebody's vote goes uncounted, I am not responsible. It's your vote, you are responsible.

A clarification on absentee voting. What you get online is the application to be provided an absentee ballot, not a ballot itself. A form can be filled out at County Hall, at the elections office window, for the same outcome. My recollection voting once absentee, is that the application is tendered; and the ballot is mailed with a return envelope and instructions; but that's a hazy recollection. Use the initial SoS link above, or go to County Hall, to be sure.

NOTE: Credit U.S. Sixth Congressional District GOP candidate Aubrey Immelman, for the helpful "voting-hints" idea (See his website here, for his posting, but remember it has specific information for his residency area, at the western end of the Sixth District - and he credits a mailing sent OUT by GOP incumbent Michele Bachmann).

Immelman's posting also is my source for the Secretary of State absentee info.

I received no Bachmann mailing as he alludes to, so it might have been party-targeted info.

TELL ME: Why am I saying to myself, "I received no such helpful thing from the DFL, is it because I was phone surveyed and gave a 'wrong' answer about my dislike of Elwyn Tinklenberg, or is it because one major party is well-organized and the other is the DFL?"

_____________CORRECTION PLUS UPDATE________________
I erred in saying Terri Cleveland was schooled as a planner. Her website says, on the "experience" page, "Graduated Magna Cum Laude with B.A. in Public Administration, University of Northern Iowa. Graduated Cum Laude with Masters in Public Policy, University of Northern Iowa." She got good grades, and in Public Administration not planning. The same kind of degree James Norman brought to the table.

I still go with the "light-weight" assessment. Website, main page, Cleveland informs us her slogan is, "Leadership with Integrity and Experience." Is she going to call herself a dishonest novice, of course not.

I liked "It's me, or more of the same." People voted for and surely they got more of the same. Bless them for believing.

Experience, Cleveland says. Her "experience" webpage says, "Eight years of local government experience (city, county, and regional)." Doing what, and for a 57 year old, with an advanced Public Administration degree, eight years is really not a lot.

No paying job experience of any kind indicated, as part of the experience you'd expect from someone wanting to be mayor, unless it is, "Employed by Anoka-Hennepin School District #11." There's no "eight year" claim there, in fact, there is no duration dimension stated ot it at all. Nor a statement of job responsibility or duties. No show of progression from level to level, etc. Part-time or full-time? Continuous, or intermittent?

Cleveland first filed for council at large, but during the filing period she switched for reasons her website fails to justify. Whim and fancy, or an explainable act of deep conscience?

"Site designed and maintained by the candidate," her site says. Okay. Have a look. Judge it. She says if elected she would, "Advocate for accountability of all city departments and promote standards that encourage management to utilize human resources effectively and efficiently."

Do you see why I thought she was a planner? Speaking that way? She does not say she sees one single thing wrong with things as they are, with the status quo. But what? She will advocate. What does "promote standards that encourage management to utilize human resources effectively and efficiency," mean to you when she points out nary a thing wrong with how "human resources" are being used at present? More of the same, is what it indirectly says to me.

When I ran I said I would work to fire James Norman. Specifically. Someone eamailed and asked why, as if any sentient human could not figure out a host of reasons, and my specific reply was the way the Port Authority mischief was handled without any council resolution for such a thing ever having been passed and yet with the thing showing up before the legislature.

I was not elected. Luckily Norman fired himself.

The entire Ramsey planning and growth effort's proven to be a colossal failure, but the words "error" or "fail" or "mistake" or "misdirection" or "misallocation" are wholly absent from Terri Cleveland's web expose. To me it is pure BS to say, "Advocate for accountability of all city departments and promote standards that encourage management to utilize human resources effectively and efficiently."

It is as if she's saying, I see and point out nothing at all that's broken, but, trust me, I will advocate to fix it.



Here's a kicker, "Terri Cleveland will: Move forward with the Ramsey Town Center development, but with no excess burden on taxpayers." It's in foreclosure and in litigation but with the foreclosure sale repeatedly postponed in a way Gilbert and Sullivan would love. So, Terri, a hint, just a hint please, HOW to "move forward ..." given the realities and circumstances.

This is a person schooled in Public Administration, blowing pure smoke.

Stating platitudes with nothing you can hang your hat on as to what she'd do if elected. How should Ramsey deal with the banks and the foreclosure situation? What supervisory responsibilities were unmet in a situation going to litigation where there is a doubt over whether the City's contract with the master developer survives a lenders' foreclosure, or not? What to this individual is an "excess burden on taxpayers" when she has advanced not a single public word questioning blowing nineteen million dollars on an overbuilt City Hall nobody voted for except the incumbents on council needing to be swept out?

I can envision Cleveland going over to Ben Dover, the Ramsey taxpayer, and saying,

"Keep smiling, Ben. There's burden, and then there's excess burden. Ben, I went to school in Iowa with honors, to be mayor. To avoid excess burden. To enhance parks and trails but in a budget conscious way. To protect the community with enough safety personnel that are well trained and equipped."

So tell me, is there a problem with the parks now? Do we have an insufficient number of cops, ill-trained and unequipped?

She's not saying that.

So then tell me, in a comment if you are a Terri Cleveland supporter - how is her entire webpage something, anything, beyond saying she likes the status quo or at least finds no fault with it and intends to change nothing but to go with the flow while enjoying being Ms. Mayor?

Terri, if you read this, have a shot at a no bullshit set of answers in a comment - what do you really stand for and value, specifically and not in empty and insulting platitudes; what if anything do you see as wrong with the status quo; and what specifics do you have in mind as a detailed and coherent way to reorient or correct things?

Please, somebody post a response about what this candidacy is about besides Terri wants to be mayor.

Ben's waiting. We're all waiting. The little old lady in the Mondale commercial saying, "Where's the beef," is waiting. And what's the detail of the "experience" Cleveland touts besides volunteer work and something vague for the school board.

And Terri, you say "I have the knowledge and passion for OUR community to be YOUR best choice for mayor." Where in the world is there a single ounce of passion in saying, "Advocate for accountability of all city departments and promote standards that encourage management to utilize human resources effectively and efficiently"?

That is about as absolutely passionless a sentence as I can ever envision a human being with feelings of any kind writing.

Bob Ramsey has my vote. He might make mistakes, or decisions I disagree with, but he will not rest on a status quo without criticism, clear intent to change things, or empty platitudes.

Open thread. Possible items.

Over this coming weekend, I encourage comments from anyone who was at the League of Women Voter's City of Ramsey council candidate forum (or viewing it when broadcast after the fact on QCTV).

Also, I encourage readers to look at comments to the post directly below, on Andrew Boho's candidacy and Jim Abeler's. In particular, if you know either Jim Abeler or David Elvig, please let them know someone has said they are "buddies" and please invite each of them to post a comment - is it so, what's the history, etc.

Information always is valuable.

It aids voter decision making.

Anyone wanting to comment on the county commissioner choices, the State House District 48B choices, or the Ramsey council choices - that's what an open thread is for.

The only restriction, comments containing clear indecency will be removed and comment monitoring will be done if things get abusive towards any individuals.

I commend all who have left comments to earlier posts.

I favor people putting their name up with their thoughts, but open comments means it is a user's choice. Nothing in any of the recent comments has been childish or out of line - the term "Minnesota nice" being appropriate.

My hope is that people will comment more frequently.

I welcome comments from people holding views differing from mine.

Regarding diversity of opinion: Of the other blogs where views may be similar or differing to mine, I most regularly read Blue Man on the DFL side and Gary Gross on the GOP side. Each has a personal focus and opinions rather than being anyone's party-line parrot. If everything each said simply fit my own thoughts, there'd be less cause to read either. Of the campaign sites fully running now (with substantial fresh and older content), I prefer that of Aubrey Immelman, Immelman for Congress, because he is the lesser known of the two GOP Sixth District candidates, and the better option in my opinion.

I wait to see what candidate Boho ultimately will do on his candidate and blog sites.

Finally, I truly would enjoy seeing comments from anyone thinking it would be a good idea for Thomas Gamec to be appointed to Ramsey's EDA next year. I think it's a bad idea and would prefer to see it not happen. If there is anyone thinking it's a good idea, please explain the thinking in a comment.

If the above seed proposals seem unappealing, remember, comments are invited that raise entirely new issues - about Ramsey, county or state elections and issues, policy at the national level, anything a reader believes is worth the time it takes to write something helpful and cogent for the rest of us.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

AN ENDORSEMENT. He says that. He is right. It is a right we all are entitled to in the most prosperous nation on earth. He has my vote.

Here is the quote from Andrew Boho, DFL candidate for Minnesota House District 48B; and the emphasis is his not mine, in the original:

What we are witnessing today is a complete and catastrophic failure of the health insurance market to deliver much needed care to low and middle income families. We need to restore dignity and affordability to this broken system. That’s why I’m calling for the establishment of a single-payer health care program in Minnesota—and if elected, I will fight, tooth and nail, to make it happen.

The man does not equivocate. He is no blue dog with fleas, misappropriating Wellstone Green. He earns use of the WELLSTONE GREEN color. He deserves its use. He honors it.

The campaign site is just started, here; the blog also, here.

The address is: 1816 3rd Avenue, Anoka MN, 55303

Now that you have the address - Send him a contribution.

He needs money to run. He needs money to win.

He is running against an entrenched generally well-liked incumbent, Jim Abeler, who WILL BE the November GOP candidate (once a minor mediocre impediment named Huizinga is removed from the GOP path in the soon-to-be-held primary).

It will then be Boho vs. Abeler. Boho has vision.

Abeler has incumbency. He is a strong candidate with a long record in office.

This is an early endorsement. A slam-dunk easy call. Andrew Boho needs support so please please provide it. Give him your cash and your vote. Send him and his healthcare commitment to the legislature. The more like him there are, the sooner the broken system gets fixed.

The above quote is taken from Andrew Boho's campaign blog. Here's the screen shot, click to enlarge. But save the campaign site and blog links as bookmarks to keep up with his progress.

We need a person who makes healthcare the number one issue it really is. We need someone with the courage to say not only change it, but change it all the way to where we join the progressive nations of Europe and north of our border. They are already where we should have been years ago. Where Paul Wellstone would have wanted us as a nation to be, had he lived. There is the war, energy, other things. But fix healthcare. Lessen the profiteering, increase the quality of the product. Make coverage universal, every man, woman and child within the borders should be covered. Without exception. With payment for the coverage system to come from general revenue funds. We can afford it. We need the strength to toss out the special interests and to insist on such a moral and proper priority.

Abeler should have been doing this kind of thing all those years he was in office. He should have been pushing for that level of decency and coverage. Abeler was remiss, that way. Whether achievable or not, reform never will happen without everyone thinking the issue is the single most important key issue, and courageously saying so, as Andrew Boho has done. And voting for the candidates with the courage to unequivocally say it, and promise to fight to do it. Anything less is more of the same. We don't need any more of more of the same. We've had enough of it, it's failed us and it's due for replacement.



RAMSEY - Aug. 28, 7-8:30 pm, at City Hall -- League of Women Voters pre-primary Candidate Forum [the mayor and at large seats].

This forum info has not been that well publicized. I got notice of it from an ADS box flyer, from candidate Shryrock.

Checking QCTV's online schedule for Ramsey, it will not be carried live.

It will be videotaped and broadcast Saturday, 10:30 am and 5 pm (if they hold to their presently published schedule).

Candidates for mayor and for the at large seat will be speaking.

Ward 2 and Ward 4: These seats only have two candidates. Hence, with no primary those candidates will not participate in a candidate forum until before the general election.

By phone, candidate Shyrock said she believed it would be held in the "Alexander Ramsey Room."

HOWEVER - the city website says it will be in council chambers. That is more likely because the camera setup and QCTV control booth are there.

Here's what the city website says:

The League of Women Voters is sponsoring a pre-Primary Candidates Forum in the City of Ramsey. The forum will allow residents to meet and ask questions of the candidates who are running for election in the primary. The forum is scheduled for 7:00 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. on Thursday, August 28, 2008, in the Council Chambers at the Ramsey Municipal Center, 7550 Sunwood Drive NW.

All candidates were listed earlier on Crabgrass; see, here (with known candidate websites listed for anyone wanting to have a look before the forum).

The LWV Minnesota website did not have any easily found info on it about this session.

The QCTV shchedule is here (that link is for the balance of this week, and I expect the link will not change and still be good when the schedule is updated for next week).

The city posting text is here (directly linked from the city's homepage, "In the News").

A REQUEST TO READERS - I may not be there. It might be helpful if someone there suggested that the LWV moderator and the QCTV person confirm the televising schedule and announce it at the start of the session, to confirm things.

I presume that earlier forum format will be followed: opening statements; LWV prepared questioning with alternating order of response; then questions on cards from the audience, screended for redundancy and to fit timing, by the moderator.

Please leave a comment confirming or correcting info here, if you have more reliable information about format, timing, broadcasting, etc.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Huffington Post reports, CREW, a watch dog group, filed a formal complaint against Coleman's DC living arrangements.

I don't know what other media coverage there has been of the complaint, but my Google Alert popped up the Aug. 14, 2008 Huffington Post item. We in Minnesota mostly know the story, so I will not excerpt.

Have a look at the HP item, however, as it shows the story is growing legs nationwide. As it should. It is a questionable arrangement. On Aug. 15, Bloggers for Change also commented, again showing out-of-state concern. On Saturday, Aug. 16, Big E, at MnBlue had more detail - fisking the excuse set Coleman gave in defense of his housing perk. While that is local not national attention, it is one further indication the drumbeat is getting louder, and the problem will not be quelled by Coleman's dismissive hand-waving.

It is real, and it is disturbing.

Earning what he does, having that arrangement, and then the other things about it -- campaign money to the landlord's business, the landlord's wife on the Coleman staff payroll - coupled with the friendly favorable housing discount - it all is troubling in showing the wrong side of how things too often are done in DC.

CREW is an acronym for "citizens for responsibility and ethics in Washington."

The complaint is not too new, it was filed July 1, of this year. CREW is not without a history concerning its scrutiny of Coleman, as this site search reveals. And CREW is not non-partisan. They ferret out GOP error, or related things such as their formal complaints last cycle against Mac Hammond's use of the Living Word Christian Center to promote Michele Bachmann's candidacy and against his little private air force, paid for by the congregation.

What is news is that however much Coleman would want to end the discussion, the problem is one that apparently will not go away.

Finally, a largely unrelated but interesting linkover about Coleman, and why has he shown an interest in Mark Olson's state Senate candidacy, at Lloydletta's Nooz. There's an ongoing thread there at the Nooz (most recently this) about Mark Olson's local GOP endorsement and how there is a split where even GOP blogger regulars get heat from other GOP regulars, talk-show hosts in particular, over this Mark Olson for State Senate situation, endorsed locally despite having the wife-beating conviction; and it is speculative why Coleman would weigh in his voice at all, (it IS a hornet's nest but not one affecting national events), other than to distance himself clearly from any GOP approval of spousal abuse, directly or indirectly via endorsement of a candidate for office having that blemish, or otherwise.

Coleman is on the proper side of things, but it is curious why he'd talk of that. Mark Olson, to the best of my knowledge, is not critical of Coleman's living arrangements in DC.

FINALLY: In closing, if you do not read any other linked item about Coleman or Mark Olson, the one at MnBlue by Big E, and the Nooz item about why is Coleman vocal about Olson, are most highly recommended.

Talking Points Memo also is keeping it front burner; Aug. 15, after having previously visited the issue; June 27. Some of the comments, both posts, are interesting. There's an undercurrent around the blogs about Coleman being a womanizer, some comments to the TPM posts make that allegation. Personally I believe that irrelevant to the job and duties. But if the GOP is hooting loudly over Franken's satirical writing from eight years ago, it makes it fair game to ask where Coleman's sleeping lately and who with.

Both lines of "campaign information" are gutter trash. Both should be discarded. But attack dogs barking on one side will get the other item bandied about. Who wins then? Nobody.

_________FURTHER CREW UPDATE_________
More past CREW whistle blowing, by CREW, here, this time on suspect Minnesota GOP financial operations, mishandling of money and then apparent retaliatory actions, 2007.

_________FURTHER CREW UPDATE__________
Regarding the Pastor Mac Hammond Flying Circus, and the parallel CREW complaints about the Bachmann dog-pony show at the mega-Church Hammond runs as a personal cash cow - his prosperity in his prosperity ministry - and about the church funded airplane gig; STRIB, online, Friday, Aug. 22, 2008 has a full report of how the IRS is bumping heads with the flying pastor of prosperity; here. Read it quickly, STRIB has the habit of pulling online articles into pay-per-view archive status after only a week or two of open viewing.

It's a hoot. Well worth reading and chuckling a bit. Hammond made himself an attention getter and ...

"Peak oil" and the "tipping point;" is it here, is it soon to come?

This will be short. The extensive article is, " Waking up to the threat of 'peak oil'," by Ron Way, here, posted today, Monday, Aug. 18, 2008, at

Read it there. Read it seriously. I generally realize finite resources are just that, finite, and that there are petrochemical uses that to me are more valuable to society than today's combustion and tomorrow's shortages.

I first heard of formalized "Peak Oil" collective thinking from Will Thompson, a transportation planner living in Ramsey. It is real, the question being when do we hit the "tipping point" when extraction begins to lessen yearly and prices accordingly shift higher greatly, and alternate energy utilization becomes real, by necessity and not by effort of visionaries now pushing that sane policy.

There is currently a shrill, bombastic election year cry against the sane long-term view. The bombast will lead to nothing long term. The better perspective of sincere commitment to alternative energy development and exploitation also would improve balance of payments (which currently are out of whack and anything but balanced). The sane view is to wean us from consuming petroleum profligately with more and more of it having to be purchased from foreign sources regardless of what some hopeful GOP politicians will tell you is a quick fix the Dems oppose, ones who'd play on voter gullibility.

By that I of course mean the false "Drill Here, Drill Now, Pay Less," chorus of falsehood, where as best as I can tell it was Newt Gingrich (who will sell you the goods as well as taking free contributions) who did the kickoff. Yet many in the GOP have picked up the tune, as a way to divert attention from the real unfixed troubles we face: healthcare, higher education costs, the mortgage mess, an unwinable war caused for us under a hail of false premises, and a devalued dollar in a time of stagnant wages; all the result of the Bush-Cheney-McCain-Coleman White House and Senate cabal the GOP has given us, tarted up as if it were "leadership" and "statesmanship."

The alternative to Gringrich foolery, the sensible long-term energy policy perspective, is something I recall hearing best advocated by Bob Olson, a DFL hopeful in the Sixth District whose sensible thinking got derailed and all but ignored, in the District.

Olson was the candidate who could have handily defeated Michele Bachmann, if only he'd been endorsed for the task.

Presently, we need two things, first, to sweep house of the short-term demagoguery and bad policy, and to shift to sounder energy thoughts, while admitting there is much else to talk of fixing and to realize that those who have put things where they are will be least likely to undo their mischief. We need change, we have to believe in it, and we need sensible people, not war profiteering for Big Oil, Halliburton, or Carlyle Group.

Fixing things is, of course, the second thing needed. Obama and Franken are the broom to sweep up. Then let us hope they can fix things in a consensus way to right what's wrong in the nation.

Again, cute slogans are no answer, but a distraction that only misleads. And "Drill Here, Drill Now, Pay Less," mixes up ideas that do not necessarily at all follow one another. So, read that peak oil article, it is worth the time. And for your own good, don't be taken in again by Newt Gingrich, the "Contract With America," charlatan whose time in Congress was a disaster for the nation. Newt was the bagman and perpetrator for that flim-flam of the voters, and proud of it.

"Caveat Emptor" used to mean something back when we were a less gullible nation. Fool me once, shame on you -- all that. Newt again is on the move, so why should any of us trust a thing about it?

Gary Gross shoots at Elwyn Tinklenberg using Bob Anderson's ammunition.

Bob Anderson, Independence Party candidate for Congress in Minnesota's Sixth District, has had an editorial commentary published in the St. Cloud Times.

Gary Gross, at the Let Freedom Ring blog, was the Google Alert I got, and he links to the St. Cloud Times original.

Interestingly, in the August 18, 2008 item, Anderson says:

Elwyn did not mention hybrids. You can't even get a Toyota Prius for six months plus a five hundred dollar deposit. We need to encourage greater production of hybrids and show the world we are serious about making real changes.

We can bring down prices of oil by personal conservation, drilling responsibly wherever we can, and reforming the rules for speculators. If we show a real desire to change, prices will come down. You may have already noticed reduced prices at the gas station.

As far as Elwyn being a member on the house transportation committee with Rep. Jim Oberstar, I feel he has already been a little too cozy with Rep. Oberstar as a lobbyist in his Tinklenberg Group. That is not the way to deal with transportation issues.

Also in Google Alerts, this Ted Sher pic, from his Flickr photostream postings, showing l-to-r, Elwyn Tinklenberg, Al Franken, and Nancy Schumacher, (if I read the name tag correctly) at the Sunday, Aug. 17, Wellstone Dinner in St. Cloud.

It is an event which I did not attend. It is more for party regulars not independent voters. Yet, from the online pre-dinner notice, the dinner included a keynote speaker and two other brief commentators:

The theme for this year's dinner, reflecting the excitement and hope that is in evidence across the country, is "Ordinary People Remaking America."

US Senator Amy Klobuchar will be the keynote speaker. Additionally, brief remarks will be made by Al Franken, DFL endorsed candidate for the United States Senate, and El Tinklenberg, DFL and Independence Party endorsed candidate for the United States House of Representatives in Minnesota Congressional District 6.

I wish Tinkenberg would quit representing himself as if he is the IP candidate. He is not. Bob Anderson is. That "DFL and Independence Party endorsed candidate" might be technically true, but it has baggage, no surprise, given that Tinklenberg's ties run deep into Ventura-Barkley land.

My hope is that the weak, bipolar, and flawed Tinklenberg candidacy in the Sixth District does not harm Franken's chances, in the district, for votes enough to retire Norm Coleman. Anderson's editorial comment about the Tinklenberg lobbyist status and seeing a too-cozy thing Tinklenberg appears to have going with James Oberstar, those are things that have not gone unnoticed in the blogs. Indeed, the GOP leaning Let Freedom Ring blog hit on the same Anderson statement. Anderson's op-ed was a short item, and he left out the taconite tailings lobbying, but the gist of Anderson's comments did hit the nail on the head.

Franken is a good man, and has a true "Wellstone" position on key issues. Tinklenberg has that IP background, which is not by any measure what Paul Wellstone stood for or was about. I hope Franken does well in the Sixth.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

FRANCE - An energy policy focused for years on nuclear power.

A perspective on Iran, if uranium enrichment is as claimed for power generation, what right have we to say they should consume their oil and not market it? Clearly that is an Iranian decision. Apart from weapons threats, which can be policed if Iran wants only power generation and good foreign relations, our concerns and voice should be limited. Otherwise it appears as if economic forces of a closed international cartel may factor into wanting to quell nations lacking the technology from developing it rather than buying plants, fuel and management services from the current market players.

And in assessing a US future where electric cars are a focus, the demand for electricity will increase. Green energy - renewable or perpetual sources such as wind, hydro, and solar are options where scaling up will be a factor and where each has drawbacks and uncertainties. Drought, inconsistent winds, and cloudy rainy days can happen and can last. Gusting and storm damage can affect any power plant, but wind turbines are sensitive to exceptional wind levels exceeding operating ranges.

The nuclear option has problematic dimensions of its own - fuel cycle management, fuel reprocessing, and waste management dimensions on technical and time scales that other options do not pose.

The triggering for this post is NY Times reporting of the latest French expansion of its commitment to nuclear power as the core of its energy generation and consumption (for non-transportation needs - although electric trains are in wider use in Europe than we envision). The French have relied on nuclear power and for them it has been reliable and largely accident free, so far. They do not simply store old fuel rods as we do, they reprocess them. The reprocessing step holds both threat and promise. Years ago a US "breeder" reactor program was a congressional football, with differing states wanting the local economy boost and the Savannah River proposal from South Carolina having clout as a favored project. It never left planning stages, because of highly publicized accidents at operational power plants here and in Russia at the time, which caused a reevaluation of enthusiasms.

The basics of the nuclear power option are straightforward even with technological details being quite complex - uranium has two main isotopes, the lighter one being present in a fraction of a percent in natural mined uranium and having three less neutrons in the nucleus while being fissile. The heavier isotope captures neutrons without immediate fission. Fission produces highly radioactive pairs of isotopes along with the release of energy. Some energy is high energy radiation, and shielding is needed along with containment to prevent human and environmental harm. The energy that is utilized is thermal, heat from the fission, via steam turbines as in conventional coal fired plants. Natural uranium cannot be used in reactors, the centrifuges and enrichment reported regarding Iran is a needed step to convert it to reactor fuel with the lighter isotope concentrated and where further concentration effort will produce weapon grade material. In the fuel rods the enriched uranium fissile fraction is consumed while the neutron concentration in the reactor has a secondary effect, neutron capture by the heavier uranium isotope yielding in short times plutonium, another fissile material, produced in a reactor.

Depending on the reactor engineering, the range of neutron energies and concentrations can be such that more usable plutonium fuel is produced than uranium fuel is consumed, so that a practically unlimited fuel supply for power generation is feasible without any further mining of uranium, merely from the stocks available. There are two problems with this "breeder" scenario, first, plutonium is more easily separated (chemically, not by physical isotope concentration) into a purified bomb-grade material via fuel reprocessing, with weapon proliferation being the worry, while the second problem is that reactor operating parameters for producing more fuel than consumed are more risky than for regular power reactors, with a substantially greater threat of catastrophic accident.

For weapons purposes since WW II until late in the twentieth century, a plutonium production effort was run by the government at Hanford, Washington, but presently there is an excess of weapons-grade plutonium "around" with our nation exchanging economic aid for the material during the break-up of the Soviet Union, and with both Russia and the US scaling back the number of deployed weapons with the surplused plutonium then stockpiled and guarded more closely than the gold in Fort Knox.

I have seen reporting of fuel rod construction involving plutonium oxide pellets aggregated into fuel rods, and presumably when fuel is reprocessed by the French they produce plutonium based fuel rods of a geometry and make-up that can be used in the same reactors that they initially operated with enriched uranium fuel only. According to nuclear treaties, Russia, China, Japan, the US, France, and England control the fuel and plant construction markets, while restricting proliferation that way. Other nations must either buy, or enter the market, as North Korea and Iran are poised to do. India and Pakistan hold weapons, but the extent of their nuclear power engineering plans and capabilities is something I have not researched. Nuclear energy presently is globalized as a highly-regulated cartel among government and private sector entities within existing highly-industrialized nations. There are safety and anti-proliferation reasons to support this as an ongoing arrangement, as well as economic prosperity and corporate balance sheet and income statement motives in support of such a status quo.

Because of widely reported accidents in Russia and the US, and because of uncertainty in nuclear waste handling and storage - where long-term radioactivity is the problem - the nuclear power industry in the US had fallen into disfavor and became non-expansive, domestically. Add to that a higher capital cost per amount of energy produced and longer construction ramp-up times for new nuclear plants, and we have opted to largely cap things in the US and add peak demand power options at a lower capital cost but higher operating cost, such as gas micro-turbine siting for the already highly-developed mature US power grid. With carbon combustion limits now being a treaty matter, and curbing global warming being a championed cause, (with skeptics), it appears that our nation, besides looking at green or renewable energy, might also turn again towards nuclear power generation in expanding its base grid capacity.

A google of the words "nuclear" "fuel" "reprocessing" can provide an entry into reports and policy papers on that part of the industry, whereas the engineering literature is more specialized and much of it was done paper-only, before the Internet came of age. Plus much of the engineering detail is proprietary, and generally less accessible. There is the patent literature, but the industry has trade secret expertise held for advantage within the various corporate players, so the policy and summary reporting is more accessible.

The reader can pursue that avenue as far as wanted. Reprocessing is being done now, by the French and others, so feasibility is not the question. Rather risk and policy issues predominate, as with the waste disposal question, as the major uncertainties. Moreover the cost and scale of an efficient and safe reprocessing operation are such that present capacity worldwide might suffice and new entrants into that market are deterred by regulatory and economic barriers.

With all of that as background, the Times reports, here, about France and it latest efforts:

FLAMANVILLE, France — Here on the Normandy coast, France is building its newest nuclear reactor, the first in 10 years, costing $5.1 billion. But already, President Nicolas Sarkozy has announced that France will build another like it.

Flamanville is a vivid example of the French choice for nuclear power, made in the late 1950s by Charles de Gaulle, intensified during the oil shocks of the 1970s and maintained despite the nightmarish nuclear accidents of Three Mile Island and Chernobyl.

Nuclear power provides 77 percent of France’s electricity, according to the government, and relatively few public doubts are expressed in a country with little coal, oil or natural gas.

With the wildly fluctuating cost of oil, anxiety over global warming from burning fossil fuels and new concerns about the impact of biofuels on the price of food for the poor, nuclear energy is getting a second look in countries like the United States and Britain. Even Germany, committed to phasing out nuclear power by 2021, is debating whether to change its mind.

France is way ahead. Électricité de France, or EDF, is in talks to buy British Energy, for about $24 billion, to renovate Britain’s nuclear plants and build new ones. The French have already contracted to build a third-generation European Pressurized Reactor of the Flamanville type — the world’s safest and most powerful — in Abu Dhabi and China.

There is pride in French exceptionalism and in the technical skill that has produced an industry with no major accidents. In a recent op-ed article in Le Figaro, for example, Yves Thréard boasted: “France hasn’t any oil, but she knew how to exploit a rich idea. In the whirlwind of globalization, civil nuclear power became a weapon, commercial and political, that allowed the country to remain at the avant-garde in the concert of nations.”

A senior aide to Jean-Louis Borloo, the minister of ecology, sustainable development and planning, said that France “sees a wide trend developing” toward more use of nuclear energy.

“A lot of countries realize that with the rising price of fossil fuels and energy, and the climate emergency, nuclear can be part of the solution,” said the aide, who spoke anonymously under the rules of his ministry.

He said that France’s choice for a “closed fuel cycle” — reprocessing used nuclear fuel to recover plutonium made in the reactors so it can be reused — was safer. “This way, nuclear energy can bring a lot — it’s CO2-free energy.”

Mr. Sarkozy said that each European Pressurized Reactor that “replaces a gas-powered electricity plant saves two billion cubic meters of gas each year, and each E.P.R. replacing a coal plant means cutting 11 million tons of CO2.”

France generates half of its own total energy, up from 23 percent in 1973, despite increased consumption.

Electrical power generation accounts for only 10 percent of France’s greenhouse gases, compared with an average of 40 percent in other industrialized countries, according to EDF.

France has 58 operating nuclear reactors, the highest number of any nation besides the United States. In America, where nuclear construction has been moribund, there is also new interest. At the moment, 19.4 percent of the electricity generated in the United States is from 104 nuclear plants, according to the Department of Energy.

The Nuclear Regulatory Agency has in hand or expects applications to build 34 reactors, of which seven are European pressurized water reactors of the Flamanville type — and, unlike current American reactors, allow output to vary to meet fluctuating demand.

The Flamanville reactor is based on a French-German design, which itself is based on an earlier Westinghouse design. EDF has an American partner, Constellation Energy, to sell the new model as a joint venture called UniStar Nuclear, which has already ordered some of the larger parts for one reactor. Ironically, its main competitor is Westinghouse, now owned by Toshiba.

[... Recent minor accidents have happened.] The government, Areva and EDF have played down the accidents. Mr. Borloo said there were 86 category-one nuclear incidents in France in 2007 and 114 in 2006. Mr. Borloo’s aide, pointing to the Authority for Nuclear Security, said the Tricastin “microevent” showed that “our system of security is extremely responsive and transparent, and that the media and public opinion needed a training period to understand how the system of nuclear security works in France.”

Still, there is continuing nervousness. Sales of bottled water increased, and even a nearby appellation of local wine, Côteaux du Tricastin, is exploring whether to change its name, according to Henri Bour, who runs the local wine council.

A prominent French anti-nuclear lobby, Sortir du Nucléaire, is pressing to phase out nuclear power, which it considers too dangerous and too expensive because of the need to manage nuclear waste. The group wants a “sustainable transition” to renewable energy options like solar, hydro and wind power. Last year, on the 21st anniversary of the Chernobyl meltdown, 30 protesters at Flamanville blocked entrances and chained themselves to cranes.

There have also been some construction issues. In April, the Authority for Nuclear Safety criticized some of the welds and the quality of the concrete work at Flamanville, but work resumed in June. Philippe Leynié, the site manager here for EDF, said the problem involved missing pins on the metal rebar and was not serious.

Nonetheless, an IFOP opinion poll conducted for Le Monde after the Tricastin leaks showed that 67 percent of the French considered it vital to keep nuclear power in the country’s energy mix, compared with 52 percent in 2002. Only 27 percent judged the risks of nuclear energy to be the most worrying, compared with 50 percent who thought global warming was the predominant risk. In 2002, 33 percent worried most about nuclear risks and only 20 percent about global warming.

For Flamanville, though, a village of 1,780 people, nuclear power has re-energized the town. There are no pretty beaches here, just granite cliffs above a cold sea. For hundreds of years, the village lived off the granite, cutting and selling it, shipping it first by boat, then by railroad. Flamanville granite, said Mayor Patrick Fauchon, was used to pave the Place de la Concorde in Paris.

But by the middle of the 19th century it became too expensive compared with other sources, and the village survived by digging iron from an undersea mine, said Mr. Fauchon, who has been mayor since 1983. “It was always a company town,” he said.

But the mine closed in 1962, and the population of the village dropped to 1,150 people. When the idea of a nuclear plant arose, in 1975, there was considerable debate. But residents voted for the nuclear plant, which meant new jobs.

The excerpt is lengthy, but the article has more detail. It sounds as if the siting was equivalent to putting something like that in Minnesota's Iron Range, where paranoia over tomorrow's job base generally outweighs worry over risks and consequences.

"Atoms for Peace," is what the nuclear power industry in its infancy was called, when first envisioned during the Eisenhower years, and promoted by the government then to counter the prior history of the industry as entirely for war-ending and cold war military purposes.

Finally, if you care to see what part of a multi-billion dollar power plant construction site looks like, in the process of being built, the Times provides this photo (click it to enlarge):

Of the Google returns on nuclear fuel reprocessing, two promising links are here and here; with an interesting PBS Frontline item, here; and Heritage Foundation weighing in with opinion, here.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

The Leadership. The missing link; missing on the links.

The GOP has concocted an empty house carnival act clown show, while Congress is on recess. But, when the leadership does not play along because other play is just more promising, well, leadership speaks, at home or away; and -- sometimes you're the blue club head, sometimes the red snapped tee -

The Washington Post reported this morning that Minority Leader John Boehner has spent the first week of the congressional recess doing a series of golf outings while a small band of House Republicans remain in Washington to call for "drill only" legislation that does nothing to bring immediate relief to Americans paying high gas prices.

* Big Oil tax breaks and subsidies supported by Republicans ... $14 Billion

* Political contributions made to Republicans by Big Oil this cycle ... $13.5 Million

* Profit earned by the top five Big Oil Companies last quarter ... $44 Billion

* Cost of John Boehner's green fees while a small band of House Republicans' express faux outrage about gas prices * ... $240

* The Grand Oil Party's hypocrisy about the cost of gas ... Priceless

"Minority Leader Boehner's golf outings this week expose the Grand Oil Party's continued hypocrisy on gas prices," said Jennifer Crider, DCCC Communications director. "Despite a small band of House Republicans' theatrical ‘outrage' about gas prices this week, House Republicans don't get mulligans - or do overs - when it comes to their pro-Big Oil record."

"Republicans are protecting $14 billion worth of tax breaks and subsidies for Big Oil companies earning billions of dollars in profits while middle class Americans struggle to fill up the family minivan. While Republicans whiff on high gas prices, Democrats will continue to fight for commonsense, bipartisan solutions to lower gas prices."

Go to the original for the "financial proof" links. Hyperlinks, that is.

Boehner explained, "Well, there's energy in a swing, and look at the grass, you could not get that without agrichemicals. Then the ball, that's all polymers, we call them that, regular people say plastics, but then - without those polymers, and they come from petroleum, we'd be hitting wood croquet balls or something. And the dimples, they are put on the ball and it takes energy, opening and closing a mold and heat to do that, and without the dimples, my slice would worsen - not my slice of the contributions, my golf slice, but the contributions slice from big oil gets my energy up. And hey, I drove here. I walk around on this agrichem-special-treated grass, but the links are not as close as Norm's basement digs are to the jobsite, I don't walk, I drive. Now, excuse me, I am teed up, and it's time to drive." We wish the man a fluid, well-oiled swing, par for the course.

Of course, Boehner did not really say that. It's a concocted script. Satire. You know, the Franken stuff, satire.

Again, the WAPO link on Boehner on the links, is here, and worth reading. I would have thought the GOP learned from the 2006 dog and pony show - Flag Burning and Gay Marriage - that dog and pony shows don't work. It appears that with the last cycle's lesson clear, the devastating losses the GOP encountered, that GOP strategists would have a non-flat learning curve and not do Yogi Berra's "Deja vu, all over again."

Not so. Yes, the script has been rewritten. Now it is huffing and puffing, to blow the drilling constrictions over, but same wolf and same little piggie show; same huffing and puffing instead of anything even remotely resembling statesmanship.

Mark Dayton on capping it at a single Senate term reportedly characterized Washington as "a cesspool" and along with the miasma and such, cesspools are not the seat of statesmanship and sound behavior.

The GOP goes on, this time saying we should worry over pump price and divest ourselves of sound protective policies in so doing, whereas last cycle America and Apple Pie was at risk of flag burners and gay folks wanting to formalize long-term commitments to one another.

At least the GOP fools' show should show some ingenuity, by this time demonizing gay flag burners who waste energy while infatuated with the solitude and purity of our Alaskan wilderness. Gay flag-burning tree-hugging unAmerican socialists not liking Big Oil profitability and cartel management by wanting the firms to open and exploit the leases they presently hold, now THAT'S what's wrong with our nation.

Vote GOP, and end it.

Perhaps it is just me, but the sideshow redux does not resonate, does not convince, and there is still the same awkward war, the same flawed policies, the same ongoing tax breaks for Big Oil and the rich, the same inadequate health care system, the same threat to the future of social security, and other real problems, atop a mortgage meltdown and slumping economy while GOP deficit financing of the war has tanked the value of the dollar but with wages stagnated and jobs moved across the border or overseas (or when the job itself is not portable, the labor pool's been boosted via lax immigration policing - with only the occasional midwest packing plant raid conducted as a formality for press coverage).

Given all that on the GOP front, there's as much sense I guess in their trying to distract attention from true issues. Culprits I see - its some of the Dems who a cynic might say would rather keep the real issues unfixed to trot them out and pose them every two years, for votes, rather than to fix them and then have to invent dog and pony shows of their own.

The Dinosaur extinction - a matter of past postings, but continuing interest.

The frenzied, aging, powerful T-rex sees the approaching asteroids in the atmosphere, hitting ground, and rapidly approaching, but is powerless to quell or curb the extinction process:

Aid the extinction. Vote Bjorn Skogquist, Anoka County Commissioner.

UPDATING: RAMSEY - Candidates for City Council - 2008

The original post was August 6. As updated info, I list another website link, Ward 2, and info at the end about one candidate's emailing; (a kind of e-newsletter, as with the Sixth District and U.S. Senate candidates using e-mailings). Please note the right sidebar, a new email account, "4crabgrass." Please use it if you fine link errors on a post, or have other cause to want to contact me beyond leaving comments to posts.

As always, click to enlarge. List is from the City's website, an image from a pdf.

In addition and I will update if I republish when more websites are operative, there are, grouped by race, in the order I learn of a site existing, these websites currently up and running:




As is always an option, leave a comment, or send an email if you know of any other candidate website(s). Good luck to all. This will be an item that may be reposted between now and the primary, and general elections. From the websites I know what three of the candidates look like. I have met and spoken with Melody Shryock and Bob Ramsey in person. Bob Ramsey gave me his card, and I have it as a scanned image. If any candidate wants to send a picture and a statement, 75-150 words in length, I will post it unedited, except I will truncate it to the last complete sentence under 150 words if anything lengthy is sent. Misspellings, name calling, issues, complaining, ideas for solutions, anything a candidate wants to say, at least take time to write 75 words, then hold it under 150.

There will be September primary elections for the Mayor and At Large positions. The city website has a precinct map and voting sites will be posted there.

Interestingly, as far back as I can remember, the Kiefers represent the first pair of spouses with each seeking a council seat - post a comment if you know of any others, same election or staggered terms.

If any candidate starts a blog, I will post the ULR for it, as for websites.

Aug. 6 - Notice, Bob Ramsey web site added.
Aug. 16 - Notice, Colin McGlone's web site added.
Aug. 16 - Melody Shryock took up my request to send any press releases or emailings. So far no other candidates have done that. Perhaps none are using the method yet. Melody had the link for McGlone's site, which I learned from her message. If anyone emails (see sidebar address) saying "Forward Aug 16 Melody Email" in the SUBJECT line, I shall do so; but my suggestion is that Candidate Shryock's email address for the campaign is published, see list above so that interested people can bypass the middle-man.

NOTICE TO COUNCIL CANDIDATES: I have attained by public data disclosure request to the City of Ramsey, attendance listings for 2008 Comp Plan sessions; City sponsored and RAMSEY3. They are AS complete as what is held by the city, per staff's assurance, and I will forward them to any CANDIDATE emailing to me (at the sidebar address), requesting "Send Attendance List" in the SUBJECT line. These are concerned citizens, ones taking time to attend with a will to be heard and to render informed help to the process, and having that contact info going to council candidates should help make it a more informed election process. No council candidate wanting a copy will be denied. It is an agnostic offer, that way.

Finally, for Aug 16, any candidate holding electronic images of the yard/highway signs being used by the candidate, and wanting that image posted here, can send an email with the image attached, and the SUBJECT line saying, "Please Publish Campaign Sign Image." It is all part of a belief that avenues of information should exist beyond traditional ones - now that we are in the twenty-first century, with the Web.

Norman Coleman - a character issue and the politics of quid pro quo. If you donated hard earned campaign cash to elect the man, did you envision this?

Earning as much as a U.S. Senator does, isn't it shabby to gutter around over small change, compromising bigger things for small favors - in return for bigger ones, but from the contributions war chest, not out-of-pocket?

Big E, at MnBlue
, has the viewpoint:

Norm is a US Senator. Norm is paying to keep his wife in her accustomed lifestyle in California. Norm is paying for a mortgage, upkeep and taxes on a house in the posh Cathedral Hill neighborhood of St. Paul. Norm has two kids in college. Jeff Larson's (Norm's landlord) has a company (FLS Connect) that has received $1.5 million in business from Norm's campaign and office. Norm employs Larson's wife. This is just a little backscratching between fellow Republicans. Nothing to see here. Move along.

Unlike regular folk, Senators cannot receive gifts of more than $250 from friends ... Norm saved at least $1,150/mth switching from his $1,750/mth apartment to his new $600/mth one. The going market rates for the area are around $1,600 - $1,800 per month for the Capitol Hill neighborhood. On top of that I don't believe it is a stretch to claim that he didn't have to pay utilities until he got busted. I lived in the Maryland suburbans of DC for 3 years ... it's freakin' hot from June through September ... my electric bills were way higher for that period alone than $500 or so dollars. It's hard to believe that Norm's utlities all put together averaged $40/mth.

My guess is the reason they will not produce the utility bills is that Larson's company was paying the bills. That means Norm was accepting gifts from a company. That's an even bigger ethics violation.

Reports published yesterday and today revealed that Coleman received a year's worth of unreported, free utilities for his Capitol Hill English-basement apartment, for which Coleman still only pays a far-under-market-value $600 in rent per month. The value of a check that Coleman's wife wrote to Larson to reimburse him for the free utilities — written only after a National Journal article that first exposed Coleman's sweetheart deal — constitutes an admission that Coleman violated Senate ethics rules. (DFL Press Release)

To me, that entire "deal" is a significant abuse of trust. People, not lobbyists or business executives expecting recognition later in real terms, but homeowners thinking the GOP might offer the better people - donating to back that belief and trust - I cannot see another way to analyze it, except that peoples' trust was coarsely and blatently abused.

Who but another crass and entirely heartless individual could condone that?

photo from Google Images

"Been there, learned that" wisdom is worth getting given to you, and taking to heart.

An extensive excerpt:

"When I was seventeen months old, my dad – a decorated World War II vet – died in a car accident on his way home from a shift at the paper mill. My mother was widowed at age 29 with five kids – and I wasn’t the youngest. We made it because of Social Security survivor benefits.

"Sometimes we didn’t have heat, sometimes no electricity, and sometimes there wasn’t enough food on the table, but we had a lot of love. Sure, we all learned how to manage a household on a shoe-string budget but we also learned the true meaning of family.

"And I’m proud to say that my mom, my three sisters, my brother, and I are here today and contributing to society because of the opportunity we were given by the Social Security Act. The opportunity to stay together as a family. The opportunity to keep our home. The opportunity to overcome a tough blow and become productive citizens.

"So you can understand why I get so upset whenever I hear people talking about privatizing this important program. Can you imagine what would have happened to our Social Security funds if we had allowed big business to take them over? The very businesses that are losing BILLIONS of dollars because of bad investments are the ones that would have been in charge of our Social Security funds."

Frannie Franken, here.

photos resized, from Google Images

FRANKEN - Planned Parenthood and its will to defeat Norman Coleman.

There was a July 2008 critical email to the press against Al Franken, but the Planned Parenthood position now is clearly favorable to the Franken candidacy.

Ms. Lord Faris and the primary situation aside, Planned Parenthood sees Franken emerging from the September primary election as victor, (fitting Franken's declining debate with challenger Lord Faris with his reasoning being the campaign is about Norm Coleman, his record, and his apprentiship as Dick Cheney's intellectual butler.

Links for the Planned Parenthood endorsement story in more detail: [1] Minnesota Independent; [2] RH Reality Check.

This photo montage, from Minn. Independent, crediting Flickr:

And if you want to see a classicly amateurish effort at constructing an "argument" and trying to hijack a thread by not staying on point, check out the Minnesota Independent comment. Were the commenter to try to defend Coleman it would be on-point but instead it is irrelevant because the individual has an intent to divert attention from real and lasting issues, to simplistic GOP garbage about pump price shock. It is an insult to thinking people, as the entire Drill Here, Drill Now campaign is. FIRST, make the existing drilling-rights leaseholders either produce petroleum or forfeit their leaseholds, then fix the refinery bottleneck, and in the process avoid the unrealistic bombast of those who would confuse things; the Newt Gingrich faction.

BOTTOM LINE: If you want encompassing reproductive freedom, you vote Franken. If you want a nanny government telling you how to live and value things AND defining the freedoms you cannot have, you vote Coleman.

And why the GOP regulars want to keep families in greater bondage, we all have ideas about that.

Franken for Freedoms.

How's that for a slogan.

Freedom of choice, freedom from Draconian credit practices, Al's said all that already.

NOW, Al, let's hear it really strong - a right to decent healthcare FOR EVERYONE IN AMERICA as a basic freedom the most prosperous nation on the globe owes its people.

Once we have that kind of thing, like our neighbors, the sane and sensible Canadians, it should get most of the people waving a flag and saying, "Yes, it is a good and responsible nation." Until then, skepticism is merited. The Maple Leaf's for now the flag of the most progressive and compassionate nation in North America. We need to catch up.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Aubrey Immelman, a progress report. A conservative candidate progressing, and a progressive GOP conserving.

See quoted ANNOUNCEMENT below, for itinerary. Click on an image to enlarge:

I requested to be on press release notices and Candidate Immelman, GOP Sixth District primary candidate, sent this, related to the non-carbon loading bicycle tour he and family are engaged in [read more at the candidate's campaign site, here, or the report by Larry Schumacher at St. Cloud Times, here]. The pics at the head of this post are from the candidate's site, the one closing the post is from St. Cloud Times.

The press release emailing the candidate sent says:


FROM: Aubrey Immelman
Sixth Congressional District Republican challenger


Re: Sixth District Walking Tour Kickoff

Date: Saturday, Aug. 9, 2008

Time: 9 AM

Location: Charlie’s Café, 115 Main St., Freeport

Why: To introduce myself to Sixth District residents, listen to their concerns, and talk to local media.


Name: Aubrey Immelman

Title: Sixth Congressional District Republican challenger

Phone: 320 240-6828 or 320 339-9797 (on the road)


On Saturday, Aug. 9 at 9 AM, I will be at Charlie’s Café in Freeport, accompanied by my family, to talk with local residents and interested media. From there, I will proceed on foot along the Lake Wobegon Trail with my four children (aged 13, 11, 9, and 2) in tow on bicycles. I expect to reach the Albany trailhead by noon; the Avon trailhead by 2 PM; and the St. Joseph trailhead 5 PM. On Monday, I will head south along the Highway 10 corridor to Anoka, and from there to Blaine and Stillwater, where I hope to arrive by the end of the week, along a route yet to be determined. Updates will be posted on my campaign blog at

Apologies to the candidate for not getting the post up sooner, but supporters and those wanting to meet and greet will have most of the week for that. He already was on the road, Saturday. Please show up along the route, to welcome him.

From all I have seen he is a promising candidate and his GOP ambitions are sincere. And he welcomes company on the District tour-rally.

Bike along, if you are in shape. Be there or be square, and tell him Crabgrass sent you.

I intend posting more about Immelman. I find him interessting. For now, there's the tour. And, he has called himself "a Chuck Hagel conservative." Since we all know by now that Sen. Hagel was one of two foreign affairs - military affairs consultants accompanying Sen. Obama's fact-finding trip to the two war zones, and Wikipedia reports, "Hagel announced on September 10, 2007 that he will retire from the Senate at the end of his present term and will not seek the presidency;" this could mean a cross-aisle cabinet position in the Obama presidency, much as Sen. Cohen served in Bill Clinton's cabinet.

Friday, August 08, 2008

Unions and what's best for a proposed bargaining unit.

Gary Gross sent an email to Political Muse and me, about a George McGovern op ed on EFCA in WSJ, see also, here.

It's not my burning issue, and I expect some will be bothered by the McGovern view.

I urge you to read it.

Think it over.

I may post something later, but my general belief is that employer pressure between a card signing effort and a bargaining unit election can be a distorting factor. The other side believes that union organization pressure during a card signing drive is one-sided, and the secret ballot protects ones who might not think organizing a unit is a good idea but also do not want to openly look to coworkers as ones who'd rock the boat of an apparent majority consensus.

Both sides have an argument.

I will leave it there.

I may later post views about unionization and being in a bargaining unit, anecdotal and quite limited, and about how I think there can be downside fallout to something I generally think is needed, bargaining unit coherence, to come closer to a balance in relative power between large employers and individuals employed by them.

There is the small business, and it is a different situation.

There is the job out-sourcing thing, runaway plants, free use of strike-breaker labor arising from Reagan's disloyalty to the air traffic controllers who, contrary to their best interests, supported him, and there is my major complaint against union leadership - the neglect of union leadership to have a broader agenda than their narrowed interests - for example, tax reform back to "Eisenhower years" bracket rates is not being pushed sufficiency by union bosses even though it would be the one thing to be the rising tide to lift all boats (except the excessive yachts of some in the elite).

More later. Perhaps.

See what McGovern says and his reasoning --- McGovern who should have won and if he had we might be a different nation. But the allied entrenched two-party forces did him in, and declined to move to oust the weasel until after he'd been reelected. Then we had Gerald Ford, the only president in history to not be elected except by the folks of Grand Rapids Michigan. And a Rockefeller a heartbeat away from officially running the country.

The email calling attention to the op-ed said:

I'd appreciate hearing your take on the impact of this op-ed, if you think it has any impact.

If you write about it, let me know & I'll link to it.

No link needed, since there's no opinion published here either way for now of EFCA, a wedge issue, a narrow issue, a minor issue when bigger things have gone undone during Clinton years, during Bush years - it has been two party same old, same old.

Wellstone was the only one with something approaching a fair and inclusive perspective. And yes, I think the plane flight to Eveleth on the eve of the 2002 election, October 25, 2002, was tampered with.

Healthcare - the indecency of all present arrangements - to me is the issue, but it's been sidetracked by both parties, what with the bleating about pump price.

People are real dumb that way, dropping healthcare and tax fairness, and letting the likes of Newt Gingrich again lie to them in simplistic terms about complex matters.

Those who swallow the Gingrich Drill Now brand will end up with the bellyache they deserve later.

And letting EFCA a narrow noninclusive p***ing match between union leadership and organized employer representative interests get in the way of forcing politicians to be articulate over far, far, far bigger and more impending things - healthcare, tax fairness, and baby boomer "retirement," (if there will be such a thing), for instance.

Letting EFCA distract attention from bigger things is playing into the GOP hands, they have no real decent inclinations to the little guy, unionized or unorganized, and the unions only care about the former and will throw the latter under a train for a single minor alteration in labor law. Reforming the strike-breaker rules and having more friendly secondary boycott rules would do unions a lot better than letting the GOP say this EFCA snit is the battleground you and I fight on.

The unions bosses should not be deluded into letting the bosses coalition define the issues. They should have stronger thinkers than to permit that. They must read the newspapers a lot and the bosses coalition owns the newspapers and already knows what they say.

But that's all just one person's opinion.

Comments are open - unmonitored.

Prior Crabgrassing, here.