consultants are sandburs

Thursday, January 31, 2008

All those lawyers giving loot to Tinklenberg, per his FEC report, reminds me of Hal Philip Walker.

Nashville, 1975, the candidate for President we never saw, only hearing him on the loudspeaker:

Who do you think is running Congress? Farmers? Engineers? Teachers? Businessmen? No, my friends. Congress is run by lawyers. A lawyer is trained for two things and two things only. To clarify - that's one. And to confuse - that's the other. He does whichever is to his client's advantage. Did you ever ask a lawyer the time of day? He told you how to make a watch, didn't he? Ever ask a lawyer how to get to Mr. Jones' house in the country? You got lost, didn't you? Congress is composed of five hundred and thirty-five individuals. Two hundred and eighty-eight are lawyers. And you wonder what's wrong in Congress. No wonder we often know how to make a watch, but we don't know the time of day.

So lawyers are the problem. And Tinklenberg has a retinue of "counselors" as "contributors."

Go figure.

And Hal Philip, talking about doing "whichever is to the client's advantage."

Who's the client? For Tinklenberg Group, it is obvious -- the client is whoever is the Group's payor. The dispenser of cash.

The payee then of course is the Group.

But this running for office, it is different.

It is not buying servicing. It is supporting a candidacy.

Tinklenberg's FEC report. Despite all the love, ...

Neither Tom Gamec, nor Ben Dover, the Ramsey taxpayer, are listed individual donors surpassing the listing threshold.

But Ben, he's been doing his share - for Tinklenberg, Group-wise, always smiling.

BEN SAYS: "I gave at the office."

THE PEOPLE'S CHOICE: Almost 54% of Elwyn Tinklenberg's money came from PACs.

Bob Olson's money 0% from PACs.

A contrast in origins, but each has about the same funds on hand reported:

Olson $92,000

Tinklenberg $96,000

Figures from Blue Man in a Red District, here, linking to the FEC Tinklenberg item.

Tinklenberg itemized receipts, his individuals, here, and his organizations, here.

Money from the Mesabi Fund, money from U.S. Steel PAC - where again in MN 6 are these guys? Sounds Iron Range to me.

Money from a "Valley PAC." PO Box 529, Washington, DC 20044. Who are they and what is their abiding tie to Tinklenberg and/or Minnesota's Sixth District?

Beats me, I have heard of valley girls, not Valley PAC.

With that PO box in DC, it is hard to tell which valley, eh?

Money from Steve Bosacker, he was a Ventura administration man, now on the Board of the PACT school that got located on the blighted land, at Ramsey Town Center. That blighted land thing, Cairns the lawyer brought that approach up. The Kurak + other Town Center site land -- blighted? Huh? It was a cornfield Al Pearson's family planted and perhaps harvested, I remember the crop left standing but the green acres status protected before big thinking about a Town Center. Cairns used a statute apparently originally intended for rehabilitation of blighted land. That was back in 2003, just after Kuraks and Nedegaard closed, the blighted land thing was used for the bonding arrangements of PACT school, courtesy of lawyer Cairns.

Other Tinklenberg individuals -

I see, Oakton, Virginia.

I see, Falls Church, Virginia.

I see, St. Paul.

One guy from Briggs & Morgan, the Cairns law firm.

The Oakton, Va. guy, occupation, Lobbyist. More attorneys it looks like than ordinary folks. We could tell a lawyer joke for each and would we run out of jokes, or donors first?

Big time bucks, Jim Deal, NAU Insurance, blogged before as a Town Center mover shaker, involved in some Highway 10 land where Bruce Nedegaard was in title, the RALF buyout arranged by Tinklenberg Group, but ...

Different story.

Leave it for now - President, Robert Muir Company, Eden Prarie, MN. Gotta get my Sixth District map out, find that town, where it is in the district.

Two in a row from Edina.

Tom Gump. Involved in the dealings where Tinklenberg was registered lobbyist, Hassan [whatever] LLC, the Hassan Township - Rogers - Dayton joint program for an I-94 interchange to assist the Stone's Throw development, Gump's firm's client's deal. A Beard Group friend of Tinklenberg Group. Groups of a feather must flock together.

Carolyn Gabel, retired, Chestertown, Maryland.

AASHTO - whoever, you tell me, the guy from there is in Fairfax, Virginia.

Grass roots? Crabgrass, not developer crabgrass, DC crabgrass.

An "investor," from Fargo. But that's North Dakota, not Sixth District ----

A guy from Barna, Guzy gave.

Danville, California?

Where's that? What's the Tinklenberg charm reaching there?


Sorry. I am not impressed.

It's hard to wrap up - it is worth anyone's study to see if this is the Scarecrow from Oz - stuffed with straw by out-of-towners and PACs. Unimpressive is the only word I have for it.

Remember Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid? "Who are those guys?"

Very important information - which I hope every blogger who intends to caucus DFL posts or mentions.

Although not a DFL insider, official, big contributer, etc., I did caucus last cycle for Wetterling, and now I am on a party mailing list.

The information is helpful for all who may/will be caucusing DFL, and if the Obama "new people into the fold" stories are true, and some may learn by reading this of caucus detail without otherwise knowing, it is worth my time in putting up this post.

The email states:

Dear Eric,

Now it’s your turn to make change.

On Tuesday, February 5, you will finally have your say in the most exciting, wide-open Democratic presidential race in decades when you go to your DFL precinct caucus to cast your vote on the presidential preference ballot.

Then you can start weighing in on the race to unseat Norm Coleman and the exciting campaigns around our state for Congress and the Minnesota House.

And when your caucus is over, join us in Saint Paul at our all-DFL caucus celebration.

So on February 5, take your turn. Go to caucus and make a difference.

Need your caucus location? Go to


If you’re in the Twin Cities, join us after your precinct caucus for our first-ever DFL Caucus-Night Party in Saint Paul. We’ll watch Minnesota and national returns and hear from great DFL elected officials, candidates, and campaign representatives about moving forward together and fighting for change in 2008. Come celebrate our first big step toward victory in November!

DFL Caucus-Night Party
Tuesday, February 5
8:00 p.m. - 11:30 p.m.
Carpenters Union Hall
710 Olive Street, Saint Paul

Super Tuesday, February 5, promises to be one of the most exciting nights in DFL history. Go to caucus and be a part of it!


Brian Melendez
Minnesota DFL Party

Donna Cassutt
Associate Chair
Minnesota DFL Party

Those who caucused before probably got the same email. This post is for any Crabgrass readers who might be new to the process but with favored candidates and cause to want to caucus this cycle. History will be made whichever presidential candidate of the remaining two reaches the general election. It is a chance to be part of history. That's not my original idea. John Edwards in bowing out noted how his concession left the field poised for history.

Finally, for newbies, the email had an "unsubscribe" link, but not info I could post for readers on how to become mailing list members. I tried parsing back the given link, but got a password protected site portal. As I say, not an insider, I don't have a user name or password, and don't belong there, so I leave it at that. Probably calling DFL central, via a Google of the two sender names above, will indirectly via site-search and parsing back, get such access to the e-mailings, for any newbie reader wanting it.

Try hard, and you may even get a password protected insider-access-authorization -- if you want. I don't need it. It is there. I leave it to others.

Are these forgotten few the municipalities who did not retain Tinklenberg Group and not get grant funding?

Perhaps coincidence, perhaps not. Strib reports that some road needs are going unfunded. As a general matter of press inquiry, the sources should be able to indicate which of the neglected municipalities did/did not retain Tinklenberg Group.

Here is an excerpt:

Mayors push to get road projects completed

"It doesn't seem like [legislators] recognize the need for transit improvements in the north metro," said the Brooklyn Park mayor.

By LORA PABST, Star Tribune
Last update: January 30, 2008 - 11:19 PM"

A gathering of the North Metro Mayors Association this week looked more like a grief support group than a meeting of city leaders discussing transportation problems.

After watching major projects in the north metro get delayed, the mayors reaffirmed their displeasure with the transportation funding problem they say has hit projects in the north metro particularly hard.

Ramsey, my home town, has had less problem. The County pitched in funding for road work around the troubled Town Center, and mapping and RALF buy-out money came from Met. Council. But then Ramsey has hired cracker-jack consultants to advance their effort - and -

The story continues [as above, italics emphasis added]:

They are intensifying their efforts to remind legislators of the unfinished Hwy. 610 extension and the delayed devil's triangle junction of Hwy. 169, Hennepin County Road 81 and 85th Avenue N. Two of the intersections in the junction rank as the third and sixth worst for crashes in the state, but the 2007 construction start was delayed.

"It doesn't seem like they recognize the need for transit improvements in the north metro," Brooklyn Park Mayor Steve Lampi said in an interview after the Monday meeting. "They don't recognize how fast we're growing."

Many north metro officials have seen money for projects in their area get rerouted to other projects -- such as the decision to take $35 million from the $50 million devil's triangle and use it for the Crosstown project in December 2006. And if it wasn't bad enough seeing construction postponed, cities and counties are being asked to pay for projects until the state can pay them back.

[...] Many of the mayors echoed each other's frustrations when they explained the costs their cities have incurred and ultimately had to pass along to their residents.

"Cities and counties are having to spend their money to provide roads," said Ramsey Mayor Tom Gamec. "It's time for the state to step up."

Huh? Town Center Tom said that? If, in actuality, Ramsey is suffering a dearth of funding, Tom, you are a big, big, big, ultra-big booster of the consultancy being retained.

Rethink the Tink, perhaps, sir. Back to the story:

Rep. Melissa Hortman, DFL-Brooklyn Park, said she has worked with the League of Minnesota Cities to start compiling a list of how much money cities have lent to the Minnesota Department of Transportation for road projects. Even though the money will eventually be repaid, Hortman said she is concerned that the interest on the payments won't be returned to the cities.

[...] "With the [35W] bridge falling down, that changes the state's emphasis, but it doesn't change the underlying problem," Lampi said. "We have a transportation system that is probably in crisis and there needs to be a plan to fix it."

[...] Rep. Michael Nelson, DFL-Brooklyn Park, said he understands the mayors' frustrations, especially when there is a history of delayed north metro projects. He recalled that portions of Hwy. 100 south of Interstate 394 were completed long before the section in the north metro, and Hwy. 212 in the south metro is nearing completion while the extension of Hwy. 610 is still a grassy field.

There's an impression from the mayors and northwestern suburbs that our projects always take second banana to projects elsewhere around the metro," Nelson said, adding that he knows projects around the state are also getting delayed.

Both the devil's triangle and Hwy. 610 completion projects are priorities for Nelson, but after talking with MnDOT officials recently, he thinks the projects will again get pushed to the bottom of the list. The time frame for the Hwy. 610 project is now set between 2015 and 2025, Nelson said.

"When our turn comes up, our projects go away," he said. "That's the frustration of the mayors."

"The demand just keeps growing exponentially for what we need to do for roads and brides," Nelson said. "But the dollars we've got are falling farther behind."

Lora Pabst • 612-673-4628

Lots of highways. Except for Town Center Tom with his crying-towel out, I do not see the Elk River or East Bethel or Albertville folks quoted. I wonder.

And are those dangerous intersections being ignored, while effort aimed at building new interchanges in the Hassan Township - Dayton - Rogers area takes a priority while geographically near to where others claim to suffer?

Are all the animals on Animal Farm equal, or are some more equal than others?

Who is to say? Always, there are many factors at play. Complications.


Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Initiating an Official Inquiry into Elwyn Tinklenberg’s Activity: Is it Unregistered Lobbying?

Sometimes you quit talking, thinking, deliberating, and just stand up and do it. Otherwise you cannot blame anyone else for inaction. Or you cannot blame others when things fail to be as you think best.

You do your act of “public participation,” which, as a free speech norm, is defined in a particular way in Minnesota law:

"Public participation" means speech or lawful conduct that is genuinely aimed in whole or in part at procuring favorable government action.

Raising the Tinklenberg lobbyist status question with the U.S. Attorney amounts to that. Public Participation. Two individuals, me and another, where here I only speak for myself on thinking and motive. Seeking favorable government action.

Below is the entire text of the letter requesting a formal inquiry by the U.S. Attorney. It is based on public data - council and other government records that should be trustworthy --meeting minutes approved by vote of the individuals actually there at the table participating in the meeting, explaining what happened.

Click on any image to read it, or open each page in a new window. If you have trouble reading “fine print” I will send a document copy, if you send a blank email to the address on the right sidebar with the subject line saying: SEND LETTER COPY.

The other person signing, Jerry Hiniker, can speak for himself. The letter speaks for itself.

Jerry may have other thoughts and feelings than I do. I do not pretend to speak of them. Jump me or agree with me, not Jerry, because this blog and current posting are my thoughts, alone.

To me the data record shows lobbying activity. But turn the facts over and push for an inquiry by those having the expertise – U.S. Attorney staff lawyers charged with overseeing lobbyist registration law.

As currently amended, The Lobbying Disclosure Act of 1995 is online, and its definition of a lobbyist is: the term “lobbyist” means any individual who is employed or retained by a client for financial or other compensation for services that include more than one lobbying contact, other than an individual whose lobbying activities constitute less than 20 percent of the time engaged in the services provided by such individual to that client over a 3-month period. 2 U.S.C. 1602(10).

You or I may have a more “common sense” view of what we believe a “lobbyist” is. However, the U.S. Attorney staff is the proper arbiter of what, under federal statutes, the meanings are and whether Tinklenberg was/is registered, and if he should be or should have been registered.

The full statute text is reachable section by section beyond the definitions, from the above link.

My key belief is if nobody else is asking what the Congressional candidate’s status is or should be under that federal enactment, it must be asked, and I ask it.

Reasonably diligent research indicates Tinklenberg, himself, is not registered and I am not privy to the staff make-up of his “group” to check their status. Certainly, that 20% --- 80% time-split thing in the definition seems a big enough loophole to drive a truck through, but if it is what Tinklenberg Group individuals rely upon in not being registered then it would be incumbent on Tinklenberg, in responding to the U.S. Attorney, to give accountings of his time and time of others billed to clients, and to square that with the public record my fellow citizen and I prepared.

In fairness to an electorate he wants to vote for him in November, disclosure should not be anything less than a full Tinklenberg Group public accounting, i.e., freely open to public and press, voluntarily, without worry over FOIA or other hurdles in citizens getting to see pertinent information.

Blue Man in a Red District has a post, where I have commented, with the premise being Tinklenberg is on record saying he does not lobby at the federal level.

Again, what that means – it depends upon how you define “lobby” but we know from recent past word quibbling such as about “sex with that woman,” that “lobbying” can be equally equivocated. If Tinklenberg’s answer is hair-splitting and equivocation, voters can decide what to make of that. With a federal law requiring “lobbyists” making “lobbying contact” with federal officials to register equivocation is harder. “Lobbying contact” is a statutory term, within the definitions already linked to at the Cornell Legal Information Institute website.

Commenting on Blue Man’s post, I wrote:

By my reckoning, from online resources I trust - town minutes and such where drafts are approved by the various board members so that error in minutes is unlikely - Tinklenberg is [or recently was] lobbying for I-94 in, as the post says, Albertville and in the Hassan Township - Rogers - Dayton for an I-94 interchange to allow dense housing development; for US Highway 10 in Ramsey and Elk River; and for Highway 65 in East Bethel. And each would involve federal contact.

And, what if Tinklenberg is face-to-face with Oberstar, and Jim asks, "Of these projects, which is most deserving of scarce funds?"

He's taking cash from each, for advancing each. How would the wooden dummy [Pinocchio, not El] answer? Agreeing with friends?

[ … I]n criticizing Tom Delay, is it the Dems saying, "Them = bad; our guy = okay?" Is that just? The two old sayings come to mind, putting one's own house in order; and not throwing stones if living in glass houses. The DFL should not glass house itself this election cycle in the Sixth District - my opinion, not Gospel, but I think it is a sound approach to unseating Michele Bachmann. Run the squeaky clean Bob Olson out of caucus. Don't mess around.

I did not edit out the Olson reference in reposting that quote. Some may wish to blame directly or indirectly candidate Olson for how I raise the lobbyist issue. I don't hide from that. It would be inaccurate or unfair to try to hang my actions on anyone else. I am not on Olson;'s staff. I have never met him. Nor have I met Tinklenberg. I support Olson. I will push in caucus for him over Tinklenberg; but the worry I have over letting the revolving door go unchallenged is my focal worry, free of any view of or input one way or the other from candidate Olson or candidate Tinklenberg. My view, mine alone, to support or attack.

Continuing – Blue man said...

I agree on many of your points.

However this is not about Oberstar, Coleman, Klobuchar, or any other federal official.

None of them are responsible to verify Elwyn's status.

It's his responsibility to perform his work in accordance with local, state, and federal statutes.

My reply was, and is –

We are parallel in thinking but there is a divergence. You say the rules exist and should be followed. My view, the golden rule, the guys with the gold make the rules, and compromise always is part of any rule-making. Add to that the livelihood of packs of lawyers skilled at finding and expanding loopholes in the rules, and there is cause to focus on policy and ideals, over rules.

The sin I see as original sin in the machine is the revolving door.

With no rules against it, really, the revolving door exists and from my perspective is harmful to the general well-being of the public.

It is probably at its worse when a regulatory agency ages and has industry people coming in and going back out, where the regulatory purpose soon gets co-opted to the "public good" being touted or without analysis being equated to the "industry good," and with no real voice in opposition.

How do you stop the revolving door?

Should you? How do you best counter the suggestion, those with experience are best suited to continue with their specialized skill set and background knowledge, and should not be artificially constrained where lesser skilled people then are needed to make the hard public and private efforts and decisions?

It's not simple once you get to the details. But Tinklenberg is a paradigm of the revolving door. And of the career politician. I don't like it. I don't think it is particularly good for the nation, or for locales.

It is as much a gut feeling as something provable one way or another. Would Wellstone, on leaving the Senate had he survived to that point, have gone "private" by going around with a Wellstone Group persona, advancing local improvement agendas for attaining public financing aid? I doubt that.

This what-would-Paul-do view is not a litmus test thing. It is a sense of how I would rather see things operate.

Tinklenberg clearly did register in Minnesota as a lobbyist and on Dec. 20, 2007 altered that registration. Whether and why he decided to take that pair of steps in-state but to not register nationally is probably a question of rules and loopholes to rules, rather than to true status of activities.

He did contract to assist promotion of efforts to gain public funding at Met. Council, state, and federal levels; with such funding being courted for local projects where we have no idea of his relative commitment to one over the other as more deserving of implementation.

Several locales wanted their highway project to be blessed. He contracted with each, and each was in competition with the other for scarce funding. How you square that is for you to decide.

I prefer Olson. I don't know either Olson or Tinklenberg personally. I have spoken with neither. I don't know either set of campaign people. I am agnostic that way.

But with Olson, there will be no such revolving door, career politician, lobbyist "baggage" thing for the Bachmann people to carp over and exploit if Olson is the endorsed DFL candidate and if Tinklenberg either honors the endorsement process or ends up second in a primary challenge.

And I view removing Michele Bachmann from Congress as clearly in the public's best interest. That means the best chance of doing so should be followed.

The hard choice. Hating the revolving door and wanting it to see defeat; the lesser evil choice looms - Tinklenberg vs. Bachmann. How do you play that hand?

Ugh. Gag. Arrrr. %&$*&(!!!

I don't like that possibility of the two-party system in action. I greatly distrust a system that results or could result in giving an electorate that kind of Hobson's choice.

That in a nutshell is the rationale I have for taking the step I took, mailing the inquiry letter to the U.S. Attorney to start the ball rolling. It forces the issue to be faced now, as a part of the election process pre-caucus, rather than having it be a GOP mantra later.

Whether you are not troubled by the Revolving Door, the Revolving Door, good or bad, touches Tinklenberg – from mayor of Blaine and Anoka County Official – then the door revolved – consulting on transportation issues – then the door revolved – MnDOT head under Gov. Ventura – then the door revolved – Tinklenberg Group sprang to existence, etc.

Look at it this way - what if each time the door revolves the rolodex-of-leads and contacts grows tenfold? If the man now has a million dollar rolodex, what will it be if elected? After two years in Congress, pension rights vested, and redistricting – might the door revolve yet again?

With a million dollar rolodex going in, a ten million dollar rolodex going out? Whatever actual numbers are now, or in the future might be, I cannot say. But it worries me.

That is why I want the top federal lawyer in the state to have a look.

Every voter in Minnesota’s Sixth District deserves a prompt, thorough, non-partisan and professional wrap up of the inquiry.

It can be done and should be.


The post was finished late last night, the day the letter was mailed. A point by point quick highlight of the purposes and gains an inquiry now offers was perhaps something better given earlier in the post, but is still helpful:

1. This vets the question and the answer becomes public disclosure. The candidate, himself, should have vetted the issue before now, without this prodding.

2. Charges of partisan "witch hunting" that could arise if the GOP waits and then takes this very step are forestalled. That is best for the new head of the U.S. Attorney's office, to avoid partisan charges by responding to a citizen effort that is from people not activists within either DFL or GOP leadership circles.

3. The DFL has the issue before it, before caucusing.

4. If Tinklenberg should have registered and simply ignored it, that goes to the candidate's character.

5. Even if Tinklenberg has an entirely valid and clear excuse for not registering, it and his record of conduct would become public information, ideally without need of citizen or press use of FOIA but by full, candid disclosure from the Tinklenberg campaign.

6. The entire revolving door question gains suitable attention.

7. An informed voter is a better voter. Bottom line. Nobody can seriously challenge that. Voters should not be put to the effort Jerry and I made in uncovering and reporting the record of Tinklenberg business solicitation that the letter reviews.

8. Mainstream media is better positioned to see and then pursue the unwinding of the story than bloggers, who are more free to precipitate an inquiry. If bloggers start the ball rolling, press can have their calls returned to flesh out key questions and report the story as it progresses.

9. If what has so far been swept under the rug, the question of how things our letter reported could, if generally known, impact caucus and general election voting, is a question that now moves from backburner to frontburner - where is any harm to the true public interest in that development? I see absolutely none. Writing the letter to get things moving was a clearly needed "public participation" step.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

There's also the issue of density. You can blow more smoke in less volume if it's a denser grade of smoke.

My Google Alert linked to Residual Forces, which linked over to the original Hometown Source item:

by T.W. Budig
ECM capitol reporter

Former Ventura Transportation Commissioner Elwyn Tinklenberg questions whether the recent preliminary findings by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) on the I-35W bridge collapse — a finding that suggested a design flaw likely brought down the bridge — has answered anything.

The NTSB’s asserts that the use of thinner connector plates in the bridge design — half-inch thick plates instead of inch thick — could have been a fatal design flaw.

But Tinklenberg explained that there’s also the issue of metallurgy.

Depending on how steel is tempered or otherwise fashioned, a half-inch steel plate can actually be stronger than an inch thick steel plate, Tinklenberg opined.

Come on. They do not just spec a thickness. They specify a grade. If one-inch thick steel of a particular grade were specified; and 1/2 inch steel of that grade were used, well, the answer is --- what ---


Sunday, January 20, 2008

A half-year ago in summer when it was not twenty below, El Tinklenberg was heating it up in East Bethel. Touting his Ramsey "consulting."

Whether standing or not, somebody delivered for Tinklenberg, in response to his loading his own sack a little with Ramsey cash. And El Tinklenberg was touting that at East Bethel - as cause for them to see his sack still had some room left.

And, hey, we are not Tom DeLay's Texas, we're Minnesota. So it is not who you know or who knows you, it's how you fill the forms out.

No joke. Tink says so.

And you can take that to the bank, or is that the wrong figure of speech?

Tinklenberg Group - real good at filling out those forms - but apparently with no time or inclination to put much info on the website beyond contact info. Busy with those forms I suppose.

Here are the July 18, 2007 East Bethel work session minutes, three pages cut into jpg image files. Click any image to enlarge it to read, or open them up in separate browser tabs/windows.

Which of those final two paragraphs on p.1 do you think occupies El's own time? My bet is when that touted experience is built, talking to legislators at all government levels, and they ask about what support you've got, it is not Amanda Vickstrom in there schmoozing, but Tink himself. Not being there myself, it is only a guess.

And well, that sure sounds like lobbying to me.

Perhaps the minutes are in error. I could not say, I was not there. But the usual process is all those who were there, on council, read and approve minutes - and that means a consensus the minutes are not in error.

Registered lobbying? That I do not know. But going in and schmoozing up a client's stuff to those with an appropriations vote - if not lobbying what is that called - filling out forms, redux? I don't think so.

And that bit, p.2, about "some things outside the federal appropriations we could work on," isn't the implication that the primary hinge of things IS inside the federal appropriations, and that is the Oberstar committee - a name that directly or indirectly apparently keeps arising.

When Amanda Vickstrom is not doing her cracker-jack job filling out forms, she is not wasting Tinklenberg Group time. Instead, a year ago, for example, she was on the road in Pine County with El, hustling more Tinklenberg Group cash flow, this time on Duluth-to-Twin-Cities rail possibilities.

Mr. Tinklenberg spoke on commuter rail stating that the present Burlington Northern Santa Fe line is rated a Class III line, maximum speed of 55 mph, which could easily be upgraded to a Class IV line for passenger service which is rated 75-79 mph. Mr. Tinklenberg stated that the Hiawatha Light Rail Transit line has had unrivaled success and public response, the rail carried 1 million passengers in the month of August (2006) alone. Mr. Tinklenberg stated they are coalescing support now to develop a corridor group to steer efforts, planning and engineering and the next issues would involve generating a Joint Powers Board agreement and combined participation in a technical feasibility study. Ken Buehler presented giving the history of the rail track and Union Depot in Duluth. Mr. Buehler stated that the Depot closed in 1969, but in its last 12 months there were 100,000 passengers through its doors. Mr. Buehler stated the proposed “Northern Express” rail line which would connect with the Hiawatha, Northstar and Central Corridor has secured 50% of funding needs for its initial study. Coordinator Stieben questioned contributions from any anticipated Joint Powers Board members clarifying that they would be responsible to subsidize the project. Mr. Tinklenberg stated that Amtrak’s Program 403B is the agreement with the State for appropriations. Mr. Tinklenberg stated the breakdown for the Northstar project being 50% Federal, 33% State and 17% local (Anoka, Sherburne and Hennepin Counties) funds. Coordinator Stieben questioned ridership numbers. Mr. Tinklenberg stated there will be a number of other stations, which have not been chosen yet. Mr. Ongaro stated efforts will focus on the first phase, which is first priority is inter-city rail, being much less expensive and the second phase being the evolution of commuter rail. Mr. Tinklenberg stated he would return to the Board in the near future with a draft of the Joint Powers Agreement.

Amanda Vickstrom was there. The minutes say so, even though it looks as if she did little of the talking. I have seen now two other names besides El Tinklenberg, as Tinklenberg Group personnel. For all I know it is him and seven dwarves. The only one seeming to do the talking, being quoted most frequently in the public in the course of hustling business opportunity, is Tinklenberg himself. Although Vickstrom was the contact person for a "presentation" I suppose you'd call it, per Larry Schumacher's blog:

Posted: 9/17/2007 at 3:17 PM

I got a postcard invitation to a forum next month hosted by the Tinklenberg Group, his transportation lobbying and consulting firm.

It's called "How local governments can advance transportation projects" and it's scheduled for 4 p.m. Oct. 25 at the National Sports Center in Blaine.

It says the forum is hosted and organized by "north metro transportation advocates" and mentions the (U.S. Highway) 10/169 Corridor Coalition.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

East Bethel queues up.

Yesterday's Anoka County Union, home delivered, had this to say:

East Bethel signs contract with Tinklenberg Group
Thursday, 17 January 2008

The East Bethel City Council at its Jan. 2 meeting approved a contract with The Tinklenberg Group to provide assistance applying for grants.

There is no flat rate for the contract, but it could not exceed an average of $3,000 per month. Some months will require more expenditures because of fluctuation in federal activities.

Staff of The Tinklenberg Group would work with East Bethel staff to identify and apply for state, federal and local grants or appropriations in the areas of utility infrastructure, roads, parks and open space.

According to a staff report, the firm would specifically help prepare the state 2009 reauthorization request to request Highway 65 improvements at Viking Boulevard, Klondike Drive, Sims Road, 221st and 237th avenues.

The municipal infrastructure funding is being pursued to help pay for the city’s new sewer and water utility venture.

The Tinklenberg Group would maintain contact with federal offices, congressional leaders and staff representatives for the House and Senate and work closely with Eighth District Congressman Jim Oberstar and his staff to garner strong support. Oberstar chairs the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.

The firm would include maps and graphics, resolutions of support, project information sheets and other documents in the applications to increase chances of receiving the funds.

The timeline calls for The Tinklenberg Group to compile appropriations and re-authorization applications over the next two months and mail the material in March. They would follow-up and answer questions with Congressional staff after that.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Interesting online local progressive grassroots commentary. Interesting online DCCC astroturfing.

No images here, this time. Other folks' ideas.

First, a recent post on mnpACT! a website I discovered, along with discovering the existence of the website, from reading commentary on Blue Man in a Red District.

"MN 6th District: Who Will Represent the 'Workingest' Families?"
By Dave Mindeman, whoever he is.

Someone I have not met, but his feeling: Bachmann is insensitive to worker plight, Olson is attentive, and Tinklenberg is MIA.


Minnesota Grassroots thought and effort. From right here, in Minnesota.

Also online and interesting, from some person at DCCC, located, you tell me where I can only guess, saying Tink is the best idea since sliced bread - posted on KOS.

DCCC being the Dem's nation-wide party organ of campaign opinion.

Who is "John Lapp, DCCC"? Besides a Tinklenberg pom-pom squaud groupie, or a DCCC functionary telling us folks how to view the world?

On a payroll somewhere? Helped to say what he says? In Ohio? Indiana? Omaha?

Perhaps - just perhaps - in Minnesota, that is a possibility.

But of a party affiliation - whereas I am independent, not in either party as a regular. But last cycle I caucused DFL and will do so again, as I find Michele Bachmann a weak and ineffective stereotypical idealogue too inclined to fiddle a lot while Rome burns.

But do we need DCCC people to lead us around, especially in light of the tepid help from that direction last cycle, after the people's choice at caucus left Tinklenberg to his lobbying and consulting? I don't need those people, that precedent, to tell me how to think or what's best for me.

And by the way - that "workingest" thing, does anyone know whether the workers at the Bachmann family clinic in Lake Elmo are still without any health insurance coverage - among that vast vexed and mistreated group having such a basic human need as medical attention left hanging? I wonder. I imagine that Tinklenberg paid staff have some kind of health coverage. If anyone knows, let me know. I recall last cycle not only the clinic workers but Bachmann paid campaign staff were reported to be without coverage.

Legitimate and illegitimate uses of Wellstone Green.

This is a legitimate use of Wellstone Green.

Is this a legitimate use of Wellstone Green?

Try this thought experiment:

An unaltere image of El Tinklenberg, Candidate for Congress.

The identical image, tarted up in Wellstone Green.

Does it look all that different? Does it sell? Should it resonate? Is it legitimate? How do you suppose the souls of the Wellstones feel about the matter?

Apologies to Wellstone regulars. I tried and tried to get a Wellstone green for the second image. I failed. All I could get, time and again, is a currency green, not a Wellstone Green. Sorry about that.

The twins were confusing to Alice. She could not understand what they had to offer.

Alice did not understand the twins. Not at all.

"Who again are you?" she asked.

I'm Union," the one twin replied. Almost in the same breath, "I'm Endorsement," the other said.

"Yes, they said together. You can trust Union Endorsement. Trust us." they said together.

"What do you want to know about transportation?" the one twin asked. "Bridge fell, all you need to know," the other said. Again, almost in the same breath.

"But, ..." Alice stammered, "But what about the revolving door, the group, the lobbying, yesterday's issues and stances?" Alice asked.

"No!" each said. "Not. Not. Not. Not." each said. "Group consults, consults, consults, consults." the one twin said. "Revolving door, its in the lobby." the other said, as an explanation.

"Elevator's in the lobby too," the first twin quickly added.

"Elevator hasn't fallen," the first twin added.

"Bridge fell," the second twin explained.

"Bridge fell, we filed, then unregistered - getting out of the lobby," they both said. "Not in the lobby, not by Christmas." they added.

"Check it out," they said in unison," "Used to. Used to. Used to." "You can't fault, used to," they noted.

"But that is all a bit confused to me," Alice admitted, "A bridge fell in the lobby?" she asked.

"No, no, no, no, no!" the twins said. "Bridge fell in the river, revolving door is in the lobby," they added.

"I am still confused," Alice added.

The first twin looked at Alice, and said, "One of the things you learn early in political campaigns is that you need to be able to say why you’re running in a clear, brief and convincing way. It’s called the “elevator speech” because it forces you to think about what you would tell someone you met in an elevator that would persuade them to support you before they got off. It’s a good exercise. It demands that you think through carefully your own motivations and values and goals. It’s not a sound bite, but rather a fundamental statement that lays out who you are and why you’re doing what you’re doing. This is mine: ..."

"Bridge fell, Union Endorsement, not a revolving door, no longer a lobby," the second twin quickly added.

"Elevator's in the lobby," the first twin said. "Elevator speech," the second added.

I really still am confused," Alice stammered.

"Bridge fell, Union Endorsement, not, not, not in the lobby, all you need to know," each twin said, a littled vexed at Alice's inability to understand.

This was sad. She was limited, she admitted, and simply could not understand, really, any of the Tweedle twaddle.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

El Tinklenberg. Not Lobbyist. Highway Man.

When you run MnDOT, I suppose you are not just a highwayman. You are THE highwayman.

Which brings to mind of course the tradition of the British highwayman.

And with that MnDOT footing to stand on, picture El, the consultant, the lobbyist --- pictured now, as the highwayman.

There is this to be said:

Beyond the law....

The dangerous figure in the road at night...the dashing and romantic gentleman thief...the loner on the run for a crime he didn't commit...the righteous rebel who rises from obscurity to help the less fortunate-- highwaymen are some of the most beloved and universal of archetypal heroes--or anti-heroes--that we know. Literature and media both about with the light-fingered gentry and artful dodgers, footpads, desperados, and other dashing, dangerous and fascinating miscreants.

Highwaymen thrived in England in the seventeenth and eighteenth century, becoming legendary and romantic figures. Highwaymen were "as common as crows" from around 1650 to 1800, and in an age where travel was already hazardous due to the lack of decent roads, no one rode alone without fear of being robbed, and people often joined company or hired escorts. No wonder then that travellers often wrote their wills before they set out....

Well, that "joined company and hired escorts," perhaps that's more El's cohort and associate, James Norman, paired pistols and all as legend has it.

But you sit in the seat of running the highways, you are THE Highwayman. No two ways about that. Perhaps in a different way than "Swift Nick" Nevison, who rode to fame, with the Lord Mayor as his alibi.

The Wrestler's highwayman. WOW! Working the highways still. Consulting.

Which all brings to mind the problems Dem politicos have with the highwayman thing, not just El because of where he used to work, but back in Seattle, Christy and I watching CSPAN, the Clinton '90's, Speaker of the House, Tom Foley from the Spokane area at the House microphone. She says, "Did he just say that!" I said, "Yes, he did just say that." And we were right because William Safire in a June 13, 1993 New York Times Magazine item wrap-up which is still online confirmed:


THE MOST ill-considered phrase uttered on the floor of the House of Representatives this year came from the Speaker himself.

Urging his fellow Democrats to support President Clinton's economic proposals, Speaker Tom Foley said, "This is the time to stand and deliver."

Presumably, the Speaker meant that the members must courageously stand up and be counted to deliver their votes. However, the phrase Stand and deliver! is the command of the highwayman holding up a horse-drawn coach. Its meaning was clear to every driver carrying valuable cargo: stand still and deliver up the gold and jewelry.

The phrase today still carries the connotation of mounted theft. It's not a locution a politician wants to apply to a representative's relations with the taxpayers.

The Tink. The Boss. Working on the highway laying down the blacktop
Working on the highway all day long I don't stop
Working on the highway blasting through the bedrock
Working on the highway
Working on the highway ...

Picture of the day. As if this were Architectural Digest.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Only because the bridge fell ...

Only because the bridge fell, is why I decided to run as puppet with the longest nose - oops, just got longer - but really, before that I had no thought - oops there it went again - I was happy being a consultant, not a lobbyist but a ... - oops, it grew again - hey I unregistered before Christmas, kinda like a New Year's resolution I intend to keep - oops, $4 grand a month out of Ramsey - but really when and if caucus results are fair I intend to abide by the endorsement, if fair, you have to believe that, even if another - oops it really grew longer on that one ...

Wait, wooden head, I might only be a chirping insect, but people died there, and it's no cause for opportunism. The more you say, the further away I get from you, just by standing firm where I am.

No Taxation Without Representation

In our childhoods, we learned that phrase from the pre-Revolution founding fathers.

"No Taxation Without Representation" per Wikipedia, was a championed phrase of James Otis, who disliked a British Parliamentary view of "virtual representation" and Otis is said to have summarized things as "taxation without representation is tyrany."

There are several historical sites on the web where the phrase leads via Google search, including Stamp Act history [paying a fee for official approval of documents, to be stamped, not unlike paying an official fee - a very costly official fee - to be hooked to the Met Council's sewer system]. Never mind, there surely are differences. Such as Met Council not being entirely equivalent to Colonial "virtual representation" but not substantially different, either.

Interestingly, James Otis had this to say:

The origin of government has in all ages no less perplexed the heads of lawyers and politicians, than the origin of evil has embarrassed divines and philosophers: And ’tis probable the world may receive a satisfactory solution on both those points of enquiry at the same time.

[italics emphasis in original]. While rhetoric was not unknown to the founding fathers, and Otis practiced what his contempories practiced that way, even if my rhetoric is no better, may my ending be better than his.

In 1769, at the height of his popularity and influence, Otis was pulled from the public stage. He had infuriated a Boston custom-house official with a vicious newspaper attack; the official beat Otis on his head with a cane. For the remainder of his life, Otis was subject to long bouts of mental instability. He was unable to participate in public affairs and spent most of his time wandering through the streets of Boston, enduring the taunts of a populace that had quickly forgotten his contributions. Otis was struck and killed by lightning in May 1783.

It is not exactly like being struck by a thought. Luckily neither the mayor nor Elvig, nor Tinklenberg [formerly until weeks ago - official lobbyist Tinklenberg, long a canditate before "unregistering" whatever actual change that makes] nor Jim Deal carry a cane. I will avoid nearness to Dan Erhart. Writing by some at that "founding-father" time, such as Otis, is wordy, indirect and hard to follow - something I, by directness, attempt to avoid.

At any rate, the lasting hook, the unerring truth of the phrase "taxation without representation is tyrany," haunts one with the question:

When is the last time you voted for a Metropolitian Council member? Or a member of the regional rail authority - that one or the other one - whichever it is that has instigated and imposed, doubled and assessed yet new taxes upon the innocent citizenry?

My simple recollection is never having seen any such matter on a ballot.

Not even a "virtual" ballot, for "virtual representation."

Just a tax and all, a father-knows-best from Dan Erhart, Tom Yantos, somebody. A mother-knows-best from Natalie.


Try this one instead. When is the last time you voted to have a palace by the tracks built that was going, according to latest budget news, going to sting everyone at around a half-million bucks a year just to keep even - to service debt?

Our esteemed council, giving us a "virtual referendum" apparently.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

The Elvig Town Center Task Force - Retrospective Cuts from the Web.

They say one picture is worth a thousand words. This is a test. Click to enlarge:

Yes. Uh huh. If you believe Tom Gamec. Town Center Tom. The only constant individual on the City of Ramsey Council from the Genesis of Town Center, to the Exodus of the Developers. Uh huh, Tom. And for others on Chairman Dave's hand-picked like-minded Town Center Task Force - the groupies - and their words (a thousand each, more or less):

Uh huh, Alena. Uh huh, Mary Jo. Those restaurants. That whammo boost to tax base. That getting it right the first time.

So, reader, you tell me, I did not count the words - but is one picture worth a thousand of the above?

Well, with Alena, we cannot in November 2008 vote her off the Council - she's not on it! But two out of three isn't bad. Joe Mauer only hits one out of three. And they say that's great.


It has to be said. Hunter's comments are most galling, ""Because of the location on the major arterial roads of Ramsey, we can keep traffic away from the inner core of our neighborhoods. We can concentrate a variety of housing choices in an area that is far removed from the center of our city, creating a larger tax base [etc., see the last image]."

This is the woman whose boss at the cabinet shop installed her on his Town Center Task Force, a body not going through any normal appointment process but hand-picked by who knows who; which David Elvig then used as his public-service springboard onto council where his first action, instigated prior to taking the oath of office was to get sewer-water routed to Jerry Bauer's gun club, (outside of which the one driving arrest incident in the wee hours of a weekday morning reportedly occured), to benefit the father-in-law's land interests, and when a tie-vote roadblock was encountered Bauer removed himself, somehow I do not know details, from chain-of-title with John Peterson carrying water; and sewer-water was routed, to use Alena Hunter's own [see last image] words, to "the inner core of our neighborhoods," and not at all as represented "far removed from the center of our city."

And look now at what is being lobbied for in the North End - north of Trott Brook.

Finally, almost coincidentally, where is that larger tax base, Alena? At the field of dreams where they bulit the Norman castle?

Get real. All of that stuff needs an airing. And pronto, Tonto. Delay and obfuscation, smoke and mirrors, will not do.

Garderners know, care and attention are needed to keep the garden's beauty prospering. And, turning a compost pile to air things out keeps it from getting too ripe. It's time for a turning - things are overdue for a turning.