consultants are sandburs

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Ramsey's early funding of Tinklenberg Group "services." On Jan. 28, 2003 it was a very quick turn-around after Tinklenberg's leaving MnDOT Oct. 2002.

Do we want an imprudent risk taker in Congress representing us? I do not.

And I think that a careful, prudent and conservative man, in Elwyn Tinklenberg's position back in 2003 and onward, would have been registered from the start as a lobbyist here, if for no reason but cya.

Here are the two relevant pages of meeting minutes, 28 Jan. 2003 (within a fiscal quarter of Tinklenberg Group's being incorporated by Elwyn Tinklenberg, Nov. 2002).

Here are the three relevant pages from the 249 page full agenda for the meeting.

Many questions are begged by the brevity of how things are stated, the vagueness of words, and how circumstances fit together.

What final picture would YOU paint?

I leave the reader to paint, I only note a few landscape highlights:

This involves the same James Norman who became a Tinklenberg Group associate after his precipitous job termination with Ramsey under rumored compromised circumstances. Apparently James Norman set up the consultancy arrangements between Tinklenberg and the city officials from the start, and papers show he was the City "Principal Contact" Elwyn Tinklenberg dealt with - closely - at relevant times. A citizen, Ed Hamilton, pointed out back then that Tinklenberg had left rattling skeletons at MnDOT on leaving and was under investigation, and questioned the wisdom of premature entry into a contract.

Federal "park and ride" grant dollars due Ramsey were being "frozen" by MnDOT, but with the consultancy set up officials then felt the impound would be released within a week, or at least MnDOT would be approached about it by the good mayor within a week. This was federal money previously under MnDOT jurisdiction, and the role of Tinklenberg in securing the money for Ramsey before leaving the agency, or in the interim, is unclear. The contract offer under Elwyn Tinklenberg's signature stated services rendered at $200/hr included, "Arrange a meeting with State transportation officials to clarify status of planning and schedule related to TH # 10," i.e., approaching the agency he had just left, where he was lead highwayman, and presumably arrangments so arranged by him at $200/hr might have involved park and ride fund unimpounding. I could not say, and I bet there's a scant paper trail if any.

Elwyn Tinklenberg could then have suggested that unimpounding step as proper, as Ramsey's spokesman and representative to the agency he had just headed.

Currently, he has just been lobbying for the Anoka County Regional Railroad Authority, until Dec. 2007, and in Jan. 2008 he signed up to represent Ramsey's chances for a rail stop where that very Railroad Authority had a voice in decision making. Isn't all that quite a liking for the revolving door, more than once, and each time, isn't that lobbying - first, in 2003, a state agency where he'd recently been lead dog? Don't you have to lawfully register to be doing that? Currently, lobbying to the folks the prior year he'd been lobbying for. That takes brass.

Now, with a total of over $840,000 having been disbursed from Ramsey to Tinklenberg Group from Jan 2003 onward, (some reimbursed to Ramsey from other public monies, but still it's public money from taxes being paid, since only the federal treasury prints money). And over $320,000 was cash squeezed from Ben Dover and others out here, unreimbursed from any other bigger tax cash pool.

Isn't the entire thing lobbying MnDOT at the start in 2003, and lobbying "local legislators" at present in 2008, and with the two pieces of bread of the sandwich being lobbying, what would YOU call the fillings?

Now, in fairness, some of the Ramsey or other taxed public money given Tinklenberg Group was reimbursement for prepaid expenses, as where the Highway 10 AUAR was involved. But the lion's share only went one place.

Met Council RALF funding was involved in some activity, and if playing a role in securing it was part of the services Ramsey was paying for, how could he do so without it being lobbying for Ramsey, to get money from Met Council, and for money to go to himself, indirectly, for "consulting services?"

Eight hundred forty grand is not chump change. Not even Randy Moss would call it pocket cash. Some kind of public justification for all this is overdue. Sunshine is the best disinfectant. Some kind of showing is overdue that of all that $800,000 in flowing cash there was not cause to register federally and with the state board, as a Ramsey lobbyist.

Perhaps there is an explanation.

Wouldn't you expect to hear it from Elwyn Tinklenberg before he suggests he's fit for your vote for Congressman?

I would.

Absent that, we have an alternative - there are two candidates, each in his own turn:

Bob Olson

El Tinklenberg

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

It is worth it to me to post, whatever it's worth to anyone else -- the transportation bill veto override. A thank-you to Abeler and Tingelstad.

I sent it as an email to their offices. They are busy and it will be monitored by staff in a pros and cons count if nothing else, but I took the time. Here's what I said:

Reps. Abeler & Tingelstad

Transportation bill veto override

Living in the Abeler district, neighboring the Tingelstad district, I anticipated you would be pressured to vote along partisan lines. You did not. I commend that.

As one who has not read the bill, and one who expects there would be much in it I could complain of, I nonetheless feel it worth the time to acknowledge that crossing party lines while in the Taxpayer League cross-hairs was NOT taking the easy choice.

As one highly critical of waste of taxpayer money, I am not one critical of taxation.

Waste is a separate question. Hiring lobbyists for what should not need lobbyists is another problem but nobody can fix all problems at once.

I have emailed Rep. Abeler once or twice in the past, about Viking Stadium visions and the need for referenda, in general, and about improperly conducted efforts at back door establishment of a Port Authority in Ramsey - another matter I feel merits a city referendum before it is done to people.

While not expecting agreement, I have gotten responses, information and reasons and I appreciate such effort during busy times.

Again, the vote should not have been as politicized as it was, fault exists with both parties for that, but I strongly support what each of you did and will say so publicly.

Are they from Oz, or Wonderland, or some place where they're being monitored by the men in black? Okay. I will show them a roadmap ...

An individual named Nikki Carlson indicated to me that Bob Olson is getting heat for challenging the Tinklenberg lobbying status, for challenging Tinklenberg's lack of candor in disclosing his status and history. Apparently it is something along the lines of why confront it, it's Tinklenberg's constitutional right to lobby, to be a lobbyist for a living, etc., etc.


So what?

Bill Clinton had a constitutional right to engage as he wanted with Ms. Lewinski, and John McCain had a constitutional right to do the same with a lobbyist so long as his vote and actions on issues were uninfluenced by close relationships, if any. And people have a right to question and vote or not vote for any candidate based on whatever they wish to use as basis for choice. I have had one voter explain a vote based on like/dislike of snowmobiles and snowmobilers. Bless them, it's their right to vote any sane or stupid way they wish and there's a reason for curtains around the voting booth.

The point is, Clinton was less than candid and took heat. McCain held a next-day news conference, not relying on a spokesperson or press release, and he basically said, "Blow it out your shorts." Tinklenberg so far, has put Wodele out, saying, "He does not have to register."

That begs the entire question of what lobbyist status Elwyn truly has, and if known, how would it and should it impact his electibility. That silence, says a lot. That hiding from the issue is a show of Tinklenberg's character and strength - and not a good one by anyone's honest measure.

To confront and disarm an issue is what McCain appears to have succeeded in doing, at least so far. To beg the question and leave a canyon-full of doubts hanging unanswered is the exact opposite - and shows indecisiveness and unwillingness to "stand the heat" so, in Truman's words, should Elwyn Tinklenberg have "stayed out of the kitchen?"

Now - the roadmap thing. Criticism of Bob Olson for saying the GOP will eat Tinklenberg's lunch if he will not even early-on clarify his status and activities before the "kitchen heat" of the general election is dialed up multiple notches.

If anyone from Oz, Wonderland, or an Achilian under the stewardship of the men in black is so clued out to the facts as to doubt that the specialized weapon is loaded and aimed squarely at Tinklenberg's forehead with the sniper simply not choosing now to fire, here is the roadmap; aka "Minnesota Democrats Exposed," a warning shot fired half a year ago:

Is there any way but one to read what that says? Dated August 2, 2007. Is it inexplicit? Of course not.

Bob Olson is doing Tinklenberg a major favor to test him in friendly fire. Doing Tinklenberg a favor in giving the opportunity to confess to friendly forces, same party, on an early timeframe, no Brodkorb waterboarding as yet, and anyone in the DFL who can see past the nose on his/her face should be thankful for what Bob Olson has had the courage to point out.

That pure. That simple.

Constitutional rights, wrongs, that's a total red herring. Will he end up anything but chopped liver after the GOP hatemongering's run its course is a more relevant question in weighing whether Tinklenberg is hurting himself and his party supporters by not coming clean about his lobbying and the wealth it has yielded him.

Again, that pure. That simple.

The man's been going collecting six-figure incomes saying he knows Jim Oberstar, intermixed for certain among many other more equivocal words, and is that his major qualification for office? If not, air the issue fully, defuse it, then move on. McCain did it without any currently apparent flak or blowback. There's something there El Tinklenberg should see. If he believes he's done nothing questionable, and that the questioning is somehow inappropriate, he's acting like Bambi in the headlights and keeping that course means Brodkorb will have his head over the mantle this fall, if he's DFL endorsed.

If Tinklenberg had not been over-ambitious or ill-advised, he'd have quietly tended to his cash cows and not attracted any real scrutiny, as was the case before his, "On, my, the bridge fell" opening act.

That earlier kitchen was not uncomfortably hot at all.

Tink could have stayed there humming his favorite hit songs from Broadway shows, whatever, and not been called to task while the money rolled in. But for reasons he understands better than I do he had ambitions, and now he has accountability issues to face. He brought it on himself, completely and out of ill-advised ambitiousness, and neither he nor hangers-on nor remote supporters nor strangers should be pointing at Bob Olson, saying, "Poor Tink."

It's a crock. It's like Humpty Dumpty deliberately took a jump, hollering on the way down, "Hey, ya'all, watch this."

THE STATE OF JOURNALISM IN AMERICA TODAY: What would Mark Twain say? How would he editorialize?

I thought nothing could be tackier than the El Tinklenberg campaign cash emailing posted just below, but, well ---

When you are wrong, 'fess up. Say, "I was wrong."

I was wrong. No longer any need to go to Wisconsin for tackiness, we have it, Hometown. Prove it for yourself without checking links, just click on each image to enlarge.

If you like to check links, then you don't have to take my word that such very dumb marketing exists in today's United States, alive and well, perhaps cherished, and we have a Hometown Source for it, here.

And, wow, that answers my worry. I don't have to send a fifty buck check to Tink because today is his birthday. I can get by for $13.95 [shipping and handling not included?] by using my trusted source of community news as vehicle to send him a Michele Bachmann mouse pad. Think about it. We live in the greatest nation in the best of times - Columbus, Lincoln, Catherine the Great, none of them had this opportunity.

We have it.

For only $13.95.

It brings a tear to my eye and makes me think fondly of Tom Waits' "Step Right Up" ballad.

Please note and appreciate, readers, my unauthorized use of the image and text could get me sued. It says so on the webpage. There is a fair use commentary exception in the copyright laws, and well, I rest on that because I think I am being fair to these purveyors of the press. Don't you think I'm being fair?

Monday, February 25, 2008

Want to win a Kitsch Kontest? Then top this clueless little hummer.

Trying to ferret out the truth about status, activity and earnings from possible Elwyn Tinklenberg lobbying involving City of Ramsey.

Here is the email I sent to officials today at the State's Campaign Finance and Public Disclosure Board; and it attaches in "meeting agenda" context the two page contract offer from Tinklenberg Group to City of Ramsey, dated "December 2007" with acceptance of the offer voted in a televised general city council meeting, Jan. 8, 2008, after the item was presented the City by Jodi Ruhele of Tinklenberg Group earlier that day at an untelevised work session (and a part of a public data disclosure request I sent last Wednesday to city officials that was appended at the end of the email also is given here):

Subject: Campaign Finance and Public Disclosure Board Complaint of Lobbyist Possible Misregistration and Request for Investigation of Same

Monday, Feb. 25, 2008

Joyce Larson
Compliance Officer
(651) 282-6894

Gary Goldsmith
Executive Director
(651) 296-1721

Jeff Sigurdson
Assistant Executive Director
(651) 296-1720

Campaign Finance & Public Disclosure Board

Kurt Ulrich
City of Ramsey
City Administrator
Phone: (763) 433-9845

Heidi A. Nelson
City of Ramsey
Assistant City Administrator
Phone: 763-433-9817

Diana Lund
City of Ramsey
Finance Officer
Phone: (763) 433-9847

Tinklenberg Campaign
Olson Campaign
Jodi Ruhele, Tinklenberg Group
Lora Pabst, Star Tribune
Brady Gervais. Pioneer Press
Tammy Sakry, Anoka County Union

Ms. Larson -

Attached to this email are the 15 pages of th City of Ramsey work session full agenda for 8 Jan. 2008, indicating a contract offer in two pages [p. 6-7] from Tinklenberg Group to City of Ramsey offering, among other things, lobbying services at federal and state levels legislative levels [sic] on behalf of Ramsey. At the general city council meeting, same date, the Council voted to accept the offer, hence forming a lobbying contract.

Text of that 2 page offering item from Tinklenberg as included in the agenda indicates that lobbying of federal and state legislators was anticipated, for a fee.

Elwyn Tinklenberg heads Tinklenberg Group, and is the Secretary of State's designee for incorporating the firm and reserving the trade name [November 2002].

Elwyn Tinklenberg is currently per the Board's Registration Number 3835 NOT registered as a lobbyist representing City of Ramsey before members of the State legislature.

I believe the evidence of entering at the beginning of the year into a lobbying relationship with Ramsey, with ongoing ties referenced and per an express written offer dated Dec.2007, the same month as Tinklenberg's closing down two other lobbying registration status items then existing, was not error but intentional decision to not register on behalf of Ramsey. The timing and the one act of board registration-related contact suggests that.

I am uncertain what accounting for time Elwyn Tinklenberg might/might not make for his nonregistration meeting some loophole exemption criteria, and/or his Group members not registering as paid Ramsey lobbyists. It appears there is prima facie evidence of a lobbying contract without registration; and how it might/might not fit a loophole within Lobbyist reporting/registration requirements per Minn. Stat. §10A and Minn. Rules Chapters 4501 - 4525 would not be for me to speculate not knowing all facts, but for Tinklenberg in responding to investigative inquiry to justify by opening his books and time records to prove an exception might apply to counter the prima facie showing. Without having all the relevant data available to me as the board has by request, subpoena or testimony under oath, I only raise the point that steps are needed while the matter clearly is of sufficient interest as a public integrity matter that I am requesting, by this email that there be an expeditious investigation of the time and earnings records of Tinklenberg Group.

Time is of the essence.

As a candidate seeking my vote to go to Congress, Mr. Tinklenberg's status is of interest to me as a voter having to make a choice, and to others so situated - and delay in investigating and reviewing Tinklenberg Group records would only cloud issues facing voters. I am certain Mr. Tinklenberg can make a prompt response.

If it might be helpful, in identifying City of Ramsey contact persons who could discuss Tinklenberg lobbying and/or other contracting with the Board or its staff, I am including below the dotted line the relevant part of a public data disclosure request I have pending with City of Ramsey. The text of my request speaks for itself.

I am copying this present email to Kurt Ulrich and Diana Lund, City officials, so that they have notice and can send the same data disclosure request responses they give me to the Board and/or its designated staff investigators. I believe the total amount my inquiry will uncover reaches well into six-figures and hence is anything but a de minimus or token amount.

Please do not hesitate to contact me if I can be of any further help to you beyond this opening act of "public participation" as that term is defined in Minn. Stat. Ch. 554. Finally, I am copying this email to a limited number of press people, who might report something of help to voters, and their public participation.

Also, for notice because of the political situation I am copying both DFL campaigns in Minnesota's Sixth Congressional District. Finally, I am copying this email to Jodi Ruehle of Tinklenberg Group, who I understand to be a major Tinklenberg Group operative regarding Ramsey, and who besides Elwyn Tinklenberg may be lobbying people on behalf of Tinklenberg Group.

I truly hope your immediate attention and investigation can resolve things in a way helpful to me and other voters.

Thank you.

Eric Zaetsch


Wed., Feb. 20, 2008

Heidi A. Nelson
City of Ramsey
Assistant City Administrator
Phone: 763-433-9817

Brian Olson
City of Ramsey
Director of Public Works
Phone: 763-433-9825

Diana Lund
City of Ramsey
Finance Officer
Phone: (763) 433-9847


Kurt Ulrich
City of Ramsey
City Administrator
Phone: (763) 433-9845

Jo Thieling
City of Ramsey
City Clerk
Phone: 763-433-9840

Amy Dietl
City of Ramsey
Records Management Clerk
Phone: 763-433-9830
E-mail: Pabst
Star Tribune

Brady Gervais
Pioneer Press

Lora Pabst
Star Tribune

Tammy Sakry
Anoka County Union

Olson Campaign

Jodie Ruehle
Tinklenberg Group

RE: Public Data Disclosure Request Directed to City of Ramsey

[1] This first request probably is best answered by Ms. Lund. I request the City or Ramsey to expeditiously send me a summary accounting, in as much detail as Ms. Lund has reasonable time for preparing, (it probably being merely a matter of generating a computerized database output record), of money disbursed by City of Ramsey to Tinklenberg Group for the range of time from October 2002 to the present. Itemization by each disbursement date and amount should not be burdensome; and at least month-by-month summaries are anticipated as minimal good faith compliance with the request. I anticipate this data could be provided within a week to ten days. If on any payments the city has acted as intemediary for actual disbursements by another entity [e.g., Met Council] please identify sufficient detail to understand such dealings, if there were any. Money to be paid over by Tinklenberg Group to third parties in the routine course of its business on behalf of the City, such as in relation to Highway 10 land purchases, rail authorities, etc., should also be segregated to make the accounting transparent and not misleading. Money routed through Tinklenberg Group for third party subcontractors [such as engineering firms on the Highway 10 AUAR effort] likewise should be suitably identified. Absent such precautionary steps, it might appear that Ramsey has paid more to Tinklenberg Group, itself, for its internal distribution to its employees, than was actually done, and public misconceptions that way are best guarded against and discouraged.

[2] This request probably is best answered by Mr. Brian Olson. [and is unrelated to the lobbying and lobbyist registration issue]. [...]

[3] Ms. Nelson, in the past you were designated as the lead person in handling public data requests, prior to the change in City Administrator, and I have seen no indication that anything that way has changed under Mr. Ulrich. In administering or coordinating the response to this public data disclosure request, please do not withhold a response to items [1] or [2] when available, if the other item response is still being determined. And, as always, a reasonable level or effort in response is all that is requested. It has never been my intent in any public data request activity to be burdensome, or to suggest untoward amounts of "research" be done by staff.

And thanks to each of you, in responding.

This email is directed to the person who I believe is still the designated city official to coordinate public data disclosure requests, Ms. Nelson. The inquiries are probably most easily answered by the Public Works Director, and the leading financial official of City of Ramsey, Mr. Brian Olson, and Ms. Lund, respectively.

Notice of the inquiry, which has some current political sensitivity, as a courtesy is sent to the City Administrator, and the City Clerk and a Records Official, for notice in the event action at that administrative level is required. Past email replies have worked nicely, either from Ms. Deitl via routing from others, or directly from others. I do not see any need to require my visiting City Hall to gain answers.

Additional copies are to a limited number of press members, should they be intersted, and to one DFL MN 6 campaign office. that of Bob Olson, per the email address given on his campaign website.

Each email recipient should expect I would forward materials in response to others. My belief is it would be most expeditious if Ms. Nelson simply did a blanket reply to all non-city recipients.


Any recipient of this email is authorized by me to forward this public data document disclosure request to any person or organization, without any prior notice to me. This includes any notice staff might wish in communications with City Attorney Bill Goodrich, and it includes any forwarded notice to other media outlets than those I have chosen. The responses, as answering a public data request, are public data, and freely distributable as such.

Thank you.

Eric Zaetsch
Resident and Voter
Minnesota's Sixth Congressional District
Ramsey, MN 55303

The Ramsey head of engineering and public works already replied on the taconite question. It is not speced nor barred for use in road work in Ramsey. He knows nothing of whether it ever was used here as paving aggregate or stored in the open exposed to winds, nor whether special asbestos-related precautions would be needed. It has been a non-issue in Ramsey and if pavers are using it in road work it is low-key and under the radar. The man is direct and prompt.

I await the financial information. It really was worded in a way that a single simple database or spreadsheet query could get me a prompt answer, with some detail. But I deliberately did not ask for anything too elaborate.

Given that the Board may now be interested, I hope the reply on the cost to taxpayers in Ramsey of its supporting Elwyn Tinklenberg in the lifestyle he likes can be reported.

Ben Dover, the Ramsey taxpayer, deserves to know, although he probably will never change his perpetual smile to a frown, over something as inconsequential as Elwyn Tinklenberg.

Don't ask me.

Go ask Ben. Sometime he, with that yellow-face smile, is more communicative than the city's on-staff public servants. But the open meeting law and public data disclosure law each was passed for a reason, so you might expect staff contact to sometimes require patience and persistence. I shall report results. If any.

It is noteworthy, that the City of Ramsey understood the proposal as one for lobbying services. Assistant City Administrator Nelson, in terminology approved by the City Administrator, presented the matter in writing in the worksession full agenda provided in advance to the seven city coulcilmembers, this way [empahsis added]:

Staff has met with The Tinklenberg Group and requested aproposal for work to be performed in support of lobbying and planning for a Ramsey Station on the Northstar Commuter Rail. The proposal from The Tinklenberg Group is attached for Council consideration Elwyn Tinklenberg will be present for the worksession discussion regarding Northstar and the plan to request and lobby for a Ramsey Station.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Bob Olson - he can lead. Beyond that, he can inspire. In comparison, how inspiring do YOU find Elwyn Tinklenberg? Think long and hard about it.

This started as a comment to a blueman post, overlapping another blueman post, and by the time I had typed it into the "comment" form I saw its length equaling a post. He posts there. I post here. So, that said, here are the thoughts:

First, there was blueman's post: "Anybody But Bachmann" Syndrome will fail concluding, "Of the 2 remaining candidates in the race for the DFL endorsement, Bob Olson is the only candidate that can beat Michele Bachmann..."

I agree entirely. Then there is the matter of Olson calling Tinklenberg out on his lobbying, and his hiding the truth about Tinklenberg Group and what it is beyond "a consulting firm" on transportation.

The idea that one of the two major parties can sweep and keep a majority with a "lesser of evils" strategy and a mediocre but not blatently offensive candidate offering has never seemed sound to me. It allows the Dick Nixons and Spiro Agnews into things, to monkey around until thrown out in disgrace.

For the district -- The more I learn, the more compelling the question becomes in my mind, "Is Tinklenberg really the 'lesser evil' to Michele Bachmann?"

Too many people just seem to presume so. I am not totally certain.

It is a hard, daunting and discouraging question to even have to think about now, and one Sixth District voters should never have to face November 2008.

So DFL folks, get off the dime.

Fix it.

There's a sound alternative in the DFL mix.

Tinklenberg cannot defeat Bachmann.

Bob Olson might not be able to. That is a reality. Bachmann defeated Wetterling, a strong candidate who did not run a strong campaign. But Olson's integrity and the soundness of his vision has earned him the chance to try.

Tinklenberg on the other hand is just so much damaged goods looking to advance. Selfishly so, putting personal ambition over and beyond what's best for his party and his district.

Olson has none of the downside baggage Tinklenberg has. He has shown strong leadership potential, and a willingness to seize an issue that others might shy away from. In particular, it took courage for Olson to publicly call Tinklenberg to task for hiding who he is from the voters, his lobbying and the truthful dimensions of its extent, profitability, conflicting interests, and its duration and present continuance.

Tinklenberg has so far only ducked and covered. Ducking and hiding from a direct confrontation is not courage, it is cowardice. It is not the kind of bold and dynamic leadership and honest demeanor you'd want in Congress.

At least not that I'd want.

And if you would doubt that Bob Olson has the vision to call things as they are, and to know how they should be, there is his latest press release to ponder.

Members of Congress swear an oath to “support and defend the Constitution,” but this hasn’t stopped many of our representatives and senators from trampling on the very rights that make our country great.

By ignoring the principles set forth in the Declaration of Independence and codified in the Bill of Rights, Republicans and Democrats have compromised the basic strength of our nation.

Each time we consider retroactive immunity for the telecommunications companies that aid-and-abet the Bush administration’s assault on our freedoms, we weaken our country.

When we turn a blind eye to warrantless wiretapping, the suspension of habeas corpus and kangaroo courts for terror suspects, the killers who attacked us on Sept. 11, 2001, score a cheap victory.

Declaring the Constitution negotiable compromises our moral leadership in the world.

And casting aside our fundamental rights is an affront to America’s special place in history and denigrates the sacrifice hundreds of thousands of our service people made so we could remain free.

Bob Olson will not stand by and allow the Bill of Rights to be ignored for any reason because Benjamin Franklin’s basic truth of the 18th century is just as relevant now:

“Any society that would give up a little liberty to gain a little security will deserve neither and lose both.”

photos from the Olson campaign website

Congressional candidate Elwyn Tinklenberg ponders the Tinklenberg Credibility Gap.

[click here]

Mainstream Media covers the Tinklenberg Credibility Gap.

[click here]

online original photo by MIT Prof. & optmization guru, Dimitri Bertsekis.

Friday, February 22, 2008

The two proposal pages from Tinklenberg Group to City of Ramsey, for lobbying for a Northstar stop in Ramsey.

Blueman posted about hits on his site, people wanting the below info, so I downloaded it again from the City of Ramsey documents via its LaserFiche portal - (where you cannot send a URL link to a page or page range) - and I post below the two pages submitted to the city from Tinklenberg Group. I do this as a public service. I will email blueman that he can update his post by adding a link to this:

One thing that fell between the cracks, about Tinklenberg's love of lobbying, that language on p.2, about communicating with local legislators. That's state level lobbying. The thing was written Dec. 2007, when Tinklenberg was unregistering as a lobbyist for the Anoka County Regional Railroad Authority at the same time as he was proposing to lobby for Ramsey to Northstar decision makers and federal and state legislators. His State lobbying reporting does not reflect his taking on the additional paid burden to "communicate with local legislators ..." in promoting the dog and pony show to get a trainstop. This is false by omission, not correct, that way. It does not list the truth that he is getting money, per the pages above, to "communicate with local legislators ...".

The man truly does appear to have problems with the entire truth, something that has been publicly and explicitly charged recently.

Then, that entire p.2 "Funding" section reeks to me of lobbying. And if he does not lobby in Washington DC, what "Washington DC staff" is the last bullet item under that heading talking about?

Ghosts and hobgoblins, not real people?

Does he mean he doesn't personally travel but he pulls the strings from here, moving the puppet(s) there? He lobbies through subcontractors is what the truth appears to be, if not by direct Tinklenberg Group employees stationed on the Potomac?

He does not say DC affiliates. DC staff, he says. Do they bill Ramsey directly, or through Tinklenberg Group, as subcontractors? Or will that change once the question's public? He does say he's a candidate for change. And for hope. He probably hoped those pages would get lost somewhere between getting the contract and facing the wording used to get it. That kind of hope. A hope that like charity, begins at home.

Question of the day: What equivocation and petty distinctions will this man and his spokesman now offer, if asked about that wording they, no one else, chose?

We wait.

We see.

NOTE: To better understand things about the document discrepancy Blueman notes, have a look at the two comments I put at Blueman's post (giving a possible explanation of the discrepancy he noted that exists between "agendas" and "full agendas" in Ramsey-speak, and why the two versions do not equal each other - plus my guesses about possible explanation, with guessing all I can do because I have no first-hand insider knowledge of actual cause and effect).

No point repeating something over there again here, so have a look, his post plus my possibly helpful comments.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

If we send them to Congress, how would they vote on environmental issues?

At right, taconite mine tailings of the kind used in roadbed and paving experiments during Elwyn's Tinklenberg's stewardship as head of MnDOT.

A cliche is, "It's not in my district." It is not in Minnesota's Sixth District where the two DFL hopefuls are Bob Olson from the St. Cloud area, and Elwyn Tinklenberg, from Anoka County.

But it is in Minnesota, and it is a concern that reaches beyond traditional taconite and taconite tailings use in roadways, iron from and jobs in the Iron Range, and such.

It is in the Eight District, and it is a concern to environmentalists there.

Potential New and Different Mining in the Iron Range. I ask and would want to see the press asking too, not only for the Sixth District but for the other districts besides the Eighth, what position, if any, do the candidates have.

In particular, El Tinklenberg might have his views influenced by James Oberstar; and it would be something Sixth District voters should want to know - what is the Oberstar-Tinklenberg view of potential nickel and copper mining, its aspects, its problems, its impacts, and its worries?

And to whatever extent there is not a joint Oberstar-Tinklenberg opinion, and candidate Tinklenberg is not in lockstep with incumbent Oberstar; that is news and mining related questions are something candidate Olson should also be asked. My expectation would be that differences would be minor but telling. I expect Olson would have a more detached view, apart from jobs-for-the-Iron-Range being a myopic and governing concern. However, his advocacy of energy independence and energy alternatives - such as wind energy's potential for weaning foreign oil dependence and for creating manufacturing job potentials in Minnesota, is an advocacy that has to realize that copper and nickel are important for plant and equipment bearings, stainless and other specialty steels, and for equiping wind turbine generation sites and for arranging transmission grid access and management expansions. Any wind turbine, even a single small scale site, would involve clutching and control, generator internals where nickel might be a permanent magnet alloy component, and copper is the element of choice for coil windings. Without mining, recycling alone would be relied upon, and with an expanding world and competing nations, growth of the metals in use and available would be necessary. From that practical perspective, Olson would more likely be in favor of a studied and cautious approach - with minimized long term environmental downside, whereas Tinklenberg would want more jobs in Oberstar's district yesterday with myopia toward downside risks.

Sierra Club has scant reporting of details, online here. I do not pretend to have expertise on these issues, nor do I suggest that a broad perspective can be attained only by reading what Sierra Club, and environmental advocacy group, has to say. Nor is the Daily an unimpeachable source, particularly with only a precursory article on the question that I am aware of.

At right, roadbed filling and grading work on Highway 53, using taconite tailings as gravel aggregate for the project, again work done during the Tinklenberg leadership of MnDOT, a time when engineers and contract personnel were involved in road work and experimentation effort aimed at solving the tailings problems in mining regions of the Eighth Congressional District.

It is a matter of statewide concern, and mining is part of interstate commerce - meaning the federal hand holds sway, regardless of what our state legislature and state officials might think or prefer.

All of us should be concerned enough to ask Strib and PiPress - what are the candidates for federal office saying about expansion of mining beyond iron-from-taconite, with all its asbestos fiber worries, which has been a question that has been off-and-on a front burner issue in Minnesota, while always at least stewing on the backburner when not a headline grabber statewide.

What do the candidates think? What questions are the mainstream media asking?

This is where mainstream media could shine. People return their phone calls. People take their inquiries seriously.

The home network work station I have been using malfunctioned, to the extent I could not, (without a reboot that would be a problem with other items being worked on), open three downloaded and saved MnDOT documents in order to review them intending to cite actual photo credits, dates, etc. There shall be a second update paragraph here, once I access the items. It is possible I misattributed the photographs, and if so, I shall clearly correct any error.

Grab a microphone in your right hand, ditch the jacket and red power tie if you wore one, roll up your sleeves, listen, and communicate.

How do you weigh leadership potential? Vision? By the committee a candidate says he would sit on, if elected? By who someone says he knows? Is there more to it beyond that?

Is it only something I see in two similarly composed photographs, or is there a common, intense, intelligent, wholly trustworthy, universal, human, reliable aspect to these two office seekers that appears rare to see, in office seekers?

Would you rather do business with either of these guys, than Hillary Clinton or Elwyn Tinklenberg?

If they were doctors, cardiac surgeons, would you feel comfortable going under the knife without a second opinion? Would you rather trust in Hillary or El cutting and stitching at you while bleeding and under anesthesia? Whose sponge count would you rather trust before the final sew-up?

Tinklenberg as Obama, is not just selling a false image of "change" and "hope" but is disrespectful of our basic intelligence.

Change we CANNOT believe in.

The man, Tinklenberg, not just Obama, claims to be selling hope for change.


Tinklenberg does say that of himself.

A new fresh option. A new face. New faces are needed, he says.

Really -- no fooling, Elwyn says it here.

“The bridge collapse should forever be a reminder to those of us in public service, that keeping the people safe is our ultimate responsibility. When our political system becomes paralyzed in polarization it can often be at the expense of keeping our families safe. I knew that day that I needed to continue a quest I started over two years ago. My goal then was the same as it is today—to change the direction of this country,” he added.

Alluding to inaction on issues of most importance to the working families of the sixth district, Tinklenberg said even more new faces are needed in congress.

Clearly,” Tinklenberg went on, “our current representative from the sixth district did not get the message that people want action and accountability—not acting. They want facts—not fiction. They want production—not pandering. They want hope—not hassle. And they want it now—not later.”

“In my experience as a minister and a public official, I can tell that whether it is in their personal lives or in their roles as citizens, more than anything, people want hope. They hope for a better, more secure life for themselves, their families and their fellow man,” said the former Mayor.

“To that end,” he said, “I am running to provide the people of the sixth district more hope and fewer hassles. Hope for an immediate long range plan for safer and less congested transportation systems, hope for better jobs, secure health care for their families, and policies that protect and preserve our natural resources. And finally, hope for more professionalism and results.”

I promise you, that as your representative in congress, I will not stand by and let this opportunity pass. I will always remember that bridge and the message from the people who where [sic] so moved by its collapse,” Tinklenberg said.

Bombastic, isn't it? And if there were people "so moved by its collapse," say it, instead of "where moved," because when the bridge fell, "where moved" was downward and rapidly, for those on it when it fell.

Proofread your stuff, El, it would show the professionalism we hope for, in a candidate for Congress.

But baseline El Tinklenberg message: I am to hope for a change, based on you, El?

That's the theme?

Okay, I can hope. I hope you lose, big time, for pushing that brand of pure horsec**p as if it were sincere truth. There are two major "changes" that come to mind to me regarding El Tinklenberg, the change to an unprecedented use of no bid contracts while heading MnDOT, and the change of unregistering himself as a paid lobbyist just before last Christmas and after declaring himself a candidate for Congress - but only several profitable Tinklenberg Group months after that "because the bridge fell" rhetoric was spooned out, as quoted above [WCCO reported the "bridge fell" press release-theatrics-statement Oct. 1, 2007; while it was about a full fiscal quarter for Tinklenberg Group before the officially admitted lobbyist status was unregistered, Dec. 20, 2007].

Not letting the opportunity pass you up, El, that part from your website quote I believe you believe in most fervently - and the "opportunity" being a "quest" of yours for a time range lasting beyond the last two years, that too I believe you believe, El. After all, here is your 2006 web image, courtesy of the WayBack archiving service, as Congressional Candidate Tinklenberg back then, without any bridge to blame for the compelling ambition:

Not much of a change from then to now, is there? Hope, yes your hope was the same back then before the popularity, integrity, and quality of Patty Wetterling derailed your express train to the House Transportation Committee seat you covet. And while the above quoted website text does talk of a "quest" of more than two years duration, WCCO reports the story of the reluctant Tinklenberg - not questing for years after being unhorsed by the believably sincere Ms. Wetterling - but reluctantly being pushed into fresh, new decision making, by circumstance:

Tinklenberg decided against running earlier this year, but said he changed his mind on Aug. 1 when he heard of the bridge disaster while eating dinner with his family.

"All of us knew that we could no longer tolerate sitting by while so many things were happening in our country that were the result of a kind of inattention that we were facing in our infrastructure," he said at a Capitol news conference, flanked by about three dozen supporters including red-shirted union workers.

Tinklenberg, of Blaine, now heads a consulting firm that specializes in transportation. [nothing said about ongoing registration as a lobbyist]

Perhaps lobbyist friends Ray Bohn and Jon Bohn were at that fateful family dinner? Jon Bohn who was the focus of some untoward "infiltrator effort" accusations by Michele Bachmann against the Wetterling campaign last cycle. And also, those Red Shirted Union Workers? Like the Wobblies or something? At least no dog and pony in red, (nor tarted up more insultingly in Wellstone Green either); but, El, was that thought there, and simply left out as bad theater?

Change, real change out of you El --- why in the world would anyone believe that?

The idea of Elwyn Tinklenberg representing change, rather than a clear perpetuation of a flawed revolving-door career-politician-&-lobbyist status quo, is counterfeit and preposterous.

To coat-tail on Obama, first, Elwyn, lose eighty pounds of portly white middle age Anoka County ol' boy girth and then cut the pretty hair shorter.

Yet, even then, Elwyn, will it sell?

Will the public really buy into "hope" and "change" from a career politician, old Anoka County style -- as in Rod Grams, Dan Erhart, the Weaver family, Arnie Cox, Tom Gamec, James Norman?

IN CONTRAST, to the peapod; here, is Obamamania,

rock-star like in its images, production, utilization, delivery and acceptance - you believe because you want to believe. You are willing to suspend disbelief.

It will be a departure from a stale, known status quo.

A willing suspension of disbelief. Perhaps the status quo might, for once not prevail. You make that jump of faith. That investment of faith --

For Obama.

For Tinklenberg? Bona fide change? From Tinklenberg? Get real. The man embodies a stale, known status quo. The status quo is his essence. There is no departure in him, from that.


Want to believe?

Try this.

Not this.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

The Revolving Door Working Group

Above, the image of revolving door lobbyist Elwyn Tinklenberg, currency green.

If you are like the DFL boss-crowd thinking the revolving door is not that bad if it's a DFL'er walking thorugh - aka the "double standards crowd" who earlier denounced the GOP lobbying machine, and if you, like them, feel it would be no harm for James Oberstar having two votes, his and Tinkklenberg's just as now there is Kline with Bachmann as Kline's second vote - then don't read further.

The remainder of this post is not directly about Tinklenberg. His name is seldom used. It is more generic. It is about perniciousness and the revolving door. It is about how the revolving door will not be curbed (or stopped if ever) until people with integrity and determination gain strength to curb if not stop things.

The post is about the Revolving Door Working Group.

You can follow the link or read further.

Before commenting on the Group itself - first this historical note from Russ Feingold - our Wisconsin neighbor with a conscience and courage. This is his 2005 inaugural statement for the group still posted on the Project Vote Smart website. It also is independently still posted by Feingold himself:

Speaker: Senator Russell D. Feingold (WI)
Title: Statement of U.S. Senator Russ Feingold On the Need for Lobbying and Ethics Reform
Date: 10/26/2005

Statement of U.S. Senator Russ Feingold On the Need for Lobbying and Ethics Reform

Revolving Door Press Conference

Good afternoon. I am pleased to join Public Citizen, Common Cause, and other members of the Revolving Door Working Group to announce the release of their new report. And I'm glad that my longtime friend and colleague, Mr. Meehan, is here as well. We have a pretty good track record working together on reform legislation.

Issues relating to the so-called "revolving door" are a significant component of the problems with lobbying that have gained a great deal of attention in the past year or so. I think we are rapidly approaching a tipping point, where the public will become fed up with the status quo and demand reform. This report will add a lot to the effort to pass legislation to address the problem.

The revolving door is a problem for two basic reasons. First, because of the revolving door some interests have better access to the legislative process than others. Former members and staff, or former executive branch employees, know how to work the system and get results for their clients. Those that have the money to hire them have a leg up. The public perceives this as an unfairness in the process, and I agree. Decisions in Congress on legislation, or in regulatory agencies on regulations or enforcement, or in the Defense Department on huge government contracts should be made on the merits, not based on who has the best connected lobbyist.

The second problem with the revolving door is that it creates the perception that public officials are cashing in on their public service, trading on their connections and their knowledge for personal profit. When you see former Members or staff becoming lobbyists and making three, four, or five times what they made in government service, that just looks bad.

Both sides of this coin combine to further the cynicism about how policy is made in this country and who is making it. That, ultimately, is the biggest problem. The public loses confidence in elected officials and public servants. That is why this was one of the very first issues that Sen. John McCain and I worked on together back in 1995. And it remains a problem today; indeed it has become an even bigger problem as shown by the report released today.

The Lobbying and Ethics Reform Act that I have introduced, S. 1398, includes provisions intended to get at the revolving door. So does a bill introduced by Representatives Meehan and Emmanuel in the House. As we move forward, we will look carefully at the recommendations contained in this report.

I have now been in Congress for nearly 13 years. I have learned that there is much about the way things work here that the public doesn't like. But there is also a lot that they don't know about. That is why reports like this are so important. They inform the public, and once the public sees what is going on, it demands change. We saw it with the gift ban and lobbying disclosure a decade ago. We saw it with campaign finance reform a few years ago, and I think we are going to see it very soon with the revolving door and other problems with lobbying in this town, including the excesses made notorious by the Jack Abramoff scandals.

So I want to thank again this Working Group for work and their report. I look forward to working with them and trying to pass legislation to address this significant issue. Thank you.

Emphasis added. And for those who thought I would not mention Tinklenberg so soon again, well - I am weak and cannot hold off. I have to mention Tinklenberg one more time in closing the Feingold theme - the contrast between a Russ Feingold or Paul Wellstone with this man Tinklenberg and his Bohn family "two-generations" of ATV tear up the countryside lobbyist ties.

There is that language Feingold used that fits the currency-green revolving door would-be-Congressman, about how his revolving door persona and action "creates the perception that public officials are cashing in on their public service, trading on their connections and their knowledge for personal profit."

If Elwyn Tinklenberg in his going about getting Tinklenberg Group contracts from municipalities wanting their highway projects to gain special attention from funding sources, is not "cashing in" on his public service and trading on his connections and his knowledge "for personal profit," then, you tell me - what else is it?

Fact is - it's nothing but a currency colored revolving door, the image that Tinklenberg, his group, and the complicit short-sighted groups that have endorsed him for God knows why, would take to Washington with him if endorsed in the caucuses, except that Bachmann and the cash trove she has amassed will be deployed unceasingly to be saying largely what I have been trying to say over the past few weeks - damaged goods, too much baggage, a problem now in exploiting past service, and a likely bigger problem a few years from now when redistricting might remove the man after a single term but also after he has amassed a greater nationwide range of contacts much as his time in MnDOT has benefitted him since leaving there in October 2002 and, within a month, incorporating and reserving the trade name - the name used in his commerce - "Tinklenberg Group."

And unlike the Tinklenberg Group being a revolving door group, the Revolving Door Working Group is the antithesis of the Tinklenbergers - the RDWG folks are the good guys. They wear the white hats, ride the better looking horses, and shoot straight.

Tinklenbergers probably hope Tink himself is to play a bigger role on a bigger lobbyist stage. He and they probably anticipate the promise going to Congress holds for Elwyn Tinklenberg - and his groupies - building the rolodex swat, on the public's nickel, nailing down a federal pension, and learning more about K Street. Whether he says that is an aim, or not, it surely is a possibility and one he's so far not renounced or equivocated over - just get the endorsements, control the caucuses, deal with Bachmann, one step at a time.

The Revolving Door Working Group.

Again, the website is here. Please go there. Download the report, How The Revolving Door Undermines Public Confidence In Government, and What To Do About It. Read the report. And get incensed.

Money talks and all else walks. Three revolving doors are noted on the RDWG site, the third being Tinklenberg's although it is municipal, not corporate clients:

The Government-to-Lobbyist Revolving Door, through which former lawmakers and executive-branch officials use their inside connections to advance the interests of corporate clients.

Wodele, spokesperson for Tnklenberg, is reported to have claimed the man has no need to register as a federal lobbyist. Why, what factual basis or possible loophole chapter and verse, Wodele has not said, or not been quoted as saying. Just, "Don't worry, be happy."

The RDWG wants to tighten loopholes:

While some observers argue that such movement between regulatory roles and regulated industries ensures that policymakers bring expertise and understanding to their oversight functions, there is ample evidence to suggest that the revolving door more often creates at least the appearance of serious conflict of interest.

The Revolving Door Working Group (RDWG) investigates, exposes and seeks remedies for conflict-of-interest problems such as loopholes in revolving door laws, inadequate disclosure, and other issues associated with the improper influence of the regulated community over the regulatory process. RDWG has just produced a white paper on the issue, entitled: A Matter of Trust: How the Revolving Door Undermines Public Confidence in Government, and What to Do About It. The paper includes a comprehensive review of problems associated with the revolving door, and proposes the following measures to tighten ethics rules, eliminate loopholes, and reduce conflicts of interest:

* consolidation of ethics oversight entities in the executive branch and in Congress;

* granting the consolidated entities greater oversight and enforcement powers;

* standardization of conflict-of-interest rules throughout the federal government;

* adoption of procedures that would allow the Office of Government Ethics to rule a person ineligible for a certain post if that person's employment background would tend to create frequent conflicts with the rule requiring impartiality on the part of federal employees;

* strengthening of recusal rules that bar appointees from handling matters involving their former employers in the private sector, including mandatory recusal on matters directly involving one's employers and clients during the 24-month period prior to taking office;

* monitoring of recusal agreements by the Office of Government Ethics;

* prohibiting, for a period of time, senior officials from seeking employment with contractors that may have significantly benefited from policies formulated by those officials;

* restricting the granting of waivers that allow public officials to negotiate future employment in the private sector while still in office;

* extending the period during which officials cannot engage in lobbying after leaving office and expanding the scope of prohibited activities;

* requiring federal officials to enter into a binding ethics "exit plan" when leaving the public sector to clarify what activities will be prohibited;

* revoking the special privileges granted to former members of Congress while they are serving as lobbyists; and

* improving the reporting and disclosure of recusal agreements, waivers, lobbyist reports and other ethics filings.

The Revolving Door Working Group's recommendations do not seek to disqualify all private-sector veterans from government service, nor do we suggest that federal officials be completely barred from moving to the business world. Yet there is clearly a need to strengthen the existing regulatory framework covering revolving door activity and to tighten its enforcement. Doing so will go a long way toward restoring integrity to the federal government.

Restoring integrity to the federal government is a good aim, and however slow it may be, doing it one lobbyist at a time - starting with Elwyn Tinklenberg, also is a good aim.

The RDWG includes a number of public interest groups, there are related online resources, it reports on South Dakota Sen. John Thune who made the door revolve the way Tinklenberg wants to - from lobbyist to legislator, and the RDWG's contact people include Craig Holman of Public Citizen who has been quoted as concerned over the Tinklenberg status and whether facts would show a need to register - or to at least have his situation vetted that way.

It looks like a class act, out to police and curb crass acts. We all should appreciate that people exist in DC who are on the side of the good and the clean. There are DC people who wear the white hats, ride the better looking horses, and shoot straight and we are fortunate to have them.

Friday, February 15, 2008

What progress is being made, DC, in this GOP Justice Department, after the local U.S. Attorney kicked it upstairs?


Click on the above image to read it. It is the letter to me from local U.S. Attorney Frank J. Magill, Jr., indicating the Justice Department's Office of Legislative Affairs would be expected to act, presumably conscionably and promptly - time being of the essence with Minnesota Sixth District caucusing already underway - to resolve the ethical lobbying registration issues concerning DFL Congressional candidate, Elwyn Tinklenberg, that Jerry Hiniker and I raised, by letter.

It now appears that public interest advocates in DC have opinions that Justice should get off the dime, now, and forward the matter to the proper organs of the two houses of Congress. And NOW! Any delay could be viewed as a tawdry partisan effort to allow Tinklenberg to capture his party's endorsement, and then to drop the shoe.

That would be a GOP Justice Department timing things to help a GOP incumbent in the general election, and Justice herself would slink into a corner, put down the sword and scales, and weep.

So ---- Yo, DC folks, it is there in the Bush Administration Justice Department. So, move it along. It does not deserve to die there, or be politically timed to sandbag the other political party. Burying it or tactically timing it, either course, would be wrong and shabby.

And Jerry and I appreciate the attention other blogs have given our effort; Blue Man, linked to above, Political Muse, here. If a tree falls in the woods and nobody is there to hear it, it is only one downed tree.

One can be ignored. Many voices, asking for a fair and prompt inquiry by the proper Congressional offices might be heard by both the Justice Department legislative affairs arm, and by Clerk of the House and Secretary of the Senate staff.

BOTTOM LINE: The error is Tinklenberg's, or not, but put pedal to the metal - get out the litmus paper - put the feet to the fire - listen to the voice of the people - whatever is needed - pick your cliche - BUT get off the dime.