consultants are sandburs

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Middle class families are feeling the squeeze. It is a social good, more important than good roads, and the State should pay for it. End of story.

Strib online, April 29, 2009, reports:

Student debt is soaring -- it has risen 157 percent in the state over the past decade -- as college costs advance at a rate far exceeding family income. Undergraduate tuition at the University of Minnesota, for example, has doubled this decade.

Next fall, for the first time in the University of Minnesota's history, students will shoulder more of the university's budget than the state will. As student borrowing swells, and state aid to campuses contracts, middle-class families are feeling the squeeze most.


That is prompting tough new questions about how colleges and universities are managing their budgets. Rising tuition costs and record student debt also are leading many American families to conclude that a college education is slipping out of reach -- even as they admit it's more essential than ever.

"Nothing is too shocking in terms of student loans," said Paul Raymond, a Lutheran Social Service of Minnesota financial counselor who advises students at the U. "It's not a surprise to have 60-plus thousand dollars in [student] loans."

Pawlenty and his squeezing the future skilled labor pool, the pool of educated workers needed for our State's young people to fill jobs in order for us to capably meet needs in Minnesota for the teaching of new K-12 generations and for a skilled high tech employment pool to keep the economic engine humming, eating the seed corn that way, is plainly reprehensible.

The man should hide his face in shame.

Those in the legislature not supporting scholar well-being are equally repugnant.

Do the right thing, and do it now. Neither this state nor the nation can make it by relying on ever greater numbers of nonimmigrant temporary visa workers, as nurses, as power engineers, as professors in our colleges. We should be making it easier for our college-age children to learn and earn in Minnesota, to stay here and contribute to the entire social well-being of state and nation.

Instead, roadblocks are thrown in the way of our best and brightest. Except for children of the rich, we are putting all the rest of us in peril.

It is stupid and it will lead to economic decline as a certainty, if not to a massive economic failure and ruin with the Chinese and Indian nations gaining preeminence at our expense, and the US risking being a has-been used-to-be great nation.

See, here, here, here and here for a vignette view from earlier in the decade of a troubling current situation that can only worsen, the worse we treat our native-born young scholars.

I am not saying discriminate against foreign talent, rather, foster and don't impede the growth of this nation's young people into skills that they and our society will need, to maintain ourselves as a prosperous, good place to live and raise family.

TELEVISION - A universal educator for our nation.

And this is NOT anyone's photoshopping, the actual link is given at the end. First, remember the spy farce, "Get Smart?" These images, here and here:

Now this, your tax dollars at work:

The link?

The real truth about Hoot and Smalley - and don't take my word for it, ask Michele Bachmann.

The latest Michele Bachmann gaffe [yes there is yet another] is the doyeen of misspeaking giving a fractured history lesson; read about it here, here, here, here, here, here, and here.

Indeed, a Google yields a gaggle of Hoot Smalley reports, this one via a screenshot for example, but none tell the complete true story. [click the image to enlarge]

The two gentlemen pictured above, well, not Hoot and Smalley, but Smoot and Hawley - were tariff act authors during the Hoover presidency, not Roosevelt's, and now the further truth - each grew a beard and they formed a rock-n-roll band:

And ---- Don't take my word for it. Ask Michele Bachmann.

OBJECTIFICATION - So who pays for how NASCAR race cars are tricked-out and decorated?

This link.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Diamond City Bread. In Elk River. The best bakery in Minnesota's Sixth Congressional District.

If you already know the place, this is preaching to the chior.

If you go there a first time, tell them Crabgrass sent you - Crabgrass made you do it. Using the first generation Sony digital camera that gives fuzzy but usable images, this counter top photo gives a hint of the product appeal, with butter dish and coffee brewer in the background for scale (click to enlarge).

Next, what can you get and what will it cost. Until Garrett, the owner, sets up a website to maintain, prices and product mix may fluctuate. They change from day-to-day already. Below is a montage - the latest daily selection list, and an image of the "freebie" card they use to show repeat business appreciation [with their "diamond" trade logo on the card].

* as always, click on the image to enlarge and read *

Each time you buy and present the yellow card, you get a - what else - diamond shaped punch so that you fill a card side and you get free product. The pictured foccocia segment (above) is what remains from getting it free a day or two ago after buying a sliced sourdough - a favorite of mine - that filled out a card.

I have tried a range of product, never disappointed. There is locale, and reviews:

Go there or be square.

I have posted this for several reasons. First, they deserve credit, for being a first rate business in the north metro. Second, some believe I have little to say but carping, nothing positive or useful - so this is positive AND useful. Third, downtown Elk River has changed a bit while remaining the same in some ways. Have a look.

Would Matt Look and the new Ramsey mayor want to see Cher Kong compensated, for official action impacting his "property rights?"

During commercial breaks in the b-ball playoffs I channel hopped to the QCTV televising of the Ramsey City Council's killing the wetlands protection ordinance, the new mayor saying, roughly, "If John Engstrom's property were sold today, vs. tomorrow if this is repealed, he would get more money tomorrow." Something like that. Then they killed the ordinance by a 5-2 vote [Elvig and Jeffrey against] and moved to the next case a "topsoil" thing that would likely assist and likely boost sales of John Engstrom's out-of-the-home black dirt sales business; so go figure - Engstrom must be happy.

Matt Look won the prize, however, discussing the buffer zone protection for Ramsey's wetlands - i.e., protection of the public asset that protects and sustains the drinking water of all who live in Ramsey - by suggesting that if a buffer zone is to exist around wetlands, where they are which of course is where nature put them without regard to any "right" of "ownership" to curtail nature; then government should for some tortured and obscure reason pay money to land owners because of imagined curtailment by government of imagined "property rights."

Look imagines it a "taking" of imagined "property rights," to sanely buffer wetlands to protect them and to thus protect everyone's groundwater, (and groundwater unlike grass or topsoil does move, with what's under your home today under mine or other's homes tomorrow, or days later, months or years later), and yet Look spoke as if the "right" to use land by current title holders were absolute, unrestricted, and not in fact always subject to collective requirements of proper use so that government holds the right to restrain uses that are improper and socially repugnant, unfair or unwise.

Look spoke as if sound and restrained land use restriction were somehow a "taking" of "landowner rights."

Look was singing Merlin Hunt's perpetual one tune serenade, now given some kind of a council-table imprimatur of rationality, by one on council.

So, this just in, per ABC Newspapers:

Charges filed in East Bethel cockfighting incident
Wednesday, 22 April 2009 - by Eric Hagen

Three men were charged April 20 in Anoka County District Court for their alleged involvement in cockfighting.

According to the criminal complaint, the incident happened at the home of Kou Her, 35, 20239 Jackson St. N.E., East Bethel. He was charged with felonies - promoting animal fighting and permitting premises to be used for animal fighting.

Two other men were charged with a felony count of possession of an animal for animal fighting purposes and one gross misdemeanor charge of attending an animal fight.

The other men charged were Dao Nhia Thao, 53, 8455 Mississippi Blvd., N.W., Coon Rapids, and Neng Thao, 34, of Danville, Ark.

One of the deputies walked to the south of the garage and through a window saw approximately 35 males standing around a two-foot-high circular ring, watching two chickens or roosters fighting, the complaint alleges.

The deputy spotted a man leaving the garage and found out his name was Her and he owned the home. The deputy asked him why he was letting the animals fight, according to the complaint.

Her allegedly told the deputy that the chickens were training and the birds belonged to his friends.

He allegedly told the deputy they let the birds fight because that’s what they do when his friends come over and they did not have anything else to do.

Deputies entered the garage and allegedly had two people separate the two fighting roosters. They saw both roosters had patches of feathers missing and one was very bloody on its head. Blood was spotted in the ring.

Police discovered that there were 11 chickens or roosters inside the garage either in carrying cases, which had ventilation holes, or in pens, according to the complaint.

Another 17 chicks or small roosters were allegedly in a covered pen outside the garage under a heat lamp and more chickens and roosters were found on the property, including two running loose on the lawn and one rooster that had dry blood on its wings and some torn feathers.

More chickens were found in suitcases with breathing holes inside two vehicles that allegedly belonged to Dao Nhia Thao and Neng Thao parked outside the garage.

In a post-Miranda statement following his arrest, Dao Nhia Thao allegedly admitted he had attended the cockfight, but denied knowing that any rooster was in a case inside his car.

He alleged that the car was unlocked and anyone could have put it in there.

Who is Cher Kong? He's one of the cockfighting arrestees, the only one for whom I found an online mug shot, this one. But, animal cruelty - use of land for that, isn't it a "property right?" Shouldn't our Councilmember Look be advocating paying the cockfighting gentlemen money, for curtailment of their land use rights, rather than blandly standing aside and seeing them arrested? Or is consistency a mere hobgoblin of petty minds?

Here is the source of the Cher Kong photo, telling Cher Kong's story:

East Bethel man charged in cockfighting ring - Updated: 9 months ago

An East Bethel man was charged Monday in Anoka County's first cockfighting ring bust in nearly a decade.

Cher Kong, 35, was charged with a felony for running a major cockfighting organization out of his home after authorities raided Kong's home early Saturday morning.

Authorities executed a search warrant Monday at Kong's home. They seized 29 birds and a few other animals.

Humane Society officials say the roosters have dozens of wounds, major feather loss, and homemade sutures done with needle and thread.

Authorities say the birds were bred to fight. The animals were given performance enhancing drugs. Even more disturbing, police say the birds had razor blades attached to their feet.

"This is a bloodsport in the purest form," says Humane Society investigator Keith Streff. "They typically fight to the death and wagers are placed on those birds. There's a lot of suffering and dying in the ring. But if you win the fight, you will die days later due to the injuries and infections that fester after the fight's over."

And this is not just East Bethel's "land use" and "property rights" issue. WE in Ramsey have felt the impact of the animal cruelty rights folks being curtailed within our boundaries, as reported, e.g., here:

Sep 3, 2008 10:51 am US/Central
Suspected Cockfighting Ring Busted In Ramsey

RAMSEY, Minn. (AP) ― Authorities have busted a suspected cockfighting operation in Anoka County and seized more than 100 birds.

The sheriff's office said a caller reported a cock fight in progress Saturday night. Officers who arrived could see, through an open barn door, people gathered around a ring with bloody and injured roosters nearby.

Police seized 102 roosters, hens and chicks as well as fighting paraphernalia, including an electric frying pan, "commonly used to irritate the cocks prior to a fight by dipping the talons in hot oil," according to the criminal complaint.

So, Matt Look, speak up. The ongoing silence while justice cries out that you defend these property rights issues, it is inexcusible.

I have a friend with two outbuildings on his seven acres. Shouldn't Mr. Look and friends be paying him money, because the law does not allow him to make good money from his land by installing a brothel in one of the outbuildings? Doesn't that follow, the property right to use land that way, shipping in a few willing Russian young women, doing business?

Moreover, there are folks with toxic waste on hand. Pay my household money, we are foregoing the cash flow that would follow from allowing them to dump it on homestead land. Pay the neighbors too. They all are also foregoing such a cash flow. So, in lieu of that windfall, compensate each for curtailment -- of "property rights."

Matt, where's our cash? You are holding back.

Don't give it to Merlin Hunt or John Engstrom simply because nature put swamp where they hold title and they thus owe good stewardship of nature's treasure trove to us all.

Give the loot to us, and to every non-brothel operator in City of Ramsey.

Matt took the time to send an extensive email. I shall review it and publish it here, in this update, once I have thought over what he said and a sentence or two in response. One thing I found interesting, Elvig at the meeting pointed out that a few building permits had been pulled, it is not zero traffic in the Ramsey development world, and I have seen stuff going up at the gun club. Wetland buffering requirements were NOT in place when the Gun Club and the Peterson Cornfield on Trott Brook were platted, and people are invited to have a look at what that means, how "protected" that left wetlands when they were not being buffered suitably.

Also, the neighbors of the Peterson Cornfield got screwed on not getting density transition. That was crass but gave Peterson a few more lots to profit off of. It was the old council, (folks that still are present with Elvig and Jeffrey as carryovers), who unanimously voted to abandon the MUSA line and do leapfrog development with Haas-Steffen in minutes characterized as saying just put the pipes in the ground and let people deal with it, and that was the most destructive step - the driving of the coffin nail on what Ramsey had been that attracted its older single family residents - with the 2008 comp plan only death rattles.

One has to wonder whether that old council had unofficial understandings, Peterson's Cornfield and the Gun Club go through, everyone else then has to buffer wetlands - it is the pattern at least, and that suggests either an understanding or an unwillingness among enough folks, the old mayor coming to mind, to treat all animals on Animal Farm equally.

Check back to see what Matt had to say, it will be posted over the weekend if not tomorrow.

Whither the GOP, in images plus two links.

Okay, now the links, here and here, the latter being a voice of the GOP future in Minnesota's Sixth District. Check it out, it is worth the time for what you might learn. A third link, here, for a less neurtal view than Wikipedia of the Ron Paul viewpoint. An apology to Aubrey Immelman, but I think the Sixth District GOP is not ready for him, given that Ramstad was labled RINO, all that.

I am moving into a post, this one, a comment 2008 GOP Sixth District Candidate Aubrey Immelman left on an earlier post:

Aubrey Immelman said...
Thanks for posting the update, Mr. Zaetsch. Yes, it's been nose to the grindstone all semester, with a full course load, filling in for a colleague on extended medical leave, publishing the annual academic journal of which I'm editor, and supervising three research projects: "The Leadership Style of President Barack Obama"; "The Personality Profile of Vice President Joe Biden"; and "The Personality Profile of Vice Presidential Candidate Sarah Palin."

More information at the link below:

Obama, Biden, Palin Profiled

In addition, I haven't missed a day blogging on what started as my campaign website last July, mostly on my platform issues and current events of interest to me.

I look forward to getting in on the early-season walleye action after the academic year winds down in a couple of weeks, and then after the Fourth of July I'll size up the 6th District political landscape for 2010.

The profiling link, whether you believe in it or think it's smoke-and-mirrors, is worth noting, and Immelman in the past has indicated the DoD had used him as a consulting contractor to generate profiles of figures of interest, Saddam, bin Laden, etc.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

POISONED WATERS -- It was an impressive PBS Earth Day presentation. We in Ramsey poised to drink river water await transcript availability.

We in Ramsey who are about to see more wetland quality impairment, due to misguided leadership, await the transcript.

Read Here. click an image to enlarge and read

Former Sixth District Congressional Candidate Aubrey Immelman Continues His Internet News Site.

The link is here. The latest posts show a lessening primary focus upon US military activity and status, including this latest post screenshot, a reminder of youth at risk:

Immelman seems from all I have seen to be an interesting person, a college professor finding the time to do non-academic things. I try to keep up with his publishing as well worth the time and effort. My hope is he will continue web publishing.

A website discontinued.

Monday, April 27, 2009

"Revolving Door" - Notice of the 111 page item via "CREW Cuts," Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington's subscription email newsletter.

I sometimes miss things in emails - we all do that, don't we - among spam and in accounts not accessed as frequently as others when we use multiple email addresses.

Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, emailed me its "CREW Cuts" February 2009 [Issue #22], via an email service you can subscribe to from the CREW homepage,

Issue 22, of CREW Cuts reports:

On January 12th, CREW released Revolving Door, a first-of-its-kind report on the private-sector activities of 24 former Bush administration officials. The study demonstrates that the "revolving door" in our nation's capital remains wide open. Many of these former cabinet officials are receiving lucrative compensation for joining the companies they once regulated.

Among other startling facts, Revolving Door reveals:

• 17 former officials hold positions with a total of 119 companies;
• 17 former officials hold positions with 65 companies that lobby the federal government;
• 15 former officials hold positions with 40 companies that lobby those officials' former agencies, and;
• 9 former officials hold positions with 15 companies that began or resumed lobbying the former officials' agencies after those officials joined the companies.

By issuing the report, CREW hopes to shed a public light onto one of Washington's favorite pastimes - turning public sector influence into private sector wealth. While the actions of these former officials are legal, they epitomize the most dishonorable conduct of some of Washington's most powerful players.

Learn more

Read the report

Read the McClatchy Newspapers article

[italics emphasis added] Beyond the revolving door, there is a report of crass astroturf masquerading as grassroots:

On January 14th, CREW launched, a site dedicated to exposing the front group network of Richard Berman, one of Washington's most notorious hired guns.

Berman, through his public relations firm Berman and Company, has been a fierce and ruthless defender of the tobacco, alcohol, restaurant and tanning industries by publicly disparaging union groups, Mothers Against Drunk Driving, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, and other groups that raise awareness of childhood obesity, the minimum wage, the dangers of smoking and tanning, drunk driving and other issues.

In operating at least 15 industry-funded front groups and projects, such as the Center for Union Facts, an anti-union propaganda organization, Berman has become enormously wealthy. He funnels big-business money through his anti-consumer and anti-safety groups to his PR firm. Berman and seven of his employees hold 49 positions in his myriad of organizations.

Berman's sleazy campaigns have attempted to muddle the public discourse surrounding a range of vitally important health, safety, and consumer issues. As demonstrates, Berman has only one true goal: to be the best snake-oil salesman ever.

Learn more


Read the Huffington Post article

I had posted earlier at least twice about "astroturf" vs. honest grassroots, here and then here, the latter being a catch of the Berman machine even before CREW put the sunshine on its reprehensible nature. Both of those earlier posts hammer on the correct nail, that's certain.

I was hoping for a comment, that the revolving door thing was biased, showing only one party's move to the privateer spoils when voted away from the direct official spoils of election victory incumbancy. Biased is what the report is, and I now have to say it myself. For total credibliity this CREW group should be a bipartisan watchdog, or one should exist. In Anoka County we have Anoka County Watchdog, "Always On The Watch," because Harold cares, even with his politics shaded a way he makes no pretenses of hiding. Yet Harold and I from opposite ends of the general political spectrum are both against waste and skeptical of the Dan E. and Elwyn T. situation - and of the Anoka County old boys cabal at their worse.

Daschle's unfitness and removal from consideration for the medical reform leadership effort, if there's really to be one in the Obama administration and not just lip service, stands out.

Both parties do it.

The worse to me is that Independence Party insider, Elwyn Tinklenberg, who has been the poster child of a life after the pulpit of in-and-out public-and-private money making hand over fist -- the worse of the revolving door in Minnesota unless I have missed something even more egregious. I doubt I have.

Hence, I treasure this one image above all others, for what it admits beyond what may have been denied and allowed and winked at during a CFB hearing:

Thanks to webmaster Gary Gross, for these links, HERE and HERE, again fitting with CREW's lack of bipartisanship in its range of critical cackling. Crookedness, or the appearance of situations suggesting even a mere appearance of a possibility of crookedness should be equally disdained and denounced by all - there is no partisan right to wrongful spoils, in office or via the private sector, based on former actions and service in office.

It's wrong, whoever does it.

With the Ramsey Town Center related indictments of three Community National Bank former officials, this is worth another mention.

William Sandison, Ross Sandison and Curt Martinson are the three that were recently indicted - see, e.g., here - it was widely enough reported that I give no other links.

That CNB involvement leads me to link back to here, about a Lino Lakes VFW post situation which is unfortunate and informative - with commercial real estate now looking depressed, etc., but with this situation dating back apparently to 2004 construction contracting.

Links I could find are here, and here, with that last May 16, 2007 item (quoting a "Lyle Carpenter") being the source of the opening photo.

The Feb. 9, 2009 Strib story is still online, also mentioning a "Lyle Carpenter," as well as a "Dean Harvey Johnson, then of Circle Pines," and a "Gerald (Jerry) Russell Peterson of Roseville," here.

I wonder about the one bank executive, Jerome Peterson, and about the foreclosure practices of that Lino Lakes CNB branch.

Again, anyone with information is encouraged to contact me.

Alexandra House

In Anoka County there is an advocacy effort to aid women victims of true and actual domestic violence called Alexandra House, website homepage, here.

They offer temporary shelter for women and their children, presumably at a confidential locale to avoid violent confrontation of the very kind alternate shelter is designed to curtail.

They have a webpage indicating:

Community Program

Community Program provides advocacy and support services to Anoka County women, children and families who are experiencing violence in their lives, but who may not necessarily need emergency shelter. Advocates work in the civil and criminal courts, health care, and educational/school settings.

Alexandra House has recently piloted the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) project, "Choose Respect." Through teaching middle school-aged youth to respect themselves and others, future violence and risky behaviors can be prevented. Visit:

to learn more!

Legal Advocates:

* Assist in filing Orders for Protection and Harassment Restraining Orders
* Accompany victims to court hearings
* Provide crime victim advocacy immediately following a domestic assault and throughout the criminal court process
* Lead support groups
* Follow-up with patients referred by health care providers 24-hours a day

The page links from the Alexandra House page are above as they give them. One link toggles to this "definition," their definition, with italics emphasis added.

Order for Protection

Orders for Protection are court orders designed to protect victims of domestic violence from their abusers.

Their "Choose Respect" link seems defective, the correct link, now, appearing to be:

From their home pages you can toggle to their "Community Education & Professional Training" and their "Order for Protection Project" pages, set out below via screenshots so a reader may click either image to enlarge and read it.

I believe the general orientation of this organization is laudable, and beyond reproach. However, organizations like this and the people in or affiliated with them must be vigilant to not become overzealous in ways that might detract from the respect that otherwise would be accorded; just as "badge heavy" cops detract from community respect for law enforcement in general.

Specifically, such vigilance should reach to unprofessional uses of the family law calendar, such as non-domestic situations, non-violent situations - but where a woman does not like public criticism or commentary and would wrongly and abusively go onto a court's family law calendar to belligerently attack speech by another.

In such a hypothetical situation, the role of the advocate, be it a privately retained lawyer or a "shelter house" helping person should be to disarm any and all such abusive uses of a calendar clearly meant for other things. One hopes Alexandra House personnel have the wisdom to understand and follow such decent and proper thinking.

After all, the founding fathers enshrined free speech as constitutionally protected from the start of the Constitution replacing the Articles of Confederacy. That is because the right to speak out is so clearly fundamental, and one of the first things that dictatorial governments would want to control and manage and stifle.

Protections against domestic violence were only later recognized, as was female suffrage. Universal suffrage and free speech are bedrock democratic needs for democracy to work. Family violence policing is a more local community function, and democracy will not fail if it is accorded less or more attention.

Bottom line - don't cheapen a good thing, ever, by misdirecting effort to things that are constitutionally beloved - such as a stranger's right to criticize conduct of another - it is not a domestic-relations thing, not at all, and it is a perversion of justice for it to ever end up on a court's domestic abuse calendar.

Every effort to winnow out abuse of the calendar serves to strengthen the respect in the comminity for the calendar, and its proper use. Every effort an organization like Alexandra House can make to exercise its discretionary effort to avoid cheapening itself must be preconcieved and followed. Again as stated in other contexts, respect has to be earned.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Strib has a poll. Is it dumb, or am I missing something rather than Strib?

Here is the excerpt of the relevant part of the item online today, here:

Minnesota Poll: Most want Coleman to call it quits
The Republican should end his recount fight, most say, and fatigue over the six-month ordeal is clear.
By KEVIN DUCHSCHERE, Star Tribune - update: April 26, 2009 - 12:10 AM

Nearly two-thirds of Minnesotans surveyed think Norm Coleman should concede the U.S. Senate race to Al Franken, but just as many believe the voting system that gave the state its longest running election contest needs improvement.

A new Star Tribune Minnesota Poll has found that 64 percent of those responding believe Coleman, the Republican, should accept the recount trial court's April 13 verdict that Democrat Franken won the race by 312 votes.

Only 28 percent consider last week's appeal by Coleman to the Minnesota Supreme Court "appropriate."

The random telephone survey [with critical detail of wording and sequencing of questions omitted from reporting] of 1,042 Minnesota adults produced a sample consisting of 20 percent Republicans, 36 percent Democrats and 37 percent independents, with 6 percent offering no self-identification. The poll has a margin of sampling error of 4 percentage points, plus or minus.

The heart of Coleman's appeal is the 4,400 rejected absentee ballots that he says should be tallied because they're identical to ballots already counted.

Although 57 percent of Republican poll respondents approve of Coleman's appeal to the state Supreme Court, the same portion of Republicans want him to quit should he lose there.

Half of all Democrats polled also think Franken should concede if Coleman wins before the state high court, while only 38 percent prefer that the DFLer take the case to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Independents would be more patient with a Franken appeal than one by Coleman, but a majority of that group think that either should call a halt once the Minnesota court rules.

[Italics added for emphasis.] The poll question wording appears important, because, read it all again, if Coleman wins at the State Supreme Court level, then 4400 ballots will be counted and there's no assurance if that happens that it would erase or even dent the 312 vote margin Franken holds. It could increase the Franken lead. So, if "Half of all Democrats polled also think Franken should concede if Coleman wins before the state high court," what were they asked?

If Coleman's lame appeal is surprisingly given any higher court credence; count the ballots first, eh?

Saturday, April 25, 2009

"If a guy can’t rape his wife, ... who’s he gonna rape?" Said by the Palin Alaska AG nominee.

Knuckle dragging voted down, proving the entire state of Alaska is not as insane as it might seem. Riley at Licking Calcutta, has the post, here. No excerpt, read it there. Check out her other thoughts.

The spirit of blogging.

Blogging. There is no money in it. Glass housed people will throw their stones. Why do it?

Each person with a blog has his/her reasons. I speak only for myself.

Via Bob Marley. The world lost out because he died young. He did not sing for money or glory. Consider this line of thinking:

Small Axe [1971] [Lee Perry]

Why boasteth thyself
Oh, evil men
Playing smart
And not being clever?
I said, you're working iniquity
To achieve vanity (if a-so a-so)
But the goodness of Jah, Jah
I-dureth for-I-ver

So if you are the big tree
We are the small axe
Ready to cut you down (well sharp)
To cut you down

These are the words
Of my master, keep on tellin' me
No weak heart
Shall prosper
And whosoever diggeth a pit
Shall fall in it, fall in it
And whosoever diggeth a pit
Shall fall in it (... fall in it)

If you are the big tree, let me tell you that
We are the small axe, sharp and ready
Ready to cut you down (well sharp)
To cut you down

(To cut you down)

Cutting down the vanities and stupidities and lies and excuses gets to the heart of the matter. Showing the ironies of life and the weaknesses and nakedness of would-be emperors, would be empresses, is one aspect of blogging. Exposing venal people for what they are, and dissecting things they've done and likely will redo. It is teaching, where the source page of the opening photo ended saying:

Marley often referred to the point of his music as educating people about their history so they can take control of their future. “Music gonna teach dem a lesson...,” Bob Marley.

Marley said it in his own song words, which also captured a bit of the sadness and frustration he apparently felt in seeing a collective blindness when there was ample light:

Ah! Ya too rude
Oh what a rat race
Oh what a rat race
This is the rat race

Don't forget your history
Know your destiny
In the abundance of water
The fool is thirsty
Rat race, rat race, rat race

Oh it's a disgrace to see the
Human-race in a rat race, rat race
You got the horse race
You got the dog race
You got the human-race
But this is a rat race, rat race

There is that; also to a degree, I feel that if life were not ironic it would be totally boring. Bernie Madoff, Tom Petters, all that - lobbyist-politicians and revolving doors. It's a dimension of mean, scociopathic evil, but for interestingness, it trumps this:

Highway 10 property buy-ups by Ramsey with RALF funds show how some will reach, when money's on the table, and laugh about it and their own motivations. When things that are interesting that way are found in public records, court papers, pointing them out is a form of teaching. Unfortunately it's also like preaching to the choir. The ones needing instruction are too busy watching American Idol and Schwartzenegger films; then voting. And then as Margaret Connolly has told me, "We get the government they deserve."

Friday, April 24, 2009

Look v. PACT Charter School. On appeal, the links.

The opinion, here.

Reporting, here.

I support Look and Dehen a hundred percent on this, and I am sad they lost.

That school never should have been put/allowed in Ramsey, as far as I see things. Certainly not the way it was done. Bless them if they'd move.

UPDATED: Tammy Sakry of Anoka County Union writes, "Ramsey commissioner removed for letter to the editor, attendance."

This is very important. It was politically astute to do this early in the new council's lifetime because of the short attention span and institutional memory voters in general hold. But it will not go under the radar screen. Dehen, Look, and Elvig will be up for reelection next cycle. Elvig, for whatever line of thought and strategy he held, took the right position on the third water tower and on the savaging of environmental quality - though weakly so, in my view - not as a leader would attempt.

Dehen and Look will have to face voters, and I am certain Look disappointed some sagacious people who had supported him. Look's opposition next time will be someone other than Todd Cook. Possibly his opposition at least for the primary might include Todd Cook, but Cook seems to have placed himself for quite some time below the radar.

The Anoka County Union article is here. Read it, please. It is important.

I reiterate, respect is not an entitlement, respect has to be earned.

I reitereate,

[Regarding the communitywide early and often Ramsey Town Center hype and hoopla] Land promoters painted that "crown jewel of the north metro suburbs - bustling suburban mecca" silliness. I would not buy a used car from any one of them.

Yet what really ruined Ramsey more than the botched but bad-from-the-start Ramsey Town Center was the avarice of crossing Sunfish Lake Boulevard at the Alpine Woods site to route sewer-water to the gun club and northwards. Town Center was like a contained cancer. That sewer-water extension step was it matastisizing. Redacting the wetlands and tree protection measures is cutting out the remaining healthy tissue so the cancer can more readily advance and predominate.

Screwing with the wetlands, through which surface water percolates to where deep groundwater is tapped for Ramsey's many municipal wells and substantially more numerous private residential wells, is messing with peoples' drinking water and it is inherently suspect as short sighted and unwise. It is bad stewardship and stewardship is all "owners" have, since the land persists and people die off with "ownership" not having ever followed anyone to the grave.

Back to Sakry's report [lightly excerpted here, so again go online to Anoka County Union and read the entire thing - it's well written]:

When residents are appointed to commissions and boards, they serve at the pleasure of the Ramsey City Council – and the council is not pleased.

The council voted 5-2 April 14 to remove Robert Sibilski from the Environment Policy Board (EPB) after he missed six meetings and violated the city’s code of conduct by writing a letter to the editor.

The letter criticizing Mayor Bob Ramsey on his wetland buffer ordinance stance and questioning his leadership abilities was published March 27 in the Anoka County Union.

According to the code of conduct, it is the policy “to maintain a respectful public service environment free from violence, discrimination, unlawful activities relating specifically to the... commission members role with the city, and other offensive or degrading remarks or conduct.”

The council members discussed the Sibilski issue at a workshop session just prior to the April 14 regular meeting and again at the meeting. At both meetings, the conversation mainly revolved around the letter to the editor.

Sibilski’s attendance became an issue on the heels of the letter to the editor, in which he did not identify himself as being on the EPB, said Councilmember David Jeffrey.

“I think these two are not coincidental,” he said.

While Councilmember David Elvig does not agree with the opinion expressed in the letter to the editor, “I don’t see it as grounds to dismiss anyone,” he said.

“As citizens of the United States, we can say anything we want in letters to the editor as long as it’s tasteful and respectful.”

Although he is disappoint in the language used in the letter, “(Sibilski) has the right to... write a letter to the editor in opposition to the city council,” Elvig said.

Already addressed, you earn respect or lack it and who can respect headhunting painted in other wording but then only superficially disguised. And if there are deficient heads to be hunted, some might say looking at paid consultants first might be the better course.

Back to Sakry's reporting:

Prior to his case being heard, Sibilski officially filed a complaint during the public forum against Look for also violating the code of conduct.

According to Sibilski, Look was disrespectful to him as well as to other EPB members and had sent a threatening e-mail to the previous board chairman, Joe McDilda.

In his March 31 e-mail, Look stated, “Your e-mail forwarding of Mr. Sibilski’s Letter to the editor, is more than likely going to have a negative effect on what you are trying to get accomplished, that being the preservation of the wetland buffering ordinance.

“All boards/commissions serve at the ‘pleasure’ of the council. They provide an advisory role only so long as necessary. The EDA (Economic Development Authority) have statutory protection... the Environmental Policy Board does not. Use Caution.”

McDilda resigned from the board March 31.

According to Sibilski’s complaint, Look’s e-mail “disrespects me and my constitutional right to express my opinions as a matter of speech.

“It is obvious... Look is trying to intimidate... McDilda and (other members of the EPB) if we don’t agree with his or city council positions.”

The letter to the editor was disrespectful and showed poor judgment, said Councilmember Colin McGlone.

I supported Andre Champagne for the Ward 2 seat.

As I understand things this council appointed John Engstrom to that board.

Thus they apparently declined to appoint a cubic yard of black dirt, something I suppose they might have done had that been their pleasure. Previously Sakry reported:

Although it has yet to be tested, Ramsey’s wetland buffer ordinance appears to be on the way out.

The Ramsey City Council April 14 voted 4-3 to introduce the repeal of the 2005 ordinance. Councilmembers David Elvig, David Jeffrey and Jeff Wise voted against the repeal.

The 2005 ordinance requires new development to have wetland buffers, ranging from five to 50 feet depending on the quality of the wetland, and limits activities, such as building structures and mowing, in the buffer area.

All three council members voting against the repeal said they supported the April 2 Planning Commission recommendation to do a collaborative process involving residents, board and commission members to review the ordinance and determine ways it could be modified so that it doesn’t fail in its essential purpose but enhances flexibility for land owners and the city to use the wetland buffer ordnance as a land management tool.

It would be ill-advised repeal the ordinance so quickly, Elvig said. It could leave the city open to exposure and allow development in sensitive areas, he said.


It took several years to get this ordinance in place and “I don’t want citizens to be impacted by the ordinance,” said Mayor Bob Ramsey.

“I cannot sit here and watch people be potentially impacted by an ordinance” that has not tested yet,” he said.

“If it impacts one person, it’s not right.”


Councilmember Colin McGlone wondered why the city needs the buffers.

The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency does a lot of thinking about water and pollution and it has not enacted any rules to address potential pollution in wetlands, he said.

There is no exposure issue, McGlone said.

Unless federal, state or county agencies require buffers, “then we don’t need it,” he said.

Dehen struggles with whether the city needs the ordinance as federal, state and county governments have not instituted buffer regulations beyond what the Minnesota Wetland Conversation Act gives to wetland, he said.

Nor is he sure Ramsey has a lot of quality wetlands that need protecting. Dehen said.

Driving around the city, “you don’t see a lot of quality wetlands,” he said.

Next election cycle others with a different view of "quality" might run. For many a quality wetland is the one that protects against idiots building a new big home right next door. Many in Ramsey have that kind of "quality" wetland adjacency and appreciate it. Moreover, how better would wetland quality be, if that ditching to allow sewer and water to the gun club for profiting had not happened? That ditching ruined or lessened a lot of wetland quality, and for some, bordering a swamp with frog sounds and redwing and yellow-headed blackbirds is a quality experience. Some like the Sandhill cranes. I recall the pride with which Bruce Bacon talked of having a pair that might have even been nested in wetland near his organic farming operation near the north end of Variolite. I recall some I know hopping into an auto when hearing crane noise to see if they might locate the site where the sounds originated. At least two of Ramsey's few remaining "horse people" are known to me to be crane fanciers. Both I think vote in primaries as well as general elections.

We have something worth protecting, and profligacy regarding this is unwise.


One final note. When I ran against Tom Gamec in 2004, it was by default. I had wished Jerry Zimmerman would have contested the seat, but he did not. I hoped Joe McDilda would have run for mayor, but he opted for a run at the Ward 4 seat.

Of all the people I have met and known since moving to Ramsey in the mid-1990's, two were most impressive - Joe McDilda and Ralph Brauer, yet Ralph unfortunately never opted to run for council. Joe McDilda would have made a far better candidate for mayor than I was, being both brighter and more diplomatic.

Perhaps - and let us hope, the man has another run in him. It would improve things to see a person of his quality in a top level seat. He is in my view a far, far better person for a city council seat than any other individual I have seen running during the time I have lived in Ramsey. Between Brauer and McDilda it's a close call, but the two are head and shoulders above the pack.

photo credit: ABC Newspapers.

Sakry wrote, "Resident Jeanie Max said she found it surprising that the council did not bring up freedom of speech, especially Dehen who is an attorney. 'All I’m hearing is vindictiveness,' she said. 'You sound like a bunch of school boys.' ” My most sincere apology to Jeanie Max. I don't know her that well and did not recognize her on camera, when I wrote, "The woman who spoke at quarter to eleven nailed it. More people like her should run for office. She'd have had my vote, election time, but held back and was not on the ballot."

That was Ms. Max.

I reiterate, she'd have my vote in an eyeblink if on the ballot.

I had not mentioned -- Mike Nixt belongs with Brauer and McDilda in terms of capability and quality of past service.

______FURTHER UPDATE_______
Again, Tammy Sakry, this time over a year ago an Anoka County Union report showing why Dehen and Look would not get the Blandin Turtles' vote.

Ramsey dumps plan for open space survey
Wednesday, 16 January 2008

Survey says …?

It doesn’t look like there will be a survey in Ramsey to determine if residents would support a preserve open space referendum after a Jan. 8 measure to obtain funding for a feasibility study and the survey from Embrace Open Space failed.

The motion for funding a $4,500 feasibility study and a $15,000 survey needed four votes to be approved, but with Councilmembers Sarah Strommen abstaining, Mary Jo Olson absent and Matt Look and John Dehen voting no, the motion didn’t have enough support.

The survey would only deal with the open space issue and would not include other issues, like Ramsey Town Center, rail station or civic center, that might be a stronger priority, said Dehen.

In conscious parallelism, Look was quoted:

Look wasn’t sure a survey needed to be done because the city could get information from existing surveys.

If a survey were to be done, it needs to be broader, he said.

“I’m not sure this needs to be city sanctioned,” said Look.

This is something where people can gather signatures and have it placed on the ballot rather than the city doing it, he said.

If voters approve funds for open space preservation, the funds would be coming into the city, said Joe McDilda, Environmental Policy Board (EPB) chairman.

According to the city information, voting on the funding for the study and the survey would not indicate the council supports the open space preservation referendum.

Embrace Open Space, which would be providing the feasibility study and survey with zero strings, is not willing to expand the survey, McDilda said.

The gentlemen turned down free money, becuase it might disprove their hobby-horse expectations. It might prove many, many people in Ramsey treasure open space and look with displeasure on its demise.

Go figure. And -- remember it all next election time. And these are the same people who critized Sibilski for his attendance record. There was a bigger problem they willingly overlooked. Had Mary Jo Olson not missed so many council meetings, this one in particular, she could not have ducked the issue and would have had to be pro open space or anti open space, on the record. Since she's history, McGlone is either part of a solution or of a problem.

________FURTHER UPDATE________
Dehen is the main advocate for a community center at Clown Center. That idea is as dumb as dirt. Unless it is privately funded and all operating costs are private sector. Otherwise it's more subsidy of failed ideas.

The core Ramsey residents who moved here over the years for large lots and more house for the money want to be left alone.

They don't want to "communitize" themselves and schmooz with the high-density housing folks, or with each other. Don't use their tax dollars to add yet another bauble that adds nothing to the tax base much as the morgue added nothing (if it is publicly owned/run/subsidized as the morgue is, as the ramp is, there's zippo tax benefit). Without any meaningful benefit, it would only burden poor Ben Dover, the Ramsey taxpayer.

Ben deserves better. If private money says there's benefit enough to the idea that a 100% privately financed, owned and operated Clown Center facility of that kind could be profitable, bless the risk takers with such beliefs who will step up to it.

Otherwise, don't saddle us regular folks with even more costly and stupid baubles.

The opulent city hall was really quite a hit.

I had no referendum chance to voice any choice.

Let up.

______FINAL UPDATE_______
The hope always is that our officials are not stalking horses for any individual or business having a pending effort to subdivide and not wanting to set back from wetlands so that greater density, perhaps inadvisibly greater density, could be attained; as was said in a deposition copy I hold, where a sophisticated real estate investor testified that the greater the housing density you can get onto a parcel the more the property is worth on the market.

UPDATED: Was it the banking, or simply the people promoting it and drinking Ramsey Town Center koolaid were deluded, compromised or wrongly motivated?

How long should it take for a simple realization that a bad idea is bad?

This from Strib online [italics emphasis added]:

Ramsey Town Center was to be a lively urban jewel - until questionable financial dealings put it on hold.
By CHRIS SERRES and JENNIFER BJORHUS - update: April 22, 2009 - 9:54 PM

The near-implosion of the Ramsey Town Center, considered one of the biggest residential real estate debacles in recent Twin Cities history, may have been an inside job.

According to a 29-count federal indictment handed up in Minneapolis on Wednesday, millions of dollars in loans that lenders thought were going to fund the project -- once considered the future crown jewel of the north metro suburbs -- went instead to a handful of bank executives who diverted the money for their own use and then mislead [sic] other banks and federal regulators to cover it up.

To Bob Ramsey, mayor of Ramsey, the federal charges add fuel to the widely held view among residents in his city that it was shady financial dealings -- and not the faltering economy or the tanking housing market -- that nearly destroyed the 322-acre project.

"There's been speculation all throughout this city that there might've been some funny things going on," Ramsey said Wednesday after the indictment was made public.

The conspiracy charges illustrate just how big a role bankers might have played in the project's near demise. City officials had hoped Ramsey Town Center would transform the mostly rural area of Anoka County -- about 30 miles north of Minneapolis -- into a bustling suburban mecca, with 2,800 housing units, shops, 25 acres of parkland and a transit station connected to the future Northstar Commuter Rail.

I see it as dumb to sink more money into it, which is what seems to be happening, in city decision making.

With a new morgue there, have a pathologist on staff pronounce the thing dead.

Cut the losses instead of spiraling them onward and upward.

I only posted a few lead paragraphs from Strib. Read the entire article for a fuller picture beyond this admittedly opinionated digression. Read the indictment.

What are the bankers up to now? An anonymous comment to Crabgrass that I have left for now in moderation said, "CNB sold the North Branch office to a bank in Mora, but continue to operate out of offices in Lino Lakes and Vadnais Heights." I invite detail from the author about the several things he/she commented on, and they can be emailed or given anonymously by comment or otherwise.

So, presume the comment data correct. New faces in North Branch. Same faces surviving in Lino Lakes and Vadnais Heights. What is that surviving bank doing now, to its depositors and borrowers out of the Lino Lakes and/or Vadnais Heights locations, in terms of loan security and customer treatment?

I think the feds should look deeply into that kind of question also
. Are mortgage or business loans being defaulted on technicalities, with security snapped up and questionably handled? If so, why? Who gains or loses if during this "credit crunch" banks are hasty and severe? Are the little folks suffering? Who is Jerome Peterson in this, his role, his avoiding indictment? What's his track record? Who is he now, in Lino Lakes - Vadnais Heights customer treatment activities and decisions? What does he stand to gain, and what did he stand to gain and actually gain in the past? Hello, feds. Have a look. I do not know whether there is anything there, under the rocks, but more importantly, I do not know how such follow-up thoughts and things have been vetted, by lifting more than a few of the rocks to have a look.

A sow's ear synopsis. Blaming the Town Center failure on things beyond BAD IDEA FROM THE START seems to me to be dissembling or myopia. I think Bob Ramsey's got myopia. Bob, the widely held view among the citizens I know and talk with is bad results follow from bad initial thinking and getting aboard the glory train of those who would lead you to believe you can push on a string effectively.

This Ramsey Town Center history proves decisively that you can sell a bag of speculation as a chain of solid thought.

Upside rosy thinking about how great we are, how greater we will be, predominated while suggestions that downside reality be factored into planning were simply and forcefully ignored and mocked. Some even suggested there was more likelihood of success if the planning were west of Armstrong, but those voices did not hold sway.

I doubt that would have mattered. Why move to Ramsey to get urban density when you can stay in the Twin Cities and get it with a little ambience mixed in? (And closer to where you are more likely to find a good job.)

A sow's ear never will be a silk purse. The thing is so far steeped in shabiness, with a palace of a city hall, a solid Coburn store, a who-the-hell-uses-it mega-ramp, and a field of weeds. Will a shabby tramp of a thing ever gain respect? Perhaps. But what are the likelihoods?

Stop the bleeding. Let it sit. Wait and see. But don't expect much beyond further bad spending decisions.

At least Coburn so far is staying open, and will get a Bank of Elk River outlet in the store soon.

Some progress, despite Ramsey being Ramsey.

Land promoters painted that "crown jewel of the north metro suburbs - bustling suburban mecca" silliness. I would not buy a used car from any one of them.

Yet what really ruined Ramsey more than the botched but bad-from-the-start Ramsey Town Center was the avarice of crossing Sunfish Lake Boulevard at the Alpine Woods site to route sewer-water to the gun club and northwards. Town Center was like a contained cancer. That sewer-water extension step was it matastisizing. Redacting the wetlands and tree protection measures is cutting out the remaining healthy tissue so the cancer can more readily advance and predominate.

As to who is at fault: Yo, Strib, hello folks ----- that "City officials had hoped ..." bit --- have you reporters ever heard of the Metropolitan Council?

If there's to be falling on swords, go to the heart of the problem, please. No dissembling.

Smart growth is not all that super. Proof is in the pudding, not in the koolaid.

ABC Newspapers reports online, here. Same report, here. KARE 11, here, adds little, as does this blog.

Dave Orrick of PiPress, with a helpful timeline, reports here:


1998: Idea of a "Town Center" surfaces in Ramsey and is rejected.

2000: Plan is resurrected in hopes of luring a commuter rail station.

2001: Bruce Nedegaard begins buying land and forms Ramsey Town Center LLC.

Sept. 17, 2003: Nedegaard enters into pact with city of Ramsey.

Sept. 18, 2003: Community National Bank leads a $35 million loan to RTC; 20 banks participate, including Minnwest Corp.

Oct. 3, 2003: Community National executives William Sandison and Ross Sandison lend $990,000 to RTC and allegedly do not tell other banks.

Oct. 9, 2003: Community National lends $2.8 million to RTC and allegedly does not tell other banks.

Spring 2004: Work begins on $1.3 billion Town Center.

July 26, 2004: Nedegaard pleads guilty to bank fraud in a separate land deal.

August 2004: Sandisons and Curt Martinson, a Community National vice president, allegedly form Pentagon Credit LLC, to lend RTC $6 million.

October 2003-September 2004: The Sandisons and Martinson allegedly "misrepresent" how troubled RTC is doing, say outlook is favorable.

November 2004: Homebuilder pulls back on Town Center.

December 2004-October 2005: $990,000 and $6 million loans allegedly repaid ahead of contractors and the multi-bank $35 million loan.

Fall 2005: Nedegaard defaults on multi-bank loan.

Feb. 1, 2006: Minnwest takes over as lead on multi-bank loan.

Nov. 28, 2006: Minnwest files petition for involuntary bankruptcy against Nedegaard.

Nov. 30, 2006: Nedegaard dies.

June 18, 2007: Federal investigators search Community National offices.

July 2007: Foreclosure sheriff's auction sale on about half the Town Center project is postponed.

Nov. 19, 2007: Minnwest sues Community National.

June 2008: Regulators order dismissal of Sandisons from Community National.

March 2009: City of Ramsey agrees to pay $6.75 million for part of Town Center.

Read it and weep.

It certainly is helpful that PiPress constructed this timeline for us. I would not have taken the time. The direction of each published report differs in details and wording even with the same basic facts reported consistently. Have a look.

Every person in Ramsey could probably write a highlight or two in the list differently, by naming names or actions differently. I could. I would have put in the Aug. 12, 2003 council meeting, and the split vote in that meeting on Town Center preliminary plat approval, as well as the minutes from the Aug. 12, 2003 work session that preceeded the televised meeting. If the minority vote Aug. 12, 2003 had prevailed, the development agreement would have had to be done before changes occured contingent on the preliminary plat approval, and things might have evolved differently - although that is speculative. I would have included the Jan. 8, 2002 council meeting, and perhaps something from Dec. 2001. Other people might have differing views of what were key events and situations. I would have included formation and activities of the Ramsey Town Center Task Force as having propaganda value, if nothing else. I would have included a few charter amendment events; such as the "Citizens for Ramsey Town Center Design" 2001 propagandizing and charter mischief.

I would include this:

I would add the date the appraiser, Renne, hanged himself in a closet in his home leaving a note. He is an appraiser Tinklenberg Group used with regard to Ramsey buying up Highway 10 properties with RALF money, two of which involved Jim Deal and Bruce Nedegaard and his LLC. I believe there were some appraisal adjustments he was requested to do along the way, regarding at least one of those properties.

Orrick of PiPress wrote of that in his indictment report:

The problems of Nedegaard and the Town Center began spiraling downward in 2004. Major homebuilders pulled out, and contractors stopped getting paid.

The $35 million loan eventually went into default.

In 2006, Minnwest forced Nedegaard into bankruptcy; he died two days later of natural causes, and the entire project unraveled. Contractors, who had installed water lines and excavated, and the other banks behind the $35 million loan were left holding the bag.

An investigation by the U.S. Postal Service and IRS was well under way by 2007 but was tripped up when the Town Center's original appraiser, J. Scott Renne, hanged himself in a bedroom closet five days before he was to testify before a grand jury. Renne had earlier told investigators he and Ross Sandison engaged in a kickback scheme that involved inflating his appraisal fees, including his work on the Town Center, according to public records.

But the investigation continued, ensnaring James Heisel, chief financial officer of Ramsey Town Center LLC for lying to investigators about a Columbia Heights project that also involved Nedegaard and Community National, as well as Luther Hochradel, the former owner of Windsor Landscaping in Maplewood, who did work on the homes of a number of wealthy Twin Cities executives, including the Sandisons', and admitted helping other clients evade taxes. Both men pleaded guilty in federal court.

The Sandisons and Martinson had known they were targets of the probe since late 2007, records show. On Wednesday, their lawyers proclaimed their innocence.

I believe there was one point in time where Michael Vick was denying involvement in dog fighting.

The history of the Columbia Heights project, as much as I know of it, also is interesting.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Latest breaking news on Ramsey Town Center.

Just within the last two weeks the biggest new news was the City of Ramsey buying the undeveloped remainder of the site, in foreclosure dealings with Minnwest bank.

Now, there are indictments.

Strib reports it online today, here:

Bank executives indicted in connection with failed Ramsey Town Center development.
By CHRIS SERRES, Star Tribune - Last update: April 22, 2009 - 3:54 PM

Three top executives with Community National Bank in North Branch were charged today in a 29-count federal indictment with organizing a scheme to defraud financial institutions and obtain money in connection with a $35 million loan to the Ramsey Town Center.

William Garfield Sandison, 65, president of Community National Bank; his son, Ross William Sandison, 42, a vice president at the bank; and Curtis Alan Martinson, 53, a senior vice president, face charges of conspiracy, bank fraud, mail fraud, misapplication of bank funds and money laundering.

According to court documents, Community National solicited other financial institutions to participate in financing the Ramsey Town Center development, a 320-acre mixed-use development, by lending $35 million with the option of extending $15 million more in credit. Community National, as the lead bank, assumed responsibility for administering the $35 million loan on behalf of the other banks.

The indictment alleges that prior to soliciting the other banks, the defendants, along with Community National, had loaned Ramsey Town Center developer Bruce Nedegaard about $3 million and failed to disclose this to the participating banks.

Read the remainder at Strib, online. Strib has the indictment itself online, here.

Months ago Martinson had dissociated himself from the Sandisons, leaving their bank and openly affiliating with Jim Deal's PSD, LLC, see this Google.

I have no information where the Sandisons are now, but I believe I have read that the North Branch Community National office is continuing business under another bank's jurisdiciton.

David Orrick of Pioneer Press reported much in the past on the situation; see, here, here, here, and here.

There is no indication in anything I have seen so far that Jim Deal is involved, other than hiring Martinson which he is free to do without adverse judgment; and Martinson remains innocent until pleading or convicted of wrongdoing.

I am unsure of timing but Deal may have hired Martinson well after the Nedegaard bankruptcy and death happened.

There is one comment held in moderation that I will leave there, but with the spelling correction in the headline fixed. If the author steps forward and identifies who is speaking it will be posted.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

If you've never seen actual snow rolls [I have not, this is new to me], then have a look.

This link.

It looks like hay rolls, but the wind does not do that for the hay farmers.

Too bad the Coen brothers did not have something like this for a backdrop in "Fargo."

Thanks Christy, for emailing the link.

Monday, April 20, 2009

ORACLE appears poised to acquire SUN. IBM dropped out of negotiations. The future of the Java language is unclear.

Strib carries the AP feed:

NEW YORK - Oracle Corp. pounced on Sun Microsystems Inc. in a $7.4 billion deal Monday after rival IBM Corp. abandoned its bid to buy Sun, a server and software maker that had a 27-year run as Silicon Valley's brash independent.

Redwood Shores, Calif.-based Oracle said it will pay $9.50 in cash for each Sun share. The price represents a 42 percent premium to Sun's closing stock price of $6.69 on Friday, and is nearly twice what Sun was trading for in March, before word leaked that IBM and Sun were in buyout negotiations. Net of Sun's cash and debt, the transaction is valued at $5.6 billion, Oracle said.

IBM had offered to buy Sun for $9.40 per share, but acquisition talks fell apart this month in a disagreement over price and the extent to which IBM was willing to see the deal through an antitrust review.

Oracle expects the purchase to add at least 15 cents per share to its adjusted earnings in the first year after the deal closes.

Sun, which invented the Java programming language used to develop applications for Web sites and mobile phones, had been reluctant to sacrifice its independence, even as it reported big losses. Despite billions in sales — $13.3 billion over the last four quarters — the company has not been able to turn a consistent profit, losing $1.9 billion in the same period.

Analysts have long said the company can not stand on its own and many were skeptical the company would be able to find another buyer after talks with IBM broke down.

Oracle's main business is database software. Sun's Solaris operating system is a leading platform for that software. The company also makes "middleware," which allows business computing applications to work together. Oracle's middleware is built on Sun's Java language and software.

Calling Java the "single-most important software asset we have ever acquired," [ORACLE CEO Larry] Ellison predicted it would eventually help make Oracle's middleware products generate as much revenue as its database line does.

Sun's takeover is a reminder that a few missteps and bad timing can cause a star to come crashing down.

Sun was founded in 1982 by men who would become legendary Silicon Valley figures: Andy Bechtolsheim, a graduate student whose computer "workstation" for the Stanford University Network (SUN) led to the company's first product; Bill Joy, whose work formed the basis for Sun's computer operating system; and Stanford MBAs Vinod Khosla and Scott McNealy.

Sun was a pioneer in the concept of networked computing, the idea that computers could do more when lots of them were linked together. Sun's computers took off at universities and in the government, and became part of the backbone of the early Internet. Then the 1990s boom made Sun a star. It claimed to put "the dot in dot-com," considered buying a struggling Apple Computer Inc. and saw its market value peak around $200 billion.

But Sun was slow to react when the bottom fell out in 2001. Its high-end products, built on Sun's proprietary systems and its own microprocessors, suffered against less-expensive rivals that used industry-standard technologies such as chips from Intel Corp. and Advanced Micro Devices Inc. and software from Microsoft. Sun lost more than $5 billion in the first five years after the bubble burst.

See parallel coverage, here, here, here, here, and here.

Welcome to the world of Control Data and DEC. The world of founders wearing blinders, Bill Norris and Ken Olson. The world of Dire Straits "The Bug."

sometimes you're the louisville slugger
sometimes you're the ball
sometimes it all comes together baby
sometimes you're going to lose it all

you gotta know happy - you gotta know glad
because you're gonna know lonely
and you're gonna know bad
when you're rippin' and a ridin'
and you're coming on strong
you start slippin' and slidin'
and it all goes wrong because

sometimes you're the windshield
sometimes you're the bug

Now it's Scott McNealy. The equivalent of the Warhol 15 minutes of fame, in the high-tech business world. SUN came, prospered, waned - and Warhol's phrase nailed it. This is not your US Steel, taking over a century to begin, prosper and die. Time runs faster in Silicon Valley. In high-tech.

Apple lives, SUN dies, and previously the now-deceased thought of acquiring the now-surviving.

It goes to show.

Two related items, from earlier coverage, here and here, the former stating:

Where Did Sun Go Wrong?
Elizabeth Montalbano, IDG News Service -- Friday, April 10, 2009 9:30 AM PDT

Just before the dot-com boom that spawned the meteoric rise of Sun Microsystems came careening to a halt, then-CEO Scott McNealy and President Ed Zander held a meeting where they discussed the future of their company.

At the time, Sun owed the fast-growing sales of its server hardware and position as an industry darling to the dot-com economy, "an unnatural period when they were considered a 'you must have this vendor' company," said Illuminata analyst Jonathan Eunice, recalling the meeting he attended in 2001.

Even as the boom that had allowed their business to flourish was about to end, the two executives did not appear to see anything amiss, Eunice said.

"It was a moment when everyone in the room knew that things weren't going to continue as good as they had been," he said. "But they were on stage saying, 'We don't see anything falling down.'" It was a "moment of blindness" for Sun, he said, one that came at a turning point when the company should have been making tough business decisions to ensure its longevity.

The years since that meeting in 2001 have not been kind to Sun. The company that had built up its business selling powerful Unix servers faced a dual threat in the form of x86 processors, which would spawn cheap but powerful servers that undermined its Sparc-based offerings, and the Linux OS, which would be embraced by IBM and Oracle and emerge as a potent, low-cost alternative to Sun's Solaris.

Those events were beyond Sun's control, of course, but while rivals like Hewlett-Packard and IBM reinforced their businesses by embracing the new technologies and building up their professional service arms, Sun's reaction was to hunker down. What followed, analysts and even some former Sun executives say, was a series of missteps that have left the company where it is today -- it has lost $1.9 billion over the last two quarters, with revenue down 9 percent to $6.2 billion. Indeed, the company has had difficulty sustaining profitability since the dot-com bust. Moreover, negotiations to be acquired by IBM have apparently broken down, at least for the moment, leaving Sun in a weak and exposed position.

It has been an ignominious and somewhat mystifying downfall for a company that, for all its missteps, has been one of the greatest innovators in Silicon Valley history. From Java to Jini to utility computing and its slogan "the network is the computer," Sun has often shown an uncanny vision for identifying industry trends before they happened. In many instances it was, quite literally, ahead of its time.

"It's weird because Sun is probably the most innovative and forward-looking company of any that I've seen," said John Crupi, CTO of enterprise mashups company JackBe and a former CTO for Sun's Enterprise Web Services group. "They were really good at doing cool engineering things. The problem was, they never managed to move up the stack and package those things into solutions that really let you use the technology and solved people's problems."

Stephen Hultquist, an IT industry veteran and principal with Infinite Summit in Boulder, Colorado, agreed that Sun never suffered from a lack of innovation and vision. Where its executives faltered was in their ability to get beyond the vision and give customers what they wanted to run their business, he said.

"Any company that doesn't continuously focus on the real benefits to their customers -- both current and future -- will eventually lose the mindshare of those customers," Hultquist said. "Customers buy what makes sense for their success and satisfaction, not what is 'best' in some esoteric, technical way. If that wasn't the case, Microsoft would not be the powerhouse that it is."

For instance, "the network is the computer" was Sun's slogan long before companies like Google and built their businesses around the idea, and before cloud-computing became the buzzword du jour. But now many of the companies embracing cloud-computing and hosted services run Linux rather than Solaris in their data centers.

Sun also was one of the first to see that subscription-based software pricing would replace the traditional per-CPU model when multicore processors became prevalent. But by the time Sun had got itself together to offer software in this model, there was less interest in its Java software because they were already using BEA or IBM's products.

Marie Beeson, who worked at Sun from 1999 to 2004 in its professional services division, compared Sun to Xerox PARC (Palo Alto Research Center) in its ability to create useful technologies but failure to capitalize on them. Xerox PARC created a lot of the technologies that made computers and widespread use of the Internet possible -- such as the GUI and Ethernet -- but is a research facility and not a profitable business.

"From a technical standpoint Sun was very innovative and had a lot of great technology, but didn't know how to really exploit those technologies," she said.

Observers identified three principal errors that, had they been avoided, might have allowed Sun to flourish after its dot-com business dried up. They are: not reacting to Linux by open-sourcing Solaris more quickly than it did; not building an x86 product line fast enough to sell alongside its Sparc systems; and not learning how to monetize the great Java technology it had created.

Sun finally came out in support of Linux in 2003, around the same time it launched its first x86 server line. The next year it open-sourced Solaris through a project called OpenSolaris. But by then Linux already had the support of IBM and Oracle, which eased the concerns of customers worried about big-company support behind the open source OS, and lower-cost x86 boxes running Linux or Windows were replacing Solaris in many enterprises.

Some feel that if Sun had open-sourced Solaris sooner, Linux would not have become the popular low-cost alternative to Unix that it is today.

Things are never simple; the Control Data roots remain to anchor other things. Norm Coleman's chum, Nasser Kazeminy has Control Data roots, see here and here. Back in the CDC big iron days, to move the multi-million dollar computer sale some useful software was a throw-in, such as selling a turnkey system to manage parts of the power grid. Siemens has a midling sized tech consultancy and software vendor operation in the Hopkins-Minnetonka area [near the Hwy 169 and US 394 interchange], that grew out of CDC, had the independent name "Empros," and went through a naming of "Siemens-Empros" but the roots go back years in the Twin Cities area more than in Germany, or elsewhere; see, e.g., here, here, here and here. Nothing is as simple as it might be viewed by those with simple minds.

Good coverage, Computerworld, here. MySQL would now pass to ORACLE, with its future uncertain and its users left puzzled, as with SUN Java assets. Microsoft is in that SQL market, at a serious level along with IBM, and there is Postgre SQL, see this Google.

______FURTHER UPDATE______
Here is where I see a test of will of the Obama administration, and its dedication to reviving antitrust scrutiny from the moribund thing it was during Bush years. Also, the EU may have trade-restraint worries over this Oracle takeover of Sun, with at least the MySQL being forced to be spun off since it is a direct, now free to small users, alternative to buying other vendors' SQL database management systems.

See, here, here and here. That last page is the download page, you can get it free still at a low-end capability, but it is unclear how that access can and will survive.

Does anyone know who Scott McNealy gave presidential campaign contributions to during this most recent election cycle? Larry Ellison? Should it matter?

And do not forget, PostgreSQL continues as wholly open software.

This image, from here:

More Computerworld coverage, here, here, and here.