consultants are sandburs

Friday, August 28, 2009

Bruce Vento had guts and compassion, and when you read things like this, boy, is he ever missed.

Minnesota Independent, here, is source of the screenshot. Click it to enlarge and read.

The link in the story is to the Conyers congressional webpage, here.

Kieth Ellison represents the will of the majority of the people in the nation on wanting this single payer legislation - in effect, Medicare for everyone, regardless of age.

The Conyers bill proposed to enact what Medicare should have been from the start back in the times of LBJ's post-Kennedy assassination honeymoon, if passed then as it should have been. Bruce Vento, you know his heart was right and his district sound, and were he with us he would be with Ellison.

Instead of that kind of take no prisoners mentality in this war against the leech-like likes of UnitedHealth, we have McCollum's take no risk attitude, Paul Demko in the report wrting:

McCollum’s political director, Will Blauvelt, takes issue with this assessment.

“Congresswoman McCollum is committed to working with President Obama to pass meaningful health care legislation this year that controls cost, ensures quality and increases access for all Americans,” he said in a statement to MnIndy. “Efforts motivated by either ideology or profits that are intended to undermine President Obama’s health care reform agenda should be recognized as more political game playing at the expense of millions of Americans who are demanding real change.”

Ellison ran to get real change, not to make his ego feel big and important.

Papa John Kolstad nailed it, as reported:

This is a disgrace for a primarily Democratic state,” says Kolstad. “It’s shameful.”

But McCollum, in particular, has drawn his ire because she’s not politically vulnerable. Last year McCollum garnered 68 percent of the vote in winning her fifth term in the heavily Democratic district.

“I don’t know what kind of problems she could possibly face by saying we have to fix this problem,” Kolstad says. “She is being so weak — and she has no excuse for being so weak.”

When you have a 68% majority, and five terms behind you, show some courage. Show something resembling leadership. Show something resembling recognition of what's best for the nation rather than compromise that's kind to the underserving batch of privateer for-profit insurers who've done in the public long enough and should be kicked out; yesterday being better than later.

I would contribute and volunteer for any such challenger from the left against McCollum and her unjustifiable middle-of-the-road nonsense.

Ellison, while favoring single payer per the Conyers bill, has made his "Sherman statement/" He will not vote in favor of any bill that does not at least include the public option. This link.

Dueling Boycotts - State Fair Deliverance style. Saying, "Hello," to Tony Sutton in a way he might hear. By saying, "Goodbye," to Baja Sol.

It's a short post. Blue Man says it all. Go there or be square.

Wonkette duly covers Michele Bachmann's latest circus act, in Lake Elmo.

This link. They post a video, with a suitable content warning, first sentence.

That's all I have to say for now. I intend a later post contrasting Franken's and Bachmann's approach to constituent matters, each with his/her style. For those who are clueless, I disclose -- I will be favorable towards Franken's approach, critical of Bachmann's. [Wonkette credits Dusty Trice for the YouTube video.]

Tarryl Clark gains another endorsement.

Minn. Post reports, here.

The carpenters union endorsed Tarryl Clark instead of Michele Bachmann (or Maureen Reed).

Has Reed been seeking endorsements of this kind and not been getting them, or is it beneath her dignity and stature?

Anyway, endorsement means backing with rank and file encouraged to volunteer and contribute, so the Tarryl Clark bandwagon seems to be gaining strength and support on a daily basis. I expect at precinct caucus I will support her, the Governor's race being much more a toss-up at present, but I am not going to volunteer or contribute - Clark appears to have enough momentum that way without me.

So, it's going to be Clark vs. Bachmann unless one of the two for no sensible reason gets into a twin-engine aircraft to Eveleth this October, where who knows what might happen. With healthcare reform a current issue, boy, do we ever miss having Paul Wellstone. He would have been a force in this kind of situation. Al Franken, take notice, please, it is your turn. Be a Wellstone, Al, please. We need it. If it's still hanging fire when Clark gets there, she will help.

Back to the headline, here's the gist of Joe Kimball's MinnPost report:

The North Central States Regional Council of Carpenters endorsed Clark this week. It has 13,000 members in Minnesota, including 2,447 in the 6th Congressional District.

"Tarryl Clark has been a proven leader for Minnesota's working families," said Kyle Makarios, political director for the council. "It is important to have someone in Washington who is advocating for workers, especially in this time of economic hardship."

As would be expected, other labor groups, including Teamsters and AFSCME locals, have already jumped on the Clark bandwagon.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Why does this also not surprise me?

Brad Blog is a good site, with one long running focus on voting reform, with Brad Friedman having written for Guardian about the virtue of Minnesota having a paper trail to recount ballots so that the election day claim Coleman had won was disproved, by the facts, proving Franken had won AND that the paper ballots allowed a recount showing the Franken victory. This link.

And prior to that, Guardian carrying Friedman's op-ed expression of hope for integrity and discernibility in recounts prior to the Minnesota recount's beginning; this earlier editorial opinion.

Then, Google helps me find, this link on Brad Blog. With this link over about KOS, something I'd felt a bit of, dislike of the smugness and superficiality and self-back patting. And well said.

This link, it's highly insightful prognostications did not surprise me either.

And things such as ins and outs of New Hampshire politics are no surprise although I do not know exactly what to think, a chief of staff's early exit; here (search "Houle" since there's other stuff), here (neighboring state press coverage), here (all from inside the KOS tent but not aimed outside - and the thread post itself to which this sub-thread attached is purile and unimpressive), and perhaps most expressively, some stood firm when others cut and ran, here - all on the same story with implications in some links on what to make of it.

While I was not there and do not know any of the players, one thing, there was something short of consistently strong party unity then, with Houle a part of the disunity, but party disunity has been known to happen in Minnesota's DFL on occasion, and friendships vs. vendettas a thousand or miles more away, again I have no actual knowledge.

It is arguably baggage to him, then he hones in on Tinklenberg who arguably had baggage, and then onto Mr. Lois Quam [aka Matt Entenza] who only two years ago dropped an AG bid in shame and has spousal and family wealth dependent upon past ties to UnitedHealth Group; called by many one of the most (if not the most) rapacious, disliked and disrespected health insurers - one of the worse of the worst - with such ties being deadly political baggage during these times of seeing the for-profit commercial insurance pack doing all it can whenever it can and wherever it can, to kill publicly wanted and necessary health care reform.

It is interesting that Houle was posting anonymously on KOS in attacking Brad Blog back then - anonymous as to his official position in New Hampshire politics when Brad Freidman was criticizing vote counting methodology there in New Hampshire -- and upon taking the Tinklenberg assignment Houle, this time, conspiciously and publicly severed authorship ties at KOS.

That shows a learning curve, and I am uncritical of people making that kind of change. But it's nonetheless interesting.

Little about Dana Houle surprises me.

Ramsey Town Center. Live Here. Work Here. Play Here. Bank Here. But cop your pleas in Federal court, downtown.

The image is from back in 2007, or earlier, and the only bank now in Ramsey Town Center is The Bank of Elk River, which did some litigating before siting itself in the Corborn store, at the southwest Town Center commercial node corner.

There's no "community bank" that was ever opened across Sunwood from City Hall, but future plans always are subject to change.

Regarding the word "community" showing up in Town Center related banking names, Pioneer Press reports:

Town Center dad, son get a deal - Sandisons allowed to plead to single conspiracy count
By Nancy Ngo - - Updated: 08/26/2009 11:22:04 PM CDT

The father and son at the heart of a scandal that marred the Ramsey Town Center project pleaded guilty to conspiracy Wednesday in a deal that erases more than two dozen other federal charges against them.

William Garfield Sandison, 65, of Forest Lake, and son Ross William Sandison, 42, of Grant, had originally pleaded not guilty to a 29-count indictment accusing them of everything from money laundering to bank fraud. The charges stemmed from the funding of the $1.3 billion project that was supposed to create a suburban oasis in Ramsey.

In back-to-back hearings Wednesday, U.S. District Judge Patrick Schiltz allowed the Sandisons to change their pleas to guilty on one count of conspiracy. The rest were dismissed.

While admitting to the charges, both distanced themselves from the troubled 322-acre development, which still sits mostly vacant.

Paul Engh, the attorney for Ross Sandison, said his client was "not admitting to anything with the Ramsey Town Center development and whether it succeeded."

We in Ramsey know that story; and the lawyer was being clear in case of potential civil suits premised on willful or negligent misrepresentation against either dad or son. Ms. Ngo's report continues:

In the summer of 2007, a Pioneer Press series unearthed questionable financing, self-dealings and nondisclosures related to the Town Center loan.

The stories also described how the project ran into troubles as early as 2003, when its developer encountered financial problems. With the conviction of the Sandisons, attention turns to the remaining defendant, Curt Martinson, who maintains his innocence.

The Sandisons' deals pave the way for a likely lesser punishment than if a jury would have found the pair guilty of the charges outlined in an original federal indictment in April. And William Sandison might be asked to cooperate with federal investigators in their case against Martinson, according to comments at Wednesday's hearing in the St. Paul federal courthouse.

"In return for your help, the government may ask me to give you a lesser sentence," Judge Schiltz said.

The original indictment accused the Sandisons and Martinson of inappropriately using a $35 million loan intended to develop Ramsey Town Center — a development of restaurants, shops, offices and some 2,800 homes in the Anoka County suburb.

The loan to Town Center developer Bruce Nedegaard, who died of cancer in late 2006, was originated by Community National but was shared by 20 banks. William Sandison was formerly president of Community National; Ross Sandison was a former vice president and later president. Martinson was a former executive vice president.

In the original indictment, federal investigators accused Martinson and the Sandisons of using the Town Center project to steer money from the other banks into Community National or their own pockets. The men were accused of using some of that money to pay for meals, entertainment, landscaping at their homes and other personal expenses.

Prosecutors also accused the Sandisons and Martinson of creating side businesses that then lent the Town Center development even more millions — and paying themselves back before the other banks or the contractors. The three men never told the other banks about the other loans or their involvement in the other entities, the indictments alleged.

Plea deals with a hint of odd-man-out are interesting in waiting to see if another shoe drops. If there are buried skeletons, perhaps the Sandisons know where. I recall Dave Orrick's earlier Pioneer Press reporting, here, having info about a now defunct title company:

Without the deep pockets to develop Town Center, Nedegaard had a strategy: Spend money to prepare a tract of land, sell it and use the proceeds to prepare another.

He turned to Community National for the money to get started.

Executives from at least two banks that pitched in on the $35 million loan now say they would have had pause if they had known about cozy relationships between some Community National bosses and Nedegaard.

A few months before the loan's approval, Nedegaard started a title company called Powerhouse with some executives at Community National, including CEO William Sandison and his son, as well as the attorney who drafted the Town Center loan. According to the Minnesota Department of Commerce, Nedegaard had the largest stake. The operation was based out of Community National's building in North Branch.

A title company collects fees for researching property deeds. On a $1 million sale, Powerhouse could collect roughly $2,200 in fees, according to rates supplied by Darlene Milless, who ran Powerhouse's day-to-day operations.

In a big project like Ramsey Town Center, a lot of titles and money change hands. And Powerhouse benefited.

However, few of the businesses and people involved contacted by the Pioneer Press say they knew that Nedegaard and the bankers at Community National also owned Powerhouse.

"That's a violation," Minnesota Department of Commerce spokesman Bill Walsh said. "It's OK to refer (business), but you have to disclose your interest."

Jim Deal bought about 26 acres from Nedegaard to build office buildings. Powerhouse's name was all over the paperwork. "It was Nedegaard's choice," he said.

Same for the city of Ramsey.

"Any time we'd do any documents with Bruce Nedegaard, we had to use Powerhouse," Norman recalled.

The Department of Commerce conducted an investigation - sparked by another Nedegaard project - into Powerhouse in 2006 and subsequently shut it down. It turns out Powerhouse was operating without a license, reports from that investigation reveal.

Side deals included more than title fees.

John Feges, former president of Nedegaard's Town Center corporation, said he was kept out of discussions involving such financing.

"I guess because I ask tough questions, they didn't want me in on the bank stuff," he said.

But Feges said he believes there were many side deals in which Nedegaard's Town Center corporation paid fees to Community National or its officers.

In one case, William Sandison and Community National officer Jerome Peterson each pocketed $20,000 in a complicated deal involving a $3 million letter of credit, according to a lawsuit pending on the deal. The money came from Nedegaard's Town Center company.

[...] Nedegaard often told friends that his investment in a European pipeline was on the verge of coming through. Some say he told them the deal concerned oil in Bulgaria; others say diamond mines and natural gas via Swiss investors.

Creditors later discovered Nedegaard transferred $600,000 to Swiss bank accounts in two transactions, according to bankruptcy fillings. Why he did so remains unclear.

Columbia Heights City Council Member Bobby Williams suspects his friend was scammed.

"It's a kooka-dooka, hocus-pocus deal. That's what I think," said Williams, who himself lent Nedegaard $250,000 for the pipeline deal, which he said was wired to an overseas account.

Williams said Nedegaard told him he had invested $10 million and was planning to get back $12 million.

[...] In early 2006, Darlene Milless, the Powerhouse employee, walked into Nedegaard's Columbia Heights office and saw a number of IRS agents packing up boxes and taking them. And even though Feges had left the Town Center company by then, workers called the former president in a panic.

"They came in and seized everything he had," Feges recalled of the agents' actions.

By then, the life Nedegaard had built for himself was falling apart.

He defaulted on his $35 million loan in the fall of 2005, prompting Minnwest to assume the lead role from Community National, according to bankruptcy filings. Minnwest went digging through Nedegaard's past and financial health. They found Nedegaard had been in trouble before.

A year earlier, he had pleaded guilty to a federal charge. Prosecutors accused Nedegaard of falsifying financing information in the 1999 sale of a Prior Lake town home, according to court records. He was fined $25,000 and given a year's probation.

Interesting questions are when and how did Ramsey officials first learn of the felony plea, who on the council and in other official positions knew of it and when did they learn, who outside of city positions was informed and why, and whether there was any duty to give notice to lenders and if so, was notice given?

Had any one employed by the city had past dealings of any kind with Nedegaard, if so, what; and who "bird-dogged" the deal between land owners, Nedegaard, and the city - or did Nedegaard fall out of bed one morning saying, "I'm buying into the future of Ramsey."?

Did Nedegaard at any time "kite" his financials, and if so were any others complicit in assisting in ways that misled bankers?

If the Sandisons know much, and are talkative with Federal prosecutors and investigators, it will be a hoot; and we might even find out who had beneficial drawing powers on those Swiss bank accounts about which Orrick reported, which still, now even after the Nedegaard development went through bankruptcy, are shrouded in mystery.

Jim Deal entered the Town Center picture when Highway 10 "mapping" involved his two properties on Highway 10 being bought with contract assistance from Tinklenberg Group; Nedegaard and his LLC showed up in title to some Highway 10 parcels at one point in time; and if security interests are not recorded in the normal course one can always wonder why. Deal and Martinson both attended Deal's 2008 fundraiser for Tinklenberg's congressional candidacy in 2008 held at Town Center; but we should not read too much into that - after all Attorney General Swanson attended and I believe no one would suggest she had any role in Ramsey land visions and revisions. I certainly know of none.

The reported involvement of Darlene Milless with that fraudulently improper title company is interesting in that the Milless family owned and sold land to Nedegaard's LLC, making a land profit; as well as participating in ongoing LLC improprieties via the Title Company. We can remember Milless among others, via this archived "" webpage content screenshot quoting her and others in Ramsey (with not all photos archived) and indicating her involvement in Ramsey's Charter Commission [at the time charter changes were made in anticipation of the Town Center development proceeding]:

The teamsters endorsement of Tarryl Clark went under my radar; but they are on board.

Tarryl Clark's campaign website is vexing. Yeah, I can watch a video, but if she has something to say worth my time I'd prefer it written so I can scan it in a hurry, or carefully read and think it over.

Not even text there touting endorsements.

Yet, besides earlier union support, there is this:

Teamsters Joint Council 32 Endorses Tarryl Clark for U.S. Congress
August 20, 2009 - Press Contact, Edward Reynoso, 612-710-0944

Minneapolis — Today, Teamsters Joint Council 32 officially endorsed Tarryl Clark, candidate for Minnesota’s Sixth Congressional District. The vote was unanimous by the Teamsters Joint Council DRIVE Commission and immediately affirmed by the Joint Council Executive Board. The early endorsement commits one of the largest labor organizations in Minnesota for an anticipated hard-fought battle for a Congressional District that has heavy Union propensity.

“We will do everything in our power to assure that workers in Minnesota’s Sixth Congressional District will finally have a voice that understands what the real issues are that affect working families,” Sue Mauren, Teamsters Joint Council 32 President said.

Teamsters Joint Council 32 represents in excess of 62,000 active and retired members in the state of Minnesota, and a very large amount in the Sixth Congressional District.

“We will reach out to our members in the district and show them the facts as to how they have been ignored by the current Congressional Representative. She has been an absolute disappointment and, in many cases, an embarrassment to voters in the area,” Mauren went on to say.

Tarryl Clark is currently the Assistant Majority Leader in the Minnesota State Senate and has been at the forefront and a vocal advocate for many working family issues. “We are proud to stand side by side with Senator Clark and work with her on a successful campaign,” said Patrick Radzak, Secretary-Treasurer of Teamsters Joint Council 32.

I cannot find much in that press release that I would dispute. Clark seems to be a quality person, a winner, and several notches above the incumbent she is challenging.

Reed remains a candidate, but is being outdistanced.

Now this, for Tarryl and staff on the campaign:

Video is for the Vikings.

Twitter and Facebook are for children.


This should be an interesting development. Let us hope mainstream media cover the event.

The link is here. Click the image to enlarge and read.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Change you can believe in. Consistency you can believe in. Change nationally. Consistency locally.

Carrying an AP feed, Strib reports, and this after last year's gazillion dollar Wall Street bailout largess, a change of a kind that has not happened since 1975:

COLA set to go flat for seniors - With inflation in check, no cost-of-living increase is planned for 2010 or '11.
By STEPHEN OHLEMACHER, AP - Last update: Aug. 24, 2009 - 4:00 AM

WASHINGTON - Millions of older people face shrinking Social Security checks next year, the first time in a generation that payments would not rise.

The trustees who oversee Social Security are projecting that there won't be a cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) for the next two years. That hasn't happened since automatic increases were adopted in 1975.

By law, Social Security benefits cannot go down. Nevertheless, monthly checks would dip for millions of people in the Medicare prescription drug program because the premiums, which often are deducted from Social Security payments, are scheduled to go up slightly.

"I will promise you, they count on that COLA," said Barbara Kennelly, a former Democratic congresswoman from Connecticut who now heads the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare. "To some people, it might not be a big deal. But to seniors, especially with their health care costs, it is a big deal."

Cost-of-living adjustments are pegged to inflation, which has been negative this year, largely because energy prices are below 2008 levels.

Advocates say older people still face higher prices because they spend a disproportionate amount of their income on health care, where costs rise faster than inflation. Many also have been hit with declining home values and shrinking stock portfolios.

"For many elderly, they don't feel that inflation is low because their expenses are still going up," said David Certner, legislative policy director for AARP. "Anyone who has savings and investments has seen some serious losses."

About 50 million retired and disabled Americans receive Social Security benefits. The average monthly benefit for retirees is $1,153 this year. All beneficiaries received a 5.8 percent increase in January, the largest since 1982.

When seeking your vote for president, he did say change. And you can believe, this one is real.

From the Internet Archive, Ramsey Town Center "Key Locations" and you know exactly where it is, you've been there (haven't you), to that very place in Ramsey so many, many times - Centro:

And what's consistent? The expectations exceding any reality, or any reasonably foreseeable reality on the horizon. New studies will be done, to bring what was planned into the sphere of what might sell these days, and Landform gets thousands for the exercise. How critical can you be, of spending thousands after millions were committed for buying the albatross? It would make sense, when the market rebounds, but now, it is waste since in two years it will need to be done again, presuming the market rebounds in that short a time frame.

I spoke briefly with one Landform person, and that was my key question - When will the market be better, how much better, which segments gainers, which losers, on a permanent basis? The guy's response to me was an admission that those in planning are more optimistic than others but nobody knows.

I was impressed, because it was an honest answer.

I had to look for the card - a fellow named Lazan. I had a better perception of him, hence of the operation he'swith, than I had of John Feges and his pack of pastel dream weavers, flanking him on his left, when he got the Vegas plaque saying Town Center was great, in theory, in 2005.

Twenty-three grand initially earmarked for Landform.

Now, a request for up to four grand more. It adds up, but I have a feeling - no logical argument to back it up, but a feeling - there will be more bang for the buck and fewer bucks spent than when Tinklenberg Group was attached to Ramsey, drawing out cash.

We wait and see. City of Ramsey buying the thing out of foreclosure by the bank, and then the price paid, it's been done, so it really is a question of, "What next, magic man?"

And there will be no magic.

Probably no train stop, with politics against it, and with the current stops, Big Lake, Elk River and Anoka each having a bridge so commuting from the other side of the river for rapid transit downtown is possible. Ramsey only has thoughts of a bridge, rerouting Armstrong, etc.

I would doubt cross river commuting will be a big boost to ridership, but at least those other three locations have it as possible, and it would be a counterflow to the main rush hour flows.

I hope my impression is correct and there will be no more of the syrup rhetoric that the opening Feges-related item entailed, when Landform reports in with what twenty-three grand bought. I looked at the Landform website. They are anything but immune from indulging in planner speak. But it seems sounder than the stuff John Feges was spreading around a few years back, using a smaller manure spreader or something, while Feges was using Sigfried-Dunlay as a PR flak firm, and all the while wheelbarrows of cash were being hauled out of Town Center only a few years ago. It seems like only yesterday ...

LANDFORM WORK PRODUCT: Here, here, here, here (I think all those firms have their drawings done by one big operation in China or the Philippines, outsourced to save cash, all looking alike, Feges-like, in a way), here (one I find impressive onscreen but if it were my money I'd surely touch base with a couple of past project owners for candid opinion), (then for pure planner speak - but short - while still as if all planners outsource all their text-work to one single place in India where they all handle English the same), here, here and here. Those are representative pages. Be prepared to bring a barf bag if you intend reviewing the final product(s) they deliver to Ramsey, it will be planner speak infested, but there might be value to the content - we can hope twenty-tree grand gets something.

It took a bit of doing, web-wise, but this is a firm that will allow public access to pick and view multiple pdf project files; here. Another firm might be less up front about past work, and that would make you wonder if there's something to hide.

One other thing that's a king-size negative, you go to their main page [homepage] detesting Adobe Flash Player (because you like to read and have a TV for that other bunk); and you get this. It's pure gag-and-heave BS to me when firms do that to you, pushing Flash Player.

But, again, Landform does let you parse back to that pdf page, showing they have some sense, despite being trained planners. It's indirect to get there without my giving the link, but accessible. No 403 error message, access denied, you are not authorized to view this page.

Give credit for that.

Ramsey contact people will have to rein in any planner-speak tendencies, "No BS," being the hoped-for mantra this time, time-after-time, and product quality should reflect client wishes.

Finally, Landform guys, if you do not use the buzzword "stakeholders" around me it would score some points. I hear that and I envision "steakholders" and see in my mind some barbecue event, people standing around without plates or utensils.

I looked again at that "Key Elements" "Centro" page from the archive, and -- this sentence pair from there says it all:

Ramsey Town Center is not a typical development that assembles various parts. Rather it is an integrated approach that combines synergies of uses with the goal of building community.

________FURTHER UPDATE_______
Then there is this. It's Ohio, so that's a bit of an excuse, but it is a mini-mall with long row buildings, tarted up with towers - and why did they do that to the windowing? It probably met price and square footage specs, but is it lasting architecture. What would Le Corbusier say? Would he rave? Mies van der Rohe would probably ask about the windows, and say, "Less is more."

Ramsey - More citizen cash to be dumped down the same cosmic skunkhole. That's Town Center, where else? To market it.

This is Gilbert and Sullivan musical comedy. The Housing and Redevelopment Authority in and for the City of Ramsey, up to mischief.

They don't publish a time for meeting -- after this and that, scheduled time to be as you guess and estimate (click it to enlarge and read):

And, boy, is this meeting ever "special." (But then everything about spending money in this real estate market on pushing on the Town Center string is a little special.)

Staff "proposes" it. Staff is too much in cya mode to recommend it. Caveat emptor, staff notes, in less direct wording, "Based on discussion." Spending more citizens' money. Another wheelbarrow full, flowing out from the town fisc. It's easy for staff to say do it with someone else's money. Never forget that. You cannot really blame the person standing there expectantly with the wheelbarrow, expecting unconditional money. Wouldn't you?

It is another further investment because of sunk capital.

Take losses if you have to on what's been done. But don't make it worse. If you keep digging that hole deeper you can dig to China. Like the joke about we lose a little on every unit sold, but we make up for it in volume.

This "Authority" is nothing more than the seven council members who take off their red Council hats, and put on their orange Hosing and Redevelopment Authority hats, but it is the very same individuals spending city money. Same process. Don't take my word for it being the same perpetrators, the City website says so, here, and the City website even states the Hosing and Redevelopment Authority has a:


The primary purpose of the Housing and Redevelopment Authority is to undertake certain types of housing and redevelopment or renewal activities that will provide a balanced supply of housing for people of all income levels, ethnicity and physical abilities; eliminate barriers to construction of affordable housing units; add and preserve the existing supply of affordable housing; and provide mechanisms to prevent and remove blight in residential, industrial and commercial neighborhoods.

Tell me how you do housing "renewal," on a weed patch? Answer: you don't. You pretend.

You ignore the fact the housing adjacent to the giant weed patch part of Town Center, (the part the town unfortunately recently bought for millions), is less than five years old. Whatever "blight" exists is as when built, no more nor less "blighted" than that. Past mistakes in decision making is not "blight" which is the jurisdictional purpose - the mission - of this HRA, if you believe government at the local level acts as it should. As it's rules define things.

Instead it is spending Hosing and Redevelopment money not on what fits that nice touted mission statement, but on "marketing" Town Center. The word "marketing" is absent from the mission statement. It is not an HRA duty or function.

But, no joke. Really, that's precisely what the perps are up to.

Here are pages documenting details of the story (click to enlarge and read and weep):

Will the doing of that deed be televised, or is this another untelevised spending spree? Will this get a choo-choo stop from Danny? Will this make Town Center a Lazarus? Is this a step people of above average intelligence would really take, or a clear act of desparate unsure overly hopeful men? Is it one people of above average intelligence take with their own money instead of yours?

What do you think?

How do you like that last couple of pages? We want up to four grand to go to East Arm Pit, Iowa, to talk to somebody. Great idea. Absolutely great. I'd spend my four grand exactly the same way if it were my money. Wouldn't you?

Guys, stick to tarring roads. You handle that well. It is needed and is helpful. There's nothing wasteful in tarring roads, and the schedule's already in place. No marketing needed.

I need to make one thing abundantly clear. When in the below post I say we might "cut some slack" I mean on substantive decisions. I can criticize there, but it's wholly different from calling a "special" meeting and making it a "special" HRA thing, and not a "special" council meeting, where the latter would routinely be televised and where the substance of the issue is general spending on a land project, not a housing issue; and when the faces at the table are the same either way. For that kind of apparent and unjustified procedural trickery, there's no room for slack. It is the kind of thing I disliked greatly when James Norman was city administrator. It is wrong. Dead wrong regardless of whoever it was who decided to go that route, or why. It smells of mendacity.

A little history. - The fundamental, now proven false, core premise. And yet another salute to the Internet Archive WayBack Machine.

So, it was all predicated on getting a train stop, the first image says so. And you'd think someone in a meeting of a bunch of architects could hold a camera level and tilt-free, but the second of the images says not everybody. And it says the award was presented in the gambling Mecca of our nation, Las Vegas, so think that one over. Ironies abound. I don't think the first item gives Natalie enough credit, but it was written by the developer's flaks, not Met. Council's.

In an earlier post I gave the link for the online archive of the Feges-Nedegaard opening online propaganda organ,

This post helps give a look at the online archive of the Feges-Nedegaard second incarnation propapaganda engine,

Here, is the WayBack Machine's archive by date; here, by content.

History is instructive so that past error is not repeated nor enhanced, but instead is avoided. The opening images, respectively are from the archive, here and here.

Doesn't it make you proud, a superstructure premised on a NorthStar stop; a can-do city manager attitude; John Feges accepting the AIA's award for the insightful project. Hubris all over, the stench of hubris, with those suggesting downside planning scoffed at by at least one Ramsey official as "negative thinkers." Heady days of unbridled optimism. Before Danny started playing games with choo-choo stop locales, two in his district, none in Berg's, one of Danny's astoundingly neighboring Jim Abeler's real estate, in Anoka. History is not necessarily a gentle teacher, but ignore the lesson and the headache just gets worse and worse, the taxes higher and higher - with the NorthStar transit currently planned to be blowing its whistle as it passes through Ramsey.

And, if that changes and Ramsey attains a stop, or if the City decides to maintain express bus service downtown in competition with NorthStar, it will be subsidized either way. Neither dream will have sufficient ridership to pay the costs.

But that's not the purpose of NorthStar. It is not there to break even, or turn a profit. The purpose is to give the illusion of a progressive rail opportunity for those owning land adjacent to the tracks to cash out big time, and for crabgrass along the route to generally prosper - long term, although for now crabgrass is temporarily on the wane. It will spring back, with money being to the metaphorical crabgrass what rain is to the real. But existing taxpayers in Anoka County, in Ramsey, will continue to be burdened, the many being taxed to subsidize profit-making by the few. And now development of the remaining weed fields in Town Center has been socialized, the government is owning and running things, competing with private sector effort in other towns and malls. Your hope should be that they will be restrained in the burdens they place on taxpayers in the process, unlike predecessors in Ramsey government.

Other interesting archive pages are here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and one of my favorites because I like irony, here. That last item because of how it melds history and irony deserves a screenshot. You have the main archive links. You can do your own buffet.

There's only one holdover on council from planning in the 2002 framework [not on council then but instead at the time being hand-picked for heading the planning-propaganda organ they called "The Ramsey Town Center Task Force" who in wisdom compared successful completion of the project to following a cake baking recipe].

There's a second holdover from the decision to plunge just short of twenty million into palace building, and ramp building for the train that is presently scheduled to stop elsewhere.

They and the new people, even when making bad decisions based on sunk capital, at least deserve some slack since the housecleaning that has been done on council and atop the administrative pyramid has left them stuck with handling as they think best a clear mop-up job. The mess was left for them to deal with on their watch. Most of the real culprits are elsewhere doing other things, while the present seven on council plus Kurt persevere.

You just want them to learn something from history. You want upward sloping learning curves. You want flat learning curves to be a past dimension of Ramsey city decision making. You hope for the best. And cut a little slack.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Labor appears to recognize the need for effort and focus on the Governorship. But is there any apparent consensus, yet, this early?

Paul Demko for Minnesota Independent reported Shar Knutson's election to lead the Minnesota AFL-CIO, becoming the first woman president of "the state’s largest labor federation." (Photo by Laura Markwardt accompanied the MinnIndy story):

Knutson was widely expected to face off against two other challengers for the post: Bill McCarthy, president of the Minneapolis Regional Labor Federation, and Mary Kathryn Ricker, head of the St. Paul Federation of Teachers. But only McCarthy and Knutson were ultimately nominated, with the latter prevailing on the first ballot.

The decision [...] was made by the AFL-CIO’s 70-member general board. The labor federation represents roughly 300,000 workers across the state.

Knutson says playing a role in the 2010 governor’s race will be a priority for the organization. She does not expect there to be any lingering hard feelings within the federation from the contested election.

“I wish to work with all the unions and all the board members and have reached out to them,” she says. “There are times when we may not always agree but we come together.”

"Come Together" was a better Beatles song than "Helter Skelter" unless you're Charlie Manson, but will it be more one than the other among DFL union poobahs until after endorsement dust has fully settled? Will there be anything even remotely resembling unified spending and giving before then, or each bloc having its bloc favorite(s)?

The Iron Ranger unions, we can guess, yet otherwise it was a leadership council of seventy individuals that selected Knutson and that's seventy independent views of who'd be the best Governor, and who'd be the best candidate against the GOP's best and brightest, such as that low bar level will prove to be?

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Why is this not surprising?

Dana Houle, the DC hot-shot Elwyn Tinklenberg brought into Minnesota to help wrap up the Tinklenberg campaign is now with Mr. Lois Quam [aka Matt Entenza].

I look forward to seeing what UnitedHealth reports to Waxman's committee on Ms. Lois Quam's compensation, 2003 onward, when/if over half-a-mil a year, the threshold level Waxman set in posing the compensation question. That's quite some figure, while so many of the little people [ones Entenza says he cares about] are uninsured or facing coverage difficulties of one kind or another.

So what do you guess Houle will be doing?

Spending all day on the blogs touting Ms. Quam's spouse, or following Mike Hatch around town, on behalf of the Entenza-Quam couple? Seeing where Hatch-owned autos show up parked, that kind of grassroots stuff [or more blacktop than grassroots - depending on where the Hatch family members park]?

Perhaps the Quam-Entenza spouses have given up following Hatch and his hatchlings, this go-round. Will they then have Houle shadowing someone else? Or would he need a license to take campaign money for such employment, and lacking the license, be assigned different things to do?

Dana Houle picks them, he does, and as with Tinklenberg, the first thing he does after going on board is he KOS's them.

Go Dana. Links here and here.

Like Jimi Hendrix and being experienced, this is Dana Houle and being KOSed.

My bet, one thing in this I feel comfortable betting on, Houle landed the job without help from Tinklenberg's main contributors, Jim Deal and family.

Yet, that's only a guess.

I'm not privy to insider info.

I like Mike Hatch. I think there are a lot of good DFL people seeking the endorsement along with Entenza. Several of them will probably abide by the endorsement process. Those primaries dragging onto the eve of the general election - they can hurt whoever it is that wins them - and consume cash best spent unhorsing the GOP this time, as was almost closely done by the Hatch-Dutcher team, but not, with the Hutchinson-Reed ticket drawing votes, and other stuff --- if only ...

From the Entenza campaign website, here, one brief paragraph among much else, it reads like this, with quite a gap between the quote parts the context at first, then the meat of things:

[...] After graduating from law school with honors, Matt took a position at the Minnesota Attorney General's office. [...]

In 2006, Matt decided to leave the legislature to run for attorney general. In preparation for his campaign, he hired a firm to provide background information on the inner workings of the AG's office. Unfortunately, the campaign became focused on this and other side issues. In the spirit of party unity, Matt withdrew his candidacy.

I suppose hindsight is 20/20 when explaining things, but, the inner workings of an office he'd served in during the 1990's, distinguishing himself, the bio says?

Working there, bringing the lunch pail daily and all, co-worker contact and sharing insights among the lawyers and paralegals, shouldn't that have been enough of a window into "inner workings of the AG's office?"

For an observant person?

Nothing in the bio says he was a slow learner.

And then, exactly what nature of business, what licensed activities were involved, when "he hired a firm to provide background information on the inner workings of the AG's office."

Here's how MDE enjoyed the story the first time around. Can you imagine how the GOP will handle that website bio version? Entenza would have been better leaving it all off the bio, but did not, and the second best thing would have been the unvarnished truth, if any "truth" about the situation was felt necessary for the web page.

If Entenza is the ultimate DFL general election candidate, I will vote for him over what I see in the GOP field, thus far, but a lot of people on the fence will be looking at that "explanation" and stepping off the fence on the other side. Dana, know who you are dealing with.

It's how it is.

__________FURTHER UPDATE_________
Paul Demko, Minnesota Independent, reported,

Houle says that Entenza contacted him within 90 minutes of the announcement that Tinklenberg was shutting down his campaign. In addition, Houle didn’t see any other House races that looked particularly enticing.

“In a sense I’ve done that and I wanted to look for a new type of challenge,” he says. “This is the only race I’d consider running, but for some reason I thought that Matt already had a campaign manager. So things worked out nicely.”

________FURTHER UPDATE________
Entenza hired an out of state firm [from Chicago] but I erred in recalling it as a private detective firm - it apparently calls itself or holds itself out or Entenza held it out as an "opposition research" specialist organ. MPR at the time reported extensive detail (still online) with this sub-headline blurb as a lead-in summation:

DFL Attorney General candidate Matt Entenza says he's horrified and embarrassed by revelations that a Chicago firm he hired dug for dirt on current DFL Attorney General Mike Hatch. A day after Entenza acknowledged he hired Gragert Research to look into Hatch's office, Entenza said he found out the firm also looked into a parking ticket Hatch got three years ago.

Entenza says he didn't authorize the parking ticket request, and will apologize to his fellow Democrat, the party's endorsed candidate for governor. Entenza's Republican opponent says the whole thing undermines Entenza's credibility.

photo from here, not part of MPR's post

MDE back in Sept. 2006 pointed out Entenza misstated the truth when saying the shadowing of Hatch had cost a few hundred dollars, by publishing that it cost the Entenza-Quam spouses $40,000 - with it unclear to me from memory or reporting I could find online whether it was Entenza-Quam personal money or campaign funds used to hire The Shadow.

Lest there's any doubt whether an elephant ever forgets, MDE more recently posted:

By Ryan Flynn | April 23, 2009

Republican Party of Minnesota Chair Ron Carey today released the following statement after Matt Entenza launched his campaign for governor.

“Matt Entenza’s announcement and rehabilitation tour across the state serve as a mere sideshow to distract from a checkered history of blind ambition culminating in his withdrawal from the 2006 attorney general campaign in disgrace. This record of dishonesty, lack of transparency and power-hungry politics and his inability to be truthful about them makes him completely unfit to serve as our state’s top elected official.”

FLASHBACK: The Record Matt Entenza Wants You To Forget
Entenza Forced To Withdraw From 2006 AG’s Race After Controversy Surrounding His Truthfulness About Opposition Research He Requested. “Democratic state Rep. Matt Entenza dropped his campaign to be Minnesota’s attorney general on Tuesday, one turbulent week after revelations that he paid a researcher to gather information on a fellow Democrat. .. Entenza’s campaign was thrown into turmoil with the revelation that he had hired a Chicago researcher to get information on current Attorney General Mike Hatch, a fellow Democrat.” (Brian Bakst, “Entenza Drops Out Of AG Race,” Associated Press, July 18, 2006)

That's just an excerpt from the fairly harsh GOP screed. You and Dana Houle can read the entire thing at MDE, link again, here.

Finally, and Dana Houle take note of this, from the earlier noted MPR item, italics emphasis added:

Entenza says he didn't know about the parking ticket request until someone showed it to him on the blog MinnesotaDemocratsExposed. He says he doesn't think his campaign manager told him about it a year ago.

Entenza says when Hatch found out about Entenza's research last year, Hatch told Entenza that he should have simply asked for the information instead of using the Chicago firm

"In retrospect, the right thing for me to do would have been to go into Mike's office and ask to sit down and talk to his budget person and what have you," said Entenza. "I thought it would be easier just to get some copies of reports. Apparently it would have been better to do it differently. But such is life."

Entenza says he hired Gragert Research to do a data request because he hadn't worked for the AG's office for a decade and wanted to get up to speed on the inner workings of the office. He says he wasn't trying to dig up dirt on Hatch, who at that point hadn't announced whether he was running for governor or another term as attorney general.

I recall having seen speculation but cannot find it again online, that Entenza's hope at the time of the "opposition research" was to encourage Hatch to seek another term as AG and leave the race then for Governor for Entenza; although such speculation is inconsistent with the above quoted Entenza explanation, one for which MPR published how it would have made more sense, if finding out about current operation of the AG office were the sole intent, for Entenza to have saved forty grand and simply asked Hatch. If brushed off, certainly then other ways and means would have been sensible; but ask first, find out, save cash.

And using a Chicago firm? It seems an effort intended to lessen the likeihood of Minnesota hirelings being used, and letting the cat out of the bag.

It's smarmy.

And Dana Houle, read please that italicized part about blaming the campaign manager. No wonder Entenza did not have a campaign manager when he called Houle, having used one as a cutout between personal responsibility and paid-for actions; working for a man who would say he "doesn't think his campaign manager told him about it a year ago" is putting personal credibility at risk for someone who's arguable history is a quick willingness to throw a campaign manager under a bus to lessen the impact of the bus hitting him. Dana, wisdom might suggest putting someone on the campaign staff to watch your back.

_______FINAL UPDATE______
The Sept. 2, 2006 MDE item indicates it was campaign money used for The Shadow:

When a Republican-oriented blog, MinnesotaDemocratsExposed, first reported in July 2005 that Entenza had hired someone to investigate Hatch, Entenza dismissed the report as 'just absolutely absurd.'

This summer, when the allegation resurfaced, Entenza said he paid only a 'couple of hundred dollars' for his research on Hatch. He said some research the firm conducted, including an investigation of a Hatch parking ticket, went beyond anything he authorized.

On Friday, Entenza filed an amended campaign finance report, disclosing that he paid the $40,000 to Gragert Research, the Chicago company that conducted the research.
In a four-paragraph statement, Entenza apologized to Minnesotans for not being forthcoming.

'I made a mistake in the handling and the release of information to the public regarding the research,' he said, 'and I apologize for that mistake and take full responsibility. … Once the research became public, I should have been more forthcoming and open about it. For that, I am very sorry.'

This is a candidate for AG, the top lawyer for the state. Demonstrably he was shown as splitting hairs over an "investigator" vs an "opposition researcher" as grounds for an initial evasive if not disingenuous response. He wrongly stated the cost of things, publicly, and then after apologizing "for not being forthcoming," how does the sincerity of the apology and the weight of the lesson square with how on his current website biography he characterizes the entire affair, again, evasively?

Either there is a flat learning curve problem that would make one think twice about wanting him as the State's chief executive, or a dissembling "spin doctor" cynicism problem, making one even more cautious in lending support. I wonder if when shopping, whether Dana Houle buys damaged goods, shirts with buttons not all there, dented canned goods, etc.

If anything else is to be posted, it will not be by update, but in a new post.

Health insurance barker cries, "Fishing expedition," over congressional requests for documents. -- This is not pursuing "fish."

It is a shark hunt, folks. These are not small fry. Our reps are not looking for food fish preyed on by sharks. They seek truth about sharks, themselves. Strib online carried this Aug. 19 AP text:

WASHINGTON - A spokesman for the health insurance industry accused Democrats of mounting a "fishing expedition" on Wednesday, as individual insurers decided whether to honor a request for financial records sought in a House committee's investigation.

Robert Zirkelbach, spokesman for the American Health Insurancance Plans, said Democrats on the panel hoped to "silence the health insurance industry and distract attention away from the fact that the American people are rejecting a government-run plan" as part of President Barack Obama's planned overhaul.

Zirkelbach said it would be up to individual companies to decide whether to turn the records over.

Dozens of insurers received the request, part of an investigation into executive compensation and other business practices inside the industry.

A spokesman for Rep. Bart Stupak, D-Mich., said Tuesday night that 52 letters had been sent to health insurers with $2 billion or more in annual premiums. He said letters were not dispatched to other industry groups, some of which have been airing television advertising in support of Obama's call for legislation.

The request to insurance companies included records relating to compensation of highly paid employees, documents relating to companies' premium income and claims payments, and information on expenses stemming from any event held outside company facilities in the past 2 1/2 years.

The requests were made in letters signed by Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Calif., who guided a portion of health care legislation through the House Energy and Commerce Committee last month as chairman, and Stupak, who heads a subcommittee on the panel.

[...] Among the documents requested were records relating to compensation paid to any company executive earning more than $500,000 in any year from 2003 to 2008.

Waxman and Stupak also sought documents relating to premiums paid by policy holders, claims payments, sales expenses, administrative expenses and profits, broken down by categories such as employer-provided coverage; individual coverage, Medicare and Medicaid.

[emphasis added] Two billion or more annual income is a lot. Figure it this way - wouldn't you be happy if you had it? Wouldn't you feel you were doing well pulling in that kind of loot? Would you be at all unhappy getting "more than $500,000 in any year?" Would you almost feel guilty, folks and small businesses paying for life-and-death situations, and you taking half-a-mil off the top? These are not at all unreasonable threshold amounts for basing inquiry. Small fry can get through that large a net mesh. Half-a-mil is substantially more than the President's salary. Around four times the salary of the requesting Congressional reps. No question -- It's a lot.

It is interesting how the reporting is biased by having the false hand-waving up front, the facts of the inquiry following.

Aside from investigating sharks, it's reporting and headlining bias that's fishy.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

This is interesting. It could go somewhere. Please join the effort.

Regarding the one health care petition effort, to Obama, the Whitehouse and not the Senate, but indirectly to each, it will be observed and put into the mix, THIS LINK, I received this email over the last few minutes from the petition sponsors:

Thanks to an incredible outpouring of support from people like you, in less than 24 hours we've collected over 72,574 signatures telling Barack Obama that the public option is not optional.

Right now, the best thing we can do is continue to ratchet up the public pressure. A strong public outcry since the President and Secretary Sebelius minimized the importance of the public option has forced the Obama administration to backtrack and re-affirm support for it. But it's not enough for President Obama to indicate that he'd accept the public option without affirming its centrality to meaningful reform efforts.

We need Obama to step up to the plate and lead by telling the voters and Congress that he will not sign a health care reform bill without a robust public insurance option similar to Medicare.

The more people who speak out, the louder our collective voice.

So can you help us reach 100,000 signatures by Friday by asking your friends and family to take action?

It cannot hurt to add your support; again: THIS LINK.

I cannot speak for the petition sponsors, nor who they are and what their ties are; but it is kind of a "can't lose" proposition if you agree in principal with the petition's thrust. So, go for it. Make it deliverable at 100,000 signatures by Friday.

A Strib AP feed. Waxman and Stupak in the House want insurer financial data to likely prove a public option might keep things less rapacious.

Strib published a two page item, dateline Aug 18, 2009, THIS LINK.

Besides executive compensation as the most obvious whipping boy, and a generic expenses inquiry that would include lobbying and all; this on the second page seemed more on point to show how some hosing is going on which would be less likely if a public option existed free of such blight.

Waxman and Stupak also sought documents relating to premiums paid by policy holders, claims payments, sales expenses, administrative expenses and profits, broken down by categories such as employer-provided coverage; individual coverage, Medicare and Medicaid.

The requests were issued at a time when Obama's health care proposal is under intense attack from Republicans and other critics, including the health insurance industry. Much of the opposition focuses on proposals for the government to sell insurance in competition with private carriers.

Obama and other supporters of a so-called government option argue it would help control costs and keep insurance companies honest by forcing them to grapple with competition.

[italics added]

Over compensation and non-service related expenditures [lobbying plus] that would be absent in the competing public option would lead the exploitative things to be curbed in the private sector to stay competitive with an honest [i.e., public] shop.

The quoteed info, once attained, would disclose exploitative things going on under the status quo.


Waxman and Stupak are following the money, while Baucus and Grassley and Ross and all are saying "Show me the money."

Who wears the white hat, who wears the villain's black hat, when the numbers are out will be less conjectural. Hence, more interesting than speculation and reports such as that in Business Week, where the cancer in Minnetonka appears to rest its hopes on saying, "Trust me," and a dog-and-pony show-and-tell trailer.

The story grew legs. WaPo reports, here. Here, for a pdf posted online by WaPo of the letter sent to the cancer in Minnetonka [the request goes back to 2003, and that overlaps the Lois Quam tenure, so local interests attach since all politics are local]. This Google. Photo of trailer, BW; photo of Stupak and Waxman, WaPo.

I am troubled by things such as this WaPo report excerpt, from the insurance industry, after it has engaged in a round of hooliganism and incitement at town meetings, conduct of the coarsest kind, replete with disinformation and all:

Robert Zirkelbach, a spokesman for America's Health Insurance Plans, said the industry viewed the Waxman-Stupak letters as a "politically driven" distraction from more important issues.

"This is a fishing expedition," Zirkelbach said. "There has been an effort in recent weeks to shift the debate to focus on the health insurance industry rather than solutions on health care."

The suggestion is you can fix a problem, without consensus, with one side having orchestrated acrimony, without knowing what the underlying facts of the problem really are.

That's Mad Hatter Tea Party more than taxpayer tea party.

If "the health insurance industry" is independent of "solutions on health care" I at present, with the information requested to yet be supplied and made public, cannot see how that could be.

Clearly such quick-shot artistry as the Zirkelbach quote is fine for billing out time to the insurers, but after the circus, supply the facts.

Without knowing what exactly a problem is, it is difficult ti fix it unless there's an absence of debate and full consensus - at least majority consensus making extended honest fact-finding unneeded. But such consensus is so far lacking.

If health insurance companies are NOT a part of the problem, then that means they can go away while the problem is being fixed. If they are ae efficient, defect-free, and not at all at fault as they purport to be, they can quit wasting money on lobbying. Let market dynamics prevail.

Existing efficient trouble-free private insurance would mean that if a public option were enacted, it should not bother them at all.

They would continue to offer greater efficiency and lower cost than the pubic option (of which they are universally dismissive), and the invisible hand of the market will act so that the public option will fade into disuse and obscurity; much as private turnpikes have yielded to public highways and unemployment insurance and workman's comp has been abandoned by the private sector, to be something handled entirely through state adjudication and case-by-case review within each state's bureaus. And there appear to be areas of cooperation part public, part private, the air travel industry being the primary example - government runs facilities, private firms own, maintain, and market the aircraft seats and negotiate destination and gate rights, and ticket prices.

Health care is open to exactly such an arrangement. Medicare for all, with extended coverage open to however the private sector chooses to handle it; that's one option.

Another option is to have parallel systems, where a public plan and private plans compete on a level playing field, with the membership and service rules the same for each. That is the most American way of doing things; both enter the market, the inefficient perish, the efficient survive.

It is how capitalism, in all the lore, is said to operate.

I do not understand what any efficient private sector insurance providers would have to fear from level playing field competition, with universal coverage.

I suppose they want a situation like parcel delivery; UPS and Fed Ex cherry pick the profitable trade, leaving junk mail delivery to the post office since it's a cash sink that would fail on its own without subsidy.

But cherry picking, really is un-American. It is a disgrace to the flag. All that. Leaving only the old and badly sick for the public sector, and cherry-picking young healthy folks for UnitedHealth, and allowing them trick ways to weasel out of coverage when the rubber meets the road - that's morally indecent as well as un-American.

Moral decency is part of things. The most critical part. Moral indecency is, to use the term again, un-American. We allegedly are a morally decent nation.

The debate is not only about money.

Government must protect the poor from the rich and the rich from each other.

Unemployment insurance and allowing unions is an example of meeting the former duty, Bernie Madoff is an example of a failure of the latter.

Madoff happened because regulation failed to stop Madoff, and that was because regulation that existed had been dismantled - because Clinton and his Goldman Sachs treasury secretary, Bush and his, and Gramm and others in the legislature all failed to do their jobs. Their real jobs. They served the interests that served them, but that's not doing the real job.

You have to read about the giant cancer that is growing in Minnetonka.

Or is it a cosmic cesspool? Or a giant leech? Read the five Business Week reporting pages. Look at the distinguished past service their people have on the resumes. Then pick your metaphor.


Does it make you proud they're headquartered in Minnesota?

No item screenshot, but this photo from the Business Week item:

Doesn't he look as warm and compassionate as Bush's Treasury Secretary, Paulson from Goldman Sachs, the $700 billion TARP bailout man, with a little help for his friends?

The man is Hemsley, now CEO of the cancer, who according to Business Week was a former chief financial officer of the now-defunct, discredited and disgraced Arthur Andersen accounting firm. A migrant from that now-defunct former Enron consort, now ensconced in Minnesota.

There's more.

Goldman Sachs' ex-head lobbyist, now doing the same, for the Minnetonka operation:

In August 2007, the company hired [Judah C. "Jud"] Sommer, who previously headed global lobbying for Goldman Sachs (GS). He quickly built a new Washington team of former congressional aides and other K Street operatives. One key acquisition: Cory Alexander, former chief of staff for House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.), an influential moderate Democrat. Alexander had been lobbying for the huge mortgage financier Fannie Mae (FNM). Today, Sommer directs a team of nearly 50 people from UnitedHealth's spacious Washington office on Pennsylvania Avenue, equidistant between the Capitol and White House. The company spent more than $3.4 million on in-house and outside lobbying in the first half of 2009.

Sommer has retained such influential outsiders as Tom Daschle, the former Democratic Senate Leader who now [...] sells his expertise to UnitedHealth, which opposes any such public insurance plan. Among the services Daschle offers are tips on the personalities and policy proclivities of members of Congress he has known for decades.

So says the Business Week item, p.4. Here, if you want to see what Sommer looks like.

HEALTHCARE - Something is as true today as it was last month.

Reread this, or read it for the first time.

Image below, from here.

I cannot defend anything Obama and the two houses of congress have done so far about healthcare. It is a bandaid, at best, although more likely a fraud from the start. A bait-and-switch hoax.

It is baby steps. Inexplicably so, since if there ever was a mandate for wanting new and bold leadership [as was promised] to equal the mandate of the 2006 and 2008 elections, I do not know of it. Perhaps the Gringrich fraud back in the 1990's matches, perhaps not.

Politicians having single digit percentage approvals, is being to kind to them, they deserve zero respect, so far.

We need another national political party to balance the two on the right. The two that are ostensibly at odds on how to treat people, although they appear to only differ on which mob gets current dibs on current patronage spoils while the other pack of mobsters moves private sector to cash out payment for past services.

We need something better than the propaganda machine called mainstream media.

Where is Bill Clinton giving speeches these days, at how much per pop?

What are the two George Bushes doing these days? Keeping up "friendships" is my guess.

Too good to pass up, Google's targeted advertisement image is this, when I closed the Blogger edit window:

That man is as much a socialist as I am an evangelical christian. The central planning body in Minnesota known as Metropolitan Council, now that's socialism; and the City of Ramsey buying a land development to develop it, buying The Ramsey Town Center, now that also is clear socialism; certainly more so in each instance, relative to anything Obama's done or proposed. Think about it. What else would you call socialized planning and socialized development? Would you call it Free Enterprise? Would you call it letting the market govern? What? I know what I'd call it:

Socialism run amok. Clearly bad socialism. Socialism for Dummies.

Pyromaniacs running the fire department as the metaphor of Met Council's brand of socialism. Crabgrass-controlled socialism.

Lake Wobegone effect socialism, for the Ramsey situation. (actually the term fits Met Council too, with each overestimating its "above average" capabilities and potential ability to push effectively on a string and achieve anything beyond actual mischief)

The Ramsey Town Center situation; perhaps we call it Mop-up Socialism. It is that.

_________FURTHER UPDATE__________
Leaving socialism at the local locale aside, another petition every intelligent patriot wanting to make us a better nation should sign, this link.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Healthcare - why would something that necessary take that long to achieve?

An interesting link.

______UPDATE -- Who's "we?" Other stuff. A petition you can sign.______
This teaser image will be returned to later in the post. But it's a good lead.

Two reader comments, one attached to the post, you can read it. It unfortunately may be true. If so it only would be because Obama lied - while politicians lying is not unusual. However, to be duplicitous on something that the people so strongly want, is offensive.

Second reader comment, a friend phoned, and said all I did was post a link and that was a disappointment or at least unusual, no bloviating. He wondered if Blogger had malfunctioned.

On this update there will be more.

Start with this, after the weekend, from a Kansas City outlet today, Aug. 18 - somewhat neutrally worded, somewhat lightweight, tepid actually, but the item and comments are worth reading as a starting point [go to the link for the comments]:

Sebelius backtracks: Public option still alive
By Yael T. Abouhalkah, Kansas City Star Editorial Page columnist

Kathleen Sebelius has stumbled badly during her first time in the national spotlight as Health and Human Services secretary.

By Tuesday, the former Kansas governor was backpedaling furiously from statements she made Sunday regarding President Barack Obama's health care insurance plans.

On Sunday, Sebelius stunned many Americans (and plenty of liberal Democrats) when she said that a public option was "not the essential element" of health care reform.

But on Tuesday, here was part of Sebelius' message at a Medicare conference:

We continue to support the public option. That will help lower costs, give American consumers more choice and keep private insurers honest. If people have other ideas about how to accomplish these goals, we'll look at those, too. But the public option is a very good way to do this.

OK, let's start with this question: Who's "we"?

Is Obama still aboard, even though he, too, has backed away from insisting on a public option in health care reform?

Press Secretary Robert Gibbs was saying on Tuesday that, yes, Obama still thinks a public option ought to be part of the discussion.

That would be news, however, to people like House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

She hit the roof Monday as she strongly spoke out in favor of a public option and against the idea Obama appeared to be favoring -- insurance co-ops.

The back and forth on a crucial element of health care reform reflects just how badly the Obama administration and his supporters -- including Sebelius -- are handling this entire issue after a few days of criticisms from a minority of angry Americans at town hall meetings.

What a disappointing mess.

Please, do read the comments - again, this link. Cogent, not strident. When facts are on your side, the majority of real people on your side, you don't need to rudely shout.

At least, apparently, we still have Pelosi showing an apparent conscience. Showing she's still up for something of a good fight. It's good we have that.

But, the fact is the dark side of the force has shifted the debate to should we have even a lame "public option," vs where debate belongs; is there any sane and cogent argument to be made against single payer? There is none or at least the inept rhetoric from the GOP and other Dogs has presented none.

Argument, there's been plenty, sane and cogent from the Dogs, however, is distinctly lacking. Same old disinformation stuff from that bought and owned chorus and their paid disruptive hooligans.

While all that is theater, paid for by corporate status quo mongers, things need to be redirected to the real issue - lack of any decent reason to not go single payer and only a lack of will and fortitude among the Dems to simply do so. The efffectiveness of the obstructionists wanting to stage the battle at public option is apparent, when corporate media unfortunately plays along, witness THIS. It's biased, it's dreck, but the media's owned too by status quo mongers, so expect it.

Now for something a little less polite, a little more blunt and truthful; here, from Brad Blog, yesterday [links and italics emphasis in original]:

In the final analysis, the ideological differences between Republicans and the corporate/controlling sector of the Democratic party are relatively narrow and insignificant as compared to the bi-partisan link to corporate wealth and power --- a link both share with the corporate-owned, mainstream media.

Today, it's imaginary "death panels" and the undereducated, easily manipulated wing-nut mobs sent to shut down one of the oldest forms of American democracy --- the town hall meeting.

These provide the perfect cover. They permit the more gifted corporate Democrats, for example Barack Obama, to seduce the great masses of working stiffs who make up the American electorate with soaring, but ultimately deceptive, rhetoric; producing brief euphoria on the eve of the last election, followed by no real substantive change.

A Business Week piece, "The Health Insurers Have Already Won.” reported: "The carriers have succeeded in redefining the terms of the reform debate to such a degree that no matter what specifics emerge in the voluminous bill Congress may send to President Obama this fall, the insurance industry will emerge more profitable."

This back-room deal was, in large measure, cooked up by Sen. Max Baucus (D-MT) and Sen. Charles "I-killed-the-death-panels" Grassley (R-IA) inside the corporate occupied confines of the Senate Finance Committee --- a development that should surprise no one given the Washington Post's report that the health and insurance lobby "gave nearly $170 million to federal lawmakers in 2007 and 2008, with 54 percent going to Democrats..." An additional $15.3 million was doled out to federal lawmakers between April and June of this year by the health care sector.

While "30...lawmakers [involved in drafting] health-care legislation have financial holdings in the industry, totaling nearly $11 million worth of personal investments" and while Grassley has certainly collected tidy sums from all sectors of the health care industry, Baucus is the number one recipient of health insurance lobby campaign funds.

Huffington Post exposed an internal White House memo which showed that the President entered a back-room deal with the pharmaceutical industry "to oppose any congressional efforts to use the government's leverage to bargain for lower drug prices or import drugs from Canada." This was followed late Sunday evening by a revelation that the White House was poised to abandon the "public option."

It seems, Money buys propaganda, as well as opinions and votes in Congress. And, back in the past, pre-election, would you have voted Obama if he'd said, "I've a good spiel, but wait until you see me do bait-and-switch. It will boggle your mind."

But what is it other than bait-and-switch? Promise reform, the bait -- deliver yet more to the voracious malefactors paying out their cash for bigger, bigger future returns, the switch.

When the first draft of a bill is a thousand pages, and the notions needed for actual reform so simple, you know you're being flimflammed - flimflammed about as much as within the tax code and regs, a foot tall stack of paper with all those beautiful loopholes for the rich and near-rich, those never needing to work but able to live off the earnings of vast capital assets, those setting up shelters and family trusts.

Please note, the Brad Blog item is somewhat excerpted, and truncated without the updates and some key links. SO - Again, the full original is HERE.

Again, the corporate onslaught has temporarily gained momentum, with reform advocates falling back to defending "public option" instead of pressing for single payer. And on the other fallback attempt we have our obstrucitonist poster child, that Senator Kyl (rhymes with vile), now reported as saying healthcare co-ops "will not win support."

It's simply and clearly getting to be time for a cramdown, if there's any heart and soul yet unsold in the Democratic Party. There might be.

Last item, back to the open Nader image, Ralph with Amy Goodman, Aug. 14, HERE, for the unexcerpted version:

AMY GOODMAN: President Obama is headed to Belgrade, Montana today and Grand Junction, Colorado tomorrow, on Saturday, for a pair of town hall meetings on his healthcare reform legislation. The meetings are part of a final public relations push by the President to answer critics of reforming the healthcare system before the Obamas go on vacation.

While much of the media coverage has focused on right-wing criticism of the bill, there is also growing concern by advocates of reform that the Obama administration secretly made concessions to the healthcare industry and drug companies.

A recent article in Business Week was titled “The Health Insurers Have Already Won.” The piece details how [Lois Quam and Matt Entenza benefactor] UnitedHealth and rival carriers have maneuvered behind the scenes in Washington and shaped healthcare reform for their own benefit.

[see original re very interesting Robert Gibbs press questioning on the pharmaceutical industry's deal omitted from this excerpt - Goodman continuing]

Well, to talk more about the healthcare legislation, we’re joined by former presidential candidate, longtime consumer advocate, Ralph Nader.

Ralph, you have looked at what came out in the Huffington Post. Explain what it is now that we’re understanding is the deal that the White House has, well, denied over the last week.

RALPH NADER: What is emerging here is what was being planned by the Obama White House all along, which is they would only—they would only demand legislation that was accepted by the big drug companies and the big health insurance companies.

You can see this emerging over the last few months. President Obama has met with the heads of the drug companies and the health insurance companies. Some executives have met with President Obama four to five times in the White House in the last few months. He has never met with the longtime leaders of the “Full Medicare for Everybody” movement, including Dr. Quentin Young, who is a close friend of his in Chicago; Dr. Sidney Wolfe, the head of the Health Research Group of Public Citizen; Rose Ann DeMoro, the leader of the fast-growing California Nurses Association—not once in the White House.

That’s all you need to know to realize that the deal that’s being cut here is from Obama to Senator Baucus, the Blue Dog senator from Montana, who is cutting a deal, largely in private, with right-wing Republican senators and getting it through the Senate and presenting Henry Waxman and John Dingle and others in the House with a fait accompli. So whatever they pass in the House will be watered down in the Senate-House conference. And what we’ll end up with is another patchwork piece of legislation, allowing huge and expanded profits for the health insurance companies and the drug companies, and continuing this pay-or-die system that has plagued this country for decades, a system that takes 20,000 lives a year, according to the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences. That’s about fifty to sixty people who die every day.

The big mistake that the Obama administration made was they did not have continual public congressional hearings documenting the greed, the fraud, the $250 billion in billing fraud and abuse alone that the GAO years ago has documented. They didn’t document the $350 billion of waste, the overhead of Aetna and UnitedHealthcare and other health insurance companies with their massive executive salaries and bureaucracies. They did not document the deaths, the injuries, the sickness that hundreds of thousands of Americans go through every year because they can’t afford healthcare. And by not doing that, by playing this behind-the-scenes game with these executives from the big health-industrial complex, they were vulnerable to the split in their own party in the House, with the Blue Dog Democrats emboldened by an apparently wavering and indecisive President Obama, and they made sure that they were placed on the defensive.

And, Amy, when you’re on the defensive in a battle like this, with all these right-wing websites and Swift-boat-type people filling town hall meetings around the country, it’s very hard to get back on the offense. And when you’re cutting deals, as Obama is, with these big corporations, you will never focus the public attention on the sources of the abuse and cruelty.

AMY GOODMAN: Ralph Nader, President Obama is going to be in Montana today. Democracy Now!, we traveled through Helena, Missoula, Bozeman, other parts of Montana in April. There was a very strong progressive healthcare movement, healthcare activists, throughout Montana. But the senator who really is in charge of this healthcare reform, Max Baucus from Montana, let’s just say wasn’t their hero. The Montana Standard reported he’s received more campaign money from health and insurance industry interests than any other member of Congress in the past six years. Nearly a fourth of every dime raised by Baucus and his political action committee has come from groups and individuals associated with drug companies, insurers, hospitals, medical supply companies, and other health professionals. The significance of this?

RALPH NADER: Well, the significance is that Obama is being undermined by his own party in Congress, because the Blue Dogs are getting far more money from these corporations and campaign contributions than the so-called liberals in the Democratic Party.

But, you see, I say “undermined”—I’m not quite sure that Obama is objecting to this. He has set the whole atmosphere of catering to these giant corporations. He has made every mistake that the Clintons made in 1993, ’94 with their health insurance plan, except that he’s leaving Michelle Obama out of it. He’s made every mistake.

You do not cut deals with the system that has to be replaced, which is the health insurance system and the monster costs imposed by the drug corporations, all of which are getting huge taxpayer subsidies, by the way.

So, what Obama failed to do, because he’s never done it when he was campaigning, he did not pay adequate and due regard to the folks that brung him to the White House. He has not mobilized the progressive base in this country. He has not done anything but, you know, humor the labor unions. And as a result, he doesn’t have a base out there.

You point quite clearly to, or you imply, that there a lot of people for a single payer, a full Medicare-for-All system. And that’s true. Every poll has shown a majority of the American people, majority of doctors, majority of nurses, are for the single-payer system.

So why isn’t the President of the United States, who was elected in large part by these same people, why isn’t he representing them in Congress and in the White House? Because he is not a transforming leader. He is a harmony ideology person. He’s a concessionary person. He wants any bill with the label “health insurance reform” on it, no matter what. He’s not even willing to draw the line and say there will be no bill, I will veto any bill that doesn’t have a vigorous public option, not a phony public option that will allow—that will allow people to be dumped into the public option when they’re the sickest and leave the healthiest people for [cherrypicking by] the profiteering insurance companies.

That is being very generous to Obama, letting him off the hook as only "weak" but not duplicitous, which seems more the case to me. But, Max Baucus is the real culprit in the story. More of the excerpt:

AMY GOODMAN: Ralph Nader, last week we interviewed Democratic Congress member Henry Waxman, chair of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, you know, absolutely key in healthcare. And I asked him why he withdrew his support for HR 676, the bill to create a universal, single-payer healthcare system. Take a listen.

REP. HENRY WAXMAN: A single-payer bill does not really have a chance to pass the Congress. It would be a radical transformation of our healthcare system. Some people could say, “That’s fine, we should do it.” But I don’t think the Congress would have any realistic chance of passing a bill like that. You’d have to take all the insurance coverage that’s provided on the private sector and switch it over to the government. There would have to be massive taxes, increases, to make up for the lost money that’s now being spent by employers for their employees. And by the time we would be through trying to accomplish something like that, the Republicans would demonize it. So what President Obama suggested was a practical compromise way to accomplish the goals that we wanted. [... In the past, in the minority, Bush having a veto, then] I wanted to argue that this was a way to cover people, and it’s the way many countries provide health insurance. And if we were starting from scratch in this country, we might well decide that that would be the way for us to go, but we have right now a system that’s been in place since World War II, where most people have their insurance through their jobs.

RALPH NADER: Well, first of all, Henry Waxman is going to be shoved aside even on his modest proposal, because the deal is being cut between Obama, Baucus, Grassley, Enzi in the Senate. And he’s not going to have much left, given the rebellion in his own ranks by the right-wing Democrats, even to put forth what he is proposing, which is a huge step backward from HR 676, which was the single-payer bill that he was on for a long time before he dropped out, before Nancy Pelosi and Obama, in effect, persuaded him to drop out.

But, you know, this business of “it‘s impractical, they don’t have the vote,” well, these are self-fulfilling prophecies. How many times could that have been said to the civil rights movement, to the women’s rights movement in the past? Well, they didn’t have the votes in Congress. So did these advocates of civil rights and the women’s rights movement, did they back down? No, they worked. They fought. They were transforming leaders. These people are concessionary leaders.

Let’s give Henry Waxman some slack here. He says that Full Medicare for All is too disruptive and too fast. Alright, why don’t they set a system that’s described in an interview with the New York Times yesterday of Dr. Marcia Angell, who was formerly editor of the New England Journal of Medicine? She says the following: you could do Medicare, step by step. Right now Medicare kicks in at age sixty-five. In the first stage, you could take it down to fifty-five years or older, and then take it down to forty-five years or older. They don’t even want to do that.

That’s why the people who are building this movement called, which confronts each senator as they’re going in and out of meetings and puts it on their website, that’s why they [status quo corporate interests] say there’s no piecemeal. They don’t want piecemeal. They want a continuation of the present system with more co-pays, more deductibles, enormous inflationary cost, and the fraud that’s enormously pervasive in the billing system, and the waste in the administrative bureaucracies of these health insurance companies.

[...] And right now, people don’t have choice of—free choice of doctor and hospital when they’re under these HMOs. What’s happening here is a Goebbels-type propaganda attack on Full Medicare for All, accusing Full Medicare for All of everything that the present system is furthering: rationing of care by these HMOs, number one; bureaucracy, number two; huge cost increases, number three; and making the taxpayers subsidize their profiteering corporate greed. [...] I would go for full Medicare for everyone, because people understand Medicare. Forty-five million people get it. They have free choice of doctor and hospital. It’s a three percent administrative burden, compared to 20 to 25 percent for the Aetnas and the private health insurance bureaucracies. It’s something that people understand. It’s something we should have had in 1964; instead of just for the elderly, it should have been across the board. That’s what I would go for. It’s supported by a majority of the people, majority of the doctors, majority of the nurses. It’s clear. It’s understandable.

And it is fair because decent medical coverage in the wealthiest nation history has known is a right, not a privilege. A right. So get it right.

That's how it is. And, Waxman, he appears disingenuous too. He can support the Conyers single payer proposal in the past, when it clearly was out of reach but good campaign fodder, but now, when it is feasibly within reach, it somehow is cast as being impractical and off the table at the outset of things. That's a total crock.

FINALLY: The petition. I give the link. That's a service, not a duty. The duty is yours. Sign it. Submit it. Voice yourself, or live with being done-over.


_______________FURTHER UPDATE______________
The petition has you sending a message to the Senate Democrats, mainly to push Baucus aside to get fair things done. And you put down info that includes zipcode, so they immediately know which senate office to route things to. And there's a box for an added personalized note to the Senate Democrats. I took advantage, saying:

We voted for you. We would not be GOP conservatives sending you this message.

I could say single payer a hundred times, but you, Al Franken, you Amy Klobuchar, you already know it is what's fair, honest, and needed. The rest is a sick charade. It can be passed if Max Baucus is straightened out. What if the Dixicrats had been appeased instead of having Humphrey stand firm and say no? What spine do you have, that way? Where would womens' rights be or one person one vote, if it had not been forced against opposition. Integrating schools, the Brown case; fair districting numerically, Baker v. Carr - that was when we had a Court that is unlike the several sitting robed individuals we have now. The Supreme Court is not going to do the heavy lifting. The House might, Obama might, but for the sake of the nation, throw Baucus under a bus.

GET IT DONE OR HAVE ZERO CREDIBILITY. With most Minnesota voters. With yourselves. View it that way.

It is that simple. There is no need to complicate it.

And, with the Obama position having been started as compromise, meeting halfway, and with that disdained and the Obama reaction appearing to be yet more concessionary - If both houses of Congress do not show the proper leadership, the job will not be done as you KNOW it should, and you will blame yourselves as much as I will blame you. Honor the system if Baucus will play fair, otherwise, under a bus. It's not rocket science. A bill a thousand pages long with smoke here, mirrors there, is a fool's bargain.

It's doing right, exactly as your parents taught. That's simple, uncomplicated.

I hope the tone of the message is not a put-off. However, they need to know that people really feel they are being cheated and abused; and that means we have to tell them so.