consultants are sandburs

Monday, January 31, 2011

Laurie Olmon sent info on a Feb. 24, 7 pm screening at Anoka City Hall, the film "Bullied."

That's "Bullied," not Bullit. No Steve McQueen. No Mustang. No car chase. Laurie emailed:

I am writing to invite you to the screening and discussion of the film “Bullied”. The screening will take place on February 24th at 7pm at the Anoka City Hall, 2015 First Avenue North, basement meeting room.

I hope you will consider this an opportunity to learn about bullying and the effects it has on our children and what we as community leaders, teachers, staff and parents need to do to stop the acceptance of bullying.

Bullying is nothing more than childhood stalking and needs to be addressed as such. It is not “a part of growing up” or a situation where “kids will be kids”. Acceptance of such behavior is the same as condoning gang violence, domestic violence, or molestation of children.

I look forward to seeing you at the screening of “Bullied” and your insight and comments to the serious situation plaguing Anoka Hennepin School District.

Sincerely,

Laurie Olmon
Councilwoman, mother, AH resident

I find it admirable how the City of Anoka officials are committed to aid and help awaken our community awareness that bullying is a serious and very harmful thing. They appear neither dismissive nor evasive of a request for a screening venue, and that means a lot.

They deserve and have earned a Crabgrass "No waffle" salute on that account. It shows real class for officials to be so helpful, open, and direct. I look forward to the success of the screening. At the city hall. We all also should be very thankful that people like Laurie are taking their time to make things better.

____________UPDATE___________
My understanding is that screening is supported by the advocacy groups, Join the Impact, and Gay Equity Team. Harmful bullying is, however, not uniquely a thing aimed against sexual orientation, even with that being a particularly regular target. I expect Anoka-Hennepin District 11 officials may attend, they have an anti-bullying policy, and if there is to be community discussion, it should start by noting that an organization such as Parents Action League, is not in any way pro-bullying. Indeed, the PAL at their web homepage, declare:


We Support

  • The District 11 Bullying Prohibition Policy which states in part "An act of bullying, by either an individual student or a group of students, is expressly prohibited on Anoka Hennepin School District property, at school related functions, or in electronic form otherwise known as cyberbullying. This policy applies not only to students who directly engage in an act of bullying but also to students who, by their indirect behavior, condone or support another student’s act of bullying.....No teacher, administrator, other employee of Anoka Hennepin School District, volunteer, contractor, or bus driver shall permit, condone, or tolerate bullying." 

Of course, opposing bullying at school is inconsistent with supporting it as proper at sporting events, shopping malls, church functions, public buildings (such as Anoka City Hall), libraries, sidewalks, or outside of PAL homes - as a target person might from time-to-time walk by.

Surely PAL people are not saying, "Our children are disapproved of if bullying another at school, but anywhere else the targeting of another kid is fair game."

That unequivocal and openly expressed PAL policy commitment has to mean that PAL people will support and attend the film screening, as scheduled, and will join in supporting and applauding the fortitude of City of Anoka in unhesitatingly providing citizens a convenient, county-wide screening venue. And if they show up and view the film, it will be a positive opportunity for them to join in and contribute to post-screening discussion.

Last night one of the CSPAN channels had a "Road to the White House" segment, Tim Pawlenty giving a speech.

I watched twenty seconds of it. I've been able to endure perhaps up to a half minute of Michele Bachmann, but on TP I maxed out at a lower tolerance level. Bachmann seems more deluded then evil.

Wholly unrelated, here is a picture of a west coast banana slug, with its slime trail. While leaving an unsightly slime trail this slug is largely if not totally inoffensive, which is why I would not liken it to Tim Pawlenty.


SLUGS: The banana slug is a woods creature, and not a garden or agricultural pest, as are other slugs. Garden slugs are a nuisance species in Seattle. Garden slugs in Seattle are best disposed of by removal from the garden area, and salting. The salt draws water from the slug, leaving only a salty slime spot.

RAMSEY - When something is done well, noting it is deserved.

This winter there has been a range of snowfall levels. Throughout, the plowing effort has seemed as good or better than in the past. In the past things were good.

Ramsey's public works staff has gotten the job done. Clearing the end of the driveway after the plow has been by always is necessary, but is also good exercise for the winter.

Pothole problems happen. It is too early to do much about them, but other places seem to have an even worse problem. In Elk River driving the stretch of Jackson Street from School Street into the area between Highway 10 and the river, shows nothing unique, but potholing that seemed worse than any I have seen in Ramsey.

In general, the Ramsey Public Works people have most certainly earned their pay, and done well. They seem well managed and diligent.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

EGYPT. April 5, 2010, New Yorker.

This link. El Baradei had left the international atomic energy inspections arena. Along with Gamel Mubarak, chosen son, he was a co-focus. Five and a half pages. They retro, this link.

WaPo, Oct. 11, 2007. This link.

In February, 2009, Joe Lieberman vetted Gamel Mubarak, this link.

Gamel Mubarak is reported now in London with his mother and sister; here and here. The latter link is Iranian.

Reportedly, a private jet and many suitcases. Stuffed with cash?

Things are proceeding apace. Gee, and there were some Wikileaks cables, about Egypt.

It looks as if Tunisia cannot adopt their version of the Vegas advertising slogan, "What happens in Tunis, stays in Tunis." The photo and screenshot below is from Haaretz; this link. I might be wrong, but didn't I see that Egyptian army officer in The Matrix? Neo and Trinity cannot be far away.


____________________UPDATE____________________
For those not knowing what El Baradei looks like:
he's the one on the right - both photos





RAMSEY -- Is it only me, or do others not having or wanting a facebook account find themselves shut out from a part of the town's public data.?

UPDATE: The situation highlighted below has an easy resolution, as pointed out by a comment - helpful even while rude. 


If the city changes its facebook link from:

http://www.facebook.com/

on its homepage, to:

http://www.facebook.com/CityofRamseyMN

access by non-Facebook account holders should apply.
...............................................................................................

Facebook is for pre-pubescent teenagers and Republican politicians, as best as I can tell, and the firm's CEO, Mark Zukerberg, is what you find if lifting a horse's tail.

In short, I want nothing to do with it. However, compare these two screenshots:



It was a brain cramp for the learned seven to decide a "Facebook presence" was proper, and then the account was not set up so that the general public - outside of those electing to become Facebook members and mess with that stuff - were excluded from the public data the account holds.

I know the accounts can be configured to be open to the general public because Republican politician Matt Look has had his election account so configured and I was able to read how he mischaracterized Ramsey's socialistic land speculation, buying up the vacant acreage of Ramsey Town Center for millions, as a "success."

That is a private person, making his Facebook publicly open.

Ramsey is the pass-backwards version of that.

A public entity, making its Facebook publicly closed - open only to Facebook members.

Why?

ANOKA COUNTY-WIDE -- embrace a "Cooperation and Collaboration Project" unlike any they've ever attempted.

Per headlining, so writes Strib's Paul Levy reporting Jan. 29, 2011, this link. This excerpt, including italicized language headlined above.

Cities are struggling with budget cuts. School districts are dealing with declining enrollment. Anoka County officials grapple with ways to satisfy added demands with a staff extended like rarely before.

Now, these groups may have found a life preserver to escape the economic quagmire -- one another.

After nearly a year of informal discussions, representatives of Anoka County's cities, school districts and county government met last week to embrace a "Cooperation and Collaboration Project" unlike any they've ever attempted. The idea is to pool resources and come up with as many win-win solutions as possible, making sure all the contributors benefit.

Share and streamline

The hope is that the various boards will complement one another, rather than duplicating services and ideas that waste dwindling resources, said Rhonda Sivarajah, chairwoman of the Anoka County Board.

"We need to work more efficiently, share equipment, streamline in a way that will benefit the customer," Sivarajah said.

Strib, also Paul Levy writing Jan. 29, reports on the disappearing townships, as they turn to becoming cities amid talk of possible annexation-based expansionism of neigiboring "entities." Turf takeover. Turf defense. This link.

It seems Levy has separately written of a yin - yang dimension set.



I will believe unprecedented cooperation and collaboration is real and not BS, when I see what appears from satellite space to be a game trail in the image above, [with accompanying map below showing context]; the "game trail" being related to "game" situations on both sides of the Anoka - Ramsey city line at a location in the contiguous industrialized belt between Thruston Blvd, (in Anoka), and Sunfish Lake Blvd., (in Ramsey), where for reasons not entirely clear to me, dating from before I moved to Minnesota I expect, there is no contiguous road linkage between those two Boulevards in that industrial belt, across the city line. My understanding is that the main opposition to such a linkage died earlier this decade, yet the link is still absent; with the cooperation and collaboration still deficient. My understanding is that building the first transcontinental railroad with driving the golden spike and all, was politically less difficult than this cross border cooperation-collaboration question. Folks are as they are, or were.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Jeb Bush is an ass both by what he will attach his name to, and by the company he keeps.

http://www.latimes.com/news/opinion/commentary/la-oe-gingrich-bankruptcy-20110127,0,4958969.story

If you want to do union busting, at least do it honestly.

Mubarak's GPS? Or is it too early to tell?

"nectar wine bar and bristo." Helpful links. It's in Osseo. From Anoka County, the place is worth crossing the river - as long as you do not try to swim.

Osseo. A restaurant you'd hate to be crowed out of when seeking a reservation; but one you have to mention because its long-term continued successful operation is "north-metro necessary."

The menu is changed every two weeks, or more frequently, yet there's never a lack of appealing choices. Check the Google presentation link, below, check it out for a meal with friends.

Live music some days too.

Nectar Wine Bar & Bistro
204 Central Avenue, Osseo, MN 55369
(763) 657-7231 ‎
nectarbistro.com


Its, nectar-Facebook and nectar-Twitter links. (I don't use either of those web services, but if you do, those are the links.)

A very positive Oct. 2010 Minnesota Monthly review.

OSSEO: This link. It has a legitimate downtown.

No phony-baloney cornfield conversion. No six-figure subsidy to get a restaurant.

Real.

Osseo grew that way. Evolving honestly, over time.

The city has not been asleep, and has planned responsibly and carefully. I doubt they hired any consulting firm to lead them astray. Not with a Northstar stop, but so what?

Friday, January 28, 2011

Mike, make me an offer I can understand.

Re this Crabgrass post, on my admitted confusion over a less than clear legislative effort; I note Strib had the following image online, captioned as noting the "politics of budget cutting."


Never mind the Godfather thing, "I'll make him an offer he can't refuse," I would caption this Dayton picture, as headlined, "Mike, make me an offer I can understand."

Again, what is 87th Sess. HF 65, about? Huh?

______________________
Somehow, even while admittedly very confused, I just have a gut feeling this SF 65 Jungbauer thing might relate to budget cutting, as less so rather than more so, and it seems, again at the gut level, to be at cross purposes to the dog-pony show that GOP leadership is trying to sell us.

Could that explain why it is worded obliquely?


_______________UPDATE________________
Sen. Jungbauer is living proof that not all politics is local.

As part of his nose-to-the-grindstone activity this legislative session, Sen. Jungbauer also has sponsored, 87th Sess. SF 63, a resolution proposal rather than a legislation proposal.

Please read it. It speaks for itself. Also, there is little if any indirect or confusing English, in SF 63.

As a man of the people, as he is; I am glad, (although I voted for Perovich), to see my SD 48 Senator going into this legisaltive session having such a sharp tight unerring focus on creating jobs and alleviating our dire State multi-billion dollar deficit left over from when the guy running for vice president was Governor.

Sen. Jungbauer's focus on what really matters, the bread and butter food on the table issues, is unmatched.

Would you want this guy as portfolio manager for your family's trust?

This link.

Long term, the risk structure might be different, but if you were a near-term trader, would you be long or short on Egypt?

Is it only me, or do others find the whitehouse.gov webpage more insipid under Obama than it was under Bush?

Never mind questions of honesty or balance, for each the use has been as a personal propaganda organ, but this?


There is effective propaganda, and badly handled mismanaged insipid propaganda. Which is this?

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Can anyone explain to me what in the world this bill is aimed to bring about?

Jungbauer, sole Senate sponsor, this link; 87th Sess. SF 65.

It is unclear to me. I confess I might be misreading the reach and intent of the thing while trying to make sense of what it says.

However, it looks as if it would be a legislative compulsion upon state chartered banks to create accounts, i.e., to extend credit, to public entities, where there need not be bonding or tax money to back up the credit. And what rate would be applicable?

Or does it mean something else? I am open to any reader explaining what it means:

The funding of all construction and maintenance of all state, county, statutory or home rule charter city, and town highways, streets, roads, bridges, transit systems, and other transportation infrastructure must be achieved in lieu of taxation or bonding through a revision to current state-chartered bank regulations that will provide for the state-chartered banks to create new bookkeeping entry money [...] A road authority sponsoring an infrastructure project referenced in subdivision 1, shall determine the project to be constructed using the current methods for selection and development and shall submit the necessary documentation to the nearest state-chartered bank for funding. The submitted documentation must contain the accepted, verified, and authorized project bid or the amount of funds needed if done by an existing road authority doing the project. [...] The state-chartered bank receiving the project information as described in subdivision 2 shall then electronically transfer the new funds to the account of the road authority sponsoring the infrastructure project, which must use these funds to pay for the project and for no other purpose. The road authority is responsible for the oversight of the completion of the project according to the terms of the contract.

Is that saying state chartered banks are compelled, if passed, to participate in deficit financing of road projects "in lieu of taxation or bonding?" That the government can play the float against banks? Money not yet actually raised by tax or bonds can be spent before it is realized by the governmental units - down to local governments with road projects? Banks have to extend to government credit on hope the money will at some point be arriving and no bill provision says what interest charge is applicable for such a compelled "service."

Noncompliance is a felony?

That is strange. I would have expected deficit reduction rather than creation. My impression from rhetoric is that the GOP favors something besides big government bossing the private sector around in ways the private sector might, absent the bossing, decline.

What's up?

Am I reading this thing wrongly? What is meant "... to create new bookkeeping entry money..."?

Only one sponsor, Sen. Jungbauer.

Readers, help me. What does it mean?

It seems inherent in the notion of private property, that a bank can extend or deny credit any nondiscriminatory way it chooses based upon its fiscal best judgment; and that people trust banks because they trust the discretionary judgment of the bankers they choose. Is this not a principle in conflict with the wording of the Jungbauer 87th Sess. SF 65 bill?

Help me understand it, if you do.

_______________UPDATE_____________
Would this mean, as an example, that City of Ramsey could continue to run the Ramsey Star Express without taxing, bonding, or spending reserves if nobody else - no other government - will pop grant money, on compelled bank credit? It would be a "transit system" presumably, and any local state chartered bank refusing to deficit fund it would be in "noncompliance" subject to a $100,000,000 fine? Moreover, would funding a Ramsey Northstar stop be a covered "transit system" if the city council voted for it to be deficit funded under this bill, if passed?

I am truly confused.

________________FURTHER UPDATE___________
I have an email into the Senator's office, per the email address on the official Senate website page; sent the day of this post, and I am eagerly awaiting a reply.

Confusion about 87th Sess SF 65

To: Sen. Jungbauer or staff

As a confused constituent, what's it mean? That bill? Could Sen. Jungbauer or a staff person email an explanation?

I have published:

http://zaetsch.blogspot.com/2011/01/can-anyone-explain-to-me-what-in-world.html

Am I barking up the wrong tree or not? I will willingly publish any explanation detailing how my admittedly confused reading might be in error. And/or how my UPDATE hypotheticals might not be appropriate.

Also, is any particular "pilot project" in mind.

Thanks.

Eric Zaetsch

Meanwhile, as further proof of neglect and possibly intentional misdirection in today's big-media coverage of the St. Paul hilltoppers, this gets coverage, while confused funny-money stuff of much greater possible fiscal impact goes under the mainstream media radar - or is not deemed newsworthy, or not comprehensible enough for citizens to consider and judge.

I would like the author of this puff-piece to explain to me what that 87th Sess. SF 65 bill is aimed at, and what its language means. Good luck, reporting person, if you can unpin things and deliver a cogent analysis of content, cause and possible effect(s).

Not to mention cost-benefit, which seems to be a GOP buzzword-theme these days in reviewing everything beyond their paychecks and perks package.

Any mainstream media reporter who can unravel this mini-mystery and report cogently on what's up with this bill will have earned my respect, ya betcha.

Tom Hackbarth toting a gun while checking up on a girlfriend and parking at Planned Parenthood, etc. as that story went, is news; but so is this SF 65 kludge.

If it does not have a lot of brass attached, will it ever be purchased?

This link.

Ventura complaint against TSA - DHS airport intrusive screening as a breach of his Fourth Amendment rights has been posted online by KSTP.

This link.

It seeks declaratory and injunctive relief. It is a tightly drafted pleading defining its claims in fewer paragraphs and pages than some complaints in other cases that have been published online. The issue is quite direct, however, and an extensive pleading would not be needed. Ventura is using the Henson & Efron firm, the two lawyers signed off on the complaint being a litigation partner and an associate; see, here and here.

It looks as if Ventura is set for pursuing a sound test case, with experienced litigators.

Sibel Edmonds has been critical of the new screenings, as has been Ron Paul. See, e.g., here and here, and other posts on the Edmonds site.

Edmonds should try to schedule Gov. Ventura for one of her podcasts where he could discuss his decision to litigate. He, in turn, could have an extended presentation of her experiences in a segment or two of "Conspiracy Theory." Each might benefit from reaching new audiences.

For all I know Jesse might already have featured parts of the Sibel Edmonds story, Dennis Hastert, Brent Scowcroft, national security, foreign policy, secrecy and all. The Edmonds site and Brad Blog have detail. You might have to hunt around each site and check the Brad Blog sidebars, or visit the older Edmonds site to ferret out details, but it's a good story to know of. If not a true story it would be a fiction best seller. Quite probably some in the government can be found contending it is a fiction, or largely so. None of us were there to know for certain either way. I'd sooner believe in Edmonds' version of things than believe in an afterlife; both being articles of faith and belief, not of scientifically provable scope. Edmonds story makes more sense to me and seems to hang together better than mythologies do.

______________UPDATE_______________
This is no myth. Follow the money.

Apparently former DHS head Chertoff has meat in the fire, on the marketing of that body scan stuff. In context, a Q and A online post of Seattle Times, this excerpt:

Travelers will see one of two types of scanners, depending on the airport.

Twenty-seven airports are getting millimeter wave machines that use electromagnetic waves to produce a 3-D image.

Thirty-three airports, including Sea-Tac, are getting the more controversial "backscatter"' machines that use low-dose X-rays to produce nude images resembling a chalky drawing with facial features blotted out.

A traveler using the backscatter machines walks between what looks like two large boxes, and stands 5 to 7 seconds with hands overhead.

An inspector in another room views the picture on a monitor. If a screener sees something suspect — the scanners can detect shapes but can't tell what the objects actually are — he or she radios an agent on the other side to make a closer inspection. The scanners can't see inside body cavities. Critics contend that's a major flaw.

Q: Why are airports getting these scanners now?

A: TSA and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security have been testing advanced imaging technology since 2007. Congress approved the program for nationwide rollout after a man attempted to bring down an Amsterdam-to-Detroit flight last Christmas by detonating explosives hidden in his underwear.

TSA says the scanners will provide a needed extra layer of security, but some experts question whether they would have caught the material.

Testimony by ex-Homeland Security Chief Michael Chertoff held sway with lawmakers but was later questioned after CNN reported that Rapiscan, the California company that makes the backscatter machines as well as cargo and baggage screening systems, was a client of Chertoff 's private security company.


Q: How much will this cost?

A: The machines cost $130,000-$170,000 each, paid for with federal stimulus funds. Estimates are the government will spend $234 million to $300 million overall on as many as 1,800 scanners by 2014.

Q: What are the health risks?

A: TSA and Rapiscan say the radiation exposure is equal to what passengers get in a plane for two minutes at 30,000 feet.

However, scientists, including a group of researchers at the University of California in San Francisco, have raised red flags and have questioned the quality of the safety guidelines TSA followed. Those guidelines were established by the American National Standards Institute, an organization whose members include companies that make the machines and the government agencies promoting them.

"While the dose would be safe if it were distributed throughout the volume of the entire body, the dose to the skin may be dangerously high," the scientists wrote in an April 6 letter calling for a review by a panel to include medical physicists and radiation biologists.

"The risk of radiation emission to children and adolescents does not appear to have been fully evaluated," they said, and the "policy toward pregnant women needs to be defined."

Q: What about privacy?

A: TSA says its scanners don't store or save images, and emphasize that the screeners looking at the images never see passengers in-person. But the Electronic Privacy Information Center in Washington D.C. equates the technology to a "digital strip search," and has filed a suit to block use of the scanners.

[italics added] Chertoff's firm has an advisory cash cow. A big slice of a $230 to $300 million pie is to be paid to the client hiring Chertoff's firm.

Sweet. Old boys helping old boys. An old story.

Quam in the news, taking State Department post.

This link.

Rhabdomyolysis.

This link.

"According to the Register, Shane DiBona posted on his Facebook page Jan. 20 that he 'had to squat 240 pounds 100 times and it was timed. I can’t walk and I fell down the stairs' "

"The Register reported that it could not reach Iowa strength and conditioning coach Chris Doyle for comment."

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

If he'd called it something snappier, like, "Molnau Was My Copilot," he might have sold more than 4800 copies


Check it out on the web. Fifteen bucks. Free shipping, per Amazon total purchase package terms.

I will leave my coverage with the headline.

Do explore the web a bit and see what others think.

The Amazon page identifies things frequently bought by those buying the Molnau copilot's thing. Have a look. It might help you hit the amount needed to qualify for free shipping.

Here's a screenshot of another part of Amazon's presentation of the thing:


Click to enlarge and study.

'Nuff said?

Please buy. Boost sales to five thousand, possibly beyond that.

UPDATE: Note that part of the second screenshot, where you can get an Amazon sneak preview.

I chose, "SURPRISE ME." I got stuff I did not find too surprising, to be honest.

_______________FURTHER UPDATE_____________
Google Books gives more of a preview opportunity, perhaps. I did not do too much exploring. Here's a screenshot:


fyi:

Google = molnau minnesota

UNICAMERAL: With the GOP in control of both houses in the Minnesota legislature; and with their rabid attack on teacher income and state employee numbers and employment conditions, here is a first step to show walking the talk.

The nationally orchestrated GOP hate campaign against teachers and public employees; (whose unions are generally if not universally embracing the other major party nationwide); is clear from a quick:

Google = GOP republicans legislature compensation benefits minnesota teachers public employees

Hits turned up from beyond Minnesota.

Start with Strib coverage in-state, here.

Plus  a buffet: e.g., here, here, here, here and here - from California to New Jersey and places in between; those all being first page Google hits; never mind Google's banner above the return listing, "About 352,000 results (0.67 seconds)".

Union busting, pure and simple - and necessarily coordinated since chance parallelism of that scope is impossibly improbable.

Check the Minnesota 2010 GOP platform. It is one of the first page Google hits, this blurb per Google:


Platform - Republican Party of Minnesot1x

File Format: PDF/Adobe Acrobat - Quick View
Public employee retirement fund deficits should not be funded by taxes, fees or by ... employee benefits should be abolished, allowing small businesses to assemble .... We support reforming tenure, limiting public school teachers' right to .... Republicans support reinstating a citizen legislature in Minnesota by ...
www.mngop.com/pdfs/platform.pdf

GOP platform at Page 6, for example: Take away teacher right to strike and remove their job security. Why do that? It's unfair. Whose agenda is it? Who does it serve beyond those wanting to weaken the opposing party in the two-party system we unfortunately face [i.e., Ventura's coat tails proved incapable of budging us from a two party stranglehold, not that his views were all that good about all that much].


OKAY. Anyway -- Let's turn back the clock. Jesse time. Jesse's retrospective of Jesse time [2009, a time before his Fourth Amendment rights being violated led him to seek judicial redress against TSA, et al.].

Jesse's retrospective published 4 Dec. 2009; Strib, this link, this screehshot - click it to enlarge and read:




With that read and understood; Strib again, here, presents numbers to contemplate - although for our purposes inadequate since legislative cost, total for each house including expense accounts, benefits, and all for legislators and staff, are not broken out so that savings from dumping out the more expensive of the two houses will not be discernible. But do it. Do it anyway since two houses makes things more than twice as difficult to navigate, and dumping the more expensive house while making the other remaining one be on a two year service-election cycle could not add to the indirect economic costs (and waste) of campaigning for office and all that entails.

If you have a problem because too many politicians get entrenched as it is and if you put all the entrenched ones into a single chamber no new blood could surface; then term limits is the clear answer. Okay, that objection's gone if you go unicameral with term limits. Surely some very good and dedicated people would be returned to the private sector sooner than some might wish, in some cases; but it's a myth that the state is not filled with far more people capable of the job than ever get the opportunity and paycheck and benefits.

How retirement accounts would be handled, years to vest, partial vesting, fixed payout vs fixed yield from the fund as shepherded - all that can be worked out. And if it is fixed yield from the fund as shephered a side benefit would be an end to politicians turing a blind eye to how the fund gets mangled and mismanaged and what kind of management fees are extracted-extorted.

Clearly, beneficial that way too.

There is no downside; or if so, readers are invited to inform me of sound counter arguments to going unicameral, term limits, two year terms and not longer, and the more expensive of the two houses gets folded out with the numbers and districts set as currently exist for the remaining chamber.

It's easy in concept and without insurmountable implementation impediments.

There are impediments - of the incumbent human nature kind which must be hammered down.

"My ox being gored, no way, no how," is the institutional impediment and politicians should be slapped upside the head over that, to get them to act like normal people not thinking themselves a priviledged aristocracy or such.

Then -- if they walk the talk; they are or would be credible in casting stones. Staying in that clearly obvioius glass house and casting stones - that goes against old sayings, and old sayings exist because each often distills a great wisdom into a few fixed words.

Old sayings don't get old by being off point, verbose, or merely trendy. Polyester went out of style as do bad adages; while only the good ones, of the "glass houses - throw stones" quality, survive as timeless and always apt.

Playing out the cards might be bumpy, but the outcome of unicameral reform, with term limits, and with frequent two year facing of the electorate by all, that package seems worth the effort.

Now, the GOP says it is against "bureaucrats" having too much power and too good a deal. If you curb the legislative ranks, doesn't that mean the bureaucracy simply becomes more entrenched and powerful?

What about term limits there? A fifteen year or twenty year cap on service, what about that? Make it cumulative, so if one uses the revolving door, you come back not at zero, but with your past service in balance relative to how long you can sit. Make it a longer stint than for elected officials where six or eight years of one politician in one district is enough and time for change. Make it cumulative, administrative appointment/employment AND legislative service adding up to twenty years. Do not count school board or local service, since twenty years with that added might be too tight a pinch to the shoe. Exempt snow plow drivers and janitors and such - or don't, that's a policy question where the rank-and-file are not decision makers in much of any sense. But if a judge, that's against the twenty, just as with a governor or a DEED lawyer.

The military has gotten brass heavy with the volunteer combat arrangement and the nation draft-free for now; but it has up-or-out. You can stay more than twenty years, or less and not get the pension vesting, depending upon up, or out. It's got problems, making hierarchy stronger than perhaps best outside of fighting forces. Yet, perhaps that might be a step for the civil service; but not to be approached until the legislature has mucked its own stable.

Demand that of them, or tell them to not monkey with the well-being and livelihood of others if they cannot face the music of THEIR OWN TUNE.

It's clear. It's simple.

It's something the loud-mouthed Republicans would never do. They'd rather not face a mirror, warts and all, and would prefer pushing around others as many probably did when younger, as schoolyard bullies.

Do you envision Hockey Tom as one easy to get along with in grade school vs. one who got his hands into other kids' lunch bags because it was a privilege of being more belligerent, larger, or quicker in a fight?

I envision an answer, but I'd like Hockey Tom to honestly say.

Decision making to go back to the "smoke filled room," at least when decisions are being made in a bar?

If Tom Hackbarth has his way with his GOP legislative colleagues, smoking in bars would return, with this caveat:

Minnesota Statutes 2010, section 144.414, is amended by adding a subdivision to read:

Subd. 5. Restaurants and liquor establishments. Sections 144.414 to 144.417 do not prohibit smoking in a restaurant that serves alcoholic beverages, bar, or tavern if the facility meets the requirements of this subdivision. [...]

(a) Restaurants with attached bars must be separated from the bar area on all sides by continuous floor-to-ceiling walls, which are interrupted only by closable doors that are continuously closed, except when a person is actively entering or exiting the bar. Smoking shall not be permitted in the restaurant area.

(b) In order to control indoor smoke particulate in bars, an HVAC ventilation system that will exchange the indoor air every two hours must be installed

Restaurants would still be smoke free or largely so as long as the swinging door is not overly used, and the bars must ventilate so the air inside does not get so gross it would gag a maggot.

One thing I have come to believe from a rumor I learned of, from time to time there's some not irregular elected-folk unofficial meeting up at Spectator's at the strip mall at Sunfish Blvd. and Highway 10, across from the motel, so that there must have been a lot of blowing smoke, even without any presence of burning tobacco.

If there is any reader with knowlege of details, please send an email or propose a comment to the post.

I have learned of names named, but with it presently unsubstantiated by me - I've no desire to go into Spectators for any reason whatsoever - I will not name names. Again, a reader with personal knowledge - one who can name names - is invited to do so.

Indeed, a photo would be welcomed and posted on Crabgrass. Readers, help me out. Get me a photo.

Possibly a hazy and smokey photo if Hackbarth has his way, or crystal clear; either way is okay, just with individuals identifiable. It would be worth its own post.

________________
photo credit - from City Pages' coverage of the Hackbarth bill to lift the ban.

Landform on the march.

As I understand things, currently there is a distinction - so will it be without a difference:

Landform in Ramsey



Landform in East Bethel.



______________UPDATE_______________
Republishing: From a May 19, 2010 Crabgrass post:


I'm from site to finish, to collect my spinich,
I'm Popeye the business man.










----------------------------------

Stay tuned.


East Bethel "reform" might move in mysterious ways.

_______________UPDATE_____________
City council controversy in East Bethel reported by Hagen of ABC Newspapers; this link.

While not a common name but one not entirely unique either, I believe I am not mistaken, David D. Schaaf is the person around whom reporting centered, and he served in the legislature in the 1970's this screenshot relating to his last term:


This shows in part the experience offered, in lieu of formal schooling in government service and administration.

This link.

Chairing several committees on relevant matters is experience, and should fairly factor into things.

How that translates into agenda, allegiances, and such is something I cannot determine online. I believe the current business experience Schaaf claims as relevant is in real estate brokerage services. That fits with the biographical information from during his service in the Minnesota Senate.

If I am in error in this research I ask any reader with knowledge to set things straight.

___________FURTHER UPDATE____________
Latest ABC Newspapers East Bethel coverage, Hagen, Jan 22; this link.

Why not in Ramsey?



From Strib, here. Why not Ramsey?

Some questions have a thousand answers. Microsoft is discriminating.

Your answer to "Why not Ramsey" is as good as mine, but don't Darren and Mike have the mojo for this kind of catch?

Beyond heavily subsidized unneeded [unwanted too?] rental, extending over a million dollars in credit and giving away a large part of the citizens' ramp to Indiana-based private venturing as a subsidy [what difference, "subsidy"-"bribe"-"incentive" payment, loan and/or concession]; beyond that, what has Landform done to earn its monthly stipend?

Zippo, I'd say, but we all do not necessarily share identical opinions.

A new blog, with attention to Anoka County and the north metro, and a focus beyond that?

I became aware of  the new Ardentmeld effort, (using the Wordpress engine and not Blogger as I use), via a comment to an earlier local-interest Crabgrassing post.

In that comment, "Robyn" and not "Rhonda" being mentioned caught and piqued my interest.

Since the comment seemed on point and generally polite, though opinionated, I, (contrary to normal policy), allowed it even though anonymous.

Where Ardentmeld goes from here is an open guess.

When someone has opinions, and thoughts - worth sharing - it is good to see such a one choose to take the extra effort to set up a soap box, of sorts.

Good luck on the venture, etc., whoever you are.

Friday, January 21, 2011

ANOKA COUNTY: Don't blame me. I voted primary for Hendriksen. I voted general election for Steffen.

Could the county raise some cash by auctioning the right to drop the handkerchief?



Paul Levy covering north metro for Strib, reports:

In a war of words that has exploded beyond the confines of the Anoka County boardroom, longtime Commissioner Dan Erhart calls new board chairwoman Rhonda Sivarajah "vindictive, controlling, without concern of what's good for the county."

"This is a new day," Sivarajah said from her office. "We're going to strive for transparency in government."

To one first-time commissioner, that transparency translates into "revenge" stemming from a long-time feud between Erhart, a former board chairman who pushed for the Northstar commuter line and a Vikings stadium in the county, and Sivarajah, a fiscal conservative who for years was the board's lone dissenting vote but now heads a new majority.

Erhart, bristling after being replaced as chairman of the influential Anoka County Regional Rail Authority by newcomer Matt Look, questioned the selection of the same four board members to four key committees (finance and capital improvements; management; public works; and intergovernmental and community relations).

Sivarajah, Robyn West and two rookie commissioners -- Look and Andy Westerberg, a former legislator -- are on all four committees. Erhart and Jim Kordiak, the county's longest-tenured commissioners, are on none.

"I'm very disappointed; we're called to a higher standard than revenge," said Carol LeDoux, a third newcomer, who was excluded from the four committees as well, and was named to fewer committees overall than either Look or Westerberg.

It does seem to reek of a "spoils system" attitude, but Erhart had the majority previously.

Read Levy's entire report. I only quote a few lead paragraphs.

I think District 1 voters made bad choices twice, and I anticipated something such as Levy reports would happen. Elections come. Elections go. One Dylan song line, "A lot of people have knives and forks on the table. Gotta eat something."

At any rate, I hope Sivaraja delivers on transparency. Ramsey has done a ton of stuff via its HRA, un-televised. Hopefully Look was not the decisive voice in such non-transparency. Hopefully he will be on the same page as Sivarajah, in not only talking the talk, but in walking the walk, transparently.

___________UPDATE____________
Tony Sutton seems to have less of a problem with the new Anoka County Board than Dan Erhart.

This link.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Terry Hendriksen asked if I knew anything new about James Norman, and Albert Lea.

I did a Google. The most recent three items I located are here, here and here, in chronological order, the last being from earlier this month, giving a timeframe update:

Norman's trial was supposed to start January 11, 2011. The case will not go to trial on Tuesday and a contested omnibus will be set within the next 28 days.

With other things pressing, Ramsey's former City Administrator, Norman, has yet to update the Linkedin page.

The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly. This time, not squint with Clint. Different film, follow the orange highlighting ...

Middle indirect-Oz images from here.



-and-

Wait. There's more.

No yellow brick road, but the promised orange highlight.


Toto pulls aside the curtain:


Once upon a time, Ramsey Town Center was featured on the Dorsey websight, as a pride and joy. Times change, and one wonders how the orange highlighted item, whenever written, weighs in on that long-since scrubbed website post. It might be a hoot to see the power point visuals for the presentation, over time, from after leaving Met Council, to after Nedegaard's bankruptcy and death, and Northfield banker coverage.

In a file somewhere on the hard drive I saved a pdf fromthe web, for screenshots, for old time's sake.

Found it - downloaded March 25, 2007; the Google cache of part of the Dorsey firm's website:



WOW! The wizard was Bruce Nedegaard's lawyer in negotiating the Ramsey Town Center pride and joy, splat in the middle of a very non-special Green Acres land-speculator's cornfield.

Of interest the same date as the cache copy of the Dorsey page was downloaded touting Ramsey Town Center; the download of the firm's identical page had scrubbed it off - presumably as having turned from good, to bad or ugly.

I have that archived too.

The wizard did that Ramsey deal as Nedegaard's lawyer shortly after leaving as Met Council administrative boss under Ventura-Mondale. Leaving for the greener pastures of Dorsey fame and fortune.

I cannot remember if Town Center and urban village grants from Met Council were delivered in Ramsey before the October 2004 date listed for the orange highlighted presentation.

Oh, I almost forgot. That "Bloomington Central Station" pride and joy remained on the Dorsey page March 25, 2007, and beyond.

It must have stayed good.

It included a rehab-rededication of the old Control Data headquarters building, as one of the first wizardly things the wizard got into after his Met Council stint (when, presumably, as head honcho of staff he had some say on the Hiawatha route, such as where stops would be along with the consequent real estate development opportunities attaching to stops, as located).

Oh, what a wonderful wizard he was ...

Indeed, "was" almost denies, "still is."

For Ramsey Town Center as it presently stands -- failed, tawdry, incomplete and shamed, he has wizardry text; e.g., see here and here.

_____________UPDATE_____________
The beginnings of the compromise of Ramsey's better aspects began much earlier than the October 2004 date assigned to the GOOD, BAD, and UGLY Town Center Urban Village, or Livable Community thing.

Whenever the terminology of Livable Community entered to fuse with and accompany Urban Village and Town Center wording, is something I cannot say, but I have found a handle for Transit Oriented Development [abbreviated TOD, amusing to those knowing German].

It was TOD for Ramsey's better being, ya betcha. This online item:

Transit-oriented development (TOD) is a tool for achieving smart growth. This physical development approach coordinates land use, transportation planning and investment, and building design so that the resulting land use pattern is supportive of transit ridership, walking, pedestrian activity and the needs of daily life.

In August 2006 the Metropolitan Council prepared a very readable introduction to TOD, available for free downloading at the web site below. This 9-page, colorfully illustrated guide includes a description of key TOD elements and photos of TOD projects in the Twin Cities.

Linked from this printable guide are over 100 pages of updated technical "how-to" information, originally prepared in 2000 by the Met Council and Calthorpe Associates (http://www.calthorpe.com/ ), a national leader in TOD. The technical information, well illustrated, addresses site selection, land use patterns and density, street configuration, parking, transit frequency, pedestrian/bike requirements, building design, block geometry, compact development, and employment rules-of-thumb.

Useful for citizens, planners and engineers, the Guidebook establishes measurable standards to simplify the task of guiding development proposals and assessing their outcomes.

16 "Lessons Learned" are summarized from Twin City TODs. [...]

In Minnesota and around the country the communities being built that use TOD principles -- be they individual blocks, neighborhoods or towns -- are moderate to higher density, compact, walkable, mixed-use, and vibrant. Pre-WWII neighborhoods, towns and cities are typically oriented around walkers and transit-riders and follow TOD principles. Their mixed-use pattern places a variety of jobs, a variety of housing types, and a variety of shopping in close proximity.

Individual TOD "units" range from 30-30 acres, up to 125 acres -- this allows a 5-minute walk from any location to central transit stop -- or even 500 acres for 10-minute walks. Single family homes, condos, townhouses, etc., range from 12 units per acre in suburban areas to 60 units per acre in central city business districts.

For more background on TOD, see the Center for Transit Oriented Development's site at http://www.reconnectingamerica.org/ See also a Met Council summary of TOD at http://www.metrocouncil.org/planning/tod/tod.htm

The benefits of TOD are:

* Enhanced transit ridership.
* Reduced reliance on cars and reduced need to travel beyond walking distances.
* Decreased congestion and improved air quality.
* Preserved public infrastructure, historic assets and human attachments.
* Public infrastructure cost savings.
* Smart growth: efficient and diverse land use, open space preservation.
* Choice of living arrangements and community lifestyles.
* Inherent safety.
* Market advantages and cost savings for residential development.
* Cost savings for commercial development.

Those looking for evidence of the financial benefits of TOD for individuals may wish to read "Driven to Spend," a detailed, city-by-city report published in 2005 by the Surface Transportation Policy Project and the Center for Neighborhood Technology [...]

It says, "and vibrant." How vibrant is a failed empty expanse of sandburs?

It says, Driven to Spend."

That's for certain. In Ramsey, past and present.

Who are these IDIOTS that keep spewing this IDIOCY? They are planners, is who. Spewing planner-speak, a propaganda admittedly less Orwellian than simply being plain stupid. As naked an emperor as you'll ever see.

Ranting aside, the orange highlighting within that quote is about Calthorpe and 2000, years before the wizard's Oct. 2004 highlighted presentation. Ramsey in 2000, if not earlier, was already on the slippery slope of error and ill-reckoned hubris.

I hope the new council majority in East Bethel are discovering the men behind their curtains. I wish them well.

Check the TOD brochure, if you want TOD to be widespread in your community.

-----------------------------------
TOD to the COR, I say.

Presumably the Governor's people did their vetting. But with Petters as a background angel, is there a devil in some details?

Upon Googling and Binging about what Ted Mondale spent time on between Met Council and the stadium gig, I encountered data that appears to need a defining press conference, media scrutiny, all that, including whether any clawback might reach into profits from a firm since sold, that had Petters money provided at the venture capital stage. The way the Governor handled alcoholism questions early in campaigning is a paradigm of how I'd expect his people to explain and defuse any lingering questions about specific appointments and vetting.

As a start, there is Biz Journal reporting about the sale of Nazca to First American, including this screenshot excerpt re firm history (my questioning being apart from and in addition to a standard revolving door dislike, i.e., the leaving of the real estate kingdom-fiefdom of Met Council to reap private benefit from ties and knowledge; the same thing I have disliked about Tinklenberg Group and its follow-up to a MnDOT stint).


There is an undercurrent unemphasized hint without much substantiation in that reporting that early Petters venture money was a key factor in an ultimate growth and sale at a profit. Key and not incidental or cumulative. The item is from Nov. 2010, i.e., not from well before the Petters fan loaded up, but while the unwinding of things Petters had started its progression.

Other things raising Petters-related flags, online and published and indexed by the search services, suggest Mondale family ties to Petters' venturing that reached beyond the merely coincidental:





[red highlighting added, items online here, here and here]. I understand that aggregator-links and business-reporting web presences have proliferated and can be incorrect, and outdated. I have no knowledge of how trustworthy this one "spoke" site is, and its publishing should hence be taken with a grain of salt. However, the screenshot items above have been published and indexed by the web search services - leaving questions begging that should be publicly aired, sunshine being, as Brandeis wrote in 1914, "the best disinfectant."

The Wilf family might also prefer not having any Petters name-attachments spilling over to questions of whether citizens should give the Wilf family undeserved piles and piles of stadium cash, free stadium money, simply because Zigy wants it and feels deserving and has an affluent well trimmed public appearance.

Muddying the waters is never, (or is seldom), helpful. The Mondale-Petters ties, if any -- what, how, phantom or real, should be discussed and attended to publicly so unrelated things can move on from there (or stall on their own merits apart from diversionary fact).

Finally, to the extent anyone might regard any part of this post as in any sense "Brodkorbian" I sincerely apologize and promise penance. I'd hate to have Eva Young who I greatly respect, regard me as another "drama queen." Also, I would not want my open non-secret dislike of Met Council action during the Mondale-Steffen tenure to be viewed as a hidden agenda, hence I flag it now in the open, noting again how I dislike how Met Council aims and policy under Mondale-Lindgren, along with very, very much local land speculator "help" (aka "greed") led to the disastrous ruin in my community known as "The Ramsey Town Center;" a Frankensteinian experiment which proved to be as un-smart a malignant growth, as imaginable.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Cooperatives in Minnesota.

Attending a meeting at Connexus headquarters in Ramsey allowed a chance to read bylaws, something that few member-ratepayers ever do, and to learn that the distribution grid in the co-op's service area is not over subscribed or pressed, but that transmission from Great River Energy supply into the grid to where Connexus draws power is at capacity. The transmission grid is generally operated at or above original engineered capacity, nationwide, but the local distribution networks are generally not stress points. Connexus is a distribution operation, buying all its power wholesale from another co-op, Great River Energy, owned by its member co-ops, with each participating distribution co-op owning a share scaled to its consumption; not with each co-op being equal in voting power in the setting of genco policy ("genco" being the acronym for "generating company").

Connexus has been reliable as to outages; where storm outages and occasional flickering of lights causing the computer UPS to beep happen. However, outages have been addressed on a reasonable basis and I believe the firm's safety record is also top notch.

Trimming trees is a power company difficulty, but the family's experience has been that once the Connexus official is reached, a less than easy thing, he and others are accomodating and easy to work with.

A friend had a bad experience with entry on his land and tree cutting he deemed excessive, but after some time in dispute things settled amicably.

I was most surprised to see the firm, in an arbitrary and capricious manner, has moved to attemp to disenfranchise member-owner-ratepayers of some rights, if they have to end up litigating with the power monopoly - even if the homewoner wins or things are settled amicably.

An owner-member-ratepayer ostensibly cannot serve on the firm's board of directors if he or she had litigated with the monopoly within the last five years.

It seems such a person, if prevailing or amicably settling, would be an ideal board member, from experience. I can see no true rational basis for an otherwise rational company to impose such a roadblock against its owners. It seems unjust, unfair, and bogus.

I can see it as aimed at former Connexus CEO Rick Newland, still an owner-customer because of living in the monopoly service area, the litigation bar; but it is just too far reaching and not narrowly proscribed otherwise.

However, I think more than enough qualified people, some with power industry experience, exist to meaningfully fill board positions.

Clearly management and owner-ratepayers do NOT want just a rubber-stamp board, that would be a wrongful management motivation and a public relations negative; so I cannot figure out why the bylaws have been so jiggered up other than to shut out former CEO Newland.

Any reader with helpful information is invited to send an email to the sidebar email address.

And remember, the member-ratepayer-owners count on the firm's decency and competence, every day, as the firm well knows, per an early admission of such in a recent annual report:


As always, every day, you can click on the image to enlarge it to read. You can count on it.

_________UPDATE__________
I may be wrong about an expectation of fairness being every Connexus ratepayer-owner's expectation; but I doubt that. I ask readers to send email, whether they feel one way or the other. Were it not a firm holding monopoly power over an essential service while imposing a contract of adhesion (their demanded terms on a take it or leave it basis, where bargaining power is clearly unequal, and where the essential service is not otherwise available via other means), were that status not at play, then the situation might be different.

Ex-CEO Newland had an employment contract dispute which ended up not being amicably settled, nor with Newland prevailing. Clearly that is a different thing from a service related complaint where the firm first acts inamicably and with a deep pocket and heavy handed approach; but ultimately sees reason in amicably settling. To disenfranchise every owner-ratepayer of the monopoly whenever the firm is not amicable at the beginning of things is simply inexcusible overreaching - from a contract of adhesion position - and not what we'd rely on, every day. Or I would not, I'd want more decency and better attention to the people who "pay the freight."

If indeed, Newland and not every ratepayer-owner in the entire multi-county service area experiencing dispute were the target, the wording of the bylaw provision could exclude from the board "any former executive disputing contract carryover matters after a severance who does not either prevail in litigation or amicably settle with the firm." That would not be an overreach by a powerful monopolistic enterprise against all of its owner-member-ratepayers' rights.

Similarly, were regulation by the PUC an avenue for redress of excessiveness, an argument might exist where with cooperatives, (exempt by law from PUC oversight and regulation), things can be manipulated to be more arbitrary [even wholly so] without ameliorating bounds of administrative review and reform. Perhaps the answer is to petition the PUC to assume regulation over this cooperative, something the board could institute, if board members thought such a constraint wise.

Or am I barking up a wrong tree?

I just like justice and fairness, as well as undispted quality of service. There are two kinds of power at play. Electric power, no problem. Arbitrary political power exercises instituted by insiders, big time problem. Or that's at least my outsider's view of how Connexus management insiders have acted.

And again, it is not a private firm in the private sector making widgits you can buy or not; conjuring up something and putting it to a cleansing vote of voluntary shareholders able to freely hold or sell shares; it is a monopolist contract of adhesion at play where there is no alternative but to bow down or to go without electricity. Wholly, wholly different than with the widgit maker having shareholders who can dispose of a holding share, and be done with any/all arbitrariness. Wholly different.

Big surprise. Northstar ridership lags behind pundit forecasts that were trotted out during the Dan Erhart gets what Dan wants days. Big question, if you spend more, is it best for more train runs, or more stops?

Strib reports. Presently there are 127 comments. Many of the initial ones you read are about the paucity of runs. That's because things were flawed from the start. Met Council does not own the right of way. Burlington Northern does, and any time you want a change it means throwing more sacks full of millions at their feet, as they disdainfully make a concession or two. That's no way to run a railroad.

So, money-wise. Either pull in your horns on this behind-forecasts venture, the most sensible step, or spend more on the theory prevalent in City of Ramsey that spending more money on a proven failure will change it.

If the latter approach is taken, is the more sensible thing to have more runs - outside of the Twins specials and the commuter schedule favoring folks who work downtown and never have to work late on anything?

Those who do the happy hour thing, or need to work late, find they've a problem with Northstar scheduling. The comments to the Strib reporting include that focus.

Another way to dump tons of cash into the thing is to extend it to St. Cloud, so that ridership numbers 4/5 of what the pundits promised can be expanded to a greater and more costly range.

Again, good sense is to pull in your horns. You have what you have. You can hope it gets better but it's already been bought, whether that was a sound or unsound step. But a failure deserves caution, not headlong plunging of more cash into it. Times are hard. The legislature is Republican.

That combination is poison to money being well spent, if spent at all. Given that, and the Abeler positioning with seniority - my guess is that the wanted but unneeded Ramsey stop will prevail over any expansion of train runs to a larger time frame coverage. That's a guess, but it's all been "want" and never has been "need" from Danny's initial train fetish onward.

Yes, a comprehensive mass transit twenty-first century system is overdue. I do not dispute that.

Always, however, after Hiawatha, I have believed that Northstar was never the next logical piece. It was done, and it proves itself well short of the boosters' professed expectations. That's fact. No guessing there. Strib reports. Read it, including sampling the comments. It was the land speculators that loved it. Not the rest of us. The land speculators still love it, so watch out. They've got boosters on boards. Indeed, City of Ramsey under current elected leadership has transformed itself into, what else --- a land speculator. So, again, Watch Out.

UPDATE: Please voice a choice in the new sidebar poll. (Open until mid-February) Note that shrinking the Northstar is not offered as a poll option because of the sunk cost in getting the present stops and timings in place. Nor is winding back the clock an option, and undoing the entire thing and spending the money on something perhaps more meritorious. We may wish ---


FURTHER UPDATE: An apology, in adding the new poll I inadvertently removed the Northstar ridership poll before archiving the end result. I think it is fair to summarize, of the twenty or so responses, those responding indicated an infrequent rider status, possibly explaining why the ridership figures are so dismal. 


Also, it raises a question of who benefits from Northstar, and whether there is anything approaching a reasonable cost-benefit balance. The existing Ramsey citizens likely will not ride the thing in any volume beyond a trickle. WHO BENEFITS: Aside from developers such as the rental housing promoters now insinuating themselves into Ramsey, with subsidized parking, an opt-out based on Northstar, and City credit extensions, etc.? Whether or not that narrow a "benefit" is at all fair to existing citizens, it's been done by City officials (with assistance from the Landform firm, as part of its agenda).


The ridership poll response was clear, as was the prevailing poll opinion response on the question of people not wanting to give any free-parking subsidy to the rental housing promoters (while wondering and wanting to know what's in it for Landform's working both sides of the street on that rental housing hummer). Those numbers are being studiously kept from public disclosure - we can ask Diana Lund about what monies the city  has paid Landform regarding that promotion, but how much the promoters paid Landform is a question outside of the Public Data Law; and is not being voluntarily disclosed. Guess why.


FURTHER UPDATE: Arguments that Northstar lessens congestion on Highway 10 are a joke. The entire ridership is minute compared to monthly highway rush hour commuting. Notice that those making the highway-decongestion argument never give the road usage numbers in comparison to Northstar usage. Figure that one out.


One final point, the Strib report has the Northstar management saying they are within budget; but, so what? They have imposed a transit authority tax that never existed before the thing was instituted, and can tax however they want to meet costs. It's not meaningful that they operate within budget, as the revenue end of things includes massive subsidy. 


The ridership income is below cost; that's the bottom line


It is not paying for itself, when you combine debt service and operational cost. It's a loser, fiscally.


FURTHER UPDATE: The "We need it now that we have the Allina and VA clinics," argument begs the question. Sure - folks will ride Northstar in in the morning and stay around Ramsey Town Center until riding out in the evening, that being their Northstar option for a half-hour medical appointment. And pigs will fly. 


Clinic traffic will be people driving in and out and not staying to spend money as the local merchants crave. 


Local merchant traffic is local people, needing/wanting merchandise or beauty shop or exercise club services, or shopping at Coborns. 


That veterans using the clinic from Fridley or Elk River will flow great new business volume to Coborns at the Town Center is pure fantasy.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Can you think of a better list? Would you shift things around?


______________UPDATE_____________
I would put "internal combustion engine" in place of "automobile" since the one subsumes the other, and since diesel locomotives are a twentieth century thing even with rail grids being transitional, nineteenth-twentieth century phenomena. Think also, the first steel hull vessels were the Civil War Confederate and Union efforts; and merchant steel hulled vessels [now including tanker and container economies of scale] all are twentieth century developments. It was horse and buggy before the internal combustion engine, and while steam was important as a direct power source previously, it now finds use primarily to drive turbines in power plants and nuclear warships. Petroleum and internal combustion have dwarfed civilian steam and water power except for electrification. With the electric automobile set to displace petroleum personal transit use, and with peak oil likelihoods now or soon, conservation of liquid fossil fuel will be the rule. Hence, can anyone dispute electrification as leading the list? Rolling air conditioning and refrigeration, and household appliances into "electrification" would make sense, except then making twenty items would involve looking beyond the published listing. Indeed, X-ray or CAT scan me without the power grid -- that thinking then makes electrification even a bigger thing since the other healthcare innovations (aside from direct power consumption hospital tools) depend upon electrification in manufacturing stages. Perhaps "polymers" and other chemistry - chemical engineering innovation should be listed. As with electrification, materials science and pharmaceuticals reach to all the listed classifications, making it something difficult to list separately. Also, much chemical science and engineering dates to nineteenth century European effort; DuPont and gunpowder, etc.

GOP lacking real answers, prepares to show boat about their dislike of citizens having healthcare.

Start with sanity. The Brits. Strib, here, reports:

In a speech outlining the government's plans to overhaul public services, Cameron promised to get rid of "topdown, command-and-control bureaucracy and targets." He said that with an aging population and growing demand for new medical treatments, "pretending that there is some easy option of sticking with the status quo and hoping that a little bit of extra money will smooth over the challenges is a complete fiction."

The government is due to publish details of its reforms in a Health and Social Care Bill on Wednesday.

Socialized medicine is as much an article of faith in Britain as it is a divisive flashpoint in the United States.

The health service is Britain's biggest employer, costs more than 100 billion pounds ($158 billion) a year — and is a political football, reformed and criticized by governments since it was established in 1948.

Despite the constant tinkering, no major political party proposes privatizing the health service, and even free-market politicians like Cameron go out of their way to praise it.

Cameron's Conservative-led coalition government has said health care will be spared the cuts imposed on other departments as part of a 80 billion pound ($128 billion) reduction in public spending through 2015 designed to reduce Britain's huge budget deficit — and bring the biggest overhaul in decades to public services.

On Monday Cameron said "a free NHS at the point of use, for everybody" was "part of Britain, part of Britishness."

Yes, a definition of national identity. To be British is to be entitled to being cared for humanely, as a government duty to citizens.

No less.

No mincing around that prideful sane British truth.



Okay, sanity over.

Moving instead to House GOP leaders looking to prove party macho and mojo.

Show time beckons.

Krugman explains:

The key to understanding the G.O.P. analysis of health reform is that the party’s leaders are not, in fact, opposed to reform because they believe it will increase the deficit. Nor are they opposed because they seriously believe that it will be “job-killing” (which it won’t be). They’re against reform because it would cover the uninsured — and that’s something they just don’t want to do.

And it’s not about the money. As I tried to explain in my last column, the modern G.O.P. has been taken over by an ideology in which the suffering of the unfortunate isn’t a proper concern of government, and alleviating that suffering at taxpayer expense is immoral, never mind how little it costs.

Given that their minds were made up from the beginning, top Republicans weren’t interested in and didn’t need any real policy analysis — in fact, they’re basically contemptuous of such analysis, something that shines through in their health care report. All they ever needed or wanted were some numbers and charts to wave at the press, fooling some people into believing that we’re having some kind of rational discussion. We aren’t.


Understand, Krugman is being kind in his assessment. If you are looking for news as moving and important as the GOP's dog-pony show, look here and here, for comparable event magnitude.

And ---- Don't blame me. I voted for Tarryl Clark.