consultants are sandburs

Thursday, May 31, 2012

RAMSEY - With multiple candidates filing right and left for city council seats, here is a thought experiment some challengers might consider.

The incumbents have put the city in the position of bankrolling millions of construction money for Flaherety Collins and their rental-by-the-rails adventure. In a junior position to 20+ million dollars loaned by a Pittsburgh bank. In an earlier North Carolina condo adventure Flaherty and Collins had the thing go splat with U.S. Bank, a local lender, on the hook there. Notice, U.S. Bank is not lending this time. Pittsburgh money at risk, and City of Ramsey at a bigger risk because the Pittsburgh bank has a first position mortgage lien against the real property.

In that context, groundbreaking was delayed so that the success or distress of the Flaherty adventure will not be apparent to candidates and voters by election day.

Convenient?

For some, yes.

Challenger candidates in assessing the judgment of incumbents may want to guess: At the rental rates and occupancy levels that Flaherty is forecasting as needed to service the Pittsburgh bank (to keep them happy and the rental complex free from possible mortgage foreclosure), AND to pay City of Ramsey off, what's a good way to guess at vacancy rates and occupancy likelihoods Flaherty may face? One good idea is to consider what vacancy and actual real rate situation is being faced by an existing Ramsey shared-wall rental complex near Lord Of Life Church - call it a sensible approach to having an educated guess about Flaherty's situation and likelihoods:

This link. Map, here.

I am not pretending I know the answer to what actual and current rental prospects are and in the near future will be, in Ramsey. However, Candidates, sensible information is yours for the asking. Chat up the Terrace Hill folks, find out their rental history. If you may end up on council they likely would not want to alienate you by stonewalling or blowing smoke in your face.

__________UPDATE__________
I would not expect the Terrace Hill folks to be indelicate in expressing opinions, yet were I in their place I would feel a bit raw over a big-time competitor being ushered in with free parking ramp subsidy from the City and with the City being my competitor's credit source of last resort. They, after all, carried all their own water. And then, Flaherty comes in with a nicely tailored suit and expensive wrist watch, and gets perks and benefits not ever offered Terrace Hill. That's hardly fair, there in Ward 4.

________FURTHER UPDATE________
In using Terrace Hills as a "best comparable" to what might be expected from Flaherty's adventure, two factors may be relevant. Flaherty will likely double the amount of shared wall rentals in Ramsey, and that supply side change will have its ripple effect, demand side, pricing wise.

Also, you can talk heated salt water pool all you want, and presumably Flaherty employees will tout that, but the fact is you do not live in the pool, you live in the apartment. Will the Flaherty units be comparably sized to those in Terrace Hills, larger for the same price, or substantially smaller. You rent the space, not the ambiance, just as you eat the steak and not the sizzle. Square footage per unit matters.

________FURTHER UPDATE_________
From here, planned pricing and square footages, for the rentals-by-the-rails thing, night trains and all:

click image to enlarge and read it

And, candidates, if you are wondering whether Flaherty-Collins is spreading itself thin where any domino failing might knock down the whole line with our City possibly left holding the bag; note multiple things where fewer might have meant the City did not have to be pushed into playing David Flaherty's banker of last resort. Here and here. Don't forget, "Many a slip twixt cup and lip," has remained an "old saying" and not fallen into disuse largely because of the great truth it embodies. Ramsey is not only at risk for Flaherty adventuring in Ramsey, but all that other stuff adds to our risk. The domino-effect risk is on top of the what if they cannot rent stuff next to the loud and busy rail tracks risk. And aside from candidates, voters, this is your first and for two years your only shot at having a vote. Do you feel confident enough to give incumbents a vote of confidence? Decide that one for yourself. My mind's made up and I shall vote accordingly. Darren's received more than enough, for my liking. You will be voting a vote of confidence on Darren, because enough seats are up that replacing the pro-Darren faction and enacting change is feasible, this election. UPDATE: It's a vote of confidence on Vegas junketing too. It's worth adding that.

RAMSEY -- Every risk cloud for many probably has its silver lining for a select few.

Click image to enlarge and read.
Source: Ramsey Resident, online here, p.3.

It was the vote of four of the seven council members that pushed a cramdown through where the City is acting as a second position banking source for Flaherty and Collins - McGlone, mayor, Wise, and Elvig being the four votes, and where the City does not even get a lien against the real property. Risk for the City.

But with that having been done, as it was done, we can expect jobs to result. Income streams created for some Ramsey families, via that loosey-goosey bit of financing stuff put through where Ben and the City take on multi-million dollar risk. Ben and I, we're guessing that means that some get a silver lining out of that risk cloud hovering over the rest of us.

Ramsey, a screen capture. From four years ago, I think.

Click to enlarge and read. From here.

I like that part about creative ways to develop income streams. And about how we already, then, had plenty of parking.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

LOCAL POLITICS - Roughly half way through the filing period, at least two county board seats are reported by ABC Newspapers as set for a primary election. UPDATE: Sakry reports mid-way filings for City of Ramsey Council.

This link, Peter Bodley reporting. Districts 1 and 2, each, thus far, have four candidate filings. Paul Levy of Strib had earlier reported Allison Lister might file for District 1, and his news proved correct:

And in an e-mail to all seven commissioners, former [Anoka County] Veterans Services director Allison Lister described the county's leadership as "appalling." Lister is considering running for a seat on the County Board.

I do not know what it takes to be a frontrunner, but noting a political truth and speaking the truth (bluntly when needed) helps. Not being a career politician also helps.

This, from Levy, about a month and a half ago.

__________UPDATE___________
At the time of Lister's appointment as the county's veteran services director, Levy's Strib reporting provided biographical info - an interesting career, raised in East Bethel, a 21-year Air Force veteran, with a jobs assistance background while working previously in St. Cloud.

________RAMSEY DETAILS_______
Sakry writes:

Mayor Bob Ramsey, 9495 164th Lane N.W., has filed for a second term and he will have competition from Sarah Strommen, 14546 Krypton Street N.W.

Strommen currently represents Ward 4 on the council after winning a special election to finish Councilmember David Jeffrey’s term, which ends this year.

Candidates for the at-large seat, which has a four-year term, are:

• Joe Field, 8021 152nd Lane N.W.;

• John LeTourneau, 14607 Bowers Drive N.W.; and

• Incumbent Jeff Wise, 7901 165th Avenue N.W.

The only Ward 2 candidate so far is incumbent Colin McGlone, 15890 St. Andrews Lane N.W.

Candidates have until June 5 to fill out an affidavit with the city clerk and pay the filing fee of $5. Filing closes at 5 p.m.

[emphasis added].

There are whiners, and winners. An Emmer supporter whines. Emmer was nobody's winner, and some even in the GOP barn noticed that early on. Now scorn from that part of the circus tent?

Liking Emmer? Disliking Bills? Sound judgment?

Cronyism, corruption in contracts. Oh my.

And of all people:

The Vatican faces a widening scandal that in one short week has seen Pope Benedict's butler arrested, the president of its bank unceremoniously dismissed and the publication of a new book alleging conspiracies among cardinals.

It was a poisonous Pentecost Sunday for the pope, who likely had the tumultuous events of the past week on his mind as he celebrated a mass in St Peter's Basilica on the day regarded as the birthday of the Church.

On Saturday his personal butler, Paolo Gabriele, 46, was formally charged with stealing confidential papal documents in the scandal that has come to be known as "Vatileaks". Some of the documents allege cronyism and corruption in contracts with Italian companies.

I feel so lucky to live in Ramsey. Where such clouds never darken our skies.

___________UPDATE___________
"Vatileaks" is a term for you to consider using in your own web search. Quality coverage, the Economist. As always, a vignette, Wikipedia - touching on phrases such as "greater transparency," "money laundering," and "Opus Dei." No direct relationship yet reported to reproductive right of choice, or employee healthcare coverage considerations. When things reach questions about the Vatican bank, uncertainties abound and opinions can proliferate. Are we seeing a hint of Oliver Stone's next film? And we in Ramsey, molehills, only molehills, if that. Along with people having boring names, locally, not Tarcisio Bertone, Bruno Bartoloni, Ettore Gotti Tedeschi, Julian Herranz, Paolo Gabriele, Georg Ganswein, or Ratzinger.

A firewood pile, with a tarp over it, in a wooded backyard on 2-1/2 acres, is not a nuisance. Nobody's nuisance. Moreover, ...

Any cop, even one TOLD by a citizen-homeowner to blow off or get a warrant, and then out of spite and revengeful "weight of the badge" mentality wants to push in a citizen's face a nuisance charge for a private, rural woodpile covered with a tarp to keep the wood dry, in the middle of a wooded area on two-and-a-half acres where the woodpile is not even visible to the public from public areas, is a cop who should be thrown off the force.

It is too badge-heavy to be tolerated. There are no two ways about that.

Obey the law, decently, if you take an oath and a regular paycheck to enforce the law. Do not "get even" with a citizen standing on his rights. A big part of the job is to enforce the law in a way that earns respect for the law, rather than in a way that alienates and stomps on the citizenry's rights and reasonable expectations.

Any citizen with a cop at the door saying, "I want to look in your back yard," especially one unwilling to say why, should say leave my property or show a warrant. "Where's your fricking warrant," should not be viewed by a cop as cause to retaliate. It is the law, and law enforcement that disrespects the law and the reasoning behind the warrant requirement is bad law enforcement and the individual cop doing that is a bad cop.


Any town, Ramsey especially because it is where I live, that has a "one size fits all" approach to nuisance law enforcement is an ill-run operation.

A citizen should be outraged when a local government gets overly aggressive on things that it should stay out of, woodpiles on properties outside the MUSA area (where properties are an acre or larger being but one example). A town with the advantage of having a diverse range of housing to offer people who look for different things does itself and its citizens a disfavor when it enacts laws which run contrary to the best interests of a diverse range of peaceable citizens wanting generally to be left alone except if the house catches fire.

Any Ramsey cop who is badge-heavy and abuses discretion should be forced to watch Braveheart three tmes and then be required to write a fourteen page essay on exactly why William Wallace did not like the way authorities behaved and how the government he faced might have acted better; essay to be graded by a seventh grade teacher. Essay to be rewritten unless and until that teacher deems a lesson learned, and an essay of suitable sensitivity and skill has been tendered. Fourteen pages rewritten fourteen times, should help reform bad behavior.

Lesson taught, lesson learned then. Or the individual should be unceremoniously fired from the force.

Cops with badges that get too heavy, we need them the same way we need a fatal disease.

Good government: Fix the potholes, patrol against people doing dangerous and threatening things, put out fires, and otherwise, be sensible. In no way at all is a firewood pile not visible from a public road or public place, on a  two and a half acre property anybody's business except the owner's - unless in burning the wood, (especially wet wood because some idiot said keep the tarp off), is a smoke/pollution bother to the neighborhood.

One size doe not fit all. A comparable firewood pile on a front "lawn" of the lego-land apartments at Clown Center along Ramsey Blvd by the Hwy. 116 traffic light, that might be a nuisance, especially since those shared wall housing units do not have fireplaces or wood stoves.

BOTTOM LINE: ONE SIZE DOES NOT FIT ALL AND ANY TOWN GOVERNMENT UNABLE TO DEAL WITH THAT SIMPLE A REALITY, IS INEPT. ANY POLICE SUPERVISORY PERSON WHO DO NOT STAND HARD ON THOSE COPS THAT ABUSE DISCRETION IN DEALING WITH THE PEACEABLE CITIZENRY, (BECAUSE THE ON-THE-STREET COP DOES NOT LIKE TO BE TOLD TO ABIDE BY THE LAW HIMSELF), IS ILL-FITTED FOR THE JOB OF RUNNING A POLICE FORCE. ANY COP THAT IS TOLD, ABIDE BY THE LAW, GET A WARRANT OR BOOGY DOWN THE ROAD, SHOULD, WITHOUT MEANESS OR RANCOR, GET ONE OR LEAVE THE SITUATION ALONE. IT IS A JOB REQUIREMENT THAT COPS DO NOT ACT AS IF THEY ARE ABOVE THE LAW. THAT IS SO SIMPLE A REALITY THAT ANY CITY THAT DECLINES TO ENFORCE SUCH A CLEARLY REASONABLE REQUIREMENT IS NEGLIGENT. ANY COP THAT SAYS, ACTUALLY OR FIGURATIVELY, "FUCK YOU," TO A PEACEABLE CITIZEN AND ENTERS A NEIGHBORING PROPERTY WITHOUT PRIOR EXPRESS PERMISSION OR INVITATION OF THAT NEIGHBOR, IN ORDER TO LOOK INTO SOMEONE'S BACK YARD AFTER A CITIZEN RELIES UPON THE WARRANT REQUIREMENT, SAYING, "WHERE'S YOUR WARRANT" SHOULD BE OFF THE FORCE YESTERDAY.

WHEN THAT BADGE GETS TOO HEAVY, IT SHOULD BE REMOVED.

__________UPDATE_________
Putting a proper perspective upon "prevailing nature and character of the neighborhood" as the defining norm in a sensible rule of law, and as a contrary notion to one-size-fits-all lockstep thinking; this "woodpile violation business" is not arising in the high-density, shared wall, Clown Center.

This is along north Ramsey Boulevard; that we are talking of. Where I rounded a bend and had to slow the auto to avoid hitting a fawn in mid day. Where the cops had to shoot a bear two years ago that was raiding backyard bird feeders in spring, hungry from hibernation.

What, answer that by telling folks that backyard bird feeders are an attractive nuisance to other wildlife besides birds, and you get written up and told to abate having those bird feeders?

Hardly.

Is it at all sane to suggest maintaining habitat is an attractive nuisance? Rodents will proliferate if you put corn in the yard for blue jays? We do not want no stinking rodents is not good thinking, when it's owl feed rodents at issue and not urban sewer rats under discussion.

Where do you draw a line? When do you NOT take in the character and attractive charm of a neighborhood as a factor? In any sane rule of law, it is understood that norms of a neighborhood define standards of behavior and as neighborhoods vary, so the standards cannot strait-jacket all as if in shared-wall Town Center. MUSA areas with quarter-acre lots are separate and different neighborhoods from one to five acre wooded neighborhoods.

There are old sayings about apples and oranges.

There is, after all, such a thing as common sense.

If that is lacking in the town government, it's time to move north to Nowthen.

Doubtlessly a Republican, in the spirit of Mike Jungbauer, and his fireworks legislative "thinking."

This link. Thinning the herd.

Your noise, Joe, is my nuisance. You want loud noise, Joe, join the infantry.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Fire the guy who so ineptly fired Brodkorb? The village idiot has already run up a [inflated, perhaps] billing of $46,000 for legal services.

But as the Republicans' Secretary of the Senate he has job security.

We suffer his error, the cost of it. Where have the "fiscally responsible" Republicans disappeared to?

When it comes to their own, spare no expense.

Or at least up to $46,000 and counting.

Shouldn't this be a GOP party matter? For that debt-ridden operation to deal with, not taxpayers? What's the excuse? It was four Republican Senators that stabbed Caesar ganged up on Amy Koch, and then a henchman [aka Secretary of the Senate] did in Brodkorb at a restaurant. Shades of Michael Corleone. Got Brodkorb with a gun stashed in the men's room.

There was Stuxnet. Now Flame is reported. Is it cyberwarfare, and if so, with what consequences to web users in the States?

This link. Here.

UPDATE: One question, was discovery of this allegedly sophisticated 20 meg malware around for years related in any way to the recent out of sequence Microsoft Update patches?

That was the update that, for a time, once completed relaunched saying there were update files, etc., until Microsoft fixed the relaunch bug. It involved a number of .NET patches, client side, and Server 2003, I believe.

The server side, whether Server 2008 was affected, do your own web search if you care. I recall reading it was Server 2003 being the vulnerable server side software.

__________UPDATE____________
Don't you just love these people, even when they grope you at the airport?

White House spokesman Jay Carney declined to comment, as did a spokesman for the CIA. Officials at the Defense Department referred questions to the Department of Homeland Security. A spokesman there said the agency has been made aware of the malware and was working to analyze its potential impact on the United States.

That's double-speak to the press carried to a new artistic level. "... working to analyze its potential impact on the United States," can mean anything ranging from either a proactive and protective consideration for citizen and business privacy, to a "how can we use it ourselves to better watch the locals" mentality. Ambiguity within a government is never a reassuring thing.

Monday, May 28, 2012

FROM THE GUV'S HOMEPAGE. HEY GUV, THE PEOPLE ARE THE ONES WHO NEVER GOT A REFERENDUM. NO CHANCE, NO VOICE.

Zygi, admirably restrained, declines putting a hand on Guv's shoulder. 
PEOPLE POWER. Own the stadium. ZYGI POWER. Own all key money flows. 
People who serve other people, are the luckiest people in the world.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

RAMSEY ELECTIONS NEWS: Helpful Screen Captures from current Ramsey Resident, p.9.

First, click the Ramsey Resident p.9 image, below, to enlarge and read [except for map detail - which is legible - second image].



Please note the marginal highlighting re filing for office.

Next is a screen capture with street names, so you can click to check your Ward/Precinct.



Alternatively, the Ramsey Resident pdf file is online here, and you can enlarge p.9 in the pdf reader, for map detail. Names of major roads are not listed on the image, but they are drawn in. You should know them on the map by now. Note the ward boundaries have been conformed to census results, with ward populations given in the p.9 map sidebar.

NOTE: If you enlarge the online pdf item's p.9 to see the map, or enlarge the second image, you can see the surveyor's rationale in naming streets, alphabetically within the arbitrarily chosen header groups. Naming probably was done years and years and years ago, by the County Surveyor's office.

______________UPDATE_____________
The map presented in the current Ramsey Resident shows the area bounded by Ramsey Blvd., Hwy. 5, Alpine Blvd., and Sunfish Lake Blvd. as now in Ward 2 (having previously been in Ward 1). The boundary adjustment has caused a common point - the intersection of Alpine and Sunfish - to have each corner in a different ward.

Basically, Wards are required under the "one person, one vote" principle to have, within reasonable limits, equal populations. My understanding is the ward boundary adjustment was made based on total population, i.e., without distinguishing residents above vs. below the legal voting age, and without regard to registered voter population (i.e., total population being the necessary measure for adjustment).

Saturday, May 26, 2012

RAMSEY: Summer Roadwork Scheduled - Armstrong Blvd. at Clown Center.

Himmer plans on doing weekly updates on the city’s website once construction begins.

The completed project will create a new commercial area and move the city closer to the Highway 10/Armstrong Boulevard interchange.

“It is all leading to the proposed interchange over Highway 10,” Himmer said.

By biting off little pieces of the proposed interchange project at a time, the city can bring down the estimated $35 million price tag to make the interchange project more attractive to federal funding, he said.

Further detail, ABC reporting, source of that excerpt; this link.

Infrequently, but sometimes, you read an editorial so true it has to be highlighted. Here, an opening excerpt from a MN Daily explanation of things many fail to grasp.



The University is not a business
Treating the University as a business has damaged the quality of education and undermined its requests for funding.

By Eric Murphy - May 03, 2012

For some reason, it is currently in vogue to treat all institutions like businesses. A college education is increasingly viewed as a personal investment one makes in the hopes of being rewarded financially. Public officials, colleges, parents and even students are becoming obsessed with job placement statistics. Former University of Minnesota President Bob Bruininks was named CEO of the year by the Minneapolis-St. Paul Business Journal in 2009. Even our top education official in the country, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, is fond of saying we need to “educate our way to a better economy.”

This is a corruption of what public education is about. In the wake of an economic crisis, it is natural for economic issues to become all-encompassing, but we can’t lose sight of the real value of education. The University’s missions are research and discovery, teaching and learning, and outreach and public service, not training undergraduates for a job. We have other institutions like community colleges and work training centers, or even employers themselves, to fill those roles. We should not be educating our way to a better economy, we should be educating our way to a better democracy.

The purpose of a higher education at the University is not to create competent workers; it is to facilitate the creation of fully realized human beings and to spread knowledge. The economic side effects of doing so are clear but incidental. The real value of higher education is to create competent human beings and citizens.

This is why the University advocates such a broad education. If you have no understanding of our political system, those who do can use it to take advantage of you. If you don’t understand journalism or communication, those who do can use the media and advertising to manipulate and mislead you. If you don’t understand the science behind disease and medicine, or pollution and climate change, drug companies and polluters can damage your environment and your body without you knowing it. Knowledge is power, and without broad education, that power coalesces into the hands of a few. Education, especially public higher education, democratizes knowledge and the power that comes with it so that our society can make better decisions in the interest of all rather than being helpless while the powerful manipulate us. It is something society provides because doing so is in its own best interest.

But the view of education as a product and the University as a business which sells that product to its customers — students — has eroded this function of public higher education and introduced the worst aspects of the private sector into the University. Its view that it needs to compete with the private market for administrators has led to unnecessarily bloated salaries for top executives while at the same time most other employees are squeezed in the name of “efficiency.”

Since the University views itself as a business selling a product to customers and makes its funding argument to legislators on economic terms, those legislators are free to view the University as a discretionary investment or interest group and feel no special need to provide funding, which is why we have seen state funding drop precipitously in recent years. The way the University is currently making its case for funding from the state makes them no different than the Vikings. We essentially argue that we benefit the economy and are a smart financial investment for the state. But big business-style administrative bloat and rising tuition and student debt make that a less and less compelling case every year.

[...] Full item, this link. -- Eric Murphy welcomes comments at
emurphy@mndaily.com

In 2050, perhaps 2070, this will be a useful, employable skill set.
Our duty to business and students, as educators, is to teach it now.
We must define and capture the leading edge of employability learning.
photo credit

UPDATE: Further reading for anyone interested in education as a process and situation in times that are in flux [history teaching us that times always are in flux with some aspects of culture being universal and eternal]. Time marches on. All that.

Flaherty and Collins -- It's so ugly, redesign it.

IndyStar photo and story, here. They know and enjoy building ugly stuff.
They know and enjoy having cities build ugly stuff for them.

Friday, May 25, 2012

The shameful Vegas junket decision was not only a "consensus" thing, but the special meeting was held off camera. Email to each council member, and Kurt and Darren asking for a response on whether a vote ever occured is pending. So far, only Tossey and Strommen have replied, Strommen including an encouraging incidental mention.

The basta gentlemen decided the Vegas junketing this year was not "news" enough for us townsfolk for them to put it on camera, and to a recorded vote.

Here is the lead page of the "special meeting" agenda, showing it was set for the Lake Itasca Room, not council chambers where the broadcast capability exists so that we citizens might be better informed of planned events and participants.



So in view of that, apparently, a non-televised "consensus" is all there was on this year -- Vegas. With the mayor and Strommen absent, and Tossey opposed, a majority consensus could only mean Elvig, Wise, McGlone [who junketed this year], and Backous collectively were that consensus. Vote or no vote, it's how it is.

In response to my email inquiry Tossey responded that he thought there might have been a different other meeting, he was not sure, but believed it possible because the interchange between himself and Council member Wise, as he recalled it, was a bit more heated and direct than is reflected in online minutes for the Feb. 21, 2012, meeting at p.3 and 4, (as set out in this earlier Crabgrass post).

Wise has not yet responded.

Strommen, so far, is the only other addressee of the email who responded, writing:

I don't think there was a vote. It was included in the HRA budget that was approved. I do know there was a work session to discuss who, how many, whether the city should have booth this year, etc. Unfortunately, I was absent from this session. I shared my concerns with the expenditure with Kurt and Heidi prior to the meeting. I was just looking this up too, and I think the consensus was to authorize 3 staff and 2 council members. In the end, only McGlone went from CC. Kurt, Patrick, and Darren went as staff.

By the way, as you've probably heard, I filed for mayor this week.

Well that is good news. Good news for Ramsey, the community and its people. I had not heard that she filed, but learning of the filing in the email was a pleasant disclosure.

Every council position up for reelection, any time, should best be contested, and by a credible alternative candidate (presuming Strommen does not end up as the only candidate filing for mayor, which would be okay too).

I am presently pushing a data disclosure request for documentation disclosure by the City of contracting documents between McGlone and the City, on McGlone's hauling contract. Whenever a council member has a direct financial benefit in and under a contract with City of Ramsey, it is most important to scrutinize such a situation to see if there is any hint of any irregularity.

I believe McGlone has been a gigantic disaster as a council member, and needs a bona fide challenger. I know of several very decent and capable people in Ward 2, some having indicated in private deliberation an unwillingness to pursue the Ward 2 seat, yet others, hopefully, will not be so inclined.

I contemplate waiting until around 3:30 pm or so on the final filing day and seeing from the Clerk's records who has filed in Ward 2. If there is no credible challenger I might file myself, for Ward 2, although I really would not want to do that. I would very, very, very much prefer some other sober and responsible community person, as a bona fide challenger to McGlone, would step up and want to help Ramsey move into the next year and onward under as sound a leadership set-up as feasible.

I believe Sarah Strommen would be an excellent mayor. Not doing things alone half cocked and without full exploration of possibilities, not confrontational in any way, but just a sound level-headed person for the job.

Presuming Strommen might win, it would only be helpful if she has ward and at large representatives elected along with her who could work well with her in looking at present things, and at future possibilities to do things as well as feasible and without rancor or discord infecting the process.

Bozo with a handgun. Entering a home at night and robbing at gunpoint. Regardless of borderline-adult age, this individual should be tried as an adult and put away for a long, long time. Threats of this kind to the community need to be curbed in ways that might deter other bozo-brained criminal types.

Multiple reports are online, e.g., here, here and here. Hammer this little bugger real hard, please, County Attorney Palumbo. It's your job. Please do it in this instance with passion and extreme indignation. People who enter a home and rob at gunpoint and then post the loot on Craigslist lack the brains to ever be in possession of a handgun, and the community needs protection from such stupidity, and evil.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

The blogging world, and the First Amendment. The Minnesota Case of Moore v. Hoff went to oral argument before the Court of Appeals yesterday.

PRELIMINARY: The briefing discussed below has been posted in a Dropbox public area of the cloud. READERS CAN DOWNLOAD THE BRIEFING FROM THIS LINK. ANYONE HAVING DIFFICULTY WITH DOWNLOADING THE BRIEFS SHOULD READ THE POSTED SHORT "README" FILE TO REQUEST EMAILED COPIES.

REPORTING: Abby Simons of Strib reported on the appeal, here, and her report is something readers might want to access before the following commentary.

COMMENTARY: I read the Appellant's brief [Defendant John Hoff, who blogs as "The Adventures of Johnny Northside"]; the Response brief [Plaintiff Jerry Moore whose job was terminated by a U.Minn. North Mineapolis community services branch]; and the Appellant's Reply Brief [addressing points the Plaintiff-Respondent raised after the first brief was served and reviewed by Moore and counsel]. In addition I read the amicus brief of a professional journalism organization, in support of the First Amendment rights of Hoff. Basically, a jury found that Hoff did not make a false statement, but that there somehow was tortious [basically wrongful] interference with Moore's employment, by Hoff.

Hoff argues that defamation law and First Amendment law on freedom of speech and of the press [the blogging press] where no untrue statement was published cannot, as a matter of law, be the basis for a tortious interference judgment.

Moore's argument, in part, is that the argument was never made until after the jury returned its verdict. However, the argument was not ripe to be made until the facts were set - the jury said there was nothing published that was shown to be untruthful, but that there was liability anyway under a second theory of tortious interference. Once the jury returned from delibrating, that way, the argument was ripe and was preserved by a timely motion for judgment in Hoff's favor as a matter of law, post verdict. [UPDATE: To be clear, Moore also argued that besides the one statement the jury found to be true, Hoff did other things, other activity, that could justify a jury finding of tortious interference with an employment relationship and expectancy. The Response briefing was not precise on what specific other activity was in mind, but rather was a throw it against the wall and see what sticks level of briefing; or seemed that to me. The trial court's memorandum decision, available online within briefing appendices, was grounded on the same contention in a more tightly written and reasoned presentation.]

It's all to hinge on a question of law, based upon the record of things at the trial court level.

My guess is a panel of the reviewing court could rubber stamp the trial court; something happening more often than not, but that in this instance a reversal can be expected. Certainly it should be hoped for, among the mainstream media and those who publish on the web. Freedom of speech is a fundamental Constitutional norm, not to be chilled wrongly by a bad appellate decision. But it is wait and see, any case not having exhausted all possible appeal remains uncertain until all appeal is exhausted and finality is established.

In the briefing I read, the Hoff and amicus briefing seemed well written and well reasoned. The Moore briefing wallowed around a lot and was less coherent than the Hoff and Amicus writing and argument. But my opinion means nothing. Three appellate judges heard the argument, had a chance to question attorneys, and will decide.

There is a ninety day rule, but the judges take as long as they take. That is the practical reality.

___________NOTE____________
The four briefs mentioned are all I am aware of. That is an indirect way of saying Hoff appealed, and I am unaware of any cross-appeal Moore may have filed.

Often when one side appeals an issue or set of issues, the other side may in response cross-appeal other things decided at the trial court level that the respondent believed was error. In this instance if Moore cross appealed anything, I am unaware of what it was. If there was a cross-appeal there might be briefing in addition to what's been posted to the cloud for reader access.

Coincidentally, Dropbox is a helpful service for posting public-access files, as well as for putting things private or shared among a small group, so that the files can be accessed remotely without having to carry a thumbdrive. It is not the only such service, but it was one of the first to offer non-commercial limited free storage in the cloud. Readers might consider using Dropbox or one of the several other such services. Microsoft and Google each now offers free non-commercial cloud storage.

__________UPDATE___________
I am interested in how Hoff decided, properly I believe, to make the case entirely one grounded on the First Amendment right of open and free speech, the right to publicly tell or publish the truth - especially in matters of public interest, which then is freedom of the press at issue too.

What Hoff could have added was the additional First Amendment right in his support, the right to petition government for redress of grievances. See, here and here.

This IS a dimension of the Moore v. Hoff particular facts, because the employment Hoff publicly questioned and solicited others to petition against - that of plaintiff Moore - was with the government, specifically, with the U.Minn in a north Minneapolis community services outlet. So effort to get Moore fired was soliciting community petitioning of the government.

One might call it freedom of speech and freedom of the [blogging] press, squared.

Hoff was stating nothing proven untrue, AND encouraging the exercise by others of their right to petition government, activity which has to demand his speech be accorded full legal protections.

However, Hoff did not emphasize the right to petition dimension in briefing, and that makes an expected Court of Appeals decision in his favor much more general in its reach as express precedent. Moreover, for any of the rest of us who blog, an adverse appellate decision can be distinguished if right to petition is a dimension, because although present in Hoff's case, it was left an unargued and hence undecided dimension of free speech law.

Now, constitutional issues are so fundamental that some states, Washington for example, allow a litigant to raise constitutional issues at any stage of litigation, not deeming them waived by not being raised of record in the trial court. Now a Minnesota lawyer might need to research Minnesota law to see if such is true here, and the law might distinguish constitutional rights as a civil suit defense, from challenging the constitutionality of a criminal or regulatory statute.

However, if the general rule of appellate judicial economy, not reviewing questions presented for the first time on appeal is not applicable in Minnesota when constitutional issues are raised, if that is the law here; then Hoff could add that as additional argument on seeking Minnesota Supreme Court review of an adverse intermediate decision, should one result.

More about Flaherty and Collins pursuit of a free parking garage in Indiana like the one they got in Minnesota [i.e., to be paid by public money, money raised by government from taxes and fees].

This link. The developer-promoter is seeking a permit and the matter goes to an administrative hearing.

Is the US Senate's filibuster rule unconstitutional? In a 52 page complaint, Common Cause is suing in DC District Court, alleging it is.

This "why we are doing it" link. The complaint, online here. The gist of things is within the first paragraph of the complaint, at its page 3. Politico reports, here. Readers are urged to do their own web search for further information.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

A resounding vote of confidence for the AARP from the entire household on the organization's position on voter ID. Elderly people have it hard enough, to not have to go through the BS of getting a photo ID just to appease an ignoramus brigade.

If you have something as grotesque as Michele Bachmann living in the fourth congressional district and running in the sixth, who cares about a person showing up at the wrong precinct or such?

Beyond that, people voting twice should be discernible, and punished. But when's the last election that voter fraud made a difference? Florida in 2000, and Ohio in 2004, okay, but that was top down fraud not bottom up, and in Minnesota the most carefully reviewed election, the Franken recount election victory, showed fraud was no factor.

Stupidity in marking a ballot, yes there was plenty of mistake-making error. But error will not be stopped by an ignoramus hopping through the hoops and then flashing an ID and voting as sloppily as before.

At any rate, Strib reports about a handful of malcontent-obstructionists cutting up their AARP cards because what, in the Sixties they did it with draft cards and got a bit of an adrenalin rush back then, something like that perhaps.

How many of that card-cutting batch of "activists" do you suppose went home and that very night put in an online request for a replacement card? A majority of them, would be my guess.

In our household there are three AARP members, each liking the sane position the AARP has taken on this insane proposal aimed to make it unnecessarily harder for citizens of all kinds to vote because it might quell the voting of more Democrats than Republicans. All that nonsense has that motivation, and nothing but that.

Thankfully Scott Walker is not governor of our state, Dayton is. And the nuisance mongers had to go the Constitutional Amendment route because Dayton has sense and a veto pen.

Dumping fourteen grand on a junket, and not having courage enough to vote on record. Ben Dover does not like any consensus that does not send him to Vegas for fun, entertainment, sun and relaxation. And the budget did not even mention buying T-shirts or not.

Rip me off my concrete pedestal. Let me get mine in Vegas.
Where the painted flat metal show girls abound.
Mine. My due.
And a neat looking T-Shirt that will fit on my pedestal.
Only Sixteen Bucks. Supersize it.

Okay, ha-ha funny. Now to the sobering stuff.

Feb. 21, 2012 - Our council [in part] wearing their HRA hats, doing their HRA mischief. Agenda detail first, the projected cost of a Vegas junket - they work so hard, they've earned it, (you and Ben paying - you and Ben Dover, the Ramsey taxpayer). Click a thumbnail to enlarge and read. Lazan memo first, then the budget - wow, savings galore, but that's only in comparison to last year's Vegas profligate follies financing:





Next, minutes. Special meeting minutes, HRA, two agenda items addressed. Both special? Mayor must have been NoDaking, Strommen not there, Tossey in opposition, five present, four needed to express a "consensus" (but not guts enough shown to put an actual vote on record).

It makes you proud:






I diligently searched to see if there was a follow-up council meeting to approve the HRA "consensus" by vote. Zippo, as best as I could tell. Fourteen grand down the rathole on glitz and neon, no vote, this link. Here. This image, Preston Bailey's blog. (Maybe Preston was there again and they bumped into him, Darren picking up design and promotion pointers and such as he could benefit from. "Endurance and transformations"  it sounds Darrenish already.)

___________________________
Randy, my man, by voting no you could have killed the junket. DOA, or table it to put the mayor on record.

Randy, you held the hammer. WHY DID YOU NOT USE IT? Go along to get along? "Curb expense abuse," said for the record. Is that it? What?

And all of you guys, why was there no formal vote? 

It is not as if these guys did not know how to put a vote on record. They have been doing it for years and did it on agenda item 1, while item 2, "Let's just glide and slide." Didn't at least one of you DEMAND there be a vote?

Or did Tossey in opposition believe the matter tabled, not knowing there'd been some form of magic consensus conjuring - brought to birth before his very eyes? A conjured consensus inferred, somehow, some way ... reading tea leaves? What?

Election day is coming. The deadline to file to run in opposition to the questionable status quo will be next Tuesday.


READER HELP REQUESTED

I have tried to pin things down and the public data responses to requests from the city have helped, to a point. Here is the email trail sequence.

From City Clerk ["CC] responding to EHZ email:

W/re to Vegas - Mr. Ulrich is going to Las Vegas as is Darren Lazan, Councilmember Colin McGlone, and Patrick Brama, the City's Management Analyst. The ICSC Conference in Vegas is scheduled for May 21 through May 23. Please let me know what type of information you are looking for - and I will be happy to supply you with that information - or share with you where to find it.

I hope this helps - I will wait to hear what specifically you would like w/re to information on the trip.

EHZ to CC:

One last point - on the Vegas conference, will the City pay for booth space and be in attendance for the full span of the conference, and has special promotional literature been prepared? If so, could you forward e-copies of such brochures or hand-outs, as that would be easiest for both of us rather than visiting city hall and doing hard copies, etc.? I appreciate the quick email responses and I did post about the window of opportunity, for filing for office.

Forgot to include - If there's any slide show presentation visuals, could you send that package too?? And do you know whether Cronk is going?

CC responds:

Hi Eric - The City will pay for booth space and will be in attendance for the full span of the conference. We purchased two full conference tickets to allow a couple people to go to any or all of the sessions, etc. We received a few (not sure the number) conference passes (limited admittance) with the purchase of the booth. I honestly don't know if we had new brochures or hand-outs done for this Conference. I will refer your question to Darren.

I will ask Darren that as well - and yes Ryan Cronk is attending. Sorry - I forgot to list him when I sent you the list from the City.

Hi Eric - as per an email from Darren (below) - the materials are being developed now and right up to the conference - so it doesn't sound like anything is really available right now.

Darren's email to CC:

We are developing materials now, and up until the conference. We can address his request after the conference.

CC responding to EHZ request re minutes/aganda trail:

You may see the case report that was brought to the HRA by going to our website - click on Agendas & Minutes (sidebar) - then click on the archives portion - Housing and Redevelopment - 2012 - February 21, 2012. Let me know if you have any problems getting there.

Case #2: Consider 2012 ICSC ReCON Attendance and Budget

Note from online city records, there are no posted HRA minutes subsequent to what CC response above identified:


Then, Council member Tossey, responding to EHZ inquiry, would he have voted no had there been a formal vote:

Would I have voted no? Does the sun rise in the east? Of course I am opposed and vote no. I think it is pretty clear that I would have voted no. Furthermore, there was a second discussion about this if I recall. And I think there is a formal vote somewhere, or at least a more complete discussion. If I recall, I not only expressed my opposition, I expressed it vehemently

That's about it. No further HRA meeting minutes have been transcribed/approved as final. I could not find any mention of the Vegas follies in Council minutes [same individuals, but with council hats on, not the HRA hats]-- EHZ email to CC:

could not find "the consensus" of that meeting and the expenditure for Vegas approved by the Council, sitting as council, not HRA. I will publish as if it never happened, asking help of readers, if it ever went to a formal council vote.

CC responds:

I don't believe it had to go through the Council since the money is taken out of the HRA budget.

EHZ acknowledges CC response:

That was/is my guess. I was not asking for any further help. Just letting you know what I had not found. Notice, rather than a request of the city.

That's as far as rats got skinned. Any reader who can help with detail supplementing what the public data response included re the approval of the junket - if there ever was a formal HRA or Council vote - is asked to provide info via a comment or an email.

Do you miss me yet?
To have never had a formal vote would be highly irregular. I doubt any such egregious a gap in procedures ever happened during the several Gamec terms as mayor. However, minutes of subsequent meetings, once transcribed and formally approved as city records, may shed light on what is otherwise, for now, left very murky.


UPDATE: What I do recall from the Gamec years is Mayor Gamec requesting an official opinion on the spending of city money on his sister-city trip to China. He requested that from the State Auditor, Pat Anderson who was Auditor at that time. He took that step after the council had approved the expenditure, if my memory is correct. There was deliberate care in proceeding that way.

______________FURTHER UPDATE____________
While possibly harsh in my judgment, the program for that Vegas confab is online with the city, this link. Have a look, I recommend scanning it, not studying it in any detail. It's easy to quickly get the drift. Again, I can be judgmental, but that brochure brings to mind this video. I see a parallel others may not see. As with the brochure, a quick look at the video is enough to get the drift, no need to study the video either, and you either see a parallel or not.

____________FURTHER UPDATE_____________
What we have here is a failure to communicate? Obviously Darren failed to understand the request in emailing the City Clerk that marketing materials for Vegas were still being prepared. Nelson, in February (per the minutes at the opening of the second case that day) - Vegas - after all stated, "the marketing materials used for the conference were stocked and ready to be shipped." Lazan apparently was unaware of this. But we can trust he shall rectify things once returned from Vegas - unless what is shipped to Vegas stays in Vegas.

Thinking of a new home garage? But you don't want to pay for it? Then get a municipality to pay. It's simple. Contact David Flaherty, find out how it's done.

Besides Ramsey. This link. Shouldn't taxpayers pay for yours too?


__________UPDATE__________
In Ramsey has a precedent been set? One where every subdivision developer should expect the city to pay for the attached garage on every residence? After all, each one does add to the tax base. I believe that is the council table mantra.

_________FURTHER UPDATE__________
Don't expect Ben Dover to buy you one of these. It's personal property, not real estate.

It does not fit the council table mantra. No mantra, no freebie. Hide your get-away car on your own.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

A treaty alliance, not a marching group with a single boss, has adopted a sensible Afghan War exit strategy and timetable.

As but one report where readers can do a web search and find many, Strib, carrying a New York Times feed, here.

Certainly there are loud public obstructionists determined under motives of personal gain who will want to criticize and undermine the NATO membership consensus; and in doing so expect such persons to try to gloss over the fact that NATO is an alliance of sovereign states. Such ill-motivated deceivers will be promoting a simplistic and false, "Well, don't we run it" viewpoint; when the fact is we don't.

So much for Governor Romney.

Remember the Balkan Wars during Clinton times were within Europe, with the US participating, by its sovereign choice, in the air war but not providing ground combat forces in any numbers at all parallel to European NATO participation. Remember, it was mainly the Europeans that engineered the Libyan change of government. The Obama administration played only a preliminary air-power role. That is independent of questions of planning for the coup, which was behind closed doors where US citizens lack public knowledge of roles assumed by the various governments and their foreign policy representatives prior to the coup being effectuated. NATO is and has always been an alliance where consensus can be reached and amended, collectively. The galling thing is Romney knows this, but is talking as if it is not the existing truth. That is duplicitous and dangerous, both at the same time. In post-World World Two years the US was the strongest and dominant NATO member. That was because Europe than had been ravaged by years of total war on European soil. Things evolve over time. This is 2012, not 1947.

Luddites.

Or is it a question of government [outside of Matt Look and the other City of Ramsey Republicans in city control] not deemed properly involved in situations where it, government, enters into competition with private sector activities [such as real estate development or electric vehicle charging stations]?

Is it Luddites vs anti-Luddites, or just a not-unusual plain vanilla GOP double-standard thing?

ABC Newspapers reporting:

County axes electric vehicle charging station
By Peter Bodley on May 21, 2012 at 7:00 am


A proposal to be part of a Clean Cities National Parks initiative to bring electric vehicle charging stations to Coon Rapids Dam Regional Park has been shelved by Anoka County.

Last month the Anoka County Parks and Recreation Committee authorized an application to be made for the county to be an implementation site for two electric vehicle charging stations.

It would be have been funded by a grant, while the committee added a caveat that a fee system had to be put in place to cover operations and maintenance costs.

That is excerpting, please read the entire story, again, this link. Reporting continues:

The county had been approached by the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency and the National Park Service to gauge its interest in being an implementation site for a grant proposal by the American Lung Association and the National Park Service to the Clean Cities National Parks initiative.

But at it last meeting May 3, the committee rescinded its action on the recommendation of department staff.

[...] the committee’s action to rescind its previous action produced a discussion at the May 8 county board meeting even though it was listed as an information item on the committee report to the board.

County Commissioner Dan Erhart sparked the discussion.

In his view, the county should have moved forward with the project, showing leadership in helping to promote alternative fuels for vehicles, given the country’s dependence on oil, Erhart said.

“This would be a small step,” he said.

And Erhart said it would have been a profit center.

But Anoka County Board Chairperson Rhonda Sivarajah said that there are privately owned charging stations in the county and the county would be setting up in competition with them.

[emphasis added] So, Republican sensitivity to government competition with private sector risk takers? That's a change, for folks living in Ramsey where the GOP-led government bought into such a competition position, but for millions of city cash, not on a grant from some other government entitiy, for a single low-cost charging station.

And - Dan Erhart in fact is the anti-Luddite on the county board?

Seems so.

Decide for yourself.

Is there politics at play, possibly related whose County Board District the planned charging station was planned to be placed? Political football played by our esteemed County Board. Even possibly so?

Oh my. I am at a loss for words.

The Republican Big Tent [circus] in Minnesota, besides being broke, is in disarray with some blaming Ron Paul folks over claims of intransigent control of spoils. And then for a compare and contrast, there is Ohio.

Minnesota, the complaints over the Paul faction payback for the last cycle when party insiders then in their zenith exclusively shunned Paul disciples - e.g., here and here, sequential posts.

So, what's this about the GOP big tent in Ohio? Not big enough when the elephant egos get to bumping and stomping; e.g., here and here.

FBI involvement in an Ohio internal-GOP death match? This Google.

Am I wrong, but doesn't this kind of stuff go on nationwide, both parties, and how does it differ from legislative log rolling? If bribery is offering a trade of something of value for a reciprocal political favor, what's it mean for a legislative conversation, I will support your bill if you support my amendment to this other bill? Or a government-consultancy relationship established where an involved legislator might procure a favorable grant? Where should the line be drawn over such hypotheticals?

_____________UPDATE_____________
Regarding sore-loser griping about the Paul folks' conduct, can any reader help on the question of how Ron Paul, himself, and the Ron Paul supporters were treated by the then controlling insiders, last election? I am inexpert about such internal GOP stuff, but to an outsider it seems tit-fot-tat may be at play.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

The appearance of a consensus.

Strib photo. This link.

Numbers speak.

Republicans get us into wars. Obama got us out of Iraq, and has what is reported to be a firm timetable to get us out of Afghanistan. (Both of those wars being Bushco disasters financed by Republicans via borrowing against our children's future -- and the Afghanis don't even have any oil.) One sound message --- Send the right people to fight and die if that's your mindset.

Five lads fit for service. Fit to volunteer.  photo from here

This link on Obama cutting losses and letting Afghanistan govern itself as Iraq is now doing. Same link on the Commander in Chief being that, not letting top brass call the shots by extending the quagmire.

Mitt Romney questions this; ostensibly rattling sabres being music to his ears.

Wikipedia notes:

Personal details
Born Willard Mitt Romney
March 12, 1947 (age 65)
Detroit, Michigan, U.S.
Political party Republican
Spouse(s) Ann Romney (m. 1969)
Children Taggart (b. 1970)
Matthew (b. 1971)
Joshua (b. 1975)
Benjamin (b. 1978)
Craig (b. 1981)

Strappling young lads all, the five Romney boys, each fit to volunteer for ground duty in any ongoing war of their [father's] choice; (Afghanistan being the only active one for substantial US ground forces since half of the Buscho war adventures were ended); and then, by that family effort at putting its true faith where the Mittster's mouth is moving, is something that just might generate a shred or two of Mittster credibility.

Wanting other people's children to risk life and limb while his stay home and play polo, risking injury from falling off a horse or being clobbered by an errant polo mallet; that is not really something that impresses me much.

It's chicken-hawk, redux. Offspring version, (not Cheney-direct Vietnam vintage).

When Taggart, Matthew, Joshua, Benjamin and Craig are in uniform fitted out with weapons and on the ground under hostile circumstances and not rear-echelon photo op stuff in Kuwait, or the Emirates, then I believe the man's sincerity. Then and only then will I trust the enunciated Romney website posture as bona fide warmongering talk, and planned to be done with non-expendable people [remember, he has said he does not care about the poor].

Unless and until at least one of those sons shows combat willingness, Romney is blowing all the warmongering out his shorts.

But not my kids. Read it all, every word, this link.

__________UPDATE__________
After French elections, the French will accelerate their withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan, leaving by year's end. This link. Romney has yet to say what reaction he believes the US should show to French decision-making. As a war advocate, will he propose a go-it-alone thing, or allow that Obama's approach is wise in light of public opinion in the US?

Or will he as always glibly say, "Some of my friends feel one way, some the other, and I agree with my friends." It's the nature of a waffle to have two identifiable opposite faces, each time, every time.

FURTHER UPDATE: Reuters.

If you were not already aware of it, Wikipedia has a "this day" page for every day of the year.

For today, May 20, this link.

1873, a riveting idea.

This Arizona guy could be Scott Walker's bowling team parther.

this link - a "gutter ball" mind, if there ever was one

RAMSEY --- Sakry of ABC Newspapers reports - if you want to run you have to file.

This link. Run. All it takes is one "Honest Abe" and a timely short fill-in-the-blank. It will be good for you. It will be good for the public. Do not merely think about it. Go for it. You cannot grab the brass ring if you are not on the merry-go-round.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Should Minnesota AG Swanson be quaking in her Capitol alcove? We checked in with Mike Hatch, her predecessor and a prolific filer of consumer-protection actions. After spitting out a few expletives you can imagine for yourself, he noted that Minnesota has case law that would likely complicate things for the ALEC bill here. In a case called Mattson, the state Supreme Court ruled that there are certain core functions each state office must fulfill. “If there are prisoners in prisons, they must be fed,” he said. The treasurer must handle money, police must see to public safety and so on.

And that headline is an excerpted quote from a very well written MinnPost analysis of ALEC's latest mischief, an attempt to disenfranchise Attorneys General, and enslave them to legislative whim - where legislators are more easily lobbied and convinced than strongly independent public-spirited STATEWIDE ELECTED officials having constitutionally independent duties from activities and powers of the legislative branch.

Read the item: here.

ALEC is an idiot factory, and their quality control staff deserves credit for maintaining the tight consistency and uniformity of their manufactured products. E.g., Drazkowski; Kiffmeyer.

___________UPDATE___________
Under Pawlenty, he and the legislature screwed around with AG funding, but that is separate from trying to also take over decision making. What's left? Begger the budget, constrain the discretion? Who, besides ALEC, big oil and big tobacco wants a pack of neutered puppies as lawyers of the States? Budget game playing was offensive enough. Now this. When will these folks be curbed and brought to decency?

__________FURTHER UPDATE___________
I believe this is the Mattson case Hatch was referring to in the quoted headline text. Have a look.

__________FURTHER UPDATE____________
Beth Hawkins in the MinnPost item writes of the Humphrey-Ciresi tobacco litigation, and how ALEC's latest adventure was recently discussed in an ALEC insiders meeting in tobacco state North Carolina where tobacco family Duke founded Duke University. Hawkins noted how the ALEC assault on the rule of law, if successful, would render impossible that kind of independent AG decision to participate in what initially was about healthcare providers claiming that big tobacco made their provision of coverage more costly.

But wait. There's more. A parallel ALEC assault on State Attorneys General; this link. ALEC not only wants to remove basic sue/participate decisions from Attorneys General nationwide, they also want to render it impossible to affilaite outside council, as Humphrey did with Mike Ciresi. That, with shrink the budget, is an ominous strategy we need to fear. Three ways to undermine public interest lawyering by the public's elected lawyers, elected independently, to serve the public interest.

____________FURTHER UPDATE____________
The settlement - the multi-billion dollar settlement - of the Humphrey-Ciresi suit against big tobacco was reached on May 8, 1998; just over fourteen years ago, and has the legislature as expected pis frittered away all the cash, or is some left? Any reader with an answer, please post a comment or send an email.

____________FURTHER UPDATE_____________
To understand a propaganda method, use of hollow but evocative rhetoric without addressing actual criticisms, this link. Misstating that there is a war against ALEC, when the situation is a war against the public interest by ALEC and its pack of fellow travelers, and a defense by some public spirited and consumer-friendly organizations against ALEC's provocations and aggressiveness.

Of course that last paragraph is merely turning around the IBD item's approach, and is equally more heat than light. It's written to help explain the propaganda dimension of the IBD item, by example-counterexample.

__________FURTHER UPDATE____________
Know who you are dealing with. Calling The Firm an ALEC fellow-traveler is fair reporting - if you can at all read:

this link

And who are the key members of that bloc of wonderful clients who "refer to" and rely upon SHB and its type of firm when "their (fill in the blank) is on the line"? Three guesses and the first two are wrong - one hint:


Will Kurt Bills' ducking interview questions from Eric Black continue now that he has gained the GOP's Senate endorsement? His earlier reticence on where he stands on the issues now becomes very relevant.

image: Wikimedia

The endorsement is widely reported and readers can do their own web search.

This is the MinnPost item people should read.

Just saying parallels can be expected between Bills and Ron Paul begs the question -

Who is this guy? What are his core values? What would he do if elected? What threats does he pose? What promising things can he offer? Why him over reelecting Klobuchar?

The whole ball of wax.

One hopes he does not simply sling mud, but instead pursues cogent differentiation between himself and Klobuchar. Klobuchar has been the friend of business interests, mining interests [bad on sulfide mining], and a supporter of a mega-million environmentally unfriendly new Stillwater bridge to nowhere. As a SOPA and PIPA co-sponsor, Klobuchar is now waving around her belief that employers should not, as a matter of proposed federal law, have any right to demand access to employee facebook account passwords. Who cares? She's had egregious positions on much more important things.

SO -- How will Bills align on such stuff? How will he stand on war-mongering, (one of the most distatseful things about Hegseth as one of his two opponents for the GOP endorsement)?

Ron Paul urges military caution and restraint, not sabre-rattling and warmongering. Will Bills?

Ron Paul urges sensible military spending, unlike the present. Will Bills?

Ron Paul wants the Fed reined in and subject to controls beyond its own whims and fancies. Will Bills?

Again, mudslinging is easiest, with Klobuchar having millions for running and having a record of several years of service where an attack mode buffet table approach is possible.

Hopefully, Bills takes the high road and not only huffs about any outside mudslinging PAC effort (which will likely happen), but names names in disavowing any/all ties to the miscreants - rather than a shrug and a "not me." If he takes the high road, and argues the issues, he just might be viewed as a serious challenger. Will he?

Will he return Eric Black's calls now, and go on record for his beliefs, presuming he has some? Or is hiding even after endorsement to be the pattern?

A thought experiment for someone with the time and the will to do it. Of the legislators choosing to not run for reelection, how did their stadium voting percentages compare to the two houses' entire vote on Wilfare?

This link for the quitters.

This link, for as long as Strib keeps it alive, on how folks in each house voted.

A screenshot of the latter link's listing, to assure the info is publicly preserved; here.

It is there for study. I encourage readers to do the comparison work and post a comment.

I know locally who did what, Jungbauer for Wilfare, Michelle Benson against, that's enough. I do not vote in Westerberg's county board district. I vote in District 1, Matt Look the incumbent - for whom the legislative vote is irrelevant.

With Jungbauer challenging for Westerberg's seat, his pro-Wilfare vote is relevant to people in that county board district.

I encourage readers to do their own web search to track down online info of who voted how on Wilfare. It is recent, but it is not the easiest thing to track down. Those voting for it probably prefer that obscurity takes over as time passes, and people forget with new news preempting search engine attention.

Hiding and hoping is what I'd call it.

_____________UPDATE_____________
Republican Chris Gerlach is retiring from the legislature but is reported to be a county board candidate, Dakota County. If Crabgrass has any Dakota County readers, Gerlach voted "NO" on the final conference committee stadium bill. He did not vote yes to accommodate people on his way out of the legislature. Instead, he opposed Wilfare via his vote.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Turner says that perhaps the most startling find from the study is that the results of the computer scenarios were nearly identical to those predicted in similar computer scenarios used as the basis for "The Limits to Growth." "There is a very clear warning bell being rung here," Turner said. "We are not on a sustainable trajectory."

That quote is from Yahoo news, an item about the next great depression - worse than the one we are in now. This link.

It relates back to the 1972 Club of Rome study, "The Limits to Growth."

The insight of both studies, the one from 1972 and the study reported, is that resource conservation and global warming are all sub problems of population growth beyond sustainability of the planet, and the global economy.

The Chinese have been responsible at capping and controlling population growth. The Bachmann and Santorum families and a bunch of the other Republican fundamentalists, less so. As if having a blind expectation of some supernatural intervention into human growth folly. Or as if it's for others, not their evangelistic ilk. It is a quite selfish world view.

Read the item and web search can get back to information on the original report.

We are overpopulating the planet, it is true now and it is poised to get worse not better.

And it is why we need to pay attention to renewable energy, shepherding our existing resources, and national carbon footprints and carbon emissions regulation.

Lower animals do not foul their nests, and we should not either.

Weary warriors favor Obama.

This link. It's an extensive report, with every word worth reading. No excerpt. No commentary. The item speaks for itself. As with the following item, a hat tip to Janet O'Connell, for her emailing efforts.

More of ALEC wanting to urinate on the rule of law.

Personally, I like seeing Mike Hatch in the past and now Lori Swanson, experienced lawyers, setting an agenda for Attorney General attention, particularly as with the recent effort Swanson's office made with regard to egregious collections practices of a Chicago bill collection firm in the Fairview healthcare system, here in Minnesota. We should remember that Fairview discontinued its contract with the offensive bill collector firm upon the Swanson office's releasing a detailed report of a string of abuses.

But ALEC [and noting Mary Kiffmeyer as ALEC's main tool in our state] is up to no good, as you may see from this item.

An Attorney General such as Swanson, attuned as she has been to abusive lender and other anti-consumer practices, would be hamstrung if ALEC has its way with us -- so that banks and such can have their way with us. We should treasure an attentive and independent Attorney General, as we have elected, Hatch and Swanson, with each being kind and considerate toward consumer interests. Consumer protection is the law, and why would ALEC think to want to alter that? Answering that rhetorical question does not take a rocket scientist. Just a thinking individual with enough life to fog a mirror and enough brains to see through ALEC.

Remember that under our Minnesota Constitution has traditionally been a separate elective office, free from undue influence of a Governor, members of the legislature, or judges who have their own separate place in the administration of justice. The Constitution was drafted with thought to pluses and minuses of having an independent statewide elective office of Attorney General, and the wisdom of the setup that way has been proven time and time again. We do not need ALEC to interfere and pervert our constitutional mandates. They are a very major part of the problem, not any part of any sane solution.

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Hat tip to Janet O'Connell for sending out notice of this particular bit of ALEC mischief, via her email newsletter.

RAMSEY - Yet again, in the ongoing push-on-a-string contrarian effort against the present real estate market realities and trend, the City is spending general funds to send a delegation to Las Vegas. To tout the merit of the Ramsey Town Center to shopping center developers. At a developers' conference. Really. To me it is like sheep marching out to meet wolves. The wolves appreciate such get up and go.

After having editorialized enough in the headline, I learned two things I did not already know via a data request to the City.

FIRST: In January 2010, the Council designated the City Clerk, Jo Thieling, as the responsible authority for receiving and responding to public data disclosure inquiries. Therefore, you may submit your requests to her and my experience has been that her responses are complete, professional, and prompt. Exactly as you might hope. It is a fact well worth remembering, since questions arise from time to time.

SECOND: A City of Ramsey delegation including Administrator Kurt Ulrich, Council member Colin McGlone, consultant Darren Lazan of the Landform consultancy, and Patrick Brama, the City's Management Analyst will attend the annual ICSC Conference in Las Vegas scheduled for May 21 through May 23. I have no details as to cost nor copies of promotional materials that might have been prepared for the Vegas adventure, but I have a request in to the City Clerk and to Ramsey's CFO, Diana Lund, regarding detail. Lund is a second city staff official who has been both courteous and responsive whenever I have had questions, as with the City Clerk.

There might be follow-up posting of detail, either by an UPDATE here, or a new post.

___________UPDATE___________
McGlone is the only council member up for reelection this year who has decided to go junketing this time. Indeed, he is the only council member in the group.

Previously, junket-goers included the mayor, Wise, and Elvig (whose seat is not up this election).

Presently, McGlone chairs the Ramsey HRA, i.e., is lead idea-man and decision-maker of that body, and may be traveling in that capacity as well as being a conference delegate who also is on council.

Is this a cost saving decision, or a realization of cost-benefit balancing that keeping the delegation smaller would be as good as past larger entourages?

Can anyone tell me of any direct or indirect benefit that has come from past Vegas trips, and what expectations are for this current venturing? If so, send an email or post a comment, please.

______A YOU HAVE GOT TO BE KIDDING ME UPDATE______
RYAN CRONK? Flaherty's henchman? Who decided on this Ryan Cronk stuff:

This link.


Was it gaming the exhibition-booth fee structure, using Cronk as front man? A bit of dissembling to get a price break? What?

Sniffing around the ICSC web stuff is useful and informative. Cronk, indeed. And there is this, the per head up front fee just to be there and be square - price of the entry ticket to play Let's Make a Deal:

This link.

Could any reader direct me to minutes of where this latest junketing was council approved? I would really like to see the vote tally on this hummer? Send an email. Post a comment. Ryan Cronk. Fox in the henhouse Cronk.

____________FURTHER UPDATE___________
12:46 PM Friday, May 18, 2012: At around noon, the City Clerk emailed me notice that convention materials for the City are in preparation, presently, so there is not any real option but to wait until after the conference to see the tangible things City reps brought with them to Vegas.

In terms of any follow-up on how the conference went, expectations of return on investment, etc.; ABC Newspapers is far, far better positioned to debrief attendees and report on it that way, than I am.

I look forward to any coverage ABC - Anoka County Union may provide.

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Finally, it is my understanding that the city also is paying to send Ryan Cronk to Vegas this trip.

____________FURTHER UPDATE____________
On the question of props and brochures; I have to presume that the promotional stretch-sign parked in the city hall second floor admin office foyer will be Vegas bound (the stretching hardware behind it looks designed for trade show breakdown-pack-setup use); and that brochure copies from the past have not been exhausted; so that folks will not be traveling without props.