consultants are sandburs

Saturday, June 30, 2012

PROPAGANDA. You want propaganda? I can turn you on to some prime propaganda, straight from the horse's - well, you guess which end.

This link. This screen capture:



You really want to do this? Put on your hip waders then because it gets deep, this link.

Executive summary: Cut taxes further on the wealthy. Withdraw/repeal further regulation, especially environmental safeguards. Tort reform - aka make those pesky plaintiffs go away, with their maimed bodies and such, or cap their recoveries at a pittance. Promote the NRA. Solicit donations.

And hey, I have not even read it. YOU read it. Tell me I am wrong.

"What our plan does" page. (Hint: It propagandizes in Gingrich-speak - "a key mechanism of control"). Next, a bonus image:

Propaganda clown. Golf addict.

UPDATE: A second bonus image:


Friday, June 29, 2012

Trying to understand sewer/water arrangements between City of Ramsey and Flaherty and Collins. UPDATED, per comment and email messages.

I got this email response from the city administrator replying to an email request I had sent jointly to him, to the city CFO, and to the HRA chairman. I have sent back a few follow-up questions because I am unsure of details and hence will for now simply post the email response that was sent me:

In response to your inquiry ("What are the per unit SAC and WAC assessments being leveled upon Flaherty? What of that is being city-subsidized?") the per unit SAC fee for the Flaherty and Collins apartment project is $2,365, and the WAC fee is $1,640. As part of the development agreement, the entire amount was paid by the HRA utilizing existing tax increment revenue streams. The HRA, in acting as the developer on this project, undertook payment of these fees as a developer obligation, and the full amounts were charged to the project in order to remain consistent with our City SAC and WAC policy.

Please note, HRA Chair McGlone and Finance Director Lund, are aware of this response and have been copied, along with all members of our City Council.

[bolding added]. Those are assessments, per housing unit (per dwelling unit set to benefit from sewer/water being a provided government service to such dwelling unit), as the city administrator noted. I am unsure if total cost to other residents would be in line with those amounts (on a per dwelling unit basis), were we subjected to having sewer/water run down our roads and having to hook up. I am trying to pin that down.

What confuses me most, is the sentence, "As part of the development agreement, the entire amount was paid by the HRA utilizing existing tax increment revenue streams."

That reads as if we all in town now are subsidizing 100% of Flaherty's SAC and WAc charges, which also seem quite low per dwelling unit. These are the kinds of questions I am trying to pin down, the facts, of Flaherty relative to existing detached dwelling units that may in the future have to connect to city sewer/water. Whether there is a disparity.

Certainly the HRA will not pick up our tab, but, what else????

It seems the HRA has been over-generous with the Flaherty interests, and the only redress available is the ballot box.

I had said I would only post the email, but in retrospect, adding my concerns and uncertainties was a step I believed would help readers. I await further city info.

____________UPDATE___________
More confusion, before we can have it all clarified to publish. Darren Lazan sent me a quick email note, I do not know if he did any bcc, but there was no indication of any cc, but since I posted Kurt's info already, it is only fair to post this too - even though for now I do not know what to make of things beyond noting they are confusing. Darren wrote:

The fees quotes to you were not correct. I'm traveling today but can clarify. Essentially, the city was paying itself the fees so nobody challenged the amount. $ went from tif funds direct to utility funds.

Had the normal discussion occurred, and accounting for recent fee changes, those fees would not have been anywhere near $2.4m, that just sounds good on the campaign trail. They likely would have been $1.4m max. Still FAR, FAR, FAR out of line.

More work needs to be done so a 600sf studio does not pay the same as a 4000sf McMansion...

Ramsey simply never had to account for a product like this very often. Only one new appt in recent years.

Sent from my iPhone

That contradicts Kurt's response, as posted.

Interjecting "McMansions" into things is a bit like dragging out a red herring across the path of understanding. A 600 sq ft studio with two adults and a child would demand as much water as three adults living in a modest and affordable detached home (without lawn sprinklers - but relying on a domestic private well and private septic system). Each unit would produce sewage at a roughly comparable rate.

And water is scarce. The city presently is not allowed to punch any new municipal wells.

The present subjective feel -- It's apples and oranges, but with it looking as if the apples skate and the oranges are being set up to have to later pay a lot.

But that is a preliminary impression. I hope to have a better understanding to post in the next few days.

__________FURTHER UPDATE___________
Lazan sent a follow-up email and Council member Backous also emailed. I will post each, Darren's first, since it expands on his earlier message:

There are about 10 different development fees - SAC, WAC, sewer trunk, water trunk, sewer lateral, water lateral, park dedication, trail fee, Stormwater fee... Might be one or two more, that's from memory as I sit at a campsite in Ely.

All go to the city, except SAC which goes to met council.

To my knowledge, Deal paid all for VA, but EDA paid about <=$200k for SAC on his building when the Falls was added. SAC credits stay with the building forever, so that is an asset of Deal as the building owner. EDA also granted assistance on top of that for George Wells, but ultimately George did not take that loan. Likely because bank would not allow EDA first position on equipment. On your previous email... I absolutely understand your point. Typical hardship every growing city sees. I respect the desire of the rural portions of Ramsey to remain rural, it's actually one of the things I like most about Ramsey - they have rural, suburban, and now urban character all in one community. I was simply using that [McMansion vs studio rental] example to illustrate an issue with how development fees are levied. If it is solely based on 'units' a 600 sf studio with one or two residents pay the same as as the largest home in Ramsey that may have 6 people living in it. The water/sewer usage is not the same. That is why FC fees, as quoted, are not accurate. That fee is the equivalent of a 300 home subdivision. Had FC had to pay them it would have been reassessed and negotiated just like Legacy Academy was.


I think that's a fair and helpful statement. It gives no real solace to us who might face high hook-up futures, but that is clearly not something within Darren's reach to change or lessen. His firm's contract is Town Center centered. And his term "development fees" is illuminating. Thinking of them as that, an existing home forced to connect is not "development" but rather "coercion."

Interestingly, what Lazan seems to emphasize is that concessions to Flaherty are not precedential, in arguing that Deal received taxpayer subsidy, and Legacy Christian Academy did too [the latter causing concern over church-state separation, especially presuming that the Christian thing adds nothing to tax base while drawing scarce water and putting its load on the sanitary sewer system]. If everybody but the existing residents get perks, then revenue generation likely will be heavier when present private-water private-septic homes are coerced and assessed [despite absolute zero "benefit" or improvement to a single-family detached dwelling via a forced switch from dependable well/septic services, to municipal surrogate service - all the while remaining a single family detached dwelling having services].

Enough editorializing for now, the sewer/water forced connection is not new but instead reaches back to when James Norman was administrator, Gamec was mayor, and Hendriksen was on council protecting homeowners against coercive and very costly connection effort afoot at those times.

Backous actually submitted a proposed comment, but with all the other things rolled into the main part of the post (and in the updating), Randy's thoughts are published here:

Now you see first hand what we're dealing with in obtaining information in order to make informed decisions in Ramsey. Our own City Administrator and HRA Executive Director provides different numbers than does our Develoment Manager. Then the Development Manager somehow politicizes the question in order to discredit the questioner and distract from the question. This exact scenario plays out weekly and I'm glad the public was finally able to witness it in action.

In addition, many times information is provided last minute due to some "late breaking development" requiring an urgent decision that just can't wait. I understand that this is the nature of the development world which is why we shouldn't be in it. If we can't obtain accurate information and be given enough time to analyze it, we shouldn't be making decisions based on it. Randy

James Norman was a practitioner of the last-minute bombshell tactic, often passing out paper among council members for them to see for the first time at the 10:30 - 11:30 pm timeframe of televised meetings, at a point where tedium had reduced attendance at chambers and broadcast viewing substantially. Norman did that while studiously ignoring repeatedly the requirement of law that papers before the council also had to be placed on the Citezens' side table at the meeting ---- the "we're not mushrooms" requirement, I called it. Strommen and Elvig would remember that. They were on council during Norman times.

___________FURTHER UPDATE__________
Regarding the Christian Academy, I may be in error. Just as Jim Deal built the VA clinic and has lease arrangements with the VA - but with the building going into tax base as a rental venture; I believe I was told, if I recall correctly, that the school will be built by an affiliated but independent entity and rented to the school venture; thus also being in tax base. Any reader keen on that question is urged to ask city officials. But on reflection my recollection is the school and the VA clinic each are additions to tax base.

Brian Lambert is doing interesting writing. Worth your setting a browser bookmark.

He does The Glean at MinnPost.

He has a blog, this being a recent well done sight-gag item (youngsters, ask your mom or dad what it means or Google = Dewey Truman). For my generation, the image is as seared in as the Hindenberg burning, but I guess the entire thing loses impact in the course of an explanation. Anyway, Lambert puts good stuff on the web.

Eric Black at MinnPost, linking to Bloomberg and excerpting.

Black.

BloombergBusinessWeek. Also of interest, here.

_________UPDATE_________
More MinnPost, about worse than it looks; here. Eric Black again reporting. Gingrich characterized by the book authors as roughly a political equal to the one ape with the bone in the opening Dawn of Man scene in 2001 - Space Odyssey. But Newt touched an evil obelisk, not one within a sequence of mystic advancement.

A fundamental question. Actually two. First, what's Flaherty paying for SAC and WAC, and is it subsidized? Second, why would a tenant choose Ramsey instead of a vital downtown?

On the first question, does any reader know the answer? I suppose on the subsidy question I will have to email top City of Ramsey officials. If I find an answer I will publish it. I do recall how, before he left, Brian Olson gave citizens an honest answer. Question: "I have a single family home, 300 frontage feet on the road, what would be my total SAC and WAC assessment if sewer-water gets run down my road?" Honest answer from Olson, then, "Roughly forty to fifty thousand dollars."

With that as a perspective - the sting put on a present citizen-resident-voter, what's happening with Flaherty and that sweetheart project he has going? Is he getting a comparable sting, or is he to get only honey, no sting?

Second question: Read this.



_________UPDATE__________

This link. Also re Penfield, here.

The Penfield: Being built on the central corridor light rail, so not just rush hour but all hours you can easily reach either city hub within minutes. Easy walking or biking distance to the Historical Society, the Capitol, and the Minnesota Supreme Court Law Library. The Ordway and Science Museum are a bit further, but only a bit and not thirty busy crowded highway miles away, (or where the bike seat can get a bit tiring, thirty miles each way).

Restaurants, they have restaurants. Shops, ditto. An elevator ride to a Lunds, back up with the cold stuff not thawing, no lugging shopping bags by foot from Coborns to Lego Land housing [Bunker at Ramsey]. Vertical. Not a massive squat architecturally challenged thing (compare, here and here).Or this:

This link. You compare.
Where does Flaherty hide the fire escapes?

Sakry reporting, "luxury apartments," this link.

And downtown St. Paul with a Lunds store ground floor will attract the DINK crowd [double income no kids], whereas Flaherty's Ramsey Rail Rentals will attract the DITK crowd wanting to take advantage of the suburban school system we out here are paying for [DITK is double income three kids, where kids tend to clutter the pool area in summer, the other common areas, exercise room, etc.]. You can rent Flaherty style, miles from urban things of interest and share a wall with an active DITK family, to where the perpetuity of the train noise will be dwarfed into near non-factor status, as to noise, in perpetuity - or as long as you'd last there before breaking the lease.

But then, if Flaherty's thing does not rent out, you may be the lucky one to share your walls with a vacant unit or two - for a while at least. Anticipating Apartment House Blues, "One man's ceiling is another man's floor."

How many misbehaving kids would it take to crowd YOU
from this tiny Flaherty-proposed pool?


______________FURTHER UPDATE____________
More along the lines of where young prospering individuals might choose to live, particularly renters with cash to afford a choice - this link. And that MinnPost photo of the Riverview Cafe - if you've ever dined at Cafe Maude, compare the sidewalk tables, the picture windows, the corner entrance. Interesting stuff, in the cities. "Shift in growth ..." the headline says ...

And that excellent small restaurant across the street from Cafe Maude - you don't find those amenities in Clown Center.

So, do you expect quality to spring in Flaherty's 3000 sq ft of commercial space? Good luck, dreamer. And by the way, if it were a space 60 ft x 60 ft that would be 3600 sq ft, 600 more than Flaherty's grudgingly providing. It's a postage stamp size retail, right by the rail stop. Go figure. Flaherty's a landlord. No more. No less, if there is anything less ...

Thursday, June 28, 2012

All over the web. Supreme Court upholds Romneycare [aka forced individual mandate]. More Romney - was he the outsourcing king of jobs vanishing as WaPo claimed? And what about the Queen B?

On the Supremes and their latest tune, do your own web search and you likely, if trying for it, can find the opinion itself instead of MSM stories about it. As to outsourcing, start with an equivalent to a thousand words:

Opening and closing the limo door, Driving Mr. Daisy,
cannot be outsourced to women in Thailand or the Philippines,
to help-desk responders in Bangalore, or steelworkers in Korea.

Can Michele Bachmann nonetheless still undo Romneycare, as she claims as her heart's intent? (And why has she recently ceased calling it Romneycare)? [UPDATE - Seems so. Will The Queen B be "tip of the spear" against Romneycare as she was when gay marriage was her bugaboo du jour?]

Does Bachmann care a whit about the ravages of outsourcing, (given how she's not said jack about that at any time in her career politician's lifetime)?

Go figure. Does she get a spiffy coverage option for herself and family through Congress? Is the Bachmann clinic staff still without an employer paid health coverage plan, (as was the case several elections ago)? Marcus cannot outsource the clinic stuff, it's infeasible, and that must be end of story as far as the Queen B's consideration would reach.

___________FURTHER UPDATE___________
To make things easier for readers, after having read three to five MSM items where nobody cares to even give the case name in reporting; I took on the effort of finding the opinion [but I am not about to read 193 pages of Roberts-speak, plus dissents, I am not a hound for punishment]. The Court's syllabus does lay things out in a short six pages; (with the last syllabus page posted below; it being the "score card").

--------------------
Top captioning names the case, this link.
Click to enlarge and read the final paragraph above to see
how your favorite Supreme performed, per opinion/dissents, etc.
193 pages, so tiger-readers, not the fainthearted, go for it.

________FURTHER UPDATE________
What made me think of this? It just popped into mind.

Monday, June 25, 2012

RAMSEY - Staff shrinkage and attrition strikes again. Amy Dietl, Assistant City Clerk has left.

I am told Amy moved to City of Arden Hills as of June 1. We all should wish her well. Personally I regret not knowing of it in advance to have had the chance to thank her for all the help she provided when I was requesting document copies and other city information or services. Amy was always helpful and courteous. I liked and respected her as a person and her promptly helping me was always appreciated. Luckily I was able to phone the engineering people who recently left, Bryan Olson and Tim Himmer, and to personally wish each of them well.

__________UPDATE__________
I was curious how the staff attrition/shrinkage affects future expenditure, assuming that others do not have upward adjusted pay rates complicating things when duties are reassigned w/o lost staff being replaced. From inquiry of Diana Lund, Ramsey's CFO, it appears the numbers can be accounted for fairly accurately, and that the major uncertainty would, if healthcare were done year to year, be that. However, presently the city is on a multi-year coverage arrangement so that staff downsizing, and expenditure lessening can be closely pinned down.

This says nothing about running a city with skeletal staff, and having a town run by interns, as some now characterize Ramsey; those being policy issues where sensible minds can differ.

My belief, nickle/dime staff games comes with a high staff morale cost, and that is reflected by the number of people voluntarily leaving, who if wholly happy would not have circulating resumes. Also, "Penny wise and pound foolish" can apply to where something is shrunk to satisfy Grover Norquist and his minions in Minnesota, to where essential things we need and expect from government - like road improvements, are left uncertain and indeterminate - beyond knowing ATVs and Northfork golf carts have new privileges.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Moving out of the early etch-a-sketch campaign phase ...

image credit

Crayon level, this majority, with our hope being they move on to penmanship and swordsmanship, and test which is mightier; against each other; Rand and Ron and crew opting for swords.

___________UPDATE____________
A major part of conducting a successful shell game is distracting patter, to get folks looking elsewhere than where the manipulation is happening. Read the Holder thing in that context. So, what's happening that some might want to distract the citizenry from looking at? Who knows? We can only guess. And why delay some things that appear substantial, over "Fast and Furious" (which reminds me of Vin Diesel, who never was a legislator or Justice Department or ATF employee).

Thursday, June 21, 2012

FLAHERTY AND COLLINS - Where it seems their heart is. Where it seems they even spend their own money. "Block 400." Downtown Indianapolis.

You can always rely on the architects to be more than willing to show off their renderings, even when it is routinely ugly Flaherty and Collins look-alike stuff.

CSO Architecture - Architects-Interior Design, online at csoinc.net.

This is a sampling of their Marsh Market Mega-Multi-Million Mega Next Big Thing - They call it "Block 400" but I like my naming better; with Flaherty and with an upscale super-market chain, Marsh, developing. The images are a few of theirs, so, please go to that site and see it all.

Start with an overview: Text first: "The project includes an approx. 930 space cast-in-place parking garage that will have a lower level grade, and three above grade levels; a white box retail 40,000 square foot space for a Marsh Supermarket; approx. 487 units of housing; the project also features an amenity area with pool, fitness center, leasing office, and community area and will incorporate three exterior courtyards." To put that in perspective, an aerial view:



Click it to enlarge. The existing Cosmopolitan by the Canal, is 1. Existing. Already on the ground. "The Point" (actually a wedge) is 2, imaginatively named because it is built on a triangular lot I suppose, making it triangular, etc., with "the point" appearing to be more appealing developer-speak than "the wedge."

"The Axis" (not actually having a thing to do with WW II), is 3, and is labeled "MARSH" in red, where, you guessed right, Marsh will have its luxuriant store.

"The Centerpiece" might have been a better name, since, "The Axis," well, we fought them hard and many lost their lives.

Finally 4, is - it's Flaherty so there has to be one - 4 is the boondoggle subsidized city financed free-parking garage. This time not for Flaherty as in Ramsey, the free city-paid parking garage space is for the tower labeled "One America" (neighboring "The Axis"), where that business operation gets the parking garage freebie thrown in since it gives up Axis land, (its parking lot presently), for Flaherty's Marsh madness and magic touch.

And did I say routine Flaherty butt-ugly? 

What else would you expect? They appear intent to meet expectations. And then some.

This is The Axis, imagined in its best light:




Now for something entirely different. The Wedge, (aka "The Point"), imagined likewise.




So was I wrong? Routine? Routine Flaherty-Collins? Ugly?

The subsidized ramp, ours looks better - ours being more open air. One America, in the distance. As in Ramsey the parking ramp appears to have more architectural integrity than Flaherty tart-it-up jobs.




Remainder, interior imagined Marsh store thinking - which unlike the shops and restaurants thinking we've heard of in Ramsey - is to be real as promised. (Don't you wish ---- )





A beautiful interior, for beautiful people. From Flaherty, a beautiful person who wears beautifully tailored top-line suits (see sidebar).

__________UPDATE___________
Do not blame the architects for the blandly tarted-up consssssssssssitency of Flaherty exterior designs. It is not their fault. They work within owner-design constraints. Left to their own, they have design smarts. This Video. It might be beneficial if Darren should get to know them.

RAMSEY TOY STORIES: It sounds stupid and unsafe to me. But you decide.

Sakry's full online report, this link. This excerpt:

Ramsey to allow golf carts, ATVs on city streets
By Tammy Sakry on June 20, 2012 at 2:41 pm

Golf carts and all-terrain vehicles (ATVs) could be a common sight on Ramsey city streets now that the Ramsey City Council has approved an ordinance amendment.

The ordinance, which was approved on a 4-2 vote, will allow residents to drive on city streets with their golf carts and ATVs as long as they have a permit.

Councilmembers Randy Backous and Sarah Strommen voted no.

[...] If the city cannot require the drivers to have a driver’s license, then how can it enforce the rules of safe driving, Backous said.

It concerns Backous that if someone has had his/her license revoked for driving while intoxicated, they could still drive around on an ATV, he said.

[...] Allowing the golf carts and ATVs on the city streets with other traffic is not safe, said Strommen.

“We don’t have to allow (the golf carts and ATVs) on our city streets,” she said.

“Given the state of our roads, the last thing we need to do is add another (safety) factor.”

[...] Allowing the use of golf carts and ATVs on city streets is something he has advocated, said Mayor Bob Ramsey.

It is a freedom and liberty issue for him and he hopes the county will open its roads up to the same use, he said.

Click image to enlarge and read
There is at least one safety study of ATV user-injury, (in general and not related to public road traffic only); this link, with the accompanying screen capture from this CBC news feed.

There is a freedom and liberty, to thin the herd, but I'd hate to be the innocent driver going the other way on a road, or a whacked pedestrian.

The term OHV has received some usage, and is appropriate to consider in the context of the Ramsey 4-2 council vote. And there appears to be a mentality that goes with calling it a freedom-liberty issue. That said, the first time I saw an OHV was while hiking in the Snoqualmie Pass region of the Cascades in Washington. Years ago, slowly and safely and with a helmet, a camo dressed hunter was leaving the area on a graveled trail showing due caution for hikers using the trail, with a bear, properly tagged and all - a legal kill, and it seems that hauling vs. dragging out game for miles from the kill spot is one area where the item has a true place and purpose; as in "around the farm."

Ramsey roads? You decide.


____________UPDATE___________
Paul Levy of Strib reports, here, and his coverage suggests a yo-yo can get far out of control if you give it too long a string:

"We're cutting staff, cutting budgets, our roads need to be fixed and we're worried about golf carts?" said Randy Backous, one of the two no votes when the City Council passed the ordinance, 4-2.

"There was no need for this, no public outcry for it," Backous said. "This is an example of misplaced priorities, which are typical of this mayor."

Mayor Bob Ramsey said he wanted it because, "I'm tired of the fun police taking away our freedoms and liberty."

Got that? The motivating center, possibly, but possibly not:

In Florida last Sunday, Erika Robinson, 27, was thrown from the passenger seat of a golf cart on Land O' Lakes Road, the Florida Highway Patrol reported. She died from injuries suffered in the accident. Nathaniel Williams, 28, was driving the cart, though he'd had his driver's license revoked. The State Patrol did not immediately say whether alcohol was a factor in the accident.

Other Ramsey 'yes' votes

In Ramsey, the council members who joined the mayor in voting for the ordinance were Colin McGlone, Jeff Wise and Jason Tossey.


McGlone said that city residents already "are driving golf carts every day on the streets without any ordinance. We're just trying to give the people back their rights."

Mr McGlone's Neighborhood: McGlone said THAT? What in the world is he thinking? I want to see Clint Eastwood ride his horse down Highway 10 - the same thing safety wise and I want an ordinance saying it's normal. Other than clowns from Northfork on Alpine west of Armstrong and east of the country club curve (who think they own the roads as a matter of wealth and privilege), it does not happen. When was the last time you saw a golf cart in Clown Center? As to ATV traffic, that I blame on the mayor.

_________FURTHER UPDATE_________
Roger, a Crabgrass reader, emailed this, from the Grand Forks Herald:

Adams, N.D., ATV accident victim identified
Herald Staff Report - 06/22/2012

A 15-year-old girl injured in an all-terrain vehicle accident in Adams, N.D., has been identified. Kelsey Misialek of Adams was eastbound on a 2005 Bombardier ATV on Third Street when she was clipped by Kim Bylin, 60, of Adams as she attempted to pass his 2010 Ford pickup around 5:30 p.m. Thursday. Bylin started turning left into a lot on Third Street near the intersection with Farup Street when the front end of his pickup made contact with the ATV, causing it to roll over. Misialek was thrown from the ATV and suffered serious head injuries. Misialek was taken to First Care Hospital in Park River, N.D., and then flown to an undisclosed hospital in Fargo by Life Flight. Her status remains unknown. Both Sanford and Essentia hospitals in Fargo said they had no record of Misialek being in their care. Bylin was not injured. The accident remains under investigation by the North Dakota Highway Patrol.

Ramsey did its thing without mandating or requiring helmets or seat belting, on Ramsey roads, because of the mayor's sense of entitlement to liberty I guess; as with the liberty of the unfortunate 15-year in the story.

Read about seat belt law, here, here, here and here (re "Click it or Ticket" being the slogan).

I recall being told of Leo Foley having frequently noted that of all his years as a state trooper [1954-1987], "I never unbuckled a dead man."

Minn. Stat. Sect. 169.686 "'SEAT BELT USE REQUIRED; PENALTY." does NOT exempt golf carts or ATV vehicles, when driven on public roads. I have an email in to Chief Jim Way, Head of the Ramsey Police Force, asking him to reassure readers that the seat belt law of the state will be fairly and equally enforced, i.e., for the toy riders too. I am hopeful of receiving a favorable reply. Minn. Stat. Sect. 168.002, Subd. 24 includes a "Neighborhood electric vehicle" within the definition of a "Passenger automobile," which is important because Minn. Stat. ch. 65B "Automobile Insurance" has requirements at law, for "passenger automobiles; see, e.g., MS Sect. 65B.001, subd. 3. Seat belt and insurance requirements of the state related to all public roads cannot be obviated by a deviant town board or council effort, and state law should not be ignored by local law enforcement officers, each of whom has to take an oath to uphold the law.

Somebody's kid gets whacked by an ATV, there better be driver insurance to cover it. Were Ramsey to turn a deliberate blind eye to the law, it is unclear what consequences might be in such a situation --- "Little Tommy who was reading quantum mechanics on the web as a three-year-old now is a quadraplegic with permanant brain damage for the rest of his life; i.e., not any longer likely to be or remain like Stephen Hawking; and Ramsey taxpayers through their elected officials did it to him, etc., so forth."

Mayoral views of liberty aside, the law is the law.

Last, for the Northforkers heading home from a long 19th hole stint, there is a sobering story (here and here) and an image:

This link.

_____________FURTHER UPDATE____________
Hat tip to Chief Way. His prompt email reply:

Please refer to MSS 169.045, 169.345, 84.928, 84.9256, 65B.48, 169.70. These statutes should answer any questions that you have. Jim W

Readers intending ATV or golf cart usage on Ramsey's roads should carefully check out the statutes Chief Way cites.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Who in Minnesota government is responsible for monitoring reasonableness of bills submitted by the Larkin-Hoffman law firm in the Michael Brodkorb affair?

One bill already in for legal services, reported at forty-six grand. One reportedly in the works, at thirty-five? That's eighty-one thousand public dollars for a case that's threatened but not yet filed? What's happening?

So far there is only an EEOC complaint. That Larkin-Hoffman firm was given a contract for services, not a license to steal. There has to be a lot of leaf raking going on at $330 per hour.

Whose crony is whose?

At any rate, Arne wants an independent investigation. This link.

An abrasive-aggressive individual got fired from an at will political job overpaying him and calling him a communications official when he's been a political hack his entire GOP life and was hired to be one. He poked his nose into policy matters, instead of communicating. He was fired for cause. Why the GOP took the path they did, they're idiots, clearly, or else there would be no case for Brodkorb to argue.

But eighty-one grand and counting, with no end in sight, for defending an at will firing -- a person with the Brodkorb personality being fired from a politicized job?

What's happening?

Again, whose crony is whose?

Who has the authority to assess the soundness and basis for such extreme billing?

Why is this not being done?

__________UPDATE__________
It appears a strategy is in place to run the meter unconscionably so that fees mount so fast that it will be easy to soon pay Brodkorb a six-figure settlement to shut up and go away; and to justify it as "the only economically sound choice we faced with legal fees mounting precipitously." There must be a lot of diddling going on among legislators and staff, with that strong a will to keep it swept under the rug.

Sunshine is the best disinfectant. I don't care about the carrying on, but I do care about the coverup costs. Arne is correct, and he gave his views among bankers at a bankers' meeting, so this question likely will bite and hold. This line of questioning. Who is in charge of cost control, and why is there no cost control being done? What is gained by turning a blind eye to extreme billings for services? Those questions should bite and hold.

________FURTHER UPDATE_______
Make the billing balance owed, or at least at this point invoiced, eighty-five grand. See Brian Lambert's glean, this link for that detail, and much more worth reading. No excerpt, no description of other content. Go there. Read that. It is a paean to greed. And greed is not good.

________FURTHER UPDATE_________
Invoicing for legal services, the bills should be public data; discoverable by the press as such. Does anyone know of the billings being put on the web for public review? If not, why not? Strib's latest report, among other things, says:

Brodkorb, a former communications director for the Senate's Republican caucus, was fired the day after former Senate Majority Leader Amy Koch resigned from leadership. The two had been having an affair. Senate officials have said Brodkorb's services were no longer needed after Koch resigned.

Brodkorb, a longtime Republican insider, says he was treated differently from female legislative employees who have had affairs with lawmakers. He has threatened to sue over his firing, claiming sexual discrimination, and has said he was defamed in the wake of his firing. He is seeking more than $500,000 in damages.

[...] The latest invoice includes time spent on numerous consultations between Senate staffers and two $330-an-hour attorneys, Dayle Nolan and Christopher Harristhal, at the Larkin Hoffman firm.

[emphasis added]. If others Brodkorb might name as examples of unequal treatment have been debriefed, and the lawyers' bill names names, isn't that news? So, which staffers were debriefed?

Both Dayle Nolan and Christopher Harristhal are Larkin-Hoffman shareholders, and Super Lawyers. Finally, how's this for a hoot, (the orange box), client needs - apart from client wishes for "privacy," driving Senate monkey "business decisions":



______FURTHER UPDATE - MONKEY BUSINESS_______
Compare and contrast - photos from here and here:

We grossed out eighty-five grand in legal fees,
from our handling of monkey business.


We grossed out an entire movie-going nation,
from our filming of Monkey Business.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Fox tries, Fox lies, nobody buys. Is it that nobody except the intellectually challenged pays attention to Fox (apart from Fox sports, where broadcasting local baseball IS both credible and useful - Fox Sports has the ugly step-sister).


This link if you care to follow the story links or review reader comments. The screenshot captures the gist of it. As always click the image to enlarge and read. The Gallup link is worth including -- half of Republicans blame Bush.

____________UPDATE____________
Two other interesting poll results, here and here. And some may want to say or think Romney if elected would be no different than Bush. I tend to equate Romney to Cheney, not to Bush. Cheney understood the ethic of corporate raiding, and along with his secret cabal practiced an oil patch Darth-Raider version, (including inducing fruitless oil wars with Romney looking poised to do the same). I expect an election with Romney being the cobra, Obama the mongoose. Obama dodging all the myriad slung venom, ultimately having a lunch.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Is imitation the sincerest form of flattery? Are Ramsey town officials intent on flattering their Vadnais Heights counterparts?

Ramsey, this online city calendar [highlighting added]:

Woo, woo. A community sports complex!

Vadnais Heights, here (with italics emphasis added).

Article by: TIM HARLOW , Star Tribune
Updated: May 8, 2012 - 8:34 PM

The Vadnais Sports Center, controversial from the start, has sunk into a financial morass that has city leaders faced with the choice of cutting ties with the arena and defaulting on $26 million in bonds or assessing taxpayers $1 million to keep it running.

Revenues have fallen short of projections. Expenses have exceeded budget. And the center that officials promised Vadnais Heights residents would be able pay its own way without their help has been delinquent in remitting a year's worth of sales taxes to the state.

[...] While there are no immediate plans to close the center, the glitzy facility that opened 19 months ago has created discord among city staff and council members.

Some City Council members and staff suspected that the arena at 1490 E. County Road E was under-performing financially, but the complexity of the bond financing and confusion over the ownership arrangement made it difficult to get a grasp on the depth of the problems. They recently got a clearer picture of the seriousness of the problems after seeing a council-ordered audit.

According to documents obtained by the Star Tribune, the sports center owes Vadnais Heights $127,000 for a loan the city gave it last year to make a bond payment. The center also owes the city $47,000 for unpaid legal and insurance costs, and there are $54,000 in unpaid utility bills. But most alarming for council members is that even though the arena turned an operating profit of $330,000 in 2011, that was far below the amount needed to cover debt service of $1.1 million.

[...] In championing the sports center, [former mayor Susan] Banovetz and others said the arena would have 1.3 million visitors and generate $2.3 million in revenue in its first full year, enough to pay the bills without tapping city money or needing a taxpayer bailout.

[... Q: She could not see how it could fail?]

Compounding matters is that the center owes money to the Minnesota Department of Revenue. [...] An accountant hired by the city said he feared the department would put a lien on City Hall.

Vadnais Heights already has contributed $3.2 million to the project, and, as master lease holder, is responsible for covering bond shortfalls. Bond payments are scheduled to rise to $1.6 million in 2013.

Who's in charge?

Signs of trouble surfaced about a year ago when an audit by the Edina firm of Abdo Eick & Meyers found that there was confusion about who was responsible for financial aspects, the city or the nonprofit Sports Facility Development and Management Group that the city hired to run the arena.

That confusion resulted in a $79,000 insurance check to pay for a dome collapse in 2010 being deposited into the management group's account instead of the sports center's account. It's still not clear if all the money has been transferred to the sports center's account, according to city memos.

Auditors also found that the arena suffered from sloppy recordkeeping and had been lax in checking user permits. The findings attracted the attention of State Auditor Rebecca Otto, who ordered changes.

The city complied. It took over the sports center's checkbook, and more recently it put out a request for proposals with the possibility of hiring a new management company. Sports Facility Development and Management Group's contract is up Dec. 31.

The center made its $582,000 bond payment in February, but it needed the loan from the City Council to make it. Another $582,000 payment is due in August.

The facility is "not self-supporting," the city said in an April 12 news release.

That's what some arena opponents tried to tell city leadership long before construction workers turned the first spade of dirt.

A separate management entity - for Ramsey just as in Vadnais Heights? Why not? Decisions will be made. Perhaps a Landform - Look Signs - Flaherty joint venture LLC could be formed to manage the Sports play place contemplated for Ramsey. All things are feasible. Possibilities are limitless.

Perhaps Ben Dover could own a piece of the management operation. The risk piece for Ben.

The reward piece, if any, would not be for Ben, but rather for the private sponsors of such a thing. Flaherty would approve of such a sports play palace arrangement. It would have the spoor of Flaherty ways and means all over it, so what's to not be liked by Flaherty? Or Cronk? We wait. We see.

Perhaps Ramsey could finally form that elusive "Port Authority" to manage the play palace (as if it were a port).

Again --- Possibilities abound. City officials will grab the brass ring, or put Ben under from the trying.

____________UPDATE___________
Earlier times, rose colored glasses, the mayor was excited; here.

__________FURTHER UPDATE_________
PiPress, here, by Sarah Horner, June 12, headlined, "Vadnais Sports Center pitched as a project that couldn't lose. It has."

The Vadnais Sports Center wasn't supposed to cost residents a dime.

The plan was this: The city of Vadnais Heights lends its bonding authority to a nonprofit that builds a 200,0000-square-foot sports complex on blighted acres in the northern suburb.

Revenue from arena rentals, along with a reserve fund, were to cover bond payments and operations for the $26 million facility, city council members were told, leaving the city with a cleaned-up corner of town and residents with two hockey rinks, a domed field and a running track.

"To me, it's a win-win," then-Mayor Sue Banovetz said in 2008, when the city first started talking about a sports center.

Fast-forward to today -- 17 months after the complex opened -- and city council members are wrestling with a different reality. Accusations of mismanagement, threats of lawsuits and growing financial problems are swirling around the arena.

"Is this where I (expected) us to be right now? No. ... Are we working diligently to correct the situation? Yes," said Marc Johannsen, the city's current mayor.

Preliminary numbers included in the sports center's 2011 audit indicate revenue was about $750,000 less than expected last year, according to city documents. To fill in the gap, the city has loaned the complex about $225,000 and is expected to hand over at least an additional $400,000 in August. The city's general fund is about $5 million a year.

Bond payments go up next year, meaning the need for loans could get even bigger.

We had a Ramsey Town Center launched during the Norman-Gamec times that "couldn't lose" either. Now we have a city financed rental bonanza [with a bank having the lien on the property, not the city], and it "can't lose" either, some say.

Sure. This year, the Boston Celtics couldn't lose with the lead they had in the Miami series.

Friday, June 15, 2012

As with lawyer money for covering for their misdeeds and mismanagement with Brodkorb, Minnesota Repbulicans are intent on finding a way to waste more tax money on lawyer-fee money. Sure they say they are job creators, primarily for their croney lawyers; not for the 99% (which includes the lower-upper and middle classes, i.e., all but the unreasonably powerful and rich who run and fund the class war against all the rest of us).

Image from here.
Brodkorb, the latest, here. Voter-ID waste atop that, here.

When will it stop? That elephant is getting heavy.

And it is not sitting on any fat cat. It's you carrying the weight, so grin and bear it.  How's this for a Q and A?

Q. Who's bringing a three legged stool to the legislature?

A. Troves of Republican lawyers, for milking their cash cows.

A "job creator" having an Olympic reach and passions.


E.g., here, here.

The Banobo genome. So was the Gipper's pal Bonzo a chimp, or a Bonobo?

Ars Technica reporting, here.

Nature publishing the multi-author item online, full access, (where multi-author is the norm on genome sequencing), here.

Supplementary item, more than you might care to learn, here.

Human, chimp and bonobo common ancestry.
Click to enlarge and read. From here.

Megaupload - fallout. Does the government owe a duty to users of online file locker services to preserve legitimate owned-and-stored data?

The obvious answer for a user, after the Megaupload seizure-shutdown, is if you use cloud storage and/or a file locker service with special irreplaceable data - the high-school football tapes when you scored all those touchdowns or led the cheerleader corps, then store it with multiple services. One getting shut down will not cause damages, if you do that. Also, there is local workstation backup in case of a hardware failure or a theft. For backup the ideal is off-site, not the portable drive on the USB port that you keep attached to the computer since a thief is not going to be courteous and leave it behind in taking all else. That is cause to use the cloud. To use file locker services. The problem, file locker folks such as Megaupload appear to have part of the business plan being support of piracy. Or winking at it, at best, and the film-recording people are bloodthirsty over getting their royalties off artists' works. And if you use a file service or cloud account where you only utilize the free five gigabytes of storage and pay nothing, would you only be owed your fee back, i.e., zero in damages, if there is a seizure of a service provider's domain by the feds, as with Megaupload?

It seems simple, the feds shut it down, seizing the files - all of them - as evidence, and then tell private persons who did no wrong - who pirated nothing - to f.o. because the feds owe them nothing - people will further dislike the government that apart from such things as file sharing - cloud storage, has given citizens ample cause for hate, fear and loathing. The attitude of we-owe-nothing because you assumed all risk in dealings with these people, including the risk of government actions, is an attitude that begs further attention.

Your data is your property. Intangible personal property, unlike land and buildings. But property.

If it is seized by the government, are you not owed "due process" under the Fifth Amendment? When the government seizes land and buildings, they traditionally have been constrained to not adopt an f.o. attitude.

So, what's the real difference?

Then there is the responsibility placed by the Constitution on the feds to honor and not impede "freedom of contract." While each case may need exposition on what contract freedoms are fundamental, if you place property in custody of another are you not entitled to reasonable expectations? When local authorities shut down a pawn shop they do not walk off with the goods and tell people still having redemption rights to go away. Again, where's the difference?

All that is a prelude, to this online item giving some detail on the very issue being litigated - innocent data owners who entrusted stuff to Megaupload apart from any piracy that may or may not have happened.

As a side-note, giving Google returns on the Constitutional provisions begs the question of nuances that may apply. However, in conforming existing law to new situations, generality and a fresh look apart from nuances of precedent in other situations is not necessarily a bad thing. Precedent is precedent. Common sense is not necessarily in tune with precedent, especially if precedent is reviewed by judges lacking rudimentary common sense (and such judges do exist). Cloud storage and file lockers are new - the entire web and present levels of connectivity and access to information stores of unprecedented magnitude, is access from the home not ever available before. However for perspective, the law of bailments is older than Blackstone, so what should courts do? Most bailment litigation is between bailor-bailee, the two private parties, and most of it is in situations where government action is absent - vs. Megaupload where government action was the precipitating cause of having to ask about innocent third party rights and expectations the law should honor.

_____________UPDATE____________
Two members of the US House, one Republican and one Democrat, propose an "Internet Bill of Rights," but it seems the old fashioned founding-fathers' Bill of Rights is more on point for the innocent Megaupload user than their proposal; online here.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

NOWTHEN: Laurie Olmon has decided to not seek reelection, and issued a press release aimed at advising candidates and her successor.

Nowthen does not have a primary, all council seats open for election any cycle are town-wide, at large, and the top vote totals determine who will serve starting next January. I believe seats are staggered so that there will not be a total replacement of the council in any one election.

I met Laurie while she already was on the Nowthen city council, but had declared as a DFL candidate in old Senate District 49, where Mike Jungbauer was then the incumbent.

Peter Perovich won the DFL's Senate endorsement and Olmon at the convention dropped from that race endorsing Perovich, and entered her name as a House district DFL candidate. She won that endorsement, eventually and unfortunately losing the general election to GOP incumbent Tom Hackbarth. Laurie and her husband have become personal friends and I regret her not feeling able to continue in office as actively as she believes the office deserves. Below is her press release which you can enlarge and read. Laurie is one of the good people who enter politics entirely as a civic responsibility, and wholly without any personal or family agenda of conflicting interests. Because we sometimes have seen land speculators crassly seeking office to further advance personal or family pecuniary agendas, it is good that most folks running for city council in the north metro are, like Laurie, not in that camp.

click the image to enlarge and read

My hope is to still be able to exchange email with Laurie over issues and events, for years and years. And that, health permitting, she may again hold office. Please read her thoughts in the press release.

"Anoka County Rescinds Support of Northern Lights Express"

The Crabgrass headline is a direct quote from the Channel 5 online headline to its short and one-sided (anti-rail) report, online here. For the other side of things, reporting from Duluth, here. ABC Newspapers in a lengthier report gives much useful local detail. Under a Strib subheadline, " 'Pie in the Sky' " Paul Levy of Strib wrote:

County Board Chairwoman Rhonda Sivarajah was among the most vocal opponents of the proposed 155-mile line, [... and] balked at Anoka County's possible commitment of $10 million or more toward the line.

Commissioner Matt Look, the county's new rail authority chairman, also questioned the $10 million commitment before voting against NLX.

"NLX is a gamble I'm not willing to take," he said.

Last year, Look pushed for a $13.2 million commuter rail station in his hometown of Ramsey. Some questioned its need, and it raised some eyebrows in Sherburne, Stearns and Hennepin counties. The station opens this fall.

Andy Westerberg and Robyn West were the other commissioners who voted to withdraw from the alliance.

Look replaced Commissioner Dan Erhart, who championed the 2 1/2-year-old Northstar commuter rail line, as Anoka County's rail authority leader when Sivarajah became board chairwoman last year. Along with James Oberstar, who lost his seat in Congress to Chip Cravaack in 2010, and Mark Stenglein, who left the Hennepin County Board recently to become president of the Minneapolis Downtown Council, Erhart is a once-key NLX player now largely on the sidelines.

In addition there was coverage online from MinnPost, MPR, and PiPress where coverage included:

However, Erhart said, it's not too late to reverse it.. With six of the seven Anoka County Board seats-- including his own -- up for reelection this fall, support for public transportation could shift.

"It would just take one vote," he said.

Interestingly, an online operation I believe is out of New Hampshire carried a partial feed from a Minnesoata operation having an arguably inasupicious board and sponsoring an essay contest in honor of an arguably inasupicious film actor.

It is interesting to see from details of each linked item, how one can infer that there may possibly be editorializing on the "news pages" for each of the different coverage outlets. (All except Crabgrass, which of course is wholly objective and unbiased about all that is posted here.)

Was there a clear conflict of interest at play, in one Republican's bill sponsorship and advocacy?

Anoka County, for vague reasons, is surrendering control of the Pines School it had been operating in the county juvenile detention facility to the local Centennial Independent School District, a step impacting the 29 teachers there, who have no job seniority with that district.

This link, headlined, "GOP Sen. Pam Wolf, author of [anti-]‘LIFO’ bill, loses teaching job," tells the political dimension of LIFO applying with there being no bargaining unit seniority among the existing teachers at the transferred school.

Wolf, in sponsoring legislation and advocating for it, to eliminate teacher LIFO [last in first out] seniority based teaching staff contraction requirements, had a stake in things, so was she out of step in participating in a way that advanced her outside paycheck, were her legislation to have passed?

Strangely, Strib had reported of Wolf's situation with the transfer of school jurisdiction, mentionig her by name as a focal person in the situation, but without mention of her having been in a conflicted situation as a legislator sponsoring stuff. Zippo reported, that way.

What Strib reported of interest:

"It is important to pass it on because a school does not fit our governance model, and we are required to have an entire administrative system within the county just for the school," said County Board Chairwoman Rhonda Sivarajah.

There's a touch of pretension in characterizing it as an issue of "our governance model" when the transfer of school jurisdiction also happens to look to be fobbing off a part of the cost of running the county juvenile detention site. With this controlling bunch presently on the County Board, however, fobbing off costs of governing might just be all there is to "our governance model."

After the November elections, the "governance model" might change; governance models not being carved in stone.

The bottom line situation appears to be Republicans fobbing off a part of governing jurisdiction, to the detriment of another Republican, one in the legislature who had conflicted interests in sponsoring legislation which would or might have had a direct impact on her day job. Usually they try to do in Democrats, but call this "unintentional collateral damage?" (When they are not gloating in doing in the likes of Brodkorb, as s kind of internal-GOP excommunication ritual, done with glee in a way that boomeranged to where taxpayers have to pick up lawyer bills).

My bet, Wolf has strings to pull, and gets her job back (even if others laid off do not and even if some of the others had more seniority with the county at the time of the transfer). It would be refreshing if this were not so, and if the Centennial people, taking over the school, deal first properly with their own bargaining unit, and then if there are jobs left over they honor seniority with the superseded faculty - however that positions Wolf in things. That would be the orderly way to proceed, no strings pulled, and if Wolf has her job back based on seniority it would be a most interesting outcome, given her legislative intents.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Who is this pack of devils, using your money to propagandize you?

MPR, this link. They are who you would have guessed they'd be. Brian Lambert doing his MinnPost gleaning, said it best:

I’m sure you’ve been following this one. Tom Scheck of MPR says: “The Office of Administrative hearings ruled today that a case accusing Republicans in the Minnesota Senate of using taxpayer money for campaign literature may go forward. An administrative law panel ruled that all but one of the complaints against the Senate Republican Caucus, 15 Senate Republicans and the spokesman for the Senate GOP may continue. The DFL Party filed the complaint in February after several senators handed out pamphlets at precinct caucuses. Those leaflets outlined the legislative successes of the first year in power for Senate Republicans but also linked to websites that solicited political contributions. Democrats argued the pamphlets violated state law that prohibits using taxpayer money to campaign for office.” Lord, I hope this isn’t distracting anyone from the Brodkorb case.

Ah yes, the Minnesota Senate Republicans. The glorious Senate Republicans. Using your money for legal fees for mopping up their vulnerability to litigation over how they treated one of their once-treasured own, the wonderful Mr. Brodkorb, who could have been fired for cause for simply being who he is. But instead - the Republican way - he was fired for -- well you know all that. With pomp and circumstances, spite and venom, late evening in a restaurant.

Can you imagine, "Okay now Brodkorb, enjoy your meal." It is obvious why many of them are against bullying reform. They like their ways and want no part of changing themselves.

Bottom line: They bleat fiscal conservatism. They make it a public mantra. They posture and they pose. They criticize taxing. They then next spend your taxed money on - [1] defending their screw-up with Brodkorb; [2] propagandizing you on how fiscally conservative you should believe they are. Bless the DFL for calling that propaganda effort what it was, illegal as well as an unneeded and outrageous insult to taxpayers.

I await Phil Krinkie's public expression of disdain for such conduct. For him to appear honest in things related to wasted tax money you have to expect that from Krinkie. Right?

Monday, June 11, 2012

In Anoka they debate what an ugly and non-ugly parking ramp might be. New look, old look?

This ABC Newspapers link.

Why not use the Ramsey solution? Give special perks to David Flaherty so that he will wrap something imposingly ugly around Anoka's ramp so that what the ramp itself looks like will not really matter.

Flaherty sold that brand in Ramsey. I suppose he's on a one-per-commuter-rail-line these days. Rationing in Anoka County so he can get chump towns to pay his freight all over the nation, wherever chump towns can be found. Bless Flaherty. Bless Collins. Bless Cronk, their agent.

Medical marijuanna - latest on the feds tampering with states' rights where Candidate Obama in 2008 said he'd mirror Ron Paul on the issue (he did not phrase it exactly that way but that was the gist of yet one more broken promise). It is an awkward situation. Hands off. Kind of. Except when ...

This link. Holder really has better things for the US Attorneys to focus on. Really.

It probably is a sign of how the privatized-prison industry is calling shots. Paid piper. Called tune.

Nailing the cult of Apple. On an otherwise enjoyable eclectic websitge.

Click image to enlarge and read.

Image credit, this link. Site home page. Bacon.

And one mopo.ca post links here, the gift for the Republican dad in your family who thinks he has everything. And with that product in the marketplace of ideas: These people are missing a "resources" ploy. Ditto, here.

Anoka County Board Elections - There is nothing really "unusual' with several people chasing an easy fat paycheck.

And that's what it is all about when four "fiscal conservatives" get into the octagon (figuratively speaking). I don't know the exact amount for county board pay, but my understanding is it pays substantially more than service in the legislature, and the work is less. Fat city, relative to slogging it out in the Minnesota House or Senate, or getting the equivalent of an honorarium for serving on City of Ramsey's council. In terms of a pay/work balance, it's one of the top jobs in the State.

That is at least my read on " 'Unusual' field to challenge Anoka County's Andy Westerberg," online here, stating in opening:

Anoka County Commissioner Andy Westerberg calls himself a fiscal conservative. So imagine his surprise when he learned that all of the other candidates for his County Board seat are also fiscal conservatives -- Debbie Johnson, Julie Braastad and Mike Jungbauer.

"It's unusual," Westerberg said of the field vying to represent District 2, after the candidate filing period closed last week.

The item, authored by Strib's north metro reporter Paul Levy, fleshes out the County Board races that involve primaries:

In Anoka County, two of the races will require an August primary. In District 1, incumbent Matt Look will face off again former county Veterans Services Director Allison Lister, former Ramsey Mayor Tom Gamec and Oak Grove City Council Member Dan Denno.

Look, a former Ramsey City Council member, has been on the County Board for less than 18 months. Gamec was Ramsey's mayor from 1979 to 1984, stepped aside and then was talked into running again in 1996. He was elected and remained mayor until 2007, before retiring again.

Lister, who spent 21 years in the Air Force, chastised County Board members in e-mails sent to all seven commissioners earlier this year. She described the county's leadership as "appalling" and faulted the board for a "complete lack of communication." Despite the memo, several commissioners praised Lister for her work with veterans.

The other primary will be in District 2. Westerberg, a four-term state representative who was elected to the board for the first time in 2010, said he's "excited about the possibility of continuing." [...]

Johnson, a former state senator who says she is the most conservative of the bunch, ran against Westerberg for commissioner two years ago.

"I laid the groundwork in the last race and can't see stepping away now," she said. "I'm more conservative and I have a proven track record that shows that."

But Braastad, a Ham Lake City Council member, says that she is "by far the most conservative" [...]

State Sen. Jungbauer lost the Republican Party endorsement in March to fellow Sen. Michelle Benson on a fifth ballot; redistricting had placed the two in the same district.

Junbauer says his wife wanted him to run for the County Board two years ago and now "I feel the call."

"I'm detailed, I campaign hard and I think I have a wonderful grasp of the issues driving this county," he said. "I don't like the partisan side of politics. I think I'm better suited for county-level government."

Mirror, mirror on the wall.
I'm the most conservative baby-kisser
of them all.
None of them told Levy about the nice paycheck. Each wants to serve, and believes he/she can serve best. Each is capable of cashing that paycheck, or going with a County - bank automatic deposit mechanism. But would you expect any of the pack, especially the career politicians among them, to say "... and the money's pretty good too"? So be it.

I am not at all conservative, so I would be a unique candidate if running, I guess. Besides that, the money's pretty good too. There, somebody said it.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Florida Republicans are into vote fraud conduct yet again, reminiscent of the 2000 presidential election theft.

Reported, here and here.

Katherine Harris, reincarnated?

Bradblog coverage, here and here.

What does it take to bleat piously via a coordinated ALEC ploy about voter ID as a counter to unproven speculation of voter fraud; while the fellow travelers in Florida are up to what else but their old fashioned favored flavor of voter disenfranchisement, aka voter fraud via purging valid voters from the voter rolls.

Ars Technica has retrospective on the Oracle v. Google trial, and the copyrightabilty of APIs (Application Programming Interfaces).

Ars retrospective, here. Wikipedia on APIs, here. Groklaw has excellent live blogging coverage of the trial as it unfolded. The federal district court opinion is available online from Groklaw. The first Groklaw link will soon scroll far into older posts. The specific link to the Oracle v. Google opinion should remain stable.

Monticello stops broadband bond payments. Unlike Ramsey, the bonds were for something useful to existing residents and businesses, broadband and phone and cable services. Not subsidizing socialized land speculation adventure, nor subsidizing the creditworthiness of an out of state would-be Ramsey landlord with luxuriant ambitions, using town credit to get his private-sector gamble over the hump. Plus some thinking about conflict of interest.

Strib reports here. MPR reports, here and here. At least they were revenue bonds, so taxpayers can spit the hook because of insufficiency of revenue.

Ramsey's bonding? Ask City Hall. Ask your Ward council member, and ask how he/she voted. With every seat up for an election this cycle, ask each candidate; "What about all the bonding? What about all the Landform?"

And in passing, Monticello has been reported as running a town owned retail liquor outlet and has used its profitability in the past to cover for the fiber network. In Ramsey, that income stream is left to the private sector. With a liquor store owner on council that is unlikely to change unless and until the make-up of the council changes. Then what? Well, ask the candidates. If you cannot get a logical and sincere answer, figure whether that will affect how you vote. City minutes note Councilman Wise (in commenting on an exclusivity agreement proposal re "grocery-related items" in Town Center) openly noted on the record how he'd been trying unsuccessfully for years to get a constraint on permitted liquor retail outlets. That sounds fairly anti-competitive and pro-regulation for one professing Republican allegiance. It is as if the free market working it's invisible hand balancing act is fine, in the abstract. While that is ideologically interesting, it is clear Wise has not wrongly kept secret his preferences re the health of his business against levels of competition.

Click image to enlarge. Here, for agenda context.

Another excellent question for candidates, incumbents with a voting record as well as challengers, "How do you foresee Flaherty and Collins hiring for the jobs it creates in a way that is honorable and above reproach?" And if there is a response that such a thing is wholly a private sector thing that citizens need not look at, a fair followup question is, "Is there anything special anticipated to be in it for you or family?" Or, specifically, "Do you are any close family member(s) expect to secure employment with the Flaherty rental operation?" Not that a problem can be proven to exist now, but the ideal is that no actual or potential conflict of interest should be tolerated, so that such questioning from citizens remains wholly valid, even if it is a public-interest question in the abstract, i.e., presently a hypothetical concern vs. some probable thing at present. Such questions arguably are more pertinent to present council members where much was done on 4-3 votes of the council, and where those in the four-vote majority bloc should be the ones most careful.

CONFLICT OF INTEREST: Some conflicts of interest are unavoidable, such as the one caused council member Wise, via plans for the Armstrong-Highway 10 realignment and the Sunwood realignment (in Town Center). It is evidenced by an eminent domain or agreed buy-out need, for the retail business Wise owns [e.g., below images from pp 277-278, of this link]:





Again, that conflict of interest caused by roadway planning in the City is unavoidable.

The only aspect of things that might matter to voters is whether the City and Wise contemplate his getting a highly preferable "sweetheart" relocation site, at Town Center or elsewhere, granted from the city, as part of any non-cash buyout arrangements. It appears to me that Wise has properly disclosed an intent to consider relocating in Town Center, where circumstances beyond his control demand he relocate somewhere; i.e., with Wise not being at fault at all for how he so far has handled disclosure.

An example of what Ramsey voters should or might ask council candidates about possible future conflicts of interest, consider Ward 2 where two of the candidates are business owners; incumbent Colin McGlone owning a contracting business, and challenger Mark Kuzma owning a printing business.

It is wholly valid, indeed arguably desirable for citizen-voters to ask McGlone whether if re-elected he would ever again bid upon and do contract business with the City; and to ask Kuzma if elected whether he would decline to bid on any commercial printing services the City might need while he is in office. (McGlone has done nuisance abatement business 2009-2010 for the Ramsey Police Department, yet the question is one of future intent more than past practices.)

While some may argue that such a consideration is largely irrelevant to a voting choice, each voter has his/her own criteria, which are protected by secret ballot so that a voter can use any criteria that voter, personally, deems relevant.

___________UPDATE___________
As best as I could determine, Colin McGlone owns an auction business, but has not done any business with the city through that firm. Hence, so far he is free of any conflict of interest worry that way.

_________FURTHER UPDATE_________
Palo Alto is reported to be abandoning a fiber-to-the-home initiative; this link. However, note this comment:

ZacharyGuidry | Smack-Fu Master, in training
Tue Jun 12, 2012 3:36 pm New Poster
I have FTTH in my town - Lafayette, LA. It is a great service and costs me about $50 / month for basic cable and 10Mbit internet. Sure, they got sued by every cable provider and phone provider in the area. In the end the system was built and is expected to be profitable either this year or next.
1 post | registered Jun 12, 2012

Municipal fiber seems the way to go, but the litigiousness of those providing for profit communication in the private sector is a nuisance, ya sure, ya betcha. Mean vested interests, with the filing fee and a lawyer willing, is all it takes to scuttle progress ...