consultants are sandburs

Monday, December 31, 2012

At the dawning of a new year.


And now, for foreign policy.

__________UPDATE___________
Foreign policy. Dealing with Iran. More guns.

But the point of the update: Bang, bang, a patotoe for St. Cloud.

Connect the dots, in possibly miscellaneous order: here, here, here, here, here, here, and here. Did you see crossing the Styx, with Mr. Potatoe Head, in St. Cloud in all that? If not, try this for "serious hunting."

Now two images from an eclectic blog, this and this, in honor of two thoughtful Republicans, pundit Ann Coulter and Minnesota Sheriff and legislator Tony Cornish, (as well as for those disliking unionized teachers).

Compare, same eclectic blog, here and here, with Crabgrass, here.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Apartment developers converge on downtown Indianapolis like crows to road kill. Including a local favorite developer, favoring us in Ramsey.


Indiana Business Journal:

http://www.ibj.com/developers-unleash-blitz-of-apartment-projects/PARAMS/article/38739

Developers unleash blitz of apartment projects
IBJ Staff - December 28, 2012


Optimism grew among developers of all types of real estate in 2012, but the undisputed sector leader continued to be apartments.

Construction began or was to begin soon on dozens of projects with thousands of units, most quite upscale and aimed at one of two growing segments of the population who increasingly see no stigma in renting: aging boomers and young families.

[Downtown Indianapolis ... ] was the king of new apartments, as the first phase of units in the $155 million CityWay leased up quickly and workers began constructing hundreds of additional units.

Among the notable downtown apartment projects under way or scheduled to launch soon:

Flaherty & Collins Properties plans to develop an $85 million mixed-use project at Capitol Avenue and Michigan Street called Block 400. The development plan, which incorporates a Marsh grocery store, calls for almost 500 apartments.

• Developers led by J.C. Hart Co. are planning a $43 million redevelopment of a Mass Ave parcel occupied by the Indianapolis Fire Department. The proposal calls for up to 235 market-rate apartments, along with 40,000 square feet of first-floor retail space.

Flaherty & Collins Properties and Insight Development Corp. have begun construction on a $23 million residential and retail development called Millikan on Mass Ave planned for the land surrounding the Barton Tower apartments. It calls for a mix of 144 affordable and market-rate apartments and retail/restaurant space along Mass Ave.

• Milhaus Development has begun construction on the $31 million 451 Market project on the site of the former Bank One operations center at East and Washington streets. The first phase calls for 256 apartments and 13,000 square feet of commercial space.

[...]Finally, a $33 million project by Indianapolis-based Flaherty & Collins Properties called for 203 apartments, 25,000 square feet of retail space, and a 406-space parking garage on 3.4 acres north of 116th Street and west of Municipal Drive, in front of Fishers Town Hall.

Luckily for Ramsey, we had hard-hitting negotiators Ryan Cronk [of Flaherty] and Darren Lazan [of Landform] negotiating a Ramsey deal as our fiduciaries, and they were able to achieve one with a gazillion new apartments, but without that cluttering retail shop and restaurant space, but for a token 3000 square feet. Clearly a better deal for which building Flaherty free parking and giving SAC and WAC discounts and banking-like credit were appropriate. Flaherty did not force all that retail stuff on Ramsey, thousands and thousands of square feet, doubtlessly because of the negotiating skills of our well paid negotiation fiduciaries.

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

UPDATE: Axis power, this link.

"We believe the market's strong enough to absorb all those units and more. Demand for apartments is very high," said Jim Crossin, vice president of development for Flaherty & Collins Properties.

The Indianapolis developer thinks the Downtown rental market is so strong it justifies rents topping $1,000 a month for studio apartments in its Axis @ Block 400 project. The 320-unit development, being built just north of the OneAmerica Tower, will sport perhaps the priciest rents in the Mile Square when it opens in the spring of 2014. (And not just the studios. Two-bedroom units will go for up to $2,700 a month.)

Multiply multifamily living options and you get a healthier Downtown, with 24-7 activity, says Sherry Seiwert, president of Indianapolis Downtown Inc.

"We certainly have a very vibrant Downtown. We need to continue that pace with more residential growth," she said.

Wow, now we can think of Town Center, vibrant 24/7 with a runaway residential pace ...

___________FURTHER UPDATE___________
This link. Is this back to square one Town Center thinking, and if so, is it right or wrong? Sound or not?

Is there vision beyond a burger outlet next door to a gas station? Is patience a factor? Below, groundbreaking for Flaherty's massive rental attached to the city's ramp (in background), with the two Flaherty decision makers, and four of Ramsey's.


With three of the Ramsey four departing the council a hope for the new people coming in is transparency, for example, read here and here, respectively a two page agenda, and a sixteen page meeting minutes doc. Note the two pager is the only online agenda item, referencing an updated thing to be provided (not published online to citizens) and the related minutes for the April 7, 2010 Ramsey HRA meeting refers to things not to be easily found online. Note the lack of any online updated agenda, and no online copies of the credential documents (see minutes p.2, third paragaph) handed out at the meeting; and that early in things note a word search shows p.7, "Vegas." So who are these people, and what is the document that is being referenced with Roman numeral parts, lettered subparts? It was not until the CORruption anonymous letter was circulated that I learned of Ryan Cronk being a Flaherty insider while being posed as a city fiduciary. Find that fact, in those minutes. From reading those minutes I presumed, as most citizens would, that Cronk and Greeby were Landform flunky-employees assisting Lazan, in billing time and such for Landform.

Now, moving into 2013, the only real estate closing that was delivered was the one on the table from the start, the highly subsidized rental thing with Cronk and his Flaherty ties; with that appearing to be the main consultant concern for much of the time during which the City was paying. Cronk's status simply was not adequately disclosed to the public. The public should not be required to ferret out what city officials are up to. Give us a score card identifying the players and positions and performance stats. City officials should be totally committed to informing the public suitably. Hopefully new council members will agree and act accordingly.

Things were handled poorly, in ways contrary to generating maximum trust in proceedings and procedures. A city, via its officials, can have an upward sloping learning curve.

Interestingly, they allowed Tea Party activism a free pass to run rampant ...

Those upset with the status quo do take notice, so that while Occupy was not allied closely with Ron Paul activism, there is this.

The Google, and the Guardian item. While US mainstream media reports.

readersupportednews.org (reposting from Guardian).

How the FBI Coordinated the Crackdown on Occupy
By Naomi Wolf, Guardian UK -- 29 December 12

New documents prove what was once dismissed as paranoid fantasy: totally integrated corporate-state repression of dissent


It was more sophisticated than we had imagined: new documents show that the violent crackdown on Occupy last fall - so mystifying at the time - was not just coordinated at the level of the FBI, the Department of Homeland Security, and local police. The crackdown, which involved, as you may recall, violent arrests, group disruption, canister missiles to the skulls of protesters, people held in handcuffs so tight they were injured, people held in bondage till they were forced to wet or soil themselves -was coordinated with the big banks themselves.

The Partnership for Civil Justice Fund, in a groundbreaking scoop that should once more shame major US media outlets (why are nonprofits now some of the only entities in America left breaking major civil liberties news?), filed this request. The document - reproduced here in an easily searchable format - shows a terrifying network of coordinated DHS, FBI, police, regional fusion center, and private-sector activity so completely merged into one another that the monstrous whole is, in fact, one entity: in some cases, bearing a single name, the Domestic Security Alliance Council. And it reveals this merged entity to have one centrally planned, locally executed mission. The documents, in short, show the cops and DHS working for and with banks to target, arrest, and politically disable peaceful American citizens.

The documents, released after long delay in the week between Christmas and New Year, show a nationwide meta-plot unfolding in city after city in an Orwellian world: six American universities are sites where campus police funneled information about students involved with OWS to the FBI, with the administrations' knowledge (p51); banks sat down with FBI officials to pool information about OWS protesters harvested by private security; plans to crush Occupy events, planned for a month down the road, were made by the FBI - and offered to the representatives of the same organizations that the protests would target; and even threats of the assassination of OWS leaders by sniper fire - by whom? Where? - now remain redacted and undisclosed to those American citizens in danger, contrary to standard FBI practice to inform the person concerned when there is a threat against a political leader (p61).

Hat tip for my first reading of it, Janet O'Connoll's email news/views updates (a subscription emailing also providing this link).

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

The best citizen suppression policing money can buy -- and does it make "all the news fit to print?"

Well, gee. At least there is the web; [pdf and searchable plaintext] downloads of the original FBI items along with reporting of key info ARE online,

http://www.justiceonline.org/

publishing of it at

http://www.justiceonline.org/commentary/fbi-files-ows.html

Have a happy and well informed new year. Read stuff.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

When you have a flawed "losing" message, blame the messengers.

I have sought public office, in Minnesota, run an indifferent campaign in one instance and an insufficient one in another, or for whatever reasons of personality of the differing candidates and beliefs of voters, I lost. I do not intend to run again. But some may never have sought public office yet know more of it than I do. This extended excerpt from here:

It’s that simple. It’s a fact that some candidates lost because they didn’t raise enough money and/or didn’t door knock hard enough.

And that’s not anyone’s fault except the candidate’s. The candidate alone is responsible for the effort. The result is influenced by many factors but a strong effort on the part of the candidate is often times a necessary ingredient, especially for Republicans, who have no “gimme” seats.

Which brings us to the amendments. Simply put, the amendments backfired, failing to deliver the turnout punch many had hoped for.

In fact, the amendments went the other way, motivating turnout for the crowd opposed to the amendments.

The Watchdog spoke with a political operative who was involved with a liberal organization working to elect DFLers to the legislature.

This operative was of the strong opinion that the amendments, especially the marriage amendment, increased DFL voter enthusiasm, especially in college areas.

He chalked up the defeat of Rep. King Banian (R-Saint Cloud) to the amendment battle, as well as the legislative losses of both Travis Reimche and Phil Hansen in the Moorhead area.

In addition to firing up college crowds, the gay marriage amendment no doubt helped to contribute to the gender gap the GOP experienced.

Moreover, the campaigns for both these amendments were horribly executed. The people responsible for these campaigns were outraised, outspent, outhustled, outworked, and outthought.

Remember, the forces behind these amendments had the initiative. The ballot questions were selected and passed by the legislature at the time of their choosing.

The ball got fumbled in a big way and many people paid a price for it.

To watch the photo ID amendment drop like a rock in the polls made both the Emmer and Bills campaigns look like Karl Rove masterpieces.

Talk about a need to rethink things. We thought the Emmer campaign was the worst major campaign in party history. And then came the Bills campaign. And then came the photo ID campaign. And the marriage amendment campaign.

Four catastrophic campaigns in back to back cycles.

[emphasis added] As stated at the start, some know more about winning elections than I do. I can even be simpleminded about some things, a fault I am not entirely happy having. Yet, what is common between these two images?



Perhaps something more basic than quality of the marketing of a product is at issue. Perhaps before forming judgmental answers to a problem knowing what the problem is may prove wise. It might not be flawed sizzle, it might be a flawed steak.

By the way, what's a Karl Rove masterpiece? I do not understand a thing about that term, while understanding a bit about Karl Rove.

Is this a Karl Rove masterpiece?


It must be the pearls?

_________UPDATE__________
Is Romney-Ryan at the top of the ticket and the much viewed 47% video properly written off as irrelevant to down-ticket outcomes, all that, a disease of extreme myopia or a necessary narrowing of the variables to a manageable set saying (to some) get rid of the Ron Paul people?

An analysis insensitive to possible effects arising from the top of the ticket is surprising in that the analysis did notice the amendments down-ticket that failed as stupendously as Romney-Ryan failed.

Romney-Ryan seems the lower hanging fruit.

This land is my land, this land is your land, from Scott's Wisconsin,
to the rich Long Island. This land it's ripe for you and me.


It must be time to go back to the good old days of McCain-Palin. What?

Sutton and Brodkorb were purged because of the 2010 Republican election results in Minnesota on their watch, or for somebody's ideological purity litmus color showing wrong? And Brodkorb-Koch plus the escalating litigation cost of that entire Republican fiasco is yet more proof the Ron Paul candidates did not work hard enough?

I am missing parts of the argument, not suitably attuned to nuance, confused by my own limitations to understand. Is there a friendly Republican who can supply the missing parts of the puzzle in a comment?

Jobs, jobs, jobs.

Chomsky, this link.

Here.

Foxconn. Guardian re Foxconn.

From a wage slavery point of view, who are the Republicans' bleated-about "job creators?" Why, from that perspective, should the 99% bow and scrape to these mythic Ayn-Randian figures of Rand-repute? What are they, the 1%, taking out of the system the Republicans tout? And at whose expense? With who buying into things?

How have they successfully marketed Scott Walker, and are we a nation of stooges and easily fooled fools? What was the status of unions in Europe from the 1930's into the early '40s? Did unions threaten somebody's sense of order? Where is ALEC headed?

For a somewhat differing perspective, Watchdog woofing:

And as for Hamilton's wealth, this is just another example of the envy of the liberals.

Yes, Hamilton has been successful in life. And it was all earned. From a childhood of poverty in rural Nebraska, Hamilton served his country in the military and then moved on to become the first in his family to earn a college degree.

He then took the risks associated with business ownership and started Micro Control Company at his kitchen table.

The Watchdog would submit that Anoka County is far, far better off with Harold Hamilton counted among its citizens.

The county is far better off with the 170 high tech, high paying jobs Fridley-based Micro Control offers.

The county is far better off with Harold Hamilton's charitable works, which have enriched the lives of thousands of school children in the county, fed the hungry here in the county, and have offered a better quality of life through the enhancement of amenities like Springbrook Nature Center.

Here's an idea for your next letter, Roger.

Tell us about your service in the military.

Tell us all about how many jobs you've created for Anoka County taxpayers.

And do tell us of all the financial contributions you've made to local food shelves, schools, colleges, universities, and cultural organizations.

The good news here is that the Watchdog is done giving time and attention to both Roger Johnson and Dan Erhart, hopefully.

Erhart lost his re-election and he's not coming back.

Roger Johnson is merely attention seeking and it's not really worth the effort to spend any more time on a man who is laughed at in most circles.

Then again, when personal attacks are launched against Harold Hamilton, the Watchdog will be there to respond.

In a different web posting, the Watchdog used "doth protest too much" language.

____________UPDATE_____________
If deals at the executory earnest money contract stage in Ramsey don't flip and instead close as represented, Landform might have brought McDonalds and a Super America into Town Center along with consequently created jobs.

_________FURTHER UPDATE_________
The cited Chomsky item has a link over at the end, and there are a sequence of five conversation blocs, none of which link back to a starting page. For anyone wishing to scan or read the series, here is the opening item; here, the intro page. If not agreeing with Chomsky, there nonetheless is value in reading to understand what he is saying. One can sensibly argue the same about Ron Paul now or Bill Buckley before his death. In contrast, Paul Ryan or Mitch McConnell or Ayn Rand is not worth the time. The first two are obfuscators while Rand was a simplifier to the point of absurdity. And it took her a thousand twenty pages of repeated simplistic homilies where you read and say, wait you've said that six times already. Feeling as she did, she took Social Security payments.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Sober as a judge. .28

Here and here.

ABC Newspapers coverage of Anoka County activity appears to be mainly Peter Bodley's jurisdiction.

Navigating the website. News about fees and levies, e.g., here and here. Both items authored by Bodley.

The ABC website does allow region-specific review within its coverage locales; e.g., Anoka County,

http://abcnewspapers.com/tag/anoka-county/


Ramsey,

http://abcnewspapers.com/category/news/?tag=Ramsey

If you have not already been taking advantage of such features, explore the top menu bar on the home page,

http://abcnewspapers.com/

Older items: Poking around the ABC Newspaper archives also may amuse some readers,

http://archives.ecmpublishers.info/

It appears the archive link is not on the home page, but using the search box for "archive" gives

http://abcnewspapers.com/?s=archive

a page where reference and the link to the archive pages is given. Note, however, in dredging through the archives you may find that not all items get archived. That has been my experience in looking back at Crabgrass posts where ABC Newspaper links have become dead links, and resort to the archive is unhelpful.

Some sites have a helpful "sitemap" link at the foot of the page, but ABC Newspapers homepage does not.

... the goal of prosecution of culpable individuals ...

Barney Frank, on his way out the door, suggesting what in an ideal world should be a measure with resounding bipartisan public-spirited support:


Click that image of the Dec. 18 letter from Congressman Frank to Attorney General Holder. There is universal sense to what the man proposes, with only the miscreants among us having grounds for disapproval.

In an emailing distributing the letter to subscribers, Frank enlarged on the thinking:

Officials of the Administration have argued with some basis that instituting criminal proceedings against financial institutions can be destabilizing, and have instead opted for civil proceedings against acknowledged violators of laws that are important for the maintenance of the stability and integrity of our financial system. But these constraints do not apply to prosecution of the individuals who have perpetrated these acts, and this should be vigorously pursued. From the standpoint of deterrence, prosecuting individuals is preferable as this raises few if any questions about institutional stability. Despite the Supreme Court’s conservative majority decision to confer certain human rights on corporations, they are still incapable of acting without human agents, and I cannot conceive of a situation where a corporation is in fact guilty of violating the law where no individuals can and should be held accountable.

The email indicates:

The letter to Attorney General Holder is attached. Letters were also sent to Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, Chairman Gary Gensler of the Commodities Futures Trading Commission, Chairman Elisse Walter of the Securities and Exchange Commission, Chairman Ben Bernanke of the Federal Reserve Board of Governors, and Thomas Curry, Comptroller of the Currency.

Is this Frank cynically going through the motions knowing there will be unseeing eyes and deaf ears? Or is it one final on-the-way-out-of-DC salvo of reason? A liklihood is unseeing eyes and deaf ears will be the outcome, but the motivation of Frank will be known only in seeing what he does after leaving Congress. Going to K Street would say one thing, retiring to Boston in other directions would say the thing is legitimately felt. Because Barney Frank is so well-spoken it is, as with Obama who also is well-spoken, we must wait and see.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

... Please heed these words that I speak; I know you’ve suffered much; But in this you are not so unique; All of us, at times, we might work too hard; To have it too fast and too much ...

Dear landlord
Please heed these words that I speak
I know you’ve suffered much
But in this you are not so unique
All of us, at times, we might work too hard
To have it too fast and too much
And anyone can fill his life up
With things he can see but he just cannot touch

Dylan, this link. With Flaherty moving into Ramsey, Dear Landlord resonates. In any event focus on:

I know you’ve suffered much
But in this you are not so unique
All of us, at times, we might work too hard
To have it too fast and too much

The dream that was Town Center, and still is in many minds; insights on the web:

Here, here, here and here.

Everybody in every 'burb, pushing on ropes. It has to be. After all, it's either that or patience.

___________UPDATE___________
Here, here, here and here. For one and a quarter million, would you jolly along people somewhere too? Be happy is just around the corner. Likely. Maybe. ... dashboard ...

“Our policies work and have been working,” Daudt insists, noting the paydown of the school funding shift although noting, too, a projected future deficit. “We failed to get the message to voters that we have done that,” Daudt said of the perceived hand in turning around the state budget. In part, the Republican message got garbled in the difficulties of explaining the nuances of budgeting to voters, Daudt believes. Beyond this, the sluggish economy has voters edgy, the political environment favorable to the attack. “It’s easier to convince somebody that somebody else is doing something wrong, rather than convincing them what you’re doing is right,” Daudt said. Like the Senate Republican Minority Leader David Hann, R-Eden Prairie, Daudt looks at the photo ID and marriage amendments their respective caucuses placed on the ballot as helpful to Republicans in some districts, hurtful in others. “Was it a mistake to put the (marriage) amendment on? I don’t know. I’m not really sure about that,” Daudt said.

Different name. More of the same.

This time, in the passenger seat.

OR -- Leave driving the legislative tractor to the higher nose count faction. Be helpful with an oil can, if needed. As a tractor collector, Daudt should understand.

This link. Headline is quoted from mid-item.

What does this part of the headline say to you:

In part, the Republican message got garbled in the difficulties of explaining the nuances of budgeting to voters, Daudt believes.

If dumb down the message is the new GOP mantra, where are the Emmers when needed?

Anoka County - Bonding in pursuit of a lower current interest rate back-burnered.

Rates fluctuate and change, Bodley of ABC Newspapers reporting, this link. Rate changes will be monitored. See details in Bodley's report.

Ramsey - grants.

Sakry reporting, this link.

Minnesota, moving into the new year, should be thankful for Mark Ritchie and Lori Swanson.

Two recent posts have looked at reporting concerning the 2012 election defeats of Dan Erhart and Andy Westerberg, and have expressed personal opinion. This post will be opinion, which already is recognized as perhaps different from views of some others.

MARK RITCHIE: The 2012 election showed the ALEC amendments had no real popular traction, despite the jigged up support machine controls being manipulated by amendment sponsors and their fellow travelers. Ritchie fought the good fight to have the ballot fairly say what the amendments were really aimed at, and lost in a close Minnesota Supreme Court opinion. But in pushing the effort Ritchie gained fair scrutiny for the process that generated these ALEC-loved things, and how words of the amendment sponsors were being biased to tell an incorrect story of what was at play. In losing the battle, Ritchie won the war. People, enough of them, were helped to understand the issues better, and energized to vote. Clearly many others helped in defeat of the ill-imagined attacks on civil rights - voting rights and equal protection - and credit is not all Ritchie's. But he's in office, and based on his effort deserves to remain in office, should he decide to run again.

LORI SWANSON: Start with the AG budget having been slashed in Pawlenty-Sviggum days, and the consequent need to contract staff which fed the unionization effort and calls to investigate the AG office. MinnPost ran a series of items by Eric Black critical of Mike Hatch's official demeanor and of Swanson's not changing that much, as Hatch's successor, with the character attacks being largely based on confidential disgruntled sources but with some people putting their names behind allegations. That was back around 2006, and went nowhere. The Emmer family had sharp knives for Swanson, e.g., here and here. (Hit those links and do "Emmer" as a word search.) Some may recall the scrubbing of Drew Emmer's blogging "insights and opinions" from the web when Tom Emmer was pushing his losing statewide candidacy.

What's positive to say about Swanson? Start here. Then do your own google = Lori Swanson Accretive

That last google will give you this year's top action from the still budget-constrained AG office, where resource management, picking the right fights on tight money, is a clearly shown skill Swanson has.

If you are not rocking somebody's boat while serving as a state AG, you might win Ms/Mr Cordiality acclaim, but you are not doing the job. Swanson has done the job in the way I believe it should be done. As with Ritchie, if choosing to run again, she deserves reelection. I realized that in this post only the Accretive Health situation is focused upon 2012 timeframe retrospection, with such year end retrospection being the tradition. Not to minimize it and its significance, Accretive being brought to task was big, but it is an ongoing part of a service record where it is a piece of consistency. Indeed, the AG office's record back to the Skip Humphrey tobacco litigation days has been exemplary, and Minnesotans should be proud of the record, regardless of party affiliation. The job has been well done.

Finally, staying with MinnPost links, the quality of jobs well done from taking on big smokey during Humphrey days to now, might best be shown by the hateful efforts of those who'd curb the activism; and can you again say, ALEC?

Those ALEC people are flat-out dangerous to the nation's citizens, and Mary Kiffmeyer walks point for ALEC in our state, and has disgraced us in doing so. I hope she got a lump of coal for Christmas.

UPDATE: Swanson, this link, early 2011.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Paul Levy writes for Strib about Andy Westerberg.

I recall from the League of Women Voters candidate forum how Westerberg and his opponent each tried to be the bigger badder conservative of the two, and it appalled me. Neither would have gotten my vote if that were my district. Zippo of a choice.

This, from the middle of Levy's item, online here:

He said he doesn't know whether or when he'll again run for office. He feels as if he's "been fired."

"For what reason?" he asks. "What did I do wrong?"

Westerberg was author of the House bill in 2006 that attempted to bring a new Vikings stadium to Blaine. With the Twins and University of Minnesota football team getting stadiums that legislative session, it wasn't the Vikings' time.

Not only not Zygi's time, that intended cramdown fiasco was not the voters' time either.

Westerberg did not deign to offer voters a referendum on the foolishness, and, hopefully, his loss to the nearly-a-clone woman who opposed him was in part a referendum on Westerberg, for his disdainful denying voters their referendum on the super-dumb stadium thing where Zygi just strung the rubes along.

Hopefully this is the end of Westerberg's career in politics.

Voters deserve referenda on things like that intended stadium cramdown. It stunk then, and the memory of it now is the memory of the stench. So long, Andy.

Peter Bodley, ABC Newspapers, posts an online interview with Dan Erhart, looking into life after county board service, including, "never say never."

This link. It is extensive coverage worth reading. Per the headline this brief mid-item excerpt:

At one time, he was considering not running for re-election this year, but did so because his supporters urged him to do so and he hoped the election would change the current majority on the board, according to Erhart.

“I did not run a negative campaign,” Erhart said.

“I have never run a negative campaign in 30 years.”

Erhart is leaving the board with no bitterness, he said.

“I have had a great time, it has been a fun job and I have enjoyed serving the people of Anoka County immensely,” Erhart said.

As to whether he will run again – the District 7 seat will be on the ballot again in two years – Erhart said he would use the term “never say never.”

Erhart, 71, has no specific plans for the future but he has been talking some people on a number of different levels and he did not rule out going back to lobbying, he said.

But it would have to be an issue in which he believes and “good for Anoka County,” Erhart said.

He wants to revive his business, which has been dormant for several years because of Erhart’s county board commitments, he said.

“The land development business is picking up a little bit,” Erhart said.

There is no agenda in picking that excerpt, except to put a context around "never say never" as written and published. It represents a small part of the full report.

_________UPDATE_________
If the man lobbies the legislature, ramping up ASAP the Armstrong Blvd. - Hwy 10 interchange funding and construction in Ramsey would be good for the county, and for public safety, as well as a step toward the ultimate traffic-light-free limited access extension of Highway 10 from where such status exists in Anoka to at least the intersection of Highway 10 with Highway 101 in Sherburne County, and ultimately through or bypassing Elk River's 30 mph stretch of frustration. Extending Northstar to Saint Cloud would likely be something Erhart could lobby for in thinking it would be good for Anoka County, that being a guess because I have never met the man face-to-face nor spoken with him. However, I expect he would be effective if addressing either of those issues in lobbying the legislature. Even were Ramsey to pick up a share of a lobbying fee, it would be money better spent than the city's present monthly dole to Darren. Ya sure, and ya betcha. And better spending wisdom than the extensive payments to Tinklenberg Group prior to Landform's drawing on Ramsey funds. It might, or might not interest Erhart - and Ramsey's new council members will come in with a clean slate, or be able to shortly clean the slate to where multiple options can be considered.

_________FURTHER UPDATE________
Nolan reportedly is taking the Oberstar seat on the House Transportation Committee.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012


Freedom Works in mysterious ways.

Food fight?

MoJo reporting, here and here.

... pay all the money and return The Picture of Dorian Gray.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Senator Patty Murray, House Speaker John Boehner, and "Plan B."

Click image to enlarge and read.

There are a number of reports online, with the screen capture from here. To reach the link at the screen capture end, click here. Murray's observation is worthwhile, for the actual real and non-phony-baloney Plan B, is about as far from Boehner's approving radar, as the colder side of the moon. Good party hack, that Boehner guy that way ...

Probably owns assault weapons too, in a glass fronted cabinet so all the NRA lobbyists can see ...

And his most treasured constituents can see; "One of us," ...

"Nice RPG launcher you have there, John. Collector perfect. Engraved."

Viewing Paul Levy's latest Strib report from a fiscal point of view, there is some sense to what the present power bloc of the Anoka County Board is up to. If you read the entire thing you get the sense of an ill-formed collective belief Steve Novak is made of kryptonite. Anything about him lessens their collective super-strength lockstep cohesiveness. And they will have none of that.

A kryptonite sample,
flashing that big middle crystal for all to see.

Levy's report, here. Insular things for insular minds?

As to the possible sense of things - this MICA organization seems possibly akin to LMC (League of Minnesota Cities), each being its respective legislative lobbying tool for counties and cities. LMC membership for Ramsey, in my view, is questionable less from a fiscal viewpoint than from one of bias, with the LMC appearing to me to be far, far, far too tolerant of city officials' conflict of interest situations - or at least having that track record in two instances where formal viewpoints were issued regarding Kurak years ago, and the more recent McGlone-Flaherty hiring. I am unaware whether LMC was consulted over the city - Wiser Choice dealings. LMC provides pooled liability insurance to Minnesota cities, depriving the private sector of that business opportunity where I await Tea-Party Republican bleating to that tune; and I presume MICA has a similar offering for its member counties. If Anoka County does remove itself from MICA membership, will there be a boosted cost of insurance, including errors and omissions coverage and such? A separate question, a digression, so back to the thread.

Levy writes,

Anoka County pays a total of more than $400,000 in annual fees to nearly 70 groups. But others say a rift between County Board Chairwoman Rhonda Sivarajah and former county senior manager Steve Novak forced the county's pending January decision to leave the Inter-County Association (MICA), which recently hired Novak as a lobbyist.

[...] "It's not about money; the amount of money needed for these associations is in the budget," Kordiak said. "The moment there was an indication of Steve Novak's departure from this county" and that Novak might be hired by MICA, there was "immediate discussion about withdrawing from MICA."

Sivarajah, a Republican candidate for lieutenant governor in 2010, was the only Anoka County commissioner to vote against a proposed Vikings stadium in Blaine in 2006. Novak, a former DFL state senator, was Anoka County's lead negotiator for the Vikings stadium. Any relationship they had seemed to deteriorate after January 2011, when Sivarajah became chairwoman of the board and Novak was one of the county's senior managers.

Novak declined to be interviewed. Sivarajah said MICA's hiring of Novak months ago was not a factor in county discussions about leaving MICA. In a letter sent to MICA members on Dec. 14, Sivarajah never mentions Novak as a reason for MICA and Anoka County possibly parting ways.

But Sherburne County Commissioner Felix Schmiesing, MICA's treasurer, said he heard grumbling from Anoka County about MICA's hiring of Novak as a lobbyist months ago.

"The politics inside the boardroom of Anoka County, to me, are kind of frightening," he said. "They're a polarized board. They never said, 'Don't hire him.' But it was clearly understood that if we did, it would create issues for them."

When asked recently if the county was considering leaving any associations, County Commissioner Matt Look, a member of the board's fiscally conservative majority, asked why the county should support MICA after it hired Novak.

MICA is a nonprofit organization of growing or urban counties. Anoka County Commissioner Carol LeDoux says MICA "allows us to network with other counties and build relationships that may produce healthy relationships we may have to call upon to accomplish a project."

County lobbyist Kathy Tingelstad, the county's lobbyist, said membership in associations like AMC and MICA are crucial when networking at the State Capitol.

[italics added - see how kryptonite effects cohesiveness to where even keeping a story straight between cohorts is impacted]

Levy writes much more, so read it all, here, beyond the above-quoted opening scene-setting.

Interestingly, the article has no quote or reporting of Robyn West having her hand in MICA things. She's probably still too exhausted to publicly speak, from her creeping all around the county for weeks reading the fine print at the bottom of political campaign signs. Now we know. That's probably why she missed the League of Women Voters candidate forum where even Matt Look showed up to participate. Too busy that night out on sign patrol; crawling around on hands and knees with a flashlight, muttering, "PAC, PAC, PAC, eureka, no PAC, I can't wait to file, I can't wait, I can't wait." Little Nowhere Lady.

Statesmanship blushes.

____________UPDATE_____________
In fairness, I have to reemphasize my respect for Sivarajah's opposition to the ill-concieved and referendum shunning stuff that went on where Anoka County dealt with Zygi Wilf and his elves as part of his snit a few years back because Pohlad was getting a new public-money stadium before him, despite Pohlad being a local gazillionaire and having an established place in line ahead of Mr. ZW at the public trough. That was a stupid thing from the get-go and only Sivarajah voiced the "naked emperor" truth in things. Still, years back and a collapsed plan to tax us without any referendum, which was both very raw and very stupid, but it's water under the bridge. Grudges seem to last. Even mine. Do read Levy's entire Strib report.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Metro-area shared-wall home ownership market report, STRIB.

This link. In the early first five or six years of this twenty-first century, this was what was being built in droves, in Ramsey, because at the time it offered the best return on invested dollars for builder/speculators, the future be damned. Short-sightedness is not good, and the market proved wiser than the planners. Think: Town Center. What was interesting, a few weeks ago before the snow, driving past Central Park to get from Armstrong to Variolite, there was obvious single-family building activity at the gun club development.

How the market treats the Flaherty thing in Town Center in ten years is probably more a worry to those who will live in Ramsey then than it is to anybody in Indiana. The market moves in mysterious ways.

___________UPDATE___________
A mid-story quote, then an ending one:

Across the Twin Cities, demand for new townhouses has plummeted. During the pre-recession boom, they accounted for almost half of new home construction, but that's dropped to just over 10 percent.

Groups that traditionally have fueled the popularity of townhouses have found other options: First-time buyers have increasingly turned to suddenly affordable single-family homes, and empty nesters often have been choosing rentals or staying put. A large inventory of existing unsold townhouses also has dampened demand for new units.

"I don't have anybody calling and asking me to find them some land for townhomes," said Laurie Karnes, a Maple Grove land broker. Single-family and apartment projects are the top priorities among residential developers these days, she said.

First time buyer demand was what fueled the shared-wall bubble. And later Strib reports-

[...] Meanwhile, several vacant townhouse projects, like a 78-lot site in Shakopee taken back by lenders, continue to sit on the market. In Champlin, a 27-lot townhouse site recently sold to an investors' group at a deep discount from its asking price of $10,000 per lot, according to Charlie J. Pfeffer, a sales associate at Maple Grove land broker Pfeffer Co. "In 2005 or 2006 those lots would have gone for $35,000 to $45,000," he said.

Pfeffer said he believes that more townhouse sites would be reconfigured for single-family construction if communities weren't concerned about bumping up against their own or Met Council commitments on increasing housing density.

There is Met Council and its density-lust, planning; and there is market driven reason. Not that the two overlap too much. What do they teach in planning school, pushing on a string? A policy of not what YOU want, but what WE want to see YOU given - as best for YOU? Oh, my. Central planning. Next private property will be annexed, while the guns get taken away. Rand Paul to the rescue? I doubt that.

In twenty years, who knows what will be the national and local worry of the day.

By New Year's Day, 2032, will it be a fiscal-cliff redux? Same players, similar scenario? Next year, the Democrats may be proposing a tax cut which the Republicans will be positioned to dislike since it only will benefit ordinary folks. It will be interesting times for the Republicans in the House of Representatives. For Michele Bachmann, Col. kline, Paulsen. How will they posture out of that dilemma? Likely as not we have not heard the last of the job-creator propaganda, one of the few songs they sing, but off-key, with no sincere melody. Happy New Year. How about them Vikings?

Friday, December 21, 2012

Robyn West did a stupid thing, disrespectful of the common sense notion of avoiding waste of public money and time, and for that she deserves the lump of coal she got from the OAH [STATE OF MINNESOTA OFFICE OF ADMINISTRATIVE HEARINGS]. I saw the film, and I expect Forrest Gump would have shown better judgment.

I didn't vote for Robyn West because I am not in her district and were I, I would have voted for Dan Sanders. Sanders is not on record for instigating and pushing frivolous administrative complaints.

Before thinking I judge our esteemed County Board Commissioner harshly consider what she did - and reckon for yourself roughly how many hundreds of public dollars were likely flushed down the drain by whim of this self-styled fiscal conservative.

How do you judge that? Well, here are screen captures of the three leading pages of a seven page OAH opinion, online here. Click each thumbnail below to enlarge to read and to judge for yourself. (Or read the entire linked online pdf doc; where the final two pages of that OAH item capture the gist of the reviewing panel's analysis.)





I do not believe most taxpayers expect this kind of thing, and if knowing of it, my belief is they'd disapprove of it as uncalled for waste.

Taxpayers pay their taxes with the expectation that money will be prudently spent in light of it being an extraction of money made under penalty of law for non-compliance.

Taxpayers do not expect that mechanisms set up for serious review of serious claims of election law breach will be misused for frivolous claim-making, for which there might be, but as yet is not a discretionary penalty similar to that imposed for frivolous litigation in the courts.

Truly, Ms. West, that OAH opinion is handing you a real lump of coal for Christmas; and done because it was stupendously deserved. Lady, what were you thinking? (If "thinking" is the term rather than it being a wholly visceral and vindictive attack.)

... Daring to place campaign signs, in public places; after all, what gall ... it cannot go unassailed if there be even one ultra-miniscule detail whatsoever to quibble over regarding a single sign or two among many, for quibble we must and damn the cost to the public ...

I don't like that. The quibbling was a premeditated conscious choice, with nothing mandating it be done instead of clear token error being sensibly overlooked as a petty and inconsequential thing, and one not to be brought to administrative hearing.

________________________
Captioned photo from here. See opening sentence by Judge Alexander in an out-of-state judicial opinion online here. My understanding is the opposing county board candidate, Dan Sanders, settled and paid West fifty bucks as "please go away" money but that West in negotiations between the lawyers refused an identical offered settlement from Citizens for Responsible Government, to instead exhaust available administrative hopes for differing relief.

Judge for yourself, did Commisioner West show Responsible Government in pushing this sorry claim?

___________UPDATE_________
As a correction of an incorrect statement, Sanders agreed to pay the State a token fine of fifty bucks and West and Sanders were each satisfied with that resolution of the complaint West filed against Sanders.

Still, in substance it was a token amount paid by Sanders by agreement between West and Sanders; with West being unwilling to settle on like terms with the Citizens for Responsible Government. In taking that harsh approach West attained an outcome where she saw a fine of half that offered fifty dollar settlement amount imposed for an inconsequential breach of an arcane election regulatory statute with regard to roadway signs.

The commonly used term "pissing contest" comes to mind, and it was Citizens for Responsible Government that wanted to curtail it and West who both started it, and wanted it continued, pressing her complaint to the hilt, where the administrative law judges involved spent substantial time and are not insubstantially paid.

Bottom line, West prolonged a pissing match that never had any sensible basis to have been started in the first place, and taxpayers pay the cost of the mechanism she exploited against political enemies. One hopes our elected representatives have better things to do with their time, and a sounder sense of proportion.

If you don't already hate Facebook, read this link.

Here.

Cravaack's Minnesota fiction laid to rest.

Strib, this link.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

RAMSEY - TAXING AND SPENDING DETAIL, GENERAL FUNDS, EDA, HRA.

Sakry reporting in ABC Newspapers, online here. Nothing in the Sakry report indicates a divided vote. Approval likely was unanimous. (If it was a divided vote, reader comments on how the voting went would be appreciated.)

CITY OF RAMSEY: KNOWING MORE ABOUT THINGS BEING PLANNED.

I had not realized, until stumbling on it by happenstance today, that City of Ramsey has a planning page, here, which among other things links to renderings/engineering drawings/plans for recently considered projects such as the massive Flaherty Rental thing presently being built, and other things for which ground may/may not have been broken.

Things at Town Center, to the north across Hwy 116, and on the west side of Armstrong:

Flaherty's thing, elevations, and bird's eye view.

Wiser Choice.

Legacy Christian, (with outlots marked as for future commercial/residential).

Super America (Amcom).

Seasons of Ramsey (And don't blame me, I did not pick that project name, which admittedly kind of fits in with "Symphony at Town Center," and the "COR" "badging art" - all of which was the intellectual output of others than me).

That Flaherty thing will be massive. Already it's cutting off Ben's winter sunshine for most of the day. Ben looks a bit paler these days.

Ben in his prime - 2006,
partly shaded by the ramp alone.

__________UPDATE__________
A probably unneeded caveat for most readers; that which gains plat approval is not always built, and plans are dynamic more often than static so what is first proposed may differ from what ends up done on the ground.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Austerity may build good character, on Wall Street.

Hat tip to Janet O'Connell, for sending along the email message:

Austerity extremists in Congress are calling for cuts to programs that help lower- and middle-income Americans.

Some progressive measures, such as allowing the tax cuts enacted by President George W. Bush to expire for the wealthiest Americans and closing corporate tax loopholes, are on the table already.

Yet hardly anyone is talking about the financial speculation tax, which would curb some of Wall Street’s riskiest gambling while raising $350 billion.

Tell Congress and President Obama: Put taxing Wall Street’s financial speculation on the bargaining table.

The Wall Street Trading and Speculators Tax Act (H.R. 3313, S. 1787), proposed by Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.) and Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), would raise the revenue over 10 years through a miniscule fee — 0.03 percent — on Wall Street transactions.

Because the fee is so small, it would target some of the most dangerous and volatile high-speed trading on Wall Street while having virtually no impact on the vast majority of Americans’ investment activities.

And it could especially reduce the sort of high-speed, automated trading that led to the May 2010 “flash crash,” when the Dow plunged nearly 1,000 points in just a few minutes.

If anything should be on the chopping block, it should be Wall Street’s recklessness.

[...] For more about the benefits [of] a financial transactions tax, check out the latest post on Public Citizen's blog.

Please take the time to follow the links, and to submit the petition, in your name and with your own personalized added commentary.

UPDATE: HufPo, here.

Double standard in the DFL? Last governor's race, much was made of Tom Emmer's decades-old DUI arrest. Ostensibly as a character issue, related to fitness to serve. That is a fact.

Strib, this report of a high level DFL party official having a current DUI arrest for driving drunk and hitting parked cars, with a 2009 prior. Where does this kind of information belong in the political process? Does it matter whose side you fight on, or is it one size fits all?

Innovation is treasured among Republicans, especially legislators wanting to keep that "A+" rating/endorsement from the NRA. Wanting to have those orange card mailings, in district, when it counts.


Tony Cornish, would you really have teachers pack heat? Or is this strictly grandstanding becuase in your judgment it advances your career?

An AR 15 next to the desk? A belted Glock? Or a make-my-day magnum? An ankle holster for added security?

Do it now, Big Tony says to Strib:

"They can talk about all the gun control laws they want to, but nothing really in the laws that have been passed will stop a guy like this," Cornish said. "The only thing that will stop it is a bullet."

[...] "What I'm proposing is somebody that's already there," he said.

He added that the Connecticut assailant knew the school was a "gun-free zone" and there would be "nothing meeting him in the form of resistance." He added, "If he would have thought that the teachers would be armed ... this person would have been very wary of being shot. He probably would not even think about it."

Heather Martens, head of Protect Minnesota, a gun-control organization, said Cornish's idea is "nuts." [...]

Is this just talking to Strib to assure NRA lobbyists that he'd lick NRA boots even after a walk through the pasture? Or has the esteemed legislator worked with staff to draft a bill? And if a bill is ready, will Hackbarth be a Republican cosponsor? As a family values issue, families valuing armed educators.

Put a machine gun in the principal's office?

Await a film, "Gunfight Outside the Study Hall?"

Kids, don't smart-ass outside the faculty lounge.
They will come out locked and loaded.
Don't risk a fatal case of red dot disease.
(The one on the left is the civics teacher.)

_____________UPDATE_____________
Ann Coulter argues the conceal/carry side of things here. I have no idea how accurate the anecdotal info is that she provides, but she is who she is, and she has edited out bystander harm events of the kind that might exist to cut against her arguing points.

_________FURTHER UPDATE__________
Extrapolating the good Sheriff's and Coulter's arguments to their logical conclusion, what should black teenagers have done after the Trayvon Martin shooting? It was an event where waiting for a police response was proven insufficient, where something more immediate seemed needed? Why were such esteemed voices as Ms. Coulter's then silent? A policy wonk happened to be on vacation? What?

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Restoring birthrate boom times.

This google. The peasantry? Let them eat Walmarts. A phrase used less frequently than in the past, "Sound as a dollar." Whatever "a dollar" is.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Is it nearing the solstice with decreased daylight and diminished healthy sunshine, or substantial random defects in the local gene pool, that lead to things ABC Newspapers currently report online?

E.g., here, here, here, here and here.

The term "professional criminals" comes to mind, as something these reported ham-heads are not; and likely never will be.

I suppose somebody has to step up and accept the duty of providing job security for the local police.

Although now mooted by Rice withdrawing her name from consideration, reading the web suggests the Republicans had a possible Secretary of State nominee that fit their criteria and desires, but preferred to politicize Benghazi, for which Petraes was excused from CIA duties.

With a spouse from a British Columbia timber background, and extensive portfolio holdings in extractive industries and banking, Rice fit the GOP bill. This link. With the Rice-Cameron spouses between them reported to have a net worth estimated in excess of $25 million, this is not a 99% family, and rather clearly is within the GOP-loved 1%. McCain and Graham may have done a sound thing, for unsound reasons.

It has been alleged that Rice faced a conflicted position related to the Keystone XL pipeline proposal, with the family's portfolio standing to benefit if their tar sand extraction holdings were to gain in value from an output routing to the Texas Gulf coast, for refining there and/or transit overseas - which is what the Keystone pipeline proposal is all about. As to bank holdings in the Rice-Cameron portfolio, I expect the central bankers in our globalized world were not unhappy to see Gaddafi deposed, even if theories of central bank displeasure with the Libyan regime may be speculative exaggerations. Was the man a gold bug with that problematic given the Libyan oil reserves and oil marketing? Who's to say? I only know what's been reported, and mainstream coverage did not get into gold and central banking questions.

With Rice's name withdrawn, we move FORWARD to a possible Kerry nomination.

We’re cautiously optimistic,” is the reported word of others, reportedly moving FORWARD.

____________UPDATE____________
Atlantic Wire, here. I first read of the Rice investment portfolio motivations and questions, Sybil Edmonds, here. The deeper the story, the more FORWARD may resonate with those not wanting to awaken the sleeping dog, the big slow dog which might not know whether it was kicked or stumbled over.

_________FURTHER UPDATE_________
While The New American at its website foot indicates John Birch Society ties, so that its publishing has that flavor, the gold bug theory seems consistent with pricing oil in dollars, etc. The one post had links at the bottom, which gave 404 page unavailable error messages when I tried them. Of interest, the Alex Newman New American article reports:

According to more than a few observers, Gadhafi’s plan to quit selling Libyan oil in U.S. dollars — demanding payment instead in gold-backed “dinars” (a single African currency made from gold) — was the real cause. The regime, sitting on massive amounts of gold, estimated at close to 150 tons, was also pushing other African and Middle Eastern governments to follow suit.

[YouTube link in original]

Presuming that 150 Tons of gold report is true, what happened to it, where is it now?

Was this a big time gold robbery? Interesting reporting is that Turkey is buying Iranian oil in exchange for gold, indirectly so, but, this google; and this. About a week ago Libya announced it would be paying "compensation" to Turkish firms.

Daily Paul, here, a link from the first return page, this google. This blog post, on gold bug possibilities.

Again, 150 tons of gold is not an insubstantial thing to verify, and account for, with it so far not appearing to be of interest to US mainstream press, nor any part of Sen. McCain's distrust of Benghazi events where his perspective is on most recent events and deaths, and not on accounting for gold reserves history and actualities during war torn chaos prior to the four US deaths.

We should be sympathetic to Secretary Clinton's recent illness and fall and concussion which will delay her testimony on Benghazi. Apparently she now is forced to send surrogates to testify indirectly, at present, on what she knew and when she knew it.

Jodi Seth, a spokeswoman for Senate Foreign Relations Committee head John Kerry, said that given her condition, Clinton's testimony would be postponed, but did not say until when. Seth said the planned hearings would be held with other senior officials appearing in Clinton's place.

The Republican chair of the House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, issued a statement saying she was sorry to hear of Clinton's ill health, but it was "unfortunate" she was unable to testify before the committee next week.

"We still don't have information from the Obama Administration on what went so tragically wrong in Benghazi that resulted in the deaths of four patriotic Americans.

"We have been combing through classified and unclassified documents and have tough questions about State Department threat assessments and decision-making on Benghazi. This requires a public appearance by the Secretary of State herself."

Ros-Lehtinen's statement said Deputy Secretary William Burns and Deputy Secretary Thomas Nides would provide testimony in Clinton's place.

Reading gold-related speculation makes me think of Bogart and John Huston, in "Treasure of the Sierra Madres." And the famous, "We don't need no stinking badges," banditry segment, bandits leaving when the real Federales fortuitously appeared. That epic film had its own explanation at the end for where the extracted gold disappeared.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Hucksterism IS the Problem.

Strib - this link. Huckster Numero Uno.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Gottwalt's involvement with Tyler and his role as an insurance agent came as a surprise to some members of the Legislature. Some said the arrangement raises questions about disclosure and conflicts of interest when lawmakers push bills from which they could potentially benefit. Gottwalt never brought up his role as an insurance broker during committee hearings in the 2012 session. Minutes also showed that he did not disclose his position at meetings of a health care task force aimed at implementing the federal health care law. When Gottwalt submitted the Statement of Economic Interests form that legislators are required to file with the Minnesota Campaign Finance Board, he did not disclose that he sells insurance. The form lists only his role as owner and president of Steve Gottwalt Consulting. "The least you can do is have it fully disclosed, because if it's disclosed, the public might say, 'I smell a rat.'" - Sen. John Marty, DFL-Roseville.

So the story goes. Conflicts of interest should, at the very least, be disclosed, so that the public can judge. The issue was a live one, in Ramsey's recent election, and the conflict in question may have been a contributing factor to a decisive Ward 2 challenger's success.

Back to State affairs, after the "all politics is local" digression; St. Cloud Republican legislator Steve Gottwalt, on the hot seat, according to MPR (online here).

The headline is from the MPR item, which was published to include the money quote:

The incoming chairman of the House ethics committee, Rep. Tom Huntley, DFL-Duluth, said: "If these are payoffs, then the ethics committee needs to look at it."

When Republicans took over control of the Legislature two years ago and confronted a big budget shortfall, one area they identified for cost savings was the state's Health and Human Services budget. Gottwalt then tried to sell his colleagues on the plan to trim people from MinnesotaCare.

GOTTWALT SELLS THE PLAN, THEN SELLS INSURANCE

"This is a new approach," Gottwalt told his colleagues in 2011. "It gives them a subsidy to buy that coverage in the private marketplace like the rest of us do, and it takes a new role for Minnesota that is both sustainable and healthy for the state in terms of Health and Human Services programs."
Larger view
Insurance business

In July, more than 4,000 Minnesotans were dropped from MinnesotaCare and given the option of enrolling in the new insurance plan, the Healthy Minnesota Contribution Program. It was Gottwalt's plan, which Gov. Mark Dayton signed into law as part of the deal that ended the state government shutdown.

But between the time the bill passed and when people lost their MinnesotaCare coverage, Gottwalt became licensed to sell insurance. State records show he sells insurance products for 11 companies. Hann received a license to sell insurance in June 2012.

The MPR item also states,

Even after he started selling insurance, Gottwalt authored legislation that would benefit health insurance brokers. Minnesota's conflict of interest laws say elected officials cannot act, vote on or push legislation that directly benefits them or an associated business.

[link in original] If you follow the link, the statute embodies the Brandeis adage, "Sunshine is the best disinfectant." It forces disclosure, for public scrutiny.

The MPR item further analyzes Minnesota Republican Senator David Hann's near-identical conflicted position with the same health insurance brokerage with which Gottwalt has his affiliated business. Crabgrass reported back in November of the Hann situation, how a local blogger Tommy Johnson uncovered the ripe morass, all that, this link. MPP highlights the MPR reporting, and Johnson's earlier coverage, here.

Republicans - they scratch one another's backs, to a fault.

Mitch McConnell wants somebody else's son or daughter to be at great risk of death because he is ignorant, enjoys talking a lot, and grooves in showing his ignorance by thinking he's something else.

This link. Demagoguery. At its worse.

DARPA funds robotics with implementation intent:

Solicitation Number: DARPA-BAA-12-39
Notice Type: Presolicitation

Synopsis:
Added: Apr 10, 2012 8:59 am
The primary goal of the DARPA Robotics Challenge program is to develop ground robotic capabilities to execute complex tasks in dangerous, degraded, human-engineered environments. The program will focus on robots that can utilize available human tools, ranging from hand tools to vehicles. The program aims to advance the key robotic technologies of supervised autonomy, mounted mobility, dismounted mobility, dexterity, strength, and platform endurance. Supervised autonomy will be developed to allow robot control by non-expert operators, to lower operator workload, and to allow effective operation despite low fidelity (low bandwidth, high latency, intermittent) communications.

See the attached file "DARPA-BAA-12-39 Robotics Challenge" for the full text of the solicitation. The attached Broad Agency Announcement (BAA) is not a draft and represents the FINAL solicitation for the DARPA Robotics Challenge program.

Added: Apr 30, 2012 4:37 pm
This amendment deletes thre [sic] following language that appeared on page 14 and page 15 of the original BAA:

DARPA desires Unlimited Rights, as defined in DFARS 252.227-7013 and -7014,12 to all deliverables generated by the DARPA Robotics Challenge performer under this effort except clearly-identified, widely-available, commercial software tools, with their commercial availability described and substantiated in the proposal.

This amendment also adds a final report deliverable - see highlighted text on page 28 and page 39.

[...]

While the merits of the ongoing Afghan war, the longest in American history by outlasting the duration of the Civil War and US involvement in the World Wars, not to mention Teddy Roosevelt charging up San Juan hill, is subject to differing views, it seems provident to design, or work toward the design of a robotic instrumentality that can deliver explosive charges into caves in the Hindu Kush mountains for purposes of advantage in disrupting "the enemy" and to do so in an unobtrusive manner so as to not give notice of attack until things go boom.

DARPA-speak in that above quoted item means, if I read it correctly, someone's son or daughter need not risk any such explosives package delivery other than perhaps from a control hut miles away in a secure bivouac.

It makes sense to me, you want a war, you fight it as much as feasible with machinery vs putting our young at risk, after much investment in training and arming them, etc., make it either a personal value, or pure economic relative cost argument, it seems DARPA knows more than the blathering Kentuckian, or at least displays a greater degree of good sense.

Hat tip to Prendergast, for his commentary on robo-squirrel and McConnell's sharp rhetorical skill set.

__________UPDATE___________
More on the SDSU robo-squirrel project and its funding, via a National Science Foundation study grant and not DARPA grant money, here. Clearly, robotics has peaceable as well as wartime utility, and engineer training is clearly a precursor to having a trained workforce capable of engineering innovative robotics.

It does not take a Democrat to understand such a simple concept. But it takes a jackass of a Republican (or Democrats of a like kind, Nast's original characterization being the jackass vs the elephant) to bellow against sensible training of a workforce for the future.

Or pontificate from the Senate speakers' well, and let the Chinese do it - on their dime, for their economic future. That is an alternative.

UW, Madison, squirrel research reported, here.

Robo-squirrel being used to study squirrel behavior against threatening Republicans of the McConnell nature, more of the same coverage kind of, here.

More DARPA robotics reporting, here.

One of the best office seekers who never went to Washington, Jack Nelson-Pallmeyer, wrote about fiscal cliff nonsense, and the austerity mongers' falsehoods.

This link. Sensible thinking when emotion-charged rhetoric is being bandied back and forth publicly among those meeting in private to screw us in our future.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

From the Republicans, startling and innovatve thinking that gained much web-wide praise.

A GOP staffer, Derek S. Khanna, (Derek.Khanna@mail.house.gov), authored a short nine-page review of how copyright law might be reformed to be less Draconian, and more friendly to innovation in the nation, with, of course, consequent job creation.

The memo is online, both here and here, and below is a screen capture of the opening three pages so you can click on each image to read and gain an impression of the thought processes displayed:




That item gained online praise, Bloomberg here, Slash-dot here, Free Republic here, TechDirt here, BoingBoing here, even American Conservative touting the memo on Nov. 16 here, stating in opening paragraphs:

It’s often said that the Republican Party as an institution is generally more pro-business than pro-market, and that implies a host of things; energy subsidies, tax loopholes, and though it often goes unmentioned, strong intellectual property protection.

The pro-IP lobby in Washington is strong, though perhaps the new presence of the Internet Association, a lobbying group comprised of web companies, could put some counter-pressure on lawmakers.

But from a policy standpoint, in an age when the RIAA sues grannies and innocent parents of torrenting children to intimidate file-sharers, and tech companies waste billions on patent trolling, perhaps it might be time for the GOP to consider a more authentically laissez faire approach.

Another online pdf memo-text link often given on the web, from the Republicans themselves:

http://rsc.jordan.house.gov/uploadedfiles/rsc_policy_brief_--_three_myths_about_copyright_law_and_where_to_start_to_fix_it_--_november_16_2012.pdf

Please check out the links for a clear idea of how such innovative thinking can, surprisingly, arise in Republican channels of public communication, and how such an approach merits gained the attention of senior Republicans in Congress and industry.

Perhaps doing a web search on your own, along the lines of: "Derek Khanna," and/or "copyright reform," and/or "three myths about copyright law," will aid your gaining a fuller understanding of the dynamics within today's Republican Party and where it may lead.

_____________UPDATE______________
Little known fact, if true as Washington Examiner reported: Mickey Mouse is still sheltered property under existing copyright law, while having been created by Walt Disney roughly a century ago. The American Conservative, here.

National Review, "... and I agree with my friends" thoughts:

Some of the specific problems noted in the paper and elsewhere are very real: Copyright terms are too long; rights are overly convoluted and hard to pin down; transaction costs are too high; the easy availability of copying is attriting the creative community; orphan works, for which the copyright holders are unknown, present problems. The list is long.

We probably need a clean-sheet rewrite of copyright law, but the solutions to many current problems are far from obvious, and the risks of any such enterprise are so great as to daunt everyone with a stake in the system. So we keep muddling along, with the confusion abetted by those who profit from the current mismatch between law and technology.

Confusion is also caused by the content industry. Much of it really is as greedy and rapacious as its critics contend. The only property rights it cares about are its own; it has no sympathy for anyone caught up in the toils of the EPA or the local zoning board (unless the issue involves Malibu beach property, of course).

Conservatives are so angry with Hollywood over its unrelenting cultural degradation that they are eager to embrace any position that causes it pain. Furthermore, last year saw a complicated battle in Congress over the protection of content on the Internet. It was not clear exactly how far the provisions backed by the content industry and the Chamber of Commerce would reach, and there was real concern that the law, if enacted, would be subject to abuse and misuse. Nothing in the history of the industry or of the government’s use of broad vague laws, such as anti-racketeering statutes, alleviated this fear.

Despite all these concerns, the temptation for Republicans to reflexively embrace the foes of copyright should be resisted, because the church of property rights is greater than its servants.

If this noble sentiment is not sufficient motivation, then bear in mind that undermining copyright will increase rather than decrease the power of these large, avaricious corporations. If it is too difficult for an individual creator to defend his interests, then he must become a satellite of a large organization that can provide muscle to protect his work or that can integrate his content with distribution and advertising. In a world without copyright protection, creators are necessarily serfs.

[italics added]. National Review, a humble lesser servant.

_____________FURTHER UPDATE___________
Khanna's staffing assignments show Khanna services for Republican politicians ranging from Scott Brown, to Minnesota's Erik Palusen. I expect at this point, Paulsen being who he is, unabashedly "agrees with his friends."

Europe does not sleep nor duck the issue; here, here and here. Re things touching copyright and the Myth-memo; Ars Technica, here and here.

Sunday, December 09, 2012

Two stories in today's online news.

Strib, "Minnesota Republicans hold a 'pick-up-the-pieces' gathering."

ABC, "Crew Tows Whale Carcass in Malibu out to Sea."