consultants are sandburs

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Andy A. Talking of a need for solidarity. Throwing darts. Have to hang together. Siefert koolaid. Need a guv candidate who shows up - somethin' like that.

"... why not pick an actual conservative?" I think he shows his hand, liking Thompson. Tell me, not so?

"... able to speak in public." Is that able? Is it ready? Is it willing? It must be: ready, willing and able. What's McFadden been saying in stump speeches lately?

In real estate, it is ready, willing and able to pay a fair price to a willing seller - which seems to put McFadden and Honour, up front, head of the class.

This link. Do check it out.

Juan Cole spins possibilities regarding NSA. There, in our past, was J.Edgar, with his alleged stash of files. And his dresses. Who are we? How did we get here and who else would like to see CHANGE?

This link. Merkel being spied on by the NSA spooks with the big time budget that could be spent domestically for my and other people's healthcare.

Sure the bastards spy on Merkel. Big surprise. What bothers me is they spy on you and me, and we are or should be of little to no interest to matters of importance between states and trading blocs.

They need a big broom. But, as Juan Cole speculates, maybe they've the goods on Obama. My guess, not that much compromise in his past - beyond Chicago politics being Chicago politics. But there was J.Edgar. Gone but not forgotten. Go back. Who threw Forrestal out the window, or did he really jump? Somebody 'back then' liked Reinhard Gehlen. So? Not that his name ever was a household word. All that stuff, it was before "Who shot Kennedy?"

Or spin that last question further, who really did Jack Ruby work for? And was Oswald really shot or was that entire thing staged? Was the Trade Center an inside job? What about building 7 there, dropped in its tracks with no airplane in its scenario? Does Francis still ride in public in a bullet-proof Popemobile, a pattern in place ever since John Paul II was shot? So, who did Agca work for? Is "Roberto Calvi" a household name, as someone you'd invite as a fourth, for bridge?

Hoover did not like Martin Luther King. So?

Then, there was Reagan's Bill Casey. Conveniently said to have croaked just before testifying about Iran-Contra. For Bill Casey, like Osama, I never saw the body. Did you?

Perhaps the two of them are in Dubai, right now, playing cribbage. Loser buys drinks. Would we be told that, were it so?

Tell me, I need to know to understand things well, does a particular question Ron Paul asks make sense? What has been the follow-up?

Back in law school, the old days of land lines, a Criminal Procedure prof musing, "If the founding fathers had planned the Revolution on the telephone, would we all be singing 'God Save the Queen?'"

I sure hope not. I don't know the words. A lot of that song is claimed as known by a widespread public. However, I think it has been alleged, the final two verses remain a state secret. Ask Snowden.

Dan Burns emailed the Juan Cole link, but has no responsibility for the foregoing or the following, beyond noting that web post.

Just puzzling evidence.

And Juan Cole talk of Alexander and Clapper shown the door. So? Frazier's in a losing funk, with talk, fire the coaches; the cliche being you cannot fire the team. But NSA, like the team, you can go into rebuilding mode as long as the goal defined as "winning" makes sense and is soundly planned. Then, who's the other team? After all that's a preliminary question, as is, why spy on the fans. They pay the freight. And buy the goods. Your iPhone can recognize your fingerprint now. "Touch ID Security" they call it. Reassuring progress. If your iPhone is stolen, they get someone else's fingerprint login try, and know it is not you. They might even be able to match the print to the thief. Whoever they is.

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As is sometimes the case, the comments to the Juan Cole post carry interest by expanding on a theme. That theme appearing as distrust of politicians and the government they provide us, a common distrust, for cause.

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Last thought for here, for now. Two thoughts actually. First - History teaches the Tsar's secret police had Stalin in jail for a time. As usual, the space demands were such that they released him after a time hoping he'd reformed while they kept the space for those viewed as more of a threat to the status quo. Second thought, human nature being what it is, can you imagine the NSA totem pole? The lower rung guys thinking, "The higher ups get Merkel and the Pope. I get these clowns in Ramsey, Jungbauer, Landform. The Crabgrassing. Boring, BORING, BORING! Thank God for data mining. Elsewise I'd have to read and listen to all this stuff." Those tasked with Merkel wanting the Pope, those tasked with Francis wanting Merkel. Somebody paid to have to worry whether it's spelled Merkel or Merkle. Plus the need for polylinguistic skill. Sibel Edmonds employed as a part of the fabric, not fitting in. Round peg. Square hole.

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While Snowden's Guardian series of slow leaks one bigger in scope than the others has captured attention toward the NSA, what has the Pentagon been doing? What in particular as instruments of defining and implementing our nation's foreign policy, as an operating arm of our state? Sibel Edmonds' explanation is posted as simple as 1, 2, and 3 (perhaps with more in sequel to come). No Crabgrass editorial opinion, just read it, see if the footnote links ring true to you or not, but NSA is not the only game in question. (Actually, try Andrew Gavin Marshall as author, the site being Edmonds', the series being Marshall's. Web search the man's name if you care to. I did not do so.)

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Juan Cole, again, calling out aristocrat-peasant distinctions as feudal relics, still alive and kicking much. I have always not felt too akin to Diane Feinstein. Moving up on the corpses of Harvey Milk and Mayor Moscone. The real estate baron-spouse. The attitude. She votes with the better block on Senate organization, but give me Murray, Cantwell, Warren in a heartbeat. So, you have to like Juan Cole for dissing Feinstein and her attitude. She's surplus. Detritis.

If you are a feudal lord, you want to know what the peasants are up to. The revelation of the Tempora program whereby the NSA and its partner, the British GCHQ, attached sniffers to trans-Atlantic fiber optic cables as they came up into the UK and scooped up billions of actual emails and telephone records (not just metadata as lazy journalists keep maintaining), didn’t even produce a yawn. No one in official Washington or in the US press seems even to know about or understand this program.

Then Brazilian President Dilma Roussef was outraged to discover that her personal communications were monitored by the NSA. Moreover, the US was clearly engaged in massive industrial espionage on the Brazilian energy sector. She canceled a state trip to Washington. She denounced the NSA at the United Nations. She threatened to create a Brazilian internet harder for the US to treat as a hacking playground. But President Roussef couldn’t get off page 17 of the newspapers (or of Google News).

But the news that German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s personal cell phone was monitored by the NSA has finally made waves in Washington. Senator Dianne Feinstein, who vocally defended mass electronic surveillance of the American public and who wants to introduce legislation regularizing it, professes to find the Merkel tap unseemly. [...] Feinstein’s comportment has raised questions about privilege and corruption.

This reaction shows the class and racial hierarchies that dominate thinking in Washington. It is all right to spy on ordinary American citizens in obvious contravention of the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution. Because there is a Governmental Class that is typically wealthy and which, despite professing to be elected by and to represent the people, actually thinks of itself as lords over the people. Then there are the teeming hordes of the global South, and their leaders with unpronounceable names, who are also fair game.

But the German Chancellor is a European white person, a peer of the politicians in Washington, and it is not gentlemanly or ladylike to spy on their persons. (German industry or ordinary German citizens would be a different matter).

There is something almost medieval about the chivalry of Feinstein’s sentiments. [...]

Once you understand this class and racial code, American policy toward the Palestinians, whom Washington has repeatedly helped screw over, becomes perfectly understandable. Palestinians are the ultimate global South peasants, rendered stateless by Israeli and American policy (not so important since the standing of states in the global South isn’t much recognized).

But it should be remembered that working and middle class Americans don’t fall much higher in the hierarchy of worthiness than the other peasants. In a feudal system, there are no citizens, and the peasants have no real rights. There are subjects, who may at most be treated graciously by their overlords, but who may also be treated harshly if the Governmental Class is in a bad mood or feels threatened.

The NSA finally went too far. It treated an elite white member of the Governmental Class as a peasant, and for that must be mildly disciplined.

As for the rest of us, the message from Senator Feinstein is to move along, there is nothing to see here; and when so instructed, we are expected to bend over and assume the position.

Yeah, Juan. Spot on. That about says it all about special lady, Ms. DF. Squabble among ourselves, sure, but band tight if ever there appears a peasant uprising. The Bay Area deserves better.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Chris Christie disagrees with Guardian reporting.

Believe it is true since it's reported by a reputable source?

Try this, from Guardian, here, where a screen capture was taken in case the page gets corrected.

This opening quote [links omitted]:

If the shutdown didn't hurt Republicans now, what about the 2014 midterms? -- Some predicted electoral disaster for the GOP after the shutdown fiasco, but in two test cases, so far at least, it's not happening

Harry J Enten,, Tuesday 29 October 2013 08.30 EDT

There has been a lot of talk about the possible electoral consequences of the government shutdown. And while the 2014 midterm elections are still a year away, we have two elections in 2013 that can serve as test cases of sorts. In both the New Jersey special Senate and Virginia gubernatorial races, the Democrat was against the shutdown, while the Republican was not. The Democrats have tried to make hay with this, but has it worked? The evidence available suggests that it has not.

Democratic Senator-elect Cory Booker defeated Republican Steve Lonegan by 11pt in New Jersey. That may suggest that the Republican brand was hurt by the shutdown, except for the fact that New Jersey is quite Democratic. No Republican candidate has gotten 50% or more of the vote in a major statewide election in the Garden State since George HW Bush in the 1988 presidential election.

They should have asked Snowden, and gotten it right.

The upcoming Supreme Court agenda docket.

Reuters, here.

By Lawrence Hurley and Amanda Becker

WASHINGTON | Fri Oct 4, 2013 7:54am EDT

(Reuters) - Workplace disputes pepper the docket of cases the U.S. Supreme Court will take up during a nine-month term starting on Monday, with the justices having delivered a string of victories to businesses and employers in their last term.

Organized labor will feature in two of the cases. In one, an employee seeks to limit the power of public-sector unions to collect dues. In the other, an employee aims to limit the ability of private-sector unions to sign up members.

It would constitute a significant blow to the labor movement were the court, split 5-4 between Republican and Democratic presidential appointees, to rule against the unions in both cases, legal experts say.

During the term that begins October 7 and ends in June, the nine-member court, led by Republican-appointed Chief Justice John Roberts, also will consider President Barack Obama's "recess appointments" to the National Labor Relations Board and take up the issue of whether workers at a steel plant should get paid for the time it takes to change into safety gear.


Taken together, the two organized labor cases raise significant questions about union power, Harvard University Law School Professor Benjamin Sachs said.

"These are not cases about arcane rules of organizing, rules like where on an employer's property can a union talk to employees," he said. "These are cases that go to the heart of the legal regimes that are necessary to enable unionization."

In one of the union cases, Harris v. Quinn, Pamela Harris, a home-based healthcare worker, sued Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn over a state statute that requires public-sector employees to pay the portion of union dues that do not go to political activities.

Strib, on that Harris case.

Dell going private appears to be a done deal. A done $24.9 billion buyout deal.

This link, this quote:

Dell stockholders will receive $13.75 in cash for each share plus a special dividend of 13 cents per share.

The transaction, approved September 12 after a bitter fight with dissident shareholders, takes Dell stock off the market.

Opposition was led by billionaire investor Carl Icahn, who claimed the plan undervalued the former number one computer maker.

Dell is looking to transform itself after having missed the shift to mobile computing. Analysts say this will be easier without the pressure of shareholders looking for profits each quarter.

Michael Dell created the company from his dorm room at the University of Texas and grew it into a global heavyweight known for direct service to customers and cutting out the retail middle man.

"The US government plans to punish Indian outsourcing giant Infosys with the largest immigration fine ever for seeking visas fraudulently for workers at big clients in America, the Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday. Infosys is accused of putting workers on visitor visas, which are much easier and cheaper to obtain than the correct work visas. The fine is expected to be about $35 million, the paper said, quoting people close to the matter."

The headline quote is from the opening two paragraphs of the brief report, here; which further states:

With the alleged practice, Infosys could undercut competitors in bids for programming, accounting and other work performed for clients, the Journal said.

Infosys is known as an outsourcing company that does India-based computing and other technology services for Western clients, who have included Goldman Sachs Group, Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and Cisco Systems Inc.

But it also features thousands of US-based employees who develop and install software for accounting, logistics and supply-chain management in the retailing, finance and manufacturing sectors, the Journal said.

"Santorum also issued a call for the faithful to put their hands in their pockets and pay to see the film and help his business. He said: "I ask for your prayers for me, for our company, for TBN, for all of those involved in The Christmas Candle, and we just want to thank you in advance for everything that you are going to do to help in making this a successful venture." The Christmas Candle, set in the fictional English village of Gladbury and billed as "a timeless holiday film for the entire family", is released in the US on 22 November."

Guardian, here. Don't go away mad, Rick ...

On a more practical note someone, unlike Santorum, for whom actual usefulness was uncovered - this link.

Those two items together got me thinking, if the one is effective as used, what about ...

Then an actuality registered. Releasing that pile film of Santorum on the anniversary of the Kennedy assassination is egregious. The clown could have waited a day or moved a day early.

Joe Kennedy was connected with Hollywood activities in his day, a mover and shaker, and perhaps Santorum had that in mind in making his offensive tasteless choice of days. The man is vile.

There are better ways to skin a cat. I and many others favor single skinner as the sensible way to govern. Krugman included.

The insurers wrote the monstrosity bill, and you don't hear them bellyaching over the government website. Instead, they are in their counting houses, counting out the money. UnitedHealthcare owns a subsidiary that will be profiting from applying a fix. This link, on UnitedHealthcare Mr. Fix-it moneymaking; even after admitting catching and fixing its own screwup re its initial slice of the pie (the pie being contracts for setting up the federal registration site). Plus, there is state-plan UnitedHealth coverage gaming reported in California. Much cause to dislike and distrust ...

Moving on -

A Krugman editorial link was emailed me. Krugman, in "The Big Kludge," wrote [links omitted, see original]:

The good news about, the portal to Obamacare’s health exchange, is that the administration is no longer minimizing its problems. That’s the first step toward fixing the mess — and it will get fixed, although it’s anyone’s guess whether the new promise of a smoothly functioning system by the end of November will be met. We know, after all, that Obamacare is workable, since many states that chose to run their own exchanges are doing quite well.

But while we wait for the geeks to do their stuff, let’s ask a related question: Why did this thing have to be so complicated in the first place?

It’s true that the Affordable Care Act isn’t as complex as opponents make it out to be. Basically, it requires that insurance companies offer the same policies to everyone; it requires that each individual then buy one of these policies (the individual mandate); and it offers subsidies, depending on income, to keep insurance affordable.

Still, there’s a lot for people to go through. Not only do they have to choose insurers and plans, they have to submit a lot of personal information so the government can determine the size of their subsidies. And the software has to integrate all this information, getting it to all the relevant parties — which isn’t happening yet on the federal site.

Imagine, now, a much simpler system in which the government just pays your major medical expenses. In this hypothetical system you wouldn’t have to shop for insurance, nor would you have to provide lots of personal details. The government would be your insurer, and you’d be covered automatically by virtue of being an American.

Of course, we don’t have to imagine such a system, because it already exists. It’s called Medicare, it covers all Americans 65 and older, and it’s enormously popular. So why didn’t we just extend that system to cover everyone?

The proximate answer was politics: Medicare for all just wasn’t going to happen, given both the power of the insurance industry and the reluctance of workers who currently have good insurance through their employers to trade that insurance for something new. Given these political realities, the Affordable Care Act was probably all we could get — and make no mistake, it will vastly improve the lives of tens of millions of Americans.

Still, the fact remains that Obamacare is an immense kludge — a clumsy, ugly structure that more or less deals with a problem, but in an inefficient way.

The thing is, such better-than-nothing-but-pretty-bad solutions have become the norm in American governance. As Steven Teles of Johns Hopkins University put it in a recent essay, we’ve become a “kludgeocracy.” And the main reason that is happening, I’d argue, is ideology.


With that teaser lead in quote from the beginning of Klugman's item, how can you not read it all?

It, unlike the private insurers, is truthful.

A reader comment to the Klugman item. In terms of skinning cats, stretching the figure of speech beyond its headlined use above, the comment focuses on cats that might productively be skinned, a how-and-why thought:

Doug Broome - Vancouver

The father of Canadian universal medicare was a Baptist minister named Tommy Douglas who led the socialist party (NDP) to power in Saskatchewan. He was recently named the greatest Canadian in a contest on the public broadcaster CBC.

In his campaigns Douglas used the story of Mouseland, a story very applicable to American politics today. Mouseland had a parliament and two parties, the Black Cats and the White Cats. The two parties battled back and forth for the votes of the mice, making all sorts of promises about how good they could make life for mice, spinning stories of mouse justice and liberty.

But when they got the votes of the mice, they would eat the mice. The mice elected the White Cats, who promised cheese, but got eaten. And then they elected the reformist black cats who promptly kept on eating mice. They mice tried a coalition of black and white cats. Same result.

Then one brave mouse stood up and suggested they elect a Mouse Party. "Socialist!" the Very Serious Mice called her. But some mice thought it worth a try, and they put out some candidates. The cats told the mice they didn't understand free markets. But eventually the mice won, and the cats stopped eating the mice.

The U.S. needs a Mouse Party. The Democrats are a big business, conservative party which needs a shock to its complacency. Something like a Tea Party of the left.

Oct. 27, 2013 at 11:15 p.m. -- Recommended 488

For Tommy Douglas, Greatest Canadian, here. For nostalgia for the better part of the good old days, here. More Tommy Douglas the Greatest, CBC here, Wikipedia here (with links).

What resonates with truth, from that comment, "The U.S. needs a Mouse Party. The Democrats are a big business, conservative party which needs a shock to its complacency. Something like a Tea Party of the left."

If only the Ron/Rand people had a social conscience to go with wanting a closer watch of the banks and downsizing the world's policeman fiction and being a better international neighbor instead of the world's bully. If that, the left could work with people like that.

The place to start really reforming Pentagon size and waste; downsize the entering and graduating classes of the military academies. That is where entrenched bureaucracy love of the military size is spawned. Then, take on the contractors.

All of the comments to that Krugman item are worth reading. Another one or two:

Xander Patterson - Portland, OR

Republicans run against government. Once elected, they do all they can to make government as bad as possible - for the 99%. Then they run against the government they have made people hate.

It's a vicious cycle that has worked very well for Republicans since Reagan. Hopefully by shutting government down, and by openly working for the failure of Obamacare - the first time I can recall a party actively trying to sabotage a major government program - they have finally gone too far and made people realize we need a government that works.

Oct. 28, 2013 at 2:26 a.m. - Recommended 429


Bernice - St Paul, MN

When Mitt Romney imported the European system used by Germany, Norway and other countries, he made a teeny little change and President Obama copied him instead of Europe. The result means we will continue to place the profits of insurers and drug companies ahead of the needs of our people.

The European governments assess the costs of care, drugs and medical equipment each year and tell providers whether or not they can increase their prices. They then TELL insurers exactly how much their premiums can be in order to cover those costs without earning a profit. Citizen participation is mandatory and government provides subsidies to those who cannot afford the premiums.

Insurers, who must all be nonprofit companies who provide identical coverage as specified by the government, then must compete based on the quality of their customer service. This is why the European countries spend a third to a half what we do on health care while leaving zero citizens uninsured.

Imagine how much we could have saved while NOT leaving 30 or 40 million people uninsured in spite of the new system.

Oct. 28, 2013 at 9:49 a.m. - Recommended 139


Paul M Coopersmith - Inverness, California

Dr Krugman forgets one key reason why we didn't get Medicare For All---Joe Lieberman's bait and switch tactics. If you'll recall, the senior Senator from Connecticut told his colleagues that the only way they'd get his much-needed vote on an Affordable Care Act would be if they started opening up Medicare to people younger than 65, e.g., those 55 and older, to be followed by those 45 and older, and so on. He made this promise to his colleagues, then pulled a switch at the last minute, dealing the death blow to what would have eventually become Medicare For All.

Of the dozens of sell-out actions taken by Mr Lieberman during his decades in the Senate--- including his harsh condemnation of President Clinton, the endorsement of his buddy, John McCain, for President, his relentlessly pro-war stance on Iraq, and on and on---his unilateral defeat of Medicare For All stands as perhaps his most notorious legacy.

Oct. 28, 2013 at 10:32 a.m. - Recommended 212

- and much more. People who can see through the smoke, despite the mirrors. But the Republicans still have the likes of Minnesota's Sixth District to exploit and then ignore and disdain [can you say, "Michele Bachmann?"].

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Buffoons exposed for who they are, what they are, who they've been; their honesty and gravitas on the line over, of all things, Romneycare.

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There is some intelligent socialized medicine nay-saying going on, e.g., here. The numbers game of aging percentages of national populations is troubling, and one reason immigration reform is a thorny issue in the US. As well as later retirement being a suggestion for a benefits delay tactic, yet where a normal turnover of "better" jobs to succeeding generations gets delayed; which in turn leads to disenchantment among those generations held back. Republicans do not have the answer any more than the Soylent Corporation had a sound approach, in fiction. (But Alice wonders in Wonderland - Boehner, Cruz, the pack of them - aren't they a fiction?)

RAMSEY FRANCHISE FEES - Who should set city policy, within the laws of the State of Minnesota? And, let's draw back and look at the big picture.

At present, the elected council seems disposed to adopt franchise fees.

At present, the Charter Commission has proposed a Charter amendment, the language having originated with Commissioner Harry Niska, hence it will be called the Niska Amendement, although passed by a majority of the Charter Commission, en banc.

The thrust of the Niska Amendment would be to stymie use of franchise fees to gain general revenue, or earmarked revenue, for the City; except that franchise fees could be instituted to defray increased municipal costs accruing as a result of utility operations.

The State, by statute, has determined it the policy of the State, that municipalities can use franchise fees to generate general revenue. The Niska Amendment would cut against this State policy, within Ramsey.

The council is elected. The Charter Commission is appointed by a judge, with the Legislature having decided this best rather than having a parallel elected body.

So, who should set a policy of following a State statute's revenue generating permissions, or denying that?

That's an interesting question where everyone can think it over and form an opinion.

BIG PICTURE - The Charter is the big picture for purposes of this post.

Readers can find it online, not in a single file, but chopped up into chapters which makes understanding the big picture more difficult. There had been posted on the City website a single PDF file with the entire charter in one document, but that's another story and one that is left at that for this post.

Practically, under the Niska Amendment, as worded and rushed through in a single Charter Commission meeting where the ability to reflect was lessened, there are two major loopholes.

FIRST: The council under the amendment is free to establish a "Utility Operations Reserve Account," with the stated purpose to build a reserve account earmarned to, "defray increased municipal costs accruing as a result of utility operations," that being the Niska Amendment language for which franchise fee collection would still be allowed. The council then, having created that reserve fund, impose a franchise fee structure as it deems wise, and then borrow from that reserve for road upkeep. Given how the Look-McGlone-Ramsey-Wise council majority borrowed from reserves to buy the Town Center mess from foreclosure, there is a City precedent for borrowing from Peter to pay Paul, like it or love it. Yes, it would be an end run around the Niska Amendment to do that, but the Niska Amendment by its wording not only allows it, but in fact by paralleling the statutory language of MS Sect. 216B.36, invites the end run. And if challenged in court, it likely would stand as a rational policy/implementation exercise wholly within the city's police power.

SECOND: City of Ramsey has a Stormwater Utility, with a "fee" structure not too unlike what is being proposed as a franchise fee approach. It is tiered between homes and commercial properties, but it exists. And under Charter Chapter 11, there is no cause to say it should not exist as a charter-limitations matter.

So, Niska Amendment, whatever happens in a joint Chater Commission - Council work session (whether it is mooted by some other conciliatory consensus approach) or whether not passed by a council majority and then put to a citizen vote, is irrelevant to Charter Chapter 11 being permissive of the council forming a "Road Grid Maintenance and Upgrade Utility," with the word "utility" being elastic enough to permit that reading, and to finance it nearly identical to how the stormwater utility raises its revenue for the stormwater drainage needs as they may arise, in Ramsey.

The mayor at the last televised city council meeting cited a survey conducted in the past. Last year, I believe. It might make sense if a description of the survey protocol, how participants were selected, the exact question(s) as phrased in the survey, the percentage of non-respondents, and the breakdown of how those responding responded - the key result of the survey. It would be wise if the joint Charter Commission - Council work session were to have that survey information as part of the full agenda package. Since ultimate sovereignty rests with the people [Minn.Const. ARTICLE 1, Section 1, under "BILL OF RIGHTS," unequivocally stating precisely that], an indication of a will expressed by the people is highly relevant. Surely hair-splitting is available, in that a public will expressed via a survey of course differs from a plebiscite, the survey being indicative and the plebiscite being determinative when used. However, despite such obvious distinctions, the nature and result of the survey nonetheless would be a highly relevant factor for every work session participant to weigh in considering what is best for the people. It might even trump individual prejudices of good/bad taxation held by individual work session participants, on reflection and in a spirit of working together for pragmatic outcomes.


Arguably related and arguably unrelated to the BIG PICTURE, the question in the minds of some, is this "fee" a "tax," is not merely one asked in the abstract as a philosophical thing, nor merely a political slings-and-arrows thing; INSTEAD, it is subject to law, with the Legislature having incorporated in Minn. Stat. Ch. 645 a Sect. 645.44 WORDS AND PHRASES DEFINED, subdivision stating:

Subd. 19. Fee and tax. (a) "Tax" means any fee, charge, exaction, or assessment imposed by a governmental entity on an individual, person, entity, transaction, good, service, or other thing. It excludes a price that an individual or entity chooses voluntarily to pay in return for receipt of goods or services provided by the governmental entity. A government good or service does not include access to or the authority to engage in private market transactions with a nongovernmental party, such as licenses to engage in a trade, profession, or business or to improve private property.

(b) For purposes of applying the laws of this state, a "fee," "charge," or other similar term that satisfies the functional requirements of paragraph (a) must be treated as a tax for all purposes, regardless of whether the statute or law names or describes it as a tax. The provisions of this subdivision do not exempt a person, corporation, organization, or entity from payment of a validly imposed fee, charge, exaction, or assessment, nor preempt or supersede limitations under law that apply to fees, charges, or assessments.

(c) This subdivision is not intended to extend or limit article 4, section 18, of the Minnesota Constitution.

Add that to your philosophical musings.

Everyone to a degree is familiar with the federal Constitution. For those like me who may have read only a part and not studied the entirety of Minnesota's Constitution; it is online here.

Second, it is interesting that council members, elected by the people, have contact information posted on the city website, so that members of the public can contact them to express feelings and preferences. However, the Charter Commission which is proving itself a secondary policy setting body of the City, has judicially appointed members, and members of the general public likely do not even know the makeup of that body, or how to contact Charter Commission members to express ideas and preferences. Clearly, those on council are closer to knowing the public will, while those on the Charter Commission, in honestly acting toward what they believe to be the public interest, are more distanced from direct expressions of members of the public as to what they as individuals see the public interest to be. When the Charter Commission moves against a legislated permissive fee/tax, there is some hubris to the step, of the father knows best variety, in instigating such a step. However, anything the Charter Commission suggests as a change of a city's "constitutional" nature and documentation is without effect unless ratified unanimously by council, or passed by majority via a plebiscite. In effect, charter Commissioners by majority vote can suggest virtually anything, but cannot enact a thing absent a higher level of consent.

At a guess, either a joint work session yields a compromise charter revision, or if the Commission is intransigent, there will likely be a council lack of unanimity [indeed a lack of a majority for the Niska Amendment is most likely], so that there will be a ballot question. If things go to a plebiscite, whether the plebiscite is on the Niska Amendment as it now reads, or on something else, is a guess at the future where my crystal ball is cloudy and my tealeaves indecisive.

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Well, given that there is the "fee" is a "tax" language in MS Ch. 645, and the totality of that section's subdivision wording, WAC and SAC fees are taxes. At least arguably so. Now, Minn. Const. Article 10, begins:

The power of taxation shall never be surrendered, suspended or contracted away. Taxes shall be uniform upon the same class of subjects and shall be levied and collected for public purposes, [...]

Well that is interesting because the imposition of SAC and WAC fees is for each dwelling unit being connected to these services, and should be "uniform upon the same class of subjects" while the past McGlone-Wise-Ramsey council voted to not impose SAC and WAC per dwelling rates general to the community, upon Flaherty's dwelling units. They "contracted away" that constitutionally mandated uniformity "upon the same class of subjects." And is such a contracting away at all permissible, in a constitutional sense? To me you'd have to torture the opening clear language of Article 10, to try to justify the deal given Flaherty by those then holding city power. And it appears to me what they did is void, as against public policy, void as against Constitutional mandate. Void.

Flaherty and his tenants got a break you and I would not get. Because, well, go figure.

History dooms us to repeat what we fail to learn from.

But aside from history being a teacher, is history binding? Is there a Constitutional impediment to Flaherty SAC and WAC fees being compromised from that which should be "uniform upon the same class of subjects," i.e., a non-waivable uniform per dwelling-unit SAC/WAC tax imposed when such dwelling-unit is connected to sewer and to water? Should that be revisited? Should Flaherty be made to pay fair freight, as a constitutional requirement?

Again, the reality is - the council can do anything it wishes by a majority vote, unless or until a judge says no.

Absent either the council revisiting the question, considering it in its constitutional dimension, or absent a taxpayer uprising against the special treatment accorded Flaherty's adventuring arising, and taking the matter to court, things will stand as they are.

Who litigates taxpayer interests? It seems Harold Hamilton's Taxpayer League is asleep at the switch. Unless Harold likes special treatment for business prospects. They should be litigating such injustices, instead of litigating to have an Iron Curtain covering their financial affairs from disclosure.

Go figure that one, sports fans.

Judges decide justiciable issues presented in cases and controversies brought to the judiciary. They do not second guess government actions on thier own initiative, absent a ripe case before them for resolution.

However, the legal arguments in our town's hypothetical case of this nature are interesting to consider in contemplation, even with no case filed or, unfortunately, likely to be filed.

There is the judicial doctrine of ripeness, and in multiple senses of the word "ripe" the Flaherty special treatment seems to be not only judicially ripe, but in another sense overripe, at least in my perception.

__________FURTHER UPDATE___________
To save reader time hunting, the first two sections of Charter Chapter 11, in their entirety state:

Sec. 11.1. - Acquisition and operation of utilities.
The city may own and operate any gas, water, heat, power, light, telephone or other public utility for supplying its own needs for utility service, or for supplying utility service to private consumers or both. It may construct all facilities reasonably needed for that purpose, and may acquire any existing utility properties so needed; but such action shall only be taken by ordinance, which shall not be an emergency ordinance. The operation of all public utilities owned by the city shall be under the supervision of the city council.

Sec. 11.2. - Rates and finances.
The council may, by ordinance, fix rates, fares and prices for municipal utilities, but such rates, fares and prices shall be just and reasonable. The council shall make each municipal utility financially self sustaining. Before any rates, fares or prices for municipal utilities shall be fixed by the council, the council shall hold a public hearing on the matter in accordance with section 11.6 of this chapter. The council shall prescribe the time and the manner in which payments for all such utility services shall be made, and may make such other regulations as may be necessary, and prescribe penalties for violations of such regulations.

Reading that last sentence of Sect. 11.2, it seems as if the council could, for a road grid utility, prescribe regular payments billed through Connexus for each account there, with a power shutdown being the penalty for nonpayment; and argue if litigated that such an arrangement is "just and reasonable" (per first sentence of 11.2), and within the city's inherent police powers. Such an argument might likely win the litigation.

Remember, the road grid is the mesh upon which the gas and electric utilities are routed. Is provision of roads not a utility function? One that can, in a colossal lack of wisdom, be privatized with toll booths at major intersections, a hopper in which you toss a quarter or two to have the arm lifted so you can drive the stretch of road to the next toll gate. Or you swipe a credit card through a reader and the arm lifts. There probably are statutes applicable to roads, for which a reader with knowledge can leave a comment, which might hedge against a municipality's privatization of its town roads. Perhaps not.

So, what's a utility? For franchise fee purposes, definition of a "utility" may be different than the most generic sense of the word, where Ramsey has a stormwater utility with stormwater grid planning, construction and maintenance outside of Minn. Stat. Ch. 216B. That Statutory Chapter is entitled, "Public Utilities." wherein the ubiquitous Sect. 216B.36 resides and authorizes franchise fee (i.e. tax) impositions.

For purposes of that statute, Sect. 216B.02, subd. 4, in a way only our legislators could deem terse, states:

Subd. 4.Public utility.
"Public utility" means persons, corporations, or other legal entities, their lessees, trustees, and receivers, now or hereafter operating, maintaining, or controlling in this state equipment or facilities for furnishing at retail natural, manufactured, or mixed gas or electric service to or for the public or engaged in the production and retail sale thereof but does not include (1) a municipality or a cooperative electric association, organized under the provisions of chapter 308A, producing or furnishing natural, manufactured, or mixed gas or electric service; (2) a retail seller of compressed natural gas used as a vehicular fuel which purchases the gas from a public utility; or (3) a retail seller of electricity used to recharge a battery that powers an electric vehicle, as defined in section 169.011, subdivision 26a, and that is not otherwise a public utility under this chapter. Except as otherwise provided, the provisions of this chapter shall not be applicable to any sale of natural, manufactured, or mixed gas or electricity by a public utility to another public utility for resale. In addition, the provisions of this chapter shall not apply to a public utility whose total natural gas business consists of supplying natural, manufactured, or mixed gas to not more than 650 customers within a city pursuant to a franchise granted by the city, provided a resolution of the city council requesting exemption from regulation is filed with the commission. The city council may rescind the resolution requesting exemption at any time, and, upon the filing of the rescinding resolution with the commission, the provisions of this chapter shall apply to the public utility. No person shall be deemed to be a public utility if it furnishes its services only to tenants or cooperative or condominium owners in buildings owned, leased, or operated by such person. No person shall be deemed to be a public utility if it furnishes service to occupants of a manufactured home or trailer park owned, leased, or operated by such person. No person shall be deemed to be a public utility if it produces or furnishes service to less than 25 persons.

Just as you've always used the word, right? Where by definition a municipal stormwater utility, or a road grid utility, would be outside of "public utility" regulation per MS Ch. 216B.36.

Ramsey provides water to homes connected to the sewer/water grid, and could implement a road utility fee of a regular fixed monthly amount invoiced on top of the usage based metered water charges. That would be a hoot to see, for those of us on our private well and septic systems - more reason to want to stay there.

Clearly, that is why the City would not impose road upkeep fees that way, since it is arguably not as "just and reasonable" as tacking the fee onto something more universal, energy to the home, or starting a separate road grid utility and doing monthly flat fee billing per dwelling unit in the city, with tiered adjusted billing possibly set for commercial entities. I.e., exactly as is the case for the stormwater utility.

There I go. Next there will be some faction of the Charter Commission hot to trot after the stormwater utility, as yet another revenue source they just do not like. I can envision that.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Minnesota Republican News - Chris Tiedeman elected new National Committeeman by the Republican Party of Minnesota

This is the GOP supplied detail:

Press Release - October 26, 2013

(Blaine, MN…) Chris Tiedeman was elected by the Republican Party of Minnesota State Central Committee today to represent Minnesota on the Republican National Committee as the National Committeeman. Tiedeman begins his new job immediately and will fill the remainder of Jeff Johnson’s term on the committee after Johnson stepped down to run for governor.

“I am pleased to welcome Chris’ energy and ideas to the Republican National Committee,” said Keith Downey, Chairman of the Republican Party of Minnesota. “He has earned the respect of Republicans across the state because he has worked with us in the trenches as a party leader, consultant and candidate.”

Chris Tiedeman is a longtime Republican activist and campaign strategist. He got his start in politics at St Olaf College as State Chairman of the Minnesota College Republicans and Treasurer of the College Republican National Committee. In 2000 he was a candidate for the Minnesota State House of Representatives. He is a Principle [sic] and part owner of Weber Johnson Public Affairs, a Public Affairs and Political Consulting firm located in St Paul where he focuses on grassroots and strategic consulting. Chris serves on the Board of Directors of the Minnesota Adoption Resource Network, a non-profit focused on advocating for kids stuck in the system looking for forever families. He lives in Blaine.

"I am excited to get going in this new role with the MNGOP to keep growing the party and help communicate a compelling message of conservative solutions and ideas," said Tiedeman regarding his election.

He's a lawyer.

"Chris has become a highly regarded Public Affairs Consultant with particular expertise in grassroots coalition building, and the use of Social Network platforms to engage key constituencies." So says the flak site,

His photo is at that flak site webpage.

He has a facebook page.

He knows people, and how to get things done for clients of the flak operation, or so the flak page opines:

He has worked on behalf of political and corporate clients developing and executing grassroots teams and traditional and new Media campaigns in across the upper Midwest and around the country.

His extensive contacts in Minnesota and around the country have led to a series of successful PR and legislative grassroots ventures on behalf of clients seeking local, state and federal assistance. He has become known for bringing unique, often disparate coalitions together to help move public policy. Clients joke that Kevin Bacon and his 6 degrees of separation have nothing on Chris. They find virtually everyone has either played hockey with, went to school with or has socialized with Chris, and if not, they know someone who has. He has been able to turn this into an asset for all of the clients we work with.

Chris has worked on Senator Norm Coleman’s past political campaigns and organized 3rd party assistance to assist the campaigns of both Senator Coleman and Governor Pawlenty. Chris also served as the Director of Government Affairs for Center of the American Experiment, a Minnesota think tank, where he worked extensively in concert with business, social, political and other organizations across the political spectrum; groups which make up the critical part of any grasstops public relations or government affairs effort.

Republicans could probably tell you more than that. They like him. Worked on Coleman and Pawlenty campaigns. To some that's a bad mark on the record book. Mediocre company may not be the best way to judge him, however, and since I do not know him and have never had any contact with him, I can only say he worked on Coleman and Pawlenty campaigns, and is said to be able to get things done for clients.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Official Minnesota GOP straw poll. That bunch? I'd have voted for the straw.

Official Gubernatorial and U.S. Senate Straw Poll Results
from the Republican Party of Minnesota's State Central Committee Convention

Jeff Johnson and Julianne Ortman won the non-binding straw polls for Governor and U.S. Senator respectively today at the Republican Party of Minnesota State Central Committee meeting in Blaine.

Johnson won 35% of the votes in the Governor’s poll with Dave Thompson coming in second with 27%. Ortman won the Senatorial poll with 37% with Mike McFadden coming in second with 21%.

“Congratulations to today’s winners Jeff Johnson and Julianne Ortman,” said Keith Downey, Chairman of the Republican Party of Minnesota. “It was a day full of great speeches, great messages, great candidates, great energy, and great momentum going forward for the party. We couldn’t be more excited about the pool of candidates ready to take on Al Franken and Mark Dayton, and I can’t wait for our state convention next year when the delegates ultimately select our Republican candidates.”

Governor Results:
  • Jeff Johnson - 35%
  • Dave Thompson - 27%
  • Marty Seifert (write-in) - 18%
  • Kurt Zellers - 8%
  • Rob Farnsworth - 6%
  • Scott Honour - 4%

U.S. Senate Results:
  • Julianne Ortman - 37%
  • Mike McFadden - 22%
  • Harold Shudlick - 13%
  • Chris Dahlberg - 12%
  • Jim Abeler - 11%
  • Monti Moreno - 3%
* Note: the percentages do not add up to 100% due to spoiled ballots, and write-in candidate vote totals were not included if they did not receive at least 10 votes.

End of official GOP stuff, begin Crabgrassing: Scott Honour did not do too well. McFadden, the stealth candidate did better. How much better (or worse) can we expect if he starts showing up places where the other candidates gather to bloviate and counterbloviate? My bet, if he keeps quiet longer, continues to duck the venues where the others are active, his numbers cannot help but go up.

Kurt Zellers was beaten by a write-in? You do that shutdown stuff, it comes back to bite you because after that, nobody's got your back. Boehner and Cruz will find that out unless Obama does some stupid negotiation thing to save their bacon.

RAMSEY FRANCHISE FEES - With a joint work session contemplated involving Charter Commission and Council, a good-faith settlement of differences is likely.

Nobody should want to drag this out. It already has been pending, the thought of a franchise fee for road grid upkeep, since the prior council's thinking that way, last year. Both city bodies are intent on reaching a meeting of minds, which should be feasible unless a take-no-prisoners or make-political-hay attitude arises somewhere in the process.

First a curiosity. On looking at the wording of the pending Charter Commission's amendment to our Charter, it would mandate franchise fees only to "defray increased municipal costs accruing as a result of utility operations," and not as a means of raising general revenue. Whatever that quoted language means, it is wording lifted verbatim from the second sentence of Minn. Stat. Sect. 216B.36. If there is any judicial precedent interpreting the meaning and limitations of that wording, I am unaware of it.

An argument can be made, even if somewhat tenuous, that the cryptic language permits what the council already contemplates, in that the city's road grid and the utility power distribution grid are generally contiguous, and that utility vehicles need from time to time (for "utility operations" purposes) to access the utility grid via the roads, which is made a more difficult thing if road repair and upkeep were abandoned or materially curtailed.

There is that tenuous nexus, and would such an argument merit a strict scrutiny review standard, or an "any reasonableness standard regarding exercise of inherent government police powers" standard, or something between, if such a proposition were to be reviewed by a court? (UPDATE - Municipal charters have, by some, been likened to being "constitutional" in intent and purpose, so that a question of standard of review applied to constitutional issues is not wholly off base. Nuances can be argued, but "standard of review" thinking is not without merit in anticipating possible litigation under municipal charters in Minnesota.)

A hypothetical, yes, but an impasse now instead of conciliatory attitudes going forward could come to that if some party/person were keen enough to spend to go to court over such a thing in the event such a fact situation were to arise. Until a judge says no, the council can act as it sees fit, so in the absence of some challenge such a course of events, were it to happen, would survive. A council vote in advance of voting on the Charter Commission's proposal, on how it should read the uncertain statutory language, could precede a vote on the amendment proposal, with the interpretive issue requiring a majority, and the amendment's passage afterward and with that official caveat, needing unanimity of all seven council members. If at least one council member would not vote for the amendment in light of a prior interpretative resolution of council, were that to happen, the amendment would fail before the council.

The politics of any such hypothetical, if coming to pass, would be interesting to observe; but all should be hoping in good faith that something less confrontational and uncertain would be reached by consensus involving the two civic bodies working in concert and in good faith, with politics and political dimensions put aside as part of what good faith in the situation would demand.

It seems the mood of consensus is that everyone should be satisfied if the city uses the franchise fee now for admitted road needs, without changing horses mid-stream, without increase of scope or amounts, and does not go to the franchise fee "well" too often [last use having been roughly a decade ago for a very short period to cover a revenue shortfall instead of going to the money market per Charter (Sec. 7.12. - Emergency debt certificates.)]. And that such a consensus would not waver if such protections into the future were somehow sensibly incorporated into Charter Ch. 10 (or Ch. 7) restrictive language.

At present, no joint work session date has been set, but the last televised council meeting where Charter Commission Chairman Joe Field testified left the impression that such a step is imminent. My understanding is that even after QCTV ceases to have meeting streaming video of regular council sessions online, it archives a DVD or other permanent retained video record. Work sessions are not so archived, nor is much else televised aside from Planning Commission and, curiously, park board meetings. Whether that additional broadcast content is archived by QCTV is unknown to me.

Readers can check the currently available online streaming video to see for themselves the spirit of cooperation apparent to me, subjectively, at that last televised council meeting.

Anoka-Hennepin School Board Election - Strib coverage. Lawsuit against the District.

Meet the candidates, an Oct. 22 Strib item by Paul Levy, here. Earlier: Half the seats are up this election, Levy also, Oct 12, here.

Litigation coverage, here.

Readers intending to vote in the upcoming election wanting more information, this

Google = Anoka-Hennepin school district election

More subjectively interesting is coverage of the litigation, on appeal over a statute of limitations dismissal, Strib reporting,

At issue is material distributed by Anoka-Hennepin Schools in 2011 and the suit’s claim that the district needed to file campaign finance reports.

[...] On Friday, the group took its case against the state’s largest school district to the Minnesota Court of Appeals.

In a lawsuit that a judge dismissed earlier this year, ruling it had not been filed in time, the Minnesota Voters Alliance claims that the Anoka-Hennepin District failed to report expenditures related to a 2011 referendum brochure. The brochure informed voters of the consequences of approving or rejecting three levy questions on the November 2011 ballot.

“What’s at stake is the nature of school district referendum elections,” Erick Kaardal, an attorney representing the Minnesota Voters Alliance, said after Friday’s arguments before the Appeals Court. [...]

The attorney representing Anoka-Hennepin says the district was not disseminating campaign literature when it explained the consequences of yes or no answers to each of three questions on the 2011 referendum ballot.

“No, this isn’t campaign literature,” attorney Jeanette Bazis said after the hearing. “This is a brochure to educate the public … an obligation the district takes seriously.”

In her statement to the Court of Appeals, Bazis noted that the district did not want a repeat of January 2002 — when residents complained at a meeting that they had not been well-informed about 2001 levy questions.

Bazis said that in 2011, the district made concerted efforts to inform voters — through its website, providing an online tax calculator and distributing an official notice of the special election — detailing the tax effects of each levy question.

The Voters Alliance and member Donald Huizenga filed a complaint on Nov. 2, 2012, against Anoka-Hennepin with the Office of Administrative Hearings. The suit was dismissed this past April after Administrative Law Judge Eric Lipman ruled that the Voters Alliance and Huizenga, who says he’s monitored school referendums for 12 years, failed to meet a one-year statute of limitations.

The judge noted that the school district posted its brochure online on Oct. 27, 2011, the same day it circulated 6,000 copies of a printed version to staff for circulation to district employees and others. Four days later, on Oct. 31, the district mailed 82,135 copies to school district residents. A complaint with the Office of Administrative Hearings alleging that the district violated the Fair Campaign Practices Act was not filed until more than a year later.

Kaardal said that the alliance had thought it filed its claim in time, thinking the court was paying attention to the date that referendum literature was received, not sent. But Judge Lipman noted that the brochure was posted Oct. 27 on a Web page that attracted more than 4 million visits in October of 2011.

“It took time to research all this material,” Huizenga said of the length of time before the alliance filed its complaint.

[...] “Did the district, in this brochure, act to promote the ballot question?” Bazis asked after the hearing. “Our attorney general has said a school district should provide voters with facts and information, so they’re not left misinformed. Case law says [a school district is] allowed to explain what happens if you vote no or if you vote yes. We believe that that is what the school district did.”

Kaardal says the brochure was a blatant promotion.

“It’s part of having an attractive brochure,” Kaardal said. “They want you to read it, to get a reaction. And, in the end, they want you to vote yes.”

[bolding added] It seems dead-in-the-water certain that the filing was not within a year of the mailing (even presuming a three-day mailing gap from into-the-mail to delivery unless weekend days intervened and that question exists). The web posting was earlier than the mailing. But all of that ducks the substantive question, as does the Bazis statement about what the Attorney General may have said, presumed for now to have been via an AGO and not less.

What possible harm would result from the act of promoting transparency by the school board, on its own initiative, filing a disclosure statement? Sunshine is the best disinfectant, per Justice Brandeis in his famous 1914 quote, and why oppose sunshine with a technical one-year limitations argument? What does that teach?

It seems the parties should settle, with the Board saying in the future, without any admission of politicizing things, that it will for informational purposes either file the report or post the equivalent on its own webpage, stating what was spent in any brochure preparation-mailing; with the watchdog group dismissing their appeal.

The public should know if public money was spent for a PR firm to prepare hype and/or information, and the full cost of sending out any election-related mailings. That and the identity of any PR firm used and the details of a contract is public data, and something the self appointed watchdogs could seek, even now, via a public data disclosure request. Then if the request is frustrated or ignored, sue on that.

A data request for the exact information a CFB filing would contain (or for more) seems to fully moot going to court the way these folks did. Occam's razor would favor seeking the public data, finding the facts that way, and then publicizing any impropriety the self appointed watchdogs might uncover.

It's strange.

The school district does not look particularly good in not disarming the substance of the complaint by offering in the future to openly post any/all such information as a CFB filing would entail, even with the day-late dollar-short argument available in this instance.

Creating tempests in teapots? Why do that without considering the public data disclosure request route?

To be clear, I might have made an erroneous assumption because all I know is what is in the Strib report and if there had been a data discovery request made at any point, and that fact not reported by Levy in weighing how much detail might be too much, his readers would have no easy way to know. If Huizinga or a friend reads this, a comment about the status of possible data request activity would be a welcome thing for aiding this particular Crabgrass post.

In any event, Huizenga and associates should get a data request in for 2011, now, per the saying, better late than never, if they have not followed that path already. If a request was made and a response attained, providing the info contained within the response or a summary statement to Crabgrass, via a comment or by email, would be appreciated.

________FURTHER UPDATE________
Well, nobody else caught the possible error above, but if a three day extension from date of mailing a notice applies to a notice beginning date for statute of limitation purposes, that seems to suggest a barely timely filing of the initial action that was dismissed as untimely. One expects that argument was made, and the appellate panel hearing the appeal will address it in issuing an opinion.

Friday, October 25, 2013

REPOSTING: November October 25 is the anniversary of the Wellstones' death. This memorial post is my last for the day.

Wikipedia on Wellstone, (photo source). See the permanent Wellstone photo toggle on the sidebar.

[original post here from Thursday, October 25, 2012 - nobody then caught the unfortunately confused headline error] Do toggle that sidebar Wellstone image. And the one below it. Each is cause to grieve. And to reaffirm what we believe and value. We hope for another Wellstone, better sooner than later. We hope that never again will our nation sink as low as the Kent State - Jackson State murders of our young. Nixon-Kissinger.

Situational Ethics -- Itemwise Compromise? Plus a great bakery near Ramsey. And ...

Two people close to me have ethical/philosophical cause in mind to wish to avoid shopping at a Walmart.

With one it is more absolute than the other. In the second case, there is a green chile sauce available in the Mexican and Asian food isle at the Elk River Walmart that appears unavailable through SuperValu distribution.

Liking it enough precipitated a compromised relaxation by the one person of an absolute sense of personal boycott, for this singular exception. Obviously, that's something that rings as entirely sensible to me. Life is full of adjustments to circumstance. We all know that.

Having qualms about some of Walmart's more publicized labor policies and practices, I am not in boycott mode because the Bank of Elk River branch remains open there while the one on a trial basis in the Ramsey Town Center Coborns store has been closed for some time. (The now closed banking area at Coborns is still dedicated for some in-store banking or other services potentiality, but presently it is walled off and unoccupied - it is next to Coborns' service desk at the west Coborns entrance).

BAKERY: Stopping at the bank, perhaps shopping at Walmart, then a quick trip to the Cub Store on Jackson Street, and south on Jackson across Hwy 10 and the tracks to Diamond City Bread, every Thursday, because that day, starting early morning before most are awake, owner/operator/lead baker Garrett Jordahl bakes Italian bread, which is a favorite. Usually the Thursday baking schedule has Italian bread to be fresh from the oven around 10:00 am, so allowing it to cool somewhat on the racks; 10:30 or later is the best time for buying it.

For anyone in Ramsey willing to drive 10-15 miles for exceptional quality breads, and not already familiar with Diamond City Bread; there is the firm's website. Other links of interest are here and here about it, and there was an earlier Crabgrass item, here. A google. At, the Diamond City Bread entry has it marked "100% Say Yum," and it is from that site that I found the bakery's online menu -

Bookmark the website. Shop there. Say yum.

Panara Bread does have a chain outlet in Elk River across the service road from the Walmart-Home Depot stores. If that's your habit, take a break and try the local fresh baking at Diamond City. Another spot in Elk River to try, Mucho Loco, for Mexican food several cuts above the current Acapulco fare at Town Center. It reminds me of what Acapulco was when it was a single site on Coon Rapids Blvd, not aiming at chaining and yuppification and being noiser than the Metrodome --- back when the food was far better and the help did speak Spanish. The old days. Mucho Loco is a quieter place when fully packed, if you value being able during a meal to talk to people at your table without shouting. Cross over the river to Otsego some evening, and try Pour Wine Bar and Bistro.

RAMSEY FRANCHISE FEES - ABC Newspapers coverage.

Eric Hagan reporting for ABC Newspapers, online here, with the item title: Ramsey delaying road franchise fees decision.

At the webpage footer area, links:  here, here, here and here.

That's real newspaper coverage.

Harold Hamilton's dog-website designer's ACR blog had nothing to say about Ramsey franchise fees, as of Oct 24.

This extensive ABC Newspapers coverage was noted via a Crabgrass UPDATE, here. If no actual and prompt consensus is reached via joint Council and Charter Commission work sessions, then the hope would be a special election is forced soon. The roads need work, the issue needs resolution, and only the most cynically craven would desire making this a political football dragged and delayed into the 2014 general election where it would be a down-ballot thing, many might show up not understanding nuance, and craven thinking might be to hope for a spillover boost to individuals then putting themselves onto the ballot. Mischief of that kind and degree must be avoided to have credible city processes; via either a Council and Charter Commission consensus on livable compromise, soon, or putting a question to Ramsey citizens, soon, via a special election.

Surely, there is always the carping that a special election requires "extra cost" but think of it as an expenditure half as great as what was budgeted toward Elwyn Tinklenberg talking to people about Highway 10 - Armstrong Blvd.

Surely, if that was justifiable to our council members [I recall unanimity], then which of them would carp and complain over disarming a potentially ugly political ploy, up front, and before it might be born, paraded, and wrongly exploited.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Pawlenty speaks. Did his dog, Checkers, enter into the public presentation of his contemplations?

This MinnPost link, titled against what some may believe likely or even possible, "Pawlenty says his 'political career has come to an end'". Truly brief coverage. No mention of a pup, nor any mention of a Republican cloth coat, in the MinnPost item. The item linked to from MinnPost has this quote,

"I think there is an exciting group of next generation leaders emerging in the Republican Party and the conservative movement, and our bench strength in that regard is actually strong," Pawlenty says.

With the phrase "bench strength" he could be talking bench and bar; with the Supreme Court packed the way it is.

RAMSEY - A final appointment to fill the remaining vacancy on the Charter Commission.

The City Clerk is the staff liaison person for the Charter Commission. In an email today Ms. Thieling wrote, "Staff received notification from the Chief Judge of the Tenth Judicial District, that Mark Anderson has been appointed to fill the vacancy on our Charter Commission. His term is through December 31, 2016. The Commission of nine is now fully staffed – no vacancies." I do not know Mark Anderson. Presumably he is aware of the largely unprecedented level of Charter Commission activity in recent days. Although the body moves in fits and spurts with long periods of quiescence, almost volcanic that way, but lesser in consequence, Anderson finds himself amid franchise fee debate, and the smart bet is he hits the ground running. As the newest person on the Commission, it will be interesting to see what views he expresses, next meeting.

"A period of leave outside the diocese.” Is Nienstedt overdue?

The delicate though direct phrasing, “a period of leave outside the diocese,” is used here.

Perhaps something like that, short of replacement, might help Nienstedt with his blind-eye disorder.

Then there always is replacement to factor into things, as an option for Francis.

Fire from all sides? For blind in the one eye, for seeing too straight out the other.

Is being critical of everything related to sexual and reproductive choice, except child endangerment, only a mere inconsistency, or an impediment to fitness to lead? I'd vote for the latter view, but Francis does not count votes, or that is how things appear. As new to the job, he cannot do all good things at once. He has to prioritize. Which comes back to the headline text. How long he serves and how far he reaches are only guesswork now. Benedict's [Ratzinger's] stepping down was a bright spot, as was the choice for the new head of the Roman Church.

The good Archbishop as quoted in the HuffPo piece used the phrase, "denial of objective truth" as somthing that draws his learned criticism; despite denial in other contexts, where objective truth seems to cut quite a swath.

As far as denial of objective truth, Nixon denied but many still believe the objective truth is he was one.

Fifty bucks to go to the zoo.

This link.

Yesterday, an aniversary of the marine barricks barracks bombing.

Reporting here. an AP feed. The event forced a realization, and surprisingly an admission, by our warrior class that we had no good reason whatsoever to be putting troops in Lebanon with the factional squabbling there having escalated into civil war. It cost lives, but we are not in Syria, there is that decades-later upside.

UPDATE: Hat tip to Jim Bendtsen for the headline spelling error correction. Reader help is appreciated.

Grave consequences.

This link.

An article on selection processes in nature.

This link. The second to the last paragraph approaches an explanation why some vote Republican despite it being against their best survival interests.

Coincidently, they may be ones to deny natural selection, and evolution. Enslaved zombified minds, or imprinting at an even lower level than thought, explains a lot. Slave-making ants have evolved in ways that keeps their gene pool active. We, however are higher animals, driven by reason alone. Mistakes in imprinting likely would only apply to those driven more by passions than reason. Not us.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Is fact checking Larry Klayman like cleaning up after Sandy or Katrina?

WaPo photo. Showing enjoyment over size of the crowd.

This link. Who enjoys hearing Larry Klayman? Klayman?

Any reader who enjoys hearing Larry Klayman, please leave a message, stating so, and why.

Any reader having an opinion comparing Andrew Breitbart (before his death) and Klayman, please leave a message stating detail.

Any reader wishing to compare

with one another or with

have at it in a comment.

Agree or disagree with their commentary, at least National Review is major league. They don't travel by bus.

Setting Google Alerts.

That is the link to set one, for those who may be unaware of the service.

I have set one for "Larry Hosch."

Hosch is reported to currently be a home and remodeling contractor.

That link is a background page remaining on the web from earlier campaign days. Reporting from last year:

Minnesota Rep. Larry Hosch of St. Joseph won't seek re-election
Associated Press
Posted: 03/10/2012 12:01:00 AM CST
Updated: 03/11/2012 12:06:00 PM CDT

ST. JOSEPH, Minn. - A four-term Democratic state lawmaker from St. Joseph said he won't seek re-election this year.

State Rep. Larry Hosch told the St. Cloud Times on Saturday he wants to spend more time with his family, especially his two young sons.

His announcement comes one day after Cold Spring police Chief Phil Jones said he'd run for the state House as a Republican in the same district.

Hosch said his decision to leave the Legislature was difficult but necessary. He didn't rule out another run for office later.

MPR votracker.

Notice - possibly another candidate for governor.

10/18/13 this link:


The Watchdog has learned that a major candidate has decided to join the GOP race for governor.

Watchdog staff was personally briefed on the candidate's near term campaign plans and strategic goals to win the office in 2014.

The Watchdog will respect the candidate's desire to unveil the campaign on an internal timeframe and will reveal no further details at this time.

This development adds another quality name to an already star-studded cast on the GOP side to take on Mark Dayton.

Republicans should feel great about the slate of candidates running for governor.

Not that we all share a great feeling about that slate on the GOP side, but the heads up to the community is useful.

RAMSEY - FRANCHISE FEES - City staff presented a Q-&-A post.

This link. Here is one of general interest:

4. Can the City exempt properties that don’t front a city street from the franchise fee?
All residential properties would need to pay the franchise fee to the utilities, but the City could, by policy, give annual rebates to certain types of properties. This is not included in the current proposal. If the City exempts or reduces the franchise fee on some properties by giving a rebate, overall revenue would decrease, or the fee would need to be increased on other properties as an offset.

This might relate closest to a public hearing concern expressed for hardships possible for retirees on fixed income in group homes who do not own autos or drive but might have individually metered utility accounts. Awareness of the concern is implicit in that answer.

One item that particularly reassured me that wisdom will prevail:

17. Is the repair and maintenance of the street based upon a schedule or the condition of the road?
Repair and maintenance of any particular road section will be based upon the road condition as determined by an annual inspection, not by a fixed schedule.

A correction - an incompletely thought out draft was published in error, and has been withdrawn.

I apologize to the world for that error. Things in the draft which worried me have been disarmed by events, and I have a positive view that the entire franchise fee issue will be properly handled by people working together, without it being politicized into the future. I am encouraged by that, and again regret my mistake in letting a draft appear when the blog "save" button was intended and "publish" was toggled. It has only happened once and as best as I can promise, it will not happen again. Previously I have edited and updated comments and have withdrawn one post years ago in response to actions constituting a complaint. Nobody complained in the present instance, I noted my error and corrected it, and beyond this instance and the prior one I have not "scrubbed" posts here.

I have been wrong in the past and expect to be wrong in the future. And, when discovering I misthought something I try to not be constrained to embrace something proven wrong, despite the proof. If having many past things to do again, I would alter my course. I expect everyone who does or thinks anything has similar second guessing to a degree. Obviously trying to be correct and careful in the first instance is a target we should aim for, even if falling short. Minimizing frequency of error is the essence of having a learning curve. Last, while an open mind is not an empty mind, a closed and irrationally set mind is what is closer to empty.

We learn.

UPDATED --- RAMSEY - FRANCHISE FEES - A consensus seems to be forming.

UPDATE: Eric Hagen has posted a detailed ABC Newspapers report titled, "Ramsey delaying road franchise fees decision"

At yesterday's council work session and televised meeting, the council considered Charter Commission action including a statement into the record from Commission Chairman Joe Field in which he stated a Charter Commission collective belief that constraints upon possible future overuse of franchise fees should exist in the Charter as well as in any specific ordinance passed by council for instituting franchise fees earmarked for road grid upkeep purposes.

The council mood appeared to favor franchise fees happening. The council appeared amenable to protection against future franchise fee overuse being set within the Charter, with a joint Charter Commission and Council work session to be planned and scheduled soon.

The specific ordinance language before the council for initiating charging of franchise fees was tabled/postponed pending opportunity to hold such a joint work session.

It now appears most unlikely that use of and reliance upon special assessment will continue as in the past, with the franchise fee approach to take its place.

Details of thinking are close to what has been posted by the city in council agendas for the work session and general televised meetings which were held yesterday.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

RAMSEY - City Council will further consider franchise fee matters in a work session and a televised meeting.

Access the city website for meeting agendas.

The work session, being untelevised, is probably the meeting those caring about the franchise fee issue should consider attending in person. It starts at 5:30 pm and is scheduled for 90 min, so that the regular televised council meeting can start at 7 pm. It appears there will be no HRA meeting, as no agenda has been posted.

The televised session has a franchise ordinance and a franchise fee ordinance, and perhaps the order between agenda items 7.2 and 7.1 should be reversed. 7.2 is for consideration of the fee imposition ordinance.

The Charter Commission has met. Results of that meeting may be discussed by council.

Everybody, keep an open mind. This council is sound in that the holdover pair, Backus and Tossey, were not those driving the auto over the cliff, last council. They in different ways realized the car had brakes. Those losing the last election and being replaced at mayor, Wart 2, and at large by Strommen, Kuzma, and Latourneau respectively were the ones who only knew the accelerator pedal, and mishandled the steering wheel.

Cut staff and this council slack as they wrestle with the mess this council inherited and how to fund road upkeep. They each are well intentioned, while policy opinions among them differ to varying degrees.

The one thing that appears potentially corrosive would be if the franchise fee question is made into a partisan political football for the 2014 election, via a Charter question. Any Charter question can be resolved before that, by special election.

Monday, October 21, 2013

The need to keep up the Mark Ritchie legacy of competence and quality. No more Kiffmeyer or clones, please.

MN Progressive Project - a helpful online published item. This opening excerpt:

Debra Hilstrom for Minnesota Secretary of State
by The Big E on October 18, 2013

Lives in Brooklyn Center, MN
University of Minnesota (BA in Sociology)
William Mitchell College of Law (JD)
Husband, 2 kids
Legislator since 2000
Chair of House Judiciary Committee
Deputy Minority Leader during 2011-12 sessions

“I’m running for Minnesota Secretary of State because every election matters,” Debra Hilstrom explained. “Our elections need to be run in a fair, open and honest way.”

“I’ve stood up to the corporations throughout my legislative career,” Hilstrom continued. “I’ve been a strong voice for campaign finance reform and I firmly believe that the state shouldn’t buy stock in corporations that try to buy elections.”

“The Secretary of State’s job isn’t just about elections,” she said. “Two-thirds of the job is about helping small businesses and investing the state’s money. The Secretary of State sits on the Board of Investment. The state’s investments are worth $62 billion.”

I asked her about what’s going on in North Carolina and protecting the vote nationally.

“The Supreme Court decided that states could change voting laws without approval of the federal government,” she explained. “And several states passed very restrictive laws. It’s absolutely critical that voting rights are protected. I believe the federal government should continue to play an active role in protecting voting rights.”

I asked Hilstrom about electronic voting machines.

“We must be able to verify that every vote cast was counted correctly in a recount,” she replied. “Our elections must be honest, open and fair. I believe in paper first. We must have a paper trail to prove that each voter in each precinct was counted correctly.”

[links in original] Being unfamiliar with the Hilstrom candidacy or background, I found the MPP item helpful.

Again, this link.


Here for the Hilstrom campaign website. Throwing down the gauntlet against profligate hidden undisclosed money in elections:

Citizen's United threatens to drown out the voices of regular people in elections. I was one of only 16 House Democrats who voted "no" this year to letting corporations spend unlimited amounts of money to throw parties for legislators and their staffs. As Secretary of State, I will do everything possible to challenge Citizen's United and limit the role of corporations and special interests in our elections.

Again, from the campaign site's homepage. What's not to like?


Do not expect the Republican [Taxpayer League] candidates to have a LIMITING INFLUENCE IN ELECTIONS issue highlight on their sites.

They hate "sunshine" as much as vampires seeking out daylight respite, (as legend and literature explains). Barking in the dark is their thing? Trailing like pets to Mr. Bopp, because open transparency and election-influence disclosure is NOT to their liking. Minnesota Taxpayer League, Bopp, and a pack of Minnesota reproductive choice haters, criticizing others, doing this.

New York Times has reported/editorialized:

It is probably true that the more important issue is not which laws have been upheld, but rather which bills were never passed. But it is also true that the Supreme Court is likely to sustain aggressive disclosure laws if they are enacted. The part of Citizens United that everyone remembers was its main ruling, allowing unlimited campaign spending by corporations and unions. The court decided that part by a 5-to-4 vote, split along the classic ideological fault line. People forget the second aspect of the decision, this one favoring disclosure and decided by a lopsided vote. Only Justice Clarence Thomas dissented.

Bopp, the dog, and the abortion haters have Clarence Thomas on their side. Against disclosure of money spent to influence election voting, as if such disclosure is somehow wrong. Or, never mind right or wrong. They don't like it and will go to great litigation expense to fight against it.

This, from page 127 of 271 pages, here:

The Watchdog is committed to giving our readers the information they need to make an informed choice not only at the polls but right now, so they can commit their time and talents to candidates who will govern as champions of limited government.

From p.192 of 271:

But this is precisely why the Watchdog exists. We shine the light of truth on a murky political process.

Yet how the Chairman of the Minnesota Taxpayer League regards that league's money matters, as if they didn't matter or should not matter to voters, of if voters care that's too bad since the Iron Curtain is best when it comes to money and elections, or what? It seems those platitude quotes and that lawsuit against transparency means "the light of truth" is subjective, and if you'd follow the money, well, nothing to see here folks, move along.

Having no need to follow the money, make some other kind of "informed choice" info your basis for analysis, bozo, but I respect you and your vote. Compare the above cited New York Times item:

The two parts of Citizens United are not hard to harmonize. Citizens United takes the libertarian view that people may be trusted to evaluate the messages they hear and need not be sheltered from the responsibility of critical thinking. The theory is as applicable to the marketing of soda and cigarettes as it is to that of political candidates.

Citizens United itself concerned a slashing polemical documentary about Hillary Rodham Clinton paid for by a conservative advocacy corporation that wanted to distribute the film on a video-on-demand service during the Democratic presidential primaries in 2008, when Mrs. Clinton was seeking the party’s nomination.

The five-justice majority in Citizens United said that speech about politics is at the core of what the First Amendment protects, that more speech is better than less and that the government has no business deciding who can speak or how much.

It is a small step from that reasoning to saying, as eight justices did, that it helps to know who is advancing the ideas you are evaluating. You probably trust some sources of information more than others, for instance, and you may examine an argument more skeptically if it happens to align with the speaker’s self-interest.

[italics added] Readers, the bottom line is yours to choose. Do you feel you are better equipped to make an "informed choice" if you have a mandate in place that those propagandizing you need to disclose who pays for the message, or do you prefer a vacuum? Is naming names and amounts and more helpful than harmful? What are the harms, if any, of voters having such information? Some criticized a fully open and disclosed PAC effort last election cycle, "Citizens for Responsible Government," where the money matters were open and public - names and amounts. Nobody there litigated to suppress disclosure. If you oppose sunshine, transparency and disclosure, Bopp it? Bopp 'til you drop? Knowing who ALEC members are and the way their model bills get ginned up; to me that is simply useful information that should not be Bopped. Make up your mind, but never forget the players in that Bopp-litigated lawsuit and what they went to court to achieve. Like it or not, remember it.


Back to the start of the post, paper ballot trails are what allow meaningful recounts, and without the paper ballots to turn to there would have been more of Norm Coleman in the Senate than when the recount was over. No matter which party wins the next Secretary of State election, that is one part of things both parties should agree to - a paper trail is needed even where ballots are machine-processed. So far, one candidate for Secretary of State is unequivocally saying so, and my hope would be all others would join in that thinking to remove it as a partisan issue. That said, Hilstrom is impressive to me. I would hope the Republicans seeking that office and other DFL candidates turn out to be equally impressive. No more Kiffmeyers, no more ALEC, please, please, please. The job is too important for that level of mediocre politics of partisanship and a will to undermine separation of church and state. Surely the Republicans have something better to offer, next election.