consultants are sandburs

Thursday, February 28, 2013

The Duck litmus test. Looks like a Duck, walks like a Duck, quacks like a Duck, mingles among Ducks, votes with the Ducks, endorsed by Ducks, has his photo flanked by Ducks, ---so he's a ...

... turncoat proponent of GAY MARRIAGE?
(click to see who if you cannot already guess)

Note Hann and Daudt and Kiffmeyer as Ducks pictured with the headlined duck du jour.

This looks as if it might be less an act of conscience than an individual in a safe district walking point, a testing of the waters, with the moral lesson learned being the dumb-ass amendments backfired, so try something equally cherished by the duck squadron, keening over taxes, in place of what proved a problem but only because it did not work and not because it is wrong in a greater sense.

Petersen contends his defection on gay marriage is a position he takes as a matter of moral conscience. We have every right to believe or disbelieve such a statement. I put belief in the analysis that Petersen is closer to the Ron Paul wing of things than is Mary Kiffmeyer, and that might be a factor as well as other things Petersen publicly noted.

However, that party will back away from or soften on issues such as its collective will to dictate via the heavy boot of government on matters of morality, against the freedom of others to have a liberty of choice and to have equal civil rights, only grudgingly and then as an expedient to win elections, not as an enlightenment or epiphany on the road to Damascus.

The immorality of denying equal civil rights and intruding via government into lifestyle choice or reproductive choice seems irrelevant to a testing of the waters. To really understand Branden Petersen, look past the moment, and get back to the 100% pure duck rating that this "breaking rank" individual shares with those in the photo lineup with him, all generally in ALEC-loving duck-step lockstep. All fine and dandy, with the Chairman Duck, "chill pill," "cool out," and all, while not "going to defend Petersen's stand on this issue or argue in favor of gay marriage." Some of the Chairman's friends feel one way, some the other, and the Chairman agrees 100% with his 100% friends, that taxes are hateful. Back to the basics, to the uber-arching litmus test of a Duck's rectitude.


Model unit opens in Orland Park; this report.

At the end of the last HRA televised meeting, mayor council input only called commissioner input or some such thing despite same faces in same chairs - Randy Backous said he'd had a tour of the Flaherty-Ramsey thing and was optimistic, believing it should rent out (and the city gets a payback on its risk investment). We have to hope Randy read the tea leaves correctly, or has a cloud-free crystal ball. Getting paid back would be nice.

Prevailing wage from another perspective. Comparable pay for H-1B visa employees. And teachers and Branden Petersen.

Abuses of the H-1B program are mentioned in a Mother Jones report, with the focus here on a single paragraph:

Even detractors of the H-1B visa program concede that it can fill important roles, such as encouraging brilliant foreigners to permanently relocate to the United States. EPI immigration expert Daniel Costa suggests a couple of tweaks to the I-Squared Act: Require employers to prove that they've tried to recruit Americans before applying for foreign workers, and make sure that H-1B workers get paid as much as Americans do for comparable jobs. "If that was fixed," he says, "I think it would be a different story."

While the H-1B program, its possible avenues for reform, and pitfalls in educating foreign PhD scientists and other technical specialists having substantial talent, and then not keeping the talent and the education investment here has been debated both ways, that above paragraph says clearly, the obvious, that if it's just some bastard being cheap, hold them to a prevailing wage - prevailing salary standard and the egrgious and exploitative employers will lose their main motive to use H-1B against citizen workers having equal training and skill.

Branden Petersen has gotten much ink over deviance from chapter and verse of GOP dogma about the gay marriage issue, but my recollection of Petersen in the Minnesota House has been as the point man on teacher union busting. This Bill. And this.

That Petersen stuff stands very much in line with plain vanilla ALEC, untempered, unabashed. While not pushing the entire ALEC agenda of dismantling public education as we've had it working for our nation's benefit for most of a century, Petersen is pushing enough ALEC to be one of the usual suspects. Regardless of his breaking rank on gay marriage.

So, Petersen postures and has put a bill behind undoing teacher tenure and freeing school systems to weed out unfit older teachers, much as some veteran NBA or major league baseball players retire before they'd choose to. In theory, that argument can be made - doing it for the kids. In practice, if Petersen's brain child were enacted, school boards would have every incentive to jettison long established capable experienced professionals, as a matter of cost.

To overcome that, Petersen, if he's not simply trying to gut the teachers' union, should include a part of his program requiring that any such choice to eliminate an older teacher must be revenue neutral - whereby each less junior paycheck would step up a notch to get the equivalent of the board having let go the lowest paid teacher. Pull the rug out from under the cheapskate factor that way, and the concept of getting rid of bad apples has a truer ring to it, and deserves more than a "cheap bastard measure" dismissal.

I will post on a consistency question before anybody confronts me. Call it a preemptive stike. Drone free. Words only.

I have posted advocating City of Ramsey terminate the Landform contract, with an eye to disavowing future payments based on the unlicensed broker argument others first advanced. That the argument should weigh in settlement discussions so that the contract is ended in ways both sides might agree to but which would be swayed by the unlicensed brokerage question. The ultimate goal and responsibility being to save taxpayer money that arguably need not be spent.

I have posted against the County Board using the argument of saving taxpayer money by rescinding a 23 year old dedication to the policy of paying workers prevailing wages.

Surely argument can be made of differences in the situation, even with each argued as justified for being in the interest of taxpayers by curbing spending. One contract was a long running thing instigated in ways short of presenting the best notice to Ramsey's own council, back when Look was on council and Bob Ramsey was mayor, but not as long tenured as Look, and where Darren Lazan first approached City of Ramsey with Republican office-holder Jungbauer on the Landform payroll. Later it evolved to Lazan and Look co-owning an aircraft that had belonged to Jungbauer. Rather than the term cronyism, the term "personal friendships" outside of formal dealings were a factor.

And Lazan had bargaining power in his situation. No question he was, however it happened, empowered to get a sweet deal for a long time. Monthly money was paid out for quite some time without any accountings of how it was spent being required by the city. Five figure monthly money.

Ordinary workers only have bargaining power of any kind when organized. Like it or love it. One can say skilled trades, and skill and work ethic levels do vary, with local contractors often wanting to keep a skilled crew intact even in hard times. Yet tradesmen are more interchangeable, based on willingness of some to work hard for less due to pressing circumstances, than someone consulting such as Lazan or Elwyn Tinklenberg. Prevailing wage is enacted in realization of this, and as an expression of policy that government should not low-ball generally powerless workers to nickle and dime things - that the general electorate, taxpayers, would prefer prevailing wage, were it put to a referendum. Short of that, those who repealed county prevailing wage policy will be up for reelection, a referendum of a sort. The one I can vote against, I shall vote against. People make such decisions for themselves, so leave it there.

The terms "living wage" and "prevailing wage" are sometimes used interchangeably by union officials, but it seems that unions suffer a disbelief that they have any duty of solidarity with unorganized workforce members. They tend to be myopic, policy-wise, that way.

There will be a response, unions support minimum wage increases, and in Minnesota now with the DFL controlling each house and the executive, the wonder is what's taking them so long and why is the number suggested so low. The gulf between the suggested increased minimum wage, and the prevailing wages the unions are quick and vigorous to protect, is substantial - a "living wage" in one instance being less a "living wage" for the other non-organized workforce member.

The term "prevailing wage" is the more honest one, and the "living wage" rhetoric has holes you can easily see through; and as such may be counterproductive. Bottom line, unions should avoid the myopia so that when their feet are put to the fire others will think of solidarity between any who have to earn a wage to survive.

Wisconsin shows an insufficient solidarity that way, given their governor's lust for union bashing and insufficient general public sympathy for the union people getting bashed.

A view I have of government, some may share it or not, is that a key role of government, if not the singularly most important role, is to protect the poor and powerless from the rich, powerful, and rapacious. Surely some rich and powerful people are well-manered, and not rapacious and exploitative, but others are not so decent, with protection needed. Indeed, government with its securities laws and other regulatory activity clearly must also protect the rich from each other, where one rich person's wealth is not fair game for another with the Petters level of rapacious ethics, regarding money there of another as fair game to poach or misuse or waste.

Respect for collective bargaining power is essential in protecting the generally powerless individual in our world where money rules and some worship the market to the point of denying that an unregulated market by its nature is an oscillating disequilibrium thing where government can work to dampen the swings from boom to bust. Advocates of a "free-market" as unconstrained by any law or policy ignore the inefficiencies and hardships of boom-bust cycling. Sounder minds have prevailed.

Back to all politics being local - In general I believe Darren Lazan's situation, and the prevailing wage questions present an "apples and oranges" thing where strict adherence to a "taxpayers save" justification ignores key differences.

Beyond that, other things factor into judgment.

The county thing is more a symbolic poke with a pencil into the eye of union labor than anything else because the county funds few projects of its own not entailing use of state or federal money as part of the sugar. So the Board did its symbolic union attack simply because the majority on the Board wanted to, and not because of any great and demonstrable savings being attained. It was simply to insult rather than work together. Ill grounded, and petty.

Then - there is how it was done.

Three things strike me as similar, and each in the category because of procedure. Because of a disrespect for proper ways and means and notice and rights of members of the public to be aware, and to confront and argue.

First, the intial Landform contracting.

Dehen and Jeffrey made their case of having been sandbagged.

Second, the insinuation of an attack against Kurt Ulrich's job via a short notice agenda thing, in Ramsey. A coup attempt of a sort. Same scenario. Except people noticed and showed up and the coup failed by one vote.

Third, the near identical tactic at the County Board level. Rescinding a decades old policy without decent regard for the norms of notice and the right of citizens to confront and debate the actions of representatives.

Kordiak and LeDoux make the case in this recent instance for how they too were sandbagged.

In each of the three cases it appeared to be high-handedness and disregard for the general decencies of serving as a representative in the most ethical way feasible with regard to the public's rights to be informed in advance, to have notice and open meetings and a chance to confront and enlighten decisions before they become made in relative darkness. My opinion - freely given for what it is worth - is such steps are disdainful of proprieties, and while there may be a tactical immediate advantage, if successful and not losing by one vote, long term such practices undermine trust in government and result in citizens holding a belief that their representatives will not fully respect their collective rights, as citizens, in ways free of caprice and finagling.

That entire gutting of the prevailing wage policy was finagled, no doubt about that. The initial approach of Landform into a favorable contract situation was finagled, and along with the surprise attack against Ramsey's city administrator all need not have been handled as distastefully as they were.

Open meeting law and the requirement that government be subject to sunshine as the best disinfectant, as Justice Brandeis wrote in 1914, are necessary, to the need to have citizen respect for government and the rule of law. Procedural safeguards do not exist for the sport of circumvention. They exist because past wisdom knows them to be best.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

League of Minnesota Cities has an available online item about city designation of a legal newspaper.

The item can be downloaded in pdf format, from the LMC website, current as of June 2012, this link.

The key info is on p.3 of 20, citing Minn. Stat Sect. 331A.06, subd. 5,, with LMC stating:

A city generally designates an official newspaper. The city publishes notice in the official newspaper to inform the public of the city’s activities. Cities are authorized to enter into multi-year contracts with a qualified newspaper for publication of public notices. No multi-year contract may be for longer than three years.

That of course begs the question, of what is a newspaper, a real one and not somebody's pretense at being one, which is an important first-level inquiry, the first page of that LMC item reading as follows [click thumbnail to enlarge and read]:

If you believe "printed" means stuck up on somebody's website where you can go to the library and use one of the web stations to access it, or with difficulty track down a wabsite web master and have them chop a copy on an inkjet or laser printer, bless you, but printed to me means, well, "printed." As in really printed, not someone's self-serving handwaving smoke and mirrors tap dance.

A really printed newspaper. Have you any problem with that understanding?

If so, please leave a comment.

More later.

While having opposed Wilfare, and still disliking giving a New Jersey billionaire public dollars for a dubious purpose, at least Dayton's hand has not been betrayed. Labor got a share with which it is satisfied. A sound general contractor was chosen with a proven stadium record, promising quality as a product however you may dislike the spending, and while the same money invested in primary infrastructure vs entertainment infrastructure may have reflected better decision making, it is as it is. And it could be worse.

The choice of Mortenson has been reported in Minnesota's daily papers, and readers can do their own websearch that way. Readers may be less aware of the reporting - especially those reading Crabgrass from the perspective of damage control or voicing opposition.

This link. Please have a look.

Pictures saving thousands of words.

This is a picture from Wikipedia of a rattlesnake, which if threatened or perceiving a threat is said at least to rattle in warning, before it strikes.

This is the link to the County's website posting of meeting agendas, where as of downloading the Feb. 12, 2013 agenda mere minutes ago today, the downloaded pdf copy of that Feb. 12, 2013 meeting agenda shows it remains posted by the County as wholly silent of any consideration of prevailing wage rescission, a step being insinuated after decades of prevailing wage being County policy.

Perhaps commissioners pushing to eliminate prevailing wage felt threatened by consequences, or perceived a threat of repercussions. Perhaps in their minds such a change seemed wholly inconsequential to the commissioners bent on making the change. The Republican mind is strange in ways I admit I do not understand, and these dear Republican friends may have thought, "Who could possibly object ...".

In any event, without any rattle they struck.

Below is a screen capture of the incognito three page hummer dropped at their meeting (but not posted even now as part of any official agenda per the official webpage cited in the above paragraph), with the meeting held for reasons of which I am uncertain at 8:30 am in East Bethel and not at the county board chambers in Anoka, on Feb. 12, 2013 [the posting being on the web courtesy of - not your county government]; and wording is to clearly move to undo decades of labor fairness [click a thumbnail to enlarge and read]:

Ignoring for a moment open meeting law on public meeting agenda notice, those niceties, wouldn't you at least expect the courtesy accorded by a snake, rattling in advance, from your elected representatives?


It is interesting to see how restrained some friends of labor were, in their reported comments:

In Commissioner Carol LeDoux’s two years on the county board, she told the Labor Review, “no business ever expressed to me their desire to bid on jobs they’re not able to bid on” because of the county’s prevailing wage policy.

“We should expect fairness from people who are going to benefit from a government contract,” LeDoux said. “We should expect them to pay prevailing wage or livable wages if you’re going to work in the public arena.”

“I don’t want to go down the slippery slope of paying quality workers less than a livable wage,” said LeDoux. “I want people to be self-sustaining and the only way they can do that is by having a livable wage.”

[...] “I’m greatly disappointed by the outcome,” Kordiak said. “I have supported the trades throughout my career.”

“By supporting prevailing wage, you help ensure that those who are working on your behalf are paid a responsible wage,” Kordiak said. “You send me a trained workforce. Your members live in my community; you are the fiber of my community, as far as I’m concerned.”

“I was there when Anoka County adopted the prevailing wage policy,” said former Anoka County commissioner Dan Erhart. “This created a level playing field for local contractors… The benefit of having a prevailing wage resolution… is that we were very much assured to have quality workmanship and a fair playing field when people bid on jobs for the county.”

Blaine resident Bill McCarthy, president of the Minneapolis Regional Labor Federation, added his concern about the Anoka County board’s action:

“At a time when our President, Congress and state legislators are looking at increasing wages for working class people, Anoka County commissioners are lowering wages by repealing the prevailing wage policy for construction workers, who have been hit the hardest by the economic downturn of the last five years — absolutely shameful! As an Anoka County resident, I want to live in a community whose elected officials seek to raise our standard of living, not lower it.”

Whatever these gentle people may have been thinking, none said outright that the perpetrators of the prevailing wage rescission should have at least rattled before they struck.

Only intemperate bloggers say things like that, I guess.

But, hey, the truth of things is they should have rattled, clearly so, and one or more of them likely in hindsight might now agree their movements as strategized and conducted suggest less than a total love of candor and less than a total respect for all in the electorate.

Matt Look reportedly gets himself crosswise with his Met Council Rep, while Ramsey seeks its Armstrong interchange and the County wants Highway 10 money. Presumably Met Council may have a say in such funding pursuits. Burning bridges is sometimes done, but rarely wise. My big question, four commissioners killed prevailing wage on County projects, one took a hike, and two say notice was inadequate. So, was the open meeting law violated? Was there some prior group meeting or seriatim communication among the four anti-union votes?

Paul Levy of Strib reports. This link. This opening excerpt:

Representatives from more than a dozen Twin Cities unions, saying they were deprived a public hearing, gathered in the County Board room to challenge the board’s 4-2 vote on Feb. 12.

The two board members who voted against rescinding the provision said they weren’t aware that it was to be discussed until the morning of the vote. Board Chairwoman Rhonda Sivarajah, however, said all commissioners were notified of the amended agenda; another county official said the notice was sent the afternoon before the meeting.

Prevailing-wage policy requires that employees on construction projects be paid at rates comparable to those that have been paid for ­similar work in the area. By repealing its policy, the county can award county-funded projects to the lowest bidder. There are state and federal prevailing-wage laws that apply to federally- and state-funded projects, including county projects that involve such funds.

“We’re concerned that there was no public notice, no chance to give our side of the story,” said Dan McConnell, business manager of the Minneapolis Building and Construction Trades Council.

McConnell wrote to Anoka County Attorney Tony Palumbo, asking whether the board violated the law by not giving public notice. Palumbo said a member of his staff is investigating the matter.

Lawyer McConnell might also consider prodding the County Attorney into vigorously inquiring into whether the open meeting law was violated via the gang of four possibly putting theit heads together some way or another in advance of the vote, possibly even in a closed "solidarity" session, possibly involving Schulte, or possibly in a string or series of emails or text messaging. Or by phone.

That kind of thing does happen. I recall a situation where Ramsey council members John Dehen and David Jeffrey were critical of the very first Landform contract meeting, claiming inadequate notice at the time Look was a council member with them who advocated the Landform dealings because "Senator Jungbauer" was a Landform insider who might procure grants if the city hired the firm. It's in the minutes, if you look in the right places.

Surely coincidence might explain the parallelism, just as conscious parallelism in conduct might be afoot. Those of us outside of the communication channels between Look, Sivarajah, West and Brasstad can only make guesses, and does newly elected Scott Schulte usually miss meetings? Or might he have ducked showing up knowing a four vote consensus was likely - possibly knowing more precisely where others stood, pre-meeting?

As to Look getting crosswise with his Met Council rep, Levy reported:

Sivarajah said she was miffed by the way local Teamsters leader Ed Reynoso encouraged union members to voice displeasure over the vote. Reynoso, who also is a member of the Metropolitan Council, said union members were urged through text messages to phone the four commissioners who voted to repeal prevailing wage. Those commissioners are Sivarajah, Matt Look, Robyn West and Julie Braastad.

“I learned long ago that you get further with honey than vinegar,” Sivarajah said. “In this county, bullying and intimidation are not acceptable.”

Reynoso said union officials are irked by characterizations of union workers allegedly made by Look, the County Board vice chairman. Look denies making disparaging comments to union members.

“It’s not even believable,” Look said. “Their claims are baseless.”

“I’m for market wage and prevailing experience,” Look said. “I respect their right to disagreement. I certainly don’t belittle them on the phone.”

At Tuesday’s meeting, Look referred to the county’s “fragile” relationship with the Met Council. Look recently sent Reynoso a text message saying that Look had called the governor’s office “concerning the hostile environment” that Reynoso was creating “concerning our most recent prevailing-wage vote.”

He further wrote that Reynoso should “reconsider the inappropriate crossover of your day job and relations that you may have potentially strained.”

What in all this astounds me most, is that Harold Hamilton, Chairman of the Taxpayer League, appears as if in communication with Board Commissioner Look, (I regard it as a mentoring thing), and yet Hamilton wrote nothing in his Watchdog musings except, under the headline "THUGGERY" to trash some Facebook postings, not saying jack about Look's aggressively texting Reynoso, nor about Look phoning "the governor's office" to tattle.

Levy's reporting of the tone of Look texting Reynoso suggests almost a thuggish tone, by Look, rather than "THUGGERY" of any real or substantial kind against him.

And, leaving Wonderland for the real world, do you think for one minute that Harold Hamilton routinely keeps abreast of Teamster postings on Facebook? That running Micro Control Company and chairing Taxpayer League gives him additional leisure time for such things? Or did somebody put Hamilton up to the Facebook ferreting? While serendipity is possible, my guess is Harold was put up to that ferreting-and-posting by somebody, Look being my guess, unless somebody with time on his/her hands ghostwrites all that Watchdog stuff with a lesser persona and gravitas than Hamilton and hence fronting Hamilton, a possibility with the question of who it might be if it might be at all being worth speculation.

(Not that you grow to expect a balanced account in Watchdog barking, but some of that tiring tirade stuff gets far too adversarial to consider the Watchdog as merely a neutral and nonpartisan critic of waste in any form or instance, without an agenda, and without a clear political motive beyond chasing waste.)

Look overreacts. He reacted sharply to a recent Crabgrass post critical of him on the prevailing wage issue, saying he thought I was inciting mayhem against him and would take his worries about me to the police, (In this county, bullying and intimidation are not acceptable), and that my general suggestion that union members might consider his anti-union actions next time his seat's up was equivalent "to shouting fire in a crowded theater."

Now this aggression with Reynoso. Truman had an adage about if you cannot take heat stay out of the kitchen, but Look seems to overreact, and with Reynoso in a way counterproductive to building a consensus on a Highway 10 upgrade effort, including Look's advocacy of the Armstrong interchange improvement in Ramsey, (which I think a wise and merited road project and for which I give him due credit, having so posted on Crabgrass).

In response to his email to me, beyond what got published but solely between Matt and me, I gave him a terse synopsis of my reaction to what I regarded to be his overreaction.

Bottom line for me, somebody, the County Attorney being the proper person, needs to smoke out whether four or five heads were put together in advance and in violation of the open meeting law, as well as whether there was impermissible intentional or unintentional deviation from normal notice practices and procedures. There's a suggestion of possible impropriety to things which needs to be confirmed or refuted.

Lawyer Palumbo, the ball indeed is in your court. Ferret out the truth in things, if at all possible. Surely wagons can be circled, and denials are easily given, but at least put the questions to a test.

The clearest statement I know of warning against seriatim quorum shenanigans outside of the open meeting law, something Look and others doubtlessly know of, is in League of Minnesota Cities Handbook, Chap. 7, at p.12 of 45 pages, under heading "E" - online here (see Handbook index, here).

The Handbook page cites Moberg, that court clearly stating:

We therefore hold that "meetings" subject to the requirements of the Open Meeting Law are those gatherings of a quorum or more members of the governing body, or a quorum of a committee, subcommittee, board, department, or commission thereof, at which members discuss, decide, or receive information as a group on issues relating to the official business of that governing body. Although "chance or social gatherings" are exempt from the requirements of the statute, [citation omitted], a quorum may not, as a group, discuss or receive information on official business in any setting under the guise of a private social gathering. The statute does not apply to letters or telephone conversations between fewer than a quorum.

Appellants correctly point out that this rule may be circumvented by serial face-to-face or telephone conversations between board members to marshal their votes on an issue before it is initially raised at a public hearing. It does not follow that two- or three-person conversations should be prohibited, however, because officials who are determined to act furtively will hold such discussions anyway, or might simply use an outsider as an intermediary. There is a way to illegally circumvent any rule the court might fashion, and therefore it is important that the rule not be so restrictive as to lose the public benefit of personal discussion between public officials while gaining little assurance of openness. Of course, serial meetings in groups of less than a quorum for the purposes of avoiding public hearings or fashioning agreement on an issue may also be found to be a violation of the statute depending upon the facts of the individual case.

Moberg v. Independent Sch. Dist. No. 281, 336 NW 2d 510, 518(Minn. 1983).

Look was reported as mentioning to reporter Sakry years ago when the initial Landform contract situation was decided that he was cognizant of Open Meeting Law in limiting those he spoke to in advance of the initial Landform contract approval meeting.

Last updated, 10:22 am, Wednesday, Feb. 27, 2013.

____________FURTHER UPDATE___________
Strib photo, this link.
One thing that specifically honks me off on this union bashing, is Sivarajah.

In an earlier general biographical sketch in Strib, still online here, she was coincidentally noted as, "The wife of a now-retired police officer."

Cops are not only unionized, but they have effective unions, and bargain aggressively for top collective pay and benefits. Sivarajah over years benefited from this union effectiveness, taking a pecuniary benefit from the share of union attained good will and good terms, and then co-instigates or at least advances on short notice and in absence of public notice of agenda modification, union bashing reversing decades of precedent.

It seems to be biting a hand that had fed her, and spouse.
It galls me, but readers should form and hold independent opinions.

I would like to see the item revisited anew, on a subsequent and adequately publicized agenda where a second Schulte absence would speak volumes, and then voted on again after a public hearing where union voices could be heard and weighed before any vote is taken. Arguably Humpty-Dumpty's been already broken and such a revisiting will not start with an intact egg, but it is a thought experiment if nothing else.

Perhaps Mr. Sivarajah might show up to discuss his experiences under police unionization. It would be an educational thing if he did.

[update added - 11:15 AM Wednesday, February 27, 2013 ]

____________FURTHER UPDATE___________
Labor speaks:

“For a county that prides itself on transparency — that won an award for transparency — there’s an awful lack of transparency here,” said Dan McConnell, business manager of the Minneapolis Building and Construction Trades Council. “I would ask our members who live in Anoka County to contact their county commissioners and ask them to reinstate prevailing wage.”

Prevailing wage policies require that employees working on government-funded construction projects receive wage rates comparable to wages paid for similar work in the area where the project is located.

“[Prevailing wage] prevents local contractors from being undercut by bidders from low-wage areas,” McConnell said, and, in the case of the Anoka County policy, “keeps the money in Anoka County.”

Prevailing wage policies long have become a target for opponents of organized labor, who charge that the policies favor union contractors.

Prevailing wage supporters maintain that the policies level the playing field between union and non-union bidders — by requiring all bidders pay the same wage rates.

Over the past two election cycles, organized labor lost a pro-labor majority on the Anoka County board and a move by the new majority to repeal prevailing wage was feared.

“I’ve seen it coming,” said Commissioner Jim Kordiak, one of the two “no” votes. But the timing of the vote February 12 came as a surprise.

“It was introduced at a very clever time in my view,” Kordiak told the Labor Review. “The county board was meeting at a remote location.” The board meeting February 12 was scheduled for East Bethel’s City Hall, not at the Anoka County Government Center.

Kordiak said an e-mail sent the day before the meeting announced to commissioners that prevailing wage would be on the agenda. But both he and Commissioner Carol LeDoux, who also voted “no” on the repeal, said they didn’t see the e-mail ahead of time and didn’t know prevailing wage was on the agenda until it came up at the meeting.

“The attitude of those who put it before us was they wanted to get it over quickly,” Kordiak said. “That was done on purpose.”

The repeal first passed the board’s management committee by a vote of 3-1, with Kordiak as the lone “no” vote. A few minutes later, the full board — minus the absent Schulte — passed the repeal on a voice vote after a brief discussion.

In the video of the board meeting, board chair Rhonda Sivarajah said that the $10,000 threshold for the county’s prevailing wage policy was outdated.

Sivarajah also said she had heard from local businesses who complained that the paperwork to comply with the prevailing wage policy was so burdensome that they were not bidding on county projects.

The repeal, Sivarajah said, “really helps to streamline things.”

Rhonda, the Northstar trains already run on time in terms of streamlining things. Paying workers below minimum wage and not keeping any records would add streamlining too.

Closing all meetings to the public? More streamlining.

That's dragging a red herring across the path of inquiry, "Streamlining."

Anyway, that excerpt is from the beginning of the Minneapolis Labor Review, February 22, 2013, report. All readers are urged to read the entire item.

Now, a thought experiment. City of Ramsey expanded its municipal owned parking ramp in order to give free parking to Flaherty, and in doing so used grant money requiring prevailing wage be paid, as was the case with the Northstar stop in Ramsey.

Now, beneficiary of that free parking largesse, Flaherty, is he using below prevailing wage labor or is he paying prevailing wage because part of his benefit came from public cash? Or is he cutting corners? As with the Emily McGlone employment by Flaherty, an Iron Curtain is being maintained on that question, as far as I know, with Flaherty's Indiana construction arm serving as general contractor on the big looming thing.

Where are those workers from and what are they paid, in terms of the puffery from the gang of four county commissioners, that this move of theirs will not really undermine local contractors?



While Flaherty has no duty to disclose, the question surely is relevant to the excuse making by the Commission majority that fly-by-night outsiders will not actually elbow out both local labor and local contractors. Perhaps the County Board majority on the issue might persuade the Flaherty people to shed light on their practices, or that effort would be expected were Flaherty to be acting in ways bolstering their contentions.

[update added - 11:49 AM Wednesday, February 27, 2013]

Bringing up Flaherty as a possible counterexample reaches a part of Levy's Strib reporting not previously quoted:

Sivarajah said there was ample time for commissioners to consider the proposal.

She also said that concern that the change will take away work from local companies in favor of cheap out-of-state labor is baseless.

“Is a company from North Dakota going to come here for a $75,000 project?” she asked. “I don’t think so.”

Rephrasing Board Chair Sivarajah's question, "Are Flaherty's people, besides top project management from Indiana, coming from North Dakota, or Faribault, or wherever?"

Is Flaherty on his project in Ramsey the most immediate and largest counterexample disproving the Board Chair's low-to-no-impact argument?

The County Board, County Attorney, they should ask Flaherty. Particularly so, if the matter is reopened, but with adequate notice given, respectful of the public's right to be informed and heard.

Perhaps there'd not be a stonewall, with those officials asking.

[12:08 PM Wednesday, February 27, 2013 -- post now closed, reader comments are welcome]

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

When a Pope retires, what do you call him and how does he dress?

BBC has those answers and more. Unlike running backs and home run hitters or hockey goalies, there is no Papal Hall of Fame. However, ongoing residence within Vatican national borders has been arranged. Jim Brown was not granted housing for his remaining life in Cleveland, (nor did he seek it), and Joe Montana no longer wears the uniform.

As was always the case, the Pope's name and number combination is retired.

On a serious note, it is unclear if Benedict intends and the Church intends for him to have any official duties running into retirement. Presumably he might preside over Mass at churches outside of the Vatican from time to time, while the question I wonder about is whether he will continue to allow audiences, health permitting. He would still be a figure of reverence within the Church, and presumably world leaders might seek out a chance for a visit, although the formal title "audience" might only apply to being accorded time alone with the new governing Pope. He remains fluent in several languages and a writer.

The Timberwolves are a strong team. They just lose a lot.

The headline thought came to mind when I came across a CD6 GOP leadership ticket play.

Facebook, of course. There's a thing with Republicans and Facebook.

"Strong Team for CD6," they call themselves. Opening line:

We are running to serve the district and build from the strong momentum that has been built over the few years.

Yup. Those Timberwolves have had strong momentum built over the last few years. Damn few wins, but momentum in the direction they've been going.

(Conservatives conserve words, the word "last" being kept in reserve.)

Each of the strong team put in a blurb. Not all were striking:

Luke Yurczyk. College Republican Chair of Year in 2001. He volunteers.

Heather Todd Served as a lay-leader at Living Word Christian Center for 8 years. In additions, [sic] she is a founding and active member of Christians United for Israel.

Jen Niska Didn't do a word count, but noticed that the word "Tom" and the word "Emmer" were completly overlooked in describing accomplishments.

Evan Siljander Maintaining lists, and keeping records.

Andy Aplikowski In 2012 he was the Victory Center Coordinator. The words "Mitt" and "Romney" somehow got omitted.

Stacy Morse Has coordinated with candidates and volunteers for lit drops/door knocking, sign placements, phone banking and parades.

Because the Republicans are the party of free market social Darwinism, one hopes other equally illustrious tickets arise and compete. Since we wish nothing but the best for our Republican friends the anticipation will be the cream rising to the top, with one ticket to survive as the fittest. Likely by a triumph of will.

UPDATE: I have to applaud this GOP leadership ticket adopting the name "Strong Team," in deference to the title, "Big Ticket" already being taken.

Back to the headline, "Big Ticket" was the only title Garnett had to his credit until he got to Boston. The "Strong Team" members differ. They, or some among them, were helpful to a win, Branden Petersen's, with Tea cups now raised in salutation. They are our friends and neighbors, so bless them all. But be fair and notice that the entire webpage as captured at left, conserves words despite its length. Search it. Words "Ron" and "Paul" were consciously and conscientiously conserved so that another ticket may have its options.

My understanding is that the SD35 Republicans held an "emergency meeting" last night. Last night or the night before. I am unsure. I searched their website, found no agenda, hence I am left guessing. Only a guess.

No emergency mentioned.
This outstanding bunch of outstanding citizens appear to have perceived some kind or manner of "emergency." What might it be?

My reaction to attempt understanding Republicans, is: seek the wisdom of the Watchdog.

Doing that, I found this. Dateline Feb. 22. Presaging what possible emergency, I wondered.

Could the emergency be a few teamsters saying things against the Watchdog's mentored pup, per the first segment of three?

Could it be the Watchdog at his well attended Northstar Rail tree, per item three? The item that uses the tree, but somehow sees no kith or kin connection between the mentored pup, and that tree?

Might the emergency be then about item 2, of the watchings? Where the Watchdog straddles this fence:

Wisdom of the Watchdog is that no unique flavor of chewing gum is tasted by the Watchdog teeth:

Remember last year when he took on the Teachers' Union and chief authored a bill to cut back teacher tenure and allow districts to make layoff decisions based on merit and not seniority?

Pretty bold stuff for a freshman from a swing district.

And how about that 2012 Taxpayer's League score? Perfect 100%. Lifetime score of 85.

He also sports an "A" rating from the National Rifle Association.

He is Pro Life and votes that way.

The National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) has scored Petersen at 100% regarding his votes that affect small businesses in Minnesota.

Bashing unions and greasing the skids for the Federation of Independent Business. Choice hating gun nut. Tons of reasons to vote the rascal out, but where's any emergency in that litany? Same old, same old, it seems. A same old that I suspect generations of Watchdogs have cherished protecting. If not protecting, barking about, fiercely.

And: Swing district? Did he bark "swing district?"

What kind of Watchdog poop is that?

____________FURTHER UPDATE___________
Keeping up the dog metaphor, perhaps the entire Branden Petersen Tempest in a Teapot centers upon a breach of this eHow wisdom.

____________FURTHER UPDATE___________
This entire Teapot tempest of a Republican defying the God, Gays and Guns credo could have been easily averted, if only enough of the voting public had shown the good sense to vote last November for DFL candidate Peter Perovich. Put Perovich in the seat, and the SD35 Republicans would be free of any need, real or perceived, to hold emergency meetings over whether their Tea's been spoiled. Beautiful symmetry might have been preserved, but for a caprice of the electorate.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Too many Babbitts, too few Wellstones.

That headline is the story. Interchangeable parts, Babbitt, Orrin Hatch, Max Baucus.

Another Flaherty iron in the fire. A "luxury apartment tower for downtown Cincinati" that will include an independent grocery operator.

Reporting and rendering, this link.
Reporting is by Gannett's "" website, dated Feb. 22, 2013, stating in part:

The 30-story tower also would include 50 street-level spaces for grocery shoppers and eight full levels of parking, according to Jim Crossin, vice president of Indianapolis-based Flaherty & Collins. The first floor would be two stories high, and the remaining 20 stories would contain 300 luxury apartments.

“We think there’s a very strong demand for a development of this type in downtown Cincinnati,” Crossin said.

And there's a Catch 22, after all, it's Flaherty. All that parking. How do you suppose Flaherty proposes to pay for it - have it financed? The report continues:

The timetable hasn’t been set, he said, because the project hinges on City Council agreeing to sell the city’s parking operations. City Manager Milton Dohoney has proposed using $12 million from the $92 million sale proceeds to fund the apartment tower, proposed at the former Pogue’s Garage site on Fourth Street.

The last Flaherty tower I can recall was the splat-to-Chap. 7 in North Carolina where the prepayment folks thinking they were reserving housing were left holding the bag.

Let us hope the Apartment Guys get this one better.

Can they get it worse?

Hard to picture that? Perhaps.

Reporting continues, re parking, and the mystery grocer:

Proceeds also would help finance the conversion of neighboring Tower Place into mostly parking with 20,000 square feet of retail. The city just bought the two properties for $8.5 million. The city Planning Commission will hold a preliminary vote related to the parking plan March 1.

The tower would have one- and two-bedroom apartments, averaging about 900 square feet, Crossin said. It also would include a rooftop deck, fitness room, swimming pool and club room.

Flaherty & Collins, a 20-year-old company that builds and manages mostly high-end apartments, broke ground earlier this month on a mixed-use project in downtown Indianapolis, the Axis @ Block 400. That development will include a Marsh grocery, but Crossin said the Cincinnati project will not involve Marsh, even though the interior grocery renderings presented by Cincinnati officials are the same as the grocery renderings for the Axis.

The 15,000-square-foot grocery space at the former Pogue’s Garage site, which stretches from Race to Elm along Fourth Street, is too small for a traditional grocer, Crossin said.

[...] The plan is for a high-end store with a focus on fresh produce, Crossin said: “We committed to the city that it will be a true grocery store. We’ve worked with the operator to be able to assure everyone it won’t be a glorified convenience store.”

Could it be Coborns of Cincy? Grocer to river towns? Just speculation, of course.

Finally, despite this new thing being a tower, and despite that big-time tower failure in North Carolina, this is, trust me, a totally unrelated bonus YouTube video link, for interested readers.

And besides all that, Michele Bachmann on an Intelligence Committee is an oxymoron.

I was forwarded the following email:

Please join Daily Kos and our partners at People For the American Way as we call for the removal of Rep. Michele Bachmann from the House Intelligence Committee. Click here to sign the petition.

Rep. Michele Bachmann is known for her fear mongering tactics; she’s been peddling Islamophobic conspiracy theories about a top aide to Hillary Clinton who Bachmann claims is helping the Muslim Brotherhood infiltrate the federal government and has implied that President Obama is working to spread global Sharia law.

Conspiracy theories and religious McCarthyism should have no place in our government, especially in the House Intelligence Committee, on which Rep. Bachmann sits.

Someone like this should not hold a seat on a congressional committee that is entrusted with classified information and privy to information about matters of national security. Please join Daily Kos and our partners at People For the American Way by signing the petition calling on House Speaker John Boehner to remove Michele Bachmann from the House Intelligence Committee.

Keep fighting,
Rachel Colyer
Associate Campaign Director, Daily Kos

HELLO, fellow Iowegians. I was born here. Be proud that way.

Recent commentary, Silence of the Goat, here and here. Then, Goat silence, turning into little but the single minute rest between slugfest bleating rounds.

Constancy in the universe, on small scales, like planetary orbits in a larger sense, cannot be long or greatly perturbed. Laws of science do not allow that.

Strib has a report about water usage and the future. Ramsey has drilled all the municipal wells the DNR has allocated it, already, and Flaherty and others will be adding demand. Those living here since the 1960's - 1980's and later, without municipal water connections, are those who as long time residents DO NOT want new demand to run their established single-family-home private domestic wells dry. Also, hooking into the municipal system is NOT WANTED, as both too costly, and unneeded.

Strib here. Do your own web search for Minnesota being in the middle of an extended string of drought years. Earlier Crabgrass posts about water are here, here, here and here, for example.

There is smart growth, in more ways than Met Council cares to openly discuss. Smart growth includes limitations on profligate expansion beyond the environment's ability to cope. Hopefully this new council is attentive to water and habitat issues, and the question of wetland buffering and wetland protection can be revisited by council members not predisposed to trumpet "property rights" above protecting the collective needs and feelings of all already here and using water.

It is not a simple thing.

A large part of the justification of the third water tower* was to prevent demand surges as a threat to storage capacity. If that's a concern now, what's the future, a fourth tower, or constraints upon growth?

The Strib report, again here, is lengthier than most Strib online posts, this excerpt being from the middle:

Last year the White Bear Lake Restoration Association filed suit against the DNR, alleging that it violated environmental standards by allowing local communities to take more water than is sustainable for the lake and aquifer. It asked the court to establish protected water levels for both.

DNR officials declined to comment on the pending complaint.

Soon, the problem could spread beyond White Bear Lake. If the Twin Cities metro area grows by half a million people over the next two decades, at current rates of water use, whole sections of the Twin Cities’ aquifers will drop by half, even with normal rainfall, hydrologists say. At that point, state regulators would shut down the pumps to protect what’s left. Even if water use drops by 30 percent over the next decade, there would still be problems in some parts of the metro area, said Ali Elhassan, water supply manager for the Metropolitan Council.

“People plan for the future,” he said. “Well, the future is now.”

[emphasis added] The future is now, and new council people need to consider environmental constraints upon growth because it appears a housing rebound may be on tap soon.

"On tap" being the concern.

* Relevant council minutes from 2009 when the tower was approved are here at p.11, here at p.9, here at Case 3, and here, at page 10. Because linking to LaserFiche WebLink can be tricky, the meeting dates - regular council sessions - are 1/27/09, 5/12/09. 6/23/09, and 7/28/09. See also city website, here.

See Met Council items, e.g., here, here and here. That last item is a City of Ramsey document, but difficult to impossible to locate on the City's webpages. Also, there is this google. When one gets to looking at Met. Council approaches, it is difficult to separate politics from environmental limitations. The Met. Council has water supply jurisdiction over the seven-county Metro area, but the aquifer that supplies Ramsey domestic water supplies extends beyond the Met Council's jurisdiction; while the DNR has statewide jurisdiction over water resources, in general.

There is much on the web about Minnesota/Metro water issues. Some resources, in a semi-random "as found" order are: DNR here and here; "metadata" here; Met Council stuff, this google, here (tedious detail), here (Metropolitan Area Water Supply Advisory Committee membership), here (Metropolitan Area Water Supply Planning: Clean Water Fund Activities Report to the Legislature: January 15, 2011 - reader help on 2012 reporting needed - beyond resources listed below), here (Master Water Supply Plan -- March 2010 - with links - reader help requested re any update), here (2010 Master Plan text - 113p), here (2030 and 2050 water demand grwoth projections - 52p report), here (a 2006 item - visuals), here (DNR requirements for Met Council, p.3 re surface water impact monitoring in Ramsey, below), and what looks as if it is the Met Council's Water Supply homepage, here.

From here, p.3.

A Met Council water plan-modeling update page, apparently, this link.

This Met Council page at its 11/14/12 entry, links to a confusing image, p.4 here, showing a "Model 3" embracing 11 counties in its model impact area, but still with only 7 counties under Met Council jurisdiction; the confusion being the amount of fight in the other four counties if seeing encroaching hands and minds. See also Nov. 2012 model update info, here and here.

At the risk of redundancy, Met Council having more "stuff" online than a weasel has fleas; here, and here (Ramsey specific). Page captioned, "Study examines impact of growth on water supply in Ramsey," here, mentioning revised modeling and BARR Engineering as a consultant; where the worry always is that if on-the-ground growth demand runs rampant the model can always be adjusted to say, "That's okay."

Some Met Council items were not listed above, but are listed now below, via these ten "Example presentation pages" (click any thumbnail to enlarge and read, or click given links to access the online original):

From here, p6 of 27.

From here, p4 of 12.

From here, p5 of 24.

From here, p6 of 24.

From here, p23 of 24.

Ramsey area, wells and monitoring.
From here, p15 of 27.

Master Plan Maps - p2, here.

Master Plan Maps - aquifers - p6, here.

Master Plan Maps - wetland impacts - p11, here.

Master Plan Maps - 2030 FIG drawdown - p14, here.

With detail of this kind, link errors become likely, hence reader feedback help on noting any bad links would help other readers.

_______________FURTHER UPDATE_____________
This press release was forwarded to me from the ABC League of Women Voters:

February 24, 2013
Contact Katherine Whelchel
Phone Number:  763.421.3875
League of Women Voters Presents Topic of
Water Supply Sustainability in the North Metro
The League of Women Voters ABC invites the public to attend their March program at the Andover Senior Center on Monday evening, March 11 for a presentation by Lanya Ross, Principal Environmental Scientist with the Metropolitan Council.  Her topic will be “Water Supply Sustainability in the North Metro”.   

The Metropolitan Council is the regional planning agency of the Twin Cities metropolitan area.  Ross will speak about the regional analyses Metropolitan Council is conducting to understand the cumulative and long-term impacts of the seven-county metropolitan area’s water use choices.  She will include a discussion of how individual actions can impact the sustainability of water supplies. 

Lanya Ross has spent over a decade working on water supply planning issues in the Twin Cities metropolitan area.  She has a bachelor’s degree in geology from Macalester College and a master’s in geology from Northern Arizona University. Some past projects include water resource planning for the Shakopee Mdewakanton Dakotah Community, groundwater modeling of Grand Canyon National Park’s public water supply, and development of the Twin Cities metropolitan area’s first master water supply plan.

Jamie Schurbon, Water Resource Specialist with the Anoka Conservation District, will provide a local perspective on water sustainability in Anoka County, including a preview of the information in the soon to be published Anoka County Geologic Atlas. He has been employed by Anoka Conservation District for the past 13 years where he is responsible for water quality and quantity monitoring, data analysis and reporting, and coordinating projects to improve impaired water bodies.   The completion of the Geologic Atlas of Anoka County has recently been his special concern.  He will describe this project and its significance.

All are invited for social time and refreshments at 6:00 pm, followed by the program and discussion at 6:30 pm.  The Andover Senior Center is next-door to Andover City Hall at 1685 Crosstown Boulevard NW.  Enter the City Hall parking lot from Crosstown, and proceed to the end of the parking lot. 

For additional information, contact Katherine Whelchel at

The League of Women Voters is a non-partisan political organization that encourages informed and active participation in government and influences public policy through education and advocacy.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

There is the "Counties Transportation Improvement Board," which appears to be a pot of money to draw from, with it unclear to me who runs the show. Is it another arm of Met Council, or independent, and what are the politics of the animal?

If you have never heard of this Counties Transit Improvement Board, or know little about it, join the crowd. There is this, in ABC Newspapers reporting of the Northstar parking ramp now being planned in Anoka, where earlier a flat parking lot was deemed sufficient:

Anoka City Council has approved plans for a $10.4 million parking ramp at the Anoka Rail Station.

The three-level ramp will have 333 parking spaces. Construction is expected to start on the south surface parking lot this spring. The Anoka Station Ramp will be located at the corner of Fourth Avenue and Pierce Street to serve the city’s Northstar Commuter Rail passengers.

The ramp will be funded by a variety of sources, including a $5.85 million federal grant the city received back in 2005. Also contributing is the Anoka County Regional Rail Authority with $575,000, along with $2 million from the Counties Transportation Improvement Board. Both of those additional sources were sparked from Anoka County Commissioner Matt Look’s support of the project.

Anoka will fund more than $1.9 million of the construction costs, which will come from the city’s TIF revenues from the new Volunteers of America senior housing project.

Councilmember Jeff Weaver recalled a time when the city council was not on board with approving the parking ramp, which at one time was estimated to cost $12 million.

But with the help of Anoka County and CTIB, Weaver said the council has changed its tune.

“Not taking one penny out of the general fund is making it much easier to say yes,” said Weaver. “Whether you believe in the train or not, whether you like the train or not, I think we’re very fortunate the train stops in Anoka.”

That is like saying, "We do not really need it, but for $2 million from our local pockets we are not passing it up."

Fiscal conservatism is a strange thing. One I admit I do not fully understand.

About the animal, here in connection with Met. Council; here, with another mystery, the "Transportation Finance Advisory Committee," named. It all seems a bit Orwellian, or out of the film, Brazil. They have all that stuff, yet they go and let bridges fall. Anoka getting that ramp deal, is it only about playing hard to get vs. hot to trot? Could Kafka negotiate transportation-and-transit funding in Minnesota? Without metamorphosing?

Metro area apartments, a high rise, less of a footprint than Flaherty's Ramsey project, nothing in the report about any parking ramp. [And TIF meanderings - in the updates and comments - an open TIF thread for any further viewpoints]

This link. St. Louis Park. Location as it is, no rail. Will it still be a tight rental market a year from now, or will there be a glut of units and high vacancies?

Nothing in the reporting was found about millions of public dollars put at risk to make the thing happen. It appears that in St. Louis Park politics is that private sector profit seekers take their own risks. I did a word search of the Strib report. The word "TIF" was absent, the word "subsidy" was also absent. I went back and checked more. The word "consultant" was absent, as was the term "development team." It would be illuminating to see how things are done, in detail, in St. Louis Park.

__________FURTHER UPDATE___________
I got an email, helpful -- snarky and judgmental, but helpful -

You know better than to think TIF was NOT used in Saint Louis Park. In fact it was used for damn near every new apartment development. These people cannot help themselves.

"The City has used its tax increment financing authority in many of these projects in order to meet specific community and economic development objectives."

_________BUT WAIT THERE'S MORE___________
I have not read it yet, but the link was emailed, "The Case Against Tax Increment Financing;" published by the Cato Institute. One can make a case against the Cato Institute, but keeping an open mind, readers might enjoy the analysis.

____________AND MORE____________
As something of a TIF skeptic, after getting that link, I did a

google = tax increment financing abuses minnesota

Try it. Or something similar.

First hit was a Lexis summary, then the original online, Minnesota Law Review item; NOTE, Note: Tax Increment Financing: Public Use or Private Abuse?, 90 Minn. L. Rev. 213 (Nov. 2005). Compare that review of the Walser litigation with the generic argument from Cato Institute. Then explore other things that web search, via the above Google or related search terms in Google or Bing, can yield. Maybe the mystery of TIF will lessen.

I am still wading through the reading, but it is an educational experience. Planners and legislators and town/county officials should have a look.

As an experiment, I did a parallel

bing = walser best-buy tif hra tax increment

Try either. This

blekko = tif tax-increment-financing

So little time, so much to know ...

And if you read enough, you may miss the local show in a town or other locale near you.



A quick wrap-up for today. MPP posting good stuff.

Mostly it speaks for itself, as here, and here. Good stuff happening, and Democrats doing it.

A favorite, here, yet again making the point that Steve Drazkowski is dumber than an ox. As if that were news.

Dumber than him? Who?

He got elected in his district, look at it that way.

Well, MPP changed its format, with new things coming, and at least one old thing falling between the cushions - it appears MPP dropped one of three of the linked posts. The links here were repaired for the other two. Here's the Google returned blurb for the lost posting:

Dayton signs bill to extend Medicaid to 35000 more Minnesotans
6 days ago – Governor Mark Dayton signed a bill into law today that extends Medicaid coverage to an estimated 35,000 uninsured Minnesotans.

Google's link is

It is unfortunate the post got undone in the cutover, but that blurb from Google, it's excerpting a couple of lines, does get the gist of the item in a nutshell.

At least it is not a discovery of a missing link ...

The link is fine, it's the post that went AWOL.

_________FURTHER UPDATE__________
What a deal. Lose one post, get another one free, (with a very helpful link).

MN Progressive Project, here; linking to here.

As with the Abeler-Tingelstad veto override vote - retaliate, don't educate. More of the same, etc.

Two Residual Forces posting themes in a compare and contrast test of reader awareness.

Here and here, in the past. Then, here.

Andy A. publishes this, as the core of his argument - colleagues, lean on the guy and shouldn't he slavishly reread and genuflect to past district voting:

Sidenote: It was nice to see some of the other great Senators I’ve gotten to know over the years while I was there. To them I say keep up the good work and go have a talk with Petersen please.


Here’s the results on the amendment in SD35. (See all by HD here)
Legislative District 35A

4102 precincts in contest. 15 of 15 precincts reported.
Yes 11167
No 10372
Estimated Blanks 190
Estimated Total Number of Voters 21729
Estimated Percent of YES* 51.39%
Legislative District 35B

4102 precincts in contest. 13 of 13 precincts reported.
Yes 12534
No 11118
Estimated Blanks 217
Estimated Total Number of Voters 23869
Estimated Percent of YES* 52.51%

Shame on the man Petersen for not licking the boots of a slender majority, of bigots in district.

Isn't that his job? How dare he show anything beyond groveling gratitude for being there. As if leadership were expected.

I wonder how Abeler reads the latest trenchant analysis from Andy A. Do you think ...

This part got to me:

I encourage everyone from Senator District 35 to call or visit Senator Petersen and ask him to reconsider.

I would ask only people from SD35 call Petersen.

I know there was an email sent out from a certain someone, but that is not the productive way to change one’s mind. If you live in another District, call YOUR Senator and remind them how you feel on the issue.

Sen. Branden Petersen is in the State Office Building Office 127

Phone: 651-296-3733


Please be respectful. While we disagreed on this issue, we did so with respect.

So, I took up the cause, and respectfully emailed Branden Petersen:

Subject: With friends like this who needs enemies?

You are there now, and there is no turning back. And Andy's got your back. In a sense.

We live in interesting times.

History will judge, as with the veto override. Some clearly may disagree but it seems Petersen has strengthened his position, as Abeler did, by being sensible and not crass or diffidently partisan where that would prove counterproductive long-term. How things shake out within the GOP from this will prove interesting. Meanwhile, why is the party of business remaining so short of cash, here in Minnesota? Does the Chamber of Commerce care much about the marriage issue, and is that indifference reflected in local GOP big donor holiday taking?

Anoka County's Board of Commissioners Republican majority gives single finger "Scott Walker Salute" to the policy underlying the Davis Bacon Act of 1931. Schulte ducks voting.

Union members, ask yourselves
as a ballot box question for 2014 or later,
when Matt Look gets you like this
isn't it time to level the playing field
for the fish?

Gang of four, West, Look, Braastad and Sivarajah did the dastardly deed. Bodley of ABC Newspapers reports online, here. Read it. It is replete with the dissembling of those assaulting organized labor, as if it were somehow a good thing. The money quote from midway through Bodley's report:

According to Look, the prevailing wage would still be in place for construction projects that receive federal or state funding.

And he challenged anyone that maintained that nonunion work is subpar compared with union work, Look said.

“This action evens the playing field for small companies wanting to grow their business,” he said.

The rescinding of the prevailing wage resolution was part of a series of changes to the county’s financial policies and procedures approved by the county board Feb. 12.

"Evens the playing field" is a strange way of saying lowers the bar for workers scraping to get by. A strange way of saying strike at the workers so the boss brings more home to his or her family. A strange way of saying you get what you pay for.

And the award for disingenuity? Look's contention, "... the prevailing wage would still be in place for construction projects that receive federal or state funding." That's only because Matt Look knows enough to not break the laws that his actions show he clearly dislikes, and would change if he could if ever reaching higher office. The simple fact is the Davis Bacon Act is federal law, and the Little Davis Bacon Act is Minnesota law, and Look and his confederates have no choice but to comply, regardless of what they may view as their ideal world - which just might differ from yours, and surely does, from mine.

Read it, and weep. It is being done and postured as if in your interest.

Reader comments on point are welcome.

I have emailed Bill McCarthy at MRLF to see if his organization has prepared any press release on the County Board's move, and if so I have requested that he email a copy.

Perhaps Look may have some non-union non prevailing wage repairs done to his fishing boat and ...

A few quick googles and links for Davis Bacon Act background, here, here, here, and from those who (I contend) would use the image of the Liberty Bell while wanting to enslave your mind, here and here. All kinds of people can make facile and deluding arguments, (as Bodley has reported). Some will contend this post is one.

There is the Davis Bacon Act poster. A niche market to make a buck.

I was not around at the time, but history's story can differ, e.g., here and here.

What I do know is what I believe in today, in terms of what the County Board just did, what it stands for, and it earns nothing but disdain, from me. As headlined, I put this latest County Board move in a class with Scott Walker, as if ALEC and Taxpayer League minions stood in the wings prompting when those onstage might forget their lines.

Others, including the gang of four, can disagree, and each of us should vote in 2014. Or do we have to wait longer, for Look? When's his seat up?

Last, where was Schulte? When the going gets tough the tough get going? Which way? To safe and calm straddle-land? At least each of the gang of four showed up. Give them that.


Union members. Should Ron Schara mean jack
to how you cast your vote, and do you
believe Kurt Daudt is a friend of yours
and of organized labor?

__________FURTHER UPDATE__________
Click on that image and read the Kurt Daudt thing. Who taught Kurt Daudt grammar and spelling? The same folks who taught him to drive within the speed limit? Speeding tickets, in five counties, no less. Call him Flash.

___________FURTHER UPDATE____________
I got a very strange email from Matt Look, or at least it seemed very strange to me in terms of the Truman adage about standing the heat of the kitchen.


Are you advocating violance [sic] or property destruction/damage.[sic] When I read...."level the playing field....for the fish", while using one of my photos with a fish caught....does that imply doing damage to my boat? Then I read on in your updates....."Perhaps Look may have some non-union non prevailing wage repairs done to his fishing boat and ..."????
I am going to submit this to our police officers to file.

You see, when you yell fire in a are responsible/liable. Likewise, if you suggest/encourage people to conduct themselves in behavior that may lead to personal property damage, in my opinion, you are responsible as well.

Well, metaphor is not that complicated. Union members, when you are baited and take the hook and get your vote landed, then "level the playing field" for the union members. That's not complex, given Look's initiating use of the level the playing field terminology, per the reporting, for those taking profit from the labor of others.

METAPHOR. Not anything dark or sinister in metaphor. Sorry if it was taken wrongly, but really ...

Reporting was that Look said he challenged anyone to prove substandard work can result from substandard pay. In response, my suggestion was: then, fellow, have your boat worked on for substandard pay, and take that risk.

Not advocating nothing. Now, saying the email from Look seems extreme as a response.

You decide.

Beyond that I sent Matt a personal viewpoint of his reaction, but that is between him and me unless he decides to somehow for some reason he may have, to publish it.

I think he's overreacting.

Readers, if I am wrong, leave a comment.

One further note - the use of "ballot box" in the initial photo caption suggest no violence of any kind. It suggest union folks might be best served if voting what they think is in their own best fiscal interest. Such as prevailing wage. There is nothing offensive in suggesting ballot box to define the context. Level the playing field, at the ballot box, for union folks, who are wage earners whereas Look seems primarily to see the point of interest being that of those taking profit from the labor of others. His playing field, and mine, in terms of leveling, differ.

Finally, I suggest that advocating union people voting their interests once they see prevailing wages under attack by somebody they may have viewed as "one of us" because he dons fishing gear and catches a big pike, being somehow equated in anyone's mind as "shouting fire in a crowded theater" is an extrapolation few would make. In the absense of self interest being a factor in aiming an extrapolation.

METAPHOR. Not rocket science, not shouting anything but "wake up, wise up" in anybody's theater.

_________FURTHER UPDATE________
In hindsight, I might have written things differently. But "ballot box" are the two key words in the post. The gist of things. And, Look is the one on which I have a vote. The message, however should be: vote out the bunch of them as foes of organized labor. If I could vote on each seat, seats being open at large and county wide, I would be happier. Yet it is not how it is. But the anti-prevailing wage vote clearly is against the best interests of labor, even if it makes only a minor difference because State and federal money is so much a part of any project of any size that gets done. And as soon as that is so, the County and involved contractors are constrained to follow the law. So it arguably is more a symbolic thing than one having large impact.

Yet it is what it is, with organized labor gaining itself the benefit of prevailing wage laws. No contractor is forced to hire union people, but must pay the same whether union or non-union workers are used. It, to use Matt Looks reported words, levels the playing field.

It is the intent of the Republican bloc to express a will to undermine organized labor that offends, not necessarily the reach of the move. And it clearly is inoffensive in the eyes of anyone not being a strong advocate of, or beneficiary of union strength and effectiveness.

I am sorry Matt took offense, over what he challenged. I think he ignored the main thrust of the idea, ignoring the forest to focus on individual trees.

It is Scott Walker, in intent, but with Scott still doing his mischief in Wisconsin, luckily, not here.