consultants are sandburs

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

A Groundswell of bullshitters. But you should care.

MoJo, here.

Duck Duck Go soars, powered by NSA.

Guardian reports here. The report is from July 10, but of interest. Guardian again, here, on poll result showing citizen unrest and questioning of Daddy Warbucks' ways and means; then here, on Dem establishment's shame of embracing NSA spying. Ars Technica, four years ago but still going, NSA like the EverReady bunny; and warrantless tracking of you, by your cellphone, reported this week. Dylan sang about a lot of people with knives and forks on the table, gotta eat something. What's that agency cost, annually, and what's its cost/benefit balance (can you say "Boston Marathon Bombers")?

An almost forgot to link UPDATE: Ars linking to Guardian, to make you wonder.

OUR FRINEDS IN THE GOP ARE FRIENDS OF EACH OTHER - AND THEN SOME: Who savaged Laura Brod's reputation and why? And how is "the GOP" reacting? (Hint, it's a big tent, like Rome's Senate, "Et tu, Brute?") And what was commentary back in 2009 or so on Brodkorb's website? And what was the post Aplikowski scrubbed? And what had TwoPuttTommy found to summarize and report? And Harold Hamilton disliked one PAC last election cycle, but has not published a peep of a bark about Norm and Laura's uberPAC. And how do such thoughts and questions relate to the whodunit of the Tumblir photo?

RECENT EVENTS: Start here, it might relate to the whodunit, since quiescence is its own reward:

03/09/2013: Norm picks Brod
to head MN arm of his uberPAC.

03/13/2013: Norm and Laura together authored an uberPAC op-ed for PiPress, stating in part:

The DFL Party does not have a monolithic hold on power, nor on the hearts of the people of Minnesota. However, because the Republican Party is in such disfavor today, the DFL dominates the Minnesota political landscape.

The Minnesota GOP, and conservative candidates, will continue to lose ground with Minnesotans unless we dramatically change our level of empathy towards the people we seek to support.

The fact is, Minnesotans want a social safety net to support those who may need help from time to time. Republicans shouldn't be seen as attempting to dismantle the social safety net, but working to make it more efficient, effective and truly capable of helping those who can get on their feet, and do so with compassion.

Minnesotans support business and job creation, but they believe that Republicans have become too concerned with defending the wealthy and corporate interests at the expense of workers and small businesses.

While in reality this may not be accurate, perception is reality. We should not support positions that are not only unattainable, but unsupportable by a majority of Minnesotans.

Norm's the past master of tell 'em what they want to hear, then do your deeds; with Brod signing on to that spiel. And that piece bristled mightily with libertarian pundit Craig Westover, who wrote a 03/20/2013 followup in PiPress arguing:

It's about time Republicans stopped taking their cues from surveys and started leading from conviction. Unfortunately, the Coleman/Brod op-ed is all about following.

The fundamental assumption of the Coleman/Brod piece is that government exists to provide services; moreover, services to the level people want as long as government provides those services effectively and efficiently. Government should "live within its means" -- but the more "means" the government has, the more services it can provide. The more services the government provides, the larger its scope and intervention in our lives, but that is OK with Coleman and Brod as long as government is "effective, efficient and provides value."

In other words, Coleman/Brod conservatism would provide Minnesotans with everything the DFL promises, but more slowly and in a more responsible, economically sustainable manner. The idea of "No, not now, not ever" is too harsh an agenda for them. "Limited government," they imply, means the government we can afford but not necessarily the government defined by our state constitution, which is "instituted for the security, benefit and protection of the people."

Coleman/Brod conservatism fails by its own standards. It fails because its default "responsible" Republican position does not understand, much less articulate, the significant difference between progressive/liberal philosophy and small "r" republicanism.

The essence of republicanism is the primacy of individual sovereignty, the right of private property and "rule of law" defined by the constancy of an evolving body of common and statutory law. Progressive/liberal philosophy holds that collective need trumps individual sovereignty, the needs of government trump private property rights and "rule of law" means longstanding law can be changed overnight by a majority vote, which makes it just, and therefore, it must be obeyed. Those are fundamentally irreconcilable positions.

Despite controlling a humongo pot of money the local GOP currently lacks, having plenty tea bags and Bibles instead, Norm/Laura failed to resonate with Westover, who has self consistency over time to his credit (as well as self respect).

Less on libertarian theology than mention of a laundry list of possible Franken challengers, GOP pundit Mitch Berg with undeniable prescience on July 8, 2013, wrote:

Relatively few other names have surfaced on the GOP side, even as the hour is getting late for a competent challenge. [...] Former State Rep. Laura Brod remains at best a fever dream for many activists, one likely tempered by her political association with Norm Coleman and persistent (if ill-defined) rumors of family baggage should she run for office again.

Someone must have taken the thought seriously, beyond fever dreaming.

HISTORY: Back a few years, some said Brod would be a good governor, when she came in third in inner party divination, trailing Seifert and Emmer (now a CD6 wanna-rep); the latter source stating

What’s more, most of the potential GOP candidates are young hotshots rather than established figures – and playing field is ridiculously level. There’s State House Minority Leader and tentative frontrunner Marty Seifert (age 37), and State Rep. Paul Kohls (35). Moving up to the old people, there’s former State Auditor Pat Anderson (43), State Rep. Tom Emmer (48). An then there are the more reasonably seasoned former State House Speaker Steve Sviggum (57) and State Senator David Hann (also 57).

However, the candidate who seems to be generating the most excitement is State Rep. Laura Brod (37), who I first mentioned back on June 3rd. I said back then that I thought she showed great potential. Since then, she has blasted out of the starting gate to set herself up as a potential frontrunner -and she hasn’t even announced her candidacy yet! (Granted, that’s likely coming very soon.) In a recent poll of GOP insiders at the State Central Committee meeting, Seifert won, but there was more focus on Brod’s strong third place showing. It’s nothing to sneeze at when a lowly State Representative blows away a former State Auditor (Anderson) and a former Speaker of the House (Sviggum). And that’s just the insiders. With a the primary still over a year away and not many candidates with name recognition, Brod should be more than able to catch up to Seifert.

Furthermore, some of the lefty Minnesota blogs are already cranking out attacks on Brod (and attacking me for daring to mention her), which makes me inclined to concur with the assertion of Truth vs. The Machine – this woman scares the Dems.

Moreover, she fit right in, having had her party-hack commentary credentials stamped as ready to speak up and serve; using more words, but in essence having said damn that Franken, the insensitive beast.

Did I say Coleman tells 'em what they want to hear, with Brod an acolyte? Sally Jo Sorensen blogging at Bluestem Prairie thinks so, writing of the Coleman/Brod daily double op-ed in PiPress, and of genuineness:

Laura Brod delivered a slightly different message to the Southwest Metro Tea Party Patriot (SMTPP) multitudes gathered at the Chanhassen Rec Center on August 16, 2010 when she appeared on a double bill with right radio talker Sue Jeffers.

Brod seems to be modeling herself off of Coleman's earlier example, although she's pulling leftward after her courtship of the Tea Party, whereas Coleman veered right, ambitiously switching parties in the 1990s.

The SMTPP has removed videos from that time; fortunately, a clip of Brod's chat remains on her old Laura Brod House District 25 Youtube channel (hat-tip to Ken Avidor at Dump Bachmann). Brod led in with an anecdote drawn from a Tom Emmer fundraiser (Brod was an Emmer endorser in January 2010), then praises the conversative bedrock that she will conclude make the Tea Party the faction of ideas.

Some select excerpts:

We have such a tremendous opportunity as conservatives. You know you guys are feared, don't you? Look around you. You're scary. And that's exciting, because that means that the liberal left understands the value of this movement. They understand the power of this movement and it's not because you're scary people, it's because you speak scary things called common sense.

Now the liberals don't like common sense. They didn't like it way back when, they don't like it today, because they would like to have their reality, they would like to have their "interpretation" of the Constitution, they would like to have their "interpretation" of where we have to go as a country, but it's actually quite simple. Life. Liberty. Property (or the pursuit of happiness).

Never mind that those items are in the Declaration of Independence. She is being simple and this is "common sense" after all. She continues:

Limited government, lower taxes, that works. And people understand it. . . .

And that's a scary message to the liberals, because they want everybody to be victims. This victimology that we have out there from the left tells you as an individual that, you know what, you could be better if only the government would help you. You really could, you know that don't you, right?

But the fact is that people are rejecting that, you are rejecting that because you're here tonight, and the left and their media allies like to say that the Tea Party is this or the tea party is that,. . .it's a fiscal call to arms that we have in this country and in this state . . .

Later Brod talks about making tough choices and buckling down on spending. Granted she doesn't claim to be willing to take it out of the hide of the "victims," but she doesn't bring up any other target it her 2010 talk.

Ah, but times have changed! No long an Empress of Emmerism, the Pythoness of New Prague is the Emissary of Empathy, as genuine as Norm Coleman's teeth--though certainly far more charming.

"Empress of Emmerism" to "Emissary of Empathy?" How about "Functionally Flexible Countess of Chameleons?" Or "Ego's Alter-ego," i.e., "Norm's Nominee?"

Back to history. Aplikowski wrote a provocative post, then scrubbed it, with departing fighting words over, okay I scrubbed, here. But - posterity was served when on MN Progressive Project Brian Falldin on June 30, 2009 posted a screen capture of that which was scrubbed but not lost, this image:

click it to read it

While Brod might a few weeks ago have banked on Minnesotans' short attention spans, it should not have been so since coverage a few years ago was detailed. Specifically, Two Putt Tommy had a chain of summer-2009 posts, this link (with a few non-Brod outliers in the set); with some parallel publishing by him at MPP, here, here, here, and here.

Sample the original sources, I will not try to paraphrase or quote bits here and there. It is a good string of interesting commentary about Republicans backstabbing one another, more or less.

The Tumblir image, and why care? Transit back to 2013 summer fun. CJ at Strib writes a sufficient background piece, here. Can you say Scarlet Letter? By photo.

It might have flown under the public's radar, allegations being there was a mass press emailing of which only Kevin Hoffman of City Pages published, starting July 25, 2013, here. He posted more, here (hat tip on the Coleman/Brod birds-PACs-of-a-feather tie-in), most recently here, and in between, here and here.

MPP, here.

The Brod photo's been published. Round up the usual suspects.


I cannot wait to see what Anoka County Record publishes about this. To see what Hamilton and Krinkie may be thinking, since that is what appears to set the Record straight -- straight down Taxpayer League chapter and verse. Strangely enough. As a sheer shot in the dark guess, Anoka County Record will publish no more, no less, than the next Anoka County Watchdog's barking email newsletter - the [sort of] weekly emails. And at a guess, that will be zippo.

Andy at Residual Forces has been taken to the woodshed, and is publishing nothing. Ditto, Mitch Berg's silence weeks after speculating a trend.

Breaking ranks with oh-so-daring coverage, GOP pundits weigh in, here and here. Is Plain Vanilla your favorite flavor of the day?

WOW. And a disclaimer. I made it through the entire post without resort until now to the phrase, "strange bedfellows," because I did not want to make any double entendre suggestions about Norm and Laura, (beyond political like mindedness and will to glide and slide - politically).

But Brod deserves a parting shot or two after that crap she was quoted on about Franken, from the perspective of lacking any decent right to righteous indignation. So, images save many words:

see all

no videos

And -

Love the GOP.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

The Ramsey Ward 1 election is TODAY.

Luckily it was a pair that filed, so there will be a vote.

UPDATE: Results are in:

Jill Johns – 215
Tom Heifort – 49

We now are, once Ms. Johns is sworn in, back to a seven member council.

UPDATE: City Clerk Thieling sent a correction of detail. Jill Johns - 214 votes.

FURTHER UPDATE: Hagen of ABC Newspapers provides detailed reporting, this link.

RAMSEY - Different strokes for different folks. When told the devil is in the details, Mies van de Rohe replied, "God is in the details."

Have you noticed in your Ramsey billings the Ramsey Resident, advertisement free, simply printed in black/white, without glossy fru-fru? Short. NO "COR Report." Or "COR Update," whatever the promotional consultant for Town Center huckstering called it. No outside printer profiteering. Broom strokes. Simple. Better. Not tarted up.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Ramsey - The Ward 1 election is tomorrow. Hagen, of ABC Newspapers has published information on both candidates.

This link and this excerpt:

“I’m coming into this without an agenda,” Johns said. “I want to be open to listening to what everyone has to say first before making a good decision.”

Heifort is a retired truck driver who had about 30 years of experience. He was on the negotiating committee for Teamsters Local 120 in Blaine.

Johns is currently a senior executive assistant for McKesson Medical-Surgical in the compliance and ethics department. She attended the University of Hawaii and the Minnesota School of Business.

When asked what their big issues are for Ward 1 and the city as a whole, Johns said the COR development still has to be maintained as a priority, but the council must keep redevelopment in other areas of the community in mind.

She would like to see redevelopment of the corner of Highway 47 and 167th Avenue in her area, according to Johns.

Heifort said he did not have any issues or agenda that he wanted to mention.

“The reason I’m doing this is to learn about the city, to listen and to lead,” Heifort said. “I want to be a part of that process.”

Well. If I were voting in Ward 1, which I am not since the redistricting in the last election, my gut instinct would be to vote for Heifort. He's not working for Big Pharma, and, ouch, on that Johns quote:

Johns said the COR development still has to be maintained as a priority, but the council must keep redevelopment in other areas of the community in mind.

She would like to see redevelopment of the corner of Highway 47 and 167th Avenue in her area, according to Johns.

There already seem to be too many with an idea about where to grow Ramsey, and we had an experinece with the last council where the will to see the Town Center pushed against the market's forces was a king sized mistake, named Darren, in part.

I get, again a gut feeling, that Heifort would be or have been a bigger Darren skeptic than Johns. A bigger Flaherty skeptic and that, earlier, would have been part of a gold standard - skepticism over Darren, Cronk, Flaherty, and being the banker for that batch. Given that Heifort was a Teamsters negotiator, he knows healthy skepticism. Labor negotiation teaches it.

Johns saying grow the Town Center, grow the moribund corner in Ward 1; that's fine in the abstract, but pushing on a rope - engendering "growth" to make us better; it is not fixing roads, putting police on the road, and being ready to fight fires.

That little blurb in ABC Newspapers is not really much to go on, but Heifort says he'd watch and listen. Hopefully, neither would be voting to spend willy-nilly, but who's to say. For those who care on "cut of the jib" appearances, Hagen publishes a photo of each candidate.

Since I don't have a vote, I will wait and see. I have asked Ramsey City Clerk Jo Thieling for the courtesy of an email when she emails results to ABC Newspapers. I shall post the election results.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Stupid is as stupid does.

This link. Is Bert Parks still alive?

Friday, July 26, 2013

An idea whose time may have arrived in Ramsey. We can show an upward sloping learning curve, with help from our friends.

Friends in Minneapolis, No-Mi, in particular. With shared-wall rental now a big thing expanded as it has been into Ramsey, (call it "market rate" rentals, or not), is it time for Flaherty's people, Chief Way, Administrator Ulrich, and the council to consider crafting a "Conduct in Premises" ordinance modeled on that of the big city? As in staying ahead of the problem before it may happen.

Or would it be over-reaction, and unneeded anticipatory, bureaucratic, code-cluttering, and time-wasting? Is wait-and-see the better policy? It need not be "now or never." Is there code enough already, to handle possible trouble? Would work session discussion be advisible, even without any effort at preparing any proposed code language? Would administratively tasking Chief Way to initiate an inquiry of and liaison with his Minneapolis counterparts be best, like a Boy Scout to be prepared? Assure shared-wall rental residents have an effective and prompt way to quell rowdy neighbors' activity? Something akin to the residential tidiness ordinance John Dehen pushed while on council. For Ramsey's high-density MUSA areas if not for all of Ramsey.


Hat tip to Johnny Northside, for the images. An alternate name instead of "Conduct in Premises Ordinance" might be "Curbing the Neighbor From Hell Ordinance."

One expects Flaherty's folks would have an interest in keeping the place from going downhill fast, within the first one to five years, and would welcome ordinance support for more easily culling out bad apples. At least Ulrich and Way should hash the question out with Flaherty to see his thinking. It is in the interest of all of us in Ramsey, with Flaherty owing millions back, that quality tenancies, only, be instituted to preserve the big thing as a fully rented, quiet and orderly asset optimizing the city's payback cash flows.



We probably should feel fortunate as a nation that NSA spying on all of us was super-effective in so very promptly shutting down serious fiscal crime.

Strib carrying the AP feed:

US: 4 Russians, 1 Ukrainian hacked corporations over 7 years, losses in hundreds of millions

Article by: SAMANTHA HENRY , Associated Press
Updated: July 26, 2013 - 6:54 AM


NEWARK, N.J. — Four Russian nationals and a Ukrainian have been charged with running a sophisticated hacking organization that penetrated computer networks of more than a dozen major American and international corporations over seven years, stealing and selling at least 160 million credit and debit card numbers, resulting in losses of hundreds of millions of dollars.

[...] Princeton-based Heartland Payment Systems Inc., which processes credit and debit cards for small to mid-sized businesses, was identified as taking the biggest hit in a scheme starting in 2007 — the theft of more than 130 million card numbers at a loss of about $200 million.

Atlanta-based Global Payment Systems, another major payment processing company, had nearly 1 million card numbers stolen, with losses of nearly $93 million, prosecutors said.

[...] The indictment said the suspects sent each other instant messages as they took control of the corporate data, telling each other, for instance: "NASDAQ is owned." At least one man told others that he used Google news alerts to learn whether his hacks had been discovered, according to the court filing.

The defendants were identified as Vladimir Drinkman, 32, of Syktyvkar, Russia, and Moscow; Aleksander Kalinin, 26, of St. Petersburg, Russia; Roman Kotov, 32, of Moscow; Dmitriy Smilianets, 29, of Moscow; and Mikhail Rytikov, 26, of Odessa, Ukraine.

Smilianets is in U.S. custody and was expected to appear in federal court next week. His New York-based lawyer, Bruce Provda, said Smilianets was in the U.S. "sightseeing" when he was arrested. "It's a rather complex international charge of hacking," Provda said. "If it goes to trial, it's going to be a lengthy trial."

So, NSA, the agency tasked with spying on foreign mischief, moved with the alacrity that brought things to a prosecution after a mere seven years and a paltry $300+ million dollars. Since they now spy on all of us, be thankful that they do not do things ineptly. Thus justifying their massive budget and top-secret court arrangements.

Paul Levy of Strib reports on the upcoming Ramsey Ward 1 special election.

This link. If you do not live in Ward 1, you will not be voting. Ward-only voting for four of the seven council seats, with the mayor and two of the seven council members elected city-wide, has been the rule since the Council was expanded from five to seven members.

MPR reports on medical marijuana bill sponsorship in Minnesota, and prosecutorial opposition.

This link.

Missing detail, bill author Carley Melin is a lawyer from Hibbing. Bill is HF 1818. Dibble is Senate bill author for the parallel proposal, SF 1641.

Are you ready for a big hoot? Backstrom, King of Dakota County [actually long time prosecutor there, not King], per MPR says, pot is the ever-evil "gateway drug."

Sure, and gay marriage will lead most certainly to bestiality and pedophilia.

No truth to it, but it sure is a hell of a scare tactic that goads the unthinking.

So, Backstrom, buddy - get a life.

Of interest to Anoka County citizen-voters: Hackbarth is co-sponsor of the House bill; with Petersen a co-sponsor in the Senate. With Melin and Dibble in the DFL, this shows a bipartisan will to reexamine the Drug War question - at least the medicinal merit dimension, (even if not presently wanting to author and sponsor a more comprehensive legalization bill as in Washington and Colorado, with taxation and regulation to drive out shoot-'em-up bad guys' profiteering, as undeniably exists under current Drug War policy).

It appears that Liberty Republicans are skeptics of the "War on Drugs," its effectiveness in general as well as via cost/benefit balancing - and most importantly, its fundamental imposition on lifestyle choice - it being a denial of liberty to individuals. There's an old song, "It Ain't Nobody's Business But My Own." Befitting victimless crime impositions, that song, ya betcha.

Back to friend Backstrom. One could argue his own Dakota County fiefdom is the gateway to serious drug traffic. And, you know, Hispanic surnames there too; hence really evil. Getting stuff "directly from Mexico," or at least that's a claim in the reporting.

And, oh my! Just look at the low-level miscreants wanting to reexamine Drug War shenanigans. With specious arguments such as:

The problem starts with the demand for drugs. As Milton Friedman put it forcibly over 20 years ago in the pages of this paper: "It is demand that must operate through repressed and illegal channels. Illegality creates obscene profits that finance the murderous tactics of the drug lords; illegality leads to the corruption of law enforcement officials."

[...] Other countries that have tried different approaches include Britain, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Portugal and Australia. What can we learn from these varied experiences, some more successful than others? What can we learn from our own experience in reducing sharply the smoking of cigarettes or in the handling of alcohol after the end of Prohibition?

There they go, quoting that flaming radical, Milton Friedman. How can that be credible? Everyone knows he's a Commie.

__________UPDATE__________
I don't know how readers might feel, but I'd prefer seeing Backstrom and his prosecutorial cohorts state-wide concentrating more on credit card theft and fraud, though pot busts are easier and the trials less messy, usually plea deals being cut, etc. I supported Brad Johnson's run for Anoka County Prosecutor when he ran advocating a stronger and more effective focus on white-collar crime.

But, hey, Backstrom likes picking low-hanging fruit, which is his perogative unless and until voted out of office. Huffing and puffing, to blow the straw house down.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

And for the AIPAC response, you don't need a roadmap ... To AIPAC, as to Romney, Bibi rocks.

This link. With Michele Bachmann being one more AIPAC fallen warrior. Go figure.

Rhonda is running. You can tell by the incisive quality of one of her most recent public quotes.

In Anoka County's visions and revisions re the wheelage tax, this reported:

Board Chairwoman Rhonda Sivarajah said the county will keep transportation spending a priority despite the potential loss of revenue.

"We typically spend $8 million a year on maintenance, and that will absolutely continue," she said.

That one should be added to anyone's rewrite of Kennedy's Profiles in Courage. Where's the Grover Norquist shrink-the-beast Krinkie on this question? Anti-tax, hence anti-roads? Fence straddle time? Emmer too?

___________UPDATE___________
The tax is gone. PiPress reports who voted how. It is great to see the Republicans being a pack of Grover Norquist imitators. They can save taxpayers even more by turning down their salaries.

Would turning down the salaries pass, 5-2? What are the odds on that?

The Amash amendment narrowly failed. Most reporting fails to give detailed nose count. If you treasure civil liberties and privacy, know who your friends and enemies were in voting.

You can easily track down generic online reporting, e.g., strib, here. An AP feed, but what else did you expect?

Naked Capitalism, here. Common Dreams, here. Kos, here, with the approach of who's to be listed on their list being informative of activist Dem discontent with our sad status quo. Yahoo News, with an appropriate first three item lead billing in its photo gallery. Guardian.

HOWEVER: The devil is in the details. So, for the nose count in detail, here. Check Kline. Check Bachmann. Check the Third District idiot. Who do they serve, if not you and your privacy? Minnesota's DFL reps as a bunch did okay.

Boehner and Pelosi having their heads together. Leadership in line with Bush/Obama pro-spying 1984ishness. (The successful Fridley businessman has not barked over the issue, but where do you expect he'd be?)

The Wikipedia page on Amash, here.

Dem and GOP entrenched interests prevailed against Liberty Republicans and civil rights liberals.


Have you had enough of same-old, or do you want more?

Civics 101. Understanding your government. With a little help from Bloomberg Businessweek.

This link, this early short quote:

As the Cold War set in, intensified, thawed, and was supplanted by global terrorism in the minds of national security strategists, the firm, now called Booz Allen Hamilton (BAH), focused more and more on government work. In 2008 it split off its less lucrative commercial consulting arm—under the name Booz & Co.—and became a pure government contractor, publicly traded and majority-owned by private equity firm Carlyle Group (CG). In the fiscal year ended in March 2013, Booz Allen Hamilton reported $5.76 billion in revenue, 99 percent of which came from government contracts, and $219 million in net income. Almost a quarter of its revenue—$1.3 billion—was from major U.S. intelligence agencies. Along with competitors such as Science Applications International Corp. (SAIC), CACI, and BAE Systems (BAESY), the McLean (Va.)-based firm is a prime beneficiary of an explosion in government spending on intelligence contractors over the past decade. About 70 percent of the 2013 U.S. intelligence budget is contracted out, according to a Bloomberg Industries analysis; the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) says almost a fifth of intelligence personnel work in the private sector.

It’s safe to say that most Americans, if they’d heard of Booz Allen at all, had no idea how huge a role it plays in the U.S. intelligence infrastructure.

An eye-opener? Have a look.

This link.


MinnPost, here.

For Civics 102, the second semester of the course, this link. The term "vested interest" appears to be halfway obscure, without understanding "invested interests," who made the investment, with what expectation. Pay to play, and Kline seems the Max Baucus of his party, or one of them. One may wonder, did Bachmann's decline and ultimate withdrawal from office arise from Kline quitting on mentoring her, as a lost cause? And if so, would that be to Bachmann's credit? Money talks, arrogantly?

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Risky business?

This link.

Bloomberg - If you are not a major business leader, a status of most in CD6, does your perception match the "pay to play" view of those that are?

This link, with links in the original absent from the limited excerpt from early in the item:

A new poll of company leaders shows that 75 percent of them regard political giving as “pay-to-play,” and even more said they’d like the campaign-finance system vastly improved or completely rewritten.

Almost 90 percent favor limiting how much money individuals, corporations and outside groups can spend for political purposes during an election. The survey also found wide support for a U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission rule requiring all publicly traded companies to disclose to shareholders all of their political expenditures

“There’s an impression that there is money being used to buy politicians, and that therefore they are not beholden to the electorate but to donors,” said Steve Odland, president and chief executive officer of the Committee for Economic Development and a former CEO of Office Depot Inc. (ODP)

The committee’s online survey of 302 executives was conducted May 29 to June 3 jointly by Democratic polling firm Hart Research and Republican pollster American Viewpoint. The Committee for Economic Development, a nonprofit business policy group based in Washington, released the survey today as part of its push for more disclosure in campaign finance.

Can anyone then misunderstand my burning disdain for revolving-door politico-lobbyists? As not part of any sane, just solution, what are they? Part of the problem, or the entire problem?

Reader quiz: Identify the context of this recent AP photo.

Hint: A multimillion dollar subsidy is at play.

photo credit, Fort Wayne Indiana Journal-Gazette.

The successful Fridley businessman can rail about taxation. Why no barking about private sector services pricing? Is it only governmental hate, or a true and consistent dislike of waste and over-pricing? It seems proper to question any watchdog that appears blind in one eye (and not seeing that well out the other).

POWER TO THE PEOPLE.

The term "genco" is used in current electricity utility operations for a company competing (at least ostensibly competing) in the generating segment, as distinct from operation of transmission lines, or pricing and selling power at retail, via distribution grids routing power to end use customers. As an example of current practice in Anoka County, Great River is a cooperative genco, supplying cooperatives that distribute power, with Connexus being the largest Great River wholesale customer.

As something getting no discernible barking as inverse-privatization, Elk River dumped Great River, that being how the business flow was reported a bit over a month ago. Reporting by Strib opened:

Great River Energy, the state’s second-largest electric supplier whose rising wholesale rates have come under fire, is losing a large customer that decided it could purchase cleaner, cheaper electricity elsewhere.

Elk River Municipal Utilities, which for decades has relied on Great River Energy to generate electricity for its customers, said it has signed a deal to obtain future power from the Minnesota Municipal Power Agency (MMPA) owned by 11 municipal power companies.

Troy Adams, general manager of the Elk River utility, said Great River’s rising wholesale rates — up 58 percent since 2006 — are the main reason for making the switch, which takes effect in 2018.

“The No. 1 driving reason is we want to remain competitive, and wholesale power rates are 75 percent of our costs,” Adams said in an interview.

It is the latest sign of discontent among customers of the Maple Grove-based wholesale power cooperative, which is owned by 28 local co-ops that serve 645,000 homes and businesses across the state. Two ethanol producers recently complained to state regulators that Great River has invested in questionable projects, including a new coal-fired power plant, that drove up rates.

Great River Energy has denied that its wholesale rates are out of line with other utilities in the region, and last week, its CEO, David Saggau, said at the co-op’s annual meeting that he expects no rate hike in 2014. Unlike investor-owned utilities, whose rates are set by state regulators, most co-ops can legally set rates on their own.

Elk River Municipal Utilities, which has nearly 10,000 customers, purchases about 2 percent of the power Great River generates at times of peak demand in the summer.

Adams said the Elk River utility was concerned about Great River’s heavy reliance on coal to generate power. [...]

... but blind, in the left eye ...
Government stepping in to protect citizens from exploitation should get favorable barking, if one's premise is that a consistent watchdog would be critical of private sector price gouging, as no different in kind from excessive taxation.

Not so?

Do your own web searching to form your own opinion.

Elk River is a small fish electricity market, compared to Minneapolis, with Strib reporting online yesterday of Minneapolis considering a parallel shift to inverse-privatization:

Minneapolis Energy Options has been advocating for the city to explore taking over the electric and natural gas services as longtime franchise agreements are set to expire next year with Xcel Energy and CenterPoint. The coalition has described that as one of a range of possibilities to help the city meet its renewable energy goals and reduce greenhouse gas emissions 30 percent by 2025. While council members have voiced caution about taking such a dramatic step, some say putting municipalization on the table will give the city crucial leverage in its negotiation with the utility companies.

CenterPoint was “very interested in avoiding the municipalization fight and in order to do so, they wanted to meet the goals of [our] campaign,” said Dylan Kesti, campaign coordinator of Minneapolis Energy Options.

He said that the organization is also willing to sit down with Xcel, which it wants to produce more solar and wind energy and improve the electric grid.

So, where are all of Ramsey's fiscal conservatives, on the question of whether and how Ramsey can get a better deal for citizen ratepayers than the one Connexus provides?

In hiding, still navel-gazing over the last election results?

Ramsey council members and staff; with this data center task force thing pending there is no time like the present to look beyond that at the bigger picture, i.e.:

What's Connexus done for us lately?

Or would you rather just sit there paying a premium to Connexus - Great River, on the basis of some half-baked propaganda extolling private sector virtues, independent of what actual facts might be?

Is it not time for Ramsey to progressively get aboard the process, to see what options are, with the question being whether we can get a better service package and better rates elsewhere than from Connexus, vs any worry about why?

With Connexus not answerable to the PUC due to statutory exemption for cooperatives; who's watching for excessive spending, top down, CEO and board duties vs salary levels, and such, all the way down to the lower levels of the totem pole?

It is a situation over-ripe for decent due diligence fact finding.

For the benefit of you, me, and Ben Dover.

___________UPDATE_____________
More Strib, on Minneapolis deliberations over dumping Xcel and Center Point in favor of a municipal owned utility setup. Here and here.

Rhonda Sivarajah, head and shoulders above the others, because she leads with her mind, not her mouth.

http://www.rhondaforcongress.com/

While the Sivarahah campaign website is presently an empty vessel needing content; she is not Tom Emmer, nor a Taxpayer League front man for the successful busisnessman in Fridley.

Sivarajah actually has experience with day-to-day governing. While not in the party I grudgingly favor, the DFL (despite Dayton's lust for Wilfare), she is far and away the least egregious GOP wannabe among those who so far have tossed a hat in the ring. If CD6 demographics virtually dictate we are to remain stuck with a Republican representing us in Congress, compare her to this pandering stint of Mr. E.

And (I believe) there's no drunk driving skeleton rattling away in her closet.

The caveat now being the other GOP'ers so far running set the bar so low that the "head and shoulders above the others" headlining remains faint praise. Yet I would not choke to death if crossing over to the GOP primary ballot side to emphatically vote against the likes of Emmer - Krinkie co-mediocrity; i.e., against the Mouths That Roar.

So, where is the "Liberty" wing's candidate? They seem unrepresented so far.

And, who, so far, among our Republican friends has stepped up to run for the Abeler seat that Jim's vacating; from the Tea Party wing, the Christian Soldiers wing, the Liberty wing, or the "moderate Republicans" (an oxymoron these days - but where Abeler and Sivarajah now would be so classified, given present dynamics where Arne Carlson is called "RINO" by his own folks)?

With so many wings it's little wonder the turkey cannot competently fly.

_________UPDATE_________
I need help here. Readers, why does this Mad Max image remind me of the Krinkie candidacy? FURTHER UPDATE: This link.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

What are these arrogant creeps doing? Competing against themselves in a more desirable location in the Twin Cities when they still owe Ramsey millions of dollars advanced them in good faith? Is there no limit? Or am I wrong, and it is not an egregious insult to every Ramsey taxpayer hoping that they pay us back?

Tell me it doesn't suck, and then try to explain why.

This link, and here in detail. Screen captures are posted, in case site scrubbing might happen.


click the thumbnails and have a look

The FC press release is dated March 26, 2013, yet until now it went under my radar. Yours too, I bet.

Hat tip to the watchful eyes of a Ramsey citizen, for giving me a heads-up.

Comments, pro and con, are welcome.

And yo, new city attorney, or Bray; is this a breach of some contract covenant where the amount Ramsey has at risk becomes due and owing in full? Probably not, given Lazan and Cronk having their heads together at contract time, and too many on past councils paying inadequate attention to such a likelihood becoming a reality.

A much more desirable neighborhood, and I bet it's also planned to fly via another Flaherty special; a money-free shell LLC, as in Ramsey with a government subsidy handout expected to boot. Bless Flaherty. Bless Collins. Bless Ryan Cronk.

Connecting the dots, perhaps well, perhaps wrongly. What in the world is Connexus up to, pitching the singular idea of "a data center" in Ramsey? Why should our town's citizens pay them one single infrastructure cent or grant one single TIF penny if bad Great River Energy decision making with overcapacity is at the heart of things? They do have a coal generated power dilemma in North Dakota. We pay Connexus more than enough, in rates set by them for the power we need and use. To succeed, any "data center" plan must favor Ramsey's fisc more than that of Connexus or Great River to have any community appeal.

Am I the only one smelling a rat? A rat that smells strangely like sulfur and mercury coal stack emissions, blowing in with all the winter snow from North Dakota?

For background, see Strib a year and a half ago, here (source of the below screen capture); and Strib again, days ago, here.

click image to enlarge

In its opening, that second Strib item reports:

Regulators reject Great River Energy's business plan

Article by: DAVID SHAFFER , Star Tribune
Updated: July 17, 2013 - 9:10 PM

Regulators also ordered the Minnesota power company to supply more information on costs.


In an unprecedented rebuke to a major electric utility, Minnesota regulators on Wednesday rejected as inadequate a long-term business plan offered by the state’s second-largest power company, Great River Energy.

In a 3-2 decision, the state Public Utilities Commission (PUC) sided with environmental groups and some major customers who accused the utility of making bad investments in new fossil fuel power plants that helped drive up its rates 58 percent over seven years.

Regulators also ordered the Maple Grove-based nonprofit wholesale power cooperative to report next year on its environmental costs, including costs for greenhouse gases, and to analyze the economic benefits of conservation vs. retaining power plants, including older coal-burning units.

“We are hoping that this leads the GRE board to more closely scrutinize the cost and expense side of its business,” said Minneapolis attorney David Aafedt, representing two ethanol producers who had complained to the PUC about Great River’s electric rates and investments.

Laureen Ross McCalib, resource planning manager for Great River, said she was disappointed by the commission’s decision, but that the utility would “go back to the office and take the commission’s concerns very deeply to heart.”

The rejection is the latest case of Great River Energy’s business decisions being called into question. In June, Elk River Municipal Utilities, which long has relied on Great River to generate its electricity, said it had signed a deal to purchase less-expensive power from a municipal power agency.

Wow. Jilted by Elk River, and by the PUC. Gotta, gotta find a chump.

Enter Ramsey. Enter "a data center." Or is that too simplistic a conclusion; one too quickly formed?

Once a chump always a chump, Great River and Connexus must be emailing back and forth.

Or not. That is a fact yet to be made public. This idea was born, where presumably Maple Grove, where Great River is headquartered, did not want "a data center," since Great River must know that charity begins at home.

I will be asking city officials to be appointed to the "data center" task force. I believe I would bring an open but skeptical mind to the process. Wish me luck on being appointed. With this council it might happen.

More background on Great River's capacity planning, and the great "data center" proposal from Connexus that may/may not be attached; see: MPR, here (2-1/2 years ago), here (Nov 2011), here (Apr 2012), here (New Year's Eve, 2011), and here (days ago). For balance, Great River Energy on the web, here and here.

Key to any analysis, who pays what, when, to make "a data center" a reality under the Great River - Connexus suggestion, and what's in it for Ramsey in general, for Ben Dover and his fellow citizens apart from the immediate neighbors, if this proposal were to come to fruition, ribbon cutting, groundbreaking and all? (Also, am I wrong speculating this great "data center" idea might have Jim Gromberg's fingerprints on it? Surely in any event a duly diligent task force should hope to ask Gromberg's feelings, given the appeal of his resume).

So -- Please, City of Ramsey, grant me a seat on that Patrick Brama led "data center" task force. I would like having the chance to ask trenchant questions and to read interesting documents and email threads, to see what's what, and to help city officials and those neighboring the potential "data center" site to best understand the dimensions at play. It would, as I understand things, be a fact-finding operation with delegated authority to form its own ways and means, but with ultimate decision authority resting with those elected to protect citizen interests.

I think former Ramsey council member Terry Hendriksen, if he'd accept a role, would also be a good person to serve. My experience has been that he is good at seeing the big picture, but also at ferreting out and cogently presenting relevant factual detail. And as former owner-operator of Enterprise Communications in Anoka County, he is versed in areas that might prove helpful in background. If some "consultant" is hired by Ramsey, Hendriksen would be well connected enough to objectively assess consultant bona fides.

Hendriksen has been around the block to the extent he'd not be flim-flammed by any advocatorial smoke-and-mirrors gaming, which also would favor his appointment, should he want to serve. Perhaps Pattiann Kurak for the panel too, since she and Hendriksen would yield a balanced point-counterpoint pair, and the Kurak home in Ramsey is near to the former city hall. I would enjoy serving on such a panel with Ms. Kurak, were she to prove interested.

___________UPDATE___________
With the proposed project in Ward 1, and an election to be held within about a week; all residents, especially Ward 1 voters neighboring the proposed project, are urged to contact the two candidates to sound them out on this current issue. If you intend to vote, please in fairness to all of us, be an informed voter.

Ramsey - two simple questions our officials should answer.

1. What was the cost/benefit balance for the Tinklenberg lobbying expenditure? What did Tink do besides cash checks?

2. If the stuff a year or so ago about putting the "Christian Academy" school across Armstrong from Town Center was what it now seems, a smoke screen thing to disguise real estate speculation, why not send those folks a property tax bill since real estate speculation and profiteering is not being a church?

Let them then contest it, but move forward on the very reasonable premise that if you get into business fully apart from being a tax-exempt church, don't freeload off the citizens of Ramsey or any other town to gain bigger pots of cash from it.

Bruce Nedegaard would have loved to have had their deal.

AND, tax them at the present accrued value attaching to all the for-free infrastructure largesse the council [as was sitting before Jan. 1] showered upon them. Do not tax them at anything less, as if Puma Street had not been paved for them and the one unneeded traffic light and road work had not been Landformed upon us for their benefit, in whole or in part.

Landform surely did provide them a benefit.

A part of Darren's "legacy?"

Sham, bam, and thank you ma'am? Or not? You decide.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Now Harold Hamilton has two dogs in the hunt. Rhonda and Phil.

Latest Strib, this link. Krinkie proves there are a million ways to say, "NO" but he can invent another:

Krinkie, who represented part of the district in the Minnesota House until 2006 but who now lives in Shoreview, said he and his wife plan to move back into the Sixth Congressional District.

Asked if he would abide by the Republican Party endorsement, meaning Krinkie would drop out if he does not get activists’ nod at their convention, he said that he hoped to win the endorsement and that he would take “one day at a time.”

If Krinkie can carpet bag MN6 from Shoreview, what's to stop Allen Quist?

Also, where exactly did Krinkie learn that "one day at a time" phrase? If he advances, will he have an Emmer moment? And were Krinkie to win, who'd then be front man at Taxpayer League? There are a host of musical chair possibilities.

Harold should run. Make it a triple play. In any event, in the primary election I might vote the GOP ballot side. Rhonda would be the least disruptive, standing tall among Bachmann clones. But the big question, what will be the mood and preferences of GOP caucus goers? Who will be endorsed? Rhonda, by default, would be my guess.

Last, Brodkorb has not been reported as yet to be an MN6 GOP hopeful, so we wait and see. He'd liven up the primary, if he takes the step. Surely were he to run in MN6 and win we all should expect a learning curve effect where he'd keep senior staffers at arms-length.

_____________UPDATE____________
Sally Jo Sorenson has posted on Bluestem Prairie of the latest Krinkie business, here; linking to St.Cloud Times reporting, here. PiPress cites the same Times source.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Yet more "exception that proves the rule" shenanigans from the Obama Justice Department.

Gamesmanship redux. Tom Waits sang in "Step Right Up," "The large print giveth, the small print taketh away." Shades of Janet Reno and Ashcroft before the gallbladder took him to the sidelines. Digby at Hullabaloo, here. And a bonus link to Emptywheel:

Damn. Just yesterday I posted a letter from James Risen's attorney laying out the reasons why the new DOJ guidelines on dealing with journalists should make the government drop its pursuit of his client.

Marcy Wheeler reports:

The Fourth Circuit — which covers CIA, JSOC, and NSA’s territory — just ruled that journalists who are witnesses to alleged crimes (or participants, the opinion ominously notes) must testify in the trial.

There is no First Amendment testimonial privilege, absolute or qualified, that protects a reporter from being compelled to testify by the prosecution or the defense in criminal proceedings about criminal conduct that the reporter personally witnessed or participated in, absent a showing of bad faith, harassment, or other such non-legitimate motive, even though the reporter promised confidentiality to his source.

With this language, the Fourth applies the ruling in Branzburg — which, after all, pertained to the observation of a drug-related crime — to a news-gathering activity, the receipt of classified information for all the states in which it most matters.

The opinion goes on to echo DOJ’s claims (which I recalled just yesterday) that Risen’s testimony is specifically necessary.

This language will enhance the strength of the reservation DOJ made to its News Media Policies, allowing it to require testimony if it is essential to successful prosecution.

The only limit on the government’s authority to compel testimony under this opinion is if the government is harassing the journalist, which (with proof of the way the government collected phone records, which remains secret) might have been proven in this case. There is a strong case to be made that the entire point of this trial is to put James Risen, not Jeffrey Sterling, in jail. But Leonie Brinkema has already ruled against it. I think the subpoena for 20 AP phone lines might rise to that level as well, except that case is being investigated in the DC Circuit, where this ruling doesn’t apply.

This pretty much guts national security journalism in the states in which it matters.

Golly. It was just last week when the press believed DOJ’s News Media Guidelines would protect the press’ work.

If anything it would seem the "reservation" in the shiny new guidelines, along with this ruling, were really designed to make the harassment and jailing of journalists easier. It would seem to be yet another Orwellian maneuver by our surveillance state.

[links in original]. How about that?

You like the Fourth Amendment? Digby's got more.

And that embedded "Just yesterday" link in the quote, goes to a post asking, rhetorically, "Will the administration do the right thing here?" That's like asking whether Pope Francis will prove to be a Seventh Day Adventist.

Do not COUNT on it.

Will not EVER happen.

Mass will always be Sunday.

And Randy Weaver got what he deserved, ya betcha. There alone in the Idaho mountains, a threat to everybody, a menace, a pariah needing to be removed much as a weed from a manicured garden. Sawing off a shotgun when an ATF plant offered money to Weaver to purchase one.

Entrapment, thy name is ATF-Reno. Still. Decades later.

Your government, right or wrong, steps with a heavy tread. And after Ruby Ridge they burned the church in Waco. But only after ATF ginned up some gun-related entrapment bunk there too.

_____________UPDATE_____________
Strib carries a N.Y.Times item on Risen's situation. This link. A brief mid-itme excerpt:

Judge Roger Gregory, the third member of the panel, filed a vigorous dissent, portraying his colleagues’ decision as “sad” and a serious threat to investigative journalism.

“Under the majority’s articulation of the reporter’s privilege, or lack thereof, absent a showing of bad faith by the government, a reporter can always be compelled against her will to reveal her confidential sources in a criminal trial,” he wrote. “The majority exalts the interests of the government while unduly trampling those of the press, and in doing so, severely impinges on the press and the free flow of information in our society.”

The Justice Department offered no immediate comment. The ruling raises an awkwardly timed question for Attorney General Eric Holder, who has portrayed himself as trying to rebalance the department’s leak investigations in response to the furor over its aggressive investigative tactics, like subpoenaing Associated Press reporters’ phone records and portraying a Fox News reporter as a criminal conspirator in order to obtain a warrant for his e-mails.

The Bill of Rights was put into the Constitution for sound reasons, ones we should not take lightly. A Justice Department that wipes its feet on the Bill of Rights is, at the least, problematic.

Identify this individual suffering red-dot disease, and win a prize.


And if you post a comment (including a link) with the right info, your prize - like the check - will be in the mail.

A thought experiment for readers. After the train derailment in Quebec, with around fifty deaths, what if one of those NoDak mega-oil trains derailed in our Town Center, after/if Flaherty's thing rents out to full occupancy?

See, Strib, this link. I know I have been stopped at the Ramsey BNSF tracks more than once seeing eastbound tank car, after tank car, after tank car, as if watching a three-mile-long train passing before me. No derailments at any Ramsey crossings. YET. No Osama bin-Pitchfork monkeying around the rails in our town. YET. And we expect Chief Jim Way and his blue minions will prove as effective as feasible in ferreting out any such threats. However ...

_____________UPDATE___________
Close your eyes and think about it. Then reread Crabgrass, here and here, and close your eyes and rethink over the likelihoods and possibilities. It happens.

Alternatively, Don't Worry, Be Happy. Somebody might even have a rapid response plan in place already.

Should your town council be discussing Quebec? Any thoughts?

__________FURTHER UPDATE___________
It appears Ramsey officials were and hence are aware of a spill history in the Town Center area. That would be a sobering thought for anyone speaking of the Quebec disaster from a "cannot happen here" mentality. See, e.g., Ramsey Planning Commission full agenda for June 6, 2013, online here, at p.235-36. It discusses a situation of a clearly lesser scope than the Quebec disaster, but IT DID HAPPEN HERE.

opensecrets.org -- Rep. Kline Turns Chairmanship into Profitable For-Profit Haul

Serving others than the citizens of Minnesota, Kline dirtbags his way toward reelection in his district, this link, and this extended quote [without the hot links present in the original, so go there if you want to follow-up]

Rep. John Kline (R-Minn.), who chairs the House Education and Workforce Committee, didn't get a single campaign contribution from the beginning of April to the end of June from any students, professors, faculty, teachers' groups or nonprofit universities.

The for-profit education industry, however, accounted for almost one quarter of his substantial fundraising in 2013's second quarter.

Kline raised $482,000 in the second quarter, according to FEC reports filed today. Of that sum, at least $116,000 came from PACs operated by for-profit universities or top executives at those companies. Executives at ITT Education Services, the company that owns the large chain of for-profit technical schools ITT Tech, combined to give Kline $13,400 over the three month period. Executives from the Apollo Group, which owns University of Phoenix, gave $11,600; Full Sail University, $10,400; Globe University, $10,000; and Grand Canyon University, gave $9,500.

PACs operated by another 29 for-profit education groups, and/or individuals who work for them, also chipped in, including a $5,000 donation from the Association of Private Sector Colleges and Universities. That makes it Kline's top industry donor for the quarter, by far. Not a single individual who self-identified as a student, faculty or staff member of a nonprofit university contributed any money to his campaign. Based on an analysis of his filing, the only other donation from an education-related organization or individual was a $5,000 donation from the PAC of Sallie Mae, the student loan company.

In fairness to the gentleman, it might appear that students, faculty, etc. from real universities gave Kline nothing, if the reporting is from campaign financial disclosure forms having a cutoff amount, where below such a threshold contributors need not be identified on filed forms. I would give the man nothing, or perhaps send a check for three cents, (i.e., in proportion to worth of service to non-corporate Minnesotans - i.e., real people and not Citizens United fictional persons).

If pittance amounts were given by misguided students, amounts below threshold, the reporter writing for OpenSecrets.org would have had no way of knowing absent a responded-to phone call or email to Kline or his Congressional staff or campaign people.

Bearing in mind that caveat, judge the weasel.

NOTE - Readers who have positively benefited from for-profit school encounters are most strongly urged to leave a comment saying so and giving detail. Readers who have had such encounters and have little to nothing to show for it but unpaid student loans are likewise asked to comment, in appropriate detail.

The for-profit mills seem to be a pack of blood-sucking leeches to me, but I admit to not having taken time to extensively research the Kline-loved for-profit facades and student loan woes arising from them. It is more a generic impression than a researched matter for which I might give extended links. Readers interested beyond the linked OpenSecrets item and its linked material can perform their own web searches and dedicate their own time to the issue.

RAMSEY -- You tell me, Charlie, what's a "data center?"

A double headache?
Take two aspirin and
call me in the morning.
I read ABC Newspaper reporting, and it appears nobody on Ramsey staff or council asked the question.

And it blows me away, staff said, "Hire a consultant."

Haven't we had consultant problems enough already, and wasn't the last election about consulting, at least in part? Moreover, is this someone's TIF dream, or would it yield actual tax flows, immediately, tomorrow, and onward? Reporting opens:

Task force to look at future of old Ramsey city hall
By Eric Hagen -- July 19, 2013 at 7:05 am


[...] “We have nothing but time on this because we don’t have a buyer,” said Councilmember Randy Backous, who served as acting mayor at the July 9 meeting because Mayor Sarah Strommen had been in a car accident earlier that day.

The 21.24-acre site at 15153 Nowthen Blvd. now holds Fire Station No. 2 and some storage. The municipal center left this site in 2006 when the new one opened and the city has been looking to sell the property ever since and build a new Fire Station No. 2 on an adjacent property, according to Patrick Brama, assistant to the city administrator.

One potential option Connexus Energy brought forward was to sell the property to a data center developer. The city has got a lot of backlash from the neighbors about this idea, but the concept is not completely dead.

This task force, which Brama said could include five or more neighbors, would be tasked with learning the facts of data centers. While it would only be able to make a recommendation and not have the final say, the council feels this will be a good opportunity to involve the neighborhood in the process.

That starts the ball rolling, and you can read the remainder online, at the ABC Newspaper link.

First question, server farms are sited where power is plentiful and cheap.

That, friends, is not Connexus, nor that site. What infrastrucure changes would be needed, who'd pay, etc.? The most hopeful and positive aspect of the thought adventure, per the reporting,

“We have nothing but time on this because we don’t have a buyer,” said Councilmember Randy Backous ...

Amen, brother.

Ben Dover, watch out. Next, if Connexus proposes it would sell power at a discount to a "data center" [whatever that means], then who makes up the shortfall in rates? Taxpayers, via paying higher rates to subsidize a "data center?" Half-baked thought at best, without real answers to real cost/benefit questions is not public servants acting at their best.

It looks as if staff simply kicked the can down the road, without real enthusiasm but with wanting ongoing goodwill with Connexus.

But isn't that saying, we have time on our hands, so let's do speculative thought experiments? Why? List it and wait for proposals. If Connexus has a sound proposal, let the public know what the thinking is. And if it is not fleshed out on a "who pays what" basis, it is NOT a sound proposal. Instead it is a pipe dream, or it is pure Connexusguess, neither of which are appealing.

Do YOU want to volunteer to be on a community thought experiment consensus panel? If so, contact Patrick Brama.

A simple and clear closing observation. City government should have stayed on Nowthen. Moving to a massive and expensive Ramsey Town Center "Norman Castle," was huckstered on the premise it would catalyze miracles, or so said James Norman and crew. Where are they now? How about all that catalysis? Tons of cash catalyzed into Landform coffers. Big payoff to that, friends. Stick to cops, fire response, and road maintenance; none of which require consultants. Let developers come forth if the property has potential. If not, isn't there an old saying about silk purses and sow's ears? Hasn't there been ANY learning curve, via the Town Center fiasco? The Town Center foreclosing banks faced the same dilemma after the Nedegaard experiment flamed out, no buyers, but they waited until a real chump stepped forward and we all know how that benefited taxpayers.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Hyde Development appears poised to seek brownfield site remediation handouts from government. In Fridley.

This link. The reporting of seeking subsidy largesse from taxpayers is buried deep at the story's end. Second to last paragraph -

Cleanup efforts, site preparation and infrastructure improvements will likely be aided by state and federal grants, as well as tax-increment financing from the city. The exact amount of TIF money has yet to be determined.

Big surprise?

Strib goes along with the developers, singing, jobs, jobs, jobs, as if some infallible crystal ball were involved rather than a selling slogan to get subsidized.

Hyde Development plans to pump $100 million to $150 million to clean up and develop the site in a project that could ultimately create 4,000 jobs, said Paul Hyde, principal at the firm.

The plan involves developing a 12-building industrial/business park with bulk and office warehouses, office showrooms and corporate build-to-suit operations on land Hyde considers to be one of the most desirable commercial sites in the state.

Read the item. It appears Hyde Development's business model is to profit from brownfield remediation handouts.

Hyde Development specializes in projects involving environmental contamination. “This is our fourth Superfund site that we’ve done; we really like these projects,” Hyde said. “We like it because of the location near 694 and East River Road, the proximity of the Northstar commuter line and the fact that the industrial market is recovering.”

Earlier site users were lax in housekeeping and land stewardship, hence taxpayers should flow profits to Hyde. I like Dr. Jekyll better than Mr. Hyde.

Ramsey's neighboring little town, Anoka, has a Heritage Preservation Commission. However, it has no real heritage.

Yet if Ramsey had in the past a functioning heritage preservation policy it would not be suffering the Ramsey Town Center debacle. City hall would be unpretentious, on Nowthen Blvd. across from the school. Centrally located and more convenient, without all the unnecessary traffic lights impeding flow of traffic.

Re: Anoka, preserving its heritage as a dysfunctional Weaver-run thing, this ABC Newspapers link.

Next bit of carping, try this link:

http://abcnewspapers.com/

Proof positive that change is not necessarily a good thing.

The site, previously, had a useful top banner menu, where one could be town specific in reading stuff. No longer. Some "web master" had a big-time brain fart, and felt the need to change a working thing with that need being, I guess, as compelling as the urge of Salmon to swim upstream to spawn and die. Bless them.

Readers, please voice your choice.

I sent my complaint to ABC Newspapers' local editor Peter Bodley. I hope he flows it on to whoever made this egregious decision.

peter.bodley@ecm-inc.com

If the reaction of others is as mine, and the communication of such feelings happens - if you take the time to let ABC Newspapers know, only good can result.

If you like the new arrangement better, let them know that too. But take the time to communicate however it is that you feel about the site's layout changes. If you even care.

_____________UPDATE____________
You can still search for town-specific info, by googling =

Ramsey site:http://abcnewspapers.com/

as the example of a site specific google of ABC Newspapers, for Ramsey.

Plug in another town name, get a town-specific return list for it, that way.

It's not the best of worlds to have to kludge around that way because of a web design error, but for now how it is how it is.

___________FURTHER UPDATE__________
Back to Anoka, and bricks and such, this quote from the ABC item

[Anoka Mayor Phil] Rice said he also agreed with Planning Commissioner Mark Jensen’s comment that if this type of [synthetic - not real brick] material was routinely approved, pretty soon Anoka would have a fake town with fake brick.

Perhaps Mayor Rice had Ramsey Town Center in mind, where the wood frame Flaherty big ugly thing has a brick-like facade. Is it real brick? Does any reader know what that stuff on the outside of Flaherty's structure is? Is it the "Dryvit" material that is at issue in Anoka? Or a functional equivalent? Or something else, even, possibly, real brick?

___________FURTHER UPDATE_________
From the Dryvit website, a before/after view of the product, here. All you wanted to know and more, here.

Now, consider Mayor Rice's "fake town with fake brick" critique. Is it not "fake" to keep a town from changing? With the dumpy little stuff in downtown Anoka, isn't it arguably being kept "a fake town" despite pressure to modernize?

Readers should consider the question and reach their own conclusions. To me downtown Anoka is a turn-off, and "fake" preservationism. While to me, Ramsey Town Center is "fake" from the get-go and always will be. At least the parking ramp used real concrete, but now you cannot see the ramp with Flaherty's big ugly hung all over it. All you see is the massive thing with city hall looking as if it is only Flaherty's annex.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Joe Mauer, serene bicycle rides, cute lovable puppies. What's not to like about subsidizing Flaherty?

This link. So compelling, City of Ramsey should have given away more money. Never mind security, as second-fiddle behind a multi-million dollar bank loan. Isn't a lovable puppy, Joe, trim young people exercising, and bicycle dreamland security enough? And those attractive restaurant food arrangements ... Who would criticize? Who would second guess?


I can see Colin and Emily bicycling together into the sunset. And, wow. Those fancy dishes, those trim exercise junkies, slugging Joe.


Couldn't City of Ramsey have lent the profit-chasing subsidy-takers even more? Where was that last council's sense of proportion?


But wait. There's more. Did I say puppies, baseball, bicycles, and attractive food pics? If you want puppies (and baseball, Earth Day, Mothers Day and film fests) -

For all that, and more, you will have to link and see their Hucksterbook page, here. Your tax dollars stand at risk the loan subsidy will not be repaid, so have a look. See it, treasure it.

"Male, stale, and pale."

This link. An excerpt:

Lehman went into bankruptcy, triggering the financial meltdown of Fall 2008. The question in everybody’s mind is, what went wrong, and can we fix it?

One answer comes from John Gillespie and David Zweig in their book Money for Nothing. They focus on the role of boards of directors, which are supposed to represent the interests of company shareholders, who are the owners of the company. That’s the problem, according to Gillespie and Zweig — boards have become captive to CEOs and corporate executives, the very people they are supposed to monitor.

John Gillespie is a veteran of Lehman Brothers, as well as Morgan Stanley and Bear Stearns, three companies intimately involved in the meltdown. So he has an inside view of the problems embedded in the corporate system. Gillespie visited the University of Massachusetts, where Sea Change Radio is produced, to give a talk at the Isenberg School of Management. Isenberg’s Committee on Business in Society and Net Impact Chapter hosted the event, and Committee Chair Jennifer Taub (who’s written a great blog post on Repo 105) arranged for Gillespie to visit the studio to record this interview.

The discussion started with Gillespie tracing the roots of the book’s title to the old Dire Straits song by the same name, and he describes how this serves as a launching pad for discussing how corporate boards in the US are enabling the transfer of wealth from shareowners to CEOs and other executives — abdicating their fiduciary duty to monitor and advise. Gillespie describes the problem of board interlocks, or the nepotistic interrelationship between corporate boards (and by extension between CEOs and board members) — a problem well documented by The Corporate Library.

The solution? Gillespie stressed the role of diverse boards, pointing out that only 15.2 percent of large company board members are women, and 25 percent of these companies have no minorities on the boards — a dynamic Gillespie calls “male, stale, and pale”. The book ends with 24 recommendations, broken down into two categories: regulatory fixes and cultural fixes.

On the regulatory side, he suggests splitting the CEO and board chair roles (currently 61 percent of companies have joint CEO/board chair); creating term limits for board members; allowing shareowners to call extraordinary general meetings to vote out underperforming board members; and so-called “proxy access” so that shareowners can nominate board candidates, a mechanism currently under re-consideration by the SEC (after the Commission proposed a rule, then abandoned it earlier in the 2000s).

On the cultural side, Gillespie recommends transforming the moral and ethical foundation of boards. He also suggests board training and ongoing education, which is currently not required.

Again, here, for the complete post, AND links. One link, here. Another, here, with its own links, ...

____________UPDATE___________
More fun reading, these stories being from Flaherty land [Indiana], here, here, and here. This is not to suggest Flaherty, or Collins, (or good friend, Ryan Cronk) were part of things reported. None are mentioned in this tapestry of reporting links. Just fish in the same pond, for what that may mean.

If you have bought food at Ramsey Town Center's McDonalds, or pumped gas at Ramsey Town Center's SuperAmerica station, please leave a comment.


image from www.dummies.com
Those were supposed highlights of the Lazan best efforts we all paid for dearly. Crown jewel achievements.

I await the host of comments this post will draw, saying, "Big Mac was great. Egg McMuffin greater." Or, "Pump price can't be beat."

I have not checked lately. Is Wiser Choice still where it was?

______________UPDATE_______________
Somebody read the book. Folks in Indiana, their charming ways.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

If the mid-summer heat is getting to you, affecting your sense of humor, try these websites.

Here, here and here. Not necessarily in laughability order, that being your determination.

Meet Tom.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Kumbaya

This link.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Microsoft and PRISM. And DuckDuckGo. [And a petition to the Supreme Court, per the UPDATE]

Guardian, here and here.

DuckDuckGo homepage, here. Plus, on a "Why use it" basis, this link and here.

This chart:

Source, Guardian, here.

______________UPDATE______________
Developments of EPIC proportions, here and here. As to FISA secret courts, and who/how private privacy advocates are to attain judicial review of their misdeeds, this excerpt gives some detail from the quite extensive post here (active links omitted).

EPIC's Petition

EPIC is seeking a writ of mandamus from the Supreme Court to vacate the Verizon Order. A writ of mandamus is a command by a higher court to a lower court or government official. Mandamus is appropriate when a lower court has exceeded its lawful authority. The United States Supreme Court has laid out three conditions that must be fulfilled before a writ of mandamus can be issued: (1) the party must have no other adequate means to attain the relief they deserve, (2) the party must satisfy the burden of showing that their right to issuance of the writ is clear and indisputable, and (3) the issuing court must be satisfied that the writ is appropriate under the circumstances.

"Mandamus relief is warranted because the FISC exceeded its statutory jurisdiction when it ordered production of millions of domestic telephone records that cannot plausibly be relevant to an authorized investigation." - EPIC petition to Supreme Court

In this case, EPIC cannot relief from any other court other than the Supreme Court. Normally, when a court issues an unlawful order, the adversely affected parties can intervene or appeal to a higher court. However, the FISC and Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court of Review only have jurisdiction to hear petitions by the Government or recipient of the FISC Order. Neither party to the order represents EPIC’s interests. As EPIC is not a recipient of the order, it cannot challenge it in the FISC. Other federal and state trial and appellate courts have no jurisdiction over the FISC, and therefore cannot grant relief.

The FISC order exceeded the scope of the FISC’s jurisdiction under the FISA. The FISA requires that production orders be supported by “reasonable grounds to believe that the tangible things sought are relevant to an authorized investigation. . .” However, we now know that the FISC issued an order requiring disclosure of records for all telephone communications “wholly within the United States, including local telephone calls.” It is simply unreasonable to conclude that all telephone records for all Verizon customers in the United States could be relevant to an investigation. Such an interpretation would eliminate the FISA’s core limiting principle and check on executive authority. A writ of mandamus is a proper judicial remedy to rectify the FISC’s exceeding of its statutory authority.

"To define the scope of the records sought as 'everything' nullifies the relevance limitation in the statute. If law enforcement has 'everything,' there will always be some subset of 'everything' that is relevant to something. At that level of breadth, the relevance requirement becomes meaningless." - EPIC petition to Supreme Court

The NSA surveillance has created extraordinary circumstances. The records acquired by the NSA under the FISC Order detail the daily activities, interactions, personal and business relationships, religious and political affiliations, and other intimate details of millions of Americans. Surveillance of all domestic telephone records exposes confidential and privileged associations. It chills free expression − political, associative, religious, or otherwise. And because the NSA sweeps up judicial and Congressional communications, it inappropriately concentrates power to the Executive Branch by allowing them to surveil the constitutionally mandated roles of the other branches of government.

EPIC's full post links to its 83 page mandamus Petition available as an online pdf document. It also publishes the 4 page underlying NSA phone surveillance order that Snowden disclosed publicly earlier through Guardian.

It is noteworthy that Larry Klayman in his "class action suits" for big-buck damages has simply ignored the question of how/whether regular courts have jurisdiction to intrude into our nation's secret court activities.

If I recall the Constitution correctly, Congress can legislatively restrict judicial review jurisdiction of specific things, and I do not know whether Patriot Act and FISA mischief was passed with an expression of clear legislative intent to constrain judicial jurisdiction regarding private party redress in executive declared secret court matters.

It seems new judicial ground is being broken because until recently we did not as a nation expressly tolerate courts acting in total secret with even the nature of docket filings/titles being secret from the public.

This EPIC move is a serious confrontation of all of these questions. Will the Supreme Court duck the issue? Ii will be interesting to see what ensues.

____________FURTHER UPDATE__________
Volokh Conspiracy, July 11, here.