consultants are sandburs

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Did you ever in your wildest dreams imagine Larry Klayman ever making anybody's New Year's Eve, Ten Best? Ten best of anything? Klayman?

This link. Quintessentially, Klayman is like the optician who fell into his lens grinding machine. Making a giant spectacle of himself.

Monday, December 30, 2013

Hello Ramsey Town Center. Hello Ramsey Council and fire and public safety officials. What's the plan, Stan?

What if a disasterous derailment were to happen in Ramsey? Are we prepared? Strib, here. This screen capture:


Were the administration and council to add a disaster discussion and plan explanation to a January council broadcast meeting, I would not think it a bad idea.

Dan Burns at MPP gives links sane women should consider.

This link.

Here is a a Wikipedia image from Father Knows Best:



This Flickr image.

Googling arguably random words together can sometimes yield starkly informative results. Try a google = Kaplan Bridgepoint Corinthian College alec "john kline"

Do the Google. Or use Bing and see what overlap you get.

My favorite headline in that batch of returned links, Think Progress, here, "The Subprime School Industry’s Lobbying ‘WAR’ To Maintain Billions In Taxpayer Subsidies." Yes, it's a story from 2011; yet an oldie and a goodie. Still timely. Names names. All that.

[...] Investigations by the GAO, the Los Angeles Times, and others have found that dozens of these for-profit schools systematically defraud their students by showing them fake job placement rates, providing false claims about the types of jobs they can attain, misrepresenting that their credits will transfer to state universities, and giving false promises that students do not have to pay back their loans. [...]

To address these problems, the Obama administration is attempting to implement tougher regulations — dealing with what’s known as “gainful employment” — which would cause for-profit programs, as well as some programs at non-profit and state schools, to lose their access to public money if their graduates fail to meet a certain debt-to-income ratio or have high rates of student loan default. The regulatory drive has caused the for-profit “subprime schools” to retain a slew of lobbyists. ThinkProgress has dug into the predatory college lobbying lobbying campaign:

[...] – Much of the for-profit lobbying campaign is organized through an industry trade association called the Association for Private Sector Colleges and Universities (APSCU). On its website, the association posted series of revealing PowerPoints detailing the industry’s efforts to kill the proposed regulations. In one presentation given by APSCU with slides titled “WAR,” employees are instructed to “Prepare for Battle” by raising money for key lawmakers, hosting political fundraisers at schools, and organizing “students and employees” for the lobbying effort. A memo distributed by the group lays out a point by point guide for carefully orchestrating visits from lawmakers to their college campuses. Executives from subprime schools are even expected to assemble “at least four students who reflect the diversity of the campus” to be ready to meet with members of Congress.

– Top lobbyists from the subprime school industry designed a strategy to “target” key members of Congress. One presentation given by industry lobbyist Brian Moran instructs schools to ask lawmakers to write letters stating their opposition to reform. Indeed, prime recipients of industry donations, including Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN), former Rep. John Spratt (D-SC), and Rep. John Kline (R-MN), authored letters to the Department of Education raising concerns about proposed regulations concerning the industry. Kline, who accepted over $100,000 in subprime college cash, is now seeking to roll back existing regulations so his benefactors can obtain even more taxpayer subsidies.

– As Campus Progress’ Kay Steiger has reported, for-profit schools have tapped into a network of lobbyists who specialize in generating op-ed pieces and other forms of elite praise for controversial clients. Steiger documented that Lanny Davis, a lobbyist now representing for-profit colleges, has a history of work on behalf of unsavory actors, including dictators. Most recently Davis signed up to represent, but then, after public criticism, dropped, Ivory Coast leader Laurent Gbagbo, who refused to leave office after he was defeated in his country’s presidential election. Steiger also pointed out that Al From, a Democrat defending the industry’s practices, “is a consultant to Akin, Grump, Strauss, Hauer, & Feld LLP, a law firm that has lobbied on behalf of for-profit giant Kaplan University, which is actively opposing the regulations.” From did not disclose that connection when publishing an op-ed opposing regulation of the for-profits. Similarly, former Congressman Bob Barr has published several pieces defending the for-profits, without disclosing that he is employed by one.

– The American Legislative Exchange Council, a nonprofit that helps corporate lobbyists draft legislation for state lawmakers, is now working with subprime college lobbyists. Paul DeGuisti, a representative from the for-profit group Corinthian Colleges, and Melissa Garrett, of for-profit college company Bridgepoint Education, worked with ALEC to write a template resolution for state representatives and state senators across the country to introduce titled “Resolution in Support of Private Sector Colleges and Universities.”

– APSCU boasts that it created a front called “Students for Academic Choice,” and that it “developed a leadership team, created by-laws, collected 32,000 signatures opposing Gainful Employment, and now building [sic] database of positive student experiences.” As the Associated Press reported, lobbyists from APSCU even set up an “election” to make the group appear to be led by students. Bruce Leftwich, a former Senate liaison for the Republican National Committee now working for APSCU, left an online trail of Facebook messages, press releases, and other announcements recruiting students to join his Students for Academic Choice front.

The proposed regulations have prompted for-profit colleges to hire a wide array of other lobbying firms, [...]

[...] For more information, read our Progress Report item, “For-Profits, Not Students.”

[bolding emphasis added, both included links are given in the original, other links omitted so consulting the original will aid those wanting further detail] Bless John Kline and his hard, hard, HARD little heart. A heart that warms for some ...

As warm as a heated lobby.

___________________
Hat tip to Sally Jo Sorensen, for posting earlier this month an item that got the google search engine going. READ WHAT SHE WROTE. IT IS DETAILED, AND CHILLING. (E.g., linking here)

UPDATE: This link.

FURTHER UPDATE: With Rick Nolan back in Congress from Minnesota's CD8, am I alone in thinking Bill Luther should again run for Congress, in CD6? The DFL needs a sound candidate, and none would be better than Luther. Sure, he no longer resides in district, but after the 2010 census and redistricting Michele Bachmann no longer resided in district, yet that did not stop her. If a clown like Bachmann can run from out of district, certainly a gentleman above reproach should be able to do so without objection.

Go figure.

It was the 2000 census/redistricting that did Luther in, in terms of Luther's lesser, Col. Kline; e.g., this from Luther's Wikipedia page:

2002 Race for U.S. House of Representatives — 2nd District

John Kline (R), 53%
Bill Luther (DFL) (inc.), 42%

2000 Race for U.S. House of Representatives — 6th District

Bill Luther (DFL) (inc.), 50%
John Kline (R), 48%

1998 Race for U.S. House of Representatives — 6th District

Bill Luther (DFL) (inc.), 50%
John Kline (R), 46%


Draft Luther? May the thought grow traction.

Yeah, Emmer might best him on a hockey rink. Elsewhere, it's no contest - Luther has class.

A new term to me, but appropriate when ALEC fingerprints can be found: Stink Tanks.

Bluestem Prairie here.

When will ALEC and its horde of marauders just go away?

Also, lest I forget to mention, Steve Drazkowski elevated his name into things re that post. Of all people ...

When will Steve Drazkowski just go away?

The French, and a 75% tax level. Huey Long would have approved (except his saying, "Every man a king" might not fare well in a nation whose last king suffered a severance).

This link.

Watching the Watchdog going into 2014 days from now.

12/27/13: Dog says:

These positive stories stand in very stark contrast to the situation facing taxpayers just a few short years ago, when Anoka County was an embarrassment to citizens, spending money like crazy, leveraging debt like deadbeat drunk, handing out contracts to friends, junketeering, pursuing white elephant "mega projects" and otherwise ignoring the unglamorous yet critical work that comprise the core mission of county government.

Yes, Ramsey has had an election.

Dog further says:

In addition to the county experiencing success of [sic] behalf of the taxpayers, the county has also seen strong leadership from some mayors.

Yes, Ramsey has had an election.

12/20/13: Dog still picking at his Dan Erhart scab, his Northstar scab, his garbage in Fridley scab.

Into the new year ...

Dog's best when his partisanship is shown less than his general dislike of waste. Dislike of spending and taxation levels is not the same as dislike of waste.

Dog has no bark, either way, on franchise fees. Nor about assessment and how it is more localized than general levy or franchise fees, in its hitting heavily at times when it hits. With a taxation orientation, it seems remiss to not get into questions of policy balances between the differing ways government can tax. Towns cannot impose sales taxes nor income taxes, property taxation being their major means of raising revenue. And that's levy, vs. franchise fees, vs assessment; each with things that can be said for or against. Pie in the sky hypotheticals, and complaints over cash spent which is not to be gotten back whatever happens [Northstar] are one thing, but when civic "public goods and services" expenditures are needed, how, to a Dog, is the best way to fund things? 2014 will be a year of opportunity for the Dog to address that policy concern.

Looking forward to that, and the Republican primary as to how that party's factions interlock or not; and whatever else happens; 2013 is ending. We can anticipate Zygi's stadium being built and watch as it progresses and is hyped by Zygi's promotional machine, it being an anchor of certainty in a presently unclear future.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Young and homeless in Anoka? Suck it up, bucko, and live with it - until there develops "a better sense of what's reasonable." To your mind, is delay or denial this time of year at all "reasonabe?" Or just plain Scrooge-like petty obfuscation?

PiPress, online here, this excerpt:

Anoka: Proposed homeless shelter for young adults meets resistance from city
By Sarah Horner
shorner@pioneerpress.com
Posted: 12/25/2013 12:01:00 AM CST
Updated: 12/25/2013 09:10:03 PM CST


Concerned it doesn't have the infrastructure to support more homeless shelters, Anoka is pressing the pause button on the facilities.

After receiving a request from a local nonprofit to open a shelter for young homeless adults, the Anoka City Council recently imposed a moratorium on the addition of new shelters until it can get a better sense of what's "reasonable," according to Mayor Phil Rice.

With a 60-bed adult shelter available in town, Rice said, Anoka already is doing more than most of its neighbors to help people without a safe place to sleep. Adding more beds, Rice said, could burden his community of 17,000.

[...] "I have no problem with a moratorium to make sure all the ducks are in a row," said Karrie Schaaf, a board member of Hope4Youth, the nonprofit spearheading the shelter project. "But to hear the mayor come out and say there are already enough shelter beds in this community ... that scares me, because it's just so wrong."

After opening a drop-in center for homeless youth in March, Hope4Youth now wants to add up to 10 beds to give 18- to 23-year-olds a safe place to sleep, Schaaf said.

[...] The number of homeless 18- to 21-year-olds in Anoka County jumped from 54 in 2009 to 150 last year, according to the county's annual homeless count. Meanwhile, the total number of homeless people in Anoka County rose from 1,004 in 2009 to 1,463 last year.

The only standard shelter available countywide is Stepping Stone Emergency Housing in Anoka, a nonprofit that offers 60 beds to adult men and women, according to Karen Skepper, Anoka County's director of community and governmental relations.

Stepping Stone said the shelter has a 100-plus person waitlist.

The only other options include a group of local churches that together host families on a rotating basis and Alexandra House in Blaine, a domestic-violence shelter that offers extra accommodations to women and children.

Already the provider of the most beds in the county, Anoka's mayor says it doesn't make sense for the city to take on more.

"Having a high concentration of people who are homeless in your community, for one thing, they are looking for jobs, they need adequate transportation, they need other kinds of support. ... Usually, if you are going to have success helping them, you have to spread out services," Rice said. "One community takes some, another some more."

Scrooge needs a few more ghosts of charity and good will to haunt a bit, metrowide, yes/no?

Quite a few at a guess. And in multiple locales. Scrooge seems metrowide in reach. County-wide?

UPDATE: Links of interest: here linking here, also here and here (a link from this general site with Blaine listed, Andover and Ramsey not listed).

___________FURTHER UPDATE____________
Strib on same topic, here. An excerpt:

The issue flared when a fledgling drop-in center, HOPE 4 Youth, proposed adding sleeping quarters at its site in the Milk Factory building, near the city’s Northstar commuter rail station.

“We went to the city with this idea because there was space available in our building and because we were struggling to find a place for youth that were sleeping outside,” HOPE 4 Youth co-founder Brian Swanson told the City Council in mid-December.

At the packed meeting, the council — noting that Anoka already has a 60-bed homeless shelter — passed a moratorium for up to a year on new overnight shelters while it studies the matter and sets standards if more facilities are allowed.

Mayor Phil Rice noted that, in the past five years, Anoka has increased the number of temporary beds for homeless adults from 16 to 60. He said that the city is doing more than its share and that other communities need to start offering homeless housing.

Swanson said later that he had spoken to Rice and appreciated city concerns, including that a shelter in the Milk Factory might not fit city plans to develop a business and residential community around the Northstar station. “I concluded it is not a good use of our resources to try and fight this. The city has valid points,” he said.

[...] Anoka County has only two homeless housing programs: Stepping Stone Emergency Housing in Anoka, with the 60 beds, and Family of Promise, which houses four or five families for up to 90 days in 14 churches, said Karrie Schaaf, a homeless-liaison worker for the Anoka-Hennepin School District. She said the district currently has 537 homeless students in all grades, including 105 older students living without a parent or guardian.

[...] State Rep. Jim Abeler, who owns the Milk Factory, said he had offered HOPE very low rent for shelter space because he believes in their program. He said HOPE is dealing with people under 24 who are young enough to make positive life changes.

Homelessness is not an easy issue, but the most affluent nation on earth showing too much indifference is not a good thing. Abeler, Swanson and others seem to be on the right track in offering overnight shelter. The problem will grow rather than go away or work itself out absent well-intentioned reaching out. The Milk Factory has a look of being a historic part of a community, and a hope is that preservation is part of Anoka planning around its commuter rail stop. It is Abeler's building, and in-County property rights advocates might consider taking up his cause to use it in a way he sees fit. Otherwise a double standard set of manners might be perceived among such community members.

Certainly private sector charitable work can be praised, but government has responsibilities that go beyond building commuter rail stops and ramps and subsidizing "market rate" Flaherty stuff. Mayor Rice is correct to a degree in saying Anoka is doing something and its NIMBY reflex, as shown, seems less than in other county towns.

Government has the primary responsibility for providing for the welfare of disadvantaged and impoverished community members. Surely they have responsibility for their own well being, yet nobody chooses to be broke and homeless and vulnerable to indignity. Denial of government's duty or claiming it to be secondary to charity between people and groups outside of government is simply false dissembling. False dissembling that does not reflect well on advocates of such a belief. Saying I got mine over time and it was not easy, is easy woofing out of those who have one way or another gotten theirs and grown a hard indifference to others whose luck and work proved less successful.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Is there a Climate Change Denial Network? Not just Michael Jungbauer as a voice in the wilderness? Dark forces? Yet intrepid Chris Christy has no place for climate change concern, in a quick rebuild of the Jersey coast.

Ars Technica reporting, here, linking here, (with the study abstract alone published online by Springer - the report behind a paywall - but supporting material is online). The supporting material gives some detail, and can be downloaded here.

Ars noted:

An extensive study into the financial networks that support groups denying the science behind climate change and opposing political action has found a vast, secretive web of think tanks and industry associations, bankrolled by conservative billionaires.

Among those named as key nodes of the network were the American Enterprise Institute, which claims to have no institutional position on climate change, and the Heritage Foundation, which campaigns on a number of issues.

However, [study author] Brulle admitted that tracing the funding back to its original sources was difficult, as around three-quarters of the money has been routed through trusts that assure anonymity to their donors.

While it was not always possible to separate funds designated strictly for climate-change work from overall budgets, Brulle said: "This is how wealthy individuals or corporations translate their economic power into political and cultural power."

He added: "They have their profits and they hire people to write books that say climate change is not real. They hire people to go on TV and say climate change is not real. It ends up that people without economic power don't have the same size voice as the people who have economic power, and so it ends up distorting democracy."

[links omitted, read original item for detail]

This link stating:

In all, 140 foundations funneled $558 million to almost 100 climate denial organizations from 2003 to 2010.

Meanwhile the traceable cash flow from more traditional sources, such as Koch Industries and ExxonMobil, has disappeared.

The study was published Friday in the journal Climatic Change.

"The climate change countermovement has had a real political and ecological impact on the failure of the world to act on global warming," Brulle said in a statement. "Like a play on Broadway, the countermovement has stars in the spotlight -- often prominent contrarian scientists or conservative politicians – but behind the stars is an organizational structure of directors, script writers and producers."

Guardian, here; reporting:

The vast majority of the 91 groups on Brulle's list – 79% – were registered as charitable organisations and enjoyed considerable tax breaks. Those 91 groups included trade organisations, think tanks and campaign groups. The groups collectively received more than $7bn over the eight years of Brulle's study – or about $900m a year from 2003 to 2010. Conservative think tanks and advocacy groups occupied the core of that effort.

The funding was dispersed to top-tier conservative think tanks in Washington, such as the AEI and Heritage Foundation, which focus on a range of issues, as well as more obscure organisations such as the Atlas Economic Research Foundation and the John Locke Foundation.

Funding also went to groups that took on climate change denial as a core mission – such as the Heartland Institute, which held regular conclaves dedicated to undermining the United Nations climate panel's reports, and the Competitive Enterprise Institute, which tried and failed to prosecute a climate scientist, Michael Mann, for academic fraud.

Wired.co.uk reported, here; and for balance, followed the post with this item, (the Brits sometimes show a sense of perspective often absent elsewhere).

Salon, here, reports:

[...The study] found that the campaign to discredit climate change runs upward of $1 billion a year, largely funded by conservative billionaires who work through secretive funding networks:

They have displaced corporations as the prime supporters of 91 think tanks, advocacy groups and industry associations which have worked to block action on climate change. Such financial support has hardened conservative opposition to climate policy, ultimately dooming any chances of action from Congress to cut greenhouse gas emissions that are warming the planet, the study found.

…The vast majority of the 91 groups on [Drexel University sociologist Robert] Brulle’s list – 79% – were registered as charitable organisations and enjoyed considerable tax breaks. Those 91 groups included trade organisations, think tanks and campaign groups. The groups collectively received more than $7bn over the eight years of Brulle’s study – or about $900m a year from 2003 to 2010. Conservative think tanks and advocacy groups occupied the core of that effort.

The various items involve a lot of overlapping reporting, as if repetition carries greater weight, and there is the "hard to track disclaimer" within the reporting. The numbers from item to item have questionable differences.



However, bottom line, it's money and not science behind global warming denial. There can be similar charges leveled against those arguing for global warming attention and adjustments which would involve economic change against the interest of entrenched economic ways and means; i.e., an economic policy vs a scientific one on both sides - that is what each says against the other, so you can take the red pill and learn how deep the global warming rabbit hole goes or take the blue pill, wake up tomorrow morning in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe.

Another link - Kansas/climate..

Last, intrepid Chris Christie and the Jersey coast, here.

___________UPDATE____________

BLUE PILL SPECIAL: Heartland Institute gets ringing endorsement (click thumbnail to read, p.8, from here):


As an added attraction, I will in a FURTHER UPDATE publish the name of any reader who, via a verifiable email address, sends an email stating he/she made it through either of these Heartland YouTube items; here and here.

See also, here.

Here.

If you weigh poll results, this link:

http://grist.org/news/americans-just-arent-buying-that-climate-denial-crap-anymore/

Greenpeace, here and here.

Sourcewatch, here.

Astroturf exposed? You decide. Here.

Sincere or smoke? Here and here. You decide. Is this (from the second linked item) real and reliable, to you:

Q. Can you reply to specific accusations made by The Union of Concerned Scientists?

A. Yes. The Union of Concerned Scientists is a far-left environmental advocacy group that is trying to raise funds by slandering The Heartland Institute in its fundraising pitches. It recently (August 2013) posted an inaccurate and libelous slideshow on its Web site called "Exposing the Disinformation Playbook." Heartland is prominently featured. While pretending to expose the tactics and intentions of groups that oppose global warming alarmism, it is itself filled with disinformation, contains few actual facts, employs falsehood and innuendo, and engages in ad hominem attacks.

[more updating - that item inadvertently left out the link to the UCS slideshow; Crabgrass to the rescue, the link is here]

Judging by Board of Directors pages, the company they keep, why is Heartland Institute relative to the "far-left environmental advocacy group" Union of Concerned Scientists, so terse?

This link.
This link.

[legibility of the full screen captures is a "feature" of Blogger, but the links are CLEAR, so toggle over and see what you think]

As a hypothetical, if each board ran a used car lot, where would you shop? Whose money back if not fully satisfied guarantee would you most trust?

_____________FURTHER UPDATE_____________
More to judge: Heartland Institute and Union of Concerned Scientists each have history pages; respectively here and here (see also, here, here, and here - UCS' other history pages). One talks of accomplishments dating back to the 1960's and 1970's and is laid out differently than the more folksy item describing a start during Gipper times, 1984, noting founder achievements at the time. Is there any evidence of a credibility and objectivity gap between the two, to your mind, after seeing each present its history, its own chosen way? Also, why do you suppose Heartland Institute mentions the National Academy of Science less frequently in its history, than UCS does?

It is interesting to me that in establishing that each of the Heartland founders did graduate from college, terms such as "cum laude," "magna cum laude," or "summa cum laude" are absent, while some of the UCS history mentions "Nobel Laureates" once or twice.

Then again, between UCS and Heartland Institute, which would you turn to if your goal in life were to have cheap cigarettes?

Friday, December 20, 2013

Tom and the Dancing Bug explain Republicanomics in a way you, me, Pawlenty and Norm Coleman can understand. Zygi too. There is bipartisanship, e.g., Max Baucus.

This link.

In case that link does not work, and as a hat tip, KOS, here. (A hat tip too to the reader who forwarded the KOS email update linking there).

KOS homepage:

http://www.dailykos.com/

UPDATE: More KOS, related theme. Part of what's unappealing too in the Ron/Rand agenda having no place for forty-seven percent of us. They need to grow up.

Minnesota Center for Fiscal Excellence.

Who are they? Here and here. Mostly names and affiliations in the business community to me, on the board; the thing headed by a former Pawlenty person. Explore their website:

http://www.fiscalexcellence.org/

The post is presented because of mention by Strib's Editorial Board, online in an op-ed, here.

With Ramsey exploring franchise fee use, and with public attention heightened to multiplication of revenue sources and how different public revenue paths affect a citizenry differently, this op-ed link, etc., seemed worth posting.

In particular: Early in my deciding to look more at local government practices, (that would be at the time of the lawsuit against Hendriksen by another councilmember and its chilling effect and the time of James Norman as city administrative head), I came to learn of a proposal in Norman's mind and planning, to have a Port Authority in Ramsey.

Big-time red flag on that hummer. A worry of back-door operations sprang to mind.

Luckily, so far vigilence has kept Ramsey free of having a Port Authority [absence of a port in Ramsey did not seem to at all deter James Norman's intent], and going into a New Year, may we hope fervently that Ramsey never has a Port Authority.

I would even like to see that in Ramsey's Charter.

The Charter mentions "boards and commissions" but is silent on "authorities" despite Ramsey having two active ones, the EDA and HRA, with no specific Charter checks or balances or defining goals for either. The new year may be one of opportunity to better define checks and balances in how authorities operate in town. The last council, before the present body took over in January 2013 had, in the view of some, an inordinate passion for use of the HRA in unchecked and imbalanced ways. That HRA operation then featured an identical membership makeup to the council, but splitting the "business" of things in ways where debate over soundness of operations and maximization of transparency was possible. Reliance on consultancies was a factor, and likely may again be so, with staff turnover vs stability also a factor.

UPDATE: Going into the New Year, a reminder of a step I believe helpful to government transparancy, was adding the weekly update to city web publication; i.e., on the city website homepage, http://www.ci.ramsey.mn.us/, the left sidebar menu, top item, "Agendas, Minutes and Weekly Update." In the past, combing over agendas and waiting for the publication of minutes (where there necessarily was delay), was the norm with the Weekly Update then an item circulated among staff and council, primarily, with, presumably some board/commission/authority members also privy to circulation. Now it is published online.

This link, for the most recent Update.

Readers might check a few earlier Updates, to get a feel for the condensed, helpful presentation format.

Again, for those who may want to set a bookmark, the direct LaserFiche-WebLink page link for Ramsey's Weekly Update posting is here. (If that link fails for any reader, please remember the city website has included a Request/Response page:

http://www.ci.ramsey.mn.us/requestandresponse

With that and direct contact info for individuals in city government posted for fairly easy website navigation and identification of persons and contact means, transparancy per the website has much improved, over time, where I believe most who remember GOVDOCS days and such would agree.

FURTHER UPDATE: More Ramsey stuff. I do not know whether monthly Town Center news is still being sent out by email, but there is a SUBSCRIPTION box, this page.

With Ted LaFrance now on staff as Ramsey's economic development liaison, he likely will be responsible for news releases related to his title/responsibilities (Economic Development Manager); although it is early in his tenure so we may wait for things to adjust.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Andover's budget for 2014.

ABC Newspapers, here:

Andover approves 2014 budget, levy
By Eric Hagen -- December 18, 2013 at 4:00 pm

The Andover City Council Tuesday, Dec. 17 unanimously approved the 2014 budget and a levy that results in a 2 percent tax increase.

The total levy in 2014 is $10,843,925. Approximately 68.57 percent of this goes to the general fund for day-to-day operations, 19.1 percent will be dedicated to pay debt service most notably for the Andover YMCA/Community Center, and 12.33 percent is for capital equipment purchases and the watershed levy.

The 2013 amount was $10,631,299, which was the same amount as 2012. The 2014 levy is still slightly less than the 2010 and 2011 levies as well, the city of Andover pointed out.

Expenditures for the general fund will be increasing from $9,619,929 in 2013 to $9,996,375 in 2014, which is a 3.9 percent increase.

Two residents asked questions about the budget and levy before the council approved it.

Jim Junker wondered, “how many millions are we in debt and how are we going to pay for it?”

City Administrator Jim Dickinson said the city currently has over $40 million in debt, but about $18 million of that will be off the books by the end of 2014, in part due to the council’s previous actions to refinance the community center debt.

Although a property tax levy will be paying for some of the community center debt until 2034, Dickinson said the remainder is scheduled to be retired in less than 10 years. The YMCA also contributes $635,000 annually and revenue collected at the facility offsets some of the costs.

Thankfully, Ramsey so far has dodged that "community center" stupidity. Ben Dover has that to smile about, where it seemed Ramsey's council's talk that way quelled when John Dehen left council after being elected to his judgeship. I sure like him better in the black robe with the hammer, than when he was talking up community center from Ramsey's council table.

Hopefully, nobody else pushes that as a hot-button want, definitely not a need, and if it ever gets done to us, I hope there's a gym and perhaps an over-70 basketball league, or something similar, i.e., of any value whatsoever to me.

RAMSEY - FRANCHISE FEES: ABC Newspapers Reporting.

This link. It tells the general story better than extended commentary here. Read it.

I was out of town for the Nov. 19 meeting discussed in the report, and did not attend the Dec. 10 council work session [which was not broadcast], but did view the broadcast Dec. 10 council meeting. There, as anticipated, the motion that prevailed, Tossey dissenting, was to reject specific language proposed by the Charter Commission (where a unanimous vote in favor of the language would have been needed to adopt it at the council level). Part of the motion to reject was consistent with the joint meeting as characterized at the council table, i.e., that discussions should continue. Some may say it's kicking the can down the road, but it is how it is. The Charter Commission has a planned meeting in January.

In the ABC report, a two sentence paragraph needs exploration; the first sentence being of most interest:

Another downside of franchise fees, the council and charter commission said, is that it is not tax deductible unlike property taxes. But with landlords likely recouping the extra fees through rents, the renters would be able to get their money back through property tax rebates.

As with a lot of legal questions, it could be argued as yes, no and maybe. Depending on what result is being advocated. In support of tax deductibility, or at least in support of demonstrating a good faith belief on the part of a taxpayer and his/her professional tax advisor, (with each such situation requiring taxpayer reliance upon the retained professional's advice and not something "read on the web"), the argument would be three-pronged, based on consideration of three separately numbered Minnesota statutes. read together, to determine the actual intent of the legislature.

First, there is the franchise fee authorizing provision; MS Sect. 216B.36, stating in relevant part:

216B.36 MUNICIPAL REGULATORY AND TAXING POWERS. Any public utility furnishing the utility services enumerated in section 216B.02 or occupying streets, highways, or other public property within a municipality may be required to obtain a license, permit, right, or franchise in accordance with the terms, conditions, and limitations of regulatory acts of the municipality, including [...] the utility may be obligated by any municipality to pay to the municipality fees to raise revenue or defray increased municipal costs accruing as a result of utility operations, or both. The fee may include but is not limited to a sum of money based upon gross operating revenues or gross earnings from its operations in the municipality so long as the public utility shall continue to operate in the municipality, unless upon request of the public utility it is expressly released from the obligation at any time by such municipality. Notwithstanding the definition of "public utility" in section 216B.02, subdivision 4, a municipality may require payment of a fee under this section by a cooperative electric association [e.g., of relevance to Ramsey, Connexus is a Co-op] organized under chapter 308A that furnishes utility services within the municipality. [...] The authorization shall be over and above taxing limitations including, but not limited to, those of section 477A.016. Franchises granted pursuant to this section shall be exempt from the provisions of chapter 80C. For purposes of this section, a public utility shall include a cooperative electric association.

[bolding highlighting added within the quoted body of text] Sect 477A.016, in turn bars municipalities from imposing sales or income taxes; i.e., the "franchise fee" authorization clearly adopts something of a taxation perspective, regardless of calling it a "fee" and not a tax. Beyond that, reading statutes consistently in light of one another, and in light of past politics concerning what's a "fee" vs being a "tax," there is a definitive legislative provision within MS 645.44:

645.44 WORDS AND PHRASES DEFINED.
Subdivision 1.Scope. The following words, terms, and phrases used in Minnesota Statutes or any legislative act shall have the meanings given them in this section, unless another intention clearly appears.
[...]
Subd. 19.Fee and tax. (a) "Tax" means any fee, charge, exaction, or assessment imposed by a governmental entity on an individual, person, entity, transaction, good, service, or other thing. It excludes a price that an individual or entity chooses voluntarily to pay in return for receipt of goods or services provided by the governmental entity. A government good or service does not include access to or the authority to engage in private market transactions with a nongovernmental party, such as licenses to engage in a trade, profession, or business or to improve private property.
(b) For purposes of applying the laws of this state, a "fee," "charge," or other similar term that satisfies the functional requirements of paragraph (a) must be treated as a tax for all purposes, regardless of whether the statute or law names or describes it as a tax. The provisions of this subdivision do not exempt a person, corporation, organization, or entity from payment of a validly imposed fee, charge, exaction, or assessment, nor preempt or supersede limitations under law that apply to fees, charges, or assessments.
(c) This subdivision is not intended to extend or limit article 4, section 18, of the Minnesota Constitution.

Individual Ramsey citizens reading this post should note I am not an attorney nor an accountant, but that anybody can have opinions about laws and impacts, with a First Amendment right to state them publicly. However, expressing an opinion is not giving anyone advice, and tax advice should be sought individually from a duly licensed professional.

That said, my opinion is a good faith argument for deduction of "franchise fee" pass through amounts exists, and would be stronger if there is language in whatever ordinance is written that pass through as a tax equivalent is anticipated. Moreover, part of the omitted language in the above MS Sect. 216B.36 text is supportive of such "equivalence" fee to tax:

[...] in the event that a court of competent jurisdiction determines, or the parties by mutual agreement determine, that an existing license, permit, franchise, or other right has been abrogated or impaired by this chapter, or its execution, the municipality affected shall impose and the public utility shall collect an excise tax on the utility charges which from year to year yields an amount which is reasonably equivalent to that amount of revenue which then would be due as a fee, charges or other thing or service of value to the municipality under the franchise, license, or permit.

Things surely look to be nothing beyond pass-through ratepayer taxation (termed a "fee") with that proviso considered.

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

One needed caveat: Should the City Attorney opine on this question to advise either the Charter Commission or Council, that would be something done solely as a municipal function, not as something offered for reliance by individuals within the public who might be attending a public meeting where such an opinion may be a point of discussion.

Always get your own professionals, seek their advice, rely on what they say, and make a personal decision based upon that.

NEXT -----------------

Another ABC report paragraph is of interest:

A pro argument for assessments that was brought up is that in order to use general obligation bonds to fund the larger roads projects, the city must have a policy in place stating it will assess at least 20 percent of project costs to benefiting property owners. The city’s [existing] policy is to assess 50 percent of overlay project costs, but it does not assess for sealcoating.

While not knowing how that argument of a mandatory 20% special assessment mentioned in the first sentence of the above quote is grounded in law, and not bothering to even attempt to research the question, one big kicker in it all is "benefiting property owners."

What's the individualized benefit of a general road upkeep policy, citywide in scope and planned and implemented as such, simply because a part of the work is done at a particular time on a particular stretch of road on which, say, your home is located? Would your property climb in market value from that? Has the current 50% for overlay policy ever been challenged judicially as a constitutionally impermissible taking - in Ramsey - is there that judicial precedent?

How can routine road work benefit a particular property without some commensurate and measurable increase in the market value of the parcel, given that road upkeep planning and implementation is a long recognized public function for the benefit of all?

Everybody uses the roads, is, after all, a cliche: If the city lays out a road upkeep schedule, for the benefit of all citizens who may from time-to-time use the road grid, and adheres more or less to that schedule, everyone who uses the road grid benefits, so how do you make a Solomon's choice that defines assessment apportionment unambiguously and beyond judicial reversal? As expected, much has been litigated on this benefit question, with appraisers being certainly ones "benefitting," for certain, as retained expert witnesses of one side and the other in a battle of the experts.

Revenue bonds vs. General obligation bonds: A more fundamental question, presuming it true beyond doubt there is no loophole to the claimed need to assess 20 percent when general obligation bonds are to be issued, it seems the relevant answer to any such question is to set a franchise fee, earmark the revenue from it for a particular purpose, allow it to vary year to year to budget income and expenditures in balance keeping excess revenue in reserve and adjusting subsequent fees for shortfalls - indeed the franchise fee amounts can be adjusted on shorter than an annual basis, monthly or quarterly for example; and if bonding is required, issue revenue bonds earmarking future franchise fee income to service debt service and bond principal retirement?

Is there any legislated trap for the unwary in planning on issuing revenue bonds secured by future franchise fee revenue streams, assuming the current impasse on franchise fee revenue is resolved definitively?

Would there be a premium bond rate difference in that case, in comparison to general obligation bonding that would be prohibitive in a practical sense?

Absent a legal hurdle or prohibitive bonding cost differential, assessment need not be a part of a franchise fee financing arrangement for the road grid upkeep. Those considerations would be for the city attorney, city CFO, and bond counsel to answer; but at a guess it should be feasible. As always, the city can do whatever it wants unless there arises a court challenge and a judge then says, "No." Would a court challenge be likely? That's guesswork. Would a judge say yes or no? That's even more guesswork.

RAMSEY - "Church appeals to the under-35 crowd."

This Strib link. Source of the above headline quote. Also, ABC Newspapers reporting.

UPDATE: I checked with planner Tim Gladhill. It looks to be doing zippo in terms of helping on tax base. "Anoka County has the parcel listed as ‘5E-Exempt Properties’," per Gladhill's email. The promise of the stuff was Nirvana, per great increments to tax base. Nirvana, however, is a different religion ...

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Developer of the year. Ziggy Stardust.

Zygmund Wilf makes David Flaherty/Ryan Cronk look good.

Here, here, here, here, here. Hosing partners is not good form, the judge agreed.

And the net worth in dollars and not moral worthiness, is ...

We Three Kings of New Jersey are,
Seeking gifts, we've traveled afar,
Jocks and coaches,
Help us roaches,
Seat fees will make you our star,
Oh, star of cash flow,
Star of greed,
Star whose money we will bleed,
...

Pope Francis moves. One step, signaling what, to whom?

This link.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

This sort of thing leads to this sort of critique.

Thing. Critique.

The ultimate test of any government program or policy is whether it is worth what it costs. Arguments over negative worth, impact being bad the more the policy is pursued, can always be made and are strongest when planning is viewed as a religion. Do not question, hire one of a cadre of Comp Plan consultants, tell people - or "guide" them toward embracing of foregone conclusions, and demand growth planning far in excess of any actual feasibility, again and again, and you have towns authorizing Comp. Plan scenarios that allow developers to cherry pick where to try maximizing profits, consequences be damned, and developers love Met Council. As do land speculators. But what about us?

From page 6 of this,

Transit Oriented Development Defined
“A moderate to higher density district/corridor located within easy walking distance of a major transit stop that typically contains a mix of uses such as housing, jobs, restaurants, shops, services and entertainment. These districts/corridors enable people of all ages, backgrounds, and incomes abundant transportation choices and the opportunity to live convenient, affordable and active lives.”
~ working definition from Metropolitan Council Think Tank,
September 2012

Yes. That sounds exactly how Ramsey Town Center was postured in advance, and sold, part cramdown. Here is a a Wikipedia image from Father Knows Best (sometimes mother too):



__________UPDATE__________
Something left from the original post because a bit of web research was entailed before continuing ...

Comp plans are hateful and costly, and of little value vs. cost by how they are cabined, cribbed, confined, bound-in by transit orientation, and by growth at all costs, one way, that being dense to service transit planning by the bureau having jurisdiction over, guess now, transit. Or not?

Certainly the Hwy 65 corridor in north metro is shameful, wholly automobile oriented with each major cross street pockmarked with a traffic light hosting appended shopping opportunity to where each intersection looks like the others, and with nil stuff a mere bit of a distance away. However, that Gestalt was grown with Met Council functioning throughout it all, from the mid 1970's on, and with a past mayor along that corridor as one of the consultant cadre.

Yes, things could grow better than that, but it is hubris to say "smart growth" as if all required is short term adherence (with long term mouthings) to an "engineering exercise" outlook when that exercise ignores that over fat growth projections cause the kinds of community concessions in terms of permitted land uses, and restraints, that have led and will lead to developers having free rein, along Hwy 65 to cherrypick intersection by intersection for a quick build-and-count-dollars response. Surely the Met Council planners can say, "That's not what we mean, not what we intended," but it's what their Comp Plan quota setting yielded.

Ramsey, to its shame, last comp planning cycle, authorized growth amounts beyond the insanely inflated projections of Met Council, and now we see some pumping of the Armstrong interchange (i.e., automobile orientation), as if it would salvage the Town Center failure. So, view that in light of the TOD definition above; and look at that Flaherty uber-monstrosity by the railstop, and scratch your head and ask, "Is this what 'smart growth' means and looks like?"

Where a Highway build out project is viewed by many as a salvation of a quite poor plan? It did not work, yet the leopard cannot or by act of blind will does not change one single spot in the course of litany and follow-up concessions, backing and filling.

The Armstrong interchange buildup proposal does have community benefits, with that current intersection placed as it is right at the rail crossing, but that's mop-up from how the Hwy 10 corridor was planned and built. Now TOD is the belief system that is making funding of fixing that traffic nightmare a lower priority than it might otherwise be, with the community waiting and with those stoplights still in place, all of them, from the Main Street interchange in Anoka westward.

And then, there was Darren ...

Darren who begat the Flaherty gamble, Cronk being a name along the way ...

Does anyone know where John Feges is these days? John who fronted for Bruce Nedegaard? Remember James Norman and the decision to build the Norman castle [a/k/a Municipal Center] the rationale being it was planned to "catalyze" and "anchor" the Town Center paradigm.

All those things, methodically planned. Even an RFP, interestingly before Netflix and Hulu took root:



How did that hummer prosper - Answer: Hardly, as TOD as it was - And what might TOD be ignoring? Hint: What did Netflix and Hulu offer? Stay at home film viewing, specifically, technological change in general, as in a what's the future of telecommuting as affecting our plans and outlook, and how might that square with a cadre of Met Council planners collecting paychecks for transit system oriented priorities, for TOD-think, that being the force cutting the planning cadre's paychecks, and coincidentally earning their loyalty and belief entrenchment? One voice from the wilderness aside, Brauer's, conventional wisdom "back then" thought and pitched the marketing view that Town Center success was around the corner, with officials mainly to focus on implementation shepherding, putting the skillfully planned pieces cleanly into a jigsaw puzzle interlock, month-by-month, beautiful when complete:


Sort of a hoot. The Brauer consideration was fobbed off by the Jacobson guy's disarming developer-speak, assurance, "Their intention is to design the site to be compatible for 2010 and beyond."

We're now "beyond" and it's not what you'd call a communications hub and beacon.

In light of that page from history, I find it interesting that the old centrally located city hall on Nowthen by the school is now still surplus city property, but with thinking on it being possibly a data center site - transportation of bits over fiber, not folks by rail.

Are we seeing a learning curve where developer profit making via land development hand-in-hand friendships might be viewed as one factor vs THE FACTOR? More pages from history can likely add little. The County has implemented the Zayo build out of fiber connecting government hubs, with an excess of data carrying capacity, and it was not prohibitively expensive. Wait and see. If there is to be a data center at that site vs. yet more dense housing vs. a pretty park for the neighbors that the rest of us would be subsidizing, there are cautions and worries such as possible noise and asthetics and community benefit by making a fallow site productively worthwhile, but those are dimensions of which officials and the site's residential neighbors are working to square in a productive manner. It is a promising question, but it could splat out just as the cinema RFP did. However, it seems a better thought out idea and a more skeptically explored possibility.

Perhaps it's smarter people calling the shots now, instead of learning curve, but likely a bit of both. At least James Norman's hand is absent, which I view as a plus, and we do not have an interested and coflicted land speculator on council influencing things, as was the case in 2003.

__________FURTHER UPDATE___________
Back to the opening, this link, this front page illustration:


Have you noticed the Met Council's ethereal propaganda shtick:

No motor vehicles -

No crowding -

No black people -

No graffiti -

No vacant lots -

No cops because crime is nonexistent in TOD land -

No grime -

No litter -

No disabled , only fully healthy live, work, play people -

Happy comfort, never argument nor discordant or unruly people -

Never harsh hot sunlight, but -

Never rains -

Perpetual spring and summer -

Never dark despite streetlights lit up -

Snow absent -

Winds abated -

Never winter -

Oz, not reality.

Met Council, the Wizard of TOD.

____________FURTHER UPDATE______________
To understand why Gary over in St. Cloud cares a fig about Met Council, this link. I see a Trojan Horse in that, Siefert being who he's been in the past, and do recall his losing frontrunner status among his folk in the past, to Emmer, and why. But the issue position, questioning Met Council, it is appealing, and the Met Council people should reflect on precisely why that is so. Fat chance, but they should.

It got Kersten's coordinated sanctimoniously indignant venom flowing again. Just by being who they are. Yet don't wait for Kersten's ilk to criticize Met Council for its slavishness to developer - land speculator interests; which has always been its core sin. That criticism will not happen. It's a hand that feeds those people, which they do not bite. And hey, Peter Bell, he's a senior fellow there with Kersten. Before that, I don't remember, but I vaguely recall he was not criticizing Met Council too much during Pawlenty days. Not demanding Met Councilors be elected rather than appointed. Correct me if I am wrong. Woo. ALEC, here and here. And, as a barometer - one to see who he's backing an then to guess what it means, Ron, pulling an oar with the money people:

Our Team.

Ron Eibensteiner, Limited Partner
Mr. Eibensteiner is President of Wyncrest Capital, Inc., an investment company for early-stage technology companies in the areas of telecommunications, medical devices and software. Currently, Mr. Eibensteiner is co-founder and Chairman of Arcola Systems, a software supplier to the gaming industry. [...] In 1983, Mr. Eibensteiner co-founded Arden Medical Systems and served as its Chief Financial Officer until its sale to Johnson & Johnson in 1987. From 1999 to 2005 Mr. Eibensteiner served as Chairman of the Republican Party of Minnesota and holds a BS in political science from the University of Minnesota.

Whoa - Are we looking at Mr. Electronic Pulltabs, the man who'd finance Zygi dreams, if only enough cash flow were to have flowed? And should we look to which horses in the election day races he presently bets his money on so as to gauge GOP soft money anticipations? Reader help, am I barking up the wrong GOP-gambling tree, or is there a treed skunk that might cut loose any minute?

For now, a data dump, construct from it what you will: co-directors;  follow the money; opinion; birds of a feather; acquittal; sacking; cash flows; counteropinion; Spectre Gaming Inc. here, and here, and here; Thunderball Entertainment (not Thunderdome, that's different - credit card kiosks???).

It's for others to unpeel the layers of that gaming-affiliated onion. Only a data dump here. But I'd bet ...


Monday, December 16, 2013

Some sane stuff worth consideration posted online by Ed Kohler. SUBJECT: Healthcare provisioning.

The Deets, two very recent items, here and here. Ed includes this image, from here.

Nick Coleman. Alive and well. And, whether or not you believe it true, still opinionated.

This link:

http://www.nickcolemanmn.com/

Someone besides me put up a Wellstone memorial post this year.

Bless Coleman, he did it last year too.

Coleman on media, here.

And his regard for Tim Pawlenty shows too.

Reporting is that the North Korean official who has been officially discredited as enemy of the state has been removed from all North Korean Internet postings.

Readers can do web searching on their own, on the topic, but e.g., there is this.

The North Korean state propaganda machine has edited and deleted hundreds of news articles that mention Jang Song Thaek, the former top government and party official who was executed Thursday.

The action, which appears to have taken place at all state-run websites, amounts to an attempt by the regime to delete Jang from the country’s official history.

Jang was one of the most powerful men in North Korea and uncle to leader Kim Jong Un. But earlier this week, he was arrested in front of hundreds of senior members of the ruling Worker’s Party of Korea and denounced for numerous alleged acts against the state and Kim Jong Un. [...]

Discredited, and treated not only as if no longer existing, but treated retrospectively as if having never existed.

Done by the state propaganda machine.

As if an enemy of the state, and an enemy of it's working properly, in ways the powerful believe it should.

Have you noticed, George W. Bush's Internet presence these days is almost nil?

Just saying. Here and here. Although time has passed since publication of those items from last year, they appear to remain relevant. Also - Lot's of chutzpah to Kurt "Shutdown" Zellers' now seeking statewide office. Just saying. Lot's of chutzpah.

______________UPDATE______________
Reader help requested via comments: Is this thing still up? Are these things selling like hotcakes? Just wondering.

__________FURTHER UPDATE__________
While there are the items noted in the above UPDATE, a question for readers: Has anyone seen comparable stuff, about Tim Pawlenty? Just wondering.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

"That sound you hear is the shredding of the social contract." And, of all things, John Boehner.

Start with the Bill Moyers editorial headlined per the quote in this post's headline. Moyers, early in the item spun a theme:

The historian Plutarch warned us long ago of what happens when there is no brake on the power of great wealth to subvert the electorate. “The abuse of buying and selling votes,” he wrote of Rome, “crept in and money began to play an important part in determining elections. Later on, this process of corruption spread in the law courts and to the army, and finally, when even the sword became enslaved by the power of gold, the republic was subjected to the rule of emperors.”

We don’t have emperors yet, but we do have the Roberts Court that consistently privileges the donor class.

We don’t have emperors yet, but we do have a Senate in which, as a study by the political scientist Larry Bartels reveals, “Senators appear to be considerably more responsive to the opinions of affluent constituents than to the opinions of middle-class constituents, while the opinions of constituents in the bottom third of the income distribution have no apparent statistical effect on their senators’ roll call votes.”

We don’t have emperors yet, but we have a House of Representatives controlled by the far right that is now nourished by streams of “dark money” unleashed thanks to the gift bestowed on the rich by the Supreme Court in the Citizens United case.

We don’t have emperors yet, but one of our two major parties is now dominated by radicals engaged in a crusade of voter suppression aimed at the elderly, the young, minorities and the poor; while the other party, once the champion of everyday working people, has been so enfeebled by its own collaboration with the donor class that it offers only token resistance to the forces that have demoralized everyday Americans.

Writing in the Guardian recently, the social critic George Monbiot commented,

“So I don’t blame people for giving up on politics… When a state-corporate nexus of power has bypassed democracy and made a mockery of the voting process, when an unreformed political system ensures that parties can be bought and sold, when politicians [of the main parties] stand and watch as public services are divvied up by a grubby cabal of privateers, what is left of this system that inspires us to participate?”

Why are record numbers of Americans on food stamps? Because record numbers of Americans are in poverty. Why are people falling through the cracks? Because there are cracks to fall through. It is simply astonishing that in this rich nation more than 21 million Americans are still in need of full-time work, many of them running out of jobless benefits, while our financial class pockets record profits, spends lavishly on campaigns to secure a political order that serves its own interests and demands that our political class push for further austerity. Meanwhile, roughly 46 million Americans live at or below the poverty line and, with the exception of Romania, no developed country has a higher percent of kids in poverty than we do.

Okay. All true and you can read the remainder, again, this link.

Having thus set the table, Moyers transitions to the "shredding of the social contract" theme, expressly.

Which, clearly and appropriately, leads this post to transition to John Boehner.

The same website hosting the Moyers op-ed also has a current item, "Tea party group lashes out at ‘tax and spend liberal’ John Boehner." Seriously.

You can read the item here, with this excerpt, (links are in the original).

The Tea Party Patriots group, one of the largest of the hundreds of right wing factions claiming the tea party mantle, lashed out at Rep. John Boehner (R-OH) this week.

According to The Hill blog, the groups are furious with the House Speaker for daring to speak out against the conservatives that are paralyzing Congress and portions of the entire U.S. government.

Earlier this week, Boehner brushed off a question from a reporter about conservative groups’ resistance to the tentative bipartisan budget bill that would prevent any further government shutdowns for at least two years.

“They are using our members and they are using the American people for their own goals,” Boehner said of tea party and other right wing pressure groups. “This is ridiculous. Listen, if you’re for more deficit reduction, you’re for this agreement.”

He also criticized the groups for appearing to be more interested in raising money than achieving any actual policy goals.

Never shy about expressing their outrage, tea partiers around the country have been sounding the alarm that Boehner is stabbing them in the back. The Hill reported on a particularly angry fund-raising letter from the Tea Party Patriots.

This has to be a joke. And a sick one at that.

Boehner is the face, heart, and soul of the social contract being shredded; and he delights in it and playing Tea Party victim at the same time.

Playing victim to attempt a sanitization of his rudeness and disquieting anti-Americanism, an anti-Americanism that moves and pivots in favor of big money over American people. If Boehner did not have the Tea Party for that sanitization attempt, he'd have to invent them. In all likelihood, that's precisely what he and his confederates did. It fits the mentality afoot in that club, and the surprise is anyone in mainstream media buys that posturing. But paying the piper sets the tune, and the tune is that Boehner is victim of his own rectitude in putting the national interest ahead of Tea Party considerations, which, of course is the BIG LIE that Boehner and his club keep repeating to try to gin up a publicly perceived belief of it being truth.

It is a cynical disdain for our citizenry, and the citizenry's ability to discern truthfulness from lying.

And it fails.

The lie is too big for even mainstream media to sell to us.

It's nothing but pure bullshit. As is that budget "deal" we are told to love. Think about it.

If John Boehner were choking on his own bile, mouth-to-mouth resuscitation should be reserved for one more worthwhile and deserving.

____________UPDATE____________
More of the same try-to-fool-us-more-than-once-and-again-and-again bullshit; here. The moneyed faction has to love Boehner. He is their mailman. He delivers.

Budgetorama: A musical comedy, Patty Murray/Paul Ryan, in concert. Way off tune. We are seeing a super shell game played out on the DC stage. Little but more of the same streetwalking, done in a different dress. And it galls. As it should.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

North Korea.

"To be or not to be, that is the question."


photo: BBC, this link

RAMSEY - Perhaps Flaherty can fill that thing he glommed onto the parking ramp, at the prices he'd enjoy.

This Bloomberg Businessweek online report, citing this Harvard study, having this chapter.

If, as some might assert, the "free market" is the best protector of consumer interests, why exactly did the past council thumb their noses at market factors in order to give so much subsidy away, to allow the Indiana man and his firm the chance to make a king-sized rental killing? What? Landlord worship? And they bought that Town Center land out of foreclosure, overpaying for the prospects that adventure offered, instead of allowing "market forces" to play out?

A deliberate will, to compete with private sector forces? It remains a puzzle.

You want another puzzle?

What's it done for you?

ABC Newspapers reports on Mike Gamache's running for a County Board seat. District 5.

Online, this link, a report lacking a byline notes in closing:

Gamache is excited by the challenge and his chances, but knows it will be a tough campaign, he said.

“I am looking forward to talking to my many Andover friends, but also meeting more supporters in both Coon Rapids and Fridley,” Gamache said.

“I have campaigned in Coon Rapids for commissioners Carol LeDoux and Scott LeDoux in 2004 and in 2008 and the issues don’t change much when you cross the city borders. Voters want you to talk about the issues and address the problems and I can guarantee that my campaign will be about getting things done and not politics as usual.”

Getting things done, not politics as usual. What will the Taxpayer League's Watchdog publish about that?

His politics? As usual?

For now, Dog's got garbage on his mind:

THE GREAT GARBAGE GRAB OF 2013 - UPDATE

Readers, we have to say that the Fridley city council's ongoing takeover of a free market trash hauling is some of the worst strong arm, cram down style of government we've seen in a long, long time.

From both a policy and process perspective, the city council has manifested an arrogant, we-know-what's-best style of government that would make the White House proud.

In terms of arrogant government and its attitude towards the citizens it represents, this is Fridley's Obamacare.

Let's be clear about what this is. It's government-run and government-managed trash collection.

Called by the euphemism "organized collection," it is a process whereby the city takes over collection and turns it over to either a single monopoly hauler or a cartel of a few haulers who divide up the city.

In all cases, what it means to you is that government picks your hauler for you and you have nothing to say about it. Government decides what you will pay for trash service and there's nothing you can do about it. Government gives you no recourse if you don't like the hauler they pick for you. You get what you get.

And because the chosen hauler(s) have a contract with the city and not you, the favored hauler(s) have no incentive to serve you and your needs. They aim only to please the bureaucrats down at city hall.

Does this all sound to you like anti-competitive, anti-trust style behavior?

That's because it is.

But the law gives government the authority to authorize this harmful behavior in the name of whatever it is the city thinks is a higher priority than consumer protection, the free market being the ultimate protector of the consumer.

What's that Gamache noted, about conscious avoidance of "politics as usual?" Related to, what, overuse of cliche as if repetition will make it true? Repeat it, regardless of truth?

Gipperspeak, vs analysis?

Old stale woofing?

So be it. Grover Norquist's star is on the wane, but, doggone it, it's such an easy tune and habit is habit  ...

Friday, December 13, 2013

The freedom-of-conscience clause of the Minnesota Constitution

This online Minnesota Court of Appeals decision. City Pages Dec. 11, reporting. What, in essence, is a sincerity of belief, and if one is established, what is entailed in terms of legal consequences?

Stuart Mills wants to go to Congress?



Why do I think, Dan Quayle? City Pages here and here, source of the photo.

UPDATE: So far, only a placeholder campaign website.

http://stewartmills.com/

Study it. Tell me where it discusses issues. Tell me where it identifies which party's endorsement he seeks. Sure, we know he's a Republican, and likely thinks like one, but then, do they all think alike? If so, explain to me the origin of the term "RINO." It seems audacious, wanting to move up into the heavyweight division. Without a fight record. Should he stick to drygoods sales, or whatever?

Running 8th district, with nary a mention of the word "Polymet?" Get real. End this joke.

Trail history -- "They sometimes traveled in lengthy convoys as long as two miles and the screeching of the axles could be heard for miles."

Yesterday I saw a train stopped along BNSF tracks paralleling Hwy 10. More than two miles long. All Nodak oil cars.

At any rate, the headline quote is from an ABC Newspapers item, online here.

We have come a long way since then. We have broadband and cell phones, state of the art, sort of. Some more than others. There always will be pioneers and laggards, and private sector buck-chasing, aka maximizing profits, aka exploiting political lobbying and monopoly power.

There are ox-cart digital age options, costly to consumers long term, as well as our having more advanced thought.

UPDATE: Book links, here and here. The Anoka County Library should shelve the two books. Hardcover or e-book. Actually I have not checked via a library website search. They may already be in the collection.

Last, some may be more attuned than others to what the balance of this century likely may entail; this link. Is this a factor? If so, who influences that, with what objectives in mind?

______________UPDATE______________
The Brits, lower priced communication services, (and worth mention, saner and better societal healthcare provisions). Should we have rebelled?

____________FURTHER UPDATE___________
Here, linking here. The data seem trustworthy, unlike the service providers. Gigaom's report concluding:

Even if you do buy into this idea of just-in-time broadband investment and advancement, you’d need a more competitive environment to ensure that it actually happened. Duopolies and monopolies are not the fast-moving, responsive organizations that a competitive environment produces. So even if we ignore the time frame that investment in broadband requires (years, not weeks) and the fact that some “just-in-time speed effort might miss a huge jump in demand caused by a new service, believing that an uncompetitive market can deliver highly reactive services is tough.

Which is why we need the data that this report provides. Yes, the U.S. may have some impressive broadband success stories that are already influencing other providers, but since broadband is inherently local and inherently uncompetitive, to get anywhere we need data that puts pressure on the incumbents to keep pushing the envelope. Otherwise, a few cities will have better broadband, and the rest of the country will have to wait until their ISPs think they need faster speeds.

Mashable, here. BBC.

Endgaget, noting:

The UK's administration hasn't invested a penny in broadband infrastructure, and most of the network in the Netherlands has been built with private capital. (The city government in Amsterdam took a minority stake in the fiber network there, but that's an investment that will pay dividends if the network is profitable -- and the private investors who own the majority share of the system plan to make sure that it will be.)

The game-changer in these two European countries has been government regulators who have forced more competition in the market for broadband.

The market in the UK used to be much like ours here in the U.S.: British homes had two options for broadband service: the incumbent telephone company British Telecom (BT), or a cable provider. Prices were high, service was slow, and, as I mentioned above, Britain was falling behind its European neighbors in international rankings of broadband service.

The solution, the British government decided, was more competition: If consumers had more options when it came to broadband service, regulators reasoned, prices would fall and speeds would increase. A duopoly of telephone and cable service wasn't enough. "You need to find the third lever," says Peter Black, who was the UK government's top broadband regulator from 2004 to 2008.

Starting around 2000, the government required BT to allow other broadband providers to use its lines to deliver service. That's known as "local loop unbundling" -- other providers could lease the loops of copper that runs from the telephone company office to homes and back and set up their own servers and routers in BT facilities.

BT dragged its feet and very few firms stepped up to compete with the telephone giant. "The prices were too high," Black says. "There were huge barriers to entry. The processes were long and drawn out."

When Black was named Telecommunications Adjudicator in 2004, he fought on two fronts to break the BT logjam. First, he used his own experience as a former employee of the telecom giant to push for change from the inside. When that wasn't enough, he used the bully pulpit provided by his government post to embarrass BT in public. He publicized the company's failure to meet goals. Reporters loved the story of the government regulator holding the giant firm's feet to the fire.

"Embarrassment works, you know?" he laughs.

[bolding added]. Deregulation advocates, I think of the Gipper, they have smoke, they have mirrors, they have an interest apart from consumer well being. Deregulation seems to have fostered a "Sheep need fleecing" attitude, and it WAS an inadequately regulated/deregulated market that brought on the Wall Street crash of September 2008 [i.e., during late Bush lame-duck presidency time, bless his deregulated heart - Cheney at least has a pacemaker regulating his].

More links could be added to the parade, making it two miles long, but the point has been sufficiently buttressed. What is interesting is the "Let the storm clouds blow over" silence of the service provider community in answer to reports of their wretched excesses and exploitative bent. They know what they can get by with, especially so, absent true consumer friendly regulation.

Back to that ox cart report - there, for reasons of wear and tear, the wheel that squeaked did not get the grease. But that does not mean communications service consumers should abandon squeaking. We're not talking ox carts, after all. Now, why is mainstream media not holding anyone's feet to the fire? Look at ownership. Stanley Hubbard, whose side of the fence does he stand on? Etc. The online cottage industry tech press covers things getting a nod and wink elsewhere. Bless Montecello seizing and holding onto initiative, lawsuits as impediments, and all.

Last, U.S. Ignite, and this website. Besides Monticello in Minnesota, it appears Kansas City, Chattanooga, and Lafayette, Louisiana, are trailblazing communities. Ones that others can consult, and follow. If private sector for-profit providers fail the public by running us aground, then public sector competitive solutions may float the ship.

Something is needed.