LTEs in Grand Rapids HR

October 5th, 2006


…and I don’t mean John…

Two great Letters to the Editor today in the Grand Rapids paper (it takes a while for them to be posted) and guess who’s on the front page of the Red Wing Republican Beagle — “fuming” no less!!!

Here’s Grand Rapids, from Alvar Hupila:

Project has too many unknowns


The article in Business Monthly, supplement to the Grand Rapids Herald Review, â??A Look at IGCC Technology,â? puts the Mesaba Energy Project in stark perspective. The statement by John Grasser, who is with the US Department of Energyâ??s Office of Fossil Energy, that â??IGCC technology is an important step in the development of further technologiesâ? and that â??the Mesaba Project is one of these stepsâ?, is an indication that we should not be subjected to it.

This means that this â??experimentâ? will put the environment, our health, and the pristine water of the Canisteo pit at risk for a process that is still being developed.

The Excelsior Energy representative at the Grand Rapids meeting admitted that they do not know how they would deal with the slurry that contains most of the pollutants and it has not been determined whether the used water would be returned to the pit or released into the Mississippi River watershed.

As attractive as the promise of permanent jobs may be, there are still too many unknowns to justify this project.

Alvar E. Hupila

And Bob Norgord, King of Run On Paragraphs, is at it again, direct, factual and hard-hitting as always:

Mesaba Project is not needed


I would like to respond to the â??Letter to the Editorâ? in the Sept. 20 Herald Review written by the president of a building trades union. His spin on things sounds like an advertisement for Excelsior Energy with the same spin that they put on things, but he needs to get his facts straight. He refers to â??significant property taxâ? benefits for the county to be paid by Excelsior Energy. Excelsior was made exempt from paying property tax. He refers to a large number of jobs – but for whom? Excelsior is hiring contractors from out of state who will be bringing a large number of their own people with them. There will be some jobs for local people, but after three years, the honeymoon is over. The $1 .5 billion of private investment he refers to does not exist. There are no private investors yet as the venture is considered too risky for the private sector. The â??clean coalâ? technology he mentions does not exist. There is no such thing as clean coal even if they do cut some of the emissions. If this plant were to go to the Dakotas as he suggests could happen, the â??easterly windsâ? he refers to would not blow the emissions towards us. If this technology is so clean, we wouldn’t have to worry about westerly winds either.

He also makes reference to the Mesaba Project as having the potential to â??deal with global warming without increasing our electricity rates through the roof.â? When Excelsior Energy’s CEO Tom Micheletti was asked why anyone would purchase his power when it would cost more than twice as much as power purchased elsewhere, he responded by saying that if we want clean power, we are going to have to pay for it. As to the global warming thing, this technology has the ability to sequester 20-30 percent of the carbon dioxide it creates by pumping it into the ground, but not here-not on this granite ledge on the Scenic Highway, so now we would be adding to the problem, not helping the environment as he suggests. As to the â??looming energy crisis,â? it has been suggested that it could happen in 10-15 years, but it is being handled as I write this letter. The governor of Texas has plans for 18 coal fired plants to be built in Texas, NSP has plans for one in Colorado, and other producers of power have plans for increasing production.

Don’t worry, the Christmas tree on the White House lawn will be lit this year and every year in the future without the Mesaba Project.

Bob Norgord


And here’s from the Red Wing Republican Beagle (this’ll teach me not to respond to questions with 72 pt. bold font… naaaaaaaaaaah…):

Screening process didnâ??t violate laws, official says

Mike Longaecker
The Republican Eagle – 10/05/2006

The background checks have been checked out. And according to the Dakota County Attorneyâ??s office, there was no wrongdoing by the city of Red Wing.

A report, issued Sept. 27 by Dakota County Attorney Chief Deputy Phillip Prokopowicz, says he couldnâ??t find a law requiring Red Wing City Council candidates to sign a release.

City Clerk Kathy Johnson told investigators that signing a release for background checks wasnâ??t a condition of candidacy, Prokopowicz said Wednesday.

Still, that could have been made more clear, he said. He suspected some kind of disconnect between Johnsonâ??s office and what was told to candidates by others at City Hall.

â??It might have been an implied expectation,â? Prokopowicz said of what was told to some candidates. â??It was not communicated as well as it should have been.â?

In a letter to complainant Carol Overland, Prokopowicz also said that he couldnâ??t find any law specifically prohibiting city officials from asking candidates to sign release forms.

Some City Council hopefuls raised a flap in July after noticing background checks were included in candidacy materials distributed by Johnsonâ??s office.

The original form given to most of the candidates allowed the city to perform criminal, courts, driving and credit checks.

That release form told candidates that while they werenâ??t legally required to sign the authorization, voluntary compliance was allowed â??because I want to be considered for employment or volunteer service â?¦ ;â?

With the background checks serving as her impetus, Overland â?? an advocacy attorney â?? filed for the At-Large seat. She filed a complaint with the Secretary of Stateâ??s office soon after.

The city issued a second draft of the release before the filing period closed. It said voluntary checks would be performed â??because I want to aid the city of Red Wing in fulfilling its duty to ensure that only eligible candidates are certified for placement on the cityâ??s ballot.â?

According to the second draft, the checks were to be limited in scope searches for felony offenses, court findings of incompetency and any matter negating election eligibility.

Secretary of State Mary Kiffmeyer and her election opponent, Mark Ritchie, have both criticized the city for its screening policy.

After receiving Prokopowiczâ??s letter, Overland was left fuming.

â??What says this is OK?â? she said Tuesday, referring to what she called â??qualified and passive languageâ? in the letter.

The Red Wing Charter Commission member said sheâ??s not sure whether sheâ??ll continue to pursue legal action against the city, but said some kind of action is important.

â??If actionâ??s not taken, this kind of thingâ??s going to keep happening,â? said Overland, who works closely with issues such as transmission lines and a proposed northern Minnesota coal gasification plant.

â??Itâ??s not over for me, but I donâ??t know how much I can do.â?

Joe Krueger â?? who also took a vocal stand against the city for its background checks â?? and Carol Duff defeated Overland and three others vying for the At-Large seat in the primary election.

Itâ??s unknown whether the city will continue to screen council candidates, said Council Administrator Kay Kuhlmann. She said the council will address the matter sometime before the next election cycle.

Overlandâ??s complaint was referred to Dakota County after Goodhue County prosecutors determined a conflict of interest. County Attorney Stephen Betcher also prosecutes cases for the city of Red Wing.

And here’s the letter that had me fumin’ yesterday:


So do tell, where’s the authorization to do this??? Zip, nada… And Joe Krueger did make a complaint, but dropped it, and no other candidates stood up to the City. Given that, why would the City Staff do anything differently in the future?

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