DFL?  “Endorsed” Ellison today?  SHAME:

DFL Central Committee endorses Keith Ellison for attorney general

This behavior is not something open to “plausible denial” by the DFL.  There was a similar public allegation against Ellison over a decade ago:

The Truth About Keith Ellison

Obviously the Wright County Republican, as a source, is due some skepticism, but, yeah, the similarities are disturbing.  Today, what’s important to note is that given this other example, there is no way the DFL did not know of the allegations back circa 2005-2006.  That should inform this month’s allegations.  Two points makes a line.  How many points do you need to have an unfit candidate?

The way the DFL is circling the wagons around Keith Ellison, after shooting Al Franken, tossing him under the wagon, and then dragging him cross country from D.C. to Minnesota, it’s shameful.

With its support of Ellison, the DFL now indeed does face the very real possibility of such strong backlash that many may sit out the Attorney General race in disgust, and Wardlow might be the next Attorney General of Minnesota.  WHAT?!?!  How horrific can it get?

Come on, folks.  Minn. Stat. 204B.13 provides the avenue for withdrawal of Keith Ellison as a candidate for Attorney General of the State of Minnesota — if the DFL and Ellison want to make that happen:

204B.13 VACANCY IN NOMINATION; PARTISAN OFFICE.

Subdivision 1.Partisan office.

(a) A vacancy in nomination for a partisan office must be filled in the manner provided by this section. A vacancy in nomination exists for a partisan office when a major political party candidate who has been nominated in accordance with section 204D.03, subdivision 3, or 204D.10, subdivision 1:

(1) dies;

(2) withdraws by filing an affidavit of withdrawal, as provided in paragraph (b), at least one day prior to the general election with the same official who received the affidavit of candidacy; or

(3) is determined to be ineligible to hold the office the candidate is seeking, pursuant to a court order issued under section 204B.44.

(b) An affidavit of withdrawal filed under paragraph (a), clause (2), must state that the candidate has been diagnosed with a catastrophic illness that will permanently and continuously incapacitate the candidate and prevent the candidate from performing the duties of the office sought, if elected. The affidavit must be accompanied by a certificate verifying the candidate’s illness meets the requirements of this paragraph, signed by at least two licensed physicians. The affidavit and certificate may be filed by the candidate or the candidate’s legal guardian.

What happens?  DFL “endorses” Ellison.  But then, this primary showed the value of DFL endorsements.

 

Get out and VOTE!

August 14th, 2018

That’s the Coal Creek coal plant in North Dakota.  Back in late August 2006, I got on the bus and went on the tour of the coal plant and the Falkirk coal mine. Well worth it!  Anyway, google alerts caught this article recently:

North Dakota coal plant to upgrade transmission system that carries power to 500,000 people

UNDERWOOD, N.D. — Greg Schutte compares Great River Energy’s current transmission system to an 8-track tape and the improvements being made as upgrading to the latest iPhone.

The CU HVDC line, which stands for high voltage direct current, was put in service 40 years ago in 1978.

It’s an extremely important line to GRE because it moves 73 percent of the cooperative’s power supply 436 miles from Underwood to Buffalo, Minn., west of the Twin Cities, and serves about 500,000 customers across Minnesota and parts of Wisconsin.

The power cooperative is preparing to invest $130 million in the line, which Schutte said is imperative to continue producing power at the state’s largest coal-fired power plant, Coal Creek Station.

“It’s an investment in the station and an investment in Coal Creek Energy Park,” Schutte said.

“We had inklings the stations were getting too old,” Schutte said, so GRE performed a life assessment on the system. “We found out we had some issues.”

The main concern is with the thousands of valves located within the conversion equipment, all of which are oil lubricated. The newer technology changes that, making the valves fireproof and reducing risk of failure.

So in 2015, GRE awarded a contract to ABB, a Swedish company, to replace the system.

Starting in March [2019], the power plant and transmission system will go through a 74-day outage, running at half power for all but three days of total shut down. In that time, ABB will gut and reconstruct the two 65-foot stacks that convert the power for transport across the line.

“We’re basically just keeping a shell,” Schutte said. “That’s a huge outage for us.”

GRE began the process seven or eight years ago and, in the past couple years, has devoted more than 20,000 internal engineering hours to making the conversion run smoothly.

A 350-by-100-foot building is being constructed on site to serve as a staging area as the equipment is shipped from overseas. The contractors will pre-assemble as much as possible.

“They want to be really focused once the outage starts,” GRE spokesman Lyndon Anderson said of crews that will be running 24/7.

More than 100 union contractors will be on site.

“It’s the biggest project on our books,” Anderson said.

Along with the valves, the computers that control the system, “the brains of it,” are being replaced, according to Schutte.

The components that make up the system will be reduced by 70 percent, which means less moving parts to maintain.

The system also will see a 7-megawatt efficiency gain because it will be water cooled rather than air cooled. Currently, GRE has to power 1,000-horsepower worth of fans that force air through the system. With the updates, they can sell that power rather than using it.

“That’s nothing to shake your head at either,” Schutte said.

Once the project is complete, the staging building will become a shop for the line and substation maintenance crew. ABB will stay on site for a 90-day trial operation after the outage.

Schutte said there are only five transmission lines in the United States like the CU HVDC line and it’s one of the oldest. The only remaining one that will need updating is Minnesota Power’s Square Butte, HVDC line, which also runs through North Dakota between the Minnkota Power Cooperative’s Milton R. Young Station and Duluth, Minn. Schutte predicts that line is about four years behind GRE’s for updates.

GRE’s line has been extremely reliable, running nearly 100 percent of the time, according to Schutte. Without the updates, it was predicted that reliability would drop off next year and the cooperative wanted to be ready for it.

The last major development by GRE was the building of the Spiritwood Station, which had a $437 million price tag. The cooperative’s DryFining technology installed at Coal Creek cost about $285 million.

Other area transmission projects have involved new construction. Basin Electric Power Cooperative recently finished a 345-kilovolt line from Beulah to Grassy Butte and Tioga at a cost of $300 million, according to Basin spokesman Curt Pearson.

Mark Hanson, a spokesman for Montana-Dakota Utilities, said MDU is splitting the cost of a $240 million to $300 million 345-kilovolt line between Ellendale and Big Stone City, S.D., with Otter Tail Power Cooperative.

So tell me, looking at the article, dated July 17, 2018, but written in future tense, that there will be an outage starting in March, with 74 day outage, well, it sounds like it’s a little late, and that the outage should be done, that the plant and transmission work should be done.  ???  [I’ve spoken with the reporter, and learned it’s March, 2019, not 2-18]  Second, how much did the plant work cost?  There’s information about the transmission [and no work to transmission, it’s conversion, DC to AC, at the substations, that’s it], but what about all the work at the plant, which sounds pretty extensive.  “Preparing to invest” yet the $130 million ABB contract was awarded years ago — why the delay?  I’ll keep an eye out for more info.

Note that the little 200MW Stanton coal plant is closing right now:

Life cycle of lignite plant powers down

ABB, as above, got the Coal Creek job — here’s some of their PR:

CU HVDC Project – Stability over long distances and low environmental impact

ABB wins $130 million order to upgrade HVDC power transmission link in the US

There’s been a lot of new transmission built in the Dakotas, and now they’re going to rehab the CU line?

Remember ABB?  They’re the ones who did the study way back when to figure out how best to get new coal generation out of the Dakotas:

ABB Lignite Vision 21 Transmission Study

And GRE’s coal drying operation, here’s an article I found while looking for details on the Coal Creek rehab:

Four Years of Operating Experience with DryFiningTM Fuel Enhancement Process at Coal Creek Generating Station

Lignite and sub-bituminous coals from western U.S. contain high amounts of moisture (sub-bituminous: 15 to 30%, lignites: 25 to 40%). German and Australian lignites (brown coals) have even higher moisture content, 50 and 60%, respectively. The high moisture content causes a reduction in plant performance and higher emissions, compared to the bituminous (hard) coals. Despite their high-moisture content, lignite and sub-bituminous coals from the Western U.S. and worldwide are attractive due to their abundance, low cost, low NOx and SOx emissions, and high reactivity. A novel low-temperature coal drying process employing a fluidized bed dryer and waste heat was developed in the U.S. by a team led by Great River Energy (GRE). Demonstration of the technology was conducted with the U.S. Department of Energy and GRE funding at Coal Creek Station Unit 1. Following the successful demonstration, the low-temperature coal drying technology was commercialized by GRE under the trade name DryFining TM fuel enhancement process and implemented at both units at Coal Creek Station. The coal drying system at Coal Creek has been in a continuous commercial operation since December 2009. By implementing DryFining at Coal Creek, GRE avoided $366 million in capital expenditures, which would otherwise be needed to comply with emission regulations. Four years of operating experience are described in this paper.
(PDF) Four Years of Operating Experience with…. Available from: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/282203428_Four_Years_of_Operating_Experience_with_DryFiningTM_Fuel_Enhancement_Process_at_Coal_Creek_Generating_Station [accessed Jul 23 2018].

 

 

I should have gone up in the front row and captured the smirk on the Mayor’s face through almost all of the meeting.  Was he nervous and feeling the heat, or was he dismissive of everyone who showed up?  Showed up for what?  For the Pine Island City Council meeting, the first one after City Council meeting where they voted to approve a resolution of support for Management and Training Corporation’s 640 bed ICE detention facility.

Here’s Alan Muller’s comment:

FULL meeting link — City says their site is broken so they posted it HERE – CITY FB PAGE

Here’s the Post Bulletin on the meeting:

Crowd weighs in on potential Pine Island ICE facility

The ICE request for proposals:

Immigration Detention Services – Multiple Areas of Responsibility 

No Comments »

The undermining continues — if ALJs are exempt from “competitive service” and scrutiny, can’t have “complicated and elaborate examination processes or rating procedures” now, can we.   Run of the mill immigration proceedings are before ALJs via Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR).  There are not enough immigration ALJs to handle the load, so they are moving them all over the country (don’t see a “help wanted” posting here!).  Do ya think there could there be some connection?  Heaven forbid someone be qualified, that’s the last thing this administration wants, look no further than judicial nominations.

Notice how “Presidential Actions” has disappeared from website menu options?!?!?!  After the inauguration, the bigliest of inaugurations, I was tracking this daily, and a few months in, distraught and disgusted, I couldn’t keep up, so I cannot report when this change occurred. Apologies for falling down on the job!

Anyway, read this recent Executive Order:

Executive Order Excepting Administrative Law Judges from the Competitive Service

Section 1Policy.  The Federal Government benefits from a professional cadre of administrative law judges (ALJs) appointed under section 3105 of title 5, United States Code, who are impartial and committed to the rule of law.  As illustrated by the Supreme Court’s recent decision in Lucia v. Securities and Exchange Commission, No. 17-130 (June 21, 2018), ALJs are often called upon to discharge significant duties and exercise significant discretion in conducting proceedings under the laws of the United States.  As part of their adjudications, ALJs interact with the public on issues of significance.  Especially given the importance of the functions they discharge ‑‑ which may range from taking testimony and conducting trials to ruling on the admissibility of evidence and enforcing compliance with their orders ‑‑ ALJs must display appropriate temperament, legal acumen, impartiality, and sound judgment.  They must also clearly communicate their decisions to the parties who appear before them, the agencies that oversee them, and the public that entrusts them with authority.

Previously, appointments to the position of ALJ have been made through competitive examination and competitive service selection procedures.  The role of ALJs, however, has increased over time and ALJ decisions have, with increasing frequency, become the final word of the agencies they serve.  Given this expanding responsibility for important agency adjudications, and as recognized by the Supreme Court in Lucia, at least some ‑‑ and perhaps all ‑‑ ALJs are “Officers of the United States” and thus subject to the Constitution’s Appointments Clause, which governs who may appoint such officials.

As evident from recent litigation, Lucia may also raise questions about the method of appointing ALJs, including whether competitive examination and competitive service selection procedures are compatible with the discretion an agency head must possess under the Appointments Clause in selecting ALJs.  Regardless of whether those procedures would violate the Appointments Clause as applied to certain ALJs, there are sound policy reasons to take steps to eliminate doubt regarding the constitutionality of the method of appointing officials who discharge such significant duties and exercise such significant discretion.

Pursuant to my authority under section 3302(1) of title 5, United States Code, I find that conditions of good administration make necessary an exception to the competitive hiring rules and examinations for the position of ALJ.  These conditions include the need to provide agency heads with additional flexibility to assess prospective appointees without the limitations imposed by competitive examination and competitive service selection procedures.  Placing the position of ALJ in the excepted service will mitigate concerns about undue limitations on the selection of ALJs, reduce the likelihood of successful Appointments Clause challenges, and forestall litigation in which such concerns have been or might be raised.  This action will also give agencies greater ability and discretion to assess critical qualities in ALJ candidates, such as work ethic, judgment, and ability to meet the particular needs of the agency.  These are all qualities individuals should have before wielding the significant authority conferred on ALJs, and each agency should be able to assess them without proceeding through complicated and elaborate examination processes or rating procedures that do not necessarily reflect the agency’s particular needs.  This change will also promote confidence in, and the durability of, agency adjudications.

Sec. 2Excepted Service.  Appointments of ALJs shall be made under Schedule E of the excepted service, as established by section 3 of this order.

Sec. 3Implementation.  (a)  Civil Service Rule VI is amended as follows:

(i)    5 CFR 6.2 is amended to read:

OPM shall list positions that it excepts from the competitive service in Schedules A, B, C, and D, and it shall list the position of administrative law judge in Schedule E, which schedules shall constitute parts of this rule, as follows:

Schedule A.  Positions other than those of a confidential or policy-determining character for which it is not practicable to examine shall be listed in Schedule A.

Schedule B.  Positions other than those of a confidential or policy-determining character for which it is not practicable to hold a competitive examination shall be listed in Schedule B.  Appointments to these positions shall be subject to such noncompetitive examination as may be prescribed by OPM.

Schedule C.  Positions of a confidential or policy-determining character shall be listed in Schedule C.

Schedule D.  Positions other than those of a confidential or policy-determining character for which the competitive service requirements make impracticable the adequate recruitment of sufficient numbers of students attending qualifying educational institutions or individuals who have recently completed qualifying educational programs.  These positions, which are temporarily placed in the excepted service to enable more effective recruitment from all segments of society by using means of recruiting and assessing candidates that diverge from the rules generally applicable to the competitive service, shall be listed in Schedule D.

Schedule E.  Position of administrative law judge appointed under 5 U.S.C. 3105.  Conditions of good administration warrant that the position of administrative law judge be placed in the excepted service and that appointment to this position not be subject to the requirements of 5 CFR, part 302, including examination and rating requirements, though each agency shall follow the principle of veteran preference as far as administratively feasible.

(ii)   5 CFR 6.3(b) is amended to read:

(b)  To the extent permitted by law and the provisions of this part, and subject to the suitability and fitness requirements of the applicable Civil Service Rules and Regulations, appointments and position changes in the excepted service shall be made in accordance with such regulations and practices as the head of the agency concerned finds necessary.  These shall include, for the position of administrative law judge appointed under 5 U.S.C. 3105, the requirement that, at the time of application and any new appointment, the individual, other than an incumbent administrative law judge, must possess a professional license to practice law and be authorized to practice law under the laws of a State, the District of Columbia, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, or any territorial court established under the United States Constitution.  For purposes of this requirement, judicial status is acceptable in lieu of “active” status in States that prohibit sitting judges from maintaining “active” status to practice law, and being in “good standing” is also acceptable in lieu of “active” status in States where the licensing authority considers “good standing” as having a current license to practice law.  This requirement shall constitute a minimum standard for appointment to the position of administrative law judge, and such appointments may be subject to additional agency requirements where appropriate.

(iii)  5 CFR 6.4 is amended to read:

Except as required by statute, the Civil Service Rules and Regulations shall not apply to removals from positions listed in Schedules A, C, D, or E, or from positions excepted from the competitive service by statute.  The Civil Service Rules and Regulations shall apply to removals from positions listed in Schedule B of persons who have competitive status.

(iv)   5 CFR 6.8 is amended to add after subsection (c):(d)  Effective on July 10, 2018, the position of administrative law judge appointed under 5 U.S.C. 3105 shall be listed in Schedule E for all levels of basic pay under 5 U.S.C. 5372(b).  Incumbents of this position who are, on July 10, 2018, in the competitive service shall remain in the competitive service as long as they remain in their current positions.

(b)  The Director of the Office of Personnel Management (Director) shall:

(i)   adopt such regulations as the Director determines may be necessary to implement this order, including, as appropriate, amendments to or rescissions of regulations that are inconsistent with, or that would impede the implementation of, this order, giving particular attention to 5 CFR, part 212, subpart D; 5 CFR, part 213, subparts A and C; 5 CFR 302.101; and 5 CFR, part 930, subpart B; and

(ii)  provide guidance on conducting a swift, orderly transition from the existing appointment process for ALJs to the Schedule E process established by this order.

Sec. 4General Provisions.  (a)  Nothing in this order shall be construed to impair or otherwise affect:

(i)   the authority granted by law to an executive department or agency, or the head thereof; or

(ii)  the functions of the Director of the Office of Management and Budget relating to budgetary, administrative, or legislative proposals.

(b)  This order shall be implemented in a manner consistent with applicable law and subject to the availability of appropriations.

(c)  This order is not intended to, and does not, create any right or benefit, substantive or procedural, enforceable at law or in equity by any party against the United States, its departments, agencies, or entities, its officers, employees, or agents, or any other person.

DONALD J. TRUMP

THE WHITE HOUSE,

July 10, 2018.