TODAY – RCLUA v. Rice County

September 23rd, 2005

Today is the hearing for the multiple Motions in the RCLUA v. Rice County lawsuit — a suit to hold Rice County accountable for compliance, in this case for its NONcompliance, with the state’s environmental rules.

I-35 Albers Park.JPG

The hearing’s at the Rice County Courthouse, at 10:30 a.m.

Here’s Rice County’s Motion to Dismiss Download file

Here’s the RCLUA Reply to that Motion Download file

Here’s Rice County’s Reply to RCLUA’s Reply to the County’s Motion to Dismiss Download file

Here’s the Rice County “answers” to RCLUA Discovery Download file

Here’s the RCLUA Motion to Compel Discovery Download file
Here we go!

But what about the people who are already here? A relevant question from today’s STrib’s editorial page:

Letters from readers
September 23, 2005 ELET0923A

All I have been hearing about is how excited the Anoka County and Blaine city officials are about possibly getting the Vikings in Blaine.

Fine. Most of them live on the other side of the city. My house is just across Interstate Hwy. 35W from the proposed site, and I have yet to be asked about it.

A stadium in what is generally a quiet residential area will totally transform our neighborhood. I can’t help but notice that while the renderings of the stadium look wonderful, our homes don’t seem to be anywhere in sight. Officials expect the area to become mostly commercial and they expect it to become commercial fast. They are practically drooling over the amount of new revenue that a stadium could draw.

But what about the people who are already here? Many of us bought our homes here because we liked the small-town feel. We don’t want downtown in our back yards; if we did, we wouldn’t live in the suburbs. I understand the financial benefits of having a stadium in the county, but do they understand the downside of living by one?

Andrea Tholkes, Circle Pines.

News from Lake Havasu City, AZ

September 19th, 2005


My little bro’ David moved to Lake Havasu City years ago.


I thought it was all about a move from car sales to bridge sales, but apparently not, he’s settled in at a job at a resort, Islander RV Resort and sets up cabanas, puts boats in the water, digs up and fixes water system pumps, installs mood lighting in the gazebo, chases coyotes with a golf cart, and gets paid for it — he was overdue for a change and deserves it!

David’s as apolitical as apolitcal can be, striving for balance in the family, I guess. But now and then I get a photo of a beautiful transmission line through the desert, or an article like this:

—– Original Message —–

From: Dave Overland


Sent: Sunday, September 18, 2005 8:26 AM

Mayor-elect urges condemnation of English Village, other sweeping changes

By Brian DiTullio

Thursday, September 15, 2005 10:30 PM MDT

In a letter and a meeting with the city manager on Wednesday, Mayor-elect Harvey Jackson proposed sweeping changes to city government, several of which might be illegal, according to City Attorney Matt Podracky.

Jackson also informed Today’s News-Herald through his secretary on Thursday that, until further notice, he no longer would be speaking to Today’s News-Herald. No reason was given for this decision.

A major platform of Harvey Jackson’s campaign was a more open city government.

The first page of the document asks for several changes, some of which City Manager Tim Ernster said violate city codes and the duties of the city manager position.

In the six-page letter, a copy of which was obtained by the News-Herald, Jackson proposes the elimination of two positions, city public information officer, a job now held by Charlie Cassens, and the proposed cable TV position. He also requests all promotional advertising for the city cease immediately.

Cassens declined to comment on the letter at this time.

Councilwoman Cindy Aldridge said she was very concerned over the letter and that she has been an advocate for open government.

“I’m deeply concerned on how we can communicate information without a (public information officer),” she said.

Jackson accuses department heads Kevin Murphy, Mark Clark, Stan Usinowicz and Ted Swendra of developing reputations of “being disingenuous, untruthful, rude, arrogant, contemptuous of ideas, questions or suggestions by community members and employees, have a reputation for terrorizing employees who feel supervisors or the City should be told about inefficiencies or misdeeds, and have fostered an atmosphere of secrecy and arrogance.”

Jackson also asked that those four individuals no longer be allowed to represent their departments at City Council meetings.

Usinowicz, Clark and Swendra all were in Phoenix for transportation-related meetings on Thursday and could not be reached for comment.

Murphy said he had seen the letter and felt it was best he not comment on the situation at this time.

Jackson also questions Ernster’s desire to execute any of the proposed changes around City Hall, proposed having a City Council member serve as city manager, and asked for a special meeting to discuss the termination of Ernster’s contract.

“The evaluation will include the handling of the four department heads or assistants, the willingness to cut operation and maintenance spending and to address sewer issues and open government policies,” said Jackson in his letter.

Jackson also states in the letter his desire to have City Council advise and give consent to the hiring and naming of department heads.

Ernster said he was shocked by many of the items Jackson had in his letter.

“It’s essentially illegal,” said Ernster, referring to the firing of department heads. “He’s asking me to do something illegal, or he’ll fire me. That’s a first for me.”

Ernster said that his job description states that he handle all personnel matters within City Hall without interference from City Council.

“That’s my responsibility, not City Council’s responsibility,” said Ernster.

Podracky said that some of the proposals were “clearly improper,” and that he would be preparing a more formal response to all the issues raised in the letter.

“I have serious concerns,” said Podracky. “Several items appear to be illegal under state law and city code.”

Podracky also said part of the education process for the new City Council members would involve explanation of what is legal, what can get them removed from office, arrested and jailed and what might potentially involve Lake Havasu City in several lawsuits.

Jackson goes on to propose condemning the English Village and developing plans for a convention center over two levels of underground parking next to a performing arts center at that site.

Jackson also proposes a complete re-evaluation of the sewer expansion project and a new look at the city budget.

Ernster said he had no problem with the last two requests, adding that a meeting with City Council to do an in-depth explanation of the city’s finances was something that needed to be done.

“It’ll help them get up to speed on the issues,” he said.

In a related note, Councilman Bob Crabtree, in an e-mail to Ernster, insisted the new City Council members be installed immediately or he would recommend terminating Ernster’s contract.

Aldridge provided a copy of Arizona Revised Statute stating the election canvass cannot be held any earlier than “six days nor more than 15 days following the election.”

Crabtree could not be reached for comment on Thursday.

Councilman-elect Bruce Hinman said he had not seen the letter yet and declined to comment on it.

“It is something that we’ve been discussing together prior to the election discussing what would be good for the city,” said Councilwoman-elect Margaret Nyberg. “There are some things I have questions about.”

Nyberg said she would be having her own meeting with Ernster about the “nuts and bolts” of city operations.

“There’s a lot of things that need to be done,” said Nyberg.

Councilman Vall Striyle said he had not seen the letter yet, but pointed out that everything must be heard in public before it can be voted on.

“There’s seven people on City Council last time I heard,” said Striyle. “It has to come before us.”

Today’s News-Herald was unable to contact Councilman-elect Allan Sturtevant on Thursday afternoon.

To review the complete report, go to CLICK HERE

You may contact the reporter at

Click that link and read the emails there — BIZARRE! And this new mayor is a lawyer!

And if ya think those are good examples of civic leadership, my bro’s got this bridge…


It’s the annual Solar Tour! This year it’s Saturday, October 1, from 10:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m., and there are 31 installations to check out, including the Carleton wind turbine… turbine? …well, it’s out in the sun, right? And the Green Institute’s Solar Roof!


The Solar Tour is sponsored by the Minnesota Renewable Energy Society (MRES), Aveda Corporation, which utilizes renewables and conservation in its production facilities; Xcel Energy, and Great River Energy. Here’s the MAP for the Solar Tour.

If you just can’t wait another week, there’s a Community Solar Project Planning Workshop at the Dodge Nature Center, all day next Saturday, September 24th, starting at 8:30 a.m.

Solar’s a happenin’ thang, from massive installations out in the desert

Solar in desert.jpg

and on the roof of the community washeteria up in Arctic Village, Alaska, near ANWR

Arctic Village.jpg

and if it works there, it works anywhere, well, nearly anywhere, like in Austin, Minnesota, where the paper is crowing about that community’s steps:

Friday, August 05, 2005


Citizens can lead the way toward change

Here’s the story about that project in Austin:

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Tapping the sun’s power

By Lee Bonorden/Austin Daily Herald

Good Earth Natural Foods is basking in the sun.

Owner Caron Jagodzinski is a believer in renewable energy, judging by her solar panels. They rest on the south side of the building, where everyone can see them and be reminded of the sun’s importance as a renewable energy source.

Hunter Electric, Inc. is doing the work, and Austin Utilities is partnering.

“I think it’s good for everyone,” said Kelly Lady, energy services consultant. “We sell power. She wants to produce her own. In this case, Good Earth Natural Foods will use all of the energy it produces. It will be minimal, but it’s a step in the right direction to find alternative energy sources and reduce our dependence upon fossil fuels.”

Work began Monday at Good Earth Natural Foods, located at 120 Third Ave. NW, Austin. Mark Hunter had the right man for the job: Tom Yates, who lives in a solar home outside of Austin.

Hunter Electric Inc.’s owner, Hunter, was excited about being involved in “energy history.”

“This is the first solar panel going up on Austin Utilities lines,” he said. “Each panel puts out about 110 watts. There are eight panels. There will be 40 volts per panel with no load on it. It will put out 320 volts of DC power.”

That’s a minimal amount of electricity, but Hunter said it’s enough to illuminate eight 100-watt light bulbs an hour.

Hunter said the solar project should be completed this week.

Yates, the “Mr. Solar Energy” of Austin, said the Good Earth Natural Foods system’s 880 watts is a little less than 1 kilowatt. “This is going to run lights and cash register. That kind of equipment,” Yates said.

Because of the heavy demands for electricity by the freezer/refrigeration equipment in Good Earth Natural Foods, the panels will generate less than 10 percent of the total energy needs of the business.

“I think she’s doing it more for the next generation,” Yates said.

“This system would cover a third of my use for my house,” Jagodzinski said.

The business owner is serious about trying to reduce her own dependence upon the public utility’s electricity. “I have already put compact fluorescents in and reduced my electrical use by three or four percent,” she said.

At home she uses a washing machine that will pay for itself in five years with just the water she saves.

“This is a dream come true for me,” Jagodzinski said of choosing the solar system for her business.

Choosing the south side of her building was the “perfect location” for the solar panels, according to Yates.

Solar technologies use the sun’s energy and light to provide heat, light, hot water, electricity and even cooling, for homes, businesses and industry.

“They make a huge variety of solar energy devices,” Hunter said. “Shingles that go on roofs, as well as panels.”

“Drive around and look at all the highway construction signs,” Hunter said. “They have panels to power batteries to illuminate the signs.”

Austin Utilities has a policy to guide the implementation of projects such as the Good Earth Natural Foods solar panels.

According to the utility spokesperson, Lady, people in Austin who want to produce their own electricity must contact Austin Utilities first for a preplan and follow-up inspections.

In Jagodzinski’s case, the solar energy she will produce will be tied directly to the Austin Utilities power line through an inverter converting the energy from DC to AC.

According to Yates, adapting to renewable energy sources is being done more aggressively by businesses.

According to the Austin Utilities’ spokesperson, it will cost between 18 and 25 cents per kilowatt hour to produce electricity with the eight solar panels, while the utility’s cost is 8 cents per kilowatt hour.

Austin Utilities plans to launch a campaign to encourage solar energy usage in October.

People such as Yates and now Jagodzinski are prepared to endure that while making a statement.

“Look at the heat,” Jagodzinski said Monday afternoon, during the sidewalk interview on another hot, humid day. “Right now, as we’re standing here, that’s going to work up there.”

By mid-afternoon Tuesday, the panels had generated their first units of electricity. A meter installed in the front window of the business will record the energy generated.

For information about renewable energy projects with Austin Utilities, call Lady at 433-8886.


This year’s Solar Tour will feature Austin’s Good Earth Natural Foods new solar system, and also the home system of Tom Yates, the guy who built the one at Good Earth — and ask him how to make your own diesel fuel while you’re there. Look for numbers 30 and 31 on the Solar Tour!

Tom's Solar System 2.JPG

The Solar Tour has sites in Minneapolis, such as Christine Ziebold’s #18, and in St. Paul, of course, and also Sun’s Warmth Rich Huelskamp’s house near Red Wing, the Brom residence in Winona, and even homes in Mora and Mendota Heights and Fridley! Here’s the MAP for the Solar Tour. That’s Saturday, October 1, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

The Midwest Renewable Energy Association (MREA) also has a solar tour that pretty much covers the state of Wisconsin. Details here. There are tours, but you have to sign up for them, so check it out ASAP! MREA offers Certification classes — their page is under construction, so call 715-592-6595 for information or email.

How come Bob & Suzannah’s house isn’t on the tour? Ray, you’re slipping!

In the Letters of today’s STrib, I see someone’s noticed the Center of the American Experiment’s one way rhetoric:

In class there’s recourse

Whether or not one believes there is a liberal bias in higher education, at least in a classroom it is clear who is speaking and the opportunity for disagreement over facts is available to students. The Center of the American Experiment’s new “watchdog” website takes St. Olaf College to task for its supposed liberal bias by publishing an unsigned blog criticizing the college’s sustainability theme (Star Tribune, Sept. 14). The website provides no mechanism for responding to its charges, some of which are demonstrably ideological and not supported by facts.

If conservative students feel they need protection from liberal thinking, perhaps what they really need is more practice articulating their views face to face in their own classrooms, instead of hiding in this kind of anonymous forum for unattributed complaints.

Randolph Jennings,

Northfield, Minn.

And there’s class in recourse and discourse, and no recourse is declasse! We had an example of this on a more personal level in Northfield, where someone felt free to criticize, using statements unsupported by facts, and did it in a “hit & run” way with no way to respond. I’d linked directly to the comments in a blog post. Then, suddenly, the link I’d used linked to the Republican national site! She’d pulled her post and linked it over — couldn’t take the accountability. That had a few people snorting — maybe the CAE could adopt the same method and forward any complaints to __________, or set up a feedback loop! (Update: Try this, more current, link. What a hoot — it’s flagged so traffic from this site gets the feedback loop!)

Hmmmmmmmmm… try this and see if it happens to you: When I go to I get “The connection was refused when attempting to contact” so I tried it from a number of other links, including from CAE, and nada… Takeout’s been taken out, at least for now!

Of mad cows and pissy deer…

September 17th, 2005


In the “it’s about time” category…

Mad cow: A good step by USDA

Late last month, however, the USDA issued an important and welcome update on its mad cow surveillance program. Since June 2004 the government has tested more than 460,000 “high risk” beef cows — animals culled by veterinarians or renderers because they showed nerve disorders or other potential symptoms of mad cow disease, formally called bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE). The idea is not to test for food safety, since the animals had been pulled from the food chain anyway, but to estimate how far BSE had spread in the American herd. So far, only one of the tested cows has turned up positive. Now the department will expand its tests to 20,000 animals that show no symptoms but are old enough to have developed the disease. Europe includes such animals in its testing program and has found many cases of BSE, so this is a valuable addition to the nation’s surveillance protocol.

Should we worry about Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease? Considering this is not something typically suspected, that we don’t test the cows, how would we know CJD? Did the man in Northfield who died of CJD a while back have CJD Variant? In the UK, you’re more likely to die of CJD than of HIV from a blood transfusion — considering all the prevantative measures with blood transfusions, YOU WOULD THINK THAT WE’D TAKE SIMILAR LEVELS OF PRECAUTIONS WITH MEAT … but as my ex-husband would say, “Goes ta show ya don’t think!”


I’m a veggie primarly because in 6th grade we toured the Swift plant in South St. Paul.

cow Swift.jpg
From the Minnesota Historical Society

It was either tour that plant or the Metro sewage treatment plant, and I wanted to see the collection they had of items flushed. Oh well, just my luck, I instead had to see meat packing in action, and what really did it was a couple of big barrels of eyes that were going into hot dogs. After the tour, they handed us each a cold hotdog. Urp…

This image was accompanied by a meat version of the “Beans, beans, the magical fruit” ditty…

Add to it the cumulative impacts of a couple years cooking at the Seward Cafe (some folks’ tour of da hood), plus I was a meat hauler in a past life, spending lots of time at IBP and John Morrell and Farmland (check this!), etc., waiting for animals to be killed, cut up, put in bins or boxes and stuck on my truck, where we spent the next 36-48 hours headed west to Farmer John’s, Cal-Hono, and cold storage and grocery warehouses all over California.

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And then there’s the pissy deer in Wisconsin… Hmmmm… I’ve got a friend in the pissy deer area who’s displayed some obvious judgment problems… maybe that’s his problem!


How do these Chronically Wasted Deer get from South Dakota to Wisconsin? Think it doesn’t happen here? Here are some more info links.

Meat? When pigs sing and cows fly…

From: (Stephanie found this one a while back)