(So does someone have a more “appropriate” photo? No, I won’t put up the horse’s ass!)

Regime change begins at home!

Though not in time to stop the prior regime’s declaration that there would be no candidate signs or display tables at the convention (how bizarre, this is a county political convention!?!?!), the spirit of the Rice County DFL convention was clearly spirited. And in strolls the new boss, up early in the a.m., all decked out and ready to rock — the Screening Committee (NOTE CORRECTION!!) got a screening done — did their job as best they could with half missing — the nomination was made and the guy with the mighty mighty pen (laptop?) won the election and is the new chair! As someone said, “That just isn’t done!” But of course it is, particularly where a situation warrants change, where the people demand change. Right guy in the right place, ready to take it on, couldn’t be better! As the Larry Long tune goes, it’s time to “STAND UP!” Or for that matter, “BE THE CHANGE!” (Can you tell Larry Long was there last night? Below…)

Erick Sommers is the new Chair of the Rice County DFL! It’s a new day. Erick Sommers can put his creativity to the test and lead the Rice County DFL to help unseat a couple of others who need to be shown the door — Rep. Ray Cox and Sen. Tom Neuville. This is going to be a fun election season! Let’s get to work!


Lift up your voice
Let it roll like thunder
Be the change you believe in
Where hatred sleeps
Where truth never slumbers
Be the change you believe in

Stand up (Stand up)
For the children
Stand up (Stand up)
For the people
Stand up (Stand up)
For each other

Larry Long & J.D. Steele


Headwaters to Gulf Jazz & Heritage Festival

Last night there was a benefit in my old neighborhood for a group that’s been helping out in New Orleans — Mission from Minnesota. I got a call to work on sound from Diane Anderson, who I’d worked with for years on the 9-Oscar show at the Riv (right Ross?!?!) back in my KFAI days. Why not, though I’m too long in the tooth to be hauling base bins up the stairs of Wilebski’s! It was light duty and a good time!

Willie Murphy did “People Get Ready” and noted that one verse always reminded him of politicians:

There ain’t no room for the hopeless sinner whom would hurt all mankind
Just to save his own
Have pity on those whose chances grow thinner
For there is no hiding place against the kingdoms throne


Laurie Trach and her family, the Santiagos, three generations, started getting the crowd going, and the Rev. Lance Eden of the First United Methodist Church of New Orleans brought them to their feet!


It was Rev. Lance and then Mick LaBriola and his “Beau Koo Jacks” that brought down the house…


If you’re in need some mood music here in Minnesota, here’re the Meters.

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Deere Engine Sub – Cedar Falls, IA

And yet another step towards Cedar Falls Utilities’ Waterloo. I’d served MAPP with a subpoena to get at the real capacity of the 161kV line in front of Diane and Bert Schou’s home in Cedar Falls. Why? Because the CFU engineer testified over and over that it was a 33MW line. So my first clue was his reference to “MW” when he should be talking about “MVA.” But more importantly, the Chicago Project, reconfigured to 115kV and then 161kV on the Wisconsin side of the river, was 868MVA, an example of a typical line, and it’s “just a tad bit” more than 33MW (MW is “essentially” MVA, but not quite). So I served a subpoena on Chuck Tyson, who’d handled the one back during the SW MN 345kV case. He grimaced, rolled his eyeballs, and settled in for another journey through MAPP files. A few short days later, he called to schedule a time to go over what he’d found on this CFU line.

Here’s the poop: it’s a 329 MVA line! No suprise, but it is not even close to the testimony of the utility. See for yourself, here’s the MAPP Form 1. It’s the second line, the CFU Union Sub — and go over to the right to the MVA column — ta – da… 329! Download file
(might have to turn this around)

Here’s their “engineer’s” testimony about the capacity of the line: View image

We’re assuredly having fun now!

Mesaba plan 1_edited.jpg

This is way too much fun! Another great letter in the Grand Rapids Herald Review, from someone I’ve never heard of, and an article about the choices facing the county — a binary moment approaches.

County should drive hard bargain to get its due


Thanks to the Itasca County Commissioners for working for the interests of local citizens in the matter of Excelsior/Micheletti’s plans to put a coal gasification plant in close proximity to many private landowners and renters. Some legislators are putting Excelsior/Micheletti’s interests above their constituents, exempting a power plant from millions in personal property tax at a time when local governments are suffering due to revenue loss. Local governments are already doing a lot for this private for-profit corporation.

Isn’t it a legislatorâ??s job to help stabilize the community, not destabilize — to promote economic development, not detriment?

I hope we can drive a hard and fair bargain with this corporation in return for what they are getting from us.

Bob Beech
Iron Range Township

And about the latest county meeting with the MSI and Mesaba consultant from SEH:

County faced with commitment decisions on Minnesota Steel, Excelsior Energy projects

Itasca County will face a number of decisions in the coming two months about just how far it wants to go in financially supporting the proposed Minnesota Steel and Excelsior projects.

The Minnesota Steel project proposal has the ambition of developing an iron ore processing and steel production facility near Nashwauk. The Excelsior Energy Project proposes a coal gasification plant near Taconite. Minnesota Steel officials have estimated that the project brings to the table 700 permanent jobs. Excelsior Energy officials have previously stated that its project will bring 100 permanent jobs to the area.

Several infrastructure elements needed for the proposed developments to move forward will be discussed with county commissioners in the weeks ahead. On Tuesday at a special meeting of the board, commissioners listened to an update from Short, Elliott and Hendrickson officials, with which the county has contracted to oversee the infrastructure for the proposed projects, on where the challenges are and what decisions will likely lie ahead.
According to Chuck Michael of SEH, major infrastructure elements required for the economic development projects to move forward include railroad, roadway, gas pipeline, fresh water supply and wastewater treatment.
Roads and railways will be the main county elements of involvement – gas pipeline, water and wastewater treatment will largely be under the jurisdiction of the cites of Nashwauk and Taconite.

Already, however, the county faces potential financial outlay for the projects in the form of required aerial photography, which must be completed before infrastructure planning can begin. The current estimated pricetag for that service is about $210,000 for both projects and there is some question about if the county footed the bill if reimbursement would be possible.

While the governor has included $7 million in his bonding proposal for infrastructure for both sites, a number which falls far short of the $92.4 million requested by the county, bonding money may not be a source of reimbursement for aerial photography – unless expressly written into legislation.

County Attorney Jack Muhar noted that reimbursement for upfront costs was an issue with the bonding money allocated for the MIS project.

The difficulties with determining just how far the county wants to risk its own financial resources was put into focus by Michael who noted that financial contingencies could delay development.

“If the bonding bill passes contingent on financial close, it puts the (construction) schedule six months behind,” he said.

Financial close of the Minnesota Steel project is expected to take place in December of this year and hinges on completion of environmental review and the permitting process, according to Howard Hilshorst of Minnesota Steel.
It is unlikely that the timetable can be moved up, but infrastructure construction needs to begin this summer to keep the project on schedule. The question then for the county, said Michael, becomes how far the county wants to go in its financial commitment.

“How much does the county want to jump the gun to help meet the timeline?” Michael asked commissioners.
Michael suggested that going back to aerial photography vendors for potential reduction in price was one option which would potentially pose less risk to the county. The aerial photography would likely need to be completed by the end of April to keep the Minnesota Steel project on schedule for production to begin at the outset of 2009.
Commissioner Catherine McLynn also suggested that perhaps the county could look at aerial photography for the Minnesota Steel project only, which has a tighter timeline than Excelsior Energy. That move could bring the potential cost down to just more than $60,000.

Commissioner Rusty Eichorn questioned whether the county should be responsible for the aerial photography bill.
â??Are we assuming the county is going to be responsible for the aerial photography and how is it going to be paid for?â? questioned Eichorn.

The discussion ended with more questions than answers, however, SEH officials and commissioners did map out some actions.

County officials verbally agreed that local legislators would be contacted to determine if reimbursement costs could be written into the bonding bill once finalized. SEH will go back to the vendors to determine if some cost savings can be gained in the aerial photography bill.

In other business at the special meeting, the board:

â?¢ Listened to a report from SEH railroad expert Dave McKenzie, who updated the board on rail needs the two projects would have as well as a general outline of county options for that service. Railroad infrastructure carries a potential pricetag of $30 to $40 million. While McKenzie noted that state bonding was the countyâ??s best bet for funding, other sources are available including federal loans, county revenue bonds and shipper funds.

â?¢ Listened to an update on potential other funding sources for water, wastewater treatment and gas pipeline infrastructure for the projects from Dick Grabko of SEH. Funding for these elements is available from Iron Range Resources, the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development, federal Rural Development loans and the federal Economic Development Authority.

â?¢ Reviewed the timetable and discussion topics for subsequent meetings, which will take place the first and third Tuesdays of each month through May. Upcoming topics include: wetland permitting, gas pipeline, roadways and shortline railroad.


What does it mean? Yesterday, I received two Orders from the Polk County District Court, first the expected denial of Cedar Falls Utilities Motion for Sanctions against me and acceptance of CFU as an Intervenor in the case. The second was a Scheduling Order, with a briefing schedule and a date for oral argument — but because we were in court on Friday at too early o’clock for a hearing on the Iowa Utilities Board’s Motion to Dismiss, and there wasn’t an Order about that Motion, I’m not about to start jumping up and down in victory… BUT maybe, just maybe, this is the door opening and we really will be writing briefs and having oral arguments… maybe there is a Dog!!! Maybe the Order denying IUB’s Motion is in the mail (and to think that CFU and IUB’s attorneys wanted me to do the hearing off the record — I don’t think so!).

Here’re the Orders from yesterday:

Order Denying Sanctions Download file

Scheduling Order Download file

Ivan Webber.jpg
Cedar Falls Utilities’ attorney Ivan Webber — he may have goofy ideas about how to conduct a hearing, but he’s written some good articles and editorials.

Feeling like a mushroom?

March 20th, 2006

Mushrooms growing on bed of compost

It’s no coincidence when they’re constantly keeping us in the dark and feeding us shit! This quote came across the wire a while back and as I’m cleaning out the inbox, I realize it’s too good to toss away… it says too much about this great free country of ours…

Victoria Toensing.jpg

“The American people don’t have a constitutional right to know doodly-doo.”

— Victoria Toensing, ex-prosecutor, on PBS NOW 3/17/2006.

It’s the norm in Washington:

Victoria Toensing failed to disclose friendship with “No Disclosure” Novak in Wash. Post op-ed

It’s election season again, it’s the legislative session, the courthouse is open most days, and it’s always vocalization season. So enough complaining and whining — what are YOU DOING?