On the way home from the Rohlfing Raj, on County Road 1 north of Mazeppa, there was a huge fire back behind a farm’s buildings and trees, very violent rolling flames, not like a campfire, bonfire or even a junk pile fire.  Called it in, and then had to turn back because I’d forgotten something, and saw the crew of trucks headed out, filling the farm yard, at least a dozen trucks out there, and they were still there when we returned headed finally home, fire still burning.  Seemed gaslike to me, propane tank?  Much like a mini-Bakken BOOM! train fire:



A couple years ago, ALJ Kathleen Sheehy, now Hennepin County judge, was overseeing the public hearing for the CapX 2020 transmission project, and at one point, she threw up her hands, “ENOUGH ABOUT THE TREES!” and shut down a witness’s testimony about the impact of that project on his tree farm.

But FYI, Judge Sheehy, you can’t ever say enough about the trees… and shrubs and plants of all sorts.  It’s horrible without them, and with some nurturing, they can come back.  New trees are replacing the ones mowed down for the West Avenue project, the plants eaten down to the ground by those damn deer are growing back, seems like the deer are somewhere else this year, even the hostas are thriving.  First load of rhubarb pulled and the rhubarb cheezecake was to die for, lasted all of about 24 hours.

Rhubarb Cheezecake

From this, which really, really sucked:


And this:


And this:


To this — the City says they’ll be done with seeding by June 1, and I want to move a bunch of day lilies in on the boulevard:


And in the back, when the house was abandoned, the garage had a “dog door” and a fence, seems the poor dogs spent a lot of time out there (though there were dog poops on the attached garage roof, someone was letting them out the upstairs door.  From the County Assessor file:

Tax Photo 3

Cleaned up some to sell:


And now a shop, AC, heated, and water too!




Steiner’s grave under the hosta, with the pink bleeding heart and “liberal” (white one!), and the peony by the A/C over Tippicanoe.


Spireas were eaten to the ground by deer a couple years ago, and last year but not as much, and now they’re taking off!


Although one of the barberry shrubs from the other house didn’t survive:


And the honeysuckle is going nuts, the one on the other side is too shaded, but it’ll grow.  Along the day lilies is where the drainage tube went all the way to the street, the City has been good about helping with drainage:



As if that 106 MPH Amtrak wreck wasn’t bad enough, look how close it was to those black tankers!  Maybe 15 feet?  What’s in those black tanker cars?  Bakken BOOM! crude?  We know lots of it goes through Philly, some from there to the Delaware City refinery.  Seven killed, hundreds injured.  All this next to a rail yard with tankers.

When is rail safety going to be taken seriously?

Amtrak Crash




Today was the Save the Bluffs sponsored “Conference for Frac Sand Activists: Networking, Learning, Advocating.”  Katie Himanga did a tremendous job organizing this, great turnout, and I came back energized!

Here’s my presentation on “Opportunities for Legal Intervention” (as opposed to not so legal??? hmmmmm):

Overland Handout

LOBBYISTS ‘R’ US (this is OLD!)

People were VERY interested in both Intervention in a permitting and proceeding and in Application for a change in Zoning Ordinance.  Both of these are important because they put “the people” in the driver’s seat, through becoming a party in the proceeding, or through becoming the applicant.


Intervention in a permitting proceeding is authorized under Minn. Stat. 116B.09, Subd. 1.  This is useful where a project has been proposed and applied for, because it gives you a seat at the table:

Here’s an example where a party has intervened, in this case in a City of Minneapolis permitting proceeding:

Friends of the Riverfront, et al., Relators, vs. DeLaSalle High School, Respondent, City of Minneapolis, Respondent

Here’s an example of a simple Petition (I’d recommend adding more narrative and supporting documents):

City of Scandia – Notice of Intervention (Final – 7-21-09)


Pretty much anyone can apply for a Zoning Ordinance change.  It was done to get the Goodhue County Wind Ordinance moving, and got a county Wind Study Committee started under the Planning Advisory Committee to put the Ordinance together.  The same thing happened with Silica Sand mining, a Silica Sand study committee was formed, but it wasn’t utilized in this instance nearly as much as it was for the Wind Ordinance.

Here’s the Application for Goodhue County, which also explains how the process works, what to do, etc.  It’s pretty simple, apply and the process begins slowly grinding forward.  Most Counties will have their application online:

Goodhue County_2015 Change of Zone_201501090914372783

Here’s the Save the Bluff’s Petition for a Goodhue County Zoning change that got StB a seat at the table:

Binder-Zoning Change Application-FINAL

Here are a few of posts from PAC and County Board meetings during that time as it slowly went through the county process:

Silica Sand Mining 1,000 ft setback from Public Waters – August 19th, 2014

Monday 6p – Silica sand at Goodhue PAC Meeting  -November 16th, 2013

Most interesting Goodhue PAC meeting – August 20th, 2013

Goodhue County extends moratorium – August 6th, 2013

Save the Bluffs files Application for Zoning Ordinance Change – July 15th, 2013



Thanks to Kent Laugen, attorney here in Red Wing, for notice of this decision:

N.S.A. Phone Data Collection Is Illegal, Appeals Court Rules

The good news is that §215 has been amended and amended, and is due to expire on June 1, 2015.

Here’s the actual decision:

Patriot Act_NSA_ca2_20150507

On the first page of narrative, as the court recites the procedural posture, dig this:

The district court held that §215 of the PATRIOT Act impliedly precludes judicial review…

Really?  Getting over this hurdle at the Appellate Court is a huge relief, and this is the part that I’m so glad to see.  This section is from p. 32 – p. 53.  Here’s the bottom line:


There’s also a lengthy section considering, and then rejecting, an analogy of NSA metadata collection with grand jury collection of information by subpoena, and for those interested in workings of a grand jury, this might provide some insight.  The court carefully notes that:

§ 215 does not permit an investigative demand for any information relevant to fighting the war on terror, or anything relevant to whatever the government might want to know.  It permits demands for documents “relevant to an authorized investigation.”

Decision, p. 66.  General broad fishing expeditions are not OK.

The government also tried to argue, unsuccessfully, that the repeated ratification of the PATRIOT Act meant that Congress knew, understood, accepted, and approved of the administrative interpretation, that NSA was authorized to collect this metadata.  That argument fell flat too, with the court noting that there was no discussion of scope, only Congressional inaction regarding interpretation:

Congress cannot reasonably be said to have ratified a program of which many members of Congress — and all members of the public — were not aware.

And the Court goes on:



Because they reached this decision, as above, they sidestepped the Constitutional issues for another day…