Yeah, Chucky’s baaaaaack!  And if it walks like a duck, talks like a duck…

Chuck Michael is back and he has been for a while on this Zip Rail project.  And it’s a small world, particularly in this public policy and infrastructure area.

Turns out it’s much smaller, he’s been working a couple of sides of this project, Olmsted County and apparently the North American High Speed Rail Group, meeting with officials in “other states.”  And they’ve been to Washington, together, and have been lobbying hard in Minnesota, both Olmsted County and NAHSR:

Zip Rail backers make their case in Washington, D.C.

And look how he’s represented for the conference, Twin Cities HSR Passenger Corridor, on which that article above was based, where an Olmsted County representative and a NAHSR rep are also on the bill:

U.S. High Speed Rail Conference

A project from Las Vegas to LA was waved around as competition to this Metro – Rochester Zip Rail, as in a threat of “build Zip Rail and if not we’ll go to Vegas,” and if so, doesn’t that “competition” mean it’s a conflict, and not working in the interests of Olmsted County?  Or is it that Michael went “out of state” as in to Washington?  It doesn’t say what project he was working on “out of state,” whether it was Zip Rail or something else.  That should be disclosed.

But big picture, I don’t see this as much as a “conflict” as an “reporting” issue, because based on the conference presentation above, their lobbying together, because I’d guess the parties’ interests regarding Zip Rail, the positions/interests of Olmsted County and NAHSR are pretty much the same, though Olmsted County should have more of a sense of working in the public interest.  THAT is a problem, and it’s Olmsted County’s problem and the voters there should address this!

More of an issue is declaration of those interests and where and how much money is devoted to pushing those interests.  Who’s registered with Campaign Finance Board?  Chuck Michael is not registered as a lobbyist under any entity.  Nada…   The essence of his job is lobbying, in Minnesota and nationally, and he’s not listed with the Campaign Finance Board.  Not Olmsted County, and not North American High Speed Rail.   I think it’s time Chuck Michael and the associations he’s working for on this project register and disclose.

Anyone that had anything to do with Excelsior Energy’s Mesaba Project, as Chuck Michael did, needs high scrutiny.



The Wabash Valley IGCC (coal gasification) generating plant was built as a demonstration project, and oh what a miserable failure that was.  Such a failure that they’re now shutting down the coal gasification part and will be running only on natural gas.

After it was “finished” it took years of work, with at times 22 engineering contractors, to cobble it together and make it run.  It rarely ran at capacity, and often didn’t run at all.  Operating costs were through the roof.  It also exploded and killed two workers, which made headlines just as our opposition to the Mesaba Project was getting into full swing, yet that explosion was just the tip of the iceberg in the many problems with this project.

Wabash River IGCC plant explodes, two workers killed

More on coal gasification plant explosion

Coal gasification explosion: metal fitting broke, released gas

Wabash River Final Technical Report(it was “routinely” in violation of its water permit for selenium, cyanide and arsenic)

And here’s the good news — IT’S SHUTTING DOWN FOR GOOD!

47 employees will be laid off. Wabash Valley Power Association to cease operations at sgSOLUTIONS


StephanieHenriksen_artshowIn the Northfield News today:

By Carol A. Overland and Alan Muller, Special to the News

Stephanie Henriksen will be missed

Robocalls gone rogue

January 11th, 2016


Delaware robocall bomb threats:

Automated bomb threats force Delaware school evacuations

And in Iowa, on the political side of thing, racist robocalls:

From Alternet, here’s a transcript of the 50-second call:

“The American National Super PAC makes this call to support Donald Trump.

‘My name is Reverend Ronald Tan, host of the Christian radio talk show program For God and Country. First Corinthians states: God chose the foolish things of this world to shame the wise and God chose the weak things of this world to shame the strong. For the Iowa caucuses, please support Donald Trump. He is courageous and he speaks his mind. God Bless.’

‘I’m Jared Taylor with American Renaissance. I urge you to vote for Donald Trump because he is the one candidate who points out that we should accept immigrants who are good for America. We don’t need Muslims. We need smart, well-educated white people who will assimilate to our culture. Vote Trump.’

‘I am William Johnson, a farmer and a white nationalist. Support Donald Trump. I paid for this through the super PAC. [Telephone] (213) 718-3908. This call is not authorized by Donald Trump.'”



Can we scrounge up some legal counsel for the Bundy Brigade?  Throughout this Bundy occupation in Oregon, they’re railing about the Constitution, that it’s against the Constitution for the federal government to own land.  In defense of this position, they’re citing “Article 1, Section 8, clause 17.”

Just google “Bundy” and “Article 1, Section 8, Clause 17” for examples of this reliance.

Here’s a cut and past of Article 1, Section 8:

Section 8 – The Text
The Congress shall have Power To lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts and Excises, to pay the Debts and provide for the common Defense and general Welfare of the United States; but all Duties, Imposts and Excises shall be uniform throughout the United States;

To borrow Money on the credit of the United States;

To regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several states, and with the Indian Tribes;

To establish an uniform Rule of Naturalization, and uniform Laws on the subject of Bankruptcies throughout the United States;

To coin Money, regulate the Value thereof, and of foreign Coin, and fix the Standard of Weights and Measures;

To provide for the Punishment of counterfeiting the Securities and current Coin of the United States;

To establish Post Offices and post Roads;

To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries;

To constitute Tribunals inferior to the supreme Court;

To define and punish Piracies and Felonies committed on the high Seas, and Offences against the Law of Nations;

To declare War, grant Letters of Marque and Reprisal, and make Rules concerning Captures on Land and Water;

To raise and support Armies, but no Appropriation of Money to that Use shall be for a longer Term than two Years;

To provide and maintain a Navy;

To make Rules for the Government and Regulation of the land and naval Forces;

To provide for calling forth the Militia to execute the Laws of the Union, suppress Insurrections and repel Invasions;

To provide for organizing, arming, and disciplining, the Militia, and for governing such Part of them as may be employed in the Service of the United States, reserving to the States respectively, the Appointment of the Officers, and the Authority of training the Militia according to the discipline prescribed by Congress;

To exercise exclusive Legislation in all Cases whatsoever, over such District (not exceeding ten Miles square) as may, by Cession of particular States, and the Acceptance of Congress, become the Seat of the Government of the United States, and to exercise like Authority over all Places purchased by the Consent of the Legislature of the State in which the Same shall be, for the Erection of Forts, Magazines, Arsenals, dock-Yards, and other needful Buildings; —And

To make all Laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into Execution the foregoing Powers, and all other Powers vested by this Constitution in the Government of the United States, or in any Department or Officer thereof.

Ummmmmm, where do they get these ideas?

How do they square that with Article IV, Section 3 (in red below):

Article. IV.

Section. 1.

Full Faith and Credit shall be given in each State to the public Acts, Records, and judicial Proceedings of every other State. And the Congress may by general Laws prescribe the Manner in which such Acts, Records and Proceedings shall be proved, and the Effect thereof.

Section. 2.

The Citizens of each State shall be entitled to all Privileges and Immunities of Citizens in the several States.

A Person charged in any State with Treason, Felony, or other Crime, who shall flee from Justice, and be found in another State, shall on Demand of the executive Authority of the State from which he fled, be delivered up, to be removed to the State having Jurisdiction of the Crime.

No Person held to Service or Labour in one State, under the Laws thereof, escaping into another, shall, in Consequence of any Law or Regulation therein, be discharged from such Service or Labour, but shall be delivered up on Claim of the Party to whom such Service or Labour may be due.

Section. 3.

New States may be admitted by the Congress into this Union; but no new State shall be formed or erected within the Jurisdiction of any other State; nor any State be formed by the Junction of two or more States, or Parts of States, without the Consent of the Legislatures of the States concerned as well as of the Congress.

The Congress shall have Power to dispose of and make all needful Rules and Regulations respecting the Territory or other Property belonging to the United States; and nothing in this Constitution shall be so construed as to Prejudice any Claims of the United States, or of any particular State.

Section. 4.

The United States shall guarantee to every State in this Union a Republican Form of Government, and shall protect each of them against Invasion; and on Application of the Legislature, or of the Executive (when the Legislature cannot be convened), against domestic Violence.

And to add a little levity — but as smh inducing — their updated wishlist.  Can someone explain why they’d need “ice chests?”  It’s winter…