Reading Recommendation: Lia Purpura, "All the Fierce Tethers" (New England Review 37.1)

Rob Hardy - Rough Draft - Fri, 10/21/2016 - 10:01am
I recommend this crystalline essay in the latest issue of the New England Review by my Oberlin classmate Lia Purpura:
Lia’s ability to find surprising connections, to blend intellect and imagination, and to draw her art into an engagement with the world, strike me as qualities Oberlin would have nurtured in her. She observes locally and thinks globally. She appreciates the magnificence of the minute. In her first book of poetry, The Brighter the Veil, there are poems about mosquitos, pennies, buttons. In my favorite, “Buttons,” she writes: “At night/each goes back/through its own darkness./Star after star is led out.” When I first read the poem in 1996, I was in the midst of stay-at-home fatherhood, preoccupied with small, domestic things that in Lia’s poems became large and luminous. In her essay, Lia writes that when she observes people “it’s exactly the boundedness of their lives, the precise sizing down that moves me.” I think of those lightly personified buttons. That was twenty years ago. What tiny marvels was she contemplating at Oberlin thirty years ago? I found several of Lia’s poems in a sepia-spined copy of The Plum Creek Review, Oberlin’s student literary journal, from Spring 1985. Already, at 20 or 21, she was writing poems that make you hold your breath and release it with an ah at the end. In one poem, “Finding Out a House,” she pauses to imagine “somewhere in the attic/a seed between floorboards.” There it is, the tiny detail that so many others would miss.
I didn’t really know Lia at Oberlin. She was an English major, which placed her at a level of sophistication far beyond my reach, then or now. (It amazes me that I have friends who are actual English professors.) She was also a creative writing major, and creative writing was the course in which I received my lowest grade at Oberlin. Diane Vreuls actually used the word “trash” about some of my writing. She was right. I was a good writer who needed to find the right things to write about. Lia was a fantastic writer whose eye and ear already seemed perfectly attuned. It astonishes me that, thirty years later, Lia and I have both appeared in the New England Review.
Categories: Citizens

Debate 3 — Don’t feed in, don’t give away power

Carol Overland - Legalectric - Thu, 10/20/2016 - 11:40am

Who cares if this narcissistic nasty blowhard won’t declare whether he’d accept the election results?  The results will be what they will be, and pushing this loser to accept the results only gives him power.  Don’t bother.  Proceed, blow his doors off and leave him in the dust.


Categories: Citizens

Last night at Edina City Council mtg

Carol Overland - Legalectric - Wed, 10/19/2016 - 12:42pm

Well done, Edina.  This grizzled old fart, who has seen pretty much everything a City Council meeting has to offer, came away feeling hopeful and encouraged that Edina will dig into its systemic racism, wrestle with it, and rework police procedure and practices.  The Mayor and Council’s acknowledgement of racial issues and apology for treatment of Thomas, and I’d say also an implied larger apology for systemic racism that needs to be addressed, went a long way to opening the “conversation” that will be ongoing.

Last night was the Edina City Council’s first meeting after the arrest of Larnie Thomas for walking while black, grabbed off the street and cited for violating Minn. Stat. 169.21; 169.02 and 609.72.  It was standing room only, and it was a thoughtful, fiercely concerned, distressed group, really tired of having to stand up to this police behavior time after time after time.  As someone who grew up just 1/2 mil from the site of the 60th & Xerxes arrest, I felt compelled to fire off a couple emails and show up at the Council meeting.

On one of the yak-yak lists, I heard there were two huge lights focused on City Hall, an ambulance parked out back, and a big police presence.  That’s not what I saw.  Huge towering lights like were posted outside Mpls. 4th Precinct?  No, no large light towers — instead, I saw two large towers for media satellite transmission, and the lot and building was pretty dark:

Coming in, just as the meeting was starting, there were two uniformed officers entering at the same time, but City Hall and the Police Department are in the same building, using the same entrance at the front (there were also garage doors on the other side of the building), and they weren’t hanging out in the foyer.  The Chief was in the room seated to the left of the Council, but otherwise, nothing noteworthy.  So I think that’s a bit off.   Nothing intimidating and no police presence that I noticed.

What did happen?  It was a very long meeting.  The Council dropped the planned agenda, and shuttled it off until later, providing an opportunity for everyone who wanted to speak to speak.  And it was good.  Very emotional comments, thoughtful, heartfelt, direct, fierce, quiet, asking, demanding change, and not just words, but that Edina walk the walk. There were hours and hours of comments.  Although people were standing at the back and sides and sitting on the floor in the aisle, a man at the entrance pointed out a couple seats still open, one was then taken, but one was open at the front, so I went up and grabbed it.  A reporter had been in it but was crawling around the floor shooting photos, and let me have it (THANK YOU!), and so I got to speak early on, and then left so someone else could move up and I could get back to Red Wing.  The Council listened, and listened, and listened some more.  At the end, most of them offered their perspective, a couple of apologies, and some clear direction that those facing these issues every day be part of the solution, the recognition that it was so important to solicit and take advice of NAACP and #blacklivesmatter in determining what to do and how to do it.  They heard loud and clear that there’s been enough talk, and again, that they need to walk the walk.  Next steps and a timeline are on the agenda.  Overall, this felt good.  Grizzled old fart cynic that I, yes, this felt good.

In the STrib:

Edina mayor, City Council apologize over police treatment

It’s hit the New York Times:

Black Man Is Arrested While Walking, and Minnesota City Starts a ‘Conversation’

NAACP’s Nekima Levy-Pounds:

“In light of the egregious incident that happened, the city of Edina responded at the City Council meeting in a way that demonstrated a level of compassion, and they signaled that they heard what the people had to say,” she said. “I have not seen that happen in any jurisdictions that I have covered.”

KARE 11:   Community weighs in on controversial Edina video

KSTP: Edina City Council Meets for First Time Since Controversial Video

CBS Local : Edina Citizens Demand Justice Following Officer Incident

MPR: Edina council hears criticism of policing in wake of video confrontation

And as this goes forward, keep in mind Edina’s Police Chief’s May 2014 comments about walking in the street:
(Original document here:,%202014_475.pdf)

Comment on the Edina site:

Edina City Council members:

Mary Brindle
Mayor James Hovland
Kevin Staunton
Bob Stewart
Ann Swenson

Prior Legalectric post:

Edina cops going overboard October 15th, 2016


Categories: Citizens

Rochester gas pipeline inching through process

Carol Overland - Legalectric - Mon, 10/17/2016 - 3:23pm

Map from Comparative Environmental Assessment(click for larger version)

Heads up — there will be a public hearing about this line some time in the future, I’d expect before year end, but who knows…  Will find out and post here, and until then, here’s the “target” schedule (click for larger view):

In the meantime, the Draft Comparative Environmental Analysis has been released for the MERC natural gas pipeline around the south and west side of Rochester, yes, a CEA, the environmental review document tossed out in the Sandpiper Appellate Decision OPA150016-091415.

How did I miss this?  I see I’m not on the service list — anyone who comments should be.  And I know I went to the meeting and handed in comments, and eFiled as well:RRRRRRRRRR. I have two major concerns.  First, hiding the RPU gas plant that this will service; second, that if this pipeline goes in, how close will it be to existing development and will the local governments permit development over and next to this gas pipeline, as has been done in Kasson and Byron, to name a few.  This is a serious problem and they’d better consider it.

Documents I’d entered in support of Comments at the Scoping meeting back in February:

Sandpiper Appellate Decision-CEA_20165-120948-01 (filed multiple times, ???)

RPU_2012 Infrastructure Update_2012  20164-120802-01

RPU chooses Boldt to build new $62 million power plant 20164-120796-01

Safe separation distances from natural gas transmission pipelines_20164-120797-01

A model for sizing high consequence areas with natural gas pipelines_20164-120800-01

Anyway, looking at the public comments regarding the CEA, PUBLIC COMMENTS HERE, I see that yes, they’re planning on routing this through an area that’s going to be a subdivision, now in the permitting process.  The developers have raised concerns.  ???  There should be awareness that platting over a pipeline is a major liability exposure for the permit granting jurisdiciton and whoever builds next to a pipeline, what with such broad burn zones.  Once more with feeling:

This MERC pipeline is to support the natural gas plant on the west side of town, and as I’d noted before in an earlier post, with some links to primary documents:

First they brought it up at Rochester Public Utilities Board meetings over the summer [2015]:

PUB- Resolution 4315 – Resolution: West Side Energy Station Westside Energy Station Epc – Bids in Minnesota

And finally, last week, RPU made it’s plans to add new natural gas generation VERY public:

A New Generating Station for Rochester

Back in that CapX 2020 Certificate of Need proceeding (PUC Docket 06-1115) it was an issue because the “need” used to justify CapX 2020 transmission to Rochester was so very small that it could be met with this RPU planned natural gas plant.  Here’s what I wrote in the 2008 No CapX 2020 Initial Brief:

Most importantly, the need is overstated. In addition to modeling performed with all local generation off line, infrastructure planned was not considered. For example, in Rochester, there are FOUR 161kV lines planned that were not taken into consideration, and which could well serve Rochester’s needs. In addition, RPU, the Rochester utility, has planned for new generation at the West Side substation (Ex. 100, lower left corner), where two of those four lines will be connection to serve Rochester. Ex. 157, Report on the Electric Utility Baseline Strategy for 2005-2030 Electric Infrastructure, June 2005, Summary p. S-21-S-22. Specifically, this report recommends actions that have been taken by RPU, resulting in the Westside Substation and transmission from it to serve the city:

Consider taking options on approximately 100 acres of land within the RPU service territory near a high pressure gas line and transmission facilities under RPU control for installation of future combustion turbine capacity.

…Around 2014, assuming that new generation is required in accordance with the long range plan and that generation has not been installed in connection with the transmission issue, begin the process for installation of approximately 50-100MW of natural gas-fired generation for an inservice date of 2018. The generation should be low capital cost with as low an operating cost as is consistent with expected operating capacity factors.  Id.

Local load as a reason for CapX is not supported by the evidence. The need, even if assumed, can be met in other ways, and these small amounts, if assumed in its entirety, cannot justify a project of this size.

Categories: Citizens

A Fall Progress Report

My Musical Family - Joy Riggs - Mon, 10/17/2016 - 2:14pm
The clues are everywhere I look today: the carpet of red, yellow, and brown leaves in the front yard, the blushing hydrangeas in the back yard, and the unopened bags of Halloween candy that whisper temptingly from their (not-so-hidden) hiding place next to the back door. But a glace at the calendar confirms it; it is indeed mid-October, which seems like an appropriate time for me to provide an update on the status of my book-in-progress, Finding My Musical Family.

Earlier this month, I spent a lovely and productive four days at a writing retreat at Faith’s Lodge in northern Wisconsin. Led by author/teacher/editor/rockin’ bass player/amazing human being Kate Hopper, the retreat has become a fixture in my writing life; I don’t know how I ever did without it. When I went back and tallied how many times I have now attended, I was startled to discover that this fall’s event was my eighth time at the retreat. I am not sure how that is possible.

The first time I attended, in February of 2014, with my friend Myrna Mibus, I was incredibly nervous about how my writing would be received by the other writers, and I felt unsure about the structure and focus of my book. I look back at that time with a mixture of gratitude and amazement. During that retreat and the ones that followed, I wrote several essays, some of which have been published, and I wrote several sections of my book-in-progress. I also welcomed into my life a group of talented and genuinely supportive women whose words and stories continue to inspire, comfort, challenge, captivate, and move me, long after we leave the retreat and return to our respective families.

Myrna and I shared a room at this last retreat, too, and a conversation we had one night caused me to step back and reflect on the difference between how I felt in February 2014 and how I feel now, in October 2016. I know that I have grown as a writer. I feel much more confident about my ability to tell the story I want to tell, and I am excited and eager to finish the draft of my book. I am filled with deep and sincere gratitude for everyone who has been a part of this journey so far, those who have encouraged and inspired me by their own writing, those who have listened to me complain or dream or work through my doubts, those who have read my words and asked for more, and those who stop me in the grocery store to ask how my latest chapter is coming along (which usually startles me until I remember that I just posted something about the chapter on Facebook). 

I am not as far along as I had hoped to be a few months ago, but I have learned in this writing process that it is a process, not a race, and I have to trust that it is coming along in a way that ultimately makes sense.

At my conference with Kate at the last retreat, I set the following goals: I plan to complete the remaining six chapters of my book by the end of 2016, and I plan to complete a book proposal and any necessary chapter revisions by mid-January 2017, so I will be ready for the next step: approaching potential publishers.

The goal is ambitious, but I believe it is achievable. I will keep you posted. Happy fall!

Categories: Citizens

Postcard: October 17, 2016

Winona Media (Leslie Schultz) - Sat, 10/15/2016 - 8:49pm

Categories: Citizens

Border Crossing MTBing

Blowing and Drifting - Christopher Tassava - Sat, 10/15/2016 - 7:37pm

What: the marathon class (four-hour) event at the Border Crossing MTB race, part of the Minnesota MTB series

Where: Whitetail Ridge MTB trails, River Falls, Wisconsin – really fun trails that loop up and down a wooded hillside. Apart for a couple straight stretches along the cornfield at the top of the hill (perfectly situated for recovery!), the trails are very twisty and turny, and very rooty, and not particularly technical except for a section – near the end of our lap – that featured some burly rock sections. Our lap also included two short but steep climbs, which did a very good job of exploding my legs.

When: 8:50 a.m. till about 2:00 p.m. on Saturday, October 15, 2016

Why: I had hoped to do the Dirt Bag gravel race this weekend, but family plans made that hard or impossible, so when my friend Galen asked if I was interested in this event – rescheduled from July – I jumped at the chance.

Who: the Coyote, my Salsa El Mariachi with a new 1x drivetrain. 

My best gear was the bike, of course, and my new Revelate Wampak hydration pack – which I hope will be a key element of my winter-racing setup.

My worst gear was my new 1x drivetrain on the bike, which was wonky all day. Still, it never failed, so…

The low points were not very low:

  1. When I realized, halfway through lap four of five, that I wouldn’t be able to hold pace for six full laps. Not actually that bad a problem!
  2. When my Four Hour Energy drink wore off after three hours. False advertising!
  3. When the elite-class racers came ripping though about two hours into my race. Good lord they’re fast.

The high point was when, on my last lap – pretty much totally gassed – I still managed to clean all but one of the various fairly technical obstacles on the course. I had been hit or miss with them all day, so I was happy to put my experience with them to good purpose so late in the race. Now I just need to be able to do this on lap two, and at three times the speed!

It was in the bag when I made it up the last serious climb, a steep ramp covered with loose rock, and knew I pretty much just had easy, fun trails to the finish.

The key lesson learned was that Four Hour Energy isn’t, and that the Whitetail Ridge trails are great. I’ll have to try to do this race next year, at its usual time in July.

The takeaway is that the MMBS races are pretty damn fun. I did three this year (this one, the Red Wing Classic in RW in July, and the Singletrack Escape in August in St. Cloud), and found the race experience to be quite different from my usual kind of event – gravel centuries and fatbike ultras. I like the vibe, especially having racers around almost all the time. I look forward to getting better – smoother but especially faster – at this kind of racing.

Categories: Citizens

Edina cops going overboard

Carol Overland - Legalectric - Sat, 10/15/2016 - 10:15am

Another update:  Charges HAVE been dropped.  DONE!

UPDATE — not nearly enough:

Monday, October 17, 2016

City of Edina responds to NAACP Minneapolis

Edina, Minn., Oct. 17, 2016 – Today, Edina Mayor Jim Hovland, City Manager Scott Neal and Police Chief Dave Nelson responded to requests from the NAACP Minneapolis regarding a recent police incident.

Just before noon Oct. 12, an Edina Police Officer observed and stopped Larnie Thomas, who was walking in the southbound lane of traffic on Xerxes Avenue. Thomas was detained at the scene. People across the country are expressing concern about how he was treated by Edina Police.

On Sunday, Oct. 16, Hovland issued a statement, saying that “the officer involved was following established protocol. However, under the circumstances, the City will review that protocol and determine how to better approach this type of incident with greater sensitivity in the future. We will work with the Edina community and invite other organizations to participate in this very important conversation. There are lessons we should and will learn from this experience.” The Mayor also said that in the public’s interest, the citation issued to Thomas will be dismissed.

Over the weekend, the NAACP Minneapolis through a press release and social media posts made six requests of Edina. Following are those requests and Edina’s response:

Yes. The City of Edina will ask the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension to conduct an independent investigation of this incident.

Lt. Tim Olson will remain on the job. He and all officers involved followed the Police Department’s established procedures and the incident ended safely.

The City invites Minneapolis NAACP to talk with staff more about this and how the data would be collected and used.

The City of Edina believes the officers involved followed established protocol. The City will review that protocol and determine how to better approach this type of incident with greater sensitivity in the future. There are lessons we should and will learn from this experience, and we will invite the community to participate in this discussion.

Yes. We will provide additional training to Edina Police officers on implicit and explicit bias. We would value suggestions for specific training from the Minneapolis NAACP.

The City of Edina will work with the community to review the report by the President’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing, as well as its own practices and protocols. We will also closely monitor the ongoing work of the Governor’s Council on Law Enforcement and Community Relations.


A black man arrested at 59th & Xerxes in Edina for walking while black, in the street because the sidewalks are under construction, and charged with disorderly conduct and pedestrian failure to obey a traffic signal.  His fear is palpable, and his frustration at the cop’s actions are reasonable given that he was grabbed by Lt. T.F. Olson while walking around the construction area.  What’s a Lieutenant doing arresting a guy walking down the street? What would have happened had this not been filmed?  And look at his approach of the woman with the camera, look at his stare, his request for her name and address — that’s a blatant attempt at intimidation, not OK.  Kudos that she continued filming and stood up, gave her name and address.  And thank you, thank you, thank you, for making this video public.

Larnie Thomas was arrested for violation of Minnesota Statutes 169.21; 169.02; and 609.72
. Click on statute number for link.


Apparently, in May 2014, Edina’s chief of police told the City’s Transportation Commission that he did not consider walking in the street to be dangerous behavior and would not attempt to cite for minor infractions related to it. (Original document here:,%202014_475.pdf)

That police officer has been around the block, he’s got grey hair and is a Lieutenant, and should know better than to do this.  On seeing the camera, he should have known that his behavior would be public, and where his conscience and training didn’t kick in, the public nature of his actions should have stopped it right there.  But noooooo… and he radios for help, and another unmarked and marked car and plainclothes and uniformed cops show up.  They handcuff him and toss him in the car.  WHAT?!?!

That’s just 1/2 mile from where I grew up at 60th and Oliver.  And if he were on the other side of the street, he would have been in Minneapolis, and Edina cops would have had no jurisdiction.

Comment on the Edina site:

Edina City Council members:

Mary Brindle
Mayor James Hovland
Kevin Staunton
Bob Stewart
Ann Swenson


Here’s Lt. Olsen’s contact info — be cool, no threats:
Timothy Olson Lieutenant 952-826-0490

The next open Edina City Council meeting is Tuesday, October 18th at 7PM. 4801 W. 50th Street, Edina.


In the STrib:

Video of Edina police officer confronting a black man goes viral

From Fox9 News, the “full narrative” of police report, and note this part, where he says, “Thomas disregarded my commands, while continuing to walk southbound, into the traffic lane and around a parked vehicle. I noted Thomas’s response to the event to be unusual and extremely confrontational given the simple and basic request for compliance.” Makes no sense, walking away is NOT “extremely confrontational” is it:

Full narrative of police reportOn 10/12/16 at approximately 11:46, I, Lieutenant T. Olson was on duty, in the City of Edina, dressed in plain clothes and driving an unmarked police vehicle. I was driving northbound on Xerxes at west 60th Street. I observed ahead of me, a man, later identified as the defendant, Larnie Thomas, walking southbound on Xerxes in the southbound lane of traffic. I observed there was a new sidewalk on the west side of Xerxes which, with the exception of cut-ins for private property connections to the trunk sidewalk, appeared to be completed. I also observed a paved shoulder, approximately 8-feet wide, on the west side of Xerxes and a sidewalk on the east side of the street. As I drove north in the direction of Thomas, I observed he continued to walk southbound, approximately 1/3 the way into the southbound traffic lane of Xerxes. I observed Thomas`s actions were obstructing southbound vehicular traffic as vehicles slowed to a walking pace while stacking up behind Thomas.

As I neared Thomas, I observed he was wearing headphones over his ears. I watched as several vehicles crossed over the double painted yellow line, into the northbound lane in attempt to drive around Thomas. I observed Thomas look in the direction of the vehicles as they passed him. I observed Thomas move slightly to the right of the traffic lane, then move back to his position in the roadway. Based on these observations, it appeared likely Thomas should have been aware he was in the roadway and causing an obstruction to vehicular traffic. I am aware that Xerxes Ave is a highly traveled feeder street. I believed Thomas was creating a risk to his safety and the others and it was prudent to advise him to get out of the road. I drove north, past Thomas a distance, activated my emergency lights and conducted a U-turn. As I neared Thomas, aware he was wearing headphones,I tapped my squad siren. Thomas didn’t respond.

As I approached closer I again tapped my siren. This time Thomas turned, looked at me, turned back around and continued walking south in the lane of traffic. I again tapped my siren, to which Thomas did not turn, but continued his walk.

I drove around Thomas to a position approximately 15 feet in front of him. I turned and canted my squad to the right in a manner to block Thomas from continuing south in the traffic lane. Thomas walked up to and around the passenger`s side of my squad. Thomas looked at me as he passed, walked south around my squad, back onto the lane of traffic and continued south.

I exited my squad and identified myself as a police officer. I instructed Thomas to get out of the traffic lane. Thomas did not comply and began shouting at me. I again identified myself as a police officer, this time drawing attention to my police badge carried on my left side belt. I provided Thomas multiple instructions including phrases to the effect of; get out of the road, stop and return to me. Thomas disregarded my commands, while continuing to walk southbound, into the traffic lane and around a parked vehicle. I noted Thomas’s response to the event to be unusual and extremely confrontational given the simple and basic request for compliance. I followed after Thomas and continued to instruct him to stop. Thomas did not comply with any of my directives.

I reached Thomas, who had now walked approximately 60` from my original stop location, and grasped his shoulder. As I made contact with Thomas, I could smell the odor of a consumed alcoholic beverage. Thomas began to struggle against my grasp, shout and use profane language. I instructed Thomas to return to my squad.With my grasp on Thomas’s shoulder, I escorted him back to my squad. Thomas continued to struggle and attempt to break free of my grasp. As I reached my squad, Thomas slammed a back-pack he was carrying onto the hood of the squad. I radioed dispatch for assistance.

While waiting for back-up to arrive, Thomas continued struggle against my grasp and began to use very loud and profane language (Fuck, Bull Shit and Shit). I observed several people begin to gather in observation of the event. I observed individuals who appeared to have emerged from their street front homes and an individual who appeared to be filming the event. Thomas`s behavior became more volatile as he spun away from me, removed his shirt and appeared to take an offense stance towards me. I did not attempt to physically engage Thomas further.

Officer Boerger arrived on scene. Thomas was advised he was under arrest and handcuffed without further incident. Officer Piper arrived and Thomas was placed in the rear of her squad. Officer Boerger administered an alcohol breath test (PBT #8) and advised me Thomas`s results were .017.

Thomas was issued a citation (270616213232, MN 169.21, 169.02, 609.72), and, per his request, transported to Southdale Mall where he was released.


Here’s what the City of Edina released yesterday:

City of Edina, MN (Local Government)
20 hrs ·

A video of one of our police officers is circulating online. This incident started several minutes prior to the recording. During that time, our police officer observed a man walking southbound on Xerxes Avenue at West 60th Street in the southbound lane of traffic, though there is a sidewalk on the east side and a sidewalk under construction and a paved shoulder on the west side of the street. Recognizing the risk to the safety of the public, the officer pulled in behind the man with his lights and an audible signal in an attempt to advise him to get out of the roadway. The man, who was wearing headphones, turned and looked at the officer and continued walking in the lane of traffic. The officer then drove in front of the man by approximately 15 feet, to block him from continuing in the southbound lane of traffic. The man deliberately went around the squad car and continued to walk in the lane of traffic. The officer got out of his vehicle and started to follow the man, asking him to get out of the lane of traffic and stop. The man did not stop and was defiant. It was after that point that the recording began. The officer smelled alcohol on the man’s breath during the incident. A breathalyzer later confirmed the presence of alcohol.

As a bystander, it’s your right to film officer interactions. However, it’s important to note that attempting to interact with the officer and/or suspect creates a greater risk to the safety of the officer, suspect and bystanders. Public safety is our first priority. It makes it more difficult for officers to deal with the situation on hand when they are at the same time dealing with the distractions of bystanders.

For more information about this incident, contact the Edina Police Department at 952-826-1610.


Categories: Citizens

In Ohio — Eminent domain only for public use

Carol Overland - Legalectric - Thu, 10/13/2016 - 10:47pm

Kinder Morgan, a private company, not a utility, sued to take land for its “Utopia” pipeline project.  A judge in Wood County Ohio just said NO, they cannot take land, that eminent domain is only for public use, and Kinder Morgan’s pipeline is not a public use.  This is a very hard hitting decision, and I sure hope they appeal it so we can get some precedent here.

The decision:

Kinder Morgan v PDB Farms_2016cv0220

You’ve got to read this decision — very well done!

Categories: Citizens

Happy Birthday, Carleton!

Blowing and Drifting - Christopher Tassava - Wed, 10/12/2016 - 9:10pm

Carleton College was founded on October 12, 1866 – exactly 150 years ago today. Actually, that’s not quite accurate: the institution was founded as “Northfield College” on 10/12/1866; five years later, its trustees renamed the college in honor of a key donor.

Anyhow, the college is celebrating the sesquicentennial of its founding – and its 150 years of history – in a typically low-key but fun way, with events such as a “Town-and-Gown Celebration” in downtown Northfield tomorrow, a convocation on Friday by Minnesota’s favorite humorist Garrison Keillor, a carnival and fair on Saturday, and a little birthday video featuring scores of students, faculty, and staff – including me and my cowlick. I’m talking trash to our bizarre, unofficial, worse-for-wear college symbol, a bust of the German Romantic poet Friedrich Schiller, who has also appeared with Bill Clinton and Stephen Colbert.

Schiller and Tassava

I’m glad I wore my sesquicentennial button that day!

Quirks like Schiller and birthday videos remind me of other ways that Carleton’s culture has bound me – and, I hope, others who love the institution – to the college. I couldn’t possibly list all the examples that have come up in the eleven years that I’ve worked at 1 North College Street (7.33% of the college’s lifetime!), but for me, the deal was sealed in summer 2006, when the college held a farewell party for a wonderful but falling-down piece of outdoor sculpture called Twigonometry. (Anyone interested in public art should check out the gallery of photos of the piece in its prime.) Twigonometry stood gorgeously and mysteriously at the north end of the Bald Spot, where kids like toddler Julia could wander through its chambers and arches, swirling in an organically alien way:

Julia and Twigonometry

What kind of place holds a farewell party for a four-year-old sculpture made from branches and twigs? The kind of place that I hope lasts another 150 years.

Categories: Citizens

Ameren Transmission Co. slaps MO Counties

Carol Overland - Legalectric - Tue, 10/11/2016 - 3:33pm

Ameren Transmission Company (ATXI) has filed lawsuits in two Missouri counties, Adair and Marion, challenging the county decisions to reject the “Mark Twain” transmission line (isn’t there some copyright or defamation law preventing use of Samuel Clemens’ “name” that way?).

What exactly did the counties do?  Well, the counties need to approve or deny the Mark Twain transmission project, a condition of the Missouri PSC permit for the project, under the terms of the permit:

Adair and Marion Counties said NO!  Ameren Transmission Company seems to think they have no right to say NO!

The actions of the counties sounds reasonable… and Ameren’s pleadings are mostly repeated whining that they were not invited, not notified, and that County Commissioners oppose the Mark Twain transmission line.  GASP!  They even attended a PSC meeting and opposed the line:

Ameren’s position seems to be, “How dare they!”  Ameren, it might be wise to consider who it is that these Missouri County Commissioners represent.  They’re elected officials, and Ameren was not elected to office, and they Commissioners’ job is not to represent Ameren!  DOH!  What a concept!

Here are the pleadings filed by Ameren in Adair and Marion Counties:

Ameren Transmission Co. v. Adair County

Ameren Transmission Company v. Marion County

Kudos to the County Commissioners for standing up!  And a big thanks to attorney Paul Henry for the heads up and forwarding the primary documents — it sure helps to know the whole story!!!

Categories: Citizens

Postcard: October 9, 2016

Winona Media (Leslie Schultz) - Sun, 10/09/2016 - 2:26pm

Categories: Citizens

Trump, time to withdraw

Carol Overland - Legalectric - Sat, 10/08/2016 - 5:06pm



from Reuters

In the New York Times, Why Republicans Are Probably Stuck with Donald Trump, but I don’t agree with the headline, under the rules, he can “decline,” and should “decline” now:

… the Republican Party did not have a mechanism to replace a nominee just because it wants to. The party’s rules state that “the Republican National Committee is hereby authorized and empowered to fill any and all vacancies which may occur by reason of death, declination, or otherwise of the Republican candidate for president of the United States.”

Not that Drumpf is capable of withdrawal, but it is time.  He never should have been in a position to be nominated as candidate, he never should have been nominated — this is not new information — but it is beyond time to act on what we’ve know for so long.  Donald J. Trump is not fit, is not qualified, to be President of the U.S.

Categories: Citizens

Thursday’s Xcel IRP meeting at PUC

Carol Overland - Legalectric - Sat, 10/08/2016 - 1:40pm

It was a long, long day. Bottom line? Based on the record, and based on acknowledgement of Xcel’s peak demand history, we can shut down Sherco 1 & 2 now without missing it, and by 2025 or so, shut down Prairie Island and not have to pay for significant rehab to keep it running.

Here is the PUC webcast:


Here is my handout, noting the 700-788MW overstatement of peak demand forecast.


If you start with Xcel’s 2015 actual peak demand, and extrapolate using the 0.3% annual increase out to 2030, here’s what it looks like (click for larger view):

These are the charts that they’re using, starting with inflated forecasts of 9,409 and 9,442MW for 2016, note how far off the resulting 2030 “forecast” is — it’s 800 – 1,234 MW off!

With the “forecast” that much off, it’s as absurd as the CapX 2020 2.49% annual increase. Staff questioned the forecasts in the Briefing Papers, Commissioner Lange raised forecasts right off the bat, and Commissioner Schuerger claimed it was at least 300 MW off (don’t know where that 300 MW came from). These discrepancies havce been noted, and they should dig deeper, because the numbers used by Xcel do not add up. Were they lying in the SEC filings or are they lying now? Why isn’t Commerce challenging this, given admissions of the existing surplus? This forecast overstatement, plus admission of under-utilization of grid (meaning grid has been overbuilt, DOH, CapX 2020 and MVP projects are not “needed” in any sense) raises a few issues:

1) This misrepresentation is NOW equivalent to at least one coal plant, and by the end of 2030, or by the time presumed for shut down of Sherco 1 and 2, it’s much more than that.

2) This misrepresentation avoids consideration of shut down of Sherco 1 & 2 NOW, and shutdown of Prairie Island at the 2024-2026 time frame, and avoidance of $600-900 million in capital costs, or more, for Prairie Island.

3) This misrepresentation circumvents discussion of the admitted surplus now existing, even Dr. Rakow admitted to that at least twice in Thursday’s discussion. Where there is surplus, they can sell it elsewhere, and that is, after all, the purpose of CapX 2020 and MVP transmission.

Got that? We can shut down Sherco 1 & 2 now without missing it, and by 2025 or so, shut down Prairie Island and not have to pay for significant rehab to keep it running. This is not rocket science. It’s as simple as using actual peak demand as a starting point and not making up numbers as they have been doing.

Categories: Citizens

Coyote Nation

Blowing and Drifting - Christopher Tassava - Thu, 10/06/2016 - 6:05pm

When I was growing up in the U.P. in the ’70s and ’80s, coyotes were considered the menace to farm animals. Back then, wolves were (temporarily, as nature assured) absent from the Yoop, so coyotes – kai-ohts – assumed the apex predator spot that Canis lupus should have held, and in fact resumed sometime in the ’90s.

I have no idea if any Yooper farmers lost any livestock bigger than a chicken to Canis latrans, but my male relatives were unanimous in their hatred of coyotes, and were eager to kill them all. I never understood why this was, but then I ever understood why it was fun to sit in a tree for hours in the hopes of shooting a deer either. 

I did understand that the coyotes’ howls were thrillingly wild. When we stayed at our family’s hunting camp – a one-room shack in the northwestern corner of the Ottawa National Forest (almost a million acres of woods that covers almost all of the Wisconsin end of the U.P.) – we often heard coyotes singing at night. I lay there in my keeping bag in the bunk bed and imagined the coyotes sniffing around the building, drawn by scraps of food and our weird smells.

I don’t recall ever seeing any coyotes, but I must have, for as Dan Flores shows in his superlative Coyote America, coyotes are now America’s most ubiquitous big predator, despite continuing to be killed in the thousands every year. Some of the only actual coyotes I’ve ever seen – on a years’-ago bike ride – were three dead ones, dumped in a ditch not a mile outside of town. More recently I saw two skinny specimens patrolling a river near Island Park in eastern Idaho. They watched me and a friend bike along the opposite bank, then effortlessly scaled a sheer snowbank to get up off the river and onto the flat plain. 

Notwithstanding this pair in the underpopulated West, Americans now live among more of these scrawny, intelligent, shy beasts than ever before – a story that Flores tells with care, detail, a bit on anger, and a lot of humor in his book and with indignation in this New York Times op-ed. After a century of incessant, brutal biocide against the coyote, we should admit defeat and admire the victor. 

By rights, in fact, we Americans should do as generations of a Native Americans – from the Aztecs to the Apache – did, and worship the coyote as a nature god. Like God, Coyote is everywhere. As my friend Charlotte pointed out the other day, they’ve surely watched me on a bike ride. They’ve probably watched my girls playing in our backyard. A family of them might be right now in the field to the south, perhaps looking warily between the light spilling from my picture window and the harvester that’s growling along the rows of soybeans. Maybe they made a meal of one of the hundreds of Canada geese that gleaned in the field all afternoon. Regardless I’m pleased to know that they’re out there, outlasting and outsmarting us. 

Categories: Citizens

Donald J. Trump Foundation

Carol Overland - Legalectric - Wed, 10/05/2016 - 10:47pm

Trump Foundation’s IRS Form 990-PF (Private Foundation) shows that he gives a “little” here and a “little” there (oh, say $2-25,000), but gives $100,000 to the Citizens United Foundation.  A little light reading from the Donald J. Trump Foundation as we approach election day — Clinton Foundation is next.  These three are the only available on GuideStar:

2014 IRS Form 990-PF Trump Foundation

2013 IRS Form 990-PF Trump Foundation

2012 IRS Form 990-PF Trump Foundation

State Attorney General Orders Trump Foundation to Cease Raising Money in New York Trump Foundation ordered to stop fundraising by N.Y. attorney general’s office Cracks in the Donald J. Trump Foundation: Report alleges self-dealing Trump Foundation lacks the certification required for charities th
Categories: Citizens

Sweaty Fun at the Red Wing Classic 

Blowing and Drifting - Christopher Tassava - Wed, 10/05/2016 - 9:15pm

What: the Red Wing Classic race, event #4 in the Minnesota Mountain Bike Series

Where: the Memorial Park trails above Red Wing, MN

When: July 10, 2016

Why: To try a “short” mountain bike race! I decided to enter the “comp” class to get the most time out there – three laps of a decently tough 6.1 mile course. 

Who: my Salsa El Mariachi, the Coyote.

My best gear was my tire setup: Bontrager XR2s, tubeless. Good stuff. 

My worst gear was my sense of balance, which betrayed me on a tricky off-camber turn early in lap 1, causing a bad crash that screwed up my right hand for a while. 

The low points were

  1. when I crashed,
  2. when I got so badly dehydrated on lap 1 that I started seeing stars, which were only chased off by pounding three cups of cold water, and 
  3. When I reached the infamous Stairway to Heaven climb on each lap, a steep, straight, rocky bastard. I had to walk it each time. 

The high point was when, on lap 3, I felt like my legs had come around and that I’d finally gotten a sense of the course. 

It was in the bag when I hit the top of the last climb and knew I had only a few hundred meters to go, finishing in 2:27 for 50th place – third from last and 44 minutes behind the winner. 

The key lesson learned was that going hard for 2 and a half hours is fun but totally different than racing a marathon. 

The takeaway is that these short races should be part of my “off-season” racing schedule. Many are pretty close to Northfield, all are inexpensive compared to marathons, and each (I learned) is quite different from the others. My lap times got longer through the race: 45:25 on lap 1, 49:58 on lap 2, and  52:15 on lap 3. Gotta get faster. 

Note: the photo above is by Todd Bauer, an excellent photographer who covers a lot of bike races! He published a great gallery of photos from the Red Wing Classic, including that shot of me

Categories: Citizens

Cheq 80

Blowing and Drifting - Christopher Tassava - Tue, 10/04/2016 - 7:20pm

What: The Chequamegon 100 mountain bike race – actually only 80 miles this year due to rain damage on one part of the trail network. 

Where: Chequamegon Area Mountain Bike Association trails near Cable in north-central Wisconsin. The CAMBA trails are tight, technical paths through dense hardwood and conifer forests. 

When: Saturday, June 18, 2016 – a warm, humid northwoods day.

Why: To redeem myself after failing to finish the Cheq 100 in 2015, when I stepped down to the 62-mile race after the wet trails proved too much for my legs and fatbike.

Who: the Coyote, my Salsa El Mariachi, which got a little buggy and dirty. 

My best gear: my Osprey hydration pack, a Syncro 3 that held a big reservoir and a few gels and nothing else. Light, comfy, ideal.

My worst gear: my lower back.

The low point was when I had to stop with ten miles to go to to stretch my aching back for the millionth time. The brutally rough trails were almost too much. 

The high point was riding the whole day with my friends Galen and Sarah, who though much faster than me, rode with me from start to finish. I valued the company and the inspiration as well as the chance to watch how they handled the trails. 

It was in the bag when we hit a high point on the last section of singletrack and saw the road that led back to this finish line.

The key lesson learned is that flow is everything on MTB trails. Being able to generate and maintain momentum is a far more important skill than being able to generate massive power. (Power and speed helps too though!) 

 The takeaway is that I became a better MTB rider between the 2015 and 2016 Cheqs. On to 2017: I hope it’s my first full MTB century.

Categories: Citizens

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