Carol Overland - Legalectric

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Carol A. Overland, Overland Law Office -- Utility Regulatory and Land Use Advocacy
Updated: 36 min 2 sec ago

On Bakken oil in STrib…

Tue, 12/16/2014 - 11:50am

Alan Stankevitz walks the walk, and  while his solar system powers his home, he tracks developments in oil transport on his DOT-111 Reader site.  In this STrib op ed, he exposes the truth about “regulations” ostensibly to deal with volatility of Bakken oil: “The bottom line is that the limit has been set so high by North Dakota that the mandate is toothless.”

Bakken dangers: Both the oil and the rail

Consider these numbers. Let’s dedicate ourselves to ending the smoke-and-mirrors game.

In announcing last week that it will require oil companies to “condition” Bakken oil before shipment, North Dakota’s Industrial Commission stated that “[t]his will significantly change the characteristics of crude oil.” What was not stated, however, is that this will have virtually no impact on the volatility of the oil shipped via rail through our communities and environment. Here’s why:

 The measure that is used to determine the volatility of flammable liquids is called RVP — Reid vapor pressure. The new North Dakota law that will go into effect on April 1 will set the limit on Bakken oil to no more than 13.7 RVP pounds per square inch (psi).

Let’s see how this regulation compares with what is already known (the lower the number, the less volatile the product is):

• Crude oil from the Gulf of Mexico has a RVP psi of approximately 3.

• For crude oil from the Eagle Ford shale formation in Texas, that number is approximately 8.

• For gasoline, it’s approximately 9.

• The Lac-Mégantic oil-train explosion in Quebec had a tested RVP psi just above 9.

• Bakken crude oil typically has a RVP psi between 11.5 and 11.8.

The bottom line is that the limit has been set so high by North Dakota that the mandate is toothless. The same volatile oil that caused the massive explosions in Casselton, N.D., and Lac-Mégantic would still have been allowed to ride the rails, according to this new mandate.

Of course, the petroleum industry has been protesting that the problem isn’t with the oil, it’s with the railroads. Although there is some truth to the fact that railroads should share in the blame, let’s also not forget it’s the petroleum industry that leases the DOT-111 tank cars that ride the rails.

The National Transportation Safety Board has stated numerous times that the DOT-111 tank cars hauling hazardous materials either need to be seriously upgraded or pulled from service completely.

Currently, the U.S. Department of Transportation is considering new rules to phase out some of the DOT-111s by 2020, but that only applies to trains hauling 20 or more of these tank cars. All others will be allowed to stay in service indefinitely.

So how much oil travels through Minnesota per day on these deficient DOT-111s?

From records released this year, we know that approximately 50 oil unit trains pass through Minnesota on a weekly basis. To put this into perspective, that’s about seven oil trains per day. That’s about 500,000 barrels of oil per day via rail. Currently, the Enbridge Alberta Clipper pipeline carries about 450,000 barrels per day.

For all practical purposes, we have a rail pipeline passing through our state — and research has shown that, on a per-mile basis, the accident rate is 3 to 3.5 times higher by rail vs. pipeline.

It’s time to stop this smoke-and-mirrors game. We need the petroleum and rail industries, along with our legislators, to meaningfully reduce the volatility of Bakken oil and to remove from service DOT-111 tank cars that carry all hazardous materials, not just the oil in trains with 20 or more cars. Doing anything less is continuing to put our citizens and environment at great risk.

 

Alan Stankevitz lives in La Crescent, Minn. His website “The DOT-111 Reader” (http://dot111.info) is a clearinghouse for information related to DOT-111 tank cars and subjects related to shipping crude oil via rail.

And another along the same lines, by Lisa Westberg Peters:

New Bakken volatility standards are pointless
  • Article by: LISA WESTBERG PETERS
  • Updated: December 15, 2014 – 6:45 PM

The explosion risk still exists, which emboldens pipeline supporters — but why must our choices be so dismal?

(Photo: Paul Chiasson • The Canadian Press/AP file,) A large swath of Lac-Mégantic, Quebec, was destroyed and 47 people were killed in July 2013 when a train carrying Bakken crude oil derailed, sparking several explosions and forcing the evacuation of up to 1,000 people.

++++++++++++++++++++++++

I’ve seen Bakken crude oil as it comes out of the ground. It was surprising in several ways: It was almost green, quite fluid and downright fizzy with natural gases. It’s the high gas content that makes Bakken shale oil so explosive.

When the state of North Dakota established new limits on vapor pressure last week for the oil shipped out of the state, my first reaction was relief. Flammable liquids with lower vapor pressures are less volatile. We’ve seen several explosive rail accidents in recent years involving Bakken oil; an oil train derailment last year in the small Quebec town of Lac-Mégantic killed 47 people and flattened its downtown. I was pleased that regulators were addressing this problem.

But when I took a closer look at the numbers, I felt more dismay than relief. Even if oil producers exceed the regulators’ demands — and regulators say they often do — Bakken crude will still be explosive.

The appropriate comparison seems to be gasoline.

Lynn Helms, head of the North Dakota Department of Mineral Resources, said the new vapor pressure standard of 13.7 pounds per square inch (psi) would make Bakken crude no more volatile than the gasoline we put in our cars every day.

In March, an investigation by the Transportation Safety Board of Canada concluded that the Bakken oil in rail cars at Lac-Mégantic was “as volatile as gasoline,” but the vapor pressure was measured at 9 to around 9.5 psi. In other words, the Bakken crude that exploded in Lac-Mégantic was less volatile than what North Dakota regulators are demanding now, and it still exploded.

In a New York Times article last week, Clifford Krauss reported: “Once the rules are in force early next year, transported North Dakota crude oil will have a similar volatility to that of automobile gasoline, which should decrease the risk and size of any fire that might occur once a rail car is punctured in an accident, according to state regulators.” His story never mentioned the findings of the Canadian government.

Why wasn’t this New York Times reporter more skeptical of the assurances of North Dakota oil regulators, especially after the recent New York Times revelations about the leniency of regulators toward the oil industry?

The new vapor pressure standard announced last week is pointless. We will still face danger from exploding oil trains.

This disturbing fact tends to encourage pipeline supporters. Pipelines are safer, they say. In the past, oil transported by pipelines has tended not to explode and kill people; instead it spills and contaminates streams, lakes and aquifers. If you value people’s lives over clean water supply, in the short term, pipelines seem better.

But why do we have to make such lousy choices to keep our domestic energy boom rolling — to keep workers working and our dream of energy independence alive? Let’s do everything we can to encourage the other domestic energy boom, the wind and solar boom, that has already begun and that survives today despite many obstacles, including national policies that still encourage fossil fuel, yesterday’s energy source. If we were to place a price on carbon tomorrow, we would not need as many pipelines and we would be able to reduce the number of oil trains passing through our neighborhoods.

Climate experts urge us to leave much of the world’s remaining fossil fuel, including Bakken crude, in the ground. If we do as they advise, we will disrupt job markets and be forced to rethink the way we do almost everything. Why should we voluntarily face such disruption? One very good reason: We already face the prospect of pervasive disruption posed by a changing climate. It’s far preferable to take well-designed and systematic measures to control disruption than let disruption control us.

 

Lisa Westberg Peters is the author of “Fractured Land: The Price of Inheriting Oil” (Minnesota Historical Society Press, 2014). She lives in Minneapolis with her family.

Categories: Citizens

It’s the 2014 NERC Report!

Fri, 12/12/2014 - 8:37pm

EEEEEEEEEE-HA!  The NERC Report is out:

2014 NERC Reliability Assessment

I love the NERC Report — the annual Long Term Reliability Assessment from the North American Electric Reliability Corporation.  Why?  Well, it’s a nice offset to the gloom and doom of the MTEP promotional pieces because NERC features tables like this:

What’s not to like about “NERC_Wide Demand: 10-Year Growth Rates (Summer and Winter) at Lowest Levels on Record” as a leading table?

Better yet, they go area by area, and show, even using utility provided data, that it’s not nearly as bad as the utilities claim in their hystrionic applications and testimony.  Let’s look at the bottom line in the section about MISO (click on table for larger view):

NERC Reliability Assessment, p. 38 (or p. 46 of 115 pdf).  Note how this is NOT scary histrionic data here?!?!  Also note, they use coincident peak for forecasting, as they should.  If I hear one more “non-coincident peak” being used, I shall scream!

Again, it’s the 2014 NERC Reliability Assessment.  Check this out for a more rational view.

 

Categories: Citizens

12/19 – Power Plant Siting Act Annual Hearing

Fri, 12/12/2014 - 11:27am

It’s that time of year… the time that we get to tell the Public Utilities Commission what does and does not work about the Power Plant Siting Act.  We’ve been doing it for years, 15 or so years, and have spent over a year now in a rulemaking on the PUC’s rules, Ch. 7849 (Certificate of Need) and Ch. 7850 (Power Plant & Transmission Siting) where some of these long complained of problems will be address (with any luck).  And now, again, it’s time to reinforce those comments with another round of comments:

After the hearing, now officiated by an Administrative Law Judge (new as of a few years ago), a report is issued to the PUC and then ???  It used to go to the legislature, and it used to go to the EQB… guess I have to find out what happens now.

December 19, 2014 beginning at 9:30 a.m. Public Utilities Commission 3rd Floor Large Hearing Room 121 – 7th Place East St. Paul, MN  55101

Each of you who have experience siting and routing of large electric energy facilities — this is the time to weigh in.  Remember that this is NOT project specific, it’s not about where a project goes of whether it does, but it’s about how the process works or doesn’t, so for example, it’s the time to let them know that notice isn’t being provided, or that witnesses should be sworn on oath so that testimony will be given more weight, etc.   You can do it in person, and you can do it by filing comments.

Here is the Power Plant Siting Act, which governs the siting and routing of large energy facilities:

Power Plant Siting Act – 216E

Here are some prior dockets (to access the entire docket, individual comments, etc., go to the PUC’s “SEARCH” site and plug in the docket numbers :

2000 Summary of Proceedings

2000 Report EQB

2001 Summary of Proceedings

2001 Report EQB

2002 Summary of Proceedings

2002 Report to EQB

2003 Summary of Proceedings

2003 Report to EQB

2004 Summary of Proceedings

2004 Report to EQB

2005 Report to PUC

2006 Report to PUC – Docket 06-1733

2007 Report to PUC – Docket 07-1579

2008 Report to PUC - Docket 08-1426

2009 Report to PUC – Docket 09-1351

2010 Report to PUC – Docket 10-222

2011 Report to PUC – Docket 11-324

2012 Report – Docket 12-360 -2012 Report Exhibits

2013 Report  – Docket 13-9650143-96999-01

Categories: Citizens

It’s Polar Express time again!!!

Sat, 12/06/2014 - 1:01pm

One year ago — Bark & Ride Transport Polar Express

Here we go again!  21 dogs this time, including a nursing mother and her 8 pups, quite a van full.  Off to shelter soon to pick up crates.

 

 

Over the years, I’ve had a lot of rescue dogs, and since I’ve moved to Red Wing, I’ve adopted Katze, Kenya, Krie, Kady, Little Sadie, and Summer.   The only one left now is Little Sadie, who I hope has another decade of life.  But there are so many dogs who need help.  I’ve been on the Board of Humane Society for Goodhue County for a few years now, but that’s different than direct work for animals.  Our grrrrrrls have been either from the shelter here in Red Wing (Katze, Krie, and Little Sadie), or from rescues who got them out of difficult or horrible situations.  Kenya was in the middle of two divorces and left with no where to live twice in her five years before I got her.   Kady came up from Georgia, on an I-95 transport, up to Marcus Hook to 6th Angel German Shepherd Rescue, and then fostered on Long Island as she recovered from heartworm treatment and, though her pup was adopted, she spent a year waiting for us — we were luck she was there and she decided she wanted to come home with us.

Anyway, we started doing occasional dog transports, the first, a year ago for the 2013 Polar Express, where we met Birdo:

And an adorable pile o’ pooping puppies (they seem to let loose about half an hour after transfer into the van!):

And then last July, Nora and another van full (there’s always got to be one lap dog, that’s Alan’s favorite part of this!):

So here we go, doing dog laundry and cleaning crates, on the road again!

 

Categories: Citizens

Silica Sand Rulemaking — winding up!

Fri, 12/05/2014 - 2:06pm

The silica sand rulemaking process drags on and will probably end soon.  Meetings have been going on for a year now, and what is there to show for it?  Not much.  But as of yesterday, there are some draft rules!  YES!  About time…

There was a Comment Period that ended in November, and here are the Comments:

MPCA’s rulemaking – Response to second request for comments

Very few comments were filed — only 10 (I’d attached a previous comment to this one, but it was stuck separately at the top of the pile) — why so few comments, what’s up with that?

As for rulemaking, there’s been a little bit of progress reported by Katie Himanga (THANK YOU, Katie!) after yesterday’s meeting of the “Advisory Panel.”  Word from that meeting is that “ALL AGENCIES PLAN TO GO TO PUBLIC NOTICE IN THE 1ST QUARTER OF 2015.“  And so it looks like the January 8 meeting will be the last one, January 8 is scheduled, and no others show on the Advisory Panel site (but they could always add more, as they have in the past).

The Agenda is posted, but the meeting materials weren’t there yet.  So I checked with Nathan Cooley, and he sent them right over:

20141204 10th SSRAP Agenda

20141125 Draft Silica Sand Emission Rule (Draft Proposed Rules Governing Emissions from Silica Sand Projects)

DEFINITIONS_EQB (silica sand related definitions, rule and statute)

EXHIBIT M (AMBIENT AIR MONITORING PROCEDURES for
DETERMINATION OF COMPLIANCE, 12/18/2013)

SSRAP__DRAFT EQB__12__4__2014_CLEAN (this is proposed language to insert silica sand mines/project/facilities into EAW and EIS categories)

Here’s how Cooley ended that missive, definitely a “don’t call me, I’ll call you” sort of finale:

There is no current request for public comment on silica sand rulemaking. We remain focused on seeking representative input from the SSRAP panel. Thanks for your interest and your understanding.

Well, Advisory Panel, he’s saying it’s up to you!  You’re our representatives!

Categories: Citizens

The Sixth Extinction

Thu, 12/04/2014 - 9:11am

I’ve been reading The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History, and get thee to the library and reserve it.  It’s about our impact on the earth, and it’s depressing, but reality often is.  Particularly the recount of the deaths of the last Great Auk pair at Edly, a rock cropping of an island off of Iceland.

And this morning, Jeanne Warren found this:

 

Categories: Citizens

It’s assembled — the gift Alan has wanted for ages!

Tue, 12/02/2014 - 1:20pm

Is that cute or what?  He’d been assembling it for a week and a half, lots of little parts, and one of the legs disappeared for a few days, but ta-da!  Here it is!

 

Categories: Citizens

KAAL misdirects and distorts public perception

Sun, 11/30/2014 - 1:26pm

I hate it when this happens.  KAAL in Austin and Rochester, Minnesota, has presented a distorted half-truth using only a half-video clip of the car that rammed its way through the Minneapolis protesters last week, and it’s this distorted half-truth that has 5,236 comments and 17, 591 shares:

KAAL fb post – Partial KSTP video of car ramming demonstrators

This is their entire report linked to that partial video that was edited and doesn’t show the driver at the stoplight, other cars going safely around, and the driver going around the car in front of him waiting at the intersection and he drives INTO the crowd (emphasis added):

(ABC 6 News) — We’re following breaking news out of a Minneapolis where a car drove through a group of protestors.
    
One person was hit before the group of protestors jumps on the car and begins vandalizing it.  Police confirm one person was transported to the hospital with very minor injuries.
    
This protest was in response to last night’s grand jury ruling in Ferguson, MO.

Stay with ABC 6 News for the latest on this developing story tonight at 10

Very naughty — that is NOT reporting.  That’s a grossly misleading spin.  KAAL had access to the entire video just like the rest of us did, and maybe even before the rest of us did.

Meanwhile, there were over 5,200 comments to that misleading facebook post, and over 17,000 shares — sharing and commenting on an incomplete and misleading version of the video.  Read those comments, filled with hate and rage.

HERE’S KAAL’s  MORE RECENTLY POSTED VERSION WITH FULL KSTP VIDEO, CORRECTLY LABELING DRIVER AS SUSPECT.

From Alan Muller on today’s Mpls. yak-yak list, to consider when looking at some of the 5,235 comments on that KAAL post, comments like:

  • “He needed a plow with knives”
  • “I would have done the same…they were out to kill the driver for sure.”
  • “Should get a snow plow and gas on it!!”
  • “I would’ve drove straight over those idiots. White black pink don’t care, I’m not stopping for psychos in the street to get out from under me. Made their decision being out there.”
  • “Good for him maybe more people should do this so these idiots will go get a job instead of standing in the street protesting free rights for hoodlums to act like gangbangers.”

What???  So back to Alan’s comment:

Every once in a while, on a list like this, a thread happens that seems that seems to speak about larger social or community problems. This one does to me. Is it OK to ram a car into a crowd of people? One could use answers to this as part of a test to diagnose sociopathic tendencies. Do you have a moral compass? Yeah, I mean "If you think the answer to this question is 'YES,' I would hope you don't ever get hired as a teacher or police officer, or reporter, or animal control person, or manager of people, or...."

For me, it’s the sort of thing where I long to see a societal intervention and treatment, this is embedded self-centered ignorance and hate with no regard for rights of others, or laws or basic human decency.  How ugly can we humans get?  That’s a question I do not want answered…

KAAL – though you have posted the full KSTP video, this other shorter one is so distorted that I think you should remove that post so that people won’t continue to be misinformed, and continue to pass on that misinformation.

Categories: Citizens

Benghazi? Oh, please… read the report!

Sat, 11/29/2014 - 10:52am

Benghazi is a problem, but not the way so many loudly believe.  The House of Representatives released their report a week ago, and those ranting need to read this.  As the report notes:

Despite the highly sensitive nature of these activities, the report has endeavored to make the facts and conclusions within this report widely and publicly available so that the American public can separate the actual facts from the swirl of rumors and unsupported allegations. 

Is reading the report expecting too much?  Perhaps it is too much, given that the House report won’t substantiate the frenzy.  So much wasted time, effort and money.  Oh well… they’ll take up some other unsupported allegations and run with that for a while…

House of Representatives Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence  Final Benghazi Report

And for those who don’t want to bother to read it, here’s the conclusions:

 Investigative Report on the Terrorist Attacks on U.S. Facilities in Benghazi, Libya, September 11-12, 2012

Report on the Terrorist Attacks on U.S. Facilities in Benghazi, Libya, September 11-12, 2012

Appendix 1

Appendix 2

Appendix 3 pages 1-26     Appendix 3 pages 27-52

Appendix 4 pages 1-30     Appendix 4 pages 31-60     Appendix 4 pages 61-91

Appendix 5 pages 1-30     Appendix 5 pages 31-60     Appendix 5 pages 61-78

Appendix 6

Categories: Citizens

What the hell is wrong with people?

Wed, 11/26/2014 - 6:23pm

Photo from STrib of woman hit when guy drives car through protest.

In Minneapolis, a guy drives into demonstrators, a couple jump up on the hood to keep from being run over, and one isn’t so lucky, he hits her, pushes her a ways down the street — a miracle that he didn’t run her over.  Watch the video.  Crowd pictured trying to lift the vehicle off her, get him to back up, somehow she’s pulled from underneath, and then he hammers down, almost running over a couple more people.  What the hell is wrong with people?

VIDEO – Peter Lang – STrib – street video and KSTP helicopter video and more street video

STrib: Car plows through protesters during Ferguson rally in south Minneapolis

STrib: Mpls. police: Driver who hit protester was fleeing ‘the mob’ but is considered suspect

VIDEO- KSTP report: Man who drove into Mpls. protesters was trying to get away from crowd

That KSTP piece has been updated to note that the driver is now “suspect” and not “victim” as was stated in previous police report, and are looking for victims and witnesses:

The man drove away from the intersection. Police eventually caught up with him and questioned him. No charges have been filed and the man was not taken into custody. Police are now calling him a suspect in the case.

The Minneapolis Police Department Traffic Unit is actively investigating. Police are asking any injured people or witnesses to call the Traffic Investigations Unit at 612-673-2981.

On the good news side, the STrib has also updated its article, and notes that the MPD announced it is now referring to the driver as the “suspect” and not the “victim” and has referred the matter to the County Attorney (important because the County Attorney handles the larger, heavier offenses).  Not only that, but about the perp,  Jeffrey Patrick Rice:

Rice’s driving history in Minnesota includes three drunken-driving convictions, with the most recent coming in 2003. He’s also been convicted of driving with an open liquor bottle, and driving after his license was canceled and also in violation of restrictions placed on his license. The most recent of these convictions came in early 2008.

From the state’s site (click it for a larger version):

And from the Police Department:

In another incident, later yesterday, a van rams through two groups of demonstrators and the second time, right in front of the cops who go after him, and at the end of this, he’s taken out of the van, into the cop car.

Video of white van driving through protesters and getting arrested

What the hell is wrong with people?

Categories: Citizens

This Thursday and Friday: Buy Nothing Day!

Wed, 11/26/2014 - 4:34pm

    IT’S BUY NOTHING DAY!
    DON’T GO SHOPPING TOMORROW OR FRIDAY!

One of the things I love about Alan Muller is his arrest record, he walks the walk.  That’s Alan and now Rep. John Kowalko objecting when the public was not allowed to speak at a Delaware legislative energy committee meeting on proposed legislation:

Seven Arrested in Buy Nothing Day Protest at Delaware Mall (2007)

And on to trial:

Two Sisters and ‘Santa Claus’ to Go on Trial for ‘Nothing’ A jury trial for three of the seven people arrested at Christiana Mall on Black Friday, aka Buy Nothing Day, in November 2005 is scheduled in the Court of Common Pleas on Monday, February 12, 2007, in Courtroom 5A. Sisters Anna and Rachel White and Alan Muller decided to challenge the charge of ‘criminal trespassing’ instead of paying a fine. They are represented by Wilmington attorney Michael Modica. At the time of the arrest, Anna and Rachel White were wearing Santa hats and t-shirts that said “NOTHING – What You’ve Been Looking For!” and “Ask me about NOTHING” and carrying bags labeled “FREE SAMPLES – NOTHING.” Alan Muller was dressed like Santa Claus. WHAT: Jury Trial (State of Delaware vs. Anna White, Rachel White, & Alan Muller) WHEN: Monday, February 12, 2007 – 8:30 a.m. WHERE: Court of Common Pleas, 500 N. King St., Wilmington, Delaware

And they were convicted:

‘Buy nothing’ activists fined, banned from mall Ruling supports Christiana center’s ‘humorless’ stance

By SEAN O’SULLIVAN, The News Journal

Posted Tuesday, February 13, 2007  

WILMINGTON — A trio who promoted “nothing” at Christiana Mall on Thanksgiving weekend 2005 will have to pay fines and stay away from the shopping center for six months to a year.

On Monday, Anna White, her sister Rachel White and Alan Muller were convicted by a Court of Common Pleas jury of third-degree criminal trespass, a violation.

Anna White and Muller, who is also executive director of Green Delaware, were each fined $75 and banned from the mall for a year by Chief Judge Alex J. Smalls. Rachel White was fined $25 and barred from the mall for six months.

Anna White said she was disappointed by the verdict and is considering her appeal options, saying the case raises questions about freedom of speech and the limits that can be set on people in quasi-public places such as a mall.

“I think it is a slippery slope when you ban people like us, who were not doing anything wrong. Where does it go next?” said Anna White.

The White sisters were arrested Nov. 25, 2005, by Delaware State Police. The women, who were wearing red Santa hats and white T-shirts with the phrase “Nothing — what you are looking for,” had refused to leave when ordered to do so by non-uniformed mall officials. Muller was with them, wearing a Santa suit.

All three testified that mall officials refused to provide identification, give their names or explain why they had to leave. Frank Kaleta, director of mall security, testified that he did not give his name or identification, but said he did clearly identify himself as mall management.

A second security officer, Nicholas Shovlin, now a state trooper, said he gave his name and showed a badge.

During his opening statement, defense attorney Michael W. Modica wore a Santa hat, telling the jury, “This is a case about Christiana Mall getting worked up about nothing.”

He said the trio were engaged in a lighthearted attempt to get people to think about consumerism.

Deputy Attorney General Natalie Haskins said it was “a very simple case.” The trio were asked to leave by the owners of a business, they didn’t, they were arrested and were guilty of trespass.

The three never shouted slogans or accosted shoppers, but only walked, answering questions from shoppers when asked, according to testimony. They said they planned to leave if asked by authorities. Kaleta testified that the three were involved in “political action” and that violated the mall’s ban on solicitation or demonstrations.

Modica said later they would not have been confronted if they’d had “Shop Till You Drop” on their T-shirts: “I think it’s a ridiculous case. I think the mall overreacted and was just humorless.”

The lone alternate juror, Dan Weigman, who did not participate in deliberations, agreed. He said mall security did not properly identify themselves and police never asked the group to leave, so he would have voted to acquit.

As for the upcoming holiday shopping season, Anna White said, “I guess we won’t be going to the mall this year.”

 

 

Categories: Citizens

Outrage! Grand Jury says no charges!

Tue, 11/25/2014 - 11:04am

“A hallucination of your worst fears” : Legal scholar Patricia Williams on what Darren Wilson’s testimony reveals about racism in America

One of the functions of a prosecutor is to prioritize, to make a case that there is reasonable cause. McCulloch didn’t do that. He chose to present a mess with no attempt to persuade. That’s what prosecutors are supposed to do, and he didn’t do that. He emptied several bales of hay and told the jury to go sort through it. Relevance and focus is absolutely what you need to create a case. He didn’t try to create a case.

If you don’t understand why people are really pissed off, take a look in the mirror and at society and confront white privilege, privilege of race and privilege of class — think honestly and deeply.  Then do something about it in your world — within your family, at work, at church, in your community, take steps toward justice and equality.  If you do understand and are working toward change, keep at it with perseverance and patience.  The struggle won’t be over soon.

Yeah, I’m an attorney, sworn to uphold the Constitution.  What a concept!  I spend my time helping regular people exercise their freedom of speech, association, and protecting their property in their efforts to participate in a legal and administrative system that’s stacked against them, daring them to stand up for themselves.  The legal training I have, and the rudimentary experience and knowledge of criminal law and police procedure has me tied up in knots, sick at the Grand Jury decision… but I’d not expected Wilson to be charged.  Everything leading up to the start of Grand Jury deliberations pointed up to last night’s release of their decision.  But this is not about the law, it is not about justice, it is not about police procedure, it is not about appropriate or legal use of deadly force.

Ferguson’s Trial – Sarah Kendzior

12 things white people can do now because of Ferguson

Why It’s Impossible to Indict a Cop

If we presume the facts are as stated by McCulloch, and note what facts were not stated…

McCulloch said that Wilson knew about the reported theft at the store, and yet in the transcripts it’s said that he repeatedly stated he did not know, he was not responding to that call.  McCulloch said he had called for assistance, but the transcripts say he did not until after the shooting.  In his statements, he said he got out of the car and chased Brown.  In what world is it police procedure for an officer to, without backup, get out of his car and run after and shoot at someone who is running away after an altercation and where two shots were already fired from inside a police car?  How far away was Wilson when Brown stopped and turned around?  Reports and transcripts say about 20 feet… a couple of car lengths.  Why didn’t Wilson carry a taser?  How far away was Wilson when he fired the final shot?  How many shots should be fired at an unarmed man?  When shooting an unarmed man, what’s your target?  When his immediate supervisor questioned him after the incident, why wasn’t that recorded, why were there no notes taken?  When is use of deadly force acceptable?  Justified?

Here are the GRAND JURY TESTIMONY & DOCUMENTS.

A chart from PBS (Click for LINK), click image for larger version:

A transcript that jumps out – other officers and Darren Wilson’s testimony.

The federal investigation is ongoing about civil rights violations, and there’s the civil suit, but neither will do much, if anything, to alter the systemic mindset in Ferguson, or in this country (look no further than the police killings in Minneapolis).

Will this provide an opportunity for whites to examine the meaning and impact of white privilege and racism?  Will we look at class stratification in our society?  Is this a teaching moment?  Hardly.  It’s necessary, but I’m not holding my breath.  From what I’ve observed, so far it’s “circle the wagons” in the onslaught of virulent protests.  What will it take to reach an understanding of why people are so pissed off and do something about it, do something different?  We have made some progress in the last 50 years, what I’ve seen in my lifetime, but there is so much further to go.  I so distinctly remember that day in 4th grade when saying the Pledge of Allegiance in school on a cold winter morning, red stretch pants and a multi-colored red based shirt, when I realized that we don’t have “liberty and justice for all.”   Now it’s ~50 years later.  We’re not even close.  Change of the magnitude necessary is never easy, particularly where so many people believe that equality means less for those with privilege.  Change of the magnitude necessary is never easy, particularly where spewing racial hatred has become recreational sport.

I feel very fortunate to have been a near-suburban white teenager who transferred into the Magnet program at Minneapolis Central H.S., when the public school system was trying to avoid a segregation lawsuit. This was a time where part of my education was exposure to race and racism first hand.  After high school, I lived in Prestigious East Phillips for 20 years.  It was impossible to ignore the impact of race-skewed education funding, racism and death threats in Harry Davis’s Mayoral campaign, the gutting of Minneapolis neighborhoods with a freeway, housing segregation and covenants, and awareness of white privilege.  That awareness shifts my perspective, but it doesn’t wash me clean, nope, we all carry those biases.  We are all racists, and we each need to look at that.  Over the last 50 years, the balance has shifted some, but white privilege remains.

People tend to be innately afraid of “other,” which often manifests in anger and hate.  How do we deal with this other than systemic changes from birth — little kids playing together, going to school together — so it’s “us” and not “other.”  How do we move away from parental and societal lessons of racism when it’s so deeply instilled?  When it’s everywhere we look?  When it fills the airwaves and internet?

This is not the world as I want it to be…

Categories: Citizens

Saying good bye to Kady

Sat, 11/22/2014 - 3:12pm

Today we said good bye to our Kady.  Above, there she is on her “Gotcha Day!”

           K-K-K-Kady…  January 28th, 2010

And here she is in our “new” house a few years ago:

And this morning:

She’s been our dog for five years, the first dog that Alan and I got together, found on Petfinder not long after Krie, the doggy with the winglet ears, died unexpectedly.  That was January 2010.  I was in the middle of the Susquehanna-Roseland transmission project hearing in Newark, New Jersey, camped out officing at the R.Treat Hotel and I saw this photo and knew she was THE dog:

That’s Kady, and her “pup” in the background, peering out.  She was no spring chicken, a middle-aged grrrrl found as a stray in Georgia, with her young pup, and was spayed down there, and headed up the  I-95 dog underground railroad to 6th Angel German Shepherd Rescue, where she was treated for heartworm and then fostered out on Long Island.  She was there for a year before we saw her listed for adoption.

Kate was then “Lady,” and we were told that she was extremely dog aggressive and shouldn’t go to a home with another dog.  Sure… whatever… we filled out the application, went to meet her after the hearing in Newark, and took “Lady” and our Kenya for a walk.  They fussed a bit at first, but when we got back to the house and put Ken in the van, “Lady” jumped right in.  No doubt about it, she wanted to be our dog.  So a week later, after the house visit, we went back to Long Island to pick her up.

“Lady” is no name for a dog of mine, and no name for a German Shepherd, so given all our grrrrrrrrls were “K” grrrrrrls, she became “Kady.”  And getting to Delaware was kind of a rude awakening for our new grrrrl, she arrived just in time for FOUR feet of snow:

And she was clearly dog aggressive:

After Kenya died, we were inexplicably drawn to our Little Sadie, and life with Sadie was quite an adjustment for our shep grrrrl, but they became fast friends (one faster than the other!):

And then there’s the day that we brought them east to Co. R. E near Oconomowoc, WI to pick up a third sister, the irrepressible Summer!

Next thing she knows, Kady and the big galoot are headed down to St. Louis for BaronFest I for some GSD bonding, and that did it for these grrrrls:

And these grrrrrls got along famously, when they weren’t being bitches and drawing blood:

And then a year later, BaronFest II:

And then the next year, she was on her own for BaronFest:

(where are the rest of those BaronFest photos???)

Kady was a quiet grrrrrrl, a good match for her rowdy sister Sadie.  She loved the neighborhood kids and was oh-so-gentle, and loved to be loved up.  She was my constant companion every day, spending most of her time under my desk or behind in her spot with her toes curled around the wheels of my chair — YEOW!

It was time… she’d checked out and was just existing, no fun for her.  We will miss her every day.  Sadie seems to be pissed at us, and when we got home and she smelled us over good, she ran into the living room, jumped up in “her chair,” and was cowering and shaking, so I guess we need to convince her that we won’t be taking her to the vet any time soon.

Categories: Citizens

State Rail Plan – Meetings & Comments!

Wed, 11/19/2014 - 9:23am

There’s a “State Rail Plan” and it’s up for comment NOW! But I’m wondering just what it is that they’re trying to do, and it seems like the goal is to secure public spending for necessary private infrastructure.  If not, what’s the goal here?

MN DOT has been holding meetings all over the state, Alan went to one in Red Wing last week, and there’s a couple more coming up:

Nov. 24: Moorhead, MN
Hjemkomst Center 5 – 7 p.m.

Nov. 25: Winona, MN
City Council Chambers 5 – 7 p.m.

What’s up for comment?

Start with this 2010 Report from the DOT website:

MN Rail Plan Final Report Feb2010

And updates to consider:

Now check this, from last February:

BNSF Announces $5 Billion Capital Commitment Program

Why is this news?  Isn’t it their job to keep the rails in decent shape, to invest in their own infrastructure, not just to put money in Warren Buffet’s pockets!

When the DOT predicts this level of service (LOS) with or without improvements, are they including improvements such as the $5 billion of BNSF?  The DOT seems to be cheerleading for PUBLIC spending on PRIVATE infrastructure!  These are private for-profit companies (well, some may be “public” in the corporate sense) and they are responsible for their infrastructure.  What is the DOT doing to force the rail companies to upgrade to keep their Level of Service (LOS) at an acceptable rate, SAFELY, so they’re able to handle all the freight that they’re wanting to ram through our communities?  It’s not the job of government to subsidize the likes of Warren Buffet!

Here’s a freight survey from their site — note it’s called “Metroquest” so go figure.

Something I found interesting when considering rail is this testimony from the Sandpiper pipeline case (go HERE and plug in dockets 13-473 for Certificate of Need and 13-474 for Routing):

Rennicke_Direct_20148-102135-05

They’re framing this Bakken BOOM! as binary, either rail or pipeline, and whenever something is framed that way, that’s a big red flag to take a closer and more thoughtful look.

DOT says there are going to be “stakeholder” meetings — meetings that should be well attended by people like us!  From their site:

  • Three major stakeholder meetings are also scheduled, coinciding with the November 2014 Passenger Rail Forum, the December 2014 Freight Summit, and the January 2015 Passenger Rail Forum. A second round of open houses will be held in early 2015.

So when are these meetings?  Passenger Rail Forum meetings are supposed to happen monthly but don’t.  Just this last Monday, Gov. Dayton’s “Rail Summit” was supposed to have happened. MPCA Commissioner Stine mentioned it at yesterday’s meeting and said there would be another next month, and Frank Hornstein’s fb post, but there’s very little about it in the news other than announcements 10/31 that it would happen, in St. Paul, and of course we all weren’t invited:  http://hometownsource.com/2014/10/31/gov-dayton-to-convene-minnesota-rail-summit-on-nov-17/

Here’s how it’s framed by our good friends at KSTP — if you click on the link, it’s pipeline promotion:

Dayton Hosts Governor’s Rail Summit to Discuss Rail Safety, Backlog KSTP.com-Nov 17, 2014 Railroad, agriculture and political leaders will be attending the Governor’s Rail Summit to talk about increasing railway safety, addressing the …

Back to the DOT — look at this “Passenger Rail Forum” and how that’s been “working” — meeting after meeting canceled:

Forum meetings

All forum meetings are held from 10 a.m. to noon at the State Office Building unless otherwise specified below. Meetings will be canceled when there are insufficient topics to merit a meeting.

State Office Building, Room 5
100 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd
St. Paul, MN 55155

Date

Location / Time

Jan. 6, 2014 Canceled Feb. 3, 2014 Canceled March 3, 2014 Conference call April 7, 2014 Conference call May 5, 2014 Conference call June 2, 2014 Canceled July 7, 2014 Canceled Aug. 4, 2014 Conference call Sep. 8, 2014 Rescheduled to Sept. 15 via conference call Oct. 6, 2014 Canceled Nov. 10, 2014 State Office Building, Room 5, 10 a.m. to Noon Dec. 1, 2014 State Office Building, Room 5, 10 a.m. to Noon

Check out their site.  What are they really doing here?  What’s really at issue?  I think we’re looking at a scam to get the public to pick up the tab for infrastructure updates that haven’t been made over the last few decades:

These slides are from this presentation — note the date: November 12, 2009… presented at the November 12, 2010 meeting (That’s what the date is on the site, and the 2009 date matches up with the properties date.)  ???

PTACPres20091112

And another thing… why is the Norwegian American Chamber of Commerce interested in Bakken BOOM oil and why is DNV-GL top-heavily loading the panel coming up here on December 4th?

Categories: Citizens

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