Thursday, November 23, 2006
Many of you may have missed this comment by "Stony" to a post a couple of months ago. I would like to hear from you about this suggestion.....
You most likely know I am not personally a member of any Christian congregation. However, I do believe in the voice of religious leaders as a guide to our moral values (though not the infallibility claimed by the Pope and many evangelical sects). I like to listen to their views, especially when they urge peace and selflessness.....
So with this in mind I ask your input about Stony's post. It seems simple to me: religion cannot be favored by government. Nonetheless, moral imperatives of all voters must be considered by government. Religion doesn't get to dictate who votes for whom. In fact religion does not get to dictate anything. Only to propose, to its congregations, those values supposed to reflect God. Think of religion as a frame of reference, or a debate. And then, look at this comment by Stony:
Maybe they should just end the tax-free status of all the churches,their businesses and properties. They they could do what they want without fear? Although many already do. I attended a service in another state where they handed out sample ballots with each choice of the church already marked and the congregation was told "you vote this way or we will now about it"
Look at all the wars that have been waged in the name of religion.
Thanksgiving is the universal holiday, the only day of the year in our country where all peoples are welcomed, all faiths represented, in the blessing of being thankful. Imams and Jews, Buddhists and Jehovah’s Witnesses, Catholics and Lutherans, native peoples and descendants of slaves, gringos and Hispanics, on this one day join together in feasting and rejoicing. However we name the giver, we gratefully receive the gifts.
And here’s the secret of thankfulness, of gratitude: it makes us happy, it makes us rich, it brings peace. No matter what we have or don’t have, contentment brings us joy and opens our hearts. Contented, we are lucky. The fortunate few. As I tell my cats each morning, “We’re so lucky and happy!”
A very happy Thanksgiving all who live here on the North Shore.
Sunday, November 19, 2006
by Elanne Palcich
April 12, 2006
My name is Elanne Palcich. I was born and raised on the Iron Range, and live in Chisholm. I am a retired teacher, and taught with the Virginia school district.
Last summer, I attended the Polymet hearing in Hoyt Lakes. I listened to the power point presentation, and came home with an EAW — over 200 pages worth.
And the first thing I learned is that, when the company gives a power point presentation, they only tell you what they want you to hear. So now I'll tell you what I think you should hear.
“When sulfide ores are exposed to air and moisture, a chemical reaction occurs which produces sulfuric acid. This sulfuric acid then leaches into the watershed, killing all aquatic life.”
Polymet wants to start up a copper-nickel mine in northern Minnesota. Copper-nickel deposits are found in a band of sulfide ores that extend basically between Hoyt Lakes and Babbitt. When sulfide ores are exposed to air and moisture, a chemical reaction occurs which produces sulfuric acid. This sulfuric acid then leaches into the watershed, killing all aquatic life.
The question is, can this sulfuric acid be neutralized? Existing plans call for reactive tailings (those containing sulfide) to be stored on plastic liners and layered with soil to prevent as much exposure to air and water as possible. The plastic liner contains drainage points, where the waste water is to be collected and treated before being discharged into the watershed.
In addition to the tailings, waste rock and pit walls may also contain sulfide ore.
Polymet's current plan is to store its tailings for the first five years of plant operation while it performs something called humidity cell tests to try to determine how to neutralize the acid drainage. From what I can understand, these cell tests compact the tailings and add moisture to simulate what might happen under natural conditions.
My questions are: what happens if there's acid drainage from the tailings during those five years of testing? And how does one control acid drainage from a pit?
Polymet's rush to start operation before a plan for waste treatment is in place goes against state law. (The law says the waste must be understood before the mine is started.)
“No company is currently allowed to mine sulfide ores in Wisconsin because no company has been able to show that their current or past mining operations in the U.S. or Canada have been free of significant environmental damage.”
Other states are also facing problems with sulfide mining. No company is currently allowed to mine sulfide ores in Wisconsin because no company has been able to show that their current or past mining operations in the U.S. or Canada have been free of significant environmental damage. Evidently there have been problems with acid drainage leaking through the plastic liners.
Montana prohibits any mining that would require perpetual water treatment. Acid mine drainage from sulfide tailings can remain active for hundreds, perhaps thousands, of years.
So, acid drainage is the number one problem with sulfide mining.
Problem number two is air emissions. The Polymet mine would be located just 20 miles south of the Boundary Waters and 50 miles southeast of Voyageurs National Park. These are Class I air quality areas. A concern is the creation of haze caused by plant and vehicle emissions. The specific requirements for permitting are to be negotiated with the MPCA and the Federal Land Managers. This is surprising to me, as I thought that air standards were just that — standards — not negotiated items.
Sulfuric acid mist is used in the plant process itself, in the extraction of metals from ore. There is some concern about seepage of sulfuric acid mist into the air, but wet scrubbers are supposed to control this problem.
The plant will also add to mercury deposition. Although mercury pollution stems from global sources, it's a special problem for Minnesota because when the airborne mercury falls into water, it transforms into methylmercury, which is toxic. The Polymet plant borders a wilderness.
Sierra Club volunteer Elanne Palcich gave apowerful presentation at the Floodwood forum on PolyMet's Minnesota sulfide mining project.
So that's two problems — acid drainage and air emissions.
Problem number three is that the development of the mine site will impact approximately 3015 acres of wildlife habitat, of which 1305 are wetlands. A total of 13 species of rare or sensitive plants have been identified in the area, as well as the threatened wood turtle. A variety of fish species will also be affected.
These environmental problems are further impacted by the location of adjoining projects, the combination of which will greatly contribute to air pollution, stress our water resources, and further fragment land for wildlife habitation. These projects are listed on the chart. I would like to point out that the Birch Lake project proposes to mine copper-nickel deposits underneath Birch Lake.
An important point to remember is that these mining companies are in a rush to begin mining during what they consider to be "a window of opportunity." Demand from China and India, who have not yet started mining their own ore deposits, has driven prices to a peak level.
Polymet's sulfide deposit contains not only copper and nickel, but the trace minerals platinum, palladium, cobalt, silver, and gold. Platinum is currently selling at around $986 an ounce, and over a 20 year period of mining, Polymet would stand to make $25 billion dollars. This money will basically leave our area. Mine operations are to be run on copper production, while nickel and the trace minerals would be extra profit.
I also want to mention that mining companies, including Polymet, are claiming competition in the global market, and are not committing to hiring union workers.
Others will be speaking on the wetlands exchange issue, so I will state my concerns briefly:
One, Polymet is jumping ahead on this issue, too as the EIS is not yet out.
Two, how can land in Floodwood which has been drained since 1916, and reached its own ecological balance, be an equivalent exchange for existing wetlands near the Boundary Waters? There is something inherently wrong with this whole process.
Three, the exchange plan mentions the threat of peat mining, as a reason for protecting the Floodwood area. Of course peat mining is a threat! Why on earth would anybody consider destroying a bog for horticultural peat?
Four, what looks good on paper doesn't always translate so well into real life. How can one condense all of the interdynamics of a wetland onto a piece of paper? And how can we fix problems after the fact?
Five, our political leaders don't have time to comb through mountains of paperwork on every project, so they rely instead on company propaganda, getting stuck on words like jobs and taxes.
I believe the age of ignorance is over. What worked in the 20th century is not going to work in the 21st. With world population at 6.5 billion and increasing, with increasing demands upon land and resources, we can no longer afford to bury our heads in the sand, or even in the wetlands. As a teacher I would say that knowledge is power. It is time for us to lead our leaders by providing them with information.
“Polymet's projected mining life would be 20 years… What will the landscape look like then? What legacy will we leave for our children and our grandchildren?”
One hundred years ago, there were so many white pine covering northern Minnesota that it was said they could never all be logged. Yet in 20 years they were all gone. Today people say the same about our wetlands. But while the rest of the nation and the state are losing wetlands to urban sprawl, we're losing our wetlands to uncontrolled and uncontrollable mining projects.
I believe that the Polymet project in particular, with its potential for acid drainage, should be put on hold while we develop a slower, more sustainable future of growth (including lower impact manufacturing and tourism).
Polymet's projected mining life would be 20 years. I would guess that most of us in this room will be here 20 years from now. What will the landscape look like then? What legacy will we leave for our children and our grandchildren?
PolyMet mining project
Birch Lake mining project (Franconia Minerals)
Case Study: Grand Marais – Sustainability on the North Shore
Grand Marais is a picturesque city on the North Shore. Due to its beautiful location on the shore of Lake Superior, and its proximity to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area and the Sawtooth Mountain Range, tourism and summer residency is an important component of the local economy. Though visitors bring money to fuel the local economy, they also bring waste. Community members are recognizing this and doing their part to address waste as well as other issues associated with sustainability. Like many towns, Grand Marais has seen some of its buildings abandoned and begin to decay.
Recently, a group of local citizens, in cooperation with the mayor, worked together to deal with a troublesome lot. The group worked to transition a plot of land on the lakeshore that was once home to an old filling station into a park. While not all buildings can be saved and sometimes need to be demolished, some are salvageable. These buildings can be remodeled for use today. Many older buildings in the city of Grand Marais are being renovated and are now home to prosperous businesses. The Angry Trout Café, a popular local restaurant was once a fish house on the shore of Lake Superior. What was once a ski-hill and lodge near the city is being explored as a potential location for a housing development.
Businesses can also play a part in the movement towards sustainability. The Angry Trout Café mentioned above provides an excellent example of how business can incorporate sustainability into its transactions. Food for the café comes from local growers to the extent possible. The café has also implemented several methods to reduce waste as much as possible. There are 3 compost bins in the kitchen where food scraps are sorted for composting or dog food for local sled dogs. Food prep containers are selected on the basis of their being environmentally friendly or recyclable and "to go" containers for coffee and leftovers are returnable. Even the trash bags are environmentally friendly, made of cornstarch that disintegrates much more quickly than plastic.
The community recognizes that poorly planned growth and waste that harms the natural landscape can hurt the economic base of the resort area. Citizens are working to ensure that the harbor area is well protected and that growth is "smart" rather than lured in at any price. With the development of a land trust to protect the harbor area, an attempt to protect the ski hill area, the development of a city park in place of an old building, refurbishing old buildings, the environmentally conscious Angry Trout Café, and an engaged group of citizens that want to learn more about implementing smart and sustainable growth, Grand Marais is a city poised for a healthy future.
Link to full 2001 case study: http://www.mnproject.org/pdf/ccschapters/grandmar.pdf or visit http://www.grandmaraismn.com/-- Summarized by Jennifer Hawkins, The Minnesota Project
MnSCN is a program of the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency
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Wednesday, November 15, 2006
I read this on Truthdig and thought you would find it interesting.
Barry Golson: Stop U.S.-Canada Immigration Now!
The editor of ForbesTraveler.com pens a satirical take on U.S.-Mexico border relations, envisioning a scenario in which 'Minute Mounties' protect the Canadian border from Americans desperate to fill jobs that our neighbors to the north are too rich to perform.
Monday, November 13, 2006
“The art of living is always to make a good thing out of a bad thing. Only if we know that we have actually descended into infernal regions where nothing awaits us but ‘the cold death of society and the extinguishing of all civilised relations,’ can we summon the courage and imagination needed for a ‘turning around,’ a metanoia. This then leads to seeing the world in a new light, namely, as a place where the things modern man continuously talks about and always fails to accomplish can actually be done...
“Can we rely on it that a ‘turning around’ will be accomplished by enough people quickly enough to save the modern world? This question is often asked, but no matter what the answer, it will mislead. The answer ‘Yes’ would lead to complacency, the answer ‘No’ to despair. It is desirable to leave these perplexities behind us and get down to work.”
- A Guide for the Perplexed by E.F. Schumacher, 1978
British philosopher E.F. Schumacher (best known for Small is Beautiful) died before the words quoted above were published in 1978, when I first read them. Ever since, I have been watching and waiting for the possibility of “Metanoia,” in hopes that I might have some helpful influence when it came.
Over the next 20 years I became increasingly certain that the millennium would foster the conditions for metanoia, as other thousand-year cycles have produced the Buddha and Jesus. But the millennium came and went, and the perils to the planet and those who occupy it seemed only to multiply. I have watched with dismay as global warming threatens all life forms; as increasingly greedy and corrupt and power-hungry American leaders openly admit that they want to control the world (calling themselves the only superpower and dictating what other countries must do in lieu of diplomacy); and as declining resources continue to be plundered at alarming speed and without concern for environment impact.
I have watched the despair of the poor increase boundlessly, while the very rich feed on both despair and back-breaking labor like the Windigo, the gigantic Native American eater of souls with a heart of ice.
As the years have passed the gaps have widened and now the American middle class finds itself straddling the abyss, unable to leap to the side of wealth and clinging desperately so as not to fall into the great mass of poverty as their health care, their real wages, their pensions and their childrens' educations are increasingly cut and their jobs are outsourced to cheap labor in India or China.
I read the stories, I ponder the statistics with the careful scrutiny of the trained sociologist that I am. Some days I just cry, for the loss and the hurt and the suffering, not only of people but also of the other sentient beings and the ravages to Gaia, Mother Earth, herself. Pollution from nuclear fallout, radioactive waste, chemical and biological ravages to air, water and earth, loss of uncountable species in rainforests and wilderness, and all the myopia and selfishness that has allowed these terrible things to happen.
Finally, the self-proclaimed Emperor (“Decider”) of America and its subject sovereign nations (all nations, that is to say) has brought my horror and dismay to that point Schumacher names “the descent into infernal regions.”
How so? I foresee imminent nuclear world war if Bushco’s “Rapture” fantasy of Armageddon brings all the great powers to bear as he pushes belligerently towards attacking Iran despite worldwide dismay. I foresee that the richest nations and multi-national corporations will consolidate their control of world trade, squeezing the poor in a vise that will scarcely support life. I foresee that the Neocon Republican conspiracy that started with offing people who might have made a difference (John and Bobby Kennedy, MLK, John Lennon, Paul Wellstone) has finally re-written the American constitution and rule of law, has bought and controlled the media, and has managed to stifle dissent with torture, warrantless spying, secret detention centers and egregious violations of international law. I foresee elections bought and paid for by zillionaires, votes counted by secretive (paperless) electronic machines made by Repuglicans, dirty and vicious attacks on opposing candidates instead of reasoned debate....
But, wait, stop. Then the 2006 midterm elections happened. A Metanoia moment? Perhaps, as dear old Abe Lincoln said, “You can’t fool all of the people all of the time.” He never imagined electronic surveillance or right-wing media control. But he got one thing right: The descendants of the revolutionary heroes who believed in government for the people can see through a brick wall in time.
The 2006 shakeup did not happen in a vacuum. It happened with people like me, like you, day by day, trying to make a difference, reaching out even when we were called enemies of America. Of the new representatives elected to the House, 78 were “graduates” of Camp Wellstone, trained in Paul’s populist and progressive tradition of campaigning from the ground up. The biggest caucus in the new House will be the Progressive Caucus, probably about 70 people.
“If you want your dream to be
Take your time, go slowly
Do few things but do them well
Heartfelt work grows truly.
If you want to live life free
Build your secret slowly,
Small beginnings, greater ends,
Simple joys are holy.”
- Donovan, from “Brother Sun, Sister Moon”
In short, what looks to be turning around now happened because a lot of us left perplexities behind us along with despair some time back and got down to work. And the work goes on, and will continue to go on, but maybe, maybe, the turning around is in time.
WASHINGTON--Today, Congressman James L. Oberstar held a press conference in his Duluth office to discuss his priorities in the 110th Congress, which will see the return of Democrats as the majority party in the House of Representatives. Oberstar, who is the longest-serving Representative in Minnesota’s history, was elected to his 17th term by a wide margin last night.
As the Ranking Democrat on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, he is expected to assume that committee’s chairmanship when the 110th Congress convenes in January 2007. Traditionally one of the most bipartisan committees, Oberstar has already spoken to the current Transportation Committee Chairman, Don Young (R-AK), who pledged to work with Oberstar and other Democrats on the committee.
"Democrats have won the majority, and the challenge now is to govern. I am looking forward to continuing the partnership we have built developed over the years in the Transportation & Infrastructure Committee. It is not about Democratic roads or Republican bridges. If we work together, we can build American roads and American bridges," said Oberstar. "With malice toward none, charity for all; we have to do this together."
Regarding the committee’s priorities in the next session of Congress, Oberstar cited the need for increasing security for all modes of transportation – particularly port security, accelerating dredging in the harbors of the Great Lakes, reauthorizing the Federal Emergency Management Agency, renewing the revolving loan fund for waste system and sewage treatment plants, moving forward on the Federal Aviation Administration’s neglected modernization program, and ensuring that airports in smaller communities have the resources they need to compete. Oberstar also said he expects the Transportation Committee to increase its oversight responsibilities, which has been nearly non-existent over the last few Congresses.
"Although Democrats have retaken the majority in Congress, it does not mean we will get everything done we want to, but we will be able to set the agenda and move issues forward that are important to the American people," said Oberstar. "We need to restore the public's trust and confidence in the government once again and reinstate transparency in government."
Oberstar also addressed the issues that led to the high number of victories for Democrats in House seats across the nation.
"The war in Iraq was the tidal wave that swept the Republicans out and brought the Democrats in. People want an end to our engagement in Iraq," said Oberstar. "They see the way the war and occupation has been badly managed."
Regarding the announcement that Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld resigned today, Oberstar said that the Bush Administration "got the voters’ message."
Saturday, November 11, 2006
Also, Commissioner Jim Johnson will attend a conference on Border Security in Grand Forks, ND on November 18th. He has asked for citizen's questions and comments to take along with him. Please email your questions, comments (and thanks) to him at firstname.lastname@example.org, or call him at 218-387-2254.Thanks and keep up the good work!
Friday, November 10, 2006
Here is my opinion e-mail to the Coast Guard regarding the "safety zones" (Ha!)
Let your readers freely plagiarize it, or just use it to inspire their own comments in the last three days. Let our voices be heard: E pluribus unum.
U.S. Dept. of Homeland Security
United States Coast Guard
Chief Rob Lanier
E-mail: http://dms.dot.gov/.Docket #25657
Fax: Docket Management Facility at (202) 493-2251
Friday, November 10, 2006
Dear Chief Lanier:
I am writing to express my objection to the proposal for live gunfire exercises on the Great Lakes in the so-called “safety zones,” a misnomer if ever I heard one.
There are many reasons for my urgent concern, among them:
1. First, the use of lead and other toxic metals in the firing exercises violates existing regulations; lead causes harmful effects to fish, wildlife and even humans who may consume lake products. Fishermen are no longer permitted to use lead sinkers, and for good reason.
2. Second, mayors on both sides of the U.S.-Canadian border are appalled by the proposal. It violates a long-standing treaty between the U.S. and Canada outlawing weapons of war along the longest peaceful border in the world. It insults our friends and terrifies our own citizens.
3. Third, the exercises are entirely unnecessary; there has never been a single terrorist who has entered the country from any point along the border or the Great Lakes. In the unlikely event that some were to arrive, they would almost certainly have proper documentation and simply cross the border legally.
4. Fourth, the exercises will threaten the lives of small boaters who will not be aware of the postings intended for large vessels and will, sooner or later, certainly fall victim to the barrage of gunfire.
5. Fifth, my extensive reading from many news sources about present military and Homeland Security policies has revealed that the U.S. is planning to send some Coast Guard ships to the Middle East in preparation for war with Iran. This will surely be opposed by huge segments of our population, who would rightly view another U.S. war of aggression as a signal for other world powers to join the fray and create a new world war on an unprecedented scale. In short, this is no excuse to train the Coast Guard to kill in peaceful territory.
6. Finally, my most important reason for opposing these war games is that they create a climate of fear and aggressiveness where now there is only peaceful enjoyment of our waters and friendly relations with our Canadian neighbors.
Please, reconsider this dangerous and disastrous proposal, and continue the long and noble Coast Guard tradition of guarding the safety of our waterways in a peaceful manner that is respectful of the environment and all living creatures.
Grand Marais, Minnesota
This is your LAST chance to e-mail or fax your comments to the Coast Guard, which are due on Monday, November 13th. Click on this latest notice for details.
GREAT LAKES SAFETY ZONE COMMENT PERIOD COMING TO AN END NOV 13
Wednesday, November 08, 2006
Tuesday, November 07, 2006
election results on our website as the precinct counts come in this evening.
Tune into http://www.co.cook.mn.us after the polls close to view
Danna Asche, Director
Cook County Information Systems
411 W. 2nd Street
Grand Marais, MN 55604
Where do universal rights begin?
"In small places, close to home – so close and so small that they cannot be seen on any maps of the world. Yet they are the world of the individual person; the neighborhood he lives in; the school or college he attends; the factory, farm or office where he works. Such are the places where every man, woman, and child seeks equal justice, equal opportunity, equal dignity without discrimination. Unless these rights have meaning there, they have little meaning anywhere. Without concerned citizen action to uphold them close to home, we shall look in vain for progress in the larger world."
— Eleanor Roosevelt, widow of the former
Anyone interested in finding out more about the Human Rights contained in the UN Declaration of Human Rights and how we can educate others on these, please contact Bev Miller, local representative of Youth for Human Rights at 218-370-9320 or email@example.com.
Or, visit http://www.youthforhumanrights.org for more information. Lesson Plans and activities for "human rights ambassadors" of all ages are freely available.
Remember, at our local caucuses we voted to uphold these rights---are you sure you know what all 30 of these are?
AlterNet: The Disjointed States of America
Monday, November 06, 2006
Sometimes it seems impossible to oppose the forces of militarism in our nation and our world. One thing I have done is sign the on-line “Peace Pledge”: not to vote for any candidate who supports the war in
But, what about closer to home, here in
The bridge to tolerance is about building compassion and love. It is not about militarization of peaceful borders, or pre-emptive attacks on countries we don’t happen to approve of that don’t pose us any military threat. In fact, that just increases the hatred by innocent victims of our ruthless violence. Most people in
A recent letter from Toivo Kuvamias described how a series of official vehicles slowly circled two peaceably picnicking Pakistani families in the Coast Guard parking lot. This post got some really negative response. Why? There really isn’t any reason except prejudice against dark-skinned people.
Peace is all about connections. Building wire fences and helicopter pads, installing spy technology in the Boundary Waters, playing war games on our lake with polluting metals, all of this and more make people fearful without cause and thereby generate a climate of aggressiveness and mistrust. There never has been a single terrorist who has crossed the U.S.-Canadian border. Nobody is attacking the Great Lakes, and in fact, we have a treaty with
The Department of Homeland Security, created by ultra-right wing neoconservatives who control the presidency in order to foment a permanent state of war against that bogeyman, “terrorism,” now supervises 22 agencies including the Coast Guard and the Border Patrol. These folks used to rescue boaters in distress and catch the odd smuggler or two trying to cross the border with ill-gotten gains. Now, their mission is to spy on everybody, to pollute the lakes and the border with heavy metals, electronic signals, lights in the boreal sky, and plane and vehicle noise.
In Grand Marais, a group of concerned citizens have joined with other lake and border communities in protest against the top-down imposition of the military rule of Homeland Security. Mayor Sandbo recently stated at a public meeting that he supports the Homeland proposal to build a 10-acre facility with holding cells, helicopter pad, and 50 border agents even if all the people in the county oppose it. Councilor Spry as always agrees with Sandbo. Candidates Evelyn Larsen, Bill Lenz and Kay Costello have agreed to listen to citizen concerns about the new facility as well as the live-fire war games in the absurdly named “safety zone” outside of Grand Marais harbor.
Please, vote for peace. Vote with me to support peaceful solutions and stop the militarization of
- Bill Clinton, November 2006
Safe Harbor Marina Project
I don’t believe a large marina is desirable, sustainable, or appropriate in scale for the Grand Marais harbor. In the coming city elections, Mayor Sandbo and Councilor Spry have made it clear they favor a big-box marina funded by and owned by the DNR. Even though it looks to be years off into the future right now, still the city can waste a lot of its own money pursuing this extravagant option that would destroy the harbor and surrounding land as we know it, provide a giveaway to a very small population (2050 boat owners) who would be staying virtually for free on their boats and bringing their groceries and supplies with them.
On the other hand, a well-designed, modestly expanded marina owned by the city would provide both income and a welcome extra source of tourism without altering the town and harbor character or damaging the environment. This is the choice offered by Harbor Friends and supported by mayoral candidate Evelyn Larsen and council candidates Bill Lenz and Kay Costello.
Consider some of the findings from the recent Marina and Boating Activity Study for the Western End of Lake Superior: Marina and Boating Activity Study
· Two-thirds of the 2,050 boaters using slips and docks on Lake Superior in 2005 lived in the Twin Cities. The rest were locals living within 60 miles of a marina. Dock renters are likely middle to retirement age. Regional growth in sales and dock leases has slowed since the mid-1990’s, with newer boats being larger, more expensive. Powerboats are preferred increasingly over sailboats.
· From four marinas in the region between Grand Marais and Ashland, Wis., in 1959, there are now 24 marinas with about 2,400 docks. There are still vacant docks even in the most-populous region around Ashland. More than half of all dock renters now choose the Apostle Islands and the South Shore, and another third dock in Duluth/Superior. Fewer than 10 percent choose the North Shore marinas: mostly at the Knife River, and with 70 all told in Silver Bay and Grand Marais. Boaters in Duluth are 90 percent local. The Knife River is about half local and half Twin Cities; Silver Bay is about 40 percent local and 60 percent non-local; Grand Marais is about one-third local and two-thirds non-local.
· Most marina operators said they are not seeing young couples getting into boating and that many older boaters are switching to powerboats. The cost of owning and operating a boat takes it out of reach for most people with fees, fuel and expenses ranging from $5,000 (low use) to $30,000 or more. New boats start at $150,000 and even a used boat starts at about $60,000. These are significant costs for a relatively short boating season. Bayfield seems to be the preferred site for boaters who change dock locations.
· Grand Marais has historically been a stopping-point for boaters headed to Isle Royale and Canada. The study recommends that Grand Marais look into many questions before going ahead: size and type of likely boats, number of local boaters, who would relocate to Grand Marais, who would dock as opposed to mooring, how many transient visitors would come, why would boaters winter here, what would be the operating costs, how will it affect other nearby marinas, and what features are boaters looking for?
· The 24 marinas in the study have total revenue of about $5 million per year or $2,083 per dock.
· If Grand Marais were expanded to accommodate 250 slips, it would become the second-largest marina in the study area. In 2005, there were 345 vacant docks, nearly 15 percent of all available spaces.
These statistics and questions cast a lot of doubt on the wisdom of the DNR proposal, simply from an economic viewpoint. There are many other serious concerns about the environmental impact of a large marina that have not been addressed at all. Vote your values, friends.
Hopefully, the election in Grand Marais will see a new mayor, Evelyn Larsen, and new council member, Bill Lenz, and a re-elected council member, Kay Costello, winning the voters’ approval on Tuesday. More than anything else, the city needs to return to a more civil, civic life.
None can deny that the last few years have been a period of acrimony and divisiveness in the city of Grand Marais. As a previous post has pointed out, official Grand Marais seemed to embrace privilege over responsibility. This changed the character of Grand Marais, both physically, in terms of the development we have seen, and also in terms of its civic life, especially in the way the people relate to city government.
Now is an opportunity for you to once again choose. You can vote for more of the same – more condos, and more distrust and acrimony or, you can choose a city hall that cares about what you care about, a city government that listens to you and not just to the next developer that walks in the door. If you want government by and for us all, if you want to vote character, yours, theirs, the city’s; vote for Larsen, Lenz and Costello.
But, on the eve of the eve of the most important election in my lifetime (both locally and nationally), I decided to comment on these reports, using my values as a guide. Such values as: sustainable development (meaning that developers will sustain the boreal forest for future generations), respect for the environment, affordable housing for struggling families, and preservation of the unique village so beloved by our tourist base--just plain folks who love us the way we are.
These plain folks are NOT the same as the Baby-boomer-yuppie-sybarites who need $20,000 fully-enclosed toilets that don’t detract from their lavish bath environments with personal Jacuzzis and hot tubs. Their “cabins” are built with zillions of square feet and absolutely no respect for the fragile bedrock supporting our woods and wildlife. The yupsters are the ones who are driving up our property values and driving our young people out, while demanding an underpaid servant class who will clean their pools and their luxury mansions (at minimum wage of course).
All people are welcome to visit, in my book. But they don’t get to turn Grand Marais and Cook County into clones of their suburban tracts back home just because they want a lake view on the same fantastic, urban-scale model; they don’t get to destroy our fragile ecology with their huge footprints on the beautiful shore. Well, not if I can help it.
In the final pre-election days, I will focus on each recent study and share my thoughts.
The Grand Marais Visioning Draft Report
· After a virtual citizen revolt last fall, the city council decided to hire a team of consultants to develop a vision for downtown Grand Marais. They chose the low-bidders who promised to re-write the existing comprehensive plan which they don’t like, and create new zoning ordinances, hopefully before the election now days away.
· Well, too bad for them, CGI ended up being advocates (to a limited extent) for the vast majority of residents who don’t want big development here. They proposed setting design standards based on four concept areas in downtown (please do check the web site link for the map)—lakeshore commercial core, residential, highway 61 corridor, and an “overlay” district that crosses some boundaries.
· CGI conducted a mail survey of residents and business owners over the summer and rigorously compiled every comment from every public forum. They quickly recognized that most people love Grand Marais and want to preserve the fishing village-harbor-small town ambience. They did a good job and came up with some really good ideas, but they didn’t go far enough to overcome the deeply divided differences in the community. Not that they could have done, in the time they had; consensus takes more than a few months.
· The second and third public meetings, taking place in the busy tourist season, were attended mostly by downtown business owners. The mail survey was also biased in favor of businesses: though business owners mostly do not live in Grand Marais, they formed about one-third of survey respondents. Those of us who depend on Grand Marais for jobs, mail, electricity, shopping and a county seat were excluded.
· In short this was a “taxpayer” survey. It differed dramatically from the results of the first, well-attended planning meeting last spring but it did reflect the opinions expressed at the second and third public forums, in July and September. The people who most consistently turned out were downtown property owners, realtors, property sellers, and developers. It makes sense: these are the folks who stand to make the big, big bucks. However, their opinions are a minority of Grand Marais and Cook County residents. Also, most ordinary people would dispute the greedy developer mantra that it is necessary to build to the largest possible footprint in order to make enough money. How much is enough?
· CGI nonetheless proposed some fair standards that could help to preserve the core downtown. They identified zones including downtown harbor, residential, Highway 61 and an overlapping, more restrictive, “design overlay district” that crossed a few boundaries. Among the proposed restrictions: triggers for conditional use permits based on height (over 30 feet), number of stories (more than two), broken-up facades for long storefronts, and limits on street frontage as well as square footage of new buildings.
· The third round of public input provided comment on these standards. Remarkably, most people were in favor of the design standards although they wanted to tinker with the fine points; it seemed that CGI was surprised and pleased at this result. As an observer over the three days, I estimated that perhaps 40 people participated at least once, far fewer than those who attended the initial meetings last spring. Again, NONETHELESS: There is a lot of really, really good input in the comments made over the three days (DO, if you CAN, click on this link). A lot of thoughtful commentary on what development shoulda/coulda/woulda look like. It isn’t the number of comments that ought to count, but the quality and universal appeal of the concepts.
· Curiously, the concerns that kept recurring in public comments reflected that earlier document, much maligned by the present City Council, the Grand Marais Comprehensive Plan. Here are some of them:
a) “Absolutely no buildings higher than two stories in downtown area.” “Why can’t we say we permit two-story building only in the C1 downtown commercial area? Please consider.”
b) “East Bay has a flat roof, big box look.” “Peaked roofs, especially near bay (donut shop, bookstore, Historical Society) fit well, have a lot of charm.”
c) “Historic waterfront commercial district includes Angry Trout, Dockside, North House, Chez Jude. Create separate standards for this area.” “Please make the south side of the proposed expansion to downtown a historical waterfront district because it defines our history.”
d) “Please don’t change the Rec Park much. Don’t allow development or the downtown guidelines here.”
e) “Consider making it harder to get conditional use permit, put the burden on the property owners, not the city.”
f) “Careful regulations that no box Target, Wal-Marts, etc., come in.” “City Council should be proactive in triggering citizen boycotts and protest of big business, using its weight to bully.”
g) “Think outside traditional economic box: curves, slants, etc. are quaintly unique.” “High property values are artificial; they will go down if design limits their uses. Owners will still make a lot of money, just not as much money.”
I hope all Grand Marais voters will think about their values, both now and 100 years from now. I hope the extended Grand Marais family will continue to “vote” their values by writing, e-mailing, and attending city meetings.
To be continued.....
Saturday, November 04, 2006
The Grand Marais city election is unique in that the choices are both clear and stark. There are three offices at stake – the mayor’s office and two council seats. Voters can vote for two council members. The incumbent mayor, running for re-election, is Mark Sandbo. His four years in office have been noted for heretofore unknown levels of incivility, controversy and divisiveness in the body politic of Grand Marais. He and Bob Spry, who is hoping to be re-elected to the city council, have been accused of an almost unending litany of charges of conflicts of interest, catering to special interests, cronyism, closing ordinary people out of the political process, caving in to developers, risking the very heart and soul of the city by supporting a DNR takeover of the harbor, and incivility to all but their friends.
It is undeniable that Sandbo and Spry, in the eyes of most citizens of Grand Marais, have become symbolic of politicians whose elections have given them a sense of privilege, instead of responsibility. They were elected on promises of service, and are by most seen to have promptly fallen into a pattern best described as self serving. Many who initially supported them no doubt feel betrayed.
The other candidates in the race are Evelyn Larsen, for mayor, Kay Costello, for re-election to city council, and Bill Lenz who is running for city council in his first try for elected office. Bill has no record as a politician, but has proven to be intelligent, articulate and dedicated to serving others as evidenced by his volunteerism in the community. He is known as person of openness, integrity, and untiring civility. These are attributes that alone make him attractive to many voters who are looking for a clear contrast to what Bob Spry has proven to be. Bill deserves the support of all the voters in Grand Marais.
Kay Costello was initially appointed to fill out an unexpired term on the council, and has shown herself to be hard working, dedicated, intelligent, civil, and someone who does her homework by digging into the details of the business that comes before the council. The latter characteristic clearly sets her apart from Spry who often arrives late and has seldom given any indication of having read any of the materials necessary to preparing properly for a council meeting. Kay has earned the trust and admiration of the people of Grand Marais, and deserves their whole hearted support in seeking re-election.
Running for mayor, in opposition to Sandbo, is Evelyn Larsen. Evelyn has served in the past on the city council and on the EDA. She has also represented the city on the North Shore Management Board. Evelyn is a native of
Evelyn is a clear contrast to Mark Sandbo. She has the support of both sides of the political divide in Grand Marais – conservatives and progressives alike are in favor of her election. She is known for her intelligence, fairness, hard work, kindness, civility, and shear dedication to what she sees as a special community filled with special people. She loves Grand Marais, both for what it is and what it can be. She is unstinting in her support for maintaining the uniqueness of the city while helping it to grow deliberately, wisely and prudently. Evelyn Larsen has the trust of the people of Grand Marais and has earned their votes.
In this election, the electorate of Grand Marais can choose the politics of privilege and profligacy, and vote for Mark Sandbo and Bob Spry. This would be a vote for a divided community, with a bleak future and a city center dominated by condominium development and a harbor given over to the DNR and the privileged, outside boaters the DNR wants to serve.
The clear alternative is to choose the politics of responsibility and vote for Evelyn Larsen, Bill Lenz, and Kay Costello. They will unite the community, working for the best interest of everyone and will do so honestly, openly, and with fiscal prudence – a clear contrast to what the last four years have brought us. They will protect both our unique human and fragile natural environment for the benefit of our children.
When you vote on Tuesday, vote for a slate that will bring the community together to work for a Grand Marais that serves everyone, not just those who seek privilege at the expense of civility and at the risk of leaving our children a city that has no place for them and is nothing special. Ask yourself, do you want Grand Marais to be just another haven along the lake for the wealthy and the privileged few? If you don’t want a city that has no place for ordinary people, with ordinary values, and if you want Grand Marais to remain as inviting, open, and special as it is now, vote Larsen, Lenz and Costello.
Remember, you can vote for two council members; make them Lenz and Costello. For mayor, there is one choice, Evelyn Larsen.
A Grand Marais voter
Friday, November 03, 2006
Grand Marais Downtown Vision
Homeland Security: I will be attending a meeting in Grand Forks on
November 16. Presenters include the chief of the US Border Patrol,
Immigration & Customs, TSA, and their Canadian counterparts. It
will include the mayors of both International Falls and Fort
Francis. Tourism officials, Attorney Generals, and Consulates of
both countries will also be represented. Please forward any
questions you would like me to ask, or comments you would like me to
convey on your behalf. I will bring them to the conference so that
they can be part of the discussion.
P.O. Box 3080; Duluth, Minnesota 55803-3080
CITIZEN GROUP THREATENS SUIT AGAINST COAST GUARD LIVE-FIRE
Contacts: Curt Leitz, Executive Director, 218-728-9447
Marc D. Fink, Attorney, 218-525-3884
Duluth, Minnesota, October 19, 2006 - Citizens for Environmental Enforcement today
notified the United States Coast Guard of its intent to file a Clean Water Act citizen suit
over the live-fire machine-gun training exercises on the Great Lakes, including Lake
Superior. The Coast Guard began weapons training exercises on the Great Lakes in
January, 2006, and has conducted 24 live-fire exercises this year.
In September, the Coast Guard fired thousands of bullets from machine guns into Lake
Superior, approximately 8 miles offshore from Two Harbors, Minnesota. The Coast
Guard now wants to establish permanent “safety zones” across the Great Lakes to
continue its weapons training.
The bullets used by the Coast Guard are comprised of lead, copper, and zinc, and the
weapons training would discharge as much as 6,900 pounds of lead each year into the
Great Lakes, including Lake Superior.
Great Lakes, we now have the Coast Guard firing substantial amounts of toxic metals
into the Lakes,” stated Curt Leitz, the Executive Director of Citizens for Environmental
Enforcement, a non-profit organization based in Duluth.
The toxic effects of lead on human health are well established, and lead has long been
prohibited from gasoline and paint. Lead has also been banned in shotgun shell pellets
for waterfowl hunting due to adverse affects to waterfowl, and a number of states have
banned small lead tackle as result of the lead poisoning of loons.
The Clean Water Act prohibits the discharge of pollutants into lakes without a permit
issued by the Environmental Protection Agency, and the Coast Guard does not have a
permit for its live-fire weapons training. “We recognize that the Coast Guard needs to be
prepared,” said Marc Fink, attorney for the citizens’ group, “but the Coast Guard is not
above the law.”
The Coast Guard held a public hearing regarding its proposed permanent training zones
on Monday, October 16, 2006, in Duluth, and citizens expressed concerns over public
safety and the potential threat of the toxic metals to fish, wildlife, and public health.
The sixty-day notice letter sent today to the Coast Guard is required prior to filing suit
under the Clean Water Act. The letter warns the Coast Guard that if it does not take
corrective steps, the citizens’ group intends to file suit in federal court.
Does Animal Advocates take monetary, tax deductable donations? What is the mailing address? Perhaps some of the kittens could be placed through a pet store in Mpls/St. Paul. I assume that after neutering an animal, Animal Advocates charges a small fee for the adoption. What about a program that offered free neutering if the owner could prove an income below a certain figure? Or do people have money and are just acting irresponsibly?
Responsible Pet Owner
Thursday, November 02, 2006
In this incident, the
Locals who abandon or kill litters of pets plead the “poverty” excuse. They can’t afford to get the mom spayed. In some cases they use “Animal Advocates of the Arrowhead,” one of True’s favorite charities, as a dumping ground for their unwanted offspring.
True prefers this solution to the abandonment of helpless infants in the wild; however, Animal Advocates can’t handle the geometrical expansion of pet population by irresponsible owners. Please read the letter below from Gay O’Donnell, who takes in those little ones and tries to find homes for them. Her job is made much harder by the pet owners who enable litter after litter. They find “good homes” if it turns out to be easy. In so doing, they decimate the pool of possible adoptive owners and they sabotage the work of spay-neuter programs.
If you can’t afford to spay and neuter your pets, DON’T offer them a home. If you think your sweet children need to have companion animals, you are WRONG. What they need is to understand that caring for a sentient being bred for centuries to provide human companionship is a great responsibility. Only in acceptance of this responsibility will your sweet children learn to be good people.
Gay’s letter is a wake-up call, if anyone cares to be awakened.
Here is Gay's letter:
Right now I have two litters of kittens to place.
Six were in a box on my doorstep, I had to hand feed. They were too young to be
away from mom. Almost ready to go now.
Five were brought to me by law enforcement this morning. They were found outside in a garbage bag. They are all fixed and have had shots. They were born behind a local
business and abandoned by their mother, nobody wanted them and they are still with me.
It is our policy to vet check and fix these cats but we can not afford to take these eleven in for the usual vet check,
We are trying to do a good job here but when we see people in the community getting kittens from people who refuse to get their cats fixed who continually offer them on Boreal and in the stores it is frustrating.
We need homes for abandoned kittens. If you would like to reserve one of these little ones e mail or call me:
387 1781 Gay
•Advocating for the stray and unwanted animals in the Arrowhead
Thank you for your endorsement.
I am running for the office as the Cook County Attorney because,
like you, I care deeply about my county and community. I have a
passion for justice and a commitment to public service that I
believe will result in the betterment of Cook County.
I am a lifelong resident of northern Minnesota, and Cook County
has been my home for more than 30 years.
I know the important responsibilities of the office of County
Attorney. I believe that as your County Attorney I can do more
for our community because I know the job, I know the people, and
most of all, I know the potential that we have, as a community,
to make Cook County a better, safer, place to live.
As your County Attorney, I tirelessly and effectively prosecuted
criminals. I plan to bring that same energy and focus back to
the office from the moment I am sworn in. I will bring that same
passion in juvenile and family court matters.
I know that no one wins when serious cases are dismissed or plea
bargained away. I also know that society is the loser when
victims’ rights are not respected. Many people have commented on
the passion that I carry into this election. I am passionate
because our family has felt firsthand how victims of serious
crimes are affected when those crimes are reduced by the county
attorney’s liberal plea bargaining.
Anyone running for this important off should have a list of
priorities. Here are mine:
• Use a multi-agency approach to reduce the scourge of illicit
drugs in our community
• Establish consistent standards for filing criminal cases so
major cases are not dismissed by the courts or routinely plea
• Recommend consistent sentences to the court so people are
treated equally regardless of race or socioeconomic status
• Strictly enforce victims rights, especially recognizing the
huge emotional and financial toll for crimes against the person
• Keep witnesses informed as cases work their way through the
• Use an effective team approach in child protection and family
court cases, involving the family in a positive manner
• Protect vulnerable adults from abuse and financial exploitation
• Provide competent, knowledgeable advice to county board and
I am involved in many volunteer activities. Having done so, I
have become exposed to a wide variety of people and their
experiences. I also believe that we need to give back to this
• Cook County Historical Society Board
• First Congregational Church Board
• Library Friends recycler
• Johnson Heritage Post Management and Collections Committee
• Maple Hill Church & Cemetery Board
• Volunteered to write incorporation documents for John
Beargrease Sled Dog Race and North House Folk School
This is an important election for the direction of our county.
I’m humbled by your support.
Donald B. Davison
P.O. Box 6
Grand Marais, MN 55604
On 11/1/06, ccfcookcounty wrote:
The proposed Homeland Security Facility continues to draw local and regional media coverage. It has also been one of the frequent topics discussed during the local political forums and debates.
A big thank you to all who have been asking questions and speaking out!MRP Reporter Stephanie Hemphill interviewed Mark Sandbo, Matt Geretschlager, Marco Good and Staci Drouillard about the proposed HSbuilding last month. Her report will be aired tomorrow, Thursday,November 2nd on MPR, 89.7fm. An exact time was not set, but the story will be run periodically throughout the day. The story will also be on the web with pictures and links to relevant sites. Tune in if you can!
There is still no news from the Government Services Agency (GSA) on the final two site selections. However, rumor has it that the developer of Cobblestone Condos is one of the private land owners being considered by the GSA as well as another privately owned parcel of land "near Hedstrom's" lumber mill. It has also been confirmed that county land directly south of the airport is a contender.
All sites, whether private or public, will have to be reviewed by the County Board.
Commissioner Bob Fenwick, who is running unopposed this term, stated recently that the process regarding the Homeland Security proposal "must be transparent" from here forward. (Cook County Star,Oct. 20, 2006) Commissioner Fenwick is also on the Airport Commission.Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Also, here's an early reminder of the regular EDA meeting, Tuesday, November 14th, 4pm at City Hall. The Board recently met regarding a possible conflict of interest of one board member who is a broker for one of the outside developers. Board chair Mary Sanders relayed that this issue will be addressed at this regular board meeting. We may also have news from the GSA on site selection, so if you can attend, please be there to witness the meeting or speak at the public forum, which begins at 4 pm.
Thanks and on behalf of the group, keep up the good work.