Monday, December 31, 2007

New SRC blog about ATVs available

The Sustainable Recreation Coalition, a grass roots group of Cook County folks working to protect the North Shore from the depredations of ATV’s, has started a blog called ATV Report - at . The purpose of this blog is to allow the reader an easy access to current reports on representative ATV accidents, ATV damage to the environment, and will bring to the reader other data related to the ATV issue as it affects the community and the outdoors.


Monday, December 24, 2007

Merry Christmas to all sentient beings from Animal Advocates

Dear True,
At this season of good will I’d like to remind everybody to remember and thank the good people of our Animal Advocates. They give selflessly of their time and money and even their homes to aid our human companions who would otherwise be lost or killed or abandoned. They do this entirely for love.
The Advocates held a special adoption day, silent auction, bake sale, and photos-with-Santa last weekend. My own Sugar, a rescue dog last year, had a great time meeting a fellow dog, sniffing the adoptees, and posing with Santa.
Please, friends, consider helping the Advocates with a tax-deductible gift that will perhaps save a life and absolutely will provide shots, food, and spay or neuter for the unwanted but loving companion animals in the Arrowhead .
Here’s our photo of me and Sugar with Santa. We wish all animals a very merry Christmas!

Nancye Belding
Grand Marais

Saturday, December 22, 2007

FBI Prepares Vast Database of Biometrics

True is terrified. I won't be going out much any more because I don't want long distance cameras to record my biometric data. The DHS (Department of Homeland Sabotage) doesn't give a flying fxxx what I think and they have the billions to spend. If I shop in town they can create a digital image of me.
This reporter for the Washington Post doesn't see any problem here. What happened to the good old Watergate team? What happened to our rights to privacy under the Constitution?
Nobody but nobody will get my fingerprints, palm prints, eye prints or posture pictures if I can help it. This outrage trumps even spying on all of our phone calls and emails. HOW DARE THEY?
I am planning to ask the Lakota Sioux if they will accept me as a member, since they have seceded from the USA and I presume won't be measuring my eye-prints.
Hello, if you think this is no biggie, look back to the Spanish Inquisition and the Witch Trials at Salem.
I am even more scared by this than by the End Times Nuke Iran Movement. Read the story and mull it over, and weep with me.

FBI Prepares Vast Database of Biometrics

Not Light, Certainly Filling

On November 1, Wayne Seidel, a conservation specialist for the Cook County Soil and Water Conservation District, reported to the Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) supervisors that an agreement had been reached with the City of Grand Marais to cease all road-building activity on the city’s west side pending the completion of a wetland delineation plan and a plan for wetland replacement.
For years the city has been “unofficially” and perhaps unwittingly, but certainly illegally, conducting a wetland filling program, mostly gradual in incremental dribs and drabs, but at times in robust truck loads depending on construction jobs the city happened to be engaged in at any given time and what need they had to dispose of unwanted fill.
This city hall approved practice saw workers dumping the offal of city operations – in some cases clean fill, but just as often nothing but junk and debris – at the ends of, or along city and private right of way of some of the city’s East-West roadways.
The city, only after BWSR (the state's Board of Soil and Water Resources) was made aware of the situation, in the guise of its administrator Mike Roth, was brought before the county’s SWCD and reminded that it too must abide by the law. This was the second time this year the city has been found to be operating in complete disregard to state and federal regulations meant to protect wetlands and both violations are significant and both find Mike Roth the responsible official.
How many more times must this happen before disciplinary action is taken? How tolerant should elected officials be when faced with such incompetence? Or, are we dealing with misfeasance? Considering the record of city administration, none of this should be a surprise to the taxpayers. What is surprising is that the city has not been fined, but then again, there are those who feel that BWSR and the SWCD has always tended to overlook violations and when pushed into enforcement action, to go easy on offenders. The facts are that the county makes it a point to understaff and underfund the county's SWCD team, putting an unreasonable burden on the SWCD board and administrative staff, but SWCD enforcement is separate and handled by BWSR, most recently by BWSR employee Wayne Seidel.
Seidel has now resigned his enforcement position, so perhaps BWSR's new staffer will bring to SWCD a new sense of responsibility. We’ll find out as the upcoming investigation of the very major violations allegedly going on along the Lower Poplar River proceeds.
Stay tuned.


Friday, December 21, 2007

Grand Marais wraps up Comprehensive Plan for the holidays, or does it?

Goodness gracious, what a flap when City Council voted 3 to 2 last week not to allow 2nd floor residential in downtown commercial except for owners and employees.
In a letter to the News Herald today, Todd Miller accused the council of betraying a public trust. Mayor Larsen said after the vote that she was concerned that the 30 foot height limit might be the next to go if 2nd floor residences become common and that there is little enough commercial space and commercial parking as it is.
As we all know, if there is a way for developers to go bigger they will find it. So how does this betray any trust at all? The vote was very much in keeping with the spirit of the Comprehensive Plan, both this one and the previous one but you would have thought the Decider was at work to nuke Iran.
Worse in my view is the slant; well let’s say it, LIES in Miller’s letter. The only True thing he said is that 2nd floor residential was listed as part of the consensus goals created after the first round of public meetings. But, it turned out not to be such a consensus after all, with only 42 percent of survey respondents in favor. In the US of A, even when 99 percent of voters feel a certain way that doesn’t change the decisions made by the Decider who is guided by a Higher Power. As for 42 percent being a consensus, it is not even a simple majority. So much for the “very unpopular” current zoning policy, and the “overwhelming” conclusion of the visioning process.
True says: Get your facts straight if you are going to spout off against your elected officials who have done great things so far to keep Grand Marais vital and sustainable for years to come.
Where was Miller when the previous council was selling the town off to the highest bidders, all outside developers; giving away the harbor to the DNR in the vain hope of making it another Bayfield and getting rid of the campground for parking; trying to derail the conservation easements created to protect the harbor; changing zoning without even a public process in order to open downtown to McCondos … does any of this ring a bell?
Personally, like a large proportion of people in the survey, I don’t care one way or the other about 2nd floor residential downtown but I find Mayor Larsen’s reasoning thoughtful and compelling.
I am sorry that a few loudmouths were able to make everybody change their vote this week for what are all the wrong reasons, including the conflict of interest by Councilor Kennedy who owns a downtown business and had no business voting at all.
There are very good reasons, both pro and con, on this issue. Pro is that a mixed character helps to vitalize a downtown area and THIS was the point of consensus in the comprehensive plan. Con include the need for one to two parking spaces per unit, fire code safety issues, sound proofing and conflicting interests like bar patrons and sleepers. Safety and soundproofing could be addressed in new construction but are problematic with existing structures. The council considered all of these factors but only included parking provisions in the reversal vote Wednesday.
While I’m not saying it is necessarily a bad decision, it was made hastily under pressure by a few special interests.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Oberstar to Vote in Favor of 2008 Budget Bill

Today True is posting this entire news release from Oberstar. The news is very disappointing. Dems cave again!

Monday, December 17, 2007

Washington DC – Congressman Jim Oberstar says he will support the fiscal year 2008 omnibus appropriations bill that is coming before Congress today, even though it does not meet the long term needs on the country.

“This bill falls far short of the mark, but this budget package represents an improvement from President Bush’s misguided budget priorities,” said Oberstar. “I’m not happy with the bill, but it includes funding for many important Minnesota projects , including the final $195 million to replace the I-35W bridge, as well as over $90 million in funding for important projects and programs in Minnesota and the 8th District.”

Earlier this year, Congress approved a $500 billion defense spending bill that contains a $40 billion increase over fiscal year 2007 for the Department of Defense; that defense bill did not contain war funding which the Bush Administration designates as emergency funding. President Bush, however, was unwilling to accept an additional $22 billion sought by the new Democratic majority for the remaining 11 spending bills that fund our federal government. As a result, President Bush has succeeded in blocking essential investments in health care, education, and transportation.

“We wanted to take the equivalent of what we spend in Iraq in just two months and invest it in our own country. The President is spending billions in Iraq, but when it’s time to take care of our citizens here, he is not willing to compromise,” said Oberstar.

“The American people expect Congress to be fiscally disciplined, and to make investments that improve their quality of life that will save tax dollars in the long run,” continued Oberstar. “We were able to target funding to projects that are important to local communities; at the same time, we have enacted significant reforms in the earmarking process. The total amount of congressional earmarks is down by 42 percent over 2006, the last year of the Republican-led Congress.”


The omnibus appropriations bill for FY 2008 is a combination of eleven appropriations bills that had already passed the House of Representatives. This spending bill also incorporates many of the compromises congressional leaders made with the White House.

Below is a list of funding for programs and projects included in this legislation at the request of Congressman Jim Oberstar:


• Wolf Predation Management in Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Michigan, $779,000


• Northeast Law Enforcement Administrators Council, Methamphetamine Reduction Project - $747,300. To establish and enhance law enforcement task force efforts to reduce and eliminate the manufacturing, sale and distribution of methamphetamine and other drug related issues in Northeast Minnesota.
• Itasca County for the 9-11 Radio System - $376,000. This funding will allow Itasca County first responders, ambulance services, fire fighters, and law enforcement personnel to communicate with each other by tying into the 800 MHz System.
• Sheriffs Youth Programs of Minnesota Vocational Alternatives for Youth Offenders $47,000. This program expands vocational and life-skills training for at-risk youth.
• Minnesota State Patrol Districts located in Minnesota's 8th Congressional District - $47,000. To equip and train 100 State Patrol officers in Northeast Minnesota with state-of-the-art tasers.
• Minnesota State Patrol Districts in Minnesota’s 8th Congressional District - $32,900. To purchase five K-9s to use for drug detection and seizure in Northeast Minnesota. Two K-9s will be assigned to the Virginia district, two to Brainerd and one to the Duluth district. The K-9s would be used on a daily basis for routine drug interdiction patrol duties and would also be available 24/7 to assist all area law enforcement agencies free of charge.
• Minnesota State Patrol Districts in Minnesota’s 8th Congressional District - $18,800. To equip 100 state troopers assigned to Northeast Minnesota with digital cameras to be used for gathering evidence and documenting motor vehicle crash scenes.

Energy and Water

• Army Corps of Engineers Section 569 program, $1,873,000. In 1999 Oberstar created this program to fund water and sewer infrastructure projects in communities across Northeast Minnesota.
• Mille Lacs Regional Wastewater Treatment Plant project, $936,000.
• Laurentian Energy Authority Biomass project, $1 million.
• Koochiching County, $400,000 for the Renewable Energy Clean Air project
• Duluth-Superior Harbor, $4,028,000 for operation and maintenance
• Two Harbors Harbor of Refuge site, $340,000 for operation and maintenance.

Financial Services

• Northeast Entrepreneur Fund, Virginia, $282,000. To provide technical assistance to small businesses.

Homeland Security

• Arrowhead Regional Development Commission, $450,000 for FEMA pre-disaster mitigation. This funding will help local residents prevent property damage from fire and other natural disasters.


• City of Grand Rapids, Grand Rapids Public Utilities Commission, $1,000,000 for wastewater treatment facility.
• Koochiching Forest Legacy project, $3,500,000.
• Superior National Forest, $1, 250,000 for land acquisition.


• Lutheran Social Services, Duluth, $390,000 for services to runaway, homeless and other at-risk youth and their families.
• Arrowhead Economic Opportunity Agency, Virginia, $292,000 for the Family-to-Family community based mentoring program to assist low-income families.
• Independent School District 181, Brainerd, $146,000 for its Teacher Support System project.

Military Construction

• Camp Ripley, $12,600,000 for the Combined Arms Collective Training Facility Phase II.
• Duluth 148th Air National Guard, $1,500,000 for a wing storage facility.

Transportation - HUD

• NorthStar Commuter Rail, MN, $55,000,000. The NorthStar Commuter Rail is a 40-mile commuter rail line running from Big Lake to downtown Minneapolis with intermediate stations in Elk River, Anoka, and Coon Rapids. The project includes a five block extension of the Hiawatha LRT line to reach the downtown Minneapolis commuter rail station.
• Cambridge - Isanti Bike/Walk Trail, Cambridge, MN, $700,000. This project will provide a safe non-motorized route for students to school, residents and visitors to travel between the two communities.
• I-35/ MN TH95, North Branch, MN, $1,500,000. This funding will be used to reconstruct the interchange with I-35 and provides TH95 improvements in the City of North Branch.
• TH38 Improvements, Itasca County, MN, $500,000. This funding will provide the strengthening necessary to safely post this section of TH38 for 10 tons.
• Transit Bus Facilities, Duluth, MN, $400,000, to improve transit facilities in Duluth including: downtown hub, transfer facility, passenger facility improvements and operation center improvements, electronic fare improvements, security.
• Mesabi Academy of KidsPeace, Buhl, MN, $150,000. This funding will be used to expand its facility to provide additional therapeutic services.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Duluth News Tribune | Drill maker challenges MSHA citation

Surprise, surprise, another mine company challenges safety citation after worker death. Read the story from Eveleth:

Duluth News Tribune | Drill maker challenges MSHA citation

Friday, December 07, 2007

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Everybody's a Decider (in Cook County)

As one arrogant and stupid man sends our nation on a fast track to disaster because he is The Decider, it's comforting and reassuring to live in Cook County where everybody's a Decider. For one thing, we have a vigilant media that attends public meetings and writes about them or airs them on radio and cable. Lucky us! The national MSM are either Fox Crazy or so dumbed down that they don't dare cover anything important. Not so here.
Ya, a buncha developers tried to buy up and make Grand Marais into Disneyville Mc Condos but the people stepped up to the plate. Now new standards are being written to protect the town from over-development.
And the West End townships are following suit. Most developers out there are locals, though that's not to say all of them want to conform to county and township zoning ordinances. No, you've got to get up pretty early in the morning to watch the bird catch the worm. But that's okay, all the Norwegians and Lutherans do that anyway. (Not so True but he catches up later on WTIP or at the post office grapevine)
Witness the recent request to have 55-foot high buildings on Lutsen Mountain which True has already written about. Lots of Deciders complained and now there at least is going to be a public review process.
As for the ATV Agenda, time and again all the Deciders have sent it back to the table. The latest U of M survey gives us hope that one of these times we'll get it right.
Tofte and Lutsen have engaged in wonderful public processes and created downtown visions and zoning ordinances that are just fabulous: forward looking, sustainable, beautiful. Schroeder has also created a zoning plan which is being challenged by a developer and that outcome remains to be seen.
People have been heard on issues like invasive cutting back of trees and vegetation by Arrowhead Electric, DNR's slash-and-burn at Cascade Park and Hovland, some fathead's idea to clear cut the trees along the Gunflint Trail... you name it, if something can be destroyed or developed somebody will try to do it.
As for those cagey folks at Homeland Security, they are keeping mum about the permanent (enduring?) base they want to construct in Grand Marais. The feds get to do that stuff and even our media can't find out what is going to happen.
So thank goodness their proposed military encampment to protect our border against terrists (as The Shrub calls them) will only be a mere 10 acres that we know of.
Keep watching and talking, Deciders of Cook County. You're the best.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

We've got mail

Here's a letter from friends in St. Louis County who LOVE our blog and are working on the same issues we care about here. These sites have now been posted as links on True.
All of us who act locally can help each other. We at True are really happy to hear from Kristin:


Could you add links to a couple of organizations on your blog? working to get accountability and transparency in the St. Louis County Commissioners working for sustainable development (as opposed to rabid extractive anti environmental development) in the Cloquet Valley State Forest.

I can provide good references for the folks working on the above. : )

I LOVE your blog!