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Saturday, September 03, 2005

Did PRT Proponents Break the Law? (Part Three)

The Citizens for Personal Rapid Transit (CPRT) July newsletter urges its members to help several candidates for Minneapolis City Council. Because the CPRT claims to be a 501(c)3 tax exempt organization, they may have run afoul of strict IRS rules that prohibit 501(c)3 nonprofits from electioneering.

The newsletter also mentions Saint Paul mayoral candidate, Elizabeth Dickinson:
St. Paul Mayoral Candidate Supports PRT

Elizabeth Dickinson has announced her run for Mayor of St. Paul. The Green Party candidate’s website recommends the following: “Promote mass transit for a better environment, without sacrificing our neighborhoods. According to Transit for Livable Communities, the Twin Cities offer the fewest mass transit options of any U.S. city except Detroit. Encourage exploration of cutting edge options like hydrogen powered busses and PRT (Personal Rapid Transit) which hold the promise of cheaper, cleaner, individualized transport without the infrastructure costs of light rail.”

I have been assured by the Dickinson campaign that the campaign web site was in error and that Dickinson is a strong supporter of LRT and conventional transit. The web page that mentioned PRT is down and they have also assured me that they will consult with Transit for Livable Communities on transit policy. Transit for Livable Communities does not approve of public funding of PRT and has a resolution opposing public funding of PRT.

I applaud the Dickinson campaign for dealing promptly with this matter. It takes a great deal of wisdom and maturity for a political campaign to admit they were wrong and to set things right.

Let's hope the Dickinson campaign can do something about the Saint Paul Green Party's embrace of PRT. This is a quote from the Saint Paul Greens web site:

"New technologies, such as PRT, which are still experimental, may be tested in limited, high-density situations."

Friday, September 02, 2005

The AIDS Reduction Struggle

A UN official, and a number of advocacy groups for AIDS patients, say that the Bush Administration policy for AIDS relief (Prepar), abstinence, is putting women and adolescents at risk.

The Policy (or plan) is ABC, which emphasizes abstinence and faithfulness, and provides condoms when neither is possible is contradictory to what I understand the underpinnings of this plan do be: abstinence only. That says to me that abstinence and faithfulness when you can, but when you can't condoms are available.

However the Global Fund (a public-private partnership) has suspended $201 Million in grants to Uganda alleging government mismanagement of funds. For a variety of reasons this has caused considerable havoc in the availability of condoms. That puts the Bush Policy/Plan in serious jeopardy. Not only that but Stephen Lewis, the UN secretary general's special envoy for HIV/AIDS in Africa says that the "extreme policies that the Administration in the US is now pursuing" are hugely affecting the "condom crisis" in Uganda. The US emphasis on abstinence only, condoms don't work is nonsense.

Did PRT Proponents Break the Law? You Decide! (Part Two)

The Citizens for Personal Rapid Transit (CPRT) say on their website that they are a 501(c)3 Non-profit organization. In their July Newsletter they ask their membership to help several candidates for Minneapolis City Council:

SOS from Minneapolis City Councilman

Dean Zimmermann won a seat on the Minneapolis City Council on the Green Party ticket back in 2002. One of his central themes is to establish a PRT system throughout his ward in South Minneapolis and eventually throughout the whole city. Dean has been tireless in advocating for PRT in many different venues, including at the state legislature.
Dean is asking us to line up groups for him to speak to about PRT. He has a wonderful presentation that features his 68-station map of greater downtown Minneapolis, showing how PRT would serve the area and enhance other forms of transit like the light rail system and bicycle trails. Dean serves Ward 6 of the city of Minneapolis, which includes Whittier, Ventura Village, Phillips, and parts of Stevens Square, Loring Heights, Cedar-Riverside, and Prospect Park neighborhoods. Please help find Dean some speaking engagements. For more information about Dean Zimmermann and what he stands for, see his website, (He is in a tight race for his City Council seat since the city was redistricted. Editor.)
Councilman Zimmermann also reports that Aaron Neuman, a Green Party candidate for Ward 3, is a strong PRT supporter. His website is It is time to get acquainted!
(This just in: Dave Bicking is entering the City Council race in Ward 9 and supports PRT as well! Editor.)


Avidor- The problem is a 501(c)3 Non-profit is not allowed to be involved in elections...according to the IRS rules, they are very strict about this:

Under the Internal Revenue Code, all section 501(c)(3) organizations are absolutely prohibited from directly or indirectly participating in, or intervening in, any political campaign on behalf of (or in opposition to) any candidate for elective public office.  Contributions to political campaign funds or public statements of position (verbal or written) made on behalf of the organization in favor of or in opposition to any candidate for public office clearly violate the prohibition against political campaign activity.  Violation of this prohibition may result in denial or revocation of tax-exempt status and the imposition of certain excise tax.

Did the CPRT Break IRS law? You tell us!

Did PRT Proponents Break the Law? (Part One)

I have information that advocates for PRT (Personal Rapid Transit) may have broken IRS law in order to help elect several PRT-supporting candidates for Minneapolis City Council.

In the next three days, I will reveal on this blog how they may have broken the law. But first, for the benefit of those readers who may not have heard of PRT, I'm posting this Op Ed from the August 23rd edition of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer that should give enough background on PRT:


In recent years, there has been a lot of public discussion and debate (including a Friday guest column headlined "Lighten up on transit systems") about Personal Rapid Transit, or PRT -- particularly in Minnesota, where promoters have been trying to procure public funding for a starter project.

PRT proponents are masters at making extravagant claims and promises for this or that version of their techno-dream. However, it's important to recognize that PRT does not currently exist in successful public operation, and, in all likelihood, never will.

PRT has a solid 30-year record of controversy and failure. Its main purpose in recent years seems to have been to provide a cover enabling its proponents to spread disinformation about real, workable transit systems. Except for the occasional laboratory-scale prototype, PRT actually "exists" largely in computerized drawings, in promotional brochures and in cute, ever-successful animated simulations on the Internet.

The unsubstantiated claims of PRT proponents are always presented in the present tense as if the system is a success -- which, of course, it certainly is not. Promoters never seem to fail to bash real transit, such as light rail (LRT), as "old fashioned technology."

Sad to say, the media rarely check the veracity of PRT publicity and propaganda.

But, the truth is out there. In the 2001 OKI (Ohio-Kentucky-Indiana) Central Loop Study for metro Cincinnati, for example, the study's engineers (Parsons Brinkerhoff) found many serious flaws in the PRT design. That study cost the taxpayers in the Cincinnati area a cool $625,000.

There have been several attempts at building a PRT system over the years -- Morgantown in West Virginia, ULTra and Aramis in Europe, Raytheon's Rosemont, Ill., fiasco ... to name some of the more prominent examples. All have failed to live up to the claims of being "faster, cheaper, better" than conventional mass transit.

So if it doesn't work, why does it keep coming back for taxpayer funding year after year (as is currently happening in Minnesota and New Jersey)? What is PRT's real purpose?

Basically, PRT is a stalking horse for the highway construction industry. PRT proponents can say things that the highway boosters could never say, such as "People don't like to ride with strangers." This anti-transit propaganda divides and conquers the opposition to highway projects.

I saw this happen with the I-35W Access Project in Minneapolis. This is perhaps why the aggressive would-be PRT vendor Taxi 2000/Skyweb (until recently) had the support of, and shares a lobbyist with, SEH, the engineers for what many in South Minneapolis call the "Excess Project."

PRT was also used as an excuse by pro-highway/anti-transit Republicans in the Minnesota Legislature's 2004 session to block funding for the Northstar commuter rail line. This is why, perhaps, Taxi 2000/Skyweb Corp.'s leader, Ed Anderson, refers to PRT as a "disruptive technology."

The PRT flim-flam works the same way in other states as it has in Minnesota. PRT bamboozles and confuses citizens and lawmakers about the real, workable, off-the-shelf transit solutions that can help communities free themselves from gridlock, pollution and dependence on foreign oil.

And PRT promoters are experts at that kind of swindle. They seem to operate on the principle that there's a sucker born every minute -- especially among gullible journalists. Don't fall for the scam.

The next time you read a puff piece in the newspaper, in a magazine or on the Internet about PRT, let them know you don't buy their con -- write the publication or Web site and demand a real investigation of the PRT flim-flam.


Next: Did the PRT Proponents Break the Law? You Decide!

Learn more about PRT at the PRT-skeptic blog.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Yecke Discussion at King's Place (SCSU Scholars)

Lots of discussion here.

Dave Puskala writes:

One thing that was not addressed in the press was Yecke's choice of Dr. Chris Macosko (prof of Chemical Engineering and Materials Science at the U of M) initially as the sole reviewer of the science standards. The minority report signers used his creationist review as a basis for their effort to promote intelligent design in the standards.

I was taken aback by the fact that this known creationist was used to review the standards. When I made inquiries at the Department of Education, I found that initially Yecke had personally chosen him as the sole reviewer of the science standards. Yecke had requested and been provided a list of ten or so qualified potential reviewers but chose only Macosko instead. It is important to note that Macosko was not on this list submitted to Yecke. Although he is a capable professor of chemical engineering, he is not a specialist in K-12 science education.

Macosko's review was rather scanty and might have looked suspiciously like an effort to promote creationism. This is because the only thing he really addressed in the whole standard was his belief that we needed to weaken sections addressing evolution. Yecke only requested that other reviewers be engaged at the eleventh hour when confronted with the potential embarrassment of her personal choice of Macosko as reviewer. These other reviewers graciously provided their work on very short notice. One particularly well done review was done in the period of a couple of days.

Yecke's utter lack of professionalism was only surpassed by Macosko's sophomoric review of the science standards. My sympathies to the Sunshine State. They are getting a stealth creationist as K-12 chancellor.

King Banaian has been trying to say that Wesley Elsberry from the National Council on Science Education doesn't have the proper biology credentials to argue evolution. That's a rather ludicrous claim. It's also changing the subject from the issue at hand - Yecke's creationist record when she served as Minnesota's Education Commissioner.

"Yeti" Gets New Digs

Brian Hokanson, aka Yeti, who ran the Frozen Tundra blog, has closed that blog and started a new more focused blog, Knowledge. Brian has also started at the University of Minnesota - Twin Cities.

Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Violence to the unborn

How come there is so much talk about fetal pain, but none about the estimates of 630,000 pregnant women with mercury levels elevated beyond with the EPA thinks is safe? We can do something about mercury levels, and lead for that matter. But we do not. Is it too expensive? Or does it make it clear that this effort to control women's reproductive lives is more important than making sure our babies are really safe. I think so.

Health Science or Political Science

Once again the FDA is playing politics, aka toading up to the fundamentalist controllers, with Emergency Contraception. The issue is the availability of this drug over-the-counter; the medical and scientific communities stroingly support this availability. This drug has been safely used by millions of women both here (through perscription) and abroad. So the issue of safety is not really there. What is there is a desire to control women's behavior, and make a child the "punishment" for the sin of women's sexual behavior. How goofy!

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Floridians Don't Seem to Be Happy with Minnesota's Latest Export: Creationist Yecke

More reaction in the blogosphere to Yecke's announcement. PZ Myers stops by King's place to set the record straight on Yecke's creationism.

Wesley Elsberry put out a call to organize concerned Floridians to protect strong and rigorous science education. Elsberry follows up with a summary of articles in the mainstream media that exposes Yecke's creationism during her tenure as Minnesota's Commissioner of Education. That Florida blog's headline is "Florida Hires MN Reject to Head K-12 Education Post". PZ Myers apologises to Florida.

Marty Andrade
and Tony Garcia from Race to the Right both weigh in.

Monday, August 29, 2005

MDE Posts Opposition Research on Keith Ellison

It looks like a standard oppo research dump here and here.

My guess is a Republican party person did the research and dumped it over to MDE. That suggests that Keith is on the party's radar screen.

Keith is my representative. I supported one of his opponents when he ran for the first time (Duane Reed). As long as Keith is in this district, he will have the seat. I've heard that Senator Higgins might be planning to run for county commissioner - and if she goes for county commissioner, Keith will go for State Senator. Then I heard that whoever loses the 5th ward city council race will run for Keith's seat. This would be Natalie Johnson Lee or Don Samuels.

Linda Higgins would not respond to my requests for comment about her plans on running for County commissioner. Former Representative Greg Gray is definitely in that race.

Yecke Drops out of 6th District Race for Job with Jeb Bush

Republican Minnesota got the original story.

King Banaian comments:

I am a bit shocked, though her bid at the Congressional seat was probably against long odds with such a deep field of candidates. She certainly must have felt the same to have dropped out at this point for a position that appears to be less than another commissionership.

There was the rumor going around that Yecke was planning on dropping out due to not catching on and poor fundraising.

Andy from Residual Forces has Bachmann's reaction.

Sunday, August 28, 2005

MDE Interview

I'd like to thank Minnesota Democrat Exposer (MDE) for giving me the interview. This interview was the result of a back and forth exchange on email.

MDE: Let me begin by thanking you for the interview. I am amazed by the amount of work you do on your numerous blogs.

While I may disagree with your message sometimes, I have a great deal of respect for your willingness and bravery to discuss your message in the public domain. It's truly democracy at its best.


EY: You have said you have gotten death threats by email. Did you report
those to the perp's ISP/and or the police?

MDE: What I said was "I have had threats of violence, lawsuits, and getting my
house burned down."

To be more specific, the threats of violence discussed "kicking my ass" and
the person who emailed me about burning my house down never mentioned that
he/she wanted me inside of it.

I also said that I didn't take it seriously. I did not report them to the

Democrats are an emotional group of people.

EY: I'm curious - why go after Democratic volunteers - people like David Weinlick and Laura Sayles?

MDE: They are active leaders in the Minnesota DFL.

EY: Your source policy - you only accept information from known sources. How do you verify your sources?

I do not post information emails from anonymous sources.

If I received information from (for example) I would first ask if they would provide me with their name and contact information such as a work email or an email account with their actual name.

If they provide me with their contact information and I verify the accuracy, then we discuss the information.

If I believe the information is accurate and worthy of a post, it goes on MDE and the games begin.

If they refuse to provide me with their contact information, I try and verify the information they sent me through other sources. If I can verify it, then I post it.

I have received information from Republicans and Democrats that I know to be false. I get most mad at the Republicans who send me fake information than the Democrats.

I have received over 100 individual emails from people trying to get me to post their "insider" information.

Of all of those emails, only 4 or 5 have made it through to be posted. Are all the others lying? Maybe.

Because I am anonymous, I just can't afford to take that risk.

EY: Talk more about this - what is the risk to you?

MDE: The risk is to my credibility as a blogger. My blog compared to the vast majority of Minnesota blogs is very small. My writing is so-so, but I try and make up for my short-comings by posting credible material.

While I don't think my blog is influential or widely read, it is still a blog and I have a responsibility to other bloggers to not crap on our medium by posting lies and trash.

If one person reads my blog and then gets a bad impression of all blogs, I am doing a real disservice to other bloggers.

EY: Have strib reporters (or other reporters) contacted you about the Hatch/Etenza rumor?

MDE: I have been contacted by reporters, but I won't reveal where they work.

EY: Did you get the Entenza/Hatch rumor from a democratic source?

MDE: I received this information from multiple verified sources. Because of the explosive nature of the information, I can't reveal the party affiliation of these

EY: Were these verified sources all independent of each other?

MDE: Yes.

EY: Do you ever go after tips - that is, once you get a tip, do you contact other sources - or do your sources always contact you - and you write back requesting verification?

MDE: My sources always have contacted me.

EY: Have you ever gotten a source impersonating someone - and when you verify at their work email address, they deny it?

MDE: Not yet, but I am sure it will happen.

EY: Who do you think tipped off Shawn Towle on the Domain Proxy service TOS?

MDE: I am not sure, but I don't think it was a lawyer.

EY: Why don't you think this was a lawyer? I'm not a lawyer, but it looks lawyer like to me.

MDE: It's just my gut feeling, but maybe I am wrong.

Ask me about the domain names later.

EY: OK - what's the deal about the domain names. Why did you register them?

MDE: My solitary goal was to use increased internet searches for these candidates to garner more traffic for the MDE blog.

Admittedly, my objective may have been a little self serving, but it was hardly nefarious. My modest marketing plan was to ensure that citizens seeking information on Amy Klobachar, Patty Wetterling, or Mike Hatch receive the opportunity to hear the other side of the story at Minnesota Democrats Exposed. I purchased these domain names with personal money and I have no intention of ever selling them to anyone for financial or political profit.

EY: hy the efforts to post the inuendo about Betty McCollum? (That she lives next to her chief of staff).

MDE: There was no innuendo; All I posted was public information that showed Bill Harper owned the condo next to Betty McCollum.

I have not followed up on the MDE Domain Name Registration Issue. That has been covered fairly extensively in his blogs. If readers have specific questions they wish me to ask MDE on that topic, please send me an email at or leave a comment.

MDE Shenanagans Make the Strib

. Dump Michele Bachmann got a mention.

From the Strib:

State Senate District 63 DFLers have "changed the document properties of documents posted on their website to falsely claim they were created by Minnesota Democrats Exposed," MDE says in a recent web posting.

David Weinlick, District 63 DFL chairman, said the switch was a joke. "We thought it was funny," he said. Weinlick, a student at the University of Minnesota, also said he isn't sure why some Word documents on the district web site originally showed the "author" as "U of M." He added: "Maybe I did it in a computer lab there."

MDE ( also alleged that a 5th Congressional District DFL website contained a file created at the University of Minnesota, where 5th District DFL secretary Laura Sayles is coordinator of the Institute for Global Studies.

Contacted on Wednesday, Sayles declined to comment, adding: "I'm actually at work right now."

The Strib didn't mention the more interesting rumor posted on MDE about Matt Entenza hiring a Private Dick to get opposition research on Mike Hatch.

UPDATE: Thanks MDE, I corrected the spelling error in the title.

Craig Westover Promotes Creationist Cheri Yecke

Craig Westover suggests that it's a shame that Cheri Pierson Yecke was fired.

I added my two cents in the comments:

I think Yecke's out of the mainstream stands on creationism in biology classes also led to her ouster. Strong science education is important to me, and it is for this reason, I wrote to Linda Higgins urging a no vote on Yecke's confirmation.

It took lots of work by University faculty - in various universities to stop creationism from getting included in the science standards.
Eva Young | Homepage | 08.20.05 - 10:20 am | #

Eva, Wow. SOunds like the faculty fought really hard, and their squelcihing of alternative arguments has really furthered the collective intellect and reasoning of the state's educations base.

If these university faculty fought as hard at analyzing how they can reforms themselves, instead of the predictably lazy act of defending themselves against a debate that they have neither the energy nor the honesty to pursue, we might actually see reform.

I'd personally will never have my kids set foot in a government school, but it will be interesting to see what happens first.... people take over who can actually reform the system (read: competition as it exists in the private sector), or if the whole system will implde due to lack of reform because of stubbornness, powermongering, and politiacl agenda of the govt school unions and administrations.
Unfortunately for the good kids and parents stuck in the system wthiut a real voice or choice, it looks like we're still on the path of the latter.
guy | 08.20.05 - 9:49 pm | #

I would happily allow creationism into the public schools. Or were you just interested in establishing only one religion's belief on how the world was created, Guy?

I really believe that schools are in need of drastic reform, and I can appreciate the idea's that Yecke is putting forward. But I agree with Yecke like I agree with Pat Buchanan, selectively.

There are some issues, like creation theory, that we are going to have to put behind us if we are ever to move forward, but its more likely that in five years we'll still be debating the merits of intelligent design.

Something to think about: In 2008, China will be the host country for the summer Olympics. They will definately have the worlds attention, and their education system is purported to be one of their greatest achievements, to the point where it may shock some Americans.
jps | Homepage | 08.21.05 - 10:40 am | #

I agree with your post, and I have no intent of establishing creation as the only belief to be taught. I'
d just like it to be added, as an additional theory, to compare and contrast to evolution. If evolution is as solid a theory as it is purported to be, it should have no problem holding up to debate / scrutiny, right?

Certainly there are some things Darwin admitted he could never explain, but assumed they'd be learned after he was gone. Many scientists now realize many of these "holes" just can't be explained. BTW, I do believe in micro-evolution. To not believe in this is crazy. But I also think intelligent design is a lot easier for me to buy into, than the concept that all the Earths's complex orgnaisms and their characterstics, including human's ability to reason and feel emotion, evolved from a cell the cralwed out of the sea, created by some "big bang", is hard to fathom how anyone takes this seriously.

Statistical stuides by any scientist show the "Big Bang to veolution to the life on this palnet today" is statistically impossible. And who created the Big Bang? These are questions that never get debated, instead evolutionists often just divert by calling ID pepple "Bible thumping nuts". To me, that does nothing to validate the evolution argument. I think ID is easily as worthy of debate / teaching as evoution, as it likely has more solid scientific and loigical supporitng evidence than evolution.

guy | 08.21.05 - 8:34 pm | #

Creationism - of any variety - shouldn't be taught in a science classroom. While some creationists push for ID "theory" and others push for the "Flying Spaghetti monster" theory - and still others push the idea of Extra terrestrial ID (Chariots of the Gods anyone), none of those so called "theories" have any evidence behind it - and are just trying to teach religion in science classes.

Should we also teach the alternative arguments that the earth is really flat in Earth Science - or how about teaching the controversy about whether the holocaust really happened in history classes. Yes there are some kooks who believe that sort of nonsense, but it doesn't get taught in schools. Or what about teaching the controversy about whether 2+2 is really 4 or maybe it's really 5.
Eva Young | Homepage | 08.25.05 - 12:35 am | #

Nice post, Eva. You're the epitome what I mean when I say evolution must not be able to stand on its own. If you believe evolution is as absolute, airtight, and unquestionable as "2+2 = 4":
1) you should read more about evolution, even by Darwin and his followers. Obviously yyou haven't so far. I forgot, fact-gathering and honest debate aren't liberals' forte, resorting to ridicule and name calling are. The former is so much WORK, and the latter is so much FUN and makes you feel so GOOD.

2) you should be totally open to ID and evolution theories being taught side by side. Obviously, given the chioce, intelligent reasoning kids would so clearly see that evolution is the logical only choice, right? So what's to worry? Eva? Are your really afraid that the kids might escpae the indoctrination, and might actually open their minds to more than one theory?
guy | 08.28.05 - 12:29 am | #
Guy, Intelligent Design isn't a scientific theory. See below for the characteristics of a scientific theory. I don't think we ought to teach astrology along with astronomy either.

I am concerned that right now way too many science teachers avoid the topic of evolution because it is too controversial.

Eva Young

From a statement that has the endorsement of 250 Missouri scientists:

Intelligent design isn't real science

Published Tuesday, February 17, 2004

The following statement was released Thursday with the endorsement of more than 250 Missouri scientists and science educators, including 96 from the University of Missouri-Columbia.

Missouri House Bill 911 wants to change education statutes to mandate the teaching of "intelligent design" creationism alongside Darwinian evolution in public school science classes. Missourians of all persuasions should reject this attempt to force non-science into the science curriculum.

Proponents of intelligent design advertise it as an "alternative" to biological evolution. Advocates of HB911 frame their argument in terms of fairness, pointing out it is necessary to teach all sides of a controversy. If the controversy about Darwinian evolution vs. intelligent design were truly scientific, we would enthusiastically support its inclusion in the curriculum. As educators, we know one of the best ways to engage students in studying science is to present them with an unsolved problem. Look at how the search for evidence of past life on Mars excites students at all levels.

Intelligent design, however, isn't science. The characteristics of science that are accepted in U.S. law derive from a 1982 court decision, McLean vs. Arkansas Board of Education.

The essential characteristics of science are:

  • It is guided by natural - physical or biological - law.

  • It has to be explanatory by reference to natural law.

  • It is testable against the empirical world.

  • Its conclusions are tentative, i.e. are not necessarily the final word.

  • It is falsifiable - or, more accurately, makes predictions that can be tested by observation.

Intelligent design doesn’t meet these tests because it is a philosophical or theological perspective, not a scientific one. A Berkeley law professor, Phillip Johnson, started the intelligent design movement. As Johnson's own writings assert, anti-evolution is a "wedge" to get religious "values" inserted into the public school curriculum. Thus, the motivation behind intelligent design has nothing to do with advancing science.

Even without considering their motives, intelligent design proponents haven't shown that there is anything in it that meets the criteria for being judged as science. Intelligent design advocates presuppose the existence of a designer and then try to debunk existing data; science works the other way around. The designer explicitly does not follow.

This statement says it well.