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Saturday, September 10, 2005

WCCO has the FBI Affidavit


Appalling Illinois Family Institute Elert

Peter "Leatherboy" LaBarbara of the Illinois Family Institute usually obsesses about gays.

His latest alert celebrates Katrina:

The good news is that five of eight Louisiana abortion clinics were also destroyed.

Every once in a while he gets off the topic of gay male sex. I wonder how many other "pro-life" activists are celebrating Katrina's destruction of abortion clinics.

Friday, September 09, 2005

Bribery Charges

Unlike Brian Herron, Dean Zimmerman is fighting these charges. The Developer isn't named - but must be Sabri.

AP story in Strib.

A City Council member is being investigated for allegedly accepting bribes from a developer in exchange for help with zoning permits, according to court documents filed Friday.

Councilman Dean Zimmermann, a Green Party member seeking his second term, is accused of accepting thousands of dollars from the developer, who was working in cooperation with the FBI.

One payment was to help with attorney fees owed by Zimmermann, according to the document. Other payments were for the councilman's re-election campaign, the document said. The exchanges between Zimmermann and the developer were recorded on audio- and video tapes.

Agents took computers, personal records and a campaign mailing from Zimmermann's home Thursday.

Zimmermann declined to comment on the investigation Friday. Standing outside his house, he said, "Speaking on behalf of the poor and the oppressed and the generations yet to come is not always popular, but it is necessary. It is my life's work, it is my work as a public official, and it is work I intend to continue.''
Dean Zimmermann
Dean Zimmermann

His attorney, Fred Bruno, didn't immediately return a phone call Friday.

The probe is the third in recent years of a City Council member accused of taking money or favors from constituents in exchange for votes. The two other investigations resulted in two council members serving time in prison.

The FBI began investigating Zimmermann after the developer reported in May that the councilman had solicited a bribe.

According to an FBI agent's affidavit:

The developer needed Zimmermann's support on a zoning issue for a building project in south Minneapolis. As Zimmermann and the witness talked about his upcoming re-election campaign, Zimmermann told the witness there were "other ways'' he could help rather than making a $300 individual contribution.

Zimmermann explained he had a $100,000 attorney bill related to his lawsuit against the city over a redistricting plan that put him up against another incumbent. Zimmermann told the witness his attorneys would probably settle for $40,000. The witness told Zimmermann he would "think about'' paying the bill.

On May 20, the developer asked Zimmermann how he could get support for the zoning project. "Zimmermann stated that he needed cash, and was adamant that he needed cash right away,'' according to the affidavit.

On June 6, the developer agreed to pay $4,000 to $5,000 toward Zimmermann's legal bill, and made an audio recording of a meeting where the arrangement was made. The money was passed to Zimmermann at a June 14 meeting, which was audio- and videotaped.

Zimmermann lobbied council member Gary Schiff and told the developer he planned to lobby others. But in July, the developer's rezoning request failed in committee; Zimmermann was late and didn't vote. He told the developer he didn't have the votes and promised to try to bring it up again, but a few days later, the full council unanimously rejected the rezoning. Zimmermann explained his own "no'' vote to the developer by saying again that he couldn't find anyone to second his motion to send it back to committee so there was no sense in moving ahead.

In August, the developer passed Zimmermann $1,200 — divided four ways so none exceeded $300 — for Zimmermann's re-election campaign. Later that month, again after discussing mall sites, the developer passed Zimmermann a blank "Friends for Dean Zimmerman'' contribution envelope filled with $1,000 in cash, saying the contributor's name could be filled in later.

It's important to remember these are allegations - and there is the presumption of innocence unless proven guilty. That won't help with the upcoming primary.

Another Sabri Bribery Scandal?

From the Strib:

Minneapolis Council member's home is searched
Rochelle Olson, Star Tribune
September 9, 2005 ZIMM0909

FBI agents searched the home and subpoenaed office records of Minneapolis City Council Member Dean Zimmermann on Thursday, revealing the third known federal probe of City Hall.

"Basically, they shut my guy down financially and politically," said attorney Fred Bruno, who spoke for his client Thursday evening.

Bruno said the agents took computers, personal records and a campaign mailing that was about to be sent. He said he had yet to be provided details about the direction of the probe and declined to disclose further what was taken during the three-hour search.

Lauren Maker, a campaign coordinator for Zimmermann said, "They've taken all our lists. Everything."

Maker said the timing and nature of the search led her to conclude it was "politically motivated."
Dean Zimmermann
Dean Zimmermann

The surprising search by the FBI harkened to the 2001 elections when Council Member Brian Herron pleaded guilty to federal extortion charges and abruptly resigned two months before the primary.

(In another federal probe, former Council Member Joe Biernat was found guilty of five federal felonies in 2002 and served time for accepting free plumbing work.)

The search of Zimmermann's Whittier Park house in south Minneapolis came five days before Tuesday's nonpartisan municipal primary. All 13 City Council seats and the mayor's office are up for election in November.

The fallout from Herron's resignation and the handling of the ensuing city investigation created an anti-incumbency sentiment that swept key City Hall leaders including the mayor and council president out of office.

Zimmermann, a Green Party member, is seeking reelection against Council Vice President Robert Lilligren, a DFLer. Because of redistricting, the two are now in the same central-city ward. Both were expected to easily survive the primary and head to a showdown in the Nov. 8 general election. A third candidate, James Neil Gorham, has not been campaigning.

More questions

Little is known about the probe, but federal agents want to talk to two other council members who are not targets of the inquiry, Deputy City Attorney Peter Ginder said. The agents also are seeking information about 2401 Chicago Av. S., a condominium redevelopment project.

Gary Schiff, the chairman of the council's Zoning and Planning Committee, said that he is one of the two council members and that he will speak to agents next week. Ginder declined to name the other council member, saying he had yet to speak with the person.

Late Thursday afternoon, U.S. Attorney Thomas Heffelfinger and two assistants spoke with Ginder and City Attorney Jay Heffern, alerting them to the imminent search of Zimmermann's home. Heffelfinger could not be reached Thursday evening for comment.

Heffelfinger's office also presented the city with a subpoena for Zimmermann's office, seeking information about the Chicago Avenue address. The address is in Lilligren's current ward.

Gary Carlson of Edina is listed as the CEO of the Chicago Commons Corp., which owns and is developing the site, according to public records. He didn't return a phone message left at his home Thursday evening.

The site developer recently sought to bulk up the retail component of the project but was denied by the city's Planning Commission.

Lilligren lucked out 4 years ago, when his opponent, incumbent Brian Herron resigned and agreed to testify against Sabri. It looks like Zimmerman has no intention of taking the Herron route.

Over on the Minneapolis Rumors list, Peter McLaughlin's supporters are trying to spin this into a Mayor Rybak connection. That's lame.

Jim Graham:

Apparently it started shortly after 3:00 PM. A person living across the street called about that time. Since that time probably fourteen or fifteen people have called. Apparently there was also speculation that this was somehow tied to an earlier raid of Sabri holdings. Seriously, speculation is going wild.

Several of those calling me speculated on what the impact of these stories will have on both the City Council race and upon the Mayor's race. It would be ironic if Sabri's criminal activities determine races in City Council races in two different wards four years apart. Also the Herron scandal may well have in a small way impacted RT Rybak coming to office. It would be ironic if the same criminal's behavior got RT voted from that same office.

There will be more FBI investigations I am sure. After all Basim Sabri admitted in Federal Court that he had bribed Minneapolis public officials to overcome neighborhood opposition and gain access to NRP money and City owned land. The key word there is the plural "Officials". Those of us who attended the sentencing immediately wondered who the other Minneapolis officials are.

The Mayor has a difficult time with this situation. The only veto of Mayor RT Rybak in four years in office was in favor of the criminal Basim Sabri. Fortunately enough Council People had good sense that they overcame Rybak's illegal veto. Still one must remember that most of Minneapolis had watched television news when Sabri was bribing Brian Herron long before RT Rybak was supporting Sabri. If nothing else it shows the very poor judgment that RT Rybak is prone to. What politician in his right mind would support a project that resulted in Basim Sabri getting not only a city block, but even the City street for only $125,000. Perhaps this is part of the reason for the FBI investigation. Where will the next FBI investigation be?

On this List I have previously speculated that Rybak's support of the criminal Sabri will be the bale of straw that breaks the political camel's back. It just might come true.

Unfortunately, as more than one caller speculated this afternoon, the Sabri crime organization may have claimed two more Minneapolis politicians? No matter what it is a sad day for Minneapolis.

David Brauer responds:

I think this is really unfair speculation.

We know FBI agents raided Zimmermann's home. As of now, we don't know why - as his campaign manager notes, the affidavit is sealed. The Sabri connection here is a guess, and to then leap to the suggestion that a third party (Rybak) is criminally involved is simply a smear.

Reasonable people can disagree about Rybak's veto in support of Sabri's project. But it's worth remembering that the initial council vote against Sabri's Elroy Street & Pillsbury project wasn't 13-0, or 9-4, it was 7-6. Councilmembers Niziolek, Benson, Goodman, Lane and Samuels joined Zimmermann in support of the project - before Rybak ever whipped out his veto pen. Should we assume they're criminals too? Or maybe suggest that we should narrow the field of future FBI targets to just Niziolek, Goodman and Lane, who voted with Zimmermann to uphold Rybak's veto?

Must we criminalize political acts based only on our dislike for the actors?

And it wasn't just six, or four, councilmembers. The Minneapolis Planning Commission also supported the project. [Later, the Council's Zoning and Planning Committee granted the Whittier Alliance's appeal of the Planning Commission's approval, which the Council's 7-6 vote upheld.]

For everyone's memory, here are the facts about what the vote was about.

The Council ultimately rejected the Planning Commission's approval of a conditional use permit and site plan for 69 dwelling units. (This was the affordable housing Rybak said he wanted when he issued the veto.)

The project is rising, I assume without the housing, which means Rybak's veto was not crucial to Sabri getting the site and ultimately building something there. It was just about what would be there.

A stopped clock is correct twice a day. I agree with Brauer.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Voters polled at the State Fair Give Thumbs Down to the Stadium Session

From the strib:

Thousands of State Fairgoers who filled out public policy questionnaires sponsored by the Minnesota House and Senate shared some strong opinions with legislators:

  • A special session for stadium proposals? No way (69.3 percent opposed).

  • A local sales tax increase without voter approval? Not on your life (81.1 percent opposed).

It appears that now Dean Johnson is backing down from his call for a stadium session:

The Senate poll also offered a detailed description of the Hennepin County-Twins stadium plan, which hinges on a 0.15-percentage-point sales tax increase in the county without a public referendum. Only 23.2 percent favored that, with 67.2 percent calling for a vote or opposing any tax money for a Twins stadium.

Senate Majority Leader Dean Johnson, DFL-Willmar, who joined House Speaker Steve Sviggum, R-Kenyon, last month in calling for a fall special session, backed off from that on Tuesday. The survey findings, plus the current focus of public concern on the hurricane disaster in Louisiana and Mississippi, militate against summoning legislators back to the Capitol anytime soon, he said.

"All of our juices are being used up for hurricane response," Johnson said. "That's where people are centering their attention, and properly so."

Sviggum couldn't be reached for comment Tuesday. Pawlenty has said he'd be willing to call a limited special session if the legislative caucuses agree on issues beforehand.

Those pushing for the stadium boondoggle aren't giving up I'm sure.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

The CPRT- What's the Law?

From the Mpls Issues List:

This has always confused me. Can an organization say, "these are the positions of a candidate" or "these are the candidates who support our position and these are the candidates who don't" without violating the IRS code? It seems clear that they shouldn't be setting up speaking gigs as an organization if they are related to the campaign. However, if they ask Dean or anyone else to speak to them about the ISSUE, they are okay, right? Can they ask ALL the candidates to come speak to them, or is that a violation too? It's never been clear to me, and we see different examples of 501C3's doing all sorts of things. There must be rulings on this, does anyone know?"

diane wiley, who loves both Dean and CPRT and doesn't want to see them get hurt

The law applies to all.. even to our friends.

The law seems very clear.. :

What political activities are permitted for 501(c)(3)s?
Summary: Basically none. 501(c)(3)s are not permitted to do anything to help or hinder the election of any candidate to public office."


If the CPRT had another IRS status not listed in their newsletter, 501(c)4 for instance, they possibly could favor one candidate over another. Still, fairness would suggest that all candidates should have an equal chance for that endorsement. I
talked to one of the DFL candidates opposed by one of PRT-Greens and she said she never heard of PRT. Clearly, what's going on here isn't "public education".

I'm not an lawyer. There may be a loophole in the law somewhere (that's why I ask the question if they broke the law).

If the CPRT is working for Zimmermann and other Greens, some people could hide their contributions to Zimmermann and other Greens by giving them to the CPRT instead AND take it off their taxes. Or they could give to BOTH and get around campaign finance limits.

If the CPRT can do this for the Greens this year, whose to stop them from doing it for Bachmann, Olson and other PRT proponents next year?

I don't have the resources to find out if the CPRT broke the law. I asked the authorities and they sent me letter saying they can't tell me if the CPRT broke the law because it would violate the Data Privacy Act.

As I have said before, there needs to be an investigation of PRT by the major media before the election this fall. The media has the resources to take a good look at the CPRT and Taxi 2000. As a blogger, I can only ask questions and point out what's easily available on the web and in the public record.

On the Picket Line
David DeGrio
small error not affecting content fixed on 09Sept05

On a warm summer day in Duluth, Minnesota most families are enjoying one of the last weekends before the kids go back to school and the fall air chills the days. This was not the case for 67 picketers outside the Duluth International Airport. They, of course, are members of Aircraft Mechanics Fraternal Association (AMFA) and employees of Northwest Airlines. They have been on the picket lines for 1 days and are prepared to stay there "as long as it takes" says Annette Smedshammer, wife of mechanic Tyler Smedshammer who has been with NWA since 1987. Smedshammer was on the picket line today as part of weekly Family Fridays, where husbands, wives and children are there to support each other. Ryan Sternisha, 16, of Duluth was there today to support his dad, friends and family and to make things better for all employees in the aviation field, which he hopes to join someday. "We are extended family," says Sternisha.

So what are the main issues according to the mechanics with whom I spoke? Ken Reed, president of AMFA Local 35 says that at this point "money is not the important issue, we made concessions as a union and offered to take salary cuts, but we won't compromise job security." The issue at hand is that the number of mechanics in AMFA used to be about 10,000 and has been cut by more than half, "in 4 ½ to 5 years they[NWA] want to cut us by almost 50% again bringing us to around 2750 workers." Why is job security important to this union's negotiation efforts? People on the picket line accused NWA of wanting no restrictions upon who they hire and fire, up until this point they have been exercising that ability to some extent. Joel, a mechanic who says he chased airline jobs across the country, originally came to Duluth because of the maintenance base. "I finally found a place where I could have a good job and a good community." Joel began his career working for Mesaba and Sun Country Repairs, he then moved to Duluth and began working in 1994. In 11 years he has been laid-off three times, two of those times he was eventually called back. The first was during the pilots' strike of 1998, recalled after two weeks, followed by a round of lay-offs in July of 2002. In January 2005 he was recalled again and laid off, probably for the last time this past May. Joel admits that his chances of getting his job back are slim. He was there to support the guys who should still be working. This was a common theme amongst people in the crowd. Hank Sternisha was also laid off in May. "I am not even on the strike list, but I have to be here for the people who were there to support us with food, money and fundraisers when I was laid off." Sternisha was exceedingly angry at NWA as he was laid off in 2003. After being laid off he received a job offer as a Carman on the railroad. At the time of the new job offer NWA recalled him as a temporary worker, "with the promise that we would be restored as permanent workers but the temporary status enabled them to get us back on base more quickly." That promise was never carried out and those mechanics have again lost their jobs, probably forever.

Another concern of striking mechanics is the safety of passenger jets being sent up in the air. Reed said that a contact who is a manager at NWA and is responsible for verifying the security and preparedness of planes going into flight, has been on the clock and working for 31 hours. Most people are working shifts of 20 or more hours and they are required to put in 12 hour shifts, 6 days a week. He additionally quotes that the working conditions for replacement mechanics are so stressful that 263 of them left in the first 7 days. Furthermore, several men on the picket line commented that "these scabs are not the guys you want working on your planes, they are not quality mechanics." In fact they were classified as "substandard mechanics." These men were speaking from previous experience of working with many of the replacement workers. All the 747 and DC-10 jets are currently maintained in Singapore, according to one source "I am concerned about someone getting hurt because Northwest wants to save a buck." But are passengers at risk? Some say the answer is "YES" based on the events of the past few weeks. One example is NWA Flight 74 from Narita, Japan which was in taxi at the Guam Airport when the front landing gear collapsed. The fear of the union is that NWA will use this accident against the strikers, when it was completely out of their control. The most chilling account I heard was from Hank Sternisha. "One time there was a hydraulic issue with one of the planes I was working on. It wasn't too serious of an issue, but I felt it needed to be fixed before the plane was cleared for flight. Because the replacement parts were unavailable for 3-4 more hours my manager wanted me to sign off on the plane with the promise that it would be fixed. He wanted to get the plane out in time. I refused, the manager could have signed it if he wanted, but I [Sternisha] would not. Without a union to back me up, I would have been fired and replaced with someone who would sign off on the plane." This is why unions are necessary in this industry. Sternisha concluded by saying because of replacement workers and the fact that NWA is trying to bust the union, "I think unionism is over in this country."

So who is the victim and who is the oppressor? This is a highly contentious question when placed in the minds of those who are neither a mechanic nor an NWA employee/executive. In the words of Ken Reed, "Doug Steenland is an incompetent CEO, if he is supposed to be the best in the industry, why isn't he being a leader rather than a follower? His ego keeps him from negotiating." When asked how long they are prepared to be there Reed says; "we don't plan on going to work until a contract is ratified"

Monday, September 05, 2005

Yecke Discussion Still Going Strong at King's Place

Join the conversation.

Back from Madison

Ken Avidor kindly kept Lloydletta's Nooz going while I took a 3 day weekend to Madison, Wisconsin. I checked in once to post the item about Stenglein.

Thanks Ken.

While in Madison, I went to the Badgers game (vs Bowling Green). It was an excellent game. I also went to the American Players' Theater production of Candida - which was also excellent - and spent quality time with family.

Sunday, September 04, 2005

Hennepin County Commissioner Mark Stenglein's conflict of interest on the Stadium

It's ironic that MPR's midday at the Fair had the ethically challenged Hennepin County Commissioner Mark Stenglein to push the Stadium boondoggle. Unfortunately no caller called Mark Stenglein on his conflict of interest.

From the Strib:

May 29, 2005, Sunday, Metro Edition


LENGTH: 1133 words

Stadium vote puts friendship in focus;
A political pal of Mark Stenglein is involved in ownership of the site

BYLINE: Mike Kaszuba; Staff Writer

With the fate of the proposed Minnesota Twins stadium hanging in the balance three weeks ago, Hennepin County Commissioner Mark Stenglein cast a key vote for a plan to use a new countywide sales tax to fund the $478 million project.

Stenglein told an overflow crowd that he was "proud to support" the proposal, and that "big thinkers did big projects." What he did not tell them, although he had discussed it privately with his County Board colleagues before the 4-3 vote, was that he has a close personal and political connection to Bruce Lambrecht, a central figure in the limited partnership that owns the proposed stadium property.

This shows a serious lack in Mark Stenglein's ethical compass. He should recuse himself from future votes on this issue.

When Stenglein ran unsuccessfully for mayor of Minneapolis in 2001, Lambrecht was an influential member of his campaign - holding a fundraiser for Stenglein at Lambrecht's home and leasing office space to the Stenglein campaign. Lambrecht, according to Hennepin County Commissioner Penny Steele, an opponent of the stadium plan, helped recruit Stenglein to run for mayor and was "probably one of his best friends." Stenglein's campaign manager during that race, Brian McClung, later worked as a lobbyist for Twinsville Inc., a company used by Lambrecht to help promote the stadium and a redevelopment plan for the surrounding area. McClung now serves as Gov. Tim Pawlenty's spokesman.

I told Stenglein his biggest mistake was to hire McClung as his campaign manager. McClung doesn't understand Minneapolis. I wasn't aware of McClung's connections to Twinsville Inc.

And last year, a Stenglein aide took a leave of absence from his county job to work as a lobbyist for Lambrecht and Twinsville Inc. The aide, Mike Sable, said he was approached by Lambrecht and others for the job, and said he cleared the three-month leave with Stenglein.

In recent interviews, Stenglein downplayed his relationship with Lambrecht and said that because they have no private financial dealings, there is no conflict of interest. Stenglein said he does not plan to abstain on any future votes on the project at the county, where his vote is seen as critical. The withdrawal of his support could scuttle the stadium proposal, which is currently waiting legislative action.

Stenglein's constituents should write him to ask him to recuse himself from this vote.

"I don't have any financial relationship with him," Stenglein said. He said Lambrecht is "not a dear confidante, by no means. It'd be more political; [I] met him through political circles."

"I've never gotten any money from him in terms of lieu of services - I've never worked for him," Stenglein said. He added, however, that with the stadium proposal now in the public eye, he has attempted to keep an arm's-length relationship with Lambrecht. "I've been kinda doing that ever since this baseball thing really kinda came to reality," he said.

Lambrecht said Friday that while he and his family "are friends with Mark and his family," he did not lobby Stenglein before the County Board's May 3 vote to pursue the stadium proposal. He also said he served only as an unpaid volunteer during Stenglein's mayoral race, and minimized his role in the campaign.

"I never urged Stenglein to run for mayor or any other office," Lambrecht said in a written statement.

Yeah, right. How much has Lambrecht raised for Stenglein's campaigns?

Though the county has not entered into negotiations to buy the stadium site - the proposal actually would leave that job for a new, independent ballpark authority - both the county and the Twins see the so-called Rapid Park property in the downtown Minneapolis Warehouse District as the preferred stadium location. Lambrecht and Rich Pogin are shareholders in Investment Management Inc., the managing entity for a series of limited partnerships that own the property. At a news conference announcing the agreement between the county and the Twins, Lambrecht joined Twins owner Carl Pohlad and others in speaking about the plan.

Under the proposed agreement, the Twins would contribute $125 million to the construction of the stadium and the county, by increasing a countywide sales tax, would pay $235 million toward the stadium. The county would also be responsible for related infrastructure costs. The additional sales tax could last for as long as 30 years and collect as much as $1.1 billion.

The plan's most controversial feature calls for the Legislature to exempt the county from having to hold a referendum on the sales tax increase.

Governor Tim Pawlenty reiterated his preference for a referendum at the State Fair today. He should be called to urge him to veto any legislation that exempts Hennepin County from requiring a referendum to increase sales taxes to subsidize a twins stadium.

Possible conflict

Stenglein said he talked with other commissioners about Lambrecht, and the issue was raised by Steele. He said she told him, "You're friends with Lambrecht. You better not have any financial dealings with him."

Asked about the Stenglein-Lambrecht connection, Steele said, "I would personally opt out of the vote." Lambrecht, she said, was "terribly involved" in Stenglein's mayoral race.

Steele should know. Thank you Penny Steele for speaking out.

Board Chair Randy Johnson, a stadium supporter, said Stenglein approached him about Lambrecht. "I said, 'Do you have any business, financial, joint interests [with him] at all?" said Johnson. "He said, 'Absolutely not.'"

"I don't see the conflict in it," said Johnson, who added however that he had received e-mails regarding Stenglein's relationship with Lambrecht. "I don't see this as even coming close."

Similarly, Commissioner Mike Opat, the county's chief negotiator on the proposed stadium, said he asked Stenglein about his ties with Lambrecht. "I think I did ask Mark, was there a business relationship?" said Opat. "I'm certain the answer was no." Opat said he brought up the topic with Stenglein "as we got closer to having an agreement" with the Twins over the past two months.

Opat said he did not see a conflict for Stenglein. "I was never led to believe there was anything that was untoward," he said.

It's not surprising Opat would say this. Opat recently had a hissy fit in a Strib oped that suggested the world would end if the legislature exempted Hennepin County from the Referendum requirements for this sales tax increase.

Stenglein said he actually first became acquainted with Lambrecht's wife, Jeanne Braun, when Braun owned a company that competed with Les Work Inc., a company Stenglein owned that would sublet executive office space in the Twin Cities. Stenglein started his company before he became a county commissioner in 1996, and said he has since sold it.

Lisa McDonald, a former Minneapolis City Council member who also ran unsuccessfully for mayor in 2001, said she remembered Lambrecht playing a key role in Stenglein's campaign. "He certainly seemed like the brains in the campaign," she said. At most of the campaign's public events, she added, Lambrecht was there with Stenglein. "He was always down in the back of the room," she said.

McDonald said she too wondered about Stenglein's relationship with Lambrecht as the stadium deal unfolded. "[I thought], 'My, my, isn't this a fine kettle of fish," she said.

McDonald would be aware of this.

Vickie Heller, a prominent Minneapolis property owner who is active in conservative politics, said she held a fundraiser for Stenglein in 2001. Though she said she does not recall Lambrecht's title, Heller said Lambrecht appeared to be running the campaign. "He was always around at every fundraiser that I had anything to do with for Stenglein," she said.

Mike Kaszuba is at

Vickie Heller would know on this issue. Commissioners Opat and Johnson should be ashamed of themselves. It goes without saying that Commissioner Mark Stenglein is an embarrassment to his district and should recuse himself from future votes on the stadium issue. Kudos to Commissioner Penny Steele for raising this issue. It's rather odd that Minneapolis Mayoral candidate Peter McLaughlin wasn't asked to comment.

The CPRT, Did They Break the Law? (Part 4)

It is pretty easy to figure out why pro-highway, anti-transit Republicans like Senator Michele Bachmann and Representative Mark Olson promote PRT... it's an effective stalking horse to bash LRT, Northstar and Metro Transit.

For DFL supporters of PRT, it's a classic DFL, pork-barrel, "community development" boondoggle like Rudy Perpich's chopstick factory.

The Green Party is where PRT finds its most ardent supporters. Even the Green Party's Annie Young can't figure it out. This is what Annie Young had to say about Dean's "project" in the Pulse April 28th article on PRT:

“This is not a Green Party issue; this is Dean’s project. I’m concerned about his relationship to Taxi 2000, and about the time he’s spending on the project and whether he’s meeting the needs of the people in his ward. There are potentially some good things that could come from it, and I see what the point is but I’m not sure the timing is right. There are also a lot of questions about it, like why are the Republicans so interested in it? There are a lot of good alternatives that we should be working on, and there are so many transportation needs to be addressed. I’m just not sure this is the best one."

Dean Zimmermann has spent an awful lot of time on PRT. He has given his PRT PowerPoint presentation all over the 6th Ward, the City Council, the Capitol, the Lake Street PAC and the Midtown Greenway.

It's time the Star Tribune, The Southwest Journal and other local news media outlets stop running puff-pieces about PRT. In order for the electorate to be informed, they need to know more about PRT than the fact that PRT is "Jetsons-like" and "futuristic". The Star Tribune and other local news media outlets need to investigate the claims of PRT promoters such as Mark Olson, Michele Bachmann and Dean Zimmermann.