Election 2012 straw poll: Whom and what are you voting for?


  1. Nathan E. Kuhlman said:

    This is it: the moment you’ve all been waiting for!

    As some of you may already know, my politics have lurched about 45 degrees rightward as a result of living in Greece. I see daily how a massive State apparatus can still fail to meet its most basic objectives. I see the law of unintended consequences in action every day, and twice on Sundays. So I shan’t be surprised if I alienate some of my former DFL compatriots.
    Finally, I changed my voter registration to reflect my actual locale of residence. To fail to do so would actually be a form of voter fraud. In so doing, though I remain a citizen of Minnesota for Federal purposes, I seem to have relinquished the right to vote on local matters including the constitutional ballot issues. The ballot has gone off in the ‘diplomatic pouch,’ since for the three offices I get to cast a vote on, I can’t justify a week’s pay to have DHL maybe deliver it on time. Technically, procrastinators don’t have their own party.

    Compromising the principle of the secret ballot for the sake of fostering discussion among those of you who have a few days left to decide, here’s how I voted, and why:

    Obama, to give the finger to the national GOP leadership for running roughshod over Ron Paul supporters. Flash! GOP picks yet another scion of privilege! Unbef***inglievable!! I was sorely tempted by Libertarian Gary Johnson, and can’t say that he wouldn’t have been a better vote but for the existence of the electoral college, who pretty much guarantee an either/or scenario.

    Kurt Bills, to acknowledge the efforts of the RPM grassroots in overpowering the state party’s insider trading club. And because I suspect Amy of complicity in the “We can’t stop the Chinese from selling you poisonous products, so we’ll outlaw church bazaars and garage sales” wing of the Democratic party.

    Obermuller, because Kline was a rubber stamp for the prior admin, then a born again fiscal conservative once his side were out of power.

    Further for discussion, here’s how I would have voted, and why:
    Kevin Dahle for MN Senate, because he’s a reasonable and normal guy awash in a party of out-of-touch, elitist do-gooders

    Bly is still in the doghouse for co-sponsoring Kim Norton’s intrusive seatbelt bill.

    No on ‘Marriage Amendment’, because I think it’s bad manners and bad precedent to tamper with the state constitution in order to pander for votes (note: ballot should include an option for “f*** you for making me vote on this.”)

    Torn on voter ID, whether it is more a voter suppression tactic, or more a bona fide response to fraud. Both exist and are threats to the democratic process. I choose No, once again for the same reason stated above. Also, incidentally, why I voted No on the “legacy amendment,” even though I am supposedly an ‘arts guy.’

    There you have it, in case anyone cares to notice.

    November 3, 2012
  2. Griff Wigley said:

    Thanks for weighing in, Nathan. I noticed! And you’ll notice that I’ve moved your comment from the presidential race discussion to this new blog post.

    November 4, 2012
  3. Paul Zorn said:


    Interesting thoughts, and well worth “notice”. And no worries on the secret ballot principle front: That principle constrains the government … we voters can say anything we want about how we will vote, have voted, think others should vote, etc. Thanks for doing so.

    Doubtless your up-close experience in Greece is revealing. Libertarianism would certainly seem to present a genuine alternative there. But from this distance I wonder: how relevant is the Greek experience to the US, let alone to choosing among Romney, Obama, and the “minor” candidates. Sure, there’s no guarantee that a “massive State apparatus” will always work well.

    But (a) the present US “State apparatus” is not massive by historical standards, and even less so by existing rich-world standards; (b) the “State apparatus” in Germany and the Scandinavian countries is also large, and the economic results appear quite different there to those in Greece; (c) sometimes a “State apparatus”, say FEMA, works decently well under tough conditions, like those related to Sandy.

    That’s not to say (and Obama isn’t saying, right-wing spin notwithstanding) that the US should emulate the Scandinavians and Germans in everything — just that the lessons from Greek experience are far from clear for Tuesday’s election.

    November 4, 2012
  4. rob hardy said:

    Thanks, Griff, for raising those endorsements from the obscurity of the NoNews website!

    November 4, 2012
  5. kiffi summa said:

    I think there are a couple of issues that need to be addressed here:
    First of all, I think one of the hottest topics driving votes will be the Safety Center decision.
    I very much DIS-agreed on this issue with two councilors who are consistently thoughtful , i.e.Zweifel and Buckheit. I disagreed privately, publicly, including here on LG. I truly felt this was a decision to be made by the public, especially considering the various permutations, over the years of time, and the ‘dissing’ of the fire dept… as well as the financing chosen.

    BUT … it would, IMO, be very wrong, and possibly ‘stupid’ 🙂 to vote against these proven participants just on the basis of their decisions on this one issue .. even considering that it was possibly the most important. The pressure they were under was enormous, and not enough of the broader public was speaking publicly.

    Reactionary government is never good government, unless possibly when there are guillotines involved. another 🙂

    If you have been satisfied with the working process of these two councilors, and find their ideology matching fairly closely with your own, then you should not vote against them on the basis of one (bad?) decision.
    Think about the positions publicly expressed by their opposition candidates on all the other issues, and see where your affinity resides.

    That’s a little easier to do with Mr. Ludescher than with Denison: Ludescher has written here on LG extensively on several issues.
    Mr. Denison is a bit harder to assess as he limits his publicly expressed contribution; is that a reason to NOT vote for that candidate?

    I think the Safety Center process and decision were ‘bruising’, possibly even ‘brutal’; I also think these two very bright and thoughtful councilors, Buckheit and Zweifel will come out of that process to be even more thoughtful, especially on process, and public involvement.

    That was long… so I’ll save the second issue I”m concerned about for later….

    November 4, 2012
  6. Bruce Morlan said:

    Nathan, I’d be real interested in hearing your take on the description Micheal Lewis gives of the financial crises facing us, including the one in Greece, as described in his latest book, Boomerang, which the NYTimes describes as “how very different people for very different reasons gorged on the cheap credit available in the prelude to that disaster“. I had read his previous book (The Big Short” and found this followup to be a riveting can’t-put-it-down-read on my way back from a math conference in Phoenix.

    I am of the mind that while the analyses done in the 70’s under the name of the “Club of Rome” may not have predicted the future as it happened, the fault lies not in the methods but rather in the data, and the basic analytical predictions, if not the timings, are correct. The movement known as “Strong Towns” seems to suggest a way for us to achieve course corrections at a local level.

    But, at this point, I am also reading, and digesting from my analytical perspective, discussions on “The Great Turning”. These lead me to ask people to consider what the next incarnation of civilization will look like when we have to give up the industrial growth models of the last four centuries (roughly since 1750).

    November 4, 2012
  7. I’m not at all torn on voter ID. There are a number of kinds of vote fraud which have been observed in the last few decades. There are people voting whose names shouldn’t have been on the list. There are votes being altered. There are people being given misleading or false instructions about where or when to vote. There have been cases of people voting repeatedly (one college campus wasn’t bothering to mark people down when they voted, so they could do it repeatedly).

    What there isn’t is a single example, anywhere, of someone voting by pretending to be someone else.

    An attempt to reduce vote fraud would be targeted at a form of fraud which has actually occurred. Voter ID isn’t.

    November 4, 2012
  8. Griff Wigley said:

    In his new blog post (Northfield, MN…Music City and City of the New Frontier?), NDDC’s Ross Currier urges voters with this closing paragraph:

    There’s a local election on Tuesday. We need leaders who recognize the potential of the creative class, the power of the knowledge workers, the value of the amenities that attract and nurture these people, and the commitment to make the investment of scarce resources in these assets so that Northfield can take advantage our our opportunity. Please, vote for enlightened leadership.

    But he doesn’t say who. I guess he’s chickenshit. 😉

    I’m assuming he’s voting for Betsy, not David; and Erica, not Jon. But who would Ross support for mayor? How about 2nd Ward?

    November 5, 2012
  9. rob hardy said:

    I know at least one candidate who has made no secret of his support for the arts in Northfield. This appeared in the local newspaper’s write-up of the Mayor’s Youth Council candidate forum at the high school:

    Seventeen-year-old Kiefer Schmidt, a senior, said it was good to see Rob Hardy take a stance.

    “I liked how Mr. Hardy put an emphasis on [protecting] arts and theater,” Schmidt said. “He really stuck out.”

    November 5, 2012
  10. Griff Wigley said:

    If Rhonda is elected Mayor and David is elected At-Large, would the council appoint Dana or Betsey to Rhonda’s At-Large seat?

    If Rhonda is elected Mayor and Betsey is elected At-Large, would the council appoint Dana or David to Rhonda’s At-Large seat?

    November 5, 2012
  11. Griff Wigley said:

    Thanks for the thoughtful comment, Kiffi. I’m conflicted for much the same reasons as you.

    November 5, 2012
  12. kiffi summa said:

    That’s an interesting question… They did not appoint Dale Gehring, the runner-up to Ganey’s 4th ward seat when Ganey vacated … so that says they will do each appointment based on their evaluation, not on voter approval. (Gehring’s votes were fairly close as I recall)

    Various comments have been made by councilors on this issue. Two I remember: Councilor Buckheit questioning the ‘transparency’ of the Council appointing a second in votes candidate right after an election, and the Mayor suggesting that a council appointment might want to consider a ‘skillset’ that was needed.

    If the vacancy occurs in a year when there is no regular election, which would then require a special election to fill the council seat, then that special election should., IMO, be held in 3 months, not wait until the following november… but that would require a charter change.

    November 5, 2012
  13. Griff Wigley said:

    After chatting at length with Rhonda after one of the forums at the Cow, I wanted to have a similar chat with Dana Graham. It’s been a little difficult to arrange because of my frequent trips to the Cities but it finally happened this morning. Dana drove by, saw that I was at my corner office at GBM, and stopped in to chat. I appreciated it.

    And then it occurred to me that some people might wonder if I have a conflict of interest with Rhonda. She’s on the board of the League of MN Cities. They contracted with me to present at their annual conference back in June and I’m scheduled to make presentations at their upcoming regional leadership conferences in Jan. and Feb. Rhonda’s not involved in any decision making about my work for the LMC so I don’t see it as a conflict. But I think it is worth mentioning.

    Additionally, I’ve been pitching my consulting services to the City of Northfield via City Administrator Tim Madigan. I’ve not submitted a proposal yet but the fact that I’m working on this could be seen by some as coloring my opinionating about candidates, pre- and post-election. More to come on this.

    November 5, 2012
  14. William Siemers said:

    I’ll vote for the Democratic candidate for president. I just can not abide the social agenda of Republicans and their recent efforts to limit the right to vote. I am not an Obama fan, but at least I know where he stands.

    Amy has done a good nuts and bolts job for Minnesota which is what I expect of a first term senator and why she’ll get about 66% of the vote.

    I’ll vote for Oberwhateverthehellhisnameis because I like his pizza ad and hate Kline’s metrodome ad.

    Dahle seems like a good choice. A reasonable, regular guy. I won’t vote in the state representative race since there is no way I’ll be responsible for sending two teacher’s union guys to St. Paul.

    Rhonda and Betsey have done a good job in city government and deserve to be elected again. I didn’t like Betsey’s vote on the safety center, but as has been mentioned…it’s only one vote. Plus I love those 50’s names.

    November 5, 2012
  15. Griff Wigley said:

    My votes today:

    Federal: Obama, Klobuchar and Kline. I found the Strib editorial supporting Kline to be persuasive.

    State: Bly and Dahle, though not enthusiastically because of their ties to Education MN, the teachers’ union that too often inhibits education reform efforts. But the social conservatism of their opponents concerns me more.

    Constitutional amendments: No and No

    School board: Hardy, Maple, Iverson. I’m not using my 4th vote because I oppose Cupersmith (see blog post) and I think Noel Stratmoen is long overdue for doing something else.

    County commissioner D1: Malecha; if I could vote in D2: Kathleen Doran-Norton.

    Mayor: tough call but I’ve decided to vote for Dana Graham, but not because of any positions on issues that he or Rhonda hold. I think he’d be a better leader of the council at their meetings and a better public ambassador for the City. If he wins, Rhonda will remain on the council and we’ll continue to benefit from her service.

    At-Large: tough call but I’ve decided to vote for Betsy Buckheit, as I like her overall direction on economic development and many other issues. I only disagreed with her vote on the Safety Center. I’m torn because I think David Ludescher would be a valuable addition to the current council, a smart contrarian. If Betsey and Rhonda win, I hope the Council appoints him to Rhonda’s seat.

    Ward 2: tough call but I’m voting for Frank Balster. I’ve gotten to know him as a neighbor and fellow townhouse association member. Like David Delong, he’s got financial smarts and a nose for important details but I think Frank would be better at citizen engagement and council/staff relations.

    Ward 3: if I could, I’d vote for Erica Zweifel for the same reasons as I cited above for Betsey.

    November 6, 2012
  16. Ron Paul and Gary Johnson have some good ideas and I am glad that they are out there educating people while campaigning. However, Ron Paul said knew he was doing just that and never expected to win, and because as I have observed, he is not completely all there. Anyone can get through a five minute discourse or debate question, etc. but if you listen at another time when the answers go on and on, you hear a failing statesman. In the case of Gary Johnson, he flips out right away coming off angry, bitter and resentful. No mention of a great country that we are and very uninspiring overall. There are others, but not worth the mentioning.
    Obama is Obama and all that he was, he is less now, having been worn down and not being propped up as much. Romney is someone I would rather see as a top advisor or as Bill Clinton roaming around the world doing some good here and there. Because I think Romney’s advisors will be the same ones we have had in past administrations. Maybe good, maybe not so much, but if I have to choose between BO and WMR, I’d go Romney. It keeps them guessing. However, I do have two other choices, GJ and whomever else I choose to write in.

    If I choose the latter two choices, it would be to send a message that I am looking for something other in the future, So, it’s my vote and I intend to honor the brave men and women who have made it possible for all of us to vote, and to honor my country the best that I possibly can.

    Be careful now, I may write YOU in! lol!

    November 6, 2012
  17. President: Virgil Goode, Constitution Party.

    Voting for one of the mainstream candidates only puts your rubber stamp on the perennial policies of bailouts, financial insolvency, and unending war around the world. It is Goode to vote for Virgil– or any of the other deserving 3rd party candidates.

    US Senate: Kurt Bills, GOP.

    US House: Mike Obermueller, Democrat.

    Did “conservative” Kline waste more of our money voting for the 2008 banker bailout bill, or in his unflagging support for all the unnecessary and illegal wars we’ve been waging since his election in 2002?

    State Senate and House: Hey Griff, you forgot about those of us Northfielders living in “The Outpost”– the little patch of Northfield that is actually part of Dakota County.

    I will vote for GOP incumbent senator Dave Thompson, and against his GOP house counterpart Pat Garofalo for the same reason: their respective stands (against and for) Zygi Wilf’s $450B stadium bill.

    Dakota County Commissioner: We don’t get a lot of attention from Dakota county politicians here in The Outpost, so when Mike Slavik came through the neighborhood shaking hands a few weeks ago, I was impressed. His opponent is Farmington city councilperson Christy Jo Fogerty.

    Marriage Amendment: God made the law, so it isn’t ours to change. Nonetheless, it might be a good idea to vote Yes just to stay on His good side.

    Voter ID Amendment: Yes, because it’s common sense.

    Northfield City Council: On the north side our choice is between Erica Zweifel and Jon Denison. There’s no 3rd parties, so I will be writing in my own name — Andy Kornkven — and I encourage others to do the same.

    November 6, 2012
  18. Patrick Enders said:

    In my view, when the sitting Councillors pulled their end-run around the citizens, and in so doing saddled us with $800,000 in needless interest payments for our new police station, then they disqualified themselves as guardians of the public good.

    Therefore, I voted for David Ludescher over Betsey Buckheit, and I would vote for Jon Denison over Erica Zweifel.

    November 6, 2012
  19. Paul Zorn said:


    I voted this morning about 7:15 at Nfld Retirement Center. They were doing brisk business but the lines weren’t excessive. According to the machine I fed my ballot into, I was apparently voter #58 at that site.

    I’m with you much more than agin’ you on your votes, with one important exception: John Kline, who IMO has earned retirement, not a 6th term — and not just for knee-jerk Democrat reasons.

    The Strib’s Kline endorsement seems to me not just objectively wrong but poorly reasoned. If indeed Obermueller had nothing more than pablum to offer on budgetary matters, that’s blameworthy, and perhaps Mr. O. would ideally have more local experience before hitting the big time. But nobody’s perfect, and for me Kline’s faults tip the scales big time.

    The Strib describes Kline as (i) coming from the far right, but (ii) willing to compromise, cross party lines, etc. The Strib is certainly correct on (i); so be it. But I see — and the Strib offers — little convincing evidence of (ii). The Strib praises Kline for ” … a much-needed but unpopular vote to raise the debt ceiling in 2011 with the country within hours of default.”

    Yes, such a vote is better than none, but waiting until the nation was “within hours of default” was high-stakes political brinksmanship, verging on blackmail, that I find unforgivable. This can count as cooperation across the aisle only when the bar is set well below the floor. And then there’s Kline’s signature on Grover Norquist’s no-tax pledge. How can that coexist with any bipartisan, or even adult, approach to addressing our economic problems?

    Strib editorials are usually better-reasoned than this, IMO. In this case I’m guessing they were straining —hard — for “balance”.

    November 6, 2012
  20. Griff Wigley said:

    Paul, I think Kline’s got a more moderate Republican soul but in today’s Tea Party culture in the House, he can’t show it.

    November 6, 2012
  21. Griff Wigley said:

    I’m delighted you chimed in with your votes, Andy. Sorry to diss your geographic regions. Folks in Dundas, too. I just ran out of time.

    Let us know how many write-in votes you get. I might try that next time!

    November 6, 2012
  22. Griff Wigley said:

    Glad you chimed in, Patrick. I’m guessing many others here feel the same, as both David and Jon are currently straw polling ahead of Betsey and Erica.

    November 6, 2012
  23. Griff Wigley said:

    Plainly spoken, William! You should consider running for public office. Fireworks would ensue. 😉

    November 6, 2012
  24. Patrick Enders said:

    To the extent that we can use history as a guide, I have no reason to believe that either my opinions, or those expressed in the LGN straw poll, are at all representative of the Northfield citizenry as a whole.

    November 6, 2012
  25. Griff Wigley said:

    I’ve closed all the straw polls as of 8:36 PM.

    November 6, 2012
  26. john george said:

    Fireworks, huh? What if he refuses?

    November 6, 2012
  27. Paul Zorn said:


    If Kline is a closet moderate, he’s certainly handling it well. According to GovTrack he’s among the most avid 5 or 6 right wingers in Congress.

    I have no idea about Kline’s soul … it’s his behavior that matters to me.

    November 6, 2012
  28. Griff Wigley said:

    City of Northfield results PDF:

    Nfld Patch: Three New, Yet Famliar Faces Elected to the Council; Incumbents, Hardy Elected to School Board

    The results are in and Dana Graham is Northfield’s new mayor. Graham received 4,947 votes and defeated Councilor Rhonda Pownell, who received 3,461 votes.

    In the Council races, David Ludescher narrowly defeated Betsey Buckheit on Tuesday night for the At-Large council position. With nearly 7,800 votes cast, Ludescher beat Buckheit by 29 votes. Ludescher also previous served on the Council. David DeLong, who previously served two terms on the City Council, won in the Second Ward, beating Frank Balster 56.30 percent to 43.15 percent. Incumbent Councilor Erica Zweifel received 1,324 votes compared Jon Denison’s 558 votes in the Third Ward race.

    In the Northfield School Board race, incumbents Ellen Iverson, Anne Maple and Noel Stratmoen were re-elected, all received more than 21 percent of the vote. Rob Hardy wasn’t far behind with 19.37 of the voting, claimed the fourth and final seat. Dan Cupersmith received 13.86 of the vote.

    November 7, 2012
  29. Griff Wigley said:

    I’m still wearing my Vote No on the marriage amendment t-shirt.

    I’m happier than a puppy with two peters.

    November 7, 2012
  30. Jerry Bilek said:

    Patrick, where did you get that $800,000 figure?

    November 7, 2012
  31. Patrick Enders said:

    I found that figure here:

    Looking at the page on a bigger browser, I find from reading additonal posts that the extra/unnecessary interest payments might ‘only’ total $500,000.

    Have you seen any alternate estimates?

    November 7, 2012
  32. Jerry Bilek said:

    I had not seen any numbers that I would call factual. the $800,000 was admitted to be wrong, yet you used it as fact. the $500,000 is one person’s opinion, correct? I find this to be a troubling aspect of blogs and the internet in general. facts are often overlooked in favor of a good argument.

    November 7, 2012
  33. Ross Currier said:

    Patrick and Jerry –

    I believe that (Councilor-Elect) David DeLong cited the two different interest rates in a comment somewhere on this blog. Plug them both into your mortgage payment template and you can do your own calculations.

    November 7, 2012
  34. Jerry Bilek said:

    I’d be fine with somebody suggesting that route, but to throw a number out that is not correct is not good form in my opinion. my concern is that actual facts are discussed.

    November 7, 2012
  35. Paul Zorn said:

    Jerry, Patrick,

    I’m guessing we all agree that good, defensible calculations are better than bad, erroneous ones. Here’s one in the latter category, from a much earlier posting comparing interest rates on 20-year loans for assertedly similar projects in Northfield (NF) and Fergus Falls (FF) … my emphasis:

    NF — 2.85%
    FF — 2.08%
    This means the Northfield Council just approved spending 77% more in interest than they needed to.

    The higher interest rate for NF actually adds about 35% to the 20-year total interest cost. This is indeed close to $500K over 20 years.

    My point is not to diss little slips like this (including mine … ) but to argue that single calculations like this don’t, and can’t, tell enough of the full story to be very useful. Different questions (how similar the NF and FF situations really are, what financing options are or were truly live, etc.) seem to me more germane to assessing the Council’s wisdom or foolishness in the matter.

    November 7, 2012
  36. Ross Currier said:

    Paul –

    What is the loan amount you’re using? I might be relying on old information, but I thought it was a total cost of $7.2 million less $1 million from other sources (taxpayer “equity”?) or $6.2 million to be financed by debt.

    November 7, 2012
  37. Paul Zorn said:


    I think I was using $6.2 million as the amount to be financed … I think it came from a posting by David Delong. In any case, the calculation is easy to re-do (or just re-scale) with any loan amount.

    November 7, 2012
  38. Dan Cupersmith said:

    I would like to offer my congratulations to all the School Board winners last night. As much as I would have liked to win, I feel the Schools are in good hands.

    November 7, 2012
  39. Griff Wigley said:

    Dan, thanks for posting that. Classy thing to do.

    November 7, 2012
  40. Ross Currier said:

    Paul (and Jerry) –

    Looks like a little over $400,000 to me.

    November 8, 2012
  41. David Ludescher said:

    Thank you Patrick. I am hoping to earn back the trust of the taxpayers (and non-taxpayers) in their government.

    November 8, 2012
  42. David Ludescher said:


    Probably not. In general, I don’t like social media. It is too isolating, impersonal, shallow and restrictive. Blogs have more depth, but I don’t think I will have much time for blogging once I am on the Council.

    November 9, 2012
  43. David DeLong said:

    Yes it was I, who in an August 29th Locally Grown post mentioned $800,000 as an amount of excess interest that the City would pay with that type of financing. I asked for help with my math but self- corrected myself on Sept 1st in post # 71. I also out lined the similarities between Northfield’s project and the project in Fergus Falls.

    What surprises me most is that the reaction/discussion that I thought might come from this mistake did not come from a supporter/candidate eager to correct or even use this mistake to help people understand and justify the additional cost, but that it pops up two months later as an example about

    a troubling aspect of blogs and the internet in general

    I’m not a journalist or math major, and I know I’m not perfect that’s why I asked for help. People misspeak when they talk. People misspeak when they blog. When people don’t correct the mistake or follow up their work or statement; that is what I find problematic about blogs or pundits.

    Did the City Council not know how much extra it would cost, did they care? Did members not care if someone mentioned an inaccurate amount? Did it all not matter because they were willing to pay anything to just get it done? No one chose to say anything at the time, maybe people don’t monitor Locally Grown enough.

    November 9, 2012
  44. Jerry Bilek said:

    what bothers me is that facts do not seem to matter. why let the facts get in the way of a good argument? I only asked Patrick where he came up with the $800,000 figure. I had not heard or read it. It’s a lot of money. He posted that figure on election day and corrected it the day after the election. To me it’s troubling that we don’t let the facts get in the way of a good argument. He had a point to make and he made it. it wasn’t accurate, but that does not seem to matter.

    Why would it surprise you that someone would want to make decisions based on facts? I don’t have a horse in this race. I wanted the council to put the decision to a referendum. I still believe facts matter. I hope that as a councilor, you will base your decisions on facts. If you run for re-election, I imagine you would want people to debate your candidacy on facts not erroneous information. I stand by my comment, it’s troubling.

    November 9, 2012
  45. Patrick Enders said:


    I am sorry that I did not include a citation in my post. That was certainly a mistake on my part. I have often done that in the past, but unfortunately I neglected to do so on that day because I was stuck using my phone for internet access, which made including links more difficult than I was up for. My poor use of my phone is also why I, unfortunately, found the $800,000 number rather than the revised $500,000 estimate on the same page when I went looking for the estimate of the excess cost which I had read some months prior. That’s not intended as an excuse, but merely as an honest explanation.

    However, I don’t think my mistake invalidates my point. $800,000, $400,000, and $500,000 are all of the same order of magnitude, and I find it hard to believe that anyone would think, “well, if it’d only been $400,000 that’d been wasted, then that would’ve been all right.”

    Either it was a waste of money to the tune of hundreds of thousands of dollars, or it wasn’t. I did follow the issue quite closely at the time of the hullabaloo, and I did not see any clear argument by the voting Councillors or others which showed any material benefit of comparable value which was gained by their creative funding solution. The only benefit which was readily apparent was that the Council managed to circumvent democratic checks on their power of the purse provided for by our Charter.

    I stand by my point, though I am in fact sorry that I failed to elaborate on it more thoroughly, accurately, and with proper references. I would welcome additional information showing that I was mistaken in my conclusions, or that David and David were grossly mistaken in their original estimates.

    November 9, 2012
  46. David Ludescher said:

    The big picture issue was (and is) to what extent the Council should take away the power of the people to decide their own debt. Minnesota statute has a mandate (not a preference) that public debt not be foisted upon the citizens without either the right to vote or the right to petition for a vote. The wisdom of this legislation is proven by the history of this project.

    If allowed to stand, the decision will set a precedent that future councils NEVER have to take public debt to the citizenry. Not only is such a concept bad government, it is illegal.

    The dangers of non-citizen participation are obvious when we consider how the issue was presented to the Council. In her financing presentation to the Council, the Finance Director compared the anticipated cost of this financing to the cost of a residential home mortgage.??!! This is not a valid comparison. The valid comparison is the comparison David D. made (at the Council meeting).

    It was a private citizen (Mr. DeLong) who took it upon himself to research the difference in cost between voter-approach bonding (which has the backing of the full faith and credit of the city) and this institution-backed financing. This is dishonest government. Cheating the citizens out of their right to vote is one thing. But, the least that the Council could have done is to be honest about the real difference in costs. Those numbers should have been in the Council packet; if they had, we would not have to debate David D.’s numbers.

    What the Finance Director and the Council also failed to mention is that the cost of financing is not the actual costs to the city. What the City has to pay is the lease cost, not the financing costs.

    The lease cost includes the costs of the bonds (which the city backed for USBank!) and an additional fee for USBank as the landlord. (After all, USBank has to make a profit if they are going to jump into the deal.) That number was not mentioned in the Council packet. The only way to figure out that cost was to go backwards and figure out the interest rate which would equate to the actual lease cost.

    One person I know ran those interest calculations on the lease payments and estimated that USBank is charging us the equivalent of 3.2x%.

    The calculations also fail to account for the fact that the City is paying lease payments for 2 years even before the building is built, and fails to account for the fact that we are taking $1.0 million out of the City coffers.

    Besides non-citizen voting concerns and the financing considerations, the lack of a public vote meant that the Council could and did present a $7.2 million package. Had the matter come to a public vote, it is unlikely that the Council, and it is quite unlikely that the next Council is going to present the same mini-Taj Mahal. I am of the opinion that voters and the new Council will be unwilling to spend more than $4 – $5 million.

    November 10, 2012
  47. Jerry Bilek said:

    Well I guess I have answered the age old question. There really is such a thing as a stupid question. I asked it. This topic has come off the rails because I asked a question. Where did the $800,000 figure originate? It seems the criticism has been redirected at me for asking the question. I did state my agreement that I would have preferred a referendum on the topic. I’m disappointed that some people don’t believe factual information should be used to make their point.

    I’ll get back to the business of peddling books and leave this quote from Daniel Patrick Moynihan “Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not to his own facts.”

    November 10, 2012
  48. Patrick Enders said:


    I am, again, sorry that in my attempt to find an estimate, I failed to find the best available estimate. I am also sorry that I didn’t cite my estimate. However, that is a far cry from “some people [me, I presume] don’t believe factual information should be used to make their point,” or that I or anyone else in this discussion believes we are entitled to our “own facts.” If anything, the other people posting on this topic seem to be looking to figure out what the facts are.

    Finally, I’m not sure who you think is criticizing you. Certainly, I have not intended to do so. Rather, I have attempted to apologize to you for my errors which you have legitimately criticized.

    November 10, 2012
  49. kiffi summa said:

    Griff: I rarely look at the comments on the NFNews site because I highly disapprove of allowing anonymous comments, because of the damage they do personally, and to the comity of the community…

    However… recently a commenter ID-ing as “enoughalready” suggests that you are now allowing anonymous comments because in this straw poll one voted anonymously, and according to him/her, anyone could vote as many times as wanted because it was not a secure process.

    Could you please comment on that allegation?

    November 14, 2012
  50. rob hardy said:

    Kiffi: Did you see that managing editor Jerry Smith posted this comment on a story on the Northfield News website this morning?

    enoughalready … I want to echo the sentiment of some of our commenters and say to you enough already.

    As the managing editor of the Northfield News, I see every comment that is posted on this site and by far yours tend to attack individuals more than any of our other commenters. Especially disconcerting is your vicious attacks on Betsey Buckheit and at times Erica Zweifel. If you have a beef with them, call them up and take it up in private. Better yet, if you don’t like the job they are doing, run for a city council seat where all of your views can be heard. This is not the venue to air whatever grievance you have with them personally.

    And while I don’t agree with some of the other voices in the comments section of the site who rail against us for allowing anonymous comments, I do agree that some people (a small minority) hide behind their anonymity and you tend to lead the charge.

    I can easily just yank all of your comments or even ban you, but that would send a message that just because we don’t like what you are saying, we ce[n]sure the commenter.

    November 14, 2012
  51. Phil Poyner said:

    I enjoyed that almost as much as I enjoyed reading the NY Times review of Guy’s American Kitchen & Bar in Times Square! Sometimes it’s difficult to resist the temptation to just “call things how you see ’em”, and when people do it can make for very interesting reading!

    November 14, 2012
  52. kiffi summa said:

    Yeah… good for Jerry Smith… and I sincerely mean that, although I think it has taken far too long for him to come to that position.

    I really got a laugh out of “ea” asking me if I was trying to hide my identity because of the funny picture griff took of me and put up for my avatar … that from someone who uses neither name nor picture !!! True Humor !

    November 14, 2012
  53. Curt Benson said:

    Jerry’s suggestion that enoughalready run for Council is the funniest thing I’ve read all year. Kudos, Mr. Smith.

    Good comments, Kiffi, Rob, and Phil. (Phil, “Guy’s American Kitchen”, huh?)

    November 14, 2012
  54. rob hardy said:

    Here’s the New York Times review of Guy’s American Kitchen and Bar (“the well-meaning staff seems to realize that this is not a real restaurant”). The best restaurant review I’ve read since Marilyn Hagerty’s classic review of the Grand Forks Olive Garden.

    November 14, 2012
  55. It’s useful to distinguish between anonymity and pseudonymity. There’s “do I have any way of tying this statement to other statements by the same person?” and there’s “do I have any easy way to track down this person’s home address if I want to?”

    I post here under a name that I rarely use anywhere else, because of the dogmatic “use full names” policy. This makes it much harder for people to find my writing elsewhere, because everywhere else I write under the name “seebs”, which is the only name I actually answer to normally. I tend to view “Peter Seebach” as the thing that goes on tax forms and the like.

    Thing is, I know a number of people who have been endangered by posting using “real” names. I would rather put up with a few trolls than endanger people.

    November 15, 2012
  56. Griff Wigley said:

    David, the pope has already tweeted 7 times today, his first day at it:

    And he’s a busy guy!

    Some of those tweets aren’t too bad. He’s asking questions, which can be good.

    But this one makes me wonder:

    How can faith in Jesus be lived in a world without hope?

    Is that poorly worded or does he actually think we’re living in a world without hope?

    December 12, 2012
  57. David Ludescher said:


    I have never tweeted, but I think the answer follows the question.

    December 13, 2012