How to Get Blocked by @normcoleman on Twitter

This might do the trick. When Norm boasts in the glory of corporate welfare that he helped provide the Minnesota Wild. A company that continually tries to have get out of their end of the contract by requesting their loans be forgiven while simultaneously asking for public money to build a practice facility for the team:

MN Wild history:4 new franchises in 2000.Columbus picked ahead of the Wild.Houston bid fell apart & the Wild got in. Poetic justice tonite

Call him on it:

@normcoleman Does this mean that the Wild can stop asking for corporate welfare from taxpayers like you handed them?

Then watch St Paul’s former mayor call me a grinch for opposing corporate welfare for the NHL:

@edkohler Somehow there's always a Grinch in the crowd!

Perhaps pointing out that Norm Coleman used the public’s money to subsidize his private entertainment went too far?

@normcoleman I'd rather see my tax dollars go toward fixing St Paul's East Side than subsidizing your entertainment. Different priorities.

Apparently it was for @normcoleman because that’s when he blocked me.

I imagine that politicians like Norm Coleman would prefer that taxpayers forgot about the corporate welfare they gave away. Yes, we have the Wild. We’re paying for them every day. Even when they don’t make the playoffs. Even when they’re on strike. Even when there’s a lockout.

Money that taxpayers continue to pay to subsidize a private business that competes for entertainment dollars against other locally owned businesses that don’t receive hundreds of millions of dollars in public subsidies. If Norm Coleman had walked down Payne Ave as mayor and asked people what the city could do to make their lives better, subsidizing the NHL probably wouldn’t have been at the top of the list. Different priorities.

Perhaps Coleman wouldn’t be taking credit on Twitter on a Saturday night in 2013 for having made the streets safer or schools better on the East Side of St Paul in the year 2000, but that’s the kind of good government stuff we need more of from our politicians.

Maybe it makes me a fun-hater to think that NHL fans are perfectly capable of using their own money to pay for their own entertainment rather than rely upon corporate welfare with the help of Norm Coleman? The only thing better than paying full price to watch Derek Boogaard contract CTE is to pay a taxpayer subsidized price to watch Derek Boogaard contract CTE, eh?

Following Up on Town & Country Club’s Sidewalk Tax Evasion Scheme

Town & Country Club Trees Sidewalk
Were these trees saved?

Back in 2010, the City of St Paul wanted to add a sidewalk along Marshall Ave on the north side of the street. You’d think that wouldn’t be a big deal, but when St Paul’s wealthiest residents were asked to contribute toward paying for the sidewalk (like everyone else in St Paul does when a sidewalk is built along their property) they freaked out and lawyered up.

In the end, the wealthy and powerful prevailed over the poor and powerless. The sidewalk was built without a special assessment on T&C’s property.

One thing that was particularly pathetic about Town & Country’s efforts to avoid being good citizens was the work of Summit Avenue resident and Town & Country Club member, Chip Michel, who filed a lawsuit against the city and created a petition to “Save our Trees”. Here’s Chip Michel’s letter explaining his issue with the sidewalk:

Family, Friends and Friends I haven’t met yet.
I recently did something I may regret but I am to the point where I am more than tired of our elected representatives ignoring the feelings and desires of us little ones (voters) down in the neighborhoods.
I filed a personal lawsuit against the City of St Paul for an injunction (stopping) the construction of a sidewalk along North side of Marshal Ave between Otis & Cretin Avenues. This stretch borders the Town & Country Club.
I am having trouble finding anyone
This perked my interest and emotion as I rode the path along the golf course as a boy. Enjoying the feeling of a dirt bike ride. Having lived here for 60+ years I know there is little if any demand for a sidewalk there. So I start asking around. Other than some people with very personal goals I can find very few people who disagree with me. Where is the benefit of the common good?
The project the city wants to do and buy the way will do it unless I can get my injunction will put a sidewalk on the green grass, require the removal of dozens of trees, including 80+ year old mature ones. And will eventually force the property owner to build a retaining wall to keep the hill from moving down on the new proposed sidewalk. More concrete in the picture. We are engaging professional arborists to give an estimate of the potential damage to the root systems of dozens of additional mature trees on the owner’s property, thus resulting in their eventual demise and will send out an update when I have it.
LADIES & GENTLEMEN.
This is not just about the project as it is just the tip of the iceberg.
My goal here is to send a message to our duly elected representatives’ to stop spending money we don’t have on stuff we don’t need.
The City is running a huge deficit; we are closing schools and laying off teachers. And we building a sidewalk no one wants.
I need your help to send a message that we the voters are tired of the fiscal & environmental irresponsibility.
I ask that you please print out the attached petition in this sight sign it, get as many friends & neighbors to sign it and get it back to my house. I also ask that you forward it to any St Paul resident in your e mail address book.
I need only St Paul resident voters and all the help I can get.
I will keep you all up-dated.
Thanks for your support.
Chip Michel
1731 Summit Ave
St Paul, MN. 55105

Chip Michel told people that the sidewalk project would lead to the demise of 80+ year old mature trees. Was Mr. Michel correct? Let’s take a look. The “after” pictures were taken on October 10th, 2012, so two years after the sidewalk was installed.

Cretin at Marshall

Before:

Town & Country Club Sidewalk v. Trees

After:

Town & Country Club's Trees from Cretin & Marshall

Cretin at Otis

Before:

Town & Country Club Sidewalk v. Trees

After (the pines are near the left in this picture):

Town & Country Club's Trees from Marshal at Otis

Along Marshall Ave

Before:

Town & Country Club Trees Sidewalk

After (the crab apple trees on the boulevard were replaced with trees on the new boulevard):

Town & Country Club's Trees along Marshall

Conclusion: Chip Michel was wrong. I’m not sure if he was lying or just that dumb, but I tend to think it’s the former in a pathetic (yet, successful) scheme to avoid paying for a share of a public sidewalk.

Michel mislead, the public paid, the trees are fine, and the public benefits today from this popular stretch of sidewalk.

A Few Thursday Thoughts

Why do we see lists of best schools and worst schools rather than best teachers? Sure, there may be some correlation, but I have a hunch that students would generally do better if they had the best teacher in an underperforming school than the worst teacher in a high performance school.

Does the environmental impact of using water vary by height? For example, if I have two identical toilets on two different floors of my home, is it more efficient to use one on the first rather than second floor?

What percentage of corruption is due to people thinking that everyone is corrupt, so they’re just playing the same game everyone else is playing?

St. Paul is a pretty cool place. I hit a speech by Chris Hedges at Macalester last night, followed by some beers & nachos at CityPages 2X Best of winner the Muddy Pig (Best Neighborhood Bar & Best Beer Selection). It’s a nice place to visit, but I don’t think I could live in a city with such a nonsensical trash hauling policy.

St. Paul’s Union Depot: Keep it Local

According to consulting firm HR&A Advisors Inc., St. Paul should encourage local businesses to set up shop in St. Paul’s Union Depot.

I like the way they think. People coming into St. Paul from the suburbs or other states via rail are not looking for an experience they can have at home.

I also think it’s pretty awesome that someone got paid to say that we should strive to have local businesses in St. Paul’s Union Depot.

If HR&A Advisors Inc. is looking for a new project, maybe they could take a shot at transforming Block E in Minneapolis? That project has long suffered from hosting venues that won’t keep people downtown. Kieran’s Irish Pub being the first positive thing to happen on that block in years.

No Verizon Superpages in Minneapolis or St. Paul This Year

Have you noticed a drop in the number of print yellow pages directories you’ve had to deal with in Minneapolis or St. Paul this year? It turns out that you aren’t imagining things, and it isn’t just wishful thinking. There really are fewer yellow pages directories being distributed, thanks to Verizon Superpages:

No Verizon Superpages in Minneapolis or St. Paul This Year

Will life go on for businesses in Minneapolis and St. Paul if residents only receive two yellow pages directories a year rather than three? That seems likely.

Now, if we could only get the remaining two to add some intelligence to their distribution by having easy to use opt-out systems that they actually honor.

Town & Country Club’s Greenwashing Welfare Queening

Town & Country Club Trees Sidewalk
Chip Michel’s Misleading “Environmental Activism” – September 2, 2010

Back on August 4th, I called St. Paul’s Town & Country Club welfare queens because they threatened to sue the city because the city planned to build a sidewalk along their property on Marshall Avenue. As I understand it, every citizen of the City of St. Paul would pay an assessment when a sidewalk is placed along their property. However, despite the fact that T&C’s members are among the city’s wealthiest, they fought the assessment, so now every resident of the City of St. Paul gets to pay for T&C’s new sidewalk.

At the time, Matt pointed out in the comments that Town & Country had placed “Save these Trees” signs on large pines near the corners of Otis & Marshall and Cretin & Marshall. I snapped a few pics:

Town & Country Club Trees Sidewalk
September 2, 2010

Notice that there is a path worn along the boulevard from the high use this area gets today, pre-sidewalk. Also, notice at the base of the photo that there is a sidewalk in parts of the boulevard already:

Town & Country Club Trees Sidewalk
September 2, 2010

Which made me think: Wait a minute! It sure looks like a sidewalk will fit along the boulevard without touching any of the larger trees that Town & Country has placed yellow ribbons on. Perhaps that’s explained by this quote from Ward 4 Councilmember, Russ Stark in the Highland Villager piece by Jane McClure where he said:

In my mind, and in the estimation of the many community members who conceived and worked to implement this project, this public good outweighs the loss of the crab apple trees and the addition of a modest amount of concrete.

Crab apple trees? Ah, yes, the ones that are actually on the boulevard are the ones that will be coming down.

So, why was Town & Country placing ribbons on trees inside of their fence, far away from the street to not be impacted by the sidewalk plan? It’s almost as if Chip Michel is lying to us about the scope of the project.

Post Excavation Reality

The project is now taking place, at the expense of the citizens of St. Paul, and here is what it looks like:

Town & Country Club Sidewalk v. Trees
September 25, 2010

See what I see? The crap apple trees along the boulevard are now gone, but the fence is still in place. The trees inside the fence – the ones with the yellow ribbons and “Save These Trees” signs – are still standing, and still hoping to be “saved” from being dragged into Town & Country’s misinformation campaign.

Town & Country Club Sidewalk v. Trees
September 25, 2010

Facing Cretin along Marshall, the pine on the corner with the “Save These Trees” sign is doing fine.

Town & Country Club Sidewalk v. Trees
September 25, 2010

Down at Otis & Marshall, the “Save These Trees” sign remains intact well back from the excavation needed to put the sidewalk in.

Town & Country Club Sidewalk v. Trees
September 25, 2010

The yellow ribboned pines remain standing to the south of the 9th green.

Town & Country Club Sidewalk v. Trees
September 25, 2010

I walked the boulevard near Otis to see if ANY older growth trees had been removed. The above shot shows what I believe is the largest tree trunk cut. It’s around 1″ thick.

Town & Country’s Misinformation Campaign

The “Save These Trees” sign at Marshall & Cretin includes a domain name on it (sotnow.net). On that site, the man who sued the city, Chip Michel, posted the following plea:

Family, Friends and Friends I haven’t met yet.

I recently did something I may regret but I am to the point where I am more than tired of our elected representatives ignoring the feelings and desires of us little ones (voters) down in the neighborhoods.
I filed a personal lawsuit against the City of St Paul for an injunction (stopping) the construction of a sidewalk along North side of Marshal Ave between Otis & Cretin Avenues. This stretch borders the Town & Country Club.
I am having trouble finding anyone
This perked my interest and emotion as I rode the path along the golf course as a boy. Enjoying the feeling of a dirt bike ride. Having lived here for 60+ years I know there is little if any demand for a sidewalk there. So I start asking around. Other than some people with very personal goals I can find very few people who disagree with me. Where is the benefit of the common good?
The project the city wants to do and buy the way will do it unless I can get my injunction will put a sidewalk on the green grass, require the removal of dozens of trees, including 80+ year old mature ones. And will eventually force the property owner to build a retaining wall to keep the hill from moving down on the new proposed sidewalk. More concrete in the picture. We are engaging professional arborists to give an estimate of the potential damage to the root systems of dozens of additional mature trees on the owner’s property, thus resulting in their eventual demise and will send out an update when I have it.

LADIES & GENTLEMEN.
This is not just about the project as it is just the tip of the iceberg.
My goal here is to send a message to our duly elected representatives’ to stop spending money we don’t have on stuff we don’t need.
The City is running a huge deficit; we are closing schools and laying off teachers. And we building a sidewalk no one wants.
I need your help to send a message that we the voters are tired of the fiscal & environmental irresponsibility.
I ask that you please print out the attached petition in this sight sign it, get as many friends & neighbors to sign it and get it back to my house. I also ask that you forward it to any St Paul resident in your e mail address book.
I need only St Paul resident voters and all the help I can get.
I will keep you all up-dated.

Thanks for your support.

Chip Michel
1731 Summit Ave
St Paul, MN. 55105

While I have no doubt that Chip Michel has fond memories of dirt biking along that stretch as a child, his framing of the environmental damage and impact on older trees was not at all accurate. If that doesn’t come across in the writing, here is what he envisioned as a before/after for that area:

Chip Michel’s Before Shot:

Town & Country Save Our Trees Misinformation

Chip Michel’s artist rendition of the impact of the new sidewalk:

Town & Country Save Our Trees Misinformation

As Chip Michel seems to see it, adding a sidewalk along Marshall Avenue will have an environmental impact similar to living through many nuclear winters. Keep in mind that the artist’s rendition above is of an area that already had a sidewalk. The sidewalk existed. The trees didn’t collapse. The hill didn’t need to be supported with a retaining wall. That’s a reality that Chip Michel and his misleading artist rendition chose to ignore.

Chip Michel and Town & Country screwed the citizens of the City of St. Paul on this deal. They misled people by pretending this was an environmental issue, when it sure seems like T&C & Michel were more interested in dispersing the sidewalk costs onto people less fortunate than members of their private golf club.

St. Paul’s Town & Country Club Welfare Queens

Most residents of the City of St. Paul pay a special assessment when sidewalks are added or renovated in front of their homes. But, one exception to this is the members of Town & Country Club, where they threaten to sue for being treated the same and everyone else. Instead, they managed to get the city to pay for what everyone else in the city normally pays for. So, if you live in St. Paul, make sure to yell during golfer’s backswings to let them know how pleased you are footing the bill for a sidewalk along their property.

Here’s a summary of the story from the TC Sidewalks, who summarizes the Highland Villager’s coverage (but doesn’t publish online).

Title: City, club find middle ground on Marshall Avenue sidewalk; St. Paul agrees to pay all construction costs
Author: Jane McClure

Not-so-short version: A [surprisingly slanted] above-the-fold bit which views it a “middle ground” compromise that the wealthy lawyers who golf at the Town and Country threatened a lawsuit and forced city taxpayers to foot 100% of the bill for completing [at long last] the unfinished sidewalk along Marshall. The piece cites the T&C folks prominently, and buries Councilmember Stark’s epistolary defense of the sidewalk: “People walking from the east of Town and Country Club ‘need to cross busy Marshall Avenue twice in order to cross the bridge or go north on Mississippi River Blvd. … A street that inconveniences the pedestrians as compared to the motorist or cyclist, is not a street designed to encourage walking. In my mind, and in the estimation of the many community members who conceived and worked to implement this project, this public good outweighs the loss of the crab apple trees and the addition of a modest amount of concrete'”. [Seems sensible to me? For years, I’ve wondered why there was no place to walk there. Plus, cyclists don’t exactly have it easy. There’s no bike lane on what is a very central route over the Marshall Avenue bridge. -Ed.]

Faces of Snipe 2b: 651-317-9699

The Freets made good on his promise to, “make sure they are compliant with the law by removing the sign on my way home today.”

651-317-9699 Snipe in St Paul

The sign is up.

651-317-9699 Snipe in St Paul

And now it’s gone.

651-317-9699 Snipe in St Paul

And stuffed into the back of a car.

The Freets does clean work. It makes me wonder what other types of things he can make disappear. I’ll try to stay on his good side.

Faces of Snipe 2a: 651-317-9699 Continued

651-317-9699 Real Estate Spam in St. Paul

Looks like Colleen and Paula are still spamming the streets of St. Paul with their illegal real estate signs. This one was sent in by Matt Wells, who spotted it near Randolph and Albert. My guess is that people who live near The Nook don’t want real estate spammers posting signs for anonymous businesses in their ‘hood, giving it the appearance of a neighborhood having foreclosure issues.

Faces of Snipe 2: Colleen and Paula at 651-317-9699

My dad dropped off this sign at my house after he removed it from a boulevard in St. Paul.

Sell Your House in 9 Days!!! Snipe

For future reference, I don’t need the signs. A photo is fine.

This let to an interesting phone encounter. Before calling, I searched for the phone number online. What did I find? Nothing. There were no records on the web for this phone number. That may be something a prospective client to consider. Do you really want to trust your personal information to people with no public profile?

Now, onto the call. The number rang a Google Voice number, which said the service would attempt to contact Colleen and Paula. First names only. Sketchy.

I connected with one of the two people that apparently share this number and explained that I wasn’t a fan of this type of advertising. This led to some interesting theories on why this type of advertising is justified by this particular team of home buyers.

The first explained that it’s not her, but a company she hires, who puts out the signs. I reminded her that she’s responsible for the contractors she hires, since they’re hired to do what she tells them to do. She conceded that that’s true and later asked where I found the sign (my dad found it in the NW Como neighborhood) and she agreed to contact the company and ask them to avoid that area in the future (at least the few blocks around my parent’s house). I asked her to avoid the City of St. Paul, but she wasn’t willing to do that.

She told me that I was discriminating by picking on her use of yard signs. Apparently, it’s discrimination to call her out if I don’t call out EVERY person who posts snipe advertising on boulevards. I assured her that she was NOT special, so shouldn’t feel like she’s being discriminated against.

She said that she was doing a lot of good for the neighborhood by helping people get out of their homes. I explained that there are many routes for people interested in getting out of their homes that don’t involve responding to ads placed on boulevards. She said that the MLS doesn’t work for everyone, based on the large number of active listings. While I wasn’t defending the MLS, I think we found some common ground around the concept of pricing homes right tends to get them sold (and that not everyone is in a position to offer their home for what it’s truly worth today).

She said that 5 or so years ago, yellow pages and newspapers worked well for advertising, but neither does today. That’s interesting to hear. More likely, it doesn’t work as well as she’d like for the cost. However, that doesn’t justify advertising on the city’s boulevards.

She explained that other types of businesses seem to be allowed to place signs, including real estate open house signs and garage sales. I explained to her that they seem to have a bit of an exception since they’re only up for a few hours to a few days while her signs are not tied to a finite event. She didn’t seem to see the difference, but did say that her signs don’t stay up forever. That’s likely because people get sick of looking at them and eventually dispose of her litter.

Socialism?

The most interesting comment from Colleen or Paula concerned how my calling about her placement of ads on city boulevards related to what this says about the state of our country’s political direction. She told me that we haven’t been fully “taken over by socialism” yet as a justification for her freedom to place ads for her private business on public property.

It was a fairly Michele Bachmann-esque explanation of why she and her business partner are entitled to spam neighborhoods with her plastic signs.

To me, this sounds like a case of someone who doesn’t understand that she’s playing by a different set of rules than the vast majority of residents of the City of St. Paul. She seems to feel that her behavior is justified because she’s doing some sort of a public service by offering to buy houses based on an anonymous phone number, no company name, and first names only.

Frankly, I’d be very surprised to see Colleen or Paula change their behavior. They seem to have an altruistic justification for spamming neighborhoods in order to promote their private business.