A New Experience Redux

It’s A New Experience For Me Redux

9/20/16

Today the Scott County Board voted four to one to_no-hole-in-the-ground deny the Interim Use Permit application for the proposed gravel mine in Sand Creek Township.

Here are my impressions of the meeting.

The meeting started at 9:04 AM, and lasted until some time after 10:00. Once again, there were some heart-stopping moments in that time.

The applicant was allowed to speak at length, but opponents of the mine were not allowed to speak at all. And this time, the Board Members made themselves scarce before the meeting. I think a couple of them might have been beamed down from the Enterprise or something.

About 40 people showed up to silently proclaim their opposition to the gravel mine. The entire Sand Creek Township Board was there again. Jordan City Administrator Tom Nikunen was there, as was former Jordan Mayor Pete Ewals. This was a considerably smaller turnout than two weeks ago, but there were some new faces, and enough people to fill most of the seats

Again I think the presence of so many people in green swayed the vote. Had only a handful of opponents attended, it might have been easier for Commissioner Marschall to vote the other way. She voted again to deny the IUP – a swing vote, and an act of courage one seldom sees in politicians. That Commissioner Ulrich was willing to change his vote was also courageous. Politicians, like most people, tend to dig in, and stand their ground. Commissioner Ulrich, seeing solid grounds for denial, changed his stance.

Paul Nelson, the County watershed guru did NOT have his heart in denying the IUP.  His body language, monotone delivery and general pained expression made him look like he really wanted to be elsewhere. Sort of like a sixth-grader at a great-aunt’s funeral on game day.

Mike Beard was downright insulting to people from Jordan and Sand Creek Township.  His comment that he took a shower and used soap, which made him a polluter was without relevance.  His sarcastic ‘I’m sorry!’ was just plain nasty.  The vibe I got from him was disdain – like we were so many unwashed (?) rubes who didn’t know as much as him, and who were not fit to govern themselves. He talked a lot – sort of a one-man filibuster. He also took a shot at Jordan City Hall for not getting their act together to clarify the situation at US169 and MN282. (Excuse me, but aren’t those a Federal, and a State highway? How much effect does Jordan actually have on decisions surrounding them? Just sayin’.)

Commissioner Beard spent a fair amount of time giving Commissioner Marschall the evil eye. He’s done this to me in the past, so it’s not a matter of sexism. It’s just who he thinks he can intimidate with stares and glares. Commissioner Wagner is oblivious to that kind of stuff, Commissioner Wolf would probably get angry and say something outside of the meeting. Commissioner Ulrich is Commissioner Beard’s ally on many issues, so no staring daggers that way. Commissioner Marschall may not have seen the aggressive body language – or she may have chosen to ignore it. Either way works.

We thank Commissioner Beard for taking a shower, and using soap.

I think Commissioner Ulrich flipped in the last five minutes of the discussion, when he realized Commissioner Marschall was not going to change her vote.  It just somehow seemed to me that Ulrich didn’t want to be on the losing side. Regardless, his vote changes a 60/40 margin to an 80/20 margin which would surely be a factor in any legal case.

Hentges’ spokesmen seemed to think that they could convince the Board that the aquifer was already polluted, and adding a little more was no big deal.

The following is not strictly my impression, but rather something I heard from another person whose input I trust. Nick Bono played some word tricks with the truth.  What he said about the interaction of Sand Creek with the alluvial aquifer in the river valley was irrelevant to the situation because the mine is located above a buried bedrock valley where several bedrock aquifers would be exposed to the mine excavation, whereas downstream the buried bedrock valley doesn’t exist. Sort of selective citation of facts, I guess you could say.

Some of the Commissioners seemed to take a kind of a cavalier attitude to the traffic issues.

About 40 opponents showed up – fewer than two weeks ago, but still enough to fill the seats.

This time there were two deputies in the back.

Chairman Marschall repeated that she was satisfied staff had done a good and thorough job. Then she said it was ultimately up to the Board to make the decision. She said she has given the issue much consideration and study, and that she had to vote to deny the IUP because she felt there were just too many problems, as enumerated in the motion for denial.

Whoa!!!! Again!!!!
After about eight years the process may (or may not) be at an end. The Board’s decision was not arbitrary, capricious, or illegal. Those are the three major criteria courts use to review a decision by electeds. According to the Jordan City Attorney (she told us this in an open meeting), courts are loathe to overturn an action by electeds if it meets those three criteria. Today, with plenty of facts found, and in a 4:1 vote, the Board denied the IUP. There is still a watershed district wetland relocation permit application pending. If that fails, and it may well fail, it would be very difficult to successfully sue Scott County.

Now it appears the question becomes, is the applicant willing to throw even more money into this project? When he tried it in 2008, the project fell apart for various reasons. Eight years later, the updated project has seemingly fallen apart again. My belief is he WILL try again, one way or another, to mine that site. But Commissioner Marschall laid out the County’s position well, and had what seems to me to be solid grounds for denial.

I’m still puzzled about how candidates for offices decide whether to attend an event like this. You’d think they’d be lined up three deep for the opportunity to talk to so many voters in one place at one time. But, no-o-o-o, aside from incumbents on the Board running for re-election, I think I was the only candidate there. Barbara Marschall called this the most challenging matter but one of her entire time on the Board. And no other of our local candidates chose to connect themselves to it?

That’s all I have for now.  Maybe it’s over.  For certain, the ball’s in Hentges’ court.

This Year’s Athlete’s Teeth Award

Goes to Scott County Commissioner Mike Beard. As if his arrogant, irrelevant and disrespectful comments about Jordan were not enough, he had this to say to the STRIB:
‘All human activity impacts the environment, and the “impaired” status of Sand Creek is just a label and doesn’t mean it is dangerous to the public, he said.’

I highlighted the most – um-m-m, interesting part of his quote. Gee, if impaired waters are not dangerous to the public, why are they being studied at all? It would appear that Mr. Beard is perfectly willing to accept pollution to achieve his vision of progress, as long as that pollution is NOT in his district.  Of course his comment about all human activity impacting the environment echoes what environmentalists since Rachel Carson (Silent Spring, 1962) have been saying.  Furthermore, Mr. Beard seems to deny that we have any responsibility for that impact, and to assert that a little more pollution is no big deal.  I certainly hope the septic system at his house is up to snuff, because he seems not to care about his neighbors.

Now, I’m sure we’ll hear that his comments were taken out of context, or that he was misquoted. Which only pushes his foot more firmly into his mouth. Remember, this is the man who apologized for taking a shower, and using soap.

And so, we have us a winner!

The link to the STRIB article is here:
http://www.startribune.com/water-quality-concerns-scuttle-gravel-mine-in-scott-county/394367261/

A Reader Writes
Hi Thom! Great article!

Mike Beard was truly a disrespectful, arrogant —. I believe he was the County Commissioner who said he was disappointed in some disrespectful e-mails he received and then turns around and attacks the citizens. It was more of a rebellious, childish, bully rant or tantrum as far as I was concerned. I agreed with only one of the many statements he made and that was about the 282-169 intersection.

He has been outmatched by our Jordan City Council person Brenda Lieske who was quoted as saying, “I walk by that every day, every single day, and in my mind if I am not educated about that how can any body else be? Lieske said. So I support it, but I also think we have to take it one step farther. We have committed to being a Green Step City and we have committed to being environmentally proactive, and I do think we need to put signs and let people like me see that this is a Monarch site or what ever it is and start educating us.” about a proposed Monarch Butterfly Program. Spouting wanting to be a Green Step City and having committed to being environmentally proactive, all this, after 4 or 5 years ago publicly speaking in favor of a DIOXIN / FURAN, LEAD, CADMIUM, NITROGEN OXIDE, CARBON MONOXIDE, HYDROGEN CHLORIDE, AND MERCURY spewing crematory exhaust stack in the middle of town. The hypocrisy is once again mind boggling!

The council have been amazingly slow learners on pollution facts set before them when it involves them or their friends. In other words lets be GREEN when I or my cohorts are not affected or involved. It doesn’t work that way Folks and there are those of us who have not forgotten. Maybe some people have or want to move on but those affected by the councils polluting decision can’t. They must smell and hear it every day, all the while knowing it is polluting their green space. Actions speak louder than words and the actions of some of those council members in the past have not been forgotten by all of us!

The Quote:
“I try to do the right thing at the right time. They may just be little things, but usually they make the difference between winning and losing.”
           Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

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