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A Modest Proposal 3/26/15 Updated 3/27/15 9:32 AM

Would you like to see virtually every Jordan voter go to the polls?  Me too.  Here’s a simple way to accomplish that very thing.

Give a tax voucher to every voter who shows up for a City election.  (The School District can figure out their own incentive program.)  The voucher would be good for 15% off City taxes for every property owner, or half off one month’s rent for every renter.

People would flock to the polls, and people would move to Jordan in droves.

Non-voters (including absentee landlords) would bear the brunt of taxes.

Of course, at first there would be a lot of ill-informed voters, but it seems to me that’s true now.  And as time passed, voters would begin to realize being well informed could save them even more money.

Naturally, at some point, taxes would have to catch up to the cost of the vouchers.  So, you figure it’s a wash, huh?  Not so.  Voters who drift away again would lose the vouchers, as well as their voice in how the City was run.  The ones dumb enough to not vote would be right back to paying full freight.  Meanwhile, the voters would have more say in who’s elected, and how the money is spent. 

Okay everyone, now tell me all the reasons why such an idea wouldn’t work.  But remember, you can’t argue voter indifference. 

What’s In A Name?
Last week I received a copy of a Wetland Delineation Report provided to the Scott Soil and Water Conservation District.  The report was prepared by Kjolhaug Environmental Services Company, Inc., and submitted by Carlson McCain Inc.  In 58 pages of documentation, I found one mention of Jordan Gravel, LLC., nor any mention of S.M. Hentges & Sons, Inc.  Meanwhile, the term “Jordan Aggregate” appears on most every page. 

Does that mean anything?  Perhaps not.  But it certainly looks odd that the applicant, his minions, and various government agencies continue to call the project “Jordan Aggregate” or some variation thereof long after the name of the shell company was changed to Jordan Gravel, LLC.

An attorney by the name of Jerry Duffee, acting on behalf of S.M. Hentges & Sons (or somebody) publicly stated during an informational session at the SCALE facility, that in order to clarify the situation he created Jordan Gravel, LLC.  He also stated Jordan Gravel LLC. would own the property, while S.M. Hentges & Sons, Inc. would operate the gravel mine.

Other Little Quirks
On the very first page of the report, one notes:
“The soil survey showed Alluvial Land (frequent overflow) and Water (intermittent) as the hydric soil types present within the review area.”
-and-
“One Type 1 (PEM/FO1A) seasonally flooded/forested basin and one Type 1 (PFO1A) seasonally flooded basin, forested were delineated within the review area.”

In other words, the area in question has a documented history of flooding.  Alluvial soil is made up of the materials that are left by the water of rivers and floods.  In other words, the area in consideration was created by floods.  And some people dare to think it will never again be affected by floods.

What a hoot.

I also received a Notice of Decision.  In it the SSWCD pretty much says they have no problems with a gravel mine on the site in question.

The applicant on this document is listed as S.M. Hentges & Sons (Inc.). 

Wow.

Remember, S.M. Hentges & Sons, Inc. is not mentioned in the report that supports this decision.

Not only does the name S.M. Hentges & Sons not appear anywhere in the report, but also, according to Mr. Duffee, they are not the owners of the property.

Why is this important?  Well, if the site floods, and wells and groundwater become polluted, who you gonna sue?  Can’t sue SMH&S because they don’t own the land.  Can’t sue Jordan Aggregates because (despite how the name has been bandied about) they don’t exist.  Can’t sue the engineering firm or its sub-contractor because they were working for somebody else.  Can’t sue SSWCD because they were merely working with information provided to them.  Can’t sue the County simply because you can’t.

Ultimately the likely target of a lawsuit would be the MPCA . . . a government agency funded by tax dollars.  Your tax dollars at work.

Do you think that after all these years, and all the wrangling, it’s an oversight that there’s so much confusion about who owns what, and who’s applying for what?  Me neither.

Addendum
A couple of little items about the applicant’s legal beagles.

I was told they were heard berating Marty Schmitz during a break at the Scott County Planning Advisory Commission hearing on the gravel pit application.  It seems they were unhappy with the way Mr. Schmitz responded to some of the questions during the hearing.  No doubt a lot of pit opponents were also disappointed with things Mr. Schmitz said.  Hopefully, they were a bit more civil.  After all, Mr. Duffee is the gentleman who told attendees at the SCALE facility gathering that he expected everyone to be polite, and not shout, raise their voices, or interrupt.

Another little tidbit.  At the PAC hearing, it was the manner in which one of the legal beagles sidestepped the question about Jordan Aggregates, vis-à-vis Jordan Gravel, LLC. which led a Sand Creek Township resident to investigate the Jordan Aggregates name.

It seems to me the County has become either callous, or careless regarding the entities with which is does business.  One would think that a vendor forging surety bond notes would set off a flood of due diligence fact checking.

Or maybe not.

The Quote:
We are in danger of destroying ourselves by our greed and stupidity. We cannot remain looking inwards at ourselves on a small and increasingly polluted and overcrowded planet.”
         
Stephen Hawking

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I welcome public comment on this topic. Anyone willing to give his or her name is welcome to respond here. Thom.Boncher@gmail.com  No anonymous responses will be posted.  No obscene language will be permitted.  Threats, personal attacks, and spam will not be posted.  My house, my rules.  But if you have something to say, and if you are willing to put your name on it, I won’t refuse to let you be heard. 
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