Christmas decompression

We survived a rather extensive family Christmas marathon involving lots of meat, cheese and potatos and very few green vegetables. Also, lots of baby holding and toddler chasing, but that’s a given these days. Santa brought Cranky the Crane, so all is well.

We seem to have a news hole right now. Nothing significant, other than heavy campaigning activity, is coming out of the Iowa caucus story. The voting there is the night of Jan. 3 and some polls are showing Hillary Clinton back in the lead. I really hope Democrats go a different direction. McCain or even Huckabee can and probably will beat her and a Clinton/Romney or Clinton/Giuliani race will make the nation physically ill. And you all know I’m a raging partisan Democrat, so I’m not running a party line on this. Obama or Edwards would be tough to beat nationally and either of them help the ticket. My heart remains with Obama and my head with Edwards. If Clinton wins, I fear both will be road meat and we’ll be faced with one full calendar year of “The Hillary I Know.”

Locally, it looks like taconite production on the Iron Range was good but down a tick in 2007 and is expected to move up a tick in 2008. Consecutive good years in mining towns create a lot of apathy in our northern Minnesota communities which worries me. I’d like to see significant improvements to our towns and schools over the next few years while things are good. Towns with ego-heavy and/or incompetent mayors and councils, however, will waste time and money on useless endeavors. I don’t mean to use a broad brush on our local officials — many are excellent — but it is a mistake to assume that voters only select smart people for public office.

Speaking of useless endeavors, a lot of underground chatter about all the appeals filed by Excelsior Energy regarding the PUC denial of their Power Purchase Agreement. You’ll recall that this startup company fronted by lobbyists and lawyers is looking for a guaranteed customer for their overpriced, unneeded, publicly funded boondoggle. (Though they understandably disagree with my wording). The PUC has declared Excelsior’s “clean coal” Mesaba project not in the public interest. They appealed, but now Minnesota Power — one of the project’s opponents on account of their financial interest in lower-priced power — is appealing the project’s claim that Mesaba is “innovative,” because MP is pursuing different technology they claim is just as clean. I don’t know who will win the court fight, but I know the children of Twin Cities lawyers will continue to attend fine schools.

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