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She Gets Things Done

On Tuesday, November 15, after a long day of working on my unfinished, but indisputably kick-ass, novel, I cracked an adult beverage and logged onto the Internet to make my usual rounds.

On Perfect Duluth Day, I found a post by City Councilor-elect Jennifer Julsrud, titled “Duluth’s Plumbing Needs Big Fix,” regarding Duluth’s aging water infrastructure. Accompanied by a short YouTube video (serious people talking seriously about water, serious music playing in the background), the post listed a series of upcoming community meetings that were to be held on the subject.

Naturally, this irritated me greatly. As far as I was concerned, this was just the latest example of Duluth’s tendency to be serious one minute about issues that actually need attention, and the next minute to stampede giddily off in pursuit of unneeded, but very expensive, luxuries that we want RIGHT NOW—as if the money we spend on the luxuries has no relation at all to the money we need for necessities.

To illustrate this point, I made three comments on the post. They read as follows:

COMMENT #1: Let’s sell the NorShor Theatre for a few million. That should cover it.

COMMENT #2: I know, I know. I’m just kidding. Let’s jack up water rates instead.

COMMENT #3: And now you can skip all the meetings.

Satisfied that I had made my views known in a way that satisfied my inherent need for sarcasm, I put the matter behind me and went to bed.

The next day, however, as I scrolled through PDD, I was surprised to find that the water utility post had no comments attached to it. Puzzled, I emailed the PDD moderators to ask what had happened. I was thus informed that my comments no longer existed because the author of the post, City Councilor-elect Jennifer Julsrud, had flagged them as spam and removed them.

I blew a gasket. Getting censored by a government official was bad enough, but to be flagged as spam enraged me. My comments may not have been overflowing with niceness, but they made a valid point, and nobody who has read anything I have written on PDD and elsewhere would be the slightest bit surprised by them. It’s my style, dude. You can’t censor people based on their style.

Your thoughts?

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77 Comment(s)

  1. That is unsettling. Hopefully it was just a misstep on her part. She’s new and she has a good reputation as a listener. I assumed she was posting here to initiate discussion, a vibrant, lively and healthy discussion, conflict included.

    Politicians need new media coaching. A PDD regular would have known that you don’t mess with the Cheerleader. The Cheerleader

    wildgoose | Nov 16, 2011 | New Comment
  2. Hello Ramos,

    The Norshor should be sold. The private sector can figure out how to make it profitable. I deleted the comments because they are two different sources of money. It creates misunderstanding. We can’t use DEDA money to pay for our water system.

    Jennifer Julsrud | Nov 16, 2011 | New Comment
  3. If PDD was a primarily a serious place for discussion, it would look a lot like spam. The comments were jokes about selling the Norshor, just jacking up the rates, and skipping all the meetings. None of those are realistic. They are sarcastic jokes.

    Your point is that sarcastic jokes have a political point (an unclear political point sometimes, but a point nonetheless). I agree, although I don’t know what your point is other than you are generally grumpy about politics, which is the gist of the three sarcastic posts (and something we all feel).

    But PDD is a spammer’s paradise, and no one should infringe on a crazy person’s right to spam PDD with vague sarcasm (as long as they don’t break one of the PDD policies). If vague, sarcastic spam were prohibited here, half the posts might be deleted. We’re all crazy here.

    Sam | Nov 16, 2011 | New Comment
  4. Looks like your comments are back up, John.

    Jennifer, my guess is that if Duluth sells the NorShor, it won’t be until after they’ve put the skywalk through the (heritage landmark status protected) Temple Opera Block and the NorShor/Orpheum garage to connect with the Hotel Duluth/Greysolon Plaza.

    Tony D. | Nov 16, 2011 | New Comment
  5. +1 for the Cheerleader

    Starfire | Nov 16, 2011 | New Comment
  6. Starting a new post does engender some bit of ownership to the thread. And with ownership is the ability (or the right?) to block or delete comments. I’m not judging the merits here, just suggesting that not every forum is loaded with protections or rights for those that post comments.

    TimK | Nov 16, 2011 | New Comment
  7. 1. Post authors may have the ability to flag comments as spam, but it is not a right. We’re currently re-drafting our policies to clarify this point. Authors may delete comments that truly are spam, but we ask that you leave moderation to the moderators. Authors who maliciously abuse this ability will probably end up having some of their privileges revoked.

    2. The proper response for Jennifer Julsrud would have been to address Ramos’ issues under the previous post instead of flagging them as spam. Clearing up misconceptions is what a discussion is all about.

    3. PDD is in absolutely no way “a spammer’s paradise.” Sam doesn’t know what the word “spam” means. Dissenting opinion is not spam. Sarcasm is not spam. I even question whether to call Ramos’ comments “sarcasm” as I think he truly wants his taxes to go toward things like infrastructure instead of things like the Norshor Theatre.

    Barrett Chase | Nov 16, 2011 | New Comment
  8. 1. Ramos said, “And now you can skip all the meetings.” That isn’t sarcasm? If that ain’t sarcasm, what is?

    2. Strictly speaking, spam is done with a spambot and usually is an ad for something. People sometimes use the word spam just to mean “unwanted post.” Sometimes spam is used to mean “post in violation of the website rules.”

    Ramos said his posts were not spam because they “made a valid point,” which might imply that invalid points are spam. I was using the term spam in a joking way following Ramos’ lead and saying that many posts do not make a valid point. Just a joke.

    But, since DEDA money used for the NorShor cannot possibly be used for infrastructure, one might think that it is an invalid point to suggest that the NorShor money be used for infrastructure. So, ironically, what Ramos said might be spam if we follow Ramos’ own use of the term “spam.”

    But in the end I was mainly just making sarcastic jokes about Ramos’ sarcastic jokes. This is a common form of PDD post! And PDD is a place for lots of sarcastic posts about sarcastic posts about sarcastic posts that are flirting with being invalid (like this one).

    Sam | Nov 16, 2011 | New Comment
  9. My point is that post authors should only delete actual spam — unsolicited bulk messages. Any other questionable comments should be left to the discretion of the moderators.

    Barrett Chase | Nov 16, 2011 | New Comment
  10. Thankfully, most discussions on PDD are more valuable than this one has been.

    David | Nov 16, 2011 | New Comment
  11. “Unsolicited bulk messages” are indeed rare on PDD. I’m not sure if I have ever seen a bulk spambot message on PDD advertising for something. But I have heard of things being deleted on forums that have been labeled by the admin “deleted as spam” that were not bulk messages but just off-topic or irrelevant. The word spam is slowing inching into meaning “unwanted message” rather than “unwanted unsolicited bulk message.”

    Sam | Nov 16, 2011 | New Comment
  12. Not here it isn’t. It’s important to clarify this here, because at one extreme you have actual spam — which should always be deleted without question — and on the other extreme you have a legitimate comment that raises issues that someone simply doesn’t like. In between are all the variations of uncomfortable, annoying, antagonistic, or simply confusing comments that one could argue should be deleted. All of these must be left for the moderators to decide about, but true spam can be deleted by the authors.

    Barrett Chase | Nov 17, 2011 | New Comment
  13. Nothing I said is invalid. The only thing invalid around here are the pick-and-choose arguments that politicians use to drum up support for the issue du jour.

    No, you can’t use DEDA money to pay for water infrastructure. But you can use property taxes to pay for water infrastructure. When DEDA purchases buildings, those buildings no longer generate property taxes. The shortfall has to be made up somewhere.

    I repeat: Duluth behaves as if the money we spend on luxuries has no relation at all to the money we need for necessities.

    Ramos | Nov 17, 2011 | New Comment
  14. Yes, this discussion does not have the value of the “House of Donut” thread where David posted on the importance of Duluth getting a 24 hour Kinkos to be a real town. But how could a rambling discussion of DEDA, taxation, sarcasm, and spam be more important than a rambling discussion of Kinkos, butter bars, meatball sandwiches, old signage, Last Chance Liquor, mothballed pool halls, hippies, and donuts?

    Wait, I’m rambling again. David is right. This thread really isn’t that important. But I could really go for a 24 hour Donut place! (no joke)

    Sam | Nov 17, 2011 | New Comment
  15. Ramos. Fair enough, there are indirect tax costs to the DEDA spending, such as the loss of the strip club tax revenue. But there are also indirect tax BENEFITS to the DEDA spending, such as the tax revenue that might be generated by our downtown not having a huge, dilapidated strip club.

    I agree that we should focus on necessities, like education. We need to get the class sized down for our kids, who are the core to our futures. I can’t think of anything more necessary than k-12 schools. We also need reliable water and sewers for the schools, which is why I’m all for fixing the water infrastructure.

    Sam | Nov 17, 2011 | New Comment
  16. To get back to one of the main points, one question is “when is it appropriate for the original author to use the “flag as spam” button?” The “flag as spam” button is virtually useless for flagging actual spam (spambot ad spam, which is extremely rare at PDD). The “flag as spam” button isn’t really for flagging “real spambot spam” at all.

    The “flag as spam” button is useful to flag irrelevant or inappropriate comments. Barrett Chase brought up a good point that the original author should have some leeway on what is irrelevant or inappropriate. It strikes me as potentially within this leeway to use the button to filter our sarcastic comments about “never going to a meeting” in a serious discussion about water infrastructure.

    Sam | Nov 17, 2011 | New Comment
  17. This sites moderators edit and remove posts all the time…… its rather lame. Now please edit my post

    j | Nov 17, 2011 | New Comment
  18. Here you go:

    This site’s moderators edit and remove posts all the time. It’s rather lame. Now please edit my comment.

    Paul Lundgren | Nov 17, 2011 | New Comment
  19. So resourceful paul

    j | Nov 17, 2011 | New Comment
  20. Sam: This thread isn’t about water. Discussion about water should be where people reading about water will see it: the original post. This post is about people communicating in someone else’s back yard complaining that the owner of that back yard might or might not prohibit some of the complaining they want to do.

    Yawn. I’ve celebrated the Cheerleader as one of the best blogs in the city, ever, before on PDD. This is kerfuffle over nothing, tarnishing that awesomeness.

    David | Nov 17, 2011 | New Comment
  21. When the NorShor was left to private hands, it became a strip joint/ crime magnate. To let that historical legacy decay and become a parking lot will be the destruction of a cultural and financial asset. The quality of life in Duluth is an asset as well, water is part of that.

    Jennifer is right, the NorShor was purchased with DEDA funds, absolutely no way to use them for water infrastructure. What should have they gone for? More development in Canal Park? When will the Grover Nordquist types realize, we’ve gotten away with a taxes=bad joy ride for too long. It’s gonna come from somewhere … if it’s not a federal or state program of taxing for and investing in infrastructure, it will have to happen on the local level.

    Tax more, and be accountable to do good work efficiently! A well cared for city (with cultural assets) will attract (and retain) a higher population with greater income and thus improve the tax base.

    Baci | Nov 17, 2011 | New Comment
  22. “I deleted the comments because they are two different sources of money. It creates misunderstanding.”

    Why not use the thread to clear up the misunderstanding?

    The remedy for false, ignorant, or inaccurate speech is more speech.

    I can’t agree that this thread is unimportant. I am disturbed that an elected official would use the tools she has to silence opposition. Taken in its most charitable light, her response is patronizing. We can’t be expected to understand these funding nuances, so we just won’t discuss them.

    In a democracy, we discuss things. In a democracy, politicians respond to their critics, or ignore them. They don’t muzzle them.

    bluenewt | Nov 17, 2011 | New Comment
  23. Why do some people consider their posts -- no matter how stupid or sarcastic -- on various websites to be so valuable? So what if your posts were deleted, if that’s really the case. If they were even slightly close to brilliant nuggets of ingenuity (sadly, not the case, IMO) then I’d whine about it.

    Feel free to delete this one, Ramos -- because it’s just a throwaway post on a fricken blog on the fricken internet.

    Iron Oregon | Nov 17, 2011 | New Comment
  24. Spam is not “unsolicited bulk messages” it is a lovely canned meat made by George A. Hormel and Sons. It was made possible by the fact that George invented the proccess of “Vaccum Packing” meats. Any GI in a trench in WWII or the Korean War will tell you it is the greatest thing ever invented except for the self opening beer can (you used to need a can opener youngster). Anyone from Hawaii will tell you it is practically the state food. Hawaiians eat more Spam than any other meat. So with that in mind Spam is never to be deleted! It is to be fried and served with a side of corn meal mush and syrup. (Insert annoying smilely faced thing here).

    Bill | Nov 17, 2011 | New Comment
  25. My understanding is that this thread is about whether it was appropriate to delete Ramos’ posts from the water thread, and more generally when it is appropriate to delete PDD posts either by the original author or by a PDD moderator.

    One of my posts in this thread was deleted. I pointed out what was an inappropriate post at the water thread by a guy named “Pervy Perv” who said something about cleaning pipes, if I recall correctly. So posts about inappropriate posts can themselves be inappropriate? Or do we just not want to discuss the Pervy Perv post in a thread about what is appropriate at PDD?

    My sense is that a post about an inappropriate post in a thread about what posts are inappropriate is itself appropriate for PDD. Am I wrong? If so, why was it deleted?

    Sam | Nov 17, 2011 | New Comment
  26. Because the inappropriate comment you referred to was deleted in accordance with PDD’s policies, rendering your comment completely irrelevant.

    Barrett Chase | Nov 17, 2011 | New Comment
  27. Iron Oregon says: “So what if your posts were deleted, if that’s even the case?”

    First of all, it certainly is the case that they were deleted. Councilor Julsrud said she deleted them, in the second comment on this thread.

    Secondly, the water utility post was not a benign informational tidbit put up by a citizen. It was a political post, put up by a politician, in support of a political goal. The accompanying video, with its soft music and pictures of SUVs in giant potholes, is political propaganda. Are those potholes in Duluth? Of course not. No part of the video is shot in Duluth.

    Whenever I see propaganda (especially the kind that makes itself out to be purely and wholly good) I feel the need to drive a stake through its heart. When a politician exercises censorship over those who would criticize his or her propaganda, that is cause for concern.

    There you have my reasoning. Whether or not my comments are brilliant nuggets of ingenuity is beside the point. I happen to believe they are, but that’s just me.

    This is fun.

    Ramos | Nov 17, 2011 | New Comment
  28. Wait. We can delete posts?

    adam | Nov 17, 2011 | New Comment
  29. BC, But aren’t we talking about deleted posts? Talking about deleted posts does not make a post “completely irrelevant,” especially if the thread is about when it is appropriate to delete posts. Isn’t that how this whole thread got started by Ramos? Ramos had posts deleted from the water thread, and wanted to talk about it.

    Sam | Nov 17, 2011 | New Comment
  30. And, the “Pervy perv” post seems to lend credence to the notion that PDD is a “spammer’s paradise” in a least one sense of spam.

    Sam | Nov 17, 2011 | New Comment
  31. First of all, posts and comments are not the same thing. This is a comment. The thing at the top of the page is a post. John did not have a post removed. Three of his comments were removed from a different post.

    Adam, PDD users cannot delete posts, except their own. They can remove comments on their own posts, but it’s not a power they should exercise, lest a post like this one emerge complaining about it.

    Paul Lundgren | Nov 17, 2011 | New Comment
  32. Second of all, this is an example of spam:

    “What great blog! I’m going tell my friends. Do like Japanese ear cleaning? Click here learn more.”

    This is an example of an antagonistic and useless comment that moderators will remove:

    “John Ramos is an idiot and PDD sucks. You’re all a bunch of hypocritical hippie conservatives.”

    Spam is usually flagged automatically before it’s published on the site, but sometimes it slips through and moderators remove it. Sometimes legitimate comments are automatically flagged as spam and are held for moderators to approve.

    Antagonistic and otherwise annoying comments are usually published immediately and then removed by moderators later. Determining what is antagonistic or annoying is not an exact science. Sometimes moderators let mildly antagonistic or annoying comments stay up and sometimes moderators are more heavy-handed toward name-callers and threadjackers. It depends on the situation and probably to some extent how crabby the moderators are feeling at the moment.

    Paul Lundgren | Nov 17, 2011 | New Comment
  33. This is commenting on a post about commenting on a post .. it’s so fricken Shakespeare.

    Sinatra | Nov 17, 2011 | New Comment
  34. But isn’t ‘annoying’ and ‘antagonistic’ in the eye of the beholder? And sure, if the defining-beholder is one of the PDD moderators, well, as others have pointed out, it is your business, literally, to maintain the sense of what you want your blog to be.

    But a politician, using the blog to push what they want? That is another matter altogether. I thought I liked Julsrud; but political censorship and I do not get along; and it is uncool, very very bad, for her to have deleted a maybe-annoying, but perfectly valid, response to her posting.

    emmadogs | Nov 17, 2011 | New Comment
  35. Am I the only one who’s starting to think Todd Fedora is using an alias?

    Bret | Nov 17, 2011 | New Comment
  36. Bret, I hope you are the only one.

    Paul Lundgren | Nov 17, 2011 | New Comment
  37. I would like Jennifer Julsrud — or another person in the know — to create a new post going into great detail about why DEDA money can’t be used for other things, specifically the budgetary decisions that direct money from the pockets of a taxpayer and into DEDA instead of into another part of the budget where it can be used for something else.

    Obviously the taxes I pay start out as my money and end up being spent on something. Where does DEDA money specifically come from, and who makes the budgetary decisions to put it there?

    A lot of people don’t understand this, and this is what leads to confusion and anger about the money spent on things such as the Norshor. “We can’t use DEDA money to pay for our water system” simply isn’t good enough of an answer. The real question is: Why are we putting this amount of money into DEDA in the first place instead of elsewhere where it can be used for more basic necessities?

    Because as a taxpayer, I am still paying X amount of money in taxes, and that money apparently isn’t enough to upgrade the water system, but it is enough to buy buildings for entertainment.

    Barrett Chase | Nov 17, 2011 | New Comment
  38. The fact Ramos felt the need to put his three thoughts into three seperate comments seems kind of spammy. Not in the traditional sense of spam being unwanted advertising. But spammy in the unnecessary volume sense. How annoying would it be if everyone broke their multiple thoughts into one sentence seperate comments?

    Chris | Nov 17, 2011 | New Comment
  39. Amen, Barrett! Well said.

    double barrell darrell | Nov 17, 2011 | New Comment
  40. +1 Barrett

    zra | Nov 17, 2011 | New Comment
  41. Ah, Barrett, my poor, innocent child…you have no idea what frustration you’re setting yourself up for, by asking questions such as these. Because, believe me, politicians will have reasons, all sorts of them, that will take your common sense and twist it and distort it until you can’t tell up from down. And then they will raise your taxes.

    The thing to remember (and this is about all that keeps me going sometimes) is that money goes where people, and the law, tell it to go. When somebody tells you that something can’t be done with public money, they are only doing so because saying this happens to fit their agenda. If we really wanted the money to go someplace else, we would change the law and off it would go to that new place. Laws are changed all the time to fit new priorities.

    Money is fluid. It is also finite. If somebody tells you that money flowing to the DECC has nothing to do with parks and libraries being neglected, they simply haven’t thought it through far enough. Most people don’t want to think it through. It’s easier for a lot of people, especially in a progressive town like Duluth, to constantly vote for tax increases and rate hikes to keep basic services intact.

    That’s what makes me so mad. Voting for a water rate increase for water infrastructure improvements, or a tax rate increase for parks, actually enables the mad luxury spending sprees that we see with things like the NorShor and the DECC.

    The problem with Duluth is that we never vote against anything. Everything gets approved, luxury and necessity alike. People who care deeply about necessities never mount any real opposition to the luxuries. And a lot of people simply want to have them both.

    Ramos | Nov 17, 2011 | New Comment
  42. Man, this feels good.

    Ramos | Nov 17, 2011 | New Comment
  43. +1 PDD.

    Ramos | Nov 17, 2011 | New Comment
  44. Barrett: I can’t figure out where DEDA gets its money from. Is this like TIF scams, where special zones yield special taxes for special purposes?

    rhetoricguy@gmail.com | Nov 18, 2011 | New Comment
  45. rhetoricguy@gmail.com | Nov 18, 2011 | New Comment
  46. Government financing (actually, finance in general) is a complex issue.

    Please, please, please, remember that cities, counties, and school districts are creations of the state, and their powers and limitations come from the state. There are ton (literal ton) of rules from State (or Federal) bodies that local governments need to follow and CAN NOT change, no matter how goofy. And it isnt as easy as “we” (all the citizens) in the state or nation saying “lets get rid of all these goofy laws”….one person’s goofy law is another person’s right and just and sensible law.

    Good gravy, if married couples don’t always agree on issues, why would you expect city councils or state legislative bodies to agree on issues. If you can’t gt 2 people to agree, why would you expect 9, 100, or 5 million people agree?

    Steven | Nov 18, 2011 | New Comment
  47. Right on, Barrett. I hope someone takes you up on that.

    emmadogs | Nov 18, 2011 | New Comment
  48. Doesn’t DEDA money come from hospitality tax?

    I thought it was for the express purpose of economic development. To me, that means spending money specifically to attract business and foster the development of our economic potential. In the case of the Norshor, that means investment in the cultural infrastructure to support the economic value, competitiveness and attractiveness of Duluth. A case can be made that supporting a vibrant arts and culture scene, and maintaining the historic character of our downtown, will bring value to the economic climate of our city and region. If you’ve read Richard Florida’s Rise of the Creative Class, you’ll understand the philosophies which motivate this.

    A valid case can also be made that good parks, libraries, schools and water infrastructure will also attract/retain citizens in our community, thus adding value. IMHO, Hermantown is benefiting from Duluth’s previous lack of investment in these areas.

    Baci | Nov 18, 2011 | New Comment
  49. Hermantown has a vibrant arts and culture scene? Good parks? Libraries? Hardly. Who the hell leaves Duluth for the amazing parks, libraries and arts scene of Hermantown?

    Hermantown citizens voted down a referendum in 2009 to improve the city’s schools.

    Hermantown has improved its water infrastructure, so I guess I’ll give you that.

    Paul Lundgren | Nov 18, 2011 | New Comment
  50. What is going to happen at the NorShor is already a done deal. Don’t you guys read the paper?

    carla | Nov 18, 2011 | New Comment
  51. Following up on Paul’s comment: I was surprised when I was leafleting outside the Main Library the day before the election how many people from outside Duluth use Duluth’s public library. Lots of Hermantowners and Superiorites.

    Claire | Nov 18, 2011 | New Comment
  52. Carla, you should read John Ramos’ writing to get an idea of where he’s coming from on this issue. According to Ramos, the Norshor deal isn’t an isolated incident, but rather part of a much larger problem that our city has had for a long time and will most likely continue to have in the future. Start with this article from 2007: The Next Big Thing.

    Barrett Chase | Nov 18, 2011 | New Comment
  53. Baci: See, here you’re telling me what DEDA money can and cannot be used for, as if you’re an expert, yet you don’t even know where DEDA money comes from.

    DEDA money comes from tax-increment financing; and yes, DEDA money is intended to be used for economic development. There is, however, another option for DEDA money: Not spending it. Nobody ever seems to think of that one.

    Richard Florida is a hack. His much-ballyhooed “creative class” is not supposed to build a healthy, vibrant economy; it depends on a healthy, vibrant economy ALREADY EXISTING to support the creative types in their various creative endeavors, and thus to lend a wonderful veneer of creativity to the city, which in turn attracts more creative people. Duluth’s problem, in this scenario, is that we don’t have the healthy, vibrant economy already existing. Florida has nothing to say about how to fix that.

    As for me, I think we have plenty of creative people in Duluth already. I’m not staying up nights worrying about how to attract more. When I think about it, creative people tend to be kind of annoying. We should restrict their numbers.

    Ramos | Nov 18, 2011 | New Comment
  54. And another thing: These points that I’m bringing up here? I barely had time to get them out when the Norshor deal went through. The whole thing, from initial proposal to final purchase, happened in, like, three days. Who spends millions of dollars in three days? Duluth, that’s who. You could barely hear yourself think, let alone question anything, what with all the cheering constituents and confetti in the streets.

    Ramos | Nov 18, 2011 | New Comment
  55. Of course, the real engines of economic growth are universities. If only we knew better how to do that here.

    Ramos, your definition of “creative class” is more narrow than the ones that the term was meant to apply to: it includes engineers as well as artists, for example.

    Anyway. I’ve never liked TIF districts, and so I guess I can’t like DEDA.

    Claire: You must have missed the day when the rest of us were taught how to avoid leafletters: “Sorry, I don’t live in the district.”

    David | Nov 18, 2011 | New Comment
  56. Thank you for providing a link to John Ramos’ article from 2007. Great blog, and very well said.

    emmadogs | Nov 18, 2011 | New Comment
  57. David -- what is it you don’t like about TIF districts? They seem to be a good tool to re-invigorate areas in need so I wonder if I’m missing something.

    Iron Oregon | Nov 18, 2011 | New Comment
  58. I think I mostly have bad memories of their uses under Norm Coleman in St. Paul. As I recall, they were used to lure corporate headquarters from suburban areas to Downtown, for example, so that Coleman could claim a renaissance downtown while net job creation for the region was zero.

    Meanwhile, the city was at best neutral on tax base, as businesses in TIF districts don’t contribute to the general fund via property taxes.

    I guess I like the idea of spitting all taxes into a pot and then deciding how to spend them, rather than earmarking them. You could do the same redevelopment work without TIF districts, but you would need to assert that those needs were more important than other local needs, rather than having those decisions made in advance.

    David | Nov 18, 2011 | New Comment
  59. You can find a short primer on tax increment financing, as it applies to Duluth, here.

    And here is something on tourism tax subsidies.

    I haven’t felt this motivated in a while. People should flag me as spam more often.

    Ramos | Nov 18, 2011 | New Comment
  60. I read the blog also and agree with emmadogs — good stuff. But I stick with my original statement. The city is in control of the NorShor and already knows what it is going to do. They have told us so in their news releases. Also — they earnestly believe that what they are doing will benefit our city.

    We have plenty of creative people — yes. And not really the economy to support them. And the universities are the engine in other places but our universities are not big rich research institutions. (Nevertheless — the tie between town and gown could be better.)

    Creating jobs is something that everyone talks about but hardly anyone knows how to do.

    So if you all were going to create a job, what would that job be? What is your ideal job? How could we get this thing moving? It really is up to us — not the city.

    carla | Nov 19, 2011 | New Comment
  61. I think we need a giant golf course, paid for by the city, but only private managers should profit. We could donate some old-growth forest for this, perhaps? Maybe some land that’s contractually off limits to development just to make it awesome. Re-elect Doty!

    mickey d | Nov 19, 2011 | New Comment
  62. +1 Mickey D!

    Giant golf course! Can you imagine! A giant, working windmill! Skyline Parkway hole! A tall-as-you loop de loop! Bob Dylan freak fetishist armory hole! FREE game if you get it in the clown’s mouth! Lift Bridge hole! Raised Hole! Chester Park Ski Jump hole! Incline Railway hole!

    I restate: David Salmela’s mini golf course at Spirit Mountain is the worst miniature golf course I have ever played. Who was on that committee? Did that actually seem like a reasonably good idea to you?

    adam | Nov 19, 2011 | New Comment
  63. My ideal job would be to attend public meetings, interview key city officials, comb through contracts, research historical precedents and combine all of this information into articles that describe Duluth in an unflinchingly accurate manner, in such a way that the region’s premier daily newspaper would be forced to derive its front-page headlines from my blog on at least a half-dozen occasions.

    Oh, wait. I already did that, from 2007 to 2010. The only problem was that nobody noticed me doing it, or paid me anything to do it, or gave me any credit for doing it, so I went back to driving a cab.

    Ramos | Nov 20, 2011 | New Comment
  64. And now I quit that job, so I really have nothing left.

    Ramos | Nov 20, 2011 | New Comment
  65. And, yes, I have thought about offering my services to the News Tribune. The last time I proposed an article, Chuck Frederick said that they would be happy to run the article, but, regretfully, they would be unable to pay me. They would, however, run my picture.

    This is the world I live in.

    Ramos | Nov 20, 2011 | New Comment
  66. Ramos, you have GOT to write your roman a clef novel, and make lots of money, then. Sucks that you stopped writing exposes about Duluth politics. I loved your blog, it was well-written and hard-hitting.

    Claire | Nov 20, 2011 | New Comment
  67. Dear sir, I have a wonderful sheet of logical fallacies for you. Your original comments were a deliberate red herring attack, painting Julsrud with the same negative feelings that surround the city’s purchase of the NorShor. If you want to promote political dialogue on a subject you don’t just jump right out and attack someone for something that occurred before they were even elected. My two cents.

    EvilJeffy | Nov 20, 2011 | New Comment
  68. @Ramos,

    You done pounding your own pudding yet? “it depends on a healthy, vibrant economy ALREADY EXISTING” … This is chicken and egg stuff. And it can be looked at from different perspectives. I contend that supporting the creative class in town will draw/retain more creatives AND the companies that rely on them. Only part of a comprehensive and sustainable solution to our economic woes.

    Is DEDA golden? IDK, I don’t know if I’m a full supporter. Seems like it was a vehicle to funnel tourism $$ back the the hospitality industry. The fact is that the TIF money would be spent one way or another. I favor preserving the NorShor (and other historic resources which make our city unique). Otherwise it would be shunted back into funding Canal Park developments. All that does is help sequester tourism dollars in the hands of a very few. Richard Florida is no Hack, he just has a different view than you. Grow up, there’s a reason you’re not getting paid to write. Don’t quit the day job.

    @Lundgren, Hermantown doesn’t need a vibrant arts and culture scene, they have ours to leech off. The tax base that has fled Duluth because QOL in the neighborhoods moved there. During the past decade, families have suburbanized there. I wouldn’t want to live there but lots of former Duluthians have moved there, our former tax base. That’s my point.

    Baci | Nov 20, 2011 | New Comment
  69. Ah, yes, thank you, boys. It reminds me of when I first started out writing, twenty-five years ago. Things do come full circle, after all. Progressives handle criticism as well as conservatives do.

    I have two cardboard boxes full of audiotapes, on ten years of public meetings, from DEDA to the Great Lakes Aquarium, if anybody wants to listen to them.

    I’m just kidding. I know nobody does.

    Ramos | Nov 20, 2011 | New Comment
  70. Richard Florida gives cities “creativity rankings.” Ha ha!

    Ramos | Nov 20, 2011 | New Comment
  71. Thanks, Claire. When my novel is published, I’ll head down to Carmody and buy a round for the house.

    Ramos | Nov 20, 2011 | New Comment
  72. I supported the NorShor sale. It may be an economic white elephant and never make any money, but I actually think of it is a “public space.” Yeah, like a park, or a library, it’s an amenity. Or will be … I hope … anyway. I respect Ramos and his arguments about how tax money should be spent. I also appreciate how he can land a rhetorical punch and get a few back without losing his sense of humor. He’s kind of a Duluth “P.J. O’Rourke.” He’s a treasure and I’d love to see him have a (paid) column somewhere.

    I also want to underscore what Baci said about Hermantown. I am not a fan, I would not like to live there and I have no idea what people are talking about when they say it is a wonderful place to live and raise kids. When I was selling/delivering phone books (after my NorShor venture collapsed, ironically). At that time I got to see nearly all of the “town.” From what I can tell about a third of it is 5-6 bedroom houses with 3-plus car garages in developments of about 30 houses each. And in those developments about HALF of the houses are even occupied. The best “quality of life” I really see there is that people can come to Duluth, use our parks, our libraries, appreciate our amenities like the Aquarium, the Zoo, the Lakewalk, Hartley … you get the idea. And they get to enjoy those amenities without paying our taxes … so they have more money to shovel back into their crippling house payment. I know there are some historic areas in Hermantown, I have a good friend who lives in one of those brick houses, but really I don’t get the appeal of the place. It certainly would not be appealing without Duluth right next door. Hope I’m not offending Hermantowners there …

    wildgoose | Nov 20, 2011 | New Comment
  73. I could never live in Hermantown. I need to see that lake. Like every day.

    Claire | Nov 20, 2011 | New Comment
  74. So the other thing someone (I think Baci) mentioned was that the TIF’s seemed to be a sort of slush fund to develop Canal Park and support existing large businesses pretty much focused around hotels and restaurants in that area. I think that it is good to develop our core cities and Canal Park is sort of part of our core, but really I would say downtown, and specifically old downtown (and I’ll add 1st St.) could use a bone once in awhile, too. To me, that’s what the NorShor purchase was about. Developing an amenity that can be appreciated and used by many with some public money. The other thing is that Ringsred … when he gave Jim Gradishar the management contract for the “NorShor Experience” that was not an economic decision, it was a deliberate “f” you to the Duluth bureaucrats and businesses and it was a very effective public theater in that sense. He was saying “Hey, you don’t like the arts and cultural activities we’re doing at the ‘Shor? Let’s see if you like it with Fuzzy’s place up on the mezzanine.” Of course his logic was flawed and I’m not defending it. I guess I don’t even want to attack it. But it just felt like he was holding the place hostage and when there was a chance to get it from him and hopefully preserve it properly as the last of our Historic Theaters and a place that thousands and thousands of people across may generations have strong emotional ties to … well, I supported it.

    wildgoose | Nov 20, 2011 | New Comment
  75. One more thing, I know 3 comments in a row. Come up for air Goose, huh?

    I don’t know if Richard Florida is correct or not about his theories of the creative class. But I will say that Duluth does have a vibrant creative class now. Vibrant and (mostly) poor. Heavy and light industry, manufacturing and transportation infrastructure are also important to a vibrant economy. Those also yield valuable tax revenue. So, if Florida is right, then Duluth’s creative class will continue to grow. (In fact he targets the whole “North Coast” as one of his super cities or urban megalopolises that are to develop). So we’re gonna need some jobs for those creative people and their kids as this happens. Higher ed is one place we are well-placed to employ people, the medical field is another (although we seem way overbuilt in that area). I think more light to medium and maybe heavy industry would be great too.

    wildgoose | Nov 20, 2011 | New Comment
  76. Wildgoose makes a good point about me being a treasure.

    Ramos | Nov 20, 2011 | New Comment
  77. I like spam but hate listening to people talk about it.

    -Berv | Nov 21, 2011 | New Comment

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