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Is the Last Place on Earth Ruining Duluth? Volume 2

Welcome!

Here we are, one year after the first raid on the Last Place on Earth. That’s 366 days. Jim Carlson has had many things taken from him, but he has not been charged with any crime.

Eighty-one days after the raid happened, I started a feature on another thread on Perfect Duluth Day called the TDOB Index. TDOB stands for “Total Days of Bullshit.” I announced that I would make one observation per day on that thread until one of two things happened: Either (1) Jim Carlson was charged with a crime; or (2) his property was returned.

In hindsight, I may have been a bit rash. Two hundred and eighty-five days have passed since I made my bold declaration; neither of my requirements has been met. The police continue to hold onto Carlson’s property. They still haven’t filed charges. I have made many comments, a huge number of comments, a great pile of comments on the subject, and yet each day I must rise from my bed and think of one comment more. Can you imagine the stress?

The comments on the original TDOB thread now number 641. That’s too many. It takes the page too long to load. Today, September 21, 2012, the first anniversary of the first raid on the Last Place on Earth, I am moving the TDOB Index to this new location. I will continue making one comment per day (more or less) until my conditions are met.

With the hustle and bustle of moving into our new digs, there may be a little confusion near the beginning of the thread. We have some awards to hand out, and some people to recognize, and we have some special features to post, including the city council’s latest response to my email about the Last Place on Earth. As a bonus, the mayor himself responded to me. So that’ll be coming up in the comments later today.

As I am frequently crabby and out of sorts, I may not always thank those who deserve it. I want to thank Perfect Duluth Day for providing this platform. They can cut me off at any time. So far they haven’t. It’s just something else I live with.

Well, it’s time to get this show on the road. Lace up your boots and tighten your chinstraps, you slugs. I’ll pick up the count with the first comment and we’ll go from there.

246 Comments

Ramos

about 2 years ago

The police can take your cash and property and keep it for one year without charging you with a crime. Isn’t that freaky? TDOB Index, September 21, 2012: 366  

Ramos

about 2 years ago

Have you ever wondered who has made the most comments on the TDOB Index? I have a list of the top five commenters in front of me. Some of them might surprise you. Obviously, I'm first in line, since the TDOB Index is my baby. But how many comments do you suppose I have made? The first person to guess the number of comments I have made since the TDOB Index was created on December 11, 2011 gets a prize. The comment on December 11 where the TDOB Index first appears is Comment One. The comment that you're reading is the last one.

baci

about 2 years ago

Please allow me to be the first to propel this into "too many comments to load" status so that it can begin to die the long, tortured, agonizing death that it eventually will. Also please let me be the first to say, Jim Carlson should stop selling those drugs out of concern for his fellow humans. Just because there is profit to be made doesn't mean it's right to do so. With colder weather coming on, it will be interesting, and sad/abhorrent, to see how many people stand in line with their toddlers waiting for their fix. So, Ramos, enjoy your little bath salt box to stand on, thump your chest, point at the Constitution ... you really picked a winner cause to spend your time on ... way to give back to society.

Ramos

about 2 years ago

The first person to guess the top five commenters after me gets a prize.

Dorkus

about 2 years ago

The second Carlson stops selling what is obviously extremely harmful substances to his patrons, is the second I will care whether or not his civil rights are being violated.

Tom

about 2 years ago

Including the second comment on this thread, Ramos has made 329 total comments.

Ramos

about 2 years ago

Pop TDOB Index quiz—When CNN reporters tracked down the district attorney of Tenaha, Texas, what did they find her doing? First correct answer gets a prize.

Tom

about 2 years ago

My bad. The 329 figure includes comments prior to the creation of the TDOB Index. A total of 18 of those comments were made before instituting the count-up, so, as of this thread's second comment, Ramos has made a grand total of 311 comments in the TDOB era.

Tom

about 2 years ago

I really hope the "prizes" are LPOE gift cards.

Ramos

about 2 years ago

Tom wins a prize for his correct answer of 311. He takes home a complete set of vintage Cheerleader magazines (including the extremely rare Issue #1) for perusal at his leisure.

Ramos

about 2 years ago

Eight days ago, on September 13, I emailed the city council.  

Councilors: Well, it has now been one year since Duluth police raided the Last Place on Earth and confiscated $83,000 in cash, $50,000 in inventory, 28 firearms, computer drives containing Jim Carlson’s personal and business information, and his cell phone. No charges have been filed against Carlson, nor has his property been returned. Judging by your near-total lack of response the last time I contacted you about this, at the eight-month mark, I gather that the city council is just fine with this, so I won’t bother asking you to do anything about it this time around. I would just like to register my intense disapproval, and to remind you that this sort of “law enforcement”—the kind that punishes a person without charging him with any crime—violates the U.S. Constitution and basic human decency. Singling out and harassing one unpopular business owner is not progressive or proactive; it’s oppressive and tyrannical. It must be quite a comfort to the police to know that they can do anything they like to Jim Carlson, and they won’t hear a peep out of city leaders—except for peeps of encouragement. It never ceases to amaze me how afraid some people can be. John Ramos
I waited eight days. Here is what they said.   Councilor Patrick Boyle: No response.   Councilor Jay Fosle: No response.   Councilor Sharla Gardner: No response.   Councilor Dan Hartman: No response.   Councilor Jennifer Julsrud: No response.   Councilor Garry Krause: No response.   Councilor Linda Krug: No response.   Councilor Emily Larson: No response.   Councilor Jim Stauber:  
Hi John, I hope you sent this to the mayor as this is his responsibility. As a councilor we do not approve of police actions nor can we tell the mayor or staff what to do. We cannot "steer" our legal folks in what they can and cannot do. Only the mayor has that authority. I completely agree with your assessment of the situation and feel the city actions were probably ill guided and directed. Something should have been done quite some time ago. Thanks, Jim.
 

Ramos

about 2 years ago

In addition to being a prizewinner, Tom was the fourth most prolific commenter on the original TDOB thread. He commented 19 times. At one point, when I took a week's absence, Tom took over the reins and posted the TDOB Index himself. Let's give Tom a hand.

hbh1

about 2 years ago

Here's a hand, Tom. At this point, I am only supporting this effort because of constitutional issues, and I don't feel terribly enthusiastic. Here's why: according to someone who was directly affected, right when Carlson2 started making money hand over fist, he canceled all the monthly bonuses and holiday bonuses he used to give his employees, drastically reducing their pay. And I've been told just how crappily he otherwise treats his workers, even those who happen to be his relatives. This makes it rather difficult to give a shit what happens to him. So, I care for my own selfish reasons: I don't want the law to do things that may possibly encroach on my rights. But Carlson2 can go suck a dirty dick.

Ramos

about 2 years ago

The fifth most prolific commenter was Herzog. Good old Herzog. You weren't always sure what he was trying to get across, but you were sure it was something. Herzog commented 18 times.

Ramos

about 2 years ago

I took Councilor Stauber's advice and emailed the mayor a letter nearly identical to the one I had sent the city council. The mayor responded as follows:

John, Thanks for sharing your thoughts. So is Carlson paying you well for your advocacy? Don

Starfire

about 2 years ago

The Drug That Never Let's Go- http://www.pbs.org/newshour/multimedia/bath-salts/

Ramos

about 2 years ago

The third most prolific commenter on the original TDOB thread was...(drum roll, please)...Baci! In a few short, emotionally charged appearances, Baci managed to rack up 24 comments. We thank Baci for his hard work, and wish him all the best in the future.

Barrett Chase

about 2 years ago

My problem with the TDOB thread is that Ramos has made use of this platform on a daily basis, but when he finally interviewed Chief Ramsay, he only posted two tiny snippets from the interview, one of which was a joke. Months of lead-up with no payoff.  I understand that satire is a good tool. But I was truly interested in what the chief had to say on this matter, as were a lot of other people who follow the thread. Either 1) you simply didn't ask the tough questions, 2) Ramsay's answers to the tough questions actually made sense and would undermine your position here, or 3) you've made use of our generosity and attention on a daily basis, but when it came time to for you to pay this community back, you went running to a rival publication with the goods.  I'm not interested in jokes that your kid made about cops and mustaches. I want to know how Gordon Ramsay actually justified what is going on.  In the one piece you posted that has any substance, the conversation leads toward an obvious question: "You're referencing laws that allow police to confiscate property when certain crimes have been committed. What specific crimes has Carlson committed?" I would believe that at some point you would have asked that question, and that naturally you would have posted it here.  

Ramos

about 2 years ago

Interview with Duluth Police Chief Gordon Ramsay and Lt. Steve Stracek, Commander of the Lake Superior Drug and Gang Task Force   August 22, 2012   Location: Chief Ramsay’s office   Side A of tape begins mid-sentence   Gordon Ramsay: —so we can’t talk about that specifically. Okay? But we can certainly talk about search-and-seizure law, all that stuff.   John Ramos: Yeah. And then, um, I understand that we can’t talk about the Last Place, the case, but there are other things about the Last Place that are…   Ramsay: Search and seizure stuff.   Ramos: …and, um, well, I mean, I do have questions. I’ll just ask the questions, and then you can let me know whether they fit, or whether, you know, there’s a problem there. And then, also, I have general questions. I’m working on a novel, and there’s crime and punishment involved, so just to get, ah…   Ramsay: Okay.   Ramos: …a handle on stuff like that.   Ramsay: Sure.   Ramos: And my first question is, since we’ve been talking about property seizures so much, what is the actual procedure for seizing, storing and keeping track of property and cash that’s seized?   Ramsay: And Steve’s our expert on this. He oversees the [obscured by surface noise].   Steve Stracek: Well, if you want to break it down and ask me individually. So, your first part of it was…?   Ramos: Okay, so my main concern is how is it kept track of, from the moment it’s seized and then to the moment it’s disposed of or returned? How is it kept track of?   Stracek: Well, there’s a couple of different things that happen. One, if it’s property other than currency, we would keep all those items in our evidence room. They come in, as the officers take them in, they document them in police reports. If they’re taken in search warrants ________, that property would be included on our inventory return that we give to the suspect. That comes into our police department, it’s placed into our evidence lockers and is kept there under lock and key, unless it’s, of course, taken out for any court proceedings or, if it’s returned, it’s returned out of our property room. If there’s, for example, firearms or grow equipment, we forfeit grow equipment, we forfeit different property. We can forfeit television sets, jewelry, gold, all kinds of different things. All those items would be retained as evidence in a criminal matter, or if it’s determined by the prosecutor that they wouldn’t need that as criminal evidence in the trial, that we could just proceed with the forfeiture process, we would go through the forfeiture process and ultimately, if it’s real property, it would be sold or destroyed. Firearms are typically destroyed. And precious metals and ______ and those types of things would be auctioned or sold in public auction. Propertyroom.com is one of the sites that we use. We have different services for selling vehicles, for example, which are taken on forfeiture as well. The tracking, obviously, goes through our evidence processing, it comes as an intake, we have some software called BEAST which keeps track of all of our property as it comes in. Anyone who touches it, examines it, checks it out, signs for it, and it’s brought back in, it’s checked back into our evidence room. So we retain those, take care of them while they’re in our custody, and if they’re returned, they’re returned to the owner or they’re disposed of by law.   Currency, on the other hand, back several years ago our process was to keep cash as evidence, and our prosecutors at that time wanted us to keep all the currency in case it was used in a criminal trial. Because of some issues that occurred down in the metro area a few years ago with the Gang Strike Force, some of those practices were reviewed and there were some “best practices” suggestions made. And what we do now, and have been for a few years, is when currency comes in, periodically we take that currency, depending upon how much comes in—if it’s several cases in a week, I’ll do it once a week, if it’s, ah, we don’t let a lot of money build up. We bring that money in and we deposit it into a holding account, and that’s through the city. We count the money, deposit it into an account, so it’s no longer in currency form in our evidence lockers. So if it’s, if the forfeiture goes to a point where we return the money to the owner, we have a check cut, we send that back to the owner, or we give it, depending upon what the owner asks for, we’ll either mail it or we’ll deliver it in hand, whatever it may be. That’s given back. If it’s forfeited, we do what’s required by law, is a split. The law enforcement agency that originated the forfeiture gets 70 percent of the cash, 20 percent goes to the St. Louis County attorney’s office, and 10 percent goes to the State of Minnesota. And my understanding is they’ve changed a few of these things over the years, but that 10 percent typically goes to victim/witness funds, those types of efforts.   So the money that goes to the police departments can be used only in certain ways. It can’t be used to pay wages or overtime or anything like that. It has to be used in training, purchase of equipment and those types of expenses. In the Drug Task Force, we use those funds exactly for that. We buy equipment. We can use it as investigative funds for when we do controlled buys or pay informants for information or services, those types of things. We use it for training, we use it for maintenance on our vehicles, those types of things. Kind of an operational cost. But we’re restricted by law to not use state forfeited funds as wages or salary.   Federal funds, on the other hand, that are forfeited, follow a whole different path, and we don’t typically have a lot of those, because most of our forfeitures are handled on the state side, but those are a little more complex.   Ramos: So the second raid on the Last Place, you said that was a federal matter, so they’re dealing with the funds seized in that one.   Stracek: Correct.   Ramsay: The way the stories, and the way a lot of people believe, is that the city’s got that, and that…the city does not have that. That was all federal. We had three federal agencies: IRS, FDA and DEA.   Ramos: What was the city’s function there, then? I mean, the city bus transported them, and there was city police officers…   Stracek: We work in partnership with a lot of different federal agencies, and it’s very uncommon for a federal agency to come into a community and not work with local law enforcement, because of resources, because of knowing what’s going on in those areas, those logistical things. So we work in partnership with the Feds on all drug cases that come here, but when they adopt a case, they really direct how things are going forward from that point. You know, we certainly provide support and input and expertise in certain areas, but it becomes their case and they direct the case.   Ramos: So as far as the funds that they seized, um, through equitable sharing, would some of that come back eventually?   Stracek: It could. Typically, on federal cases—and, just to qualify that, federal forfeitures typically take a lot longer to resolve. State cases, you know, usually within a year you can get these resolved, even if there’s criminal matters, but sometimes federal cases go on for a long time, because they don’t disburse until after conviction and sentencing, which as you probably know sometimes takes two or three years. But, yeah, there is documents that I fill out requesting portions of those federal assets that are forfeited, and they then do some formulas and analysis as to what our involvement was, and how much…basically, what our investment was in that case, and then they decide what percentage they give us. Once they do give us those funds, we’re accountable for them in how we spend them. I have to put reports back in the Fed’s hands as to how our forfeited assets were spent. You can use federal forfeited funds for salaries and reimbursement of overtime costs, because the laws are different on the federal side. But most commonly we use those funds for operational costs: purchases of equipment and training and travel costs for our investigators and those types of things.   Ramos: And then, is the Drug and Gang Task Force, do you…apart from that, do you obtain some of your funding federally, or is it all city, or…?   Stracek: We obtain funds that pay for a portion of our costs and salaries, and some investigative funds, through a federal grant, yes. Department of Justice grants.   Ramsay: Byrne grants.   Stracek: Byrne grants.   Ramsay: B-Y-R-N-E, I believe.   Ramos: Okay. How much property or cash would you say you forfeit in a year, or is it all over the map?   Stracek: It’s all over the map.   Ramos: Like, what was it last year?   Stracek: You know, I could find that number. I don’t have that number.   Ramos: I’m just curious. Is it, you know, fifty dollars? Is it a million dollars?   Stracek: It’s not a million and it’s more than fifty. You know, I would say it really depends, because the task force is almost an entity upon itself, where we’re accountable for forfeitures that pertain to cases that were initiated by the task force. As opposed to…because it’s a multi-jurisdictional task force—the sheriff’s office, Hermantown—ah, used to be Hermantown—Superior PD and Duluth partner in this task force, and we also have associate members that come in from other agencies, so that the money has to be spent—forfeited money has to be spent—within the task force. Now, cases that involve Duluth police officers, those forfeited funds are split off of that—or, I shouldn’t say split off—are segregated when they come in, and those are designated to be spent by Duluth PD. And an example would be is if an officer that’s not on the task force, say, a police officer that’s patrolling the Central Hillside pulls a car over, finds drugs and takes $2,000. That money would be designated for Duluth PD and part of their operating expenses, say, out of that forfeited funds, and the task force wouldn’t have any stake in that. But if it’s a task force case where we did a search warrant from one of our investigations, that money, by the rules of our organization, the rules of our task force, has to stay within the task force. So we spend that on our operational costs.   Ramsay: Can you talk about when you can seize money and when you can’t?   Stracek: Yeah. Well, there’s kind of three different paths on how you clear forfeitures. But, basically, as long as a police officer is lawfully in a position to find, view, locate the money, it’s forfeitable, as long as the officer can articulate probable cause to believe that it’s proceeds of a crime, or it’s in proximity to controlled substances, packaging, scales, records of distribution, evidence that shows that some or all of that currency or funds were derived from, or are related to, controlled substances.   The rule in Minnesota is that, under administrative forfeiture, if you have, say, a bag of marijuana in your pocket and you have $2,000 in your pocket with the marijuana, it’s forfeitable under the law. And it’s presumed to be forfeitable. It doesn’t have to be linked with the sale of drugs. The way the law is written was that if it’s a controlled substance in proximity to cash, precious metals or stones—ah, let’s see, there’s more things under there, I can’t think off the top of my head—manufacturing and distribution equipment, and records, it’s administratively forfeitable. Up to $50,000, it’s on the administrative side. So that means, at the scene, I fill out a form, administrative forfeiture form, and hand it to you. As long as the value of the cash is less than $50,000, I can serve you administratively. If you have a joint in your pocket, the way the law is written, is that that joint is enough to forfeit the cash, because it’s in proximity to a controlled substance.   The next path is called judicial forfeiture. That applies to property or cash assets above the $50,000 mark, or if the property isn’t immediately in proximity to a controlled substance. And I’ll give you an example. Let’s say we buy drugs from a guy that’s selling drugs out of his car, and we use either an undercover police officer or an informant. And over a period of two or three weeks, we call the guy and say, you know, “We’d like to buy a half-ounce of cocaine from you. I’m at this corner. Can you meet me?” And he pulls up in his car and we do the deal in his car, and we get out, and we leave, and we do it a couple more times. We have probable cause to believe that the vehicle he’s using was a tool of the crime, so the vehicle becomes forfeitable, because it’s used to commit the crime, just like a firearm would be used in a bank robbery. That type of thing. The difference now is that when we seize the vehicle…let’s say we decide to arrest him the next day. We arrest him and there’s no drugs in the car. The statute doesn’t…the administrative forfeiture statute says that drugs have to be inside the vehicle when we seize it in order for it to be forfeited administratively. However, on the other side, we have evidence that he used the vehicle on prior occasions to sell drugs out of. What we do then is we get what’s called a summons and complaint from our county attorney. We seize the vehicle immediately, because we’re allowed to do that to prevent them from selling it, going out and getting a lien or destroying it, or hiding it from us, so we can retain that asset. We get a summons and complaint from the county attorney, which basically is a probable cause statement that says, “Mr. Joe Drug Dealer, we believe you’ve been, you know, selling drugs out of this car. It’s been used as an instrument of the crime. Here’s your service. We’re forfeiting your vehicle.” And it lays out the process that they can follow to fight the forfeiture, or contest the forfeiture. They then would request a court hearing to tell a judge their side of the story, we would tell our side of the story. That’s a judicial forfeiture that’s done through a summons and complaint. So there’s no thresholds on the amounts of drugs and that type of thing in a judicial forfeiture. Those are typically something where ____ if we seized one at $50,000, or other property that we believe is linked to either the sale or promotion of sale, or was purchased with the proceeds of drug sales. Those types of things we would seize to be forfeited, because they’re ill-gotten gains, essentially.   The last way that we forfeit property is through a summary forfeiture, and what that is is what I said earlier: a crime that you use a firearm in. And we do a search warrant two weeks later and we find your firearm and we go through the criminal trial. The judge then would, upon our request or upon the prosecutor’s request, would do a summary forfeiture that says, “This was an instrument of the crime. It’s now hereby forfeited.”   Under the judicial forfeiture, you have to meet certain criteria and certain laws. We can’t forfeit your vehicle because you’re driving after revocation. There have to be certain levels, and different types of crimes, for us to do the forfeiture. They’re called designated offenses, and they’re basically crimes of violence, and they’re listed here. And I’ll let you keep this, so you can refer to it. One of the things under our definitions within the forfeiture law is that a designated offense includes weapons used in any violation of this chapter, Chapter 152 or Chapter 624. Chapter 152 are controlled substance statutes. So any part of Chapter 152 is a violation which allows forfeiture under Minnesota law. Controlled substance statutes, you can review all that. That includes everything from possession of cocaine to possession of marijuana to possession of synthetics. Anything like that, it allows for forfeiture. But this goes through the judicial process, where we have to get a summons and complaint.   There’s many other rules within the law that allow us to take things in the interim, to determine if they’re forfeitable, if they’re contraband, or if they are proceeds of crime, so that we can determine if they can be forfeited. If they’re contraband, we can take that and they’d be forfeited. So any drugs, anything related to the sale of drugs, and weapons used to further a drug crime. So a drug dealer carrying a gun on his person, for example, and we stop him and arrest him, he’s got the gun, that gun is forfeitable under the law.   Ramos: It sounds like…so, any amount…basically, any amount…you used the example of one joint. With that, could you forfeit the vehicle based on that?   Stracek: No. Vehicles, you have to have a street value of $100 and a felony-level drug. So you would have to have cocaine or methamphetamine or anything that’s a felony, and you have to have $100 worth of that substance. So, basically, a gram of powdered cocaine would fit that criteria.   Ramsay: A joint is a petty misdemeanor. You don’t go to jail for possession of a joint.   Ramos: But you still could confiscate the money.   Ramsay: Yes.   Stracek: Mm-hmm. Because part of the purpose of that is that today we may not have the drug dealer with a lot of marijuana in his pocket, he may only have a small amount, but he’s got $5,000 in currency that quite likely is proceeds from sale. But the way the law is written, it’s not hinging upon us proving that he’s selling. It’s hinging upon that there’s drugs here, in proximity to currency here, and it’s just a feed into each other. Proximity is really the only criteria.   Ramos: I mean, yeah, that could be a drug dealer, and I could think of many scenarios where it wouldn’t be a drug dealer. It would be a drug user. You know, a lot of people carry joints and a lot of people carry cash, and that doesn’t necessarily...   Stracek: It’s certainly possible that that’s…it’s all part of the way the statute’s written.   Ramos: Yeah. Do you confiscate cash or property without filing charges? Forfeit some things without the person who loses the items ever being charged?   Stracek: That’s happened before, yes. And that is within the law. There’s no requirement, under administrative forfeiture, that someone’s charged with a crime. It’s a separate…under administrative forfeiture, it’s a separate civil matter outside of the criminal matter. The administrative forfeiture goes on hold, as far as the hearing goes, if the person the money’s taken from files their paperwork in court. The criminal matter runs separate of it.   Ramsay: So there is still a kind of due process. If your stuff is taken, you can file the paperwork and…   Stracek: Yup. And that’s exactly how it works, is you’re served…with any forfeiture paperwork you’re served with, there is a process for you to go in conciliation court or ask for a hearing in court to basically tell the judge, “Your honor, here’s my paycheck, I just cashed it, I gotta pay my rent, and, yeah, I had six ounces of marijuana in my pocket. I understand that. But this is in no way related.” And judges have discretion. As much as we, the law, really doesn’t allow for that _______ of discretion, they do have discretion to make those types of decisions, and they’ve done that. They’ve given money back, or they’ve given portions of money back to people in those hearings. There is a process to, in the court system to contest forfeitures, to challenge law enforcement’s claims, and the judge takes testimony from the officers involved and from the person that the money’s taken from, and they make a decision based on what they believe are the facts of the case, or if it fits the statute.   Ramos: So then you get 70 percent, the Duluth PD would get 70 percent of anything that comes to you, or is forfeited under that process?   Stracek: In the state statutes. Under the federal forfeitures, it’s really dependent upon what the federal authorities would determine, what portion they think we should get.   Ramos: Okay.   Ramsay: And many times it’s a tiny fraction.   Ramos: Well, you answered a lot of my questions without me having to ask them. Have you had a case where property was seized and held for an investigation and then voluntarily returned to the owner when it was determined that no charges were justified?   Stracek: Yes.   Ramos: Do you just do that? Or do they have to go to court to get that back?   Stracek: There’s been circumstances where I’ve been called by the person that the money’s been taken from, or the property’s been taken, and I review the reports, determine what occurred at best, and make those decisions, and there’s been times where I’ve returned a lot of property.   Ramos: So that’s legal, that you could conceivably just go into the evidence room, get that property out and bring it back to the person?   Stracek: Well, it wouldn’t be exactly that…it wouldn’t be sloppy. We would follow protocol to release the property, if I were to determine, or if the county attorney were to request, that the property be returned.   Ramos: I just guess I mean outside of a courtroom.   Stracek: Yeah, we have that ability to basically say, you know, “We’re not gonna proceed with the court,” which I would typically notify the—Tom Stanley is the forfeiture person in St. Louis County, so I would…if we had sent reports over and the paperwork on that forfeiture, and I would determine that we would want to return that item, those items, I would contact him and he would basically dismiss that case file, and we would return the property. So yeah. Not an unusual occurrence. We examine all those things. There’s times where I’ve seen things come in that, you know, where I don’t think it’s to our best interests to pursue, and we give it back, so...   Ramsay: So as the commander of that unit, Steve reads all the reports and he assures that thresholds are met, the statute requirements are met, and he has that discretion, then, if he feels that, you know, this was done inappropriately, or we don’t have enough evidence, it’s going back. He has that authority as well.   Ramos: Okay. That’s for any evidence? Vehicles, any value, it doesn’t matter?   Stracek: Yeah, if it applies to cases that are assigned to my unit. I wouldn’t make decisions…I shouldn’t say that. I typically wouldn’t make decisions on violent crimes or sex crimes, those types of things, because that’s not my area of assignment. But there are times where we also do forfeitures for drive-by shootings, kidnappings, burglaries, robberies. We forfeit vehicles based on those crimes as well, because they’re also designated offenses. So any forfeitures outside of the traffic realm, like DWIs, I would typically review those cases and determine if we should keep them or not. And if not, then I would be the one to follow…a lot of times, we will give the vehicles back that we initially will seize for forfeiture, based on, you know, my belief that we can prove that the vehicle was knowingly used to commit that crime by the owner, so...   Ramos: Okay. So is there any maximum length of time that you can hang onto something without any charges being filed?   Stracek: Well, there’s time frames that we have to follow as far as serving the person. So we have a 60-day window, basically, to get them served, whether that’s through the administrative process with just a form that we fill out, or finding them and serving them with a summons and complaint from the county attorney.   Now, the length of time we hold onto things really is not governed by anything other than the closure of the case. On the outside of the administrative forfeitures, if I don’t serve you within 60 days, I have to give you the money back, or the car back. Because we’re required…   Ramos: Serving with a charge, or…?   Stracek: No. Serving you with the civil paperwork. See, keep in mind that these are two different paths. Forfeiture is a civil process, separate of the criminal process. But because…on the administrative side, if they don’t request a hearing in front of a judge within 45 days of being served, it becomes forfeited. It just goes through, we never hear from ‘em, it’s gone.   Ramsay: And in the paperwork you serve them, when you initially seize that, it explains…   Stracek: Yeah. It gives them the contact information for the clerk of court. It has an explanation in four different languages on what you need to do to contest the forfeiture. Judicial forfeiture is still with the summons and complaint. Those we cannot close until the criminal matter is complete. So if…and here’s examples that happen all the time. Let’s say we have a drug dealer that we serve with a summons and complaint, and he leaves town, and he disappears for three years, and we sit on his property. If he’s contested that, we have to wait until we clear up that matter in order to get the forfeiture completed. So sometimes it falls on the shoulders of the suspect disappearing, or getting continuances in their criminal trial. Sometimes people know they’re guilty, and they’ll put off the inevitable forever, so they’ll get continuance after continuance, two years goes by before it goes to trial. Then that can cause that forfeiture to just kind of stagnate and sit there until the criminal matter is resolved.   There’s no requirement as far as…actually, I take that back. There are requirements that just came into effect this year that require a hearing within 180 days of service. But there are other things that allow for continuances based on the investigative progress in that case. So the hearing dates are set as far as…in the statute. But there are other things that happen sometimes that postpone the completion of the forfeiture matter, sometimes outside of our control. A lot of narcotics cases that are large-scale take a long time to investigate. I mean, I don’t know if you follow any of our cases over the years, but you’ll see, you know, in our press releases we talk about two-year-long investigations. That’s not uncommon. Especially in federal cases, because we have such a bulk of information and evidence that we have to manage. We have to corroborate things with…we don’t just go doing one buy with somebody and charge ‘em. We do long-term surveillances and information-gathering, bank records and those types of things, that take a long time to analyze, if you can just about imagine. Looking at your own bank records, how long would it take someone to take one person and look at that? So very time-consuming. And the courts have allowed us to complete our investigations before we trouble ourselves with trying to resolve the financial part of this. Does that make sense?   Ramos: Yeah, it does. So, two years is not uncommon? Is that what you said?   Stracek: On federal cases, it’s not uncommon. I mean, there’s been…we’ve had people charged two to three years after cases have initiated. A lot of times these build from one or two suspects to multiple suspects that are involved in conspiracies, so the government allows us to take that…those opportunities and take the investigative time it takes to build those cases, to try to stem those large crimes. You go after the large organizations that cause the smaller things to happen in our communities.   Ramos: Is interest paid on seized cash when it’s returned to its owner?   Stracek: No. And we don’t gain interest on it in our account, either. It’s a non-interest-bearing account. The law does allow us to do that. We don’t do it.   Ramos: It does allow you to get interest, but you choose not to?   Stracek: There are some federal forfeitures, I believe that they do accrue interest as they hold that cash. But we don’t do that.   Ramos: Okay. The recent case in the paper of the prescription drug ring that got recently prosecuted, did you forfeit a lot of property, or any property, in that case?   Stracek: Well, there are two of them. There was one…   Ramos: The prescription drug one. Not the heroin one. The one that was just in the paper.   Stracek: The one from September of last year.   Ramos: Right. Yeah.   Stracek: Yeah, we did.   Ramos: Oh, okay.   Stracek: We forfeited, I can’t tell you the exact amount, it was thousands, and we took a few firearms on that case and several vehicles.   Ramos: Do you take houses?   Stracek: No.   Ramos: You don’t? Ever?   Stracek: We don’t. We haven’t recently, but by law you’re allowed to. It’s really…those decisions typically fall in the decision of the county attorney, whether or not they’re willing to take on that. Forfeiting real property, real estate, is a little bit different than forfeiting these types of items. There’s more of a process. There’s probably a larger burden of proof to bring forward, and our county attorney’s office has declined forfeiting real estate, historically, and that’s their choice to do that. Typically they’re the ones that make the decision on it.   Now, on the federal side, that’s, again, that lays in the hands of the prosecutor, to determine if they want to forfeit real estate and those types of things.   Ramos: Was that big crack ring…that was a federal case, wasn’t it? I think the Hip-Hop Candy Shop and all that?   Stracek: There were several. We’ve had several over the years.   Ramos: Okay, I was thinking of that one, so…   Ramsay: Is that…was Redd…?   Stracek: Yeah, that was a drug, er, a prostitution thing.   Ramos: Oh, right.   Ramsay: Yeah, he was involved in trafficking, human trafficking.   Ramos: I thought he was also involved with something down on First Street, a storefront there?   Ramsay: He was selling. Yep. It was First West.   Stracek: Hot Gear, Cold Grillz.   Ramos: Yeah, that’s the one. That was a federal case?   Stracek: That was a federal case, yes.   Ramos: Did they forfeit…they didn’t forfeit the business, or…?   Stracek: No. And the Feds will allow us to do the forfeitures on the state side sometimes, too. They have thresholds, too, before they do the forfeiture, and sometimes they’ll leave that in the hands of the state side, too. So…but it’s typically their decision, on how and what they want to do.   Ramsay: And we work closely with them.   Stracek: But they basically ask us to give them what they need to do the prosecution.   Ramos: Okay.   Ramsay: And that goes…as far as talking about the cases? Whereas I would love to talk about what’s going on, they say, “This is our case.” They pretty much put a muzzle on locals, and say, “We’ll do the talking. And if you talk, we might walk.”   Ramos: That’s just the second raid, though? The first raid was city, right? On the Last Place?   Ramsay: The first was city.   Ramos: That was a city operation, and the second one was federal. Okay. Are the police videotaping or taking pictures of people going into the Last Place on Earth?   Ramsay: We have.   Ramos: You have?   Ramsay: Yeah. Yep.   Ramos: Okay.   Ramsay: One of the issues that we’re dealing with is…the biggest issue for me around that, obviously, is the health of young people. That they’re ingesting this drug, that we have no idea what it does to them long-term. But, two, what it’s done to that neighborhood. And you talk to the area businesses? Fortunately, most of the other businesses in that block are owner-occupied. But they have seen substantial decreases in business. The printing shop next door has had a 50 percent drop, $1,000-plus a day in lost revenue, because people are tired of it. I hear about it probably four or five times a day from businesses downtown, people that work downtown, saying, “When are you going to do something about this? How can this go…how can you allow this to continue to go on?” Because of the behaviors associated with the draw of that business. Those that are using the drugs, they vomit, they have other bodily losses that occur in the neighboring businesses. The pressure that the Downtown Council and Chamber are under to have something done about this by the businesses is substantial, and it’s based on behavior. It’s based on the behavior of those that around that business.   Ramos: But we’ve had issues over the years of people who congregate in places. The Holiday Center comes to mind, about ten years ago or so, there was a big issue about that. But it just seems like it’s because there’s a lot of people in one place. It doesn’t seem like there’s a lot of serious crime associated, and if you’re saying that these businesses lost revenue…well, if that’s the issue, I would say that the Last Place probably made a lot more than to offset…if you’re just talking about value of revenue per block, I mean…   Ramsay: Well, you’re talking about people that own businesses and that have families they have to raise, and…that they’re losing money.   Ramos: Yeah, but Jim Carlson is making money, so…he’s running a business.   Ramsay: Right. But those other, good people in that block that are selling T-shirts and whatnot have had substantial declines in their business, because people just avoid that block.   Ramos: I could see that. But I just don’t see the illegality of it all.   Ramsay: Well, I’ll tell you about police calls. So, in ’10, we had six police calls in that block.   Ramos: In what?   Ramsay: In 2010.   Ramos: Okay.   Ramsay: Six police calls. Last July, of ’11, we had—and these are rough numbers—70-some. This year, we had 120. That’s in one month. And it’s to the point now where we have to have a police officer in that immediate area, because if we don’t, we get called back—to fights, for disturbing behavior, disorderly conduct, that kind of stuff. These are citizen-generated calls, and the expectation from people is, “Hey, guys. You gotta do something about this. We can’t have these people throwing up in our storefronts. We can’t have these guys swearing and fighting and acting this way in front of our business.”   Ramos: And so the taking pictures and videoing customers, what’s the purpose?   Ramsay: It’s not for…it’s not to…it’s more to show the behavior of…and, particularly, like…so the city’s doing the injunction now?   Ramos: The nuisance?   Ramsay: The nuisance. That’s why we are doing that. To show, when this goes to court, what is the effect of this business and this stuff being sold on this block. So I’m glad you asked that, because it’s in reference to that nuisance injunction, that shows that behavior.   Stracek: This isn’t about people. This is about behavior of those people.   Ramsay: Correct. Yes.   Stracek: It’s not singling out this guy who is here, this guy here. It’s that group that are involved in conduct that’s really offensive. And criminal, in some areas, to the area. So it’s not about…it’s just like a camera in anywhere else that we watch. You saw the article in the paper [about cameras on the Lakewalk], it’s…it’s…they’re put up in areas where we have significant problems that people have complained about, that we’re trying to address.   Ramos: Yeah. Are these…how many of those calls are for serious crimes? I’m not talking about loitering.   Ramsay: It’s not loitering, it’s…   Ramos: I’m talking about assault, robbery, things like that. Is there a lot of that that goes on around there?   Ramsay: We know that we’ve had an increase in robberies associated with that place. The behavior around Lake Place, a substantial change in the types of calls and stuff. But a lot of it is nuisance stuff, yeah. A lot of it is nuisance. But it’s quality of life stuff that impacts. When we study crime and the fear of crime, it’s that little nuisance stuff that worries people. And we do a survey every year, we’ve done it since ’08 now, that studies different neighborhoods and how people feel safe. And our downtown rate, where people feel safe, is extremely low. And it’s because of nuisance behavior. It’s not because we have a rash of robberies or assaults or shootings. We don’t have ‘em. It’s because of that nuisance, disorderly conduct behavior. Misdemeanor stuff.   Ramos: Has anybody ever talked to Jim Carlson? Would it, like…just from my perspective, if they moved that store to somewhere out of the way, that would, like, knock off half your complaints right away.   Ramsay: Correct. Neighboring businesses and the Downtown Council did try to do some proactive stuff. They asked if he could sell it out the back door, off Michigan, they asked a bunch of different things.   Ramos: They did talk to him?   Ramsay: They’ve…they went and talked to him. You bet. They’re desperate. Those neighboring businesses are desperate. And I would encourage you, as part of your project, to go and talk to them. Because they will start crying, they will give you some heartfelt experiences that will really, really make you see a different side of things.   Ramos: I guess I see the side of it. I mean, I definitely see that side of it. It’s just that it seems like really singling out one place for having a crowd in front of it, in a town that…we have crowds in front of different businesses at many different times. Grandma’s Sports Garden, the first week of college. That’s…to me, that’s more obnoxious than the Last Place on Earth. But you don’t hear a lot of…   Stracek: Yeah, you understand that how much resources, how many times we’ve sent resources to that location, too? Bars in different parts of town, to different places that have the same exact conduct? And we address it with a police presence, and we address it with enforcement, and giving people alternatives to change their behavior. This is no different. We put resources where the problem is, and that’s where these resources are now.   Ramsay: We do threshold reports every week, find out where the police…any address that gets more than three calls a week, we review it, see what’s going on, why is this happening, what are we doing about it. Any problem businesses that have what you’re talking about, we’re working with them, and we expect changes. And if we don’t expect…if we don’t see changes, and there’s liquor licenses involved, or other licenses involved, we go after ‘em. But what we have, in most cases, in 99 percent of the cases, John, is that the business owners and those involved want to work with us. They’re, like, “Yeah, you know, I don’t want this for my neighborhood. I don’t want these kids, you know, doing this.” Most people work with us. Overwhelmingly, people want to cooperate and make this a better place. We’re not seeing that, in this case.   The other thing that we see is the side effect of those that use the synthetic drugs out on the street. I worked the street the first weekend in August, and on Saturday night I had two calls back to back. One was a couple kids that were stealing things from the Holiday Inn. And they were known as the kids that are always hanging around—and the guy who knew ‘em, “I always see ‘em outside the Last Place,” he said. “They’re always there. You will find them there.” Got ‘em on video, and sure enough, they are regulars there.   The second thing is get a kid that…a report that the person had fallen down a front yard, drunk. I get there, and here’s a kid hanging in the bushes like this, and he looked like an animal, and he’s like…and I’m standing from you to me, and he’s looking right through me. And someone says, “Oh, yeah. He just had some bad synthetic stuff.” And he’s covered in blood, and I’m like, “I don’t wanna wrestle with this guy.” And I could tell, if we tried to do anything, we were gonna fight with him. So, fortunately, Fire got there, an ambulance got there, and I was able to put some cuffs on him. He had no idea what was going on. Flippin’ out in the hospital, and the hospital staff said, “You know, we are seeing these all the time.” And so it’s taking a toll on, you know, police, fire, hospitals, and as I said, who knows what’s happened in the long term with these people that are using this stuff.   Ramos: Yeah, I can see that, too. Um…   Ramsay: Marijuana? This is nothing like marijuana. I’ve never seen anybody that smoked marijuana act like they’re, you know, covered with blood, acting like, you know, totally oblivious to what’s going on. They’re not…so, the drug, to call it synthetic marijuana, it’s very different than marijuana. This is, it’s more like, as Steve said, it’s more like LSD, because you’re putting stuff on a leafy substance, some chemical that we have no idea what it is. This isn’t natural stuff. This is all manmade stuff.   Ramos: Yeah, I understand that, too. And I actually have heard you talk…say how much worse it is than marijuana. Would you have any tolerance for the idea that legalized marijuana might help to alleviate some of these synthetic drug problems? I mean, to me, that’s the only reason they’re down there. Because it’s legal.   Ramsay: Well, I think it’s because it’s cheaper.   Ramos: Well, I don’t know if it’s cheaper, but it’s legal.   Ramsay: Yeah, it is cheaper. The folks that I’ve talked to, is that it’s a lot cheaper and it gives them a high. One thing you gotta remember with addiction—and I’m fortunate, I don’t suffer from it. I have a brother that does, and many friends and other people in the community do. I don’t know what it’s like. But addiction is a terrible thing. And what goes hand in hand with addiction, one of the worst things you can have, is availability. And we have availability of a drug that is cheap and easy to get. And that’s a recipe for a disaster.   Stracek: Do you think that legalizing marijuana, we should legalize cocaine or methamphetamine as well?   Ramos: Do I think that?   Stracek: Is that your argument?   Ramos: I tend to just focus on marijuana. I guess if I had to take it to its logical conclusion, I probably would legalize the harder stuff, with some controls, but marijuana, to me, I...   Stracek: How would you control that, if we already can’t control Ipana or Oxycontin or any of those things? How would you control anything that you can make in your garage?   Ramos: Well, I don’t know that you would control…I mean, if you can’t control it now, I don’t see that it would…I don’t think that it would explode in usage, the way people seem to think. That’s my opinion.   Stracek: The reason I ask you that, John, is that we’ve struggled from the beginning with people to understand that we are not talking about legalizing marijuana. This stuff is not marijuana. If you look at the effects and the things that are happening to the people that are using this…   Ramos: Yeah.   Stracek: …they’re debilitating, they’re going…sliding right downhill.   Ramos: Sure. I can believe that.   Stracek: You see guys smoking marijuana for twenty years and they’re burnouts. These guys are burned out to nothin’ in a short… in six months. So there’s a difference. It’s an abusive drug.   Ramos: Right. I understand. That’s what I’m saying. If marijuana was legalized, I think that a lot of these users would go back to marijuana. Didn’t I read that drug dealing is down in the city?   Ramsay: I don’t think so. [He said this in May 2012, at a Chamber forum. –JR]   Ramos: Drug dealing and prostitution? And it seems to me that all that drug dealing went right down to one place, that used to be in the back alleys.   Ramsay: No, it’s still going on.   Ramos: I’m sure it’s still going on, but…   Ramsay: What I see is that I see a whole ‘nother crowd in town using this stuff. Different people that, you know, I mean, everybody’s got…   Ramos: People from out of town?   Ramsay: Yeah, people drive from a long distance to come here to get this stuff. He sells it so cheap. You know, he sells it for four or five dollars a gram. Your cheapest, worst marijuana, I think, is what, going for fifteen, twenty a gram?   Stracek: It’s not even close to that.   Ramsay: Oh, okay.   Stracek: I mean, to what we’re talking about here. But I just hesitate to compare this. I mean, the fact that this got started being called synthetic marijuana is such a misnomer that it’s…   Ramos: See, it seems to me that all the people down there smoked marijuana all their lives, and then when they had an alternative that wouldn’t show up on drug tests and wouldn’t get them prosecuted, they all just went and started doing that instead.   Ramsay: I think there’s two things, two things that I would suggest you do. One is you talk to the neighboring businesses. And two, you hang out there and you talk to some of these people that are using this.   Ramos: I’ve hung out down there.   Ramsay: Well, I have, too. And you know what? You quickly…I quickly find this is bad stuff. These people are zombies. We saw…I saw, when I was working the street here, I also did some bike patrol a couple weeks ago, and we dealt with a couple synthetic users at the Veteran’s Memorial in Lake Place. And we shooed ‘em out of there. And one kid was just out of it. Totally out of it. And then we rode around, we came up and we were going through, by the CHUM, and get over to 2nd Avenue West, and here comes this kid that was out of it running down the street, bleeding. “He robbed me! He robbed me!” You know? And there was an example where the wolves saw him, and they said, “There’s a target. This guy is whacked out, and he probably got something.” You know, he might have had a check he cashed or something, and they robbed him. And he had the crap beat out of him to boot. And that’s what…so, our crime in Duluth is drug-ridden. Driven. Our property crimes almost always have a connect to drugs. You go out on the street on any given night after 10:00, you’re either dealing with people that are wasted on booze or wasted on drugs, or their victims.   Ramos: Well, yeah. I drove a cab for ten years, so…   Ramsay: I’ve read some of your stories. I used to read it, before.   Ramos: Before?   Ramsay: Yeah. Before this, even.   Ramos: Really. That surprises me. My seven-year-old wonders why you don’t have a moustache, since police chiefs on TV have moustaches.   Ramsay: [laughs] It’d take me too long to grow it out.   Stracek: [laughs] Is that on your list of questions?   Ramos: I asked him what I should ask the police chief.   Ramsay: That’s the ‘70s cops, though.   Ramos: In his mind, you need to have a moustache.   Ramsay: We do have…cops have good humor. And we have a group here, that every February they have Moustache Month. So all these guys in their 20s grow these cheesy moustaches, and I can’t wait for February to be over, because they look so bad. They do.   Ramos: How often have the Duluth police felt the need to handcuff and background-check everyone who was present, including witnesses? I believe that happened at the last raid, handcuffed customers in the store.   Stracek: I can tell you that, without exception, every time we do a search warrant, in a house, anywhere.   Ramos: But a store? I mean…   Stracek: Well, we’re not gonna talk about that operation for a couple reasons, one being that the federal agents that were there made operational decisions. But I can tell you that whenever we go and execute narcotics search warrants, which this was a narcotics search warrant, we handcuff, we make certain that people are not carrying weapons that can harm us. We interview, we identify, we question, we look into their background as far as warrants, probations, _____gations, those types of things. It’s what we do. So it’s no different…   Ramos: So somebody in there using the pop machine would have got treated that…you know, swept up in it all?   Ramsay: People stopped using the pop machine there, because I have friends that used to go there, because he sold cheap pop. No one wants to go stand in line with the people that are there, or wait in line, for…   Ramos: I used to work at the Reader, nearby there, and I used to use that pop machine an awful lot.   Ramsay: Yes.   Ramos: I assume that some people probably still do.   Ramsay: No one wants to wait in line. There’s thirty or forty people…   [all three talking at once]   Ramos: You don’t have to stand in line for that.   Ramsay: There’s almost always a line.   Stracek: There’s been occasions over the years where people have been in the wrong place at the wrong time on search warrants. It just happens. But as officers, when we go into those situations, especially when we have intelligence information or prior contacts with people that have been armed before, we operate safely, and we treat people in a certain way until we know that they are not a threat. We have to do that every day to stay alive, and that’s how we operate, so....It’s a tough job that we do.   Ramos: Oh, I don’t doubt that it’s a tough job.   Stracek: We don’t trust everyone right off the get-go, because it could hurt us if we do that, so we have to be safe first.   Ramos: You’ve called this, the Last Place, “one of the biggest problems in decades” downtown. What were some of them before?   Ramsay: I don’t know. I wasn’t around, and I’ve been around for decades. And it looks nothing like it that’s been here since I was around.   Ramos: How about the Kozy Bar area? Now that that’s closed, has everyone just moved down a block?   Ramsay: You know, there’s no doubt that the traffic pattern has changed. The Kozy block’s nothing now. But part of it’s the evolution of…you know, we used to do prostitution work down in that Kozy block. And there’s not much there anymore, because of Backpages and Craigslist and…people find stuff online now, you know? You can be a little more secretive, you don’t have to pick a prostitute out in public, your chances of getting caught are a little less.   But I base this on community input. And when I say I talk about this numerous times a day, I’m approached numerous times a day. I’m not blowing up numbers.    Ramos: Yeah, I believe that. How many calls would you say you get in a week?   Ramsay: It’s not so much calls. It’s a lot more informal stuff. You know, the business community downtown is very, very upset by it. And people that have to walk through there for business are harassed, and, you know…   Ramos: I hear that a lot. When I’ve been down there, I see that there’s a crowd, I see that it is blocking the sidewalk, but I don’t see a lot of … not too much panhandling. Some. But I don’t get harassed. I’m not afraid. I’m not, you know…I suppose a lot of people would be, but that’s poor people versus middle-class people. Just the very sight of poor people sometimes will make people afraid.   Ramsay: A story I had yesterday—   Side A ends. Ramsay’s story was about a woman who parked her car on First Avenue East and walked down the block to Tycoon’s to meet friends. She was wearing a nice dress. She felt unsafe. She said some guy followed her and others made comments. She asked the employees of Tycoon’s if somebody could walk her back to her car. They didn’t. She had to leave while it was still light out.   Side B begins mid-sentence. Stracek is talking about law enforcement’s ability to accurately identify banned substances.   Stracek: —classification. Well, this went from this big to this big. So the question about testing and identifying those substances, they are testing and identifying those substances, and there are experts that can give that testimony eventually. It’s not something that’s happening right now, but it will happen. I mean, it’s just a matter of time till enough research and testing is there to actually substantiate that testimony. But the fact that we’ve converted what last year would have been considered analogs into banned substances this year, is that recognition that those are now synthetic cannabinoids. Those are listed items—the AM-2201’s, all the JWH compounds, all the other stuff, they’re now banned, because we looked at them, identified them, and they now fit the statute. So there are listed…the problem that I think you’re describing is the confusion over the analog part of the statute, and because this was a new substance that came out, there wasn’t a lot of information out about it, they only identified mostly JWH compounds as the banned substances. That is no longer. Those…the more that time goes on, the more we’re able to pluck out and identify those substances, and link those to the known characteristics of what these drugs do to people. It’s just now a matter of time of building that research and that understanding of what we actually have on our hands, so…what I think you’re saying is that back, I think it was almost a year ago, that statement was made by the BCA…   Ramos: Probably, yeah.   Stracek: …to today, very different things that are going on. It was recognized as a serious threat, resources were put on it, and now there’s people looking at it, so…   Ramsay: [laughs loudly as Ramos pulls out another sheet of questions]   Ramos: I can keep going. I’ve had months to think of these.   Ramsay: Holy smokes, John.   Stracek: I’m not getting paid by the hour here.   Ramos: I’m not getting paid at all. I read that you once impersonated a drunk person passed out on the street as part of a sting operation. Is that true?   Ramsay: Yep.   Ramos: You still do that?   Ramsay: No, I haven’t done it, but I was...I think I was, like, seven for nine.   Ramos: For getting somebody? Trying to roll you?   Ramsay: Yeah. But was also sixteen years ago, and I looked like a college kid. Or a high-schooler, maybe.   Ramos: Has any other business been declared a nuisance? Public nuisance? I don’t recall any.   Ramsay: You know what, I did a little research on my own, because, as I said, the public pressure to do something about this has been substantial. So I just Googled the state statute for that, and case law, and there was a story, and it was something about…it was a suburb of the Cities, and it was some time ago, where there was a horse farm, and they allowed horseback riding, and they were disturbing the neighbors, and, you know, causing all kinds of problems for neighbors, the horseback riding. And the city brought an injunction against that business to abate that problem that was bothering the neighbors, and they went to…and I think why I found it was because it went up the chain and through the court of appeals, and I believe the city was found to have a say in, you know, this is not good for our neighborhood, it’s causing problems.   Ramos: Nothing in Duluth, though.   Ramsay: Not in my time here.   Ramos: And the reason for it is because it’s blocking the sidewalk. I think that was what was listed in the paper.   Ramsay: Well, that’s one of them. Blocking the sidewalk, though, John, is really one of the minor, minor, minor issues. If it was strictly…I would take just blocking the sidewalk any day. You know, if it was the guy playing a trombone, trying to make a few bucks, or even a band blocking the sidewalk, but it’s not just…it’s the behavior associated with that.   Stracek: Have you read that statute that talks about the public nuisances?   Ramos: No.   Stracek: There’s pieces of it that _______________.   Ramos: I mean, I read it, yeah, I’ve read what’s on the—   Stracek: There’s pieces of it that apply across the board in the statute that…   Ramsay: And that’s one of the…that applies. Blocking the sidewalk is one of the criteria.   Ramos: Okay. Um, the county attorney’s office has the responsibility to prosecute gross misdemeanors. Why wasn’t the county prosecutor present at Carlson’s court hearing? I thought that the county was pursuing this, and now it seems like the city is.   Ramsay: On the forfeiture deal?   Ramos: Right. Well, the last court appearance. Yeah, it was. Yeah.   Stracek: It’s probably not anything we should talk about right now.   Ramsay: Yeah.   Stracek: He sued the city.   Ramos: Oh, yeah. Has there been any court appearances other than him suing the city? Like, regarding his investigation? Has there been any?   Ramsay: Not yet.   Ramos: Okay. It’s been eleven months.   Ramsay: Well, remember, though, we talked about the…this is a big case.   Ramos: Yeah.  

Ramos

about 2 years ago

Ramsay: And these big cases, it’s not like, you know…one of things that I get frequent complaints from, and not necessarily in the drug realm, but every realm of police work, where people…things don’t happen quick enough. You know? The Gauthier case. “Oh, my God. You guys are taking so long to do it.” Well, it happened the end of July. We gotta do our reports, we gotta do a thorough investigation, we wanna make sure that everybody’s interviewed, and if there’s any witnesses that are interviewed, and then the cops dictate their reports, they gotta go to a transcriptionist, it’s gotta go back to the cops for their corrections, it’s gotta go to a supervisor to approve, we gotta have a discussion on, hey, what are the charges here or what aren’t the charges? This stuff doesn’t happen in a day. And I think a lot of it is driven, actually, by mainstream media, particularly TV shows, where you see a homicide happen in the first five minutes of the show, and then fifty minutes later everything’s solved and everybody’s convicted, it’s all done and everybody’s going home. These things take time.   Burglaries. When we do a burglary case and burglary investigations, those take months. They don’t just…it’s not a week-long thing. And that’s with all police cases.   Ramos: Yeah. I guess. It seems long to me. I mean, a lot of these major rings you’ve busted up say that it’s been a six-month investigation, or a three-month, or…and those are major, major operations. And this one seems like you should test to see if there’s anything illegal and then there is or there isn’t, and then...   Ramsay: But you don’t know what we’re doing.   Ramos: I know I don’t. But that’s what everybody thinks you raided him for, was selling illegal drugs. I mean…   Ramsay: I would love nothing more than to speed things up, but I’m not controlling it. It’s not my case. I’m not driving the bus.   Ramos: You’re not gonna vote for Jim Carlson for president?   Ramsay: [laughs] You do have a good sense of humor. [guffaws] Are you?   Ramos: Huh?   Ramsay: [keeps laughing] Are you?   Ramos: I might. Jim Carlson’s making a ton of money selling drugs that are not illegal, or that he says are not—and he has…I guess each box that he gets has a certification from a biotech company stating that it’s been tested and contains no illegal compounds—since he’s making so much money selling legally, why would he…what reason would he have for selling anything illegal? Why would you suspect that he would have anything illegal, if he can just, you know, whatever they say, tweak a molecule and continue to sell legally? It seems like he could always stay one jump ahead that way. Always.   Stracek: One jump ahead of what? Staying legal?   Ramos: Of…right. One jump ahead of being illegal.   Stracek: _________ the process of ________   Ramos: Right. I’m saying…   Stracek: It’s not necessarily staying ahead of being legal. It’s just staying ahead of the ability of the cops to keep up with you, right?   Ramos: That’s what I’m saying. Why would…I mean, it…   Stracek: You know, we really can’t talk. We’ve kind of gone even deeper than we should have already with some of the discussion. We can’t talk about that open investigation any more. It’s…down the road, a lot of these questions that you have will be answered. I know they will. You just have to hopefully have some patience with us, and understand that there’s certain things that we just can’t talk about.   Ramos: Well, that’s fine. Yeah. Until…I don’t know if you’re familiar with what I’m doing on the Perfect Duluth Day. I’ve been making one observation per day on a thread. That will continue until either Carlson is charged with something or he gets his property back.   Ramsay: I don’t see that thread. How do you go to it? It’s not on the main page.   Ramos: No, it’s so old now. But if you go on Perfect Duluth Day, sometimes on the New Comments section on the side, you’ll see that there’s new comments on that thread. Or if you don’t see that, you can type in “Last Place on Earth” and it’ll pop up.   Ramsay: Okay.   Ramos: But it’s at about 600 comments now.   Ramsay: And most of them are yours?   Ramos: Two-thirds. But people still go on there. There’s still a lot of activity on it. It’s not a dead thread.   Ramsay: Yeah.   Ramos: So I guess I’ll just keep doing that until one of those two things happens. Because, to me, if one of those two things doesn’t happen, it’s some kind of strange, weird limbo where…anything goes? I don’t know. You know, I think one of those two things has to happen! Charges, or get your stuff back.   Ramsay: And that’s what’s been happening. I mean, there’s…that’s going on.   Ramos: I hope so. [laughs] It’s been so long.   Ramsay: I don’t disagree with you. But there’s processes we need to go through.   Ramos: One last question. Jim Carlson said that police are telling his customers that going into the Last Place on Earth constitutes probable cause. Is that true?   Ramsay: Not that I know.   Ramos: Entering the door? Nobody…there’s no…nobody said that?   Ramsay: No. Not that I’m aware of.   Stracek: I couldn’t tell you.   Ramos: All right. Well, I appreciate your time.   Ramsay: No problem. Does it…how…does it change your thoughts on things at all, or…?   Ramos: I…my thoughts on things…I don’t approve of civil forfeiture without charges. That hasn’t changed. I think that there’s much less hard-nosed ways you could address the problem than raiding a place every…   Stracek: Like how?   Ramos: I think talking…well, who knows? Perfect world, I’d say you could talk to him, you could have him move to a discreet street…   Ramsay: They’ve tried. Talk to Kristi Stokes of the Downtown Council.   Ramos: Well, she…she…she…I don’t think that she would be a good person to talk to Jim Carlson, just knowing her and knowing him.   Ramsay: Well, talk to Rod Raymond. Talk to the printers next door.   Ramos: And then I think that what a lot of the bars do is have a uniformed officer on the premises. I think that would help a lot of the problems.   Ramsay: We’re paying, most days, to have an officer in that block. Because if we don’t, things go…   Ramos: Right. But I think if…it’s just like with any congestion problems in the bars, like I said, I think that if Carlson hired a uniformed officer to stand inside, or…but I don’t think you would go for that, to have a police officer...   Ramsay: We’re putting a cop on that block.   Ramos: I understand. But not one paid by Jim Carlson to watch his business and make sure everything’s on the up-and-up. The bars do it all the time. The Reef, you know, Grandma’s Sports Garden, you know, Grandma’s Marathon, for goodness sakes…   Ramsay: That’s all city money, though, the marathon.   Ramos: Right. Okay. But a lot of businesses do pay officers to stand in the entryway to keep a lid on things.   Ramsay: Yeah. I hear your perspective and stuff, but I think your pulse of what the community feels is off a little bit.   Ramos: Oh, I know I’m a voice in the wilderness, believe me.   Ramsay: Okay.   Ramos: It’s not off. It’s my usual position. Me against 80,000.   Ramsay: [laughs]   Ramos: It’s usual. Been like that my whole life.   Ramsay: All right, well, I hope you…   Ramos: Can I take these?   Ramsay: Yeah. Those are for you.   Ramsay: I hope you got something out of it, and, you know…   Ramos: Oh, yeah. I always like to talk to people involved. Makes it so much easier.   Ramsay: Yeah. How old…how many kids do you have?   Ramos: I have three kids that live with me, a seven-, three- and one-year-old. And then I have an eleven-year-old son who lives in Superior with his mom.   Tape shuts off. Ramsay gives Ramos a Junior Police Officer sticker to give to one of his kids.  

Tom

about 2 years ago

I'm sure someday that first issue will be worth more than the first issue of Spiderman.

Barrett Chase

about 2 years ago

Thanks, John. That was perfect. 

TimK

about 2 years ago

Thanks for giving us the full transcript. Unfortunately, now this thread takes too long to get to the bottom.... As for my 2 cents, Jim Carlson is hard to defend in the same way that the Westboro Baptist Church or that Terry Jones asshole in Florida are hard to defend.

hbh1

about 2 years ago

Well, that forfeiture stuff makes it pretty damn clear why we're pretty much never going to get legalized marijuana. And why the effort is not management but just continually adding to the illegal list of substances. There is absolutely no incentive on the part of anyone in the government to go the other direction, ever. Increase the number of criminals, and everybody makes bank.

baci

about 2 years ago

Hey Ramos, thanks for posting that.

KennethM. Howard MD

about 2 years ago

The last admission of my day was to the mental health unit of a "Spice" client of Mr. Carlson's with suicidal and homicidal ideation. Unfortunately, this isn't an unusual presentation. This drug is destroying him, and he's desperate. These drugs create both psychological dependence and physical addiction and are not harmless, even if they are quasi-legal.

Ramos

about 2 years ago

Answer to the pop quiz: When CNN reporters tracked down the district attorney of Tenaha, Texas, she was playing guitar at a firefighter fundraiser. No winners. TDOB Index, September 22, 2012: 367

emmadogs

about 2 years ago

Thanks for posting the interview and also the councilor (lack of ) responses. I may have to support Stauber now, despite my disagreement with every other stand he takes. The issue isn't whether Carlson is gross.  My neighbor's "vote yes"/deny marriage equality signage is gross, too, and just as harmful to our community's interests. But I would fight any effort to deny my neighbor the right to engage in this legal act. As always, thank you, Ramos. 

Ramos

about 2 years ago

The second most prolific commenter on the original TDOB thread was Emmadogs. Always ready with an encouraging word when things looked bleak, between Dec. 28, 2011 and Sept. 15, 2012, Emmadogs made 27 comments. TDOB Index, September 23, 2012: 368

emmadogs

about 2 years ago

I'd like to thank Ramos, the DPD, Jim Carlson, the Duluth City Council, Mayor Don Ness, and of course, the entire PDD staff for this honor. Perhaps my prize could be a copy of the Constitution with the relevant amendments put back in place for our collective protection.

blind

about 2 years ago

I'm depressed that this is what Last Place on Earth has become. As alluded to by someone else in another recent post, there was a time when Last Place on Earth, Collector's Connection, the Electric Fetus, and Carlson Books - for those of us who didn't know about the supposed secret passwords, but just came for the books - honestly were mind-opening and eye-opening, in ways that had absolutely nothing to do with drugs, or drug culture, but with culture.  Not the "official" culture of symphony and opera and capital T theatre, and not the official Duluth culture of accomplished and respected writers like Sam Cook and Garrison Keillor (maybe also Louis Jenkins and Barton Sutter?).   That East Superior Street, and those four places in particular, were like portals to a broader cultural universe.   But, in the minds of many people who never went between Lake Avenue or Sixth Avenue East (or so), these were basically the same: Last Place, Collector's Connection (with its devil Dungeon and Dragons books!), the Electric Fetus (whose very name might make you think of abortion!), and Carlson Books (with its banned books!) -- and at some points also the Norshor, the Red Lion and even the Kozy, the art studios and pop-up theaters.  But personally I thank god for them. Except, maybe, for some of the art studios, that era is long gone.  In addition to development, general time passage, and the shine that investment can give, the internet helped diminish the need for that kind of cultural oasis, since it is there, in reach, on your computer.  Many good real estate developments, with hard work and heavy investment, have emerged, though sometimes those developments have threatened to de-baby the bathwater of amazing, and amazingly under-appreciated, Duluth music and art that has long lived in that area. Jim Carlson's actions, in selling that garbage, have made any defense of the area's rich cultural history so much more difficult.  Other, more informed, more directly engaged, people, who have more to win and lose in the fight, will resolve the legal issues related to his synthetic drugs.  I'm just a spectator, though one formed by that strip of streets.  But I am a connaisseur of East Superior Street culture, and, personally, I'm furious that Jim Carlson has made it so much harder to defend that deep legacy.  Too often people think that, when you speak of the greatnesses of old East Superior Street, you are defending what he is selling.  It's a shame that must be explained away, and weariness from those conversations is one reason I have long kept my mouth shut and even avoided Duluth in general for long time periods.   What I have cherished and fought for when arguing with others about good things on the OLD East Superior Street has nothing to do with what Jim Carlson is doing at his store.  

adam

about 2 years ago

That East Superior Street, and those four places in particular, were like portals to a broader cultural universe. You mean the places A&L and the city tried to raze to make room for a four story glass-and-steel Technology Village phase 2?

mick

about 2 years ago

Shouldn't the person-hood of Jim Carlson be separated from the discussion of the selling of bath salts? I mean, if he wasn't selling this stuff, surely someone else would. It seems to me this discussion would be more productive if the conversation moved to one of how to deal with the situation in a more enlightened way while the legal system is trying to figure out how to deal with these materials.

Barrett Chase

about 2 years ago

I mean, if he wasn’t selling this stuff, surely someone else would. I'm not so sure about that, mick. Why is no one else already competing with Carlson? Apparently, the demand is high enough to support more than one seller. Yet, it seems that there's only one place in the entire city to buy this stuff.  You'd think the potential to earn millions of dollars in a very short time would tempt more than one person to skirt the edge of the law. 

Jadiaz

about 2 years ago

John, Thanks for sharing your thoughts. So is Carlson paying you well for your advocacy? Don
Talk about passive-aggressiveness. Isn't the mayor the one person who should give a well-reasoned response? Not this alienating, assuming, question and responsibility dodging/shifting answer? Mr. Ness you truly are turning into a first-rate politician.

baci

about 2 years ago

@Jadiaz -- So Ramos can malign, jibe and generally insinuate all he wants but is somehow not deserving of a similar treatment in return? I applaud Don's reply. It underscores the sad ridiculousness of the whole situation. BTW - Carlson, please listen to the local health professionals when they describe the effects of these substances. Stop selling them and use your profits to take care of your employees, contribute to the renaissance of East Superior St. and fund legalization efforts.

Ramos

about 2 years ago

The number one commenter on the original TDOB Index, after me, was ...(flourish of trumpets)... ADAM! (pause for hootenanny dancing) The man of a thousand links, Adam commented 30 times. The top 5 original TDOB Index commenters: Adam  30 Emmadogs  27 Baci  24 Tom  19 Herzog  18 Nobody guessed this, despite my stretching the game out for three days and dropping four of the five names beforehand. It's so sad, that somebody missed out on the prize. TDOB Index, September 24, 2012: 369

Jadiaz

about 2 years ago

@Baci When you are a politician and your words can get out. Sometimes less is more. I feel our mayor should be above the fray, not wading in. If others want to act foolishly, that is their business. The Mayor shouldn't be insinuating anything. That isn't his place or befitting of his office. 

Paul Lundgren

about 2 years ago

Mayor Ness has now posted his opinion on the whole state of affairs.

I don't know how well Ramos and Ness know each other, but I think the mayor might have been flippant in his e-mail response because he knows Ramos and felt comfortable ribbing him initially instead of giving him a public statement. But I could be wrong. In his opinion in the above-linked PDD post the mayor does seem to sincerely want to know if Ramos was paid by Carlson.

Herzog

about 2 years ago

It somehow rubs me wrong Herzog made the list, and says a lot of shady things about his character that he topped the drug commentaries section. Sometimes his statements were so off point, outrageous and crass, I wanted to grab him by his ugly little American necktie, throw a little half hitch around my 3/4-ton pickup and drive him through the neon buckthorn brambles of Skyline Parkway until that periwinkle office shirt was hanging from his bloody carcass in tatters.  And Don, I'm glad you're starting to show some manhood in this arena, now figure out a way to get these poor bastards to stop smoking their toiletries, and come clean on your position on the war on drugs, say it loud and proud. "The war on drugs sucks even in Duluth."

Ramos

about 2 years ago

The mayor has ended his long silence on the Last Place on Earth and come out swinging. He really believes that someone is paying me off for my advocacy. I guess I can see his point. After all, how could one person in 80,000 have a contrary view, unless he were being paid off? The mayor would be amazed to know how easily I took up this cause. It was a given, like breathing. My plan seemed cute at the time, one comment a day, and not that hard. It still seems that way. TDOB Index, September 25, 2012: 370

adam

about 2 years ago

Do I win LPOE gift certificates?

Tom

about 2 years ago

I received my free set of Cheerleader magazines today. I guess I've been paid for my advocacy now.

Nick L

about 2 years ago

Internal Medicine physician Kenneth Howard posted 9/22 about ending his shift sending a Spice user to a mental health unit.  Nearly 2 dozen posts since, nobody’s acknowledged that.  That’s not an academic argument about search and seizure, public nuisance or constitutional rights.  A patient was “suicidal with homicidal ideations.”  That patient was thinking of killing.  The very next post was Ramos’ TDOB tally.  Mayor Ness wrote about the costs of the Last Place On Earth.  Here’s another cost. Minnesota has too few inpatient mental health beds. LPOE wasted one.   If another mental health patient needed care but the state’s beds were full (which often happens), that person had nowhere to go.  Or that person boarded in an ER.  Mental health patients can stay a long time waiting for a mental health bed.  Some stay more than a day.  Boarding increases wait times for every other visitor to that ER.  Please consider that the next time you wait in pain wondering if you’ll ever get in.  Or calm your kid is frightened by the noise from someone who belongs in a mental health unit.  

Ramos

about 2 years ago

I don't want to downplay medical issues with synthetic drugs. I know they exist. But from my own personal observation, I haven't seen anything to suggest that synthetics are a whole lot worse than alcohol. That's not saying they're good, but unless they're worse than alcohol, which is widely accepted, I see no reason for an uproar. We hear the same claims--even exactly the same words--during every drug panic. In a weird way, all the references to Carlson’s rottenness and sliminess strengthen me in my own position. The Constitution says all Americans, no matter how awful they are, or how vile their reputations, are entitled to its protections. The more dirt that is thrown at Carlson, the more I can pat myself on the back for staying true to American principles. Even he has rights! Or he’s supposed to. It’s pretty amazing. I'm told that the Fox 21 news team asked Randall Tigue whether he and Carlson were paying me for my services. The mayor's wild accusations are making me famous. Or they would, if that clip ever got on the air. Sorry, Adam. There are no prizes for commenting, only attaboys. You had 30 comments. Attaboy! TDOB Index, September 26, 2012: 371

Nick L

about 2 years ago

Just because one problem may not be worse than another doesn’t make it OK.  They’re both problems.  Comparing alcohol and LPOE’s product creates more problems.    1-Alcohol’s effects are known.  Treatment is based on centuries of observable evidence and protocols.  The effects of synthetics are not well known.    2-The alcohol molecule hasn’t changed since some hunter/gatherer stumbled across the gift of fermentation. The names and makeup of synthetics change often.    Treatments that worked on a patient in spring may not work when he comes back to the ER in summer.  The patient can say “I smoked fake weed” but that’s more of a category than a drug.  Tell your doctor you downed 10 shots on your birthday and she knows how to help.  Tell her you smoked Ivory Wave and she has to narrow down options.    3 – A lot of this debate is about controlling the effect of the drug.  Societies have controlled alcohol’s effects since that hunter/gatherer’s tribe tried learned it’s hard to fight predators when drunk. Neighborhoods like Lakeside can vote themselves dry. I can’t buy beer at my kid’s high school stadium but can at Amsoil Arena. You and I are stuck if we want to buy a growler on Sunday and discuss Constitutional rights. Controls may not work - my grandparents’ first date was at a Milwaukee speakeasy - but societies can legally control.

Ramos

about 2 years ago

Apparently Jim Carlson told Fox 21 that the only person he ever gave money to was Don Ness, for Ness's election campaign. TDOB Index, September 27, 2012: 372

Nick L

about 2 years ago

I worked on a project with the National Child Safety Council today.  It's so my employer can sponsor the Virginia Police Dept's. safety ed program.  Ironically, the same day we're helping people on the Iron Range, TDOB 372 champions someone hurting people in Duluth. 

Ramos

about 2 years ago

Since the Last Place on Earth has been raided twice, once by Duluth police and once by the Feds, I would like to clarify the conditions by which the TDOB Index will end. The TDOB Index was created after the first raid; therefore, if the city presses charges against Jim Carlson, or if the property seized in the first raid is returned, the TDOB Index will end. The TDOB Index is not affected by the federal case. The TDOB Index will not end if the Feds file charges, nor will it end if property from the second raid is returned. Perhaps the federal case could be tracked by a second TDOB, but one is plenty for me. I'm not trying to start a franchise. TDOB Index, September 28, 2012: 373

baci

about 2 years ago

Hold your breath too....

Ramos

about 2 years ago

I'm not getting paid by Jim Carlson, but I am hoping for a spot in his Cabinet when he's elected president. TDOB Index, September 29, 2012: 374

Ramos

about 2 years ago

Secretary of Education, maybe. TDOB Index, September 30, 2012: 375

Tom

about 2 years ago

Secretary of Agriculture outta be a highly coveted position in President Carlson's cabinet.

emmadogs

about 2 years ago

Or perhaps you could forego a Cabinet post, and bring some renewed common sense to the federal gov't as head of the DEA under Pres. Carlson.

in.dog.neato

about 2 years ago

President Carlson ... I like the sound of that. I've also been looking for an excuse to immigrate to another country ... if such a thing can be done anymore.

Nick L

about 2 years ago

I'm pondering a cause to champion. I'll make a neat acronym and post daily updates to an audience of 8, maybe 10 like-minded individuals. My opinion must focus on a narrow aspect of an otherwise abhorrent cause. Maybe the Twins Dynamically Outstanding Bullpen? 

in.dog.neato

about 2 years ago

Twice Daily Obfuscational Bulletin.

Ramos

about 2 years ago

Ten Deviants On Board? TDOB Index, October 1, 2012: 376

Herzog

about 2 years ago

The constitution was made to bent and subverted to ones will, via lawyers, and lack of true clarification, being it was wrote many eras ago. Mirrors and Smoke make it work for you.  That Ramos finds this dirty little truth abhorrent is at once of little surprise, yet shocking too.  You gotta give him credit, in the main, though. For standing his ground. Corrupt, dirty and stinky as his chosen meadow muffin is. It's the principles what built the thing.

Ramos

about 2 years ago

Truly Delicious Omelet Buffet. TDOB Index, October 2, 2012: 377

B-man

about 2 years ago

Today Does Often Blow.

in.dog.neato

about 2 years ago

Totally Delicious Oligarchy Bacon

Ramos

about 2 years ago

Well, the police have now been holding onto Jim Carlson's stuff for 378 days without filing charges. Carlson has filed his own suits against the city, attempting to get his property back, but the actual case against him (if there is one) has yet to see a courtroom. The mayor approves, because he thinks Carlson is bad. TDOB Index, October 3, 2012: 378

Ramos

about 2 years ago

I see in the paper today that methadone has been implicated in a car crash that killed two highway workers in Carlton County. The at-fault driver was on her way home from a methadone clinic, and may have injected some of the drug. For the last decade or so, pharmaceutical companies and doctors have been providing vast quantities of opiate painkillers to patients. Many patients become addicted. To treat their addiction, they turn to government-subsidized, officially-approved methadone. Unfortunately, methadone itself is a dangerous drug. According to the DNT's recent story, methadone deaths in Minnesota have increased 1,325 percent since 2000. Talk about externalizing the costs of business onto a community. Rather than demonizing Jim Carlson, the mayor might be better advised to demonize the medical community. I know for a fact that many methadone patients have small children to care for. But because they're not lined up on Superior Street, impacting themselves on our eyeballs, the mayor doesn't care so much. TDOB Index, October 4, 2012: 379

adam

about 2 years ago

oxycodone --> heroin --> methadone

Ramos

about 2 years ago

The arbitrariness of America in deciding which substances to embrace and which to demonize is astonishing. Yes to alcohol, no to marijuana. Yes to oxycodone, no to heroin. Yes to methadone, no to crack. With the exception of marijuana, every one of the substances mentioned has the potential to seriously mess up your life. Yet the same people who happily fill a prescription for high-power opiates shudder at the thought of people smoking weed.  It makes no sense at all. Unfortunately, it is this senselessness that drives our drug policy. TDOB Index, October 5, 2012: 380

Herzog

about 2 years ago

I think it is somewhat wrong to conclude that pot can't mess your life up. Most anything taken/done without moderation can mess your life up. Pizza, for instance. Though filled with nutritious ingredients that sustain life, when taken everyday, will block your arteries and eventually stop your heart. You lean a little too heavily into the 'pot is harmless' wagon to back up your beliefs. Smoking anything long term is really not healthy. All drugs have side effects.   Though I agree it is the least potentially harmful, much less than cigarettes, and agree with almost half of Americans it should be decriminalized, and or legalized and regulated. I know, I know, back to Carlson's constitutional Cock-Block ... 

Ramos

about 2 years ago

You have convinced me, Herzog. I accept that weed is as harmful as pizza.

in.dog.neato

about 2 years ago

Breast milk --> everything.

Herzog

about 2 years ago

My holy Christ, the synchronicity of this post is killing me faster than the actuation of ideas will.  Swear to God, my GF just proposed this idea for my new documentary- drinking breast milk for one year. I think I would be dead before Christmas, everyone else seems to think I'm stronger than that. Really, it wouldn't take much to kill me at this point.  I'm half there already. You know what did it to me Ramos? The pot did.  I've got lungs like a wet paper bag now, and shamelessly lost in the addiction of it.  My dealer seems to think its because they're adding addictive agents. Does anyone know where I could get a solid supply of breast milk?  We decided Duluth was as good a place as any, but I'll go straight to the source if I have to.

Barrett Chase

about 2 years ago

It's important not to confuse the term "addiction" with "physical dependence." These are two different and separate problems.

Ramos

about 2 years ago

Drinking breast milk would kill me as soon as I contemplated hoisting the first glass of it. Heavy marijuana use definitely creates psychological dependence in some people, myself included. I quit cold turkey, mainly by sleeping a lot and focusing obsessively on other hobbies, like cooking, magic and commenting on PDD. I can tell you that it does get easier over time. And think of all the money you'll save if you clean yourself out. You could buy another bike. TDOB Index, October 6, 2012: 381

Ramos

about 2 years ago

It's strange to me that I'm considered some kind of fringe character for protesting against the ability of the police to take a citizen's property and never return it. How could I not protest something like that? How could everybody not? TDOB Index, October 7, 2012: 382

Herzog

about 2 years ago

I met some nice folks from Alabama at a bar in New Orleans once. This guy was describing how his parents beat him and his brothers mercilessly.  He was complaining to them that they didn't beat his super younger brother the same way and asked them why.  They responded, "because we're too tired!" It's all people can do to feed themselves Ramos, and turn on American Idol at the end of the day. The man knows this, which is why they control and supply the programming, to finish the job.

Ramos

about 2 years ago

I don't think people are too tired. Duluth can be a pretty active town on some issues. I think it's more a matter of people not wanting to stick up for somebody they don't like. Of course, this is exactly why we have a Constitution: to protect the rights of those who are disliked. Once a precedent is set that we can ignore the rights of one person, because they are especially heinous, it becomes that much easier to ignore the rights of other people in the future. The things that are considered heinous change over time, as cultural and community standards change. At one time, eating at a white lunch counter was considered heinous if you were black. Today, selling synthetic drugs is considered heinous. Tomorrow, the heinous thing could be...well, anything. Let's imagine a future where some charismatic fascist becomes president and convinces the American people that criticizing the military is a heinous act. Because the precedent of extra-legal punishment exists, it would be entirely possible for the authorities to seize people's cash and property simply for having an anti-military sign in their yard, or for publishing a letter to the editor critical of the military. Far-fetched? Not at all. Once the precedent of extra-legal punishment has been established, it can be employed against anything. If you don't have to charge people with a crime, you can just take their stuff and hold it forever, for any reason whatsoever. The mayor is a smart guy. I'm surprised he doesn't understand this. TDOB Index, October 8, 2012: 383

Ramos

about 2 years ago

It's worth pointing out to those who support the harass-Jim-Carlson-at-all-costs approach to dealing with the Last Place on Earth that this approach hasn't worked. After two raids and over $3 million in cash and property confiscated, the Last Place is still selling synthetic drugs. So what was the reason for trashing the Constitution again? TDOB Index, October 9, 2012: 384

Nick L

about 2 years ago

It's worth pointing out to those supporting Jim-Carlson-at-all-costs that you’re not championing a harmless cause.  Most controversial but Constitutionally-protected acts harm nobody.  Burn a flag or a Koran and the only risk is smoke inhalation.  Protest a US soldier’s funeral and you risk a punch in the nose.  Synthetics can harm people.  Not in a Reefer Madness, hysterical Health class video definition of harm.  Real harm.  Disagree?  Scroll up to Dr. Howard’s 9/22 comment.  

emmadogs

about 2 years ago

Nick L, you are kidding, right? Please refer yourself to the shameful history our city has of "protected" discrimination/lynching against people of color. You are a naive fool to say that legally protected behavior is harmless. Don't forget to vote no against that silly, harmless ban on gay marriage.

Ramos

about 2 years ago

I've already responded to Dr. Howard's comment, but I suppose I can go over it again. I'm not an apologist for synthetic drugs, but neither do I think they're the nightmarish horror many people portray them as. Every new drug that gains a foothold in society gets the same hysterical reception. Anecdotes are useful, up to a point, but they're not evidence. For every horror-story anecdote about synthetic drugs, I can respond with an anecdote about somebody who used synthetic drugs and had a good time. My anecdote is no less valid than yours. They cancel each other out. As I stated before, I haven't seen any evidence to suggest that synthetics are worse than alcohol. I'm sure that plenty of alcohol users, like the synthetic drug user mentioned by Dr. Howard, have checked into mental health clinics with "suicidal and homicidal ideation." That doesn't mean I want society to crack down on alcohol sellers by any means necessary.  To say that I support Jim Carlson at all costs is incorrect. As those who are paying attention know, the TDOB Index will end if Carlson is charged with a crime. I would be satisfied with that happening, because then the case would go into the courts and Carlson would have a chance to prove his innocence. As things stand now, Carlson is being punished, but he is not being allowed to prove his innocence. That's the weird punitive limbo we enter when we go outside the Constitution. It's vigilante justice, and it's wrong.

Ramos

about 2 years ago

Also, to clarify: I'm not saying that Carlson's right to sell synthetic drugs is constitutionally protected. I'm saying that his right to a fair and speedy trial, his right not to be deprived of property without due process of law, and his right to confront his accusers in court are constitutionally protected. The right to sell this or that product is determined by law. If the government can figure out how to outlaw synthetics in a way that sticks, the Constitution would have nothing to say about that. I might not agree with such a law, just as I don't agree with the Lakewalk smoking ban, but I would accept it as legitimate.  TDOB Index, October 10, 2012: 385

Ramos

about 2 years ago

The city continued its efforts to declare the Last Place on Earth a public nuisance today, filing an injunction against the shop in Minnesota's Sixth District Court. As part of the filing, city attorneys included surveillance footage of an assault that occurred outside the Last Place on August 28. The News Tribune has posted the video on their website. Now, I'm no fan of assaults, but if an assault happening outside of a business qualifies the business as a public nuisance, every bar in town is guilty. It's just another example of the Duluth Double Standard. Bars good, head shops bad. Liquor awesome, synthetic drugs horrible. Middle-class people sweet, poor people repulsive. And so on. Why can't we just legalize weed already? TDOB Index, October 11, 2012: 386 

Ramos

about 2 years ago

Citing Minnesota statute, [Assistant City Attorney Nathan] LaCoursiere said: “A public nuisance is ‘Any condition which unreasonably annoys, injures or endangers the safety, health, morals, comfort or repose of any considerable number of members of the public.’"
Speaking for myself, my repose is annoyed on a regular basis by any number of things. For example, the traffic jams at Amsoil Arena during hockey games annoy my repose terribly. Can't they go somewhere else to play their little games? I have things to do. TDOB Index, October 12, 2012: 387

Ramos

about 2 years ago

Rod Raymond recently asked the public for suggestions as to what they would like to see done with the Endion Station building, which Raymond purchased. Given the building's proximity to Lake Place Park, I would suggest a viewing platform with metered telescopes, so tourists can watch Last Place on Earth customers from afar and shiver in vicarious delight. TDOB Index, October 13, 2012: 388

Ramos

about 2 years ago

Well, it has been 389 days since police raided the Last Place on Earth and carried away everything, but Jim Carlson has not been charged with a crime. The Duluth News Tribune has yet to write one word on the topic of whether or not such police actions are constitutional. The mainstream institutions in town -- the media, the city council, the mayor's office -- seem united in a belief that their job is to do whatever they can to get rid of the Last Place on Earth. What is often overlooked in this witchhunt is that there are many Duluthians who don't want to get rid of the Last Place on Earth -- namely, its customers. The media, the city council and the mayor's office don't consider the concerns of those Duluthians to be valid. TDOB Index, October 14, 2012: 389

in.dog.neato

about 2 years ago

Toy Dog On Board.

Ramos

about 2 years ago

Tiny, Delicate Oleander Blossoms.

Ramos

about 2 years ago

Thread Declared Officially Bothersome.

in.dog.neato

about 2 years ago

Toivo Declared Oslo Boring.

Ramos

about 2 years ago

While it is obvious to anyone with a grain of sense that Jim Carlson’s constitutional rights are being violated, it occurs to me that I don’t really know the full extent of the violations. Let’s get out the U.S. Constitution and read through it together, shall we?

Amendment I. Congress shall make no law respecting…the right of the people peaceably to assemble.
By slapping the Last Place on Earth with a nuisance injunction, the city is denying the right of peaceable assembly to Carlson’s customers—and I would argue that the assemblies at Carlson’s place are at least as peaceable as those that happen on the corner of Lake and Superior during antiwar protests, or at every major intersection on Election Day. If Last Place customers shouted and waved at traffic the way those assemblies do, the SWAT team would be called in. That doesn’t make them any less protected.
Amendment II. A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.
Although Carlson has not been charged with any crime, police confiscated his gun collection during their first raid. Twenty-eight firearms, worth many thousands of dollars, were seized. Several more guns were seized in the second raid.
Amendment IV. The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.
During their first raid on the Last Place, police seized many items not listed on the warrant, including the aforementioned gun collection. During the second raid, Last Place customers were detained and background-checked merely for being in the store, a clear violation of their right to be secure in their “persons, papers and effects.”
Amendment V. No person shall…be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.
Carlson has been deprived of property without due process of law—twice. The entire apparatus of civil forfeiture, which allows police agencies to take citizens’ property and use it for agency purposes, often without charging out crimes, violates Amendment V.
Amendment VI. In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the Assistance of Counsel for his defence.
“Speedy trial”? “Informed of the nature and cause of the accusation”? Carlson hasn’t been charged with a crime, 390 days after the raid. “Confronted with the witnesses against him”? Because there is no charge, there are no witnesses for Carlson to confront. And yet his property is still being held.
Amendment VIII. Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.
I would say that keeping someone’s property for 390 days without filing charges is a bit unusual. So there you have it. In their treatment of Jim Carlson, the city and the police have violated six of the ten constitutional amendments that make up the Bill of Rights. Not bad, eh? TDOB Index, October 15, 2012: 390

baci

about 2 years ago

Tedious Detached Oblivious Banter

Ramos

about 2 years ago

The Distress Of Baci.

baci

about 2 years ago

Tepid Diarrhea Originating Bile

baci

about 2 years ago

toddler's dilemma objectionable barathrum

baci

about 2 years ago

the dildos obscure braxy

Ramos

about 2 years ago

The Delightfulness Of Baci.

Touchdown

about 2 years ago

Til Death Or Beyond

Herzog

about 2 years ago

Time For Volume Three

Ramos

about 2 years ago

Day number 391. It's pretty amazing that I can keep doing this. If you see me, feel free to shake my hand and offer me a word of congratulations. A quick hug would also be okay. TDOB Index, October 16, 2012: 391

Ramos

about 2 years ago

As I contemplate the incredible perseverance and dedication I have shown in keeping the TDOB Index alive for so long, it occurs to me that I will probably be honored for my activism at some point. Obviously, I don't need or expect such recognition--the warm internal glow that comes from doing the right thing is all the reward I ask for--but a small, tasteful ceremony where city leaders present me with a bouquet of flowers and a small plaque would certainly be appropriate. Undoubtedly, the mayor is working on this as I speak. TDOB Index, October 17, 2012: 392

in.dog.neato

about 2 years ago

Twenty Daisies Outside Bakersfield.

baci

about 2 years ago

Twisted Delinquents' Opiate Demonstration

Ramos

about 2 years ago

Two Ds? Oh, Brother.

Ramos

about 2 years ago

I think that erecting marble statues of myself at the various entrances to town, perhaps with small inscriptions praising my humility, would also be fitting. TDOB Index, October 18, 2012: 393

Ramos

about 2 years ago

Some might say that carving my face into the Point of Rocks, Mount Rushmore-style, would be the best way to recognize my contributions, but the very thought makes me blush. My goodness, I don't need all that attention.

BadCat!

about 2 years ago

Ok, now this is getting weird...

Ramos

about 2 years ago

The Discombobulation Of BadCat!

Nick L

about 2 years ago

Torpid Dissemination of Balderdash

-Berv

about 2 years ago

It's been more than a year since the police/government seized a citizen's assets, and they still haven't charged him with a crime. Isn't there a list of crimes somewhere they could just look at and pick one? Oh right, it's 'complicated'. You'd think they'd have an idea of what they were going to charge him with before they got the warrant. Either they found evidence to support some probable cause, or they didn't. One can only conclude that they didn't find anything they can charge him with. No weapons of mass destruction. The longer this goes on, the more ridiculous it gets. How can they save face? How can they admit they were wrong without someone getting fired? I don't think they can. Someone's going to have to be accountable for this. Who will it be?

Ramos

about 2 years ago

The thing that astonishes me is that so many people, including the mainstream media and city leadership, approve of this treatment of Jim Carlson. The mayor's attack on Carlson was so unexpected and out of character that I'm still amazed by it. I know that many of the mayor's biggest supporters and campaign contributors are downtown businesspeople and community pillars who despise what Carlson is doing, but for the leader of a city to condone what amounts to vigilante justice against a citizen is so against what America stands for that I still have trouble believing it happened. And the mayor didn't even stop with his original post. He kept commenting throughout the thread, vilifying Carlson even more. I haven't always agreed with Don, but I frequently have. Even when I didn't, I respected his judgment and decision-making. When he was silent on the Last Place on Earth issue, I assumed he had his reasons, probably political, but I didn't think that he hated Jim Carlson, and I certainly didn't think that he would publicly abuse him like he did. Apparently, if Don considers a citizen to be really, really bad, that citizen can kiss their rights goodbye. Call it the Clayton-Jackson-McGhie model of leadership. I just can't view the mayor like I used to. If I'm ever in the audience when he makes a remark about the wonderfulness of American freedom, I am going to laugh and laugh. TDOB Index, October 19, 2012: 394

Ramos

about 2 years ago

And then he doesn't even say anything when federal agents come to town and throw law-abiding Duluthians to the floor and handcuff them and run background checks on them. What's up with that? Doesn't he care about his constituents?

-Berv

about 2 years ago

I wonder what the NRA would think about the guns being confiscated.

B-man

about 2 years ago

Turn Down Obvious Bets

emmadogs

about 2 years ago

Ramos, I'm thinking the following: you know that outdoor sculpture as you exit I-35 and swing onto Superior St, across from the old Duluth Bible Building? The cement-tear-drop-thing that has the big Christmas wreath every holiday? We should put a statue of you up there, holding a copy of the Constitution. We could pay for it with the funds seized from LPOE. We could even put the wreath around your neck each Christmas. And, as always, excellent points about the surprising posts from Mayor Ness. Thanks again for keeping the post going.

Ramos

about 2 years ago

Thoroughly Demonizing Our Boogeyman.

in.dog.neato

about 2 years ago

Tony Drives The Bandwagon.

Tom

about 2 years ago

Thorough Discourse On Bullshit

emmadogs

about 2 years ago

Ramos, you might enjoy the book I'm reading now, "Subversives: The FBI's War on Student Radicals, and Reagan's Rise to Power" by Seth Rosenfeld. The library has it (I have the copy now). Pages 4-5:

[At UC-Berkeley in the 1960s], the bureau mounted the most extensive cover operations the FBI is known to have undertaken in any college community ... the FBI maintained that its activities were lawful and intended to protect civil order and national security ... [Current FBI director Mueller now says] "Such investigations are wrong and anti-democratic [of] First Amendment rights ... Any repeat of such abuses will substantially reduce public confidence in the FBI and therefore undercut our ability to combat crime."
Which can be said of any abuse of constitutional rights. They seem necessary to some at the time, but ultimately undercut the citizenry's trust of government, and thus work to the detriment of any government seeking to guide its city/country.

emmadogs

about 2 years ago

Toobad Don's Oblivious (to) Binding (understanding that citizens will trust its government only if it doesn't abuse constitutional right). Sorry, best I can do.

Ramos

about 2 years ago

Here's a tasty little something the mayor can try the next time he's holding up the bar at Tycoons. Don't forget the orange flower water! TDOB Index, October 20, 2012: 395

Ramos

about 2 years ago

Duluth police celebrated the thirteen-month anniversary of confiscation by brainstorming ways to violate the last four amendments of the Bill of Rights that they hadn't got to yet. "If we quartered some of our rookies in Carlson's house, that would take care of the Third Amendment," suggested Lt. Stracek. Chief Ramsay nodded and wrote it down. He wasn't feeling too good. He was thinking maybe he shouldn't have had that fourth Ramos gin fizz the night before. But the video had made it look so good. TDOB Index, October 21, 2012: 396

Ramos

about 2 years ago

Tenaciously Defending Oddball Businesses. TDOB Index, October 22, 2012: 397

Ramos

about 2 years ago

I had a good chuckle when I saw the editorial in today's News Tribune, entitled, "Minnesota’s constitution demands respect and reverence for the important document it is." In calling for voters to vote against two proposed constitutional amendments on the ballot (in itself a reasonable request) the DNT waxes sentimental about the foundation of American freedom.

Constitutions are all about the structuring of government; they offer overall guiding principles and framework to help make sure our rulers don’t trample on our personal rights and liberties. They’re big-picture documents. ... Minnesota’s constitution demands respect and reverence for the important document it is. Misusing it to pass laws when appropriate channels prove unsuccessful cheapens it. And who in Minnesota wouldn’t vote “no” on that?
When I see the systematic constitutional abuses being carried out against the Last Place on Earth--abuses that are utterly ignored by the News Tribune--I have to ask myself the same thing. Don't they ever look in the mirror? TDOB Index, October 23, 2012: 398

in.dog.neato

about 2 years ago

Totally Digging On Baseball.

Ramos

about 2 years ago

We're only three weeks away from the TDOB Index reaching 420. Just to give people a head's-up: On that day, everybody who reads this has to do drugs. TDOB Index, October 24, 2012: 399

Paul Lundgren

about 2 years ago

Ramos, you can take today off. Duluth Area Chamber of Commerce President & CEO David Ross is filling in for you.

Stand with Us - Shoulder to Shoulder in Opposition to Last Place on Earth Monday, Oct. 29, 10 a.m. County Court House, Judge Floerke's Courtroom - 3rd Floor Our goal is simple - send a strong message to the court that business leaders are tired of putting up with the shenanigans occurring at the Last Place on Earth. Imagine the impact of having the courtroom filled to capacity, and beyond, to hear the City of Duluth's motion for an injunction against the Last Place on Earth. Let's stand together, in solidarity, against this scourge upon our community. It is time for community building. If you have ever wondered what you can do to help bring an end to the disruption and the devastation generated by the Last Place on Earth, the answer is you: Stand with us Monday at 10 a.m. In support, David Ross, President & CEO
Or did you have a better entry for Index #400?

TimK

about 2 years ago

I'm no fan of Jim Carlson or LPOE or synthetic drugs, but "shenanigans?" Mr. Ross is using the bad 1970s movie approach.

Ramos

about 2 years ago

Somebody should take David Ross aside and gently explain to him that court hearings are not the same as city council meetings. What works in one place may not work in the other. The court isn't political. In my experience, judges are quite protective of their courtrooms. Instead of convincing Judge Floerke of their point of view, Mr. Ross and his "shoulder to shoulder" goofballs might just piss the judge off. When they stand up, he might tell them to sit their asses down. He could even clear the courtroom. Talk about shenanigans. I'm tempted to march around outside the courthouse with a "Carlson For President" sign, just to irritate people. Plus, I'd probably get on TV. Say...! TDOB Index, October 25, 2012: 400

Paul Lundgren

about 2 years ago

An update this morning from David Ross:

News from Judge Floerke's office confirms this assembly has been postponed to a later date.

baci

about 2 years ago

Tallish Downtown Official Balks

Ramos

about 2 years ago

Baci wins! Thanks for the updates, Paul. I don't have the direct line to David Ross that you do. Let me know if His Shoulder-To-Shoulderness ever goes through with it. TDOB Index, October 26, 2012: 401

Ramos

about 2 years ago

Less than two weeks to go before Jim Carlson is swept into the White House on a wave of grassroots enthusiasm. TDOB Index, October 28, 2012: 403

Ramos

about 2 years ago

Slightly more than two weeks to go before everybody has to do drugs. TDOB Index, October 29, 2012: 404

Ramos

about 2 years ago

I don't want to seem chronologically obsessed, but it has been three months since the Feds pulled off their $3 million raid of the Last Place on Earth. Do you think they'll file charges soon, or...? TDOB Index, October 30, 2012: 405

douginduluth

about 2 years ago

I am not a fan of the crowds that form outside of the LPOE as I believe it creates a somewhat unsavory image of that part of downtown Duluth. Plus I completely understand and sympathize with neighboring businesses that feel that this situation is bad for their business. Nonetheless, I am a believer in our system of justice and we need to let the legal system deal with this in due course. That said, it seems ridiculous that Mr. Carlson can be relieved of his property and have his business shut down at the whim of the DPD. Either charge the man or give him his property back and leave him alone. Finally, if they can't charge him for whatever reason, or tax him out of business, then the city will need to find a means to coexist with his business "model." It's no secret that part of the motivation for moving the downtown bus center to Michigan street was to relocate transit users to a location that doesn't offend pedestrians who feel like they are running a gauntlet while walking down Superior Street along the Holiday Inn block. Don't want crowds on Superior Street waiting to purchase synthetic (seemingly legal) drugs, then enforce vagrancy laws and force Carlson to expand his business into the basement of his building and market his "wares" from Michigan Street. I don't condone what he is doing, but don't think the city can run roughshod over the law either. If the law doesn't fit, you cannot convict!

Ramos

about 2 years ago

I hope President Carlson has fireside chats. TDOB Index, October 31, 2012: 406

Ramos

about 2 years ago

Reacting to Jim Carlson's breakout candidacy, both President Obama and Governor Romney huffed spraypaint during recent public appearances. TDOB Index, November 1, 2012: 407

Ramos

about 2 years ago

It's quite amazing to see the energy that Carlson has brought to his campaign. All the fresh-faced young volunteers working the phones, all the activists fanning out into the neighborhoods with pamphlets to spread Carlson's message, reflect the hope and vigor and vision of Jim Carlson himself. TDOB Index, November 2, 2012: 408

Ramos

about 2 years ago

On Friday, Judge Shaun Floerke ruled that the city must show Jim Carlson the results of the tests on the substances seized from the Last Place on Earth, but that Carlson may not speak of those results with anyone, publicly or privately. It's a small, common-sense step that should have been taken months ago. If the results are negative, I assume Carlson will file another suit against the city to get his seized property back. And if the results are negative, you have to wonder what the city's been investigating for the past 410 days. Everybody knows it's a harassment campaign against Carlson. They're just not allowed to say it like that. TDOB Index, November 4, 2012: 410

Paul Lundgren

about 2 years ago

Here's the update on the Duluth Area Chamber of Commerce's organized stand against the "scourge upon our community" that is the Last Place on Earth: The new time for the courtroom shenanigans is Friday, Nov. 9, 10 a.m., in Judge Floerke's Courtroom, third floor of the County Court House.

Ramos

about 2 years ago

In today's divisive political climate, it's inspiring to see Candidate Carlson take the high road. TDOB Index, November 5, 2012: 411

Ramos

about 2 years ago

With polling stations only open for another hour or so, analysts are predicting a runaway victory for Jim Carlson. Carlson himself, reached at campaign headquarters, said he feels high and mighty. TDOB Index, November 6, 2012: 412

Ramos

about 2 years ago

[img]http://www.perfectduluthday.com/wp-content/uploads/comments/2012_11061a-1.jpg[/img] [img]http://www.perfectduluthday.com/wp-content/uploads/comments/2012_11062a-1.jpg[/img] [img]http://www.perfectduluthday.com/wp-content/uploads/comments/2012_11063a-1.jpg[/img] [img]http://www.perfectduluthday.com/wp-content/uploads/comments/2012_11064a-1.jpg[/img] [img]http://www.perfectduluthday.com/wp-content/uploads/comments/2012_11065a-1.jpg[/img] (Photos by Richard Thomas) TDOB Index, November 7, 2012: 413

adam

about 2 years ago

He's sure lost a lot of weight.

Ramos

about 2 years ago

I heard the mayor on KDAL radio the other day, attacking Jim Carlson. He's really going all out to demonize a man who's been doing business in Duluth for longer than the mayor has had a driver's license. I assume the mayor is going to reject all the sales tax revenue generated by the Last Place on Earth as a matter of principle. TDOB Index, November 8, 2012: 414

Paul Lundgren

about 2 years ago

I just walked past the Last Place on Earth and noticed a police officer leaning against the building doing nothing and looking despondent. I thought to myself, this is the man who drew the shortest straw in Duluth.

farglebargle

about 2 years ago

You should pay your photographer with baked goods.

Ramos

about 2 years ago

My photographer is baked enough already. Well, the big court hearing has come and gone. Nothing momentous happened with regard to the nuisance injunction. Judge Floerke delayed his decision until a future date. I wasn't able to attend the hearing, but the DNT's story says the courtroom was packed——not only with David Ross and members of the business community, but also with Jim Carlson supporters. I have to admit I was surprised. It takes a lot to energize the poor, but apparently they are getting energized. I have a question for those people who constantly disparage and insult synthetic drug users as irresponsible addicts: Is packing a courtroom behavior that you normally associate with drug-addled burnouts? My guess is that they're getting annoyed that the mayor doesn't think they have rights. TDOB Index, November 9, 2012: 415

Paul Lundgren

about 2 years ago

Well you certainly left yourself open for a crack about how drug-addled burnouts usually do end up in a courtroom.

Ramos

about 2 years ago

Is my spam filter off?

Ramos

about 2 years ago

Only four more days until everybody has to do drugs! Stock up on your crack and opium now. TDOB Index, November 10, 2012: 416

in.dog.neato

about 2 years ago

Opium? Sign me up! It's been a few years since I had good opium.

Ramos

about 2 years ago

I think it's pretty sweet that Colorado and Washington legalized marijuana. In your face, rest of the country! Hopefully, their impending showdown with the DEA will expose the absurdity of federal policies that harshly punish people for growing and using a harmless plant. TDOB Index, November 11, 2012: 417

Ramos

about 2 years ago

If you listen to some people, like the mayor, it's almost impossible to go by the Last Place on Earth these days without being "harassed." I find that odd, because I have been by there many, many times and I have never been harassed. I've been asked for change once or twice, but only once or twice. Nobody has ever "groped" me. It's my feeling that the claims of harassment are being grossly exaggerated. In the minds of many middle-class people, the mere sight of poor people gathered on the sidewalk to buy drugs is proof that they're harassing everyone who goes by. If they say hello to somebody, that's harassment. If they're drunk--even if they don't do anything--that is also, somehow, harassment. I'm sorry that the presence of poor people causes surrounding businesses to suffer. But that's not illegal, and it's not the poor people's fault. It's the fault of everyone who's too afraid to go near them. If the city passed an ordinance against being chickenshit, they could ticket all the decent citizens who won't even get out of their cars for fear of interacting with a different class. I realize that my experience may not be representative, because I'm a big tough guy who people might be less likely to mess with. Nevertheless, my observation of the LPOE block leads me to believe that much of the alleged harassment occurs only in people's minds. Try this experiment (if you dare!): Stroll up and down the Last Place on Earth block ten times and record every interaction you have with people. Report your results here. If you promise to be honest, I promise to accept them. Secondhand anecdotes are inadmissible. TDOB Index, November 12, 2012: 418

Paul Lundgren

about 2 years ago

I would say that in the past 70 times I've walked past the Last Place on Earth the following incidents have occurred. * I was asked for money once. * Some guy told me I had an awesome shirt. * The crowd was particularly thick one time, and people weren't very polite about getting out of my way. I have had a higher percentage of this kind of incidences occurring to me in front of the Chum Drop-in Center.

BadCat!

about 2 years ago

Though I totally agree that the LPOE crowd is not the dangerous mob that everyone makes it out to be, however, realize that women experience street harassment very differently then men. I can’t speak one way or the other on if women are actually getting harassed in front of LPOE, but I can say that if a man goes past and doesn’t get groped, that the same isn’t necessarily true for a woman.

Ramos

about 2 years ago

Precisely why I'm asking for input. The mayor has said that people are getting groped, so I'd like some first-hand verification of the groping, if it exists. The mayor makes it sound like it's happening all the time. I find that hard to believe. I will accept any anecdotes of harassment that people have personally witnessed, even if the harassment didn't happen to the person themselves. I won't accept anecdotes that somebody heard from somebody else.

Paul Lundgren

about 2 years ago

Isn't the Last Place on Earth under near-constant police surveillance these days? That ought to make it the safest place in town.

Tom

about 2 years ago

I can't remember the last time I walked through Canal Park at night without being hit up for money. Why aren't there police swarming that area to stop the harassment?

adam

about 2 years ago

They're too busy with the skateboarders.

Ramos

about 2 years ago

Were you aware that the police can take your cash and property and keep it for 419 days without ever filing a single charge against you? It's true. The proof is right here. Nobody can ever argue otherwise. Well, tomorrow's the big day, the day the TDOB Index reaches the mystical milestone of 420. If you haven't already taken the day off work, make sure you call in sick first thing in the morning. You'll want to leave your whole day free for drug-taking and debauchery. TDOB Index, November 13, 2012: 419

Ramos

about 2 years ago

Good morning!

Ramos

about 2 years ago

My son, attend to my words; incline thine ear unto my sayings.
Proverbs 4:20

Ramos

about 2 years ago

Well, now that everybody's snorted, sniffed, injected, popped, slugged, huffed, absorbed, drunk or smoked their morning wakeup, it's time to listen to the Butthole Surfers' classic Hairway to Steven album. Sit back, relax and enjoy.

Ramos

about 2 years ago

Lunchtime!

At approximately twenty past four p.m. they arrived at the Red Swan Hotel and entered the premises, unnoticed, by the window of the maids' private bed-room on the ground floor. They made no noise in their passage and disturbed no dust of the dust that lay about the carpets. Quickly they repaired to a small room adjoining Miss Lamont's bedroom where the good lady was lying in, and deftly stacked the papered wallsteads with the colourful wealth of their offerings and their fine gifts--their golden sheaves of ripened barley, firkins of curdy cheese, berries and acorns and crimson yams, melons and marrows and mellowed mast, variholed sponges of crisp-edged honey and oaten breads, earthenware jars of whey-thick sack and porcelain pots of lathery lager, sorrels and short-bread and coarse-grained cake, cucumbers cold and downy straw-laced cradles of elderberry wine poured out in sea-green egg-cups and urn-shaped tubs of molasses crushed and crucibled with the lush brown-heavy scum of pulped mellifluous mushrooms, an exhaustive harvesting of the teeming earth, by God.
Flann O'Brien, At Swim-Two-Birds (1939)

Ramos

about 2 years ago

Judah and Israel were many, as the sand which is by the sea in multitude, eating and drinking, and making merry.
I Kings 4:20

jessige

about 2 years ago

I'm late to the party, but I'm a woman and I've been harassed outside LPOE. It was at about 8:30am on a Wednesday in September. I was going to Shel/Don to pick up an order. Two of the men crowding around LPOE on the sidewalk made comments to me: one about the size of my ass, and one about the size of my breasts. Then they asked me to give them some money. Strangely, I didn't feel compelled to do so. No, I didn't call the cops, and no, they didn't attempt to grope me, so I'm not sure if you want to count that, Ramos. But maybe it just bothered me because I hate poor people.

Ramos

about 2 years ago

Certainly I will count it. That's harassment.

Ramos

about 2 years ago

If Duluth wants to up its Coolness Quotient in the Creative Corridor, perhaps the city could hand out zoot suits and designate one night a month as Marijuana Boogie Night.

Ramos

about 2 years ago

Well, it's been a good day, hasn't it? I'm pretty sure it's still today.

Ramos

about 2 years ago

For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard.
Acts 4:20

Ramos

about 2 years ago

Good night, everybody! TDOB Index, November 14, 2012: 420

in.dog.neato

about 2 years ago

Ladle Poo On Everything.

Ramos

about 2 years ago

Oh, my head... TDOB Index, November 15, 2012: 421

Ramos

about 2 years ago

Duluth police celebrated the 422nd day of confiscation by marching in the Christmas City of the North Parade, chanting anti-LPOE slogans and firing Jim Carlson's confiscated weapons into the air. TDOB Index, November 16, 2012: 422

Ramos

about 2 years ago

I thought of a joke. Check this out: Q: What do a UMD coed's dorm room door and a car without oil have in common? A: They both get rod knocks. Hahahahahahahahahaha! Wait...am I on the right thread here? TDOB Index, November 17, 2012: 423

Ramos

about 2 years ago

At this point, you could tell me that the TDOB Index will eventually reach 500, or 1,000, or 2,000, or pretty much anything at all, and I wouldn't have trouble believing it. The message that the whole situation sends to the police is that it doesn't matter if people are guilty or not, because the police are free to take their stuff regardless. If the person is sufficiently disliked by the middle-class and well-to-do, the police will even be praised for robbing them. You can't beat that, eh? So, to recap: The investigation into Jim Carlson has so far gone through the following steps: (1) The police took all his stuff. We patiently wait for something else to happen. TDOB Index, November 18, 2012: 424

Paul Lundgren

about 2 years ago

Here's a link to Duluth Area Chamber of Commerce President and CEO David Ross' blog post "Proud to End Up in Court," for some closure on that matter.

Ramos

about 2 years ago

"It was a rare occurrence for business owners and operators to unite and stand in solidarity in opposition to a local business." I guess in a town where police officers rob people, it stands to reason that the Chamber of Commerce would oppose business. TDOB Index, November 20, 2012: 426

dbb

about 2 years ago

I guess I'm a bit confused by Mr. Ross's editorial. He opens by saying that chamber members were encouraged to attend the hearing "to send a strong message to the State District Court decision-makers that Duluth business owners are tired of putting up with the shenanigans occurring at the Last Place on Earth." He closes his editorial with a brief statement stating that "We hold no grand illusion that we influenced the legal system - nor did we seek to do so." It seems to me that packing the courtroom served exactly as an attempt to influence the court, as suggested in the first quote. The second quote seems to be a feeble attempt to disavow their attempt by denying the obvious. He then closes by saying that "they had their day in court." This is absurd; they were observers, nothing more (unless maybe they were trying to influence the court). The only parties which had their day in court were the parties in the suit. At this point whether one believes that what the LPOE is selling is legal or not is irrelevant. The issue is that the City has confiscated property without filing charges, thereby denying Mr. Carlson an opportunity to defend himself. I'm glad I no longer pay property taxes in Duluth; the inevitable settlement will surely sting.

Ramos

about 2 years ago

Today is the fourteen-month anniversary of the first raid on the Last Place on Earth. When I informed my wife of this, she said, "I can't believe you know that, but you don't know how many months we've been married." Imagine her surprise when I shot back with the correct answer: 103. In your face, woman! This kind of conversation is not unusual in the Ramos household. TDOB Index, November 21, 2012: 427

Ramos

about 2 years ago

Duluth police celebrated the 428th day of confiscation by seizing turkey and cranberry sauce from Jim Carlson's table. TDOB Index, November 22, 2012: 428

Ramos

about 2 years ago

Even if Jim Carlson prevails in court and gets his stuff back, the laws that abused him will remain in full force. Do you have $100 and a joint in your pocket? The police can take your money and not charge you with anything. Do you think this fine system gives the police any incentive to pocket the money themselves? Nothing will change on a systemic level until the vast majority of drug laws are declared unconstitutional. I hope I see the day. TDOB Index, November 23, 2012: 429

Ramos

about 2 years ago

Police Chief Ramsay and Lt. Stracek celebrated the 430th day of confiscation by cutting mistletoe leaves out of Jim Carlson's $100 bills and hanging them around the station. TDOB Index, November 24, 2012: 430

Ramos

about 2 years ago

In explaining the Last Place on Earth situation to out-of-towners, as I occasionally do, I am amazed at how often they casually accept the mistreatment of Jim Carlson as okay because of the type of business he runs. Just like Duluth! I always considered the Constitution to be a useful and valuable document, but I am becoming more and more awestruck at just how visionary it is. It forces people to go against their own human nature and accord rights to all. That's awesome, man. Now if only we could get 21st-century Americans to follow the revolutionary principles that established their nation. TDOB Index, November 25, 2012: 431

Ramos

about 2 years ago

One statistic that's been bandied about a lot lately is that the police department has spent $100,000 in overtime on issues related to the Last Place on Earth. Of course, the police have an incentive to jack up overtime costs as high as possible, whether justified or not, as this will make the Last Place seem as horrible as possible. But let's assume, for the moment, that these overtime costs are completely justified. I looked through old city budgets and compiled a list of police overtime costs for the years 2004-2011. YEAR POLICE OT COSTS 2004 $377,073 2005 767,216 2006 667,783 2007 517,016 2008 582,553 2009 640,418 2010 871,196 2011 1,046,551 As you can see, 2011 was the highest. However, police overtime costs have been rising steadily since 2007. If we subtract the Last Place's alleged $100,000 cost from the 2011 figure, we get $946,551. This is still the highest ever. Accusing the Last Place on Earth of sucking up city resources may be justified, and it's certainly politically popular, but it appears that a bigger city-resource-sucker is the police department itself. A million dollars of overtime, whatever the reason, indicates to me that there is a serious problem with budgeting somewhere along the line. TDOB Index, November 26, 2012: 432

Ramos

about 2 years ago

Jim Carlson is not the only person whose civil rights are being violated by the city. The Bentleyville preachers are also having their First Amendment rights violated. The police have orders to escort the preachers off the premises of Bentleyville if they try to preach. The city has designated a small area of a nearby parking lot as a "free speech zone" for people who want to exercise free speech. I know that Bentleyville is a much-beloved feature of Duluth, but I don't think it's curmudgeonly to point out that Bentleyville completely takes over and monopolizes an entire public park for months on end. While Bentleyville is at Bayfront, you can't sled or walk or fly a kite or freely roam the park during the day, and now the city wants to ban the exercise of free speech as well. That really ticks me off. It's like there's this really narrow scope of acceptable, unthreatening, totally mainstream behavior that the city will tolerate, and anything that falls outside that scope gets stomped on, no matter what civil rights have to be violated in the process. It's like city leadership wants to turn Duluth into a charming Never-Neverland where nobody ever has to grow up or look at anything ugly or uncomfortable or overly passionate. "Free speech zone," my ass. Every square inch of public property is my free speech zone. I support Jim Carlson, and I support the Bentleyville preachers, and I oppose the city's ridiculous, unconstitutional attempts to sanitize my life. TDOB Index, November 27, 2012: 433

farglebargle

about 2 years ago

Once you factor in inflation and wage increases (it might be more accurate to count the actual number of hours) the overtime increase is probably not quite so astronomical, but still warrants an explanation from the police dept. Maybe they have good reason, but I'd like to hear it.

Ramos

about 2 years ago

The budgets don't report actual number of hours worked, but I used this website (there are others) to convert the dollar amounts from my table above to 2012 dollars. YEAR POLICE OT COSTS (IN 2012 DOLLARS) 2004 448,684 2005 883,580 2006 744,995 2007 560,528 2008 617,882 2009 673,383 2010 903,958 2011 1,063,242 The trend is still as I described above: steadily rising OT costs since 2007. Coincidentally or not, Chief Ramsay took over as police chief in November 2006. There was a large drop in OT costs during Chief Ramsay's first year on the job from the year before. Since then, they have only gone up. TDOB Index, November 28, 2012: 434

Ramos

about 2 years ago

Question: If somebody posts a death threat against Jim Carlson and the Bentleyville preachers based on something I have written, can I consider that to be a death threat against myself? Answer: I'm saying yes, which brings my lifetime total of death threats to two. It's been fifteen years since the last one. Discussion: It's not that big a deal, really, but some people around me are pretty worried about the whole thing. I thought I would bring the matter out into the open and let the light of day disinfect it. John Morrison of the old Duluth Rip-saw used to get death threats all the time and that's what he did. (PDD moderators quickly removed the comment I'm referring to, but, as author of this post, I got a copy of the comment in my email. At least the culprit didn't try to hide behind anonymity.) Well, so much for that. With the sideshow behind us, let us move on. TDOB Index, November 29, 2012: 435

baci

about 2 years ago

Hey Ramos, You rant and rave and inflate exaggerations for effect in this thread all the time. If you seriously think what I posted was really a "death threat" you've been smoking waaaaay too much of Carlson's bathroom supplies. Paranoia is a symptom of addiction. The moderators of this blog know who I am and know I can fling the BS with as much vitriol as anyone, including yourself. They ALSO know I would NEVER harm anyone. Now let me set everyone at ease, I mean NO HARM and would never ... ever ... ever bring violence to this world. I absolutely apologize, to you and your loved ones, that my post was interpreted as anything other than what it was, an attempt to contribute to the inane ridiculousness that this thread has already become. I had assumed that by posting a Negativland video that would be obvious. I'm worried for you .. maybe you should listen to your loved ones and back off your unholy crusade to support that which is an obvious bane of our city. I'm also concerned that you decided to treat my post as an actual threat. The only thing I threaten (and it's no threat) is to periodically return to this, your nightmare, and remind you that your view has real detractors.

baci

about 2 years ago

BTW -- Here's the original post minus any hint of violence. "The superior man understands what is right; the inferior man understands what will sell." -Confucius Ramos, please start a blog of your own so that your vile expository monologue and lack of understanding ceases to pollute our perfect Duluth days. If you can get Carlson and Phelps in the same twisted fabrication of your perfect Ramos day … more power to you. Now, I'm going to take a nice relaxing drive.

Ramos

about 2 years ago

My mistake. I guess the moderators pulled your comment down because it was too harmless. In my opinion, they should have grounded you for a week. I know my view has detractors. They include the mayor, the city council, the Duluth News Tribune, all the TV stations and 95 percent of Duluth's population. I find it puzzling that you can get so mad about one guy saying stuff, when the odds are so overwhelmingly against me. Nevertheless, it comforts me to know my perfectly framed arguments and rapier wit do have an effect on the public dialogue. My loved ones have never told me to back off my crusade. I'm not sure where you got that. And it's hardly a crusade. It's a comment a day. If the city decided to obey the Constitution and file charges against Carlson (or return his property) the TDOB Index would go away altogether. But, apparently, asking the city to follow the Constitution is asking too much. It's easier to just...you know...not follow it.

baci

about 2 years ago

I guess asking Carlson to do what's right instead of what will make him a buck is too much to ask as well. Well, now that winter has returned, I guess we'll see how the toddlers, waiting with their "parents" in the spice line, fare. Maybe they can warm themselves with fires made from the copies of the Constitution framed on the LPOE walls.

adam

about 2 years ago

"…to do what's right." Who gets to be in charge of determining that??

baci

about 2 years ago

Me, obviously. Or, wait, perhaps it's the spice synthesists.

baci

about 2 years ago

Well, I just realized something, maybe I'm the one who should be worried. Here I am being very vocal about my disapproval of LPOE business. I'm not the one with legions of synthetic drug consumers who would do anything for free hit. Sorry, nothing to see here, I'll shut up.

Ramos

about 2 years ago

For those who think I’m foolish or tiresome to continue on this way (a group that includes myself, on some days)…well, this is law enforcement’s game, and I have merely decided to compete with them on their own terms. Taking someone’s stuff and keeping it indefinitely is a common tactic of law enforcement that is used all over the country. After a year or two, people just sort of tend to forget about things. It’s natural. Law enforcement counts on that happening. That’s how they get away with it so often. With the TDOB Index, I am making sure that, on this occasion, at least, people do not forget about it. However ridiculous and out-of-line you think the TDOB Index may be, that is precisely how ridiculous and out-of-line the police are. I’m shadowing them. Their actions determine my actions. Let’s say you got pulled over by the police and, after a short interview with you, they confiscated your car and left you standing by the side of the road. At that point, I am certain that you would want the police to either (1) tell you why they had taken your car or (2) give it back. Imagine if neither of those two things happened. What would you think of that? That’s what happened, 436 days ago, at the Last Place on Earth. Law enforcement actions like this are features of dictatorships and totalitarian regimes, not free democracies. The Constitution lays out certain principles that must be followed in legal actions. If they are not followed, the citizen is helpless to defend himself or regain his property. That is why we have a Constitution. That is why we have rights. Nowhere in law does it say that citizens have rights “unless they’re really, really bad.” But that’s what law enforcement and city leadership are saying with their treatment of Jim Carlson. Every time they mention his name, they talk not about what laws he has broken, but about how bad he is as a person. That is their reason for pursuing extra-legal punishment against him. The way I see it, I’m a mirror. I’m taking society’s bullshit and reflecting it right back, day by day. The TDOB Index is a form of social protest that technology has made cheap and easy for me to engage in. I think it’s a great use of resources. TDOB Index, November 30, 2012: 436

emmadogs

about 2 years ago

This isn't just a constitutional issue with ramifications solely for Carlson. People are being illegally (in my opinion) jailed for possessing this stuff. So you have a guy who is arrested on Friday evening in Superior with this stuff, sits in jail all weekend, gets charged on Monday with maybe some cash bail ordered, so then he sits some more trying to raise bail. Then: charge dismissed because the Crime Lab says it's not illegal. Or; charge dismissed because I file a motion saying there aren't any crime lab results yet, and there is no way in hell to tell whether the substance is illegal in WI or not. This happens ALL OF THE TIME to my clients in Superior. People are arrested, spent a few days, or longer, in jail, and then see their charges dismissed because a) you really cannot tell whether the substance is illegal until you send it to the crime lab; b) the State of WI simply can't afford to send all this stuff to the lab, and c) when they do (for felony 'synthetic ' charges, for instance), sometimes the results are that the substance isn't , in fact, illegal. I don't know about you guys, but I find that to be seriously troubling. PS Thanks for keeping up the count, Ramos. I can't comment during the work day from my work computer, and am typically too exhausted to do anything but sit down after work. But I'm applauding you!

Ramos

about 2 years ago

The situation you describe is very troubling, Emmadogs, and indicates just how comfortable the police have become with punishing people who haven't committed crimes. It's those damn drug laws; they basically let law enforcement do whatever they want in the name of fighting drugs. One thing that I've mentioned before, but I think bears repeating, is that all the strongarm tactics that have been brought to bear against Jim Carlson -- the stormtrooper raids, the confiscation of bank accounts, the armed detention of innocent bystanders -- have not solved the problem. Four months after the last raid, the Last Place on Earth is still busily selling incense. My question is this: If we're going to trample all over the Constitution and accomplish nothing, why don't we obey the Constitution and accomplish nothing instead? It would be a lot easier on everybody. TDOB Index, December 1, 2012: 437

-Berv

about 2 years ago

Meanwhile in Mexico:

Since (Mexican President Felipe) Calderon’s inauguration in 2006, nearly 60,000 people have died along the U.S.-Mexican border but the transport of drugs has not slowed. Instead, the conflict between cartels and the Mexican government has turned into “a low-grade civil war.”
“If we abandon prohibition, we essentially defund the drug cartels,” says (Cato Institute’s Ted Galen) Carpenter. “They would have a major hit to their revenues, to their financial resources. That would greatly reduce their power, the threat they pose to the Mexican government and Mexican society.”
Washington Post: "Mexican drug war: Prohibition in Obama’s second term and a new Mexican president" About the same number of people have died from drug overdoses in the U.S. during the same period. Reuters: "Prescription drug overdoses on the rise in U.S." I think it's time to legalize marijuana. Lots of problems would go away.

Ramos

about 2 years ago

The Zetas are unlike other Mexican crime groups. Their founders were deserters from the Mexican military’s elite special forces, recruited in the late nineteen-nineties as bodyguards and enforcers for the leader of the then formidable Gulf cartel. The cartel paid many times what the military did. The Zetas’ numbers grew. Trained as paratroopers and intelligence operatives, they introduced a paramilitary element to narcotrafficking, outgunning police units. They ambushed the Army. They seized plazas and drug routes from other cartels, with an efficiency and a brutality not seen before. Beheadings became their signature, along with castrations with genitals stuffed in mouths and corpses with a “Z” carved into the flesh. Their ranks swelled with infusions from a notorious Guatemalan counter-insurgency unit, the Kaibiles. […] The Zetas, who are estimated to have more than ten thousand fighters, control virtually the entire east coast of Mexico, and have laid claim to several of the busiest cargo crossing points on the U.S. border, including Matamoros, Reynosa, and Nuevo Laredo.
The New Yorker, July 2, 2012 TDOB Index, December 2, 2012: 438

Ramos

about 2 years ago

Speaking of the police and their relationship to the U.S. Constitution, check out this video. Who is the most admirable person in it? In Duluth, the police would be, like, "Get on the floor! Hands behind your back! How much money do you have on you?" TDOB Index, December 4, 2012: 440

blind

about 2 years ago

This morning I had business on East Superior Street not far from LPOE. Approaching Tycoons at about 10am were a fellow and his dog. They stopped directly in front of Tycoons' entrance, and the dog then left one of the largest dog deposits I have ever seen directly in front of the door. The fellow saw what the dog was up to. Beforehand, he did not bring the dog to the curb. Afterward, he did not stop to clean it up. They left it there, then proceeded directly to the LPOE outdoor line.

Ramos

about 2 years ago

I'll have to check it out. TDOB Index, December 5, 2012: 441

Ramos

about 2 years ago

The crowds of happy people lighting joints under Seattle’s Space Needle early Thursday morning with nary a police officer in sight bespoke the new reality: Marijuana is legal under Washington state law. […] In dealing with marijuana, the Seattle police department told its 1,300 officers on Wednesday, just before legalization took hold, that until further notice they shall not issue citations for public marijuana use. Officers will be advising people not to smoke in public, police spokesman Jonah Spangenthal-Lee wrote on the SPD blotter. “The police department believes that, under state law, you may responsibly get baked, order some pizzas and enjoy a ‘Lord of the Rings’ marathon in the privacy of your own home, if you want to.” He offered a catchy new directive referring to the film “The Big Lebowski,” popular with many marijuana fans: “The Dude abides, and says, ‘Take it inside!’”
The Huffington Post, Dec. 6, 2012 TDOB Index, December 6, 2012: 442

Ramos

about 2 years ago

In the paper today, Nathan Bentley accuses the Bentleyville preachers of "hiding behind the Constitution." People say the same thing about Jim Carlson. Whenever anyone decides to exercise the Constitution, they are accused of hiding behind it. But that's what you're supposed to do with it. It's a great big shield that you hide behind. TDOB Index, December 7, 2012: 443

Ramos

about 2 years ago

We're two-thirds of the way to Hell Day. I wonder what will happen then? TDOB Index, December 8, 2012: 444

Ramos

about 2 years ago

Police Chief Ramsay and Mayor Ness celebrated the 445th day of confiscation by dressing up as elves and skipping through Bentleyville, scattering $20 bills behind them. TDOB Index, December 9, 2012: 445

Ramos

about 2 years ago

So 446 days have gone by since the police raided the Last Place on Earth and seized all of Jim Carlson's cash and property, but they still haven't charged him with anything. Maybe they misplaced their citation book. TDOB Index, December 10, 2012: 446

Ramos

about 2 years ago

One year ago today, wanting to make the world a better place, I started the TDOB Index. I am pleased to say that I have succeeded. Just look around you. Everything's better, isn't it? That's what I'm talking about. TDOB Index, December 11, 2012: 447

Ramos

about 2 years ago

When the city holds a banquet to honor my activism, I wouldn't object to being showered with rose petals as I enter the room. Just an FYI to staff. TDOB Index, December 12, 2012: 448

Ramos

about 2 years ago

In the paper today, a judge has ruled that the police do not have to return Jim Carlson's cash and property at this time, as the statute of limitations says that evidence can be held for up to three years in an ongoing investigation. Well, at least we know how long the police are going to hold onto Carlson's property now. And how long the TDOB Index will be around. The story also said that "any charges stemming from the raid will probably involve the St. Louis County attorney’s office, the Minnesota attorney general or federal prosecutors." You would think that 449 days after the raid, somebody would have some idea about who's going to try the case, but I guess not. Carlson engaged in a bit of exaggeration when he said that the police have been holding his property for a year and a half. It has been eight days shy of fifteen months. Onward we go. TDOB Index, December 13, 2012: 449

adam

about 2 years ago

My understanding is that each time "new evidence" is submitted, the clock resets.

Ramos

about 2 years ago

Oh well. It's not like I have anything better to do for the next several decades. TDOB Index, December 14, 2012: 450

jessige

about 2 years ago

Ramos, can you make a New Years Resolution to start Part 3 on Jan 1? This one's crazy long again.

Ramos

about 2 years ago

It is pretty long, but it doesn't take forever to load, like the old thread did. Even on my old dinosaur of a computer, this thread loads up in a few seconds. Then I grab the scroll bar and zip to the bottom. I'd like to limit new TDOB posts as much as possible. TDOB Index, December 15, 2012: 451

Paul Lundgren

about 2 years ago

Here's a navigation tip a lot of people probably don't know about: Most of you who follow the ongoing discussion on this thread use the "Recent Comments" feature in the left sidebar to get here. That's how you know there's a new comment to read. If you click on the number of unread comments, which appears in parenthesis next to the title of the post, it will jump you straight to the comments you haven't read. (If you click on the title of the post, which is probably what most people do and seems to me would be anyone's natural inclination, it takes you to the top of the thread, and then you have to scroll down to see the new stuff.)

Barrett Chase

about 2 years ago

If you're using a Mac, Command + Down Arrow will bring you to the bottom of the page. If your keyboard has an End key, you can just hit that to bring you to the bottom (hit Home to go to the top).

Paul Lundgren

about 2 years ago

So, I have to admit I got a little lost in all the synthetic cannabinoid receptor compound blahbiddy blah in the news reports about Judge Floerke's recent ruling. Allow me to spell out what I think happened, and you all can feel free to let me know where I might be wrong. 1) The results of testing on drugs seized from Carlson's store in the original raid in 2011 were released. 2) The testing revealed that a chemical compound called AM-2201 was present in some of the products that were seized. 3) Although it is now illegal to sell AM-2201, it wasn't specifically illegal at the time the products were seized from the Last Place on Earth. Those three facts would seem to point to Jim Carlson's innocence. However, what I'm not really clear on is that apparently there was a law on the books before the first raid banning the sale of cannabinoid receptors. So my sense is that the whole argument is boiling down to this: AM-2201 is considered to be a cannabinoid receptor and perhaps should have been considered illegal at the time of the first raid, but it wasn't specifically banned, so therefore the whole thing is a little murky? Is that the deal?

Ramos

about 2 years ago

Pretty much. I'll do the best I can to fill in the history. When the synthetic drug hysteria began, a couple of years ago, the Legislature's first action was to ban a handful of specific chemicals. These chemicals, which were designed to mimic marijuana, were cannabinoid receptors. Or they bound to cannabinoid receptors in the brain; I'm not sure which. In response to the Legislature's action, the drug chemists began manufacturing drugs with slightly different formulas, but which were still designed to mimic marijuana, and therefore were still cannabinoid receptors. In response to this, the Legislature banned a long list of additional specific drugs, and also banned all cannabinoid receptor drugs, including those that hadn't been invented yet. In response to this, the chemists invented a bunch of other drugs that weren't cannabinoid receptors at all--or that they said weren't. One of these drugs was AM-2201. When police raided the Last Place, they found AM-2201. AM-2201 was not specifically listed as illegal at that time. To make the case that AM-2201 was illegal at the time of the raid, they would have to prove that AM-2201 is a cannabinoid receptor. The problem is that proving whether or not something is a cannabinoid receptor is not, apparently, an easy matter. The anti-cannabinoid receptor legislation itself is also new and untested. Nobody knows if it would stand up to a legal challenge, and nobody appears to be too eager to find out. I think that whoever's handling the case locally will wait to see how the Feds handle it, and then copy them. If any chemists want to jump on my case for my ignorance about chemistry, feel free to do so. TDOB Index, December 16, 2012: 452

baci

about 2 years ago

Hey, I have a new name for the poor souls Carlson has hooked on his junk. I guess they like to be called "Researchers." It's awesome to know that all the efforts to beef up science education in our schools is paying off. I guess smoking it is good for your pets too! I wonder how it affects the children? I'm sure it makes a great stocking stuffer.

BadCat!

about 2 years ago

Finally!!! Now on to the courts (which this should have been at about 400 days ago).

Tom

about 2 years ago

I have a feeling this could be tied up in the courts for years to come. Ramos will have plenty to talk about yet.

-Berv

about 2 years ago

Wow. The Mayans must be right.

Ramos

about 2 years ago

Sadly for me, the federal indictment does not stop the TDOB Index. The TDOB is pegged to the first, local raid, where Duluth police took $83,000 in cash, 28 guns, store computers and other items. No charges have been filed from that raid, and the property has not been returned. When (if?) the TDOB Index ever does end, I will not have anything to say about anything for a while. I intend to take a long vacation. TDOB Index, December 18, 2012: 454

baci

about 2 years ago

Damn! I needed some new numb-chucks.

spy1

about 2 years ago

Alas, Ramos, this is the reality. The 2011 raid falls into this indictment. It answers the question of why the city wasn't doing anything. They were waiting for the feds to do the heavy lifting. The indictment states that between March 2010 and September 2012, Carlson, Haugen, Gellerman, and Anderson conspired to obtain and sell through LPOE items misbranded as incense, potpourri, bath salts, exotic skin treatments, glass cleaner, watch cleaner, or novelties. The items, purportedly marketed under names such as “No Name,” “Smoking Dragon,” “Role-X Watch Cleaner,” and “Binger,” among others, were, in actuality, “drugs,” as defined by federal law, and, thus, subject to regulation pursuant to the Federal Food and Drug Administration. The indictment alleges that despite false labeling, the items were meant for human consumption, the purpose being to affect bodily function.

-Berv

about 2 years ago

Some clerks were indicted too?

Ramos

about 2 years ago

I guess the dates of the indictment include the first raid. Hooray! Final result: The police held Carlson's property for 454 days before charges were filed.

jessige

about 2 years ago

I feel like I just witnessed history.

emmadogs

about 2 years ago

Holy shit. About time. Thanks, Ramos, for your dedication to our Constitution. Until the next constitutional violation, Emmadogs P.S. Berv, good one ... Mayans.

Tom

about 2 years ago

You know, it's funny. I think I'm actually going to miss the bullshit.

Dorkus

about 2 years ago

Per wikipedia: AM-2201 is a full agonist for cannabinoid receptors. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/AM-2201 drugs-forum.com lists: "Legal status: USA Will fall under the analogue act due to structural similarity to JWH-018" http://www.drugs-forum.com/forum/showwiki.php?title=AM-2201 JWH-018 was defined as Illegal in November of 2010. Which would make AM-2201 illegal as of that same date under the analogue act which was ratified on 1/3/2007. Now I am not a lawyer, but this seems to be pretty straightforward. Just because it was not specifically listed as illegal until after the raid happened, it does not mean that it was not illegal.

Trurl000

about 2 years ago

I think, as I think over the years, that I agree with the intentions of a lot of what the current city administration wants to do, but I really really really dislike their methods. It puts me in a weird spot of not wanting to vote for our mayor again. Outside of speaking for marriage equality I don't see him as particularly progressive, he certainly listens to his lawyers too much. But I can not see someone running against him in a general election that would be worth considering, and no one would even think of primary-ing him. It's probably time to start looking to move outside of the city.

duluth99

about 2 years ago

The real problem of LPOE and the problem people DON'T seem to be understanding, is that the substance they are smoking (SPICE) IS NOT MARIJUANA. This is a highly addictive, dangerous, and new drug. The long term effects are unknown. Even the short term effects are unknown. Some people feel like they are under the influence of marijuana, some go on an acid-like trip, and some turn in to a zombie (for lack of a better word, you guys know what I am talking about). Some spice is known to cause neurological damage to the central nervous system. Some spice makes people permanently mentally impaired - they lose their short term memory, can't remember certain words, find it hard to read, etc. Here is a website where REAL PEOPLE discuss their spice side effects: http://melissamcclain.hubpages.com/hub/Spice-A-Dangerous-New-Drug ^^READ THE COMMENT SECTION, THERE ARE SOME POSITIVE REVIEWS, AND MANY SCARY REVIEWS Some excerpts: "I used to smoke spice all the time. I had no problems when smoking it at all I would just be really high and it was a different high than smoking weed. Spice fucks you up in the long run..I can't remember how to spell certain words its hard to think sometimes even studying and remembering stuff is so hard I also cant breathe as good anymore its harder to breathe and my heart skips beat sometimes. I NEVER had any problems when I was smoking it though it wasant until a month later that i started feeling all this. I DO NOT recommend smoking this long term at all." "So i used to smoke JWH pretty often, stopped for awhile since they banned most JWH in my state. But now they have these 11g bags of "kush" herbal blends and im wondering what do they put in it now that JWH is illegal, i swear it feels the same. Kinda makes me wonder if they just say they don't have it in there. One more note: it is very addictive. I find I crave it more than I ever crave weed." "I have smoked spice for like over a year out of a pipe until it seriously made my front teeth translucent looks like I have been hitting a crack pipe no joke. I started noticing that I couldn't hold my hands steady anymore my fingers tremor. It's affected my heart I will just be sitting doing nothing and experience angina (chest pains). I don't think as clearly now( try to say something and it comes out differently)I think its really damaged my central nervous system. Its been over 6 mo since I have smoked anything and I am still experiencing these symptoms. Has anyone else had these issues please post." "this stuff is extremely addictive. I agree it can be pretty ridiculous, it is definitely stronger than THC some how, but i will admit i am hopelessly addicted to it. trying hardest to cut back." PLEASE, FOR THE SAKE OF THESE PEOPLE, CLOSE LPOE AND BAN "INCENSE" "SPICE" "HERBAL BLENDS" AND "POTPOURRI"

Tom

about 2 years ago

It appears that Duluth isn't the only place going with a "public nuisance" approach to closing down businesses. Michigan is using it to go after medical marijuana dispensaries. Michigan Supreme Court Rules Against Medical Marijuana Dispensaries

in.dog.neato

about 2 years ago

The difference being though is that you don't hear many people advocating for the medicinal benefits of bath salts.

Tom

about 2 years ago

Well there are people who frequent LPOE who say they use synthetic marijuana to help with medical conditions because medical marijuana isn't legal in Minnesota. But the fact that Michigan officials are actually trying to shut down places that sell products legally (at least by the state) is a little more disturbing. It again raises the question why other establishments like bars are never hit with "public nuisance" notices. In any case, it's another example of how the government could save a lot of resources and tax dollars by just legalizing marijuana, instead of actually pretending that there's a reason to continue combating a product with more benefits and fewer effects than alcohol.

in.dog.neato

about 2 years ago

We'll have to see how things pan out in Colorado and Washington with regard to legalization. Michigan has yet to decriminalize grass ... and considering that politically, they seem to be moving more right than center ... that might not happen anytime soon, which seems to be antithetical to the rightist "personal responsibility" mantra. Colorado and Washington however, are arguably more red than blue.

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