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There seems to be a lot of concern for the rights of the millionaire businessman who is attempting to use loopholes in the law to make money at the great expense of others who want nothing to do with his business, but are forced to carry the burden of his business model.  Jim Carlson hides behind a dubious technicality claiming that the poison he is selling at the Last Place on Earth is OK because the chemists keep playing Russian roulette with his customers by changing the chemical compounds on a regular basis.

A true libertarian wouldn’t hide behind technicalities of the law – they would take full, personal responsibility for their actions.  Carlson has a business model in which he is making millions and externalizing costs onto the community.  Because of his business model, other businesses are struggling, the government pays for the emergency health care for uninsured addicts, and our public sidewalks and parks are taken over by people getting high, selling drugs, and harassing other folks who want no part of his business – yet are forced to absorb the costs that Carlson is imposing on them.

Our downtown has become a magnet for addicts across the region. They come here, they get high and then they panhandle until they can get high again. His business model clearly puts a tremendous burden on everyone else in the neighborhood who are just trying to mind their own business.

Do we justify what is right or wrong based upon our own financial interests?  Is it OK to expect others to take on the burden of our actions as long as we can claim some sort of dubious legality?  Who is paying the cost of the emergency room visits?  On the other side of the ledger, who is making money?

High-profile lawyers often use public PR campaigns to try to create a legal advantage.  Randall Teague has a notorious reputation for using media and PR stunts.  When you pay your attorney $200+ an hour to work on your case, you’re paying for a lot of sophistication as to how to influence the case to your advantage.  Does anyone doubt that Teague is doing everything he can in Duluth to advocate for his client?

My question to John Ramos is an honest one – I would like to know if Carlson/Teague are paying him for his advocacy. I have not received a response. Given the very public nature of this debate, I think it is a legitimate question that deserves an honest response.

Personally, I don’t have a problem with head shops as long as they are operated in a way that doesn’t force other people to be burdened by the operation. Unfortunately, in this case, there are a lot of people taking on the burden of his operations. Those people don’t have millions to throw around to protect their rights and they don’t have a fancy lawyer to spin their perspective through the media and online.

Quick example – just one of dozens of examples I’ve heard, and I’m sure hundreds more that I haven’t heard about:

I spoke to a young woman a couple weeks ago … Her work required her to walk by the LPOE to work with her client (who has a disability) at the Center for Independent Living next door to the LPOE.  She told me how she was harassed by several men and groped at by a person who she described as “obviously high out of his mind.” She was terrified and when telling me the story started sobbing even though it had happened the week before.

She has every right to walk this sidewalk. She has every right to be downtown without the fear of being assaulted. Because of the way he is choosing to operate his business, Carlson is making money at her expense.

What rights does she have? Who should protect her rights?

84 Comment(s)

  1. I have to say I rather agree with Don on this one. My friends own businesses on that block and down the street. The crowd hanging outside the LPOE — loitering, littering, wanting to use bathrooms at my friends’ businesses, crowding the sidewalks — have had a negative impact on their own businesses. My 14-year-old daughter once walked by there and was verbally harassed — not groped, thank god, or there’d be fewer LPOE fans out there because I would have gone on the warpath. Subsequently, she will protest if we’re out in the car and I want to park on that block, on that side of the street. Sometimes the good of the entire community outweighs individual freedoms — because I do feel that with liberty, comes responsibility. Just because one can do something — loiter, harass young women walking by — doesn’t necessarily mean one should act on whatever impulses one has.

    Claire | Sep 24, 2012 | New Comment
  2. I don’t think anyone here believes that Carlson’s business practices are good for the community. However, that is not the point that needs to be addressed. The legal standing of Carlson’s case is what has kept the LPOE thread open for over a year.

    If Carlson is selling illegal drugs, please charge the hell out of him, find him, send him to jail, but most of all, let the legal system process this case.

    When LPOE was first raided and people rose to Carlson’s defense, I personally thought they were off base. I figured that the case would be decided in a reasonable amount of time, and the rest of us could go back to not thinking of LPOE on a daily basis. However, as time dragged on, I saw what others had already figured out: the police had seized Carlson’s property to be punitive, not in relation to a pending case.

    I think you’re an awesome mayor, and I’m proud to have you in charge of Duluth during these difficult times, but honestly, I think you’ve flubbed this one. Being a mayor means protecting the legal rights of all of Duluth’s citizens, even the ones you don’t like. Please process Carlson, or influence laws to make his business illegal, or give up and return his stuff, but most of all, do something! The city of Duluth and all of it’s citizens need to put this in the past and move on to other pressing needs.

    BadCat! | Sep 24, 2012 | New Comment
  3. Mr. Mayor your comments are spot on. I say persevere. It took years to get the Strand off of Superior Street and even longer to get Wabasha off of Superior Street. (And they weren’t the nuisance and threat to public safety that LPOE is). Keep up the good work!

    Ruthie | Sep 24, 2012 | New Comment
  4. Don, thanks for letting us know where you are on this. The situation is a knotty one.

    I think BadCat! might have a point about due process and in general creepy men do not need Carlson to be abusive on the street -- they can do it on their own.

    So where else can this go?  Is there some way to get rid of the store and its customers using legal means?

    Carla | Sep 24, 2012 | New Comment
  5. No one but the users believe this synthetic stuff is of any value, but as BadCat! stated, our opinion of the product is moot.

    Why are there no updates from any of the law enforcement agencies involved?  Duluth PD, St. Louis CO Sheriffs’ office, State Police, DEA, ATF, all silent except for the cheer-leading on the front page of the News Tribune when they do some “good bustin.” I would be interested in hearing them explain the confiscation and the processes involved and maybe a timeline to follow along with. As it stands the police took private property for no reason and have no intent of explaining themselves.
    Carlson is a turd, but until he is an illegal turd this perceived trend is very disturbing.

    B-man | Sep 24, 2012 | New Comment
  6. Casting aspersions on John isn’t answering the issues he raises so much as an ad-hominem “look over there!” comeback. Even if John dignifies this accusation with a response, which he shouldn’t, would Don believe it? How could he prove he’s not getting paid? 

    I find it hard to believe the city’s only option here is to stretch the constitution and have cops storm the place and make everyone lie on the floor. 

    farglebargle | Sep 24, 2012 | New Comment
  7. I think in this instance the mayor asked nicely enough and John should state for the record that he is not being paid or otherwise compensated by Jim Carlson. It’s a fair question.

    Sure, initially the mayor wrote: “So is Carlson paying you well for your advocacy?” That could come off as an accusation, but hopefully John will speak his piece on it and we can move on with this silly sidebar to the larger issue.

    Paul Lundgren | Sep 24, 2012 | New Comment
  8. What about surrounding businesses doing a class-action suit based on the rights they have to operate gainfully?

    baci | Sep 24, 2012 | New Comment
  9. “What rights does she have?”  She should have the right to grow, possess, and use marijuana (the real stuff).  All these problems on the street would go away.  Mr. Mayor and Dr. Howard, what are your stances in supporting the legalization of marijuana in Minnesota?  

    HBH summed it up perfectly, there’s too much money to be made in the criminalization of marijuana.  Well this is what you get.

    -Berv | Sep 24, 2012 | New Comment
  10. The last time I cast an aspersion, I caught a lunker trout.

    I don’t mind answering Don’s question, just to clear it up right away. It’s a legitimate question. I suppose we’ll start to hear a lot of this kind of thing now. Like, How could you possibly be doing something out of principle?

    No, Don. I’m not getting paid by Jim Carlson, Randall Tigue, or anyone affiliated with the Last Place on Earth. I interviewed Jim Carlson for 45 minutes over the phone for my Reader story. I have never spoken to Randall Tigue, never met him and never interacted with him in any way. The Reader; gave me some gift certificates to Tycoons for my awesome cover story, so I guess you could say Tycoons paid me.

    I had the reuben sandwich and my wife had the Cobb salad. Both were delicious. The shoestring fries were perfectly crisped. The service was excellent. They’ve done a really nice job with that place.

    I’m disappointed that you think my work is reflective of the job of a paid hatchet man, Don. Do you think I could produce that kind of awesomeness for somebody else? That’s mine, baby.

    One comment a day. It seemed like such a small thing, but it piled up, didn’t it?

    It is very easy to rid the world of the TDOB Index. Simply charge Carlson with a crime, or give him his property back.

    Gosh, what a rebel I am.

    Ramos | Sep 24, 2012 | New Comment
  11. BadCat! stated it beautifully. I think we can all agree Carlson is an undesirable but rights are rights. Personally, I’ve experienced more discomfort and sexual harassment at Stargate than anywhere else in the Twin Ports…should we then shut it down and penalize those who run it or condemn those who do terrible acts? I have the right to have a drink and go dancing without being groped as much as someone does to walk down the street. I’ve experienced such things on the DTA for that matter, and I don’t see anyone trying to infringe on their rights.

    It’s a matter of legality, not the societal “value” of the right. If LPOE burned down at some point I’d chock it up to karma, and would never miss it … but it can legally operate if it follows the laws.

    Makoons | Sep 24, 2012 | New Comment
  12. I find alcohol to be a much more dangerous, pervasive and annoying problem.  I don’t see us threatening to close the bottle stores.  No, you don’t have to be a user to feel this way.

    Bluejay | Sep 24, 2012 | New Comment
  13. Bravo, John.

    I got here late, but what I wanted to say is that anyone who could accuse John of writing something for money either doesn’t know John or hasn’t read much of what he’s written.

    (And then I thought, well, I’m not so naive as to think it’s impossible, but there are some of us who stay pretty damn poor in the name of writing only stuff we believe in. Funny how people who have more money than us sometimes come to the conclusion that it’s too good to be true and accuse us of being underhanded somehow. As someone who’s been accused of such things, I got a bit indignant once removed at the “are you a shill?” demand. But okay, better to be asked directly than doing it behind someone’s back.) 

    There are several issues. It is confusing. But one can detest Jim C’s behavior and those of some of his customers, but respect the spirit and letter of the law. My mother recently was on a grand jury, and she told me how she learned a lot about the slowly painstaking nature of big cases. And that’s all well and good. They’re building a case. And the powers that be can’t supposedly show their cards.

    But the point is, Don, some of us don’t want to live in a world where government makes more criminals and more crimes every day … in order to make money. Some of us don’t want to live in a world where preemptive strategy takes the place of methodical and fair behavior on the part of our police force. Jim C is stubborn and he’s made a mistake in the name of greed. I agree with that. But the stubbornness is at least in part because what’s happened is apparently not fair play. A lot of us who don’t even know the guy agree with that on principle. You shouldn’t be able to take someone’s money and belongings without charging them with a crime. Holding things for this long without charges is wrong. It’s that simple.

    Marijuana, which pretty much everyone agrees is on a par less than alcohol when it comes to being a Community Problem, will get you tossed in jail and, if you have a certain amount, a severe reduction in worldly possessions. Some of us think that there is a whole lotta irony in that fact, and that it would be interesting to live in a world where actual poison was banned while natural things you can grow in your garden aren’t. And we see through the money-grubbing nature of forfeiture laws — making drug busting profitable for police is invariably going to cause abuses. I don’t care how many forms they have to fill out — it’s still a set-up for bad behavior and for everyone to turn a blind eye when police fudge things.

    Now we have this unscientifically evaluated set of legal substances causing havoc downtown. But where is the havoc? Well, there have been a fair number of concerns about the behavior of the people who gather in front of LPOE. Some have been harassed — some have just recoiled from the sight of poor people in anticipation of potentially being talked to. There is some anecdotal evidence about people who happen to cause problems while using these legal substances. (Remember that emergency room doctors and police only come into contact with a sub-set of actual users.)

    So while many of us sympathize with the plight of businesses that are suffering because their customers are afraid to walk that block, some of us see the alternative — streets that have banished the poor, homeless and unseemly — as too high a price to pay. If someone is doing something illegal or harassing on the street, then a foot patrol officer should do something about it. Otherwise, what they’re wearing and how long they stand around talking on a public sidewalk should be a non-issue. If I wanted to live in the suburbs, where no one was on the sidewalk, I’d live there. People simply existing is not a legal matter, and not really a nuisance.

    There is an argument for being upset at Carlson’s business, but notice how some people invariably connect his business with other “problems” like the former Wabasha and the Strand, which did nothing wrong but be adult in nature and on our main street. Pearl clutching and gentrification ideals make some of us bristle. 

    I am a vocal fan of what Old Downtown used to be. I am nostalgic because it had many merits, despite the fact that it made some people uncomfortable. I spent a lot of time there, and I enjoyed myself immensely. I am also a fan of some of what has transpired in Old Downtown. I like Tycoons. I like the Zietgeist. Carmody too. I am looking forward to (though not holding my breath for) a lovely renovated NorShor. But I can still see the undercover gentrifying push that Carlson is inadvertently feeding. The fact that he brought the battle upon himself doesn’t change the niggling feeling I get: it seems to me that even if synthetics had never come into being, the monied interests would have come for Last Place somewhere down the line anyway. It is the last piece in the real estate pie. One final thing to sweep away. Suddenly its name becomes oh so apropos.

    hbh1 | Sep 24, 2012 | New Comment
  14. Insulting Ramos won’t solve this.  Calling us dupes of Carlson won’t help.  talking about what a bad guy Carlson is will not help. The entire city council, save Stauber, ignoring this won’t help.

    Thank God that so many citizens are concerned about this abuse of power and of our Constitution, our liberties that we cherish. The citizens object, our elected officials ignore, our city takes money and property from someone they just don’t like without prosecution, and Carlson keeps selling his stuff.

    Please stop trying to justify this.  Please answer your citizens’ concerns by returning the property if you cannot prosecute, then make Carlson’s stuff illegal so that you can shut him down.

    And please do not cast groundless aspersions on Ramos.  He is the only one here honorable and persistent enough to keep protesting this abuse of city power. 

    emmadogs | Sep 24, 2012 | New Comment
  15. Here’s what I don’t understand about all this, after reading the transcript of Ramos’ interview with Chief Ramsay: isn’t what the city’s doing legal? I don’t understand why the outrage about the misuse of power and all that, when what DPD and the feds and whomever are following the criminal and civil codes. I keep seeing people talking about constitutionality, but I don’t understand how the application of the criminal and civil code can be unconstitutional. I’m not being snarky here; I’m looking for a lawyer to explain it (emmadogs?).

    And as for casting aspersions on Ramos (who I don’t know and don’t know anything about, outside of reading his work here on PDD), I guess I don’t see much difference between the inferences about him and the aspersions that he’s casting on the group of people who don’t agree with him. He, and others in the discussion, have inferred that because I think LPOE is a hole that should be shut down and that Carlson’s continued sale of a heinous drug is exploitative, I must be racist, classist and clearly much more shallow than they.

    Nope — or I should say, not any more than any of us. I just want to be able to use the sidewalk in that block without being verbally accosted. I didn’t think LPOE was a big deal, until I had to walk through the same crowd Claire and others have described. Nobody touched me, either, but they didn’t need to. The comments were enough, thanks. 

    And more than that, I want Carlson to take responsibility for the crap that he’s selling people. The argument about legalizing the real thing is tangential, not to mention diversionary. The immediate problem is the synthetic poison that Carlson’s selling, right now. We can deal with legalization as an ongoing topic, but to say, “See! If we could just buy doobs this would all go away!” is unhelpful to the discussion. Same with the booze argument. Absolutely true that alcohol has done an immeasurable amount of damage to society. But it’s irrelevant to this immediate discussion of Carlson’s business and the return of his property.

    Perhaps instead of making these synthetics illegal, we should just put a 99% tax on them. I bet if Carlson wasn’t making so damn much money on it, his so-called libertarian freedom fight would be far less appealing to him.

    jessige | Sep 24, 2012 | New Comment
  16. Hi Jessige--Your questions are great. But here is where the rhetoric can take a turn for the over-the-top. The government has often taken advantage of laws that allow it to act “legally” against unpopular favorites, e.g. anti-war activists, anti-draft activists, ACT UP activists, environmentalists, Occupy activists, etc.  You don’t have to sink to the depths of “The Nazis acted ‘legally’ against the Jews/gays/etc.” to make the point, although the extreme examples are relevant, I think, to demonstrate why citizens should trust their instincts, and object, when their government seems to be acting immorally or against our Constitutional/liberty interests, even if their actions are ‘legal.’

    Because what does that mean? Within my grandmother’s lifetime, it was legal to deny women the right to vote; it was legal to deny people of different races the right to marry; it was legal to deny people of color equal rights.  The fact that something is ‘legal’ doesn’t necessarily make it morally right.  

    I am sure that Carlson is chortling all the way to the bank, as it were, at this fuss.  It would be easier to ignore it.  But you, me, Ramos, Badcat!, Paul Lundgren, B-man, Claire, or Carla could, at any time, do something that your government thinks is bad. That does not mean the government should be able to take things from you without some sort of morally meaningful hearing.

    I live in Duluth but practice law in Wisconsin. There are more protections in Wisconsin against civil forfeitures, it seems.

    I want to live  in a city where officials respond to genuine concerns about civil liberties infringements. That is, in the end, what troubles me so about this.

    emmadogs | Sep 24, 2012 | New Comment
  17. Oh, and I don’t think Ramos thinks you’re a creep at all. He’s been very clear that he is not a fan of the product Carlson is selling. He objects to this immoral activity by our city. So do I. 

    emmadogs | Sep 24, 2012 | New Comment
  18. Thank you, emmadogs. I understand the argument now. And now I’m even more conflicted than I was before. Ah, the beauty of discourse… 

    I agree with you that just because something’s legal doesn’t make it right. But doesn’t that apply to both sides of the equation? Just because it’s legal to sell synthetics doesn’t make it right?  So we just let Carlson continue, because we don’t want the city to be the arbiter but we don’t know who else can?

    I know I’m not saying anything new. I know I’m just reiterating the results of the first thread. So I’ll shut up now. 

    jessige | Sep 24, 2012 | New Comment
  19. Does anyone else remember a few years back when Don Donny took a stand against a loitering law that was being proposed by the city council?  I don’t remember the exact details, but it’s just interesting to me.

    Also, as a *ahem* “true libertarian” I’d appreciate it if the mayor didn’t define what one is.  Thanks. 

    Danny | Sep 24, 2012 | New Comment
  20. So the whole thing that confuses me about most of the complaints about LPOE including the one that Don Ness wrote is…..So Jim C. is the one panhandling, loitering, littering, harrassing, and groping women? If that is the case Lock Jim C. up tonight.  If not, then I will hold that judgement for whoever is commting those crimes.  You know, personal resposibility. 

    Conrad | Sep 24, 2012 | New Comment
  21. And to further trudge down that thinking, can I assume that when I see Don Ness at Tycoons, Clyde and participating in softball beer leagues that he is actually doing scouting for PPD users and his constituents objectively documenting how those establishments and the product it sells, booze, is just as harmful to this city’s image and stability because i’s produces just as many if not more jackassess, panhandlers, and trips to the ER? Add in many death related to drinking, and a much higher risk of domestic abuse and you got yourself a much bigger issue, LOPE is such a low hanging political fruit that people are just crawling over each other to condemn it. I am not for it, but think the city’s strong-arm tactics are sicking, and its efforts wrongly placed.

    Conrad | Sep 24, 2012 | New Comment
  22. A few points:

    1) Synthetic drugs are illegal -- both by federal law signed by the President on July 9 and in the State of Minnesota that went into effect on Aug 1. The spirit of the law is clear. I don’t understand why folks continue to assume that what he is doing is legal — because he is modifying the chemistry of the drugs his customers are consuming?

    2)  Carlson and his lawyer are playing games (again with people’s lives at stake). They are using the complexity of the chemistry as the basis for their claim of legality. The chemical research involved (I’ve been told) is extremely complicated.

    3)  It is no secret that the Feds are in control of this now.  They operate on their own time — they are taking no chances understanding that future case law will be based on the outcome of this case. If it were up to me, this would have been dealt with one way or the other a year ago. We’re all sick of it — there is no benefit to the city for this garbage going one more day. Yet, the dynamics of this case are so complicated that it is taking much longer than anyone wants it to. We are in the middle of a very long process — I am as frustrated as anyone it is taking this long. If this were a simple crime with a long history of case law, this would have been over long ago and the question of the evidence seized would also be resolved.

    But I would place a large share of the blame for that at Carlson’s feet. He is the one playing a game of cat and mouse with chemistry and the law. He is the one trying to use complexity to confuse the issue.

    Carlson has made it clear that he intends to attempt to circumvent the intent of the law by continuing to modify the chemistry of the poison he is selling in Duluth. This sort of loophole-based crime only creates an arms race in which the government must try to catch up with all of the creative ways that criminals have of trying to get around the spirit of the law.

    It’s like the criminals in the financial sector, they rip people off using loopholes in the law. They will argue that it’s “technically legal,” but they are ruining people’s lives in the meantime.

    I’ll let the judges determine the legal side of things, but I think it’s about time we start focusing on the terrible impact that his business model is having on people who by no choice of their own are carrying the burden of his money-making scheme. 

    The fact is that every citizen of Duluth has paid several hundred thousand dollars of their tax dollar to pay for police overtime related almost exclusively to the problems created by the LPOE.  Businesses have lost revenue. People have lost their sense of security and well-being on our sidewalks. And we all are paying the financial cost of the emergency room visits of those who are the losers in Jim Carlson’s reckless attempt to play legal games through chemistry.

    I hear a lot of folks going out of their way to defend Jim Carlson — who is speaking for all of the people paying the cost for his greed? 

    Don Ness | Sep 24, 2012 | New Comment
  23. Wait, Don Donny.  Are you actually trying to be a “voice of the voiceless” here?  Really?  Seriously, I have a feeling that more people are on your side on this and pretty loudly so.

    So, to answer your last sentence: You are.  As is all of the other people who are against this guy. 

    Danny | Sep 24, 2012 | New Comment
  24. I agree that the mayor asked nicely and I’m glad that John answered, I guess it was a fair question but I know John and I don’t think that it is remotely possible that he would operate in that sort of shady manner.  One question that he didn’t ask is about Bob Boone, the publisher, who does receive advertising support from LPOE and has for many years.  But again, I don’t think there is a conflict of interest.  So now, that is behind us, I suppose.  

    I think that everything else Donny said is spot on true.  I like this “gloves off” approach, being real about what is happening down there.  

    Now, a question for the forum and for the Mayor if he cares to answer it but I won’t fault him if he doesn’t in this forum.  How about a solution of LEGALIZING marijuana.  I’m not saying decriminalize it, I am saying to legalize it.  Reputable businesses that are either new or those that have been on the scene with few infractions, that are open to inspection and transparency and strictly complying with vagrancy type blue laws that exist SELLING marijuana in Duluth, completely removing the profit motive of Jim Carlson for buying synthetics.  Obviously, the state and feds would step in with some sort of injunction, but could we discuss legalization as a long term solution to this problem.

    I don’t know about the rest of you but I live around drug dealing that is often done out in the wide open and probably the number one thing that bothers me about it is that people don’t just grow the crap themselves or buy it in their own neighborhood because it is doing me no good as things are. Wow, that was a long sentence.  The number two thing that bothers me is that all of that income all the way up and down the supply chain from the vicious organized criminals that master-mind distribution, to the ambitious, often kindhearted and community minded criminals that are selling it at the street level are NOT BEING TAXED.  Such a waste.  

    Other things bother me about the drug war, too, but I’ll stop at two.  But I’m serious here folks, how about Duluth take a stand the City Council pass a resolution, maybe just a resolution to study legalization of pot and get the conversation going in that direction.  

    wildgoose | Sep 24, 2012 | New Comment
  25. If they didn’t have a case ready to go, why did they rush and get so far ahead of themselves to impound so much stuff? Did they catch wind that Jim C. was going to start moving cash elsewhere? Why didn’t they wait until they had all their ducks in a row, and would be supported by the public in their efforts to make a clear arrest with forfeiture along with it?
    People would know that it was clearly illegal, if we would start seeing warehouses where the stuff is being produced being raided, and delivery vehicles impounded. Instead, this very public focus on this one clearly unlikeable guy on main street… It makes people suspicious of motive. Just like they are when the DEA arrests the small-time dealer, but doesn’t appear to go after the big-time producers because it takes more energy and effort. (Oh, and hey, coincidentally forfeiture isn’t so easy to get.)
    If you (collective, governmental “you”) didn’t want to see people defending the guy, you shouldn’t have made him an underdog to begin with.

    hbh1 | Sep 24, 2012 | New Comment
  26. Love our Mayor but stop bitching/giving Carlson free publicity and take clandestine action. If it were anyone but Donny the thought would scare me but I trust this guy to do what he has to do for the good of our city.

    LPOE needs to go. We all know how it inhibits a vibrant downtown and that our downtown is the center of our community (if not it goes over the hill to suburban hell).

    If our center is compromised how can we have real community? Doesn’t add up.

    From Portland Square to Lincoln Park we’re all tired of dealing with these losers.

    Your last name is Ness … act like it. Please! I trust my leader.

    Forward... | Sep 24, 2012 | New Comment
  27. Yup. The more I think about it, the more certain I am that the raid for forfeiture/material goods that were taken over a year ago was strictly done for the material gain of the local police department. They did it when they thought they’d get the biggest haul, and are counting on the disdain we all bear for the owner to get what they want, damn correct procedure or the constitution. (You know, the idea that something has to become illegal first — August 1st of this year — and then we get to raid the place.) When the Feds win their case — and they will — all the murkiness of how the locals got what they got will go by the wayside and nobody will give a shit. Hell, nobody cares now, because contempt is so high. Yay! More fancy police cars! Please more tear gas to burn Occupy out of the Kozy!
    And I’m buzzing with interest as to why we haven’t heard of big raids on the chemists and producers. Oh yeah, because it’s “complicated.” When someone is hated, all that complication turns into Go Go Elliot Ness! Burn it with fire!

    hbh1 | Sep 25, 2012 | New Comment
  28. I don’t know if this has been brought up, but is there a door at the back and below on Michigan Street? Couldn’t Mr. Carlson sell his “stuff” down there and move the problem to the back of the building?

    I still don’t understand if this is against the law how it can happen? I don’t think it is right that young people are getting into this stuff as it doesn’t seem safe. It seems at times like when things are made against the law they grow in popularity with young people. You don’t see people hanging outside of liquor stores drinking, why are there people right in front of this store getting intoxicated on the street?

    Endion | Sep 25, 2012 | New Comment
  29. Dear Mayor Ness:  to answer your last question, people assume that, at the time of last year’s raid, what he was doing was legal, because what he was doing WAS legal, per your noting the dates that the synthetics became illegal (i.e. several months after the raid).  So what bothers us is the seizure of property without prosecution.

    Carlson didn’t swear to uphold our citizens’ constitutional liberties.  Our city officials did, however.  We citizens don’t like  it when we see abuse of power by gov’t, even if the intentions are good, as they so often are when officials justify the abuse of their power.

    emmadogs | Sep 25, 2012 | New Comment
  30. And, I’m pretty sure these drug users ripped off, and ate the fake concrete styrofoam on the side of the Electric Fetus too. And that didn’t look as cheap or easy to replace, as it looked cheap to begin with.  If the zombies that Carlson keeps churning out through elicit practices can chew off the side of a building, then they have potential for great evil. 

    Herzog | Sep 25, 2012 | New Comment
  31. You all know what I’m going to say, but I wont let that stop me.

    LPOE’s current business model is bad for everyone, except Jim Carlson. The actual costs are cascading down to us. Money and resources spent dealing with the condition by which he profits.

    I wholeheartedly agree with the mayor and applaud his personal conviction on the matter. If nothing were being done about it, if LPOE was under no scrutiny or attempt to cease this lapse of moral turpitude, then the DPD and the Mayor would be getting as much flack as they’re getting now … just from other people.

    Practically speaking, there will come a day, and an issue, where “the authorities” will take advantage of the blurry lines of our modern democracy to really infringe on freedom … this is NOT it! Save your repugnance and indignation for when we really need it, don’t waste it on a practice and product that is as insidious as selling synthetic pot.

    Thanks for making your views clear Don.

    baci | Sep 25, 2012 | New Comment
  32. “Synthetic pot that is so insidious we are allowed to raid people we don’t like and take all their money and throw their customers to the floor in handcuffs, but we never have to charge them with crimes.”

    I just finished your thought for you there, Baci.

    Sure, it’s no problem.

    Ramos | Sep 25, 2012 | New Comment
  33. The mayor’s position on the legalization of marijuana is immaterial. Drug laws are enacted at the state and federal level. The city can only enforce existing law. Given our penchant for electing anti-weed candidates to federal office means the laws won’t change. That said, the mayor has a duty to maintain public safety and do it within a budget. We are spending a lot of public resources trying to protect those who just want to walk down the sidewalk un-harassed or operate a business within two blocks of LPOE. Add the inevitable costs of medical treatment and/or incarceration of Jim Carlson’s league of zombies and the city is essentially forced to react. My blowhard comments aside, the situation in not black and white. There’s a lot of gray in this debate.

    TimK | Sep 25, 2012 | New Comment
  34. Whoa. I just had a weird dream that somebody called me a puppet.

    Ramos | Sep 25, 2012 | New Comment
  35. A good man fights for the rights of the downtrodden, the vulnerable, the ones who are unable to fight their own battle.

    A good man tries to change something that affects hundreds of people in a negative way, people who have no control over the situation they are in and who really need the help.

    A good man battles to make the world a better place.

    A good man does not latch on to a small technicality in an attempt to protect the ill-gotten wealth of a multi-millionaire.

    Dorkus | Sep 25, 2012 | New Comment
  36. Wise words…from Dorkus.

    Danny | Sep 25, 2012 | New Comment
  37. I read the Reader article and at least most of the comments here — so much to absorb that I’ll admit what I am posting is narrow.  Just to throw my two cents into the mix, I think it’s clear that the consensus is that Carlson is not who I want in my backyard, but that law enforcement better be careful to play by the rules. Still, and maybe this is it’s own slippery slope, the law clearly isn’t so clear cut. I mean, how else could the Supreme Court or any higher court have any reason for existence?  It’s not as though we’re consulting some sacred text that is “The Law.”

    That said, if Carlson with his peddling of poison is willing to exploit the law for his own benefit, why shouldn’t the city have the same option? He has ventured into grey territory. So has the city.  Why is one worse than the other? This is not a defense of liberty, the peoples’ rights or any of that — it’s just vulgar and offensive, and sometimes it’s best to just consult common sense.

    quirtep | Sep 25, 2012 | New Comment
  38. My concern isn’t so much the fact that people are doing drugs — if they want to put that crap into their bodies, it’s their right. I do believe, like Wildgoose, that if marijuana were legalized, that would make the problem of synthetic drugs go away (I hope). My concern is that the people loitering in front of LPOE at all hours are preventing nearby businesses from exercising their rights to conduct their business. And, of course, my concern is for the people who feel harassed when they walk down the sidewalk. Maybe the solution is for Carlson to move the store’s entrance from Superior St. to Michigan St., as someone above suggested. Win-win for everyone involved, although the cops would still have to patrol the area.

    Claire | Sep 25, 2012 | New Comment
  39. I am spending way too much time reading the comments and not working! I really appreciate the good debate and legal references. Unfortunately I do not see a resolution for either side while money keeps pouring into the LPOE and business goes on as usual. 

    Changing the chemical compound of a product to make it legal is a shitty way to do business but LPOE/JC is not the chemist! The legal line was drawn before the raid and then re-drawn after the raid. It will surely be drawn again!

    heysme | Sep 25, 2012 | New Comment
  40. I have a big problem with the first sentence of this post.  “There seems to be a lot of concern for the rights of…”  As if some people are supposed to have more rights than others, and if you don’t like someone, their rights don’t matter.

    -Berv | Sep 25, 2012 | New Comment
  41. I do not care about people panhandling or harassing me as I walk down the street. I do not care that the businesses are losing a bit of money because of the riff raff. I do not care that these people are ruining their own lives, they’re doing it willingly. It’s unfortunate, all of it, but it really doesn’t bother me that people live in such a bubble in Duluth that walking past some people they feel highly superior to is such a bother that they won’t walk down that part of the street anymore, because it’s really not that bad compared to other cities.

    But what I really care about is the little 3-year-old girl who recently drowned while her dad was high on synthetics, or the little kid who’s parents were out getting high while he was in his stroller this past spring while the DNT interviewed them, and all of the other helpless children who happen to have these people as parents. Each individual child is reason enough to shut this place down, and, if Mr. Carlson had a soul, it would be enough for him to stop selling these chemicals. However, in the eyes of the law it is not, and I’m starting to doubt that he does, so if the powers that be are going to try to take on Mr. Carlson let’s please get it done legally and openly so we can be sure a business like this doesn’t come back.

    wskyline | Sep 25, 2012 | New Comment
  42. What wskyline said.

    There’s way too much focus on Carlson here and not enough on the people buying this stuff and their responsibilities. Carlson isn’t abusing passers by,  panhandling or neglecting his kids (that I know of)

    All I can suggest is that if people are breaking the law, harassing people in the street, creating a public nuisance or being intoxicated in public, that concerned citizens call the police and file a report rather than just air grievances on a message board.

    Sadly, everybody has to respect the law here, enforcement, city and Carlson alike. I say sadly because I’d happily forcibly castrate anyone who neglects their kids so they can waste money getting high in a park.

    Rougement | Sep 25, 2012 | New Comment
  43. Mayor Ness,

    So you support laws that wage a war on drugs that cost us taxpayers millions? And your costly war isn’t working? You pay overtime to the cops to fight a war you can never win!? Don Ness has been wasting our money for years! He lost 2 million in an investment that promised big returns, they couldn’t even trace the money he got robbed so bad. then he screws up the slot machine contracts and spends big money to fight that battle that clearly you were going to lose anyway. Wasteful Don Ness very wasteful. Your Nazi cops took his money illegally. A lot of us citizens find that to be a big concern. See we all have something called rights and due process. Terms and big words you guys really don’t understand because you’re to busy being hypocrites. Our government is using fear and intimidation to get its way. You’ll shut him down then the problem will move over to the Holiday Center and someone else will take his place maybe not at a storefront but I bet you they will get served. All of them. Your best bet would be to support marijuana at least then people would be using a natural product instead of Jim Carlson’s spice or the governments prescription pills. See marijuana has been linked to curing brain tumors. There has never been a marihuana-related death or an overdose. Hypocrites you hypocrites.

    Ohgary | Sep 25, 2012 | New Comment

    On the way to work today I saw a line outside Last Place 100 ft. long. 
    I’ll give Carlson $500k to go over the hill and infiltrate Hermantown instead so that our downtown can reflect the personality of true DLH residents who want a positive town center that is family-friendly and yet supports creativity and fun. Of course we don’t want Disneyland but Last Place is less of a cultural quirk and more of a parasite.
    LPOE is affecting not only neighboring businesses but the entire Duluth economy. Here’s why: 
    I own a business where we can’t find enough talent locally. When we talk to young professionals about why they want to leave for MSP/out state their response is that the economy “sucks” in Duluth or that it’s “dirty.” 
    When I talk to potential employees in MSP about moving here the response is the same. If you were from Minneapolis and drove down Superior Street on vacation and saw what I did this morning your perception would be the same. This business reinforces both preconceptions — true or not.
    Remember the days when downtown Duluth was the center of commerce for the region? Long before businesses moved over the hill to suburbia? LPOE is a barrier against just that. I want it gone.
    Don’t burn it but drown it in bureaucratic red tape, if he doesn’t own the building work with landlord and incent them otherwise — do whatever you have to do but please boot Carlson. 
    NorShore -- Check
    Last Place On Earth -- Soon
    Casino -- On deck
    Excessive social programs -- Victory
    I want Duluth back. I want downtown to be what it used to be; family’s shopping during the holidays, beer being responsibly consumed in respectable pubs, music in the streets, artists in galleries… 
    We all know what downtown can be: avante garde, business-friendly, a creative hub, etc. but not with businesses like this hurting all.
    DPD is incredible, Ness is a huge blessing and Duluth’s best days are ahead if those of us who are frustrated with LPOE take action in a responsible way.
    If you’re a responsible Duluth citizen log complaints, call the police if you’re inconvenienced or even modestly annoyed by their clientele and most importantly refuse to patronize this business. Don’t go there to buy cloves or Dunhills, buy your glass from Jess directly, order electronic cigarettes online.
    Boycott this irresponsible opportunist and help take our downtown back.

    Forward... | Sep 25, 2012 | New Comment
  45. Whew, what a miserable situation. I wonder if it’d be at all helpful to try to take a step back, view this from a distance, and try to do some out-of-the-box thinking. How about we toss out some ideas — no matter how weird they may sound — and see what this group of posters can come up with? OK, I’ll go first.

    1. Brainstorm. Compile a list of 20+ ideas on how to deal with the situation.
    2. Posters’ Meeting. Create a posters’ group to sit down and go through the list,
    a. arrange for a meeting room (not setup by the mayor, setup by the posters),
    b. meet, go over list, allow leadership to emerge,
    c. agree to meet again, soon,
    d. maybe ask Jim Carlson to come to the second meeting,
    e. don’t trash JC, try to work together toward a solution that reasonably solves a few of the worst problems, the legal system will take care of things for the long term, we’re dealing with the short term.
    3. “Occupy” LPOE. Well, sort of. Get a large group to show up there when the “morning folks” are standing in line, waiting for the place to open. Don’t harass them, they’re not doing well. Just go inside and mill about peacefully for a half hour. Then do it again, and again.
    4. Relocate Entrance. Find another entrance (as someone else mentioned) where the “morning folks” can line up (until the law finally puts an end to it).

    Anyone else?

    mick | Sep 25, 2012 | New Comment
  46. TimK I’m a little upset that you pooh poohed my argument with obvious facts.  At least I got Claire and HBH on board.  But don’t expect me to forget that anytime soon, Tim.  I think a personalized Wild Goose mix tape is in order.  I won’t go so far as to say press it to vinyl but that would be fine, too. 

    I know the Feds and State make the drug laws and the city folks just enforce them.  But … it’s not working.  The drug war is not working and this synthetic sh*t is symbolic of exactly how completely insane the drug war is.  Why is “spice” or “pipe cleaner” or whatever it is legal when Marijuana, you know, the 100% natural plant, is illegal?  

    I’m not a pot smoker or a pot booster, by the way.  I just know that the Drug War isn’t working and it leads to preposterous situations like this, ie.  Jim Carlson raking in millions selling toxic, synthetic crap.  ie. The DEA and DPD raiding the place to find out if the exact chemical formulation of the products has been listed by the FDA/DEA yet.  And then trying to build a case based on … chemistry?  I mean, what the f*ck.  This is insanity.  The drug war is insane and I’m just saying that maybe Duluth could be a community that admits it is insane and tries to get the state/feds moving in the logical direction.  (Or illogical if you ask TimK.) <- *jest*  

    wildgoose | Sep 26, 2012 | New Comment
  47. Berv, if you’ve proven yourself to be a public threat, by disregarding the rights, safety, and health of others, there are usually laws created or existing to strip you of your rights, if you are that kind of socially damaging creature. If an animal goes around attacking people, its rights are taken by having it ‘removed.’  

    If a deer starts boxing a farmer, and he blows it away with a BFG, even though there are laws protecting the deer, the farmer will usually be exonerated. We do the same thing to problem people, we find ways to treat or remove them, unfortunately excelling in the later.
    In Carlson’s case, he’s found a little loophole to get around having done to him, what we normally do to turd blossoms who knowingly damage others. I think Don has a pretty good point, let’s talk about the cumulative damage to the thousands of lives he has/is causing and then reestablish a new law, file charges, so Ramos can spend more time raising his kids, because I’m starting to think his family is suffering needlessly from synthetics too.

    “Money, it’s a gas.”

    Herzog | Sep 26, 2012 | New Comment
  48. Besides, just based on looks alone, I think JC would do fine in our prison system, he looks like he belongs there!  And since he acts like it too, let’s do our best to help make it happen, in due process of course.

    Herzog | Sep 26, 2012 | New Comment
  49. All the news I’ve seen for this LPOE stuff that mentions Perfect Duluth Day always calls it Perfect Day Duluth. It seems to be that way even in the past. Why can’t local media get it right?

    Jadiaz | Sep 26, 2012 | New Comment
  50. Not to distract further from the topic at hand, but then to go ahead and distract further from the topic at hand, I have only seen two references to this post in other media, and both got the name correct.

    Business North:

    Northland’s News Center:

    Paul Lundgren | Sep 26, 2012 | New Comment
  51. For the record, when Craig R was my guest co-host on the 2nd (and final) episode of Danny on the Radio he said that he called this site “Prefect Day Duluth” because he was always afraid of being sued if he referenced it by its real name.

    Danny | Sep 26, 2012 | New Comment
  52. 1490 had a news break that referred to Perfect Day Duluth blog and channel six did as well.

    Jadiaz | Sep 26, 2012 | New Comment
  53. Here’s an important concept: “Your liberty to swing your fist stops where my nose begins.”

    Personally, I don’t care what people do in their home as long as it does not have a negative impact on others -- however, I do have a problem when this business model:
    - Impacts the ability for people to walk the sidewalks or enjoy a city park
    - When uninsured addicts end up in our emergency rooms and others are forced to pick up the bill
    - When addicts aggressively panhandle and steal from others to get their next fix
    - When parents of little kids are getting high and impacting their ability to care for their children
    - Impacts our efforts to encourage downtown development vs. easy sprawl development
    - When the taxpayers of Duluth are forced to pay for a half-million dollars of additional overtime pay to address the very significant problems created by this business
    Every concern facing Jim Carlson will be addressed by the courts in time. The process is much slower than any of us would like, but the process will take place and a final judicial decision will be made on those matters. The criminal questions will be decided and the questions of the evidence taken will be decided -- and Carlson will have his high-priced attorney there to ensure the court hears every possible legal argument they can conjurer up.

    However, the burden of Carlson’s business plan is being carried day after day.  Those costs are being incurred, the harassment of people walking sidewalks continues, and the losses experienced by local businesses are real.

    The interests of the people carrying this burden (created by Carlson himself) is represented by the government. I personally don’t have anything against Jim Carlson or the LPOE, but I have a major problem with the very direct and devastating impact he is creating on the community.  That’s the reason I support the law-enforcement efforts that have taken place.

    If he can find a way to sell poison in a way that has no societal costs borne by those who want no part of his operation, well, then I’m not going to concern myself with that.  But right now, he expects our community to assume those costs and carry his burden — that’s just plain wrong.

    Don Ness | Sep 26, 2012 | New Comment
  54. What I like about Ramos’ argument is that he keeps coming back to the same single point. How can you seize assets for over a year without filing charges and possibly think that is acceptable?

    There are a lot of separate issues here, but that’s the main problem Ramos keeps stubbornly and rightfully coming back to.

    Are synthetics worse than alcohol? Well, on a case-by-case basis, probably. Are the overall affects on society worse? Probably not.

    Is Carlson’s business a nuisance because the people in line outside bother other people? In some minds yes, in some minds no.

    But when you raid a business and seize assets because you believe an illegal compound is being sold, and you can’t prove a year later that there was an illegal compound being sold, that’s a problem.

    Paul Lundgren | Sep 26, 2012 | New Comment
  55. Thank you Paul for bringing it back around again. The presumed illegal or legal asset seizure is the question and what comments should be focused on.

    heysme | Sep 26, 2012 | New Comment
  56. Wait, what? Who is deciding what comments should be focused on? The mayor (who started this thread) brings up some pretty good issues — not related to the seizure. He also points out that the court system will resolve that issue one way or another. So if you really want to focus on just the seizure, take it up with the legislature. Law enforcement has been sitting on the evidence for quite a while and Jim Carlson has a pretty good attorney fighting that situation. Seizure laws are another issue (like the legalization of pot) that are not written at the city level — they are state and federal laws. Perhaps we could also get into a discussion about why people use drugs and alcohol in the first place.

    TimK | Sep 26, 2012 | New Comment
  57. And another thing- the original thread was called “Is the Last Place on Earth Ruining Duluth?” By using that title, Ramos must want comments about how LPOE is or isn’t ruining Duluth. He didn’t call it Fucking Cops Seize Stuff with No Justification.

    TimK | Sep 26, 2012 | New Comment
  58. The Mayor has done a really good job outlining his concerns on the matter, and those concerns are valid. I was going to use the Oliver Wendell Holms, Jr. quote as well as it is very pertinent to the situation. 

    I wish there was a way to force the same kind of impact to his business as he is to the rest of the area. Perhaps a protest is in order.

    Dorkus | Sep 26, 2012 | New Comment
  59. There are any number of directions to take this conversation, but there seems to be a pretty strong consensus that synthetic drugs are nasty and walking down the 200 100 block of West East Superior Street is less pleasant than any other block in Downtown Duluth.

    Where there doesn’t seem to be consensus is whether seizing assets and not charging someone with a crime is OK.

    Paul Lundgren | Sep 26, 2012 | New Comment
  60. The mayor’s diatribe is the most vicious attack by a leader on a citizen that I have ever seen in Duluth. Ness appears to be trying to cancel out Jim Carlson’s rights by proclamation.

    Ramos | Sep 26, 2012 | New Comment
  61. EAST Superior Street. Though the 200 block of West Superior Street is something we could talk about, too.

    TimK | Sep 26, 2012 | New Comment
  62. And actually, it’s the 100 block.

    TimK | Sep 26, 2012 | New Comment
  63. Tim, Ramos didn’t author the original “Is the Last Place on Earth ruining Duluth? post. That was another user. Ramos just didn’t like the way that one was going, so he jumped in and seized it. There were only a few complaints.

    Paul Lundgren | Sep 26, 2012 | New Comment
  64. I stand corrected and humiliated in my double error on the block number. I’m used to everything being west in my world, and the other part was bad math — the second block from Lake is the 100; I skipped the zero block and therefore screwed up counting to two.

    Paul Lundgren | Sep 26, 2012 | New Comment
  65. So, all this hub-bub over a thread jacking?

    TimK | Sep 26, 2012 | New Comment
  66. I was trying to make a subtle joke there about seizing property, but, well, anyway … I don’t think any of this discussion is too far off topic. But I don’t believe that emphasizing again and again that synthetic drugs are dangerous and people who take them are sketchy is in any way a defense against taking Carlson’s stuff and not charging him with a crime.

    Paul Lundgren | Sep 26, 2012 | New Comment
  67. I just don’t understand the insane thought that LPOE is the only business operating with such a business model that plays off of the weaknesses of addicted people. Can we please shut down the methodone clinic? Somebody’s  making money off of that sh*t and I doubt anyone would want to walk by that establishment either.

    The reality of it is that LPOE is merely a symptom of a much larger problem. Create better or more accessible treatment program for addicts, make stronger sexual harassment laws, do something that actually means something because as soon as LPOE’s doors close for good another one will open someplace else. There is no supply if there is no demand.

    I am a social worker and I deal with as many families affected by alcohol as I do by drugs but no one’s rushing to close down Last Chance Liquor. Believe me, I don’t want to be by the Twins at night either. And these addicts you speak of are not a discerning bunch, take away their drugs and liquor will be next.

    Everything the mayor lists is terrible and everything he lists is true. It doesn’t mean you should be able to create technicalities where you personally believe they are deserved. THAT is the argument. There are lots of horrible things that people simply turn a blind eye to because it doesn’t inconvenience *them*. People didn’t care so much about the children of addicts until they had to be witness to their suffering and the eyesore of their addicted parents. So do something to treat the people who actually need the help.

    Makoons | Sep 26, 2012 | New Comment
  68. Might I also add I realize that what I’ve proposed will take more time and cost a lot more money than the seizure of one man’s property, but if it’s a “better Duluth” that you truly want then you will spare no expense and take the time needed to do it right.

    Makoons | Sep 26, 2012 | New Comment
  69. Yup.

    Danny | Sep 26, 2012 | New Comment
  70. I share Ramos discomfort with holding someone’s property, money, etc. without the charges. But it is within the law to do what is being done. It might not be right, yet from what I understand it can be held in this type of instance for up to three years before someone must be charged or the case must be thrown out. I don’t know if I agree with that, but I am almost positive that can be done. If that is the case, which I am very open to be proven wrong on, it seems as if Ramos et al. should maybe use there time in lobbying the state and federal government for change (which has been said a few times). Instead of harassing the Mayor who, if the above is correct, is within his power and in my opinion with clear conscious, should be doing just as he is doing.
    The idea of using loop holes to fight loop holes though, brings to mind at least, fighting fire with fire. At most the idea that each sides argument can be a self inflicted wound.

    Muns | Sep 26, 2012 | New Comment
  71. @Don--First off, I would like to say that you are doing a great job with the city and you are a good guy, but I disagree with your stance.
    Let’s shift from the LPOE to other parts of town and take this point by point.
    - Impacts the ability for people to walk the sidewalks or enjoy a city park.--  Have you ever been to the bus stop on the 200 West block of Superior St?  The Lakewalk has not been more dangerous because of this stuff; it has ALWAYS been shifty after dark due to chemically dependent loiters. How about the park at Lake and 4th street after dark? Ever hang around there?
    - When uninsured addicts end up in our emergency rooms and others are forced to pick up the bill. — 2 words San Marcos. We are still paying for those uninsured addicts every day.
    - When addicts aggressively panhandle and steal from others to get their next fix. I dare you to hang out near 1st Ave E and 1st St liquor store around closing time.  People are mugging each other for products/ change.
    - When parents of little kids are getting high and impacting their ability to care for their children – Welcome to the world. I have been in social work for 12 years and this behavior  was happening before I started in this field, removing synthetics from the earth will not change it.

    -- Impacts our efforts to encourage downtown development vs. easy sprawl development—if one business will deter others from developing downtown then we have much more serious issues to deal with economically
    - When the taxpayers of Duluth are forced to pay for a half-million dollars of additional overtime pay to address the very significant problems created by this business –stop paying overtime and hire more police to work at regular rates?  Or is that even more expensive?  Bring a civil suit against LPOE for the extra time and effort wasted by the city.  You do it to party houses in my neighborhood why not nuisance businesses.
    This all comes down to concentration.  Since alcohol is available in 100+ places in town and synthetics are available in 1 we get a bottle neck that is unappealing to the masses.  The real issue you are discussing here is Chemical Dependency.  All dependency leads to the issues outlined above.  Usually it is hidden at home or isolated enough so the moral majority takes no notice. Until now. 
    I agree with others, the point I am stuck on is the seizure of property without charges.
    Property seized by E. Texas police called ‘highway piracy’

    B-man | Sep 26, 2012 | New Comment
  72. It is a problem when the only way you can prove a compound (il) legal, is by consulting the oracle.

    Herzog | Sep 26, 2012 | New Comment
  73. Jim Carlson is not hurting our people. The government is and all the people that support marijuana prohibition. If weed was legal there would be no more heated debates about how Jim is using a loophole to stay in business. What a piss poor argument coming from the very people that will use any loophole they can to convict him. It’s not a loophole it’s called the law. Jim Carlson is not breaking the law. You are when you illegally seize his money and vehicles. So much hatred from our so-called leaders. Such close minded people that lead this city. Let it be known that this city caused the owner of the strip club the NorShor to kill himself because the police and city leaders harassed him to the point of suicide. He was a good man. Hatred is an evil thing that lives in every one of those cops and Don Ness. But just remember that karma exists. 

    Ohgary | Sep 26, 2012 | New Comment
  74. Thank you Paul Lundgren for attempting to bring this discussion back to what should be its main focus. We can keep listing the evils of synthetic drugs and telling personal anecdotes about street hassle over and over again, but nothing justifies underhanded activity on the part of the DPD as alleged. 

    The real questions are:

    1) Is the seizure of Carlson’s property legal?
    2) If it is legal, is the law constitutional?
    3) If it is constitutional, is this a law you support?

    I don’t like walking past the LPOE either, just as I don’t like walking past the liquor store on First Street. But as much as I would like those problem areas to disappear, I don’t want them to disappear by any means necessary.

    Barrett Chase | Sep 26, 2012 | New Comment
  75. I don’t like walking by the anti-abortion protesters outside the Building for Women on First St. What are they doing if not harassing the people going in? Even if you’re just passing by they try to hand you a pamphlet and if you decline, they scream “Jesus loves you!” like they really mean “Fuck you!” 

    farglebargle | Sep 26, 2012 | New Comment
  76. When is the next hearing regarding LPOE and the property seizure? At what stage is the criminal proceedings? 

    heysme | Sep 27, 2012 | New Comment
  77. Farglebargle, don’t even get me started about the protesters outside the Building for Women. They’re another group of people who think their rights trump everybody else’s rights.

    Claire | Sep 27, 2012 | New Comment
  78. Title of this thread is “LPOE.” Don started it because he wanted a platform to share his views and observations. The topic here shouldn’t have to be
    “1) Is the seizure of Carlson’s property legal?
    2) If it is legal, is the law constitutional?
    3) If it is constitutional, is this a law you support?”

    If you want to get into that discussion, I suggest the other threads are there for that. This one IS titled LPOE and within that context, it’s should be permissible and encouraged to discuss all parts of this issue. I know it’s where I will continue to say:

    Carlson should stop selling that shit because it’s the right thing to do.

    baci | Sep 27, 2012 | New Comment
  79. I have never seen a mayor demonize one of his constituents like this. Behind Ness’s hip, moderate exterior lies a raging paranoiac.

    Are there problems with the Last Place? Yes. If you listen to the mayor, there’s groping and stalking going on around the Last Place all day long. But nothing that’s happening justifies the hard-line, punitive, tyrannical approach favored by the city and police to solve the problem.

    Constitutional freedoms are, or should be, the third rail of American justice. You don’t touch them. That’s basic civics. In the mayor’s entire post, he doesn’t mention Carlson’s rights except to sneeringly dismiss them.

    Ramos | Sep 27, 2012 | New Comment
  80. Ramos is right if you aren’t charging him then leave his stuff alone. That’s theft by force aka armed robbery minimum of one year in jail. If the police can’t respect Jim Carlson what makes you think everyone else is an exception? Jim is our rights; you violate his you violate everyone’s!!!

    Ohgary | Sep 27, 2012 | New Comment
  81. There are many aspects of this that are concerning. The privatization of profit with socialization of cost is a ubiquitous structural problem that we’ll be dealing with regardless of how LPOE pans out. Same with poverty and addiction, which will persist regardless of the outcome of this matter.

    Meanwhile, we see our local law enforcement resorting to harassment in the face of legal ambiguity. Is this a step we ought to take? Mayor Ness refers to the “criminals in the financial sector,” who avoid this sort of aggressive treatment by the authorities. This is, of course, because they are powerful. Carlson and his customers are powerless by comparison. Should they expect extrajudicial harassment as a consequence?

    These problems are systemic. We must not allow them to become toxic.

    Chickonen | Sep 27, 2012 | New Comment
  82. Muns | Sep 27, 2012 | New Comment
  83. Don, I’m just writing in to air my opinion (seeing as everyone has been waiting around with bated breath) and I must say that while I am very much in your camp in general I find this “nuanced” use of the law problematic.
    I agree that Carlson is no friend of Duluth, and I agree that a lot of innocent bystanders are being inconvenienced and/or harassed, or maybe worse. I do not think that people are well advised in doing “bath salts” and I’d hazard to say that it’s probably the abusers who could use the most help here.

    Even so, it seems that you are essentially using the police to enforce vigilante justice, in spirit if not in letter. Suppose I were to put the hurt on the LPOE by performing some vigilante act? I imagine that I would be arrested and prosecuted, and could not rightfully object, the law being what it is. If I am not wrong the police are essentially doing the same thing, with the exception being that they have a rather thin excuse. My objection, you see, is based in principle.

    What are the alternatives? I don’t have a magic bullet or anything like that, and I recognize that your job must be daunting at times.  You have been elected, however, and I hope that you’re doing your very best.

    Mister Digits | Sep 28, 2012 | New Comment
  84. In reference to this bit of Muns’ earlier comment:

    “It might not be right, yet from what I understand it can be held in this type of instance for up to 3 years before someone must be charged or the case must be thrown out.”

    I think what Mons is referring to is the statute of limitations, which stipulates that “indictments or complaints shall be found or made and filed in the proper court within three years after the commission of the offense.”

    That means if a criminal complaint against Carlson isn’t filed within three years of the raids on the Last Place on Earth, he can’t be charged with any alleged crime that may have occurred at the time of the relevant raid.

    It does not mean law enforcement officials can take whatever they want and keep it for three years.

    (I might be misinterpreting what Muns was referring to, and I didn’t run any of this through a legal expert or anything, but that’s my layman’s interpretation, for what it’s worth.)

    Paul Lundgren | Sep 30, 2012 | New Comment

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