Oct 31, 2014

What A Concept

We’ve all received a trash barrel full of political crap this season. The Koch brothers are buying as many votes as Faux News will allow and even our local state representative race is being financed by those pure evil corporate welfare queens. I’m at the point where I go straight from my mailbox to the recycling can and bring practically nothing into the house. I’m really looking forward to November 3.

Today, there was an exception. Christian Torkelson’s Little Canada To-Do list in his “Things I’ve Heard from Residents” was a breath of fresh air. I haven’t seen anything that optimistic or ambitious regarding the city of Little Canada since Matt Anderson was on the council. I suspect we won’t be city residents long enough to see any of this great stuff proposed in the council, but I really hope a good bit of it happens. This is a terrific town and it deserves to be as well represented and regarded as Mr. Torkelson’s list indicates. No matter who wins, Christian has put his finger on the exact right list of critical items to be dealt with:


Oct 18, 2014

The Answers

10/14/2014 I sent the following email to the seven candidates for Little Canada city council:
“I manage a Little Canada-based blog, http://savagelake.blogspot.com/, that mostly comments on the city, county, and state activities that affect Savage Lake. In the past, the city council has been marginally supportive of lake shore residents; allowing the Watershed District to lower our lake level to the point that invasive plant species took over the surface of the lake, allowing Roseville School District to dump vehicle cleaning chemicals into the lake killing off most of the lake's life, ignoring Gopher Electronics' parking lot runoff and the freeway ramp runoff that practically filled the northeast end of the lake's west side with sediment, and ignoring the MNDOT freeway design that filled the southeast end of the lake with even more sediment. I'd like to ask all of the Little Canada city council candidates the following question and post your responses on the Savage Lake blogsite:
"Savage Lake has received fairly brutal treatment from the Ramsey County Watershed District, the DNR, MNDOT, and our city government. What would you do to help lakeshore residents to protect and improve this disrespected natural resource?"

The answers were as follows (in the order received):

From: Kevin Keenan [mailto:kkeenan123@comcast.net]
Sent: Tuesday, October 14, 2014 3:03 PM
Subject: Little Canada City Council Question

Thomas - I definitely share your frustration. Myself and my brother own lakeshore on Gervais lake and we have many times had to deal with the same issues. We have had a ton of problems with the lake levels. I love to use and enjoy the lake as I know most of your neighbors do. You can be assured that if I'm elected any topic regarding lake (water) quality that comes directly to me or comes from city staff will have my full attention. I know Bev Scalze personally and I would insure she is part of the solution along with MNDOT, the DNR,  and Ramsey Watershed. I am a 45 year resident of LC and I will be a voice for my fellow neighbors. I am a Captain on the Little Canada Fire Department and I have been serving our community for 20 years in that capacity and look forward to digging in my heals even more if elected on Nov. 4th.

Thanks for the opportunity! 
Kevin Keenan

From: Christian Torkelson [mailto:christian.torkelson@gmail.com]
Sent: Tuesday, October 14, 2014 3:13 PM
Subject: Re: Little Canada City Council Question

Thanks Thomas for sending me this email.

I have more to write on this issue, and will work on putting together a full response within the next few days.

But the long and short of it in quick response form is this:
The first problem was putting a highway through a lake, the second was doing it poorly from a sound design and drainage perspective, and the third problem is that I think a lot of folks have simply written the lake off at this point.

I think the biggest thing homeowners on the lake want to see (I spoke with a resident on Lake Shore Ave who helps out with the local Boy/Cub Scouts Troop) is keeping pollutants out of it, and making sure the levels don't continue to drop. After that we can look to addressing sound barrier issues and invasive species removal.

I have some friends at the U of M who have earned or are pursuing degrees in the environmental sciences and natural resources management areas. I know that we could bring in some top notch students to evaluate the Lake and present their findings and recommendations for action with little to no cost. I'm inclined to pursue that path if we aren't seeing concrete recommendations from folks at the Soil and Water Conservation Board. Incidentally I'd be curious to know what your experiences have been in working with those folks?

Finally we can leverage our State Senator and State Representative. I've had the opportunity to spend a lot of time working with Rep. Isaacson at the State House, I know he would be receptive to carrying the ball forward on this with folks at the DNR and elsewhere (MNPCA perhaps?) I'd bet Sen. Scalze would as well. And as much as I hate to say it, often times its easy to ignore the Joe Six Packs out there, but not so much sitting House or Senate member, and that is why we need to use them. I'd bet they might be able shake something loose that you or I might not.

Finally I'd hope that we could overcome maybe some apathy folks have toward the lake. I think simply getting folks (outside of the immediate vicinity) to care about it again will be the biggest challenge. As a council member you can expect me to push a perspective that considers keeping a clean environment and working on any remediation measures to fix problems that we have caused. I think a clean healthy environment promotes neighborhood health and also does good things for local property values.

From: Rocky Waite [mailto:rock2651@comcast.net]
Sent: Tuesday, October 14, 2014 3:54 PM
Subject: Re: Little Canada City Council Question

I will keep doing what I have been doing.  I have gotten the DNR and DOT out to Savage Lake and it will be dredged this Fall.  I will work on the Southeast area next.  I have met with  the DNR regarding the historical lake levels and I am waiting for a decision at this time.  I have been working on improving Savage Lake for many years and will continue until it is deemed to be a "Lake " again.

Rocky Waite

From: Jeff Hdflooring [mailto:handdflooringinc@yahoo.com]
Sent: Tuesday, October 14, 2014 10:25 PM
Subject: Re: Little Canada City Council Question

My name is Jeff Heikke and I am an advocate for clean water ways and lakes within our city. I live on a water way that connects Gervais Mills park and lake Gervais"I see on a daily bases the sediment oils and other contaminants that stream through and into beautiful Lake Gervais. As for Savage Lake I would start by eliminating the contaminated run off into the lake. Via storm drains rain gardens Etc, I would also like to see us strengthen our city ordinances regarding our water ways and construction practices around them. Finally lets get some environmental minds together and come up with some long term viable solutions to get the lake quality back to where it should be. I am smart enough to know that I know very little in this field, But I am willing to listen, learn and do what is best for the lake. In turn doing what is best for Little Canada. No Little Canada resident should feel less importarrt. than another just like no Little Canada issues should be addressed with less urgency based on its complexity. I cannot guarantee a fast solution but I will guarantee my full efforts until the problem is solved.

Thank you
Jeff Heikke

From: Andrew Henderson [mailto:hendersonforcitycouncil@gmail.com]
Sent: Sunday, October 19, 2014 4:12 PM
Subject: Re: Little Canada City Council Question
Mr. Day,

I apologize for the late reply. I have had to give a few lectures at different Universities throughout the state this week. Please except my apology.

My answer to this is pretty simple; If elected you and your neighbors will be my bosses. My core belief is that people are in charge of the government, and I fully intend to remain true to that belief. I would work as hard as possible to achieve the goals that you and community have set for me. As you have the right to petition your government for a redress of grievances, this seems like a major one to me.

As a person that values the environment, I understand your concern. I want what is best for the city and the people that reside here. It seems like it would be pretty easy, expectable by community standards, and just plain common sense to create an ordnance against dumping chemicals into wetlands and bodies of water if one does not exist or if there is a loophole in state law. If there is already an ordnance or law in existence on this issue, it should have a higher priority in enforcement.

Thank you for the question, I hope it gave you a better understanding of my view on this issue.

Andrew J Henderson

Oct 14, 2014

Passing the Squirt Gun

In a phone reply to my question about caring for Savage Lake, candidate Christian Torkelson reminded me that there is a candidates’ forum tonight at City Hall at 7PM. He invited me to be there to ask my question regarding the lake at the forum. I thought about it and my wife, Elvy, and I decided it would be inappropriate for us to carry the lake’s torch much further.

You might know that we have had our house for sale (by owner) for much of this summer. We’ve bought a house in Red Wing and will begin moving there as soon as next week. We have lived in Little Canada for 17 years and love this place. However, I retired last fall and we decided to slow down our pace of life, reduce the real estate we have to care for (1.4 acres and 2600 square feet of living space), and pursue travel and other interests on a considerably downsized scale. We have had the best neighbors possible on Lake Shore Ave (or Lakeshore Ave or Lakeshore Street, whichever it is called at the moment). This is a wonderful community, a beautiful neighborhood, and an amazing place to life, work, and raise a family.

One of the great disappointments I’ve had living here has been my inability to generate any interest in a lakeshore homeowners’ group. If you look at the header for this website, you’ll see I optimistically subtitled it “This blogsite is intended for lakeshore owners in Little Canada, Minnesota who have property on the shores of the much-abused Savage Lake. Your help is needed to protect this historic small lake.” My first entry in 2008 was a brief announcement, “Savage Lake has received the short shrift from the Little Canada city government and the state of Minnesota for so long that the lake is practically dead and gone. The long history of this body of water deserves more respect and this website is an attempt to begin a process of organizing lake shore property owners to begin the process of restoring the lake to recreational and scenic beauty.” I think we’ve made some solid steps toward preventing the lake from getting worse, but we haven’t done much toward making it better.

If anyone wants to take over this blog, for whatever purpose, I’d be glad to transfer Admin rights to any lake shore property owner. If not, It will sit here until Google decides it’s inactive.

I’d say “Thanks for the fish,” but Roseville Middle School pretty much wiped them out with a maintenance department chemical spill almost a decade ago. So, we’ll just stick with thanks for being our friends, neighbors, and fellow treehuggers. I think the noise barriers and other improvements we’ve battled for in the past will continue to rebuild Savage Lake and I hope the city continues to prosper.

2014 Little Canada and County Elections

2014 LC ElectionI just got a look at the 2014 mid-term election ballot for our area. The Little Canada City Offices, State Supreme Court judges, court of appeals judges, and 2nd district court judges are on one side of the ballot and the federal and state offices are on the other. At least for the purposes of this blog and our lake, the Little Canada City Offices and our local state representative are probably the most critical.

First up, the Little Canada City offices. As you can see from this section of the ballot, we have an incumbent council member, John Keis, running unopposed for mayor and seven candidates running for two council member offices. Probably a little-known fact about the Little Canada city council is that it has become a well-paid part-time job over the years, $475/month. Back when my wife ran for office in 2006, the job paid about $2,000/year. The following year the council began to regularly increase their paycheck, even when a past council woman noted it was in poor taste to do so when the economy was crashing and many local resident were seriously hurting. Now, the job pays about 3X that and amounts to a pretty good part-time job with little-to-no-qualifications necessary.

Andrew Henderson (http://www.eastmetrovoterguide.com/henderson.php) is a young, energetic recent resident who has a lot of good ideas for the city and our community. I couldn’t find anything regarding Christian Torkelson. Jeff Heikke is a young local business man who has been very involved in the city’s recreational organizations. Rocky Waite is a neighbor and someone who has a long history in Little Canada and who has been a constant defender of Savage Lake and our neighborhood. Tom Fisher (http://www.eastmetrovoterguide.com/fischer.php) is a member of the Planning Commission and a familiar face to the current commission.

I asked each of the candidates who had listed an email address on their website the following question, “Savage Lake has received fairly brutal treatment from the Ramsey County Watershed District, the DNR, MNDOT, and our city government. What would you do to help lakeshore residents to protect this disrespected natural resource?” Stay tuned, I’ll let you know what they had to say.

2014 State Election

The state office that most affects our lake and community is the State Representative for District 42B. We have to thank Jason “Ike” Isaacson for his work in getting the MNDOT ombudsman office involved in bringing a little sanity to the I35E construction process. Within a couple of days of receiving my letter about the construction crew’s all-night noise bash, Representative Isaacson had sent me a letter (published earlier in this blog) and interrupted a few MNDOT bureaucrats’ naps and got a response and some action for our community. This is a no-brainer for me.

Subtext: In a moderate effort to be upfront on my own personal bias, because John Keis was the a new council member, part of the clan who appointed Michael McGraw to office in 2007, I will write-in a candidate for mayor. When my wife ran for Little Canada City Council in 2006 after Jim Lavelle died before being able to assume office, the council chose not even to interview her even though she had received nearly 1,000 votes (about half of the winning total). The council pretty much made its choices from a collection of city insiders, Michael McGraw being the ultimate selection. From that point on, I felt that our city government arrogantly and consistently chose to ignore voters and do what they want, east coast style, and our connection to the city was never the same. Since the 2006 election, I have never voted for any of the council members who were in office at that time, usually writing-in my choices. Rocky Waite has been one of my regular city officer votes for 16 years, so it with particularly enthusiasm I will get to vote for him without having to write his name into my ballot although I’ll probably still write in his name for mayor.