Tuesday, June 30, 2009

40 Seconds

Today, I take a break from the regular political talk to reflect on quickly things can change. Last night while preparing for dinner for cheddar bratwurst, green beans, and coleslaw an event took place that re-shaped the landscape of our household. After setting up the chimney to fire up the coals and putting the hot coals into the grill, I ventured inside to get the cheddar bratwursts. As I went inside, I made sure the outside door shut as our young boxer CeCe does her best to sneak into the house behind you.

Both dogs and Taytum were near the front door as I closed the outside door. The cheddar bratwursts were sitting on the counter, right where I put them after purchasing earlier in the day and I needed to find the tongs. The tongs were not in their normal location but I found them relatively quickly. With cheddar bratwurst and tongs in hand, I proceeded back outside to the dogs, Taytum, and a hot grill.

As I opened the door I noticed that Taytum was in the middle of the yard, Mischka was running around her one of the trees in the front yard, and CeCe was over across the street in the neighbor’s yard. Before I could put down the cheddar bratwursts on the table outside the front door, CeCe started to make her away back. As she approached the street a white service van was coming down the street. CeCe darted out in front of the van. The van driver did not see CeCe. The result was CeCe being hit twice – once by the left front tire and then again by the left rear tire.

I could not have been inside the house for more than 40 seconds. 40 seconds is all it took to change the landscape of our household. While Taytum saw the entire thing and realize quickly what took place, time will only tell how impactful the CeCe’s death has on the psyche of Taytum. Accidents will take place and life is fragile. Cherish the time one has and taken nothing for granted.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Senate Save America!!!

After Fridays House of Representatives vote on Climate Control Bill which passed 219-212. A group of reporters conducted an interview of President Obama, Energy Secretary Steven Chu, and White House coordinator of energy Carol Browner. President Obama stated (http://www.nytimes.com/2009/06/29/us/politics/29climate-text.html?pagewanted=1&ref=politics), in regards to the passing of the bill, “I think this was an extraordinary first step.” While I watched the debate on the House floor on Friday, deals were being cut on the House floor for future consideration and even leaving an open line in the bill if were to pass to insert a place for an earmark for a Florida research center on hurricanes.

The bill that passed was written to emulate Spain’s efforts to create “Green Jobs” while controlling carbon emissions. Gabriel Calzada Alvarez, PhD, published a report on Spain’s outcomes of their “green” jobs initiatives called Study of the effects on employment of public aid to renewable energy sources. http://www.juandemariana.org/pdf/090327-employment-public-aid-renewable.pdf In the Executive Summary, the “study’s results demonstrate how such “green jobs” policy clearly hinders Spain’s way out of the current economic crisis, even while U.S. politicians insist that rushing into such a scheme will ease their own emergence from the turmoil.”

President Obama, and others in Congress, touts the Climate Control Bill as a job creation bill. Yes, it will create jobs in the new “green” sector. The bigger question is will the bill have a net positive in jobs. According to Dr. Alvarez’s study, Spain has seen “9 jobs lost for every 4 created” in the energy industry while leading to an additional “2.2 jobs destroyed for every “green job” created” elsewhere in the economy.

Many on the House floor on Friday argued that it “taxes” Americans. Now there is not straight out tax on consumers but there is on the producers of energy through the permits they will need to purchase. In every business model I have seen, not one has it where the company will absorb the price of purchasing carbon permits. The cost will passed along to the consumer in rate hikes. Some companies are already trying to get ahead of the curve by raising rates now.

While everyone agrees that America’s dependence on foreign oil promotes security risks to the future of the United States, the question is Congress prepared to pass a net-job loss bill that will drive up energy costs (total amount is up for discussion) and drive industry to countries, China or India, that do not have the same emission standards. Now to help level the playing field the Climate Control Bill does provide for tariffs of goods from countries that do not meet the new U.S. standards.

During the group reporter interview on Sunday with President Obama, a reporter asked, “One of the provisions that got added very late to this bill that senators had expressed some reservations about was the one that puts tariffs on goods imported from countries that don’t have these sorts of restrictions. What do you think of that revision and would you like to see the Senate strip it out?”

President Obama responded by saying, “At a time when the economy worldwide is still deep in recession and we’ve seen a significant drop in global trade, I think we have to be very careful about sending any protectionist signals out there. “ One of the Obama’s campaign promises was to keep jobs in the United States and penalize companies that ship jobs overseas. An argument against the Climate Change Bill was that companies will move their factories to countries with lower energy costs.

This argument is echoed in Dr. Alvarez’s study as Spain saw several companies, Ferroatlantica and Grupo Celsa, move parts of their operations to other countries. The two mentioned went to France where nuclear power is the prime energy source. While America will see an increase in “green jobs” mainly because the industry doesn’t really exists. The trouble, as demonstrated by Dr. Alvarez’s study, is the net is a job loss and increases costs to lower and middle class.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

City of Minneapolis vs. Bar Owners (Gabby's)

On Friday the Star Tribune ran an article reporting that the City Council of Minneapolis was considering adding an ordinance that would make bar owners responsible for the actions of their patrons when they leave the premises. I commented to Star Tribune after reading the article and it was printed, with a few slight modifications made by the Star Tribune, in the paper on Saturday. Here is the link in case you don't get the paper.


My original email was:

Is the City of Minneapolis serious in their attempt to hold bar owners liable and accountable for actions undertaken by patrons that leave their premises? I see their attempt to place such ordinance in place an abuse power and an attempt to strike back at Gabby's bar for the lawsuit they lost. Shame on those on the Minneapolis City Council who see this attempt as a viable option to deal with the issue at hand.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Paying girls to stay baby free; ethical?

An interesting program has been in place since 1996 at the University of North Carolina-Greensboro campus called College Bound Sisters. The program’s goals are to help girls avoid pregnancy, graduate from high school, and enroll in college. To assist girls in achieving the goals, the program pays each girl enrolled a $1 for each day they remain baby free. The money is deposited into a fund that each girl will get when they enroll in college. Girls can enroll in the program as early as 12 years of age.

According to College Bound Sisters website, http://nursing.uncg.edu/cbs/index.html, to be eligible the girls need to between the ages of 12-16, has a sister who had a baby before age 18, has never been pregnant, wants to attend college, and is willing to attend a 1.5 hour meeting each week at the University of North Carolina-Greensboro campus. The girls are broken up into two groups during the 90 minute meetings – 12-14 and 15-18. Joshua Miller in his article North Carolina Program Pays Girls a Dollar a Day Not to Get Pregnant that “Dr. Hazel Brown, co-director of the program, said six girls of the 125 who have been enrolled for six months or longer have gotten pregnant or otherwise dropped out since it began in 1997.”

Dr. Brown explained the program as, “We talk about abstinence, but it’s not a requirement. We teach decision-making, being responsible and avoiding pregnancy. The meetings are very interactive.” The program was originally funded by a grant from the North Carolina’s Department of Health and Human Services. Bill Albert, chief program office at the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy is reported, in Mr. Miller’s article, as saying, “It makes me a bit uneasy. I do have mixed feelings. It’s hard to pay people to do something that we think they should be doing regardless. It would be like if you didn’t want young people to experiment with marijuana, you’d pay them not to do it.”

Although I think Mr. Albert’s stretch to marijuana deludes the conversation, it does raise interesting question. The program only enrolls 24 girls at a time. With only 125 girls involved since 1997, it may be too early to pass judgment on the program. Yet, the idea of paying at risk girls to attend meetings, stay baby free, and enroll in college is interesting. Since the girls have to stay enrolled until they go to college to receive the money, it does give good incentive for the girls to stay baby free.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Rep. Frank at it again....

Here we go again. Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA) is at it again. This time Rep. Frank is asking Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to “make appropriate adjustments” in regard to mortgage guarantee’s for condos. Currently, Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae are “no longer guarantee mortgages on condos in buildings where fewer than 70 percent of the units have been sold” according to a Reuters report (Fannie, Freddie asked to relax condo loan rules: report) Reuters also reports, in the same article, that “Fannie Mae will also not purchase mortgages in buildings where 15 percent of owners are delinquent on condo association dues or where one owner has more than 10 percent of units.”

The Wall Street Journal in an article Barney the Underwriter echoes Reuters report with “After two years of telling us how lax lending standards drove up the market and led to loans that should never have been made, Mr. Frank wants Fannie and Freddie to take more risk in condo developments with high percentages of unsold units, high delinquency rates or high concentrations of ownership within the development.” Does this make sense? Isn’t this how America got into a recession? Can America afford a second housing bubble as many predict is about to occur?

If America cannot then why in the world do we want to lax lending practices anywhere? Common sense and learning from history is not taking place here. Rep. Frank does wield a lot of power in Washington evident by his ability to take a parts dealership off the chopping block, when GM and Chrysler were deciding to scale back operations, in his home district.

Rep. Frank was on O’Reilly Factor last night. Last time Rep. Frank showed up on O’Reilly Factor the conversation ended in a shouting match and didn’t accomplish much. While they talked on an array of topics with one of them being Rep. Frank’s request to lax lending practices. O’Reilly challenged Rep. Frank to defend the Wall Street Journal report that he is looking to lax rules on condo mortgages. Rep. Frank response was, “with the condiminiums we are not talking about sub-prime or poor people. We do have this problem in cities with vacant properties causing serious problems to the cities. What I want is to say his heres the rule, they have a rule that they will not finance a condiminium unless 70 percent of the units in the building is already sold; I am not talking at all if that borrower can pay for them. They should not allow any borrower who cannot pay for it to do it. But I think they have a fisious cycle. If you won’t fund anybody until its 70 percent it will never by 70 percent and you have a serious problem with cities and vacant properties.” Rep. Frank also claimed that he “was opposed to the sub-prime mortgages”.

Really, that is why in 2000 Rep. Frank quipped, in response to a report that Freddie and Fannie may be insolvent because of the guaranteed sub-prime loans, “no federal liability there whatsoever.” Than in 2003 when President Bush pushed for reform after Fannie and Freddie inflated earnings report by $10.6B, Rep. Frank quipped, “Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are not facing any kind of financial crisis. The more people exaggerate these problems, the more pressure there is on these companies, the less we will see in terms of affordable housing.”

Now that brings us back to the topic at hand. Rep. Frank feels, as he said on the O’Reilly Factor, that unless something is done to assist condominium developments with less than 70 percent units sold we will “have serious problems with cities and vacant properties.” Perhaps it’s the current housing market that has seen an increase in the number of homes for sale. According to Realestateabc.com, the inventory of homes on the market “rose to 3.97million units, an 8.8 percent increase from the 3.737 million in March.” That being said, if not offering lower rates (subprime) how else does Rep. Frank see condiminium developers filling the remaining 30 + percent vacancy rate that Freddie and Fannie are refusing to offer loans to?

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

President Obama on right track with Iran

Yesterday brought the toughest rhetoric by President Obama to date on the aftermath of Iran’s June 12th election results. In a press conference that was to take place in the Rose Garden, President Obama stated that he was “appalled and outraged by the threats, beatings and imprisonments of the past few days.” When pressed by reporters on further sanctions or policy shift toward Iran for the continual media blackout and treatment of demonstrators, President Obama still left the door open to talk without pre-conditions with Iran leaders.

The major media outlets are confused as to how to react with the message being sent out by the White House. With all the campaigning and continual intimate working with the White House, the major media outlets are pulling punches on their critique of President Obama’s handling of Iran. Yet, some of those gloves may have come off as President Obama was asked for a third time by MSNBC correspondent Chuck Todd on what future sanctions or policy changes will take place in light of recent events in Iran (namely the video of two killings being streamed across the internet). President Obama, obviously perturbed by the repeated question, simply stated that although the media lives in a “24/7 news cycle” he does not.

The President is right on this. American’s have become a society of NOW and forget that some things take time to iron themselves out. Iran is one of those places. The road that President Obama is taking is right on topic. Iran’s top officials have acknowledged that some irregularities did take place during the June 12th election but not enough for a recount or a new election. Although that position may have softened as the Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has agreed to allow the Guardian Council an additional five days to review the election results.

Now if President Obama comes out with stern sanctions and stronger words against Iran will only give fuel to Iranian hardliners. The fuel will be in the form of rhetoric that the West is meddling in Iranian affairs. President Obama stated during his new conference that, “They’ve got some of the comments that I’ve made being mistranslated in Iran, suggesting that I’m telling rioter to go out and riot some more. There are reports suggesting that the CIA is behind all this. All of which is patently false. But it gives you a sense of the narrative that the Iranian government would love to play into.”

Recognition of this point is not playing out in our media. Instead of understanding the tight rope President Obama must walk, the media asks if Iranian diplomats are still being invited to the 4th of July celebrations in Washington. President Obama only response was that the United States and Iran do not have diplomatic relations. The response was a shot at the media. The path that President Obama is right on track as the West cannot fan the flames of past actions; CIA intervention.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Zummerfest Recap

With clouds carrying rain, lightning, and thunderous booms passing to the north of Hamburg, Zummerfest kicked off on Friday night. The Castaways hit the stage and belted out song after song with the last one being sung around midnight. After a couple of softball games, I made it back to Hamburg to participate in activities. When I arrived back the bon fire was ablaze with some new faces around it.

The fire raged on until around 1:30 am. Saturday morning came early as many that were around the bon fire were set to participate in the annual horseshoe tourney. The horseshoe tourney started at 9 am with the registration of teams. 9 teams squared off for the rights to be the 2009 Zummerfest horseshoe champs. Round Robin Ten-shoe format played out with the top four scoring teams squaring off in a final bracket for all the marbles.

Much to our surprise, Rachel and I made the final four. We only one match and had two ties during round robin play but our 72 point total was enough to make the final four. We outscored the 5th place team by 4 points who happened to be the only team we beat. During the finals, we started off with the highest scoring team. The match was close for a while until we fell behind 10-15. The final score was 21-10 in the semi-final match. After that we played for 3rd and 4th place. That match we lost as well but the score was much closer 21-14. For our efforts and 4th place finish we received a free pitcher of beer.

Later in the afternoon we attended the Demo Derby. The number of participants was less than last year and the stands reflected that as well. Perhaps the economy contributed to the lowering numbers. Below are pictures from the Demo Derby.

After watching the powder puff match, we made our way back to the homestead for burgers. As we ate we debated about going to the wrestling show at 8 pm. With no band going on during the wrestling show or after, a few of us ventured up to watch Buck and his crew in the squared circle. My brother and neighbor arrived early to get ringside. Below is a picture of battle royal.

While the town was being entertained by wrestling at the community hall, we fired up another bon fire. About 10:30 pm the wrestling group made their way back to the bon fire with glowing reviews of what was seen. The bon fire raged on with similar faces until 12:30 am.

With no church service at the park, we waited until 11 am to venture down to the park on Sunday. The events on the list for Sunday were the pork chop dinner, tractor pull, and kiddie pedal pull. Finally an event for the children!!!

The kids enjoyed themselves as they bounced back and forth between the tractor pull and the safety house. The safety house informed children what to do in the event of a fire. Thanks goes to the Hamburg Fire Department for staffing and teaching the kids.

After going through the safety house twice, the kids and I ventured over to the location where the kiddie pedal pull was to take place. The event was a nationally sanctioned event and the top three winners at each age bracket were invited to the state in Hutchinson later this year. The age of kids participating range from 4 to 11. Both boys and girls did their best to pedal the small tractors as far as they could. Many kids had full pulls and several age brackets had additional pulls to determine a winner.
Only Miles and Spencer could participate in the pedal pull. Both gave their best. All kids were reward with a ribbon, ticket for ice cream, and a can of Dr. Pepper. After the pedal pull was complete, the raffle took place. The tractor pull raged on until about 5 pm when all of Zummerfest call it a weekend. Even though some events were cancelled due to a lack of participation, the weekend was successful and enjoyable.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Hamburg City Council Agenga - June 23, 2009

7:00. Call City Council Meeting to Order @ 7:00 PM

  • Pledge of Allegiance
  • Miscellaneous Business (Public Comments)
  • Agenda Review (Added Items) and Adoption
  • Old City Business (Memo)

7:10. Fire Department Report

  • 2008/2009 FEMA Grants
  • SAFER Training
  • Reimbursement for Green Isle Fire Call (7/02/08)
  • Zummerfest Celebration
  • Election vs. Selection
  • Relief Association Financial Statement for 2007 & 2008
    o Municipal Contribution for 2009 ($34,969)
    o Municipal Contribution for 2010 ($42,101)
    o Pension Increase for Reporting Year 2010

7:25. Doug Parrott – City Engineer (S.E.H.)

  • Sanitary Sewer and Storm Water Improvement Project
    o PFA Funding/Stimulus Monies
    o Easements – ROW – Access Points
    o Excavation of Force Main
    o Status of Plans & Specs
    o Clean Out Y Detail
    o Ditch Clean Out (Cost)
    o Revised Project Schedule

7:40. To The Home Internet Service – Shawn Sprengeler

  • Wireless Internet Service for City of Hamburg
  • Site Lease Agreement

7:55. Dennis’ Report (Public Works & Utilities)

  • Project List (Added Items)
  • Sidewalk Replacement (Hard Stuff Masonry & Concrete)
    o Railroad Street (Maria Ave to Sophia Ave)
  • Seal Coating (Southwest Paving)
    o CC/Fire Hall/WTP Parking Lot
  • LMCIT Loss Control Survey on June 11, 2009
  • General Maintenance Schedules

8:05. Deputy Clerk Report

  • Delinquent Utility Bills Report
  • MCFOA Clerk’s Conference (July 13-17)

8:10. City Clerk/Treasurer Report

  • City Lease Agreements – Serving of Alcohol
    o Letter/Recommendations from City Attorney
  • LGA Unallotment for 2009 & 2010
    o 2009 Budget Items
  • 2030 Comprehensive Plan
  • Met Council Population & Household Estimates for City of Hamburg
  • City Zoning Ordinances
  • Resolution 2009-08
    o Resolution Establishing West Carver Regional Safety Group
  • Carver County Fiber Optic Ring
    o Request to Prioritize Stimulus Lateral Connections
  • Public Nuisance Letters
  • Mediacom New Channel Lineup (Informational)

8:30. City Council Reports

  • Councilmember Mueller Report (Sewer & Water)
  • Councilmember Cummiskey Report (Streets)
  • Councilmember Trebesch Report (Buildings)
  • Councilmember Barnes Report (Parks)
  • Mayor Malz Report

8:40. Approve Added Claims for June 2009

8:45. Adjourn Meeting


JUNE 6 – Joyce Kroells (Park)
19-21 – Zummerfest Celebration

JULY 11 – Wedding Reception – Tweedy/Buckingham
11 – Wm. Mueller & Sons (Park)


JUNE 1 – Hamburg Lions Club Meeting
8 – Public Hearing (Sewer Project) – 6:30 PM
9 – Special Meeting (Zoning Ordinances) – 6:00 PM
9 – Hamburg City Council Meeting – 7:00 PM
13 – Community Center Rental – Nathan Amburg
14 – Washington Lake 4H Club
15 – Hamburg Lions Club
21 – Community Center Rental – Diane Weckman
23 – Hamburg City Council Meeting – 7:00 PM
27 – Community Center Rental – Wallace Kroells
29 – Hamburg Fire Department (Relief Assoc.) – 7:00 PM

JULY 3 – City Offices Closed (Independence Day Observed)
5 – Washington Lake 4H Club
6 – Hamburg Lions Club Meeting (Twp. Room)
9 – Hamburg Fire Department – 7:00 PM
14 – Hamburg City Council Meeting – 7:00 PM
20 – Hamburg Lions Club
27 – Hamburg Fire Department (Relief Assoc.) – 7:00 PM
28 – Hamburg City Council Meeting – 7:00 PM

Friday, June 19, 2009

Zummerfest in Hamburg, MN

I know that most entries are politically charged, but today's entry will be different. Why the difference, well because Hamburg is having their annual celebration. Enjoy the break from the regular programming for something on the lighter side.

It’s finally Friday and today brings the annual celebration to a start in Hamburg; Zummerfest. While I won’t be able to participate a lot during Friday’s events due to two softball games tonight, it will still be a fun an enjoyable weekend. The city wide garage sales have already started, started on Thursday, and I have seen several cars roll on by my house. Although not as many as last year, I suppose the economy has the avid garagesaler re-thinking their tours.

For the rest of the neighborhood and my family festivities will galore this evening. The food stands will open at 4 pm. The classic car show and cruse will begin at 7 pm. I am a bit bummed I won’t be able to see that though, I hear some really cool vehicles will be on display. Youth baseball games start at 6:30 pm while a basketball shootout will take place at 6:00 pm. Relay for Life will be taking place as well. To cap off the evening the Castaways will be performing from 8:30 to 12:30.

Should be a night of fun. At least I will be able to catch the end of the Castaways. On Saturday things start early as the horseshoe tournament, antique tractor show, youth baseball games, and 3 on 3 basketball gets started at 9 am. I wonder how many hung-over people will be attending those events. The sheephead tournament is set to start at 9:30 am. No clue what sheephead is but I hear it’s a card game. The jewel of the day starts at 3:30 pm with the annual Hamburg Havoc Demo Derby. God’s Squad takes the stage at 6 pm with R & R Pro Wrestling bringing the ring live from the Community Hall at 8 pm.

Sunday is a day of reflection yet activities will still persist during the Zummerfest celebration. A community church service will kick off the day at 9:30 am. Then at 11 am, a pork chop dinner is offered (very good from what I hear), youth baseball championship game, and horseshoe tourney – although the last two years they haven’t had it so stay tuned. At noon we will have the tractor & truck pull than at 1 pm to conclude festivities we put the kids to the test during the Kids Pedal Pull.

Below is a link to all the events. Come on out and join in Hamburg’s celebration.


Thursday, June 18, 2009

Gov. Pawlenty accomplishes what Minnesota Legislature couldn't

Early this year Governor Tim Pawlenty warned the Democrat lead Minnesota State Legislature that if an agreement was not met on balancing the budget there would be no special session and he would use unallotment to balance the budget. Tuesday Gov. Pawlenty announced which programs are to be affected. The Democrat lead Minnesota State Legislature offered little in the ways of cost cutting to balance the budget; rather the Democrats looked to established a fourth tier tax rate and increase taxes on every Minnesotan.

Why is the philosophy of the Democrats only way to balance a budget it through higher taxes? Minnesotans have to tighten their belts due to the economic downturn; yet Democrats feel raising taxes is the only means to balance the budget. Gov. Pawlenty accomplished what was needed by reducing the budget by 3 or 4%. Gov. Pawlenty echoed the realities facing Minnesota families and businesses by saying, “I think it’s very reasonable for the state of Minnesota to do the same thing” as Minnesotans tighten their belts.

Gov. Pawlenty is delaying $1.8B in state aid to public school districts resulting in 73% going to schools this year with the remainder to come in year 2. Other cuts made by Gov. Pawlenty is $300M in state aid to cities, counties and townships; $236M from health and welfare grants and services; $100M to higher education; $67M to renters’ tax refunds and the elimination of political contribution tax refund; and $33M to state agency budgets.

The cuts drew a negative response from Margaret Anderson Kelliher. Minnesota House Speaker Kelliher response to the unallotment was, “In just under an hour today, Governor Pawlenty has done more damage to Minnesota than he has throughout his entire career.” Really? Speaker Kelliher shame on you. It was your Legislature that failed Minnesotans by not working with the Governor to establish a balance budget without putting more burdens on Minnesotans.
Many on the national scene say Americans need to give President Obama’s stimulus plan a chance and it won’t be an overnight shift to help the economy; why than are Democrats in Minnesota not giving the same leeway to the cuts made by the Governor? It is time for Government agencies, higher education, k-12 school system, and government run health care systems to work leaner and smarter.

Unfortunately the cuts to cities, counties and townships may have an adverse effect on a city in which I live. Hamburg residents have a sanitary sewer system that is taxed and has been for over 30 years. Finally, something is going to be done even in light of a recession. In order for Hamburg to grow by adding additional businesses and homes a major face lift is required to the sanitary sewer system.

Part of the funding was to come from assistance from the state. Now that funding may be in question. The funding question is an important one but pales in comparison to the need for an upgrade to the sanitary sewer system. The worst case scenario is residents in Hamburg will see assessments made on their properties to help pay for the sanitary sewer upgrade. Residents of Hamburg could sit here kicking and screaming at Gov. Pawlenty over the budget cuts; instead rational though prevails.

I applaud Gov. Pawlenty for taking bold moves to balance the budget. Personally, I would have made deeper cuts to education because there is a lot of waste in the education system. It’s time for Minnesota educators to take a hard look at the current system and reform it.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

ABC News: Unofficial spokesman of the White House

Abuse of the media is happening again. ABC announced that on June 24th they plan to turn over their news programming to President Obama and the White House to tout his health care plan. The one day infomercial will, as of today, be void of bipartisan discussion on the health care topic. According to a report on Drudge Report the agenda of the day will include:

“ABCNEWS anchor Charlie Gibson will deliver World News form the Blue Room of the White House. The network plans a primetime special – ‘Prescription for America’ – originating from the East Room, exclude opposing voices on the debate.”

Now Republican National Committee Chief of Staff Ken McKay filed a complaint with the head of ABCNEWS on Monday night according the Drudge Report. Mr. McKay objects that “ABC News will air a primetime health care reform “town hall” at the White House with President Obama” which begs the question; How can one have a “town hall” meeting when all sides of the issue are not presented?

Simply put, one cannot!!! The abuse of power by President Obama is evident and borders on the manner in which Hugo Chavez controls the media in Venezuela. ABCNEWS Senior Vice President Kerry Smith responded yesterday to Mr. McKay’s objection by saying, “ABCNEWS alone will select those who will be in the audience asking questions of the President. Like any programs we broadcast, ABC News will have complete editorial control. To suggest otherwise is quite unfair to both our journalists and our audience” according to Drudge Report.

VP Smith’s attempt to explain away the lack of ethical standards in programming falls short. In the past, and currently, many in Congress have pushed for programming to equate equal time to both liberal and conservative voices. Based on what has been reported by the Drudge Report and ABC’s programming website, I do not see where their programming on June 24, 2009 will be give equal time; rather yellow journalism is expanded.

We all agree that health care costs are skyrocketing and millions of people are without health care in the United States. I am open for reform, actually I have put an outline of change on the blog, but we cannot have reform dictated to us. The arrogance of President Obama and the Democrat party is pathetic. Why doesn’t ABC News take this opportunity to really get to the bottom of the President’s plan and any other plan that exist?

Rep. Paul Ryan from Wisconsin held a web discussion last week on health care and rolled out his plan for reform. Why doesn’t ABC News invite Rep. Ryan to the programming that day to present another plan and discuss the merits of both plans? Is it because ABC News doesn’t really have editorial control and it really resides with Linda Douglass who worked for ABC News form 1998-2006 and is now the Director of Communications at the White House Office of Health Reform. Coincidence that ABC News is turning a full day of news programming over to the White House; I think so.

My hope that during the infomercial on June 24 on ABC will bring to light the true nature of President Obama’s radical plan to nationalize health care and Americans will wake up to this realization. I will watch the programming of the day with an open mind. I understand many reading the blog will discount my last statement because of my stance on “single payer” or public option. I will be looking for ways the Government plan will create fail safes that prevent business from dropping health care from their benefit packages and how the public option will “mandate” doctors to accept the public option.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Get your Popcorn: Farve circus coming to town.

Last night Joe Buck had Brett Favre on HBO to discuss his future in the NFL. Brett Favre pulled no punches when he said, “it makes perfect sense as far as coming back because it’s an offense I ran for 16 years. I can teach the offense” when asked about unretiring to become a Minnesota Viking. Coach Brad Childress had invited Brett Favre to the OTA’s but Brett felt it be a better idea to stay away. Brett thought multiple “media frenzies” would detract from the team, plus Brett said, “If the arm is not up to par when the time comes. I can’t play. I went through it last year. I gutted it out, but it affected me and it affected our team. I won’t go through that again.”

Brett admitted that he had arthroscopic surgery 2.5 weeks ago to repair a torn bicep tendon on his throwing arm. The healing time is reported to be four to five weeks. So, it does make sense that Favre not showing up at OTA’s would have done nothing more than expand upon his need for media attention. The interesting question that wasn’t asked or touched upon during the interview was whether Brad Childress put a time line on his decision to join the team as reported by ESPN.

Brad Childress previously had stated that no such deadline was imposed upon Favre as reported by two ESPN reporters. With the air clear that Favre, depending on arm strength, will become a Viking is how will this improve the chance of making it to the Super Bowl? Does the addition of Favre automatically move the Vikings up the ladder on potential Super Bowl contenders?

I don’t think so. The move not to re-sign Matt Birk will be one of the reasons why the Vikings will not be in the Super Bowl. Favre will improve the chance that the Vikings will score in the 4th quarter though. Being a gunslinger he will put the ball in places that a normal quarterback will not. The other reason is that the Vikings will need to win the division to make the playoffs and that will not be an easy task this season.

The Chicago Bears trading for Cutler puts them at the top of the heap. Word from Bear OTA’s is that Cutler and Hester are clicking in midseason form. If that is happening now, watch out when the season starts. There is no one in the NFL that can stay with Hester one-on-one. Granted Foote does not have the same numbers of Peterson, he is solid enough to rip off the tough yards to keep the chains moving.

The benefit that Favre will bring is twofold. Blackout worries will be no more and it will add fodder for those Viking/Packer families. The next question is will Paul Allen have a new color man? Will John Madden park the Madden Cruiser at Winter Park?

Monday, June 15, 2009

President Obama looks to implement Canada's failing health care plan

The Government intrusion into the health care industry with a public option is a dangerous slope many do not fully realize. Take a look at the current entitlement programs – SSN, Medicare, Medicaid, and Veteran’s – as evidence that our national government cannot manage. There is no argument that health care industry costs are a contributing factor to our current and future economic condition. Trouble arises when President Obama pushes a public option that will lead to a single payer option. The one group standing in the way is the American Medical Association (AMA) since doctors are not mandated to take insurance for payment of services rendered.

President Obama will be meeting with the AMA today in Chicago to pitch his health care plan. John McCormick and Bruce Japsen report that,”AMA leaders said they are opposed to a government-funded option if it were to expand the Medicare health insurance program for the elderly to those under age 65, saying it would compound a ‘broken system’ doctors complain has reduced physician payments and is outdated in how it operates” in the Chicago Tribune. The “broken system” will get worse with a public plan as it will lead to a single payer plan run by the government.

The only way to get the public plan off the ground is if the national government mandates that the AMA must take the insurance. Mandating the public plan will start a trend with businesses dropping health care insurance from their benefits packages. With a public option there would be no financial benefit to a company to offer health care insurance.

Having a public option will create bigger government as they intrude into your choice of diet, exercise, and other personal choices one may want to make. All of this leads to government rationing of health care. David Gratzer, who is born and raised in Canada, warns us that, “I once believed that government health care is compassionate and equitable. It is neither” in his article Canada’s ObamaCare Precedent. David Gratzer goes on to share an example of “single payer” breakdown:

"The problems were brought home when a relative had
difficulty walking. He was in chronic pain. His doctor suggested a
referral to a neurologist; an MRI would be need to be done, then
possibly a referral to another specialist. The wait would have stretched
to roughly a year. If surgery was needed, the wait would be months more. Not wanting to stay confined to his house, he had the surgery done in the U. S., at the Mayo clinic, and paid for it himself.”

Thankfully Mr. Gratzer’s relative had the means to pay for his surgery but the people that President Obama is wanting to cover under the health care plan are those who could not have done what Mr. Gratzer’s relative did. The Canadian government is seeing private insurance groups gaining traction as an option to the government run program. Why cannot American lawmakers not learn from the situation in Canada that appears to be moving away from a single payer to a more capitalistic model?
Public engagement in setting priorities in health care is an article written by Rebecca Bruni, Andreas Laupacis, and Douglas Martin published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal that discusses the amount of engagement with the public when setting priorities in health care. The summation of reality is “although we believe that the case for more public involvement is setting health care priorities is compelling, little high-quality evidence exists to support that assertion.” Who is going to determine the establishment of health care priorities in America?

With Congress’s main goal, not per the US Constitution, is to get re-elected, will only create more delays in an American version of public health care option. California has the largest group in Washington and struggles right now with their current budget. With a public option of health care, the Congressional regime from California can make decisions on priorities that will be the best interest of Californians which may or may not be in the best interest of the rest of America.

I have previously laid out a brief outline of a health care alternative. The first step to reform is to expand the options everyone has. The expansion of options does not include a creation of a public option run by the government; rather to expand flex accounts, establish medical saving plans, and allow someone from Minnesota to purchase health insurance from an insurer in Arizona. Competition will drive down costs and that is partly what the President is saying with his public option too.

Hamburg City Council Minutes - April 28, 2009

Mayor Malz called the regular meeting of the Hamburg City Council to order at 7:00 p.m. Councilmember Larry Mueller, Councilmember Brian Cummiskey, Councilmember Steve Trebesch, Councilmember John Barnes, City Clerk Jeremy Gruenhagen, Deputy Clerk Block, and Maintenance Worker Dennis Byerly were present. Fire Chief Brad Droege was absent. Others present were Richard Odoms (150 Jacob Street), Shawn Sprengeler (2195 Grimm Rd, Chaska – Wireless Internet), Brian Eggers (Parkside Tavern), and Steve McDonald (Abdo, Eick & Meyers).

Agenda Review (Added Items) and Adoption

  • Added – Identity Theft - Red Flag Rule
  • Added – Catch Basin by David Ave and Brad Street
  • Councilmember Mueller moved to approve the agenda with the two additions, seconded by Councilmember Barnes and motion unanimously carried. All Council Members were present.

Old City Business

  • Mayor Malz commented that the Cities official website is slowly coming along.
  • Item number 9 on the Old City Business form – Purchase shirts/polo shirts for Council and Mayor. Deputy Block mentioned that they may have to be “Made in the USA”.
    o City Clerk Gruenhagen noted that there is a bill in session that would require certain items, including apparel, purchased by the City to be “Made in America”. Clerk Gruenhagen will look into purchasing shirts for City Council.

    Fire Department Report – Chief Brad Droege
    Fire Chief Droege was absent. City Clerk Gruenhagen presented the Fire Department Report.

2009 FEMA Grant Application

  • Fire Chief Droege would like to apply for a 2009 FEMA Grant in the amount of $15,000 to $17,000 and he is asking for Councils approval to apply.
  • Councilmember Mueller made a motion to allow Fire Chief Droege to move forward on applying for the 2009 FEMA Grant, seconded by Councilmember Trebesch and motion unanimously carried. All Council Members were present.

New Member – Colton Kroells

  • Colton Kroells was reported at the April 14, 2009 City Council Meeting as a new Fire Department member however Council did not make a motion to accept him as a member for he has passed all agility tests and completed all his paper work.
  • Clerk Gruenhagen also reported that Justin Spande and Jen Baker passed their last agility test.
  • Councilmember Barnes made a motion to accept Colton Kroells as a member of the Hamburg Fire Department, seconded by Councilmember Mueller and motion unanimously carried. All Council Members were present.

Joint Powers Agreements – Article in LMC Magazine

  • City Clerk Gruenhagen handed out a copy of the Joint Powers article in the LMC Magazine on emergency services. He asked Council to read over the material and he will put this on the next Council Meeting agenda to discuss.

    Abdo, Eick & Meyers – 2008 Financial Report

    Steven McDonald, Relating to the 2008 Financial Report, reported on the following:

Preparation of Financial Statements (Finding Since 2007)

  • Criteria:
    Internal controls should be in place to provide reasonable assurance that all financial transactions are reviewed and approved before payments are made and reports are generated.
  • Recommendations:
    o The most effective controls lie in management’s knowledge of the city’s financial operations. It is the responsibility of management and those charged with governances to make the decision whether to accept the degree of risk associated with only two office workers preparing financial statements (segregation of duties) because of cost and other considerations.
    o The following specific recommendations;
    § Utilize a disclosure checklist to ensure all required disclosures are present and agree to work papers.
    § Agree your QuickBooks receipt and disbursement information to the amounts reported in the financial statements.
  • Management response:
    o For now, the City accepts the degree of risk associated with limited segregation of duties and thoroughly reviews a draft of the financial statements.

Limited Segregation of Duties (Finding Since 2007)

  • Criteria:
    o There are four general categories of duties: authorization, custody, record keeping, and reconciliation. In an ideal system, different employees perform each of these four major functions. In other words, no one person has control of two or more of these responsibilities.
  • Effect:
    o The existence of limited segregation of duties increases the risk of fraud and error.
  • Recommendation:
    o The risk can be reduced with better monitoring. Recommend that the billing clerk continue to review the unopened bank statement, looking for activity within cancelled checks that appears inconsistent to the checks she prepared and payroll checks. For deposits, she should pay close attention to deposits that were made by the Clerk/Treasurer looking for inconsistencies. The utility billings should be reviewed by someone other than the person entering and printing billing registers. Council should also be reminded of their duties over finance at least annually.
  • Management Response:
    o The City has evaluated the accounting procedures and has determined that the job duties are assigned to the staff most capable. This doesn’t always allow for complete segregation. The City will continue to review its processes and make changes where possible.

125th Anniversary Celebration

  • Condition:
    o Statutes do not specifically authorize cities to spend money on centennial celebrations, cities may spend money to commemorate important historical events under limited circumstances.
  • Criteria:
    o In accordance with Minnesota statue, section 471.93, the City “may appropriate money for the purpose of collecting, preserving, storing, housing, printing, publishing, distributing and exhibiting data and material pertaining to the history of the city, for the purpose of commemoration the anniversary of any important and outstanding event in such history, and to preserve such history data and material for future generations.”
    o Per State statute 412.271 “no disbursement of city funds shall be made except by an order drawn by the mayor and clerk upon the treasurer” and “no order shall be issued until the claim to which it relates has been audited and allowed by the council.”
    o Minnesota statute 15.17, subdivision 1, requires the City to preserve all records necessary for “a full and accurate knowledge of their official activities.”
  • Cause:
    o The City contributed $2,085 toward the celebration of its 125th anniversary. The donated funds were deposited into a checking account in the City’s name. It appears that Council did not intend to create a new fund to operate the activity of the celebration.
  • Effect:
    o The City is in violation of these statutes.
    § The City donation went to purposes beyond those permitted under statue 471.93. Disbursements beyond the initial donation of not meet the requirements of allowable public purpose expenditures.
    § Disbursements of the checking account, which totaled over $40,000 in 2008, were not approved by Council.
    § Support for several receipts and disbursements within the checking account were not kept on file. The City did not have controls in place to ensure all activity was accounted for and recorded, only the activity that went through the checking account.
  • Recommendation:
    o Follow guidelines set by the League of Minnesota Cities for allowable public purpose expenditures.
    o Closely monitor all disbursements to ensure only council approved payments are made.
    o Keep supporting documents for all receipts and disbursements on file.
  • Management Response:
    o Management intended that the donation from the City create an account for another organization, separate from the City.
    o The checking account has been closed.
    o Management has obtained the League of Minnesota Cities guideline for public purpose expenditures.
    o Risk of making similar violations in the future is low.

Audit Adjustments

  • Condition:
    o During the audit, adjustments were needed to correct beginning fund balance.
  • Cause:
    o Journal entries from the 2007 audit were not recorded.
  • Recommendation:
    o Management review and record each journal entry that the auditors made and become proficient at creating the support that was necessary to make the entry.
  • Management Response:
    o Management considers this to be an isolated incident of misstatement and will implement the recommendations suggested.

Acceptance of Gifts

  • Condition:
    o The City had several donations during 2008, $25,150 of which ere from the Fire Department Relief Association
  • Criteria:
    o In accordance with Minnesota statute, section 465.03, every acceptance of gifts “shall be by resolution of the governing body adopted by a two-thirds majority of its members, expressing such terms in full.”
  • Cause:
    o Some of the donations received were accepted by motion, none of the gifts were formally accepted by resolution.
  • Effect:
    o The City is in violation of this statute.
  • Recommendation:
    o Acceptance by resolution will help clarify any terms prescribed by the donor. Auditors recommend that the City accept future donations by resolution.
  • Management Response:
    o Management plans to implement procedures to ensure future donations are accepted within state requirements.

General Fund Balance in relation to next years Budget

  • It is recommended to have an adequate working capital reserve in the General Fund. The city should have a six month reserve which is about 35% to 50% of what the city wants to spend.
    o The City of Hamburg has a healthy average working capital of 47% to 50%.
    Revenues versus Expenditures Compared to Budget
  • Expenditures were over budget by $146,401, basically due to the Tanker purchase in 2008.
  • General Fund balance increased $19,353 compared to last year (negative $10,782). Fund balance reserve at the end of December 31, 2008 was $257,879.
    Sources of Revenue
  • Taxes account for 48.8% of the cities revenue.
  • Licenses and Permits: 1.6%
  • Intergovernmental: 18.6%
  • Charges for Services: 5.3%
  • Fines and Forfeitures: 0.1%
  • Miscellaneous: 3.7%
  • Transfers In: 2.9%
  • Proceeds of Long-Term Debt: 19.0%

General Fund Expenditures and Transfers by Program (2006-08)

  • General Government (administration, elections, etc.): 28.3%
  • Public Safety: 17.4%
    o If the Tanker purchase would be backed out of the Public Safety expenditures it would be a third of the Cities budget.
  • Public Works: 5.3%
  • Culture and Recreation: 11.9%

Special Revenue Funds – Restricted Expenditures for Particular Purposes

  • The city has four special revenue funds (which are good) and three of them, totaling $67,018, are set aside for Capital funding. The EDA fund was closed due to lack of activity.
    o Fire Equipment – Fund Balance Increase from 2007 to 2008 - $778
    o Hall Improvement – Fund Balance Increase from 2007 to 2008 - $97
    o Capital Purchases – Fund Balance Increase from 2007 to 2008 - $5,647

Debt Service Funds

  • Debt Service Funds should have positive cash and asset balances. The City should build sufficient resources to make the cities bond payments.
    o Total amount of Outstanding Bonds - $419,000
    o Off Setting Cash Balance - $90,177
    o The difference is made up by future tax levy or assessments.
  • The 1992 Street Construction has completed its debt service. Council should pass a resolution that this bond has completed its debt service and have the funds transferred to any fund Council deems appropriate.

Capital Projects

  • The Maria Avenue Improvements had a fund balance of $1,627 at the end of 2008
  • The City should analyze projects’ status each year and close those that are completed.
    o City Clerk Gruenhagen mentioned that a final payment will be issued tonight and any balance will be transferred out to Debt Service.

Enterprise Fund - Water

  • Operating Loss – ($5,864) but the negative operating loss has decreased over the last three years.
    o Operating Revenue $106,441
    o Operating Expenses $112,305
  • The majority of the operating loss was a result of recording depreciation on capital assets.
  • The City has had consistent cash over the last three years: 2006 - $84,845 2007 - $66,513 2008 - $71,027
    o This is a low balance in relation to the Cities dept needs, but the amount has been positive over the last three years.

Enterprise Fund – Sewer

  • Cash balances have steadily improved over the last three years and no bonds reported.
  • Cash balance for 2008 is $183,388 relative to Operating Expenses of $87,980 which is a good reserve for now.
  • The auditors recommended that the City complete a rate analysis annually. This will ensure that permanent increases in expense result in rate adjustments.

Ratio Analysis – Comparison between Hamburg and other cities under 2500

  • Debt to Assets – Assets off set by bonds or long term debt. Higher percent = Higher the Finance
    o Hamburg – 41%
  • Debt Service Coverage – Enterprise Fund Water – Payments covering Operating Expenses
    o Desirable cash coverage is 100%. Rates would be generating enough dollars to cover the principal and interest. Hamburg has been improving over the last three years but this is mainly due to the transfers from the General Fund to the Water Fund.
    o Hamburg is at 64%
  • Debt per Capita – Bonded Debt per person
    o Hamburg is at $2,465 per person.
  • Taxes per Capita – Tax revenues per population
    o Hamburg is a little higher than other cities but is consistent with other cities due mainly because of the economy.
    o Hamburg - $648
  • Capital assets % left to Depreciate
    o Hamburg’s percentage (Governmental – 36%, Business – 58%) is higher than other cities making capital improvements in their streets and water/sewer infrastructure.
    o 15% or lower indicates more cost in repair and maintenance.

Policies and Procedures

  • Condition:
    o Currently the City has a limited number of written policies and procedures kept on file.
  • Cause:
    o Many policies were unavailable at the time of the audit, whether the location was unknown or the policies have never been adopted.
  • Effect:
    o Without these policies, it is more likely the processes to account for operations are inefficient. This is especially true in times of turnover. It could also lead to omission of material information if the processes are not clear.
  • Recommendation:
    o The City begin creating and adopting written policies and procedures.

Interest on Cash Balances

  • Condition:
    o The City had $607,607 in the checking account at the State Bank of Hamburg. This is not an interest bearing account and the average cash balance for all of 2008 was approximately $491,000. The City also had cash balances invested in savings and CDs, which averaged approximately $93,000 and earned a combined average of 3.4 percent.
  • Criteria:
    o There are two issues that arise from this situation. The first is that a significant cash balance was kept in an account that did not have the ability to earn interest. The second issue is the lack of an investment or cash flow strategy in place during 2008.
  • Effect:
    o Based on the cash flow pattern evident from month end checking balances, it would be reasonable to expect the City’s interest earning to be $15,000 higher than the actual results.
  • Recommendation:
    o In accordance with Minnesota Stature, section 427.05, it is the duty of the Council “to secure safe depositories for the funds of the city and to obtain the highest rate of interest possible consistent with safety for such moneys.” It is recommended that the City develop an investment cash flow projection and implement a more focused investment strategy. This will ensure that the City earns at least market rates and that it utilizes all available cash to earn interest.
    There is no accounting or auditing changes that would affect the City for the next year (2009).

    City Clerk Gruenhagen thanked the auditing staff for their help during and after the audit was completed. He has a good working relationship with the auditing staff.
  • Mr. McDonald thanked City Clerk Gruenhagen for his thoroughness in his process for the audit.

Councilmember Barnes asked about what is “Other” listed on the General Fund – Expenditures by Program.

  • Mr. McDonald replied that this is combining the Public Works and Culture & Recreation programs (Parks and Hall Funds).

Councilmember Cummiskey asked about the non-operating revenues on the Sewer Utility Fund (page 18).

  • City Clerk Gruenhagen explained that the $6,295 in the year 2006 was money received from the last Development to put towards storm/sewer development. The $9,276 received in 2007 was a County Grant for the Storm Sewer Management Plan, and $632 in 2008 was from interest.

Mayor Malz asked about the interest bearing accounts, do most other cities run them the way Hamburg does or do they do it differently.

  • Mr. McDonald answered by saying that it is probably from the Cities tax settlements that were received but not moved out of the checking account. Interest rates are horrible right now but it is best to have the balance in an interest bearing account.

    Councilmember Mueller made a motion to accept the 2008 City of Hamburg Financial Report, seconded by Councilmember Barnes and motion unanimously carried. All Council Members were present.

    To The Home Internet – Shawn Sprengeler

Internet Service for the City of Hamburg

  • Mr. Sprengeler asked Council if he could, along with the encouragement of Mr. Odoms, solicit the City and its residents if there would be any interest in a wireless internet service.
  • Mayor Malz mentioned that he had heard that the City of Cologne already has the internet service.
    o Mr. Sprengeler said yes, Cologne was the test city and the “bugs” were worked out so now they are ready to move onto other cities. The City of Victoria will be the next city to receive the wireless internet.
    § Hamburg was not on the list but during conversations with Mr. Odoms and with his encouragement it was decided to ask the City of Hamburg and the surrounding community if they would be interested.
  • Mayor Malz asked if this system is like the one that the City of Chaska has but on a smaller scale.
    o Mr. Sprengeler responded yes, the underlying technology is the same as Wi-Fi; the only difference is the type of architecture and the equipment that is deployed. Chaska was one of the first cities that diploid from a municipal stand point. The technology and equipment has improved since it was first installed in Chaska.
    § With this type of wireless internet there would be liquidus internet access in the public areas. A person can take their laptops and move around the city while still being connected to the internet. PDA’s that have a Wi-Fi chip would also be able to access the wireless internet.
    § Hamburg is a rural community and it is hard for the outlying residents to obtain cable or Telco. To reach these residents it would be possible by using Wi-Fi. The wireless range is getting close to three or four miles in line of sight.
    § This is another consumer choice and an affordable choice. Cable and Telco have been typically $40 to $50 per month per line. To The Home wireless internet price could be less than that at around $25 per month.
    § The service being proposed would provide wireless internet at a cost of $24.99 per month, with internet speed of 1.5 mbs. There is an installation fee of $100. The consumers would be receiving high speed internet services at dial up cost.
  • City Clerk Gruenhagen asked Mr. Sprengeler if there has to be a certain amount of interest from the community before this would or could be come available in Hamburg.
    o Mr. Sprengeler replied that he would need 10 to 12 residents registered on his site, then it would be worth him coming out and setting up the equipment. Mr. Sprengeler also mentioned that he would also need appropriate mounting assets such as the City Water Tower.
    § At the present time the city is paying for internet services through Mediacom. If the city would be interested in To The Home internet services it might be possible for the city to receive internet services for free.
  • City Clerk Gruenhagen asked how Mr. Sprengeler is working this with Cologne.
    o Mr. Sprengeler answered that he has a water tower lease agreement with the City of Cologne. There is equipment installed on their water tower and the first 100 customers are free. He also has a revenue sharing agreement of 10% of revenue from the 101st customer on
  • City Clerk Gruenhagen asked if the Hamburg water tower would be sufficient or would a different structure be needed to place the equipment on.
    o Mr. Sprengeler answered by saying that the technology has matured and to make it optimal enough he would like to have one base station and sub-station.
  • Mayor Malz noted that this service is wireless so how do you keep people from using the internet without subscribing to the service.
    o Mr. Sprengeler replied that the wireless internet service would be encrypted. There would be a web key on the service and persons subscribing to the wireless internet would be the only ones allowed accesses. One other way is having the wireless internet set up with a porthole; this should become available this summer. Persons could access the site by using their credit cards.
  • Deputy Clerk Block asked how fast the wireless internet service is.
    o Mr. Sprengeler answered that the speed is 1.5 mbs which is the current DSL speed of Embarq. The wireless internet speed can go up to 4 mbs. The speed will all depend on how close you are to the transmitters and line of sight.
  • Mayor Malz questioned that if someone is 3 or 4 miles out of town would they be able to receive this service?
    o Mr. Sprengeler relied, yes, a transceiver would have to be installed at the residents and have a direct line of sight to the transformer.
  • Councilmember Malz asked if a building or some type of structure below the water tower would be needed to house the equipment.
    o Mr. Sprengeler answered by saying yes, probably a little equipment cabinet. The equipment would be mounted on the water tower probably with an omnia and one Ethernet cable running down the tower with either a switch or router at the base. Electrical power would be needed and Embarq would have to install their service there. The building already at the water tower may be used otherwise a site survey would be done and then a design on how they want to deploy.
  • Councilmember Mueller questioned if a central antenna would be put up and then a booster?
    o Mr. Sprengeler answered, yes, repeaters to create a better line of view sites.
  • Councilmember Mueller asked if the To The Home receiver has to be above the trees.
    o Mr. Sprengeler replied, no just the line of sight. The signal can go through some amount of foliage but not much for this particular type of equipment. Usually the receiver is installed on the roof of the home.
  • Councilmember Mueller asked if this is what you see in other cities on their utility poles a little box with an antenna on them?
    o Mr. Sprengeler answered, yes, it is RF frequency. It is not spectrum frequency but they may have propriety spectrum. Municipalities do have spectrum specifically designed for municipalities for public safety.
    o Mr. Sprengeler mentioned that with the proposed service the city could also read water meters, engineers could download information and public employees would have internet access wherever they go within the radius of the system. Depending on the level of participation part of the network could be separated specifically for municipal city use. With the wireless service he could offer free internet service to all the city places like the ball parks, community events, etc.
  • Deputy Clerk Block asked if the weather can effect receiving the signal.
    o Mr. Sprengeler replied by saying yes and no. Not in the transmission but it does effect the equipment. They are working on how the type of weather effects their equipment and how to resolve the problem. Typically for the consumer there is not much trouble with the transmission except during a severe thunderstorm where the rain is so thick that the transmission has trouble penetrating the rain.
  • Councilmember Cummiskey questioned if he carries liability insurance.
    o Mr. Sprengeler replied that yes he does. His general liability is up to 2 million aggregate, one million per incident.
  • City Clerk Gruenhagen asked what a homeowner would have to pay for setup, subscribing.
    o Mr. Sprengeler answered $100 for installation then $25 per month.
  • City Clerk Gruenhagen asked how he advertised for business in Cologne.
    o Mr. Sprengeler replied that he advertised in their local newspaper and the city also had a newsletter they placed an ad in.
  • Mayor Malz asked how many people have signed up in Cologne.
    o Mr. Sprengeler answered that there are about 50 customers signed up.
  • Councilmember Cummiskey commented that they would need about a 100 customers to turn a profit or be able to offer revenue sharing.
    o Mr. Sprengeler and other members of council discussed the various conditions and events that would be needed first before any revenue sharing could be made available.
  • City Clerk Gruenhagen asked Mr. Sprengeler what his thoughts are on what interest would be in Hamburg.
    o Mr. Sprengeler replied that typically he sees anywhere from 10% to 20% of the population interested in the wireless internet service. The rural areas are usually more interested.
  • Mayor Malz asked if Hamburg goes with this service and somewhere down the road Green Isle also signs up for the wireless service is there anyway to separate the transmissions? Green Isle is only about 4 miles down the road from Hamburg.
    o Mr. Sprengeler answered saying yes there are ways to segment the network. A sight survey would be done to determine what the addressable market is and what the potential could be. Norwood/Young America are also going to be receiving this wireless service. The type of technology his company uses now does not need the cities participation but there are more economical benefits if the cities do participate.
  • Councilmember Cummiskey asked how long it would take to get set up and running if Council decides to approve this.
    o Mr. Sprengeler replied in about a month or month and a half.
  • Deputy Clerk Block questioned if email services would be available.
    o Mr. Sprengeler said yes up to five email accounts along with your standard internet service. If anyone would like to view what is set up in Cologne they can go to www.tothehome.com.
  • City Clerk Gruenhagen asked if Hamburg would be beneficial to him.
    o Mr. Sprengeler replied yes any city would be beneficial to him. Shawn continued to comment that he had driven around Hamburg and it looks like a relatively easy setup because the terrain is relatively flat.
  • Mayor Malz and City Clerk Gruenhagen both commented that Council should keep this in mind and discuss it. They asked Mr. Sprengeler to keep them informed on how talks are going with other cities.
  • City Clerk Gruenhagen mentioned that when contract discussions start he would like to be involved to see what types of contracts are being put together.
  • Mr. Sprengeler informed Council that if the city could not come to an agreement on financial terms for installing the equipment on the water tower there are other places in the surrounding area where the equipment could be attached to. Due to the new technology the height of the water tower is no longer needed. There are a couple of things Council needs to understand about this service, it is an unlicensed spectrum so technically there could be two or three operators within the city. It is not in the best interest of the city to have two or three different operators in the city due to the collision aspect and the level of service would deteriorate drastically. There is an unwritten rule in the industry that if a wireless operator is already in the city the other operator would go somewhere else. That is one reason why the operators like to have the cities approval. Down the road say in 10 years when the market gets crowded then the municipalities will have to decide on how to manage the services.
    o Mr. Sprengeler continued to inform Council that the largest wireless network compared to other large cities nationally is here in Minneapolis.
  • Councilmember Mueller asked if the proposed network system could be used to read water meters if an antenna is installed at the Water Treatment plant.
    o Mr. Sprengeler replied that it could however they would want to put up a separate utility system for just that purpose.
  • Councilmember Mueller asked if City Clerk Gruenhagen could bring up the readings of the lift stations or the Water Treatment plant on his computer in the office.
    o Mr. Sprengeler answered, yes.
  • Councilmember Cummiskey asked how much it would cost to be able to read the waters meters.
    o Mr. Sprengeler replied that he does not have numbers on something like that.
  • Mayor Malz suggested that if any council members have any questions they should write them down. This is a starting point and we can go from here. The council will keep in touch with Mr. Sprengeler.
  • Councilmember Mueller suggested putting a note at the bottom of the next water bills stating that if residents are interested in this new wireless system.
    o City Clerk Gruenhagen added to call the city office.
    o Councilmember Barnes added they could mark yes or no
    o Councilmember Cummiskey added that maybe it could be placed on the city sign.
    o Mayor Malz informed council members that this is something that could be discussed later
  • The Mayor and Council thanked Mr. Sprengeler for coming to the Council Meeting.

City Resident Chris Lund – Request to Advertise Blog Site on Cities Electronic Sign

  • City Clerk Gruenhagen informed Council that this request is a carry over from the last Council meeting. Mr. Lund was present at the last meeting and he thought Mr. Lund would be present at this meeting. The question to Council is if they want to allow Mr. Lund to advertise his blog site on the cities electronic sign. City Clerk Gruenhagen gave his personal opinion that the cities sign should be kept to include city informational items. This type of request is a personal/private type item. If personal items are requested to be put on the electronic sign they should be brought forward to the Sign Committee.
  • Councilmember Barnes commented that his opinion is to keep the sign messages for non-profit organizations and city business.
  • Council briefly discussed this issue and decided that the Sign Committee should be set up first and this request can be brought before them for their decision.
    o City Clerk Gruenhagen informed Council that the Committee meeting was set up for May 12, 2009.
  • City resident Mr. Richard Odoms (150 Jacob St) commented to Council that he has not and does not expect his “unofficial website” to be advertised on the city sign. He agreed with City Clerk Gruenhagen that placing the Blog on the sign is totally inappropriate.
  • Councilmember Mueller asked City Clerk Gruenhagen if he had heard from Mr. Lund since the last council meeting.
    o City Clerk Gruenhagen replied that Mr. Lund is just interested in getting the Blog address on the sign. He will keep in contact with Mr. Lund through email and inform him of any decision.
  • Councilmember Mueller asked if a person places an editorial on the Blog can it be set up the same as the newspapers where you have to sign your name before it will be published.
    o Council members replied, no. You usually use a code name.
  • City Clerk Gruenhagen commented that Blogs can be a venting machine or be a proper political discussion. His opinion is that we run a business and that is the way it should stay. If anyone needs anything from a city stand point then they should email or call the city office. Stay professional and keep on a business track.
  • Council continued to discuss issue and decided to put this issue before the Sign Committee once it is set up.

Parkside Tavern – Request for 3.2 Liquor License & Park Rental for May 2nd, 2009

  • City Clerk Gruenhagen informed Mr. Eggers that he needed his full name for his requested business liquor license. Once received the license will be sent to the police department for a background check.
    o Mr. Eggers asked if the fax came through for his insurance. City Clerk Gruenhagen replied, yes.
  • Mr. Eggers asked Council if they would approve his request for a one day temporary 3.2 liquor license so he could serve beer at the Hamburg Park during his Girls Softball Team Kick Ball Tournament scheduled for May 2, 2009. All the insurance liability papers for this event were presented with the license request.
  • Mr. Eggers continued to explain that Locher Brothers is supplying a 3.2 keg beer cart and canned beer would be sold from carts at the softball fields. Currently there are 15-16 teams signed up for the tournament. There will be no music provided during or after the event. The Girls Softball Team will be serving the beer and cooking hamburgers on outdoor grill.
  • Mayor Malz commented that his only concern is people walking between his bar and the park area with alcohol. People going back and forth would have to be controlled by Mr. Eggers.
    o Mr. Eggers responded that he has contacted 4 gentlemen from the local baseball club to help that day. There will be 2 at the food stand and 2 on control detail for people walking to and from the bar with drinks and/or beer.
  • Councilmember Cummiskey asked Mr. Eggers if he will be present at the tournament.
    o Mr. Eggers replied that he will be there during the whole event. He also commented that there will be signs stating that no beer is to leave the park.
  • Councilmember Mueller suggested Mr. Eggers walk the field for any holes or objects that could hurt or harm the players or spectators.
    o Mr. Eggers responded that something like that should be covered by insurance but he will still check the fields out.
  • Councilmember Cummiskey suggested Mr. Eggers have a waiver for the players to sign just in case something does happen.
    o Mr. Eggers commented that this was a good idea and that he will write up a waiver for the players to sign.
  • Councilmember Trebesch asked if there would be any law enforcement policing.
    o Council discussed that there is no policing during Zummerfest and the county police are on call just like they are for any other type of city event.
  • Councilmember Mueller commented that the biggest concern is having the event go to late into the evening. The Park closes at 10:00 p.m.
    o Mr. Eggers responded by saying that the last game is scheduled for 8:00 p.m. It is in his best interest as a business owner to have the people up at the bar and not at the park after 10:00 p.m.
  • Mayor Malz questioned who would and when would the trash be picked up.
    o Mr. Eggers replied that a Hamburg city resident (Stan) has offered to help him pick up the litter along with several girls from the softball team. They all agreed to do this Sunday morning. He will do his best to leave the Park area as he found it.
  • Councilmember Cummiskey questioned if Mr. Eggers has reserved the Park for May 2nd.
    o Mr. Eggers responded, yes but he just has to bring the money to the city office yet.

    Councilmember Mueller made a motion to grant Parkside Tavern a one day temporary 3.2 liquor license on Saturday, May 2, 2009 and the use of the Park with the $150 Park fee, seconded by Councilmember Barnes and motion unanimously carried. All Council Members were present.

    Dennis’ Report (Public Works & Utilities)

Catch Basin at Brad Street & David Ave

  • The catch basin at Brad Street and David Avenue is taking on dirt and caving in.
  • Councilmember Mueller commented that the City should just dig out in front of it and just patch it with black top. The catch basin will be replaced during the I & I Project.
  • Mayor Malz commented to call Wm. Mueller’s & Sons and get it done.
  • Councilmember Mueller added that on Jacob Street by the Hall there are several spots that should be milled and patched where the seal coat is starting to unravel. The cross gutter by 331 Maria Avenue should be milled and patched also. There are also spots on Railroad Street by Parkside Bar and the stop sign that are to big to be milled. The seal coat is coming off however this area could be left. On Brad Street by the stop sign also needs repair (alligator) if the Sewer project is not done this year this area should be taken out and mix put in. Mayor Malz brought up the area by Rich Bigaouette (440 Louisa Street) that has sank. Council members replied that this area is fixes itself (frost) every year; it needs to be completely dug up and repaired.

Flower Pots for Park

  • Deputy Clerk Block asked Maintenance Worker Byerly if he has placed the two large flower pots back in the park by the flag.
    o Maintenance Worker Byerly replied that the flower pots were purchased last year by his wife and the city does not own them.
  • Councilmember Mueller asked other members of Council if they wanted to put flowers back in the park by the flag pole or not.
    o Council discussed and decided that if an organization wants to put plants there to let them but have them talk to Council first as to what type of plant, flower, or bush they want to plant.

Estimate for Sidewalk Replacement – Railroad Street (Maria Ave to Sophia Ave)

  • City Clerk Gruenhagen informed council that the estimates are in their agendas. In his opinion more information should be gathered. Hot Stuff Masonry & Concrete submitted an estimate that did not break down the two projects. City Clerk Gruenhagen suggested that Donnie Harms be contacted to break down the projects and resubmit; have him re-measure, with Maintenance Worker Byerly present, so he gets the correct dimensions.
    o Maintenance Worker Byerly will call and set up an appointment as soon as possible with Mr. Harms.

Estimates for Seal Coating – CC/Fire Hall/WTP Parking Lot & Donald Avenue

  • City Clerk Gruenhagen asked Council to go through the three estimates because they all seem to be about 200 yards apart.
  • City Clerk Gruenhagen had spoken with Councilmember Mueller and they both agreed that the city should survey or measure the parking lot to get the dimensions, and then forward them to who ever submitted an estimate. This way everyone submitting an estimate would have the same dimensions.
  • Councilmember Mueller commented that MN Roadway was the cheapest and if they resubmit the same measurement then the city should sign a contract with them. Between all three there is a 200 square yard difference which is a lot.
  • Councilmember Barnes added, in his opinion, that he as a problem doing the seal coating this year. He does not know why it could not wait one more year and save some money. The parking lot does not look that bad and that it would not hurt to wait another year or two.
    o Councilmember Mueller commented that oil is cheep this year.
    o Councilmember Cummiskey added that once the lot starts to fall apart the price really jumps.
    o Mayor Malz commented that doing it this year is preventive maintenance.
  • Councilmember Mueller asked City Clerk Gruenhagen what the city had budgeted for this project.
    o City Clerk Gruenhagen replied, $13,000. Budgeted $7,500 for 2009 and another $6,000 has been set aside.
    o Councilmember Barnes stated that just because it is budgeted does not mean it has to be spent.
    o City Clerk Gruenhagen commented that eventually the Council will have to cut out projects because of LGA funding cuts. At the present time the city is proposed to loose $21,641.
  • Councilmember Mueller stated that the estimates have been received for the sidewalk on Railroad Street. This one has to be done.
    o Maintenance Worker Byerly commented that someone is going to trip and get hurt.
  • Councilmember Mueller continued that the sidewalk across from Parkside Tavern can wait, it is not in that bad of shape yet. The seal coating for the Community Center parking lot has been held off for 2 or 3 years now and it has to get done.
  • The City Council, City Clerk Gruenhagen, and Maintenance Worker Byerly made arguments as to why the parking lot should be seal coated and Councilmember Barnes voiced his disagreement. Councilmember Barnes commented that if the city has to cut items from the budget this would be one high priced item that could wait. The parking lot is a low traffic area.
  • City Clerk Gruenhagen informed Council that they are going to have to start prioritizing projects. Basically Council will have to cut out of the budget what they feel should be cut based on the LGA lost then priorities the others. One of the items Councilmember Mueller had brought up is the lawnmower; this should be considered and prioritized. The City Shop driveway which was budgeted for $15,000 will have to be prioritized. Seal coating the Community Center parking lot and Donald Avenue was budgeted for $13,000. Six thousand is already available for the seal coating project. The sidewalk on Railroad Street was budgeted for $10,000. $11,300 was set aside for equipment replacement and another $3,000 for lawnmower. You will have to add up all these numbers then subtract what the LGA loss is and then prioritize the others. Cutting projects has to be done that is why he has brought this up at the last 3 or 4 Council meetings.
  • Mayor Malz added that with the hourly reductions that will same the city approximately $5.700 for the 2009 year.
    o City Clerk Gruenhagen commented that this amount is what the city would save if the hours are kept at what he figured the savings on. If hours go up at any time during the year, which they usually due, then it will cut into the savings.
  • City Clerk Gruenhagen summed it up that if Council would cut out one big project that would cover most of the LGA cuts for this year; then the city would be fine.
  • Mayor Malz asked City Clerk Gruenhagen if he could put a list together of all the city projects with cost and send them to the council members to review. Then come back to the next meeting with their decisions.
  • Council and City Clerk Gruenhagen discussed and decided to have Maintenance Worker Byerly call back MN Roadways just to see how close he is to his original numbers.
  • City Clerk Gruenhagen asked Maintenance Worker Byerly to get a measuring wheel and check the dimensions of the parking lot against the dimensions the companies had come up with. The City should be telling the companies what the specs are instead of the companies submitting theirs.

Lois Willemsen’s Water Meter Test Results

  • City Clerk Gruenhagen informed Council that city policy states that the city can charge a city resident $35.00 to have their water meter tested for accuracy. Mrs. Willemsen’s water meter was sent to Midwest Testing to be tested however the bill came to $40.66. City Clerk Gruenhagen suggested increasing the charge to $40 or $45 dollars.
    o Council discussed the request and decided to have the ordinance changed to $45.00.
  • City Clerk Gruenhagen continued by asking Council if Mrs. Willemsen’s deposit charge of $35.00 should be cashed or returned. Her water meter came back showing that it was 99% to 100% accurate and per policy if the meter is accurate within 5% then the deposit will be cashed by the city and put into the water/sewer fund.
    o Councilmember Barnes commented that if we do not cash the check, following policy, then other residents may start requesting their meters tested at no charge.
    o Council discussed and decided to follow policy and cash the check.
    o City Clerk Gruenhagen will put the policy change on the next Council meeting agenda to be voted on.
  • City Clerk Gruenhagen stated that at the last City Council Meeting on April 14, 2009, he was unable to attend due to vacation, the authority was given to him to make decisions without bringing the issue to Council. He asked Council if this is what was said and all Council members said, yes.
  • City Clerk Gruenhagen proceeded to inform Council that he would follow procedure and if policies are written then the city should follow them. If anyone does not like the policy then they should come before Council to voice their opinion. Some of the rumors came out that the Council was going to try and hide water issues from the public. This is not the case, the Council will follow policy and if someone disagrees then they will be asked to go before the Council.

NYA Water Tower

  • Mayor Malz and City Clerk Gruenhagen informed Council that this is very preliminary.
  • Councilmember Barnes asked what this is about; he has heard nothing on this.
    o City Clerk Gruenhagen replied that the water operator in Norwood/Young America approached Mayor Malz and Fire Chief Droege about the City of Hamburg possibly purchasing their old water tower because they are constructing a new one. They would sell it to Hamburg for a dollar but Hamburg would have to pay for all moving costs.
    o City Clerk Gruenhagen went on to say that he has spoken with Doug Parrott about this and at no cost to the city he would get Hamburg a very rough number as to what it would cost to move the water tower to Hamburg.
  • Mayor Malz asked if Hamburg has contacted the City of Norwood/Young America about this idea.
    o City Clerk Gruenhagen replied no. He just wanted to gather a estimated cost from Mr. Parrott before this went any further.
  • City Clerk Gruenhagen noted to Council that there is no money in the water fund to support such a project. Where is the city going to come up with the money, the water fund is already stressed. This may be a great opportunity but where will the money come from.
  • Clerk Gruenhagen will get the numbers from Mr. Parrott and put this on the agenda for the next council meeting.

Annual Preventive Maintenance Schedule – Emergency Generator

  • This topic was brought up at the last City Council meeting and tabled until this meeting so City Clerk Gruenhagen could be in the discussion.
  • City Clerk Gruenhagen informed Council that when the generator was purchased the city also took out the extended warranty. He thinks the cost was about $600.
  • Mayor Malz had called the company (Ziegler) to discuss the outrageous service charges. To change the oil & filter the city does not have to spend $900+ to have them do it. To maintenance, the oil & filter should be done every 250 hours or yearly, at the current time there is 67 hours on the generator over a 4 to 5 year period. Maintenance Worker Byerly can change the oil & filter but will have to keep records of when it is done to have the warranty stay in effect. The extended warranty is in effect until January 2010 and only covers the internal parts.
  • Mayor Malz then asked Ziegler what they do when they check the generator.
    o The reply was that they check the generator for corrosion on the windings.
    o When asked if they take the generator apart the reply was no, they just take a machine to check if the engine is putting out. The warranty on this is only for the internal parts and is in effect until January 2010.
  • Mayor Malz added that he does not think that the city should pay $2,000 to have the coolant flushed and new hoses. Anti-freeze should be good for 100,000 miles and we should not worry about this for 10 years, it does not break down as it did years ago.
  • Mayor Malz recommended that Maintenance Worker Byerly change the oil and filter and keep records of when it is done. He recommended not spending the $7,500 for maintenance as the company suggested.
  • Councilmember Mueller suggested that if the Council wanted to have a company check out the generator he would recommend Interstate.
  • Council continued to discuss the maintenance schedule for the generator and decided that maybe in two or three years contact a company to come out and check the generator.

General Maintenance Schedules

  • City Clerk Gruenhagen asked Maintenance Worker Byerly if he had a chance to talk to Norwood/Young America maintenance workers if they have a schedule they follow.
    o Maintenance Worker Byerly responded that he has spoken with them but they said they do not have a very specific maintenance schedule the only thing they have is a schedule to check the street lights and some of the buildings.
  • Councilmember Mueller asked Maintenance Worker Byerly if he had flushed the hydrants.
    o Maintenance Worker Byerly replied, no.
    o Councilmember Mueller commented that this should be done soon.
  • Councilmember Mueller informed Maintenance Worker Byerly that on May 6th, 2009, that there will be a Water Operations Maintenance Training Seminar in Victoria that he should attend. It is close to home, it is free, and to his advantage to go. According to the brochure there looks like there will be a lot of good information available.
  • Councilmember Mueller also asked if he was attending the Carver County Public Works Directors meetings. Maintenance Worker Byerly replied, no. Councilmember Mueller responded that this is something else he should be going to. There is a lot of information on what other cities and counties are doing.

Brad Street – Water Seepage

  • Councilmember Mueller informed other members of Council that Maintenance Worker Byerly had called Rural Water to check on a possible underground leak on Brad Street and Park Avenue. They came out with a device that can listen for possible water leaks however they did not hear anything.
    o Maintenance Worker Byerly suggested that if he can collect enough water he would do a fluoride test. There is natural fluoride in water but if the water he collects has a high reading then the water is seeping up from a broken water pipe. A natural reading is .4 and 1.2 for city fluoride.
  • Councilmember Mueller continued to comment that there is a person that does water leak detection and he has sensitive equipment to check for leaks. It would cost the city around $500 and $600 for them to do the detection work but then the city would know how to proceed with the water issue.
  • Council discussed but ended with no decision made.

City Lawnmower

  • Councilmember Mueller brought up the subject of what the city should do for a lawnmower.
  • City Clerk Gruenhagen noted that purchasing a lawnmower is part of the line items for prioritization
  • Councilmember Mueller asked if the city could still get an insurance payment from when the mower fell into the lagoon and no longer works.
    o City Clerk Gruenhagen will check if the insurance would pay anything towards this incident.

    Mayor Malz asked Maintenance Worker Byerly if he would secure the heat tap cord hanging from the roof of the Community Center.

    Councilmember Mueller thanked Maintenance Worker Byerly for straightening the sign on Brad Street.

Public Restroom at the Park

  • Councilmember Trebesch asked Maintenance Worker Byerly when the portable restroom is scheduled to be placed at the Park for this summer.
  • City Clerk Gruenhagen and Deputy Clerk Block both replied it is scheduled to be brought in on June 1st, 2009.

    Councilmember Trebesch commented that he had noticed the County replaced two stop signs with newer brighter finishes.
  • City Clerk Gruenhagen responded that all stop signs will have to be replaced because of a new government requirement. They will be brighter and more reflective. The City of Hamburg has until 2012 to replace theirs.

    Deputy Clerk Block’s Report

Delinquent Utility Bills Report

  • Deputy Clerk Block noted that since she was hired the delinquent utility bills actually looks good.
  • Deputy Clerk Block reported that Chris Tordsen had informed the city office that he would make another payment on April 29, 2009 and be completely paid in full by the end of May.
  • There are 16 other residents that if they did not pay their utility bills by the end of May and they will be sent delinquent certified letters.
  • Councilmember Barnes commented that the delinquent amount has gone down quite a bit. Mayor Malz agreed.

Parking Ordinance

  • Deputy Clerk Block reported that at the last council meeting there was a question on how many vehicles can be parked at a city resident’s home. The property in question was 419 Railroad Street.
  • Deputy Clerk Block read from the Nuisance Ordinances:
    o No more than four vehicles per lawful dwelling unit may be parked or stored anywhere outside on a residential property, except as otherwise permitted or required by the city because of nonresidential characteristics of the property. The maximum number does not include vehicles of occasional guests who do not reside on the property..
  • The property in question is legal to have 4 vehicles parked at the residents.

Time Off Request

  • Deputy Clerk Block requested April 29 (Wednesday), April 30 (Thursday), and May 1 (Friday), 2009 off. City Clerk Gruenhagen had already approved the time off.
  • Councilmember Mueller made a motion to approve the days off requested by Deputy Clerk Block for April 29, April 30, and May 1, 2009, seconded by Councilmember Trebesch. Motion carried with Councilmember Barnes abstaining.

    City Clerk/Treasurer Report

I & I Abatement Program Update

  • City Clerk Gruenhagen reported that he had met with Doug Parrott (City Engineer) last week. The project is about 50% completed on the specs and plans and it should be 80% complete by the next week or two.
  • The wetland issue was discussed on Mr. Cummiskey land. SEH had their wetland specialists out on April 28, 2009 and the preliminary result was that there are no wetland issues on the property. There could be some wetland issues on the city owned lot along Brad Street. The proposed pond that was to be located on the city owned lot may have to be removed from the project. The specialist is still going to send in his report to the Core of Engineers, the city will wait for the results.
  • Councilmember Mueller mentioned that he had asked at the last council meeting if there was a possibility of coming out of Lois Droege property (719 Park Avenue) then go west on County Road 50 to Willard Bergmann (662 Park Avenue) western property then going down to the City Park for running the storm sewer mains. There was an analysis done and the Engineers found that it would be cheaper to buy an easement then tear up County Road 50.
  • Councilmember Mueller complemented Dough Parrott on the great job he is doing for the City. He is fair to the city and tries to save the city money when and where ever he can. Mr. Parrott has gone out of his way for the city.
  • City Clerk Gruenhagen added that to continue and move forward on this project the PFA funding application has to be submitted. Ron Seymor who works for SEH will take care of all the paper work for the funding application at a cost not to exceed $2,500 dollars.
    o Last month the maximum amount of the funding was 5% but now it is about 20% in grant money. That would be up to 2 million in grant money per project.
    o If the Legislature approves it through the Clean Water Act the City of Hamburg could be eligible for an additional $90,000 to $91,000 in TMDL (Total Maximum Daily Load) grant money.
    Councilmember Trebesch moved to spend up to $2,500 to continue with the PFA funding application, seconded by Councilmember Mueller and motion unanimously carried. All Council Members were present.

    City Clerk Gruenhagen added that Mr. Parrott would like the city to set up a neighborhood meeting once the official wetland results are back.
    o Councilmember Barnes asked there is a tentative time frame as to when the results could be back.
    § City Clerk Gruenhagen answered that the meeting was previously scheduled for April 28, 2009 but at this time no. The neighborhood meeting will probably be scheduled a different night then a City Council meeting night.
    § City Clerk Gruenhagen commented that he will work with Doug Parrott on setting up the meeting.

Carver County Fiber Optic Ring

  • City Clerk Gruenhagen informed Council that by April 30, 2009 the County wants Hamburg to approve the proposed route through the city.
    o Councilmember Barnes moved to approve the proposed Fiber Optic Line route, seconded by Councilmember Mueller and motion unanimously carried. All Council Members were present
  • City Clerk Gruenhagen informed Council that Carver County is looking to receive stimulus monies to fund additional laterals to the Fiber Optic Line. If the Council wants to proceed then they should submit to the County the addresses, functions and advantages of fiber connectivity to any facilities the City feels are relevant to connect to the fiber ring that were not part of the original ring. His question to Council is if they would also like to add (run) lines (laterals) to the City Shop, at the Hall, and the Water Treatment Plant for stimulus monies. All Council Members answered yes.
    o Councilmember Barnes moved to submit to Carver County that the City of Hamburg would like to include the Water Treatment Plant and City Shop laterals as an addition to the fiber optic ring for possible stimulus funds, seconded by Councilmember Mueller and motion unanimously carried. All Council Members were present.

Tenant User Liability Insurance Program (TULIP) – LMCIT

  • City Clerk Gruenhagen informed Council that the League is setting up a Tenant User Liability Insurance program. This would provide private individuals and groups that would not have accesses to low cost liability coverage, up to a million dollars, for special events held at city facilities.
  • City Clerk Gruenhagen will pass on more information when it becomes available and also to the Hall & Community Center renters. This would be an option for the renters.

Close 125th Anniversary Checking Account

  • City Clerk Gruenhagen reminded Council that the city auditors recommended closing the 125th Anniversary checking account. The account has a zero balance.
  • Councilmember Mueller moved to close the 125th Anniversary checking account, seconded by Councilmember Trebesch and motion unanimously carried. All Council Members were present.

Cities Electronic Sign

  • City Clerk Gruenhagen informed members of the Council that the committee for the electronic sign needs a Council Member to represent the City since former councilmember Diane Mackenthun use to on that committee. City Clerk Gruenhagen asked if anyone from this council would like to volunteer to sit on this committee. The committee sets the policy for the use of the electronic sign. The next meeting will be held on May 12th, 2009 at 6:30 p.m.
    o Councilmember Barnes (Parks) volunteered to be on the committee.

Community Center Rentals – Alcohol Use

  • City Clerk Gruenhagen informed Council that the request to have alcohol in the Community Center is becoming a continuous question from renters. In the original contract it specifies that no alcohol is allowed except by written permission from Council. Does Council want to change the wording to allow alcohol in the Community Center because it is being brought in any way? City Clerk Gruenhagen asked Council if the wording from the Hall contract should be added to the Community Center contract concerning the use of alcohol in the building or should he run this by Mac (City Attorney).
  • Council discussed this further and decided to have City Clerk Gruenhagen put together some wording together and then present it to Council.

City Savings for 2009 Payroll

  • City Clerk Gruenhagen gave Council more information on the cities savings by cutting employees hours. He figured that the city would save $5,700 if the hours do not exceed what Council had proposed. Any hours above the proposed cut would take away from the savings amount.

Brush Pile Site Dates – Sign Up Sheet

  • The yearly sign up sheet for who will close the brush pile gate was passed around to the Council members to sign up for the weekend they are willing to lock up the brush site. City Clerk Gruenhagen commented that the brush pile site is available to the public every Saturday after the regularly scheduled City Council meetings.
    o Maintenance Worker Byerly will open the gate in the morning before 8:00 a.m. and a member of Council will lock the gate at 12:00 p.m.
  • Councilmember Barnes asked if the brush pile was mulched last fall.
    o Councilmember Trebesch responded that he is in contact with the persons that do this type of work and they will be out this fall (2009).
    o Members of Council responded that there is grant money this year to cover the cost of the mulching however next year the city may not receive a grant for this.

Elementary School Board Meeting

  • City Clerk Gruenhagen mentioned to members of Council that there will be an Elementary School Board meeting this Wednesday (April 29, 2009) at 7:00 p.m. at the Elementary School if anyone would like to attend. They will be going over maintenance, buildings, and possible future expansion.

Thank You

  • City Clerk Gruenhagen thanked Council and Employees for “holding down the fort” while he was on vacation. Things were managed well while he was gone.

    City Council Reports

Councilmember Mueller (Sewer & Water)

  • Councilmember Mueller asked if City Clerk Gruenhagen could have Maintenance Worker Byerly put a longer chain on the pond gate. If you do not position the gate just right you are unable to lock it.
    o City Clerk Gruenhagen said he would have this looked at.

Councilmember Cummiskey (Streets) had nothing further to report.

Councilmember Trebesch (Buildings) had nothing further to report.

Councilmember Barnes (Parks) had nothing further to report.

Mayor Malz

  • Mayor Malz questioned if residents have been notified to change their sump pumps over from winter.
    o City Clerk Gruenhagen replied that he knows which residents to notify about this and will have Maintenance Worker Byerly contact them.
  • Mayor Malz commented on his concern about a car parked by Darrell Grams (410 Sophia Avenue). All the windows have been broken out and it is a danger to the area.
    o City Clerk Gruenhagen responded that nuisance letters will be sent out shortly to all residents that are in violation of city ordinances.

    Approve Claims List for March 2009

    City Clerk Gruenhagen informed Council that he has a ACH payment that he will have to add to the claims list, he did not have the amount fully figured out yet. The ACH payments would be to the Department of Revenue for Sales & Use Tax. He will get the amounts and present them at the next council meeting.

Councilmember Barnes asked about claim #13810, S.E.H, in the amount of $17,359.91; if this amount was for the 50% completion payment.

  • City Clerk Gruenhagen replied that he was not sure but he will take a closer look at this billing; he thinks it is about 50% completion. A lot of this billing is for the surveying.

Councilmember Trebesch questioned claim #13803, Bonestroo for Maria Ave Street Improvements – Final Payment.

  • City Clerk Gruenhagen commented that he was under the impression that the final payment to Bonestroo was already made; Clerk Gruenhagen will clarify the payment. This payment will finalize the project.

Councilmember Trebesch also questioned claim # 13796, Wm. Muller and Sons – Snow Removal, if this payment would be for the last snow removal for the season.

  • City Clerk Gruenhagen replied, yes.

    Councilmember Trebesch moved to approve April 2009 claims from the five ACH payment through claim number 13812, seconded by Councilmember Mueller and motion carried. All Council Members were present.

Red Flag Rule – Identity Theft Prevention Program

  • Councilmember Mueller reminded the Council that the city has to adopt the Red Flag rule.
  • City Clerk Gruenhagen explained that the Red Flag Rule is a policy that the city has to follow to make sure we are doing our part to prevent identity theft.
  • Councilmember Mueller moved to adopt the Identity Theft Prevention Program, seconded by Councilmember Trebesch and motion unanimously carried. All Council Members were present.

    Councilmember Mueller moved to adjourn the Hamburg City Council meeting at 9:30 p.m., seconded by Councilmember Barnes and motion carried. All Council Members were present.

    Submitted by:

    Sue Block