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This LTE might be the most informative LTE written on the Enbridge Line 3 Pipeline I’ve seen.

It’s the first place I’ve read that “Some opponents of the project are concerned that pipelines pose a risk to the waters of Minnesota due to a leak. Any method of transporting crude oil (pipeline, rail, or truck) has a risk of a leak or spill. To transport the equivalent amount of crude oil on Line 3 will require either 10,000 rail cars/day or 24,000 tanker trucks/day.”

The Gov. Dayton/Commissioner Rothman Commerce Department testified that the existing pipeline should be shut down in addition to not building the new pipeline. Obviously, the pipeline will get built. The only question is whether it’ll get built in Minnesota or through another state. Metaphorically speaking, that ship’s already sailed. The question facing environmental activists is whether they want oil trains endangering cities multiple times a day or whether they want semis clogging highways.

What other LTE or Our View editorial has laid things out this succinctly? I’ll tell you how many. Since getting back into blogging last May, I’ve searched virtually daily for articles on this subject. The answer is exactly 0. Here’s another interesting, important, piece of information in making this decision:

The project will be constructed with modern high-grade steel pipe and use construction techniques that minimize the impact to the environment. In environmentally sensitive areas, Enbridge utilizes Horizontal Directional Drilling, which places the pipe deep below the environmentally sensitive area and utilizes double thickness pipe-wall.

TRANSLATION: It’s the safest way of getting oil from Alberta to Superior, WI. Enbridge wouldn’t have gotten a permit for the first pipeline if it hadn’t met Minnesota’s strict environmental standards.

Think of it this way. If Enbridge hadn’t done things right the past 20+ years, the Public Utilities Commission would’ve shit-canned this project in a heartbeat. This graphic shows how many hoops Enbridge, or any pipeline project, would have to jump through for permitting approval:

Think of each of those dots as another delay that environmental activists exploit. The simplest question to ask is whether Minnesota wants a petroleum-free state that relies heavily on transit? I’m betting that transit is totally impractical for most of Minnesota, especially in rural Minnesota. BTW, did you know that “Enbridge provides over 80 percent of the crude oil to the two refineries in Minnesota and one in Superior Wisconsin”? Did you know that “these refineries provide fuel for the agricultural, forest products, shipping, and mining industries, not to mention the majority of the fuel used for transportation in the state of Minnesota”?

Frankly, the testimony given by the Commerce Department to the Public Utilities Commission is dishonest. Whoever prepared the Commerce Department’s testimony should be prosecuted for perjury. Saying that the Line 3 Pipeline isn’t needed is like saying that highways aren’t needed to get people and products from one part of Minnesota to another part of Minnesota.

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Tim Walz didn’t waste time in picking his running mate. In picking Peggy Flanagan, Walz proverbially killed 2 birds with one stone.

First, DFL activists weren’t comfortable with the NRA’s past support of Walz. The fact that “he was called out for receiving donations from the NRA” forced him to “donate the money to charity and support gun background checks if he became governor.” There’s little doubt that Walz wanted to get that off the front page ASAP.

Next, Walz is a moderate from southern Minnesota, hardly the place where DFL gubernatorial candidates usually come from. Picking a progressive firebrand like Rep. Flanagan sends the message that Walz is as lefty as candidates like Paul Thissen, Rebecca Otto and Erin Murphy.

What Walz hasn’t figured out yet is that the DFL powers-that-be will insist that he move left — way further left. Support for mining will be forbidden. Support for building pipelines will be forbidden, too. Walz is intent on relying heavily on identity politics, too. That’s what this is about:

Flanagan, of St. Louis Park, is a member of the White Earth Band of Ojibwe and helped form the People of Color and Indigenous Caucus this year. The Walz campaign said she would be the first person of color to hold a constitutional office in Minnesota and the highest ranking Native American state office holder ever in the country.

This official statement indicates that Rep. Flanagan won’t give pipelines a fair shake:

ST. PAUL, MINN – Today, the Minnesota Department of Commerce released the final Environmental Impact Statement for Enbridge Energy’s proposed Line 3 pipeline replacement in northern Minnesota. Members of the Minnesota House Native American Caucus – Rep. Peggy Flanagan, DFL – St. Louis Park (White Earth Nation), Rep. Jamie Becker-Finn, DFL – Roseville (Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe), Susan Allen, DFL – Minneapolis (Rosebud Sioux) and Mary Kunesh-Podein, DFL – New Brighton (Standing Rock Sioux) – jointly released the following statement:

“The EIS released today makes only nominal mention of this pipeline’s impact on Native American lands and the irreparable harm it could cause to the traditions and way of life for Native people. With the potential for a spill, Line 3 presents a catastrophic threat to the continued vitality of wild rice and fish habitats and once again dismisses the cultural relevance of the lands this new pipeline would violate. Enbridge has failed to adequately address this, and it’s disappointing the EIS has as well.

“With so much at stake for indigenous communities, this is unacceptable. The Public Utilities Commission will next look ahead to determine adequacy of the EIS. With such minimal attention provided to Native people, we fail to see how this document can be considered anything but inadequate.”

Construction workers need to ask themselves if they want another anti-pipeline, anti-mining Metrocrat governor. Electing Tim Walz and Peggy Flanagan will produce another 8 years of shafting blue collar workers. Consider the fact that he’s from academia and that she’s an environmental activist. What part of that sounds like they’re pro-blue collar worker? Hint: nothing.

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Earlier this week, I wrote about Paul Gazelka’s Strib op-ed in this post but I missed Speaker Daudt’s op-ed. I’m upset with myself that I did. That’s because Speaker Daudt’s op-ed opened my eyes to something that I hadn’t considered previously.

The first paragraph that caught my attention was when Speaker Daudt wrote “That’s why at the end of the last legislative session, I was so proud of the historically productive results we achieved. A Republican-led House and Senate worked with our Democratic governor and balanced the budget while investing a historic amount into roads and bridges; boosted funding to our schools; passed Real ID enabling Minnesotans to travel; lowered health insurance premiums; and reduced taxes for millions of Minnesotans. Most important, we did it together.”

Lots of people have written about the fact that this was a productive session. There’s no disputing that fact. The paragraph that got my undivided attention was where Speaker Daudt wrote “The Legislature didn’t get everything it wanted, and the governor didn’t get everything he wanted. But in working alongside one another, we brought the session to a productive conclusion. Then, perhaps after hearing complaints from members of his own party, Gov. Mark Dayton expressed second thoughts about the compromises he had negotiated. Despite personally having agreed to each and every one of the bills, including the amount and provisions within the tax relief bill, the governor tried to go back on his word. He line-item-vetoed funding for the Legislature in an attempt to force us back to the negotiating table.”

Think about that a split-second. Neither the governor nor the legislature got everything they wanted but they negotiated a deal that both supposedly could live with. After Gov. Dayton agreed to the size of the tax relief bill and the provisions in it, the legislature passed the bill and sent it to Gov. Dayton. Despite the agreement and the fact that Gov. Dayton got lots of the things he’d prioritized, Gov. Dayton line-item vetoed the funding for the legislature.

Gov. Dayton said he vetoed their funding to coerce the legislature into renegotiating the Tax Bill. I’m betting that isn’t why he vetoed it. I’m betting that his special interest allies told him that they were vehemently opposed to the tax bill for ideological reasons. In 2011, Gov. Dayton reneged on a budget agreement he’d negotiated with then-Speaker Zellers and then-Senate Majority Leader Koch. They reached an agreement. They returned to their caucuses to tell them they had a deal. When they returned to Gov. Dayton’s office, they learned that Rep. Thissen and Sen. Bakk talked Gov. Dayton into reneging on the deal that he’d agreed to and initialed.

There’s a significant part of Gov. Dayton that simply can’t sign a bill unless he’s certain he’s getting the better end of the agreement. He’s simply too rigid. That’s why 3 of the 4 budget sessions during Gov. Dayton’s time in office required a special session. What’s particularly upsetting is that Gov. Dayton won’t admit that he’s attempting to preserve his bargaining leverage when the legislature returns in February. Both sides know that the legislature has some reserve funds that they can use but they both know that it isn’t enough to fund the legislature for the rest of the biennium.

It’s also upsetting to hear Gov. Dayton accuse the legislature of lying to him and to the Supreme Court:

Gov. Dayton needs to quit with his my-way-or-the-highway shtick. It’s getting old.

In the first 4 parts of this series (found here, here, here and here), I focused on different facets of the inadequacies of the Dayton-Rothman Commerce Department. I categorized each of the shortcomings and culprits. Most importantly, I identified the opportunities that the Dayton-Rothman Commerce Department missed and why.

This article will pull everything together so we can put together a less hostile, more business-friendly set of policies that doesn’t sacrifice the environment. First, we’ll need to streamline the regulatory review process so hostile environmental activists don’t have multiple opportunities to throttle key infrastructure projects. Whether we’re talking about killing the Sandpiper Pipeline project, the constant attempts by the Sierra Club, Conservation Minnesota and Northeastern Minnesotans for Wilderness to kill both the Twin Metals and the PolyMet projects or the Public Utilities Commission and the Dayton-Rothman Commerce Department, it’s clear that the DFL is openly hostile to major infrastructure projects.

It’s long past time to get the PUC out of the public safety/transportation business. Similarly, it’s time to get the Commerce Department out of the environmental regulatory industry. Public safety and transportation belong in MnDOT’s purview, not the PUC’s. Environmental regulations need to be significantly streamlined, then shipped over to the DNR. There should be a period for fact-finding and public comment. There should be the submitting and approval/disapproval of an Environmental Impact Statement and the submitting and approval/disapproval of an Economic Impact Statement.

Further, laws should be changed so that there’s no longer a requirement to submit an application for a “certificate of need.” In effect, that’s a bureaucratic regulatory veto of major infrastructure projects. That isn’t acceptable. There should be a time limit placed on the bureaucrats, too. They should have to accept or reject applications within a reasonable period of time. That’s because regulators have sometimes used delaying tactics to throttle projects without leaving a paper trail. It’s also been used to deny companies the right to appeal rulings. (If there isn’t a ruling, there isn’t an appeal.)

Third, streamlining the review process limits the opportunities for environmental activists to kill projects like those mentioned above. There’s a reason why it’s called the Commerce Department, not the Department of Endless Delays and Excessive Costs, which is what it’s become. Eliminating the PUC’s oversight responsibilities, especially in terms of approving certificates of need, will eliminate the impact that environmental activists serving on that Board can have in killing or at least delaying major infrastructure projects.

Fourth, it’s important that we bring clarity and consistency to this state’s regulatory regime. The system Minnesota has now breeds uncertainty. That steals jobs from Minnesota because companies attempt to avoid Minnesota entirely whenever possible. While we want to preserve our lakes, rivers and streams, we want to preserve our middle class, too. The environment shouldn’t be put on a pedestal while communities die thanks to a dying middle class.

I’ve seen too often how once-proud parts of Minnesota that have a heavy regulatory burden have seen their middle class essentially disappear. Cities like Virginia and Eveleth come to mind. It’s immoral to give a Twin Cities agency the authority to kill Iron Range communities. That’s literally what’s happening right now.

For the last 7 years, Gov. Dayton has run an administration that’s of, by and for the environmental activist wing of the DFL. If you work in a construction union, you haven’t had a great run. That isn’t right. People who work hard and play by the rules should be able to put a roof over their family’s head, set money aside for their kids’ college education and save for their retirement. For far too many people, that hasn’t happened recently.

The next Republican governor should implement these changes ASAP. It’s time to destroy the Dayton ‘Hostile to business’ sign and replace it with an ‘Open for business’ sign. It’s time to get Minnesota government working for everyone once again.

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It isn’t just Gov. Dayton’s Commerce Department that’s anti-commerce. Apparently, Gov. Dayton is anti-commerce, too. This statement from Rep. Deb Kiel and Rep. Dan Fabian provides documented proof that Gov. Dayton is anti-commerce. In their statement, Kiel and Fabian mention that “Governor Dayton and the PUC need to allow the Line 3 Replacement project to move forward and stop drawing out the regulatory permitting process. This important project will have a positive impact on our economy here in Northwest Minnesota, including the creation of more good-paying jobs and tax revenue for our communities.”

If Gov. Dayton was pro-commerce, the permitting process would have gotten finished by now. In a letter signed by 45 representatives, it states “There is simply no disputing the fact the L3R will improve safety and environmental protection by replacing the current aging pipeline infrastructure. Delay would not offer any environmental benefit. Instead, it would do the opposite by keeping crude oil in aging pipeline infrastructure that has been identified as in need of replacement for integrity reasons. Economic security and environmental safety should not be held hostage by a proxy war against petroleum us, which is not directly relevant to this project. L3R in no way hinders the use or development of alternative fuels. It simply facilitates the safe transportation of the petroleum our economy currently needs.”

Here’s page 1 of the letter:

Page 2:

Page 3:

It’s obvious that the Minnesota Department of Commerce is run by environmental activists who don’t have rural Minnesotans’ best interests at heart. This project, like the Sandpiper Pipeline would have provided a major economic boost. Instead, environmental activists destroyed the Sandpiper Pipeline project. That company opted instead to transport that oil through the Dakota Access Pipeline, aka DAPL. Minnesotans lost out on all those jobs because the DFL is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Twin Cities environmental activists.

Rather than growing Minnesota’s economy, Gov. Dayton and the DFL opted to raise tax rates. Gov. Dayton and the DFL could’ve opted for letting Minnesota’s economy grow. Instead, Gov. Dayton and the DFL let it idle. It isn’t that Minnesota’s economy is tanking. It’s that Gov. Dayton and the DFL are satisfied even though Minnesota’s economy could help fuel a robust US economic recovery.

Thanks to environmental activist special interests, our economy isn’t operating at peak efficiency. Mediocre economic growth is Gov. Dayton’s true legacy. He isn’t the great leader that the Twin Cities media have portrayed him to be.

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If people needed a better example of how hostile the Dayton administration is to robust economic growth, they needn’t look further than Gov. Dayton’s Commerce Department. When Gov. Dayton’s Commerce Department testified that the Enbridge Line 3 Pipeline wasn’t needed, they testified that they were anti-commerce. When the Commerce Department testified to that, the DFL quietly applauded. They knew that it essentially killed approval of that pipeline’s replacement at least through the end of Gov. Dayton’s administration.

Listen to the certainty of the Commerce Department statement. They said “‘In light of the serious risks and effects on the natural and socioeconomic environments of the existing Line 3 and the limited benefit that the existing Line 3 provides to Minnesota refineries, it is reasonable to conclude that Minnesota would be better off if Enbridge proposed to cease operations of the existing Line 3, without any new pipeline being built,’ the agency wrote in testimony submitted to the Public Utilities Commission on Monday, Sept. 11.”

In the next paragraph of the article, it states “The testimony, written by Kate O’Connell, manager of the Energy Regulation and Planning Unit of the Department of Commerce, comes ahead of evidentiary hearings on the oil pipeline replacement that will see the project debated in a trial-like setting in November. A new round of public hearings across the state will kick off at the end of the month.”

It’s time to ask a foundational question. Shouldn’t Minnesotans to expect the state government’s Commerce Department to be pro-commerce? There’s no question that the Dayton/DFL Commerce Department isn’t pro-commerce. Ms. O’Connell’s testimony settled that matter.

Here’s another foundational question Minnesotans should ask: who should have the final say on multi-billion dollar projects? Why should the Public Utilities Commission and the Commerce Department have the final say on whether projects should be approved? Further, what makes the Commerce Department and the PUC experts on things like public safety and transportation?

Those are the only things that government should be involved in. When Gov. Dayton’s Commerce Department testified that there wasn’t a need, they didn’t testify as to whether their testimony hurt public safety. It does from the standpoint of forcing more oil onto oil trains. More oil on more oil trains is already causing cities through which these railroad tracks run to come up with evacuation plans. That costs each of those cities tons of money in their annual operating budget. That, in turn, leads to higher property or sales taxes.

This is a multi-part series. This is a subject that’s too important not to examine in depth.

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According to this article, Anderson Trucking Service, “which is headquartered here in St. Cloud,” will “be redirecting more than 200 trucks from its fleet to help deliver relief supplies to areas affected by Hurricane Harvey. The family-owned company said that beginning next week, it will dedicate between 15 and 20 percent of its fleet, 220 ATS vans and flatbed trailers, for the delivery of food, water and other essentials. Marketing spokeswoman Brenda Schermerhorn said the hauler will be paid.”

Additionally, Anderson Trucking announced it “is also raising money for Harvey victims with a “Casual for Charity” week at the office, where employees get to dress casually each day with a donation to select hurricane recovery causes. Potthoff said the Anderson family will match donations dollar for dollar, with all proceeds going to relief efforts.”

Anyone who knows the Anderson company isn’t surprised with this announcement. St. Cloud is fortunate to be blessed with companies that believe in being good corporate citizens. Anderson Trucking certainly fits that description.

According to Jeff Potthoff, senior vice president of ATS’ van division, ATS “has a terminal in Houston and its sister company, New Energy Transport, is also headquartered there. So while ATS is headquartered in St. Cloud, it also considers the Houston community its home.”

Last week, the nation was impressed with how Houstonians responded to Harvey’s flooding. Towards the end of the week, questions started popping up, asking whether the nation would forget Texas once the drama was removed. Articles like this show that some companies are in this to help Houston rebuild.

Kim Crockett’s post about her recent trip to our nation’s capitol focused on the work that the Center for the American Experiment is doing to thwart the Met Council’s Thrive 20240 blueprint.

In her post, Ms. Crockett wrote that “DFL Governor Mark Dayton’s plan, like many ‘blue state’ governors, uses ‘transit oriented development’ or TOD, to pull money out of the suburbs and greater Minnesota to fund and re-enforce a city centric power model. That model shifts how and where people live, and how they get around, to change the political landscape in favor of left-wing control of local and state government. If ‘Thrive’ succeeds, we will effectively lose self-governance at the local, and even state, level in favor of unelected bureaucrats.”

First, the Met Council’s transportation blueprint is outdated. Next, it isn’t based on listening to the communities and residents it’s supposed to represent. Third, the Met Council’s transportation blueprint ignores the fact that the American people don’t want to get herded like cattle into a one-size-fits all transportation blueprint.

With more people being able to work from home and with more people buying their things from Amazon, E-Bay, Craigslist and other online outlets, the need for transit is waning, not waxing. While Al Gore hates urban sprawl, the American people apparently have voted with their mortgages in favor of spreading out.

Then there’s this:

These TOD plans rely on crony capitalism to thwart citizen opposition to these billion-dollar boondoggles. There are construction and engineering firms and armies of lawyers and consultants, lined up to take their cut of the $2 billion for SWLRT. And that is just the start: then comes Bottineau LRT and others. They press their case with help from the business chambers and K-Street lobbyist here and in D.C.

Here in St. Cloud, we’re fighting against extending the Northstar rail project from Big Lake to St. Cloud. While extending Northstar isn’t as high-profile of a project as building SWLRT is, it’s still built on the same central planning crony capitalist principles.

Another thing that SWLRT and Northstar have in common is that they’re massive wastes of the taxpayers’ money. After construction, they’ll still need massive operating subsidies. Think about that. Northstar isn’t making money. It never will. Extending it from Big Lake to St. Cloud just adds to the money the special interests will need to take from taxpayers. SWLRT is no different. Before explaining that statement, I’d suggest that you watch this video:

As you watch the video, count how many different pieces of infrastructure have to be built before SWLRT is operational. Then think of how many people will use SWLRT vs. how many will continue to use the highways and city streets. (You can make the same comparison with Northstar.) SWLRT and Northstar aren’t solutions to Minnesota’s transportation problems. They’re impediments to the solutions.

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Living on St. Cloud’s East Side my entire life, I’ve grown skeptical of city plans to redevelop St. Cloud’s East Side. When Mayor Kleis starts talking about redeveloping the East Side, I get extra skeptical. In this article, Mayor Kleis outdid himself. The article says that “The biggest redevelopment boon would be a Northstar line extension”, adding that that “would be the single greatest catalyst for East Side development.” The station where Northstar would stop at is less than a half-mile from my house. Anyone that thinks that that’s a catalyst to redeveloping St. Cloud is either lying or stupid.

When Kleis said that this “is doable, and the Legislature can do that,” my first reaction was to ask what type of drugs he was using. The East Side of St. Cloud will forever be a blue collar part of town. Within a quarter mile of that train stop are Red’s Electric, Val’s, Handyman’s, a couple junk yards, one of which was abandoned 5 years ago, an old brick building that looks like it’s been abandoned for 50 years and a day-old bread store. The frightening thought is that that’s the upscale part of the area.

To do anything retail- or office-related there would require tens of millions of dollars to just make a dent. Then the question becomes what would go into this real estate. Here’s the reply:

The plan recommended the city encourages artisan workshops and artist residences to move into the district by establishing incentives for redeveloping “make/live” space for artists and organizations.

Seriously? This is proof that this city desperately needs new leadership. To show how unserious this plan is, consider this information:

But East Side redevelopment captured only about one page of the document, which is upward of 160 pages. The plan’s catalyst sites were mostly near downtown on the west side of the river.

Then there’s this quote from Mayor Kleis:

The river flows through our city. It doesn’t divide the east and the west.

Actually, Dave, the Mississippi does divide the city. It has since I was born 61 years ago. This is the view looking east down East St. Germain Street:

In less than a mile, there are 2 major sets of railroad tracks as you look east. There are 2 other railroad crossings if you look north from St. Germain. As you pass Lincoln Ave. heading east, there’s a mix of a gas station, some homes and Highway 10.

If you think that I’m being a bit pessimistic, consider the fact that that’s before we talk about fixing the properties on Lincoln Ave. north of East St. Germain St. If you don’t fix that, you’ve just spent a ton of money without fixing the East Side’s problems.

What’s needed is to admit that the East Side is best suited for industrial redevelopment. Putting in cute apartments and retail shops might look nice for a couple of years but it won’t fix the underlying problem. Getting a fistful of federal grant money to put in a few cute amenities won’t change that fact.

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After writing this post about a proposal to increase affordable housing in the Greater St. Cloud area, I got a call from a loyal reader of LFR. This person highlighted the fact that St. Cloud’s economy used to be built around manufacturers like Franklin and big corporations like Fingerhut. This reader then mentioned the fact that St. Cloud’s economy today is focused on the hospitality and retail industries.

In the past, St. Cloud has made terrible choices for its economy. The Chamber of Commerce shouldn’t get off lightly, either, since they’ve frequently advocated for tourism industry bonding projects. In the end, those things changed St. Cloud from being a blue collar manufacturing town into a tourism mecca. That’s foolish because there are thousands of different tourism meccas in Minnesota.

In Jenny Berg’s article, she wrote that “Hontos said he wants a joint resolution to show interest from other cities.” He might get that resolution passed by the St. Cloud City Council but it’ll die the minute it gets to the Sartell and Sauk Rapids city councils.

Since this affordable housing project started getting publicity, talk has started about voting on a moratorium that would postpone the building of bike trails and city parks until St. Cloud attracts 5 new manufacturing companies to St. Cloud.

The liberal policies that’ve caused St. Cloud’s neighborhoods to deteriorate have led to rising crime rates, too. Mind you, many of these crimes haven’t gotten recorded but they’ve still happened. They’ve been reported. They just haven’t been recorded. We’re left with a city whose economy is like icing on a cake but without a main meal. Economies built around retailers and restaurants are like meals consisting of cake and ice cream but no meat, potatoes or gravy.

Other citizens have told me that getting things approved for construction has gotten more difficult. The City has the right official policies. They just aren’t enforced. The reason I mention this is simple. Why would a major company move to St. Cloud when crime is rising, there’s a shortage of the type of laborers that companies will need and the local economy is built around the hospitality and retail industries?

Dave Kleis has been one of the biggest cheerleaders for these policies. He’s also the chief cheerleader for the airport. He could’ve killed 2 birds with 1 stone by proposing an industrial park built right by a new regional airport. That would have a chance of gaining traction and changing the trajectory of St. Cloud’s economy. That proposal hasn’t been rejected. It’s been ignored instead.

Frankly, it’s time for new leadership in St. Cloud. St. Cloud needs someone who a) isn’t a de facto cheerleader for the Chamber of Commerce, b) doesn’t believe in crony capitalism and c) has a vision to restore St. Cloud’s identity as a blue collar All American city. I’d clean out most of the members of the City Council. I’d pretty much fire the School Board. Finally, I’d fire the SCSU president, too. It’s clear he doesn’t have a plan to turn SCSU around.

Mayor Kleis talks about reviving St. Cloud’s core neighborhoods. Those don’t get built or maintained by restaurant owners.

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