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Republicans are furious that MNLARS has a backlog of 374,000 unprocessed vehicle titles. First, MNLARS stands for Minnesota Licensing and Registration System. The Dayton administration’s rollout of MNLARS is just as troubling as the Dayton administration’s rollout of MNsure. Apparently, the DFL hasn’t figured things out when it comes to IT projects. (For that matter, healthcare.gov on the federal level wasn’t exactly smooth, either. Perhaps, Democrats should get some training courses from IT professionals?)

What’s stunning is that the DFL is putting a higher priority on making employees whole rather than fixing MNLARS. “Rep. Rick Hansen, DFL-South St. Paul, said he and a handful of other lawmakers will introduce a bill next year that would set aside $10 million to help compensate the deputy registrars’ offices for lost revenue. He likened the debut of MNLARS to hitting an iceberg and said he’s worried the impact will be particularly destructive for local offices that rely on the system. “I think it’s really important that we make the deputy registrars whole for their costs that have been incurred through no fault of their own,” he said in a House committee hearing on MNLARS last week. “They got hit by the iceberg, too.”

Let’s be clear about this. MNIT is the iceberg. They didn’t implement this thing right. What’s particularly aggravating is the fact that they’ve had years to implement it properly. There’s no justification for it not getting implemented properly in that amount of time.

In the video, Gov. Dayton said he’d like to apologize for the mistakes that’ve been made by MNLARS. Gov. Dayton, we need a system that works, not an apology from an inept government filled with inept bureaucrats. Towards the end of the video, a gentleman summed things up perfectly, saying “It’s not a bad launch. It’s a bad system.”

Thus far, the state has spent $93,000,000 on launching MNLARS. There’s no way that would’ve been tolerated in the private sector. Further, the problem would’ve gotten fixed in the private sector. Finally, it wouldn’t have cost $93,000,000 to fix. It might’ve cost one-tenth of that at best.

When a profit/market share incentive is introduced into the equation, things get done right the first time. There’s no time for the Joan Redwings of the world to say “We are working on a release … it’s important that we take the time to coordinate a road map. We need to make sure it’s been properly vetted. … We do have a draft document, but I can’t issue draft documents that will change.” The problem would’ve gotten fixed immediately or Ms. Redwing would’ve gotten terminated immediately.

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This past fall, I wrote a ton of articles about the importance of building or replacing the Enbridge Line 3 Pipeline. I wish I’d had this information when I wrote those articles.

First, in the interest of full disclosure, I’ve been good friends with Terry Stone for quite some time. He’s a top researcher and writer. When it comes to energy and transportation issues, Terry’s on a par with Mike Beard and other expert former legislators. Simply put, when Terry talks about transportation or energy, I listen.

One of the first things that caught my attention was when Terry wrote “Moving oil by train can have consequences to human life that are almost never seen in pipelines. A 2013 crash of 72 oil cars in Quebec left 47 dead.
Moving oil by barge or tanker ship can be costly to clean up if something goes wrong and is environmentally unattractive. The total cleanup of the Exxon Valdez oil spill ended up costing $630 per gallon. The average cost of an oil-spill cleanup in the U.S. is $18.11 per gallon. Pipeline spills cost even less because they are not typically driven miles by wind, and they don’t kill clusters of riparian marine life. Pipeline leaks are small, fast to find, and seldom involve a risk to human life.”

Here’s a question for the environmentalists that sit on the board of the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission that they won’t like: why are you opposed to efficiently transporting oil from the well to the refinery? Anything other than ratifying the Line 3 replacement is unacceptable. We don’t need to figure out whether the additional crude oil is needed. It is, especially with a growing economy. These statistics definitely caught my attention:

We have been hearing a lot about oil-train derailments, crashes, and fires since 2013. This is because from 2009 to 2012 the volume of oil shipped by rail increased from 11,000 to 230,000 railcars — up 2,200 percent. According to Forbes, more crude was spilled from rail cars in 2013 than in all the 37 previous years combined.

That’s astonishing. What’s the environmentalists’ argument for saying no to replacing the Line 3 pipeline? It certainly can’t be to protect the environment. That ‘ship’ sailed with these statistics. These statistics, too:

According to Enbridge, the replaced pipeline will be able to take 10,000 rail cars off the tracks or 24,000 tanker trucks off the highways — daily. Enbridge is a bit generous with its figures. Actually, since both the trains of railcars and the trucks hauling oil need to drive back across the country empty, burning diesel, the Enbridge Line 3 Replacement Project would equal a total of 20,000 rail cars off the road daily or 48,000 tanker trucks daily. That should sound like Christmas every day to every environmentalist.

Do environmentalists think that we’ll replace fossil fuels sometime soon? If they’re thinking that, they’d better find better researchers. Further, with technology improving virtually monthly, there’s no reason to think that fossil fuels won’t become cleaner, more efficient and more reliable.

We won’t stop using fossil fuels anytime soon so the environmentalists should just deal with that fact. Next, the environmentalists should accept the fact that pipelines will be a necessity for at least the next 20-30 years. Hating fossil fuels won’t make the pipelines disappear. It’s time to put an end to this stupidity:

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Dan Fabian’s LTE highlights the difference between the DFL and the GOP. Rep. Fabian stated “Too many members of the DFL Party, nearly all of whom reside hundreds of miles from the Line 3 project, are opposed to the project, even if it meets all regulatory requirements.” Later in the LTE, Rep. Fabian said “Republicans are unified in support of replacing this aging oil pipeline.” That’s indisputable. Republicans overwhelmingly support these types of infrastructure projects because it strengthens the economy. The DFL, meanwhile, love ‘infrastructure’ projects that further their social engineering agenda. Think SWLRT.

Possibly the best paragraph of Rep. Fabian’s LTE is where he wrote “In addition to decisive support for the project, Republicans recently delivered common-sense reforms for the Iron Range Resources and Rehabilitation Board, clarified the appeals process for permits to mine, developed the ATV trail system for outdoor enthusiasts and tourism, and provided significant tax relief to middle-class families and workers.”

Hooray! Republicans everywhere need to adopt this model ASAP. Rep. Fabian told voters what he’s for. Rep. Fabian listed the Republican Party’s accomplishments, too. Rep. Fabian told people that his focus was on making their lives better. Reforming the IRRRB is a positive step that’s long overdue.

Republicans have demonstrated strong support for policies that will help grow the economy, boost good-paying jobs, and ensure the long-term sustainability of communities in northern Minnesota.

This is something for Republicans to be fired up about. If Republicans highlight their positive agenda and a strong pro-growth gubernatorial candidate, they can accomplish something that wasn’t believed possible 10 years ago: unified Republican governance in Minnesota.

It’s time to stop settling for watered-down Bernie Sanders policies. It’s time to sell full-throated Kemp-Reagan optimistic capitalism. We didn’t worry about income inequality during the Reagan years because people were prospering. The BS that Bernie Sanders and Rebecca Otto are peddling is essentially ‘life-isn’t-fair-economics’.

Rep. Fabian did Republicans a great service by writing this LTE. It’s what Republicans should run on in 2018.

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.