Sunday, May 31, 2009

May 31: Brower and Walker

by Molly MacGregor

In the 1890s, the imagination of America, fueled by growth and prosperity, turned to protection of its forests and waters. New York state set aside the Adirondacks to provide drinking water for New York City. The mountains of Yosemite became the first national park, to the frustration of the Native Americans living there, who saw the hands off policy as a breach in our human responsibility to the environment.

It was Jacob Brower (left) who fought for protection of the Mississippi Headwaters, both to preserve a pure source for drinking water for downstream cities and to retain the forests and lakes. His nemesis was Thomas Walker (right), the businessman who logged his way across the Midwest, leaving his mark in northern Minnesota, through place names and endowments, and ending his logging career in the forests of northern California.

The two men had similar biographies: immigrating to the new territory of Minnesota for opportunity. Brower fought in the civil war in the state’s brigade. Walker counted trees in the forests until he was able to buy the lumber company. Walker’s vision was to harvest and move on; Brower was to first protect the native trees and waters.

Brower’s plan for a park around the headwaters of the Mississippi River was popular, and even the lumberman agreed, provided they could harvest before the park was named. Brower was fierce about protecting the park before the forests were harvested; as the legislature convened to vote, Brower stood outside the chamber, pleading his case to each individual legislator. Itasca State Park became the nation’s first park, but it was a park in name only, protecting harvested lands, not standing forests.

Today, research scientists at the University of Minnesota say that the harvests of 100 years ago have left a scar that can be read in the streams and rivers of the state. We don’t know what we’ve lost. But we do know that Jacob Brower fought to keep it for us.
Molly MacGregor was the Director of the Mississippi Headwaters Board for 12 years. She's the author of "The Mississppi Headwaters Guidebook", and will be our guide as we go down the River.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

May 30: Headwaters and Discovery

by Molly MacGregor
The Mississippi Headwaters is formed by the Itasca moraine, a great hump of earth that squeezes groundwater out and pushes surface waters to its north to the Mississippi; to the southeast, the Crow Wing; southwest to the Ottertail, west to the Buffalo, and north to the Clearwater. These waters gather and flow through the Red River of the North to Hudson’s Bay, and through the Mississippi to the Gulf of Mexico. The Itasca moraine is the ecological and geological heart of the North American continent.
The Mississippi was a cross roads for the first people. Plains to the west were a butcher shop of protein – elk, buffalo, and deer. To the east were the lakes with wild rice, berries, and fish. At the tiny creeks feeding Lake Itasca and the Mississippi River, there are remains from ancient hunting parties, buffalo bones, discarded stone tools and campfires. Europeans used the route for fur trade, because it connected Lake Superior to the Red River and Hudson’s Bay. The river linked people and therefore made a community.
Henry Schoolcraft was the young American who capitalized on the experience of his Anishinaabe relatives and friends to make himself the discoverer of the Mississippi Headwaters. He clearly wanted the distinction of being known as the river’s discoverer, but he clearly credits Ozawindib, a relative through marriage, who guided him up the river. HSchoolcraft clearly wanted to make himself a reputation as the discoverer of the Mississippi Headwaters. Yet, he acknowledged that it was his Native American relatives who made it possible. is voyage of discovery was built on a foundation of companionship.
You can’t step in the same place in a river, because the river changes and so do you, wrote Heraclitus, the Greek philosopher of change. You can say the same about the history of a place: how we know is colored by who we are. We can set aside the history of the place and remember that discovery is built on the shared power of imagination, and acknowledge that the search for the river’s headwaters was an act of community
Molly MacGregor was the Director of the Mississippi Headwaters Board for 12 years. She's the author of "The Mississppi Headwaters Guidebook",
and will be our guide as we go down the River.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Home For The Summer

by Kara Nyberg

They say that when you go away to college you begin to figure out who you truly are. For me it offered a great learning experience, and not just academically. This past school year that I spent in St. Joseph, Minnesota, really taught me how to adjust from my beloved woods of Northern Minnesota, to the drastic change to open plains of farm country.

Growing up in rural Bovey gave me the experiences that are hard to be gained anywhere else in the world. Grand Rapids and the surrounding communities have good reason to pride themselves on what they have to offer, such as lakes, trails, camping, and fishing- activities that I took for granted until I went away to school.
Quite often when people asked where I was from, their reaction would be one of jealousy and most always was filled with an expression of how great it must have been to grow up there. It gets cold in central Minnesota but when people would complain about that or the snow, I would assure them it was far worse up north and that people there would still be taking full advantage of the outdoors. There was disbelief when I told them that people actually drove snowmobiles to school and then parked them outside after a good snowfall.
My parents were good about calling throughout the year to let me know about when the ice on the lake was safe to walk on or when it would finally go out. Those calls were reminders that my Northern Minnesota was always there and reassured me that it would be just as great as I remembered it was whenever I went back. Now that I am finally back home, I plan on taking advantage of summer up north.

Kara Nyberg is a 2008 graduate of Grand Rapids High School. She has just finished her freshman year at the College of St. Benedict in St. Joseph, Minnesota. She is planning to major in Communication and minor in Political Science and English.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

AMPERS receives $2,650,000 from MN Legacy Amendment

by Maggie Montgomery

The 12 Independent Public Radio/AMPERS stations of Minnesota received news on May 19, 2008 that they were allocated $2,650,000 for the first two years of Minnesota’s Clean Water, Land and Legacy funding. The funding comes from a constitutional amendment, approved by voters last fall, that implements an added sales tax to pay for arts and cultural heritage activities (in addition to improving Minnesota’s natural environment).
The funds have to be used to “create, produce, acquire, or distribute programs that educate, enhance, or promote local, regional, or statewide items of artistic, cultural, or historic significance.” The money is specifically for creation of noncommercial radio programs that are broadcast. Stations must also archive the programs produced with these funds and make them available to other broadcasters and public educational institutions.
How AMPERS will handle and distribute the funds will be a big topic at the association’s annual meeting in June. Obviously, the available money opens many options for all the stations, including KAXE, because it will add to their capacity to produce arts and cultural programming for their listeners and communities of service. Do you have ideas for arts and cultural programming you’d like to hear on KAXE? If so, let us know. We’re just beginning to consider the possibilities!

Chad and Scott with a Couple of Walleyes

Chad and I found out first hand that our Early Bird Guide, Jeff Sundin, knows what he's talking about!

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Turn It Up 'Til the Guitars Vibrate In Your Head!!!

by Doug MacRostie

This Thursday evening at 6 on Centerstage MN I'll have an extended conversation with Rich Mattson and Tony Derrick of The Tisdales, an all out rock band from Sparta, MN. We'll be talking about their debut release "Bakers Dozen" which is 14 songs of sing-along choruses, blazing guitars and a general "lets rock" attitude... LOVE IT! Rich Mattson has been playing music in MN for over 20 years and was a founding member of both The Glenrustles and Ol' Yeller and also performs with The Bitter Spills. He also has had a recording studio going since the mid-90's down in the Twin Cities, which is now re-located to an old church in Sparta, MN on the Iron Range. Tony Derrick is from Duluth and played with the Hotel Coral Essex and Giljunko before joining forces with Mattson for The Tisdales. We'll hear one from Rich's solo album and a song from Hotel Coral Essex before the conversation with The Tisdales. Be sure to turn it up, these songs sound the best at high volumes. It's like Rich said, "I just like turning up the guitar really loud & that feeling you get when it's ear-splittingly cranked...I love that feeling."

I'll also be playing Meredith Fierke from her debut solo release "The Procession." Her music is a mix of of alternative, rock, and old-world murder ballads.

And we'll hear from Stellar Echoes, the lastest record from Uncle Shurley out of Bemidji. They'll bring their unique style of roots-rock to KAXE's Annual Meeting and Dance. The meeting and potluck starts at 4 and is free. It's $10 for the Uncle Shurley concert, KAXE members get a $5 discount and the concert starts at 7pm under the Rotaty Tent at KAXE's Amphitheater on the north bank of the Mississippi River in downtown Grand Rapids. This is definitely a performance not to miss!!!

Next week my guest will be The Brothers Burn Mountain for some live music from the KAXE Studios before they kick off the northern MN branch of their midwest tour (they are actually out of WI, but have spent time in MN and it will be a blast having them back on Centerstage MN :D).

You can read more on my blog:

Centerstage MN is Thursday evening's at 6, streaming live online at; or 91.7 Grand Rapids, 89.9 Brainerd and 105.3 Bemidji. All interviews are archived at and the show is rebroadcast Sunday mornings at 6.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Calling All Phone Answerers

KAXE's summer fundraiser begins on Saturday, May 30. Our theme is "Staying Afloat," and we'll be preparing for a Mississppi River trip in the coming days.

There are plenty of opportunities for you to be involved. Of course, you can pledge your support to KAXE if it's your time of the year to renew, or if you've never pledged before. You can also help out by spending a few hours at the studio to answer phones and take pledges.

We need people the most on weekday mornings (that would be June 1-5), starting at 6:30 and going until about 8. We also have shifts to fill over the weekend (May 30-31), especially during Green Cheese on Saturday night. Cheesers love to pledge!

If you can help, please let Jennifer Poenix know soon. You can call 326-1234 or e-mail

It's really tons of fun (and you might even get to hit the gong!!)

Thank you!

Thursday, May 21, 2009

So...What is Unallotment?

This morning on "Making Sausage" Colleen and Chuck discussed the way the budget process is being resolved in Minnesota. As we know, the legislature passed spending and revenue bills, and the governor has signed the appropriations bills. However, since he has pledged "no new taxes" he will be using his authority to "unallot" funding to balance the budget.

Here's a pretty good paper that discusses the legal authority for him to un-allot funding, and how it works.
Unallotment: Executive Branch Power to Reduce Spending to Avoid a Deficit

Let us know what you think of the current situation, whether you think unallotment is the way Minnesota should prioritize our resource allocations.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Listen Or I'll Claw You in the Throat!!!

by Doug MacRostie

Thursday night at 6 on KAXE I'll be talking with Joseph Downing of Clawthroat on Centerstage MN. Clawthroat is a new bread of folk-rock, and I'll talk with Joseph about their new EP "Know Yr Roots." From Grand Rapids, I had Joseph on last year when Clawthroat was on their way to perform at the Winnipeg Folk Festival, and this time he'll be bringing his guitar along and will hopefully debut a new song live on Centerstage MN!!!

Also, I'll be playing Hotel Coral Essex and Ol' Yeller - both bands have members that formed The Tisdales; Tony Derrek was writer, guitarist and singer with HCS and Rich Mattson was a founding member of Ol' Yeller, as well as guitarist, singer and songwriter of The Glenrustles. They will be my guest next week on Centerstage MN to talk about their debut release as The Tisdales called "Bakers Dozen" - an outstanding rock album!

Also, I'll play another song from Dylan's new CD "Together Through Life," and don't forget that it's Dylan Days this weekend!

Centerstage MN is Thursday evening's at 6, streaming live online at; or 91.7 Grand Rapids, 89.9 Brainerd and 105.3 Bemidji. All interviews are archived at and the show is rebroadcast Sunday mornings at 6.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

End Game: Debt and Deconstruction?

by Scott Hall

Governor Pawlenty is about to show America how to make government smaller. Until now, Republican leaders since Reagan have said government was the problem, not the solution. But once in power, they haven’t been able to follow through even though they had majorities in both houses of Congress. Now, big debt and a bad economy may get them to the promised land. It won’t be pretty, but politics really is a messy grind, like making sausage.

In the days and weeks ahead, Pawlenty will cut three billion or more in state spending. He’s betting that county and city governments, schools and hospital districts, have just about exhausted their capacity to tax property or raise other taxes and fees, and they will have to innovate – merge, dissolve, combine services – in short, be more efficient. That’s not necessarily a bad thing. It may make us think harder and clearer, not only about what we expect from government, but whether we want to pay for it and, if so, how. Not necessarily a bad thing either. Again, it won’t be neat and clean, but many Republicans think that’s the kind of tough love we need to get back to what made America great. This will make Pawlenty popular with the kingmakers in his Party. It looks like a good strategy for the Governor. Not sure about the rest of us...

What do you think?

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Tamaracks won thanks to Eli Sagor!

Yesterday was abuzz with the news that Eli Sagor from My Minnesota Woods.Org had indeed accomplished his mission.

"I knew that Tamaracks could win, but I didn't know the victory would be so sweet!" said Eli this morning, from an undisclosed location. See Eli's prized Tamarack from his backyard.

Investigators are looking into the legality of the online poll that KAXE conducted. "We think a certain E. Sagor had undue influence on at least 40% of the 42% of votes for Tamarack."

If you haven't yet voted, and Eli hasn't twisted your arm, please vote for your favorite MN tree.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

did you have a treehouse or a treeFORT as a kid?

What's the difference, anyway? It's love a tree day today and we're celebrating things all things TREE.

You can vote for your FAVORITE MN tree - let us know WHY it is your favorite.

This time of year many people have trees on their minds - they are cutting them down, splitting, and stacking their fuel for next winter (or next week here in Minnesota). They are planting new trees. And they are hanging out among the trees, marveling at the bright green new buds and life out there in the forests.

The other big tree question: have you ever chained yourself to one? Or is that too personal?

Check out this cool gallery of favorite MN trees on the DNR website. You can see KAXE member and photographer Karen Oodhoudt's photos there too!

Friday, May 15, 2009

Morning Show Highlights for May 18-22

Monday: Eveleth City Council member, Liz Kuoppala, talks to Maggie and Dodger about the Rural Women’s Leadership Project (7:20); DNR Wildlife Biologist, Pam Perry, on Orioles and Hummingbirds (8:10); The BIG weather picture with Tornado Bob (8:40)

Tuesday: Phenology (6:45 and 7:20 am) with John Latimer; All Things Equine with Bobbie Kleffman (8:40)

Wednesday: The Local Food Scene with Maggie Montgomery (7:20am); “Dollar-A-Day Boys”, Bill Jamerson has Stories and Music of The Civilian Conservation Corps (8:10); “The Mighty Five” with Don Boese (8:40)

Thursday: Early Bird Fishing Guide, Jeff Sundin, w/ Chad; “Making Sausage w/ Colleen & Chuck; Fred & Scott on “The Sports Page”

Friday: Heidi and John with the Mom of Pop Culture, Julie Crabb, the Border News with Marshall Helmberger; “What’s For Breakfast?”; and author, MJ Ryan on “How To Survive Change You Didn’t Ask For”

Thursday, May 14, 2009

MN DNR wants your photos of your favorite tree!

Tomorrow on Between You and Me from 10-noon on KAXE we're celebrating "Love a Tree Day". We want you to call in and tell us about your favorite tree - and vote on the poll on our blog you'll see to the left.

Tune in to hear what the favorite tree of KAXE is - and hear a conversation with Eli Sagor from My Minnesota Woods.Org about HIS favorite tree. And how he almost LOST his favorite tree too.

For the month of May the MN DNR is asking you to send in a photo of your favorite tree. Go here to upload them! You can view the favorite trees sent in so far here.

And, KAXE would also love to add your favorite trees to our online gallery. Email us your photos!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Guido's Guide to the Arts For May and June

by Steve Downing

The Pine River-Backus Renaissance Festival
is tomorrow (5/15) 3:30-8:30 in the school commons: family-friendly carnival-like atmosphere with art, music and food (come in costume, if you like). In Staples on Sunday (5/17) @ 2:00 @ Centennial Auditorium it’s the “Concert for a Cause”---area women’s and girls’ choirs doing classic folk songs and new age music, proceeds to Staples & Motley food shelves. The Nisswa Scandinavian Music Festival is next month 6/12-6/13 @ Nisswa Pioneer Village.

Ripple River Gallery near Deerwood: through 6/14 Denise Bunkert, pastels. As always: lathe-turned vessels crafted from the world’s most beautiful woods by the master, Bob Carls, weavings by Amy Sharpe, and woodblock prints by Charles Beck, the best.

Jaques Art Center in Aitkin: through 6/13 Julie Barta, acrylic paintings mainly of wildlife and farm scenes. Saturday 5/16 @ 9 till they’re gone: the Annual Pie & Plant Sale. Brown bag lunch Thursday (5/21) @ noon: Neva Bridgewater on Patrick DesJarlait: The Story of a Native American Artist. The 8th Annual JAC Golf Tournament is Friday 6/12, 1 pm scramble @ Minnesota National Golf Course in McGregor.

Lyric Center for the Arts in Virginia: tonight (5/14) @ 7 Ben Durbin’s Modern Antiques (folk rock, roots, Americana) on the First Stage. In the First Stage Gallery through 5/30: “Open Water”, a large mixed-media group show in celebration of fishing.

Ironworld: just opened, finally, “The Scoop on Poop: The Science of What Animals Leave Behind” (pun intended, I’m sure), through 9/7. In the Community Gallery Maggie Holmes is curating a multi-media exhibit of local artwork on the theme of refuse & recycling. In the Amphitheater 5/30 @ 8: Diamond Rio.

Hibbing. Dylan Days 5/21-5/24: music & writing & visual art & the bus tour & more. For what’s happening elsewhere around Hibbing check out the Range Artists Association’s list of events & classes.

Edge Center in Bigfork: through 5/23 in the lobby, Bigfork High School student art. On 6/5, Arrowhead Regional Arts Council presents the Maddie Simons Arts Advocate Award to the Edge’s Patty Feld & the George Morrison Artist Award to Duluth poet Connie Wanek.

Bemidji Community Art Center: student art through Saturday (5/16). Around Bemidji: Natalia Himmirska @ Neilson Place, Don Houseman @ Wild Hare, Brandon Bjerknes @ Dunn Bros., Crystal Price & Ashleigh Buck @ Bad Cat Creations. This Saturday (5/16) @ 5, the Sculpture Walk 2009 Season Opening Reception @ Rotary Pavilion. Artists of Minnesota Juried Spring Show @ Bemidji Hampton Inn 5/15-5/17. Next Monday (5/18) 9-3 also @ Hampton Inn: a “Let’s Do Haiku” workshop.

MacRostie Art Center: through May, underwritten by Grand Itasca Clinic & Hospital, paintings, prints & installation art by Britta Urness & the 2nd Annual Small Art, Big Ideas group show. Saturday (5/16) 7-9: The Art of Beer: A Tasting, sponsored in part by Deerwood Bank, features Mike Hoops & Town Hall Brewery and Matt Taylor & Rivers Italian---5 beer courses with food pairings. Entry deadline for MAC’s 17th Annual Juried Exhibition is Monday 6/1 (entry forms on the website). June, sponsored by Paul Bunyan Telephone, in the Minnesota Gallery: paintings by John Cox. MacRostie Gallery: “Reveal” by John Bauer & Heidi Holtan. Opening reception 6/5 @ 5.

Brewed Awakenings: this month, pottery by Mike Jasper. Also: Jon Dallas & Pat Downing, jazz, 5/21 @ 6 and Sam Miltich & friends Wednesdays in June @ 5:30. Just south of Brewed, the 1st & 3rd neighborhood, the Shops of Distinction are doing their 3rd Annual Gallery Hop: local artists featured at 14 of the retailers down there 5-8 nightly 5/21-5/30, with Sam Miltich @ Rivers @ 5:30 on the 29th.

Reif Center: tonight (5/14) it’s the Itasca Youth Orchestras @ 7, all 4 orchestras, 150 kids. Next week: high school choir on Monday (5/18), middle school choir on Thursday (5/21), both @ 7:30. The first weekend in June (5/5-5/7) it’s the Reif Dance Spring Program, Friday & Saturday @ 7, Sunday @ 2, sponsored by Itasca Surgical Clinic, the Northern Pines Foresters & a number of Reif Arts Council board members. All 200 students will be on-stage, from the 4-year-olds who can barely stand still to the very accomplished 18-year-olds, some of whom have been in the program since they were 4. Starting June 9 @ 7:30 “Indies on Tuesdays”---independent film art from all over the world, by way of the Grand Rapids Area Library, underwritten by Rivers Italian, every Tuesday through 8/25.

On your way to New York anytime soon? Roundabout Theatre Company’s doing a much-anticipated “Waiting For Godot” by Samuel Beckett at Studio 54. Nathan Lane (Estragon), Bill Irwin (Vladimir), John Goodman (Pozzo---bigger than ever, with a buzz cut), and John Glover (Lucky---beautifully, comically creepy). Headed for a Tony probably (Best Revival).

Full Speed Ahead w Two Many Banjos!!!

by Doug MacRostie

Thursday night at 6 on Centerstage MN on KAXE I'll be talking with Marc Gartman, lead songwriter, singer and banjo player with Two Many Banjos out of Duluth. Their new CD is called "Can't Slow Me Down" and TMB continue to push the limits of bluegrass/folk music. It's their 4th CD in 2 years (with another due out later this year) and Marc's songwriting is in full stride with "Can't Slow Me Down." Marc has been on Centerstage MN a couple times before and he always has interesting/entertaining things to say about his music.

And, Heidi will tell the story of taking Alex Kelly (from StoryCorp) to Hibbing to meet one of Bob Dylan's earliest influences, BJ Rolfzen.

I've also got new music from Clawthroat, The Magic Castles and The Darbuki Kings:

From Grand Rapids, Joseph Downing is the singer and guitarist with Clawthroat and he'll join me in studio next week to talk about their new EP "Know Yr Roots" - and I asked him to bring his guitar along and the word on the street is he'll debut a brand new song LIVE for us next week! w00t!

The Magic Castles first CD, "The Lore of Mysticore" was a self-produced, self-released dirge into psychedelic rock - some of it more slow-moving than others, all over it floating out at the limits of musical-space, and I am glad to say nothing has been lost with their sophomore release "Dreams of Dreams of Dreams." In fact, I think they've only gotten better! While the songs may be a little shorter and the hooks a little clearer, they stuck with their unique sound and presentation and took it to another level! These guys screen their own album covers on recycled paper board by hand, and there is definitely a high level of art and presentation beyond the music.

The Darbuki Kings new CD is called "Been Laden You Too Long." Antone and Adnan are at it again, connecting with the inner rhythms of the universe and using them to transport their listeners through the cosmos with multiple world drums, Bouzouki and Octave Mandolins, Indian Tabla and Flutes and more. I leave their connection with Boiled In Lead for you to figure out ;)

Oh, and I'll be starting the show off with the title track to Uncle Shurley's debut CD "in Bemidji" from back in 2005. Uncle Shurley will be performing at KAXE's Annual Meeting and Dance on Saturday, June 6th. The Potluck Diner and Meeting starts at 4 and is free, the Uncle Shurley concert starts at 7p and is just $5 for members of KAXE, or $10 for the general public. This is going to be f***ing awesome, be sure to come out and enjoy!

Centerstage MN is Thursday evening's at 6, streaming live online at; or 91.7 Grand Rapids, 89.9 Brainerd and 105.3 Bemidji. All interviews are archived at and the show is rebroadcast Sunday mornings at 6.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Holiday Weekend heated debate on Between You and Me

It's the Mother vs. Fish smackdown today on Between You and Me. Which is most important? Got any stories of when you got into trouble for fishing on mom's day or the fish were upset with you for celebrating your mom?

Cast your vote to the left - MOM or FISH.

Tune in from 10-noon for Between You and Me - join the conversation by email or call us 218-326-1234. It's our weekly get together; a mix of music and conversation.

Happy Mother's Day and Good Luck Fishing!!

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Government Bubble?

by Chuck Marohn

We ended our conversation about Minnesota politics this week with some talk about growth in government overall. I proposed the notion, which my "Making-Sausage" colleague Colleen Nardone did not agree with, that what we have is a "government bubble" in the same way that we have recently been through a "housing bubble" and a "financial-services bubble".

This is not the classic argument that government has gotten too big and we need to cut it, or hold the line on spending, in order to bring it back into balance. What I am asking listeners to consider is whether or not we have (innocently or not) grown the government to fundamentally unsustainable levels.

As part of the overall premise, let me agree (for the sake of discussion) that every service the government now provides is essential, or at least important enough where cutting it would cause great pain. It might be easier to focus on something like a road - someone else's road, so it will not affect anyone we know personally - instead of something like health care, where people's lives are at stake.

In times of plenty, what did we do with roads? Well, instead of saving our excess monies or focusing on maintaining them in great condition, we built more. More demand begat more roads, which in turn begat more demand. Remember calls a few years ago by Republican Senator Dick Day to build a second beltway around the Twin Cities? It was a fiscally insane idea that was given voice only by the fact that we were in the middle of a government bubble. Nobody would be proposing this today.

But imagine had we built it. Like every other public road we have on the map, it would now be a piece of essential government infrastructure. This is true if it serves a million cars a year or a thousand. We would never consider abandoning the road, and so we have obligated ourselves to maintain it forever.

If we went back and could do it over, would we have built as many roads as we have, in the way we have? Not likely. Thus, if you are with me so far, we agree that we have a "government bubble", at least in the area of roads.

Colleen was right to point out that government is different than housing or financial services, but that does not mean that government escapes the realities of economics. I recently posted a blog entry on analyzing the obligations of just one Mn/DOT highway district, District 3 centered in Brainerd, MN. The conclusion: Based on the revenue Mn/DOT has available to it, the District has the next 115 years of funds already obligated to projects that are of immediate "Major Needs". These are unsafe roads and intersections where people are dying, and, without a major infusion of funding, it will take us 115 years to address the problems.

Some of my pro-government friends, and perhaps Colleen, will suggest that we need a gas tax increase then to cover our obligations on these roads. I calculate in the blog post that it would take between 85 cents and a dollar of gas tax increase to handle District 3, and perhaps that is acceptable to some. I challenge the people reading this to step back and consider whether or not such an investment would solve the problem or would simply induce a larger government bubble, fueled in this case by inefficient use of resources, that we would someday be even more pained to deal with.

Let me summarize:
· We feel an obligation to maintain all roads as part of government infrastructure.
· In times of plenty, we built more roads than we could possibly maintain.
· The large amounts of roads induced an inefficient development pattern (sometimes called sprawl) and subsidized large parts of the market.
· Having created the problem , we are now dependent on the government to solve it.
· A large government tax increase to solve the problem will continue the inefficient development pattern, increase the level of dependency on the government solution and perpetuate the problem of obligation we already have, making it much worse.
· We have created a "government bubble". Ultimately our obligation to maintain roads will run up against our ability to pay for the maintenance (whether that is a no gas tax increase or a $5.00 a gallon increase, it will happen), and the bubble will bust.

And this is just roads. If we start talking about other government services - health care and education are the two that come to mind immediately - it is a fair question to ask whether we have, with all good intentions, created an unsustainable "government bubble".

This is not a partisan argument. Both the Democrats and the Republicans today are saying there is a limit to what we can cut and we need to find more revenue to meet our obligations. Perhaps this is true, but are we ignoring the underlying problem and setting ourselves up for inevitable bursting of the bubble? I think we are. If so, the pain of getting things under control today (and it would be painful) will pale in comparison to the agony that future generations will experience when the bubble bursts.

Chuck Marohn is the President of the Community Growth Institute in Brainerd, MN, and a Republican commentator on "Making Sausage", KAXE's Thursday morning program about Minnesota Politics

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Your Ears Will Cry If They Miss This...

by Doug MacRostie

On Centerstage MN this week we'll hear Scott Hall's conversation with local virtuoso jazz guitarist Sam Miltich about "Darn That Dream," Sam's new release with saxaphone legend Dave Karr. The new CD is 12 instrumental duets that Sam has wanted to do with the 78 year old Karr for a long time.

Plus I'll play some new music from Grand Rapid's Clawthroat, Duluth's Two Many Banjos, Minnesota's Bob Dylan and Minneapolis's Sick of Sarah. And I'll check for a message from Bob Dylan (having left msgs with him the last two weeks...)

And a new song from Roma Di Luna's latest release Casting the Bones. Roma Di Luna take early 20th century country/folk music and give it a modern twist and edgy feel. Now evolved into a full band, the husband and wife song writing duo is Alexei and Channey Moon Cassell. They both sing and play instruments. She has a beautifully haunting voice that draws you in and holds your hand while showing you their musical creations. He used to be known as hip hop/rap artist Crescent Moon. They combine old and new to make beautiful music with layers of banjo, violin, electric guitars and percussion with a ride range of moods, feelings and energy.

I'll also be playing a song off of The Magic Castles debut album "The Lore of Mysticore" - a wonderfully slow-moving psychedilic journey. I'll have singer, songwriter and guitarist Jason Edmonds back on Centerstage MN sometime soon to talk about their forthcoming sophmore release "Dreams of Dreams of Dreams," which I can't wait to listen to! They are a truely independent band, recording and releaseing their own albums (and yeah, they don't come in your stand jewel case, but hand-made, hand-drawn, hand-screen printed, hand-folded on brown card stock - it's awesome...and green).

Things are really heating up for Centerstage MN this summer with upcoming guest including Clawthroat, Two Many Banjos and The Tisdales and live music with The Brothers Burn Mountain, Take Cover and The Hobo Nephews of Uncle Frank.

I've been prepping for the interview w/ Marc Gartman of Two Many Banjos by listening to the CD, and it is HARD to pick just a few of the songs to talk about off Can't Slow Me Down, I think it's my fav TMB album thus far (their 4th in 2 years, w another due out later this year). I think Marc is the only artist who has put out 3 full-length albums since I started doing Centerstage MN and this next interview will be Marc's 3rd time on Centerstage MN, making him my most frequent guest (followed closely by Timmy Haus...who is due back sometime soon, don't you think?).

Centerstage MN is Thursday evening's at 6, streaming live online at; or 91.7 Grand Rapids, 89.9 Brainerd and 105.3 Bemidji. All interviews are archived at and the show is rebroadcast Sunday mornings at 6.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Charles Albert Bender

Today, May 5th, is the birthday of the only native of northern MN in the Baseball Hall of Fame. He's Charles Albert Bender, an Ojibwe from Crow Wing, born in 1883 or 1884.

Friday, May 1, 2009

The Morning Show, May 4-8

by Scott Hall

Hightlights for the Morning Show, May 4th throught the 8th.


Iron Range news and commentary from Aaron Brown on Monday (7:20). Musical prodigy Kate Ophoven drops by the studio to talk about the Grieg Piano Concert she'll perform next Saturday with the Itasca Youth Orchestra (8:10).


Jazz guitarist, Sam Miltich, talks with Scott about his new CD, "Darn That Dream". It's 12 duets with saxophonist Dave Karr (8:10).


We'll talk with Minnesota author, Mark Munger, about his new book, "Mr. Environment: The Willard Munger Story". The legendary MN legislator was Mark's uncle (8:10). Also, Don Boese debuts a new series, "The Mighty Five". Don tells the story and plays the music of the five 19th Century composers who created the foundation for Russian Classical music (8:40).


Our Early Bird Guide, Jeff Sundin, joins Chad Haatvedt to get us ready for the fishing opener. Chad and Jeff's special guest is Tom Dickson, author of "The Great Minnesota Fish Book". Also, chef Mathew Taylor drops by to give us tips on cooking fish. Call and join the conversation between 8:10 and 9 o'clock.


Heidi and John talk to neuroscientist, Richard Restak, about his new book, "Think Smart: A Neuroscientist's Prescription For Improving Your Brain's Performance" (810).

Those highlights plus Laura Erickson on returning Warblers (6:35 M-W-F); Tuesday, John Latimer and the Phenology network keeping track of the arrival of Spring, and All Things Equine with Bethann Perendy; Wednesday, the Local Food Scene (7:20); Thursday, Making Sausage (7:20) and The Sports Page (7:45); Friday, The Mom of Pop Culture (6:40), and What's For Breakfast (7:45).

Profile of Grand Rapids Auto Dealer, Tom Clusiau

from Scott Hall

Great posting by Tom Clusiau's daughter, Christina. It's the first of two reports about Tom and his business, Tom Clausiau's Sales and Rentals. I'm looking forward to Christina's next report in which Tom talks about the current crisis in the U.S. auto industry