Thursday, December 02, 2010

Dean Zimmermann Pushing Pods at MnDOT Workshop

From Personal Rapid Transit Workshop 2010, A Summary Report (Aug. 18, 2010, PDF)

Former Minneapolis city council member Dean Zimmerman: People love their cars for three reasons: 1) It’s sitting there waiting for you when you’re ready to go; 2) It goes where you’re going; 3) It gets you out of the weather. Everything else about cars we love to hate … PRT satisfies those three elements and totally erases every other single reason you love to hate the automobile … So, if you build a transit system that mimics the reason why we take the automobile and takes out the things you don’t like, people will switch from the automobile to that system.In terms of cost, the legislature is willing to spend all kinds of costs to subsidize all these kinds of transportation. No one is dif-ferentiating between capital cost and operat-ing cost … Every single vendor in here will tell you if we build this system, it will pay back its cost with revenue. Light rail takes $10 million a year of public subsidy. The bus system, 25 percent paid for by users, and let’s not even go into the automobile, the most heavily subsidized transportation system. PRT is the only system mentioned that will pay for itself in terms of operating cost.

Not mentioned is the fact that Dean Zimmermann was convicted on 3 counts of bribery in 2006.

This San Jose Podcar conference newsletter also has a PRT map created by Zimmermann.

Click on the screenshot to make it bigger:

In addition to taking bribes, Dean Zimmermann tried to convince real estate developer and government witness Gary Carlson to invest $250,000 in PRT:

Last year, I videotaped Zimmermann protesting reality-based transit and promoting Personal Rapid Transit at a transportation forum. Zimmermann gave me a tortured explanation for accepting cash from FBI witness Gary Carlson and refused to sign a waiver for the FBI tapes shown at this trial:

Members of the LRT-hating/pod-promoting Citizens for Personal Rapid Transit (CPRT) also spread the nonsensical conspiracy theory that Zimmermann was framed:

Friday, February 26, 2010

Enough Already! Sign the Waiver! Release the Exhibits!

Every now and then, somebody on the Mpls Issues will claim Zimmermann was framed or persecuted as posted Wednesday.

The debate continues:

The subject being discussed was the city council being in the pocket of monied interests and developers. The reason I specifically mentioned Johnson-Lee and Zimmerman is that there is have been some claims that the Greens on the city council have been no more populist or resistant to corporate influence than the DFLers and I didn't feel that the examples we have had show that.

As a person who most closely aligns with Libertarian Socialist political philosophy, they certainly haven't been as progressive or radical as I would like to see, but I suspect that any politician who was progressive or radical enough to make me happy would not represent their ward.

I included Zimmerman because, while he clearly screwed up (and paid for it), I believe that he represented his constituency far more than he represented corporate interests.

I say that even though I leaned towards Ken Avidor's perspectives regarding PRT (although with decidedly less vitriol on my part). I didn't feel that his conviction was relevant to the question at hand, but since its been brought up, one might suggest that the nature of the crimes he was convicted of support my adding his name to a list of those not in the pocket of monied interests or developers.

One example is the lack of a quid pro quo on the "accepting a gratuity" issue. Yes, accepting a gratuity from someone who has business in front of the city is (and should be!) illegal and Zimmerman shouldn't have taken an envelope of cash and especially not taken anything from someone with business in front of the city. However, while former CM Zimmerman was convicted of accepting and using money from a developer, the case also established that he did not vote in favor of that developer's interests.

Also, IIRC, wasn't one of the things he was charged for basically leaning on a business who wanted some sort of zoning change? My recollection was that he wanted them to supply materials for a retaining wall that would mitigate a negative aspect of their requested change and that he intended to do the labor himself. Yes, again, this is the wrong way to go about it - he should have taken the process of letting them know that unless the wall were part of their application, he wouldn't be able to vote for them when their appeal came up or something like that. It may have been the wrong way to go about it, it may have been illegal, and it may have been part of what landed him in jail, but it strikes me as the sort of action made by someone who cares about their constituency and neighborhood.

Anyway, it has been a while so I may be misremembering the details here, but these recollections are part of why I included Zimmerman in my list of examples of people who were not owned by developers or monied interests. It was not my intention to reopen discussions about the trail or conviction nor was I claiming him to be a paragon of integrity, but his conviction did not seem particularly relevant to the discussion at hand. Had he accepted money and then acted in that party's interest, it would be a different story.

Another opinion from former Senate candidate Michael Cavlan:

First of all, as the saying goes in political circles in Ireland

"Even the dogs in the street know"

That Dean Zimmermann was set up and was in fact one of the more honest and courageous members of the Minneapolis City Council . He sure as hell would not have rolled over on supporting Chief Dolan or RT Ryback. Like I said before, what happened to Dean was one of the more shameful moments in Minneapolis City Council history.

However, when we speak of Cam Gordon being courageous and principled, I will have to interject another perspective.

At the time of the Dean controversy, myself and others set up a meeting. We were discussing just how to deal with it. The meeting took place at Deans House on Clinton Ave. What I am about to talk about Dean Zimmerman or in fact Jenny probably do not know about because they were not present. At this meeting 15 people gathered. We talked about how to deal with it in the public. We decided to hold a Press Conference outside his house. The person chosen to speak on our behalf, in support of our friend, Dean Zimmermann was Farheen Hakeem.

However, there were three people who opposed it. They were Cam Gordon, Annie Young and Dave Burger. Cam and Annie had been decades long friends of Dean Zimmermannn. They said that their concern was that "it may affect 'my' campaign." None the less, the issue was decided consensus style with the majority agreeing to publicly supporting Dean.

I remember that a young lady present gave them all a good tongue lashing and pointed out that she was a Democrat but still supported Dean.

However, it was what happened then that really stank to high heaven, in my own humble opinion.

Apparently Dean's good friend Annie Young decided to call around and talk to any to discuss this further. However "fortunately" the only people she could get a hold of was Cam Gordon and Dave Burger. They decided, right there to create a new consensus. They cancelled the Press Conference that had been set up to give public support to their friend Dean Zimmermann. At a moment that he and the broader movement so desperately needed it.

I know about this because I was there.

So. like i said there are other perspectives on who has courage and integrity in the Minneapolis City Council.

And so it goes... on and on... year after year...

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Urban Legend - Zimmermann "Absent-Minded and Somewhat Foggy"

It's been four, long years and the urban legend of Zimmermann's political persecution continues on the Minneapolis Issues forum:

.... A man named Carlson was heard to brag in a local bar that he was the one who set up Dean Zimmermann deliberately. It was a one-shot deal--not repeated.

Zimmermann was not noted as the brightest bulb in the chandelier, but he was-- and is--noted for being absent-minded and somewhat foggy on details. Zimmermann also spent two years in federal prison, whereupon he has paid his debt to society. He also made restitution for his mistake, as per the terms of his sentence. The figures put forward were maybe $5,000.00, though it could have been less. Carlson got nothing from the city council in return for his money.


Also at work during that time was the Republican Party's aim to break the DFL stronghold in Minnesota. Part of that skullduggery was to taint the DFL in Minneapolis. As we have observed during Nixon's administration and subsequently
seen in the national news, the GOP is not above misuse of various agencies of the federal government in order to gain and keep ascendency.

Here's audio of an Assistant U.S. Attorney describing what's in the Zimmermann trial exhibits to the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals:

Too bad those tapes are not as available as the exhibits in the trial of Tom Petters... it would clear up a lot of misconceptions for the folks on the Mpls Issues forum.

Of course, Zimmermann could sign a waiver to release the exhibits - but he won't: