Wednesday, December 24, 2014


Hello, this is Eric Hjerstedt Sharp, your host for this the first in the Bay Wave's Literary Series – Great Lake Great Writers, click here:TheBayWavewhere we talk to writers who have written about people, places and events around the Lake Superior basin. Today we talk to Steve Lehto from Michigan, the author of Death's Door: The Truth Behind the Italian Hall Disaster and the Strike of 1913, first published by Momentum Books in 2006 and already in its 4th printing. The book won a Michigan Notable Book award in 2006 and has been widely reviewed.
The Italian Hall is a Christmas Eve story recounted, fact-checked and retold by Mr. Lehto. It may not be the prettiest story, but its true story, and beauty and truth come together in this true tale of justice. Justice because the truth and the whole truth has finally come out regarding what happened that Christmas Eve 101 years ago, and the falsehoods and lies have been dispelled. To request a copy of the audio in your email, send a request in comments below with your name and email address To read an excellent review about Steve Lehto's book, Death's Door: The Truth Behind Michigan's Largest Mass Murder, click here:A review by Michigan attorney Frederick Baker Jr. To view the trailer to Red Medal,
a PBS documentary about the 1913 miners' strike in Calumet, Michigan, which Steve Lehto appears on and of which he was the historical consultant click hereRed Medal............................................................................................Steve Lehto has been practicing Lemon Law and Consumer Protection for 23 years. He has handled cases for thousands of consumers. He wrote the Lemon Law Bible and taught at the University of Detroit-Mercy School of Law for ten years. He is a frequent lecturer on Consumer Law and has been quoted by or appeared on countless media outlets such as the New York Times, the BBC, CNN, Good Morning America, WDIV, WJBK, and WXYZ. He also has written several award winning history books on topics as diverse as the Italian Hall disaster, the wrongful conviction of Timothy Masters, and the Chrysler Turbine Car. To view Steve Lehto's website, click here

Monday, December 22, 2014

Sunday, December 21, 2014

BLAST FROM THE PAST (The Bay Wave, Ida Goldberg hailed from Ashland before moving to Chicago By Eric Hjerstedt Sharp Born and raised in Ashland, Ida Goldberg involved herself in several academic, sports and club activities at Ashland High School before graduating with the Class of 1929. The daughter of Russian immigrant shopkeeper parents, Ida lived with her parents and seven siblings at 308 3rd Ave. East at the time she graduated from high school. Their house was not far from the dry goods shop where her father Louis worked and her mother’s relatives, also Russian immigrants, owned the Saxe Department Store at 303 W. 2nd (Main) St. Both families were close and were members of Ashland’s then-thriving B’nai B’rith community. As student manager of the yearbook Wawata through her four years at Ashland High School, Ida participated in dramatic and musical activities. Classmate Dorothy Hampel’s copy of the yearbook has been donated to the Ashland Historical Society’s Museum, and is available for viewing along with a bookshelf of other yearbooks. In the copy, Ida wrote Dorothy a note: “Lots of luck, Ida.” Ida decided to pursue an education in social work and left Ashland to pursue a degree in the field at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and later attended the University of Chicago’s Social Services Administration school. It was during this time when she met author and radio journalist Louis “Studs” Terkel, whom she later married. The couple lived in Chicago for more than 60 years. Ida involved herself in editing her husband’s many books including his 1985 Pulitzer Prize-winning book, “The Good War.” She stayed active in many literary, social and civil right causes. Ida Terkel did return to Ashland Sept. 15, 1979 for her 50th class reunion, where she may have attended the scheduled tour of the then-new high school and middle school facilities. Ida died Dec. 23, 1999. Studs Terkel died Oct. 31, 2008.


DAVID LENDER'S BLOG: Writers: At 6:45 this morning it was cool enough, 70°, that I was able to run my 3 miles.   I needed it; this heat wave has kiboshed my exercise regi...

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

FROM THE ARCHIVES - FOR EDUCATIONAL USE ONLY Business North - Around The Region - Duluth & Superior Newspaper Al Capone's 'Hideout’ foreclosure stirs national attention Al Capone’s former sister-in-law disputes lore that that he used it to ferry Canadian whiskey to Chicago during Prohibition. 10/6/2009 by Eric Hjerstedt Sharp HAYWARD— The Sawyer County Register of Deeds has been inundated with calls about the pending Sheriff’s sale of The Hideout, Inc. in nearby Couderay, a legendary safe house for Chicago gangster Al Capone. A tourist attraction for decades, the 407-acre wooded site with its own private lake and castle-like stone house is in foreclosure and slated for auction on Oct. 8. “You can look at all the (records) if you want, but you are not going to find Capone’s name on any of the titles,” said one office employee. “He was never the owner.” A flood of newspaper stories about the foreclosure spiked interest in the property after the Chippewa Valley Bank of Winter placed a legal foreclosure sale notice in the Chicago Tribune. The bank initiated the foreclosure after the latest owners, Guy and Michelle Houston, defaulted on their mortgage. They don’t have a listed telephone in the area and their attorney Todd Smith did not return telephone inquiries seeking further details. Minimum bid for the property is set at $2.5 million, said Charles Warner, the bank’s vice president. (Johnson Bank in Hayward is handling museum exhibits and other Hideout items separately from the Sheriff’s sale.) Warner said he did not know about the property’s supposed use by the gangster during the Prohibition era. Lore has it that Capone and his gang used it to receive whiskey shipments via seaplane from Canada for transport to Chicago. It also raises the possibility that Capone and fellow mobsters used The Hideout to plot the bloody 1929 St. Valentine’s Day Massacre of seven members of the rival Bugs Malone gang in Chicago. His former sister-in-law, Madeline Morichetti, 87, disputes the claim that Capone frequented The Hideout. She lives in a Hurley nursing home. A nurse before she married Al’s brother, Ralph “Bottles” Capone, Morichetti chairs the Iron County Republican Party. She has one daughter from her first marriage, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. After Ralph’s death, Madeline married his business partner and friend, the late Sarafeno “Suds” Morichetti. In a late September interview, she said Ralph told her neither he nor his brother ever had stepped foot on the Couderay property. Al Capone was never charged with the St. Valentine’s murders, but was convicted of income tax evasion in 1931 and served an 11-year federal prison term. In 1945, Madeline and Ralph built a house near Mercer on a lake just off Iron County Highway J. She said her infamous brother-in-law stayed at the house for part of two summers before his death in 1947. In The St. Valentine’s Day Massacre: The Untold Story of the Gangland Bloodbath That Brought Down Al Capone, published in 2004, authors William Helmer Jr. and Arthur Bilek write that Capone ”may have hatched the devious plot at an autumn 1928 gathering” at the resort. When approached about such allegations when the couple was still living in Mercer, Madeline said Ralph dismissed the legend as a promotional stunt to capitalize on the Capone name. “He was good-natured, and dismissed such talk by telling friends the promoters were merely doing their job,” she said. His widow isn’t so charitable. ‘If they are going to capitalize on untruths, I want it stopped. Any writer that doesn’t want to write the truth, draws conclusions and gets things from here and there to make up a story . . .that’s what happened all these years,” Morichetti said. Update (10/9/09): On Oct. 8 the property went to a sheriff’s auction. Despite numerous inquiries from prospective buyers, the only bid came from the Chippewa Valley Bank, which purchased it for $2.6 million with the goal of reselling. Eric Sharp is a freelance writer and public relations practitioner living in Iron River.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Saturday, November 22, 2014

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Friday, November 14, 2014

Gile goes viral with record snowfall

Gile, Wis., a small “suburb, of nearby Hurley, is used to early heavy snows. However, the recent week-long accumulation of over 50-inches have media throughout the midwest scrambling to cover what is the region's biggest snow story so far this season.

More than 50 online news outlets and counting have picked up on the story in the last four hours (as of 5 p.m. Friday). And although meterorlogists and journalists are hastily researching exactly which snow records have been broken; one thing is certain, this snowstorm in Iron County near the state line has already made history in more ways than one.

In addition to the Weather Channel, online versions of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, the Minneapolis Star Tribune, and TV online stations and CBS Local have weighed in on the dumping. There has been over 500 mentions on Google News for Gile in just the few hours the story went viral.

Originally a sawmill village on the Gile Flowage, excellent inland lakes recreational fishing is a mainstain for this thinly-populated area along the Montreal River that forms the border between Wisconsin and Michigan. Now a section of Montreal (pop. 810, 2010 census) Gile still retains its own ZIP Code, 54525.

The National Weather reported 37 inches in nearby Hurley; while Ashland and Bayfield counties recorded snowfalls in the teens and 20-inches range.

Friday, November 7, 2014

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

The decline of Party Politics in Madison, Washington D.C. and around the country

The White House, Washington

Yesterday, millions of Americans cast their ballots. Republicans had a good night, and I congratulate all the candidates who won.
But what stands out to me is that the message Americans sent yesterday is one you've sent for several elections in a row now. You expect the people you elect to work as hard as you do. You expect us to focus on your ambitions -- not ours -- and you want us to get the job done. Period.
I plan on spending every moment of the next two years rolling up my sleeves and working as hard as I can for the American people. This country has made real and undeniable progress in the six years since the 2008 economic crisis. But our work will not be done until every single American feels the gains of a growing economy where it matters most: in your own lives.
While I'm sure we'll continue to disagree on some issues that we're passionate about, I'm eager to work with Congress over the next two years to get the job done. The challenges that lay ahead of us are far too important to allow partisanship or ideology to prevent our progress as a nation.
As we make progress, I'll need your help, too. Over the weeks and months ahead, I'll be looking to Americans like you, asking you to stay engaged.
I am optimistic about our future. Because for all the maps plastered across our screens today, for all the cynics who say otherwise, we are more than a simple collection of red and blue states. We are the United States.
And yesterday, millions of Americans -- Democrats and Republicans, women and men, young and old, black and white -- took the time out of their day to perform a simple, profound act of citizenship. That's something we shouldn't forget amid the din of political commentary. Because making progress starts with showing up.
Let's get to work.
President Barack Obama

Because  I follow him on social media, as I do my Governor (who didn't send me a statement despite his victory), representatives (both state and federal) and just about everyone who represents me and my neighbors, I received the above letter -- as millions did -- today.

What is truly remarkable about this letter is not only the brilliance of the message itself, but what it says, or rather doesn't say, about the decline of party politics. It would have been interesting if I had received a letter from other politician who were now my representatives in Madison and Washington D.C. If I had the message would have probably been the same: Those who vote and show up win.

The Republican Party wave, which some are calling it, was attained without any distinguishable party leader stumping for candidates nationwide. In effect, there was no one, single Republican politician that was the sole demigod that speaks for all in the G.O.P. Yet Republicans gained control of the Senate, and solidified their lead in the House of Representatives; all without a representative voice during the month-long (year-long?) campaign that predominated the media airwaves ad nauseam.

Even the Tea Party giants that just a few years ago cascaded upon the electorate and became the darlings of the naysayers were absent from the ruckus  of '14. The ones who spoke up, didn't matter any more than regular G.O.P favorites.

And while the new G.O.P. office holders can look back at that lack of support, they must also look to an electorate whom elected them as a different breed, not beholden to "party platform" with an equally differential set of attitudes, quite apart from what the Republican Party stands for -- whatever that is.

The Democrats, on the other hand, failed to make significant inroads in general, and lost big, despite a one-time popular Democratic President in his second-term of office. Although neither did Obama use his bully pulpit to stump for Democratic office seekers either.

In Wisconsin, Democrats failed (once again) to bring out their best candidate to defeat a Governor who had turned against labor and public employees and who had been the first Wisconsin Governor to beat a recall election and who had failed to even come close to bringing the number of jobs he had promised.

All the above may indicate a loss of party politics influencing the electorate.  Party politics is even more fickle than individual politicians.Or it just might have indicated that while the Republican victories may have been propelled by a negative (vote against Obama's party; the same (negative vote theory) didn't hold true in a victory against Walker.

Yet voters from both parties sent a clear message to the country: Raise the minimum wage, bring jobs back and fix immigration laws, among them. Between the lines on the ballot throughout the country, there were undercurrents of issues that succeeded in districts and states despite party politics. Which just goes to show, despite the outcome of 2014; voters are identifying with issues more than traditional party stalwarts.

Where this will lead is anyone's guess. But now and in the near future, party chairs (both at a local and national level) might be smart to look to the populace and not to any presumed party leadership.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014


Friday, October 3, 2014

EquilibriumEquilibrium by Evan F Sasman

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

"I picked up Equilibrium by Evan F. Sasman as soon as it hit the shelves. As a news reporter, I don't get to pick up fiction near as much as I'd like; but this was a "must read" for me. I came to the book with a basic knowledge of the Native American events leading up to the GTAC no-mine controversy but I wasn't prepared for what I read. I was as moved by the spirit walk of the book's main character Angeline; as much as I am of the plight of the Penokee Hills, where iron taconite mining threatens a region of northern Wisconsin, including the Bad River Indian Reservation."

A must re-read and truly a book to remember.

View all my reviews

Saturday, September 20, 2014

From Cornucopia Institute:

NOSB Voting Scorecard

Corporate Lobbyists/Influence Peddlers Eroding Organic Standards
Analysis Illustrates USDA/Agribusiness Collusion
National Organic Standards Board Voting Scorecard Released
A comprehensive voting analysis of members of the National Organic Standards Board, an expert body formed by Congress to insulate the governance of the industry from undue corporate influence, clearly illustrates how illegal appointments to the board by current and past USDA Secretaries have subverted congressional intent.
GoToScorecardbutton The study, produced by The Cornucopia Institute, a Wisconsin-based farm policy research group, analyzed the voting record of each individual board member over the past five years, including corporate representatives who were placed on the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) filling seats that were specifically set aside for farmers and other independent organic industry stakeholders.
“In recent years, just as with the polarized U.S. Supreme Court, many critical issues were decided by one-vote margins,” said Mark A. Kastel, Codirector and Senior Farm Policy Analyst at CI_NOSB_Scorecard_1Cornucopia. “Almost universally, the NOSB is split along ideological lines (corporate agribusiness versus farmers and consumers) on whether to allow controversial synthetic and non-organic additives in organic food or weak animal husbandry standards utilizing the ‘factory farm’ production of organic meat, eggs and dairy products.”
Cornucopia’s analysis comes two years after the policy group released a white paper entitled The Organic Watergate. That report documented how a number of risky and/or gimmicky synthetic or non-organic materials were approved for use in organics. It highlighted a couple of board members, appointed as “farmers,” who did not meet the intent and legal qualifications that Congress had set out for composition of the board.
“We have two members of the current board, both sitting in seats that Congress had designated for someone who must ‘own or operate an organic farming operation’ but who were actually agribusiness employees when appointed to the five-year term on the NOSB,” said Kastel.
Of the four seats reserved for farmers on the current board, one is held by an employee of the giant California berry marketing firm, Driscoll’s (which does not grow organic strawberries but rather relies on contract farmers) and one by an individual who, when appointed, worked for the country’s largest organic marketing cooperative, CROPP ($928 million in annual revenue).  The voting records of these two agribusiness employees are significantly lower than those of the actual farmer members of the NOSB.
Voting records for the current 15-member NOSB board members include three independent members with a history of voting over 90% of the time to block practices eroding organic integrity.  These board members are Jennifer Taylor, public interest/consumer representative and academic; Jay Feldman, environmentalist and executive director of Beyond Pesticides; and Colehour Bondera, a certified organic farmer from Hawaii.
On the other end of the ideological spectrum, the agribusiness voting bloc all had voting records under 50%, with one member voting with mainstream positions on maintaining organic integrity only 10% of the time.
Voting scores of NOSB agribusiness representatives include those of Harold Austin (10% — handler with Zirkle Fruit), John Foster (16% — handler with WhiteWave/Earthbound Farms), Carmella Beck (17% — “farmer” with Driscoll’s) and Wendy Fulwider (34% — “farmer” with Organic Valley/Whole Foods-GAP).
The study’s analysis was based on Cornucopia’s policy positions over the past five years, prepared by experienced organic farmers, policy experts, former certification officials, and staff scientists with doctorates in related agricultural disciplines.
“The policy positions Cornucopia has publicly taken (and used for the scoring criteria) are clearly in the mainstream of thought within the organic community and are consistent with those taken by the vast majority of other consumer, environmental and farmer-supported organizations,” Kastel affirmed.
Kastel noted that a separate analysis by Cornucopia compared the industry watchdog’s official written and oral public testimony on issues before the NOSB with that of other nonprofit groups.
That analysis showed that Cornucopia’s policy positions were 100% compatible with that of 10 of the 12 nonprofit groups actively involved in lobbying at the NOSB over the past two years, including the Center for Food Safety, Food and Water Watch, Organic Consumers Association, Beyond Pesticides, and Consumers Union. Cornucopia scored an 86% compatibility with the policy positions of the National Organic Coalition, an umbrella group made up of farm organizations, retailers, and organic businesses.
Dominic Marchese, a long-time certified organic beef producer from Farmdale, Ohio, observed: “If the USDA had complied with the law, and appointed somebody like myself, a working organic farmer who met the qualifications to serve on the NOSB set up by Congress, instead of corporate imposters, many of the close votes over the last five years would have gone the other way.”
Marchese had applied for the NOSB three times in past years.  One of those years saw USDA Secretary Vilsack choosing Driscoll’s Carmela Beck for the farmer seat.
In addition to the well-defined “independent” and “corporate” voting blocs, Cornucopia found that about a quarter of the board qualified as true swing voters.
“After the publication of The Organic Watergate, a number of board members and other organic industry stakeholders, including myself, were surprised by the degree that the NOSB system of vetting synthetics and non-organic materials allowed for temporary use in organics was just plain not working,” said Cornucopia’s Kastel.
In addition to corporate members being illegally appointed to the board, Cornucopia’s Organic Watergate report also uncovered that agribusiness executives and consultants had been hired by the USDA to do “independent” technical reviews of materials brought before the board. The apparent conflict of interest and bias of these contractors is highly disturbing since the NOSB is not a scientific panel and Congress provided for access to independent scientists to advise the body.
“I think the more recent record of some swing voters indicates that the NOSB is now taking a much more critical view of what is presented to the board by the corporate lobbyists that claim the materials are essential to organic production,” Kastel added.
The law governing organic production, the Organic Foods Production Act of 1990, calls for the NOSB to vet all non-organic materials to assure they are not a danger to human health or the environment and are actually necessary for the production of organic food.
Cornucopia’s analysis shows that some swing voters have seen their voting scores materially change over the past two years. As an example, the voting record of newly elected board chairperson Jean Richardson, a respected academic and former organic inspector, has moved up to 67%.
Cornucopia has stated that one of their goals in performing this research is to illustrate to the Secretary of Agriculture that his appointments will be closely scrutinized in terms of legality and as to whether he has sold out the organic movement through undermining the will of Congress and the majority of industry participants in favor of corporate profit and expansion.
“We also want to make sure we hold the corporations accountable that have employees on the board, corporations like Whole Foods, WhiteWave (Earthbound Farms/Horizon/Silk), General Mills (Cascadian Farms/Muir Glen), and Driscoll’s,” said Kastel. “If you want our patronage the performance of your employees on this board has to be consistent with your marketing rhetoric in support of organics.”
Many organic farming pioneers would never have supported the USDA overseeing the industry they founded if Congress hadn’t agreed to create a strong NOSB as a defense against business as usual in Washington, an all-too-common cozy working relationship between agribusiness lobbyists and the USDA.
Observed Barry Flamm, immediate past chair of the NOSB, “I hope the Cornucopia analysis of voting records, which will continue going forward, will forewarn NOSB members that their voting behavior will be closely scrutinized and, if they are employees of corporations or certifiers with economic interests, that some of their customers will also be judging their service on the board as well.”
The Cornucopia Institute’s analysis included all contested NOSB votes in the prior five years (for both current and past board members).  It can be found at (Once opened, scroll to the lower right corner of the page where a small tool bar will appear in black. Click several times on the magnifying glass with a “+” inside it to enlarge the image.)
Cornucopia’s analysis of the policy positions of other nonprofit organizations, corporate participants (processors, marketers, retailers, trade organizations, and certifiers) can be found at (Once opened, scroll to the lower right corner of the page where a small tool bar will appear in black. Click several times on the magnifying glass with a “+” inside it to enlarge the image.)
After the publication of The Organic Watergate, the NOSB began to take a more judicious approach, becoming more skeptical of corporate lobbyists’ safety and essentiality claims about synthetic and non-organic materials.  In response, last fall the USDA’s National Organic Program unilaterally changed the rules on removing these materials from the National List of ingredients approved in organics. The new rules make it demonstrably harder to remove these substances every five years as they “sunset.”
A broad section of the organic community has vigorously protested these moves, which were made, in conflict with the law, with no input from either the NOSB or the organic community at large.  Protesters have included the two key congressional authors of the Organic Foods Production Act of 1990, Senator Patrick Leahy of Vermont and Representative Peter DeFazio of Oregon.
Examples of hypocrisies by corporate representatives on the board include:
1. Representatives of Whole Foods and Organic Valley voting for, at sunset, continued use of the coagulant and thickening agent carrageenan, when their respective companies utilize the ingredient in their products.
Carrageenan has been controversial for years, with all industry-funded studies declaring it perfectly safe while independent medical researchers (mostly funded by the National Institutes of Health) find it to be a potent intestinal inflammatory agent causing serious disease and even cancer.
Many industry observers contend that representatives of companies like Whole Foods and Organic Valley, due to conflict of interest, should not be permitted to participate on NOSB votes that economically benefit their employers.
2. When the NOSB debated tighter standards, in an effort to force industrial-scale livestock producers to provide outdoor access for laying hens and other poultry, the Organic Valley employee on the NOSB voted in favor of providing a minimum of 2 ft.², outdoors, for each laying hen.
Organic Valley sets standards for their own farmers requiring a minimum of 5 ft.². In the European Union chickens are required to have a minimum of 43 ft.² of pasture and no more than 3,000 birds per building. Currently in the U.S., factory farms producing the majority of all “organic” eggs are providing no legitimate outdoor access, in buildings that hold as many as 100,000 birds.
Agricultural policy experts at Cornucopia have stated that a 2 ft.² requirement would be woefully inadequate in terms of meeting the intent of the organic standards, promoting the humane treatment of animals, environmental protection and producing eggs with superior taste and nutritional profiles.
The Cornucopia Institute has also warned USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack that it would be viewed as “hostile and cynical” if he made a new appointment to the NOSB of someone who technically qualified as a farmer but has acted as a spokesperson for a major corporate player in the organic arena.
As an example, Dean Foods/WhiteWave has paid thousands to fly farmers around the country representing the company, including in front of the NOSB.
“Although these farmers might legally be qualified as ‘owning or operating an organic farm,’ they would surely be viewed as carrying the water for their corporate benefactors, once again undermining the collaborative framework that Congress had intended,” said Kastel.
Another separate scorecard that contains all of the votes, including the uncontested votes, can be found at:

Monday, July 28, 2014

Minnesota News Connection

A statewide news service for Minnesota

Producer: John Michaelson, 1043 Grand Ave. #128, St. Paul, MN, 55105 Ph: 888-692-9358 Fax: 208-247-1830 E-mail:
Podcast and Web Content Version Online: Your Web Account ID is: MNC-5029
July 28, 2014Available files: mp3 wav jpg

Minnesota's National Parks: Canoes Mean Cash

Annual Impact to State Economy: $50 Million
ST. PAUL, Minn. - They are some of the most pristine areas in Minnesota, and a" target="parent">new study
shows national parks are not just great places to spend the day, but also major drivers of the local economy. Jeffrey Olson, a spokesman for the National Park Service, says last year alone, there were nearly 660,000 visits to national parks in Minnesota. (contd.)  Podcast and entire story available: