Ken Avidor on Dean Zimmerman

In a recent post, Greg Laden noted that I do “not like Dean [Zimmerman] at all, and I think this has to do with the Personal Rapid Transit issue.” In this post, I’d like to respond to Greg Laden’s remark and expand on my position regarding Dean Zimmerman.

It’s not a matter of liking or disliking Zimmermann any more than I like or dislike Congresswoman Bachmann or former Representative Mark Olson. Bachmann is a public figure, an elected official. Olson is out of office, and I have ceased blogging about him. Zimmermann is back in the public arena promoting PRT, and it’s rumored that he plans to run for office again…he’s sure acting like it.

I do not believe people are all good or all bad. I don’t deny that those three elected officials have done some worthwhile deeds now and then…that’s besides the point.

I began writing and blogging about those three people years ago because they were elected, public officials promoting the PRT boondoggle. But that was just the tip of the iceberg. The more I researched PRT, the more bizarre stuff I discovered about all of them.

Although Zimmmermann was a Green, his environmental record was often more Republican than Green (see this link).

I know Zimmermann committed the crime for which he was found guilty because I saw the FBI surveillance tapes (I also interviewed the chief witness, Gary Carlson). The tapes revealed a different person than the Zimmermann I thought I knew. By looking at the expressions of other people in the courtroom, I could tell they were shocked as well.

From Laden’s writing at ScienceBlogs, it is clear that he knows that religious belief (for example, belief in miracles described in the Bible) cannot be proved scientifically because there is no evidence. Let’s examine the belief that Zimmermann was persecuted and unjustly convicted…that fact can be proved or disproved by observing the tapes and the other evidence revealed in open court…a jury did that and found Zimmerman guilty on three counts of accepting gratuities (bribes). There were reporters at the trial who did not find fault with the verdict. The 8th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld that verdict unanimously.

If anyone doubts (and some people do) Zimmermann’s verdict, the burden of proof is on them. It’s for them, not me, that I have requested the FBI tapes. If you want to have the same access to information that the people in that courtroom had, please ask Zimmermann to sign the waiver to release the tapes.

It’s a matter of belief vs. knowing the facts and assuring access to those facts for everyone who wants to see them.

Zimmermann and his supporters need to stop insisting that he is innocent and stop saying the FBI, the DFL and his opponent framed him, because the facts don’t back that up.

The following is a video interview with the chief witness in the trial of Dean Zimmermann speaking about how the media covered the trial.

This is a video of former FBI Agent Coleen Rowley on government corruption.

An additional video on Zimmerman can be found at this link.

Ken Avidor

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5 Responses to “Ken Avidor on Dean Zimmerman”

  1. June 11th, 2009 at 3:51 pm

    Greg Laden says:

    When I first heard of the charges against Dean, I assumed they were a bogus attempt to run him out of office because he was not cookie cutter Minnesotan and was a bit threatening, having been (much like Joe the Plumber?) a handyman rather than a lawyer before election. When the jury convicted him, I figured that most likely the jury got it right because they usually do, but I held out the possibility that the same effects … lack of cookie-cutterness, etc. … could get someone convicted if you had a conservative straight jury, especially with the increased insanity going on in the still then fresher post 9/11 world. When the appellate court upheld the conviction, at first I figured that was the final word. But since then, I’ve observed Minnesota courts in action and I’m less impressed than I wanted to be with that. But right, he probably did it.

    But, he’s paid his debt to society, and it’s over. Right?

  2. June 11th, 2009 at 6:47 pm

    A Transportation Enthusiast says:

    I’ve watched Ken Avidor for more than 4 years now. It’s about one single issue for him: PRT.

    He calls PRT a boondoggle. I don’t know why, because it is a TRANSIT SYSTEM and Avidor professes to be pro-transit. It’s not a boondoggle, it’s just something new he’s not familiar with. His major blogging contributions of the last 4 years have been on 4 different critical political blogs. See if you can see the common thread:

    – DumpBachmann – critical of Michele Bachmann
    – DumpMarkOlson – critical of MarkOlson
    – MinneapolisConfidential – critical of Dean Zimmermann
    – GreenPartyGoneBad – critical of Dean Zimmermann

    Bachmann, Olson, Zimmermann. The pod people. Ken’s litmus test is black and white: he will only accept those who unconditionally denounce PRT.

    An example: Julie Risser, a Green candidate from a few years ago, made a very qualified statement in support of PRT:

    “In 2004 the City of Edina and Hennepin County conducted a study to find out if PRT was viable for the Southdale redevelopment project. The conclusion was not to use PRT here. Does this mean we should never ever ever consider this transportation form? No. But the Southdale PRT study is a wonderful precedent for how to move forward; consider a transit option carefully, conduct a study and then decide what to do. It would be wise to see how PRT pans out in other communities.”

    All she advocated was an open mind, to wait and see how “PRT pans out in other communities”. Sounds reasonable right? Not to Ken Avidor. He immediately put his machine into gear, labelling her Julie Jetson and putting her on his mocking “pod squad” graphic with Zimmermann/Bachmann/Olson:

    So what happened next? Naturally, Julie backed down – what else could she do in the face of such public intimidation? Here’s her public denouncement, which reads like a 1950s liberal denying communism:

    “After researching PRT… I have come to the conclusion that PRT is not viable for Minnesota.”

    And soon after she’s back in the club. Here are two Avidor entries where he struck out Julie’s name, but didn’t remove it completely, a subtle warning that any mention of PRT would get her right back on the pod squad:

    Nice demonstration of attack politics there boys.

    Now, let’s examine what Avidor and his cohorts are so rabid about. PRT is a new kind of transit system. It’s been around for decades but it’s never caught on in cities. It started out as US government-sponsored research conducted by a non-profit corporation called The Aerospace Corporation, which also worked on Saturn rockets and the space shuttle.

    They studied city transit for eight years, and came up with a new approach which they called PRT. This was sound, scientific research from a respected authority with no motives other than research and the advancement of science. The work they produced forms the theoretical basis for all current PRT efforts today.

    Now, through the years, many people tried to commercialize the concept of PRT, and many failed miserably. Even great ideas are not immune to bad design, and PRT had a long string of poor designs that hampered commercialization of the technology. It didn’t help that they were building an automated system with 1970s technology – that talking greeting card you got for your birthday is way more powerful than the most powerful room-sized supercomputers of 1975.

    But despite the failures, the concept was still valid, and it just took time for technology to catch up to the science. Which is exactly what we’re seeing today. Great things are being done in Europe and Asia with PRT. There are currently 3 PRT designs in advanced stages of development, and two of them will be deployed to the public THIS YEAR:

    – Heathrow Airport, London – a small pilot network of three stations has been constructed and is undergoing testing in preparation for a fall opening. If all goes well (and word is that the system has performed flawlessly so far), the system will be expanded throughout the airport and into surrounding neighborhoods in the coming decade.

    – Masdar City, UAE – an ambitious project in the deserts of the Middle East, the Masdar City project is a $22 billion (yes, billion) private investment to build a sustainable, carbon neutral city of 50,000 residents from the ground up, using state of the art sustainable technologies. Masdar City will be car free and a PRT network will be responsible for all (100%) travel within the city. The goal of this city is both demonstration and research – they are essentially taking the risks that cities can’t take in order to advance the state of the art.

    Masdar City has been endorsed by environmental groups World Wildlife Fund and Bioregional. The first phase of the city is due to open this fall.

    So, by Christmas of this year, there will be no less than two starter PRT networks running, both ambitious projects funded with private money. Not bad for a boondoggle, eh?

    Of course, Ken will not let any good PRT deed go unpunished so he’s already begun his anti-Heathrow and anti-Masdar campaigns:,-Hyper-Hyped,-Futuristic-PRT-Podcar-Preview-is-a-Dud

    So basically it comes down to this: it has nothing to do with Dean Zimmermann personally. If he flip flops tomorrow, denounces PRT and becomes a Hiawatha fan, Ken will take it all back and praise him. Look at Elwyn Tinklenberg – there’s a guy who was known as the “highway man” in his tenure as Ventura’s head of transportation because of his aggressive expansion of highways, but it’s all forgiven now that he came out against PRT – Ken is actually campaigning for him:

    So there you have it. Roadkill Bill will support the highwayman, as long as he’s against PRT!

  3. June 22nd, 2009 at 4:21 pm

    Ben Zvan says:

    My biggest problem with Zimmerman is simple. When he was campaigning, he said south Minneapolis needed to have street sweepers come through more often but never followed through. Kenwood sure looks nice and clean though.

  4. July 11th, 2009 at 4:10 pm

    Julie Risser says:

    I take issue with this narrative – specifically the idea that I “backed down” The fact was I did more research. PRT is incredibly expensive, it has failed to be established successfully – all of the plans are underway and incredibly expensive. But that’s just the beginning. Check out any information about the models at the Minnesota State Fair – same ones that Zimmerman liked – and it becomes clear this would be transportation that would be nearly impossible for the handicapped, people with a broken leg, twisted ankle, the elderly…..
    Keeping them clean would be time consuming – but most significantly any investment in PRT would take dollars from forms of mass transit that are viable! The PRT people are like people who push traditional coal-fired power plants…. PRT makes no sense.
    I would have posted earlier but I just stumbled across it. Where do you get off saying I backed down? Oh…wait maybe you are stuck in a PRT pod…

  5. July 27th, 2009 at 9:36 pm

    A Transportation Enthusiast says:

    Julie (if that is really you), here are the facts: one week you were promoting open-mindedness on PRT, the next week you were parroting the Ken Avidor party line. In between then, there were probably half a dozen blog posts on popular progressive blogs *slamming* you for your PRT position — all of it orchestrated by Avidor and his pals.

    Are you really trying to convince us that your flip-flop had nothing to do with all the blog smears calling you “Julie Jetson”? Please.

    But hey, maybe they did brainwash you. Obviously you don’t know what you’re talking about, even now. PRT “impossible for the handicapped”? COME ON! PRT is the single most accessible transit invention in history. Every single pod accommodates a wheelchair and every station is accessible via ramp or elevator. This assertion alone makes me believe you are probably an impostor – but if you are really Julie Risser, SHAME ON YOU for not doing your homework on such an important issue. You are a Green for goodness sake, you should be backing such an environmentally friendly system as this.

    So you are either an impostor, or the real Julie Risser is much less intelligent than I gave her credit for. I sincerely hope it is the former.

    By the way, if you would like to know more about the green tech you are smearing on this forum, feel free to email me ( and I will tell you more about how places like Sweden and the UK are exploring PRT as a technology to get to Kyoto 2050 emissions targets by 2020 – THIRTY years ahead of schedule. Oh, but wait, you are a Green, why should you care about Kyoto?

    I look forward to your response, either here or in email.

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