Fact-Checking the "PRT Boondoggle" Blog
A project of the PRT NewsCenter

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

See His Answers Become Nonresponsive

Originally published ©2005 Get On Board! PRT

Non-denial denials

The Minnesota anti-PRT activist is paranoid about who he imagines is working on PRT. For a long time he has been claiming that PRT is "a stalking horse" for dark forces—at various times the auto industry, the highway lobby, and other "anti-transit" groups.

Finally, he thinks he has some substantiating evidence. On June 28, 2005 he wrote:
"According to the court record of the Taxi 2000 vs J. Edward Anderson lawsuit, Taxi 2000 received as much as $400,000 from SEH [contractor Short Elliott Hendrickson] "without compensation other than 12,000 shares." Source (Comment 2)

The Minnesota anti-PRT activist states this under the lead-in "What does the Taxi 2000 Corporation and SEH (the engineers for the The Excess Project [Interstate 35W Access]) have in common?" He then lets it dangle, it figuratively screaming PRT is with the Highway People who are against transit!

Leaving aside for the moment the fact that companies that build roads can also build rail systems.(Research: SEH actually donates more to Democrats!)

Lawsuit background

There is an unfortunate lawsuit going on at present, between Taxi 2000 and its founder and chief designer, J. Edward Anderson. A disagreement over the company's strategic direction and, it seems, a personality conflict between Anderson and CEO Morrie Anderson (no relation) led to a parting of the ways. Litigation is underway that concerns some of the company's intellecual property. Papers have been filed. Lots of papers.

Birth of a distortion

In May 2005, the Minnesota anti-PRT activist first went public with allegations about Taxi 2000-SEH connections:
"The court records in the Taxi 2000 vs Ed Anderson case have clear evidence of that. ...according to one exhibit in the case, SEH, the engineering firm for the I35W Access Project gave $400,000 "without compensation" to Taxi 2000." Source

Then again on June 14:
"It may be a coincidence, but according to court records in the Taxi 2000 lawsuit, SEH, the engineers for the 35W Access Project gave a lot of cash to Taxi 2000... hundreds of thousands of dollars." Source

What a source says about the $400,000

This analyst contacted a person with access to Taxi 2000 and the Skyweb project, and then attempted to set the record straight on June 23:
"You might want to fact-check this claim.

A reliable source... tells me that SEH actually contributed in-kind services and time, not cash, and far less than hundreds of thousands of dollars worth."
 Source (Comment 6)

This analyst again attempted to correct the record on June 28. According to the same source:
"an SEH person guessed in an email that maybe they had spent that much TIME on Taxi 2000 (again, NOT cash). SEH had a number of people go to T2K a number of times on planning work. Some of that is what they'd do to learn about ANY prospective project, some was probably as a favor. But they never assigned a dollar value to it or asked T2K for anything in return." Source (Comment 3)

Round 2

But the Minnesota anti-PRT activist makes the claim again, with embellishments, on July 5, 2005:
"From another document from the Taxi 2000 vs J. Edward Anderson Trial:

"As we have discussed in the past, SEH has invested about $400,000 in Taxi 2000 over the past several years without compensation other than 12,000 shares of stock..."

"Accordingly, I intend to notify Taxi 2000 Corp. that all of the images used in their promotional literature, web site, etc. are copyrighted materials, owned solely by SEH."

So the brochures and the PowerPoint presentation [Councilman Dean] Zimmermann has been giving to community groups over the last few years were mostly prepared by SEH who are the engineers for The Access Project and the Lake Street Reconstruction Project"

This analyst responded again, again after consulting the well-placed source:
"Regarding the pictures and literature... SEH had a professional photographer take some photos, and supplied some banners. T2K used some of the photos and displayed the banners at the state fair exhibit. That's it. Powerpoints and brochures were created by T2K-- so the speculation about Zimmerman's handouts is flat-out wrong." Source (Comment 2)

The '$400,000 email': irrelevant

The key to this entire allegation is the phrase "according to one exhibit in the case"It comes from an exhibit filed by one party to the case—it is not even a finding of fact. It is a copy of an e-mail.

In other words, the material upon which the Minnesota anti-PRT activist bases his speculations is not relevant to the issues being contested: intellectual property (specifically, nondisclosure/trade secrets). Which can encompass a host of things, including the innocuous.

Challenged, his "rebuttals" were non-responsive to the issue of the exhibit's relevance and context:
"The court papers are public. Anyone can look at it and copy everything... including you or one of your PRT pals in the Twin Cities. you can even post all of it on your website so folks don't have to come here to read it." Source (Comment 3)

This analyst asked, "Is that your answer?"  He was again non-responsive, even making up his own question:
"Your comments are so convoluted and long-winded... Ask a simple question... Question: "What document is this from?" Answer: Copy of an e-mail from an SEH employee, dated February 9th, 2005, Subject: "Memorandum of Understanding - SEH/Taxi 2000". Source (Comment 5)

An e-mail subject-line is supposed to be proof of something? One supposes the contents of said memo could begin 'With regard to our secret conspiracy to defeat light rail and build more highways...'.  However, it could just easily (and more likely) be, 'SEH hereby agrees to take some photos, print some banners, and provide Taxi 2000 with some staff support on a pro bono basis.'

Distortion; uninformed speculation; fabrication; revisionism. And now, as Ben Bradlee might say, the'nondenial nondenial.' What will we see next, from the Minnesota anti-PRT activist

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