Hennepin County beat: Death, taxes and Lorenz all are certain

  • Article by: ROCHELLE OLSON , Star Tribune
  • Updated: November 27, 2013 - 5:01 PM

To the list of certainties in life, add Frank Lorenz.

The 70-year-old semiretired consultant from Edina can be counted on to step up to the microphone whenever the Hennepin County Board schedules a public hearing — which is at every bi-weekly board meeting.

Lorenz’s topics of choice are vast, from railing against government waste to environmental concerns about energy use. Like all speakers, Lorenz is limited to a three-minute window, and he uses every second.

One peeve: the county’s push to make roads accessible to bikes and pedestrians, which he called a form of madness. “The entire state is going to go bankrupt chasing these ideological fantasies,” he said Wednesday.

He offered his view of the “absurd” effort: “If I want to go from my apartment in Edina to the other end of the city and I’m on a gurney with an IV drip, I’m entitled to my own lane.”

Lorenz studied with economist Milton Friedman at the University of Chicago, but he wants better oversight of the market, and railed against an ineffective federal Securities and Exchange Commission. “I’m paying for this theater of government,” he said.

Then there are his environmental concerns. At the board meeting Tuesday, Lorenz described a scenario where salt brine from cheese production could be used for winter road clearing.

It was another surprise topic that had County Board Chairman Mike Opat smiling and shaking his head. “Mr. Lorenz, you never cease to amaze,” Opat said, with his colleagues grinning along in agreement. “He follows us, and I appreciate that he has that kind of fortitude,” Opat said Wednesday, adding that he usually disagrees with Lorenz and hasn’t taken up any of his suggestions.

Lorenz knows he isn’t shaping policy. “I’m not naive enough to think that after the County Board listening to my three minutes, they’re not going to turn around and not do something stupid,” he said.

But he’s putting his comments on the record for his long-term plan. “The next thing is to start suing the county,” he said.

 

raolson@startribune.com • 612-673-1747 Twitter: @rochelleolson

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