consultants are sandburs

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Guess Who.




Now that I've caught your attention . . .

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Which "nice shoppe or restaurant" can I buy this at?

Actually, it is on sale, online and for only $45. A relative bargain, you can own the HAPPY CLOWN mechanical Bank. 8” tall plastic clown. You might not be able to buy it in any shop in Ramsey, from Ramsey Blvd. to Armstrong.

The website says, "Button on back of his head. When coin is placed in slot between his shoulder, then you push button, coin deposits and he sticks his tongue out. 1950’s vintage, no maker mark. Excellent condition, some paint wear around his name at base. MISSING the coin trap on the bottom side. 45.00" See the tongue, stuck out:


At least with this clown, you put your money into the little hummer, you center it between the shoulders, and at least you then have money in the bank that stays around. Not in some hare-brained scheme, not in some crabgrass pocket while getting a tongue-wagging response.

* * *

Why does this seem relevant, and why is Ben Dover smiling?

Record mortgage foreclosures getting very close to home.

Things are serious, in Stearns and Benton County, as the Jan. 17, St. Cloud Times reports:

Stearns and Benton counties handled 317 foreclosure auctions last year combined, an 83.2 percent increase over the 173 recorded in 2005, according to the sheriff's departments.

Benton County foreclosures soared 172 percent to 98 last year, while Stearns County auctions climbed 59 percent to 219.

In the past, homeowners typically [were] foreclosed on their homes because of a life crisis — a job loss, health issue or family change.

That's still true, but more homeowners fell victim last year because of financing arrangements such as adjustable rate or interest-only mortgages, said Dana Shell, program director at the Home Ownership Center of Minnesota.

The triple-digit spike started in August, when the foreclosures increased 158 percent in Stearns and Benton counties compared with a year ago. That continued to escalate last fall, and October posted the largest increase, 387 percent over a year ago.

"There is no question that this is affecting all (income and home value) levels," said Dan Williams, senior program manager at LSS Counseling Services.

And industry experts say the St. Cloud area has not reached its peak. Instead, they are bracing for what some call a "foreclosure tsunami" as a projected $1.2 trillion to $1.7 trillion in mortgage adjustments nationwide come due this year.

The housing slowdown has not helped owners trying to sell homes they no longer can afford. St. Cloud-area homes spent an average 97 days on the market last year, according to a St. Cloud Area Association of Realtors Multiple Listing Service report. Almost half the homes sold last year in Benton, Sherburne and Stearns counties spent more than 120 days on the market.

The tri-county area had almost a 13-month supply of homes on the market in December, up 19.8 percent from the prior year.

In almost all cases, mortgage lenders buy back the property for the loan amount and put it on the market. Some companies have closed or stopped providing mortgage services because they cannot afford foreclosed properties, said Wade H. Abed, president of the Minnesota Association of Mortgage Brokers and owner of Northwest Mortgage Company in the Twin Cities.

Could Ramsey have its own "foreclosure tsunami?" Well, consider this -- It is unclear from the article whether a spate of massive new building and development, as has happened in Ramsey, was a contributing factor to the foreclosure crisis. But if new homes end up backlogged against a sellers' inventory of older dwellings, and developers and builders are "cut-price hasty" in wanting to recoup working capital, then regular homeowners face a much worsened situation.

Luckily, the US House Financial Services Committee which is chaired by Barney Frank of Massachusetts and has Minnesotan Kieth Ellison as a member, will work to relieve things, with the House Democrat party leadership pledged to take aim at housing problems poor and middle class families face today. If only Minnesota had another dedicated Representative in Washington aiming to also responsibly invest federal tax money for family housing prosperity, we would be far better off. But we lack any other person on committee with those true family values.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Alpine Woods as a developers' small-market barometer.

Alpine Woods was a consolidation of about five or six parcels, where John Peterson brought the big sewer pipe across Sunfish Lake Blvd., as a precursor to getting sewer-water to the gun club. From the parcels he bought he marketed 22 "urban size" lots. Now there are in midwinter, ten "For Sale" signs as of today, Jan 16, 2007 [built homes plus vacant lots]. I cannot breakdown by vacant vs built lots because I only did a total count. I do not believe there was a single property with two signs. That means ten out of twenty-two parcels on the market at the same time, in the space of six normal size Ramsey homesteads. I have no knowledge whether the vacant lots are original developer sales, or resales by first or successor purchasers. A builder deciding to not now risk a spec home and putting a lot back up for sale would be a strong barometer of substantial market caution. Is it only a cautious market bottomed out, or is the worse yet to come? And what does that imply for the greater density of shared wall housing on the ground and planned at Town Center? How will taxpayers be affected?

Monday, January 15, 2007

Our council will hold a special meeting. Why a special meeting?



The agenda tells us a special meeting of our council will be held tomorrow, Tuesday, Jan. 16, because the nine month cluster-&-ghost plat moratorium is running out ---- and why is it running out causing a special meeting to be needed?

Well, April 11, last year, this little timing trick transpired:

City Attorney Goodrich advised the moratorium is proposed for a term of one year. The moratorium can be repealed at any time by the City Council if the work is complete.

Mayor Gamec commented he has not heard anyone on the Council that is opposed to the cluster development. The concern is to address things such as greenways and protecting certain areas. He noted the Shade Tree development brought up the problems of dealing with this type of development.

Motion by Councilmember Elvig, seconded by Councilmember Cook, to adopt Ordinance #06-07 to establish an interim moratorium ordinance in the R-1 Rural Developing Zoning District, for a nine-month period to provide time for the City to study development within the RuralDeveloping area and the cluster subdivision ordinance.

[emphasis in original council minutes] That's right, 12 months proposed, two in particular thought 9 months was better, and now a special meeting to bring it to the original 12 month duration. It goes to show ...

Realistically, however, more time clearly is needed.

The new Comprehensive Plan will be worked on and there is the RAMSEY3 proposal which envisions possible clustering but in a well thought out way (potentially with real density transition and not mere screening-berming cosmetic measures). Also, as I understand the concept, RAMSEY3 calls into scrutiny and debate other land friendly and "rural mood" friendly possibilities, whatever we citizens can think of and favor; while in the interim, if council follows planning commission wisdom, rural landowners will not be wholly without realistic chances to develop their land for an indefinite and perhaps lengthy Comprehensive Plan review period - which will require an indeterminate amount of time to finalize despite completion by 2008 being envisioned.

If the interim solution will be that 2-1/2 acre lots are permitted [with staff authorized to require in-plat conformance to anticipated future infrastructure routing needs and having power to deny permission to 2-1/2 acre proposals incompatible with plans], then things will be just as Planning Commissioner VanScoey proposed and as the Commission unanimously approved at Public Hearing.

Things will be cordial if council has the will to not impose a 4-in-40 de facto total moratorium while those in the reserve will see and wonder about another promoter working off inventory of urban sized sewer/water lots in the west part of Ramsey, south of Trott Brook.

Given the current market there will be no groundswell of 2-1/2 acre activity.

And speculation of favoritism articulated by one gentleman (and probably felt by others from the murmuring in the crowd when the man spoke at the Planning Commission Public Hearing of worry about potential favoritism for Brookfield) can be proven false by council permitting 2-1/2 acre activity per the Van Scoey language. That language permitted much staff discretion but avoided a full wooden absolute de facto moratorium.

The general Public Hearing mood was decidedly in favor of 2-1/2 development being allowed, and staff is totally able to manage that prudently under the measure Van Scoey advanced.

It would be a win-win answer that would prove any claim of favoritism false.



With all of this, Ben probably would shrug his shoulders if he had shoulders.

Instead he constantly smiles that same cheerful painted metallic "tax-me-and-I-lose-no-cheer" smile. Who knows what true feelings lie beneath this public yellow-painted happy face smiling veneer, which Ben the Ramsey Taxpayer always politely displays.

Privatize the Town Center parking ramp?

Or at least take bids, to see what the thing is worth - in a market. It might be an eye-opener, to see how the market values that kind of "asset."

It is not unthinkable, Chicago has been privatizing parking structures, for good cash, and is even looking to privatize its Midway Airport. There are pros and cons, but Ben deserves a spectrum of choice, Ben the Ramsey taxpayer out in the cold across from the new city hall.

They would not privatize the new city hall, would they, possibly with sale-leaseback voodoo economics and such? Would they? If so what would be the rights of the City to default and downsize the payroll appropriately and move to more modest housing? Executory contracts can be voided in a bankruptcy proceeding, and where is this council taking us, and Ben?

It's all hypothetical, isn't it?

Sunday, January 14, 2007

A recipe for total disaster.


As easy as baking a cake. He says.

Slam dunk. Follow the recipe. Heat the oven. Pop in the pans. Set the timer.

After that, stacking the layers and icing on the cake.

Uh. But it comes out looking like this, and what about all those acres and acres of empty space?





At least for the crabgrass people, the answer of let them eat cake is better than having taxpayer money given them to go all over town and buy time, if not buying a better recipe.

Friday, January 12, 2007

REPOSTING: Officials are "public servants." The sovereign is the people even if recall is needed to reestablish that relationship.

Ben, the eversmiling Ramsey taxpayer statue out in the cold across from the City Hall - Taj Majal palace is NOT what it's about. The sovereign is not Mayor Tom, or City Administrator Jim. It is US. Those of US who live here now, not those for which high-density housing is being built so that they may move here. WE are not to be sacrificed for the interests of those holding big parcels of raw land nor for any other special interests, be it the special interests of Oakwood Land Development or of Ramsey Town Center LLC; or others.

The Minnesota Constitution, up front, right after the preamble, in its ARTICLE 1, Section 1 is unambiguous:

OBJECT OF GOVERNMENT. Government is instituted for the security, benefit and protection of the people, in whom all political power is inherent, together with the right to alter, modify or reform government whenever required by the public good.

Remember that and fight to make it true. Especially the part about reforming when that fits the public interest. We are the public, and we are made to be like smiling Ben, only when we allow it.

As I drove by, I thought I heard a voice say, "Let them eat crabmeat ...".



Yes, driving east on Sunwood from Coburns, like Michele Bachmann saying she heard the voice, I was nearing and passing the statute of Ben the Ramsey Taxpayer out in the cold across the street from the new city hall. And on a psychic channel he was saying, "Let them eat crabmeat, let them eat fish, even veal, mutton, filet mignon, but do not give them Authority for Pork."

Yes, that's what I thought I heard Ben saying. I think I got the message right. I would hope that Jim Abeler and Mike Jungbauer have a chance to drive that road too - past the vast empty open spaces then past Ben, and that they too get the message from the quintessential Ramsey Taxpayer. It's a clear enough message if you try to keep your eyes, ears and mind open.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Slow boat to China - Can anyone come forward and say what good has come from the Sister City Program?





What IS the cost-benefit balance of our officials junketing to China?

Nil benefit and thousands spent, as best as I can tell from the "detailed reports" we see presented prominently on the City's website, or in Ramsey books and records.

Thousands that could have been spent other ways. Zero real reporting about the total amount spent so far compared against whatever boost of Chinese goodwill toward Ramsey has come of it, not to mention hard trade contracts benefiting Ramsey's economy and jobs market.

One New Year's report. I would like to see at least that.

One report, some kind of feedback, about events arising from our officials going to China.

If there were gigantic favorable contracts, you'd expect that would be trumpeted from the opulent rooftop of the new opulent city hall. So, what about the trumpets?

Success with a thousand fathers, etc.


Failure and embarassment an orphan.

It looks like Ramsey is on a "Slow Boat to China," which was a poker players' term for a pattern where a player loses steadily on each and every hand; and a term that Frank Loesser in 1948 copyrighted from the gaming table to affairs of passion and love, in a song sung by Bing Crosby, Jimmy Buffet, and other crooners, with the incomparable lyrics:

To get you and keep you in my arms evermore,
Leave all your lovers
Weeping on the faraway shore.
Out on the briny
With the moon big and shinny,
Melting your heart of stone.
Darling, I'd love to get you
On a slow boat to China,
All to myself alone.

Really. All younger readers can bear that in mind if parents or grandparents ever get critical over the music they listen to now. "Sure, dad, but for idiocy, what about 'Out on the briny, with the moon big and shinny,' huh?"

Here's some of the story. The state via DEED, the Department of Employment and Economic Security, is promoting trade possibilities with China, see here, here, and here.

That's the same DEED that gave free money for a crabgrass expense, re the dubious and possibly dangerous idea of putting housing on top a former hobby shooting range on Variolite, where lead-shot contamination would be a consistent concern.

Ramsey sent Mayor Gamac first, then later Todd Cook and James Norman, together. I believe Councilmember Olson was scheduled but declined a junket. I could be wrong on that, you'd have to ask her. So far, officially, what's to show? Here's my understanding, first, some private persons formed a nonprofit they call "City of Ramsey Foundation" but it is not a city thing, but private. See, e.g., Jan. 3, 2006, Council Worksession Minutes; with at p.4, Councilmember Jeffrey stating this "foundation" wanted seed money (or some kind of free cash from the city), and nobody on council saying who are they and why give them taxpayer wealth? Second, the effort produced a billing dispute from one of the bag full of little known low-profile Ramsey consultants, a Vern Hegg whoever that is, but again it was Vern wanting more free taxpayer money than even Tom Gamec was willing to give away, this instance. Really.

See, Council Work Session Minutes, Aug. 14, 2006.

That's about it: I found two instances of private folks (once at least from Ramsey) wanting to be given taxpayer cash; but no benefits of any kind ever noted of record, tangible or intangible, other than I suppose the Mayor felt useful and puffed up with being sent - the warm-&-fuzzies, but only such very intangible hand-waving kind of stuff. Not one single, they'll buy this-and-that, from so-and-so, in our TIF district 2844, or such.

Tangibility of returns on investment apparently is an outcast from the council table.


Here's the part of the story I'd like to see town officials explain
. Go back to those opening slide views. They are from DEED, with their "positively Minnesota" trademark, whatever that's supposed to mean.

The first slide is the opening of a DEED Power Point style of presentation, but go to the second.

I want to know -- Jim Norman going to China, what has he, or other junketeers Tom Gamec and Todd Cook, but say Norman, in particular, what has he done positively fitting into and causing goodwill to:

Strengthen existing connections between the people of MN and China and seek new relationships

Promote greater understanding of US-China relations

Raise MN's profile among prominent Chinese leaders

Has he been a positive or negative factor, in that regard? Those are the goals of DEED's efforts. So tell me -- Has Ramsey's officials junketing into and around China helped or hindered the DEED goals? Any info to share? Anything? Wouldn't you expect at least a report? An upside-vs-downside analysis - these folks went (with itineraries given) and such-and-such events transpired, good or bad, but of record for Ramsey's citizens and others to read, understand, and benefit from.

Friday, January 05, 2007

Why is this man smiling?


Because this time even Zaetsch admits he was right.


I do. In part. Largely. Not totally.

He voted the right way but not strongly enough inclined as I would favor, despite being the key vote. That's a story by itself, my saying Tom Gamec was right.

But there's more story in the context, as reported by Ms. Sakry of ABC Newspapers' Anoka County Union:

Ramsey could be changing to a city manager form of government, but not when the charter commission recommended.

Although the commission had recommended switching from a city administrator to a manager Jan. 1, 2008, Mayor Tom Gamec, the lone dissenting vote, said it was too soon.

“It’s a timing issue,” he said.

The person the council chooses for the new administrator would be working for the city for six months and then be promoted to manager, said Gamec.

If the change would happen after that person’s probation were over, say in 2009, then he would be OK with it, he said.

“I would rather have the city look at the change (when the population reaches) 30,000 or 2017,” said Gamec.

Ramsey currently has a population of 23,000.

To pass, the charter amendment needed to have a unanimous vote of the council.

Gamec did join a unanimous vote to make the change effective in 2011.

The 2011 date allows the city to go through a four-year council cycle, said Councilmember David Elvig.

The commission has reviewed this for a number of years, said Hannah LaMere, charter commission vice chairwoman.

While the commission was in agreement on switching to a city manager, it was hard to come up with a date and it was not sure how it would work with a population marker and how the population would be determined, she said.

LaMere asked if it would be determined by the U.S. Census or another method.

The city has grown a lot in the 11 years she has lived here, not only in population but also in infrastructure, she said.

It will be increasingly difficult for the council to oversee nearly 100 staff members, she said.

According to staff background information, a manager would regulate the hiring and firing of staff and day-to-day operations with the city council continuing to adopt ordinances and resolutions and be in charge of the city budget.

In the past there have been issues with how the council has worked with department heads and staff members, said LaMere.

Gamec was right but not emphatic enough. There should be a referendum for any such change.

Others were dead wrong.

After experiencing James E. Norman as city administrator for years I would not want to see a successor have greater rather than the same or lesser power than he had.

The big thing, a city manager can fire anyone on staff without being answerable to anyone. It can be done behind the scenes, as quietly as a professional CIA assassination. On the other hand, a city administrator having the trust and backing of a council can go to council and say so-and-so should be removed for the city to work better, and go figure. Normally it would be a pro forma thing. On the agenda, in the best interest of Ramsey, etc. Four lines, little discussion, another of the many unanimous votes.

It's a bare comfort to have an elected body holding the hammer while being generally amenable to do as asked, but it's a good sight better than having a generalissimo with martial law power over every hireling. Don't do it.

Others, besides Gamec, were quoted:

“The timing is right to have this done,” said Councilmember Mary Jo Olson.

“I don’t see the problem hiring a manager and asking that person to play administrator for three months,” said Elvig.

“This would not be a promotion (for an administrator), it’s a city transition,” said Councilmember Sarah Strommen.

Although some council members were concerned about how the change could impact the candidate pool, Norman said the candidate pools for managers and administrators are not much different.

There should be a referendum on it before any such change is made. Having more direct answerability to the electorate is best, with the council a step removed from voters and the top gun in administration two steps removed, we should want to have the hammer held and publicly wielded on camera, by council.

Civil servants deserve that protection, just as people charged with crime deserve a jury.

The ultimate boss is the people. They elect council members. Leave the hammer no further removed from voters than that.

Are there any other citizens interested in a citizen initiated charter amendment petition, to require a referendum before any such change can be made in Ramsey? We may need to move. If two other people contact me saying they're willing to work on it, I will make it three, help on the petition wording, and go door-to-door for signatures to compel a charter amendment election on the issue.

Tom, you should have taken a stronger stand. What you did as far as it went was sound. It was what being a mayor is about, as far as it went. But that one unanimous fall-back date vote is troublesome.

Last point - Ms. Sakry was unclear, was this the lame duck group or the council at a first meetinf for this year with newly sworn members aboard? Did our new guys do this? Neither was quoted by Ms. Sakry.

Anyone with the answer, please post the answer, as a comment.

pinochio


The developer will pay for everything.

_____
photo by Jackie Alpers

I went to the meeting and the people said ...

Tuesday, Jan 2, I posted in anticipation of the city's Planning Commission meeting. Here are impressions.

First, an early case on relocating a cell phone tower from privately-owned Ramsey Crossroads land to the city-owned firestation site on Armstrong was where I suggested that the lease and permit process for towers should consider a condition for city communication use - beyond emergency [fire/police/med services] - to anticipate possible WiFi or WiMax growth, city-owned as St. Louis Park has elected or franchised, so that tower use rights reserved now need not be purchased later. It is a win-win situation, a you-scratch-my-back thing with the tower owner, and I expect WiFi and/or WiMax anticipation and planning will easily be integrated into city staff thinking.

For 21st century wireless internet for the people, you need to anticipate and try to be somewhat leading edge on services without being one of the unfortunate pioneers with an arrow in the back.

The big ticket meeting item was the cluster ordinance burial, and the question of interim status for the rural area - whether it should be a 4-in-40 choke hold, 2-1/2 acre development allowed, or "other."

The notion staff presented was that a 4-in-40 hold would be "interim" while 2008 Comprehensive Plan effort began and reached finality. Years of delay can occur, and the citizen consensus at the public hearing seemed to be: dump clustering, shift to 2-1/2 acre permission in the interim, and hope this Comprehensive Plan evolution is not as long and difficult as the last one proved to be. Much of the seismic earthquake issue-facing and resolution of that plan has resulted in the crabgrass proliferating, unfortunately, but at least the built-up seismic pressures should be less this go-around. People can get worn down like rocks on a beach are worn to sand, and while that's unfortunate, the time frame this go-round should not be as prolonged.

With complications, the Planning Commission largely passed the peoples' thinking on.

Now we shall see the Council, with two new members - new blood, surely, but with their collective holdover-dominated opportunity to muck things up with imposition of a 4-in-40 strangle hold despite a clear showing of what folks caring to go out in the rain and spend an evening listening to initial cases of little general interest [but somehow clogging the path to the things folks showed up for], to be heard and to hear other public comment. I thought the Planning Commission did okay, I think the notion that many, many people feel the "why we moved to Ramsey was" sentiment that having open lot spacing vs. crowding was, is and will be the better idea. That's so, despite Met. Council always being a threat to "Lake Elmo" any local people showing spunk and individualism and character, and despite staff's preference for something more like a de facto moritorium without any time limit - aka "four-in-forty" or whatever it's called in planner-speak these days.

I had to leave after that but had a general view of the TIF proposals as, in my view, a bad idea aimed at more sop for the failed Town Center - instead of sensibly cutting losses and moving on to autopsy. TIF low income housing. TIF senior housing. Go ahead with Ramsey Crossroads and all without any clear idea of who's going to be running the developer faction now that Bruce Nedegaard has died. His death was like a taboo subject - no one may speak of it, just as it is officially taboo now to say Town Center's a proven failure, and officially taboo to say stop this Pork Authority run at porking the taxpayers and ferret out who it is that is or was promoting that terrible thinking besides James A. Norman, who no longer has a voice in running things.

Even more important than finger pointing, assigning blame for the entire Pork Authority mischief, is to end it. I would be fully satisfied if it's ended to move on without finger-pointing. And there is always the convenience of everyone pointing at the departed James A. Norman, saying, "Not me," and then moving on to better business.

But PORK AUTHORITY matters were not part of the Planning Commission session, so drop it for now.

RAMSEY3 The final thing, I had a brief opportunity to talk to Patrick Trudgeon about Ramsey3, even while having to leave at 10:30 - 11:00 pm when that topic finally hit the screen. Patrick indicated he will be putting or may be putting his Power Point presentation slides on the city website. I hope he does. Apparently, Ramsey3 is not a tightly conceived plan or idea, but a process aimed at assessing and sharpening community feelings about noneconomic quality of life features of a community growing in population and having a fixed land area of several square miles and varying natural resources and transportation options therein.

It sounds real mushy, but one indication has been that Ralph Brauer has had input and he is totally trustworthy, well-motivated, bright and anything but mistake prone - so I think ideas he might endorse deserve respect and attention from the start . For now I will cut quite a bit of slack for "Ramsey3" and not go into things presuming it's to be another bad sales job as was done to us with Town Center. That poisoning of the well of citizen goodwill by the promoters and hangers-on via their now famous false "nice shops and restaurants" so-called "referendum" and all, without those touting it then forthrightly saying upfront, the thing will end up being humongo amounts of crowded shared-wall housing on the Kurak cornfield with tons of city money dumped into a gigantic money pit with no discernible end to it.

I bet the for-and-against vote would have turned out differently with that wording on the ballot.

AND THAT NEW CITY HALL BUILDING IS AN EASY THING TO ABSOLUTELY HATE AND RESENT FOR THE WASTEFULNESS AND PRETENTIOUSNESS IT EMBODIES. The meeting was there, and it was there to see. I wonder if Jim Norman quit because he could not have a fresco on the building's foyer-area raised ceiling, Michaelangelo style, fitting for a pope's Sistine Chapel.

While the uninteresting time-wasting stuff at the front of the meeting agenda was being haggled, I walked around.

The furnishings are lavish.

Paid for from taxes and spare no expense. I saw in some city papers, a half-million for furnishings alone.

The amount of pecan wood colored paneling suggested some old east coast private millionaires' men's club luxuriousness, rather than a modest Midwestern town's government building.

Perhaps it was not pecan-color stained, or veneer, but pure pecan wood paneling, since after all it was our officials spending taxes. Taxpayer Ben was still out there yellow smiley-face smiling, across the street, in the cold, dark and drizzle.

There simply is no excuse for having dumped $16 million into that money pit, where not one penny of tax revenue will result because the city owns it and it's futile to pay itself taxes from its tax revenue.

Instead of the bonanza of tax benefit that the tub-thumpers on the Town Center Task Force were marketing to us, we have a costly ramp - zero tax income from it, a costly palace - zero tax income from it, and a clear and apparent failure in all that open spaces without shops and restaurants anywhere to see or speak of.

At the League of Women Voters preelection candidate forum incumbent David Elvig talked about Riverdale and Maple Grove, and things like that "taking time."

David, time I will concede you. Take as much time as you've left on earth. Take forever.

Take all the time from now until whenever, at Town Center, for the crabgrass to grow - for the developers wanting their private profits to put up their private money and to make it happen.

Please folks there, successors in interest to Bruce Nedegaard, take your time, proceed prudently, and over time prove me wrong. But please use your money to gamble with.

Here's the mantra to keep reciting:

PLEASE, DEVELOPERS, DO IT WITH YOUR OWN MONEY OR MONEY YOU BORROW FROM BANKS. DON'T AIM TO PROFIT FROM STANDING ON TAXPAYER BACKS. YOU ARE HEAVY TO CARRY. AND DON'T EXPECT RISKLESS PROFIT VIA RECUTTING THE DEAL BRUCE NEDEGAARD CUT. PLEASE DON'T AIM AT EXTRACTING MORE FROM THE CITY, BUT INSTEAD LIVE WITH THE DEAL. IT ALREADY IS MOST UNFAVORABLE TO RAMSEY'S PRESENT RESIDENT-TAXPAYERS AND THERE IS NO CAUSE TO HAVE TAXPAYERS FINANCE THE MAKING OF PRIVATE FORTUNES. NONE. ZERO. NADA.

End of mantra. Keep reciting it until it becomes a rote part of your existence. Or keep paying out subsidy to the private interests. It's your call.

My challenge to Elvig and others on the council. Admitted, it will take time. Take all the time you want. Take forever, I don't care. Just stop taking taxpayer money. Stop it whether it is via Pork Authority shams or by more open and legitimate means.

Yo. There's no port in Ramsey. So what's with that sorry gimmick and why not give it up?

Get honest about it and stop.

It really looked to be a cold and lonely night for happy-faced Ben out in the dark across from the palace. But some folks parked along the road, by Ben, so he was not left wholly alone.

Did anyone park in that stupid ramp?

If you did, please leave a comment.

When the gambler goes broke at the casino the city where the casino is should not give him more public cash to gamble with.




Nor should the city bias the casino, to favor the gambler so he cannot go broke. Simple ideas, eh?

Capitalism is a casino. The paradigm every libertarian will tug your sleeve and tell you of is the market efficiently reallocates. The efficient survive and the inefficient are removed and their assets reallocated. "Removing inefficiencies in the system" is when somebody or some LLC goes into bankruptcy or insolvency. The paradigm is you take risks with your wealth, in anticipation of favorable outcomes. Risk-reward run the system. In a casino you do not bet the wheel expecting to lose unless your gambling problem is really severe.

Developers are gamblers - not to be given free "bankruptcy insurance" by anyone's city, especially mine, Ramsey.

You pay to play. You lose, next up. No sops or bail-outs. Directly or indirectly manipulating supply-demand for other market players to favor one over the other is verboten.

All animals on Animal Farm are equal.

In land dealings, developers frequently aim to leverage bank money. Great, until you feel the liquidity pinch of a down market, too much inventory of a kind not moving as hoped, and payments due as and when bargained. The friendly banker while payments are current changes face.

Per the casino analogy key bankruptcy code provisions for business are seven and eleven. Chapter 7 is for bone picking at a clearly dead carcass. Reallocating the assets. Chapter 11 is the work-out chapter. Every creditor defers a little on hope the venture lives through a liquidity pinch and prospers as an "efficient" survivors of casino play. All of that is between debtor and creditors. Private parties. The City of Ramsey belongs on the sideline. Not favoring anyone, not bailing anyone out. Slumping market demand is a risk of business. Misguessing the market and getting stuck with inventory likewise is a private profit-seeking risk.

Needing to service debt while attaining less than a forecast cash flow is the other side of the coin from gaining higher profits using leverage.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

This Thursday, Jan. 4, the Planning Commission experiences planner mischief.

It is easy to forget. But it is an important meeting.

Ramsey's planners will be present.

As usual, LaserFiche via the City website is wholly inadequate to get the information public; as if intended to be so dreadful that people will stop using it and stop caring.

BE THERE.

IT IS IMPORTANT FOR KEEPING THE THING ON TRACK AND NOT HAVOC PRONE. "The Thing" being the effort from the public to define its goals into the 2008 Comprehensive Plan.

Jim Norman's ways may last longer in city hall than his tenure has lasted.