consultants are sandburs

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Watchdog Yearend WOOF Mentions Ramsey Town Center - And it is 100% TRUE.

Harold Hamilton's writing can state essential truths in ways that are hard to dispute or improve upon; hence, when as here he does that his Watchdog words, not mine, carry the theme:

Story #5: Ramsey Town Center Debacle.
Our number 5 story is still developing but is already on pace to go down as one of the biggest boondoggles in Anoka County history, and certainly the biggest at the municipal level.

The Ramsey Town Center debacle will stand as a cautionary tale to city councils around the nation for years to come. The Ramsey City Council essentially suffered from two major afflictions that helped doom the project.

The first was arrogance. Historically, Ramsey has been an exurb of large residential lots with a fair share of commercial and industrial real estate as well. The character of the city has been one of limited government, low taxes, and a general respect for the privacy of those who chose to live far from the urban core.

In a fit of hubris, the city council attempted to ignore the essence of the city’s culture and by fiat create a transit-oriented, high density, mixed use downtown in a city that had never had or wanted such a development.

The transit never came as there is no commuter rail station and the parking garage off Highway 10 is highly underutilized. There will likely never be any real demand for the high-density residential housing because high-density housing is only successful where there is a supporting infrastructure of transportation, retail, and other services within walking distance. Few people want to live in a condo and yet have to drive to buy a gallon of milk or drive 50 miles to work.

The second flaw was a lack of sophistication. While it will probably take years to conclude the investigations and lawsuits, it appears that the city council was taken in by grandiose promises and slick presentations of a new suburban utopia. In short, it looks like Ramsey got in over its head – fast.

"The second flaw was a lack of sophistication."

Just like good holiday candy, it's hard to stop with a single piece. This time excerpting rather than a total en banc copy:

Story #2: The County Board Evolves.
Revolution it probably isn’t, but there are definitely changes afoot at the Anoka County courthouse. Like the knuckle-dragging caveman who has become a refined 21st Century human, the Anoka County Board has turned in its Dan Erhart era wooden clubs and animal skins in exchange for top coats and civil discourse.

Yes, he got his train after years of futility. But he is no longer board chairman. And he didn’t get his football stadium.

Again, kudos to commissioners Rhonda Sivarajah and Robyn West for demonstrating the courage and commitment to principle that is needed to bring about change, especially on a county board where independent thinking had all but disappeared under Erhart’s leadership.

Story #1: Vikings Stadium Fails.
Hands down, the failed Vikings stadium effort was the biggest political story in the North Metro this year. In a classic David-vs.Goliath matchup, regular taxpayers triumphed over Zygi Wilf, Anoka County, and the hoards of special interests that spent millions trying to ram a taxpayer-funded stadium down our throats – without a voter referendum.

Like most Anoka County government mega-projects, the stadium chase was filled with its share of buffoonery and incompetence.

Perhaps most astounding was the fact that the county offered up a piece of real estate for a stadium without ever determining if the land could really support a stadium. Months into the project, the Army Corps of Engineers went public with its concerns about the vast number of wetlands on the site and the need for numerous environmental permits, even if the land itself could support a stadium. The Watchdog is left to surmise that the extent of the county’s soil testing was Erhart standing on the land like a pioneer of yore declaring “This is it!”

He says, "buffoonery and incompetence," and pick the picture this time, reader. Yeah, lots and lots of posibilities, that's why I just left it open that way.

And Erhart, "This is it," an image like Brigham Young. I wonder if the Erhart legacy will be more or at least a part of a Mountain Meadows Massacre one, rather than solely one of a finding of the promised land flowing with bounty and manna, for the man's core followers and believers.

But I'm not criticizing Dominating Dan, I am merely someone who's not been here as long as he or the Watchdog, reporting as much as agreeing with woofing by my friends.

And like that "no referendum" concept the Watchdog woofs over, stadium-style, we had a Norman Castle built here in Ramsey, down on Sunwood, next to the ramp that the first woofing item mentioned - and there was not a referendum over that lavishness in Tom's Town (who else was on council throughout the failed process, from genesis to developer-exodus, so name it after the man on watch).

Now, here's the kicker, and it was not a contractor or workman's error, it was there in the desktop model, planned from the beginning, intentionally started and finished precisely that way, as these pictures show - pick your word, bent, curved - your choice of terms:

For comparison, and back to woofing, here's a picture where you can see a dog's hind leg:

So, is the legacy we leave our children, a city hall "bent as a dog's hind leg?" A city hall "curved as a dog's hind leg?" How would you say it, Ben?

"___________ as a dog's hind leg."

Whatever, Ben, this next November, be sure to vote.

Showing up that way will sweep house better than a broom.

Monday, December 24, 2007

BUY Early - They Are Selling Out - The SLEAZE-o-METER. Limited supply, only one per family. Whether you caucus GOP or DFL, don't be without one.

It is a Civil Defense device, as the side badging in the photo demonstrates. It will protect your head, at caucus, if you feel there's any danger you will be believing things the party bosses and wannabes are spouting. And for your friends who caucus with the OTHER PARTY, they can use it too, because the knob under the handle adjusts sensitivity so that if caucus sleaze pins it out at one level, just dial a less sensitive range, and keep your political wannabes or the OTHER PARTY wannabes on-scale. At its most insensitive setting, rumor has it that it would not even pin-out at the Living Word Christian Center; and that was with each of the Hammonds having a preaching shot at pinning it, on test day. So rest assured, your candidate, the challenger, the front-runner or trailing candidate, none should pin it unless it, like you, is at caucus too sensitive - and if YOU cannot adjust, remember, the Sleaze-o-Meter can.

Now for something different - but the circle will be unbroken. However, first a test case to show you how it works - this archive item excerpted [emphasis added]:

Posted: 6/14/05
Former Transportation Commissioner Elwyn Tinklenberg announces candidacy for Sixth District Congress

by T.W. Budig
ECM capitol reporter

A resident of Blaine, Tinklenberg served on the Blaine City Council and for 10 years as mayor. A former Anoka County official, he came to Blaine as pastor of United Methodist Church.

His speech at the National Sports Center was laced with religious references.

The notion that government is inherently bad is part of an attempt to craft cynicism as the mother's milk of corruption and dishonesty, he explained. "Right now America is a well-oiled machine," said Tinklenberg. "It is working smoothly for the moneychangers who hope desperately that we will not notice that they have taken up residence in the Temple," he said.

Tinklenberg believes his political stances reflect the Sixth District.

He's a Pro Life Democrat.

So, tell me, was it the Pharisees or Sadducees in gospel times who had the greater number of regionwide consulting contracts and lobbying positions with the Roman occupation forces in the Holy Land? Or does it matter? Well, don't ask me - ask the Sleze-o-Meter. Here's the "Lobbyist-Consultant Tinklenberg audacity to call others moneychangers in the Temple" reading:

Yup. A 2.1. Not too bad on the "r/hr" ("reprehensibility-per-hour") scale. Not outstandingly sleazy. Middling. For a better idea, on the scale sensitivity selected, a -2- reading, that's about a "pot calling the kettle black" in qualitative vs. quantitative terms; while up to a -3- and it's "Let him who is among you without sin cast the first stone."

So, a 2.1, go figure it out.

It's original, it's portable, it's better than warm boots in the snow, it's the Sleaze-o-Meter protective device. You can have it on while watching TV. Dial your sensitivity, Masterpiece Theater, Fox News, Veg-o-matic ads, exercise equipment special segments, it will handle them all. And, well, no, it's not as pretty as an i-phone, but go price one of those hummers - then think it over, and it will do things your i-phone, your neighbor's i-phone cannot accomplish. Remember, one per family, batteries not included. And don't be fooled by imitations or other brands that say they are as good. There is only one. It's the original Sleaze-o-Meter, and nothing less. You'll be sorry if you bought an imitation, or voted for one - for sure you can be sorry about that and a Sleaze-o-Meter can help prevent that wasted believing vote - indeed, it can even pinpoint and identify the party bosses at caucus, the elderly, white, stern-faced, men, standing quietly in a bunch at the back of the caucus hall, it can home in on them all.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Why I think El Tinklenberg is no better than pond scum; or why insult pond scum?

Read it, excepted from here, and see exactly who it is that wants to be the next Michele Bachmann phenomenon in Minnesota's Sixth District, where I live, in Ramsey:

City Council Workshop Minutes

Monday, January 8, 2007
Albertville City Hall 7:00 PM

PRESENT: Mayor Ron Klecker, Council members [...] City Administrator Larry Kruse, Assistant City Engineer Adam Nafstad, Elwyn Tinklenberg, Jodi Ruehle, S.E.H. Engineer’s Jaimison Sloboden, Scott McBride and Mark Durling

[...] Mayor Klecker called the meeting to order at 7:30 p.m.

I. Meeting Purpose and Overview

City Administrator Kruse presented opening comments stating that the purpose of the workshop was: to seek Council direction for an I-94 layout, which staff will take to the I-94 Implementation Task Force; to ask the Council to endorse this layout; and to seek Federal Funding. The Tinklenberg Group will update the Council on their efforts obtaining Federal Funding, and discuss their strategy for the 2007 funding cycle. SEH will review several layouts and seek concurrence on a preferred layout. SEH will discuss associated cost to complete a preliminary design or staff approved layout. Finally, the staff hopes to understand the Council’s expectation on Albertville’s financial involvement and share this with the I-94 Implementation Task Force.

Elwyn Tinklenberg stated an opportunity is coming in February for the City and I-94 Task Force to submit a project for Federal Funding. Tinklenberg emphasized that transportation funding remains very competitive and that due to a lack of funds, MnDOT is pretty much in a maintenance mode. The people that are the most successful are the ones that collaborate with multiple jurisdictions and work together. Tinklenberg proposed a fee of approximately $3,000 per month to promote the City’s project and keep it before decision makers.

[...] V. Council Discussion

Discussion was held on the various standard and hybrid layouts, which the Council rallied around supporting the $12 million dollar project.

[...] Consensus was reached regarding the following:

[...] 2) The Tinklenberg Group will proceed to seek Federal Funding for the I-94 Project at an estimated cost of $3,000 per month.

3) S.E.H. and the Tinklenberg Group will collaborate and put together a Public Involvement Plan whereby a newsletter or brochure will be sent to Albertville residents and specific business owners that would be assessed and affected by the proposed I-94 Project. In addition to the newsletter or brochure, the Albertville website can be used to convey project information. Several public information meetings will be held to inform the public. S.E.H and the Tinklenberg Group will put together a budget to accomplish this business.

4) Staff was directed to share the Council’s interest with the I-94 Task Force to pursue the $12 million dollar option with the goal to receive 50% Federal Funding and then to raise the remainder of the funds locally from State, County, Albertville and other partners.

[emphasis added] and here for what the public meeting revealed to citizens after the deal was cut in a work session about paying the Tinklenberg Groupies three grand a month for services, including keeping Albertville's chances "before decision makers" and, curiously, with the focus more on PR tub-thumping without the three grand a month being again mentioned:

City Council Meeting Minutes

February 5, 2007
Albertville City Hall 7:00 PM


Jodi Ruehle with the Tinklenberg Group reported that the I-94 Task Force met and what the Tinklenberg Group is proposing is to conduct open houses or workshops bringing together neighboring communities. The workshop would include SEH in some aspects to demonstrate the layouts and phases of implement.

Council inquired about the use of the $800,000 Federal Funds towards the construction or other costs associated with the process.

City Administrator Kruse stated that it would require a process of selecting the engineer to proceed to utilize the Federal Funds. Of the initial $800,000, the City has dedicated $600,000 towards the purchase of land; therefore leaving a balance of $200,000.

Kruse reported that staff recommends going forward with the project. A thorough and effective public involvement process should begin in February 2007 with the development of a plan over the course of several months ending in the fall of 2007. But in order to proceed, staff needs to get approval of the Plans and finalize the project to present to the State.

MOTION BY Council member Fay, seconded by Council member Wagner to approve the Tinklenberg Group and SEH, Inc. Public Involvement Proposal at a cost not to exceed $68,000, and on file in the office of the City Clerk. Motion carried unanimously.

[emphasis added]What is the man selling? Can you say, "opportunity?" Can you say, "opportunist?"

Rev. Tinklenberg ought to go preach in Mac Hammond's Living Well Christian Center, with the kind of living well approach to life, as he seems to have. But Bachmann's got a lock on the door over there, or seems to, just as she will have in the district if the DFL caucuses go with the union boss endorsements and think Tink. Can you imagine the NRCC hate mailings about the man's baggage, and how Brodkorb will be blogging? It will be a slaughter - and perhaps one of the nastiest elections in State history. Do you suppose there's any truth to the stories that he is Jim Oberstar's protege? With influence that way, on the House Transportation Committee? Again, what is the man selling, to get all those consulting contracts? Do you think the GOP will not be asking such questions on the ramp-up to November 2008?

Come let us work together, my fee is three grand ...

Give me a #$%&%&$ break.

Give me clean energy advocate Bob Olson. I agree with Blue Man about the Tinklenberg candidacy. A winning candidate will not be in it for what it can return to him. A winning candidate will be a candidate without baggage. The legacy of the Wellstone Bus, all that.

And if you do not think the Tinklenberg guy stands for the standard story stuff on growth is good and build a Town Center for your town too, look here. I suppose fertilizer is good for crabgrass, so heap it on.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Articles about a dead appraiser named Renne, and Town Center. There also was the Tinklenberg Group arranging for Ramsey buying Highway 10 properties -

Renne did appraisals for at least two properties along Highway 10. Nedegaard was involved there too. Holding title, I believe. People are emailing and Google Alerts are returning Pioneer Press and Strib online stories - the feds have filed more detail, the Community National Bank principals from North Branch appear to be target people, Martinson who went to work for Jim Deal is mentioned. As a weekly, the ECM papers had a Ramsey Town Center item that was written for North Branch, I think, also carried by Anoka County Union. I don't have that link, but the story is online here; Patrick Tepoorten, posted Dec. 18, 2007 (It dealt with the new Minnwest Bank litigation that Strib and PiPress each also covered). The more recent reports, mentioning the Renne suicide and federal investigatory affidavits, are David Orrick and Nichole Garrison-Sprenger, Dec. 22, Pioneer Press; and Paul Levy and Lora Pabst, Strib, also Dec. 22; both online and each giving the most current story. Read them online. I will not, in this post excerpt much.

Just, a question for now, if you were a mortgagee, with Bruce Nedegaard as your mortgagor, would you wait over half a year to record the mortgage? If not, why not? That's a really, really, really interesting question, to me at least. And who, you may ask, would sit on a mortgage position that way and why? I wonder the same thing, but I have a "who" in mind, from a document I have seen, a satisfaction of mortgage; and a settlement statement. City files, public data disclosure request, anyone can ask, the law says the disclosure has to be given, for public data.

And I want to see negotiation papers, a full file, two properties; plus earnest money contracts, escrow instructions, title abstracts the City of Ramsey relied upon, and a complete settlement statement for each of the properties. Then I would hope the feds ask the same questions; and get disclosure of the escrow files, etc., things that might not be public data but might be of interest, given the Nedegaard focus, and Town Center and Renne appraisals being of concern. But that can await another post. Here's my only story excerpt, and guess why I think October 2005 is an interesting thing [perhaps it has to do with an unrecorded mortgage up to that point, but that's the only hint I will give for now]. Here's Strib:

It wasn't until a meeting in October 2005 that the participating banks learned that the Ramsey Town Center project had a serious credit problem, that the project was in default, and that the officials involved in Pentagon Credit paid back the secondary loans before the $35 million loan.

Here's a picture of a Norman Castle, in England [Wales, actually, but hey, for us, what's the difference, England's good enough, we're not Welsh]:

Now, for something totally different, a picture of our town's Norman Castle, in Town Center, aka "Ramsey Municipal Center" [with Ben the Ramsey taxpayer featured, as always smiling, perhaps at how Town Center stories get better and better] but we all know it is, at its core, from its origins, truly a Norman Castle:

Now here's a picture of a building at Town Center, one of two commercial ones I know of, this one diagonally across Sunwood Blvd. from the city's Norman Castle, aka "Ramsey Municipal Center":

Now here's a picture of the reflectorized window of that building's southwest corner; and that "community bank" soon to arrive back in August 2007 when the picture was taken, what's happened to it, why is it not here now; and do you suppose it was going to be a Community National Bank, as well as "community bank" and that might be a factor in the delay?

Your guess is as good as mine, but somebody knows more than I do; I will bet on that at 5-to-1 odds. Any takers?

And who do you suppose sat with an unrecorded mortgage for half a year, or am I reading that Satisfaction of Mortgage document incorrectly - mortgage dated March 29, 2005 but recorded October 28, 2005, around when that Strib article said something about a serious credit problem? And would a credit problem look less serious before that, if a mortgage existed but was being held, unrecorded? Held unrecorded by intent, or neglect and error? What intent could there be?

Good questions for some seasoned investigator or bank litigation attorney to ask, not for fools like Ben and me.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Images of two candidates - each in his turn.

Bob Olson

El Tinklenberg

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Natalie and the Magnificant Seven.

Election time is coming.

Too bad you cannot vote out the appointed Town Center lead duck.

Fixing Sunfish Blvd. between BNSF tracks and Highway 10.

Everyone else has an opinion.

My opinion is to say Bravo.

My opinion is that the mayor, Sarah Strommen, John Dehen, and David Elvig were fully correct and courageous in putting the public interest - public safety concern and the availability of funding not assured in the future - first in their view of proper priorities, in passing the City's coordinated position with Anoka County regarding the improvements to Sunfish, hard barrier and all.

I have been less than a cheerleader for Mayor Tomas Gamec and Councilmember David Elvig in the past. This time, I believe they deserve praise for not taking the easy way out, and bowing to special interest merchant pressure, something easy to have done, and instead favoring the clear public interest in safe, accident-free and adequate or above adequate roads, as Ramsey's population grows at its astounding present rate.

The growth was foreseeable, as was the need for major road improvements to meet the stress caused by that awful breakneck rate of growth. The rate of growth stinks, no doubt in my mind about that, but given that this council and earlier ones tolerated and fostered it in so many ways, letting a handful of merchants torpedo making a road safe would have been insult on top of injury.

I think Councilmembers Look and Olson were wrong, though I do not question their good intentions, only that they have their priorities wrong. I regret David Jeffrey was unable to go on record, one way or the other. Not that it would make a difference, there were four votes for the improvement - but just ---- to go on the record so we know next election what he thinks.

The error was probably in the past - a different council make-up than at present but with a few carryover members - when the land was developed beyond being a car lot as it was for years.

That was when anyone going into a profit-making intended venture, from then on, had to be aware of and have actual or implicit notice that roadway upgrading could happen.

Had they been on top of things with the landlord the presently impacted merchants could have negotiated an escape clause into their individual leases in the event road improvements cause accessibility impairment. It is not an uncommon thing for lessees to seek to achieve. The worry is foreseeable.

That said, the public interest trumps special interests. People should not be at risk of fender bender or fatal accidents, because a development was done in the past in a certain way. Change, for the better in protecting roadway and driver safety is good, not bad, and it is unfortunate that landlord and merchant tenants suffer.

But the world is not always fair. If relocation consideration is given impacted merchants, without subsidy to the landlord that took foreseeable risks in buying and/or developing the property, I would not call help to merchants an improper "subsidy" and would envision most Ramsey taxpayers probably agreeing.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Who wants/needs Gary Gruber's noise mess?

I don't.