consultants are sandburs

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Who told Mike Jungbauer to put a $2,620,000 bill in the hopper for a grant to be indirectly routed to Ramsey? Who is set to make money off of it?

[Note: In bringing evidence together the original post has been and will be edited, first because of some formatting errors in cut/paste posting, fonts in particular, and because of the complexity over time of what some irregular practices might mean or suggest to the public.]

I know of no council minutes authorizing or requesting it.

It happens.

My guess, since it's a water project and Mike Jungbauer is a water employee of Landform, it was the creature from the Black Lagoon:

Mike, I gotta talk to you.

Okay, you've got the paperwork. A little wet, but short.
Will you sponsor?

It's for Ramsey.

Mike. Understand me. I'm not in it for the money.

It's the proof of concept. Entirely.

Money is coincidental.

Deal then? Great. Sayonara.
See you tomorrow.

And that's my guess of how this came about:

Wholly on the up and up. Can there be any more plausible explanation? A global warming wind wafted the idea into being? What? Something in it for Mike? Who'd  ever think that?

I have sent repeated email inquiries to Landform. I have been stonewalled.

I am reduced to speculation. I have requested city public data on the situation, and Brian Olson had only one item he'd seen about this entire infrastructure grant possibility, an apparent draft document entitled "BONDING TOUR." Nothing else was produced by the city, except months ago, the solicitation materials from July 2009, when Landform had its first foot in the door by a 4-3 council vote with three councilmembers objecting to having been kept in the dark and surprised by the proposal being dropped without prior notice at a series of meetings on the same day of the 4-3 vote. I have to presume there was an irregular practice at play, not keeping a normal paper trail as would be expected in the normal course of city business.

It is a puzzling thing. I present the four page item Olson produced, at the end of this post. Apparently it is a document generated by Landform, in its normal course of business, indicating at its end in a reminder note "Verify/refine this text (DL, MJ)" which presumably is Darren Lazan, and Michael Jungbauer, working within Landform per its contract with City of Ramsey.

"BONDING TOUR" in the title suggests someone was in Ramsey, touring, with respect to "bonding."

Yet I have seen no record, paper item, set of handwritten notes, or other public data documenting any such official touring arising from the Landform-Ramsey contract. It could be DEED officials. It could be Jungbauer Senate colleagues. It could be almost anyone perhaps other than the DAR or some visiting Washington dignitary where it might have been mainstream press-worthy news.

If that draft item, again presented in full below, was an internal Landform working document for the Ramsey account saying "refine this text (DL/MJ)" that appears to fully discredit any claim that Landform maintained a Chinese Wall between the Senator and other employees servicing the Ramsey account.

I do not see how Landform could credibly even try to explain it in a way that keeps any contention of a Chinese Wall in place as insulating the Senator. They've not tried, at least not to me. My email inquiries were unanswered, except the first one, Darren Lazen contending  the Senator was due for surgery the evening of the all-day fish spearing fish-and-pony show he carried out in the Ramsey city hall. This screenshot, top item:

_______________FURTHER UPDATE__________
A reminder. In a Sept. 14, 2009 HRA meeting, p.5 of the minutes has this curious exchange [emphasis added]:
Commissioner McGlone stated we are trying to sell Ramsey as a unique opportunity. Because we are only 10 percent built out - that's a unique opportunity not found anywhere else. [sic] We can talk about what we are trying to do but they may have a specific thing in mind let them know we are open to whatever.

Commissioner Look asked where Senator Jungbauer is on the water recirculation grant.

Mr Lazan stated he is nervous about being too public on that.

Commissioner Look stated maybe we leave out the grant part but say we are interested in expanding on that.

[emphasis added.] This makes you say, "Huh?" Jungbauer and some kind of grant at issue? "Water recirculation grant?" It is out of the blue. It is limited discussion. It is irregular in many ways.

And "nervous." Nervous "about being too public on that"? There are many things in irregular situations, but being nervous about "going public" in an open meeting about city business, what does that mean? In that context, why, exactly, would "nervous" apply.

There is one other minutes reference I found about a "pilot program." Matt Look mentioning it as a cause back in the summer of 2009 as partial cause in his mind for initially hiring Landform. This quote from council work session, 14 Jul 2009 [later, televised at a regular council meeting, is when the measure passed barely, by 4-3 with the Mayor, Look, and McGlone in the majority, with Elvig, and with the minority objecting on having been sandbagged procedurally without prior hint or notice of Landform consultancy being an issue for consideration at that day's meetings], this colloquy:

City Administrator Ulrich reviewed the staff report. He distributed a proposal from Landform to
study the existing conditions and land use scenarios in the RTC.

Councilmember Dehen stated he has always been a proponent of a fair bidding process. He stated that he would like to be careful about these types of proposals because he thinks this will hurt Landform if the City moves forward with a competitive bid process.

Councilmember Look agrees that it would disadvantage Landform in an RFP process. He stated that he thinks there is some benefit in using this company because Senator Jungbauer works for them. He noted that the Senator is aware of pilot programs that are out there that may not be on everyone's radar screen which could be very beneficial to the City.

Councilmember Jeffrey agrees that Senator Jungbauer is a great resource but questions if the City has completed a proper competitive bid process. He stated that he isn't sure he has enough information to decide if this is the best time to move forward with this proposal or even with this company.

Mayor Ramsey stated that he feels the City needs to start moving and this would get us off the ground right away if it began working with Landform.

City Administrator Ulrich stated that this is a service contract so it wouldn't require a competitive bid for that reason. He noted that there are other proposals on the books, for example, from LSA, although he noted that he thinks some of the information may need to be updated to reflect the current situation. He stated that he did call some other cities that Landform has worked with and they received favorable reviews. He reviewed a flow chart of refining the vision for RTC and how a development manager would fit in.

Councilmember Jeffrey stated that later tonight the Council will make a decision on a towing company where the City has spent hours and hours discussing the vendors and now tonight the Council is being asked to make a decision that he personally has spent no time discussing.

Mayor Ramsey stated that with the towing contract there is acurrent contractor to consider and with the RTC the City is dead in the water because there is no current contractor or Development Manager and something needs to get moving. He stated that if there was more time he would support going through the RFP process.

[emphasis added]. Nothing in minutes conveys any actual and real air of emergency. It was a cramdown. Ulrich, Ramsey, and Look from the colloquy appear to have had advance knowledge. A brochure and a flow chart had been prepared, but were never added to the city's online meeting agenda.

The procedural ghost of James Norman practices walks the halls of his castle, apparently. Look even stated to a reporter [Sakry, Anoka County Union, 29Jul09] that leaving some on council in the dark until the thing was sprung on them was a premeditated consideration:

While he can understand the concerns of his fellow council members, open meeting laws kept them from having everyone at the Landform presentation [held for some, prior to the July 14, 2009 decision making], said Couincilmember Matt Look.

For projects less than $50,000, the city does not have to go out for RFPs, he said.

Square that with no RFP, ever, while Landform after having taken six figure money from Ramsey was, months later put onto a monthly in perpetuity but severable by either side flat-fee $15,000 monthly payment arrangement where no who-when-what-how detail accounting was of record for time spent by the Senator and other Landform insiders, ostensibly for Ramsey's benefit, was instituted - and never any bidding opportunity for other firms to address the council. Shotgun marriage, Landform-Ramsey, or what? That's an inference for you to decide. What official bloc held the shotgun, and against what others?

As to insider status on the "sense of urgency" theme song, (when in retrospect there clearly was none but the song was sung by those knowing the words), Sakry in the July 29, 2009 item further reported:

"It's time the city started taking the bull by the horns and it's going to take some money [to Landform] to get the ball rolling," Look said.

While LSA Design's work has been exemplary and it has found a lot of gratns for the city, he does not know if it is qualified to do some of the things that Landform can, said Elvig.

"Twenty-three thousand dollars is a small bite. There is a sense of urgency (to the project) now that the city owns (RTC)," he said.

He does not know if the city could afford the time the RFP process would take, Elvig said.

Dehen disagreed with Elvig on the sense of urgency.

It could be done in two weeks, he said.

[bracketed commentary added, parenthetical material in original] So, the Mayor in the minutes, echoed by Look and Elvig, in reporting, knew the lyrics of "Sense of Urgency My Friends." Get real. They had barely bought the farm then, the purchase of the distressed vacant land having closed June 26. What urgency, really. That's a total fabrication, from all the information I have seen on record. McGlone was the only vote for Landform that appeared to keep quiet at the meeting and to stay silent with members of the press. The other three were vocal, and Ulrich, flow chart in hand, distributor of the brochure at the meeting, showed his support in the minutes for the surprise effort but was not quoted by the press.

And there's more, six meetings worth, as the Sakry reporting further indicates:
The city should be using good business sense and allow more than one company to make a proposal on the RTC, Dehen said.

It is unacceptable that there have been six meetings on this and the rest of the council has not been kept up-to-date, Jeffrey said.
That is a total "six meetings" with Dehen, Wise, and Jeffrey being the unequal animals on Animal Farm? What do you call that besides shabby and highly irregular? Disdainful, is perhaps another word. It is the procedural James Norman ghost again afoot in his Norman Castle city hall.

Dehen, Wise, and Jeffrey are duly elected representatives of the citizens of Ramsey.

Others should never have kept things in the dark. And it looks far, far worse as things unfolded, per the further evidence and the range of reasonable inferences one can draw from facts.

Apparently nothing was done in any officially proper manner for a city to request and approve in advance legislative steps ostensibly seeking State money for a city capital project of uncertain final cost or effectiveness, a pipe dream water recycling thing that has never been tried before and hence has no assurance of success. It is a potential for a failed capital project in the middle of a failed land deal, taken on by an irrationally exuberant council deeming itself immune to procedural regularity.

Nothing I have found is about passing a resolution or ordinance or other official act toward seeking funding of any kind for a water project. Zippo. Nada.

Nothing I have found in Ramsey public data has any indication of anyone authorized to request bonding on behalf of Ramsey putting it of record that Mike Jungbauer would be pitching for over two and a half million of State money when budget deficits are rampant and when the Republicans are inventing "Taxin' Tarryl" language and creating bond requests out of thin air with no track record of a city request for it; what's happening?

_____________FURTHER UPDATE______________
There is a frustration in logging onto the City's documents via LaserFiche WebLink. Sometimes loggon is impossible, and when a document is identified such as a 350 page full agenda having say the name "Steffen" four times; it is sheer hell to find each instance and the system is deficient and in need of replacement. That said as a prelude to this update, via an ardurous LaserFiche WebLink search of 2009 and 20010 minutes for the council and the HRA meetings [council wearing different hats each time, same people, however] for the term "Jungbauer," this was discovered (why it was not returned in a listing from previous searches remains a mystery, the search function being 1980's search technology in use in the 21st century):

This shows an example of know-how and a will to properly (by resolution) request legislative assistance, and to adequately document the effort; but it is not for any pond, or water recycling, or for a shot at doing a nationwide trend setting greywater project, or for two million bucks to fund an experimental water project Landform was envisioning.

It is about the train stop. That they fully and properly documented.

Doing so shows an understanding of how to properly authorize and request legislative effort on behalf of a Ramsey goal or effort, when there is a will to properly proceed. Why no such step was taken by those knowing how to properly authorize and request the Jungbauer bill for over two million of earmarked funds is unclear. Why, strangely, the money is not to not be a direct and uncomplicated grant to the city, but is routed obliquely through DEED is also unclear. Indeed it appears that no Landform employee was ever officially tasked by Ramsey to seek such legislation, from anything I have uncovered, so that it remains a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma.

_______________FURTHER UPDATE_______________
As to timing and procedure, initial Landform contracting with Ramsey began 14 July 2009 when the 4-3 council vote on a proposed $23,000 contract was recorded in minutes and reported later in the month by ABC Newspapers. A contractual posture has been ongoing since then to the present, initially with monthly invoicing by Landform until the situation was strangely shifted to a flat-fee structure, i.e., where individual activity within Landform's employee group billed as or contended to have been done in behalf of the City no longer needed to be recorded in any itemized way within City records.

It is a strange way to do professional services.

This is an irregularity.

Even Bill Goodrich who has been City Attorney for years, has to provide detailed professional services billings for his time and that of firm affiiliates. Yet where a State Senator is on the Landform payroll, and touted as a water resources key employee, and a water resources bonanza situation arises with little or no paper trail and there is clear knowledge and will to document things cleanly for the train stop situation, you would expect a reputable and wholly unimpeachable process would be wanted by the private contractor, where detailed itemized statements were of record that could, ostensibly, shield the State Senator from any awkward appearance or questioning over possible potential impropriety.

In representations from Landform to induce Ramsey to contract with the firm, Senator Jungbauer is prominently identified as a key person in the firm, along with his proffered expertise [excerpted pages are presented, not the entire fifteen pages]:

(Red marginal bulleting added) Not a single past project is noted as involving experimental water recycling, nor is there anything listed as having been started after 2006, with only one item running to 2008 for completion. The firm must have been hard up when courting Ramsey, with all of its key people concerned about the firm's cash flow situation in the down market.

That 15 page item is dated weeks prior to the July meeting where the council barely approved dealings with Landform, but first presented to council members Dehen, Wise, and Jeffrey at the untelevised work session before the meeting vote was televised, was provided by the City in response to my request for the paper items that the Council had before it in making its July 2009 decision by a 4-3 vote to do business with the Landform firm and its people.

Indeed, the June 19, 2009 date on the document's front page is quite troubling. This stuff was stewing away on the stove, cooking, before Ramsey closed on buying the entirety of the failed distressed vacant land of the Town Center - Met Council livable community dream; without any assurance at the time [indeed it still is uncertain] whether Ramsey would ever get a Northstar stop. How this dove-tailing of behind-the-scenes maneuvering influenced that unfortunate decision to socialize the thing, to buy highly speculative land and compete with private sector land promotions elsewhere in the state and in the nation, is uncertain but suggestive that Landform played an inducing role behind the scenes in a non-public way, in that unfortunate, flawed, expensive decision. Socialism by a pack of Republicans is my term for it, with Look, McGlone, and Ramsey [along with Jungbauer] having been delegates to the Senate District 48 GOP decision making, and for the GOP convention to select a candidate for Governor.

Republican socialism, must be okay, unlike scorned socialism from any other quarter, perhaps as a different Koolaid flavor, or something. [Elvig, is the lone one of the four voting in July 2009 to hire the Landform firm who apparently was not a GOP delegate with Jungbauer, but he was one of the four junketeers to Vegas, later in the saga.]

Regarding price and terms of "buying the farm," I have this June 25, 2010  email information from Diana Lund, Ramsey's CFO [bracketed material being added in explanation and/or as editorializing]:

The City closed on the property on June 26, 2009.

The following actions transpired:

Minnwest Bank was responsible for the payment of delinquent property taxes in the amount of $1,329,212 and current taxes through June 25 of $341,284 or a grand total of $1,670,496 for property taxes related to the RTC parcels.

The net amount that Minnwest received at closing was $5,056,529 after taxes and deed tax. [Hence although the bank tendered the check to Anoka County so that it got its back taxes paid one hundred cents on the dollar, the money came out of Ramsey and was a flow-through to the County.]

The City paid $6,764,479 which was the land costs of $6,750,000, 5 days of interest(June 26-June 30) at $7,129 with the remainder closing fees & Title Insurance.

Council at an earlier date elected to abate the special assessments.  At the time of the abatement, Anoka county had the special assessments recorded at $8,704,791.  This was represented as such:
Principal:   $5,851,197
Interest applied by the City at 6.3% from 2/22/05-Dec 31, 2009:    $1,420,976
Penalties and interest applied by the county from 2/22/08:        $1,432,618

Grand total:  $8,704,791

[Meaning that the city not only paid nearly seven million cash for the badlands, but comprimised an additional tax and assessment arrearage of nearly nine million. Fifteen million plus, altogether, for a gambler's shot at rehabbing the thing and with Jungbauer - Landform apparently eager to do a pond scheme.]

At a HRA meeting on April 13, 2010, council chose to be paid back for the principal only of the assessments from future land sales [if any] of the Town Center parcels.  The reason being, that the City did not have to bond for funds to pay for the land purchase or any projects within Town Center in which the special assessments were applicable, and the penalties and principal from the county should not be applicable as these were just additional fees.  The feeling being that the removal of penalties and interest brings the land costs into a more reasonable saleable value. [Somehow, but then if there's a true and legitimate recapture intent down the line, removing the tax-and-assessment lien seems to be a difference in form but not substance.]

[They are gambling with city money, from reserve accounts and not via current bonding or taxing, and any claim of reduction of taxation in 2010 must be viewed from the perspective of a massive withdrawal from reserves, consciously done, thereby allowing the "no tax hike" claim to be made (but with the drum beating ignoring details of drawing down reserves and compromising liens). See email wrap-up, below.]

As for the funding of the RTC land the following funds were used:

 Internal transfer from water & sewer funds $4,650,000 (to be repaid from future land sales)
 Anoka County HRA-Reserves held by the county for City related to Savannah Oaks project:  Approx:  $600,000
 Letter of Credit Proceeds(From original $3m LOC from RTC) $1,500,000.

I hope this helps to clarify your questions below.


More troubling still, is while all that was being before the council, an unannounced, in the background set of shadow dealings and pronouncements and inducements were being made by Landform which were material to the decision making of whether or not to buy the farm. And some of those making that multi-million dollar decision were being deliberately excluded from material information that might impact a decision - that some officials were considering not merely taking title and waiting, but were aggressively dealing with a single firm in relative secret to do otherwise and to pay that firm in the process.

What were the presentations by Landform behind the backs of some while the land purchase had not yet been concluded? We can only guess. There has been no paper trail maintained or disclosed. It can be reasonably anticipated that Landform insiders were pushing, prodding, advancing their firm's interests, and worse of all possibilities, perhaps having an influence indirectly on the purchase situation.

Given that at the July 2009 vote approving a contract between the city and Landform, at least three of the council members had previiously voted to close a multi-million land deal while kept fully in the dark about what Landform was up to, with other city officials - would you call such procedures irregular?

I do. SEC Rule 10b-4 gives some suggestion about "material misstatements or omissions" in disclosure being improper. And there's no credible dance around the fact that key decision makers were not accorded the material information others had. A material omission, so to speak.

The evidence for saying that Landform contacts, with some happened before the June 26 closing: See for example  the second screenshot page of the above solicitation item pages, referencing "our previous discussions" without further detail with the date on the face page being June 19, 2009 so that pivotal discussion was afoot at least two weeks before the deal with the bank and county on its taxes closed - and with a substantial portion of the council in the dark about the pond scheme and other ideas others were actively discussing.

That leaves much to the imagination of who from Landform spoke to who, from Ramsey. What is known is the item was addressed to Ulrich, and we know Lazan, Look, and Jungbauer are "Facebook friends."

(Don't expect the current Lazan Facebook page to look like the Google Cache page from mid-May of this year - different friends show up and a liking for "City of Ramsey" no longer is on the page (although any dislike is not strong enough to cause Landform to sever the contract.) Also, Google put the highlighting into the page to flag the search terms in the document's body, while I added the red underlining.)

In comparison to itemized billing with work descriptions and time allocation, (the overwhelming prevailing norm in professional services contracting for a city wanting an unimpeachable paper trail), flat-fee changeover creates the opposite impression, to the public, one of choosing to shield factual detail from the cleansing sunshine of public data status. Remember - as long ago as 1914, Justice Brandies characterized sunshine as "the best disinfectant."

There is no previous [pre-contract] record of any water-related bill sponsorship by the Senator for Ramsey's ostensible benefit, certainly none in the two million dollar plus range, and it only happened after the Senator's employer was hired under lucrative terms by Ramsey; the date of origination of Senate Bill SF 2500, the bill imaged above, being 9 Feb 2010, a date well after a cash flow from Ramsey to Landform of roughly $15,000 per month had become an established pattern, July 2009 or thereabouts, onward.

The Senator sponsored no comparable water-related legislation for any other city or town within his district, (neither before nor after the Ramsey-Landform contract status began), while Ramsey was accorded such attention only afterward.

The Senator, with Lazan of Landform and Ulrich of Ramsey appeared at an Economic Development Association of Minnesota 21-22 Jan 2010 winter meeting in downtown Minneapolis, touting that water recycling was an appaently pivotal thing in the minds of all three, and "the City must find a way to provide a long-term sustainable water solution that will allow the anticipated development to occur. Therefore, the City of Ramsey has been considering additional ways to reduce, reuse and recycle water in their community. The City has requested State funding for a pilot program that could set a national example for protecting and recycling water, which virtually eliminates discharge to the adjacent Mississippi River and protects our natural resources while allowing development to occur." [emphasis added]

What state funding was requested prior to Jan. 21, 2010, and from whom, is left to guessing, there being no paper trail offered to substantiate such a public representation. We know only the actual bill this session was not tendered the legislature until, as noted, 9 Feb. 2010. That is weeks after the downtown propaganda presentation.

That is inconsistent with use of the past tense in representing to the development group that, at the time of the meeting, effort had already been advancing. If so, it appears to have been so without any paper trail disclosed to me in response to a public data discovery request (as well as inquisitive email to Landform), so there is yet more uncertainty, murkiness, where an incentive and need to dot every "i" and cross every "t" should have been apparent to all.

Lack of a paper trail produces the exact opposite impression that a clear and unequivocally definitive one would generate.

It is incomprehensible to me how prior to January 22, 2010, the city "has requested State funding for a pilot program that could set a national example for protecting and recycling water," without there being application papers of some kind to show for it. Yet that's so far the official story. And the city has produced no application papers from any date, much less from prior to Jan. 22, 2010, while if in city files it would be public data with disclosure appropriate under my reading of Minnesota law.

_______________FURTHER UPDATE_____________
Perhaps it goes without saying, but $2,620,000 is not an insubstantial amount. The irregular lack of a paper trail concerning such a vast possible windfall for Ramsey, at times when the Ramsey Town Center situation is troubled and positive "spin" is being applied elsewhere in an apparent propaganda blitz; the long ongoing "back burner" status of over two and a half million dollars of public money, taxpayer money, is a staggering negligent and/or improper thing.

The obvious question - were the grant to have been realized - what were the spending plans?

What part of any such grant would have been earmarked to be dedicated to Landform post-grant effort, the entity and the individuals within it, in planning. It is inconceivable that with a potential two and a half million on the table, planning was absent.

When it appears the city has no set of papers indicating what would be done, where, by whom, in any way coordinated with DEED, the agency that presumably would be more than a cash conduit, then perhaps someone should be asking DEED officials, "What do you know about all this?"

It would be a start to flesh out the skeleton. I will not say "rattling skeleton" or "buried skeleton" as that terminology suggests conclusions hard to reach with any certainty, from the very highly irregular situation of two and a half million of State money being sought in hard times, for a grant that is wholly a ghost - insubstantial as to reasons, plans, and disbursement intent.

The who, what, where, when, how, why questions are unanswered and it is improper for a city, a consulting firm, a Minnesota Senator, and others to conduct public business that way.

Something in it for Mike? Anything is possible with that kind of irregular paper trail. Proving specific things circumstantially in such an instance is not easy, since alternative inferences can be drawn many of which are wholly innocent and untainted - but absent some cogent and readily offered and credible set of official explanations for lack of a paper trail, at Ramsey, from the Senator, and from DEED, over effort and intent to direct an uncertain future for $2.6 million of taxpayer cash; that is the single most damning circumstantial evidence imaginable when these are people knowing how to document things sufficiently when they want to and knowing they have a duty to do so, all or most as public servants, with the Senator and Ramsey elected and administrative officials in that category, with Darren Lazan not so.

And it is a bunch of self-proclaimed "fiscal conservatives" that are prolonging silence about what it is all about.

Matt Look on August 5, 2009, sent me an email stating in relevant part:

This has to do with Jungbauer. By the way, he works for Landform, it is not his company. Jungbauer has a lead on pilot program dollars totally up to 2 million in which we can design into our town center plan and be eligible to receive. These are not open to the public grant dollars....where everyone competes. These are dollars that he can use if he provides a water recycle project in his district...the first in the state. That is why we chose Landform. That reason would be above and beyond the excellent recommendations we received from communities that have hired them in the past.

Everything is above board on this one. We did not have to go through a 60-90 day RFP. There is at least one other communities on the "hunt" for these dollars and we would rather not have them eat our lunch.

Ask yourself:

First, how does that expressed worry that no other community "eat our lunch" square with the Jan. 2010 public touting of what was represented then as formulated plans that could be trend-setting in scope, at an Economic Development Association of Minnesota event which was professionals talking to professionals about municipal "innovation" with that very public forum being addressed on topic by a State Senator, also an employee of a services contracting firm, a city administrator, and a proffered head of the services firm; where any need to limit "pilot program dollars" awareness of other municipalities is wholly absent in the circumstances?

Second, how does the date of SF 2500 introduction, Feb. 2010, square with the allegation of "a lead on pilot program dollars totally up to 2 million," as the Matt Look email represented to be a situation in existence and having substance prior to August 5, 2009?

Did Jungbauer know of any actual $2 million dollar lead, and if so, why would he have had to put a Feb. 2010 bill in the hopper for two million? A "lead" is far different from an "intent."

And an intent, conditional upon a consultancy contract first coming into being, is a troubling possibility; i.e., running the Look email statement in with the fact that Landform was hired in part because of a two million dollar potentiality, but that the two million having substance - in favor of Ramsey - only happened after Ramsey began paying money to Landform makes things look suspect.

What is the role of DEED in things? The SF 2500 bill would have used DEED as conduit for the cash to Ramsey? This is the agency that in the past has swapped Pawlenty chief of staff individuals into and out of DEED's executive director's office. With that history, and Minnesota's aggressive investigative press and an aggressive opposition party in a watchdog posture, one would expect DEED at least would want a flawless paper trail. All the "i's" dotted, all the "t's" crossed.

Finally, in response to a request for the City's paper trail on the water recycling experiment scope and funding plans, documentation for the timing of its genesis, evolution and actualization effort, only one document was offered me as existing in city hands, from Brian Olson in engineering through Kurt Ulrich, this four page preliminary draft item:

That's it. Apparently nothing else on paper. One undated preliminary draft. But a quite interesting one.

That seems to say that Jungbauer had an actual role in preparation of the document, [the last page boxed note about "verify/refine this text DL,MJ"], and the seeming purpose of the item, some kind of tour at Ramsey Town Center in relation to bonding, a "BONDING TOUR." Who toured, when, with what official position, and who hosted that tour. And was any Jungbauer activity in that billed out to Ramsey as a service provided by Landform? Depending on when it happened, before or after the flat-fee arrangement was put in place, there might be an invoice from Landform to Ramsey showing Jungbauer time being billed, and describing the professional activity or function his time was being billed for. I need to have a second shot at looking at the full set of invoices. The last time I went to have a look, Mayor Ramsey was there and we spoke at length during the time I had planned to examine paperwork. I am certain there will be no problem in again getting a chance to have a look.

The rendering of ponding and a piping scheme on the document's last page page suggests Landform was in a position to be front-running any competitive bidder on any grant project, were a grant to have been funded. They already had conceptualization done, and presented, to some uncertain at present audience, to influence such an audience, in some as yet uncertain fashion. That a specific audience was envisioned is clear from the first page sidebar Mayor's welcome statement, "Thank you for visiting Ramsey. [...] Our residents and I wish you a great visit." If you are as I am, a resident of Ramsey, do you wonder who we were wishing a great visit to; i.e., who was on this "BONDING TOUR"? Wouldn't you be comfortable seeing it documented in city records who we were well-wishing?


A cynic might view the entire exercise as Senator Jungbauer offering a bill seeking to have $2.6 million of state funds passed through two amenable intermediaries, DEED and City of Ramsey, to ultimately land in whole or substantial part, potentially, with Senator Jungbauer and/or a range of members of the firm employing him as his livelihood. What Ramsey might realize on the ground could be a total disaster, or a sound and functioning ideally low-maintenance system . But that is irrelevant to how the cash would flow and where it would ultimately land among the players, including the Senator seeking the bond funding by a bill he alone authored, and the Senator working on the firm that is drawing steady money out of City of Ramsey.

It could end up as a kind of a boost of livelihood potential, at taxpayer expense, above and beyond the legislative salary every Minnesota Senator is paid. A bonus. Of a kind. Self-arranged. Other scenarios are of course possible, and no crystal ball is precise in knowing the future. But the mere possibilities of things are offensive, to me at least, and I leave readers to make their own assessment.

Again, my two possible solutions. First, Ramsey can cast off Landform's contract on thirty days notice and there is cause to do so so that the city can appear more credible than otherwise.

Second, any funding Jungbauer obtains legislatively should be sanitized by being off-limits for Landform to dig into in any amount. That second option has the unfortunate dimension of the giant tick attachment syndrome, it does nothing about the ongoing fifteen thousand a month removal of city funds that Landform currently is allowed by officials whose purpose is to serve the public interest.

__________FURTHER UPDATE___________
The Mayor mentioned to me at one time that John Dehen refused to sign a Landform contract document as chair of the HRA because Dehen believed the purchased Ramsey Town Center destressed vacant land should have been purchased and held, without Landform being on a consultancy contract to promote the thing as a publicly owned land development promotion. And that Dehen thought in agreeing to the purchase in the first place that a customer for the bloc of land would be sought to take on the risk-reward position of prime developer, not the city.

I believe the Mayor correct on that being the position Dehen had back in July-August 2009, just after the purchase closed and Landform's tracks began showing up.

However, the item Dehen refused to sign was NOT an initial contract in the summer 2009 time frame, but the cut over from an itemized billing status to flat-fee where Landform could avoid accounting for the who-what-when-how aspects of itemized hourly billing. That was months after the initial Landform dealings. It was well after Landform's status as propaganda promoter was set and had been paid thousands upon thousands of city dollars. Here is the document, dated, showing it was the flat-fee cutover timeframe that Jeffrey signed when Dehen refused [I remember the firing of Archibald Cox as Nixon special prosecutor went to a third choice after two "not me" resignations, before Robert Bork agreed to the eternal ignominy of being the hireling to fire Cox at Nixon's beck and call]. Dehen refused to put his signature to the flat-fee device.

Everyone should have a favorite statute.

For the way the HRA is acting now, the council members wearing their other set of hats, my favorite statute is Minn. Stat. Sect. 471.832, Subd. 2, since it also stands for good cause for Ramsey to never establish a Port Authority.

The Veterans Clinic. Jim Deal's effort is reported by ABC Newspapers, with one thing gaining my interest. His reliance on professionals.

[UPDATE NOTE: Readers should consult a subsequent Crabgrass post, this link, where I correct a misimpression that only the Landform firm was involved in the City's VA clinic proposal. When I last spoke with the mayor at city hall, he showed me a number of wall renderings apparently done by Landform, and no materials that were expressly identified to me as work output of any other firm. That and the Sakry reporting of Deal having a team without mention of any city team led me to wrongly conclude that only Landform, the only firm I was aware of, worked alone on the city proposal without other firms participating. The referenced subsequent link presents more info.]

Tammy Sakry reported in relevant part:

The clinic will be located at the northeast corner of Sapphire Street and Civic Center Drive.

With the soon-to-be constructed Allina Clinic and now the VA clinic, it is going to be a good medical complex, Deal said.

It also opens up the possibility of other medical-related businesses coming to Ramsey, he said.

While the VA is not talking about how the site was chosen, Deal believes one of the reasons that the PSD proposal was approved was the team he brought in, he said.

His team, which includes the Mark Davis Group and Timco Construction, specializes in medical facilities, Deal said.

So Jim Deal hired seasoned capable professionals, and got the contract. City of Ramsey hired Darren and Mike, and got expensive wall art pastel poster renderings. But they're local.

There is both a lesson, and a thirty day contract termination clause that has yet to be exercised by the city; may it happen soon.

When I talked to Kurt days ago about a data request regarding water ponding, I would have thought he'd have mentioned this, the city requesting, somehow and supposedly with a paper trail, funding for a pilot program that could be a national trend setter.

Is there anyone with knowledge about why there has been no paper trail shown for this landmark "Innovations" effort of the Landform insiders, the Senator and possibly the others going to the State for funding? In times of touting "the COR" incessantly, why is this all under a hat? Is there some concern for hiding and not propagandizing such stuff, a Senator applying for a grant his employer and he tout at trade shows, but not being proudly broadcast to the local folks, who presumably are to be treated as mushrooms.

Why? What's to hide? Who do you suppose picked up the conference attendance tab for the three attending? Paying for parking, etc.?  I think I need to request again to see Landform's billings to Ramsey, for January 2010.

NOTE: The current facebook page seems to have altered friendships shown than on the cache image, but the Google Cache is dated as to when it was captured, second quarter, 2010 - after the trade conference downtown, where the "pilot program" presentation was an agenda item. The text highlighting on the page is Google's, showing occurences of my search terms on the page. Red underlining was added by me to the saved cache image. I do point out, cronyism and friendship have overlapping but also differing definitions. All the facebook page says, is "friends."

First, fire all the planners. "The SAC is empty." A drama in three acts.

Well, Met Council will not fire all the planners. Crisis or not, that option is off the table. It is inconceivable to their entire Gestalt. It would shake their timbers and rattle their walls.

Crisis or not, however, they should do it.

Anyway, the three acts, below, are from this web link.

As always, click an image to enlarge and read. Why three Acts? Blogger has a bug where a long column of text gets compressed in storage to where you click but the text and resolution is unreadable - so it needs chopping up, and I tried to find rational demarcation points.

I do not pretend to be expert in reading bureaucratese, only bureaucrats are, but I think the drift is these guys were running something like a Ponzi scheme on SAC money, growing income in from SAC used to fund expansion and everything else and it was only possible because ever increasing SAC money could cover the cash outflows. Then the ever increasing SAC money ceased to ever increase and Chicken Little crisis mode ensued. Now they say SAC should only be used, and earmarked for, growth.

Well there are two options, and the article only dealt honestly with one.

That option, raising the monthly charges to support non-growth functioning.

The other Darth Vader dark side of the force option is of course, if there is a community, say Ramsey where I live, where new construction has dropped off but where there exists in-ground piping, and not every existing home is connected, SAC money can be extorted by forcing hookups regardless of whether any "not on my watch" assurances had been given by individual Met Council members. If that option is in the works deep in the secret bowels of the machine, it could be enough for one who gave "not on my watch assurances" to terminate it being her watch.

I don't say it was that way. I do not know. I am saying "could have been," and nobody invited me to any table where discussions were had. An outsider, looking in, making a range of plausible inferences based a lot on guesswork. In case - just in case - such movements might be at all at play, my thought is we need the strongest most honest and uncompromised representation at the County level, because that is perhaps a high enough level to challenge such mischief, and to not as a political reality, get "Lake Elmo'ed" by the big sumo.

My vote is to not risk putting a fox in charge of the Anoka County henhouse, that way, but every person has only one vote, to choose and use. I don't call the shots. I just think of all those minnions of planners, and Dylan, about "a lot of knives and forks on the table. Gotta eat something."

League of Women Voters Anoka County Board candidate forum will be tomorrow, details on the post.

To start I am unsure of any broadcast coverage plans,  channel outlets, live and rebroadcasting, etc. If I learn anything that way I will add an UPDATE, and any reader with broadcast info is urged to email or post a comment.

The information I have is that the Board Districts that will have primary elections Aug. 10 will participate; and for any race having at least two candidates showing up, there will be participation regardless of whether one or more candidates stay home as a tactic or strategy.

Tomorrow, July 29, 6:30 - 8:pm, with sequencing among the races uncertain to me. Each district involved will get equal time.

County Hall ("County Government Center" - the New Building, Entrance on 3rd Ave.),
7th Floor, County Board Meeting Room.

This forum is open to the public and the LWV welcomes as great a citizen turnout as possible.

Please visit the League of Women Voters - Minnesota website:

The best info I have, northmetro TV will be the broadcast channel, and where that is on your dial depends on your cable provider and/or dish network channel assignments - I believe it is Channel 15, for Ramsey. The daily schedule for tomorrow should be available online in the morning, this link:

More untelevised mischief making by City of Ramsey's HRA.

This link; for a less than informative agenda [no full agenda having referenced attachments available, to my knowledge]. This lead page:

Another consultant, Ehlers, Inc., to nurse off Ramsey, Landform perhaps not being enough. It seems a more conservative approach, if we had conservatives beyond lip service to the thought, would be to quit spending money like a drunken sailor on leave in port in Bangkok.

More: This Ehlers Inc. mention. It worries me beyond being yet one more cash sinkhole in Sandbur Center. They are bonding consultants. This website.

Ben Dover the Ramsey Taxpayer, why are you smiling, as if in expectation?

And what's that stuff on the agenda about young people wanting "green" homes on small lots? It sounds like hooey to me.

It sounds as if the planning is that is what will be offered them, like it or love it. More "Planners Know Best" rubbish. How much is enough?

Realistically Ramsey is not a desirable site as is downtown or around the University. If they had sidewalks, they'd roll them up at six pm, Coborns excepted. Anoka has all the bars catering to that age segment. Ramsey? Go figure? Amber Miller, come on now.

There is also the following item online, about people with this website.

Is this for real? Interest in "the COR"? Form your opinion. I will trust it when/if they break ground. What subsidy, TIF or otherwise do you expect? What are they anticipating? What are they representing as their plans, hopes and dreams, for "the COR"? Enjoy.

Without the Ehlers item online to give any hints of what involvement, if any, they might have, how should we connect the dots? Three dots I see are:  ridership is low, Met Council is low on SAC money and more grant stingy than ever, and Ramsey has been told "Do it Yourself" regarding a train stop for a minuscule showing of ridership not justifying a fourteen million dollar plunge.

But this is not reality this is Ramsey.

Anything can happen as Alice moves about Wonderland. I see that monster fourteen million dollar dot, I see a dot labeled "Ehlers - bonding advisor" and do the other dot details matter?

The HRA is getting restless. Like the casino gambler trying desperately to recoup something after losses, by being a plunger and not a rational economic entity.

A passing thought, hoepfully these Flaherty-Collins people won't think one restaurant is enough or that they have to handed a Gieger counter to find us a second one. Or is this more of the same old song, a focus here, a focus there, but if it is a restaurant you want go to Riverdale, go downtown. That is tiring when it seems as eternal and predictable as the tides I remember from living on the west coast.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

After years of urging, prodding, pushing, and egging on, Met Council has given Ramsey - - - advice.

Completely Revised and Updated, indeed! And who would you figure signed the "Your ridership sucks" letter? Batman and Robin?

No ---

It was a different dynamic duo.


Review the evidence. Below. It happened at the beginning of the year in January 2010 before anyone on any council, with or without an Aiken declaration, decided it was time to move on, and seek Dennis Berg's now-we-know-it vacated seat. Things in the winter then somehow failed to gain the attention they merit. Primary time, given circumstances, seems a good time to revisit history that we can learn from.

Starting from a 12 Jan. 2010 [untelevised] Ramsey City Council Work Session agenda, as prelude to a 26 Jan. 2010 [untelevised] Work Session:

with this in the meeting minutes:

After a wait of two weeks, there was the 26 Jan. 2010 dropping-of-the-hammer per these pages of minutes, luminaries in attendance for the event:

This we'll-hold-your-coat flavor of assurances was given after Ramsey had bought the farm, so to speak, in reliance upon - who knows, earlier Met Council assurances, what? Bought the farm for millions cash, and yet more millions in compromised tax and assessments.

But we do have this, a $340,000 Met Council grant paying six figures of this seven figure necessary improvement spending. Click to enlarge and read.

Somehow, from that metro-wide operation, the token grant seems like leaving twenty bucks on the dresser on the way out.

Monday, July 26, 2010

A modest proposal for governmental reform, arguably aimed at greater accountability to and power for the sovereign people and their voting.

There has been public complaint that Metropolitan Council members are appointed and not elected.

The Metropolitan Council has the power to tax.

It is a local unit of government and not a statewide administrative agency such as DNR, MnDOT, or DEED. DEED is allowed to tax, as part of its administering the State's unemployment insurance pool, just as DNR can issue hunting and fishing licenses, or as motor vehicle licensing taxes are collected by agency administration.

My modest proposal; amend State Constitution, Article XII, Section 3, first sentence as follows existing text of the Section being unaltered, italics being new inserted language:

Sec. 3. Local government; legislation affecting. The legislature may provide by law for the creation, organization, administration, consolidation, division and dissolution of local government units and their functions, for the change of boundaries thereof, for their elective and appointive officers including qualifications for office and for the transfer of county seats; except that no unit of local government may have taxing power without being governed by a board or council elected by the people with each seat being on the ballot every even numbered year and with such board or council having full, total jurisdiction over staff. A county boundary may not be changed or county seat transferred until approved in each county affected by a majority of the voters voting on the question.

Killing two birds with one stone seems a sufficient idea to have become an old saying. Here we have three birds, the question of city manager vs. city administrator is resolved constitutionally; unlike present City of Ramsey government we could vote the entire pack of rascals out every two years; and Met. Council could either be stripped of its taxing powers or the individual council eeat holders would have to be answerable to the electorate every two years, while election by district or at large would be left to the discretion of the legislature, although I favor district accountability.

Ramsey at large candidate Gary Greb has suggested the two year situation for Ramsey in an email to me, and I cannot see it as wrong or inapplicable in other situations. Ms. Steffen's use of her multi-term Metropolitan Council seat has been the genesis of my thinking those seat holders might function differently if collectively accountable every two years to the electorate. They might even weed out crabgrass from our garden towns and counties, instead of loving and nurturing it as has been the case in recent Met Council history.

My recollection of grade school civics lessons, some old farts a few hundred years ago were raising trouble with slogans such as to imply "taxation without representation" was a bad thing.

I suspect such people these days would be called "troublemakers" by some segments of Anoka County's people, within their whispering campaigns.

My recollection of the civics classes is that the "troublemakers" were given a kinder view in retrospect, "patriots" and other terms being substituted, but then they won the war. The winner always gets to write the history books.

_________FURTHER UPDATE____________
Notice that I left the question of local government term limits out of the proposal. That was to keep it modest, to not get into more hotly disputed notions. Bob Ramsey is a diligent office holder, but would it be a healthy thing if he were in office as long as earlier City of Ramsey mayors or should the field of civic opportunity be plowed frequently? I expect having everyone on two year reelection cycles would counter tendencies toward entrenchment in office, and given how it's a pain to drive rebar for signs, tightening the election cycling might discourage the situation where it seems the candidates with the most, biggest, and most prominently sited signs have an edge in down-ticket races.

Anything lessening the sign proliferation or tending in that direction would be reform - but we as a nation value free speech so sign-proliferation disincentives rather than curbs should be considered. Perhaps a special and steep tax on sign printers might be one answer. They'd squeal, but that would be regulating commerce, not speech. I have often wondered how big a warehouse or rural barn conglomerate arrangement, somewhere, Jim Abeler has to store his signs between elections. The scale of storage must be massive.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Gary Greb, one of the Ramsey candidates for the At-Large seat wrote a published LTE earlier this year. It suggests an issue stance.

The letter is among several, this link, but I post it entirely as published to lessen any need to search.

January 15, 2010

Residents are ignored

To the Editor:

Many businessmen have got into politics to honestly represent the people who elected them to do so. There was honor in these men.

Unfortunately, we also get those businessmen who get into politics for other reasons.

Although this has been accepted to a certain point, it seems that some of the Ramsey City Council members have taken it to a new and disturbing level.

Over the years that I have been a resident here, it just seems to get worse with each election. Starting back when the council built the “Town Center” built in the most desolate part of Ramsey that existed at that time.

I do not remember anyone living in this area at the time that wanted it in the first place, but it was built anyway. Why? Because they can (the Ramsey City Council). No listening to the residents.

Fast forward to the present. Now it buys the same foreclosed property that we never wanted in the first place with taxpayer money, then decides to hold a meeting to ask us what we want to do with it.

Why, they do not listen to us residents anyway. That is well documented. They built a huge city hall with a multi-level parking ramp that is always empty, but I do not remember them asking me if that is how I want my tax money spent.

Why, because they can. Again, it is on the farthest end of Ramsey. The old city hall location was suitable and more centrally located to the people at that time.

There is no accountability to the residents from the Ramsey Council members who were sworn to represent us, but obviously choose not to.

Where is the honor in that? They will accept petitions from some residents and reject other residents’ petitions even though they are totally legal and are from the residents they said they would represent. Why? Because they can.

To date they have never publicly defended any of the complaints from the residents and choose to ignore the residents whose tax dollars pay their salaries, and then to have no public comment.

The only recourse we have against the Ramsey City Council is to take legal action at our own expense as one gentleman did, according to a recent article in the Anoka County Union, to fight for justice, while the Ramsey City Council uses our tax dollars to fight against us, who it is supposed to represent.

I even have an e-mail from a council member laughing at me for this same reason when I suggested this type of possible action in the past, when its decision making was in question. I still have the e-mail for documentation,

It is only one of the few times where the Ramsey Council actually responded back to me as a resident with any kind of answer in writing.

I would love to be one of their personal business employees when they would ask me to account for something I did on the job that I was working on and I could just ignore them without any repercussions, forcing them to have to take legal action at their own expense to get their questions answered, while I could use their company money to represent me.

I guess we have no one to blame but ourselves since we were foolish enough to put them into office in the first place.

Some day there may be honor again in being on the Ramsey City Council, but I would not expect it in the near future, after all when you can do what you want and spend as much as you want of other people’s money without justifying your actions, or asking for their approval, and use that same money to combat the taxpayers who try to make the council members accountable. What incentive is there to change?

Gary Greb

I do not believe that a candidate for office will have ABC Newspapers publish any letters to editor between the filing period and the election resolving their candidacy. I believe ABC does not draw the line at crony letters about a candidate. I would. Everyone has friends who like them and would say a good word in an LTE. I prefer LTE submissions on issues, not candidates. I am almost certain ABC has a policy against publishing any negative letters about candidates between filing and election day. If there's anyone knowing for sure what ABC policy is, a brief comment would be appreciated.

Again to be clear, Bob Sibilski is my primary-election choice among the five candidates. If Sibilski would not be a candidate, from what I know and have seen, I probably would vote for Greb. In my ideal world the general election choice after the primary vote would be between the two. Sibilski is strong on wetland protection and sound buffering. He is an engineer. Greb, as I understand things is retired after years of experience as an HR executive for Qwest.

I do not believe that this election cycle any candidate in the at-large field has large land holdings in the close or extended family, so that conflict of interest that way is a non-factor.

Big Walter Smith's Ramsey event.

The Ramsey flyer, online at this link, says:


Big Walter's website online calendar has the booking noted, this link:


Thursday, July 22, 2010

The biggest rebranding since the Bushco war was renamed Operation Iraqi Freedom, (changed from Operation Iraqi Liberation) - Rove, et al., liking the old name but thinking the new acronym was more indirect.

This link, excerpted:

With new name, a fresh start sought for Ramsey Town Center: Ramsey Town Center now COR for a fresh start
Posted on: Thu, 22 Jul 2010 03:06:21 EDT -
(Pioneer Press - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) --

Goodbye, Ramsey Town Center; hello, COR.

Ramsey officials have rebranded the beleaguered 322-acre mixed-use development they hope one day will become the heart of the city. Changing the Ramsey Town Center name is meant to shed bad memories that have included federal convictions against some of its financial backers.

"There are potential negative connotations with the old Ramsey Town Center name," Mayor Bob Ramsey said. Officials say the new name unofficially symbolizes "City of Ramsey" or the "Center of Ramsey."

Ramsey is not the only north metro city to consider rebranding an embattled project.

In May, the city of Arden Hills began referring to land for sale on the Twin Cities Army Ammunition Plant as Northern Pointe after more than a decade of environmental cleanup and a developer dropping out of the project the year before. New Brighton officials have talked about a new image for the Northwest Quadrant development, the subject of a large-scale environmental cleanup.

Darren Lazan, development manager for the COR project, said renaming Ramsey Town Center "allows us to have a new identity and fresh start. It was once a private development that failed."

The $1.3 billion Ramsey Town Center project experienced several setbacks starting as early as 2003. A loan went into default two years later, and an investigation revealed money was mismanaged.

[...] the city of Ramsey is trying its best to move on. Last year, it purchased 150 acres of the 322-acre site.

COR's boundaries were redrawn to include existing homes on the northeast corner of the site, expanding the entire project to include 410 acres.

Officials also are moving forward with securing commercial, retail, residential and recreational development. Housing has been scaled back to about 1,500 homes, and project plans have changed to be more "market-driven." The latest blueprint makes room for larger retailers to serve as anchor tenants that could draw people to the area, Lazan said.

It is differing from the original Steffen "Dream," this link, this memorable image:

and this:

Well Toto, it's still our cake in my book, they're only using a different frosting. Still our train stop, as maybe as ever. Yes Dorothy, he thought, but saying only, quietly, "Woof."

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

RAMSEY - Siting of the VA clinic is official. Private enterprise prevailed, with help from city officials. I wonder if Met Council will claim any of the credit?

Below is a lengthy excerpt from Strib; but go to this link for the entire report:

Ramsey gets new VA clinic -- The $9.95 million building will include outpatient facilities for primary care, mental health and services such as physical therapy.

By ALEX EBERT, Star Tribune - Last update: July 20, 2010 - 9:34 PM

After months of waiting, the city of Ramsey has emerged as the winner of a new veterans' clinic that will serve the northwest suburbs.

"We've been waiting on pins and needles," Ralph Heussner, spokesman for the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, said of the decision that has been more than a year in the works.

The $9.95 million contract went to PSD LLC, which will build the 20,000-square-foot clinic in the 7400 block of Civic Center Drive.

Groundbreaking is set for late fall, and the department hopes to open doors to the outpatient clinic before August 2011.

Originally, the intent had been to have the clinic operating by the end of this year, but the process turned out to be lengthy, [...]

The clinic will give veterans an alternative to trips to VA hospitals in Minneapolis and St. Cloud.

Developer Jim Deal, who operates PSD with his wife, Pam, said he was "kind of surprised" and wasn't expecting the announcement now, after what seemed like months of delays. "It is a great shot in the arm for the city," he said.

Ramsey Mayor Bob Ramsey said the clinic will be a great addition to the city's business center, especially the "COR," a 410-acre development the city hopes will become a thriving retail and business sector.

"It's another reason to be in Ramsey," he said. "Great news for vets in our area."

The clinic will be twice as large as similar facilities. It will provide primary care, mental health care and some specialty care such as physical therapy and audiology. It is also expected to have a pharmacy.

If this is a situation as it appears, a private-build effort but with a long-term lease to the VA, that would be best for Ramsey since it would put the building into the tax base. Strib reporting is silent on that point, hence it is unclear whether it is that way, and/or whether TIF was a factor.

Any reader with knowledge is invited to post a comment with detail.

Even if exempt from the tax base, or tax base effect is delayed via TIF, the decision is good news for Ramsey. It clearly is better news for us if the thing, (as soon as built), is added to the tax base, since in general public buildings go untaxed.

Best news - this is good for veterans who have waited some time for this situation to be resolved.

Construction should be an economic stimulus and hopefully if done as a private venture it will be built under prevailing wage arrangements that can keep everyone happy. One expects the VA to have a major voice in that specific decision-making.

My understanding is Mayor Bob Ramsey is a Bosnian War vet, and he worked hard on the effort to have one of the two Ramsey Town Center sites selected. He can correct me if I got the war wrong, but the hard work's been there as a certainty. I briefly met Kurt Ulrich today and he indicated the arrangement should be one where the building contributes to the city tax base. ABC Newspapers report, this link.

Emmer's corporate hucksters. With Target doing this and deserving a boycott, and Walmart being Walmart, where should we shop?

The "Emmer is loved by big corporations" story has grown legs. Target is doing this probably over Emmer's position that low-end job compensation, in Emmer's ideal world, should stay low - suggesting what workers trying to make ends meet can expect if they let this disaster get elected governor. City Pages, a full story here, offers this opening screen shot:

Read the entire item at City Pages.

That the thing has grown legs is evidenced by Daily Kos picking it up; this link.

Polinaut on the FOX 9 - Rasmussan poll results showing that any of the three DFL governor candidates in the general election is more respected by polled voters than the loudmouth anti-worker GOP offering; this link. I bet those numbers, that source, are more favorable to Emmer than if the polling were done by another outlet. Early polls are dubious. I trust, however, my unofficial poll of my household, the result being that we all think Emmer is a Pawlenty clone, gone bad in the cloning process, and turned out nastier, louder, and worse.

Actually my brother-in-law says Pawlenty is nastier, just more sneaky about showing it, hence more dangerous, while Emmer's more of a buffoon. I think on reflection my sister and I agree. That then is the household poll result.