consultants are sandburs

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

The Ramsey Soap Opera called the Council - NEW CHAPTER: Electric eclectic vindictiveness or vindication? If your job is electrical inspector, and you do your job faithfully, competently, and impartially, shouldn't there be respect for that?

---------------------UPDATE-------------------- 
There are two sides to every story I suppose. This prompt email from Matt Look:

Never dinged me......he made a major mistake on one of my wiring jobs, made me tear it out, only to admit he was wrong and then allow me to replace it at my cost. Realizing everyone can make mistakes, I don't hold that against him. The issue of replacement has to do with his own admittance that he makes the homeowner do more than the state requires + the fact that 4 at least of the council has been treated poorly by his belligerent behavior. Residents do not deserve poor treatment from government inspector gustapo.

I have no experience, either way, with the inspector's activity; it is all hearsay, so it's only fair to have a prominent indication that there is a widespread feeling on council that a problematic situation exists. The indication from the email is actions are managerial not vindictive. If four on the council are dissatisfied then there's no quorem if the personally dissatisfied individuals were to abstain about the situation. A disclosure statement in the council minutes from the four, each defining his experience, might balance things for the public's best understanding. They do as they see fit, it is only one outsider's suggestion. Or if it is a "personnel" matter, the open meeting law might suggest that step improper. I don't know. Bill Goodrich can handle that question.
---------------------------------------



On some votes some should abstain.


The story I hear is one council member got dinged for improper electrical work, two events, one in Ramsey one in Anoka, and not only wants to vote on the inspector's capability and whether there is cause to replace the inspector, but:



Is that right? Is that cautious conservatism? Would Barry Goldwater approve?

Or are my facts incorrect?

I ask any reader with knowledge of events to correct me if I misunderstand underlying fact.

But, no calls. Send an email.

Look at it the other way - if an inspector fearful of losing his job were to make an exception for a pushy local politician, and give a nod and a wink, what is that? If something of value, (sidestepping an enforcement duty), were to have been exchanged for a favorable vs. unfavorable attitude, where there might be actual or implied threat to job security; then what is at play?

Does Minn. Stat. Sect. 609.42 suggest that an overly pliant inspector might be breaking the law? It seems, by exemplary impartiality, a crime is avoided. That's how America should work.



Isn't it a great nation when we are a government where nobody is above the law, or a law unto himself?

Now, again I give a caution, I may be barking up the wrong tree, but I think there will be an interesting vote coming up next Council meeting, on whether the electrical inspector doing the job now in Ramsey deserves to be sacked and replaced - what his job performance problems, if any, might be; or whether the question possibly will be mooted and removed from the agenda.



_____________________________________
Image credits: here, here and here. I will be sending an email to seek an affirmative true/false response. It seems a question of character. Suitability for present or higher office.

____________FURTHER UPDATE_____________
HERE IS THE BOTTOM LINE AS I SEE IT.

The situation, including both sides of it, has had time to percolate to reader attention for the few who read here.

It seems the "pro-business" bloc of the council, when it comes to picking a home contractor service, cut corners with cheaper fly-by-night or friends on barter situations, or do-it-yourself work, and the inspector who's under attack is wanting to assure work gets done to code, by a licensed and certified professional regularly in the business and hence more likely to know pitfalls and newest technologies - but the key regulatory issue is that a proper contractor choice be made, according to law.

It does seem a small business person, getting the electrician's certifications and then paying all the business licenses and fees, including Ramsey's, is positioned to be respected -- if you truly are "pro-business."

When you talk that talk, you should walk that walk.

Or am I wrong and do as I say trumps do as I do when judging situations?

That means no cut-rate privateer work by an uncertified or unlicensed individual.

It is the same with other skilled trades, plumbers, HVAC service companies, custom cabinetry, and even for the less skilled such as sign printers or clean-up and waste hauling firms, etc.

They pay the licensing fees. They invest their funds at risk in business. They expect to be free from cut-rate stuff, or the barter situation off the books and not generating a fair share of government tax flow, so that others - property owners paying more, have to make up the difference if no sales taxes are collected and/or if no licensing fees to operate a business are being paid.

I understand that the skilled trades often are unionized, and some on the far right wing might have union busting leanings, but -- if you do not like the system you always can move to Bangladesh or some such place where they do not regulate commerce as carefully as in the US and where the political realities differ in terms of worker organization rights.

That's said, because of the anonymous idiot who always suggests in inane and ill-spelled comments that whenever I suggest a better way for the system to operate, that I leave the nation. Handing it back to the ill-informed, that way, since the shoe fits better on that foot.

________FURTHER UPDATE_______
So was the inspector head hunting? Causing a challenge to "4 at least of the council" "treated poorly by his belligerent behavior"? If so, did he catch fish, in casting his net? Is retribution a motivation among "4 at least of the council"?

Wherever the truth is, the situation has an appearance of unseemliness. In general. Or am I wrong?

Leave a comment if you feel this is the highest and best showing government can make, or if you have other cause to disagree with me about it when I suggest unseemliness of the entire thing is the bottom line.


___________FURTHER OBSERVATION___________
If "4 at least of the council" got their heads together in private, and not of record, and hashed things out regarding sacking the electrical inspector; cronyism is no excuse to abuse the requirements of the open meeting law of the State of Minnesota.


I recall in minutes and in public reporting that some on council took refuge under the aegis of the open meeting law when saying their six Landform crony sessions last year did not include more of those on council [excluding those without an immediate need to know, presumably] when the initial Landform tick-like attachment to the Ramsey fisc was being proposed - and that means there is no lack of awareness of the open meeting law existing and having clear requirements - which in this inspector-inspections brouhaha seems to touch "4 at least of the council" (much as the non-public junketing to Las Vegas with Lazan of Landform also did with the same four that approved the  starting Landform contract - Look, Mayor Ramsey, McGlone, and Elvig).

I call it crony original sin. In the inception of Landform's initial tick-like attachment for a drop-in-the-bucket $23,000 sum, then; with that figure now dwarfed by a mere two months fixed contracted cash flow from Ramsey to the firm.

(Ticks will engorge as tolerated.)

Proof of knowledge of open meeting law requirements and reach, when convenient to consider it, has been well reported by Sakry of Anoka County Union, in an outstanding online item, this link, with this excerpt:


As always, click on the image to enlarge and read.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

RAMSEY: Where are they now? Another installment.

Some are new to Ramsey, indeed, so new that they have no memory of the Town Center Task Force, a propaganda organ formed by the council to beat the drums and toot the flute over how great a thing the headlong rush into TOWNE CENTRE promised to be. (Some spelled it that way, and some even used the adjective "quaint" while envisioning it in campaign literature as complete with a gathering-place gazebo, no less.) It was going to be for the rest of us a source of manna, and would make taxes flow like milk and honey. And, as a collective propaganda organ, those in the operation did "a wonderful job,propagandizing.


- as always, click to enlarge and read -


The screenshots are from a saved item, the file date I have is July 17, 2003, so it might have been put online even earlier; at any rate it was very early in things before all failure and reality set in, and it was only about how so very, very great it would be having amenities.

So far, there is only one restaurant, Acapulco, and that only happened because there was a six-figure government subsidy given to close the deal.

And that subsidized restaurant opening happened well over a half-decade after Hunter was so enthused and ebullient, and most of all, certain.

Indeed, the 11 year-old daughter she mentioned in her statement probably has a driver's license now, and is able to drive to get other than Mexican meals. The youngster possibly even has her own Patriot Riders motorcycle these days.

So, where is Hunter now? Where's she working and who's her boss, given that the Anoka employer she had back in those days appears to have fallen victim to the same reality that Town Center faces. The market was overly hot and nobody but a handful of practical visionaries had the sense then to contemplate downside risk.

And they were labeled "negative thinkers" back in those not-so-long-ago times. I know. I was one, as was my friend and neighbor Terry Hendriksen, having the mayor apply that term after Hendriksen had spoken up against over-enthusiams while he was on council up to the end of 2002.

And he continued the warning afterwards.

For too many others, they were sucked in by the propaganda machine and Pied Pipering, and have themselves and the propagandists to blame for having "seen" the emperor so fabulously clothed.

Not me.

And not you, my reader, for you are not one to be gulled and hoodwinked easily. We both know that.

__________UPDATE___________
In checking the integrity of the link and the screenshot enlargements, I thought about the purpose being brazenly admitted on the image with the mayor's quote as being "to guide discussion," while the accompanying image was of honking geese; outlined against a piece of the big blue sky.

_____________FURTHER UPDATE_____________
There is more. The WayBack Web Archive Machine, this link, has the item imaged below, (and I am sorry they did not include archiving of the photos).

Annotation added. Steffen is on record about it being her dream, and how people can lay a dream on you if you let them and do not have a dream of your own.

With the failure, there has been a silence and perhaps a distancing, but the names and frames tell the tale, Steffen with top billing, Gamec, Norman and Feges, and those four supplemented with a lower-left sidebar column of role player participants nonetheless wanting to show up and be honored as part of the dream.

Of the highlighted four, blame Gamec the least. The others were instigators. He was a follower, and always maintained an ambiguity about things while the other three were headlong, damn-the-consequences promoters and plungers - back then, October, 2003.

Click to enlarge and read:


Billion dollar urban village. It says ---

Friday, June 25, 2010

PNAS - Proc. National Academy of Sciences, has two blunt online advance edition open access articles about climate change and about black carbon atmospheric emission mitigation.

PNAS is a leading reference, accorded great trust within the scientific community. It is unlike some politically slanted "think tank" output from on the DC beltway, saying what lobbyists and politicians tell it to say - paying the piper and calling the tune being the old saying.

PNAS is generally thought to represent the anthithesis of that kind of disingenuous, slanted approach to scientific and technological discourse.

Climate change skeptics might not like what the weight of this PNAS authority indicates.

First, this online link, (with the abstracts set out below and with both entire articles online and downloadable as pdfs), Expert credibility in climate change:

Although preliminary estimates from published literature and expert surveys suggest striking agreement among climate scientists on the tenets of anthropogenic climate change (ACC), the American public expresses substantial doubt about both the anthropogenic cause and the level of scientific agreement underpinning ACC. A broad analysis of the climate scientist community itself, the distribution of credibility of dissenting researchers relative to agreeing researchers, and the level of agreement among top climate experts has not been conducted and would inform future ACC discussions. Here, we use an extensive dataset of 1,372 climate researchers and their publication and citation data to show that (i) 97–98% of the climate researchers most actively publishing in the field surveyed here support the tenets of ACC outlined by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, and (ii) the relative climate expertise and scientific prominence of the researchers unconvinced of ACC are substantially below that of the convinced researchers.

Second, this online link, Assessing the climatic benefits of black carbon mitigation:

To limit mean global warming to 2 °C, a goal supported by more than 100 countries, it will likely be necessary to reduce emissions not only of greenhouse gases but also of air pollutants with high radiative forcing (RF), particularly black carbon (BC). Although several recent research papers have attempted to quantify the effects of BC on climate, not all these analyses have incorporated all the mechanisms that contribute to its RF (including the effects of BC on cloud albedo, cloud coverage, and snow and ice albedo, and the optical consequences of aerosol mixing) and have reported their results in different units and with different ranges of uncertainty. Here we attempt to reconcile their results and present them in uniform units that include the same forcing factors. We use the best estimate of effective RF obtained from these results to analyze the benefits of mitigating BC emissions for achieving a specific equilibrium temperature target. For a 500 ppm CO2e (3.1 W m-2) effective RF target in 2100, which would offer about a 50% chance of limiting equilibrium warming to 2.5 °C above preindustrial temperatures, we estimate that failing to reduce carbonaceous aerosol emissions from contained combustion would require CO2 emission cuts about 8 years (range of 1–15 years) earlier than would be necessary with full mitigation of these emissions.

I understand all the points global warming skeptics raise, e.g., Mike Jungbauer out here in the north-metro. Rather than setting any such argument down and giving counterargument here; I urge any interested reader to track Jungbauer down and ask for his evidence even more than his opinions. Then read these complete items, do further study, and decide for yourself whether the peer review process at PNAS is or is not more credible than Mike Jungbauer's self-professed expertise.

And in thinking over the question, do weigh the notions of global economy becoming ever more interlocked and the beliefs that some would like to tightly engineer and control the relative growth rates of constituent economies, and that widespread acceptance of the climate change arguments could aid such intentions, should they actually exist. Proving that there is too much will to manage among "them," "the elite," is likely a harder thing to prove decisively than whether the climate is changing as a result of greater carbon [energy] consumption arising from global industrialization, from ever increasing prevalence of internal combustion engines, etc.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Tom Emmer comes across as a demagogue, Huey Long style, but without the populism, brains, compassion, ideas, or charm.


Emmer's litigeousness is described in the online Strib reporting that the above photo included, June 22, 2010, by Pat Doyle; this link. Is there the mentality of a schoolyard bully at the top of this year's GOP ticket? Read the item. Decide for yourself.

Beyond any questions of pettiness or meanspiritedness, there is pure idiocy.

In a must read item, Eric Black at MinnPost wrote yesterday [this link] in part:

Emmer favors an amendment to the Minnesota Constitution that would block federal laws from taking effect in Minnesota unless the congressional enactment was accepted by the Minnesota Legislature and the governor. In fact, the application of a federal law would require an affirmative vote by a two-thirds supermajority of each house of the Minnesota Legislature, and a signature by the governor to take effect in Minnesota.

Yes. Really. As a legislator, Emmer was not the chief author but one of three leading co-sponsors of the proposed amendment. Read it for yourself. [this link, and, again it is a must-read story (including Black's linked items) ...]

[Under the Emmer Ammendment ...] [l]aws enacted by the Congress to apply to the whole country would not take effect in Minnesota unless they cleared that triple hurdle [a supermajority passage in both houses of the legislature and the governor's signing approval]. And let’s face it, given the current state of American politics, nothing with the least whiff of controversy is going to pass. One third of either house, or a governor by him/herself, could erect a symbolic fence that would prevent the latest laws from Washington from taking effect in Minnesota.

Presumably, if Minnesota could do this, other states could too. And the system of national laws would become a patchwork of laws that applied in some states but not others.

There is this problem with the idea, though. It is almost surely unconstitutional (federal unconstitutional). It’s hard to imagine that Emmer or the other sponsors think the U.S. Supreme Court would let it stand.

If I’m wrong about the constitutionality, it’s also pretty hard to see how the United States could continue to function as one nation, if each state was free to pick and choose which national laws they wanted to abide by. I know that Emmer favors a Minnesota opt-out from the provisions of the recent health care law. And it gives me a headache trying to picture the complications if some states were in and some were out. But that possibility pales compared with others that can easily be imagined. If this proposed new level of state nullification was adopted and Congress raised a federal tax, would it be up to each state to decide whether they felt like paying it or not? If Congress enacted a military draft, could those crazy peaceniks in Wisconsin decide it didn’t apply to their boys? Could southern states opt out of civil rights laws?

The amendment was introduced in the Legislature but isn't going anywhere for now. Still, Emmer is enthusiastic about its potential. [at that point Black refers readers to a pair of Strib weekend op-ed items; here and here, and read each for a full picture to form a judgment ,,,]

Emmer, by the way, is a law school graduate and a practicing attorney. In his own op-ed he said nothing about the possible constitutional problems with the amendment. I have asked for an interview to inquire about that and ask a few other questions not addressed in the piece and have been led to expect that I will hear from Emmer soon. I will surely pass along his answers.

Based on that, the man dishonors the federal flag behind him in the Strib's photo at the start of this post. Confederate flags represent those who would secede from the Union, for which our federal flag stands. And Tom, the Confederates, they won a battle or two but lost the war, recall that, and its practical and constitutional implications.

Tom, either straighten up or fly the "stars and bars" as appropriate for pressing initiation of secessionist feelings, (perhaps Huey did, but he was in Louisiana, not Minnesota).

If you are a secessionist, in whole or in part, then badge yourself correctly and don't wrap your stupidity in the wrong flag.

BOTTOM LINE: I think Tom Emmer is due for an Olberman worse person highlight; or even a Monty Python skit.

But as to his fitness for leading the state executive branch when his talent is for dwelling on rubbish and rabble rousing, isn't Minnesota above that approach?

AND isn't Minnesota nice different from the man's sort of litigation history? Deep pocketing the former office manager and her family, for what?

At best, if his position had merit, his litigeousness draws focus to his negligence in knowing how his office's money was being spent when it was being spent - so, how is that inability to track money and spending cause to put him at the head of the executive branch?

Come on, conservatives, answer that for me.

I see no cause whatsoever to take the man seriously but for the inability of some voters, too many, to discern obvious things about character and intelligence.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

RAMSEY: One candidate for the at large seat is a fan of Glen Beck. Glen Beck! Bill O'Reilly is a malignancy, but Beck is a flat out fool's fool idiot. He's an ex-disc jockey, after all, and shows the lineage.

Fox has its crew. O'Reilly has been at his malign mischief longer, but what he lacks in absolute crassness, snotnose ex-dj Beck makes up for, and then some. What demographic segment of the nation they each appeal to is unknown to me, because I see each as Rupert Murdoch's kept riding stable. And Rupert, he is the most dangerous of the pack.


Here's the screenshot. And, Randy, what are you thinking? How can any voter take you seriously now? Glen Beck? Fox News? At least you define yourself so voters can make an intelligent choice. We can thank you for that.






Randy, did they remove your brain, pickle it, and then put it back? That Facebook question, "Wrong Randy Backous," well it looks like the right Backous, but the wrong man for the job.


For anyone who cares, Bob Sibilski seems to me to be the calmest and most sensibly oriented of the "at large" wannabe pack. I have spoken by phone to both him and Gary Greb, and while I distinctly prefer Sibilski I think Greb, a GOP thinker unlike me, would handle the job in a fine fashion. Ramsey would not go wrong with either.


Sibilski is particularly interesting. He treasures the rural wetland heritage, and got cross-wise of the "let's make an example and show who's boss" mentality and hubris that's arguably permeated the new council too much and too soon, recently, without being earned by sagacity of actions. 


Sibilski's dismissal from the environmental policy advisory board prompted Joe McDilda, a gentleman in every aspect, to resign as head of the operation. In fairness, it was not a purge. Michael Max remains as EPB chair and is excellent, and I know Kathleen Riley-Daniels, a relatively new appointee, to be a quality person. 


Indeed, if either or both of those two were to run for council it would be a clear and certain upgrade if either were elected. I am unsure but they might both be in Ward 2. Riley-Daniels could be Ward 3, and Max possibly Ward 1, but however it is, I can imagine a council with Ralph Brauer, Michael Max, and Kathleen Riley-Daniels on it, and it shows what we have is far from what we could have. 


Strommen, Connolly, Hendriksen and Zimmerman were each first rate but have retired or lost elections, and, whatever my disagreements with him on politics and processes, clearly Matt Look was an upgrade from Todd Cook. 


However the will to keep spending outrageously on Town Center continues, as if more and more money could transmute failure into something different. That is a present council mistake that Look has had the sense to bail out on now, seeking a new stepping stone county seat, before his chickens come home to roost next to Natalie's.


__________UPDATE_____________
I voted for Look and considered him useful in the minority on the prior council, but expensive junketing to Vegas trade shows was not at all what I was led to expect of him. 


Fiscal "sentinel" status as a proffered image and all that, and blowing a big wad of cash, (not in Vegas at least), nearly seven million for the failed weed patch remnant sale situation, he was a leader in that and it is something of a fiscal outrage. 


Natalie urged earlier councils to spend headlong with no attention to risk but that at least was in a boom time. 


These people are spending profligately on a socilized development situation in competition with private enterprise developments elsewhere, in a distressed market with no signs of immediate recovery, calling themselves "conservative" while spending like crazy and having friendships overlap with consultancies and the massive spending. It is just more money wasted as best as I can see unless you treasure poster sized renderings of visions and revisions, which is all I have seen returned by Landform in exchange for over a hundred and seventy five thousand sunk there since last summer and still counting; i.e., with the fisc of Ramsey being drained to the tune of $15,000 a month, each month, every month, as regular as clockwork.


 - and I don't even find the pastel poster renderings to be all that impressive. Feges quality, in my view. 


All that and still, too, no choo-choo stop. 


It's the equivalent of this year's Timberwolves thinking themselves the Lakers. The talent is just not there.


___________
Too much Glen Beck and not enough reality, perhaps. Perhaps not. Will there be some major turnaround between now and the August primary?


Think of it this way, even to get the one restaurant in RTC over the near decade of its promotion, Acapulco,  (which is better than Wendy's but not top scale), they are reported to have given a subsidy


And now we see published a claim that businesses "looking for a handout" are disfavored


Huh? 


Isn't that what's called meeting yourself coming the other way? Something politicians try to avoid.


We have to read the papers and the HRA paper trail, folks. The soap opera saga is there. Visions and revisions. Spending and more spending.

_______FURTHER UPDATE________
Another interesting thing, Sibilski has a real patent to his credit, Honeywell involved, here. It's not some silly and obvious septic tank thing where someone named Chester at the patent office was asleep at the switch and let a bad one through. As a competent practicing mechanical engineer, it seems to suggest Sibilski is the smartest of the batch, and the most accomplished of the five seeking the at-large seat.

I find it interesting how young voters can sometimes make mistakes. But they seem quick to react and correct things, not hanging onto bad ideas that can become entrenched.

My paradigm example of the enlightened young, is a group known as the League of Young Voters. Their issues statement from last cycle, 2008, is online, here.

http://theleague.com/issues

One interesting observation, every one of their issues remain as strong or stronger, two years later. With GOP opposition and Blue Dog barking, getting things fixed is very, very, very, very vexing and hard. But the young do have energy and enthusiasm. And surely this site, going into 2010, proves some of them have brains enough to know who is suggesting policies in their best interest instead of allowing themselves to be deceived by any vanilla "Trust trickle down" rhetoric that only fools buy into and only shills proclaim.

So why do I say this particular group is a paradigm of not being too proud to admit big-time mistake?

I use a screen shot to show them being able, willing, and even eager to say "Well, I was really wrong;" and the screenshot involves looking back no further than the quite recent history of 2008, specifically, this admission of, hey we did not know what we were stepping into, but we are most certainly now wiping our shoes clean (as always click to enlarge and read):



A hope of mine would be that redistricting puts my home in Ellison's district, not Oberstar's, because Ellison had the courage to face overwhelming wealth, and sponsor "too big to fail" reform legislation, of the form, too big to stay that big - since it is against sane regulatory policy to have entities so large that they threaten to disrupt the fabric of the economy unless paid bribe money when their mischief brought distress, foreclosure, and record joblessness not seen since the big Depression upon us all, i.e., the Bush-Paulson-Bernanke bailout of Wall Street during the lame-duck months of Bush's eight year stint of economic non-policy.

And seeing that young activist group contemplating moving into 2010 politics is a reaffirmation of my belief that very, very few educated, thinking young people will be lured into the trap of buying into divisive generational divide-and-conquer mongering by those who only have their own best interests and personal ambition at heart, and are using a ploy to splinter opposition to the flawed status quo of wealthy white men [can you say Karl Rove, can you say George H.W. Bush] running things for everyone else to suffer through. May the enlightened young prosper.

___________
screenshot, this link

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

This one went under my radar. But it is people having the conscience, courage and good judgment to back governmental decency. I wish I had seen it sooner.


click it to enlarge and read - from this link

THE STRUGGLE CONTINUES AND WILL NOT STOP UNTIL DECENCY IS ATTAINED.
SINGLE PAYER IS THE ONLY DECENT THING TO DO. ALL ELSE IS FLAWED.

Water Quality and Availability in Anoka County - A League of Women Voters Presentation, today, this evening, Coon Rapids Civic Center. (Hanson exit from Hwy 10, east on Robinson Drive).

League of Women Voters: ABC Chapter

2010 SUMMER SALONS
Free and open to the public

Wednesday, June 16

“At Risk: Water Quality and Availability in Anoka County”
An informative presentation about factors endangering the water supply in Anoka County.  

Jamie Schurbon, Water Resource Specialist
Anoka County Conservation District

6:00 pm - 8:00 pm
Coon Rapids Community Center
11155 Robinson Drive

That's the League's notice.

Hopefully there might be a Metropolitan Council person there to explain all the breakneck growth that we in the north metro experienced having pushed and promoted by those folks without regard by them for the water availability question and the aquifer's status - with those folks only pushing their narrow internal goals in setting quotas that nature might be unable to sustain.

Only recently has Met Council given the problem attention, but in a "circle the wagons and fight the savages" manner, more CYA than illumination and articulation of worthwhile policy.

It has to be a big-time embarrassment for that contingent of "expert" little planners and their expert little plans and their always excessive population growth projections and quotas (inflated so that more development opportunity is available for developer cherry picking and playing locale against locale to see which prostitutes its future more readily).

Monday, June 14, 2010

The Wizard of Landform. We are so fortunate to have such a productive wizard.


Oh, look, Tin Man. A Best Buy. You cannot get a heart there, but -- a flat panel TV.

Lion, not courage, but running shoes and a tent, there, at the REI.

Scarecrow, a Noodles Company, where you can stuff, restuff yourself.

And a Target at the COR.

Cor blimey if it is not exceptionally exceptional, elegantly elite, and totally upscale.

And Toto look at all those light fixutres along the Sunwood Yellow Brick road. Do make sure you find one grounded before lifting a leg.

Oh, oh, oh - we are so lucky, lucky, lucky. The Wizard. All of this great stuff from the Work of the Wizard. What a wonderful Wizard he was, the Wizard of Landform, he was, he was. What a deal at fifteen grand a month. In perpetuity if not ended sooner.

This week, the license center moves from Hwy 10, to Ramsey Town Center.

Sakry of ABC Newspapers reports:

The current 1,970 square-foot Anoka County License Center at 6111 Highway 10 in Ramsey will be closing June 15 at 1 p.m., said Paula Anderson, license bureau manager.

Moving further west on Highway 10, the center will re-open at its new location on June 17, 8 a.m., at Ramsey City Hall, 7550 Sunwood Drive N.W., Suite A, she said.

Parking will be available at the new location in the Ramsey Municipal Parking ramp or on the street. The new location will give the license center more space for its customers as well as save taxpayers money, she said.

Although the new center will have 2,200 square feet plus shared common areas, it will save taxpayers roughly $5,000 to $6,000 per year, Anderson said.

It is a good idea for Ramsey. The Norman Castle's vastness, for which we can thank James Norman (now ensconced in Albert Lea), permits such sensible win-win measures. Staff and council should be given credit for working with the State to assure citizens gain a safer ingress-egress when needing to get new tabs. Highway 10 ingress and egress is a gamble for an accident, each and every time it has to be done.

For those wondering where the new office will be in the building, if you enter off Sunwood at the main enterance, (where they could move the Historic old City Hall on Hwy 47 into the atrium with still very much room to spare), it is toward the back, toward the police wing, but on the first floor just east of the city's reception desk.

The Sakry article has much more detail. So, have a look.

Matt Look appears to be campaigning for County Board on Facebook. I wonder if the Gestapo are watching?

Tammy Sakry a little less than a month ago reported about a parkland property situation where decades ago the county in setting up parkland in Ramsey's northeast corner along the Rum allowed a resident to retain a parcel of property from an estate the bulk of which, the raw land, was being taken by eminent domain for park purposes. In reporting of past allowing of grace, the concession of not taking home and five acres at the time, the Sakry reporting did not indicate whether only a life estate was contemplated, or whether any strings were attached to exempting the land or any undocumented promises or expectations were exchanged back then. At any rate it looks as if the County and Met Council are playing Alphonse and Gaston as to fronting the cash to buy the property, each holding back for now.

However, whether it is designated as park property or not; if put up for sale, then to avoid misrepresentation fault and liability there would have to be disclosure of the uncertain situation with the park and all, (whether a redesignation happens in Ramsey's comp plan or not), there is that hanging cloud where it would border on fraud by omission to fail to disclose detail of it to any and all potential purchasers. So the owner is bound by or at least constrained by the situation one way or another. If the municipality ensures that due disclosure is given, how is that worse than allowing a possibility of an unwitting buyer being caught in a terrible mistake? It seems prudent to not want to see buyers at risk that way. Caveat emptor is not good municipal policy where a cloud hangs clear to current residents, but an outside potential purchaser might less likely have read Sakry's reporting or otherwise was more open to being misled.

That's the underlying situation. All of that is a land dispute. 


It is improper to call it "Classic Met Council Gestapo."





This is the Gestapo.



Gestapo hunted people down, placed citizens universally at risk and in fear, and had no qualms over crossing the threshold of a home, forcing an entry for trumped up puposes or having no purpose beyond random entry to look around. It is as if a municipality used electrical inspections as a trumped up reason to send an official presence across a home threshold to poke around - where it could be done randomly, or worse as intimidation, used retributively against someone speaking up and standing out. (The Japanese have the expression, "The nail that stands out gets hammered down.")

That's nothing to do with a land dispute and two governmental levels wanting to see the other fund a park addition in whole or in major part, but it has a lot to do with how administrative inspections are managed. Cops need probable cause and a warrant to enter a dwelling if they are in general to be within the Fourth Amendment's constraints. Code inspectors can circumvent that safeguard.

It is a troubling thing to have seen, in that context, a televised council meeting where regular bidding processes were sought to be circumvented for someone's crony to be advanced, after bidding had closed, to be the one entering other people's homes.

It did not sit well with me at all, and it should be troubling to all civil libertarians. If protecting the inside of one's home is not a "property right" it is hard to think the curtilage somehow is more sacred or important, such as amounts of wetland buffers, etc.

It seems some people see no inconsistency in themselves; so, are they best to represent us, or not?

---------------
This is a photo of Gestapo headquarters.



I look, but I do not see Natalie Steffen, of Met. Council, anywhere in the picture, but what is Look really aiming at other than Steffen?

Indeed, I see Steffen here. And no eagle.

Where I see an eagle prominently displayed, (along with federal flags where printing local political yard and highway signs and a range of political stuff is not a federal task), is here, bannered and later:


Also, I cannot envision Natalie running with the Doberman dogs, hunting dissent; and while I often have called Met Council "Big Sumo," and suggested they are serving developer interest at the cost of average citizen concerns, that is a policy position apart from suggesting any "Gestapo" dimension to the operation or people within it.

Am I overreacting? Am I wrong being honked off about people who badge themselves up with patriotic symbolism in ways that indirectly suggest if you disagree with them you somehow might be less a patriot, even unpatriotic?

Do you think Natalie reads campaign rhetoric such as here, in Facebook?

Should she?

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Conservatives, true conservatives and not just ones giving lip service; but the pure in spirit and deed; inform me, educate me, is it the purpose of local government to compete in a bad market against private entrepreneurial enterprise? Am I missing something about our "conservative" bloc of wannabe-developers on Ramsey's council?


Finger pointing to the left. But who, really, is over there?

*  *  *


Is the term pseudo-conservatives? Crypto-conservatives? Quislings? Misguided ideologues? Wolves in sheeps clothing? Or plain old vanilla RINOs in need of being spurned, reeducated, and subjected to the equivalent of a right-wing ideological tar-and-feathering?

Whatever it is, is it a rock-ribbed conservatism where Bill Buckley or Senator Taft or Barry Goldwater, or even the Gipper on his white horse, would support it and not shun it?

Proceeding from an abstract lead in to specific questioning, over private enterprise shunned or at least dismissively disregarded; read the below page from near the end of a nine page summer 2009 Ramsey Council work session; (from about the time I became aware Landform existed and that Mike Jungbauer was a key player on that consultancy-in-exchange-for-cash team):


[as always click the image to enlarge and read]


The GOP-dominated Ramsey council bought the Town Center weed patch for an absurdly inflated price, spending millions of reserves on a governmental gamble where they might get something back - turning the old saying about "something for nothing" on its head, giving not getting, something for nothing.

And private money apparently was cautiously sounding out a possible step forward to have a go at development during a major market slump in the community, sounding out who might be on the same page or actually on a different one.

Private enterprise, Met not by enthusiasm, but a let's table it, Let's question it mentality. Only the City Administrator, an implementor and not a policy setter, seemed amenable to the thoughts being floated.

And it's a freezeout.

Read that posted page again.

Who are these people?

Isn't government competiting with private enterprise called, what, socialism, or fascism, one of those -isms, and bad because of it? Isn't that the true-belief and doctrine? Isn't that the conservative "agenda?"

True and not false flagged consrvatives out there reading this, please set the record straight - am I correct or missing some disconnect between ideology and action?

These Ramsey would-be land speculators, on public money, they are not tax an spend, nor borrow and spend as Bush financing his two-front wars. It is looting savings to spend and then to not spend wisely but with profligate risk levels on something with a proven record of abject failure.

If the spending were sensible and justifiable as prudent and not risk-prone, sound instead of flawed and excessive chasing with millions more in spending while the likelihoods stand clear, if it were something else, there'd be a defense. But the simple and clear truth is unavoidable: This turkey could not even fly during the heyday of bubble boom times! It is that clearly awful a level of decision making.

____________________
The gamble of plunging more money to try to undo a loss is bad in a casino and as bad in a bad market where you follow others who failed with the same thing and idea, but the pioneers, bless them, at least were that foolish during a good market. Doing that absent a good market is fraught with error and misjudgment. Error and hubris. One driving the other, headlong into the chasm.

AND - comfortably taking Landform passengers along for the ride. They have a parachute. Taxpayers do not.

____________________
Elvig, currently seeking reelection in Ward 1 is running against Harry Niska, who I believe characterizes himself as a conservative. Elvig was one of two intermediaries along with Dehen, who seems to not to get into hypothetical rhetoric over private property rights and private sector initiative; but those two got the ball rolling.

The rolling ball apparently was stopped and kicked aside by others.

I hope that Niska goes on record having an opinion to express over whether it is the purpose of municipal government to sponsor development dreams (funded with public money) in parallel with and indeed in competition with private parties who are or may be contemplating putting private money at risk in a risk-reward consideration where it is their own government, their money held publicly, that is intentionally tilting the playing field from level toward clear municipal socialism - development owned and advanced by local government, with the intent that money spent be returned with a profit, i.e., playing profit politics against the private sector.

So, Harry Niska, any thoughts? If so, send an email, or post a comment.

It is a question that troubles me because I believe people should honestly follow the rhetoric they profess.

Anything less can be misleading to citizen-voters; and a source of the low esteem and approval ratings polls show voters holding toward elected office holders.

IN CLOSING -- AGAIN, conservatives, please help me out. Enlighten me how to consevertively regard government taking a failed weed patch and pushing it into market, paying vast amounts to consultants also ostensibly GOP conservatives, to joust for limited likelihood of success against private sector private capital - against potential private money, swamped by the spending of millions of public dollars to buy into childish play games of "developer" instead of "doctor."

I bet the guy pictured above on the horse was pointing at socialists in conservative clothing. Perhaps not. He's too dead to tell us now. I recall Tom Paine's pejorative attitude toward "Summer soldiers and sunshine patriots." Are we faced with some sunshine partiot thing after having been led to expect true believers - winter warriors of the free market, all that?

___________________
Is separation of walk and talk so freely tolerated and okay with Tea Partiers, with the Bachmannistanis, with dedicated State Senate candidates from the GOP, and such?

All on a tilted rather than a level playing field ...

Is that "conservative politics" at its purest and best?

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Strib reports governor's race. Two real Democrats, an enlightened Republican (really), and a UnitedHealth style of making up excuses.

In praise of the good sense and decency of Dayton, Kelliher, and Horner [who is so enlightened a Republican that he's shifted his candidacy to the IP]. Excerpt below from this link, four of five candidates brave enough to discuss policy before a group of social workers.

The only major candidate not in attendance was Republican Tom Emmer, whose absence was noted repeatedly by his opponents. "It seems like the standard sentence up here has a verb, an adjective and Tom Emmer," Horner joked. Emmer was campaigning elsewhere in the state on Friday.

The forum touched on topics dear to social workers, such as health care, poverty, civil rights and child welfare. With almost every issue, the inevitable question arose: Can we afford it?

Asked whether the state should adopt a single-payer health care system, Dayton and Kelliher voiced strong support for the proposal, while Entenza said it would be too expensive given the state's deficit.

"I want to expand MinnesotaCare, but realistically single-payer can't be done in the first four years because it will cost 10 to 12 billion dollars," Entenza said, referring to the state's subsidized health plan.

Dayton and Horner were the most pointed on the subject of taxes.

"Here is my Walter Mondale moment: I will raise taxes," said Horner, noting that he would like to decrease taxes on "job creating activities," such as businesses.

Dayton said he would raise taxes on the wealthy by $4 billion. Couples earning more than $150,000 should expect to pay more, he said, as should individuals earning more than $130,000.

"For every dollar of revenue we don't raise, then ask yourself where is that person going to cut or shift from essential human services in order to make up for not making the rich pay their fair share of taxes," Dayton said. "I know where that money is. I know who has it. And I will get it if I'm your governor."

[emphasis added] Way to go Mark. The truth does resonate.

Good points, from Kelliher and Horner. The one divergent health naysayer running DFL must be identified as spouse of Lois Quam; the couple having together built their substantial wealth out of her high-level past employment by UnitedHealth, the Minnetonka based mega-sized health insurance and health-related special interest conglomerate firm.

________________UPDATE_______________
GOP types disliking to hear what Horner rationally states, they are only a pack of RINOs, (that being an acronym, Republicans Intently Nuturing Obfuscation). I think Entenza was nuturing a little obfuscation too, on the question of decency and humane healthcare policy. There is more than enough wealth in the nation to fund healthcare fairly and universally. Only a suitably strong collective political will to truly reform things is lacking. Mark or Margaret, either would do, since both are committed to universal fairness and humane decency.

Sunday, June 06, 2010

Ramsey - A Historical Note - One of the main pushers behind Ramsey's Town Center fiasco, an ongoing saga, surfaces as city manager at Albert Lea.


The image is from that city's website, at this link.

The official city website report of hiring of James Norman by Albert Lea, here. They appear to have a progressive green initiative, which the city features prominently on the website, this link. They have a Wikipedia page, here.

They have an interesting downtown, that appears to have grown naturally and not been shoehored into existance or any half-baked posture by smart growth planners; this link. They own a fire truck. They have formulated a community development initiative.

I made the effort to find online an outside photo of their city hall. Failing that, there is an inside photo in a local paper, the image below from here, showing what appears to a a cozy well-scaled situation, unpretentious and not gaudy or excessive in any way apparent from the inside-view photo.



The photo is from the local paper's story of the Norman hiring, (again here), see also an earlier item from the same press, here. Ramsey is mentioned, but not the Town Center or its landmarks. We can hope for the best for James Norman and wife Oksana, and that they may remain in Albert Lea for the foreseeable future, indeed into retirement years as their present and future community, there in southern Minnesota for the rest of their natural lives.

Saturday, June 05, 2010

One candidate unequivocally on record favoring open government transparency in Ramsey.

Text of an email from Ward 1 Ramsey City Council candidate, Harry Niska:

You mentioned this in another email, and your post today reminded me I didn't address it before and I want to be on the record on this issue. I am a supporter of televising HRA meetings and council work sessions or, at least, making audio recordings to be posted on the web. Unless there is some affirmative reason why some meeting must be confidential, I think the city should make as much information as possible available and should make that information as accessible as possible.

Niska's "some affirmative reason why some meeting must be confidential" qualification is proper. My understanding is that the open meeting law in Minnesota recognizes sensitive situations as properly closed. Two that come to mind are personnel matters where privacy is a factor; and deliberations over imminent or pending litigation, where attorney-client privileged communication may occur and where disadvantage to the City could result from public-meeting revelations to opposing parties is a factor.

I do not know whether the law accords temporary secret status where arguably critical business matters are pending, i.e., where arguably sensitive matters of cost and policy might affect a possible contract. I will look at it and possibly put an UPDATE to this post.

Niska is correct about that. However, the main point of his email is maximizing the openness and public dissemination of open meetings; i.e., not having to attend an inconvenient location such as city hall miles away from home, in order to see what is happening in an open and public meeting.

Niska supports being able to keep abreast of all meeting detail from home as much as feasible, and I respect and endorse that position.

In my view, the finance committee and public works committee meetings should be televised - as having a greater and more immediate and direct fiscal impact upon the taxes and spending levels being borne and supported by Ramsey Citizens than, in comparison, parks board matters, which are televised. I do not criticize televising park board sessions. I criticize NOT televising more, and am not saying televise less. One easy kill, the sessions where meetings are discussed in retrospect by officials, when meetings themselves could be rebroadcast and when other meetings could be added to the broadcast scheduling.

I expect candidate Niska would support finance and public works committee meetings being televised as part of his general statement. I invite his opinion. [UPDATE: Niska emailed, "... my stance on transparency extends to any committee meetings or other meetings where your tax money is being spent." That answers the speculation.]


Any other candidate feeling strongly one way or the other, or any other person now a public official or a private citizen, has the opportunity to go on record, here (and elsewhere as chosen), on this question.

I do know that the Ward 1 incumbent voted previously to cease televising work sessions when the practice had been that they were televised, and I wonder if his position remains that way. He is free to email, and I would post his thoughts as prominently and fairly as I have posted his opponent's. Finance and public works committee meetings were not broadcast at times in the past when the Ward 1 incumbent chaired each of those committees.

____________UPDATE___________
Regarding what's a closed meeting, vs an open one, there is Minn. Stat. Sect. 13D.05; online here; stating at the start:

13D.05 MEETINGS HAVING DATA CLASSIFIED AS NOT PUBLIC.
Subdivision 1. General principles.

(a) Except as provided in this chapter, meetings may not be closed to discuss data that are not public data. [...]

There's nothing there exempting a majority of a council junketing together to Vegas, away from the municipality, to go to a trade show, en mass.

I recall Bill Goodrich carefully instructing council members to be cautious about even serial private contacts by phone or email between members growing in number into a board majority. He cautioned that there was precedent that such a thing could be construed, as a matter of law, to be a violation of the open meeting law.

I expect the four that went did so because that's what they wanted, and they did not care enough to check out what they wanted in advance with the City Attorney, sending a quorum instead of less, and hence opening themselves to charges they violated the Minnesota Open Meeting Act and giving the appearance they don't sufficiently care about the open meeting law of Minnesota or its requirements and nuances.

The League of Minnesota Cities Handbook has this to say in its online Chap. 7, related to meetings, pages 7-9 and 7-10 [click to enlarge and read]:




I strongly doubt some of the past more experienced, cautious, restrained and sagacious council members ever would have made such a compromised decision, to send off any out-of-town official quorem to a non-public meeting venue (a fee-to-attend situation).

One past Ramsey council member immediately mentioned the Open Meeting dimension to things when told that four of the seven council members went on the recent Las Vegas shopping-center oriented trade show - junket.

The mentality of "Damn the Torpedos, Full Speed Ahead," might be okay for John Paul Jones during the Revolutionary war, or within the present-day military. But it is a questionable and imprudent way to run a government - one by tradition supposed to be a government of law and not of men, one subject always to the rule of law.

That's the legend.

It should be given more than cursory attention. More than lip service. It has a purpose, to curb irrational or improper exuberances, as well as to curb actual wrongdoing.

Prudent former council members understand this, and, again, I give a hat tip to one former member for flagging the open meeting dimension of things to me.

For disclosure, the three council members that insulated themselves from potential error were John Dehen, Dave Jeffrey, and Jeff Wise. I expect they did so without any sentinel to warn them where the ice was too thin to skate.

_____________FURTHER UPDATE______________
A school child could explain why Vegas is a bad place, the worst place, to mess around with un-open meetings. What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas. It's not only a saying. It's a trademark.

The Sentinel.


Ahoy! Landform ahead.

Friday, June 04, 2010

Not a candidate for office. No meat to be cooking in the fire.

To avoid confusion, I filed for the Ramsey at large seat, 4 pm, June 1, at about the closing deadline. I did it to be in a position to make a call or two to see if there was another candidate I could be comfortable with, so I could withdraw. I know a couple of people so far who I'd trust with the job, who I could vote for, and that's a subject for another post. June 2, ASAP, to city hall to file the withdrawing affidavit. I am not a candidate for anything, and am solely a citizen asking questions and posting fact and opinion.

That should be clear to everyone, but if there are questions see the sidebar email address.

RAMSEY - The town has an HRA. It's activity is untelevised, although it is nothing but the council, meeting with the yellow instead of blue hats on. Same people. Same Ramsey.

For those new to the abbreviation, HRA = Housing Rehabilation Authority, something like that.

Check the City site for certainty. It's a way to impose additional taxes, to meet off camera, and to spend money with different hats on and with less transparency and sunshine than if on camera.

Test question to cull sheep from goats: What entity owns the largely open air prairie-plant expanse part of Town Center?

HRA mavens should find that question easy.

Any reader having any knowledge about Landform, its activities as consultant and "services" provider to Ramsey, (such as disclosure of what if anything it has done or accomplished besides delivery of a few poster renderings), or about its principals or affiliated individuals; who wishes to email me or leave a comment, is welcome to do so and any such information or thoughts would be appreciated.

Comments are moderated, to quell abusive commentary. Popeye fans are welcome to leave a thought too, even if having nothing to do with Ramsey, its HRA, or Landform.

Spinach lovers, same thing. Those on regular tendering of Spinach on a monthly basis are invited to say whatever they wish in a comment or by email.

There is this item below, and it speaks for itself; though ambiguously:


_________UPDATE_________
With the Landform thing, individual "smell tests" differ, and are not objective, but subjective.

Hence, debates about persons involved aside, for the moment, there are three fundamental and objective questions aware citizens should ponder:

1- As of 4/19/2010, Landform has taken $177,282.56 cash out of Ramsey, taxpayers have given that up; and Landform is on track to take $15,000 per month out of Ramsey, and most in Ramsey do not know this. So, first question, what bang for the buck have Landform and the Ramsey sponsors to show for this substantial sum, so far? A collateral question, what bang for the buck is expected and "Who says?"

2- Apart from Ramsey, what bang for the buck over the last six months does Landform have to show, anywhere, for anyone, in any way, (and even let them go back two years to show a track record, if any)?

3- Who in Ramsey is the big champion of this ongoing situation, i.e., the same rat hole?

My belief is citizens in an election year deserve answers. But who am I to say. Citizens read this and it is up to each of them to press for cogent and sensible no-BS answers. Do it.

My first awareness of Landform was August, 2009, and I was willing to cut some slack. The representation was there might be a grant, and etc., etc., with other municipalities not even knowing it might be possible. Okay, that's your first shot, $13,000 to $25,000 and there's a grant or not. That story's gone stale. What's today's story?