consultants are sandburs

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Another 4-3 vote by the Ramsey City Council. Regarding Electrical Inspections. The long term former inspector was cast aside.

Unfortunately, the council is losing John Dehen as a watchdog against faulty procedure. He is running for a judgeship, and will end service as Ward 3 council rep at the end of this year.

Jeff Wise and David Jeffrey are making strong and independent showings for why their reelection in 2012 might be a good thing. A bloc of four votes, Look, Elvig, Mayor Ramsey, and McGlone have been the four-vote majority in the 4-3 splits I am aware of, involving Landform, and this electrical inspector situation.

Online Ramsey minutes go back to the the 1970's and agendas back to the 1980's and a search of them for "Hagfor" the long-term inspector the city used, shows no complaints about him at all, from the 1970's until this year, this council, this 4-3 split situation. There were two letters about moving the inspections in-house, in 2009, and in full agendas "Hagfor" showed up as a copy recipient of each letter. That's the record. Objective fact. Decades without problems or incidents of record.



Well, now this is very interesting, Sept. 2009, Matt Look documented as positive in attitude about Ted Hagfor, his performance, his Gestalt.



Crystal clear. On the record.

What do you presume may have changed in the interim, with four on council, Look included, aligned against keeping Hagfor in the loop?

-------------------

One holds public office, in my view, to serve the public interest and not to advance any personally motivated agenda. I bet Ted Hagfor would agree.

For the ABC Newspapers report on the latest 4-3 split vote, this link, stating in relevant part:

The council decided to hire Tokle on a 4-3 vote. Councilmembers John Dehen, David Jeffrey and Jeff Wise voted no because of procedure concerns.

One of the other candidates would have brought more money into the city, Wise said.

But some councilmembers had some [quite recent 2010] customer services issues with him [Ted Hagfor] so his name is nowhere on the list, even though his performance could be monitored, he said. [unclear pronoun referent - probably "he" = Wise - with the "him" and "he" in the sentence not intended as parallel]

The city staff accepted additional bids on the requests for proposals (RFP) and that “procedure bugs me,” said Dehen.

Staff should have consulted the council before doing that, he said.

When the city sent out RFP, it received only two proposals, said Nelson.

One was from the city of Coon Rapids, which would have required Ramsey to commit a staff member, and the other was from an electrical inspector [Ted Hagfor] that some members of council have customer service concerns with, she said.

Knowing the council did not want to commit a staff member and considering the comments about the electrical inspector, staff decided go out for additional proposals, Nelson said.

[bracketing added] It seems spineless to not even mention Ted Hagfor by name, so that people would have to infer who it was that crossed paths with someone on council in an adversarial way and then made the "other" list by doing the job as Hagfor did the job.

We are a government of laws, not of men. I know it's so, I did a Google. Wikipedia even says so, or discusses the concept.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Why am I not surprised? Sparkplug individual behind Ramsey's Norman Castle wasteful building project in hot water in Albert Lea - for misspending.

A Norman Castle in England:



Ramsey's Norman Castle:



A table-top model of Ramsey's Norman Castle (note the bend):



Ramsey's Norman Castle during construction (again, note the bend):



For a comparison, a dog's hind leg. The Ramsey Norman Castle is as ___________ as a dog's hind leg.



Former Ramsey City Manager James Norman at his desk as present City Manager in Albert Lea, photographed prior to local felony charges.



Details of felony charges, in Albert Lea. 

Start with this online report:

Albert Lea City Manager Facing Felony Charges
Created: 08/27/2010 7:22 PM KSTP.com

The city manager for the southern Minnesota community of Albert Lea is facing felony charges.

The Albert Lea Tribune reports that City Manager Jim Norman is accused of abusing his city credit card by charging more than $2,300 in unauthorized purchases for items such as a refrigerator, groceries, women's shoes and hotels.

The charges were filed Thursday, and he's due in court Sept. 22.

Norman, who began working full time as city manager in Albert Lea in May, told the newspaper Friday he doesn't agree with many of the accusations, and he's going to get an attorney.

According to court records, he told the city's finance director and investigators that most of the questionable charges were related to moving expenses, and that he was in terrible financial shape when he took the job.

(Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.) (image source, here)

A more local TV outlet, KAAL TV, serving Albert Lea and enviros, added this online detail:

One of those charges listed in the criminal complaint was for $973 made at the Home Depot in Albert Lea. It was for a brand new refrigerator.

Court documents say detectives spoke with Norman on August 3rd, he claims the purchase was a moving expense because the house he was moving into did not have a refrigerator.

In that same interview Norman says he wrote a personal check to the city once he was told the expenses were ineligible.

According to a statement issued by Albert Lea Mayor Mike Murtaugh, Norman is now on paid leave pending a special city council meeting on September 2nd.

We spoke to city attorney Lee Bjorndal to find out about the future of Norman's employment. He told us he is not involved with the case and said the city is working with a labor lawyer based out of the Twin Cities.

According to court documents, Norman also said all of his expenses were related to moving or relocating.

Norman is scheduled to be in court on September 22nd.

Of course, ABC 6 News will continue to follow this still developing story and bring you the latest.

The local paper, Albert Lea Tribune, has the shopping list online, here:

Court records showed the following transactions on Norman’s city credit card:

• May 15, AmercInn Motel, Albert Lea, $281.43

• May 17, Hy-Vee, Albert Lea, $34.12

• May 17, Shell Oil, Albert Lea, $37.44

• May 19, AmericInn Hotel, Albert Lea, $209.70

• May 20, Holiday Store, Owatonna, $26.35

• May 21, LDPOST.com, 617-489-5952, Mass., $10

• May 25, Kiev Foods, Prior Lake, $13.58

• May 25, AmericInn Motel, Albert Lea, $104.85

• May 26, Trucker’s Inn, Faribault, $35.57

• May 27, Christo’s Union Depot, St. Paul, $57.25

• May 27, Traffic Operations, 651-487-7207, $12

• May 27, Green Mill Restaurant, Albert Lea, $61.37

• May 28, Hy-Vee, Albert Lea, $16.35

• May 28, Hy-Vee Gas, Albert Lea, $33.58

• May 28, Country Inn & Suites, $115.89

• May 28, Country Market, Albert Lea, $21.17

• May 28, Walmart, Albert Lea, $19.23

• May 29, Kwik Trip, LaCrosse, Wis., $32.55

• May 29, Kwik Trip, LaCrosse, Wis., $10.51

• May 30, Jeff HWY Lil STR, Rochester, $33.93

• May 30, Shopko, Albert Lea, $7.99

• May 30, Hy-Vee, Albert Lea, $59.58

• May 30, Pilot, Mauston, Wis., $20.60

• May 31, Walmart, Albert Lea, $31.57

• May 31, Shell Oil, Albert Lea, $3.84

• June 1, Herberger’s, Albert Lea, $59.99

• June 1, The Home Depot, Albert Lea, $973.01

• June 2, Kwik Trip, Albert Lea, $33.78

• June 3, Thompson Sanitation, Clarks Grove, $64.51

• June 3, LDPOST.com, 617-489-5952, Mass., $20

• June 26, Radisson Hotel, St. Cloud, $120.87

• July 13, County Market, Albert Lea, $71.30

 • July 14, Shell Oil, Austin, $35.77

• July 15, Wedgewood Cove Golf Club, Albert Lea, $71.30

Read main story.

Read story on city manager suspended.

Read past stories on Jim Norman, including two on when he was hired.

Wow. What a list. Note the links from the local "Trib" as posted were transcribed into the quote, so the hotlinks should all work. Please leave a comment if not, if any are bad links. Last photo, from here. From that link, this additional detail:

By way of summons, the Waseca County Attorney’s Office, which is handling the case for Freeborn County, charged the 56-year-old city manager on Thursday with two felonies and one gross misdemeanor.

Norman’s charges include:

• One felony count of permitting false claims against government by a public officer.

• One felony count of theft with the intent to exercise temporary control.

• One gross misdemeanor count of misconduct by a public officer.

[...]Norman, who began full time as city manager in Albert Lea in May, said he just began looking over the criminal complaint Friday afternoon.

“Obviously I don’t agree with many of the items in the investigation,” he said. “It’s in my best interest to get an attorney.”

The Albert Lea Police Department asked the Waseca Police Department to investigate possible misuse of funds.

The investigation states the total charges from May 3 — his first full-time day — through July 15 amounted to $2,741.88. It states only $353.62 were legitimate expenses the city is required to pay.

According to his employment contract — cited in court documents — the city agreed to reimburse Norman up to $5,000 for costs incurred by moving his family from St. Paul to Albert Lea. He had been the interim city manager in Afton. Moving expenses included packing, moving, storage costs, unpacking, insurance costs, lodging and meals for his family in route from St. Paul to Albert Lea, along with mileage costs for moving two personal cars from St. Paul to Albert Lea.

Channel 3, KIMT TV, serving northern Iowa and southern Minnesota has this coverage. While it is at best a supplemental story, it has this closing photo.

Like the man said:

It’s in my best interest to get an attorney.


_____________UPDATE____________
Posted hours ago, today Monday, Aug. 30, a special meeting of city officials, this screenshot:


In taking the screenshot it cropped the final single sentence paragraph of the report, "Norman does not agree with the charges against him." Innocent until proven guilty is the rule.

____________FURTHER DETAIL_____________
Latest press update from Albert Lea, details being reported and examined, here.

_______________LATEST AS OF 7 Sep. 2010_______________
On Sept. 3, the Albert Lea city council voted to put James Norman on paid leave; read the local coverage; this link.

Sarah Stultz of Albert Lea Tribune reported online Sept. 2, that James Norman, (who precipitously resigned without a job change lined up, effective year-end 2006, shortly after returning from his sister-city China trip as one of two City of Ramsey representatives, Todd Cook being the other), issued the Albert Lea City Council a statement beginning:

Throughout my career I have always been honest, open and forthcoming in every respect. My actions have been professional and held to the standards expected of a city manager.

Read the entire statement; this link.

What do you expect of a city manager? What did Ramsey's council expect at the closed meeting held before James Norman announced his resignation? What is professional? What is unprofessional?

It appears that Albert Lea coverage of the story will await Norman's first court appearance for any new developments. That has been reported as set for Sept. 22.

Monday, August 23, 2010

I would not call it a GOP schism. I would call it angry people not wanting to be co-opted (as Trent Lott would have it).

This link - if you check the screenshot excerpt [click it to enlarge and read], go back and read the entire online item. It indicates the GOP mainstream is having trouble riding herd on the malcontents it would have vote for them, but wants them for little else and would "co-opt" them. Sheep dip, and co-option. And a few good sheep dogs to herd them, please, we are the "real GOP" after all.


Those are the leading paragraphs of the article. To again encourage readers to go to the original item, here, and read it all, there later in the thing are these nuggets:

Kentucky shows an even starker contrast. Before the May 18 Senate primary, secretary of state and McConnell acolyte Trey Grayson had raised a half million dollars from PACs —20 times the PAC haul of upstart Rand Paul. Paul got a check from outgoing curmudgeon Sen. Jim Bunning, but 18 Republican senators bankrolled Grayson’s campaign, plus the Republican Mainstreet Partnership and three top House Republicans.

[...] A K Street lobbyist who had represented AIG during the bailouts hosted a fundraiser for Grayson, and at least a dozen lobbying firms and industry groups backed him with cash. And of course, Trent Lott was a Grayson donor.

Lott is the captain of the K Street team. He told a reporter last month his thoughts on the Tea Partiers: “We don’t need a lot of Jim DeMint disciples. As soon as they get here, we need to co-opt them.”

[...] To the K Street wing, the Tea Party types are like the guy who’s playing too hard in a co-ed softball game — he’s sliding headfirst and barking orders at the cutoff man while you’re trying to chum it up with the boys and then maybe go home with the other team’s cute second baseman after the game.

You can see today, by their improved personal financial situations, what Lott and Dole were trying to accomplish in Washington. You can also guess which current Republicans will join them on K Street in a few years — and play ball with them in the meantime.

I will not take the time to check it out, but someone should. Is Michele Bachmann Tea Party, real, or Tea Party astroturf? It would involve looking at where she gets her money from and how happy the big-buck operators show themselves to be with her past service on the House Financial Services Committee, where Bachmann can talk her talk.

Sure, she's an actor in the play. But who's funding the show?

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Anoka County Watchdog Posts campaign finance report filings for county board candidates advancing to the general election.

Click each image to enlarge and read.

For District 1, alphabetical order, Look's relevant data:



-------------------
For Steffen:


Ramsey's landed gentry seem to prefer Steffen: e.g., Jim and Pamela Deal, Jerry Bauer. They have been supportive of Met. Council, arguably vice versa. Deal's PSD LLC firm has a Ramsey Town Center presence. Bauer was in chain of title to the gun club when effort began to route sewer-water there to build housing.

This link.  Again, Ramsey Town Center booster brigade, with sweetener - not that I'd say gentry, but landed players at the table before sewer and water were provided the present Ramsey Town Center site, involved back when Hendriksen and others hoped to preserve a key part of Ramsey's contiguous industrial, commercial, -&- jobs corridor by placing the Town Center and rail stop, if any, west of Armstrong Blvd.

---------------------------
For county board candidate data outside of District 1, or to see Steffen and Look full reports; see the Watchdog, this webpage.

_________UPDATE_________
Steffen now has a campaign website, recently established, while Look's has been expanded.

Steffen:

http://nataliesteffen2010.com/community__future

Look:

http://www.mattlook2010.com/

One cannot help but note Steffen photos with some of her campaign donors and poobah supporters.

I look forward to Steffen posting booster photos of her with the Kuraks, and her with Jerry Bauer.

 John Peterson had a Gamec lawn sign in 2004 when I ran against Gamec, and an Elvig sign in 2006 when I ran against Elvig. Each won. Drive by his home, north-east corner of Hwy 5 and 167th intersection, and see what the "Peterson barometer" says these days. Or inform yourself, and vote as YOU think best, never mind what others may directly or indirectly indicate. Having said that:

Look has an endorsements page:

http://www.mattlook2010.com/endorsements.html

Steffen has not included any explicit endorsements page, yet, on her website.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Is this a photo of my anonymous miscellaneous blog troll? And, why would I guess that?

Provide suitable stimulus. Use the cash. Let it circulate and boost the economy. If the deficit hawks roar fix the deficit by taxing the rich. It's simple. It's not easy policy to enforce, but it's sound policy.

This is a companion piece to whether Pawlenty is intent on continuing to hurt Minnesota's economy by a politically motivated refusal of needed stimulus funds in the state. (The item just below this post.)

Krugman:

But, in America, we do have a choice. The markets aren’t demanding that we give up on job creation. On the contrary, they seem worried about the lack of action — about the fact that, as Bill Gross of the giant bond fund Pimco put it earlier this week, we’re “approaching a cul-de-sac of stimulus,” which he warns “will slow to a snail’s pace, incapable of providing sufficient job growth going forward.”

It seems almost superfluous, given all that, to mention the final insult: many of the most vocal austerians are, of course, hypocrites. Notice, in particular, how suddenly Republicans lost interest in the budget deficit when they were challenged about the cost of retaining tax cuts for the wealthy. But that won’t stop them from continuing to pose as deficit hawks whenever anyone proposes doing something to help the unemployed.

So here’s the question I find myself asking: What will it take to break the hold of this cruel cult on the minds of the policy elite? When, if ever, will we get back to the job of rebuilding the economy?

The excerpt is from the ending of the Krugman editorial, where earlier his term "austerians" is defined, as used in the quote, "many of the most vocal austerians are, of course, hypocrites." Perhaps he's punning on the Austrians, the von Mises school that appears to have graduated Ron Paul summa cum laude, and, indeed, they currently seem to be austerians in things. At any rate here's the opening Krugman text, via screenshot:


As always, click the image to enlarge and read.

For the second half of the editorial click and read this wrap-up screenshot - the ending being the beginning quote of the post.


That's the enture OpEd. Captured by screenshot. (From New York Times, this link -- and they have their vexing login screen, which is why I did screenshots.)

So -- When you read the reporting of Tim Pawlenty's dithering over accepting a needed $2.3 million of federal stimulus to boost to the state's economy, dithering for whatever dark reasons motivate him, think of him as one of Krugman's "austerian" hypocrites.

Then, look at Tom Emmer; we can stand him up next to Tim Pawlenty; and say,


"Oh My God! Tom Emmer is worse!"

Friday, August 20, 2010

Putting a face on absolute irresponsibility. A man who appears to put overarching personal ambition ahead of decency to those in need, and ahead of rational behavior expected of a governor.

Even if he waffles in the intervening month before doing the right thing, or bloviates in ways we can only imagine before being receptive to reason, irresponsibility is what it is and it has that familiar unctuous, supercilious face it has featured so frequently before.

Strib reports, this link:

Will Pawlenty turn down $263 million?
Minnesota won't get the federal health dollars unless the governor officially asks for the money for low-income Medicaid patients.
By KEVIN DIAZ, Star Tribune
Update: Aug. 19, 2010 - 9:48 PM

WASHINGTON - Millions of dollars in health care funds seemingly destined for Minnesota after last week's emergency session of Congress have yet to clear a final hurdle: the signature of Gov. Tim Pawlenty, an outspoken critic of the new federal spending.

As part of a compromise to win support for the $26 billion state aid package, Washington lawmakers quietly included a requirement that governors formally certify the flow of federal medical assistance dollars to their states. The provision put Republican critics like Pawlenty on the spot.

At stake in Minnesota is $263 million for low-income and elderly Medicaid patients and health care providers who participate in the joint federal and state program.

Pawlenty, eyeing a run for the White House in 2012, said Thursday in an interview with the Star Tribune that he has not decided what to do.

[..] Pawlenty, like many Republican leaders in Congress, criticized the congressional action as part of a "reckless spending spree." All three Minnesota Republicans in the U.S. House voted against the bill, calling it a politically motivated bailout for public employees and their unions.

But so far Pawlenty has stopped short of saying Minnesota will reject the money, and his aides say state officials are still studying the federal legislation.

That is only an excerpt, and the Strib item has more detail.

But, isn't posturing for Iowa and New Hampshire in 2012 more important? To some, it probably is.

Doesn't the ambition of the candidate trump all else? To some, it probably does.

___________________
Strib. photo, this link.


________UPDATE_______
Less stridently, Mark Dayton makes the same point; Strib reporting, this link.

Pawlenty’s in luck if he’s been wondering: What would Mark Dayton do?

The DFL gubernatorial candidate called on Pawlenty, a possible presidential candidate and steady critic of big government spending, to accept the money.

“That money is essential to maintaining the health of low-income and elderly citizens, and it’s essential to maintaining the health of our care providers, particularly those in rural Minnesota, who are facing severe financial hardships,” Dayton said in a statement. “If governor Pawlenty chooses not to accept those desperately needed funds, he will demonstrate once again that he is willing to sacrifice Minnesota’s best interests for his political ambitions. Minnesota deserves better.”

Is the best word in this to describe Pawlenty's behavior "selfish," or is there a better word?

WWTED?

What Would Tom Emmer Do?

Name one thing Newt Gringrich and Tommy Smothers have in common.



Each has been photographed with a yo-yo.



Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Oliphant - nailing down a truth in a cartoon.


Image source, this link.

And then, as if the GOP is not sufficiently awful, and overly crude in its uncharming perpetual frat-boy manners, there is GOP-lite, the favored current White House Koolaid flavor. All of the criticism of Obama as being little different from Bush, the criticism that press secretary Gibbs does not like as a burr under his saddle, is correct. I am not satisfied with what they called Healthcare reform. Who is? Besides bought Blue Dogs and other health-industrial-complex running dogs? I will not be satisfied until single payer is a nationwide fact. I may die before it happens, but it will happen. People being distracted in wrong directions by Tea Party hypnosis may wake up and see that Mark Dayton's simple sentence, "Tax the rich," is a needed starting point to build a fairer and better nation. It is not a complete answer. There is much more to defining the proper extent of the Social Contract, but "Tax the rich" is aimed in a proper direction. Ironically, that is a direction Tea Partiers deliberately avoid. Any guess why? Any guess if it relates to who Rupert Murdoch is and who's running Tea Parties for the likes of Rupert? Wake up. Get vocal. Push. Demand. Surely the phrase, "non-negotiable demands" from the 60's was met with the Kent State and Jackson State killings, to quell dissent, but reform will never happen by itself. Rupert Murdoch would not want that. Hemsley at UnitedHealth would not like it either.

________UPDATE_______
A response to the Gibbs obscenity, (saying the left has little cause to criticize Obama), with the response being, obviously and easily, more truthful - this link. Same Brad Blog, running the Oliphant cartoon attained an interesting comment stream - this link.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

The Minnesota Senate District 48 contest, Perovich as DFL endorsed candidate, Jungbauer as GOP.

Minnesota Senate District 48 is where I reside, in House District 48B. Laurie Olmon is running as DFL endorsed candidate in House District 48A, which is the more northern part of SD 48, where she is currently residing and serving as a city council member, City of Nowthen.

I have posted about the Olmon campaign, and about Laurie previously, and after saying that I move to SD 48.

--------------------------

Yesterday's News: Everybody who has voted previously probably realizes that Mike Jungbauer, GOP, is the incumbent and a global warming skeptic. He has a campaign website, and there is a Wikipedia page:

www.mikejungbauer.com/

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Michael_J._Jungbauer

Because politician's often have friends and foes monkeying around with the Wikipedia pages, things there can look different from day to day; Michele Bachmann's page being particularly prone to opinionated editing and counterediting, much as her opinions often show up two sided, as stated and as later backed away from.


Today's Big New Thing: Peter Perovich has this website,

http://peterperovich.org/

with a screenshot from the top of his issues page below, so you can look at it before linking over to explore the entire site and learn about the Perovich effort and characteristics.




______________________________
As a coincidental note, I have the free Trend Micro RUBotted anti-malware utility installed and it has told me the Jungbauer webpage is trying to "bot" me.

I am sure that is one of the false positive responses the utility is known to generate from time to time, and my expectation is that the political site is safe.

What in the Jungbauer site triggers the anti-bot software is unclear, but as with any website - you trust and risk whatever you access, and some utilities exist such as McAfee's free Site Advisor that can assist users.

Site Advisor can be installed and used independent of whether your anti-malware protection is purchased from McAfee or other vendors, and I have not had any software incompatability with it. It can be used as a browser plug-in to provide constant info on search page return lists (including a toolbar), or the link above can be used to plug in a website URL from time-to-time for checking as needed. Jungbauer's site, it gets a green Site Advisor okay. The Perovich site is newer and it gets a question mark because no reviewer has yet reported about it and the McAfee site spider is backordered, as to sites to examine and approve.

Both campaign sites likely pose no problems.

Think about it.

Offensive overaggresive usage-tracking software can lose votes, but will not really gain any. However, access demographics are always available to site owners as you browse, e.g., try this link, a page accessible from the SRIron homepage.

This is an experiment, using Microsoft Skydrive, public access, to attempt to publish documents online, by links.

First, jpg scans of earlier Steffen and Look info supplied to ABC Newspapers, but not online.

Here, and here.

Next, two pdf items, each an interesting Ramsey HRA minutes set, one having the HRA budget approval record from which I earlier excerpted a page.

Here, and here.

Last, three Ramsey HRA agenda sets, one having the HRA budget from which I earlier excerpted a page.

Here, here and here.

Not in any special order. Each interesting, at least to me.

--------------------------------

Putting linked images into Blogger posts is a simple procedure. Linking to pdf documents someone has posted onto the web also is simple.

Being able to put pdf items online, and to then link to them successfully from Blogger is a less simple thing, and is a major point of this experiment.

The other point is that the items themselves might be of interest to folks living and voting in Ramsey; and require a bit of pointless ferreting to extract in usable form from the City website's link to its LaserFiche WebLink data. I did the pdf conversion steps, and saved to local storage, so putting the pdf format items online in a accessible way is the final step.

---------------------------------

As to access, each link should open to a specific doc ID for a public page on my Skydrive account. To read the item you download it, then open it. (While allowing open and linked access to the public part of the account, public access to the private part is blocked. As you would expect.) Skydrive allows free storage of up to 25 gb of uploaded data. For free. Microsoft's effort to get users to their part of "the cloud."

----------------------------------

One of the agenda items has the flat-fee version of the Landform contract with Ramsey, as voted on and approved. I believe the final contract is substantially identical to the agenda version, if not verbatim identical. I have seen one city document clearly defining that intellectual property arising from the consultancy is, by undated line-out of a default granting it to Landform, and instead the property of the city, by undated initialing of the document. When I get it moved to Skydrive, I will post that link. Keep aware. The "Crabgrass Repository" public access part of the account is: this link.


____________UPDATE__________
Perhaps I watch too many western movies, but the Landform contract does not merely hire a sheriff, or post a bounty, but gives Landform both - a sheriff's regular pay, and a bounty for scalps brought in [chumps who put up real cash to site operations at Ramsey Town Center].

In today's market, the entire thing seems wasteful, since Dave Jeffrey pointed out in a most recent council meeting that Matt Look's argument against hiring a TIF and other economic development director on staff is exactly the argument against dumping a ton of regular Ramsey taxpayer cash these days into Landform. The market is against it being productive of much, if any, return on investment, today, under current real estate realities and not on vague and ill-grounded gambler-hopes against probability.

Look trots out the obvious objection against what he'd not want, but when facebook friends are around he changes tune.

Worthless waste must be entirely in the eye of the beholder.

_________FURTHER UPDATE________
I might be jumping against Matt Look too strongly because he is a high profile candidate of the moment.

It was four council members - Vegas junketeers that in concert brought Landform into a contract posture with City of Ramsey. Look was one, but without three others voting as he did things might have been different. Besides Look - there was Mayor Ramsey, Colin McGlone was another, Elvig was the fourth.

Look in an email has suggested he was not the biggest Landform booster in the past - but he declined to say who on council was. From minutes, it was not Dehen, Wise or Jeffrey.

Look ends his stay on Ramsey's council at the end of the year. Regardless of whether he or Steffen end up county board district 1 rep, Look is off the city council.

Elvig's seat is in play this election with Harry Niska an alternative. Niska is too GOP-entrenced for my liking. Otherwise he clearly is a bright, young, and accomplished person. His credentials are impressive. He's not Elvig, he's an alternative.

Bob Ramsey and McGlone are not up for reelection until 2012.

By then Landform may be such a part of things that criticism of it, and it's by then established productivity record, if any, will be met with a collective voter yawn. I would hope not, but voters are an unreliable bunch.

In any event by 2012 the track record of Landform will be sharply defined. Those up for 2012 reelection will have to justify keeping Landform on contract by then, unless the termination clause is exercised between now and then and the contract is severed.

By 2012 the rail stop situation will have advanced. My guess there, given buying the distressed Ramsey Town Center project, this council will tax-and-bond one way or another to build a station whether ridership it might offer would justify the expense - whether Northstar as a venture ever proves economically suitable. As a fiscal conservative concerning local politics and political moves, I would find that troublesome if in 2012 it is a reality.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

More on the self-proclaimed HRA fiscal sentinel.

This link.

I got out the calculator to compare the average for "misc professional services," 2006-2008 [the old council], with the average for 2009 plus the 2010 budget, same line item, and the new GOP council. The new guys look to spend and be spending, on average, 51.9 times as much in such a non-transparent manner as did the old council.

It is troublesome. This image of minutes for the HRA budget approval:



It is a single line item in the entire half-hidden HRA budget, (the one they are not back-patting over holding the line on from year to year - hardly - ), and the timing in that minutes page, the sequence:


Commissioner Wise arrived, 8:54 p.m.

[the budget item was called to the table - discussion ensued]

Commissioneer Elvig left the meeting at 8:56 p.m. [2-min elapsed from Wise arrival]

[further discussion, adoption motion, second, unanimous passage - case 2 called to the table]

Commissioner Elvig returned to the meeting at 9:00 p.m.


[bracketed text added] Banging out a budget approval, in about the time it took an adult male to leave for a whiz and return.

YOUR council in action.

-------------------------------

I got the calculator out. Averaged the three previous years; the newbies' years; and you can do the same, this page:


Sweet? Sour aftertaste? From that minutes page, the sentinel, sentinelling.

Commissioner Look recalled the HRA did levy the full amount with the understanding there would be additional expenses [Landform, Vegas junketing, rebranding, and propagandizing of rebranding] for the Town Center and the City had cut taxes in other areas.

[bracketed text added] It is good the minutes recollect this. I believe some human recollection has not been as sharp. Sentinelling must be hard work.

_________UPDATE___________
In thinking things over, I cannot really single out Matt Look as responsible for something handled by staff in a vague and under-detailed way, and voted for unanimously where Look only had one vote. I probably overstated things. He has characterized himself as a fiscal sentinel, and is the only council member actively involved as a candidate for office this election cycle, and he sits on the council's finance committee with the budget for HRA clearly a finance committee concern; but it was a collective HRA budged approval decision, led by senior Ramsey staff in presenting the budget in the form I criticize, while those on council present and voting when the budget was approved chose to not have any real debate or discussion and summarily approved things as staff submitted.

An easy political thing might have been to duck the vote. Matt showed up and was counted.

In email Matt Look indicated he has never missed a meeting since elected to council, and he takes pride in that. I have no cause to attack or belittle that. It shows respect for the office and those who voted for him. To the extent he had council business conflicting with other events, and chose to attend council sessions, it's his decision to make. He has indicated he chose to attend a Tuesday council meeting and not attend the labor sponsored candidate forum held in the Anoka City Hall building at an overlapping time. It was his choice to make, not mine.

Read all of that as you like, but do weigh the additional facts in thinking things over.

---------------------

That said, I may post less about election races between now and November unless some event or factor prompts me to speak. The only race on the ballot where I have a very strong preference is for Governor, favoring, of course, Dayton. Whatever I say or think about that will have no real influence on the outcome. Had Terry Hendriksen been one of the two finalists for the Anoka County Board District 1 seat, there would have been two races I really cared about, but his being third, where only two move on, made that part of the ballot less interesting to me without Terry as one of the remaining choices.

I cannot really imagine people having not already made up their minds. The ad blitzing and poll waffling is not something I easily understand.


How much will be spent on voice-over feel good and then negative ad delivery, run in 15 sec, 30 sec, or even 60 sec sound-bite mania along with beer and truck ads shown us between changes of possession and during time outs of Viking broadcasts?

Which one again, I get confused, is the Silver Bullet candidate? Which has the heavy duty hauling capacity, and can seat four across the truck cab back seat? Which was in the Viagra ad? In the Men's Warehouse suit? Which can cure heartburn, but beware of rare side effects, and ask you physician if politics is safe for you in your medical condition.

It seems the only time an ad shows a candidate is in negative ads where some PR munchkin finds a really awful image of an opposition candidate to run with a stern voice warning us of Armageddon and the sky falling if this "look how ugly" individual were to win an election where YOU have a choice.

I recall the Bachmann-Wetterling campaign in particular. Bachmann adds did not have images of Bachmann, but of happy families and clean woodlands and lakes - or images of Wetterling in harsh black-and-white with the ominoius voice-over warning - bad for Minnesota.

It's already tiring having had to put up with a primary.

Dayton suggests a moratorium on negative ads. I suggest one on all ads. Leave us as alone now and in between - as you traditionally have and probably will leave us alone after election day.


__________UPDATE FROM THE UPTAKE____________


The sidebar poll.

COR had a plurality, Sandbur Center being close behind.

What I find interesting is that the percentages add up to more than 100%. The poll format allowed multiple choice voting. It at first did not record votes correctly, and later it did not have a sound mechanism to prevent ballot-box stuffing, which I suspect from the high COR voting.

Blame Google for this one. As you'd blame the GOP for Florida in 2000 and Ohio in 2004, and as the GOP blames Mark Ritchie for Franken being Senator.

Methodology is inexact, and rigging outcomes is as old as polling and voting.

Karzai prospers, as did Diem, as did Bhutto. Time marches on, but there's some circularity to it. For every Ghandi there are tens of thousands of Karzai and Bhutto volunteers.

And Sandbur Center to my mind holds more truth than COR.

COR smells of teen spirit, and teamwork propaganda. As if failure and reality were untruthful, or too hideous to some people to acknowledge. Tower of Babel was not a sidebar poll choice, except indirectly, in the last poll choice.

One poll I am contemplating is to post one in order see what opinion exists on whether I should run any more sidebar polls.

Capability deserves attention and respect. ABC Newspapers reports Joel Knowlton of Coon Rapids achieved a perfect ACT test score.

This link.

People with exceptional talent need to be encouraged and nurtured. Collectively, they are needed, by the nation, as a resource toward future prosperity. The Vikings represent elite athletes, and are making themselves millionaires by their physical skills.

Great.

However jocks will not cure cancer, design better microcircuits, discover new genetics breakthroughs, explain the mechanics of bird or insect flight, discover and design the most efficient solar energy conversion materials, or advance math or linguistics as Knowlton reportedly intends.

Keeping a perspective on exceptional talent, in all directions, is something too frequently overlooked.

Clearly Knowlton shows potential now. The hope is he navigates through life happy and successful in his chosen life's work. It would be interesting to give the three candidates for governor an IQ test; with Pawlenty a question mark that way too. It would show whether Dayton or Horner would be the higher scorer.

Should test scores alone be trusted to measure a young person's potential?

Probably not. Potential is only that, and it is guesswork to define or recognize among exceptional individuals those who will end up in the narrow percentage that will do breakthrough work and those that will be skilled and competent, but for whom extraordinary accomplishment may be lacking. There is luck at play, defining the right hard questions, and not missing the key part or parts of reaching a successful answer.

Can we distinguish between a skilled musician, surgeon, or aircraft engineer and say one is more successful or "better" than the other if each ultimately earns peer group respect for exceptional ability and accomplishment? It is not as if each of us as ordinary people have a vote. Exceptional ability and accomplishment is not a democracy area. Writers such as Ayn Rand had a grasp of that notion, although her conclusions are but one person's viewpoint. And the story of the Harrison chronometer as a better answer - an engineering solution - then the favored elite approach of the time - forever honing better astronomical ways of knowing ship-at-sea longitude in the days before there was radio, GPS, and other things of our times. Making an exceptional mechanical watch in its day was key, and Harrison worked outside of an established intellectual elite of his times, with its biases, and perhaps Craig Ventner is today's example, where he had resources and will to attack genome research in different ways than most academic workers were moving. He did not supplant their effort, he supplemented it.

In 1965, nobody could have pointed to Kary Mullis, and said he'll be a bigger key part of unraveling the human genome than any of the others mentioned as playing a role in the process - including the equipment engineers, the Affymetrix chip people, and the statisticians who helped shape interpretation of "gene chip" data in productive ways with new analytical approaches grounded in their backgrounds in statistics as applied and advanced academically over the last century and earlier.

Solid state circuitry and laser technology, fiber optics, and GPS are common tools that did not exist when I was in high school. Where Knowlton may excel in the future, relative to new advances, is unknown. Yet his test achievement has been recognized as reportable news, and I expect he is smart enough to know it means something, but that his future is full of as much mystery and hope, as certainty that he will remain "well above average."

We can hope he has the luck and happiness all children, in an ideal world, should face during their adult lives. It does not always work that way. It is part of the human condition to await and see a future unfold. As Terry Hendriksen noted, we are not all flying around in personal levitation vehicles as the Popular Science and Popular Mechanics futuristic predictions of the 1950's to 1970's envisioned. Yet we understand more about disease and genetics and electronics and optics than those magazine writers envisioned. Most importantly, we are moving to keep the world fed and sheltered and healthy and to utilize renewable energy and minimize war as a tool of choice in international relations, all while the population crisis is not being faced rationally by world power elites including some with debatable worthwhile or counterproductive agendas. And we ultimately cannot avoid getting into value judgments, can we?

If Knowlton remains focused on math and linguistics, the hope would be he avoids being sucked into the NSA world of listening in on others' business - where those skills are concentrated - and achieves a more satisfying and worthwhile life's work.

Shakespeare lived long enough to create a body of unsurpassed work, Plato has survived the centuries, and Newton had to travel to rural English areas when the plague was spreading. Had either of the three fallen ill to childhood disease, our culture would be rooted much the same but with differences because such individual talents as theirs would have been absent.

At the turn of the nineteenth century there was a move to steel-hulled warships, rail was becoming a mature venture, electricity and internal combustion power were being developed, and such things had to be disruptive. It would be difficult to imagine a world as populous as now, relying on animal power and steam. We entered the present century with Internet, the bomb, and other disruptive advances established, and "nanotechnology" an almost new word but an already recognized field of study. We have ultrafast global financial trading as a mixed blessing. We have the likes of Helmsley of UnitedHealth holding out a disproportionate share of wealth, without any real meritocracy credentials. We have Tom Emmer. We have Pawlenty. We have top court of the nation saying legal fictional business beings, corporations, should hold personal powers as if equivalent to humans. In the past we had flat-earthers as a distant mirror to today's idiot bunch. So, how exactly should we define "rational society" in our times? Those using Twitter and Facebook? Or something more substantial than that, as a target for who we should aim to be?

In a local microcosm we have a November choice between Natalie Steffen and Matt Look, for a local government job and paycheck. What can a longer perspective on human culture and social limitations and capacities tell us about making such a choice, and how might we tie that democratic event to the very undemocratic notion of Knowlton's achievement proving all are not created equal, talentwise, which is something also apparent in the Favre uncertainty?

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Primary results.

Horner, Emmer and Dayton.

Dayton by 5000 votes, winning outstate while Kelliher was stronger in the Twin Cities.

Kelliher has to concede. Not doing so will torpedo the party. Expect it before the weekend.


Ramsey at large:

Cleveland---759
Backous-----552


Anoka County:

Dist 1.
Steffen----1857
Look-------1641

Dist 2.
Westerberg-1535
Johnson---- 943

Dist 5.
Ledoux-----1481
Fink-------1216


I expect Steffen will get the labor endorsement for District 1, unless a decision is not to endorse.

She and Hendriksen and Hillebregt showed up for the labor panel Q-&-A.

Look avoided it.

The DFL turnout was greater even in Anoka County, which does not in general lean DFL. That primary was the main attraction, statewide.

There's time between now and November, and guessing at the general election this early is pointless.

I know I will vote Dayton. I presently see no reason not to vote for Steffen in the District 1 county board two-candidate situation.

Local Ramsey races I face, Ward 1, and At Large, presently undecided. Probably I will end up voting Cleveland and Elvig. It's uncertain for now but the thinking on Elvig is all the Town Center mess happened on his watch. He later cannot duck accountability. Niska, if elected would have the "Not on my watch" excuse, and I favor no excuses. Re: Cleveland vs. Backous, I wish Cleveland would adopt more detailed and forceful positions on the issues. Yet even without that, she seems the better choice.

Aside from Dayton's victory, I am unhappy at the choices. Ward 3 is the other Ramsey race, with McGlone in Ward 2, Jeffrey in Ward 4, Wise at large, and the Mayor holding office until the 2012 election.

Aside from Dayton, Minnesota Senate District 48, and possibly Anoka County District 1, I do not anticipate much Crabgrass commentary between now and the general election. Clearly, Perovich for SD 48 is an absolute no-brainer, and Olmon for House Dist 48A is the sounder choice although Hackbarth has incumbency and general mood of the district behind him.

Jungbauer and the Landform stuff in Ramsey, the recirculation pond SF 2500 bonding bill seeking $2.6 million state money with its ultimate spending, (who takes a slice of that pie), being murky, Jungbauer authoring the money-grab bill and being sole sponsor while the firm he serves has the no-accountability flat-fee non-transparent ongoing consultancy contract status with Ramsey; all that; is distasteful to me.

Jungbauer has never left a positive impression on me by anything I have seen. Cosponsoring the Intelligent Design bill along with Bachmann when both were state senators, doubting global warming, all that is pure hooey in my view. He runs, even in marathons. That's the only positive thing I believe I have seen. It is not a qualification for office, but more like a hobby, like his airplane stuff.

Having an opinion re House Dist 48B, where I live, does not matter.

Abeler owns it, and will keep posession.

Does anyone really care much about Ramsey getting a Northstar station? The bus ridership figures do not justify it. That is certain, and without subsidy from other tax monies for the bus, Ramsey citizens would have to subsidize its ongoing loss status into an uncertain future. Fourteen million for a train stop is excessive, regardless of whether tax money from the federal, state, or Met Council is hauled in to avoid the hit being on county and city taxes.

And, remember, $15,000 each and every month, out of Ramsey, to Landform, without that firm being held to produce detailed time and task accountings. It offends. I view it as improper.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

One citizen's insights into the Ramsey Town Center's rebranding as "COR."


(Updated Note: I have noticed and been told the Blogger poll widget is not working correctly and votes entered are being lost. I have toggled back into the "Design" layout, and there is limited to no ability to troubleshoot. Presuming it works: Up to the end of the sidebar poll on Aug. 10, this post will be kept in lead position next to the poll. New intervening items will start beneath it. If it stays disfunctional, it will be fired, i.e., I will pull the poll, date stamp the entry, and let the post screen down as new items are posted. Please email or leave a comment if you vote and Blogger does not keep it logged.) UPDATE: I note, today Aug. 3, that the poll appears to be working, votes are being logged, and at present "COR" has more votes than the alternatives. The poll remains open until Aug. 10

-----------------------------------------------------------
I have former council member Margaret Connolly to thank for the two images. And for the new sidebar poll, my contribution based on her exemplary ideas.



The sidebar poll remains open until August 10.

Moderate Republican Aubrey Immelman supports Horner in today's IP primary contest.

This Link.

http://www.immelman.us/

GOP voters, without a primary in the top spot, might have a look at the IP ballot.

It is an opportunity for moderate Republicans to exert a voice.

Hahn has had the restraining order as part of his divorce. How heavy that should weigh is up to voters, now, today.

Horner, given how Emmer is courting the far right-wing of the GOP, would be a general election option for those not liking the Emmer option but too politically conditioned to vote DFL.

But Hahn would not pose the option Horner does. Hahn seems to be something of an Emmer clone. No stale DWI arrests, but that more recent court order. Both seem extreme, by any moderate voter standards.

AND THERE ALWAYS ARE THE DOWN TICKET RACES. In Anoka County five of the seven board seats will be decided in the November general election, with only Erhart and Sivarajah holding over.

Of the board seats having a primary, I like Becky Fink, District 5, and Terry Hendriksen, District 1, where I live, a district including all of Nowthen, Ramsey, Bethel, St. Francis, and the west part of Oak Grove, and wards in Andover and Anoka.

Hendriksen, Hillebregt, Look and Steffen, in alphabetical order, are the District 1 options.

Ramsey has one primary - the at large seat that Look is vacating after a single term during the latter half of which Ramsey bought the distressed vacant Ramsey Town Center land; for millions, and with Look instrumental in installing Landform into a lucrative contract situation but with the thing poised to fail miserably, or possibly succeed - but with Look bailing out early.

Neither Hillebregt nor Hendriksen are responsible for the Ramsey Town Center fiasco.

Look, presently, and Steffen from the start, were avid Ramsey Town Center boosters. Steffen was the Met. Council rep that was pushing things from that direction, along with Elvig before elected to the council, as head of the Town Center Task Force, a pro-RTC pom-pom squad.

Hendriksen while on Ramsey's city council, along with long-time Ramsey public servant Jerry Zimmerman, urged caution and attention to downside risk, but were outvoted from the start of 2001 onward by a Town Center land baroness, Tom Gamec, and Susan Anderson; with the failure of the project following the majority rule mishaps and irrational exuberance over the thing.

Look replaced Todd Cook after the 2006 election, which is no mandate other than being viewed the better choice of the two.

However, Look was instrumental in the city getting into the land development business, something not expected from his running as an anti-waste candidate.

During the brief period after Steffen's leaving the council to take her Met. Council seat, to the election where Margaret Connolly lost, there was Hendriksen, Connolly, and Zimmerman in a council majority - the best city council majority I have seen since moving to Ramsey in the mid-1990's.

-------------------------

This household has already voted. Two are on vacation in Montreal, I am at the keyboard, but there's been three-out-of-three.

Other households should be as respectful of having a right to vote. DFL turnout should be greater than GOP, or IP, because of the three-way race. However, everyone, regardless of viewpoint or politics, should take advantage of the opportunity to shape the final election in November in all the races that are on the primary ballot.

Friday, August 06, 2010

Anoka County Watchdog - Two of four County Board District 1 candidates responded to Harold Hamilton's questionaire.


If you haven't visited the site, the watchdog logo is the opening screen. Harold Hamilton is a libertarian conservative type, to the extent labels apply. It is a condensed way to characterize someone, but unfortunately the words are used so frequently that individuals tend to attach baggage that might or might not be appropriate in individual cases. Watchdog site, this link.

http://anokacountywatchdog.com/

For County Board District 1, Hendriksen and Look responded to the questionaire. Steffen and Hillebregt did not. Many others in the four other county district contests responded, although there was not a 100% response. So if you want a sampling, this Watchdog link allows you to review individual responses.

As to District 1:

Hendriksen, this link.

Look, this link.

----------------------------------

I believe Hendriksen bluntly and honestly defined his campaign position in his responses, and it is refreshing to see that instead of standard "cut taxes" rhetoric on one side, or "I was only an intemediary" statements to the press when such representations omit so much of the actual way things happened.

Hendriksen is not a career politician or one wanting to become one. I saw Steffen, Look, and Hendriksen at the Big Walter Smith event held early evening, yesterday, at the Ramsey amphitheater. Big Walter probably will never crash big time. Lots of kids were there with parents and relatives, and the turnout surprised me. Yet as an opening event it drew the curious, the office holders, and the office seekers. As one among the curious, I will not be going there any second time, and I expect attendance will drop off particularly when foul weather intervenes.

Hendriksen did not "work" the crowd, nor did Steffen or Look, although Steffen seemed more relaxed as more a mixer than either Look or Hendriksen. Look chatted with people from time to time, as did Hendriksen and Steffen, but none of the three were "working the crowd" although each was there.

I think each was there as much to check out the situation with the "opening show" as for any other reason (although one unfortunate aspect of running for office is the expectation that you go to events like this and are exeected to schmooze and make people feel comfortable and confident with you, regardless of much else).

Realistically, showing up at an event has little to do with good or bad judgment, and how accessible, in a real sense, a candidate will be once elected to office.

Said another way, event-schmoozing is downright awful and irrelevant as a litmus test of whether good or bad judgment over time will be shown once elected.

-----------------------------------

Only an impartial intermediary - a referee not a fighter?

On the Watchdog site Hamilton posts this Strib link, but not this PiPress link. [Readers, if there's a problem with the second link, please leave a comment. I have had difficulty trying to get it to display correctly.]

In an earlier post, UPDATE section - this link, I quote from the PiPress item where I contend candidate Steffen misstates the true scope of her involvement in things - in the genesis and promotion of the Ramsey Town Center in the past, and I present evidence I believe showing, particularly via a Met Council posting about her "Dream Team" and via unequivocal 2001 City of Ramsey meeting minutes how forceful and determined Steffen was to have things one way and no other.

She should have been only a disinterested intermediary allowing the local people to work things out. However, use of a potential Met Council grant to bully things into her view of proper is inescapable from the minutes.

She in the PiPress reporting in the first few paragraphs paints an incorrect picture by omission, while no particular thing she says is totally false. But to minimize her role in the sorry history of Ramsey Town Center is to simply deny truth, in its totality.

Surely Steffen was NOT responsible for the choice of developer of the project. The land speculators wanting to maximize their cash haul did that "thinking." Whether the Feges-Nedegaard choice was wise or not seemed, to the land speculators, well down the criteria list to how much per acre was going to be paid.

I would not blame Steffen for things she did not engineer, although I do not recall seeing any reported cautionary words from her at the time, about needing a sound and deep-pocketed lead firm, to maximize chances of success.

It must have been an afterthought or an ancillary passing thought while working with some local folks, and against others, while as an appointed Met Council rep that attention to soundness of potential implementation should have been her duty and primary focus, weighing those aspects, while keeping far more of a "hands-off" policy position than she did in micromanagement-engineering, interfering even in which-side-of-the-road detail questions, among local elected individuals.

Local people are elected for local policy decision, Met Council people are appointed to assure the beans are counted properly and to be attentive to deter implementation mismanagement. It was not Steffen's job to tell local people what to do. She acknowledged knowing what her job was, in her PiPress comments. She failed, however, to truly adhere to that path in the past, when the chips were down.

My evidence, again, is in the UPDATE section of an earlier post, here. However, please also read the FURTHER UPDATE to that post to take away a fairer impression of how things may stand, at present, regarding the touchy county-wide extension of sewer services question, apart from how major a role Steffen played in local affairs while on Met Council and whether she is understating such things.


---------------------------------

My objections to Look have been posted, and I will not rehash them here.

But I believe that PiPress thing needs the emphasis.

---------------------------------

Hillebregt would handle the Board job well, but I do not see him as being able to capture as many votes as he might deserve. I have asked him whether he would have interest two years from now running for Ramsey council in Ward 2 against McGlone. Unfortunately, he did not show much enthusiasm for that idea. I believe he'd upgrade the representation were he to run and be elected. More than merely an upgrade, he could be one of the more independent and wise voices on council.

----------------------------------

This probably is the last post here about District 1, before the Primary - next Tuesday - and please do not forget or ignore it.

Thursday, August 05, 2010

Why I am dubious about Matt Look's claim about a parsimonious budget. The City treats HRA and its spending excesses as a separate entity. And that fact is kind of hidden under a hat. Matt should paint the entire picture.

Try considering my frustration and my citizen's view of things this way.

Consider a Special Meeting, council members wearing Housing Redevelopment Authority ["HRA"] hats instead of council hats [you tell me, are these "HRA Special Meeting" things televised - of course not, this is Ramsey, full of surprise]. Online there is a full agend for the Feb. 9 special meeting for approval of the HRA 2010 budget, with historic breakouts for prior years, this page given below, fifth page of seven if I count right, no numbering given, you can see line item breakout 6281: "Small Tools/Minor Equipment" and then a 6837: "Tire Mounting and Balancing," a 6302: "Auditing and Accounting," with nothing spent 2006-2009 and no budget for 2010; 6354: "Help Wanted Advertisements," (no spending or budget); even 6322: "Postage" with $717 logged in 2006 (nothing since, nor budgeted); all that arguably nit-picking level of detail.



Click the image to enlarge and read. Note highlighting.

WTF, "Miscellaneous Professional Services" w/o any detail breakout.

Jumping seven-fold from the 2008 figure of mere thousands $7057, (that was before the new council's taking over after elections so compare the before-after pictures, it's not slimming as on the TV adds, it's getting very, very fatter and sassier).

Spending in 2009 plus the amount budgeted for 2010, with no breakout of any detail in line item 6315; three-quarters of a million glombed together as a "miscellaneous" professional services undetailed 2009-2010 slush fund.

Numbers do not lie. Sometimes they are understated to shade truth, but you look at a correct place, they do not lie.

If that seven-hundred-fifty thousand dollar smack-down for the likes of the Lazan-Jungbauer Landform services, as miscellaneous as they have been disclosed, does not make the hair on you neck stand on end and then curl in and out like a yo-yo on a string, you are some kind of village idiot. Or what?

I was not there to hear budget approval debate. I have this page, below, from approval minutes handy, but beyond that I am unaware of council discussion. The minutes reflect Wise arrived 8:54 pm, and the vote was between Elvig's departure, 8:56 pm, and re-arrival, 9:00 pm. The meeting was called to order; 8:52 pm.



Three quarters of a million is one pretty big lump in the room landscape when swept under the rug.

In one feeding in small bills, it would choke a horse 7.5 times over.

It would be as if Jeff Wise ran his business inventory with four breakouts:  toothpicks; olives; cocktail onions; and miscellaneous beer, wine and liquor.

------------------------------------------

If you go to the first page of the HRA "budget" in that online item, and look at taxes for 2009 and projected for 2010; it's almost the whole tax enchilada. Miscellaneous. By these Republican fiscal conservatives, no less.


Huh? But -- that's a substantial jump -- a jump in taxes after 2008 when the new folks took over -- the GOP crowd. Increasing taxes.

Who are these people? What are they doing? What is the motivation? Where to follow the money?

That massive 70 fold increase in such miscellaneous spending, 2008 to 2009; that's a 70 fold increase from one punk market year to another, with punk market conditions continuing, clearly, into 2010 with the commercial real estate bubble still not fully disappated and the housing bubble as real as ever.

People are in a pinch. The HRA budget is not.

This is a single miscellaneous [you guess]  line item bleeding of the fisc to the tune of three quarters of a million.

In punk years.

What need we fear in better times if / when they arrive?

_______________________

If you disagree with my analysis, please do post a comment suggesting why it's sound accounting and responsible budget oversight to block item such a vast amount. It is possible some council members knew more before voting. I only have access to what was disclosed online to the Ramsey public. I write based on what I found and reviewed. There might be detail at other places in city online files and records.


__________UPDATE_________
I have been asked a question I cannot answer without pouring at length over the full budget in the full agenda for that meeting, which is online, and even then I might not have an answer. It is where I took the screenshots. Any interested person can contact Diana Lund, Ramsey's CFO, for an answer. The question, on the second budget screenshot, the opening summary page, "revenue - miscellaneous" at $595,641; that's a lot of miscellaneous money. In detail, where's it from, is the question asked of me. I do not know. Ask Diana Lund.

_________FURTHER UPDATE__________
I wonder if the sentinel's cronies taped that HRA budget to his back so that whichever way he turned his watchfulness, he did not see it. I wonder if the sentinel views all the tax revenue and then some for the HRA going into the "miscellaneous professional services" black hole another of the sentinel's "successes."

Here is a picture of a sentinel, and as a bronze statue, it does not have feet of clay.



_____________FURTHER UPDATE___________
Never an RFP for Landform, even with that three-quarters of a million ambiguously budgeted.

It appears to be negligent handling of public money.

Entenza is mailing a barrage of flyers. Dayton is clearly understanding truth and telling it.


That's right. In a recent mailing Dayton has gone full page to remind us that Minnesota has had a bare majority of voters sentence it to eight long years of punishment at hard labor.

Now the GOP wants us to elect more of the same but with less superficial appeal.

Tom Emmer is dumber, louder, meaner and less pretty.

Sure, Dayton isn't a pretty face either, but he would tax the rich instead of coddling them.

McCain was not Bush but in far too many ways similar, plus he picked a jackass for second spot on the ticket.

Emmer has picked an idealogue.

Emmer is not Pawlenty but in far too many ways similar, but worse.

And with a man like Dayton as governor, or a woman like Kelliher - indeed even Entenza the least appealing of the three with a fortune from UnitedHealth's exploiting a public in need of healthcare - with any of the three, there would be less room for "Water World Mike Jungbauer" to operate. That would be a side blessing for the state. The main blessing would be to have a legislature in each house and a chief executive all on the same page to restore prosperity and end the gimmicks and favoritism for the rich that has been a Pawlenty hallmark.

So GOP folks, can I name a better Republican. Sure. Horner. His only problem is the zealot bunch that has hijacked his party so that to offer a viable candidacy he had to run IP.

Once the GOP goes off its death wish and goes back to sane candidates such as Horner, the DFL will have to differentiate itself from the GOP-lite mish-mosh it has become, Blue Dogs and such. The DFL might then be pressured to be something beyond a pack of Eisenhower Republicans in disguise.

Mark Dayton is one first step in the direction of making the state and the nation better, and we can hope the GOP crossover primary vote will not be out to get him, but instead will be attempting to put the IP into having Hahn, restraining order and all, as its candidate going into the general election. I simply expect the Republican monkeying around in another primary (because they have none), but who can say which Republican primary voter picks which other well to poison?

Expect them to do mischief in one of the other party primaries. The question is which one they can bias, and which one will be their focus.

______________UPDATE____________
My brother-in-law disagrees with me. "Emmer is not meaner. Pawlenty is a really vicious son-of-a-bitch."

There's certainly truth to that.

Perhaps Emmer is less vicious.

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

The Ramsey city council at-large candidate field.

I support Sibilski and Greb.

I have already voted absentee, for Sibilski.

If either of them makes it to the final two going into November that is how I would vote, it's a no-brainer choice unless both advance. If that happens, I again would wait a bit and likely make the same decision.

To inform yourselves, Anoka County Union, online here, gives candidate prepared information. I would have trouble supporting anyone I think might add to the prevailing bloc on council, my thought being that diverse voices give better service. Any candidate appearing to have had and enjoyed the Ramsey Town Center koolaid, and gone back for seconds or thirds, is disfavored by me, as flawed. In particular, Backous, states:

What is the greatest municipal concern in Ramsey?

Backous: The greatest concern is obviously the development formerly known as “Town Center.” We must remain positive and optimistic as we continue to re-brand, market and develop that area. The current council has done an excellent job at building the framework for a success in that area and I believe it is just around the corner.

He sells insurance and appears to know how to suck up.

Compare, Greb:

I have a long track record of helping others and taking their needs into consideration before making my decisions. I do not believe in backroom politics or barnyard engineering practices which have been all too common in the city of Ramsey. I want to be the voice of all residents. I would rather see a reduction in wasteful city spending, preferring to see property taxes reduced in an already recessed economy and to have all public works meetings recorded to allow for proper documentation of information presented at council meetings, instead of just the councilmembers’ personal interpretations, which are self-indulgent.

Compare, Sibilski:

I hope that we can again find a diverse group of persons that can volunteer their time to help the city by participating on boards and be able to give opinions that may or may not be what the council wants to here. [...] I believe that one of the greatest concerns for Ramsey is to determine how to develop the Highway 10 corridor along with the town center area. The city needs to again get input from the residents and businesses to determine priorities such as ways to attract new businesses, what type of businesses, improvements in transportation and ensuring that the infrastructure is in place for this development. The city needs to work with the county and state to develop these plans and to work together to find the funding going forward. In addition, we need to be looking at the rest of the city as far as development to determine how fast we want to grow to ensure that we develop in an intelligent way that the residents would like to see and that preserves the suburban/rural feel of the city that makes this a unique place to live.

I don't see Sibilski or Greb sucking up. Hardly. Each would be an independent voice on council.

I just don't like suck-ups. Ones who push to close public roads to encourage children in the habit of playing in the streets are worse. As part of the public I use public roads. That is what they are for. The city plows and maintains them. That consumes taxpayer money. They are not maintained by those having homes on them, as would be the case with a private road.

Public roads are not private playgrounds for children. They are roads for automobiles. The children in the Backous neighborhood have walkable parks within reach. Their parents have yards.

What's next? Tell the kids at Ramsey Town Center to go play on the rail tracks? That's what they are for? A playground?

Beyond that, we already have had a Town Center pom-pom squad, the Elvig Town Center Task Force where Alena Hunter in one set of minutes is quoted as saying we need to "market" things to the citizens of Ramsey. There has been so very, very much tiring propaganda about that failure before and currently, (read some of the Landform stuff), that refreshing and outspoken pragmatists who will call a spade a spade are needed.

Kiss the Blarney Stone if you choose. Somebody might vote for that.

Reeder is an interesting new choice. He is aware of the importance of broadband in setting a future that looks at alternatives to moving people to and from distant job sites, all at the same rush hour time. He sees twenty-first century technological capabilities as proper, for the twenty-first century.

Sibilski is an engineer. He doubtlessly would agree with Reeder.

Cleveland has become more explicit than in past elections, and I view that as a positive step.

Again, read what the paper has published. It is candidate prepared, in advance. That is important because with that format none of the bunch can say they were misquoted or lacked the opportunity to go beyond empty platitudes or overworked cliche.

___________UPDATE__________
Cleveland expresses displeasure over junketing to Las Vegas. With limited word count, I expect she would question it happening in hard times, financially, for everybody, and when the market is so depressed the likelihood of any return on that investment is minuscule.

Similarly, I would hope that next time I visit her website, if she is one going on to the general election, that she would address in particular how all the HRA operations are handled, untelevised meetings, incomplete agendas [attachments omitted in online items], meetings where part of the council was kept in the dark on a consultancy that was not an advanced-notice agenda item and over time has become a drain of well over $50,000 but never done with any RFP or bidding, and the Jungbauer pond scheme situation.

Plus, council work sessions and finance committee meetings are still untelevised, the finance committee being where spending gets a hashing. All but formal council sessions, planning, and parks, are also blacked out for no discernible good reason. I bet televising all that would cost less than a junket to Vegas, or a fee for "COR rebranding" nonsense and waste.

But that is a decision for Cleveland, how explicit she wishes to be and how much "trust me" she feels comfortable putting into the balance; if she is in the top two primary vote-getters.

Specificity has always seemed best to me.