Bogus letter gets to COR of Ramsey's troubles
PAUL LEVY , Star Tribune - June 11, 2011 - 6:49 PM
Thousands of households are believed to have received a letter questioning the ethics of its COR development project.
Randy Backous, a Ramsey council member, and other city officials are asking the same thing, wondering who sent the four-page letter and why.
"The CORruption of Ramsey, Minnesota" reads the logo atop the first page. The second page concludes, in large print: "The COR: Steering government contracts. Making secret profits. Ethics violations."
"I don't like this at all," said Randy Backous, one of two council members who voted against the last Landform contract, but only because he thought the city could negotiate a better deal.
"I love that people are passionate enough about the project to want their opinions to be heard, but they could do that by attending council meetings. This [letter] isn't the way to do it. This is filled with things that just aren't true."
The letter, which Ramsey residents began receiving last week, has created such a stir that Heidi Nelson, the deputy city administrator and director of community development, addressed the matter at a Rotary Club function Wednesday.
[...] Landform President Darren Lazan called the letter a "suggestion of improprieties with no evidence." A deal between Landform and Flaherty-Collins is still pending city approval.
Ramsey Mayor Bob Ramsey was particularly frustrated by the letter, saying that its purpose may be to further divide an already-split council. [...]
The COR, when it was known as the Ramsey Town Center project, was a magnet for controversy. [...] The city, which bought about half of the original project acreage out of foreclosure in 2009, renamed the project "The COR."
"One thing that really caught my interest was that subheadline Levy used, "Thousands of households are believed to have received a letter ...". How he came to that large a circulation either means somebody suggested it to him and the thought was appealing, or he talked to the author(s) of the mailing.
Read the actual item: Here are thumbnails of the scans of the item forwarded to me, as always click to enlarge and read.
A label and stamp job. Whoever wrote that apparently did not use a printer-mailing service.
Greeby/Cronk: That mailing, when forwarded to me by an early recipient, is where I came to realize that Greeby and Cronk were not mere subordinates within the Landform firm. Previoiusly I was led to believe that from city minutes. That will be a subject of another post. I have an item already up on Greeby; and it's the Cronk of things that is work in process. I have screenshots from a few items that fit the situation. You be the judge of candor, so far. For me, without that mailing, the Cronk and Greeby dimensions - who each is - went under the radar tracking. I give a hat tip to the author(s) for making that situation clearer. And a hat tip to the person who called here around noon to indicate Levy had written of the matter with Strib publishing it. Luckily, it was online as well as a print edition feature.
Unparalleled waste. Based on charts and tables Ramsey CFO Lund prepared, Sakry of ABC Newspapers reported actual numbers. Here. Unimpeachable numbers, staggering in magnitude.
See for yourself. Read it.
Then think over the contention by city officials that the mailing misstates things. If so, the gist of money matters suggested in the mailing seems generally correct, in magnitude, to my thinking, while that mailing graciously does not mention the immense and unjustified wasteful "socialism" of buying for millions a distressed property from out of a foreclosure where no private sector purchaser had (over about a half-years time) stepped forward to dare such a long shot.
So far, the item correctly notes that no private sector party has closed a purchase of any part of that risky proposition the city socialized. The same identical acreage that the city bought, frustratingly without sound cause or judgment, remains owned by the city, outside of tax base, and in the interim Jim Deal, a capable man, has put a VA clinic into Ramsey Town Center, and an Allina Clinic.
Darren and Mike at Landform have collected regular city money into Landform, during that same time.
Where the money went is a mystery because the contract before the current one between the city and Landform allowed money out without requiring any accountings for city records of where it went, how it was spent, how much went to Cronk being a mystery, how much to Greeby equally so, and if amounts went as the letter alleges, were they flowed through Cronk to Flaherty-Collings and thorugh Greeby to the Greeby firm, so that the individuals were conduits and Landform equally so? You tell me.
And officials call this mailing dubious.
Do I have evidence of Cronk or Greeby getting cash and routing it to their employers, no, but if the will were there the city could demand a full audit of Landform's books re Ramsey money. The evidence clearly exists, one way or the other.
If the civic backbone were there, and lacking that being agreeable to Landform, the city could terminate the relationship on thirty days notice.
Were our elected officials - the needed majority of four on council - to be so inclined to attend to basic fiduciary concerns over their own shepherding of public dollars, the public interest would be served.
BOTTOM LINE: I would not too quiclly call that mailing "Bogus," (as Levy headlined things), not any more thatn I would say the following images, (based on public disclosure of evidence of where city cash all went once it got to Landform), are a for-certain mischaracterization:
|Darren and Mike.|
|Darren and Mike.|
|Darren - fresh.|
|Darren - with patina.|