consultants are sandburs

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Johnny Northside - defamation and tortious interference with a contract - a hearing scheduled for a month from now, May 31, 2011.

Judgment was entered, it passed under my radar, April 13, 2011. It was in accordance with the jury verdict. Now a hearing is scheduled, where all I know is that it's a hearing, and it's scheduled.

If there is any reader with knowledge of the subject matter, an email or comment to this post would be appreciated.

I presume it is related to post trial motions, and the intervention of the professional press society. But that is only a guess. It might be an execution of judgment matter for all I know.

Here's an online partial docket screenshot, the hearing being the last item noted:

If any pre-hearing or follow-up post on any news site or blog is found by any reader; a heads up comment or email would be appreciated.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Google books - they've had their share of litigation over orphan book publishing fairness. Yet now, a new online toy.

You can trace word usage over an extensive corpus, courtesy of Google books, and over a time span that you might find interesting - even fun, for a few tries.

Read of it here; try it here. A few I did, so readers could see what great insights I've uncovered [as always, click a thumbnail image to enlarge and read]:

I admit to an arguably shallow first effort. Have a try. My charts are easily out-done.

Here, here and here, for further commentary.

The building looks well integrated, per the architectural rendition, unlike some stuff built within Ramsey Town Center. They must have used a real architect.

Hat tip to Peter Bodley, of ABC Newspapers, where I learned of the $4.5 million well spent dollars; this link. See also, here, here and the GOP taking credit, here. I hope the students show a consistent level of talent fitting the effort being made on their behalf.

His coverage of bank closings and consolidations was special. Now we can do nothing but wish him well.

Union Jack

Union Chris
Read Doug Grow's MinnPost Report.

I bet he does well.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Worth two thousand words.

This is no joke. Hat tip to PiPress.


I don't know if they use communion wafers, but if so, what about a free wafer toaster? Banks don't give free toasters any more.

There is more ...

Is this what the term "making religion relevant" means? Can you add anything to what they say themselves? Their website, here. I need to give that link to prove I did not make it all up. It is real.

Have a nice, safe, sober holiday. Don't get nabbed driving drunk.

If two excuses, the interchange and the choo-choo are not enough, how about simply blaming the market?

"Landform Professional Services President Darren Lazan received Ramsey HRA approval March 22 for his company to continue working on The COR project.
File photo by Tammy Sakry"

Elvig said he would rather go out for requests for proposals to sell the remaining 118 acres as a large block and the contract length is a deal breaker for him.

Hats off to Landform for getting project to this point and the excitement it created, but there may be interest from a developer in it now, he said.

Landform has met with numerous developers and there is not an interest in buying the whole thing yet because the rail station is not in place and the Armstrong/Highway 10 overpass is not done, Lazan said.

Tammy Sakry is at

[italics added] Ah, yes. It's the interchange. It's the choo-choo stop. It's not the marketing. How could it be a flaw, in the marketing? Surely lump-sum sale has been seriously pursued, by the consultant, even if it might prematurely terminate a lucrative consultancy contract between Landform and City of Ramsey.

Renewing the contract, into the year beyond the next election - with little to show beyond "rebranding" - That would be, sort of like, rewarding less than success. So, the marketing cannot be faulted.

Read the entire story, it's informative and tightly written. This link.

See also: here (stringing out requested), here (stringing out okay'd).

And - the cash flow flows.

Big time Waffle?

This link.



Winning, second and third, in the sidebar poll - Expressing in a single image the Ramsey Town Center mystique, as currently practiced.


Close second.

Telling third.

Inside their tent ...





And then there is having the courage of conviction. Knowing the best choice. Saying so, up front. Not waffling.

Rick Santorum?

You have got to be kidding.

They take Rick Santorum seriously. Really.


This google.

__________FURTHER UPDATE__________

MPR reports on GOP party insider elections, here. Days later, Emmer in Willmar anti-taxing his demagoguing little heart out; the West Central Tribune reporting, here.

Monday, April 18, 2011

[Justice Department spokesman] Baker told a Senate committee that requiring a search warrant to obtain stored e-mail could have an "adverse impact" on criminal investigations. And making location information only available with a search warrant, he said, would hinder "the government's ability to obtain important information in investigations of serious crimes."

Do your want the government, the DOJ, to be able to read YOUR stored email without first obtaining a warrant? Worse, would you want it of a reestablished "Nixon" DOJ?

I don't want that for YOUR email; because I certainly do not want it for MINE.

Others with concerns over DIGITAL DUE PROCESS, this page.

The headline is a quoted paragraph from within an excellent April 6, 2011 CNET report about digital privacy hearings in DC [with a host of links for follow-up reading]. A mid-article excerpt:

What's unusual about the coalition to be announced Tuesday is that it includes occasional rivals including AOL, Loopt, and, sources told CNET. The nonprofit participants, too, have sharply different political views: the American Civil Liberties Union, Americans for Tax Reform, the Center for Democracy and Technology, the Progress and Freedom Foundation, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, and Citizens Against Government Waste have signed on.

This push for cell phone privacy is likely to put the coalition at odds with the Obama Justice Department. A few weeks ago, Justice Department prosecutors told a federal appeals court that Americans enjoy no reasonable expectation of privacy in their mobile device's location and that no search warrant should be required to access location logs.

Sen. Patrick Leahy, the Democratic chair of the Judiciary committee, said at the time that it was necessary to "update and clarify the law to reflect the realities of our times." One coalition participant said the group has had meetings with the FBI, the White House counsel, and several congressional staffers.

There have been dozens of cases in the last year or so where the police have asked wireless companies for logs of which cell phones contacted a tower at a specific time, says Al Gidari, an attorney who advises wireless carriers. The proposed ECPA changes would require a search warrant for that information as well.

I did not vote for this Obama guy to have Bushco attitudes and goals continue in effect. I believe the operative term we were fed was, "Change." Not that politicians ever are to be taken at their word, doing that would be evidence of immaturity. However, ---

Bridges are being burned by this kind of jack-boot mentality being official DOJ "thinking."

It should stop.

It has no place in a free nation.

Previous CNET coverage.

Small Canadian firm i4i sued Microsoft over alleged patent infringement, and won. Now the question of standard of proof against garbage patents - ones that should never have been issued by an overworked and underfunded Patent Office, has been argued this morning to the Supreme Court.

Two links, here and here. In reading the Groklaw item, "FOSS" means free, open-source software. That term is not without debate over meaning, as there are numerous license variants in existence for "open source."

Also, Sun indicated it was making Java "open source," Oracle acquired Sun, and Oracle has sued Google over Android code being in violation of its patents and copyright. That is not "open source" and can a firm legitimately pull back on a string? Clearly, the intellectual property holder has an edge, in that "open source" was for a prior generation of "Java," whereas this new product is updated in so many ways that the the name is the same but it advances well beyond the older stuff we agreed to make open source.

In the i4i suit, Microsoft lost on a trial court standard that clear and convincing evidence was needed to overcome a presumption of patent validity because of deference to the technical expertise of the Patent Office and its personnel and procedural protections.

That might have been a legitimate argument in earlier times, but so much is filed with the Patent Office and hence a great deal of things that should be rejected are not rejected, it being easier to wield a rubber stamp than to make decisions that would have disgruntled applicants making noise and taking up even more time.

What is interesting is the corporate parade of big names being amicus to the tiny i4i firm; not wanting their oxen to be gored - or their cash cows, to use a better term.

The patent system is a mess, and one decision, however decided will not be a fix, but one can be sympathetic to the arguments either way; and whether the Supreme Court really takes cognizance of how the patent system actually exists and hence whether a high degree of deference is due, or not, will be interesting to see.

Friday, April 15, 2011

RAMSEY -- Pusing on a string is not a new invention. Let the circle be unbroken. A new sidebar poll.

Note: This post accompanies the open sidebar poll until it closes, and hence remains on top. Newer posts will accumulate directly below this one during the polling period - ending noon, April 15.

Start with reading. This link. You have to love the ending sentence, "More about this in future articles."

Now, consider these images as representative of the history and current positioning of the Ramsey Town Center, and vote for which image you think best depicts reality.

Image 1

Image 2

Image 3

Image 4

Monday, April 11, 2011

The Potential Threat of EPA Budget Cuts

A guest post:

There’s been recent action to drastically reduce the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) budget. This movement is sparking debate about defining a proper policy and funding balance involving three factors: the importance of the possible health risks of too lax a policy; the reduced gas prices, higher business earnings, and private sector hiring stimulus effects that could accompany reduced regulation; and the agency revenue requirements of too extensive a regulatory effort. 

A third of the EPA’s 2010 budget could be cut.

This could lead to a strong reduction on some of the EPA’s major in-house initiatives such as the Clean Air Act, as well as overseeing many energy practices.  EPA staff anticipates heightened health risks as a result of budgeting compromise, while supporters of the budget cuts are looking for increased employment and lower gas prices.

One of the major reasons for the budget cuts involve increased controversy over whether EPA regulations are costing businesses large amounts of revenue. Many business leaders are highly outspoken in claiming over-regulation costs them too much. A major issue many business owners have with the EPA involves the scope of its ability to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from plants, factories, and refineries.

With more freedom over the amount of emissions by these businesses, owners would likely see an increase in revenue, as well as more jobs within these individual profiting companies. Supporters of the cuts question whether these emissions are involved in polluting the environment at all. Senator James Inhofe of Oklahoma, who is a large skeptic of global warming, introduced the Energy Tax Prevention Act of 2011, which would prevent the EPA from regulating greenhouse emissions. Inhofe went on to claim that "This bill puts Congress in charge of deciding our nation's climate change policy, not EPA bureaucrats."

While gas prices may decline and private sector employment may increase as a result of budget cuts, the EPA’s outlook on the possible health risks aren’t to be taken lightly. Environmental Protection Agency administrator Lisa Jackson anticipates major health risks resulting from budget cuts, saying "the standards that EPA is set to establish for harmful air pollutants from smokestacks and tailpipes would remain missing."

If the budget were to be cut by a third and the EPA lost its full amount of resources, the risk of increased air pollution could certainly be at stake. Pollution and air quality remain two of the main focuses for the EPA at this time. An increase in bad air quality and more pollution could accompany an upswing in health dangers like mesothelioma, respiratory problems, asthma and other health problems. Lives could also be at risk. For example, mesothelioma life expectancy averages around a year following initial diagnosis.

Any proposed budget cuts should have an ultimate goal of bringing net benefits to the citizens. After studying the background, benefits and stance of each side of the budget cut arguments, it’s definitely an issue that has checks and balances. While reduced gas prices and employment are certainly matters of major importance in this country right now, the possible long term health risks of these budget cuts should also be carefully evaluated.  

The foregoing was a guest post highlighting the uncertainty and pressures at play when balancing policy-making between a regulatory prerogative toward risk aversion, and complaints of industrialists of facing too much red tape. Budget control rests with Congress, and is one way to shift the balance between regulators and those regulated. Whatever your opinions of the Obama administration, the Whitehouse realizes that process streamlining and paperwork reduction is a goal, with the President expressing broad policy thinking while OMB is the major administration voice over nuts-and-bolts budget detail.

Without suggesting where policy lines might optimally be drawn, Nick Scott wrote the above guest editorial, highlighting the situation.

Nick is a health, safety, and political advocate with a passion for environmental conservation. Nick recently finished his undergraduate studies at the University of South Florida with a degree in English. He is an aspiring writer and one day hopes to be a journalist.

Nick Scott can be reached at:

One of the major difficulties we face is how resilient our world is, and what we should be doing to it. There is debate and scientific uncertainty over how fragile or robust the eco-system is to the disruption at present levels of human activity. We are in excess of historical population and resource use levels, within a finite world, with exhaustible natural resources but with renewable and recycling options. Wise resource usage rates and wise population control are hot button issues with those wanting to exploit resources in ways yielding great short term wealth and comfort rather than to conserve; and those not wanting to acknowledge that the population bomb continues ticking and needs to be faced. Those ongoing issues go well beyond the present fiscal and immediate regulatory policy debate that Nick Scott's post had as a focus. Yet they are always with us.

Monday, April 04, 2011

Is Strib publishing yet another excuse for unproductive land speculation consultants, besides the road infrastructure and public transit dimensions at play?

Leaving specifics aside and not naming names, excuses for municipal government funds going at never before seen rates to a single consultancy with little worthwhile to show for it, a third excuse shows up on the spectrum, per Strib:

The hot housing areas are in close-in suburbs, as some big name developers look to snap up infill sites.
By DON JACOBSON, Special to the Star Tribune update: April 3, 2011 - 8:33 PM

It's probably not too surprising that demand for land in third-tier suburban areas -- crushed by the popping of the real estate bubble two years ago -- hasn't shown any signs of returning. With acres and acres of failed housing developments to choose from and no signs of a rebound in new housing starts, undeveloped lots in some of those areas can be had almost for the cost of maintaining them.

But it's a slightly different story closer in to the urban core. Smaller "infill" building sites in first- and second-ring suburbs such as Edina, Woodbury, Maple Grove and Bloomington are seeing signs of demand from recovering national home builders. And in the urban cores, multifamily housing developers are laying out cash for premium infill sites, industry players say.

The situation reflects the new reality of both consumers and builders all but abandoning the bubble-era paradigm of buyers snapping up houses 30 miles from their jobs in exchange for cheaper homes.

"The drive for affordability is not really something that's going on as much as it was a few years ago," said Mike Swanson, a division vice president with Rottlund Homes and past president of the Builders Association of the Twin Cities. "It's no secret the new construction market has shrunk by 75 percent since its peak, and it has really gotten down to those premium, closer-in places now."

Rising gas prices and younger new home buyers are sparking a long-term demand for smaller lots closer to the cities, he said.

Developable land in once-hot exurban outposts like Otsego, Zimmerman and Rogers -- much of it now gone back to lenders -- remains in plentiful supply and dirt cheap. Prices as low as $6,000 per acre aren't uncommon in areas that were once commanding $250,000 per acre, according to recent listings.

[...] A look at some recent land-for-sale listings shows developable land in first- and second-ring suburbs available for as little as $34,000 per acre in a subdivision near Interstate 35W in Blaine to nearly $200,000 per acre for a bank-owned residential site in Woodbury.

National home builders, such as D.R. Horton, Pulte Homes and Ryland, looking to get back into the game as the economy improves, are buying up some of the better-positioned of the failed subdivisions.

In Chanhassen LDK First Impressions home builders of Milaca, Minn., has picked up the option on an unfinished neighborhood called Serenity of Chanhassen; and in Maple Grove, Ryland Homes has stepped in for Toll Brothers to continue the build-out of the Lakes at Maple Grove townhome development, according to Maple Grove-based land brokers the Pfeffer Co.

That's the gist, but for a fuller detailed look, again, this report per Strib.

For those in Ramsey who have felt all along that the breakneck housing growth and mix changes the town experienced in the early part of this century was unwise and ill-considered, not good for the integrity of the community in general, and injurious to the character of existing neighborhoods, (with September 2003 being a particular month to live in infamy), the trend is our friend in terms of what Strib indicates as the trend of current market relity.

In-fill vs. major intrusion into outlying arenas seems to be a question asked and faced, these days. And the world's better for it.

BIG QUESTION: For those spending government money in an unparalleled cash-burn for consultation, is the trend your excuse and, hence, in a CYA way, your friend?

Just wondering.

A family member has long said, "I live out here because I like the large lots and distance from others; but if I am going to live crammed-in close together, it will be twenty minutes and miles closer to things."

That seems parallel to the trending that Strib reports.

The idea that commuter rail was any answer but for a handful of downtown workers as an acceptable trade-off to accepting living crammed-in close together in Ramsey, seems disproven by Northstar and Star Express ridership numbers. There's nothing really happening in Ramsey to justify shared-wall living compromises, and realistically there will not be anything but more crammed-in situations with nothing happening should Ramsey Town Center be fully built-out.

Tight shared-wall exurban living seems to not be the boom market it promised to be to early 21st century myopic land speculators in Ramsey, Elk River, and Otsego. And, the commercial real estate bubble has burst too, so don't expect a promised boom in places to work at high-paying jobs in Ramsey to happen at all soon, if ever.

Moreover, ABC Newspapers reports now what the same family member described as, "Great. Just what I need. Another light between me and Highway 10." With that having been said once already in relation to "improvements" to Ramsey Blvd. at the Clown Center; and said again now relative to plans for the intersection at Hwy 116 and Sunfish.

Reader help is needed. Is it the Airport Commission, or the Airpork Commission?

Here is the page from late last month's report of appointments to the "whatever" commission; this screenshot:

As always, click the image to enlarge and read.

It looks as if you are qualified to be an airport poohbah if your party affiliation passes some form of litmus test. The guy from Champlin, President of Minnesota Pipe Trades, fits the bill as an airport management person; as well as James Deal, I suppose.

I find the Deal-Westerberg square-dance change your partner thing interesting. A voted out GOP legislator, insurance salesman I think, presently voted into another goverhment job on the Anoka County Board - bringing all his insurance knowledge from the one task to the other - replaced by the crop insurance expert from Ramsey who also owns farm acreage in Collin Peterson's district and a long-time DFL supporter - perhaps since his days leaving the US Ag. Dept. during the Reagan years about when federal crop insurance programs got privatized; and a prominent Ramsey land speculator; replacing Republican Westerberg on the commission.

What does the job pay?

What are the actual duties?

What "qualifications" criteria would a politically disaffiliated Crabgrass reader feel helpful as background, for an airport commissioner?

Certainly the model airplane buff from East Bethel, his plate's full attacking stem cell research and his DFL bona fides is short for the task currently, but one would think, in an apolitical world, that some knowledge or background in air traffic management demands, airline operational requirements, and/or aircraft manufacturing or maintenance might be a factor.

No Duluth area Cirrus appointments; but it is the metro area commission, and Duluth might have its own commission.

Does any reader have info about the political affiliation and histories of the replaced individuals, and/or the newbies?

A pipe fitting union executive and a crop insurer with a history of DFL support, that's all I can see on the surface of things that has me scratching my head and saying, "Huh? Is Mark who I voted for picking the best and brightest 'right people for the job' independent of pecking orders within either branch of the two-party morass and miasma infected status quo, or might there be some political dimension at play?"

Sidebar polls can proliferate, so I pass on the opportunity to offer readers a duo of choices; "Airport Commission," or "Airpork Commission." It is tempting. However, let's leave it at one active sidebar poll for now.

The only newbie one I checked up on a bit by web searching, Michael D. Madigan. FEC indicates he's given to the Coleman campaign in 2001, the Kline campaign in 2003, and multiple times to the Walz campaign, and the Madia campaign in House District 3. He's given to the Minnesota House DFL. He's registered as a lobbyist for wholesale beer distributors; so he clearly has a bona fide background regarding amenities for flight customers waiting around airports, seeking something to do with their time.

So, who does Madigan replace? "Robert Nelson." Checking that out by web search might be hard - lots of false hits with a name like that, and not even a middle initial hint.

Well, searching the web is as much art as science. Here and here are two bio pages on the newbies and those replaced. Strangely, the political campaign contribution histories of the individuals in each list are not made part of the official biographies. I supposed space limitations prevented that, not making the webpage too lengthy, etc.


For something some may perceive as wholly unrealted, this Google, this link, this link, this link.

Saturday, April 02, 2011

An interesting dimension to reporting on the draft bill proposal for financing a Viking stadium.

Strib reports:

The draft bill, details of which leaked out Thursday night, leaves the site for a stadium open to bid solicitations. It lists various funding sources for the state's share, including a sports memorabilia tax, sale of stadium naming rights, a surcharge on the income of pro-football players and a sales tax on luxury boxes.

Local governments are invited to propose stadium sites along with plans on how to cover their share of the costs. The bill would allow them to levy a half-cent sales tax on entertainment, lodging, food, beverages and tickets.

Jurisdictions that don't land the stadium could levy taxes to support their own facilities "of regional or state significance," as long as 40 percent goes to the Vikings stadium.

The Vikings would be required to pay a dollar for every $2 of public money spent on the stadium, and would have to cover cost overruns.

The stadium bill, sponsored by Sen. Julie Rosen, R-Fairmont, and Rep. Morrie Lanning, R-Moorhead, is expected to be introduced next week. Both have been under pressure to delay the bill until the state's projected $5 billion deficit is addressed.

Rosen said Friday the time had come.

"The reality is that people need to know that this can't wait until next year," she said. "Everyone knows this is a job creator. The time to discuss the stadium is now that we're close to finishing the budget."

That is an excerpt, so read the entire item for a fuller understanding.

What, "reaiity" is that individual talking about? Has Zygi been serving her purple Koolaid?

This cannot wait until next year, why? Because it will be the Los Angeles Vikings otherwise? The Sendai Vikings where they can tear down that reactor-power station complex and install a glow-in-the-dark stadium? The Shanghai Vikings?

LA had a team, and it moved to St. Louis. St. Louis! That tells you something. Al Davis moved there briefly, and moved back to Oakland. This speaks.

And that sentence, "Rosen said Friday the time had come." Friday was All Fool's Day, so there's something to that statement.

My suggestion is the City of Becker should make a proposal. Extend the Northstar line to Becker, Zygi would negotiate and pay that, and then City of Becker would use its credit, and volunteer contributions from the community, to build a $1.5 billion stadium; terms to be that Vikings would pay half a billion a year to Becker, over five years to service and retire debt and turn a modest profit; whereupon Becker would deed the stadium to Zygi for one dollar.

That does not seem at all out of line to me, indeed, it has advantages over the reported proposal that public money would outspend Zygi, two to one, and for lack of any good reason for that none was given, except, "Everyone knows this is a job creator."

That "job creator" is a new GOP buzzword creation. It means, roughly, "the wealthy."

As in Dayton reasonably says, "Tax the rich," and the owned and paid for Republicans say, "You want to tax the job creators, that means they will all move to Iowa and North Dakota."

The GOP seems to be intent on disadvantaging teachers these days. They had best be careful. Doing that means all the teachers will move to Iowa and North Dakota.

And don't call them teachers anymore. They are "student knowledge creators."

We surely do not want our "student knowledge creators" to all leave us, so how can we give them a share of the Viking income, to induce them to stay?

That is what the legislature should be concentrating on, leaving stem-cell science alone, and limiting their duly displayed public-show Ludditism to play to the like-minded, in their home districts. It has no place on the St. Paul hilltop.

The opening image is from an All Fool's Day report by Strib, here. Another suggestion to the legislature is if they adopt the Roman bread-and-circus approach for the peasantry, they had best not neglect the bread part. Rome had a share of peasant rebellions, and they can be ugly. Tea bags aside, Bachmann aside, there is more possible ugliness than that.

Friday, April 01, 2011

Dave Orrick of PiPress covers the funny farm. People are not contacting Mike Jungbauer, according to Mike Jungbauer.

For context, read the full report of some recent funny farm antics, here.

This quote about the stem-cell research haters:

The U has scheduled an event Thursday near the Capitol in which patients with Type I diabetes, Duchenne's muscular dystrophy and a lethal skin condition called epidermolysis bullosa will speak out against the legislation.

DFLers tried to change the bill's definition of cloning so embryonic stem cell research wouldn't be affected, but Republicans voted it down.

Sen. Michael Jungbauer, R-East Bethel, questioned the entire research argument.

"If there had been any breakthroughs, if there were any breakthroughs on the horizons, this argument would be very different," Jungbauer said, adding that no constituent or researcher had contacted him to express any concerns over the issue. "But there won't be any breakthroughs."

The debate was similar to one that played out Tuesday night in both the House and Senate, where Republican majorities approved a ban on state funding of such research. Wednesday's Senate ban is wider because it makes the act of such research a misdemeanor, regardless of who's paying for it.

Never forget, the esteemed Senator from SD 48 has a track record which makes intelligent people decline to take the time to contact him. He co-sponsored with Michele Bachmann when she was a state senator, a bill that would have compelled the teaching of creationism (the "Intelligent Design" flavor) in Minnesota schools, as a part of the science curriculum.


Teaching creationism arguably would fit into the history curriculum, when teaching about the Crusades or the Inquisition or the incessant warfare troubling Europe after the Reformation; or the affront to Galileo; or flat-earth beliefs and denial of heliocentrism; but in 20th or 21st century science classes? Get real.

It insults every intelligent person in Minnesota to see that.

In some literature classes mythology of some ancient civilizations is studied, so that Judeo-Christian myths as well as Islamic outgrowths might arguably have a fit, there.

But creationism is not science and only some variety of town fool or mischief instigator might unwittingly or with a purpose confuse the two.

So, if your purpose is persuasion, why bother to write to Jungbauer over something where you know what he's going to do and say and vote, and you know Dayton will veto all that stupidity anyway?

My bet, that part of the report about no constituent writing, I bet that's false even though it sounded good to Jungbauer to declare it. Somebody surely must have written, before today, (all fools day), no matter how dismal the prospects of the effort. Any takers on the other side of that bet?

The funny farm, indeed.


Don't blame me. I voted for Peter Perovich. For the reasonableness and balanced perspective Perovich offered, as opposed to hokey right-wingnuttery.

Give the Watchdog a Kibble. He is barking up the proper tree. "As you might imagine, the Watchdog is just a wee bit skeptical that building a gleaming new station in Ramsey is going to improve Northstar's fortunes or the fortunes of mass transit in the Metro area. Here's why."

Barking up a misguided "megaproject" tree.

Harold Hamilton, the Anoka County Watchdog, is someone I agree with often about fiscal conservatism - in terms of spending lots of public money foolishly being a very bad practice.

Other times, he's on the other end of the spectrum from what I'd say or do. But in an email I challenged Harold over only barking up some trees, other times being more lapdog than watchdog.

However, here is an instance where I admit, publicly, he's barking up the proper tree, and doing it convincingly.

[...] While boosting ridership on Erhart's Folly is one purpose of the proposed Ramsey station, another rationale relates to yet another failed government megaproject, this one being the Ramsey Town Center, AKA the "COR" (Center of Ramsey).

Readers will recall that this attempt by government to manufacture a utopian downtown in Ramsey where none existed before has been a hot mess.

As city fathers attempt to salvage the project, they have increasingly hung their hopes on a train station, giving this Potemkin downtown the label of a "transit-oriented" development.

Now it may be true that some developers have an interest in the COR only if a train station is first built.

On the other hand, some of the economic development reasons ring a bit hallow.[sic]

For example, city officials claim that a train station could be a boost to big box retailers. It doesn't make a whole lot of sense to the Watchdog that folks coming to a Home Depot or a Super Target would find the train convenient.

Picking up a few hundred shingles to redo the roof? Buying a week's worth of groceries? Just carry it on the train!

Another example is the new Veterans' Administration clinic. Yes, some vets need help getting to and from their appointments.

The cost-effective solution is to shuttle them from an existing station or to move them by vehicle from their homes.

In any case, spending $20 million on a train platform in order to pursue salvation for the moribund COR project doesn't seem real cost effective.

[...] Moreover, look for GOP leaders in 2012 to take a very close look at every bonding project before whipping out the state's credit card.

It's time for the backers of this station to step away from the platform. While salvaging two misguided "megaprojects" has become the duty of those elected officials left to clean up the mess of the previous regimes, this course of action just doesn't look viable.

But Darren says ... Uh, huh. Darren says a lot. Verbose, you might say. Talk and productivity are different things.

Actually, Harold misses one key point of emphasis. The train only runs as a commuter train, downtown in the morning (with one reverse run to bring laborers from downtown to the 'burbs), and to the 'burbs in the evening (again, with one reverse run). That makes the big-box shopping, and the VA attendee argument that much more ridiculous. Beyond the due riducle the Watchdog has barked.

Read his entire email on the "wisdom" of dumping tons more of cash into the failed Clown Center and the imagined Crystal Palace train stop. He has substantially more to his argument than I have quoted.

The names of the parade of town savants who have put their imprimatur upon the effort could be cataloged and presented, but that would only detract from the wisdom the business world understands: "Cut your losses and don't make further spending decisions based upon sunk capital. If you lose something on each item, don't expect to make it up with volume."

Three of the Ramsey city council members own a business. You do not see them spending thier own money on foolish business decisions, do you? What does that suggest in terms of responsibility toward tax dollars? Should it be any different? Would either of the three, Ramsey, Wise, or McGlone hire Landform out of their own pocket? I don't know what they'd say in answer. So far, neither of the three has given Landform any personal business consulting contract. That's true.

In fairness, the Watchdog did not specifically mention spending on Landform. In my view, he should have. I do not think that in general he is a big fan of spending tax money on consultants. Has any reader heard him barking, ever, on there being too few consultants hired by local government?