consultants are sandburs

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Slow loading - use the right mouse button.

UPDATED: Some work was done on the sidebar in hope it would speed loading. To the extent it loads slowly - Cope with it. Or read something else. The web is full of stuff to read.

To avoid frustration, when a "click here" or "click the image" or "this link" are given, if you use the right mouse button, click that way on the linking and then choose either "open in a new tab" or "open in a new window" you might find your link-checking easier Going back and forth is a pain.

For now, enjoy Oz. It is a land beyond your expectations, it is its own fantasy, it is Oz.

Oz takes up much of the sidebar. So study Oz. It is or could be your hometown, hometown America, where a commuter train shall stop (it having been willed so with cost irrelevant).

Oz to you, served with more than an average share of bacon fat.

welcome to Oz

Damn fools did it, 4-3.

At least they were efficient marching down that road. Knowing they had four votes going in.

Has anyone else noticed? Darren Lazan has verbal diarrhea. Big time.

He's the sort who'd take ten minutes to say, "It's raining."

Not only ten minutes. He'd use a spreadsheet. Power Point.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Never mind the Pinkertons. Republican anti-union activism has its others ways and means.

I could start with the email. I could start with the CNN online item. Choosing the email about a DFL assisted informational rally at the Bachmann office in Woodbury, it says:

SD 48 DFL Party

Dear Eric,

Tuesday, September 27th Rally

Please help get the word out as best you can, and join the rally yourself.

Representative Bachmann's office is at: 6043 Hudson Rd, Suite 330; Woodbury, MN 55125 on Tuesday, Sept 27th, 4-5:30 PM

If you care about the demise of the Middle Class and the blatant attacks on our right to Collectively bargain then please come out and show your support at these rallys. Everyone is welcome as the Post Office closings and consolidations are hurting many communities across Amercia.

This is a viscous misguided attempt to destroy the last great Union by shrinking and privatizing the Postal Service. Please read below for more info.

On Tuesday, September 27, from 4 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. (local time), members of the four employee unions of the United States Postal Service—

• American Postal Workers Union
• National Association of Letter Carriers
• National Postal Mail Handlers Union
• National Rural Letter Carriers' Association

— will join forces with members of our communities to send a message to the nation and its Congress.

We are proud to announce the participation of the National Association of Postal Supervisors (NAPS) in the effort to Save America's Postal Service. Click here to read their entire statement.

During these informational rallies, we will visit the home office of each member of the House of Representatives.

We will thank those members who have signed on as co-sponsors of H.R. 1351, a bill that addresses the financial crisis facing the Postal Service.

And we will encourage those who have not signed as co-sponsors of H.R. 1351 to do so.

Join us! For more Information read the article below.

My local post office is in crisis.

Claiming that the U.S. Postal Service is in danger of financial collapse, the Postmaster General is proposing to close thousands of post offices and postal facilities, reduce services like Saturday delivery, lay off more workers, change benefit programs, and end protection against layoffs. In addition, current legislation in the House of Representatives (H.R. 2309) would create a "solvency authority" with power to unilaterally cut wages, change benefits, and end layoff protections. At the same time, it would create a board charged with delivering $2 billion worth of post office and facility closures in two years. Both efforts seriously erode the collective bargaining process that gives workers a voice on the job.

Maybe you agree with these measures.

Have you grumbled that you had to stand in line at the post office? The wrong mail got delivered to your house? You're not protected from lay-offs, so why should government workers be protected? You don't need Saturday delivery?

But have you looked at how the entire system actually works?

In 1943, First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt told the Congress of Industrial Organizations (CIO) convention delegates that union members need to tell their stories and educate the public about their problems. Well, I recently went to the convention of the Coalition of Labor Union Women and heard Cliff Guffey, president of the American Postal Workers Union, and Jane Broendel, secretary-treasurer of the National Association of Letter Carriers, explain clearly and succinctly why the Postal Service is not failing, why we should respect the people who go to work there every day, and how we can help make all of them more successful, contributing to a stronger economy. Here is what I learned.

The United States Postal Service:

1. Receives no taxpayer dollars
2. Is funded by the products and services it sells
3. Working with its unions, has already reduced its workforce by 110,000 employees, improved efficiency, and introduced new products and services
4. Handles more than 40 percent of the world's mail more efficiently and at lower cost than other services
5. Despite the growth of the digital world, continues to support a $1 trillion mailing industry with more than 8 million jobs
6. Has a workforce that is made up of 40 percent women, 40 percent minorities, and 22 percent veterans, many disabled

There is a crisis, but it is not because the Postal Service is inefficient and its workers overpaid. It is because the Postal Service:

7. Is the only federal agency or private company required to pre-fund retiree health benefits for 75 years
8. Is therefore required to pay $5.5 billion annually to the Treasury, an amount not required of any other agency or company

Without these unique requirements, it would have earned a surplus of over $600 million during the last four years. In addition, the USPS:

9. Has over-paid its obligations to the Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS) by an estimated $50 billion (and this money should be returned)
10. Has overfunded the Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS) by
approximately $6.9 billion (and would be profitable if these funds were returned)

H.R. 1351, the "United States Postal Service Pension Obligation Recalculation and Restoration Act of 2011," would begin to solve part of the problem by requiring the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) to transfer the billions of bollars in overpayments to the retirement funds to the retiree health benefits account.

Cliff Guffey, president of the American Postal Workers Union and a Vietnam veteran, told Congress, "As postal workers, we have been able to fulfill the American dream of holding a job that pays a living wage and provides health insurance for families with a dignified retirement when we can no longer work."

"My sister-in-law is a letter carrier in southern California. With over 20 years service on her route, in addition to delivering the mail she knows the elderly and the sick and checks when mail is left in the box. She asks about birthdays and anniversaries. For some, hers is the only friendly face they see all week, a link to the wider world. [...] The postal service is more than a job and more than products and services. It has been part of our history and our communities for over 200 years."

If you want more information about what is happening today, ask your letter carrier when he or she delivers your mail or stop and see your post master when you go into town. You can join the Save America's Postal Service Rallies on September 27. As Eleanor Roosevelt told the union delegates, "We can't just talk. We have got to act."
Michael Schroeder
SD48 Chair


[with some text omitted - some links added where not showing in the email] Read information online here, here, and here.

Next, the CNN online reporting [excerpted without the original hot links or the additional audio coverage following this extended cut, photo from original (captioning added)]:

Is benefits law dragging down the Postal Service?

The U.S. Postal Service is in a precarious financial situation, telling Congress it faces the "equivalent of Chapter 11 bankruptcy." Losing billions of dollars a year, it is considering whether to close more than 3,600 post offices and lay off tens of thousands of workers.

The service faces many problems, including a drop in mail volume in recent years. But the service, which employs nearly 572,000 people, says some of its difficulties are inflicted by the federal government – through a law governing how the agency funds workers' retirement health benefits.

In 2006, Congress passed a law requiring the Postal Service to wholly pre-fund its retirement health package – that is, cover the health care costs of future retirees, in advance, at 100%. The Postal Service, which is a corporation owned but not funded by the federal government, is the only government-related agency required to prefund retirees' health benefits.

"No one prefunds at more than 30%," said Anthony Vegliante, the service's executive vice president.

Sally Davidow, spokeswoman for one of the unions that represents postal workers, calls it a "a ridiculous requirement."

"(The requirement is) so ridiculous, Congress doesn't do it. No other government agency does it. No private businesses do it," she said. "It's $5.5 billion a year, every year, for 10 years. That's what is causing the problem.

"The law was passed in 2006 and lo and behold, ever since 2007, the Postal Service has been suffering a tremendous debt."

The Postal Service reported a net loss of $8.5 billion last fiscal year.

The American Postal Workers Union and the National Association of Letter Carriers don't want to lose the benefits. But Davidow says a solution is possible. [click the original item for what Davidow suggests]

[again, here for the full report, with links]

I wanted to finish the post, so I did not try to track down the 2006 legislation (and CNN did not link to it). However, it appears likely that in 2006 "special" legislation created a problem where none existed; and now dark forces of union haters are afoot to use that artificially created "problem" as an excuse for Koch brothers - Scott Walker union hating/busting of a kind the Pinkertons would marvel at - not a shot needing to be fired if the illusions can be successfully manipulated. They are indirect, they are ill-intentioned. Well organized, yes, but wholly nasty and ill-intentioned. Had the Postal Service been treated the same as congress in terms of benefits and pension funding, or as the TSA feelers and x-rayers, or the FBI or CIA, it appears there'd be a net positive balance on the balance sheet. Go figure. Go rally.

Reader help is requested if anyone knows: Are lower rung Federal Reserve employees there under the civil service, or are those jobs "privatized?" And if "privatized" what are the pension arrangements, and how are they funded? If civil service, ditto? These, after all, are the only ones in our nation allowed to print money, they own and control the printing presses, so what's their story on how well or poorly they treat the help? Treasury certificates have been abandoned years ago and instead of saying "redeemable in legal tender" all pretenses have been dropped and the fiat money says "This is legal tender."

Curiously, and nobody has yet explained any logic in it to me, the Treasury does not issue money, it buys money from the Fed, by issuing bonds, requiring it, our Treasury, to pay interest to a private bank run by private sector bankers, for our Treasury to get hands onto new issues of our money. Is there any explanation beyond the rapaciousness of the banking system and those in it, for there being such a set-up? I welcome any guest editorial any reader wants to publish on Crabgrass justifying that setup. Saying The Creature From Jekyll Island is a Godzilla to itself may be the truth but it falls short as a rational explanation for things being so. That JP Morgan in 1907 arguably engineered a financial crisis and that the "progressives" of the Woodrow Wilson sort contrived along with Morgan cronies standing on the suffering of 1907 to set up such a thing in 1913 is hardly cause for a century later a population being enthralled.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Just Another Blog From LA. Explaining a few things in terms even a Tea Party zealot could understand.

Yes, they could understand it but they never could get past the denial, and the liking of being in the lower class and championing the programs and agenda of their uber-wealthy puppeteers. They are who they are, lost souls each.

Here and here. The themes speak. In line with Buffet's honesty.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

... our sentinel to stand against the politics of the past ...

we need our sentinel ...

... to stand against the politics of the past

And the upstart fellow from Sherburne County has the nerve to imply "our sentinel" is "disingenuous."

"Commissioner Look does a good job reminding us of how insignificant we are whenever he gets a chance," Sherburne County Commissioner Felix Schmiesing said Friday.

"Anoka County is creating issues for us. I know there's been a change in leadership there, but they're being disingenuous if they're pushing for a Ramsey station and shutting out everything else."

Last fall, three new commissioners were elected to the Anoka County Board. One of them was Look, who replaced longtime Commissioner Dan Erhart as chairman of the county rail authority.

The proposed $13.2 million Ramsey station, expected to open late next year, has been criticized by Sherburne and Stearns County officials who say the additional stop will add minutes to ride times but won't draw additional commuting riders.

Look, a former Ramsey City Council member, disagrees, saying that the station will draw from the city's bus ridership, not from neighboring Northstar stations in Elk River and Anoka. He bristles at the thought of Sherburne County officials who have tried to "torpedo the Ramsey station."

Look's frustration boiled over in a series of e-mails he sent to Luci Botzek, Sherburne County's assistant administrator, and to Stearns County Commissioner Leigh Lenzmeier, chairman of the Northstar Corridor Development Authority.

'Destructive influence'

While most of the $317 million Northstar line was federally funded, Look reminded Botzek in an Aug. 22 e-mail that Anoka County is the line's majority local regional shareholder and wrote that "your influence is negligible and destructive to the continuance of this relationship."

An Aug. 23 e-mail from Look to Lenzmeier mocked the possibility of a station in Becker rather than Ramsey. Wrote Look: "What is their story ... ride the train to Becker Furniture World, load up a bedroom set and ride it back?"

Schmiesing calls Look's e-mails to Botzek "wicked" and says Anoka County's obsession with Ramsey ignores statistics that show the two Sherburne County stations -- Big Lake and Elk River -- provide more than half of the line's ridership.

The Big Lake station registered 23,524 rides (out and back) in August, followed by Elk River with 20,288. Total Northstar rides: 78,898.
"Anoka County hasn't done the proper research, but with Anoka County, everything is political," Schmiesing said.

Sherburne County doesn't belong to the Met Council or the seven-county metro area, he said, "so it's hard to get people to listen to us. But all Anoka County is doing is scrambling to fix the many mistakes Ramsey has made with a major land project that's cost them millions of dollars and has been a disaster."

This politics of the past thing is a confusion. One politician has said "our sentinel" needs "to stand against the politics of the past," and I guess with that float paraphernalia and him standing among it all, ... Actually, what he does is call a failure of an idea a "success" -

He wraps himself up in his own special flag, in this pork cutlets battle of delivering local politics doubtfully disntinct from "politics of the past." And then he sentinents. Not that either side is being as reasonable as feasible, now or previously.

See further reporting, here.

Republican roster running Ramsey raising revenue requirements? Relinquishing reduction related rhetoric? Really?

A tax increase?

From these guys?

Next year an election year and Republicans, at the helm, and with all the bleating they've done?

This link
Please do not forget how there was a lot of Tarzan-like chest pounding in the past, too much, about cutting taxes where reserves were being depleted to pay for stuff.

The mayor once mentioned to me the burden of debt service for the past city hall lavishness, servicing and retiring that debt.

Yet these are the guys intent on bonding for the Flaherty ramp-rental-wrap adventure? Not seeing how it could fail?

With reserves slashed and new bonding - what legacy are they leaving for succeeding councils?

What future does their current conduct entail?

This link, for a tentative and presently inconclusive story, (Sakry of ABC Newspapers reporting with detail apparently yet to be finalized). You decide. My bet is the shoe is pinching them now.

This screenshot:

Friday, September 23, 2011

Boeing - technicologically innovative, a throwback to Pinkerton days in labor relations?

Links only, read and form your own opinions.

Here, herehere, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here.

The engineers in Seattle are good at using Catia to design sound aircraft, and composites innovation is impressive. Those engineers have a nice union too.

BizJournal reports latest news about Bob Close, a person with a place in Ramsey Town Center history.

This link.

It's short and the screenshot has the story, but the links in it, (and on the sidebar), are only active if you link over to BizJournal.

Today's mystery image.

Without cheating and reading the fine print label the image capture software put on the image, can YOU identify the source website?

Hint, this Google is wrong.

Or, is it?

Latest sidebar poll closes. Responses were almost equally splt about the desirability of the big "COR" sign on Highway 10.

The vote was slightly less than favorable, 5 liking the prospects and 6 being skeptical or turned-off. I voted in the latter group, and I would call it basically an even split. I will cease criticizing the thing, but I will keep the lead-in "Welcome to Oz" post atop the posts for the foreseeable future. With the poll closed I placed it beneath the leading sidebar photo of an apparently healthy Crabgrass concentration. That poll outcome is now among the retained earlier poll results. It is the only one there without a decisive majority apparent.

Landlord adventurers propose glutting the high-rent market with new building at desirable Twin Cities locales. Chicago Tribune republishes Orland Park local reporting with a universally wise ending quote.

1. Strib, here, reports on the luxury rental high-rise plans at two vibrant places; with each to be set within already developed dense urban neighborhoods ideal for attractive upscale housing proposals.

2. Orland Park's Flaherty related news of the dense ramp-wrap-rental experiment approved by the village board of trustees this week, where town bankrolling of the adventure was and is the plan, here, with an ending citizen comment quoted, "You can be mayor or you can be a developer, but you can't be, shouldn't be both."

I would hesitate to ever guess that "I cannot see how either the downtown or Loring Park rental projects could fail," but my forecast is that the locales suggest a greater probability of success than comparable projects at more speculative places.

Nor would I be so bold as to think that the downtown or Loring Park things would catalyze miraculous renaissance measures within their neighborhoods. They will, once built, rent out at occupancy rates that can be anticipated as higher than at other less prestigious places - and that is all I believe I could credibly forecast without undue puffing or unmerited optimism.

3. Latest reporting from Oralnd Park, dated Sept. 22, byline: Jack Murray, The Regional editor, this link. In part, Murray wrote:

Over the objections of most of the residents who packed its meeting Monday night, Orland Park’s Village Board voted to approve the permits, redevelopment agreement and funding of the 295-unit luxury apartment building it plans to build in a public/private partnership at 9750 W. 143rd St.

Only a few of the more than 200 residents who crowded the Orland Park Village Board chambers for the second time since Labor Day to oppose the village’s plan to fund the construction of the $63 million luxury apartment building took the last opportunity afforded them to speak on the record for or against the project.

Village trustees each proceeded to give their views before they voted unanimously to approve the site plan, special-use permit and subdivision to move forward with the project: the first phase to develop a Downtown Orland Park in the Main Street Triangle redevelopment area bounded by 143rd Street, La Grange Road and the Metra railroad tracks running the diagonal along Southwest Highway.

The motion to approve was made by Trustee Kathleen Fenton, who spoke with passion about Orland Park’s demonstrated ability to consistently attract major, big-name retailers and other firms as a desirable place to do business.

Although Trustee Brad O’Halloran voted with the rest of the board to permit the project, he cast the sole dissenting votes against authorizing the redevelopment agreement with the developer selected as the village’s private partner, and also the loan agreement for the future issuance of general obligation bonds that will fund it. Indianapolis-based developer Flaherty & Collins is putting up only about $2 million of the nearly $65 million estimated cost to fund the project.

It is the village’s intention to finance the remaining $63 million through a bank line of credit, then the issue of general obligation bonds that O’Halloran objects to, he explained. While O’Halloran supports the Main Street Triangle redevelopment project, and is “not against the [upscale] apartment complex,” he said to loud applause that he opposes the financing plan. [...]

[...] As a sop to O’Halloran, Mayor Daniel J. McLaughlin agreed to have village staff “explore the option of reducing the risk to the village — to mitigate the risk.” To do so, one of the agenda items added and also approved by the Village Board Monday was a resolution to authorize village “staff to explore, identify and evaluate various fund options for Ninety7Fifty On the Park.”

[...] Foes of the project contend few would be willing to pay upwards of $1,500 a month to live in Orland Park and fill all of its 295 units, despite the amenities planned for 9750 On the Park, including a salt-water swimming pool, fitness center, spa and luxury unit interiors. [...]

From a Ramsey perspective, the crucial question is whether timing will permit us to gauge likelihoods here from results there, the uncertainty being how soon will they proceed so that we can see signs of success or failure, and whether results there are predictive of likelihoods here.

If Orland Park is to be Ramsey's "canary in the coal mine" it would help us little to have feedback from there, (encouraging or discouraging), if we at that point have "The Residence," (that being the quaint name invented for that thing to be attached to the citizen-owned tax-subsidized ramp), being a half-built thing where the only option is to finish it and hope, regardless of what Orland Park's experience teaches.

This suggests a wait and see posture is wisest for Ramsey, even if a construction schedule has to be tailored that way. With the city providing the secondary financing needed to supplement the bank loan and the miniscule percentage of the construction cost being put in by Flarherty's firm, we can control timing by when the bonds are issued and the proceeds released. Presumably PNC, the Pittsburgh bank financing twenty million dollars of the thing might also see wisdom in waitnig to see how the Orland Park experiment turns out before fronting bank cash in Ramsey. It would be prudent banking if PNC chose that approach. Given the history of how Minnwest bank plunged and regretted plunging, PNC might favor discretionary delay. They will be free of adventurous banker shenanigans out of North Branch, which was a part of the Minnwest experience.

The counterargument is that timing of the present rental demand spike favors avoiding delay, but that argument overlooks the fact that the thing will have a useful life of thirty years, even if built flimsily, and longer if soundly built as the Flaherty promises suggest. Transitory demand should not be a driving force when such a true long term time frame governs. Indeed, even an apparent success in Orland Park, if used to lead Ramsey thinking, might be only a result of transitory demand, a rental housing bubble, so there is no sure thing even if using Orland Park experiences as our barometer.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Flaherty gets favorable vote in Orland Park "Amid shouts of 'Throw ’em out!' and 'We’re not your piggy bank!' from the audience at Monday night’s village board meeting." Manna will fall from heavan - it will be "catalyzed." As surely, we can expect, as high occupancy in the Cosmopolitan shows a picture of how it has catalyzed ground floor retail there.

David Flaherty's getting richer because he appears adept at convincing municipalities to take his risks for him, committing minimal capital of his own into adventures he says he believes in, and we are told such town bankrolling of private adventurers will catalyze greatness - which some foresee as surely as pigs flying once the lipstick's been put on.

BOTTOM LINE: The Village of OP Board of Trustees voted for their Flaherty ramp-wrap-rental by the rails project with only one dissenting vote - a stronger show of majority support than exists on our council for turning City of Ramsey into a risk-financing bank.

Reporting exists now about yesterday's OP decision, and more may go online during the day. The headline quote is from an opening report paragraph here.

Point and counterpoint, here, here and here, the middle item favoring the project with this earlier editorial by one of the OP area politician-skeptics. I believe it is healthy that politicians take their thinking public and that Orland Park has a willing outlet for controversy to be aired by first-person politicians' op-ed items spanning the spectrum from project friends to project foes. The third item in the point-counterpoint trio of items sums up opposition opinion well:

Gira and Schussler further complain that Trustee O'Halloran issued his open letter not to them and Mayor Dan McLaughlin but to the public through the media. Are they saying that they prefer that all questionable public financing projects be discussed in closed door sessions among themselves? That's what got Mayor McLaughlin in trouble last week when the public demanded to know more about the project at a public hearing the village only scheduled at the last minute in response to complaints.

What we are seeing is not strategic leadership but rather politics at its worst. Instead of addressing issues, they attack individuals. Instead of discussing the project with the public -- the taxpayers of Orland Park -- they want the issue to be put behind closed doors.

The letter makes many ridiculous claims that are intended to distract voters away from the real priority here.

The Village of Orland Park should not be a banker, especially in today's economy, underwriting risky projects that are direct burdens on the taxpayers who are already over taxed. The Village Board should suspend action on this project and give the public more time to hear all sides to this debate before rushing a decision at today's board meeting.

I urge the Village Board to postpone a vote on the Ninety 7 Fifty Development and instead spend more time listening to the feedback of the public, the taxpayers and the community, and get a back-up plan before pursuing this monumental project and its financing.

Trustees Gira and Schussler, after arguing that Orland Park had a history of accumulating reserves and controlling spending, with of all things an AA+ bond rating, then wrap up their argument as one may expect:

Trustee O’Halloran is certainly free to vote as he chooses, however, it is inappropriate to address an open letter to the Mayor and then send it only to the media. He could have shared those concerns with the rest of the board and perhaps swayed others to his beliefs.  Why would someone go to the media before sharing his thoughts with the board with whom he professes to work?

The two questions that we have repeatedly heard about this project are “Why apartments?” and “Why is the Village of Orland Park loaning money to the developer?”  Luxury apartments are being considered because that is where the market is at this time.  We have two market studies that indicate luxury apartments are in short supply and the demand is growing.  As you know, these market studies are available on the village web site for review and analysis.  In addition to those expert opinions, in a recent letter, Mr. John Jaeger, senior vice president of the CB Richard Ellis, Inc. real estate firm, made the following statements regarding this project, “The project itself is well designed and thought out….The suburban MSA needs additional apartments to meet growing demand due to the shift from home ownership to rental living.”

[emphasis added] Wait for the wrapup. I had to insert notice that the CBRE argument is a total red herring so far as CBRE has done much past work with Flaherty's firm and has the listing for selling all or a part interest in the Cosmopolitan in downtown Indianapolis. This Google. The lead image cropped from the lead page of this item.

Is "Mr. John Jaeger, senior vice president of the CB Richard Ellis, Inc. real estate firm," going to imperil his three legged milking stool to say "Flaherty's project stinks, don't touch it?" It borders on being disdainful of the OP folks' capability to find out the ongoing goodwill between Flaherty's operation and CBRE, based on commissions earned at least in part, for Flaherty to trot out a tarnished testimonial from an ongoing business partner. It is like putting Cronk on Lazan's Landform "Task Force" and tarting him up as if an independent without fiduciary ties to Flaherty. It is an insult to the intelligence and sound judgment of a public. OP Trustees Gira and Schussler continue,

There are two reasons the Village of Orland Park is considering loaning $38 million for this development: it puts the village in a first lien position if problems are encountered and it allows the village to recover all or a major portion of the $23 million incentive that is necessary to get this project under way.  If a third party lender were involved, the village would not be in a secured position if a default occurred and the village would not be able to recover the $23 million incentive.

The Village of Orland Park will not own an apartment building; it will be owned by Flaherty and Collins, the developer.  Just as we own our homes, a lender, in this case the village will carry the loan for the project.  We will be repaid as Flaherty and Collins repays the loan, a process we are all familiar with as we pay the mortgage on our homes.  Bonds will be sold to obtain funds to lend to the developer.  The bonds will be repaid from the net operating income of the building not from real estate taxes. The Main Street Triangle is a Tax Increment Financing District, a TIF.  TIF incremental revenues or sales tax can be used to carry the project if it isn’t rented as quickly as projected.  There are also other parcels to be sold and developed that will contribute financially to the triangle redevelopment.

This project should have no adverse financial effects on residents.  There has been no referendum because residents are not being asked to pay more in property taxes.  In fact, when the project is completed and leased, it is estimated that it will produce over $700,000 in real estate taxes annually and have the potential to reduce the village’s portion of our residents’ tax bill.  People who live in the development will shop our local business community and 400 to 500 construction jobs will be created over a three-year period.  Standard and Poor’s and Moody’s have reaffirmed our excellent bond rating, fully aware of the plans for the Ninety 7 Fifty development.

Because of conservative budgeting and prudent decisions that were made by successive village boards over the last forty years, Orland Park is a very desirable place to live and work. [... and now the wrapup]

The current economy calls for creativity and innovation if Orland Park is to remain a dynamic village. We need to invest in the future. Orland Park has hired the best consultants and advisors who have indicated that the Ninety 7 Fifty project maximizes returns to the village and minimizes the risks. It will act as a catalyst for millions of dollars of future private investment in the Main Street area of our Downtown Orland Park. On September 19th, we intend to vote yes on this project and for the future of the Village of Orland Park, one of the most dynamic communities in the State of Illinois and the country.

Trustee Patricia A. Gira

Trustee Edward G. Schussler III

Village of Orland Park

You don't need a laugh-track to accompany the catalysis claims, and ditto for "best consultants and advisors" (reminiscent of Lazan-Landform in Ramsey); best by what measure and in whose opinion; in light of the Cosmopolitan proof on the ground that ground floor [retail] opportunity does not mean a positive catalytic followup. Catalysis maximus, or catalysis reductus in pulvis, for Ramsey; and/or for Orland Park?

Put another way, (and this could be a sidebar poll), in terms of an outcome proving the wisdom or folly of a risk, which image would you attach to the likely ending stature of the gang of four (HRA Chairman Elvig, the mayor, McGlone and Wise) who are forcing the issue on Ramsey's being David Flaherty's Minnesota rental-adventuring risk-bearing bank -- you be the judge for now, while history will settle the question:

Coverage bylined as of 9:27 am, today, here, this mid-story excerpt:

Several of the O’Halloran supporters repeatedly interrupted – with challenges like “Don’t make us your piggybank!”

Trustee Pat Gira, responding to concerns the village would be left in financial straits if the project floundered, said, “I have every reason to believe we will be made whole.”

Responding to a barrage of shouts, she offered to let residents speak, but Village Clerk Dave Maher stopped one resident, telling him to not speak unless Mayor Dan McLaughlin authorized it. McLaughlin said residents had had sufficient opportunity during two other meetings and prior to board deliberations.

Antoinette “Toni” Zaro, one of the three residents who spoke prior to the board discussion, offered the most succinct advise to McLaughlin: “You can be mayor or you can be a developer, but you can’t be, shouldn’t be both.

Best citizen commentary, Patch, here:

Andrea Williams

4:38pm on Monday, September 19, 2011

Frank, these trustees are operating under the old adage, "It is easier to ask for forgiveness than permission," which is why they are refusing to put this up for referendum.

First Runner-up comment so far, same thread:

Joseph J. Solek

7:33am on Monday, September 19, 2011

Eleven years ago when trustee O'Halloran was on board, the triangle project did not include a rental aspect to it. In these difficult economic times when Metra is considering raising their prices up to 30%,I find it hard to believe that rental commuters would want to live far from their work place. The Village's own market studies state that the demand for this type of developement is "weak". With most of the businesses gone from the triangle and no other developer interested, the village has no plan B. This project will pass. I hope it is successful, for the sake of the future of Orland.

Second Runner-up:

Todd Probasco

11:21pm on Monday, September 19, 2011

If this was put to the voters to decide there is no way this would have passed. The elected officials represent the people not their fellow board members and running mates, what a shame. This decision should have been decided by the voters.

Again I applaud the OP press outlets, especially Patch, which was linked to above with the point-counterpoint trio of items, and which at the end of August carried the OP mayor's optimistic bifurcated argument, "It's a catalyst, I know it will be - we did research, we cannot lag behind our neighbors [none to my knowledge being reported to be out on a limb on any rental deal of a comparable scope to OP's or Ramsey's]," this excerpt:

First of all, the public needs to know what we are trying to achieve with our Main Street re-development. It is very simple. If we don’t invest in our community, if we don’t carefully plan for our future and our children’s futures and if we sit on our hands, we will be surpassed by those communities that have the vision and the courage to build their communities, leaving us to solve the problems created when Orland Park is passed over by businesses and residents moving to those progressive communities.

Communities and states often leverage their resources and partner with private enterprises to advance local economic development and that is what Orland Park is doing. We have painstakingly researched the best ways to launch a re-development for the village’s downtown and protect the community’s investment – while maximizing its return.

This project will create substantial short and long term job opportunities, strengthen our commercial base, attract new businesses, enhance the beauty of our village – protecting property values – and help us preserve Orland Park’s reputation as one of the most desirable communities in the nation. What’s more, it achieves all of this without increasing property taxes.

Under the terms of the agreement, the village will secure the financing for the project by taking advantage of its very strong financial position. The village will serve as the lender, thereby securing the loan with the new improvements. The village will also invest in the project through a “project incentive” and recover that through the performance of the project over time. The developer will also contribute equity toward the project. Over time, the village is taken out of the deal by the developer, with ample opportunity to recover the community’s investment. By the village controlling the financial and development levers, we do just that.

From the beginning, the new downtown project has been a painstakingly, carefully planned initiative designed to renovate an older part of town in order to create a true lifestyle center that enhances Orland Park’s reputation as one of the most desirable communities in the nation.

________________FURTHER UPDATE________________

I have an idea in the spirit of helpful suggestions for Ramsey, in light of the OP mayor's triggering the thought by saying, "If we don’t invest in our community, if we don’t carefully plan for our future and our children’s futures and if we sit on our hands, we will be surpassed by those communities that have the vision and the courage to build their communities, leaving us to solve the problems created when Orland Park
is passed over by businesses and residents moving to those progressive communities." My low-budget and modest suggestion may lead to a beneficial outcome to our community in thinking of the smooth backside of Ben's pedestal. It would not be a costly modifiction, it would not need to be contracted out, just an attachment with waterproofing because of extremes of weather, and a pewter fixture could be used.

_________________FURTHER UPDATE__________________

Putting aside wanting Ramsey to avoid the eleventh plague, unparalleled Crabgrass growth, and hoping Ramsey is passed over that way, one citizen comment struck me on this thread:

6:44 AM on September 20, 2011
The (public) servants have become the masters.

Unless there is a dramatic turn around in the economy the residential units will go empty.

Orland Park had a downtown anchored by Randy's. These faux downtowns that have been developed all over the country are the 21st century equivalent of the big box mall. They are everywhere and generic. Orland would have been better served to have preserved the business and the jobs and spiffed up and retro fitted the existing mall and brought out the real charm of the downtown, which is what people and shoppers are looking for.

Just like implants, they look good at first glance but everybody knows they are fake when you get up close.

Like that OP news reader, I view the entire Ramsey Town Center fiasco as wrongly thought out plastic fantastic grow-it-from-a-box Met Council inspired "livable TOD community" utter and shameless phoniness - phony propagandizing of it as having a spirit and phony telling us people want it, and phony stuff ending up on the ground to be with us for years; lego-land along Ramsey Blvd. being my poster child for such bad stuff to be put into a community which already has built its own, different character.

Nedegaard's comeuppance pursuing that flawed idea came as no surprise.

Thought is worthwhile, over "because we were careful and prudent over time is why we can afford - and hence should take a major big time gamble" rationalizations -- a we -our predecessors- were the diligent ants for years so now we -ourselves- should feel entitled and enabled to become the profligate grasshopper of Aesop's fable:

Orland Park is one of a very small number of municipalities in Illinois that has the financial ability to handle a project like Ninety 7 Fifty. At the end of our most recent fiscal year (2010), we had more than $37 million in fund balance reserves. The village’s debt, as a percentage of equalized assessed value, is low. In 1992, we had just under $22 million of outstanding debt which was 2.93% of equalized assessed value. In 2010, the outstanding debt was over $79 million but the percentage of equalized assessed value was almost the same, 2.89%. The board only borrows for capital projects and never to cover operating expenses. That is one of the reasons why approximately $4.4 million was cut from the operating budget during the last three years.

The highest Standard & Poor bond rating is AAA and ten municipalities have it. We, along with 24 other Illinois municipalities, have the next highest rating of AA+. Our per capita debt and liabilities are $1,811. The average per capita debt and liabilities for southwest Cook County is $5,244. Conservative fiscal policies have kept the village real estate taxes low. In the last ten years a single family home with a value of $300,000 has paid an average of $533 per year in real estate tax to the village. If you factor in the property tax rebates that were given to residents in the last ten years, the average amount of taxes paid to the Village of Orland Park drops to $184 per year. This amount includes a levy for parks and recreation. Orland Park residents do not pay a separate tax to a Park District. That certainly is not the “high taxation” that Cook County Commissioner Elizabeth Gorman mentioned at our last meeting. Perhaps she was referring to the Cook County taxes that burden us and our businesses each year.

That, per OP trustees Gira and Schussler in their letter to the Patch editor, again - this link.

Worth the time to read and review, is some of the stuff that suggests a gamble on shared-wall rental is a good gamble, two PDF docs, here and here - from folks in the business of marketing shared-wall rental. It might be a good short-term gamble of a build it rent it out, sell it, and move on operator - especially if municipalities take a shine to risk shifting to boot - but the municipalities are the ones who will be on the hook long-term and neither of those items is too reassuring about anything like long term forecasting that shared wall rental will stay attractive, especially long commute projects in culture-starved outer-'burb locales where, so far, the Town Center young-affluent dwellers, if there are any, have to drive to JR's or Anoka to find a bar. And further to find a desirable restaurant.

_______________FURTHER UPDATE________________
Two things a second position would offer, which Ramsey will not have on the ramp-wrap-rental because David Flaherty does not want to give one, is a hammer on any condo conversion - a second being a blanket position so that things such as selling on a contract-for-deed would be required if the second is not cleared before a conversion. Also, state law may prevent conversion if there is any blanket encumbrance - Goodrich and Bray would be the ones to know that. The other thing, if you take the LLC as security, with a personal guarantee or not [without knowing the soundness of a guarantee and what other guarantees have been given in other states and times] the thing can be sold as a sale of assets, title to a purchaser free and clear if the first position is satisfied, PNC's $20 million place, and then in a year or two the money's been earlier conveyed and the LLC ceases paying an unsecured second, and it would be like Nedegaard's LLC - and the guarantee is what you'd have to chase.

Answer, DEMAND IN THINGS THAT FLAHERTY'S FIRM AGREE TO A DUE ON SALE PROVISION - A PAYOFF OF THE CITY IN FULL IF THEY WANT TO SELL IT TO ANOTHER PARTY. That way, if a solvent party buys and will assume the debt and secure it, a bargain that way can be struck and if a potential buyer is too risky or unwilling to negotiate, you either kill the deal or get paid off. No diddling.

Aside from being able to quell a condo conversion, I cannot think of much value to an eight million dollar position, secured as a second lien or not against the real estate, if the real estate turns out to be such a dog that it is not worth on the market - the ever moving uncertain market - the value of the first position. This thing could be such a big time failure that the City takes gas big time, for a ton of cash. That, Colin McGlone, is how it can fail.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Flaherty Fiscal Flounderings. Orland Park variety. Best headline from there so far, "Should village ‘act as a bank’, Gorman asks at meeting on luxury apartment project"

Why not?   Suits me just fine.

Flaherty, pictured above, giving a hand-waving Orland Park presentation on why municipalities bankrolling his adventures is peachy and reassuring and how it may best be. He did the same hand-waving thing in Ramsey, (with the Coburn guy at the same HRA work session saying, in essence, "Back Flaherty"). The photo crops off at his right hand, not showing the uber-expensive looking wrist watch he waved around while in Ramsey. It caught my eye. Yes, dress for success is great but I'd have been more impressed if he had hocked the watch and put the proceeds into his Ramsey adventure, thus showing a personal trust in his own big-time risk offering.

Headline from here. Photo from here.

At both Orland Park and Ramsey, he performed his act without a dog. Without a pony. However, look at the Orland Park crowd, use your skills at body language, and decide whether animal props might have helped:

Not selling the product, Dave. Is it the pitch, or the product at fault? Some say a good product sells itself. Finance my profit-seeking private sector risk with town cash, that's not much of a product to sell itself, is it, except to village idiots (and on-commission consultants)?

The two stories presently online concerning Flaherty Fiscal affairs in Orland Park which were not already linked to in earlier Crabgrass posts, are here and here.

The first story (source of the photos) shows those Orland Park politicians already have spent a bundle on their Ramsey Town Center analog, to such an extent it makes the wasteful purchase from foreclosure by Ramsey of the distressed Town Center land smell like roses. Comparatively. But only comparatively. In each instance opening profligate town politicians' spending was a prelude to much worse, more of the same.

The second new reporting item begins:

After a couple of weeks of listening to some negative reaction from the public, the Village of Orland Park board of trustees will vote Monday on loaning developers of the Ninety 7 Fifty On The Park luxury apartment complex $62 million of the $63 million project.

This complex is part of the Main Street Downtown Orland Park project that already had some residents upset because it caused the closing of some popular businesses in the soon-to-be-torn down Orland Plaza.

This vote was originally going to take place at the Sept. 6 meeting but the village held an informational open house Aug. 29, where and several angry residents bombarded Mayor Dan McLaughlin with questions and criticisms. He delayed the vote and allowed citizens to speak at the Sept. 6 meeting, where many took issue with the project.

The main concern is that the village is funding too much of this project while Indianpolis-based builder Flaherty & Collins is putting up $1 million plus another $1 in fees. In August, Village Manager Paul Grimes said this shouldn’t have an impact on taxpayers.

“We’ve put belts and suspenders around this deal, and there is no reason to believe this is going to impact the property tax bills or result in any sort of increase in taxes,” Grimes said at an Aug. 17 news conference.

That "belts and suspenders" Grimes guy could have interesting conversations with Colin "I don't see how it can fail" McGlone about which of various rose-colored glasses may be better than others to use when viewing a Flaherty "bankroll me" rental-ramp-wrap mega-deal pitch and reviewing the paperwork.

Read the remainder of the online item, to see there is at least one Orland Park politician with concerns - those concerns being much like the libertarian thoughts Councilmember Jason Tossey has expressed in Ramsey --- that if the guy spends Flaherty-Collins' and real bank cash, instead of wanting to turn towns into banking outlets for the Flaherty firm, than let the project proceed and don't stand in the way.

However, Tossey has heard the trains and hence has reservations.

Tossey expanded his concern in email arising from his correcting an error I made in a previous post, where I said he was the only council member living in shared-wall housing and he indicated that was so when his family first moved to Ramsey but that they now live in a detached home "within the COR" and have kept the shared-wall home for now as a rental because of the market decline making a present recapture of invested equity in today's market unlikely.

In making the correction, his email continued:
Just this weekend, my neighbor and I were sitting outside enjoying a nice bonfire when a train came through blasting its horn for about 3 minutes in 20 second intervals. My first thought was about those enjoying a taco on the Acapulco deck, my second thought was about the soon to be residents of the Residence who will have to suffer through the blasts until Armstrong is re-done. Furthermore, even though I'm nearly half a mile away, I could feel the ground shake. That is why the recent article regarding the construction issue in Illinois concerned me so.

As you indicate in your blog, I am not opposed to the project, just the financing. But if the city is going to have financial stake (disregarding my objections) then it is imperative that the construction of this facility is top notch. And in light of the recent Illinois article, I now have a few doubts about the quality along with serious doubts about the financing.

The Orland Park area article about complaints in another part of the Chicago metro area of shoddy Flaherty-Collins construction practices remains online, here. It was mentioned and quoted at length in an earlier Crabgrass post, here.

History speaks for itself, with all crabgrass readers urged to again have a serious look at the "Echelon of Matteson" sorry saga.

Combustible wood frame construction. Beyond that, with regard to the arson fire that unfortunately required the Flaherty firm to reconstruct the almost-completed downtown Indianapolis Cosmopolitan project, a website in that city had documented the extensive use of wood framing above ground level, with speculation on another site that the fire damage might have been greater than otherwise because of that.

This link, for during-construction photos of the pre-arson Cosmopolitan, and here  for links to the speculative commentary, which remains online here, and here. Consider these images, same Cosmopolitan corner perspective, but built out to look as if more than wood-frame construction atop less combustible ground floor retail.

photo from here

Tossey is right that building quality standards should be enforced (I would go one step further and say that is required whether or not the city pops multi-million dollar taxpayer-banking for Mr. David Flaherty and his firm). We are stuck with the project, whether as soundly built as possible, or less so.

We need to have substantial quality, not claptrap nor a fire trap.

If it is to be done to our community, it should be done safely, from a fire threat viewpoint; and it should, if possible, be built to screen out or at least minimize as far as feasible the directly adjacent high noise levels and the vibrational impacts of the steady day-and-night BNSF freight train track usage, without any corner cutting as was reported as complained of in the Chicago area condo project which led to the somewhat awkward-in-context Flaherty PR disaster of an excuse line, "We're Apartment Guys."

Cosmopolitan - this link.
That "Apartment Guys" line will not cut it, if the thing is built with corner-cutting hiding of rail impact inhospitability of a kind that will lead to high tenant turnover rates, sublease upon sublease, and to a more desparate and less affluently mobile clientele for the place. Phrased directly, if done at all, stand on them with spurs on ready to jump and kick as soon as any compromise of quality is seen, and do so throughout the construction phase since it will be Ramsey, more than Flaherty and Collins that will be stuck with the thing.

As Flaherty's firm showed, in one of their North Carolina bankruptcies they found a buy-out party, and they currently are marketing, (or recently have been marketing), a full buy-out or a buy-out position on their flagship product, the Cosmopolitan on the Canal. That they are contemplating bailing out on a long term position there, in prosperous and busy downtown Indianapolis (adjacent to a quiet charming urban-renewal canal and walking path, not the busiest freight line, night-and-day, in the state), indicates they know how to walk and are not hesitant to do so, via bankruptcy court, or otherwise.

Again history can repeat itself. And in terms of fire safety next to the taxpayer owned ramp, TV coverage from the time of the Cosmopolitan arson fire, or earlier, was reported as:

A state commission granted the developers of the Cosmopolitan on the Canal a code variance, which gave them permission to not follow the current building code for buildings that size.

Documents show the developers of the Cosmopolitan asked for a variance from the state that allowed them to classify the building as four stories rather than five. It was granted, which allowed the building to be framed with wood instead of metal and concrete.

Why ask for that variance? Because, according to an Indianapolis Code Consultant, state code allows builders to use wood framing on buildings that are four stories tall, but not five.

"Basically, the code limits the number of stories and floor area based on the type of materials you use. For example, for combustible materials, wood, there's a limitation on how many stories you can build and how big the floor area can be. Once you're up to five stories, generally you're up to non-combustible construction. Wood framing would not be allowed," said Ralph Gerdes, Code Consultant.

Much of the Cosmopolitan built on a slope along the canal is four stories. But, because a small portion is five stories, the developer had to ask for a variance in order to use the highly combustible wood framing.

BOTTOM LINE: Again, if the thing is built at all, with much Ramsey citizen sentiment against it, building code officials and Brian Olson and his people should stand on Flaherty with spurs on, ready to jump and kick at the first sign of anything but the quality and safety in construction that Flaherty has made a living of touting.

Friday, September 16, 2011

A new sidebar poll - the BIG sign.

Like it? Dislike it? Express your opinion.

My opinion, beyond a "dislike it" vote, first, I live in Ramsey, and it is not a "Ramsey" sign. (It does not say "Ramsey," does it?) Go from that. It is wasteful. It is a gimmick in bad taste - tacky, stupid and tawdry - and an expression of hucksterism that to me is not in character with Ramsey and its quiet, low-key, relaxed, stable, established and pleasant neighborhoods. It puts the city in a bad, carnival barker light. It adds nothing. A big Trojan Horse labled COR would say it better. With that said, the sidebar poll has only two choices - Like it as helpful -or- Dislike it as unhelpful. Please vote. The poll is the top sidebar item.

For those who drive Highway 10 with only tunnel vision and do not know what I am talking about, it is on the north side of the Highway and located almost due south of city hall. Substantially bigger than your automobile. A low five figure cost, I expect. Perhaps more. Perhaps a mid five figure tax dollar amount. Click the photo to enlarge and view.

Big and ...  photo from ramp stairwell

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Go figure.

Bodley reporting Sept. 13, 2011, on the Anoka County Board passing next year's budget:

click image to enlarge and view
According to Cevin Petersen, division manager for finance and central services,  the county’s tax share on an average value homestead property in the county, $176,000, will be $24.20 less than 2011.

[...] “We had more than 2,200 foreclosures last year and more than 1,300 already this year,” Sivarajah said.

“If there are 10 homes in a block and 12 blocks in a mile, the line of homes would stretch from Anoka to Centerville.”

[...] “Overall, Anoka County is committed to keeping taxes among the lowest in the state while maximizing our assets of sound management, a diverse tax base, low debt burden and healthy reserves,” she said.

County Commissioner Jim Kordiak was not enthusiastic about the budget, he said.

“It was a very difficult budget, but I understand we are in very difficult times,” Kordiak said. “I get it.”

County Commissioner Dan Erhart was the lone commissioner to vote against the budget and preliminary levy.

In his view the budget was “draconian” and “devastating” with its cuts and did not adequately provide the services that the county needs to have in place, Erhart said.

All this budget does is “cut, cut, cut,” he said.

But County Commissioner Matt Look called Erhart’s “draconian” comment about the budget “misleading.”

We need to cut out the wants and focus on the needs,” Look said.

[emphasis added]

Demagoguing over a twenty-five buck cut in taxes?

With all that foreclosure hemorrhaging, and the Rhonda crying towel out over it -- offer a band-aid?

Give me a break.

Beyond that, I wonder what Mr. Wants-Needs has to say about his pack of profligate pals, Darren of Landform, and Mike in the legislature in hard times with four million state tax dollars earmarked this budget year for a Ramsey rail stop, (a "want" surely, not a "need"), along with the GOP gang-of-four decision-making council majority in Ramsey who appear uninterested in keeping Darren's unneeded wants in check -- that being mayor, Elvig, Wise and McGlone.

click image to enlarge and view
 Put graphically, a concern for eliminating waste is dog simple - and it does not have to be Harold the Anoka County Watchdog saying, "Don't waste taxpayer money."

Any mutt knows simple wisdom.

_________________UPDATE_______________ reports:

Anoka County Rail Authority adopts lowest levy in 10 years

The Anoka County Regional Rail Authority (ACRRA) has adopted a proposed 2012 property tax levy of $2.248 million, a 65 percent decrease from the 2011 levy. The 2012 levy continues a trend of necessary reductions.

It is the lowest regional rail levy since 2002.

“In considering wants vs. needs in drafting this budget, we kept the stark reality of the current economy front and center,” said Anoka County Commissioner Matt Look, chair of the Rail Authority. “The new leadership of the Rail Authority takes seriously the responsibility of budgeting only for our current commitments, and eliminating unnecessary planning and spending.”


On the face of things it seems good news, but there is a context. Before this step, the unneeded Ramsey Northstar stop was pushed through, ignoring the better option of putting a rail stop at the Foley Park and Ride where a number of express downtown bus runs could have been eliminated by shifting and consolidating substantial existing ridership from bus to rail. It would have increased ridership on the Northstar, and reduced bus labor and capital costs while reducing diesel exhaust pollution from the numerous buses. It was a change that made sense. Unlike the Ramsey thing, (Look's want vs. a real need).

With a Ramsey rail stop a single cash-losing subsidized bus running for a handful of riders is all that is eliminated vs. multiple efficiencies via a Foley change.

Go figure that as anything but politics. And not good for Ramsey. Ongoing Ramsey capital debt-service costs will, over time, dwarf this one interim budget change. And a part of that debt service cost has been shifted to taxpayers statewide, given that a four-million subsidy was pushed through the legislature with the SD 48 senator whining about any budget without "structural change." Go figure a sincerity index for that conduct.

So, Look has boosted the costly Ramsey stop, at its subsidization cost to taxpayers since it is built solely out of tax money, and by interim single-year cutting of a county rail budget the worthwhile stop at Foley Park and Ride appears less likely to be built soon, if at all. It has a miasma of pure politics, with demagoguery over the single-year budget ploy to boot.

Good government goes beyond popularity-poll posturing [P3] and reaches instead to substance, soundness and quality. Any sane cost-benefit analysis would have suggested far more benefit from a Foley rail stop.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Today around noon Sakry of ABC Newspapers reported felony charges have been filed against David Elvig related to his custom woodworking and furnishings firm's collapse subsequent to the housing and commercial real estate market downturns.

This link. Charges have been filed. The law presumes innocence unless and until a trial is held resulting in a conviction.

Sakry reported facts, but it remains uncertain whether a special election will result. Unlike misdemeanor convictions, a felony conviction would impact voting rights and right to hold elective public office. The question was not a part of her reporting.

Levy of Strib today, Sept. 14, covers the situation for Strib, this link, this excerpt:

"Am I guilty of anything? Of course not," Elvig said Wednesday when asked whether he planned to remain on the Ramsey council. "I've never been accused of anything like this before."

Levy's subheadline: "He denies accusations that he embezzled money from his employees' benefit plans for business expenses." The use of words in a brief report, particularly "embezzle" suggest clarity is possible over a bad and wrongful act vs. a lawful and proper one, whereas often details do not allow clearcut distinctions.

For a feeling of how arguments can be presented to a court, suggesting things are not always clearcut and may hinge on a particular detail or two outside of coverage within a brief news report, readers can look at two "embezzlement" cases and make what sense out of them they can; In re Phillips, 882 F. 2d 302 (8th Cir. 1989: and US v. Nattier, 127 F. 3d 655 (8th Cir. 1997).

This is not to suggest that any factual posture of either case might be close to facts alleged against Elvig in charging papers. I have not gone to the courthouse to look at charging papers, but that would be the first step to take by anyone interested in gaining a better understanding of the charges against Elvig beyond reading the Sakry and Levy reporting. Anyone taking such a step also should understand that charging papers state what one side in an adversarial situation claims to be fact, which might be different from what a jury hearing testimony, reviewing documents, and judging demeanor of witnesses might decide to be governing facts in a case. That understanding is a part of the concept of innocence until proven guilty - actually innocence until adjudged guilty being a better way to say it.

In closing, the quoted paragraph from Levy's report focused on the question of whether Elvig planned to remain on the council, and his quoted answer surely, but indirectly, said "Yes." Clearly so, from the Elvig response, for as long as litigation is pending. In the event of a trial or a plea bargain, the nature of the outcome would be a deciding factor.

The Johnny Northside decision, covered online by the Citizen Media Law Project.

This link. Read it there. It is fairly short, tightly and well written, and interesting.

That is a good website, if you agree with its strong First Amendment biases - that free speech has to be strongly protected by the law, without any back door ways to undermine it, or we lose much as a nation.

Hon. Denise Reilly (this link)
While this may be an oversimplification, while reading that item and its quite clear analysis, I thought again of my own state of mind, incredulity, when reading Judge Reilly's final order-memorandum. Then, and I am not clear of the synaptic detail, my mind reached back somewhat far into the past, a recollection from Joseph Heller's "Catch 22" where one character was described as "having lots of intelligence and no brains."

Heller foresaw Judge Reilly's analysis? Amazing.

Monday, September 12, 2011

The citizen response to the sidebar poll questions on the Flaherty Fiasco has been consistent, clear and overwhelming.

Down by the tracks, the busiest BNSF tracks in the State of Minnesota, where no sane person would want to live right next to the right-of-way, Flaherty would build a mega-landlord's palace, and comes on occasion from Indiana where he lives to tout his rental housing proposal to a pliant Ramsey city council.

In judgment of that proposal and the entire situation city officials are inflicting on our town, the poll results are indisputable.

Overwhelming, have a referendum.

Overwhelming, that Flaherty Fiasco will catalyze nothing, nada, zippo, zilch.

Overwhelming, nobody would really want to live there.

That last one fits with the Met. Council planners not moving in droves to their model urban villages, their plan for the rest of us. Likewise, the do-as-I-say-not-as-I-do Ramsey council, except for Tossey who is a project opponent, all live in detached single family housing. None, including Tossey, live too close to those noisy, noisy, noisy train tracks, although Tossey, one of the project opponents, lives closest.

Go figure.

Can you say, "CRAMDOWN"?

Can you say, "BIG TIME DUMB"?

And Tossey opposes the thing not because of its inherent stupidity and likeliness of costly failure, but because he sanely believes the town should let Flaherty take his risks if he puts the money up between his firm and his private sector banker. AGAIN: The citizen response to the sidebar poll questions is consistent, clear, and overwhelming.

With Flaherty-Collins fobbing around stuff in Edina, Ramsey, and Orland Park, should we coin a new term, "promoter polygamy"?

___________FURTHER UPDATE__________
Does any reader know how badly burned US Bank ended up in that Flaherty 210 Trade tower fiasco in North Carolina? And, the secondary lender there, the equivalent to the risk Ramsey proposes to assume, what happened to the secondary lender? Cronk, working with Landform owes City of Ramsey a fiduciary duty to disclose such relevant, material information. So Ryan Cronk, what's the story?