consultants are sandburs

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Local liquor store news, relevant to the new council having to resolve Wiser Choice issues.

Interchange improvements for the Armstrong - Hwy 10 intersection impact the Wiser Choice store property, with Jeff Wise on council, and legal concerns previously reported; ABC Newspapers, here.

In terms of the new council starting off with a clean slate - they do.

Negotiations are negotiations, final decision is final decision. Whoever negotiated with Wise, never contracted with Wise, on behalf of the city. While Wise sat on council participating in making Town Center decisions including, in particular, the Sunwood rerouting along which he now wants to reposition his liquor retailing business; he negotiated with somebody [at a guess, Darren Lazan], reaching tentative terms the negotiator and Wise felt mutually beneficial.

Presumably neither the negotiator nor Wise placed self interest above the public interest, as each had a duty not to.

However, tentative agreement between a negotiator without authority to bind a principal and a counterparty, is like a commission auto salesperson at an auto dealership, who negotiates with a customer, then says, "Well, it looks good, but I have to run things by the boss." It is the boss, not the negotiator who has power to commit to a deal or no deal. A contract or no contract.

In the case of Town Center, the boss is the council (ignoring HRA fictions and stupidities), having the ultimate go or no go authority. If no agreeable deal results, there is eminent domain and litigation as a means of resolving things.

The point of a new council starts off with a clean slate is that nothing the negotiating agent and Wise liked is written in stone.

Hence, what is going on in other communities is of interest, or should be, for the new decision makers voted onto council, when acting next January and onward.

In a sense, there will be a new dawn; and I cannot see how Wise might rationally contend he had a "done deal" previously, and had reached some set or arguably vested rights and expectations, when he never passed getting anything approved by "the boss."

"The boss" owes tax paying citizens its primary duty, a fiduciary duty - one of loyalty and purpose - to work in the best interest of the public, as those new council officials view that best public interest. We may disagree with decisions made, but absent conflicts of interest, they were elected to make decisions, hard as well as easy, controversial as well as consensus-charged, and the bottom line has to be all options should be on the table in dealing with the Wiser Choice situation anew. Nothing from the past should be deemed vested. Certainly not if it was Darren Lazan with commission self-interest negotiating with Councilmember Wise, with business self-interest. That self-interested dimension is precisely why, ultimately, the boss has to be convinced to reaching a collective decision deemed to be best, in the public interest, with that public interest being preeminent.

Recent News: All that said, links of Recent ABC Newspapers reporting regarding local liquor store issues; here and here.

We can show an upward sloping learning curve from our own history, as well as the history of others. What neighboring communities face and how they decide things may well be helpful to Ramsey decision making.

The Fifth Amendment to the US Constitution provides no private property may be taken without "due process of law" but that clearly is an elastic term that must be adjusted to fit particular interests. When a person runs for office in order to protect or advance a personal interest as a partial or total motive; conflict of interest is inherent, although nobody is denied the right to run but is held to behavioral norms if elected, as was the case with Jeff Wise. He is, at law, entitled to a fair price but not any overly favorable terms attained to the detriment of the public fisc. No special deal. Things will need to be worked out, in a way entirely fair to Jeff, but "fair" does not mean Wise having a right, or power, to gain unbridled landfall opportunities to the public's detriment. It will prove interesting. If the current council were inclined to facilitate things, it might decide to reopen negotiations, with an agent for the city besides Lazan negotiating with Wise.

Lazan might not like that, and might even hold some exclusionary negotiation rights under terms accorded him by earlier council voting (including key votes of those who no longer will be on council), but Lazan's entire contract has a drop dead termination right to the city, upon giving thirty days notice.

In a termination there may be cross duties between city and consultancy, which neither can breach if expecting full performance of termination duties by the other.

However contract terms and conditions are details rather than insurmountable bindings. Just as marriage vows can be undone, so to can consultancy vows; especially the more egregious ones; and a divorce is always best when irreconcilable differences arise. Ramsey is not married to Landform, "'til death do us part."

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