consultants are sandburs

Saturday, December 01, 2012

RAMSEY: Besides over a million and a quarter dollars being disbursed by the city to Landform (Darren Lazan, owner), over a million also has been disbursed over time to Tinklenberg Group (Elwyn Tinklenberg, owner).

For Lazan/Landform, the amount as of September, this year (and still counting), was


(See spreadsheet supplied by Ramsey's CFO, Diana Lund, in response to a data disclosure request; online here.)

Apparently some part of the money disbursed to Landform was for fees and services outside of the firm, (flow-through costs, but there was a regular monthly disbursement pattern which in total makes up the substantial bulk of the cost.

For Tinklenberg/Tinklenberg Group, the amount as of November, this year, was


(See spreadsheet supplied by Ramsey's CFO, Diana Lund, in response to a data disclosure request; online here - note, all handwriting on both documents was placed there by city staff to aid reader understanding of disbursement patterns.)

The Tinklenberg consultancy was primarily superseded by the City's contracting with Landform for professional services, although the Tinklenberg spreadsheet shows disbursements as late as 2011.

These pages indicate serious discussion (beyond mere feelers for a consultancy) was initiated by Tinklenberg within months of his leaving MnDOT leadership in Oct. 2002.

Presumably, active solicitation by Tinklenberg of a consultancy arrangement was instigated only after his Nov 1, 2002 incorporation of "The Tinklenberg Group," (a filing which apparently went to inactive status after Nov. 1, 2012).

It is hard to say for certain if "old boy network" dimensions were at play or not in the Tinklenberg consultancy hiring.

The above letter is only obliquely suggestive of such a possibility, (Note letter opening: "... It felt a little like 'old home week' running into Heidi and Lana ..." much as if an "old boy" was returning "home").

What is clear, however, is James Norman was instrumental (even "pivotal") in causing the genesis of Tinklenberg and affiliates being hired to consult with Ramsey shortly after Tinklenberg left MnDOT's leadership; and James Norman subsequent to that has been convicted of criminal conduct while heading staff at City of Albert Lea. Not that there was any criminality in the Tinklenberg-Ramsey arrangements, but clearly James Norman has had his own way of doing things, as many in Ramsey may remember.

Also, Tinklenberg, between 1991 and 1998, besides consulting in that period, has a history of Anoka County Public Services administration employment, during which time he doubtlessly formed friendships and acquaintances for which the term "old boy network" might, in all its vagueness, apply.

The Tinklenberg Group did property purchase negotiation for real estate along Highway 10, in anticipation of ultimate highway expansion/improvements, and much of the city's payments were reimbursed by Met. Council under the RALF program. (Readers are on their own in determining detail that way, although some handwritten annotations on the spreadsheet suggest the major share of Tinklenberg consultancy disbursements by Ramsey were so reimbursed. Detailed analysis of reimbursement data was NOT a part of the disclosure request, and it likely would unduly burden city staff to provide such detail beyond the present informational value, were it done.) Also, as with Landform, a part of the Tinklenberg Group invoicing was for flow-through of incurred costs.

In line with the city's Wiser Choice site purchase and sale negotiations, with a pending preliminarily negotiated amount of something over a million dollars to go through an incorporated intermediary to Jeff Wise, Tinklenberg purchase/sale disbursements on closed deals years prior were for roughly comparable or greater amounts, suggesting the negotiated terms with Wise may not be out of line; although each piece of real estate is unique and not fungible. (Click image to enlarge and read).

In roughly equating Wiser Choice valuation suggestions with the Highway 10 RALF history, one caveat may apply (besides my generically noting a personal belief that appraisers are as helpful and reliable as Tarot card reading or slaughtering a chicken to read its entrails):

In gaining appraisals for real estate purchasing along Highway 10, the Tinklenberg Group used and probably relied upon appraisals by Renne, the appraiser entangled in Nedegaard affairs, (Renne being the appraiser reported to have hanged himself in his home closet during the unwinding of Nedegaard-banker mischief, with a reported kick-back arrangement between Renne and one of the Sandison banker/defendants who copped a plea in criminal plea bargaining). Noting Bruce Nedegaard was in title to one Highway 10 property in the above list, and his LLC was involved in others, and in light of the Renne irregularities with the Nedegaard/Sandison bankers and all the entangled interrelationships, one can speculate that appraisals Tinklenberg's people obtained from Renne may not have been super reliable, and even perhaps tainted, thus possibly tainting the pricing dimension of the city's land acquisition negotiation and contracting, as facilitated by Tinklenberg Group.

Via a data disclosure request made years ago, I have obtained from the City and hold document copies from at least one of the Highway 10 purchase and sale closings, including pages evidencing an appraisal adjustment required within paperwork, an adjustment done by Renne to facilitate a valuation and closing. Hence, Renne involvement back then is clear from city files and records. However, with regard to Jeff Wise and his situation arising from the Armstrong - Highway 10 interchange upgrade, Renne had no role. Indeed, Renne's death was an intervening event between some of the Highway 10 RALF closings, and the decision to advance the interchange work impacting the Wiser Choice location at the present time.

The sole reason the Renne caveat is presented, relative to Jeff, is to qualify any comparison of Highway 10 amounts paid and what is fair for city dealing with Wise, in terms of possible unreliability of the prices paid along Highway 10 as touchstone amounts to consider in looking at the Wiser Choice property. Ballpark figures roughly match, but how much can be reliably inferred from that, if anything, is a question for the new council, next January and onward.

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