consultants are sandburs

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

RAMSEY -- 13 as an outstandingly unlucky number, the number of Original Sin. First bite. Landform apple. Bidding? -- 4-3 -- We don't need no stinking bidding. How and what was Matt Look advocating? Ditto, Ramsey's Bob Ramsey? Ditto McGlone? Open your eyes.

July 14, 2009.

A day that shall live in infamy.

Work Session screen captures, click to read:

Televised meeting, REVISED Agenda includes added "item 13;" then item 13 minute pages.

There was no advanced notice of this. It was somebody's rabbit; pulled out of somebody's hat. Figure who knew it was to happen, who was sandbagged, who you trust after that thing - that way. Wise is the interesting wild card vote. He said he was kept in the dark. He said that while able to count up to four.

Twenty-three grand was something I found troubling, especially done that way and Jungbauer involved, but at the time I thought it would be no major mischief simply because it was limited in amount and scope; failure prone for sure with no likely value to it; but not grossly looting the city fisc either (at twenty-three grand, cap it there, end of story, okay).

Looking again at that record of how the Landform initial bidding-free insinuation into our placid town was handled, it got me to searching the web for the word "huckster." It is an interesting noun. There is no verb, "to huck," "to be hucked," "getting hucked over," "a hucking million dollars to Darren."

Don't take my word for it. Look it up on the web.

Don't ignore comment threads. While rare, they sometimes leaven a post.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

RAMSEY --- Another Mayor Bob item. Somebody does not like the guy, or figures him a likely successful target. Antlers on the mantle. Easier a fish than a shark. Whatever.

This one resonates more with me, because the down-the-drain and down-the-toilet imagery is precisely how I see the Landform money and the Flaherty subsidies.

Front and back scans - and the three TO-DO list bullet points are well chosen. Spot-on, despite a dropped dollar sign on No.3. We all know what's meant:

NOTE: The cardstock size chosen is longer than the home scanner bed. These are not complete item scans although full-width. Somebody really wants the Mayor Bob items to stand out in the mail. Scan colors are not off. Rather they are true to the original.

RAMSEY - A published contention, and two statements submitted by key people.

Citizens for Responsible Government has a facebook page, here, which links to a 21 page pdf item, here, with its page 4 in the below screen capture (click it to enlarge and read):

That item is published on a public upload website, and authorship is unknown to me but given that the CRG Facebook page links to it, presumably CRG people may know of authorship detail.

That page makes it sound as if some suggestion of wrongful intent and offering might have been at play. If a business advantage is offered to person X, an official, by person Y, in exchange for person X doing an official act; Minn. Stat. Sect. 609.42, may come into play, either as an attempt, or a complete act, depending on how person X responds; and whether an innocent suggestion aimed at being helpful vs. an intentional wrongful offer was involved. There are nuances for the lawyers among us to understand better than I can, especially any experienced in such legal areas of practice and interpretation.

So it is a disturbing thing to read, and to wonder about without more detail.

So sometimes to understand something you have to ask questions. Both Matt Look, and Randy Backous responded to an email request for some form of written comment, regarding that single page from a 21 page item. Full unedited responses follow.

Matt Look emailed me:

Let me start out by saying that the efforts to make us look "bad" with broadsiding attempts to discredit us and sadly unbelievable. It certainly helps me understand friend vs. foe.

Background....The County was experiencing 17% increase in health insurance cost and as chair of the finance committee, it was my goal starting out to find insurance options that could help us control the "out of control increases" that we were experiencing.

I had heard that Randy Backous was "in" the insurance industry and I reached out to him to sit in on a meeting to discuss insurance issues and better understand what options might be available to the county. There was a second insurance representative present. I had reached out to a third person, but they were not able to make it. I made it very clear to those we invited, that we were going to have an open discussion which may help us define a course of action that could lead to an RFP that, if applicable to the products they independently offer, might be an opportunity for them (those invited) could bid on. Certainly it wouldn't be closed to them, but any other interested bidder as well.

Randy Backous asked if he could invite another person...which was no issue. As it turns out, Randy didn't say anything during the meeting and let his invited representative do all the talking. It appeared as though Randy was new to the industry and I even questioned his relationship with this representative with a call to the representative to better understand how or if they work together.

Since that meeting, there has been many discussions in committee and board work sessions concerning insurance. Contrary to Randy's understanding how things work at the county, there doesn't need to be a board agenda to have informal meetings to discuss topics that may become part of a board action, at some point in the future in an open meeting, that had been property advertised. I was the only commissioner discussing the topic that there was no open meeting law violation.
To date, the board consensus, is to work within our current insurance contracts to provide higher deductible plans that can help us control costs.

At some point in the future, if we decide it is cost effective to become self insured, there will be an RFP generated and all interested insurance companies can bid in a fair manner.

For Mr. Backous to make the accusation that somehow he would have been the only bidder is contrary to county policy and state law for contract bidding.
To somehow claim that Councilmember Backous was invited to the discussion to buy him off on some future vote he may or may not take, is beyond speculation and completely malicious.

My goal was to offer an opportunity to bid on a possible future RFP (request for proposal), if we go to that point...which we obviously have not gotten to that point yet.

For the record, I am severely disappointed with Mr. Backous and his accusation.

Again the actual author of the pdf item is not known to me, Look, and Backous, judging from his emailed response:

Let me preface all of this and be very clear that I only deal in facts, not speculation. Mr. Look’s intentions cannot be proven one way or the other and I am not going to speculate on what his motives were or accuse him of any wrong doing. All I can do is relay what happened and let others draw their own conclusions.

I don’t know who authored what you attached but here are the facts in as much detail as I can possibly remember. I also still have the text messages on my phone to verify the timing and the quotes. Here are the facts and only the facts as they happened in order:

Sometime in the late afternoon of Monday, August 22, 2011 I received a call from Anoka County Commissioner Matt Look who asked me if I was still in the health insurance consulting business. He asked if I would be interested in attending the Anoka County Finance and Capital Improvement Committee meeting, which he chaired, to be held the next day. He stated that the County had issues with health insurance premiums and wondered if I could advise the committee and perhaps get their business.

During the phone call, we discussed some of the issues they were dealing with and I quickly realized that the health insurance carriers with which I was appointed would not solve the County’s problems. It would simply give them the same problems with a different carrier. I asked him if I could bring somebody along who I thought could offer the County a different option which would solve their problems. He agreed.

I didn’t tell Mr. Look at that time that I had nothing to do with Bloom Health. I wasn’t appointed with them and I would receive no compensation from them. I simply sought to introduce the two parties who I believed could help each other.

I called my contact, Mike Fortner, at Bloom Health – a company which offered a platform to help employers deliver health benefit options to their employees as individuals rather than as employees, essentially taking employers out of the group health business and saving them a substantial amount of money on administration, reporting and unpredictable premiums. This would offer the County an alternative and a way to help them solve the budget problems they were experiencing relative to health insurance benefits.

The following day, Tuesday August 23, 2011, a Bloom Health representative by the name of Amy Moore met me for the first time on the 7th floor of the Anoka County Government Center. We were both surprised and concerned that health insurance was not listed as an agenda item.

As the meeting began, Chair Look stated that he wanted to discuss health insurance benefits in agenda item 7 – “Other.” There were looks of surprise and almost shock around the table and some of the Commissioners objected. I can’t remember exactly what was said by whom, but the substance of the responses was something like, “We’ve already made that decision; we’re too far down the road with what we have; we’re sending out enrollment packets is a few weeks,” etc. Chair Look stated that he wanted to look at some other alternatives and that it was not too early to begin the discussion for 2013.

It should be noted that there were one or two other representatives from other companies in attendance. I don’t know who they were, when or by whom they were invited to the meeting but it wasn’t just me.

We waited 2 hours to get to item 7. Amy Moore presented Bloom Health’s pitch and the one or two other representatives presented theirs. Commissioners seemed interested in these options for consideration for January 1, 2013 and gathered business cards.

That same night, Sarah Strommen was sworn in as a new Ramsey Councilmember. Matt Look was in attendance in Council Chambers.

I introduced an agenda item at the HRA meeting to review the Landform contract to revise the compensation package and/or terminate it. It was seconded and passed 5-2 to add to the agenda.
Councilmember Tossey was one of those voting in favor to add the agenda item. He sits next to me on the dais and showed me a text from Matt Look that said something like, “I don’t like what you just did.”
My motion to terminate the Landform contract lost 3-4 or 2-5.

On August 25th at 11:32 am, I received the following text from Amy Moore, “Hi Randy, its Amy Moore with Bloom Health. I received an email from Matt Look asking me to explain my relationship with you. Are you a health insurance broker or P&C? Matt is concerned about working with many layers.”

On August 25th at 12:27 pm, I sent Matt Look the following text, “Matt…Amy Moore said you had questions about my relationship to Bloom. I only know of them thru a friend that works there and from my consulting days. I have no relationship or compensation from them at all. I was only there as a favor to you to answer questions and make the introduction. I am licensed to sell health benefits but all I represent are traditional plans which would only give you more of the same problems. Now that you are aware of something different and you know where to get the info, my part is done. That’s why I didn’t bother to pass out any business cards. I hope that clarifies things. Let me know if you have further questions. Randy”

Bloom Health never heard from the County or from Matt Look after that.

Those are the facts and only the facts which can be substantiated. The statements in the letter you attached are speculation. I have my own ideas about what really happened here but I am not going to accuse anybody of anything which can’t be proven.

I thank both Matt and Randy for taking the opportunity to respond. I hope this is helpful. With an election days away I hope I have not intruded unduly on anyone's time and last minute preparations.

I posted the responses before fully reading and studying either, so let the items speak for themselves.

Notice of an error whereby a tentative draft was put online by toggling wrongly a Blogger tool switch.

I erred and had no present intent to publish the tentative item. I removed it as soon as I saw my error, and have placed this apology in its place.

A brief request for help from readers.

Would any reader holding a piece of campagin literature from either Mayor Bob, McGlone, Field, or Buchholz containing any of the words: "Lazan," "Landform," "Flaherty," or "Emily," please email me a scan? It seems those four have culled their published public vocabulary of any such word usage.

Ditto for any lit stuff from any of the four crediting Jim Deal for any single thing built in Town Center.

Joe Field, Ramsey at large council candidate.

Field has his law practice, mainly family law apparently, in Anoka; this webpage. Registered agent and CEO, Joseph A. Field, per this Secretary of State online item. His campaign website is: I believe this is the same Joseph A. Field; here and subsequently, here.

The 1993 disciplinary action was over handling money, the 1997 reinstatement followed, with the intervening years unclear, but seventeen years in practice mentioned, meaning the majority of the practice was after the disciplinary action. From 1997 to the present without any further practice problems surfacing suggests Field has put his disruptive years well behind him. My personal inclination would be to discount the disciplinary action in weighing a choice between Field and John LeTourneau, but the information should be known to the voting public for each citizen to weigh for himself or herself. If Alan Page signed off on reinstatement and the record stands for years without incident, I do not second guess Justice Page and colleagues on this one.

I favor John LeTourneau, but for reasons of expecting Field, if elected, to be more of the same as with Mayor Ramsey, Matt Look, Jeff Wise, and Colin McGlone; and I believe strongly the Ramsey government should chart a different course with new people or people in new positions. We should have our first female mayor, and regardless, we still will face major troubling questions in troubling times. My belief is that more of the same is not the best answer.

One further reason I disfavor Joe Field, this link. Others may believe that a plus.

My awareness of this "Joe Field" disciplinary case was triggered by item 19, last page of the pdf document online, here. The pdf is in image form rather than searchable text, so I could not search the main item pages for "Field" or "19." I tried to carefully reread the item, but could not find mention of Joe Field, nor any reference to an Exhiblt 19, or such. My choice was upon seeing only the reference to go online and see what I could find, and I have reported that - in anticipaiton some mailing may later issue in the LeTourneau-Field contest so that getting public notice, as set out above, made sense to avoid last minute problems. I shall be emailing candidate Field, giving specific notice of this post so he has an opportunity to respond, should he choose to. Again my inclination is to largely if not wholly discount something that appears to have been resolved fifteen years ago, unless someone has specific cause to suggest it inappropriate to disregard it in this case.

Perovich is the better choice for Senate District 35.

ABC Newspapers published profile responses of the two candidates for SD 35, here.

I first met Peter Perovich last cycle when he ran against, and unfortunately lost to climate change denier Michael Jungbauer, who now serves out his last term in the legislature.

I learned Peter is one of the most trustworthy people I met, who will listen and when needed speak his mind, and when he promises that once elected his door will always be open to citizens, people should realize that is sincere and not merely a political statement. I have found him to be one of the most accessible people I have known, who will independently think and reach decisions but not without listening to multiple possibly conflicting opinions, where he will not march in lockstep with any ideology but instead will seek a best consensus yielding the most good for the most people. A uniter and not an igniter.

Peter is more conservative than I am, and clearly so. His opponent, however, is positioned within the far right-wing of his party and is a part of a concerted far right-wing effort to undermine public education as it has been painstakingly shaped over the years by people who know what they are doing and know what they are talking about; people having decades of experience in K-12 public education far beyond that of a Lowes' Department Store employee.

The effort of Branden Paulsen and others to fragment and tear apart the integral fabric of education - the way our society trains one generation to succeed another - intentionally tampers with cherished Jeffersonian principle of separation of church and state. Paulsen has sponsored and signed onto a string of bills with that intention.

This is very personal to me. I and my remaining living close family have not had children; yet there is an absolute willingness, indeed eagerness, to pay any taxes needed to assure ongoing K-12 support at levels aimed at continuing the excellence of teachers in training new generations because society needs the coherence and social integrity that arises from public education effort, done well.

There is enough divisiveness and fragmentation in our society that tampering legislators schooled at Lowes should restrain themselves and not make things worse than necessary for whatever reasons that motivate their assault on education and educated people who may hold differing world views from theirs.

I trust Peter Perovich to be true to education as it has evolved and shown itself to work best, in the hands of people who, unlike some in the legislature, know what they are doing and are not interested in sowing divisiveness or indoctrinating young people in rigid and nonuniversal belief systems. Secular preparation to be able to be a functioning adult in a diverse and changing world is all it is about, not straitjacketing the young into radical positions or world views.

So, willingly pay the taxes needed to assure the future generations are not zombied by whatever the divisive education attackers have in mind as change for the system.

Petersen is one of them.

Not one of us, on the side of what's worked with a range of young people over time, from the most talented to the most challenged.

I have no idea in the world who Wes Volkenant of Andover is, but he authored an excellent October 26 letter to the editor of ABC Newspapers, about Perovich, which I quote in its entirety:

Voting for Perovich

To the Editor:

I am voting for Peter Perovich in Senate District 35 this year because I find him a much better fit for this district and this state. Peter and his family have longtime roots here in Anoka and Ramsey, he grew up around the educational challenges facing the school district and as an adult has focused his attention on the modern challenges of balancing our environmental concerns, our love for our lakes, rivers and streams and the interests of the hunting and fishing communities throughout the state.

I see Peter Perovich as an “Abeler Democrat,” to coin a phrase; Peter would not be tied to party dogma, he would be open to collaboration with Republicans to legislate solutions to the gridlock that we face in St. Paul, and he would be willing to take hard votes based on his own fine principles, not just those of his party and his supporters.

Many of us union members in Anoka, Andover, Ramsey and northern Coon Rapids have endorsed Peter Perovich because of the positions his opponent, Branden Petersen, has taken against our collective bargaining rights in supporting a Right to Work amendment, against government and government workers, and especially against teachers.

We hear Branden Petersen railing against “bad teachers” and insisting on better performance evaluation processes. He sure has it out for these hard-working professionals.

I don’t understand Republicans like Petersen who want to get elected to serve, but whose real purpose is to tear away at the government itself, and the public employees who make our state and communities efficient and successful in these trying times.

I don’t understand Republicans like Petersen who voted to change the homestead credit in 2011. You might be lucky, and your property taxes didn’t go up. Anoka County and many of our communities are holding down their property tax collections, but not all communities can do so.

Throughout Minnesota, that Republican change shifted more of the property tax burden to homeowners and away from commercial properties. Homeowners in many communities have seen the same or higher taxes despite lower home valuations. Peter Perovich and a DFL legislature will work to restore the market value homestead credit.

I don’t understand Republicans like Petersen who voted in 2011 and again in 2012 against raising revenue, but to make the budget balance, shifted educational funding down the line, further hurting our schools and educational system.

Peter Perovich believes in investing in our schools now and not using any fancy budgeting gimmicks to balance our state budget on the backs of our schools.

Perovich is committed to reversing the short-sightedness of Branden Petersen and his Republican colleagues, and will work to legislate paying back our schools the monies they are owed.

I’ve watched both local debates between Peter Perovich and Branden Petersen, sponsored by the area mayors and the League of Women Voters.

Branden Petersen is ambitious. He’s a young man in a hurry, and Petersen is carrying a set of principles for our future that scare me. He called Minnesota a “sovereign state” in the Anoka debate.

Minnesota isn’t sovereign, but Republicans like Petersen have introduced legislation to make us sovereign – to enable us to reject federal legislation they don’t like, as they want to stymie as best they can, such programs as Obamacare, Medicaid, and laws protecting women’s reproductive rights.

Help stop this ambitious young man’s political career here and now, and elect Peter Perovich to the Minnesota Senate for District 35 on Nov. 6.

Wes Volkenant

To the phrase "ambitious young man" I would add "ambitious and basically misguided young man," since I see Petersen as one being guided, call it mentored, by the worse of the rabid anti-education faction of the Minnesota legislature, and I view that as socially dangerous, and something to be opposed and curtailed. No time is a good time to undermine education of new generations who will face uncertainties and innovations in their lifetimes, and Petersen's agenda seems exactly aimed at that dubious goal, by intentional misuse the easily used word "reform."

I understand Republican behind-the-scene operative Jim Bendtsen wants to drum-beat one issue aside from education, claiming it a virtue that Petersen opposes the liberty of family planning and family size decision making, to take such basic and fundamental considerations out of the hands of individuals treasuring their freedom, and to impose governmental control of freedoms, his way. Bendtsen and Petersen are driven to want to impose on others a governmentally instituted and policed regime, that is an unfeeling and unrealistic and ill-motivated constraint on families and family freedom, posing that biased position in the guise of "pro-family" advocacy when it is anything but that.

Such things, yes, Petersen is in league with Bendtsen's control-freak objectives, which are not the objectives of most people when confronted with decisions about family income and capability, and how family size and possible expansion can and should be logically planned within the family, and not by governmental dictates and impositions.

In my view, Perovich is quite the stronger advocate for liberty. And sanity.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Item scans, two voter mailings from Citizens for Responsible Government.

As noted in the updates of an earlier Crabgrass post, here, Colin McGlone put out a flyer speculating, wrongly, that Citizens for Responsible Government had published and circulated an earlier mailing against Bob Ramsey's reelection.

SD 35 did not publish and mail the item. On hearsay, Bill Erhart and Jim Deal were unclear about who may have published it, apparently neither of them did, and the State DFL appears to be protecting confidentiality about the item's distribution.

However, proof certain it was not Citizens for Responsible Government is that they have sent out their own mailers, clearly under their organization name, and it makes no sense to speculate they used a different channel to directly argue against Bob Ramsey's reelection. If the third item were theirs, they'd be expected to badge it as they have for these two items (scans were done on a home system, and hence are less than professional quality - readable, but not perfect). First, two sides of an item specific to Matt Look's reelection effort, second two sides of "Stop This Pack."

They speak for themselves, so, have a look, and beyond identifying the items now, there is no following editorial commentary. Click any thumbnail image to enlarge and read.

NOTE: One item lists Developers Are Crabgrass as an information resource. The compliment is gracious, but I had nothing to do with the preparation of either of these items, nor did I know of either until taking in and checking the mail. I have encouraged readers to donate to Citizens for Responsible Government, and have provided them a minor contribution. UPDATE: For convenience, readers can toggle to the Citizens for Responsible Government Facebook page via this link. When I accessed the page about an hour or two ago, I found it interesting Matt Look had accessed it earlier than I had, and being a Facebook user, he left a comment or two. I get a login or signup intercept from that abominable "service" when trying to access pages, sometimes but not all the time, and as a Facebook skeptic, there is no way in the world I would join up. But for any who may care, such as Look, the page is at the link given above.

Further update: One thing I could access is the "Wrecking Crew" item link that CRG gives on Facebook, this link. I have yet to read the item. I wanted to put the link up for others first.

A postcard size mailing from John LeTourneau was delivered over the weekend, and makes all the sense in the world.

LeTourneau is not critical of others, nor does he speculate about cabals or financing of campaigns he is no part of. Instead, he lets us know his priorities, if elected; which clearly is a sensible thing to present in reaching voters:

- Re-establish seasoned team of city staff.
- Build stability into reserve funds for future needs.
- Focus on community wide Economic Development.
- Return COR development to private market-driven Developer.
- Build a collaborative and engaged council that has a focus to the future.

Those are his points. Make of them what you think best.

I did not know that John was twice past Chairman of the Anoka Area Chamber of Commerce Board, until seeing that on the LeTourneau card. This, to me, seems to disarm anyone who might suggest John is anti-business, or some kind of pinko-freak-radical with big-time-spender puppet strings attached. If there are any strings, they are pro-business strings, and I cannot see Republicans or Democrats not weighing that background, as against lawyer Joe Field.

With Ramsey's election days away, and the resulting council sworn in at the initial January meeting, some links about municipal governance.

Just links, no editorializing. Here, here, here and here.

Not in any particular order, and not that somebody's outside thoughts and answers is better than home grown council-staff generated thinking. Just have a look.

Republicans can come in different degrees and kinds.

At times Crabgrass has been critical of "Republicans."

I was not in state when Arne Carlson was governor, but was for Pawlenty.

I think each was nominally a Republican, but my understanding is Carlson inspired and was more committed to bipartisan consensus, rather than divisiveness.

Then, the poster child of divisiveness is Michele Bachmann. One would think her CD 6 opponent is a woman named Nancy Pelosi, rather than a man named Jim Graves.

It is how she wants to define herself, and it leaves little room for getting the job done cleanly in Washington, DC.

That said, what inspires the post is the local Ramsey council and upcoming elections.

Randy Backous has characterized himself as "generally having voted Republican" and while not up for reelection, I have to see him as one of the better, wiser people on council.

I believe that Mark Kuzma, a small business owner, also leans Republican.

Backous when first running did not have my support in his primary, but as an at large council member I would vote for him if he runs again.

Kuzma has my support, against McGlone, who is a wholly different Republican from Kuzma, from all I have seen. McGlone, Wise, the mayor, and Matt Look seem to be a local political block with like-minded world views, with it unclear to the outside who is the main genesis of that thinking. Look did gain elective office before the others.

Recently the DFL State level, put out a mailing in opposition to Mayor Bob Ramsey.

I would have thought Look would have been a more natural target, but either way the local county and municipal positions are supposed to be non-partisan. As in Backous and Kuzma, likely, being Republicans but ones that merit cross-over, or nonpartisan attention. They are not simplistic Tax Payer League ideologues, as is Harold Hamilton, who calls himself and publishes online as "The Anoka County Watchdog," without identifying himself on that site as current (I believe, and not past) Chairman of the lobbying and advocacy prone - disruptive - Taxpayer League.

Hamilton is in that situation, continuously drum beating for a more extreme flavor of Republicanism where sometimes his love of fiscal restraint can be overridden by party loyalties, as with his support of Look, in particular.

Not that Hamilton is in any way wrong in publishing his viewpoint. It adds to dialog, but he truly should badge his Taxpayer League roots so occasional readers know who they are encountering, in weighing his writings.

In short, I do not believe Backous, Kuzma, or Tossey - more libertarian in the Ron Paul sense than a Republican like Bachmann, would ever have personally involved themselves in situations such as the Flaherty - McGlone job at the end of the rainbow situation.

I may not agree everytime with the two who have two years remaining on their term, or with Kuzma if elected, and may sometimes strongly disagree with how any of the three vote in any particular situation. Yet, neither of the three comes across as viewing himself as a "know it all" highly opinionated person. Each seems more comfortable with local office being nonpartisan, and with an issue by issue perspective rather than an agenda.

In short, when critical of Republicans I have ones such as Bachmann, Jungbauer, or Ryan in mind as counterproductive and/or extreme. Polarization these days seems to have grown substantially, with Democrats having stayed more rooted in consistency and even moving to the right in ways I dislike. Republicans are on a tear to the far-right in a way that may be unwise. As Barney Frank aptly said it in announcing his retirement from Congress, roughly but not an exact quote, It is hard having to deal with the other side being either Michele Bachmann or someone like her, or somebody fearful of being ousted in a local primary by someone like her.

He also said, it used to be our leadership talked to Mitch McConnell and John Boehner and hammered something out, but now it is us, McConnell, Boehner, the White Rabbit and the Mad Hatter, and things are harder to accomplish.

UPDATE: Perhaps it is a distinction without a difference, but the mailer in opposition to Bob Ramsey lists four things, the fourth being, "Used tax dollars to purchase another council members business." Grammatically, the apostrophe was wrongly omitted, and the fact is Bob would have gone that way but lacked the votes to bring that result about until after the Jeff Wise term expires.

And the situation is quite more complicated than that single sentence write-bite. When public improvement planning with an unquestioned public safety and emergency response benefit - the Armstrong and Highway exchange redo, impact a business site including need to acquire property, negotiation first and possibly litigation are necessary. Some might say that Wise, knowing of the planning should have not run for council to put himself in a conflicted position, but he ran, and was elected.

While I think the anti-Bob write-bite No.3 might be closer to a more valid question of judgment, (but with Bob clearly it is not a question of any kind of quid-pro-quo motivation), "Paid over $11 million in subsidies to apartment developer." Part was a loan, part was free ramp expansion-parking where tax money funded that giveaway, and part was SAC and WAC charge compromise that individual homeowners seldom, if ever, can expect. All told, it was a commitment of intermediate-term city credit (via bonding), together with other perks to Flaherty. That item No.3, to me, is the soundest criticism, and one of judgment where if we feel bad judgment was shown, we can vote for Bob's opponent.

The other criticism of Bob that resonates as true for me, "2. Paid $1.2 million to Landform, a developer, to 'manage' the [Town Center] property." In my view that was both dumb and wasteful, and has yielded nothing of merit - a big ugly highly-subsidized apartment building, and allegations that, ho hum, Super America and McDonalds might buy into Town Center. So? Big deal. $1.2 million down the rabbit hole, that to show.

Please vote, November 6.

And all those secret closed meetings ... That was an easily foreseen outcome of buying the distressed Town Center vacant land from foreclosure; and secret closed meetings are corrosive and to be avoided whenever at all possible. The decision to spend around seven million for the vacant White Elephant - whether paying too much or not can surely be debated - but the wisdom of not going buy-and-hold until the market rebounded vs. dumping $1.2 million into Landform's unimpressive meanderings that followed upon that purchase decision, that is where I would find fault to be greatest or on a par with the Flaherty uber-subsidization.

Back to the beginning of the post - Randy Backous says he loves the concept of the Flaherty project, but could not go along with the City's serving to bankroll what should have been private sector - (promoter-profit seeker and his lender) - doing the deed. Randy and I agree on the subsidy question of the bond-to-lend arrangement. Randy and I disagree over the merit of the project independent of questions over perks and concessions. I think it's a blemish on the City, even if it rents out, but I certainly now have to hope it rents out fully, despite disliking the entire thing, because of the City funds a council majority voted to put at risk, via bonding-to-lend.

So, Randy and I disagree on major things, but I do not have any major question about his sagacity or judgment in general. I would like to see John LeTourneau and Chris Riley elected, as new faces on council, and better choices than opponents Field and Buchholz who I worry over as being more of the same (while being, certainly, new faces - but likely not new ideas).

I feel more comfortable with the judgment of Strommen, Kuzma of course, Riley and LeTourneau as my ballot choices, although I fully admit I cannot predict well what issues will arise in Ramsey's next four years or how either of the four might act.

I hope a new council would end the Landform thing, it appearing already overripe in my view, but there is no assurance that would happen. And, if the judgment were, with the four elected, to continue it I could live with those four and Elvig, Tossey, and Backous thinking it over and going that direction. I simply feel that overall, for the next four years, those four would be the better overall decision makers. Really, that is all you can base a vote upon: whose judgment you most trust.

Then it is wait and see, after January 1.

FURTHER UPDATE: Having a dislike for negative political mailings with simplistic bullet point items, (I call them "Bachmann specials"), I would have been happier if that thing against Bob Ramsey had never been mailed. I cannot see it as having clarified much of anything, nor does it seem persuasive - something difficult to do on any sensible rational level, when using a self-demeaning write-bite Bachmannesque ham-handed attack item style.

_________FURTHER UPDATE__________
The SD 35 DFL chairman has indicated the anti-Bob Ramsey mailing was not from SD 35.

Colin McGlone in a collective ADDS box lit-drop in what looks to be a black liquor store plastic bottle bag, silver striped, inserted an item containing his "bogey man PAC and the DFL are in cahoots" theorizing, and takes the earlier item personally, despite it being about the mayor.

McGlone aims to defend the socialization and secret meetings about city - Town Center land deal promotions, as necessary and helpful. As if it were a "need" and not a "want" to sit on council and play land speculator-developer. With public money.

McGlone's single page item discusses the fact that the Wise deal fell through until Wise is off council but somehow neglects to mention it fell through because of criminal misdemeanor concerns with the deal done through council, and a lack of votes wanting to take the sham action of the council members voting (aka HRA) to do it that back-door way, as if that would in some magic way remove all potential misdemeanor taint. Goodrich wrote up the city's agenda page noting "a recently discovered" misdemeanor problem and that lawyer Tom Bray would be discussing the circumvention route of going via HRA hats on vs council hats on. That was an attempted thing, but a failed thing also because McGlone, Ramsey, and Wise could not muster enough votes to take on such potential criminal risk.

McGlone's item also fails to mention that all that was done in the surprisingly untelevised meeting, where equipment "failed," somehow, and a broadcast was absent, unlike the normal course of events where council and HRA sequential meetings routinely ARE broadcast.

I guess McGlone did not have enough single-spaced, single page space, given the repeated railing: PAC-this, PAC-that, the liberals in St. Paul, and other such nonsense.

But McGlone is McGlone, and Emily's job with Flaherty also was absent from mention in the item.

The Mayor: Of even more interest, there was in the same lit drop bag an item from Bob Ramsey, with a full page of text that uses neither the word "Landform" nor the word "Flaherty," but encourages lit recipients:

I am up to the task for another four years, and I would appreciate your support. Please re-elect Bob Ramsey for Mayor, Colin McGlone for Ward 2 Council Member, Joe Field for at-large Council Member, and Wayne Buchholz Ward 4 Council Member.

Well Bob, if you want to hitch your wagon to McGlone's star, that is one thing. But there was a Field item too, and I presume in Ward 4 a Buchholz item; so that the four horsemen were coordinating efforts, and all of the other three are hitching their wagon to Colin and Emily McGlone's actions and contentions.

Bless them for that, and last thing, "re-elect" is the verb for Ramsey and McGlone, but not for Field nor Buchholz, as neither has been elected to anything.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Strib endorses Obama.

Read the entire rationale, here. This excerpt:

Reelect President Obama - He's in the better spot to move the country forward. But we're hoping for change in a second term.

By: EDITORIAL BOARD, Star Tribune, Updated: Oct. 27, 2012 - 8:32 PM

[...] Republican standard-bearer Mitt Romney spent months and millions renouncing the relatively moderate record he compiled as governor of Massachusetts. Despite his move toward the center since winning the nomination, Romney's chameleon tendencies -- coupled with an economic plan that lacks credibility -- have left us with too many doubts about how he would lead the nation.

Those doubts, combined with our fundamental disagreement with even the postconvention Romney's positions on key issues, lead us to endorse Barack Obama for a second term as president despite our disappointment over the lost opportunities of his first four years.

By no means has Obama's first term been a failure. The stimulus package was an imperfect but necessary response to the economic crisis he inherited. The auto industry bailout saved tens of thousands of jobs. Today the economy is growing modestly, and unemployment is falling.

The president's signature achievement, the poorly understood Affordable Care Act, requires individuals to take responsibility for their health care costs by buying insurance or facing a tax penalty.

That is not much of a "signature achievement," being a sop to the insurance industry and far removed from single payer, the only ultimately sustainable alternative to let them die, screw them.

But the editorial's early dismissal of Romney as not really presidential is sound. "Chameleon tentencies" is a fair characterization, and for anybody with common sense "with an economic plan that lacks credibility" is undeniable.

A chemeleon saying trust me, I can move mountains and do wonderful things, there will be details, trust me reminds me of Nixon's having a secret plan to end Vietnam. Helicopters from the embassy roof being the withheld detail that go-round.

"Trust me" from an experienced corporate raider can only appeal to those who trust too easily, something I along with others have been guilty of from time to time. While hoping "Change" actually would happen, last cycle I did not really expect it. But looking at McCain-Plain then and Romney-Ryan now, is there any real choice for sane folks to make? Republicans' grab bag of mediocrity certainly channels Bush-Cheney loud and clear; and that merits suitable fear and loathing.

There is more to Strib's endorsement editorial, again this link; including saying the truth about Romney, that he has no plan except to say he has one.

In reading the Strib item, whether you buy into the "debt reduction" austerity stuff as Strib postulates, you can reasonably expect less pandering to its advocates under four more Obama-Biden years than if Romney-Ryan were to win and replace Obama-Biden.

However, with an Obama-Biden reelection, the elderly and sick will nonetheless be crimped big time, but not as bad as by those writing off nearly half of the nation - the less affluent half - as irresponsible and targets for disdain.

Add in choice-hatred as a major concern, and it is clear that Obama is, among other things, best for the next four years worth of Supreme Court appointments, if there will be any. We have far, far, far, FAR too many Roberts, Scalia and Thomas justices, with one each.

RAMSEY - With recent history in town as it is, and with much sandy soil, should we anticipate fracking mining as the next big thing?

Strib reports here on fracking sand mining, this excerpt from mid-report:

Steve Rannenberg, president of the Wisconsin County Code Administrators (WCCA) [...] said the offers raise conflict-of-interest questions because land-use staffers have a hand in picking winners and losers in a burgeoning business that can be highly profitable.

In one case, a county sand specialist who worked for months on a mining application quit and went to work for the sand company as soon as the application was approved.

"Should the public be concerned? I would be inclined to say yes," Rannenberg said.

But Mike Fitzgerald, president of Superior Sand Systems Inc., said companies are buying experience, not influence. He said the public backlash against a company that hires county staff can outweigh the advantage of gaining instant local expertise.

"It actually handicaps us," Fitzgerald said. "People immediately lurch to the assumption that we did that in some way to gain influence in an underhanded way."

That "have a hand in picking winners and losers" language, and "Should the public be concerned," and "buying experience, not influence" seem to have a resonant dimension.

It probably is just me and simple tinnitus, not any real resonance, while in need of another morning cup of coffee to get my mind right. Nobody would, in Ramsey, "lurch to the assumption" that a hiring in any particular set of circumstances, in Ramsey, might be aimed "in some way to gain influence in an underhanded way," in Ramsey.

Going back to say 2002 and 2003, we can say that land owners in Ramsey may sometimes speculate that putting their land to the highest and best use [putting the most profit in their pockets] is in the public interest as well as their own, and all manner of hare-brained things can result. But is that a general fracking truth?

It is noteworthy how individual "property rights" might appear or be argued to trump the public interest in Ramsey, when/if ever in conflict. Even if you as a reader might believe in that priority ordering less than others believe it, it seems a currently "in vogue" manner of thought.

In Ramsey. Among some.

I suppose hearing a cash register "ka-ching" ring at times while considering current events is, again, bothersome tinnitus instead of any resonance.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Election time - Back ballot, judiciary. And, know your Niskas.

Ramsey resident Harry Niska ran for Ramsey City Council the last time Ward 1 was in play, and lost by 47 votes to incumbent David Elvig; with all in our household being part of the 47 vote majority. Elvig 1203 votes, Niska 1159.

Why do I dislike Harry. This link. I see him as a danger to political thought that seems best to me. Add to that spouse Jen Niska's effort in the Emmer run, wanting to inflict great disaster on us had Emmer won and had rabid majorities in both houses where we'd be a bigger laughingstock than Wisconsin is now. Add to that where Jen Niska is now. Add to that, they endorse a crazy woman.

So I write as no lover of the Niska spouses and what they and henchmen would do to our State if given the opportunity.

However, Harry Niska in advising his Republican minions on the judicial elections gives sound advice, for all, in key contests. Here and here, online, (at the less than centrist True North website).

Niska endorses and suggests others should vote:

Chief Justice Gildea - Niska does not say it directly, but Gildea's opponent, Dan Griffith, is a real turkey. There is no real choice. Gildea is the better of the two conservatives to vote for because she's not an idiot.

Justice Barry Anderson - Dean Barkley is his opponent. We all know his history. This is a tough one. Barkley is an opportunist, Anderson an uber-rightwinger. Wringing my hands in agony, I believe Niska is correct. I would probably favor Barry Anderson over Caligula too, if they dug his remains up and ran him. But, again a very close call.

Justice David Stras - Opponent is Tim Tingelstad. This one is easy. Since Stras can fog a mirror, and is not Tingelstad, vote Stras.

NOTE: Both Gildea and Anderson were in the minority on the suit against the Unalloter's unallotments, which Niska writes of as an advantage. Well, no, it's not. It's a blot and a blemish. Despite that, and the Unalloter's installing another Unalloter fan onto the court, because of the quality of the opposition more than any quality in the incumbents - Niska in my view offers the better choices in a lesser evil set of situations.

Let's have some vacancies that Dayton can fill. The Unalloter has had his shot at poisoning the Supremes' well, so the hope is Dayton gets an opportunity to restore reason, and move toward balance and felicity. The Ritchie case outcome proves the need, the man wanted to honestly word the constitutional tampering things presented voters, and lost, due to the Unalloter's minions. However, Tim Tingelsted and Dan Griffith would be infinitely worse than the sad stuff we now have in our top court.

Dean Barkley, to be honest, I really wish it were somebody else against Barry Anderson. Anyone differing from Niska and my suggestion of going with Anderson would be justified in supporting the opposing candidate in that contest. In the other two, the incumbents are clearly a cut above each opponent, but that's not setting the bar at all high in making such comparisons.

Forgot to say, as part of the Niska spouses' joint resume, Harry Niska chaired the GOP State platform committee, being point man on that hate-filled agenda in opposition to liberty of family planning and choice, MinnPost having noted:

“We tried to address concerns about the platform getting too big,” said Harry Niska, a 31-year-old lawyer from Anoka who chairs the party’s platform committee.

The committee of 18 volunteers had the responsibility of culling 60 resolutions from the more than 500 that were passed in the state’s eight congressional district conventions.

“We tried to get what we thought was not too specific, but not too general; salient issues that we thought had broad-based interest among the delegates statewide,” Niska said.

Some of the resolutions Niska described as “big, controversial,” like the resolution to strike the party’s objection to the expansion of gambling.

Yes, Harry is a danger. A young energetic Republican lawyer-activist, apparently very capable as an attorney, yet rooted in the Federalist Society and close to Jesus, (as he'd want all of to believe his Jesus was and is to be regarded, by us, as our Jesus too). But on the judicial part of the ballot, I agree with his choices, although clearly only because we have lesser-of-evils decisions there. Again, Barkley, minds can differ. (Minds cannot support the likes of Dan Griffith or Tim Tingelstad. Minds are repulsed by each.)

Friday, October 26, 2012

The genesis of Town Center woe. The unlikelihood of Bruce Nedegaard being able to carry it off was hidden under a hat, James Norman only disclosing it after he had resigned as city administrator.

Strangely the item is missing from ABC Newspaper archives, but in an earlier Crabgrass post, from the summer of 2007, I published a quote -- Sakry having written:


While some may criticize the city for not checking out Nedegaard’s financial situation, there was nothing the city could do, according to former Ramsey City Administrator Jim Norman.

Nedegaard assembled the land and owned it. The city didn’t have a choice in selecting a developer, Norman said.

“We wanted to do the project and he owned the land,” he said.

The city’s options were to condemn the land or go ahead with Nedegaard with a letter of credit to protect the city, said Norman.

Although the city consultants did a study before the project started that indicated Nedegaard may not survive financially, it is not unusual for projects to have two to three owners before completion, he said.

The first indication the city received that Nedegaard was in financial straits was when contractors started putting liens on RTC property in fall 2006.


“The town center is more than bricks and mortar, it’s about the vision. And it’s important to maintain the vision,” said Trudgeon.

When the urban center idea came in up in a comprehensive plan meeting with planning consultants in 1998, the council rejected it, said Norman.

The idea of a transit-oriented, mixed-use development resurfaced later in the year and was seen in better light by the council fighting for a Northstar Commuter Rail station site, which it later lost to Anoka in 2000.

The idea, with the vision of delivering walkability, transit oriented connections, mixed use, amenities and services to residents, also caught on with residents.

Sixty-one percent of Ramsey residents voted yes in a non-binding 2001 referendum on whether residents supported the Ramsey Town Center project.

Ramsey residents formed Citizens for Ramsey Town Center Design and collected 1,600 signatures to support the town center in 2001.

Everyone is disappointed by RTC’s status, said Trudgeon.

“Everyone embraced the vision expecting there would be more there,” he said.

“We had expected it to be further along.”

Although he gets a lot of questions about when RTC is coming, Trudgeon said he hasn’t heard anything about abandoning the plan.

Tammy Sakry is at

The land profiteers back then were super-eager to cash out, and Nedegaard had loan proceeds sufficient to satisfy that greed, so the deed was done. It was kind of a Town Center version of original sin.

More, from around the summer of 2007, while Patrick Trudgeon was still head of planning.

“One of the absolutes is the vision has to be maintained,” said Trudgeon.

The property being auctioned is zoned for the town center and for certain uses and that will still stand, he said.

“Even if the development agreement falls away, which we think is very, very unlikely, we still have zoning protection and we expect a certain level of development and any change would have to make sense,” said Trudgeon.

According to city officials, any changes made to the plan would have to be a benefit for the community and overall development

“The city and the council wants to see this succeed,” said Trudgeon.

“It’s about accomplishing the vision and assuring those components are preserved,” said Nelson.

But one RTC developer thinks the master development agreement is hurting the project.

“It simply priced the land out of the market. That really took the project out,” said Jim Deal, who owns 26 acres of property in RTC.

As for the future, “not a lot can be accomplished until the lawsuit between the city and the bank is settled,” he said.

Although he has made the bank numerous offers for the property, Deal said his offers were rejected because they did not cover the $35 million mortgage and the liens on the property.

At least four creditors have filed mechanic’s liens against RTC for approximately $6.5 million.

Some of Deal’s property will be the future home of the Anoka County Medical Examiner’s office and a 152-unit multi-story senior housing and assisted living complex by Crest View Senior Communities.

Deal also built office buildings in RTC.

His future projects could include retail, hotel, community center and fitness center projects, said Deal.

While he still believes in RTC, “it’s a tough sell out here right now,” he said.

Deal said the project could get done in 20 years, 10 years if it went really well.

It seems there is good sense behind the old saying, "Haste makes waste."

More history, the first public appearance of Bob Ramsey, per a comment post?

More history, 2005, a meeting, a restrictive covenant, property controlled by a bank? There was always something of an enigma, unless you were a watch-every-broadcast junkie. I was not:

______________FURTHER UPDATE____________
This link, one of the items in the ABC Newspaper archive listing, in the below post, "The Residence project received Ramsey Council, HRA approval," Posted on December 28, 2010; by Tammy Sakry.

This mid-item excerpt, because we all see the thing now as it's being glommed onto the ramp, bigger than the ramp, right up to the sidewalk, it being of the wooden neo-Stalinesque school of design:

“This is a tremendous project for the area,” said Councilmember Matt Look when the council approved the final plat and final site plan.

It sets the bar architecturally in The COR and will provide local jobs, he said.

Low bar, ya betcha.

And "provide local jobs," Matt Look opines.

Well, sure. Go ask Colin or Emily McGlone.

Now, you tell me; are the laborers/carpenters/crane operators on site local union folks? Those kinds of local jobs?

What? My understanding is the general contractor is Flaherty's construction arm; out of Indiana. Readers, correct me if this is incorrect.

---------Oh, that's just Crabgrass crabbing, right? Not exactly, with that post having one comment, it being:

Amy says:
December 28, 2010 at 9:39 am

In a city with rampant foreclosures, escalating property taxes, and a failed Town Center, WHY is this a good idea right now?

Exactly how many jobs will this create Mr. Look? Construction jobs for a year and then what? I DO NOT appreciate my property taxes going up and up and up every year while my property value has plummeted from $249,000 to $185,000 a year to subsidize capitalist projects.

If Flaherty & Collins is a business making a business venture, then they should be able to do it WITHOUT using MY money!

Shame on you, Ramsey City Council.

Amy should be on council. On the HRA. (Both, since that's current style.)

RAMSEY --- Accessing ECM Publishing online archive, in anticipation of an election where local history might matter.

RESULTS: This is not an exhaustive list, but rather a sampling. Click any link given in the "Posted" entries below to retrieve a story. Please regard history as having value, come election time.

A Mexican restaurant favorite opens in Ramsey
Posted on July 1, 2010

Ramsey Town Center foreclosure sale postponed for second time
Posted on July 27, 2007

Ulrich chosen new Ramsey city administrator
Posted on August 2, 2007

Future unclear for Ramsey Town Center
Posted on August 22, 2007

Ramsey Town Center foreclosure sale postponed for third time
Posted on September 5, 2007

New Ramsey administrator getting down to business
Posted on November 14, 2007

Ramsey reluctantly approves Sunfish Lake Blvd. project
Posted on November 21, 2007

Top executives of the former Community National Bank in North Branch indicted in federal court
Posted on April 23, 2009

Ramsey council makes changes for removal of commission members
Posted on April 29, 2009

Ramsey announces new brand, name for Ramsey Town Center
Posted on July 22, 2010

Allina breaks ground on new Ramsey medical clinic
Posted on August 4, 2010 [NOTE: Done by PSD, LLC (Jim Deal) not Landform]

Ramsey council to recruit a new economic development/marketing manager
Posted on August 18, 2010

Ramsey council votes to bring electrical inspection program inhouse
Posted on August 25, 2010

Christian school planning new campus in Ramsey
Posted on September 8, 2010

Christian school on the brink of a new legacy
Posted on September 8, 2010

Christian school planning new campus in Ramsey
Posted on September 15, 2010

Ramsey approves changes to rental licensing rules
Posted on October 1, 2010

Ramsey re-affirmed as VA clinic site
Posted on October 6, 2010 [NOTE: Done by PSD, LLC (Jim Deal) not Landform]

Ramsey council approves Legacy feasibility study
Posted on October 25, 2010

Ramsey moving ahead Armstrong-Bunker intersection
Posted on November 5, 2010

The Residence project received Ramsey Council, HRA approval
on December 28, 2010 [NOTE: Done by Landform, not PSD, LLC (Jim Deal)]

Ramsey council approves plan for Legacy Christian Academy
Posted on November 8, 2010

Open house on Armstrong/Hwy. 10 intersection improvements Nov. 17
Posted on November 13, 2010

Ramsey council gives approvals for 230-unit luxury apartment complex
Posted on December 1, 2010

Grant dollars sought for future Highway 10/Armstrong interchange
Posted on December 7, 2010

Suite Living preliminary proposal approved
Posted on December 7, 2010 [NOTE: Done by Landform, not PSD, LLC (Jim Deal)]

Landform works to grow The COR in Ramsey
Posted on December 16, 2010 [Read this one, if nothing else, if you intend voting local down ticket offices on November 6 -- or later you may wish you had]

Ramsey council approves final plans for Suite Living senior housing
Posted on December 24, 2010

Ramsey council approves Legacy plan
Posted on December 25, 2010

The Residence project received Ramsey Council, HRA approval
Posted on December 28, 2010

----Next a few newer ABC Newspaper items, (not archived).

Mayor Ramsey proposes cuts to city administration
By Tammy Sakry on January 10, 2012

Ramsey keeps administrator, seeks other ways to cut 2013 budget
By Tammy Sakry on January 11, 2012

Ramsey sets process for acquiring Wise property
By Tammy Sakry on February 24, 2012

Nelson resigns as Ramsey deputy city administrator
By Tammy Sakry on March 8, 2012

Ramsey HRA approves bond sale for upscale apartments
By Tammy Sakry on March 12, 2012 [Read this one; it is the crucial 4-3 vote ("HRA members Randy Backous, Jason Tossey and Sarah Strommen voted against the motion") that turned City of Ramsey into a lending institution for a private sector adventure; and was key in the massive ugly woodwork thing now hanging like a cancer off the expanded (via use of tax money) megaramp - with the woodwork annexed to the "Flaherty ramp" that itself was attached onto our city's ramp with the woodwork thing also hanging and locking onto the City's end of our Town Center ramp extravaganza]

Ramsey receives state funds for Sunwood realignment
By Tammy Sakry on March 13, 2012 [taxpayer money]

Ramsey approves bonding for The Residence
By Tammy Sakry on March 23, 2012

Ramsey breaks ground on rail station
By Tammy Sakry on March 27, 2012

Construction starts on luxury apartments
By Tammy Sakry on April 11, 2012

Ramsey HRA accepts early payment on luxury apartment project
By Tammy Sakry on October 25, 2012

SUMMARY: Deal delivered the two clinics, and earlier, before the Nedegaard failure, he had built two buildings in Town Center, all built by private sector expenditures. Landform delivered Flaherty's project, to groundbreaking and its present state, financed as it is, looming over Sunwood Drive, as it is. There is NO old folks home, there is NO Christian Academy. Promises of Super America and McDonalds exist. Believe it when you can tank up the car and buy an Egg McMuffin. Things promised such as the old folks home can fall through. Deals can flip. Things can be postponed. That is history.

PROCEDURE: Newer items are via the ABC homepage, news - Ramsey, chosen along the top menu bands. This link:

You can either scroll back "older pages" going page by page, or hop around by substituting a different number for the "1" in that link, and refreshing the item.

Archive retrieval: Here is the starting archive page. I did a search for "Ramsey" and narrowed it to "ABC Newspapeers."

The archive only goes back to July 27, 2007; and that date is the 54th screen of the "Ramsey" and "ABC Newspapers" search.

This URL for the search indictes you need not scroll through all 54 to get to the end

You can enter that URL in your browser, and then jump around pages via putting a different number in the "54" spot above.

I did sequential "older posts" scrolling until hitting, the story about Jim Deal getting Allina into Town Center.

The last sequential page examined was

Also, there is a right side archive menu, going back to Year 2K. (Be warned, mostly obits and such are in the older archive, while much Ramsey news from the last decade is either editorially withheld from online access or lost for good; hopefully the last decade's Ramsey reporting is archived in some fashion by ECM Publishers.)


With rental housing being today's housing bubble, one that could suffer market over-supply and a consequent bursting bubble effect, an older Crabgrass post is revisited.

Rather than repost the thing just follow this link. And think about it in the context of eight million city dollars at risk behind a secured institutional lender of over twenty million, on a high-risk rental where the quality of security in a David Flaherty personal guarantee is an unknown factor. Is Flaherty over-exposed by too many projects going on at once, at differing locales? Is that firm's capital spread too thin? Is it encouraging to see Flaherty using a Flaherty construction affiliate as general contractor, as I believe to be the case with the by-the-rails-rental, where this general contractor may be unfamiliar with ex-urban Minnesota winter construction practices? We wait. We shall see. We hope for the best, with city money at risk, such as it was committed by a council majority with two key operatives challenged on reelection effort, this election cycle. The decision to put the city in the position of being a secondary and arguably ill-secured creditor to Flaherty (behind his Pittsburgh institutional lender having a security interest first position re the rental property), was a decision to so participate where a key close vote was dominated by a troika, one of whom did not survive a primary election.

To gamble in this adventure was a decision made by a 4-3 vote, risk exists, and do we citizens really want any more of that kind of gamble? By November 7 we in Ramsey will have that question answered. However you vote on local issues November 6, please do hope the rental thing is a success. Taxpayer money is riding on that outcome. Not that I would ever have voted for such a gamble, but it is how history happened. Hope for the best.

Sidebar polling.

UPDATED: Why the earlier (now removed) poll results crashed is still a mystery. With that caveat, two new poll questions were attempted. Being unable to get the polling widget Google Blogger provides to work correctly, as displayed in different browsers, the experiment has been scrubbed. That's likely the end for some time, of poll attempts on Developers are Crabgrass. It is a recent problem, of unknown origin, either browser related or due to code changes made by Google for its Blogger tool.

If any reader uses Blogger and its poll widget, without problem, please email me or post a comment.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

November 25 is the anniversary of the Wellstones' death. This memorial post is my last for the day.

Wikipedia on Wellstone, (photo source). See the permanent Wellstone photo toggle on the sidebar.

Sidebar poll reopening.

This morning I noticed that some glich in Blogger had wiped out the historical results of the "Colin McGlone's wife" sidebar poll - about her having employment with Flaherty after McGlone had been a key fourth vote in a 4-3 council (aka HRA) initial vote split on the City going in hock on bonds to route millions of dollars to the Flaherty adventure.

That poll had closed, 8/14/12 at noon.

Why it crashed, I have no idea.

But to make lemonade from a lemon ---- The poll, having once been wiped clean, is being reopened to see if Ramsey citizens have changed their minds.

(We all can remember something about the results, they were posted for some time before being lost, with the trend in thought back in August fairly clear).

Anyway the reopened poll now closes: Nov. 6, at 8:00 PM.

Please vote in the poll.

(To test the sidebar "gadget" that Google provides Blogger users, I just entered my vote, and it seems to have recorded it okay. If it goes west again, I will note that, and clear it from the sidebar. For now, we see if it works or goes out of order once more. So, please, give it a try.) 

The poll went west again. It has been removed. It remains a mystery to me. Moving on ...

Willard Romney did not mention "rape" within his now famous 47% videotape. By implication, he was saying "rape" the 47%, or some such verb, but on actual rape, Guardian examines Republican doctrine.

This link. With links. They are who there are.

I wonder if the proper terminology, Willard would know, is that some corporate takeover targets rape easy. What to me would be a big hoot, would be if Bain Capital were to take over and loot the Ryan contracting firm in Wisconsin.

_________FURTHER UPDATE__________
Remember you first saw the link-over here, on Crabgrass: Digby embeds a video, Oct. 24, at Hullabaloo

_________FURTHER UPDATE__________
I am unaware of why others have not pointed it out, at least I have not seen it said on the web, but Willard gave his now famous 47% speech at a millionaire's estate in Boca Raton, which is spanish for "Mouth of the Rat."

Just saying ... coincidences intrigue me.

Dan Denno wanted to be my District 1 County Commissioner.

Strib, "Oak Grove votes not to recognize Homelessness Awareness Month," here, this excerpt:

"Our attitude is [that] homelessness is something nobody likes, so why would we basically want to celebrate it?" asked Council Member Dan Denno, who along with Scott Lawrence voted against the resolution.

"It would be like recognizing Pothole Awareness Month," Denno said. "Is this just more recognition so government can get some money from somewhere?"

Denno's complaints aren't with the homeless. He just doesn't think it is the responsibility of Anoka County and its cities to pour taxpayer dollars into programs for the homeless. He would prefer that funding come through private donations.

"I appreciate places like Mary's Place in Minneapolis that take care of the homeless without public funding," Denno said.

Denno also questions the accuracy of recent homeless counts. Counts throughout the metro area last winter indicated that homelessness had quadrupled over the past four years in Washington County and grew 20 percent over last year's count in Dakota County. The waiting list at Anoka County's only homeless facility hit an all-time high of 80.

Unemployment, rising costs and mental illness have contributed to rising homeless numbers. Particularly alarming in Anoka County was the increase in the number of homeless youth 12 to 18. In 2011, 108 were counted; in January, the count reached 150 -- a 40 percent increase.

Wylie, who missed the Oak Grove council meeting so he could tend to his cancer-stricken father, said he was disgusted by the council's vote.

"They're anti-everything," he said. "They voted against giving money to Alexandra House," which provides domestic-violence and sexual-violence services in Anoka County.

They voted against giving money to Alexandra House. That says a lot. Wylie seems perhaps frustrated with his colleagues; some of them, perhaps. Denno, you may recall, ran for County Commisioner as more legitimate a right-winger, in his mind, than Matt Look. We live in interesting times. My analysis, Dan Denno is a pothole. He should be fixed, and we should not celebrate him.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

A half dozen or so things wrong with the Wiser Choice land swap, with a boot payment. As the deal was written up when proposed earlier this month.

Monday's Strib report by Paul Levy, "New round of turmoil in Ramsey - The state has been asked to investigate alleged conflicts of interest in the city," focused on the Flaherty rental-by-the-rails dealings, and Councilmember and HRA Commissioner Jeff Wise's effort to secure the best deal he can in relocating his liquor store. Much on Crabgrass has already been written about Flaherty.

Looking in this post only at Wise - Start with the belief that Wise is entitled to as good a deal as he can gain, honestly, and if he does not like offers he can force things to eminent domain litigation to have an impartial judge set the deal.

The problem of appearances of the negotiations aside, start with a single page document, the city supplied synopsis of the deal Wise expects as fair to him, and generous enough that he would not litigate.

Set aside for now the fact that appraisal is a highly inexact and subjective thing and to say, "We got a second appraisal," is little different from saying, "We slaughtered a second chicken, and have two sets of readable entrails." Two Tea cups, two sets of readable Tea leaves.

And set aside the fact that appraisers can be crooked and at least one, Renne, hanged himself in his bedroom closet; in the past, in the course of the ever unwinding Town Center saga.

Put aside the situation where, if it was Landform's Lazan negotiating with Wise, each had an incentive to kite values, where a favorable pricing set to Wise that also included a big land price in Clown Center would mean Jeff's happy and Lazan's commission is maximized. With such incentives for less than fully adversarial arms-length dealings the scenario is wholly suspect. And, since dealings were kept secret (nonpublic, which for me, not a city politician, is "secret") as they unfolded, we have little cause to attribute much merit to the process. But put that aside. Along with the notion that a big pot of money from the county was expected and instead of putting that into concrete and rebar on the Armstrong road work, it was earmared for flowing to Jeff, then back to the HRA's slush account (purportedly now standing at around $300,000), an amount of roughly half a million county provided dollars, shifted into HRA coffers, for HRA - Town Center mischief, or sound fiscal practice, whichever.

Just look at the face of this document (click to enlarge it and read - highlighting added):

Start with $940,000, (building, business and land).

It is most unusual to not break tangible real property out as a separate line item, and then it should be "business impact" and not "business." Nobody was buying Jeff's business. He kept the trade name, the goodwill, and moving across the street was not going to confuse drunks and their ability to find liquor when wanted. Indeed, the use of the acquired premises for anything like the "business" was expressly disavowed, via the restrictive covenant on city use of once acquired real estate.

So "business" is wholly phony, and padding. Now, the value of the thing, besides retained goodwill and name, is inventory. Booze is highly portable potables; witness the Whiskey Rebellion and the ease of Prohibition era bootlegging. Moving a stock of booze across Armstrong would be de minimus in cost.

Next, "trade fixtures."

With the restrictive covenant, booze-shop related true fixtures [affixed to the land becomming part of the real property] would have little value, and would be moved if of much real value to Jeff. Moreover, "trade fixtures" always are regarded as personalty, not realty, and are not treated as a matter of law as if affixed to the land and intended to become a part of the real estate. Putting a "trade fixtures" line item in that thing insults the intelligence of readers.

Last, $90,000 to move a stock of booze across a street? Get real. A cash register or two? Clearly there is kiting going on. Business impact, and actual fair value of the realty, the building and the land, and parking lot improvements, are all that is real in that sheet's numbers.

Next, how is business impact ameliorated? Jeff has a year-and-a-half to move.

So, stripped to its essentials, the present Sunwood work may have lessened drunks willingness to drive around a bit to get their vodka or rye, and some may have found Coborn's shelfs sufficient as needed. But Jeff wanted that work and voted for it after all, it being integral to his plan for a top notch new location in Town Center. So that intermediate cash pinch, he willingly accepted - and voted to advance it.

Down to essentials - existing building and land swapped for improved unbuilt land [call that Sunwood reroute expense an improvement, although it is debatable in a larger sense of the meanings of the word "improvement" but as to the value of the land Wise had earmarked as his desired locale, putting the road past it did boost its value to him, for his purposes, and "improved" his expectations]. Then, he keeps the tradename and all the goodwill, and the inventory; so, he gives land and structure, for land, and his building a structure. And if he does not sign personally to be liable on the building, his corporation could turn around and sell that land to another speculator besides him, and he could consolitate and reinvest. It seems to all have been somewhat loosey-goosey, and you tell me what contract rights and conditions were to be imposed in any final dual closing, on obligations Jeff owed City of Ramsey in how he'd be promising to use the new land. Enforceable city rights, vs. declarations of a possibly later altered intent. I admit not knowing any detail in that direction, and I am unaware whether Jeff and the city have publicly released any such detail.

But, bottom line, the single page deal summary has several infirmities clear within the four corners of the document. Is that stuff worth $1.1 million? Not to me.

If I sat on that amount of wealth, and some beyond it, the nearly last thing I would think to do would be to buy that site - a presently operating liquor store - with a restrictive covenant that it would have to be otherwise used. It's not something I would expect many investors to find attractive as a deal, but this is City of Ramsey negotiating in lieu of exercising eminent domain, and it surely would inspire more faith on my part if there were more of an appearance of arms-length adversarial dealing, which I do not see as sufficiently present if it was a deal cut between Jeff, the city official, and Lazan, ostensibly the city's fiduciary, each with a personal stake on what to each would be the most fiscally rewarding outcome.

Mutual backscratching can happen, not to say it necessarily is a factor here.

However, given all that, it surely is best to postpone deciding on all that stuff until January. That is a small time window compared to the year-and-a-half Wise would have as transition time within his contract. And a review of the comment thread on Levy's article, the thumbs up and thumbs down annotations, suggests that the council sworn in this coming January might include several different faces; and it is a certainty that in January Wise will not be a city official when his desired current package of possible terms and conditions are best revisited. Indeed, there may be higher priorities for initial action in the minds of new council members, early in January. If so, waiting until late January or early February, on the year-and-a-half anticipated cutover time frame, would add little extra burden to Wise.

To me it seems there was undue haste in pushing the Sunwood reroute, and in also pushing the Wise dealings as if high priority, front burner. Surely they were that to Wise, but city officials have to maintain a broader perspective beyond setting a highest priority to accommodating one of their own.

Somewhat related, what drove me up the wall with that Reflections in Ramsey author's contentions about "Jeff sold his current position" nonsense; is that things are deliberately misstated by her as if this authoring individual had never negotiated to buy a used car with a trade-in, and had the car lot salesman say, "Well it looks fine to me but I have to check it with the boss." At that point, no trade-in's been done, no new car terms set. It is up to the boss. And in the Wiser Choice case, the boss was the councilmembers exclusive of Wise who recused himself; wearing their HRA hats, and the boss rejected the thing. No acceptance by the boss, no deal, and everybody knows that so that the Reflections lady, she simply wanted to mislead people writing as she did.