consultants are sandburs

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Ramsey - Sakry of ABC Newspapers reports of our town's unwinding situation with its former Town Center consultant, Lazan/Landform.

Photo: earlier ABC coverage, here.
Divorces are always messy to a degree. Sakry's detailed report, here, on this divorce:

Ramsey negotiates with former development manager
By Tammy Sakry on April 18, 2013 at 7:05 am

According to City Administrator Kurt Ulrich, Landform president Darren Lazan, who was the city’s contracted development manager for the COR project, agreed to give the city intellectual property, including plat files and GIS mapping when his two-year contract ended March 31, but that has not happened.

After receiving a couple of letters in January, one anonymous, about whether the city should be paying Landform for all of its work, including some potential brokerage work the company was not licensed to provide, the HRA had the contract reviewed by an outside attorney as well as its HRA attorney, Tom Bray.

In reviewing the role the city staff played in the sale of land and what Lazan did, Lazan was the primary contact for prospective developers, Bray said.

The development proposals involved the sale of land and it is fair to say there were brokerage activities done by Lazan, he said.

The HRA could do one of four things, Bray said.


Again, this link.

As made clear over time, the editorial opinion here is the cost-benefit balance of Lazan's taking city money was super-humongo on cost, low to nil on benefit [other than benefit to Cronk-Flaherty interests, apart from what might or might not be best for Ramsey].

If city-paid documents and property continues to be withheld, as indicated in Sakry's reporting, I would favor drafting and filing court papers first, and negotiating as part of litigation settlement, but with the clock running in the City's favor.

But what do you claim, if filing? That the prior council using Heidi Nelson as intermediary gave the man the equivalent a stream of blank checks, and he gladly filled in amounts? Can you really put fault for that upon Lazan alone, apart from city decision makers, back then? And they had the authority.

Judgment, they appear far short on that, but authority was there, from the very first Landform contract when "Senator Jungbauer" might be able to procure some favorable water project grant while being on Landform's payroll, as Matt Look noted in City minutes back in 2009. And with Jungbauer - Landform fingerprints on things even before the closing date of  the city's purchase of the distressed vacant land balance from Minnwest Bank's foreclosure:

Whatever more may be paid Landform will be public money, paid by taxpayers, and council members had and have a fiduciary duty to not spend such money wrongly or wastefully. I doubt Lazan wants to litigate.

I doubt Matt Look wants that, nor Mike Jungbauer.

In the wrap-up section of Sakry's report, she stated

The city also received a letter from local attorney William Erhart expressing concerns on the same issue.

According to Finance Officer Diana Lund, the city has paid Landform $1.454 million since 2009, which includes the original COR 2010 contract [...]

Were it me, I would have written it as "... a letter from Ramsey taxpayer and local attorney William Erhart ..." because the man has every right as any other Ramsey citizen to question how tax money is spent when he is paying a substantial share of it on, if memory serves me correctly, a residence in town on the Rum River.

Beyond that, roughly one and a half million of city money down that money sink hole should have Darren Lazan so happy he'd be shouting "Praise Jesus" hosannas for such past levels of largesse instead of delaying an overdue city property transfer where the goodwill shelf life of the intentionally withheld work depreciates exponentially.

There is good faith, and bad faith, and brokering land without a license is a breach of law. The entire Lazan thing was excessive.

... the city has paid Landform $1.454 million ...

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