consultants are sandburs

Friday, July 19, 2013

RAMSEY -- You tell me, Charlie, what's a "data center?"

A double headache?
Take two aspirin and
call me in the morning.
I read ABC Newspaper reporting, and it appears nobody on Ramsey staff or council asked the question.

And it blows me away, staff said, "Hire a consultant."

Haven't we had consultant problems enough already, and wasn't the last election about consulting, at least in part? Moreover, is this someone's TIF dream, or would it yield actual tax flows, immediately, tomorrow, and onward? Reporting opens:

Task force to look at future of old Ramsey city hall
By Eric Hagen -- July 19, 2013 at 7:05 am

[...] “We have nothing but time on this because we don’t have a buyer,” said Councilmember Randy Backous, who served as acting mayor at the July 9 meeting because Mayor Sarah Strommen had been in a car accident earlier that day.

The 21.24-acre site at 15153 Nowthen Blvd. now holds Fire Station No. 2 and some storage. The municipal center left this site in 2006 when the new one opened and the city has been looking to sell the property ever since and build a new Fire Station No. 2 on an adjacent property, according to Patrick Brama, assistant to the city administrator.

One potential option Connexus Energy brought forward was to sell the property to a data center developer. The city has got a lot of backlash from the neighbors about this idea, but the concept is not completely dead.

This task force, which Brama said could include five or more neighbors, would be tasked with learning the facts of data centers. While it would only be able to make a recommendation and not have the final say, the council feels this will be a good opportunity to involve the neighborhood in the process.

That starts the ball rolling, and you can read the remainder online, at the ABC Newspaper link.

First question, server farms are sited where power is plentiful and cheap.

That, friends, is not Connexus, nor that site. What infrastrucure changes would be needed, who'd pay, etc.? The most hopeful and positive aspect of the thought adventure, per the reporting,

“We have nothing but time on this because we don’t have a buyer,” said Councilmember Randy Backous ...

Amen, brother.

Ben Dover, watch out. Next, if Connexus proposes it would sell power at a discount to a "data center" [whatever that means], then who makes up the shortfall in rates? Taxpayers, via paying higher rates to subsidize a "data center?" Half-baked thought at best, without real answers to real cost/benefit questions is not public servants acting at their best.

It looks as if staff simply kicked the can down the road, without real enthusiasm but with wanting ongoing goodwill with Connexus.

But isn't that saying, we have time on our hands, so let's do speculative thought experiments? Why? List it and wait for proposals. If Connexus has a sound proposal, let the public know what the thinking is. And if it is not fleshed out on a "who pays what" basis, it is NOT a sound proposal. Instead it is a pipe dream, or it is pure Connexusguess, neither of which are appealing.

Do YOU want to volunteer to be on a community thought experiment consensus panel? If so, contact Patrick Brama.

A simple and clear closing observation. City government should have stayed on Nowthen. Moving to a massive and expensive Ramsey Town Center "Norman Castle," was huckstered on the premise it would catalyze miracles, or so said James Norman and crew. Where are they now? How about all that catalysis? Tons of cash catalyzed into Landform coffers. Big payoff to that, friends. Stick to cops, fire response, and road maintenance; none of which require consultants. Let developers come forth if the property has potential. If not, isn't there an old saying about silk purses and sow's ears? Hasn't there been ANY learning curve, via the Town Center fiasco? The Town Center foreclosing banks faced the same dilemma after the Nedegaard experiment flamed out, no buyers, but they waited until a real chump stepped forward and we all know how that benefited taxpayers.

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