consultants are sandburs

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Edina - investing in making Southdale Mall and environs more a walkable experience and less auto dependent; and with high-end apartments being built there as part of the package. Yet more luxury apartment growth, in competition with Flaherty in Ramsey.

Strib publishing an online March 31 item, here. As in Ramsey at Coborns, Lund's intends parking and auto orientation because, as with Coborns, lugging three heavy grocery bags from store to home exceeds most "walkability" expectations - Strib publishing this image provided them from Lund's:

Strib reports:

Wide sidewalks and bike paths will link the store and apartments to the Promenade, the art-lined greenway that runs from Centennial Lakes to the Galleria.

City Council members hope Lunds’ $45 million-to-$50 million development is the first in what ultimately could become an area with shopping, doctors’ offices, recreation and work within reach of people who walk or bike.

“It’s another step in the evolution of that whole Southdale district,” said Mayor Jim Hovland. “More people are living there. … Eventually we will see a lot more greenery, and over the next 20 or 30 years, it could almost become a little village to itself.”

Lunds is partnering with Minneapolis developer Schafer Richardson to build three apartment buildings with a total of 246 units. Lunds’ real estate adviser, Jim Vos of Cresa Advisors, said the Edina development is the most ambitious Lunds has ever attempted.

“This is bigger than anything they’ve ever done before,” Vos said. “They had an old store on a very large site with a lot of excess land, and the question was, do we put in more strip retail or do we do something unique?

[...] Centennial Lakes, with its park, apartments, condos and retail, introduced mixed-use development in the Southdale area in the late 1980s. In recent years, Edina has tried to push that theme north, with the lure of connecting to Promenade walking and bike paths.

Hovland said city officials hoped the greenway would trigger private development, and then came the Byerly’s plan to redevelop its nearly 10-acre site.

It wasn’t easy to satisfy the city. The Lunds proposal went to the City Council with no recommendation from the Planning Commission after the group split on the plan because of concerns about sustainability and access.

“They were trying to push us to a better place … but it’s a question of what the marketplace will accept,” Vos said.

Byerly’s is a grocery store that people visit once or twice a week, he said.

“Nobody is walking from [Edina’s] Country Club neighborhood with three bags of groceries,” he said. “We might get more walkers here, but we couldn’t ignore cars, because that’s how most people experience the store.”

In the end, the store was pushed close to France [Avenue] to “enliven the France Avenue retail experience” and the apartment buildings were moved nearer the Promenade and into the neighborhood, Vos said.

[emphasis added]. "Schafer Richardson" is named as the high-end rental builder/developer. Earlier, perhaps related but perhaps not, Flaherty was mentioned as sniffing around Edina; this link. There was reporting about "StuartCo" doing the same re upscale rental in Edina's Southdale locale; here. Whether there's enough market potential to go around to where Flaherty may still end up holding a stake there is unclear from any current online reporting I could find. Presumably they'd want parking ramp designing and municipal subsidy; as is the Flaherty habit; and the Edina officials seem to have shown due patience in examining multiple proposals and ideas without being shoehorned into any particular developer's camp.

See, also, here and here (Flaherty mentioned). Edina officials having taken a restrained, civilized and measured approach to growth is instructive to other metro communities. You get what you wait for and by waiting you can call the shots instead of having some developer's person call shots for you. Edina teaches that, or appears to, from reporting that is online.

Abeler's Mar. 30 Town Hall.

At a guess it attracted over a hundred people, some I recognized from Ramsey, one I did not, but the last time I saw him in person he was wearing a Mark Kuzma election T-shirt, and pounding rebar. Abeler discussed the session in general, and during the Q-and-A part of the town hall he indicated that his online survey ...

... remains open, and when all results appeared in the response patterns would be reported in one of his email news releases. So take the survey and sign up for his news releases, which is a toggle on his legislative website. Pages of interest being:

Abeler - legislative website
Abeler - bills, this session, primary author
Abeler - Highway 10 bill

Abeler spoke about much in general, a sample of detail being that deserving road projects around the state had total price tags well beyond any reasonable current budgeting and that the "crystal ball" for whether Highway 10 [Armstrong interchange included] is funded or not is cloudy; no prediction being offered although it was clear he was pushing for the funding in Minnesota's House. The stadium e-pulltab shortfall was always possible in that an untried and debatable proposal was advanced where track record was lacking and that if that gambling revenue remained inadequate real money from general funds would be the likely if not only alternative. While having posted about the stadium string being pulled back, I got the impression my viewing the truth of things as that Zygi's subsidy, Wilfare, will be as real (though now less tangible) as the grass, base paths, and seating at Target Field. It is moving and cannot be turned back, so if like me you dislike it and wished there had been a referendum where it clearly would have lost; get over it. Or stew still, but it will not make a difference.

I asked a few questions, none of which I think would qualify for dumb question of the day; and for that award I have one particular question in mind, but leave it there. Those attending can guess, or have their own opinions of dumbest of the day.

If I had to use a single word for my impression of Abeler, it might be unpretentious; which is good and refreshing, given the party he is in and its elected representative to Congress in the Sixth District - for whom the word is less appropriate.

Matt Look attended, and from asking him and Abeler I got the impression that the Armstrong interchange funding would hinge on having a federal component or it would not happen this legislative session.

I do not recall who said it and I think it was during milling around when the formal session had ended, but I was told that Franken might be in State in the next couple of weeks and might then be approached about it, and that Bachmann had committed support (but she's gotten her "pork share" and then some with the questionable Stillwater bridge funding, so that Senate and executive support for the funding would realistically be needed to attain a federal funding goal).

I got the impression Abeler is aware of education K-12 and beyond, including the tuition burden on the young and the need for ongoing post-graduate excellence to enhance likelihoods the next "Medtronic miracle" comes here and not Denver, Omaha or elsewhere; but that education is not one of his major active legislative interests, something apparent from his committee assignments, per the legisaltive page.

Abeler was questioned about whether he had an opinion on the county's abandoning, after years and years, its commitment to prevailing wage being required on all county funded projects. He said he'd spoken about it to a number of people, and by mentioning the hearing process used in legislative committees I inferred, though Abeler did not say it directly, that his retrospective view was that things might have been better - smoother long-term - had the county board held hearings before instituting such a drastic policy change. He did say that prevailing wage carries a strong likelihood that contractors and labor would not come in state for a project from some place like Texas, returning out of state when finished, but instead would be local labor by local people with wage-earner money remaining in circulation in the local community's economy as a benefit for all.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

More Flaherty and Collins. More big-time subsidy for the folks, from the public. More Cronk, as who he is and has been, i.e., without any masquerade as undividedly, undeniably loyal development-team town dog, "Fido."

This link. With what I guess is the Crabgrasser [developer] trade journal equivalent to, "I saw it in a backpage ad in City Pages, it promised a good time and I did not really think she'd be fourteen so I gave it a try":

March 29
By KEVIN COLLISON - The Kansas City Star

A $28 million development that will add 222 market-rate apartments and retail space to the effort to rebuild downtown Gladstone is in the works.

The project is to be developed and managed by Flaherty & Collins Properties of Indianapolis. It will include 10,000 square feet of retail space and an interior surface parking lot with 272 spaces, according to Gladstone officials.

“This is a game changer for our community and the central Northland,” Mayor Carol Suter said Friday. “These are market-rate apartments targeted at young professionals, a group of people we’re losing to downtown and Johnson County for this kind of housing.”

The project is planned for the southeast corner of North Locust Street and Northeast 70th Street in a multi-block area that Gladstone officials are calling Linden Square. The mayor said Linden is a community that predated Gladstone, but those older buildings were lost over the years.

Now Gladstone officials are building a new city center in that area, which would include the apartment development, the Gladstone Community Center, the North Kansas City Schools Natatorium and a two-story office building scheduled to open in June.

The new apartment project is called the Heights at Linden Square. The rents will range from $600 to $1,400 a month.

About half the apartments are to be one-bedrooms, 26 percent will be two-bedrooms, 5 percent will be studio units and the rest will be two-level, two-bedroom units with an attached garage.

Ryan Cronk, vice president of development at Flaherty & Collins, said his firm learned about the Gladstone development opportunity about 16 months ago from an advertisement the city placed in a trade publication.

The firm has developed apartment projects at Midwest locations, including Indianapolis, Cincinnati, Minneapolis and the Chicago area.

Construction is expected to begin this summer, and the first apartments are expected to be ready for occupancy in early summer 2014.

A Chapter 100 incentive is being provided to the developer, the mayor said. It will provide a 25-year property tax abatement on the project, and the city will issue bonds to finance the development. The developer will be required to repay the bonds, and the city is not responsible for any shortfalls.

Suter said Gladstone will spend about $3 million to improve streets, sewers and other infrastructure for the apartment project.

They get promised 10,000 sq.ft. retail, 3x Ramsey's allotment, with this rendering from the KC news report:

More on the internal Republican saga, per Residual Forces. Plus a segue or two.

Latest there on Corey Sax, this link.

The comment thread is quite interesting, including in its deletions.

It intrigues me how the personalities get involved in the recent histories of the weakest GOP Congresssional Districts, CD4 and CD5. CD4 had its purge with Mitch Berg posting of his unhappiness and Pat Anderson now the chair, after an active ouster.

Corey Sax appears from the latest Residual Forces post to be within CD5.

McCollum has owned the CD4 seat for eons, after Vento unfortunately prematurely died, and Ellison now clearly owns the CD5 seat after Sabo stepped down. The GOP there in each district suffers a decided minority party status, and has for years.

Yet GOP CD4 and CD5 leadership hijinks have produced their poster children.

Allegations seem to be about wanting to be the diva, without interest in the hard work of practicing and while seeking out the team position of assuring all the uniforms are packaged for the road trip and not standing to contest for the role of go-to guy for the last shot with the game on the line, a three needed from downtown with seconds on the clock.

Andy's A.'s mother was involved in CD4 party official positions overlapping the time of the change and then the purge, mainly if I have read the history correctly in assuring fiscal rectitude in CD4; but if Andy blogged of the personalities and purge there, I missed it.

My problem is when there is spillover of some (perhaps say one) of the contentious personalities into CD6, where I live and suffer the GOP having its entrenched majority status; where their goings on give us Bachmanns and Nienows. Gave us Jungbauer.

Live over there in Roseville then stay over there, might be a fine motto. Let the Watchdog be himself including heading up a clear political advocacy thing as chair of the Taxpayer League [are its offices in CD6?], and leave CD6 alone, where news reporting is something best left to those with the skill, wherewithal and lack of biased viewpoint, needed to do it right, and distributed in print as with the "paper" part of the word "newspaper."

Real newspapers, involving real newspaper persons seems the place to rely, but opinions may differ.

Not that the newspaper-related comments segued into relate to Corey Sax. They do not. Or there was no intention to suggest they relate to Corey Sax and the latest todo. Only to reflections of the mind regarding contentious personalities, which again, is something involving opinion and perceptions; and where we can say opinions of Mitch Berg are always opinionated, but not always beyond dispute.

One last closing segue. It galls me greatly having a resident of CD4 holding the CD6 congressional seat, particularly given the individual involved. Speaking of those wanting to be The Diva, ...

Friday, March 29, 2013

Sean Nienow politicing over a hearing he says he wants, with scant chance of attaining it being the safe bet. He claims he wants to probe into the realities and deceits of e-pulltab gambling taxing having been touted by many as likely sufficient to pay for Zygian dreams. A litmus test for his and others' good faith, will he get any hearing, and what happens with it if he does? Disembling is the safe outcome bet.

Strib report, this link. I expect many in Nienow's own party will do all they can to quell this mischief, short of holding him under water a half hour. Closets full of skeletons that might rattle lie all over the spectrum; with it being Nienow's party that had a platform plank against expansion of gambling in our state. Go figure. Who does he aim to score points with? Is he the one who might oppose Bachmann? He is such a clone of Bachmann, not a Paulista Liberty advocate, that all one can guess is an aim for Lt. Guv. on a ticket, next go-round. Or statewide, Secretary of State or such. Reader ideas are welcome.

A "questionable example?" Too great a departure from prior protocol?

This link.

In a video released by the Vatican, the 76-year-old Francis was shown kneeling on the stone floor as he poured water from a silver chalice over the feet of a dozen youths: black, white, male, female, even feet with tattoos. Then, after drying each one with a cotton towel, he bent over and kissed it.

Previous popes carried out the Holy Thursday rite in Rome’s grand St. John Lateran basilica, choosing 12 priests to represent the 12 apostles whose feet Christ washed during the Last Supper before his crucifixion.

Before he became pope, as archbishop of Buenos Aires, the former Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio celebrated the ritual foot-washing in jails, hospitals or hospices — part of his ministry to the poorest and most marginalized of society. He often involved women. Photographs show him washing the feet of a woman holding her newborn child in her arms.

That Francis would include women in his inaugural Holy Thursday Mass as pope was remarkable, however, given that current liturgical rules exclude women.

Canon lawyer Edward Peters, who is an adviser to the Holy See’s top court, noted in a blog that the Congregation for Divine Worship sent a letter to bishops in 1988 making clear that “the washing of the feet of chosen men … represents the service and charity of Christ, who came ‘not to be served, but to serve.’”

While bishops have successfully petitioned Rome over the years for an exemption to allow women to participate, the rules on the issue are clear, Peters said.

“By disregarding his own law in this matter, Francis violates, of course, no divine directive,” Peters wrote. “What he does do, I fear, is set a questionable example.”

RAMSEY - Presumably the separation of church and state is being honored to where this reported Town Center project is proceeding without taxpayers subsidizing it.

Sakry reporting, this link. As written the implication is wholly private funding, but the question deserves explicit attention.

UPDATE - Three questions come to mind: 1. Has the land been bought and paid for with title held by the church, and not the HRA? 2. Was there SAC or WAC compromise? 3. What does this do for the promised boom in tax base?

My guess is that Mary Kiffmeyer and her ALEC allies are, like others in the GOP, doing navel-gazing over what went wrong and what they will be doing about it.

This link.

It is Mary K. there.

It just does not look like Mary K., but it's her, trust me.

Or is the same old way, okay with Ms. K?

The problem with anonymous comments, when one is worth publishing on its own, you do not know who to say "Thank you" to. Re Dayton, legislators who should be ashamed of themselves, Wilfare, and the Great Zygi, King of Park Avenue.

I will get to the comment to an earlier post that deserves elevation to a post of its own.

First, to set the stage never forget that the Great Zygi became the King of Park Avenue while having his purple tie on and his purple corporate hand out for a mega-sized subsidy from rubes in Minnesota - something both houses of our esteemed legislature fell over one another to give him, and something our elite governor cheer led. This screen capture from here, and this Google help to set the stage for what is a simple, short truth we all should seize and promote.

Click the image to enlarge it for viewing the full splendor.

With that opulence in mind, and how Zygi got a deal on price, add the thought that his deal on the Palatial Park Avenue digs pales in consequence when compared to the deal our esteemed public officials have passed, to quell his billionaire impulses to have Adrian run the ball in some other town should we have been unwilling to stand and deliver. Well, then, here is the anonymous comment worth its own post, simple in concept, true in intent:

There is no contract between the State of Minnesota and the Vikings.

There is only a law, passed by the State of Minnesota, that can be repealed.

And it should be.

For now - Go to your local bar. Pull on that e-tab, folks. The profit you generate is for a good cause. An exceptional cause.


Subsidize the billionaire bastard, because Adrian can run the ball? Get real. Your neighbors have had their home foreclosed, you know some who've lost their jobs. Mark Dayton, hang your head in shame. Union bosses, do the same since identical pump priming amounts for the rank-and-file could be spent on infrastructure expansion and repair. And NOT Michele Bachmann's Bridge to Nowhere. Real, NEEDED, stuff. Not Zygi, not the Bachmann Bridge. Treat the public right. Repeal the Wilfare Act, THIS SESSION.

For more of the same about Zygi's Park Avenue splendor, this link, "That’s a Lot of Lutefisk! Inside Zygi Wilf’s $19 M. Valhalla," using the apt term, "The Mustachioed Mock Minnesotan." Ya betcha, and read the comments.

A message to the comment author, and to all readers. I subscribe to Jim Abeler's email legislative updates, and he is holding a Town Hall meeting tomorrow, Sat. March 30:

That is a cut/paste screen capture from the email, where I included the email survey address. It is not a hot link, I encourage readers to take Abeler's survey, with this as an active link:

It would be interesting if Abeler, at the town hall session, is asked about whether he'd support a repeal of the Wilfare Act, and if not, why in the world not. He is my Rep., so I hope to be there. A Profile in Courage would be sponsorship of a repeal.

____________FURTHER UPDATE_____________
Tell me again, DFL Representative, GOP Senator, "Who's Zygi."

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Tammy Sakry reports, Elvig trial postponed to mid-April.

This link. Elvig's firm, E Street Makers, a custom cabinet and wood furnishings and trim business, hit the shoals along with many homeowners and other construction trade businesses in the housing slump. Charges are that money was not placed into employee benefit accounts as the law requires when multiple creditors also had claims and the effort was to stay operational in hopes the slump would be short-term. I do not know if strict liability applies or a prosecutor has to prove knowledge of and a wrongful intent to not comply with benefit account mandates. Multiple counts exist because of a prosecutorial decision to amend the complaint to individualize counts by employee and specific instances rather than to proceed with earlier filed blanket counts. Wholly innocent unless proven guilty, Elvig's Ward 1 council seat could be impacted if there is conviction on a felony count. Having a business tank, and screwing up on allocating cash on the way to a business viable for fourteen years failing is something I would not judge too harshly, especially without hearing all presented fects, but it is for a jury to decide and the case will be heard in an adjacent county to lessen the likelihood of potential jurors knowing parties or counsel or witnesses, and hence being disqualified from the juror pool.

I apparently erred. Sakry - ABC Newspapers posted an updated report.

Sakry describes the latest amended complaint and the prosecutorial thinking underlying the change. Moreover, with the Anoka County Attorney's Office doing an initial hand-off to Isanti County, I misunderstood that the trial site stayed unchanged, and trial remains scheduled in Anoka County. Sakry reported in the latest post:

Elvig’s criminal trial was scheduled to begin in Anoka County District Court March 25 with Judge Spencer J. Sokolowski preceding, but was rescheduled for April 15 after Crumb’s office received additional evidence.

According to [prosecutor Susan] Crumb, her office was given the [new] evidence the afternoon of March 22 while preparing a witness for testimony [...]

This is the third continuance for the trial.

[...] The U.S. Department of Labor Employee Benefits and Security (EBSA) investigated Elvig for allegedly misappropriating employee contributions to the firm’s 401(k) profit sharing plan, group health care and dental plans and 401(k) loan repayments.

The EBSA investigators allege Elvig kept the contributions in E-Street’s general operating account and used it to pay business expenses, such as payroll, instead of applying it to the three employee plans for up to 15 employees.

[Emphasis added.] A juror pool will be available where, hopefully, a panel can be chosen of those unfamiliar with reporting of the case, who will be free of any bias that way, and not knowing Elvig or other potential witnesses. It seems that narrowing the pool that way, and calling jurors only from voter rolls, promises to exclude a number of possible jurors (voters presumably being familiar with office holders and political status). Those constraints might lead to an unusual jury composition.

Finally, it is unclear from reporting that it will be a jury trial and not a bench trial. However, trials of cases charging criminal liability most frequently are jury trials. Juries traditionally evolved so that one's peers, and not officials of the state, might, as a safeguard of charged individuals, pass judgement - a step dating, if my recollection serves me, at least indirectly to the Magna Carta where crown powers were constrained by will of the noblemen and consent of the crown; with the changes in government reduced to a key writing. That precept, having a writing protective of rights against government power, of course is echoed in our Bill of Rights, and our Constitution defining a balance of powers between federal and state exercise and control.

Sakry reported more in the new post beyond what has been quoted; again, this link.

RAMSEY - Personnel; Capt. Dwyer appointed new Chief of Police, City of Cambridge, Minnesota. Conditional for now subject to completion of a background check, (a required pro forma step).

Not Cambridge, England. Not Massachusetts. But a major move. This from p.3 of the latest Weekly Update:

Tammy Sakry's more detailed ABC Newspapers report, online here. I have spoken more than once to Capt. Dwyer, and recall a work session in the old City Hall by Ramsey Elementary, after the passage of conceal-carry when he briefed the council on a need for a city premises policy.

Other than that I have not had much contact with Capt., now to be Chief Dwyer. It is nothing personal, but I do not look good in cuffs.

RAMSEY - About the range of questions, apart from cost/benefit, surrounding the most recent apartment developer cabal's wanting subsidy money. Lack of any apparent will to subsidize, in neighboring Anoka.

This post relates to this earlier Crabgrass post. As updated there.

Cliche buzzwords are, "I am informed and believe ..." and then the factual statements follow.

So, I am informed and believe a proposal arose which, without any cost/benefit consideration done at this point, staff presented the council.

The consensus was that the council was not prepared to act, in terms of any city committment.

The generic question of subsidizing housing arose under the last council, and there presently is no consistent policy or set of guidelines in place [where cost/benefit belongs as a key determinant].

Some on council believe a policy of some general kind needs to be thought out before specific proposals accumulate, and before the present proposal is acted upon.

The person to be hired as the city's staff finance/TIF guru has yet to be hired. My guess is too extensive an indulgence into policy navel-gazing before that hire is made might forestall having input from the hiree, and be counterproductive, if anything contemplated before the hire is cast in stone.

(That's not informed by anyone on council or any city official, just believed - as common sense.)

Back to informed and believe; an offer [of non-public terms, conditions, and dimensions] was made to purchase HRA [i.e., distressed Town Center] land, but the council members, wearing their HRA hats, did not make any decision nor did they with council hats on.

It appears true, as the Gladhill write-up suggests, that the promoters' offer to buy a part of the distressed land involved a cherry picked el primo parcel, and an expectation of a half million dollar up-front governmental subsidy to move the land into the developers' tax shelter Crabgrassing hands.

That's informed via the Gladhill item, not by input that way, by anyone on council.

No purchase offer was accepted, i.e., there is no present executory purchase and sale agreement.

The mood and/or consensus feeling of the council, at present, appears to be a dislike of the use of TIF for any version or kind of developer housing-adventuring. (Looking to the future, not the past.) Which neither rules out nor favors other flavors of subsidy.

Recall that City of Ramsey played bank for Flaherty's adventure, and gave him free ramp parking spaces, and compromised SAC and WAC because, I presume, he asked for it by conditioning his offer and the council majority folks then in office, were cordial to his desires.

My hope would be Sakry of ABC Newspapers might explore in a news report the presently pending subsidy issue in Ramsey, given that the streaming video is online and people generally enjoy chatting with her because she's a good person. And there is a public interest dimension to the situation.

As of the date/time of writing this, a check of ABC Newspapers online did not reveal to me any such Sakry item, as yet posted. If I see any report I shall post a link.

HOWEVER - Checking ABC Newspapers online did inform me, and I believe, upscale non-rental single family detached homes on town land are planned in Anoka, per reporting under the headline, "Anoka moving ahead on high-end housing development on city land."

Interestingly this is not adjacent to any railroad's busiest freight lines, with two developers in a contest to move forward and nobody placed in a favored inside track posture; quite unlike Ramsey seeming hinged at the heels to give Flaherty city-provided risk capital and other perks. Indeed, the Mandy Froemming item shows Anoka town officials and project promoters perhaps over-eager to assure readers that patience is a virtue and that their bona fide good faith intent is to not compromise the public's fiscal status for any immediate private sector gain:

The city saw a second round of presentations from Landmark Development (Hanson Builders) as well as SW Wold Monday. Both developers are interested in building a new neighborhood on the northern border of the city.

Scott Wold retooled his original plans that included a mix of townhomes and single-family homes to just single-family. He had originally followed the current zoning on the property that calls for multiple family dwellings - changes would need to be made to the zoning for the development to only include single-family homes.

Wold also [...] was proposing to buy the land outright from the city.

“We believe in this site and we’re willing to put all of our money up front,” Wold said. “We don’t think the city should have to pay our way.”

On Monday Landmark provided a more detailed explanation of its financing proposal. [...]

While Landmark had asked the city to hold the land to help fund the project, the council is pushing for more traditional financing that would present less risk to the city.

“I’m not comfortable having the taxpayers on the hook if something goes wrong,” said Councilmember Jeff Weaver.

[Landmark spokesman Nathan] Fair said Landmark co-owner Dean Hanson is willing to work in securing financing to buy the property outright.

[...] the council was careful to point out nothing was a done deal.

“I don’t think anybody is excluded from the project until the ink is signed,” said Councilmember Jeff Weaver.

Anoka has been known for holding out on development in order to get what it really wants, said City Manager Tim Cruikshank, and there is still negotiating to do.

“I don’t think a deal has ever really driven this council to make a decision and I don’t think that will start now,” he said. “We can wait for the product that the council wants. We can wait forever.”

No favored dealings with a developer's right hand man posing as a town fiduciary there in Anoka, no sir. No promoter with his hand out, no sir. No rush to close, rather "we can wait forever."

Refreshing differences show that local governments can be the crucible of differing approaches, ways, and means. Citizens periodically can go to the polls and express a view of what approaches might be liked or disliked.

Isn't it wonderful? Now if only there were to be more referenda. Citizens having a veto.

Memory lane. Why am I reminded of the early millennium days of John Feges, and his, "The Developer will pay for everything"?

It was a falsehood, but it certainly sounded good.

It still does.

Reader help needed. I am at a loss to see why Andy at Residual Forces is so vexed and visceral about Corey Sax, as it seems each has a goal of rebuilding the Republican Party from a debt-laden Minnesota ash heap, to earlier glory days of wine and roses, of Senator Coleman, Governor Pawlenty, President W - or do I misuncerstand? What's the visionary thing making the tent not big enough?

Andy, here. He headlines, "Why Is Corey Sax Is Running For Deputy Chair of the MNGOP? – Update – Update2" but never directly answers his own question. There is an underlying tenor of thought or suggestion to Andy's post that Corey Sax is evil or intends a direction of change for the MNGOP, one which to Andy might be the same thing as evil, i.e., a vision he fails to share.

Perhaps it only boils down to how the initials RP can stand for something timely and in the news, besides "Republican Party."

Sax seems from recent online writings to be obsessive-compulsive with a rebuild of the Republican Party in Minnesota for success, which appears a goal Andy shares in general, if not in direction, with Andy even worrying about detail down to the data in the database.

These people are hard for me to understand. Could a reader help with on-point trenchant commentary? Andy writes of "grassroots" ("The Grassroots Case for Phoenix – Update – Update2") while grass roots are underground, in the dark while it's the green leaves of grass, the blades above ground, that enjoy fresh air and light. As a Crabgrass analyst, I can unequivocally make that claim. So, Wha's Happening? (Below is an image of a big tent.)

Not necessarily anyone's revival-show tent. But who says the Big Tent needs to be that? After all, if they cannot agree among themselves on picking their tent, others can pick one for them.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

RAMSEY --- Who are you dealing with, and what's the deal?

Asking for half a million of Ben Dover's dollars, to benefit rental housing speculators:

MWF Properties, LLC


MWF IA3, Limited Partnership

Ben Dover, the Ramsey taxpayer.
With a limited partnership and a pair of LLC's out of the same building, it sounds as if tax sheltering is being bought and sold, with them asking for Ben to pony up half a million bucks to smooth their way.

Bold. Brazen. Poor sore Ben.

Another question, raised by these "MWF" enterprises, what do they do Tuesdays and Thursdays?

A bigger question, who are the limited partners, and how did they come to think of Ramsey as an easy mark? For all I know, Darren Lazan could or Ryan Cronk could be limited partners, or Flaherty. What kind of background check do you suppose the city officials did before advancing this hummer? And what did they find out before presenting it to council consideration? And last, read that staff write-up and it is more about ways to maybe make it happen, vs. whether it should happen at all.

Talk about cherry-picking location, location, location.

click the image to better read it
would retail be a higher, better use?
would they expect dedicated ramp space?
what's it do to lessen Ben's taxes?

I missed the meeting. Reader help is welcome, as to what the council did with this.

____________FURTHER UPDATE____________
Is this some deal the cat (or Darren) dragged in? At that same address, these Secretary of State entries exist:

Twin City Christian Homes Services Company
Twin City Christian Homes Management Company, Inc.
Prime Associates
Weis Builders, Inc.

Also there, Franklin Square Apartments LP‎, where no Secretary of State filing for the Limited Partnership was found. The site is a block or two north of the Lyndale - Hwy 494 overpass-intersection looking to be an unprepossessing commercial attachment onto a most unprepossessing [i.e., ugly] apartment bloc:

As to whether this operation has the gravitas to buy Town Center land and complete a building, I have no information either way, but a half-built thing within a half-built Town Center is not an appealing prospect, regardless of how [un]appealing subsidizing these adventurers might or might not be, (in the abstract and presuming sufficient gravitas to finish a job once started).

That many interlocked business ventures, or possibly independent - someone would need to pin that down - suggests, with two limited partnerships sited there, that tax sheltering of deep pocked cash may be at play. Tax sheltering may be a cottage industry there. Possibly not so deep pockets, but pursuing shelter in any event, where it cannot be said what's up from what was found online.

There are questions. The biggest, why do it at all on a Town Center site having retail as its clear highest and best potential use?

Moreover, without a lot price mentioned in the city's synopsis, would the sought half-million dollar subsidy more than dwarf the return on a sale of land?

Big IF's. BIG. Why do it?

_________FURTHER UPDATE__________
From two on council I have learned the matter was tabled; i.e., kicking the can down the road. I did not attend or watch the broadcast, but I have cause to believe the council was not single minded on the matter. One council member has indicated a disenchanted will to "absolutely fight this, even if I have to send mailers to my constituents on my dime;" and even if others on council may be mesmerized by the idea. While the can's been kicked, it most clearly has NOT been kicked aside, just down the road -- so stay awake and aware.

Half a mil is half a mil.

Not pocket change to be handed beggars.

However, smile as Ben does, regardless ...

____________FURTHER NOTE____________
As the city's website homepage says in one place, "Click here to Webstream City Council Meetings". I think I understand the gist of the issue, but others interested in the issue can and should use that link as part of thinking for themselves and understanding the thought processes explained by our decision makers. The City Clerk posted the streaming video link on another city page which readers might wish to bookmark.

____________FURTHER UPDATE___________
A tiny voice within me says, "Might there have been some concession, promise or deal in the past to get Met Council grant money or otherwise to do log-rolling, one that commits the City to having to locate low income housing in Town Center, one which has been insufficiently exposed to sunshine and instead largely kept in the dark; or, is there a fully clean slate on the question where the Council now has full discretion to yin and yang any ways the majority will take it?"

I wonder if Ben is thinking the same way.

Has some past deal or commitment been made, perhaps even going back to Gamec - James Norman days, and if so, is this the spot for it in Town Center, or is that particular spot better held for retail to benefit ALL OF US?

____________FURTHER UPDATE____________
Low income housing is one thing, subsidized by Ben and you to the tune of half a million is another thing. If it ends up being tax money routed from some other pocket, it still is tax money, and paid for by, again, Ben and you.

Beyond that, has Flaherty and his folks weighed in on this second opposite-end rental and what impact its being in the oven, on simmer, might have on renting out the big ugly?

Since the City stung itself for much over half a million on that deal, nothing to quell the renting out is wise, for now before there is any track record for Ramsey Rental by the Rails, good, bad, or ugly.

Finally, existing Town Center homeowners have a Ward 3 rep to talk with, and I expect some owners' association to weigh in on what might boost their market values or move the location, location scale the other way. Have they had fair notice and a reasonable chance to voice opinions? This is all more complex than a simple yes/no, and who are these adventurers who are pressing for a prompt decision - as if there is a legitimate urgency? City Staff's agenda item for this tax shelter adventure states troubling things:

The Developer is also seeking City financial participation as part of an application to the Minnesota Housing Finance Agency (MHFA) for Section 42 tax credits, a competitive financing opportunity also known as the Housing Tax Credit (HTC). According to the MHFA website, the Housing Tax Credit is a reduction in tax liability to developers and investors in exchange for providing affordable housing. This is not assistance given directly to a tenant. The Housing Tax Credit is part of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Tax Code, and not a City funded program.

The Developer is requesting a local contribution of $510,000. [...]

Staff discussed the Metropolitan Council's Livable Communities Act (LCA) as a potential funding source. The Developer has stated that they are somewhat concerned about timing of this program. The City could also consider utilization of the Anoka County Housing and Redevelopment Authority (ACHRA) [tax] levy as a potential funding source. The Developer also inquired as to whether the City would be interested in assisting through Tax Increment Financing (TIF). In addition, the Developer also inquired if the City would be willing to waive certain application, license, or development fees or fast track approval processes.

[emphasis added] It seems brash for newbies to come in with that, "why not fast track, us while bending your rules," attitude. With their hand out. It unpins the Bullshit meter, that stuff.

They likely will present problems down the line if entering with a big chip on the shoulder saying, "Decide it yesterday, we have 'timing' concerns," or the functional equivalent.

Again, who cooked up this idea, the tax shelter adventurers alone, or with local input? Few on the council have the tenure of David Elvig, who must remember his chairing the Town Center Task Force boosterism thing, with the promise of tax base growth and keeping the growth near the Highway to preserve the "rural feel" of Ramsey while providing a plethora of shoppes and restaurants [that spelling of "shops" going back to a particularly pretentious early Town Center drum beater]. So, with tax base a key selling point, is this tax shelter adventure boosting Ramsey's tax base in any fashion in proportion to its up front asked-for cost -- a big hand thrust out saying, "Cross my palm with silver"?

Or is it all cost, no benefit?

Staff's agenda presentation avoided any such nitty-gritty detail. Surely Tim Gladhill does not think such concerns are irrelevant or immaterial. He's not a turnip, after all. So, where is that analysis of cost/benefit, should the city even think of doling out half a million tax dollars to tax shelter mavens.

OKAY: Shut the post down on that update, and if there ends up more to write it will be in a new item with its own headline.

Branden Petersen?

Photo from here.
Tape can be printed saying "Congress,"
to paste over "State Senate."

This link.

Otherwise, if not Petersen, who?

I know who could be contracted to print more Petersen signs. Unless the printer has primary ambitions.

If any such primary happens, DFL'ers, is it worth a crossover?

Photo of the day. From west metro. Wayzata, where Ramsey's former deputy administrator now is lead tap dancer.

photo credit and Strib story, here

Coincidentally, does anyone know how well Ramsey's Armstrong interchange funding drive is doing, wending its way through the legislature? Perhaps e-bingo can be added to e-pulltabs with the wheelbarrows full of cash to be generated in Minnesota's bars then earmarked for paying the price of the interchange upgrade.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Governor claims all are in it together and must pull together against the pulltab shortfall.

Strib's report:

Gov. Mark Dayton said all sides acted "in good faith" in depending on new e-pulltabs to fund a Vikings stadium and must accept responsibility for the fact the games have produced a fraction of the revenue that was predicted.

"We're all in this together," Dayton said Tuesday. "We're all responsible for its creation." He said it is far too soon to panic about whether the games will eventually cover the state's share of the new stadium.

"We'll work this out," Dayton said. "It's not about pointing fingers about what happened last spring. Everybody acted in good faith. Unless somebody can prove conclusively otherwise, I would say everybody -- the gambling control board, the department of revenue, the Legislature, Republicans and Democrats, and my administration -- everybody acted in good faith, and has applied their best judgment to a totally unprecedented situation."

At issue is the state's reliance on electronic pulltab gambling games that the Dayton and the Legislature approved last session to cover the state's $348 million contribution to a new Vikings stadium. The Star Tribune reported Sunday that gambling businesses with an interest in promoting the games helped produce the rosy estimates.

Initial estimates of $34 million, used to gather support for the stadium bill that passed in May of 2012, have since been cut down to $1.7 million. The number of bars installing the games has been less than one-tenth of the number projected.

Below is a picture of manure spreading:

photo credit

Interestingly, Strib revised and extended its reporting, this link, to compare with the link given in the post beginning, for as long as both are kept online by Strib. Different headlining, a photo of a salesman looking uncomfortable, and text added after the paragraph:

“The Legislature, if they misunderstood the situation, they have no one to blame but themselves,” he said. “And I have no one to blame but myself.”

Same pig, different lipstick. The surprise, Strib owning land near the cash sinkhole stands to gain land value and yet publishes what it does, not boosterism.

I view Dayton as having burned much credibility in the exercise. Not with the building trade unions, certainly not there, but with others in the public who STILL ARE WAITING to see the rich fairly taxed, as we were repeatedly promised. I see no other way for the man to redeem credibility except by that, since Wilfare largesse is the polar opposite of taxing Wilf and his kind.

What the man said sounded fine.

Now, deliver, please, as the Governor with a majority in each house of the legislature, and no excuse available that way. Either we were lied to, or not. Simple options demand simple responses. Taxing the rich is not a conceptually difficult thing. Nor is implemention of the promise a complicated thing beyond legislative and executive capability. A simple exercise of will is all that is needed.

It is called, "How to avoid being a one term wonder." To avoid riding the manure spreader off into the sunset. It may reach as far as the recently very dependable Republicans running a Tom Emmer clone, or Bachmann or some such folly.

So Mark, be a good fellow, and tax them as promised. We await it. Restore faith in the election process and election rhetoric - not that there has been much faith merited; but Mark, buck the trend and turn out okay. Being merely better than Pawlenty sets the bar far too low. Be a true statesman. Tax the rich.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Chicken Little Notes Doomsday's falling sky: “Thousands of small businesses that make up the diversity of content and services online will be forced to close their doors,” said Randall Rothenberg, IAB's president. “This move will not put the interest of users first. Nor does it promote transparency or ‘move the web forward’ as Mozilla claims in its announcement."

Wow, a 20% market share player in the desktop browser market shifts to blocking third party cookies by default, and advertisers, never of course known to ever overstate a position, duly note the eminent destruction of Western Civilization as we know it. Similar to Republicans, in eschewing hyperbole, these advertising types - from whom we presume Karl Rove emerged by immaculate conception vs. the other explanation for Rove and who he is - are in a snit over constraints on their perceived right to annoy.

The issue is the do-not-track subpart of the privacy consideration - use of the internet being presently largely a surrender of privacy to corporate and government snoops [with Ron Paul advocates, (now calling themselves "Liberty Republicans"), having an interesting corporatism argument that the two are the same or at least overlapping in the way coins have two sides]. Surprisingly, during Clinton years and Bush years, individual privacy took a bipartisan hit - and now will the drones be watching your back yard someday, etc.?

Links, here; linking to here (source of the headline quote), and to advertiser counterargument. Exploring links upon links from that start is left to the reader.

Evidon, the first link above, appears to be a pro-advertising advocate aiming to disarm those who might want sterner measures against privacy invasions by advertisers, and doing that via promoting their Ghostery browser addon/extension. Ghostery notes and curbs tracking cookies for anyone taking the time and effort to go that route (where installation or non-use of the Ghostery browser addon likely can itself be tracked). Indeed, the more uniquely you configure your browser for "security" and "privacy" and to eliminate nuisances such as flashing advertisements; the more you may be "fingerprinting" your internet traffic and making yourself traceable - take the test or only read the report.

There is a log raft of recent internet privacy postings on the web - and when you pursue the question your browsing in that direction likely will be tracked. In any event, a few logs in the raft are here, here, here (oh, my), here, here, here, and here. Last caveat, you read Crabgrass, it uses Google's Blogger for free posting, and "if the product is a free service then you likely are the product" being the adage, your accessing Crabgrass likely is traceable and being traced by some fee-for-service services, besides Google. However, since the bulk of Crabgrass readers are in the keep friends close and enemies closer category, accessing it alone is ambiguous and must be squared with your overall web fingerprints to determine who you are, what you might be convinced to purchase, and whether the government needs to worry about your ideas.

Here. Finally, there is the adage that if the internet had existed in the eighteenth century and was used by the founding fathers in planning their revolution, we'd be flying the Union Jack and singing God Save the Queen.

For now, the internet is not free, you have to pay monthly for the connection, so are you "the product" anyway? And if so, whose product? Do a web search about cell phone geo-tracking. Do you suppose mobsters leave their cell phones home when they go at night to bury the bodies; and do their automobile GPS units serve the FBI if the phones are left home? If you communicate with others, and there are easy communication monitoring steps, would you presume human nature among the powerful would trend toward voluntarily eschewing monitoring? As a matter of moral imperative? Good luck with that belief, if you hold it.

As a related thought experiment, try to imagine yourself in the position of one telling with pride to one's children, "It was me, I invented the robo-call." It would be like admitting to prostitution at the police station, vs. the confessional. Children facing an entire adult life of robo-call nuisance would wonder about ways and means of divorcing such a parent. A near certain bet -- Somewhere, someone is being reticent with his/her children about what they do and have done, for money.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Andy at Residual Forces asks a good question. Why is Minnesota's sole progressive member of Congress, Keith Ellison, being consciously ignored by the press?

Ellison is no Ted Mondale, who is more like Bill Cooper than he is at all like Ellison. Ellison is outstanding. Ellison is no Max Baucus. Ellison has a conscience and hopes for a better world.

Yet he is marginalized, where Andy correctly notes, Representative Crazy Eyes gets tons of coverage and acolades and largely a free pass against bigotry being noted by the press.

Andy's post is online here, and while he vilifies Ellison for being a lone true and traditional left voice in the wilderness of DC; Andy is correct on the relative amounts of press attention given to the best member of either house of Congress Minnesota has, vs Rep. Crazy Eyes.

It is sad to see competence and spirit and sound judgment marginalized, while a poseur is given great attention.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Successful utility-scale wind power in Minnesota.

Strib, reporting, with the headlining basically telling the story:

Xcel hits Upper Midwest wind power record

Article by: DAVID SHAFFER , Star Tribune
Updated: March 19, 2013 - 9:47 PM

The utility normally gets about 12 percent of its power from regional wind farms. But one night last month, the wind share hit nearly a third.

Pay back the schools? Make up for the smoke-and-mirrors deceits the Republicans under Zellers, Dean, and Senjum cooked up and crammed down via the brinksmanship ploy of shutting down the Minnesota government briefly, where Dayton unwillingly compromised in order to minimize harm and chaos.

(click the image to enlarge and read)

No links back. Check your own web searches if you do not remember the shut-down dynamics. Or the school money shell game.

For now, Strib reports on DFL leadership proposing a minor incremental tax on the very wealthy, to repay the schools. Per the above screen capture. No extensive excerpt here. Interested readers can follow up on the Strib item.

However, consider this - Republican House muck-a-muck Kurt Daudt, in fine non requiter form, was quoted:

“Democrats want Minnesota to be number one in higher taxes,” said House Minority Leader Kurt Daudt, R-Crown. “Republicans want Minnesotans to be number one for job opportunities.”

A village idiot even knows - The two goals are not mutually exclusive. Only an exceptional idiot or a sophist would suggest they are. (Daudt may be both, with my bet riding on a sophist persona.)

Ask yourself: Did you get a better job, or did your job magically get better when Reagan cut taxes for the rich, or did it happen when Bush cut taxes for the rich while borrowing to the hilt to finance his two-front war on Islam?

So, what does history teach?

Does trickle down work, if it did not work then, either time?

So try responsible government, rather than Republican record deficits during Reagan years which stood unequaled throughout Clinton's paying down the debt which was then blown sky-high during Bush years, with Bush having also tanked the economy to where Obama is slowly digging the nation out of the pit. Do remember how the fan really loaded up back in September 2008's lame duck moments. And things have not been the same since. Never forget that. It is truth.

Regarding repaying the schools -- The rich can pay more. After all, they have all the money. Surely you do not, the poor do not, yet somebody does. So go figure.

Monday, March 18, 2013

A website with a focus upon the selection of a new Pope.

Vatican homepage (English).

And almost as impressive as Flaherty architecture, this image.

Angry Arab's observation:

Think about it: western coverage of every new Pope is exactly like coverage by Saudi media of every new Saudi king. They all talk about how the new candidate will bring reform, that he is a man of the people, that is very accessible, that he is humble and kind, etc.

Update, Guardian, here. Ditto, here.

Digby nailing four in a row - links to sequential posts that speak for themselves..

Newest to oldest, here, here, here and here.

CNN reporting is: Paul Ryan wants to throw most of us table scraps, as if we were dogs beneath the millionaires' linen draped table.

Bullshit in a binder, Paul Ryan style. This link.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

GOP establishment icon states self-referential truth.

This link.

Water availability, options, and growth.

Hat tip, Janet O'Connell for her recent e-newletter focus item, giving the PiPress link for the opening item in what is presented as a multi-day sequence of reports.

Saturday, March 16, 2013


Slinging it like his brother. Like Dad. This link.

After substantial reflection, I have come up with the ideal 2016 Republican ticket - Karl Rove, top spot; Ann Coulter for Veep. I look forward to the prediction coming true. I cannot see the Republicans not being wholly enchanted with a Karl and Ann pairing going forward into a contest of ideals and integrity, against some pair of Democrats.

Any pair of Democrats.

Friday, March 15, 2013

"Informed Comment" on patriarchy, and its hot bed locales.

This link. And lo, it is a belief system, to some. Female beliefs aside ...

Just prior to that, Juan Cole in another post notes

The anti-intellectual, anti-science tradition in Congress is so powerful that climate-change deniers and evolution deniers (i.e. crackpots) now head major science committees in the House of Representatives.

There, Republican gentlemen, seem to be in Cole's focus.

Republican federal leadership seems a patriarchy.

Is it just my impression ...

... or is Harold Hamilton having his office boy ghostwrite his material?

Here and here.

Harold, himself, writes better than that. Not that puerile.

A mature watch dog, not some pup.

Guardian covers clown convention.

This link. Read it and laugh.

Per Guardian, [at 11:42 am, ET] Dump Bachmann strangely did not get the recognition for blog excellence it deserves. Read Guardian, figure out why. (Hint: Blame Blogee bias, not Bloggor merit.)

Side show props:

Strangulation as a theme, presumably Chris Christie, a non-invitee, a non-teamplayer - call it a BO problem:

Rand Paul as most ambitious, wanting to strangle the entire existing elephant.

Queen B:

(Never mind flocking drone bees, it's as always cameras, mics, that cause the Queen B. high.)

photo credits, Politico, here

Queen B. did hand out the dubious achievement blogging award -- to another queen B; for a body of work clearly a cut away from Dump Bachmann; e.g., here and here. First comment on the latter item speaks to dimensions of Republican navel gazing over the recent hurt.

It must be true. I read it on FOX.

click the image to enlarge and read:

New brand of litmus? This link.
See also, BusinessWeek - Portman (on Mitt's short list).
Cry now for Santorum, Focus on Dobson Family,
Perkins Cash Cow Family Research Council.
What would Goldwater or Buckley say?
(Or Daudt/Hann re Branden Petersen)

LATEST UPDATE: Flaherty in Cinci - Public Pays for My Ramp. Of all things ...

David Flaherty, with his hand out.
Novelty reigns???
Latest link, good on detail, here. Earlier links, here and here (plus Crabgrass, here and here).

Different hand. Same reach.
Have to get Flaherty that jacket ...

Thursday, March 07, 2013

In honor of and in memoriam to Hugo Chavez, there shall be no further Crabgrass posting until Thursday of next week; March 14, 2013.

May the Bolivarian Revolution continue, advance, and prosper, for the betterment of the lives of the populace of Valenzuela. Granma on Chevez passing, here.

All of Ch├ívez’ work appears undefeated before us. The attainments of the revolutionary people who saved him from the coup in April 2002 and have unhesitatingly followed him, are now irreversible.

It is premature to say "irreversible," because history will tell that story and time will pass before it does.

City of Ramsey buys Jeff Wise's liquor store.

Held to six figures, kudos for that.
Unaltered photo by Sakry. From ABC Newspapers report.

Never mind the two-figure bargain signage prices. This was a sixer.

A six-pack of a bargain.

First meeting of the year in the hallway, I told Jeff he'd get his deal. He got his deal.


Next, wind up Landform stuff.

Move on. Satchel Paige said, "Don't ever look back. Something might be gaining on you."

One caveat - I do hope the papers are drawn up to reflect a full compromise, accord and satisfaction with each side covenanting not to sue the other over any prior dealings or representations, a full merger clause, and a recitation that the contract includes no restrictions or constraints on where Wise may relocate, nor on what, if any, subsequent use to which the City might put the premises. Each side reciting it has no basis to sue the other based on any event or action from the beginning of time through the signing of the closing papers, recording of title transfer, and up to the very moment of the disbursement from escrow of nearly a million bucks to Wise and/or his firm. And it should recite both sides understand whether or not any purchase or sale of city land to Wise happens or fails to happen is independent of the purchase of the present Wiser Choice site and that Wise declines to rely upon any previous representations or promises made by any city official(s) and/or agents, especially including but not limited to Darren Lazan. That last part, it should be express and clear that nobody but Jeff and Lazan know what discussions or encouragements to rely may have been involved in oral communication between Wise and Lazan. So nail that door shut, tightly and permanently.

Why all that musing? Because, Sakry wrote:

The purchase was tabled Oct. 9, 2012 by the council until after Wise’s four-year term ended to avoid any legal ramifications.

Wise believes the move was political.

He has a $1,000 attorney’s opinion that says it was not a conflict for him to sell his land or purchase property from the city, he said.

Wise said he is relieved the sale is done.

Now he can negotiate like a normal developer for the purchase of city-owned land for his new liquor store, he said.

“I feel more comfortable negotiating as a non-councilmember,” Wise said.

I think everyone in Ramsey feels more comfortable that way, but if Wise does not like pricing and terms in negotiating for a Town Center site; we would not want any unseemly threats of litigation to then crop up. Jeff, in any sensible deal, would have to waive that kind of potential nonsense. If Jeff was complaining over timing previously, he should, given the generous amount he receives, make it clear the city owes him nothing further it being his sole obligation to satisfy all other potential or actual consequences of the sale; i.e., the city is under no time contraint to accomodate Wise's desires to close on any other location on any particular time frame beginning upon the closing of the negotiated city purchase of Wise's present business site.

In moving on, there is no real time for any sore-head thinking or recriminations. Yesterday's fish get ripe if you hold onto them.

Wednesday, March 06, 2013

Tuesday, March 05, 2013

On the Landform contract with Ramsey, and on it terminating later this month.

There was an email sent me about twenty days ago, when the question of Lazan/Landform having contracted to act, and acting in fact, as real estate brokers - agents hired on a commission basis, to find buyers for a seller's land. There was the regular cash drain too, but on closing, a commission. The email was from an attorney, excerpted (with a typo or two fixed):

I took the time to read the January 31, 2013 letter of Attorney Rob Shainess regarding the legality of the Landform contract. To his credit he identifies [... the questionable contract part as for] "assisting" in considering, evaluating and negotiating the sale of land. Mr. Shainess takes great pain to explain how Landform's duties are merely assisting, not "directly" negotiating, and therefore not covered by the broker license requirement. The problem with this, as everyone who has ever bought or sold real estate and used a realtor knows, is that your realtor is required to be licensed yet does not "directly" negotiate the deal. Rather, he or she "assists" you in "considering, evaluating and negotiating the sale." Mr. Shainess comes right out and admits this is what the contract contemplates, and indeed, states in plain language. Certainly if a common, everyday realtor who performs these tasks has to be licensed, Mr. Lazan must be as well.

Mr. Shainess also included somewhat of a misleading argument, probably knowing no one on the Ramsey City Council would be wise to it, by suggesting that the unpublished opinions cited in the anonymous memo are of no authority. The fact is, attorneys cite those all the time and they are relied upon by judges when the fact patters are very similar. Not to mention that the unpublished opinions are built on existing, published case law.

Very truly yours,

John M. Huberty
Attorney at Law

Well, start with the second paragraph first. Unpublished opinions are "not precedent" in one sense, but they are unpublished primarily because they are not deviating from or evolving clear and established law.

I believe the Pems case was at issue. Online here and here. The latter online version is from the Judicial Branch's law library case archive; and because it is "unpublished" it is captioned at the top as all unpublished cases there are,

This opinion will be unpublished and
may not be cited except as provided by
Minn. Stat. § 480A.08, subd. 3 (2010).

(That means if cited, a copy needs to be served on the opposing party, indeed, all other parties. Same judges sit and write published and unpublished cases.) What is important, however is what § 480A.08, subd. 3(c) (online here) says:

(c) The Court of Appeals may publish only those decisions that:

(1) establish a new rule of law;

(2) overrule a previous Court of Appeals' decision not reviewed by the Supreme Court;

(3) provide important procedural guidelines in interpreting statutes or administrative rules;

(4) involve a significant legal issue; or

(5) would significantly aid in the administration of justice.

Unpublished opinions of the Court of Appeals are not precedential. Unpublished opinions must not be cited unless the party citing the unpublished opinion provides a full and correct copy to all other counsel at least 48 hours before its use in any pretrial conference, hearing, or trial. If cited in a brief or memorandum of law, a copy of the unpublished opinion must be provided to all other counsel at the time the brief or memorandum is served, and other counsel may respond.

Reading that language makes it inescapable, Pems is 100% in line with the existing law requiring that only licensed brokers can sue for a commission. And, calling it an "incentive fee" is diddling - it is paid if a deal is found which closes - i.e., it is a commission.

Were Pems in any way not 100% pure vanilla law, it would fit one of those criteria for judicial opinions to be published opinions. In short, Pems is the law. So much so, that it is unpublished.

Now, the first email paragraph - What does a broker do? A broker does not define a deal and do a cram down whether the client likes it or not. A seller's broker gets an offer, and presents it to the seller, and discusses it. With the principal. Then the principal either accepts it, counteroffers, or rejects it. That's all that can happen. If there is a counteroffer, the seller's agent presents it to the other party - the offering party, and that other party can accept, counter or reject. Back and forth like a tennis ball, until either a deal is struck and closed yielding a commission to the agent, or one or the other, seller or offering party breaks off the negotiation (which is conducted by the agent being the intermediary in presenting papers, and writing counteroffer changes to paper if the seller has not retained a lawyer to handle paperwork).

Now, I request any reader with a brokerage license to refine that understanding if in any way in error, or any lawyer reading can post a comment - helpful comments are always welcome.

Let's get to the facts - course of performance, independent of what the contract says and the argument emailed that the Landform lawyer is basically admitting what's what.

At least twice, I recall Colin McGlone emphatically stating - with at least one of those times at a televised meeting so that it is memorialized, "I want a salesman."

Nobody on council when that was said contradicted Colin, and I believe Lazan was present. He did not, as he sometimes does, run to the citizens' microphone to interject a statement.

Bottom line, Lazan was regarded and did not contradict the belief he was there as a salesman.

At a work session, Tossey said to the council and Lazan, that there would have to be a few "closings" or he would oppose extending the contract, gesturing with his thumb toward the door. In effect, deliver closings, or out of here, was the message. Nobody contradicted Tossey's understanding - no objection made by others on council, by staff (Nelson was present I recall), and Lazan was who Tossey was looking directly at when he spoke.

There can be little doubt that the past council, collectively, regarded Lazan as there to generate closings, or as McGlone aptly stated, "I want a salesman."

I cannot see Lazan suing for any fee he believes he is entitled to be given after the end of the month, I do not think staff or council should pay any commissions after end of March 2013, and I think it would be counterproductive if the council decided to sue for restitution of money already paid - mainly because it is likely that it's been spent, Lazan likely does not have errors and omissions coverage for actions brokering real estate, so even if a judgment as a matter of law may be attainable, can it be collected?

If there is no deep pocket to reach into for restitution, and if Lazan in winding down the relationship is professional with regard to pending matters, paperwork, and such - people should move on, including City of Ramsey saying water under the bridge, blood already donated, whatever, but move on.

I believe Bray is writing an opinion for the council, and I would hope that Tossey, Elvig, Backous and David Jeffrey who were on council then remind Bray of the course of performance detail - conduct and reliance - important things independent of course of negotiation of what was put onto paper and signed - what the folks over the months and months during which about a million and a half of city dollars were paid over into Lazan's ready hand; what did those people think they were buying, and how did Lazan's actual conduct and oral representations reinforce or cause any/all such beliefs.

In short, momma said, "Actions speak louder than words."

She was not a lawyer, but she was smart. And spot on correct.

On a Google Scholar search = "minn. stat." unpublished real estate license unlicensed broker

with search returns ordered by date, the search returned Pems along with two other 21st century unpublished cases dealing with a brokerage license being a jurisdictional requirement to maintaining suit in Minnesota for a real estate sale commission, online with Google Scholar here and here.

I present the links without having read either case, nor do I intend to. It's not my job, but I would hope that those on council, a generally bright bunch, may have a look and be prepared to discuss things with Bray and/or Goodrich, about course of performance evidence and its place in contract dispute or disagreement. Reading those two other unpublished cases from 2004 and 2005 cannot hurt, and it might help. Especially with an understanding of what M.S. Sect. 480A.08, subd. 3(c) clearly teaches.

___________FURTHER UPDATE___________
I did look at the Bridgeplace Associates opinion, and it was interesting because of a surviving slander of title claim against the unlicensed broker individual.

It likely will be irrelevant to the Ramsey-Landform situation, because of the likelihood Lazan will unwind his side of the contract professionally, and there will be no mechanics lien monkeyshine unless the City does not pay for engineering services. My understanding is Lazan was never remiss in recouping engineering fees soon after services were rendered.

That part of things would result in no lien, and with Lazan advised by Shainess, who has professional duties under Rule 11 and frivolous litigation law, Shainess likely would discourage any kind of bogus lien slander of title monkeyshine, if consulted about it in advance.

Problems should not not happen, for again, this should not be a contentious divorce, but one where the property decisions are cordially resolved, and clearly the City, for better or worse, has full, total custody of the unruly bastard child known as Ramsey Town Center, (or rebrands, change of name, etc.).

And wow, Ramsey has custody of the big sign on Highway 10. All that is Ramsey's good fortune.

Rosenberg involved a party who actually was licensed to broker real estate, and hence is irrelevant.