consultants are sandburs

Thursday, January 16, 2014

With things happening in the news, Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, it is time to revisit the question of Ramsey having a port authority, without any port. It WAS advanced at one time, by, of course, James Norman. A key reason for wanting to be on the Charter Commission - kill any Port Authority chance, via charter.

The east coast - Chris Christie stuff is unwinding, as it will, and is NOT the subject of this post.

The concept of a PORT AUTHORITY is.

Let's start by having a look at the good, old, CHARTER. Chapter 2 - Form of Government, online here. Stating in relevant part:

Sec. 2.1. - Form of government.
The form of government established by this Charter is the "Mayor-Council Plan" as defined by current Minnesota state statutes. Except as otherwise provided by state statutes or this Charter, all powers of the city are vested in the city council.

Sec. 2.2. - Boards and commissions.
There shall be no separate administrative board of health, library board, or any other administrative board or commission except for the administration of a function jointly with another political subdivision. The council shall itself be and perform the duties and exercise the powers of such boards and commissions provided for by state statutes. The council may, however, establish or abolish by ordinance boards or commissions to advise the council with respect to any municipal function or activity, or to perform quasi-judicial functions. Notice of initial formation and all vacancies shall be published in the city newsletter and in the legal newspaper. Membership of various boards and commissions shall not exceed nine members, at least two-thirds of which shall be residents of the City of Ramsey.

[...] Sec. 2.4. - Incompatible offices.
No member of the council shall hold any paid municipal office or employment through the city other than that to which elected. Further, until one year after the expiration of his/her term, no mayor or councilmember shall be appointed or employed by the city in a compensated position which was created, or the compensation for which was increased, during his/her term as mayor or councilmember.

Notice "boards and commissions" language, but absent, the word: Authority. Yet Ramsey has created two, the HRA and the EDA, neither of which, technically, is a "board" nor a "commission." That technically aside, during the Bob Ramsey mayorial days, the HRA was made to be identical in membership to the council. Moreover, they passed a raise, but not as a raise in the council stipend, but a paid service amount, for being on HRA. Read Sec. 2.4.

I am unaware whether the situation of drawing dual fees, vs one bigger one, has continued with the present council. However, presently and into the future, if it is going on that way, a Charter Amendment is needed, and to avoid problems, it should be worded as retroactive in reach. That's a detail. Make the double dip either an aggregate single dip, or rewrite Sect. 2.4 at its start, "Except for service on the HRA, no No member of the council shall hold any paid municipal office or employment through the city other than that to which elected. [...]". That would dot that "i" and cross that "t".

You tell me, is there compensation to those on the EDA? It's an unknown factor to me, but some council members are on it, so the question is relevant - is there need to include EDA in the above exception language?

Now the bigger question, what should the Charter say about "Authorities?" First, Sect. 2.2 should be recaptioned, "Boards, commissions and authorities," and it can be amended in conformance to EDA and HRA existing AND THIS IS BIG, it can say, somewhere, "Under no circumstances shall Ramsey form or use a 'Port Authority' as part of City government." That would be nice. Definitive.

Earlier Crabgrass posting on the "Port Authority" situation:

Tuesday, October 07, 2008 == Searching for The Port of Ramsey redux.

image first used, in context, Jan 11, 2007

A rerun.

With talk of a NorthStar stop in Ramsey, how will it be financed. By a Port Authority? As in NYC, where the Port Authority runs the subway system?

If there's to be or not be a Port Authority, is there to be or not be a referendum first?

If there ends up being a Port Authority, what, if any, borrowing limits will it have, beyond what today's market might be willing to lend it?

If there's a Ramsey stop for NorthStar, who benefits, who pays, what's fair?

[...] There already has been a rail authority tax added to property tax bills. What more, how much?

Another blast from the past - an excerpt re James Norman, who was hot for having a Port Authority in Ramsey, (reminding us indirectly of how James Hill called his train "The Empire Builder"), with that earlier post dated Wednesday, July 09, 2008:

[...] Pied Piper, that's not an elected one. It is an appointed one and one who had a voice in group-think where at least one elected individual was dismissive and disdainful of "negative thinkers" when people (before the Kuraks ever sold Nedegaard's LLC a single acre of Town Center land), said, bad idea, or said, at least consider and plan for downside risk. No. It is the Town Center. It will be GREAT.

Chickens do come home to roost.

Two Pied Piper appointees come to mind. First of course, James Norman, who handled the information flow between the Met Council staff and the city officials, and who was believed at his word for what he told the one about the other. The situation was ripe for anyone in that communication bottleneck to manage it, if overly inclined to manipulate things and feeling entitled to "the driver's seat" by hook or crook. Others for various reasons could fall in line.

Typical of James Norman times even before building of the Norman castle, Sunwood by the Ramp, reporting from Anoka County Union:

Posted: 10/2/03
Ramsey town center moves forward
by Tammy Sakry
Staff writer

After four months and 12 drafts, the Ramsey Town Center development agreement has been approved by the Ramsey City Council.

"It was 13 weeks of pretty intense negotiations," said City Administrator Jim Norman.

[...] The developer also wanted the city to commit to when it would build a city hall on the site, said Norman.

It is something the city was not ready to do, so the clause was removed from the agreement, he said.

The land will be held for the city for 30 years, and it could be used for a performance arts/theater center and/or transit station.

If the city officials and residents decide to build a city hall there, it could use revenues generated by the town center project, said Norman.

According to projections, the city could begin to see revenues from the town center by 2006.

[...] The city will pay for 20 percent of the public improvements, including streets, storm water drainage system, about $16.5 million of the $84 million, said City Engineer Brian Olson.

The city will build the Minnesota State Aid (MSA) roads through the project and the developer will be responsible for the rest of the roads, said Norman.

"We're delighted that the agreement and the final plat has been approved," said Barbara Dunlay, Ramsey Town Center LLC spokeswoman and president of Siegfried Dunlay.

Although the master development agreement has been approved, "there is still a lot of work to be done," said Norman.

The city will work with Ramsey Town Center LLC to iron out dozens of secondary development agreements, he said.

But there should be some businesses open for Christmas shopping in 2004, said Norman.

Anyone wanting to believe such hooey could. Many did, to the extent of calling skeptics "negative thinkers." While no sensible person believed there'd be shopping by Christmas 2004, (and of course there was none), technically it was not lying, because technically no one has a crystal ball when it comes to stating future "expectations."

[... Hopefully something that will not happen again] is the thing where Bonnie Balach had James Norman as a contact person and she lobbied Jim Abeler and others that "Ramsey wanted" a Port Authority - another taxing entity-&-layer in case Ramsey itself maxed out on what it could bond and tax, and the EDA and HRA too, and all that was done when there had been no formal council resolution or ordinance to that effect.

Whether some rump group of insider old boys talked and Norman beleived "Ramsey wanted" a port authority and told Balach that, who knows? Elvig headed the finance committee then. Again, that's not televised nor are there minutes kept, and it ran that way back then also.

The evidence from then was:

1. The council never voted for a Port Authority.

2. Balach in lobbying told Abeler that "Ramsey wanted it."

3. The official contact person Balach as Ramsey's lobbyist had, was James Norman.

Now, one last thought. Get rid of the legislative lobbyist. Look at every "consultant" taking money out of the Ramsey fisc, and winnow thoroughly. There is much that can be saved. [...]

[...] I recall when the financial guru, Mulrooney was set to show up at a meeting and report about the fiscal wherewithal of Nedegaard. Instead, he got sick the mayor said, a no show. Yet later after Nedegaard's bankrupty the former city administrator said to reporter Sakry that city consultants vetted him, and he was recognized as under-capitalized but he had attained title to the land. [...]

That last post was written in contemplation of Bob Ramsey's beginning as Ramsey's mayor, and in terms of consultants, we all know how that turned out. Nobody's crystal ball is perfect. However, there is no Port Authority, nor should there ever be one if the door's nailed shut, via Charter prohibition language. That is my hope.

Meanwhile, we all hope that Flaherty rents out his stuff, that franchise fee matters can be duly resolved so that existing roads can be fixed as needed and the Riverdale drive capital expansion project in Ward 3 can be handled as well as the Armstrong - Highway 10 interchange upgrade, also in Ward 3. Governing continues, whatever yesterday teaches us about doing things better, more wisely, today and tomorrow. And there is a time, one always comes, where governing for what's needed should trump any ideology, however sincerely held, that might intrude or color an individual's judgment.

Much MSA money also is and in recent history has been tied up on Ward 3 upgrades/expansions; hence that cash is not available for road needs of the rest of us.

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