consultants are sandburs

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Two misc ABC Newspapers items

Here and here.

Unrelated, but of general county-wide interest.

If you are searching about for another charitable deduction before year's end, or if you have a generous heart, KARE 11 reports online, "Urgent fundraising push for Anoka County overnight youth shelter."

Homelessness is bad, homelessness these frigid days, for the young is baddest bad. For info on the problem, in Anoka County and how to help:

This link.

A parallel report on Hope 4 Youth, ABC Newspapers online, here.

Yesterday's fish. Today's advertiser. Who else, but ...

This link. Teacher tenure detractor, tutored by a master detractor.

That linked item, yields this quote:

“I guess there’s an ad out now from Norm Coleman’s group,” Dayton said. “Norm should stay in Washington and hang out with his rich friends.”

Dayton said Coleman should “leave education policy to those who live here and whose careers are here.”

[...] He called proposals for ending teacher tenure “the usual garbage.”

In a statement, Coleman dismissed Dayton’s comments and fired back.

“Gov. Dayton, whose political career has been underwritten by his personal fortune — promoted by the wealth, privilege and fortune of his friends and family — is hardly in any position to hold himself out as the defender of the average, middle class family in Minnesota,” Coleman said. “Before claiming that anyone who disagrees with him is beneath his dignity, Gov. Dayton might want to reconsider his own lack of dignity in waging personal attacks against me or anyone else who supports education reform in Minnesota.”

Coleman said he has lived in Minnesota for 40 years and rejects Dayton’s “desire that I move to Washington, D.C.”

Yes, Dayton's political activities needed no Nasser Kazeminy financing, from "down south" deepwater oil exploration interests. Norm, however, ... whether need or no, Kazeminy was convenient and available.

And that 40 year thing -

Wes Volkenant posted about Norm's advertisement, this link - go read it - and he ended up linking to a Norm attributed post at the website of the slush fund that Norm's been installed in as head. Wes is a teacher, and as such knows more about the profession than I do, more than Norm knows, and more than B. Petersen knows too. The blathering is about "effective teachers" as if effectiveness in the task is an easy thing to call, and as if practice does not make perfect. As to experience being a rough measure where things such as standardized testing averages are a bad joke - Michelangelo's first stone cutting was not the Pieta. He'd had a little practice before that. He was not fresh out of college.

What really galls, by example from the Coleman hit-piece:

Keeping Effective Teachers In The Classroom

Teaching isn’t just a job – it is a passion and a skill. Good teachers have the power to shape a child’s future, and we should be doing more to reward and recognize good teachers’ success in the classroom. It’s time to eliminate outdated teacher tenure laws, like the “last in, first out” policies that force school districts to base staffing on seniority instead of quality and performance. Eliminating these policies will allow administrators to keep the most effective teachers, not just the longest serving. In 2012, Governor Dayton vetoed a bill that would have allowed school districts to base staffing on performance, not just seniority (HF 1870 ). This issue was again put to a vote in 2014, and failed to pass the Minnesota House and Senate. (HF 2397)

These turkeys are gobbling around about "effective teachers" as if they had any sense of what one is, and of what an "effective education" is. They are simplistic and embrace ALEC-like focus on standardized testing as if it were a universal panacea for all things related to public education. Like snake oil, for what ails you.

Can Norm be forgiven for such simplistic hogwash? Well, the argument can be made. First, this is what he'd want to sell you as "being educated" after having "an education."

But cutting some slack, the man's entire career line has been painting by numbers, so he probably believes it. Coleman - By numbers, from campus rebel, to law school and then the party switch, to losing an election to a wrestler but narrowly winning against a dead man, to being Cheney's protege and having Kazeminy buying his suits, to being appointed to head a slush fund where he does not call the shots but the wallets providing the slush do.

And as to that song line, "You take out the garbage, and hope it pays off," there is this unforgettable greenscreened hummer. Got it?

A thought experiment - Plato wrote volumes about Socrates, (a teacher and we may say an "effective" one), and only gave us things to consider, not gold plated answer language in a B. Petersen bill.

What is "an effective teacher?"

What is "an education?"

Is it what gets Norm his money, or something more or possibly less - perhaps something more integrated into a whole lifetime's exploration -- going well beyond what gets Norm his money?

What ALEC tells you, just might, possibly might be - untrue. Worse, deliberately so. Huckstered propaganda, perhaps?

_____________FURTHER UPDATER_______________
Today's fish -- JEBBERWOCKY
Those concerned with the quality of people involved in the privatization of public education mish-mosh might weigh:

WASHINGTON — Jeb Bush has resigned all of his board memberships — both nonprofit and business — in a move that helps clear a path toward a 2016 presidential campaign.

[...] Potential foes in both parties have already begun to pour through Bush's extensive private dealings in search of fodder for criticism.

The Wednesday moves, first reported by The Washington Post, do not affect other business interests in which he is a partner. Those include his business consulting company, Jeb Bush and Associates, and Britton Hill Holdings, a Florida-based private equity and business advisory group.

While some strategists have said Bush's private-equity work could open him to some of the same criticisms that dogged Mitt Romney, the GOP's last presidential nominee, Bush himself has said his business record would be an asset in a campaign.

He previously announced plans to step down from the board of Tenet Healthcare Corp. and leave his advisory role with British banking giant Barclays by Dec. 31. He severed ties to other business entities on Wednesday including the for-profit education company Academic Partnerships, Empower Software Solutions and CorMatrix Cardiovascular Inc.

Earlier in the week Bush resigned from the board of timber company Rayonier Inc.

Meanwhile, Bush's team also confirmed Wednesday that he had declined an invitation to speak at a political event organized by Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, one of Congress' most strident immigration critics. An aide cited a scheduling conflict, although Bush is one of the few high-profile presidential contenders not attending the Iowa Freedom Summit in late January.

Clearing path for 2016 run, Jeb Bush steps down from remaining board memberships
Article by: STEVE PEOPLES , AP - Updated: Jan 2, 2015 - 12:03 AM

JEBBERWOCK Image credit: Wikipedia
[emphasis added] Equity fund operator and family scion. Fingerprints against public education worth scorn? Or somebody's school savior?

We each hold opinions.


One may ask: What real function did the Jebberwock perform for all those corporate boards; and what was the remuneration? Even, what carryover responsibilities and loyalties may remain, while formally off the several board payrolls?

ALSO: One may google = "Academic Partnerships," or "Empower Software Solutions"

"Virtual education," (is that mail-order degrees undermining traditional universities, computerized "education," or something a bit more); that, and job outsourcing are interesting issues. (I.e., is that HR stuff onshore, or offshore?)

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

"The Trans-Pacific Partnership is a disastrous trade agreement designed to protect the interests of the largest multi-national corporations at the expense of workers, consumers, the environment and the foundations of American democracy. It will also negatively impact some of the poorest people in the world. The TPP is a treaty that has been written behind closed doors by the corporate world. Incredibly, while Wall Street, the pharmaceutical industry and major media companies have full knowledge as to what is in this treaty, the American people and members of Congress do not. They have been locked out of the process. Further, all Americans, regardless of political ideology, should be opposed to the “fast track” process which would deny Congress the right to amend the treaty and represent their constituents’ interests."

This is another instance where progressives, Tea Partiers, and Liberty Republicans can all agree with the one Socialist in the Senate. And should. Any opposed to corporatism as an "American" way of steering our nation should unite to defeat the TPP.

The headline is from Bernie Sanders, and there is a petition all sensible citizens of whatever political stripe should sign to kill the TPP.

It is Rockefeller Republicans and Clinton Democrats who want it, not regular people, at risk.

This link.

Read it.

And if it takes calling it OBAMATRADE to get the attention of Tea Party individuals, then that's the price that has to be paid.

For the Liberty wing of the GOP, you'll have to think for yourselves on this one, because the dude named after Ayn Rand "agrees with his friends," while some think one way and some think the other; HuffPo reporting:

Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) has taken every conceivable position on the trade pact. In October, he gave a speech calling for Obama to finalize the TPP by year-end. Back in January, he was scheduled to attend a press conference attacking "Obamatrade." In September 2011, he voted against an amendment offered by McConnell that would give Obama the power to push through the deal without any amendments from Congress. The next month, Paul introduced a new bill that included McConnell's entire amendment.

[links in original] Readers are urged to study the issue, and to then consider signing the petition. Links given here are supplemental to what any reader can find online about TPP, with a minimal effort where so much is at stake. Earlier this month, Dan Burns at MPP posted, this screen capture:

click it to read it

That link Burns posted, Campaign for America's Future - here.

Nobody but the plutocrats will prosper from TPP. Is that you? Ask yourself: Even if a plutocrat-wannabe, are you there or are you just another schmuck to be plucked, by TPP and the pack pushing the entire Iron Curtained cramdown?

Elizabeth Warren has been strong in opposition to TPP, consistently so, over time; per reporting here, here, here and here.

What's Hilary said about it?

Just asking ...

__________FURTHER UPDATE___________
Paul Revere, sort of.

Dan Burns at MPP writes of Republicans' war on the teachers' union; not directly called that by the Republicans, but they just might get SCHOOLED.

Burns' item, here, and it speaks for itself.


If you like your's dumbed down, nuance-free, hundred-words-or-less, don't bother reading about Cory Booker and Chris Christie, and Facebook's Zukerberg getting SCHOOLED.

If, instead, you might be curious how a hundred million philanthropic dollars can be disappeared without ever a dollar of it appearing to reach a classroom, have a look.

UPDATE: a GOOGLE. (Readings for a cold day spent indoors.)

FURTHER UPDATE: For further Republican mythology some may vouch for, Craig Westover, here and here; looking backward at backward thinking alive today.

Giving public tax money to privateers never seemed sound to me.

But teachers have to get soundly behind the class size problem that substantial pay levels and penurious school board practices generate. It is not long-term thinking to settle any possible strike by a pay raise compromise at the expense of class size compromise to unrealstic levels for actual education to happen.

The last GOP Senate candidate (I forget his name) and his touting of the SJ tiny experimental Cristo Rey efforts, where only children of highly-motivated parents get in and the student/teacher ratio is below what any public school board in the state funds, show what can work, but what likely cannot scale to Anoka-Hennepin District sizes. Certainly not so, without class size changes. That, class size reform, is the key to everything else, and "solutions" ignoring that are smoke screens from hucksters.

Progressives and Tea Partiers might be able to agree, with Al, as Fox-9 reports his effort online.

Fox link, to follow post links, here. For content alone (w/o hot links) this screen capture:

CITY OF NOWTHEN: They have had their meeting yesterday. Now, per ABC Newspapers LTE section, I see names and a story line as to why a reader sent me meeting notice info.

Dec. 24 dated Letter to the Editor, from Janine Madsen, a Nowthen resident. From it, the appearance is of lame ducks mucking around:

Council Members Jeff Pilon and Harlan Meyer called a special meeting on Dec. 19th at 4:30 p.m. to discuss staff reorganization and the possible creation of the position of city administrator. Numerous attending residents and Council Member Jim Scheffler detected a strong fishy smell.

Scheffler questioned the urgency and remarked that the real reason for addressing this topic now is Pilon and Meyer feel they have a better chance of pushing this through this council than they do the new council. Residents were not allowed to comment or ask questions such as:

-Why the urgency to create a position for city administrator? [...]

-Aren’t there proper procedures to follow to explore different solutions to a perceived problem such as Pilon’s and Meyer’s belief in the need for creating a position for a city administrator? Procedures such as: [...] create a contract for the position, post a position, allow time for applicants to apply, interview applicants and offer contract to best applicant.

Pilon, outgoing Council Member Meyer, Council Member Mary Rainville and outgoing Mayor Bill Schulz chose to ignore these logical procedures and voted for Pilon and Meyer to create a contract for the city attorney to review so they can offer the job to the one person Pilon knows about for the position that didn’t even exist in Nowthen?

[italics added] If they want to go that route, where is Ramsey's former city administrator, James Norman? He could be an applicant. He is experienced in charting a course and pursuing it, as well as in stepping into a new position and being surprised.

The letter seems to suggest not only an intent to fast track the question, but to fast track the answer, as if a person already was in mind. Departing folks wanting to leave a legacy sometimes misfires. That may be what happened in Nowthen.

One of the attractive thing about Nowthen, to some, is it has not yet taken a Town Center step, or misstep, as was the history in neighboring town, Ramsey. Readers in Nowthen should be looking at whether the city administrator proposal will grow legs with new council members taking office, and if so, what procedures will be followed to assure fairness.

An interesting development in Ramsey the last time a new council was seated was a change in contracting for city attorney services. If that is a dimension in Nowthen, it would most likely happen soon in the new council term, rather than being delayed.

A caveat. This is speculative reaction to a LTE that has removed uncertainty at Crabgrass about precisely why special holiday meetings were being time-tabled in the neighboring town, about which little is known here, especially ins and outs of politics and personalities. If any reader has a different [and perhaps better or congrugent] story to tell, relative to the statements published in Ms. Madsen's ABC LTE, that is why this blog permits (and invites) on-point moderated comments.

UPDATE: The obvious comment thread of most vaule, what happened yesterday? Were Ms. Madsen's worries increased, decreased or left at about the same place, going into 2015? Was there a turnout for the meeting, and if so, was there a prevailing mood? Comments from individuals leaving their names often carry more weight than anonymous bickering, but whether to place a name or to submit an on-point comment anonymously is, as always, the comment author's decision. The corollary, if emailed "off the record" it may help an understanding here, but would not be published. A hope would be town officials mentioned in the Madsen LTE would notice this post, and submit their input. Ditto for any town officials not mentioned who may feel they've something to add.

__________FURTHER UPDATE_________
The City of Nowthen website, as best as I understand things, is online here:

The election canvassing report is posted as the opening website item; showing Jeff Pilon, mentioned in the Madsen LTE, will be the town's next mayor. Paul Reighard and Randy Bettinger appear to have won two open at large seats on the town council. How that may affect issues is unclear, but there are the two new individuals to be seated. Present council make-up is posted here.

Somewhat a curiosity, agendas and minutes for town council meetings has this page, but while agendas are necessarily prepared and hence available for meetings before they are held, there's zippo posted about any action after Dec. 9, and that seems to be somewhat deficient as to best notice practices. Ramsey posts complete agenda information prior to meetings. Am I missing some element of how pre-meeting agendas get posted on the Nowthen website?

when clicking to enlarge and read,
note that the screen capture is time-stamped
when it was taken today, this morning

Some reader familiar with notice practices in Nowthen might email or comment on what I may have missed as to posting of agendas on the Nowthen website before meetings are held. It would be helpful to the understanding of other readers.

______________FURTHER UPDATE________________
For "City Administration" as a link off the Nowthen homepage, there is this. Lean and low cost, no high-price city administrator listed.

Also, there is a search box on the website homepage, where a sensible search =

How long will it still feel "like country"?

Monday, December 29, 2014

Our Minnesota GOP friends have spiffed up their web presence and web pages. Always there, always square, always room for more blunt, truthful, and innovative messaging.

Omitting fanfare and teaser quotes, the nitty gritty, the homepage link -


You can go there and navigate subpages - to your heart's content.

BORING. And a tad disingenuous.

These so-called mavens of private sector preeminence nonetheless suffer, for having ignored private sector lessons.

Let's try to envision how improvement could come to our GOP friends if they were to only pay more than lip service to honoring the private sector and how things get done there.

Emulate BestBuy

How about something like this?

Or since they have the lower house majority now, another pull-down menu item in the top homepage menu bar; DEALS?

I can see it now, the Daudt Deal of the Day. Lobbyists move quickly. Only good for one day. Subject to limitations on product availability. Inventory detail not given over the telephone. Visit the store.

Sam's Club? Already covered. Proving they can move fast.

And when it comes to a pledge, why do a complex multi-line honored-in-the-breach "Liberty Compact,"

I pledge to the citizens of the State of Minnesota and to the American people, that as their elected representative I will work to: restore liberty, not restrict it; shrink government, not expand it; reduce taxes, not raise them; abolish programs, not create them; promote the freedom and independence of citizens, not the interference of government in their lives; and observe the limited, enumerated powers of our Constitution, not ignore them.

when a simpler and more needed pledge from GOP circles can be conveyed by one image, one worth well over a thousand words of the kind they now market.

Especially there, in that pledge, "restore liberty, not restrict it;" "promote the freedom and independence of citizens, not the interference of government in their lives;" they can pledge that 'til the cows come home (and they turn blue in the face), yet ponder whether they're at all cognizant of the simple meaning (and all nunances) of the word


Before amending (at apparent great effort) their website layout and content, our Minnesota GOP friends (Biblical scholars that they are) might better have paid heed to Ecclesiastes 1:2-11. It might have saved them some of the time they took in reexplaining themselves.

What has been is what will be,
and what has been done is what will be done,
and there is nothing new under the sun.

That goes for you, Speaker Daudt. Whatever the visions and revisions.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

ANOKA COUNTY: Another post-election tax increase, this time for the commuter choo-choo.

Peter Bodley, reporting for ABC Newspapers, here.

ABC/Bodley's headline, "Rail authority approves final levy, 2015 budget"

As good reporting should do, the item in opening paragraphs paints the big picture.

The Anoka County Regional Rail Authority approved its final tax levy and budget for 2015 Dec. 5.

Both are higher than the 2014 levy tax and budget.

That’s because $500,000 has been included under the rail service and safety enhancements category to provide matching funds for grant applications to the Counties Transit Improvement Board to fund improvements at the Highway 10 and Armstrong Boulevard interchange and overpass at the adjacent railroad crossing in Ramsey as well as potential future overpass projects at the railroad crossings on Hanson and Foley boulevards in Coon Rapids.

According to County Commissioner Matt Look, who chairs the rail authority, the money is included for planning purposes.

Readers are urged to follow the link for the complete, tightly-written report.

Intermittently used, intermittently on time, annually taxing.

Has it, the Northstar rail, been of any use to you, or family?

Since the thing opened? Or, since the Ramsey stop was implemented?

Ramsey - Among Strib year-end detritus, a feel-good article about the Town Center.

Strib, here, in its picture captioning ability using the past tense, "was" in a way that has me asking if I missed something:

Readers can click that partial screen capture to enlarge and read, and are urged to read Strib's report, for the complete item.

Two update details. First, the screen capture includes a sentence suggesting Bruce Nedegaard's death was by suicide. He died of cancer, and the suicide was by an appraiser used by the developer and the three admitted bank criminals.

Second, the item states:

Strommen said city leaders, including City Council members, are determined to nurture the project and see it succeed. “Nobody is saying, ‘Dump it and move on,’” she said.

Mayor Strommen should have said "... almost nobody ..." as the position here has been unchanged over time, spending, and happenstance. Buying the farm, so to speak, with public money, was bone-headed, and the thing has been something of an ongoing money sinkhole as if the mantra is "Spend enough public money, and it will look as if less of a disaster."

In the parable the Emperor spent lavishly on new clothes.

Happy New Year.

Friday, December 26, 2014

CITY OF NOWTHEN: An earlier report of a meeting appears to involve a continuance; see detail below.

A reader has sent an email stating that the meeting Crabgrass flagged in this post has been continued to Dec. 29, 7 pm.

Readers in Nowthen - be there or be square.

It's your town's future governmental organization at issue.

Rand Paul and Cory Booker tweets are reported as significant news, by POLITICO.

The online item link.

We know, generally, who Rand Paul is, so who is Cory Booker?

Links: here, here and here. Also, here. Not an answer to the question, but grains of evidence. Nothing to sneeze at in graduation from Stanford, a Rhodes appointment, and a Yale JD. I know a young person in Seattle with two of the three, the Stanford degree and the Yale JD, working now at the Gates Foundation. Likely Booker is one of the more interesting Senators. Would you rather have a beer with him, or Mitch McConnell? Or with Hillary, or Jeb? One thought, you'd probably be allowed into a place where Booker might relax from work and have a beer.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

A quick note about work of a Jenner and Block attorney, NOT involved in Goliath/Hollywood/Mississippi hijinks; instead, re the Dec. 8, 2014, New Jersey report on Chris Christie's Bridgegate. [with meandering UPDATES]

Since Bridgegate at its time got much press coverage it is strange that issuance of a report did not.

It appears that formal legislative investigation found culpability below the level of most senior NY - NJ Port Authority figures and Gov. Christie.

Detail re the J/B lawyer who was retained by NJ officials, and his report, are included within three links; here, here and here.

That they could not pin anything on Christie does not remove the cloud of the questioning over what did he do, know, and engineer - if anything, regarding the GW Bridge closure.

All to be posted on that, since it is a holiday, and the links do fully carry the story.

(It seems only fair that with much coverage earlier over Bridgegate that this resulting report gain some attention. Discovery of this report was not from any media reporting link. It was from looking at the law firm's online pages while considering the Google motion to quash [and or for a TRO, etc.] the Mississippi AG's subpoena.)


Latest reporting on "the Goliath project," here, is the TRO was denied and the matter taken under advisement by the assigned Mississippi judge for further proceedings next year (with a Feb. 13 hearing scheduled). Ars Technica has good coverage of the Mississippi filing, the state's AG Hood, and informed public reaction; e.g., here, here and here. Also related info, here and here. The latter two items suggest the Feb. 13 hearing could be mooted by burying the hatchet measures. Possibly.

UPDATE - here re Goliath/Hood/MPAA, (and the site might interest readers, generally).

FURTHER UPDATE: The Gibson-Dunn lawfirm posts online an analysis its lawyers published about DPAs and NPAs (respectively Deferred Prosecution Agreements and Non-Prosecution Agreements, with the difference between the two set out in an opening footnote). The SEC, in addition to the Justice Department, has used the methodology. Also of much interest, here, that firm gives further detail, including usage by year of DPA/NPA devices, and the resultant cashflow to the government. Unclear in things, does the recovery loot go into the DoJ operating till, or into general funds?

Also, when "independent compliance monitor" arrangements are a part of DPA/NPA usage, it creates a fine cash cow for whoever, by agreement, gets the monitoring contract - something where more sunshine might help maintenance of the public's interest. In such a situation, friends can help friends. The Goliath project shows a potential for use of a DPA/NPA as a device to squeeze a firm, by third parties for unrelated purposes and ends, e.g., in Goliath matters, the MPAA with allied confederates among state AGs, wanting copyright goals met via squeezing Google over its prior pharmaceuticals NPA this decade.

Another major public interest question, is the public better served by Canadian drugs entering in price competition to the cozy arrangement Big Pharma has with Congress, whereby such competition has been quashed with participation by the FDA, on behalf of Big Pharma. Reading of that NPA that Google bought for half a billion discloses how a most questionable law was tarted up within that NPA's text as protective of the public when its result has been hiked up anti-competitive drug pricing in our treasured US of A. Strange bedfellowship at play? You decide. That particular NPA seems a bit malodorous to me, but opinions may differ. Big Pharma doubtlessly loves it. With the MPAA and Mississippi AG Hood not too far behind, everybody liking a lever.

Some reporting, readers can do their own websearching, has been that respect for Congress and the federal government is at an all time low; per surveys taken among the public from time to time; and readers may mull over whether the DPA/NPA approach should be enhancing or lowering the public's regard for those running the show. Again, it is worth noting that no person from AIG or Goldman Sachs went to jail. That is a Holder Justice Department fact.

With limited study, two other Gibson-Dunn publications online are worth a look; being online here (a 2011 DPA/NPA summary report) and here. Probably there have been annual DPA/NPA summaries published by the firm online for intervening years between 2011 and 2014. Worth noting, the 2011 summary publication does mention the Google - DoJ half-billion deal (with less focus on the amount than on aspects related to the terms of the contract, etc.).

As mentioned previously, The Grateful Dead's song, Shakedown Street, is available on YouTube. You can see that multiple postings exist. Is it a DC street, or local - or one in every state and town?

FURTHER UPDATE: Beyond conditionally excusing business firms, the SEC has entered into DPA and NPA agreements with (cooperative) individuals, those appearing to have turned to witnessing against bigger fish; see, here and here. That fits typical prosecutorial use in white collar crime situations of a let's-make-a-deal, and who-can-you-trade plea bargaining approach with lower-rung perps, so it is nothing entirely new. (The two SEC links were not found by any tedious research, but from Gibson-Dunn footnotes 4 and 5, here). Additional reading; online here, here and here.

Perhaps unrelated, but interesting, Mark Cuban; and Ocwen. One, Cuban, is owner of an NBA franchise and hence a celebrity; the other a mortgage industry firm that engaged in somewhat dubious practices. Coverage online re Cuban - here, here and here.

Re Ocwen, (most recently since they've accumulated quite a webpost trail), please read the following attempt to be representative, not exhaustive, in giving these last several below links.

This quote from "Billionaire foreclosure baron to resign, Ocwen to pay $100 million penalty,"

December 22, 2014 Ocwen Financial Corp.’s will pay a $100 million penalty and its executive chairman will resign as part of a legal settlement with the New York Department of Financial Services.

William C. Erbey, who profited from Ocwen’s business model of managing _ and often foreclosing _ on defaulted home loans, could step down by mid-January as part of a proposed consent order with New York’s financial regulator. Ocwen also will pay $50 million in restitution.

“We are pleased to have reached a comprehensive settlement with the DFS and will act promptly to comply with the terms,” said Ocwen Chief Executive Ronald Faris.

[...] Nearly one year ago, Ocwen signed a $2.1 billion settlement after a federal complaint was filed alleging misconduct by the company “resulted in premature and unauthorized foreclosures, violations of homeowners’ rights and protections, and the use of false and deceptive documents and affidavits, including robo-signing,” according to a press release from the Florida Attorney General’s Office.

[link in original] with the linked Yahoo News item stating

ATLANTA, Dec. 22, 2014 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Ocwen Financial Corporation (OCN) ("Ocwen") today announced that it has reached a comprehensive settlement with the New York Department of Financial Services ("DFS") related to the agency's recent investigation.

"We are pleased to have reached a comprehensive settlement with the DFS and will act promptly to comply with the terms," said CEO Ronald Faris. "We believe this agreement is in the best interests of our shareholders, employees, borrowers and mortgage investors. We will continue to cooperate with the DFS in the implementation of the terms of this settlement which we believe will allow Ocwen to continue to focus on what we do best -- helping homeowners."

Under the terms of the settlement, Ocwen will pay a civil monetary penalty of $100 million to the DFS by December 31, 2014, which will be used by the State of New York for housing, foreclosure relief and community redevelopment programs. The Company will also pay $50 million as restitution to current and former New York borrowers who had foreclosure actions filed against them by Ocwen between January 2009 and December 19, 2014. As previously communicated in the third quarter of 2014, Ocwen recorded a charge of $100 million to increase its legal reserves in anticipation of a potential settlement with the DFS. Ocwen will record an additional $50 million charge in its fourth quarter 2014 financial statements to reflect the final settlement amount.

After nearly 30 years of distinguished service, and as part of the settlement, founder William C. Erbey will step down from his position as Executive Chairman of Ocwen, effective January 16, 2015. Barry Wish, a current director of Ocwen, will assume the role of Non-Executive Chairman on that date.

"I am grateful to the many associates who have worked alongside me and proud of what we have accomplished," Mr. Erbey said. "I am confident about Ocwen's future under the experienced leadership of the executive team. I have worked with Ron for more than 20 years, and he is uniquely qualified to lead Ocwen going forward."

Ocwen has also agreed to non-monetary provisions relating to New York borrower assistance measures, a monitor-led oversight of Ocwen's operations, interactions with related parties and certain corporate governance measures. MSR acquisitions will be subject to Ocwen meeting specified benchmarks as well as DFS approval.

A summary of the settlement terms is below.

Settlement Summary of Monetary Provisions

Ocwen will pay a civil monetary penalty of $100 million to the DFS by December 31, 2014, which will be used by the State of New York for housing, foreclosure relief and community redevelopment programs.
Ocwen will also pay $50 million as restitution to current and former New York borrowers in the form of $10,000 to each borrower whose home was foreclosed upon by Ocwen between January 2009 and December 19, 2014, with the balance distributed equally among borrowers who had foreclosure actions filed, but not completed, by Ocwen between January 2009 and December 19, 2014.

Settlement Summary of Non-Monetary Provisions

Borrower Assistance

Beginning 60 days after December 19, 2014, and for two years, Ocwen will:

Provide upon request by a New York borrower a complete loan file at no cost to the borrower;
Provide every New York borrower who is denied a loan modification, short sale or deed-in-lieu of foreclosure with a detailed explanation of how this determination was reached;
Provide one free credit report per year, at Ocwen's expense, to any New York borrower on request if Ocwen made a negative report to any credit agency from January 1, 2010, and Ocwen will make staff available for borrowers to inquire about their credit reporting, dedicating resources necessary to investigate such inquiries and correct any errors.

Operations Monitor

The DFS will appoint an independent Operations Monitor to review and assess the adequacy and effectiveness of Ocwen's operations. The Operations Monitor's term will extend for two years from its engagement, and the DFS may extend the engagement another 12 months at its sole discretion.
The Operations Monitor will recommend and oversee implementation of corrections and establish progress benchmarks when it identifies weaknesses.
The Operations Monitor will report periodically on its findings and progress. The currently existing monitor will remain in place for at least three months and then for a short transitional period to facilitate an effective transition to the Operations Monitor.

Related Companies

The Operations Monitor will review and approve Ocwen's benchmark pricing and performance studies semi-annually with respect to all fees or expenses charged to New York borrowers by any related party.
Ocwen will not share any common officers or employees with any related party and will not share risk, internal audit or vendor oversight functions with any related party.
Any Ocwen employee, officer or director owning more than $200,000 equity ownership in any related party will be recused from negotiating or voting to approve a transaction with the related party in which the employee, officer or director has such equity ownership, or any transaction that indirectly benefits such related party, if the transaction involves $120,000 or more in revenue or expense.

Corporate Governance

Ocwen will add two independent directors who will be appointed after consultation with the Monitor and who will not own equity in any related party.
As of January 16, 2015, Bill Erbey will step down as an officer and director of Ocwen, as well as from the boards of Ocwen's related companies.
The Operations Monitor will review Ocwen's current committees of the Board of Directors and will consult with the Board relating to the committees. This will include determining which decisions should be committed to independent directors' oversight, such as approval of transactions with related parties, transactions to acquire mortgage servicing rights, sub-servicing rights or otherwise to increase the number of serviced loans and new relationships with third-party vendors.
The Board will work closely with the Operations Monitor to identify operations issues and ensure that they are addressed. The Board will consult with the Operations Monitor to determine whether any member of senior management should be terminated or whether additional officers should be retained to achieve the goals of complying with this Consent Order.

MSR Purchases

Ocwen may acquire MSRs upon (a) meeting benchmarks specified by the Operations Monitor relating to Ocwen's onboarding process for newly acquired MSRs and its ability to adequately service newly acquired MSRs and its existing loan portfolio, and (b) the DFS's approval, not to be unreasonably withheld.
These benchmarks will address the compliance plan, a plan to resolve record-keeping and borrower communication issues, the reasonableness of fees and expenses in the servicing operations, development of risk controls for the onboarding process and development of a written onboarding plan assessing potential risks and deficiencies in the onboarding process.

Webcast and Conference call

The Company will host a webcast and conference call on Monday, December 22, 2014 at 5 p.m. ET, to discuss the terms of the settlement with the New York Department of Financial Services.

The conference call will be webcast live over the internet from the Company's website at Click on the "Shareholder Relations" section. A replay of the conference call will be available via the website approximately two hours after the conclusion of the call and will remain available for approximately 30 days. The conference call will also be accessible by dialing 877-407-4018 (domestic) and 1-201-689-8471 (international). A telephonic replay of the conference call will be available through January 5, 2015, by dialing 877-870-5176 (domestic) and 1-858-384-5517 (international) and entering the passcode 13598198.

About Ocwen Financial Corporation

Ocwen Financial Corporation is a financial services holding company which, through its subsidiaries, is engaged in the servicing and origination of mortgage loans. Ocwen is headquartered in Atlanta, Ga., and has additional offices and operations in California; Florida; Iowa; New Jersey; Pennsylvania; Texas; the United States Virgin Islands; Washington, D.C.; India; Philippines; and Uruguay. Utilizing proprietary technology, global infrastructure, and world-class training and processes, we provide solutions that help homeowners and make our clients' loans worth more. Additional information is available at

That latter link will reach this most recent Ocwen press release.

It appears this is another non-prosecution situation; i.e., nobody at Ocwen is reportedly set to be subjected to criminal prosecution at risk of going to jail.

Additional and parallel Ocwen coverage, here, here, here, here and a most interesting post, here.

While the agreement is helpful to distressed New York home mortgage families; it is hoped that disadvantaged Minnesotans suffering wrongs at the hands of Ocwen will be given due attention, leading to relief, per complaint to Minnesota's Attorney General and/or suitable administative agencies such as the Department of Commerce, or others. Knowing of at least one asserted case of Ocwen misconduct in Minnesota, I believe it is not an isolated event, but that, instead, other Minnesotans might well be suffering wrongs at the hands of Ocwen, (or have grounds to claim so); and to the extent any such claims have merit, they would deserve government attention aimed at securing citizen relief.

The instance of complaint of which I am aware appears to have met a degree of agency incredulity; as in, "They can't really be doing all of that claimed stuff so brazenly and aggressively;" while the above links suggest they can.

Moreover, the extensively quoted relief measures in New York appear to form a helpful roadmap for any Minnesota administrative proceedings involving Ocwen to mirror, or expand.

MORE: This item link relates to an item from the same website that was cited above; and it in turn references this, and a letter online here.

The Street, here. The administrative agency's press release (including contact information), online here. [UPDATE - There is an online Ocwen press release apparently acknowledging a need to remediate previous error/harm due to backdating of Ocwen correspondence with mortgagors.]

YET MORE - FOR MY REPUBLICAN FRIENDS: They may love Cato Institute, despite stuff out of there that should trigger an investigation by the MEN IN BLACK:

Had the dispute proceeded to trial, it’s unlikely a judge would have ordered Mr. Erbey’s ouster. But large businesses today facing charges from financial regulators seldom dare insist on their right to a day in court – the risks of going to trial are just too high, as law professor Brandon Garrett and commenter James Copland explained at a recent Cato panel discussion on Garrett’s book Too Big to Jail: How Prosecutors Compromise with Corporations. Until that calculus changes, they will be at the mercy of whatever arbitrary if not vengeful terms regulators may insist on.

[link omitted]. From all I have read, that "... it's unlikely ... right to a day in court ..." business written by this author, Walter Olson, is like saying it is unlikely a bear shits in the woods, (but dare not insist on a day in court over whether and where it shits).

Get Real.

Cato would be flat-out embarrassed to see his name abused by such an idiot.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Sony gets mega publicity over a film effort that from all appearances will be a mediocre experience for theater goers. Publicity arising from Sony being hacked. By somebody. In parallel, Google is litigating against the Mississippi Attorney General. Happy holidays to all.

This court filing, stating factual background for its filing, in its opening pages, four of which are set out within the following clickable-readable thumbnail images:

Plus one. This bonus thumbnail:

Mississippi? Wow. Hollywood meets and greets friends at what, the Redneck Riviera - or a few miles west along hurricane land? Remember, it is: Haley Barber land. John Stennis land. James Eastland land. Trent Lott land. And while Google has posted this on its Blogger site, it in parallel has not removed this [third-party] entertainment industry content from YouTube. (Where's their head in all this?)

Readers finding hints here of this little American Christmas saga of interest are encouraged to do their own

websearch = Goliath SOPA Google Jenner Block Perrelli leaked Sony emails


websearch = Sony twitter emails

For those who like connecting dots, look at that highlighted sidebar thing on the bonus thumbnail. Harvard JD, 1991, Law Review Managing Editor. Wikipedia notes mid-item, here:

Obama entered Harvard Law School in the fall of 1988. He was selected as an editor of the Harvard Law Review at the end of his first year, president of the journal in his second year, and research assistant to the constitutional scholar Laurence Tribe while at Harvard for two years. During his summers, he returned to Chicago, where he worked as an associate at the law firms of Sidley Austin in 1989 and Hopkins & Sutter in 1990. After graduating with a J.D. magna cum laude from Harvard in 1991, he returned to Chicago. Obama's election as the first black president of the Harvard Law Review gained national media attention and led to a publishing contract and advance for a book about race relations, which evolved into a personal memoir. The manuscript was published in mid-1995 as Dreams from My Father.

[italics added, links omitted] If you imagine your nation headed by a man of the people, it's so but it's just not your people, it's his and Perrelli's people. And Holder's and the Obama-Holder Justice Department's people, where the bureau insiders are still mulling over Darren Wilson - Michael Brown and whether Brown's civil rights were in some imaginable way violated; while, interestingly during the same tenure, no Wall Street criminal has gone to jail (not even ones from AIG or Goldman Sachs). And, add to that, if you saw as an option John McCain [the Admiral's son] or Mitt Romney [the Gremlin's son] as men of the people, more so than Obama, then your head's in Mississippi.

BOTTOM LINE: Enjoy your holidays with family, those who really matter to you, and for whom you want the best in the future.

Google's YouTube, here, also has posted the "OFFICIAL MUSIC VIDEO" [whatever that means] of the same song, this bearing the stamp of Warner's studios. Still entertaining and still online. For you and yours. It seems the studio leadership reckoned a video beyond showing musicians playing was merited, to get across a more sophisticated theme apparently. One more in touch with studio views of America than mere musicians standing on a stage playing to an audience, and hence it appears Warner produced its more entertaining version. For you and yours. One puzzling aspect of the video, perhaps to you too, is how did the attractive young guy keep such a clean shirt while on a dusty roadside southern chain gang? His hair was perfect. Like Haley Barber's, or Trent Lott's. Or Chris Dodd's.

__________FURTHER UPDATE__________
Some folks, you can try, try, try, but you can never know exactly why they complain, what they are particularly heated up over, and then what you do to meet them more than halfway never seems enough; see, e.g., this link again, pp 9, et seq.

__________AN UPDATE QUESTION___________
If you find little to nothing entertaining about this entire story of big corporate push-and-shove and give-and-take, then why do they call it "the entertainment industry?"

The Verge reporting, end of item:

Google's counteroffensive isn't limited to Attorney General Hood. The company has also issued a document preservation notice to both the MPAA and the law firm Jenner & Block, asking them to retain documents related to the Goliath campaign and hinting at further legal action in the future. The result is a major campaign against a program that, until a week ago, no one outside of Hollywood studios knew about. It's just the kind of counteroffensive MPAA executives worried about in the initial email leaks, when they raised concerns over "what Goliath could do if it went on the attack." Now that the plans are public, it looks as if we're going to find out.

That's Entertainment?

___________MORE UPDATING___________
May the circle be unbroken.

Given that Google was in the MPAA cross-hairs, why was the Mississippi Hood pulling Google's chain over pharmaceuticals?

It does not normally follow that pharmaceuticals tie in to Hollywood, beyond anecdotal celebrity usage reporting.

That was a troubling loose end. (And, coincidentally, when a few years back a google for its advanced search page often gave an early hit to content instead of content, why was this happening? Why Canada?)

Well, we don't positively in the public know for certain. We do know, however, that smack-dab in the middle of Perrelli's 2009-2012 service as number three man at Justice, there was this and this chest pounding by different arms of the Department. This online document is the deal Google cut with the government. What the company bought for half a billion. (Coincidentally, the Grateful Dead song "Shakedown Street" is on YouTube; and you can websearch it if you doubt.)

So, circumstantially, the beef MPAA had with Google was over copyrighted content; whereas the weapon the Entertainment Industry choose to use, with Mississippi's AG fully on board, was pharmaceuticals; given background factors. While not having read any emails disclosed after the Sony hacking, (and not being privy to MPAA emailing and activities), I cannot go beyond rational conclusions one might draw from a limited spectrum of circumstantial evidence. (I.e., I might see an unbroken circle where only there are unconnected dots perhaps only appearing to me to be on the circumference of a circle.)

Draw your own conclusions, but according to N.Y. Times Aug. 30, 2011, coverage from the settlement days, Larry Page allegedly was cognizant of certain things which, per the non-prosecution agreement were not admitted to as criminal conduct by Google or its people: with Times' reporting being:

The United States attorney for Rhode Island, Peter F. Neronha, whose office was responsible for the investigation, said Google’s conduct was not the result of a few rogue employees, according to The Wall Street Journal. Mr. Neronha said the company’s chief executive, Larry Page, “knew what was going on.”

The statute prohibits the “introduction or delivery” of the drugs, but Google was not involved in any way in their actual transfer into the United States, which is the usual means of proving a violation of the statute. Instead, the Justice Department viewed Google as an accomplice to the crime by enhancing the ability of the Canadian pharmacies to reach American consumers.

Can a search engine be held responsible for how consumers use the products or services allowed to be advertised on it? That question goes to a core issue in the criminal law regarding the responsibility of suppliers for the use of products they sell.

There were negligence lawsuits in the early 1990s against Soldier of Fortune magazine for advertisements it ran for people willing to engage in criminal acts, including murder. These cases were brought by victims of attacks and involved a question about whether the magazine published ads that were a “clear and present danger” to the public, and therefore unprotected by the First Amendment.

Unlike a private lawsuit alleging negligence, the Justice Department’s nonprosecution agreement with Google involved an assertion that the company aided a criminal violation — i.e., that it was an active participant in a crime.

To prove accomplice liability, the prosecution must show the defendant provided some assistance in the commission of the crime, which can include counseling or encouraging the offense. There is a fine line between supplying goods that are later used for the commission of a crime and actually assisting in its completion.

Even if one does furnish some measure of assistance, the law further requires that the accomplice be aware of the user’s intention to commit a crime and intend to give some assistance or encouragement in its completion.

The Justice Department’s position in the Google case emphasizing the awareness of its chief executive shows it took an aggressive approach about what can constitute aiding a violation of the drug importation laws.

Google was not involved in the actual movement of the prescriptions, but the government viewed its role as sufficiently important to the success of the Canadian pharmacy sales that it was similar to someone who actually supplied or shipped misbranded drugs.

The fact that the Canadian pharmaceuticals case was resolved by a nonprosecution agreement can be seen as an indication that the Justice Department understood its position on accomplice liability could be open to challenge if criminal charges were filed in court.

Unlike a guilty plea, this type of resolution does not require any judicial approval, so a judge will not question whether the conduct rose to the level of aiding and abetting a crime.

[italics added] Theories of criminal accessorial liability can be stretched only so far if tested in a criminal trial court, but Justice [not Hollywood] had Google's signatures on a contract line (on page 15 of the agreement with every page duly initialed) with implications of good behavior - absolutely exemplary future corporate care and behavior - a part of the written deal. Then, strangely, this ex-Justice high muck-a-muck at a prestigious DC lawfirm with branch offices nationwide is emailing around about "Goliath" aspects, with the Mississippi AG and other state AGs privy along with Hollywood high management in the emailing loop. And Sony got hacked and the email chain came to light publicly. And then, yo, we learn a humungo subpoena was served upon Google out of Mississippi about pharmaceuticals and such; ostensibly motivated for some as yet not fully explained reason of compelling Mississippi public policy re consumer protection law in that state. With Google moving to quash.

Go figure.

Who in all of it is without sin, enabled to cast a first stone?

I from time-to-time have conversed with a well-reasoned Liberty Republican having serious reservations about "corporatism" in today's US of A, and that term, like "Fascism," is not easily or compactly defined either in theory or if alleged in practice. Like the several blind men describing an elephant each from handling but a part of the animal, there can be disagreement over what's been encountered.

__________YET MORE, THE GIFT KEEPS GIVING __________
Strange bedfellows? Or not, when it's monitized?

Posted today, here, with one operative paragraph stating:

So starting at 10 a.m. PST in the U.S., you can rent or buy "The Interview" on Google Play and YouTube Movies. It will also be available to Xbox Video customers and via

[bolding added, links omitted]. Kiss and make up, for Christmas?

And what a ton of web publicity ...

Was I hoodwinked, by Mississippi court filings?

Reason prevails, along with monetization? All's right with the world?

_____________ ... KEEPS GIVING ... _________________

Clown - Do you even know the meaning of "hoodwinked?"
You did not see Dennis in Cuba, did you?
How's that for a hint?
You have been ENTERTAINED.

Yeah, one of them has trouble getting onto YouTube today, and would he have to borrow foreign exchange from the other now with content monitization? But - the other scary side of that, who's got the bomb? Either of the Koreas, Iran, Pakistan, Ireland, the Vatican? Which if holding would be first to use, and under what possible scenario?

Have a nice HOLIDAY. Stay sober. Drive sober.

Strib reports on Little Falls ethanol plant sale for conversion to production of higher market value renewables.

This Strib link. We look forward to rural writers who have declared an interest in agricultural policy and development to explain the ins and outs of this development. The pros and cons. Prospects for the future. Writers who can ferret out and report the detail that often goes lacking in cursory media coverage.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Verily, I have seen the future of YouTube, and it is monitization. Are you surprised?

Building market share is easiest for a free service. But what then, for an encore?

TechCrunch reports here, "Google Adds Song Lyrics To Top Of Search Results, Points Searchers To Google Play."

So, a test websearch, using Google of course, for the firm's Theme Song; this result, screen capture thumbnail image you can click and read, below.

I suspect Google is run by developers. Perhaps apartment developers.

And, independent of any song applicability to any previous post at Crabgrass about the expectations, rationale and implementation manner underpinning Ramsey Town Center rebranding (or any other topic), if you are disinclined to go to Google Play for the "this and millions of other songs for the price of an album" how-can-you-pass-it-up offer; listen for free - FOR NOW - per this Google.

So, tell me it is not the Google Anthem. I could be wrong.

After all I was wrong; once; roughly two years ago on a Wednesday.

Unparalleled litigator, Larry Klayman, makes WaPo news.

This link.

UPDATE: POLITICO reports that Klayman's effort was duly appreciated by the judge.

RAMSEY - An explanation for all the autos [many upscale] parked along Sunwood by Jim Deal's building, Monday, around noon, as seen while returning from a Coborns shopping trip.

It figured to be some kind of event. This Strib report. Everyone's a winner? Town Center landowners can hope, but how much impulse traffic will now make Town Center prosper? Do you suppose many impulse trips off Hwy 10 happen at Riverdale? Yes, if it is the planned destination it will be easier to reach via an interchange, but the same can be said for the Culvers near the former KMart. If you want a burger with a good malt, you go there but if you're headed elsewhere ---

The major reason to have supported the interchange, safety, remains while the Town Center hopes will be tested once the project is completed. And - it takes one traffic light along Hwy 10 off the map. That's a start.

ABC Newspapers reporting here, "Celebration of Highway 10-Armstrong project brings governor to Ramsey."

Let's see. The Dem Governor and Jim Deal touching base. That's news?

Monday, December 22, 2014

Through the 2016 electoral Looking Glass?

Eric Black at MinnPost has been polishing his looking glass, finding Glen Greenwald in focus. Jeb speaks three languages, English, Spanish and Doublespeak. Hillary, at least two.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

RAMSEY - Street assessment policy decision making at this year's final council meeting [readers may recall franchise fees as an issue earlier this year].

Eric Hagen of ABC Newspapers reports in a Dec. 19 online item; with partial detail within the item being:

The new special assessment policy for Ramsey street reconstruction or overlay has a base cost sharing policy of 75 percent covered by the city and 25 percent paid for by the benefitting property owners.

The city’s old policy for reconstruction and overlay projects was to assess 50 percent of project costs.

City Engineer Bruce Westby noted that under the new policy, the city would cover all costs associated with subgrade corrections, new sidewalks and trails and converting a rural road to an urban road by widening it and providing thicker pavement for higher amounts of traffic. Therefore, a neighborhood assessed for a reconstruction or overlay project will not always be on the hook for 25 percent.

Sealcoat projects will no longer be assessed. According to Westby, the city of Ramsey had already started to phase out these assessments. It was a 50 percent cost share in 2007 and decreased to 15 percent in 2012.

As was the case in the old policy, benefitting property owners such as housing developers pay 100 percent of costs of new street construction.

Interested readers are urged to consult the entire ABC item to become more fully informed. Because of time lags in the preparation and approval of meeting minutes ABC Newspapers provides an invaluable service - prompt and tight reporting of events within a tighter timeframe.

May they prosper in the new year, to enable them to continue such a service.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

"Ramsey accepts offer to sell old municipal center site."

[UPDATE NOTE: This report relates to the former City Hall on Nowthen by Ramsey Elementary School. Not the historic building next to the bank on the west side of Hwy. 47 north of Hwy 116.]

The above headline is the headline given ABC Newspaper reporting online here.

"NIK Management Group" is mentioned in the ABC item, and in an online Ramsey agenda, here. In an agenda addendum a different but close name is given; and there was no online Secretary of State listing found for any venture or assumed name exactly as given in the ABC report. The agenda identifies NIK Management Group as "management arm for Bridgeland Development INC."

So, who is the ostensible buyer?

SoS listings identify two entities with names beginning "Bridgland ...".

The SoS listings did include a "Nik Enterprise Ventures, LLC." Whether that's related to Bridgeland or not is unclear. More likely related, "NIK MANAGEMENT, INC."

Again, who is at risk per the offer noted in the agenda? If the deal flips, who do you sue? Or as is more likely, the offer has some contingent escape clause, some condition subsequent to offeree acceptance. With the agenda noting a closed session consideration, and with neither offer being part of the agenda, that's only a guess as to escape clauses and conditional offering. But it likely is a good guess.

The linked agenda has this addendum describing the offeror as NIK MANAGEMENT, INC.

Names do matter, and the ABC reported name and the agenda[addendum] reported names differ enough to note that this is not pitching horsehoes where "near" matters more.

With an email address: nealkay@live.come, that could be anyone but it most fits the SoS entry for NIK MANAGEMENT, INC.

Aside from the offeror name confusion, the ABC Newspapers report gives detail omitted here, so readers are urged to go to that resource.

D. R. Horton submitted an offer, and it is not presently clear from reporting or the agenda whether they remain in a back-up offer status, should the NIK deal for any reason flip. Presumably that is so, but the old saying about many a slip twixt cup and lip could include a flip without a backup blip.

Not throwing caution to the wind is always a wise thing. NIK appears, from addendum materials, to be presently attempting marketing of a multi-apartment project, apparently so, in Williston, ND.

With oil now under $60 per barrel and uncertainty as to how the drop in crude pricing will affect the North Dakota oil boom, due diligence on the part of Ramsey's real property marketing agent, in bringing an offer in such a posture, might include its sniffing around that situation.

It is not as if a first-rate nationwide operation such as CBRE is incapable of checking out the question of liquidity of the offeror, given the Williston red flag.

____________FURTHER UPDATE_______________
If for any reason, including neighborhood sentiment, the deal does flip; what's the harm?

That is a proper perspective to keep with the key development worry (a half built thing) less relevant for detached single family housing than for something like the Flaherty Town Center rentals project. Also, detached single family development has traditionally been by private financing, i.e., unlike something like the Flaherty Town Center rentals project.

There is a lot to be said on getting a good price for the property, then getting out of the way and letting developer risk/reward gambling do its thing. If the land is sold at a discount, or other indirect subsidy given, the deal is less appealing than otherwise.

And, cash upfront, for land - rather than payments as and when lots are sold to builders, or however else this developer proceeds - is always best from a pure seller perspective. With it publicly owned land, there is an unavoidable policy dimension at play. But folks need places to live, so policy issues should weigh less against this kind of development.

Policy aims should be for a transparent process where neighbors get their chance to voice a choice. However, there the adage if you want to control the adjacent vacant land you buy it, has to apply in that neighbor objection killed the likelihood of the land being developed as a data center. Only so many bites at the apple are properly accorded adjacency. There needs to be a balance between neighbor sentiment and town sensitivity to it, and the interests of the entire public (taxpayers) in getting cash for unused town-owned real estate while getting the town out of real estate development as completely and quickly as is reasonably possible.

Last, it appears that adjacent housing is of a sewer/water lot-size kind, with new housing to be the same, so that a key issue from past times, density transition, should not be relevant to this sale. Neighbors should look at proposed density, that would be the wise thing for them to consider in terms of impact upon their own property values and their enjoyment of their own properties, yet as the agenda was written, detached single family homes were the proposal, not anything involving dense, shared-wall housing. [ADDED NOTE: There is shared wall housing in the vicinity of the land; on the triangular land bordered by Alpine, Nowthen Blvd., and Sunfish Lake Blvd. However, south of Alpine single family housing is the norm. Immediately adjacent to the old city hall land, that housing is understood to be all detached single family density.]

Ramsey joins Anoka County in raising property taxes.

The County's action, earlier noted in a Crabgrass post, here.

Ramsey's action, reported by ABC Newspapers, here. The nose count on the city tax increase vote was not given in that report (or did I miss it?).

Important to the future; the Ramsey HRA and the stealth budget line it imposed during earlier councils has been eliminated.

Remember who pulled that separate second tax ploy, or it might happen again. Hagen of ABC Newspapers in his report notes:

The HRA governing body was the same seven members of the city council.

“It essentially was a second layer of government. We didn’t even move seats for our meeting,” Council Member Chris Riley said.

Although the word “housing” was in its title, the HRA was the legal entity that owned city property, including land in The COR where the city wants to not only bring more residential rooftops, but commercial developers as well.

Riley said the council has been discussing this for a year and felt this was the best move to be more transparent. The costs of city staff time and any consultant costs that come up and paying broker fees for land transactions must still be paid by the city but will now be covered by the general fund.

After approving the budget, the council approved dissolving of the HRA. The council previously transferred all assets from the Ramsey HRA to the city, so this vote Dec. 9 was the last step, according to City Attorney Joseph Langel.

The first proponent of this move was Council Member Randy Backous, the last president of the Ramsey HRA. Closing down the HRA is one of his last actions as a council member. He chose not to run for re-election after his one four-year term.

Backous said the city’s HRA levy was listed under the other tax authority section of the property tax bill and not included within the city property tax line item.

“One of our greatest accomplishments this year was dissolving the HRA and getting that hidden tax on the books,” Backous said.

Neither David Flaherty nor Ryan Cronk, to my knowledge, are on record one way or the other about the Ramsey HRA's demise. Hagen did not report whether Matt Look had anything to say of it either.

It is unknown whether Reflections in Ramsey will editorialize over either Ramsey step; the levy level or the HRA's downsizing to zero.

NORTHSTAR: On time, or we pay the dime.

Strib reporting.

US policy on Cuba.

This link.

Granma online, English edition, is a few days behind so we cannot yet see official commentary on the policy change there.

UPDATE: DC pundits speculate, always putting their particular frame around things beyond things; here and here.

Comments from Rushbo listeners are welcome. What does the Great Rushbo have to say - please, in a nutshell, not Rushbo style.

UPDATE: Strib coverage, which is speculation-free as to political sidebands.

FURTHER UPDATE: A reader emailed noting reports of a Papal role in normalization efforts per U.S. - Cuba relations; something notably absent from the agendas of the two Popes preceding Francis. Francis has been good for the Vatican as a relevant twenty-first century factor.

E.g., this report.

FURTHER: This Strib carry of a Bloomberg op-ed.

And, wow.

Done without Dennis Rodman doing any traveling.

CITY OF NOWTHEN - This Friday, tomorrow, a special meeting.

Knowing little of the history behind it, the notice is posted without comment (click the thumbnail image to enlarge and read):

Ramsey's neighbor to the north, its actions and its news, should be of interest to us here; indeed, county-wide.

Relevant reader comments are welcome. Comments putting the notice in a context would be particularly helpful. What is afoot?

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Flaherty in Cincy redoing a deal. Scaled down with a new city administration in office, still subsidized, differently so.

There is public subsidy money.

Leopards do not change their spots.

This link. And here.

Irons in the fire, heating up in several towns, yet always - that subsidy sweetness.

UPDATE: reports on the downsizing.

FURTHER UPDATE: reports, and with a pleasing subsidy in the works the word is:

Flaherty & Collins chief executive David Flaherty said the company loves Cincinnati and sees how new residences would make Downtown more vibrant. "We're pleased to be where we are today," Flaherty said.

Flaherty said the development company wants to build a signature multifamily development in Cincinnati that will feature resort-quality amenities. He said developments have the potential to attract people who aren't living in the area to Downtown, and he expects the site to attract people who have average annual incomes of about $100,000 a year. Rents are expected to be between $1,400 and $2,500 a month.

In Cincinnati, Flaherty & Collins also developed the 302-unit Boulevard at Oakley Station apartments, which opened earlier this year.

While building designs for Fourth and Race are still being developed, Flaherty & Collins vice president Jim Crossin said the highrise will have a modern look with lots of glass to provide residents great views of the city.

Let's see - that's "a signature multifamily development," which is no less than "resort quality," "with lots of glass to provide residents great views."

And a subsidy for good measure.

Monday, December 15, 2014

NFLPA v. NFL, a lawsuit over the Peterson suspension/arbitration, filed in federal court, Minneapolis.

What do you think?

After a bit of web searching, I have to admit to being unable to find the Vegas betting odds on outcome of the case. It has to be on the boards. A gut feeling is the odds favor Peterson, given the recorded but since repudiated Troy Vincent promises that now are alleged to have been beyond Vincent's authority as League agent to have made on behalf of the NFL.

If you cannot believe the NFL's Vice President of Active Player Development since February 2010, who can you believe.

Promises? Not a promise? A mere "representation" of a believed outcome, but always subject to Commissioner absolute discretionary power - even to be arbitrary and capricious in letting others talk and then pulling the rug out from under conversations thereby had?

It has an appearance of classic bait and switch by League management.

Offer one outcome via an agent offeror, tout its lienency in inducing reliance by the offeree, then switch after reliance on the part of the offeree happens. It's like a misrepresentation, negligently permitted to be so, if not an intentional League flim-flam fraud.

It's like advertising "never needs ironing," but then it turns out ironing's needed. That level of things.

So, Peterson/NFLPA should win, or not? We wait to find out. Since it's in court with a decision awaited we can speculate any way we like. I'd expect at least 2-to-1 odds favoring the Peterson/NFLPA contentions winning. Bet two, get one if Peterson wins; get a two for one return if you bet on the league and the league wins.

So, that's a guess while I remain curious.

What do the bookies say?

Any reader with a link on actual lawsuit outcome odds being offered the betting public is urged to offer a comment.

Having earlier challenged "Drill Here, Drill Now, Pay Less," as politician blowhard rhetoric, ...

Terry Hendriksen by email challenged me because of current pump prices for gasoline. What do you say now, was his question.

Globe and Mail has what is a representative but extended analysis of the current oil market. Here.

This rather extended mid-item excerpt may be regarded by some as relevant to Hendriksen's question:

It’s too early to call “mission accomplished” for the Saudis. The OPEC leader is playing a long game in order to preserve its oil market share by making life difficult for the high-cost oil producers, and its strategy is showing early signs of success.

The quick reaction time by some of the high-cost producers, notably the American shale oil drillers, is why one of the world’s foremost oilmen, Sadad Al-Husseini, the former executive vice-president of Saudi Aramco, the world’s biggest oil and gas company, is becoming bullish on oil even as Brent prices sink to the low $60s.

“If you go down low enough, as we are now, you’ll get to the point where there is little investment, which is what we’re going through,” he said in an interview in Al Khobar, the Saudi city filled with Aramco employees in the country’s oil-rich Eastern Province. “You will force the excess out of the market and demand will take you back up. That is what is about to happen.”

‘Strength of the profit motive’

Mr. Al-Husseini, 67, worked at Aramco until his retirement in 2004 and was a member of its board and its management committee. During his Aramco career, he was instrumental in making 20 discoveries, including vast gas fields and the central Arabian and Red Sea oil fields. He is now president of Husseini Energy, an oil consultancy based in Bahrain that advises financial institutions and the oil services industry.

He admits he underestimated the “strength of the profit motive” that turned the United States into a shale oil powerhouse. Since 2010, U.S. shale oil production is up by three million barrels a day. But he feels confident that waning investment is already hitting production growth and that prices won’t fall much farther as the supply-demand balance tightens up.

“When prices come down 40 per cent, you’re not going to keep spending like there is no change,” he said. “My guess is that by the end of second quarter of 2015, there will be a returning confidence in oil. Does that mean it will go to $115? No, that was never a sustainable number. Could it go as high as $80, maybe $90? Sure.”

Unlike some of their more vulnerable OPEC partners like Venezuela and Nigeria, the Saudis can afford to be patient and wait for the market to recalibrate. But it too faces fiscal pressure as it spends heavily to diversify its economy and provide social benefits to a young population. The International Monetary Fund estimated early this year that Saudi Arabia needed an oil price of $89 (U.S.) a barrel to keep its budget out of the red, up from $80 in 2012.

U.S. shale oil is generally far more expensive to produce than Saudi oil, which has the lowest pumping costs in the world. Shale oil wells deplete rapidly, meaning a lot of them have to be drilled constantly to keep production intact.

The upshot? Shale oil output is much more sensitive to falling prices than Saudi oil, and the market is beginning to work its magic. Although the U.S. rig count remains well above the level of a year ago, it saw its biggest drop in two years this week and has declined in six of the past nine weeks. And it’s expected to drop sharply next year.

Estimates of break-even costs for new production in the three key shale basins – the Bakken, Eagle Ford and Permian – range from $60 to $70 a barrel. But there is wide discrepancy in the actual break-even costs for each well, and companies will focus spending on their best prospects.

“Balance sheets are going to force discipline,” said David Pursell, an analyst at Tudor Pickering & Holt Co. in Houston. “When we look at basin economics, there’s just a handful of core areas that make economic sense to continue to drill at even $70 crude. ... Companies will drop rig count very quick to stay within cash flow so they don’t see their balance sheets unravel. And they can unravel very quickly if they maintain the current activity level into 2015 at a much lower oil price.”

Most vulnerable are the smaller exploration and production (E&P) companies that have taken on debt as their spending outpaced their cash flow, and Mr. Pursell said the high-yield debt market on which they rely is already showing signs of nervousness. Companies like Range Resources Corp. and SandRidge Energy fall into that category.

The Tudor analyst sees the rig count dropping by nearly a third from the recent 1,600, but said it will still take several quarters before production growth slows. He predicts U.S. production will rise by 592,000 barrels a day next year and 226,000 in 2016, after growing by nearly one million barrels a day this year.

In a release Friday, the U.S. Energy Information Administration also indicated it will take time for the impact of lower prices to be felt in the supply picture. The EIA forecast that U.S. production will average 9.3 million barrels a day in 2015 – up from 8.6 million in 2014 and closing in on Saudi’s estimated 9.60 million daily output.

Mr. AL-Husseini is no fan of the theories that the decision by OPEC (read: Saudi Arabia) not to trim the cartel’s 30-million– barrel-a-day production quota at its November meeting in Vienna was a political act of war aimed at punishing Russia and Iran for their support of the al-Assad regime in Syria or aimed solely at choking off U.S. shale production.

He said it was a market decision designed to trim high-cost production wherever it lies, including Brazil’s offshore fields and Canada’s oil sands, to end the oil glut. An OPEC production cut would have only propped up prices, he noted, “subsidizing the high-cost oil at the expense of low-cost oil,” the latter being Saudi Arabia and Gulf allies such as Qatar.

Among the high-cost producers, there is no doubt that U.S. shale oil would be quickest to trim investment and thus output. Mr. Al-Husseini said that, even if oil prices were to remain fairly strong, the shale industry’s ability to deliver ever-higher production would not be assured. That’s because shale wells are short-lived creatures. His research says that shale oil (and natural gas) wells decline at a rate of 50 to 70 per cent a year, “requiring intense capacity replacement drilling.”

That means shale fields require more and more drilling to maintain production and that gets expensive. At the huge Eagle Ford shale field in southern Texas, some 4,500 new wells will have been drilled in 2014, of which 3,800 are required just to maintain production.

Web search can yield comparable though shorter analyses, some better than others; e.g., somewhat randomly picked items online here, here and here. And here, suggesting stock market players should not bet against the energy sector long-term.

Birinyi said the stock market will steady once it's gets more information on where oil is going. "It's going to be another one of those adjustments the market is going to make," he said.

Since oil began falling, the S&P energy sector has lost 24.3 percent, while the next worst market sector, telecom, was down just 6.2 percent. In the same period, health-care stocks have risen 14.4 percent and tech has risen 9.2 percent.

"This will encourage people who are less than enamored with the stock market. They will use this as a reason to hesitate," Birinyi said.

If you expect pump prices to remain as they are, or to fall further with the per barrel oil price continuing to drop, you may be right, you may be wrong, but the short term and long term may differ while renewable energy prices continue to drop and electric automobile expectations play out, such as witnessed by the Tesla mega-sized Lithium battery manufacturing investment as a factor that should also play into oil pricing. But as with Econ. 101 supply/demand blackboard sketching and accompanying dogma, it is the higher cost new entrants attracted by inflated prices making them profitable, and they are the same to exit a market when prices drop below their break-even point. And that seems to be the fracking truth or more importantly the fracking expectation in what is playing out these days from wellhead to gas pump.

Adjustments likely will be made. "Recalibrate" is the one single word one might focus upon, if having to choose but one in the above excerpt. Like the GPS unit, "Recalculating, ...".

UPDATE: This online report, with interesting chart accompanying commentary.