consultants are sandburs

Monday, February 20, 2017

And nobody at the bureau gets fired.

This Strib link. Title, "Exurbs seek relief after sewer facilities built for growth come up short -- An idea by the Metropolitan Council 15 years ago to rein in sprawl by offering wastewater service to rural mini-cities hasn't panned out. It spent upward of $40 million building the sewer pipe for Elko New Market and a wastewater plant in East Bethel that the communities now can't afford.
By Eric Roper Star Tribune - February 20, 2017 — 7:19am."

Readers of that item will discover a key concern: Who has to pay and suffer and sacrifice for Met Council faulty practice and judgment? Nobody at the bureau gets fired; so clearly others pay.

Met Council has too many planners; one being too many given the way they pull outrageous growth projection numbers out of dark places, impose them while denying they impose anything, and jerk towns around by their Comp Plans. Met Council has gone so far as to litigate a wrongly-decided growth cramdown where it was unwanted; case online, reporting from then, here and here and with images, by MPR.

Met Council's Comp Plan periodic game has created a consultancy cottage industry of itinerant planners and forced towns to have staff planners in otherwise unneeded numbers. Boondoggle is but one term that comes to mind, along with the shorter word, "stupid"

Ramsey, where I live, had the CAB pipeline cramdown in the mid 1970's a big pipe run under the Mississippi River to connect an otherwise placid Anoka County with the Pigs Eye STP run by Met Council, CAB standing for Champlin, Anoka, Brooklyn Park. That pipe dream led local land speculators to gain a town council seat and push Ramsey Towne Centre, (as one of the promoter spouses wrote it = Ramsey Town Center, when spelled without pretense), which was a bad idea from the start and stands now as a lesson project that still is as much open land as built, a decade and a half after the unsound move by the politics of the then mayor/council, and James Norman as City Administrator - who later got his comeuppance while being himself in Albert Lea.

Statue dubbed on this blog
"Ben Dover, The Ramsey Taxpayer,"  
located across the street
from Ramsey's decade old
$19 million City Hall; which was
to be the anchor "catalyst" for
Ramsey Town Center prosperity.
The blog title "Developers are Crabgrass" notes the issue. It was begun as a forum of complaint because of the Ramsey Town Center bad judgments, and the name was chosen to reflect how Met Council has or appears to have been captured by developer interests to where the outrageous growth projections force towns to authorize more growth than they'd in wisdom ever permit; with developers then being able to cherry pick the land sites that suit their profit lusts best.

Crabgrass is unwanted, but it spreads if watered. Money and TIF being the water for this particular Crabgrass variant. And that consultancy brigade fed by Met Council; sandburs, the blog sub-title added after a particularly bad consultant was hired by Ramsey for one of its many sequentially required Comp Plans. A friend and former Ramsey council member characterized Met Council as "selling flushes" and dealing with Met Council's ever escalating demands as "arm wrestling with a ratchet." Since deceased, may the gentleman rest in peace. He nailed truth with apt wording.

This post is, of course, but one view of Met Council: Unneeded, heavy-handed, meddlesome, and costly without justification. Opinions can differ.

Dreck put online - paid from tax dollars: The manner of galling propaganda the Mondale-led Met Council was churning out at taxpayer expense, to tout their existence and planning finesse, such as it was, is mirrored in these screen captures from the time - since scrubbed from the bureau's website, but archived:

Subsidized parking ramp - taxpayer money:

Reality Intervenes:


While some of that text, when images are clicked to enlarge and read, is fine print; the upshot after the last item, three officials at the loan originating bank pled guilty to criminal charges related to how they handled things. Then, after a period of bank foreclosure limbo, no developer takers for the mess; City of Ramsey "bought the farm" in that millions were paid to get the remaining distressed RAMSEY TOWN CENTER land out of foreclosure. City of Ramsey still has land there for sale, now, over a decade after the ill-fated, downright dumb thing was hatched. About a decate after it went SPLAT!

And nobody at the bureau gets fired.

________________FURTHER UPDATE______________
All that Smart Growth folly was spawned and advanced during Ted Mondale's watch as head honcho at Met Council.

So, after being responsible, as boss, for all mistakes; he got regarded with a six-figure paycheck to involve himself in the Wilfare situation; the billion dollar football stadium built for Vikings team owners, the Wilfs of New York. They put some money into it, and had the market value of their team franchise increase by far more; while welfare for the rich; a/k/a Wilfare, was done with Ted Mondale at the "stadium authority" helm. Until he resigned. Crony politics in all that double-dip saga, Met Council, then the Stadium helm? You decide.

______________FURTHER UPDATE_____________
As a post mortem, the entity Bruce Nedegaard used, Ramsey Town Center, LLC, inactive now, when last registered with the Secretary of State had Nedegaard's daughter, Christy Dahlberg as registered agent. The situation with the bankers/originating bank for the consortium loan is noted in this still online item. A helpful partial timeline of Ramsey Town Center events up to 2007 remains online, here.

A screencapture from the Dorsey firm indicates Ramsey Town Center, LLC, was a Dorsey client in some of its negotiations (no online indication found of any Dorsey involvement in financing arrangements which led to the banker indictments, however): see 2-page screen images, here and here. (Ramsey Town Center info is on the second page). It appears unclear online, datewise, when attorney Jay Lindgren left his position at Met Council and when he began representation of Ramsey Town Center, LLC on a project that had received Met Council grant assistance.

Again, despite all the slop, it appears nobody at the bureau got fired. If any reader is aware of online contrary evidence, a helpful comment to the post with a link would be appreciated.

FURTHER: One additional link, from adjudication that the bank lending consortium suffered no actual loss from the insiders bridge lending roughly $6 million, and paying themselves back first, before and rather than amortizing the $35 million consortium loan. Yes, they did front run the other debt, but they'd have never loaned the $6 million, without wanting it repaid, so they put in 6 and took out 6, before the consortium knew it was happening; this link. It is not unlike an extension of credit in a bankruptcy after the filing having a priority; except there was no bankruptcy filing at the time, that being so whether the promoter LLC was actually solvent or insolvent at the time. Had the bridge lenders forced a bankruptcy and then, with notice to all advanced $6 million with court approval, a priority as a matter of law would have been attained; presuming that any objection of any other creditor would have been heard and resolved before release of the cash. But it did not happen that way. The consortium on the hook for $35 million had no notice of the front running loan arrangement. It bought time based on hope, where the hope failed, and then there was dispute.

Strange. The court saw an analysis others might not have seen. A binding analysis.

FURTHER: The camel's nose under the tent. For historical completeness, this City of Ramsey resolution is the earliest item in city online records that I could find on the commitment to bring CAB Met Council sewer service - the connection to Met Council's Pigs Eye STP receptor network, across the Mississippi to where Anoka had its own STP and Ramsey had been developed via private well and septic systems to that point.

And once Met Council made that cross-river transit, it wanted to sell flushes, hence it promoted dense shared wall housing in what had been a detached single family large-lot housing town/area.

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