consultants are sandburs

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Ramsey: The best and worse council members since I've been here.

Best. Easy. Jason Tossey. A skeptic who disliked waste, and one who grew so disenchanted he declined a second term. What's not to like? Terry Hendriksen was equally good, but not listened to enough and not reelected for which we continue to suffer. Margaret Connolly had good understanding and practical smarts. Terry and Margaret along with Jerry Zimmerman made up the best council majority I've seen.

Worse. Toss-up. Matt Look - Pattiann Kurak. Pick your poison. AND that includes the Bob Ramsey Mayor pack; Look being one of them in spirit and reach, even after having secured the bigger county board paycheck. All which has been worse about the Town Center adventure has much to relate back to that Kurak-Look pair. Nedegaard and the Town Center start, pin that tail to Kurak. Lazan and Landform, pin to Look in consultation with Mike Jungbauer who never even ever lived in Ramsey but for a time was close to Lazan/Landform.

Agree or disagree? That's what comments are for.

2:11 PM Sunday, August 21, 2016: Per comments here and here; participants in the Flaherty groundbreaking are pictured, Matt between Flaherty and Cronk, along with a bloc of the city council from then also in the photo op groundbreaking:

While not contradicting Matt's comment, it fleshes out a belief that he was amenable to decision making of the council, per the photo op of the Flaherty groundbreaking, then. Opinions differ on the wisdom of the Flaherty effort. It is rented out now, but buildings have multi-year histories where the tail-end life of it, and its place in the Town Center evolution ten or fifteen years from now, are to be determined. I think the final groundbreaking photo op participant, per the shovel on the right hand edge of the photo, was Dave Elvig. Neither Backous, nor Tossey, nor Strommen were a part of things there that day, if memory serves correctly.

_____________FURTHER UPDATE____________
With Matt Look saying in his comment he disagreed with some of the Landform-Ramsey contracting, it is news to me, where contemporary reporting showed no qualified opinion or viewpoint; Strib Jan 2013, online here:

Landform did preparation work for a 230-unit apartment complex under construction and the planned construction of two SuperAmerica stations, a McDonald's restaurant and an assisted-living complex. Landform also "cleaned up" city-owned land, making it salable, said Ulrich.

By the time Landform's current two-year contract expires, the city will have paid the Minneapolis-based firm $1.51 million since August 2009, according to Diana Lund, Ramsey's finance director.

Lund says the city has been authorized by its HRA to pay the company a total of $617,518 for "incentives" relating to specific projects. Landform was already paid $374,439 for the apartment complex being built by Indianapolis developer Flaherty & Collins, and for another project that was discontinued. The city will pay another $80,000 to Landform when the complex is completed. The remainder owed Landform is related to the other deals, Lund said.

Landform is also paid a $15,000 monthly administrative fee -- $360,000 over two years.

Landform was hired to work on property, rebranded the COR, that was part of the Ramsey Town Center project, a quagmire of controversy for years. At $1.3 billion, the Town Center was supposed to transform acres of soybean fields and vacant land along Hwy. 10 into a bustling suburb with a downtown, small shops and parks and 2,800 nearby homes. But the project collapsed after developer Bruce Nedegaard went bankrupt and died in 2006, and three bank executives involved in the project were eventually convicted of federal fraud charges.

By 2009, Ramsey's council had changed. Newly elected Mayor Bob Ramsey and fellow Council Members Matt Look, Colin McGlone and Jeff Wise were the core of a group that recruited Landform. Mayor Ramsey, McGlone and Wise lost bids for re-election last year. Look is an Anoka County commissioner.

There's nothing in the reporting to suggest disapproval.

Also, "two SuperAmerica stations, a McDonald's restaurant and an assisted-living complex," is a bit different from still vacant land. I am glad Matt submitted his clarification comment. This image.

Misimpressions can be formed and kept in mind for years, only to learn differently after time passes.


Anonymous said...

Your best list where all strong Conservatives..Go figure. And Elvig is not on the worse list?

eric zaetsch said...

Anon - Margaret did caucus DFL and was a strong supporter of the trade unions. But the three were "growth conservatives" and did not see it as their purpose to kiss the ring on the Met Council hand of the day. Ted Mondale and his "Smart Growth" happened while James Norman was City Administrator, and Norman always reminded me of the name of Hill's train. Fitting Kurak intentions that way. Local conservationism, not pandering to developers, is fine but when it comes to national level decisions, welfare for generals and for defense contractors and for Wall Street - the traditional GOP view adopted by Clintonians - is little different from Paul Ryan's voting for two unfinanced Bush wars, Bush tax cuts, and then saying, "The numbers don't work unless we constrain Social Security." Rand Paul seems to understand much of that better than his colleagues, but he's too intense on further screwing the growing ranks of the poor and dispossessed. The problem is the 1% having bought both duopoly parties. In effect, honest local conservatives differ from dishonest federal poseurs - such as Paul Ryan. And the Koch fossil fuel profiteering above all else including climate and wasting the planet, that's not conservative - it is naked evil greed with an eye to buying politicians who are eagerly for sale.

eric zaetsch said...

Anon - They are back to building single family unattached housing at the gun club. Aggressively so. During the down turn they scaled back, sat, waited. They had the sense to not try pushing on a rope. Look's friends on council lacked that perspective then, and Darren stoked the flames of hubris. Much spent. Little achieved. Darren got his price paid, details of which I was not privy to, but from the outside looking in he took out far more than his performance deserved. Tossey and Backous seemed to see something similar in a cost-benefit perspective applied to the Darren contracts. Heidi Nelson would not make my best administrator list. Elvig with his own business cost structure during the building pinch was not in as fortunate a position as the gun club developer. There is nothing good to seeing a business fail as his did. He had no deep pocket help nor cushion at the time his business suffered. He seems to have weathered the worse of the storm without having to go homeless. Which is good. The gun club developer seems similar to Jim Deal, having sunk land costs paid and a cushion during hard restrained times. Me and some others would be presently happier had Flaherty and Ryan Cronk stayed in Indiana apart from anything to do with Ramsey. Opinions on Flaherty differ. I am unimpressed. The only, single, solitarty useful thing I see in my life in all of Town Center is having a grocery outlet closer than CUB in Elk River. Which is private sector risk taking. I do not believe Coborns was greatly subsidized, but what do I know about its Town Center deal terms? It is there. It is helpful. Traffic lights where they are not truly needed are personally more burdensome than beneficial. And that questionable "school" business on the other side of Armstrong - that might be the single dumbest thing arising from the Look-Bob Ramsey period of town government. Lots of public dollars went into nothing but hiking a land value for the land's ownership interests. Unimpressive is an understatement.

Matt Look said...

As you know Eric, mayor Ramsey and others did many things I didn't agree with. I did not negotiate the ultimate contract with Darren. The most I spent with him was $50,000 as I recall. I would not have approved the final deal made. Thankfully I was able to get this rail stop...which was prevented from happening all along due to Dan Erhart not bringing it before the rail committee. After becoming chair, that was the first thing authorized and it got done! You will also recall that it was "the worst council member" that prevented 5 million dollars from being spent at Armstrong focus on the interchange. I succeeded in getting our county board to support highway 10 and Armstrong, lobbying the state, lobbying the Feds and getting the highway 10 coalition together for the first time these cities have ever agreed on anything together as one voice. In summary, Ramsey has benefited greatly from my service. Now you have ALL the information

eric zaetsch said...

Thank you for the comment, Matt. Your first sentence, I know no detail of what Bob Ramsey along with others did that you did not agree with. It is something you'd have to flesh out if you choose to. As when you state you'd have not approved the final deal. It is good you clarify that. How such deals were cut as they were is a mystery to me. The judgment dimension. What the papers as signed say is of record. Approved as written, in council votes. BOTTEM LINE: Your comment is helpful and appreciated.

eric zaetsch said...

Clarifying things - to the extent Matt worked with Tossey and Strommen in getting an interchange at Armstrong in place of the light as it was, Matt deserves credit. It was the opposite of thinking small, and emergency vehicle response traffic now has Thruston and Armstrong as streets not impeded by rail traffic - and Thruston unlike Armstrong, has a Highway 10 light. Because emergency vehicles can preempt normal light cycling the difference is not as significant, and there is a light atop the Armstrong interchange too. But not splitting hairs; fixing a dangerous intersection that existed previously was GOOD DECISION MAKING. That interchange improvement has value independent of whether it counters Town Center malaise, as some think it might.