Follow The Money Trail

Okay, maybe one more post.  I love the recent comments.  Thank you so much!  This will be the third time I’ve said it, I shared the address for this blog one time and now I get 200 to 300 views per day.  I had no idea people were this worked up!

A poli-sci professor I had in college told us one time, if you can’t figure out why a politician is doing something, follow where the money ends up.  Believe it or not, quite often politicians do things for the right reasons.  They want to help their community, or their county, or their state. Once in a while, though, you see politicians do something and you just scratch your head and wonder why.  Such is the case here in Kasson.  Why did we get rid of our city engineer?  What good came from that?  By the way, WE are paying out over $15,000 to WSN for work they are finishing up so they can hand this over!  Gosh, for 3 guys who said we need to slow the amount of money we are spending, they sure have been spending a lot of it lately!  A couple of posts back, I mentioned SL Contracting would be fixing the alley behind the Clinic and the alley to the east. I mentioned how our previous engineer had said there were some issues under the pavement and the job should be to dig down and fix those issues first.  Don’t just put a fresh layer of blacktop on top.  Funny, I’m told Scott Lampland (owner of SL Contracting) and our new mayor are friends. Today I heard our Public Works Director was looking at the alley with someone from SL and they agreed they need to dig the alley up to do the job right.  Hmm…. Our mayor signed a contract with SL for a cheap overhaul of the alley, but now it will cost more?  Imagine that!  Follow the trail…… Who gets paid?

So, as I mentioned earlier I have been threatened with a lawsuit by an attorney out of the Twin Cities.  Sorry, I deleted the email so I don’t remember the name. I was wondering, though, how do the attorneys in Kasson and Mantorville feel about the mayor hiring someone from the Cities?  Why not use a local attorney?  What would the Kasson Chamber say about this?  Follow the trail……

I see we have some candidates for the City Administrator position.  I think they said 5 or 6 applicants.  I asked former mayor Tim Tjosaas how many applicants they had when he hired Randy Lenth.  He said they had 25!  That tells a story right there doesn’t it?

Good night, and good luck!

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A Call to Action

I was looking over the blog this weekend and am amazed at how many people read this on a daily basis. I had to laugh because, as I said in an earlier post, I only told one person about this. I write because of frustration, not vengeance. I write because I see a city which was growing and gaining recognition for good things, and now it is quickly being torn apart.

One of the commenters, Jeff, wrote about the problems in Public Works. I appreciate his comments because this is information I didn’t have. He did, however, miss one important piece. If the City re-opens negotiations with the union, this is not just the city asking for something. The union also gets to bring in their requests. Previously, Kasson had someone who was familiar with union negotiations handle those negotiations. Unfortunately, they let that person go. So, now, who negotiates? The union will be bringing in a pro who has done this several hundred times. Who will do it for Kasson? The mayor? Doug Buck? This could end badly for Kasson.

 

As I was driving around town this weekend, I wondered about some of the projects which should have started this year.  the extension of 4th St SW, Commerce Drive.  I wonder where these projects are since we have a new engineer.  I thought the Commerce Drive project was supposed to be bid this spring and they would start on it this summer.  With a change in engineers, does this get pushed back a year now?  That isn’t good. Any commercial business which had thought about building along Commerce Drive now moves on to another city who is ready for them.  Really, really too bad.

 

I need to share some news with you.  I have been threatened with a law suit for writing this blog.  The high priced lawyer from Minneapolis says I am defaming people.  Looking the word up in the dictionary it tells me this is “False or unjustified injury of another’s good reputation.”  Well, nothing I have written is false.  Where I used conjecture or speculation, I always let you know.  “Unjustified”?  I think it is very justified.  If someone wants to use our tax dollars and run our city into the ground, I think that person should be ready to deal with the backlash.  As I said earlier, though, I have never advertised this blog, or promoted it in any way.  Seriously, I think the lawsuit thing is another bully-tactic by our gang of three.  However, I don’t have the resources or the desire to fight back.

 

So, having said all that, what I want from all of you is simple.  Write letters to the editor, show up at council meetings and question everything!  There have been some questions about secret (illegal) meetings.  I think this has certainly occurred.  Write to the Secretary of State and ask them to investigate.  Ask any one of the Gang of Three to step down.  It isn’t unheard of.  TAKE BACK OUR CITY!!

 

Thank you and good night.

With Friends Like This…..

The whole city engineer selection process is still causing me issues.  I went back and re-read the minutes from past meetings and I don’t see where the council approved a selection committee.  I then looked at the League of Minnesota Cities web site to see if the council must approve the committee.  I didn’t find what I was looking for, but it does look like the committee must be presented to the council.  I didn’t see that.  So, who was on the committee and what did the selection process entail?  How did they determine who to bring to interview?  I am told WHKS and Bolton were brought in to interview.  How was that determined?  It  wasn’t by straight bid. So what criteria was used?  Stantec put a bid in.  They are a huge firm who just won a big contract in Waseca.  They have resources nationwide.  I’m not putting WHKS down, but Kasson is a good sized city, it would be nice to have a good sized firm helping us out.  WSN and Stantec were two firms who would have the resources to really help Kasson out.

Then the question about WHKS telling city staff on Monday (prior to the Wednesday meeting) they were the new engineering firm really bothers me.  Councilman Eggler brought this point up and no one had an answer for him.  Folks, this is illegal!!  This is NOT how a democracy works!!  The citizens of Kasson deserve better!  I can’t help but pick up on the fact our new mayor has friends in the background telling him who to pick and what to do.  Contractors who may not have liked the old city engineer.  Others pulling the strings.  We never heard a good reason of why they wanted to look at a new engineer.  He mentioned money. How much is the city saving with WHKS?  We should be told that. Actually, I would like to see that number after several projects are done. I’m afraid WHKS will need to contract some resources in.  Then, where did the savings go?

SL Contracting is going to redo the alley behind the Clinic.  Did our new engineer weigh in on this?  What will happen to the stormwater system under the alley? WSN had said that needed to be overhauled.  Our new engineer doesn’t think that?  Were they even asked?  Once again, we go back to that first mistake, I mean meeting, in January where they got rid of the City Administrator. If they had a city administrator keeping track of these things, they would know what to ask and what to do. And, hopefully, they wouldn’t be doing things illegally.  I have a feeling this will end up costing us all a lot of money.

Careful……

According to the Post Bulletin, Kasson now has a new City Engineer. Two things are extremely interesting about this; #1, this item was not on the agenda.  Wouldn’t it make sense to have something this important on the agenda? I’m sure there were some interested parties who would want to attend for this discussion.  Which brings up item #2, according to the Post Bulletin, council member Eggler asked a question about why the new engineering firm seemed to know on Monday (prior to the Wednesday meeting) they were the selection.  The PB says there was no answer to the question.  WHAT????  I certainly think this question deserves an answer.  I do believe an action such as this, selecting a new city engineering firm,  would need council approval.  A committee can recommend to the council, but it is the council who would take the action.  The committee list included the Mayor.  I did not see “King” listed instead.  I would hope the Post Bulletin would dig a little deeper into this.  It doesn’t smell right….

I see we now have a selection committee for the City Administrator.  As a commenter said earlier, this includes Judy Rupert.  She is known to be very upset with the city of Kasson.  So what could go wrong here?  It is an interesting committee make up. It certainly appears as if Mayor Johnson is paying back some favors.  I’m not sure how much it will matter, though.  I guess I would be surprised if they see more than two or three applications for this position.  I have an acquaintance who is a city administrator at a small town about an hour from here.  I tend to talk to him at high school sporting events, but I reached out to him when this position opened up.  Asked if he would be applying.  He laughed and said no. He said when a job like this opens up, the first thing anyone does before applying is to reach out to administrators in nearby cities or counties to ask what is happening there.  Why did the former administrator leave? That sort of question.  When it is a situation similar to this one, everyone stays away.  Just like I wrote about businesses staying away, so do qualified applicants.  They want stability, not turmoil.  Too bad.

Good luck!

Taxes

I received my property tax statement in the mail last week.  One of those things you never look forward to.  My property taxes went up slightly.  It was too bad, so that made me happy.  My thoughts, though, turned to the future. One thing which helps hold down homestead taxes is commercial development. My understanding is commercial owners pay more in property taxes than homeowners do.  When you get more businesses in town, that should help to level off our property taxes.  Here is the problem, businesses are no longer looking to Kasson.  They are scared of the instability in city government.  That empty lot in front of Shopko? Last fall I think there were at least two fast food places very interested in it and a couple of others sitting on the sidelines.  The empty lots east of Napa?  Last fall I was told there were one or two new businesses looking at those.  When I asked Mike Martin about these lots a few weeks ago he told me no one is interested right now.  Then I open up the Post Bulletin and see an article about how business in Byron is booming!  What is the reason it isn’t booming here? No one wants to deal with a city in flux.  No one wants to be in the middle of a boiling pot.  Thank your gang of three for that.  Maybe send them your tax bill and ask them to help you out.  Oh yeah, at least one of them doesn’t pay his bills.  I guess he wouldn’t pay your bill either.

All In The Family – Part 2

We had a comment several days ago regarding Councilman Buck’s thoughts on Tom Ricke,  Tom is Kasson’s new Streets Supervisor and I’m told he spent several years with WSN, Kasson’s contract city engineering firm.  He came to us with a lot of knowledge about streets and cities, plus, a lot of knowledge about Kasson.  Pretty valuable stuff.  I ran into former city administrator Randy Lenth at Erdman’s a day or two after that post.  I asked Randy some questions about Tom.  Randy said in the first few months on the job Tom had saved Kasson several thousand dollars!  He knew how to do some things the city used to contract out for.  Seems like a good fit to me.

But the question of Councilman Buck and his stepson is troubling. There is a lot of speculation (and that’s all I have, speculation) that Buck lived with his stepson during the election period and for a few months after being sworn in (He could still be living there).  Buck’s stepson lives outside of the city limits which would would be illegal for Buck to live there.  City staff have said he provided a receipt for rent at a place in town.  However, I have had people tell me they never see his vehicles parked there.  It is odd, but in the last month or two, Buck’s stepson has put signs up on his driveway that say “Private Drive” and “No Trespassing.”  Are people driving out there to see if Buck’s vehicles are parked there?  If he did, in fact, live outside of the city limits even for the first month, would that make the votes taken at those meetings null and void?  I’m not able to answer that.  It would be interesting though, wouldn’t it?  Particularly that very first vote.  It could also call into question any vote that has to do with Public Works.  The perception would be Buck would vote to protect his stepson.

We need to congratulate our city council! They finally took action on the new sound system for council chambers!  That only took 4 months.  It’s nice to know they give 10 minutes of thought to something that cost the city $200,000 and the give 4 months of thought to something that costs $10,000.  Good job guys!

All In The Family

It was fun reading the Post-Bulletin’s story this past weekend about the old school.  The best part was when the old school partnership told the PB the roof had been fixed.  I don’t think sticking a 2×4 in the rafters counts as fixing the roof.  Just drive by on Main Street and look up at the old building.  It is very apparent the roof is still sagging.  It does not look good at all.  It will be interesting to see if Cohen gets the grant.  I have always heard Kasson does not “need” more low-income housing.  Based on the overall population, supposedly we have all the low-income housing we need.

Did you pick up on the family connection, though?  Janice Borstrom Durst is the spokesperson for the old school partnership.  Kind of handy to have your son on city council AND planning and zoning commission.  It will be fun to watch how he votes, of if he sits out for the vote.

A few more comments have come in.  I had decided to allow all comments, however, I did reject one.  It was actually a comment supportive of the blog, but the author used some inappropriate language, so I rejected it.  One person wrote in about me being on the “losing side.”  It really isn’t that.  I was becoming frustrated with what I saw.  One way I deal with frustration is by writing.  Quite often, I just write and don’t show anyone.  This is the case with this blog.  I have only ever shared the blog address once.  Yes, just once.  I shared with one other person.  I do not promote this blog, I do not get any money from writing it, I do not sell advertising.  This is strictly therapy. If you do not like what I write, don’t read it.  I’m not selling subscriptions here.  The number of readers amazes me, though!  I am able to see how people get to the blog, what words they search on, etc.  It is very apparent to me that there are others out there who are frustrated.

I have seen robins this weekend. Spring is near.  Enjoy!