FFM Bulletin 7/16/10

City of Ramsey throws good money after bad

Since its inception, the Ramsey Town Center “economic development” project has been a spectacle for all the wrong reasons. During the life of the project, the RTC has faced a defaulted loan due to mismanaged funds, three indictments of bankers involved in the project, bankruptcy, and foreclosure.

Today the RTC – which the city expected to carry a value of $1.3 billion –stands as a monument to wasteful spending and bad public policy. The 320-acre site in rural Anoka County sits mostly empty, still trying to lure in tenants; an economic development project badly in need of economic development.
But that hasn’t prevented city leaders from throwing even more money at the problem. In an attempt to revive city bureaucrats’ vision of a vibrant downtown district, Ramsey is spending $2.2 million of taxpayer money to build a park in the heart of the RTC. The park will feature a 28-foot pedestrian bridge and an outdoor amphitheater at a cost of $2.2 million.

Any additions to the Town Center may hinge on whether or not the Northstar Commuter Rail will add a stop at the proposed Ramsey station. According to Ramsey Mayor Bob Ramsey, the train stop is the “game changer” and could influence whether developers decide to build.

In the meantime, city officials have moved forward with other ways to attract tenants, like the East Meandering Commons Park project, for example. According to a report by Tim Himmer, City Engineer, the park will be a “marketing tool for attracting development based on its quality.”

The new park, it seems, aligns with the new vision for the Town Center. Described by Mayor Ramsey, the city plans to rebrand Ramsey Town Center to “reflect its new attitude.” But city officials will have to do more than build a new amphitheater or pedestrian bridge to adjust the attitudes of the businesses and taxpayers that have been burned by their local government over the past decade.

St. Anthony Village Watchdog holds school district accountable

The St. Anthony Village Watchdog group continues to hold its school board accountable and fight against wasteful spending. School District 282 spent over $16,000 this past April to send Superintendent Rod Thompson and Principal Wayne Terry to Europe for two weeks, in order for them to establish relationships for an International Youth Summit to be hosted in St. Anthony.
Following scrutiny by the St. Anthony watchdogs and others, the superintendent recommended postponing the summit for a year.
Paul Barry, St. Anthony resident and member of the watchdog group, had this to say: "This trip further illustrates the lack of respect and stewardship of taxpayer dollars shown by our elected school board members and district administration, and this is troubling. District taxpayers, who fund these schools, deserve better."
This is yet another example of the need for vigilant, local citizen watchdog organizations. Members of the St. Anthony group attended the Freedom Foundation's very first watchdog training session, and we're thrilled to see the great success this group and others around the state are having in holding government accountable. If you're interested in doing the same in your community, be sure to attend one of the Freedom Foundation's upcoming training sessions.

Short Takes

The Weekly Standard’s Andrew Wilson takes on the Obama Administration over lackluster job creation and the “green jobs” agenda. Excerpt: “Is there anything wrong with spending large amounts of public money on ‘green’ jobs that may or may not pay off in the long run? As a matter of fact, there is. As one prominent government economist who has studied alternative energy explains, ‘The opportunity cost of creating these jobs is important. If the government takes a million dollars to create one job, that’s a million dollars that could have gone to more efficient and productive use in the private sector—in creating stronger and better jobs for more people.’”


The nanny state is in full force at Macalester College. Despite theopposition of many students, faculty, and staff, the school’s administrators are strongly considering a campus-wide smoking ban (indoors and outdoors) at Macalester. The school’s vice president of student affairs was shocked by the response: “I was surprised at the vehemence of people wanting to make sure of everyone’s rights. They often said that the college shouldn’t be able to tell people what they can and can’t do.” Imagine that, some people are concerned that a college is selectively banning perfectly legal activities. It’s almost as if some people think there’s such a thing as individual liberty and personal responsibility.


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