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MN Gov. Pawlenty's revamped DOT in hot water over real estate scams

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qb Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Sep-22-03 03:36 PM
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MN Gov. Pawlenty's revamped DOT in hot water over real estate scams
Road projects caused uproar in Rochester
But the uproar in Rochester has forced changes. It triggered revisions to the law on how MnDOT acquires property. It prompted the agency to redo a considerable amount of work -- re-appraising property, coming up with new offers. And it contributed to MnDOT more than doubling its budget for buying property in Rochester, from $32 million to $83 million.
MnDOT originally said that using a consultant would cost less than $1.2 million. But O. R. Colan's (of West Virginia) contract came in at $3 million and grew quickly to $4.7 million.

Catherine Colan Muth, president and chief executive of O. R. Colan, said MnDOT couldn't get local appraisers to do the job within the agency's nine-month deadline. So at her suggestion, she said, MnDOT hired a Texas firm -- Allen, Williford & Seale -- to handle the valuations.

Another angle:
MnDOT seems to favor its own in land deals
As MnDOT's district engineer in Rochester, Nelrae Succio has heard property owners complain that the agency low-balled them when buying land for highways.

Succio, however, got better treatment when the agency transferred her to Rochester and bought her house in Willmar. It disregarded two independent appraisals and paid her based on a higher one by a MnDOT employee.
After she had difficulty selling at that price -- first on her own, then through a relocation company that MnDOT provided -- MnDOT bought it from her for $237,000.

And then MnDOT turned around and auctioned off the house for $225,050 -- a loss to taxpayers of about $14,500, when expenses are factored in.

This is what happens when you change your focus from "Quality Assurance" to "Acceptable Risk".
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