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(Includes Minor Corrections Of Typographical Errors, Grammer & Punctuation)

June 22, 2020
Ms. Julie Blaha, State Auditor
Mr. Mark Kerr
Office Of The Minnesota State Auditor
525 Park Street Suite 500
St. Paul, Minnesota 55102

Dear Ms Blaha & Mr. Kerr:

By now you have probably read the various Webpages on my Website about what has/is taking place in the tiny Carver County City of Hamburg; population about 516.

The main issues that I wish to call to your attention are:

1.) The City of Hamburg getting into being a 're-seller' of Cell Phone Service'; make NO sense,  ESPECIALLY  when it involves using taxpayer dollars.

This has been taking place since about March or April of 2019; everything that's taken place is on my Website at When I requested information, documents and an explanation from the City of Hamburg, I was given nebulous and vague information from the city. Then, in an effort to thwart my further investigation of what was taking place, I was told that I had to pay to receive the information that I was seeking.

To date, I've paid the City about $200.00 out of my own pocket, but have received much information that should aid your agency.

All of the details and pertinent information of what I've uncovered is available on my Webpages and contained 'links' about the City of Hamburg, and

The most recent event happened last Thursday after sending my e-mail to you; while STILL not sending me information about monies the City allegedly received as reimbursement and from whom,. the City has now conceded to me that they have, in fact, received reimbursement but with no accounting delineating when it was received, how much was received and  from whom it was received. What I received on Thursday is available on my Webpages listed above.

I have also now made my SIXTH FORMAL REQUST for the information that I'm seeking relating to the spending of taxpayer dollars. There can be only ONE REASON for why the City doesn't wish to provide me with the information that I've requested FIVE TIMES previously: What took place with City Officials using taxpayer dollars, will be revealed !

Certainly; please feel free to call me if you have additional questions or concerns regarding this individual matter. If you need 'hard copies' of documents posted on any of my Webpages, they are available to you; just ask.

2.) During the time as I served as a City Council member (2013-2016), the Auditor for the City always presented their 'Annual; Report' in March, April or May of each year. The one thing that always 'stuck out' for me year after year after year was that payments were being made late; something that shouldn't happen because of the HUGE amount of taxpayer dollars that the City receives.

This year's Auditor's report specifically caught my attention when it was noted that TWO payments to the PUBLIC EMPLOYEES ASSOCIATION and TWO payments to the INTERNAL REVENUE SERVICE were LATE !!

Equally troubling was learning that the City was delinquent in making timely payments, was the statement by the Auditor that that they didn't bother to check any further after it found the FOUR late payments previously referred to.

If there are four (documented) late payments (especially to P.E.R.A. AND the I.R.S.), it would seem to be a prudent move to conduct a more thorough (or a complete) audit by someone or some 'agency' that isn't paid for their 'audit' by the company they are being audited by.

In light of this revelation, as well as my observations while a City Council member, I decided to listen to the City Council meeting in 2019 where the Auditor gave their report. It was no surprise to me to hear that there were delinquent payments to P.E.R.A. that year as well !!

Suspecting that the City has repeatedly violated the law requiring Cities to pay their bills promptly (I believe 35 days is the mandated requirement), I asked the City to provide me with a document showing other payments that were either delinquent or had been paid late.

The City refused to provide me with that document unless I PAID THE CITY $630.00 !!

That demand, of course, is to dissuade me from obtaining that information because of what it will reveal. (I've already seen two Verizon statements indicating they were 'past due'; please see

That demand is also a form of 'blackmail' by the City of Hamburg and it's Public Officials.

I'm sure that the State Auditor's Office will have NO PROBLEM getting that information from the City about bills being paid late, and that's as it should be.

If for no other reason than what was revealed in the City's Annual Auditor's Report for 2018 and 2019, as well as what I've now discovered, uncovered and witnessed, more than ample evidence, requires and DEMANDS, that a full and complete audit, of the financial activity of taxpayer dollars by the City of Hamburg, be immediately initiated by the Minnesota State Auditor's Office.

3.) I have continually documented and brought up my concerns to the City about the poor audio quality of the City Council meetings. The average person trying to listen to them via the City's Webpage is not able to clearly hear or understand much of what is taking place or being said.

When I referenced the state statute regarding the requirement of City Council meetings required to be recorded, the City sent me an outdated document from Rebecca Otto (who was no longer the state auditor) implying they were complying with the law requirement.

You'll also find it interesting that while I was a member of the City Council, there was a discussion about 'too much information' being included in the written minutes of the City Council meetings The City decided to 'minimize' the type and amount of written information to be contained in the minutes of future City Council meetings, with the comment being made to the effect, "If they want to know more, they can listen to the recordings".

CLEARLY, in my opinion and based on other actions and misdeed that I witnessed, this was an intentional, 'covert attempt' to withhold what was/is taking place in the City, from the residents.

Also, some City Council meetings are not even recorded !!

4.) The (contract) City Attorney at one of Hamburg's superfluous and infamous 'closed' City Council meetings, stated that because the City Clerk/Treasurer was an 'exempt' employee, he should not be receiving additional payments from the City when he is 'called out' for a City related duty after normal business hours, such as unplugging a toilet at the Community Center during a weekend or taking the required daily weekend meter readings at the water treatment plant and City's left stations.

When I heard that, it immediately came to mind that that's like receiving taxpayer dollars 'under the table' ! I also thought it was illegal because the CITY ATTORNEY TOLD THE ENTIRE CITY COUNCIL that the City Clerk/Treasurer 'shouldn't be getting paid' because of his status as an 'exempt' employee.

My immediate response was also that "That's taxpayer money that he took (basically stealing) from taxpayers and should be paid back!" (Because of the length of time that this has been taking place, the amount certainly is in the tens of thousands of dollars; if not hundreds of thousands of dollars; the City Clerk/Treasurer has worked for the City for over twenty years !)

A couple of months after this 'hot topic' cooled down (with NO REPAYMENT OF TAXPAYER DOLLARS) the City Council VOTED TO CONTINUE TO APPROVE THESE INAPPRO[RIATE PAYMENTS TO THE CITY CLERK TREASURER, and they've continued to take place ever since !!,  

Above, I've pointed out just four (of the many) 'things' that either have, or are taking place In the City of Hamburg by it's City Officials that make Hamburg the City with the highest property taxes in all of Carver County. And residents have come to 'accept' that because no one knows what really is taking place because of how 'business' is transacted.

EXAMPLE: The City was going to cancel their existing Internet service with a longtime, reputable ISP and 'sign on' with a brand new, untested Internet service provider that had 'just come to town'. By doing so, the City would receive HALF the Internet download speed for $20.00 MORE  EVERY MONTH !!

The City was also going to enter into a five year contract with this new, unproven contract and CANCEL the City's 'land line' CenturyLink telephone and Mediacom Internet service under the guise of 'saving money'.

Neither the City Clerk/Treasurer, nor the Mayor or other City Council members, had the technical knowledge or expertise, to even begin to understand what this 'snake oil' salesman was  trying to 'push off' onto the City.

After a very lengthy discussion between me, a representative of the City of Hamburg, and the new Internet Company' that had just 'come to town', I was able to convince the City to at least wait until they had more data on this new company.

That was one (of the few) times that the City 'listened' to me., 

There's certainly more 'going on' in the City of Hamburg, like the City refusing my offer of FREE design and updating of a Website for the City but, instead, THE CITY PAID, AND CONTINUES TO PAY,  THE MAYOR'S SON TO DESIGN AND MAINTAIN A WEBSITE FOR THE CITY !!

If you'd like some additional information about me, my Professional Resume' is available at

Here's some other information that I'm sure you'll be interested in: (This 'preamble' got much longer and more detailed than I had intended it to be, but I feel it's necessary for you to have the basic 'background information'.)

When I first moved to Hamburg in 2007, I was impressed by it's 'small town' atmosphere and the friendliness of the people that I met initially. One of my early 'surprises' came in the mail in the form of the Water & Sewer bill from the City.

While I 'trusted' the number of gallons used as recorded by the City's water meter, I thought it was excessive that $2,000 gallons of water should cost $95.00 !! EVERY MONTH during the fall, winter and spring; EVEN MORE during the 'summer months'.

My NEXT big 'surprise' was when the Property Tax bill arrived. It was quite a 'shock' and the HIGHEST property taxes that I EVER recall paying in my ENTIRE LIFE, on a small, 'dinky' lot that takes less than  20 MINUTES to cut !!

I contacted the Carver County Government Center and spoke with someone in their 'property tax department'. I explained my shock at receiving such a high property tax bill for such a small and modest property. I would also learn that the City of Hamburg has, historically, the HIGHEST PROPERTY TAXES IN ALL OF CARVER COUNTY !!

I began attending a few Hamburg City Council meetings and was really disappointed and distressed at the lackadaisical, nonchalant, unprofessional manner in which  these meetings, conducted by City Officials responsible for the wise expenditure of taxpayer dollars, were being literally so shabbily conducted and hard earned taxpayer dollars being literally wasted.

I also instantly observed and quickly formed the opinion, based on what I was hearing and what I was seeing, that basically a single City Council member seemed to be 'calling the shots'. The only reason that I could deduce why this was taking place was, if for no other reason, that he had been a lifelong City resident and a long time City Council member.

I also noticed his apparent 'disdain' for the City's only Water, Sewer, Public Works employee. The demeaning manner in how he was constantly 'talked down' to, was despicable. I also noticed that the Hamburg City Clerk/Treasurer was rude to him and always 'critical' of his work. That former employee and I had numerous talks about how he was being 'treated' and disrespected but he asked me NOT to say anything because he was afraid that he would be fired. (A VERY REAL FEAR !!)

(That particular City Council member didn't seek reelection when his term expired at the end of 2012, but he continued to attend future City Council meetings and act as though he was still a member of the Hamburg City Council.)

I thought, "Welcome To 'Small Town U.S.A." I would later learn, as a resident of the City of Hamburg, everything negative that I had ever heard about 'small towns', would exist as I 'adjusted' to my ' new life' as a resident of Hamburg, Minnesota 55339.

For the next several years, I would continue to endure the high utility bills and property taxes, the lack of ice treatment on the City's roads in the winter, but enjoyed the neighbors that live on South Jacob Street. I also continued to attend City Council meetings on an infrequent basis, but while there, watch the 'same people' (City Officials) 'act the same way' and 'say the same thing'.

And there was a constant stream of taxpayer dollars flowing out the doors of City Hall from what I assumed was believed to be a 'bottomless pit' of taxpayer money that just NEEDED TO BE SPENT !!

In the summer of 2012, I learned that there would be two City Council member positions up for reelection in the fall. After carefully 'weighing' my options versus my past observations, I concluded that perhaps my past professional life of dealing with (and helping) people all of my professional life, perhaps I could 'do some good' for the City of Hamburg and it's residents.

I 'plunked down' my $2.00 filing fee for one of the City Council seats that would be up for reelection in the fall.

My 'campaign efforts' garnered me the most votes of any of my opponents and I was elected to a four year City Council term, beginning January 1, 2013.

During the first few months of my term, I 'maintained a low profile' trying to get used to this newfound experience. I do recall that in about May 2013, after noticing the lack of City residents attending the City Council meetings, I concluded that nobody living in the City really knew what was taking place.

I suggested, and volunteered, to record the City Council meetings and make that audio available to residents via the Internet. That was totally my idea, it was passed unanimously by the entire City Council and became a reality in (I believe) May 2013.

No other City Official or Employee, had the technical knowledge, expertise, desire or ability to accomplish this.

The second major 'project that I 'took on was designing a permanent, emergency backup generator for the City's main sewage lift station; this topic began to be discussed in (I believe) August or September. I designed a 'Site Plan' (please see and once it was (unanimously) approved by the City Council, I began the task of seeking a vendor who could supply what the City needed and do so at an acceptable cost to taxpayers.

The City had previously gotten an 'estimate' a year or two previously, for about $31,000.00.

I was able to get the same basic emergency standby generator that would also adequately suit the needs of the City,  just $23,000.00.

That saved Hamburg Taxpayers $8,000.00.

No other City Official or Employee, had the technical knowledge, expertise, desire or ability to accomplish this.

Once approved for purchase, I then went about coordinating the installation of the natural gas line that would supply fuel to the generator. It was getting late in the season, it was decided to wait until spring for installation, but the concrete 'slab' required on which to mount the generator, could be poured in the fall so it would be ready to accommodate the generator installation 'first thing' in the spring. (The reason we waited until the following spring was because of a new Minnesota law that was to go into effect January 1, 2017 exempting Cities from having to pay the 6.875% Minnesota Sales Tax.)

That saved Hamburg Taxpayers ANOTHER $1,600.00.

No other City Official or Employee, had the technical knowledge, expertise, desire or ability to accomplish this.

I also designed and arranged for the 'slab' to be poured before the ground actually froze, as well as arranged for the gas line to be installed for the same reason. Had the City waited until after the ground had frozen, the local gas utility would have to use propane heaters to 'thaw out' the natural gas line.

Because of how and when I  scheduled the natural gas like installation, the propane heaters that could have been need by the gas utility, were not necessary,

That saved Hamburg Taxpayers yet ANOTHER $800.00.

No other City Official or Employee, had the technical knowledge, expertise, desire or ability to accomplish this.

What would March of 2014 be without some kind of another 'emergency' that would have a 'negative impact' on some Hamburg residents ? This time, it was the very cold winter temperatures coupled with a lack of snow cover that would cause some water service lines of a few Hamburg residents to freeze up.

During this time, as well as all of the other 'events' listed herein, Hamburg residents, VIA MY WEBSITE THAT I DESIGNED SPECIFICALLY FOR HAMBURG RESIDENTS (at NO COST TO TAXPAYERS), were CONSTANTLY KEPT INFORMED of what the 'City was doing' as a result of the 'flood', rebuilding of the crashed 'Grinder Station', frozen water service lines, along with other pertinent information.

Finally,on March 17, 2014 (St. Patrick's Day) after the snow had melted and the temperatures 'moderated', it was time to get the installation of the emergency standby generator coordinated, scheduled and accomplished. (Please see

No other City Official or Employee, had the technical knowledge, expertise, desire or ability to accomplish this.

Then, there was "THE GREAT HAMBURG FLOOD OF 2014" on June 19th when 5" of rain flooded parts of Hamburg and overwhelmed the City's sanitary and storm sewer systems. (Please see I even took a day off from my 'regular' job as a Mystic Lake Casino Security Officer so that I could help attend to the peril that Hamburg, and it's residents, were experiencing.

With the exception of the newly hired Public Work employee, no other City Official or Employee, had the technical knowledge, expertise, desire or ability to accomplish this and we BOTH worked SIXTEEN HOURS STRAIGHT to deal with this natural 'emergency'!.

July 31, 2014 also proved to be a trying and 'interesting' day in my life as a Hamburg City Council member. As I was arriving home from work at about midnight from Mystic Lake Casino, I came across the City's only 'Sewage Grinder Station' spread out over the area where it originally has been erected. More details, pictures and information are available at

Both the newly hired Public Works Employee and myself 'took turns' tending to the portable generator that was brought in to provide temporary power for what was left of the Grinder Station so that the basements of Hamburg residents wouldn't flood with backed up sewage.

One or both of us were 'on duty' 24/7 and coordinated the replacement of  the new 'Grinder Station' until after it was installed, checked out and operational; a period of time that consisted of many days, nights and weeks.

With the exception of the newly hired Public Work employee, no other City Official or Employee, had the technical knowledge, expertise, desire or ability to accomplish this.

I believe it should be very evident to anyone reading the above information and visiting the various 'links' provided, that the first eighteen months of my four year term kept me very busy with a variety of 'issues' that had to be dealt with.

It is also quite clear that the other City Officials; the Mayor, the other City Council members and the City Clerk/Treasurer, Jeremy Gruenhagen, had virtually NO INVOLVEMENT in the 'immediate issues' that needed to be addressed and appropriate action taken.

I also sensed an increase in hostility toward me because I was basically 'showing them up'. They, too, were City Officials, but really didn't 'get involved' or 'do anything'.

Yet; whenever a decision had to be made during these many issues, I ALWAYS GOT APPROVAL; either from the City Clerk/Treasurer or from the City Council as a whole, ESPECIALLY  if the spending of taxpayer dollars was involved.

But, the 'honeymoon' was over..............

At a regular City Council meeting in September 2014, the City Clerk/Treasurer, who purported to be my 'friend', because of his own insecurity, attempted to publicly discredit, humiliate and embarrass me for everything that I had ever done for the city (listed above). He fabricated lies about what people had allegedly said about me, denied his own inappropriate actions, words and misdeeds; it was a real mess !! And the Mayor and the other City Council members who had DONE NOTHING during all of the events listed above, were all 'cheering him on'!!

While I had always suspected what I had heard, I suddenly found out how vicious 'small town politics' can be; I had a 'target on my back' for the rest of my term.

Hence began the 'concerted (unsuccessful) effort' to force me from my City Council position to which I was elected.

That's a 'whole 'nother story'. And while it 'ain't  pretty'; it also COST HAMBURG TAXPAYERS $50,000.00 in (wasted) legal fees !!

I eagerly stand ready to offer you what other assistance and information I may have as your Agency vigorously pursues what has taken place in the City of Hamburg for much too long and foolishly wasted hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars.

Most sincerely,

Richard Odoms
150 Jacob Street
Hamburg, Minnesota 55339
(612) 460-8212
(I first contacted the Office of the State Auditor on JUNE 22, 2020 !!)