Score one for the GOP and the Strib: Al Franken cops to a tax mistake. He paid all his 2003-2006 income taxes in New York and Minnesota, instead of the several states where he actually earned the income. He overpaid in the state where he’s running for Senate, and underpaid everywhere else. The difference: $4,151 on $917,344 in total taxes. The PiPress says Franken owed states $53,000 plus $17,000 in penalties; here and in NY, he will seek overpayment refunds.
More Franken: Norm Coleman tells the PiPress, “With self-professed violations in 17 different states, there will be many, many questions about this matter.” MPR quotes the U’s Larry Jacobs saying Republicans “obviously know a lot more about Al Franken than Al Franken.” The Strib quotes a D.C. analyst saying the chances of a DFL challenger are “remote” — why not ask DFLers themselves? Ex-Franken challenger Mike Ciresi keeps the door open; current challenger Jack Nelson-Pallmeyer won’t comment. Talk about a pacifist!
There is power in our unions: DFL legislative leaders fall all over themselves to subsidize the Mall of America’s Phase II, a $370 million valentine for a $2.1 billion investment. Construction workers cheered the announcement, the Strib’s Mike Kaszuba reports. Seven thousand jobs are promised, and $4.5 million will be diverted from a metro tax-sharing pool. If you think subsidizing a mall is gross, your hopes rest with Gov. Pawlenty, who still has “questions and concerns.”
More Mall: One electrician tells Finance & Commerce that 25 percent of his union’s members are unemployed now “which is unheard of.” Union workers, the paper notes, will mostly build the mall. A contractor official says the subsidy wouldn’t be necessary if the mall could hire more non-union tradesfolk, but that’s the trade-off. A general contractor leader notes that the mall project is “three times as large as the entire $700 million bonding bill.”
The Strib’s Abby Simons reports that three men were arrested for trying to jump off a Northeast Minneapolis condo tower. They had parachutes; it’s called BASE jumping — leaping from man-made structures. One dude claims he was “just visiting friends,” but you don’t usually use scaffolding and lock-picking equipment to see your buddy. KSTP led with it last night. No surveillance vid of the incident, but you get a sense of the scale.
A PiPress editorial calls the state GOP’s new anti-gas-tax ad “a big, fat, televised lie.” The ad blamed higher gas prices on state Dems; the editorial notes that the state tax rose 2 cents when it was instituted April 1, but gas prices have jumped 30 cents since then. Prices jumped 67 cents in the year before that with no state or federal gas-tax hike.
The Strib reports state foreclosures will rise 39 percent this year, but another story is the real trend piece: people ripped off by foreclosure “counselors.” An Oklahoma company thumping Bibles took one Brooklyn Center woman for $1,200, an advance payment illegal in Minnesota. AG Lori Swanson filed suit against five foreclosure-counseling firms.
A couple of years ago, a retired Minneapolis cop named Jim Kaju caused a stir with a Strib op-ed blasting the police’s downtown command as “the biggest joke in the department” and “Minneapolis citizens [who] continue to vote for people who do not care about public safety.” Yesterday, Minneapolis police arrested Kaju at the U’s medical center for allegedly pilfering drugs, KSTP reports.
Imagine buying a hip Minneapolis condo … only to find out it’s becoming senior housing. That’s the fate of folks in the Crescent Trace development, reports City Pages’ Paul Demko. The condos didn’t sell well, so Catholic Eldercare bought the building. The current residents weren’t notified until it was too late; one council member who approved city-sponsored tax exempt bonds has a husband and father-in-law on Eldercare’s board, but didn’t recuse herself. Eldercare strong-armed residents into selling, condo owners allege. [Note: the original item incorrectly said Councilmember Diane Hofstede sat on Catholic Eldercare’s board.]
Seen elsewhere: the New York Times brags up downtown Minneapolis’s Mill District, throwing the lion’s share of the credit to the area’s pioneer: the Open Book literary center. “It is not uncommon for the arts to revitalize a neighborhood, but it is certainly unusual for old-fashioned literature and books to lead the way,” gushes the Times’ Lisa Chamberlain.
The Strib’s Paul Levy notes Minnesota’s first commuter-rail station broke ground yesterday in Coon Rapids. Fridley officials are angling for their own stop using surplus Northstar money. There’s a surplus?
NWA CEO Doug Steenland will get $18.3 million in walking-away money if the Delta acquisition goes through, the Strib reports. The package includes $8.1 million in stock. Also, $398,947 in airline travel benefits. That should buy one round-trip ticket at the rate prices are going. One U professor calls the payout “outrageous” in light of cuts workers have taken. An NWA spokesperson says a third of the package represents pension bennies Steenland has earned in 17 years with the company.
The FBI issues another slap-down to those pushing the Chris Jenkins serial-murderer theory. “The vast majority [of deaths] appear to be alcohol related drowning,” an FBI agent said in a statement, adding no evidence supports the well-hyped conjecture. KSTP tells the Strib it stands by its reporting.
The state we’re in: St. Louis Park parents suggest closing a public school; that’s usually a move districts push, the Strib’s Patricia Relerford reports. It’s either that or cut programs parents value. District enrollment has dipped the past couple of years.
Katherine Kersten takes a trip to Scotland and spends it talking to people who hate the nanny state. Buswoman’s holiday?
Nort spews: Skinny Boof dominates the ChiSox for a 3-1 win. Sore Loser time! Even though a Kubel homer won it, the Chicago Sun-Times invokes the Piranhas.