Yes, kids, that’s snow out there. A lot of it, with more to come. And as every Minnesotan knows, no one loves a snow storm more than TV news. Solemn-faced anchors sounding like they’re reporting the German advance on Stalingrad, reporters huddled by freeway ramps reporting — snow, and bad traffic. Weathermen clicking through really cool radar maps, reporting — snow. But as usual, the basics are … well, pretty basic: lots of snow now and more through the day. Then, cold … there, see how easy that was?
Other quick storm highlights. The Associated Press says Rochester could get 16 inches and the I-35/I-90 intersection outside Albert Lea may have to close because of all-out blizzard conditions.
A young woman is in critical condition after spending 25 minutes submerged in her car in a creek off I-94 in Maple Grove. In the storm last night, she braked for slowed traffic, spun out, left the road and ended up in the water.
Here’s a CBS story, via WCCO, on the coast-to-coast impact of the storm. It is unusual. “After drenching California with rain and blanketing the mountain West, the storm was expected to bring significant snowfall and blizzard conditions from Utah to the Great Lakes. Wind advisories and warnings were in effect from New Mexico to the Mid-Atlantic states with flooding in the south. Winter storm warnings were likely to be issued in New England by Wednesday.” Other than Hawaii and Alaska, that just about covers it.
Obviously, nothing is sacred anymore if the powers that be are going to strip away LMV. What is LMV? It’s the discreet little tax break lake cabin owners have received for years to buffer them from the real cost of of their escalating property values. MPR’s Dan Gunderson files a story on the howling that’s beginning to rise up. “The idea was to limit property tax increases when property values increased rapidly. There was a cap on how much of that increase could be taxed, so in many cases the gap between market value and taxable value grew wider over the years. In many areas, lake cabins will be hit hard because their value increased more rapidly than other real estate.” He says that it’s reached the point where $32 billion in taxable value had been left off the table.
Tom Petters junkies in need of fix will have to pacify themselves with this one meager item. According to the Associated Press, the College of St. Benedict is yanking the Petters family name off the auditorium the convicted Ponzi schemer helped finance with a $3 million pledge (of somebody else’s money). The City Pages version of the story says that “[St. Benedict] made its decision in consultation with the Fred and Rosemary Petters family, who it says are ‘cherished friends’ of the college.”
The Trever Cook-Pat Kiley (alleged) scheme doesn’t quite compare to Petters. But Burl Gilyard of Finance and Commerce reports that the Van Dusen mansion, Cook and Kiley’s impressive office space on LaSalle and Groveland in Minneapolis, is now in receivership. The place apparently worked its magic on credulous investors. Writes Gilyard, “The SEC charges that Cook touted his firm’s ‘world-class’ financial expertise: ‘Cook promoted this image by hosting event seminars in the Van Dusen Mansion and holding one-on-one meetings with prospective investors in the Mansion’s largest office, which he filled with big-screen televisions, multiple computers with many screens, and clocks set to multiple time zones.’ ” Any guy who knows what time it is in Mumbai can have my money.
Dick Day of Owatonna, one of the more free-wheeling and iconoclastic legislators, is bailing on his Minnesota Senate job to — cue revolving door sound effect — become president and lobbyist for Racino Now, a group trying to install slot machines at horse tracks … or encroach on Indian tribes gambling exclusivity, depending on how you see this stuff. In Mike Kaszuba’s Strib story, Day says he’s got a solid agreement with Gov. Pawlenty that if a racino bill gets through the Legislature this session, it will be signed. (You do have that in writing, don’t you, Dick?) A flow of a whopping $250 million a year into state coffers is foreseen, some of which could go for a new Vikings stadium … or not. ” ‘We got money for stadiums, education, health care, transportation. You could take $125 million a year and move it around however you want,’ said Day.” You might even get $600 for a set of snow tires.
Lori Sturdevant drops in a mini-Op/Ed on Day’s move saying, “[A]s a former minority leader, [Day] is making a particularly visible move — one that’s sure to renew calls for restrictions on lawmakers’ ability to abruptly become pleaders among their former colleagues. The ability of interest groups to dangle offers of lucrative positions in front of the legislators whose votes they are soliciting has come under fire from reformers both in St. Paul and in Washington.” It’s a fair argument. But it’s not like Day is anywhere close to Billy Tauzin.
John Vomhof Jr.’s story for the Minneapolis-St.Paul Business Journal notes that racinos are currently legal in 12 states, including Iowa and that Racino Now’s website “describes the organization as a ‘Minnesota-grown, grassroots coalition of horsemen, people who enjoy wagering on card or video games and Sen. Dick Day.’ “
Portfolio.com, all that’s left of Conde Nast’s short-lived but refreshingly skeptical, sharply written business magazine, has a good piece on what cities have the wherewithal to lure a pro sports team … like say, Zygi Wilf’s Vikings. It notes that Los Angeles, presumed to be the most likely move, has resources sufficient to support five NFL teams. (Wilf’s problem would be the likelihood that the new, privately funded stadium approved for construction out there comes with owners who, well, want to own the team. The LA crowd is “setting its sights on luring a team to Los Angeles from another city. Its list of prospective targets includes the Buffalo Bills, Jacksonville Jaguars, Minnesota Vikings, San Diego Chargers, San Francisco 49ers, Oakland Raiders and St. Louis Rams.” In other words, Zygi has competition if he wants to leverage his moving threat on the Legislature.
The Business Journal picks up on this one, roots around in Portfolio’s numbers and adds that the Twin Cities area is overextended, in terms of having more pro sports teams than it can support. “According to Portfolio.com/bizjournals, the Minneapolis-St. Paul’s total personal income of $154.59 billion is about $43.13 billion less than what is needed to support the area’s four major professional sports teams.”
With climate change in the news, thanks to the conference in Copenhagen, it’s worth checking in with the usual skeptics. Scott Johnson at Power Line this morning is clanging the alarm bells over the EPA asserting its right to enforce carbon dioxide emissions. (I mean, government bureaucrats actually exerting their authority! Why can’t they live down to the usual complaints about waste and incompetence?) As usual, the peril of tyranny is writ large. Johnson writes, “[I]t is important to understand what is happening at its roots so that resistance can lead to restoration. Given the abdication of the courts under the doctrine of the living Constitution — meaning, as my friend Steve Hayward says, that the written Constitution is dead — It remains in the hands of Congress to take back the powers it has ceded to administration.” Odd, I thought there was an election that “ceded” this power?