Juuuuuust a little short. That’s the Department of Revenue’s projection of Mark Dayton’s proposed new tax on the wealthiest Minnesotans. “Short” as in … not even half of what’s needed. Tom Scheck at MPR writes: “Dayton requested the analysis after he pledged to not raise the rate higher than the top rate in the nation (Hawaii’s rate is 11%). The Revenue Department said increasing the state’s top rate from 7.85% to 10.95% would produce $1,899,300,000 in new revenue in the next two-year budget. Dayton’s campaign spokeswoman Katie Tinucci said in a news release that the results show the campaign needs to find more revenue and additional spending cuts to balance a projected $5.8 billion budget deficit.” Uh-huh. Well, you get right on that.
While we wonder why Dayton has been running around tossing out specific-sounding figures without having (apparently) done his own serious projections, it’s still several rungs higher up the ladder of logic than Tom Emmer, who introduced his budget plan Tuesday to a baffled press corps. MinnPost’s Jay Weiner reports: “Emmer proposes trimming higher education funding by more than $400 million from the state’s projected 2012-2013 budget. And he showed that his health and human services budget would cut $2.25 billion from state projections. And state aid to local governments would get trimmed by more than $1 billion. And state agencies would get reduced by more than $700 million. He called these his ‘spending targets.’ ” Weiner tells of KSTP’s Tom Hauser looking at Emmer’s numbers: “ ‘So, just to be clear,’ Hauser asked politely, ‘we know the numbers that you’re trying to get to — we just don’t know exactly how you’re going to get there.’ Poetic. Replied Emmer, ‘I suppose that’s one way of looking at it. The other way of saying it is we are respecting the process at the same time.’ By process, he meant the give and take with the Legislature. But his bottom line. ‘You’re going to have to live within your means … If we’re in the governor’s office, obviously, we will provide detail.’ ” If your eyes have rolled back in your head at this point, you’re not having a seizure. It’s just Tea Party math.
Former President Bill Clinton was in town for Mark Dayton last night. Tom Halden of Fox9 files a report on all three gubernatorial candidates, getting (do you have to ask?) Larry Jacobs of the Humphrey Institute to say: “ ‘More of the Democrats, the moderate Democrats, they’re going to tilt more toward Horner.’ And if Horner was not in the race, they’d be voting for Dayton.” In Brian Bakst’s AP story, he reports: “During a Democratic fundraiser Tuesday night in Minneapolis, Clinton said there’s no mistaking that Republicans have tacked hard right. He said a lot of the party’s candidates this year would make even former President George W. Bush ‘look like a liberal.’ “ It’d be reassuring if you could call that a gross exaggeration.
The Minnesota Daily runs a bit more of the AP story: “ ‘It used to be that Republicans were evidence-based, not dogma-based,’ Clinton said, citing the administration of President Dwight Eisenhower. ‘They have thrown all that overboard. This is about dogma and big special interest under the guise of the tea party. The Boston Tea Party was protesting abuse of power. This is now trading public power for the abuse of private power. Don’t kid yourself,’ Clinton said, just as a tea party-backed candidate was declared the winner Tuesday night in Delaware’s hotly contested Republican primary for U.S. Senate.”
Although we’re still struggling with Denny Hecker deprivation, the Trevor Cook fraud case continues to offer us free market/bubble-era ghouls a few fascinations. On Tuesday, according to the Strib’s Dan Browning, we had terminally ill ex-radio host/financial expert Pat Kiley talking to the SEC after canning his lawyer over differences of opinion on strategy. Writes Browning: “Kiley told [Judge Michael] Davis that he’s of ‘no interest’ to the government’s investigation into the Ponzi scheme, which attracted more than 1,000 mostly elderly retirees and was on the cusp of attracting feeder funds when it collapsed in July 2009. ‘I have the forensic evidence book with me to prove that I never ever wrote a check. I never made a wire transfer,’ Kiley said. ‘I believe Trevor Cook made a statement, either in open court or to Mr. Frank Magill [a former federal prosecutor], that ‘I had conned Pat Kiley like I conned the investors,’ he added. Cook, who was sentenced recently to 25 years in prison on fraud and tax charges, made no such statement in court.”
Meanwhile, another Tom Petters associate was biting the dust. A couple of days ago it was the “Sopranos”-like Larry Castain who was handed his sentence. On Tuesday, it was elderly bo-bo, career criminal and disbarred lawyer Larry Reynolds, he of the ultra-convenient quickie divorce that laid all of his assets off on the ex-wife (with whom he still lives). David Phelps’ Strib story has Reynolds saying, “ ‘I regret the day I met Tom Petters.’ ” Phelps writes: “Reynolds told U.S. District Judge Richard Kyle before the sentence was handed down, ‘Greed and stupidity made me continue.’ Kyle called Reynolds ‘a major player’ in the $3.65 billion fraud who knew that what he was doing was wrong. ‘There’s no question in my mind, Mr. Reynolds, that you are deserving of a lengthy sentence.’ ”
Meanwhile, John Welbes of the PiPress reports that ex-Petters employees are being “asked” to return bonuses they received from the once-high-flying Petters crew: “The court-appointed trustee handling the bankruptcy case resulting from Tom Petters’ $3.5 billion Ponzi scheme is asking employees to return year-end bonuses from years ago. The money would go to help repay investors who lost money in the scam. About 70 letters went out and the amounts in question range from about $5,000 to more than $2 million, said Doug Kelley, the trustee.” Welbes adds: “Among the executives who received significant sums but haven’t been accused of knowing about the fraud — and who were never charged with any crime — are David Baer, the chief legal counsel for Petters Group Worldwide, and Mary Jeffries. Both received $1 million bonuses, according to evidence presented at the criminal trial.”
OK, I admit it. I’m “over-interested” in Mankato’s mayor … who is refusing to resign. WCCO-TV runs a story saying: “Police in Golden Valley, Minn., arrested [John] Brady in August for drunken driving. They said he caused three crashes in one day before being pulled over along Interstate 394. Last night at a council meeting, several people spoke out in support of the Mayor. The council needed four votes in favor of asking him to resign, but members voted 3 to 2. Vance Stuehrenberg, the one who drafted the resolution, said he is disappointed with how the vote turned out. ‘You can Google America’s drunkest mayor and Mayor Brady’s face will come up, and that’s really disheartening to me,’ said Stuehrenberg.” I can see the sign at Mankato’s city limits, “Home of America’s Drunkest Mayor.”
While we continue to wait to hear from the first woman who says its a hot look, a court has gotten in to a legal precedent related to guys wearing their pants with a “sag.” The PiPress’ Emily Gurnon writes about the dude who was having his drawers yanked up by a (female) cop … who then discovered a gun he wasn’t supposed to have: “Police officer Kara Breci and her partner were patrolling in the ‘high drug-activity area’ when they saw a car idling in the lot with the driver and [Frank] Wiggins in the front seat. Another man approached the car and got into the back seat — ‘without any food from the restaurant,’ the court said. Also arousing the officers’ suspicion: The new arrival appeared to be looking down at his lap. As police approached, they saw the man drop a plastic bag on the floor; he admitted it was ‘some weed,’ the court wrote. Police ordered all three men out. Wiggins, who was wearing loose-fitting jeans, raised his arms at Breci’s command. As he did, the jeans fell to his knees.” Gurnon says: “Wiggins’ defense attorney asked the Ramsey County district judge handling the case to suppress the gun evidence, arguing that the officer conducted an unconstitutional search when she hoisted his pants. The request was denied.”
The tax question dominating both D.C. and Minnesota is broken down to its simplest “Sesame Street” essence byJoe Soucheray in this morning’s PiPress. Citing no authority other than his common sense/logic that tells you people with more money have worked harder than people with less money, Sooch writes: “Where is the moral responsibility of elected officials to responsibly balance the state budget? Where is the moral responsibility of the state to not spend more than it takes in? Where is the moral responsibility of the government to recognize the integrity of the individual citizen? We are not intended to be wards of Dayton’s state. Where is the moral responsibility of a governor to understand that morality is not the obligation of the state but is an ethic rooted in individual integrity, freedom and responsibility? Dayton represents, more honestly than any previous DFL candidate, a party that has come to believe that it has the moral responsibility to take from those who work hard and produce in order to make life more equitable for those who don’t.” Whatever you do Joe, don’t cloud your deep thinking with Timothy Noah’s Slate series on the “redistribution of wealth” that’s already taken place.
Mobile phones … good. TVs … not so good. That’s the essence of Best Buy’s second-quarter numbers, which show the Twin Cities giant pulling in a fat 60 percent increase in net profit. John Vomhof Jr.’s Business Journal story says: “U.S. stores posted a low double-digit same-store sales increase in mobile phones, a high single-digit gain in appliance sales and a mid single-digit uptick in mobile computers, a category that includes Apple’s iPad and other tablet computers. However, those gains were more than offset by declining sales of TVs and entertainment hardware and software.” He adds: “The company’s profit margins increased due to strong profits at its Best Buy Mobile stores and reduced promotional and loyalty program costs.”
So did Michele Bachmann “support outdoorsmen” by supporting the Legacy Amendment, or did she not … uh, support the Legacy Amendment? The Strib’s Kevin Diaz reports on a burbling controversy over what she did or didn’t mean to do: “U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann, one of the GOP’s leading anti-tax champions, scored political points in a recent ad accusing DFL challenger Tarryl Clark of voting to raise the state sales tax on corn dogs and just about anything else covered by Minnesota’s 2008 conservation ‘legacy’ amendment. But the attack came as a surprise to a number of leading sportsmen’s groups whose leaders had long counted Bachmann as a supporter of the Clean Water, Land and Legacy Amendment, a measure overwhelmingly approved by voters two years ago.” He gets ex-Stribber Ron Schara in the story when he writes: “Schara noted that Bachmann’s booth at the 2008 event displayed a blaze orange ‘Sportsmen vote yes’ placard, and that he ‘vividly’ remembers the congresswoman wearing a ‘vote yes’ button prepared by Sportsmen for Change, which led the campaign to pass the amendment. Garry Leaf, the group’s executive director, said he also recalls the placard and Bachmann’s button. Until now, Leaf said, he had believed Bachmann supported the amendment, which he called ‘the Number 1 issue for hunters and anglers in the past decade. ‘I don’t understand why there would be a dispute about it,’ said Don McMillan, president of the Minnesota Outdoor Heritage Alliance. ‘She had a sign in her booth supporting it.’ ” So what’s the confusion here? Someone’s having a hard time understanding Bachmann’s position on something?