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Hefty property tax hikes loom

AFTERNOON EDITION ALSO: MPR’s Gary Eichten to retire; Historical Society launches MNopedia; Burnets down-sizing; 3M hit for age discrimination; lawyer Anderson details Vatican documents; and more.
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According to at least one former presidential candidate, there is no connection between declining revenue from the state and escalating property taxes. Those cities trapped in a reality-based environment are starting to get a look at the bills coming due. The Rochester Post-Bulletin writes: “Lost in the tumult of the Legislature’s July special session was a huge change in state tax policy that will send property taxes climbing in 2012 across the state, even if local governments freeze their spending. Because the state eliminated the longstanding homestead tax credit, homeowners can expect taxes to jump about 5.7 percent on average in Duluth and 3.1 percent statewide. Under the homestead tax credit, the state paid local governments a portion of the property taxes on a primary residence declared a homestead.”

Sometimes, you know, you really ought to just suck it up and take the hit. The names of the legislators who want their deferred pay from the shutdown is out. Says Rachel Stassen-Berger at the Strib: “A number of state representatives who chose not to be paid during the state shutdown now say they want the money after all. During Minnesota’s 20-day shutdown, lawmakers could opt out of receiving their normal pay — though most chose to take it. Fifty Minnesota House lawmakers deferred pay, but state officials said Monday that 18 of them are now asking for the money retroactively. The total payment is about $1,600.” For the record, that’s 11 Democrats and seven Republicans.

What? The end of Gary Eichten as we know him? Elizabeth Dunbar of MPR writes: “Midday host Gary Eichten, one of Minnesota’s most familiar broadcast voices, said Monday that he will retire in January after more than 40 years at Minnesota Public Radio. Eichten made the announcement at the end of Midday, MPR News’ two-hour public affairs radio program. ‘I’ve been tremendously lucky to work with such a top-tier news organization for virtually my entire career,’ he said in an MPR news release. Eichten, 64, started at MPR in the late 1960s as a student announcer at KSJR in Collegeville, MPR’s first station. He later worked as station manager and news director during his MPR career.” But … but … who else can moderate an interview between Tim Penny and Tom Horner?

Want to stun your friends with borderline useful factoids about Minnesota? The Strib’s Kristin Tillotson reports: “The Minnesota Historical Society has launched a prototype of the first online state encyclopedia, dubbed MNopedia, and it’s as easily surfable as it is informative. In a matter of minutes, you can bone up on John Beargrease of sled-dog race fame, the harrowing St. Anthony Falls tunnel collapse of 1869, and a wonderfully concise 3,000-year architectural overview by Larry Millett, beginning with Indian burial mounds and ending with suburban big-box stores. Did you know that way back in the late 1800s, Fredrick McGhee, the state’s first African-American attorney, was a prominent St. Paul trial lawyer and that milling titan Charles Pillsbury started one of the nation’s first profit-sharing plans for company employees?”

Tired of the north-only view out your efficiency? Consider stepping up in the world. Jim Buchta of the Strib notes that Ralph Burnet and the missus. are selling their $25 million Lake Minnetonka place. “Ralph and Peggy Burnet have amassed a world-class collection of art. They’ve adorned the walls of their Wayzata home with eye-popping work by some of the best known contemporary artists and have drawn curators from major international museums. But their most dynamic piece of art may be the house itself: an 8,500-square-foot, all-white contemporary that looks more Malibu than Minnesota. The house and its 13 acres, which includes almost 1,000 feet of Lake Minnetonka shoreline, is on the market for about $25 million. And they’ve hired their son, Ryan, to sell it.” I’m guessing Ralph negotiated a favorable commission.

A management directive at 3M will cost the company $3 million. Julie Forster of the PiPress reports: “3M Co. has agreed to pay $3 million to a class of former employees and put in place preventive measures to resolve a nationwide age discrimination lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the agency said today. The EEOC’s lawsuit charged that Maplewood-based 3M unlawfully laid off hundreds of employees older than 45 during a series of mass layoffs from 2003 through 2006. 3M laid off many highly paid older employees, among others, apparently to save money and cut workers in salaried positions up to the level of director, the agency said. The EEOC also asserted that older employees were denied leadership training and were laid off to make way for younger leaders. The agency’s investigation found an employee email describing then-CEO Jim McNerney’s ‘vision for leadership development’ as ‘we should be developing 30-year-olds with General Manager potential’ and ‘He wants us to pay into the youth as participants in the leadership development.’ ” Sheesh, pretty soon no one will be able to “right-size” anymore.

That veteran Vatican nemesis, attorney Jeffrey Anderson, says new documents prove that the Catholic Church’s central authority exercises a lot of control over rogue priests. Steve Karnowski of the AP reports: “Anderson of St. Paul acknowledged today that much of what the Vatican released to him in over 1,800 documents last Friday was already in the public domain. He also alleged that the Vatican failed to produce “some very significant things” that he planned to discuss at a news conference this morning. ‘There’s no single smoking revelation, but when you look at what they have produced in the context of what is already known, it demonstrates again that it is a monarchal system controlled by the Vatican and controlled by the See and all actions, policies, protocols and removal are in the explicit province of the Vatican,’ Anderson said. ‘To that end, this is an important and unprecedented and historical breakthrough revealing what has never before been revealed.’ Anderson is seeking to hold the Vatican responsible under U.S. and Oregon law for the abuse alleged by a Washington state man identified only as John V. Doe. He’s trying to persuade a federal judge that the Vatican was effectively the employer of the Rev. Andrew Ronan in the mid-1960s, when he was assigned to Portland and is alleged to have abused the young man. An employment relationship could trigger an exception to a federal law that usually bars lawsuits against foreign sovereign entities such as the Vatican.”

On the list of things you probably hadn’t thought to worry about … John Hinderaker at Power Line notes (a single) blog post showing a precipitous decline in the number of America’s “millionaires and billionaires,” and goes on to say: “Liberals like to cite statistics showing that a relatively low percentage of personal income is now going for federal taxes. Of course: nearly all federal income taxes are paid by high earners, so when upper-income Americans take a hit, so does the federal government. If liberals had any sense, they would be pro-rich people. Which, come to think of it, they are, at least as long as rich people sign on to their agenda. … It is also worth noting that the concept of a ‘millionaire’ has undergone a unique sort of inflation. Until very recently, a millionaire was someone who had a net worth in excess of a million dollars. Nowadays, there are many such individuals. Being a millionaire in the old-fashioned sense doesn’t make you rich, or even wealthy. So the left has redefined ‘millionaire,’ for purposes of demonization, to mean someone who earns more than a million dollars in a given year. Such people are highly prosperous, and, if they do it year after year, can become wealthy. Unfortunately, under current economic conditions there are few enough such ‘millionaires’ that you could steal all their money and still not be able to satisfy the federal government’s spending addiction.” No doubt John will go on to show the linkage between this die-off of the country’s most endangered class and the simultaneous pooling of total wealth among the top 1%.

I think we can forget about the Metrodome ever getting any respect, from anyone. ESPN’s Kevin Seifert writes: “Perhaps you caught the interview Saturday night during the Minnesota Vikings’ live broadcast of their preseason game against the Seattle Seahawks. If not, the Vikings posted it on their website. In the video, defensive end Jared Allen is asked if he is excited to return this weekend to the Metrodome, which has a new roof following last winter’s well-documented collapse. ‘Excited about the Metrodome?’ Allen said while laughing. ‘No. We need a new facility. That’s the worst stadium in the NFL.’ I’m sure Allen was just toeing the company line, probably one fed to him shortly before the interview. And I fully understand why the Vikings would draft star players into their campaign for a new stadium. But I also think the team must walk a fine line as it inevitably ramps up the stadium rhetoric this fall and winter. The Vikings have had difficulty selling out the Metrodome in recent years and, in a meeting with reporters last month, vice president of sales and marketing Steve LaCroix acknowledged the NFL lockout had put ticket sales further behind. If you were a Vikings fan, would you rush out the door to go buy tickets and watch a game at what the team itself describes as ‘the worst stadium in the NFL?’ ” Fortunately, the Vikes are this close to the Super Bowl.