The Anoka-Hennepin school levy renewal appears to have passed, as well as a levy for tech funding. Maria Elena Baca at the Strib writes: “The district asked voters to renew a $48 million-a-year levy for 10 years, warning of dire consequences if it failed, and the request passed comfortably. A second proposal — for $30 million over 10 years for technology funding — appeared to pass by the narrowest of margins, while a third, for additional per-pupil money, was rejected.”
Stillwater schools didn’t fare as well. Megan Boldt of the PiPress reports: “Voters in Stillwater Area Schools narrowly voted down three ballot measures Tuesday that would have increased property taxes to bring in more money for district operations, technology and facilities. Just more than half said ‘no’ to the first question, which asked for a levy of $1,465 per student. That was $468 higher than the current levy and would have brought in $5 million more a year for operating costs. District officials warned that if the levy was defeated, they would have to cut about $10 million from the budget.”
One sitting councilman in St. Paul was defeated in Tuesday’s election. Says Frederick Melo of the PiPress: “Amy Brendmoen, a 41-year-old marketing manager for an adoption and social services agency, has apparently unseated sitting St. Paul City Council Member Lee Helgen, 42, in Ward 5. With all 13 precincts reporting, Brendmoen held 50.17 percent of the vote, and Helgen had 49.24 percent. Brendmoen also captured a majority of second-place and third-place votes under the city’s new ranked choice voting process.”
The ranked choice voting process apparently went off well enough for most … but not Ol’ Sooch. In his PiPress column, Joe Soucheray writes: “I don’t need a system designed to accommodate the lowest common denominator. That’s what it felt like, that I had to complete the whole test in order for my vote to count. And the proponents say this is fair? It’s like first-graders choosing their favorite insects. Whee! I get to fill in another oval — the ant isn’t so bad — and another and another, and then I guess I am supposed to be satisfied if my third-choice candidate pulls out a victory. That’s not a victory. What happened to my first choice? My polling place is in a senior apartment complex. I could see many of the residents enjoying breakfast, and, God love them, many of them were practicing the old-fashioned habit of reading the newspaper with their coffee. The people in that breakfast room built this country, built this city, worked, raised families, prayed, believed in convention and tough luck. I suspect many of them were going to be as confounded as I was when they strolled over to exercise their storied franchise. Not confounded because it was difficult. We all know how to make ovals. But confounded because the lifeblood of their American experience required them to understand winning and losing, that victory and defeat were, in fact, the basic truths of their lives.” Boy, wait ‘til someone tells Joe they’ve stopped putting out Chubby Checker on 45s.
Most of Joe’s neighbors weren’t embracing their inner-Luddite. John Brewer of the PiPress writes: “St. Paul’s first taste of ranked-choice voting seemed to go down easily Tuesday, as roughly 30,000 voters showed up at polls to pick city council members. ‘The news today is that there’s no news,’ Ramsey County election manager Joe Mansky said Tuesday evening. ‘I hope what this means is that our advertising campaign hopefully kind of sunk in and people had a general idea what to expect when they showed up.’ “
So the guy in the plot to extort $500K from a man who later killed himself will serve six months for not filing taxes during a time when he gambled away more than $2 million? Maricella Miranda at the PiPress checks up on him, saying: “Rickey Eugene Pouncil, 47, pleaded guilty Monday in Dakota County District Court to five gross misdemeanor charges of failure to pay or collect taxes, court records show. A felony charge of failure to file tax returns or report taxes was dismissed in the plea agreement. Pouncil will serve the sentence concurrently with a 13-month prison sentence ordered in August involving the felony coercion charge, to which he pleaded guilty in Hennepin County District Court. In the tax case, records from Mystic Lake Casino Hotel showed that Pouncil gambled more than $2 million from 2001 to 2008 at the casino, according to a Dakota County criminal complaint. He generated between $22,400 and $97,955 in gambling income from 2003 to 2008, records showed. … Earlier this year, Pouncil admitted to masterminding a scheme that extorted $500,000 from Bloomington businessman Dan Kreye by threatening to show his family sexual text messages and photos of him involving other women.” Thirteen months? Am I missing something here?
Oh, this’ll play well. Steve Brandt of the Strib reports: “The four employees of the soon-to-be-defunct Minneapolis police and fire pension funds will leave their jobs with at least $400,000 in severance benefits, although all four have preference for jobs with a statewide pension plan that’s absorbing their organizations. Board members of the police fund said Tuesday they had to pay the severance under contracts signed years ago, but LeaAnn Stagg, a city representative to the board, said she was ‘completely aghast’ at the deals. … With the two funds in deep financial trouble and the city on the hook for making up deficits, the Legislature approved a rescue plan this summer that merges the two local pensions plans with the state plan at year’s end. The deal boosts pensions sharply for those involved but saves the city millions by lowering its payments and giving it more time to meet those obligations.”
In a Strib commentary, GOP Rep. Bob Barrett responds to an earlier opinion piece from lobbyist Keith Carlson on whom to blame for property tax sticker shock going on around the state: “The 2011 Legislature and Gov. Mark Dayton … replaced the Homestead Credit with a Market Value Exclusion, providing direct property tax relief to homeowners. Since the session ended, the Market Value Homestead Credit has been the subject of more factual inaccuracies and blatant politicization than any other issue. … local governments and their well-paid lobbyists actually supported these changes. It is also inaccurate to assert, as the article did, that cities and counties will be hit with a $261 million funding cut because of the elimination of the Market Value Homestead Credit. While the state planned to spend $261 million on this program in the budget forecast, in reality cities and counties received only $89 million from the credit program for the last two years. In other words, the state’s books look $261 million better, but the impact to counties and cities will only be $89 million.”
Today in Bachmannia: Considering her attendance record, Our Gal may have standing to claim she is an outsider to the wretchedness that is D.C. Josh Lederman of The Hill writes: “Michele Bachmann on Tuesday worked to distance herself from Washington and a Congress with disapproval ratings in the mid-80s, calling herself a mother at heart who relates deeply to the struggles of other moms across the country. ‘I am not a politician. I am a real person,’ the Minnesota congresswoman told ABC News/Yahoo! on Tuesday. … One of only two sitting members of Congress running for president in 2012, Bachmann has an uphill battle separating herself from the anti-incumbency mood that has enveloped the electorate. Consequently, she has spent less time trying to portray herself as a political outsider than many of the other candidates, such as Herman Cain and Mitt Romney. But while acknowledging that the Republican-controlled House remains overwhelmingly unpopular with voters, Bachmann on Tuesday positioned herself as the tireless dissenter. ‘People saw that I was fighting against Washington,’ she said. ‘They’ve been acting like Greece. I fought that.’ ”