Over at MPR, Dave Peters reports that Minnesota’s property tax bill will rise by an average of 4.7 percent, thanks to last summer’s deficit deal/boondoggle: “The hundreds of cities, schools and counties in Minnesota are proposing to raise the state’s total property tax bill by a combined $99 million next year. That will be up 1.2 percent to about $8.2 billion, the lowest increase in some years. But in past years a slice of that bill has been paid by the state, and that isn’t going to happen next year. (The state eliminated the homestead credit and its associated reimbursement scheme.) So in reality, homeowners, business people and other property owners will pay the full amount. That’s a 4.7 percent increase for them. Another way to look at it: Those taxpayers are paying a total of $379 million more than this year. That’s the biggest increase since 2009.”
At Politics in Minnesota, Jake Grovum covers the same numbers and says: “The Revenue Department’s data release comes at a time when an increasing amount of attention at the Capitol has been placed on property tax issues, whether it be because of a near-record level of school levy increases before voters earlier this month or because of some abnormal property tax levy increases of more than 10 percent in some areas. DFLers have largely sought to blame Republicans for both explanations — whether by blaming the GOP for stagnant K-12 funding or the elimination of the market-value homestead tax credit. The program, which used to provide property owners with a direct credit, was changed last session into a market value tax exclusion program. That allows property owners to deduct some of the value of their home in order to pay less in taxes. But the difference has left some local governments to raise taxes to make up the difference. DFLers have already pre-filed legislation for the 2012 session to repeal the change — although they have yet to say how they’d pay for it.” May I suggest a series of racinos?
Patents owned by a Tom Petters subsidiary are the value in a $600,000 sale of the company to a California tech crowd. Says John Welbes at the PiPress: “The remaining assets of Springworks LLC will go to a California nanotechnology firm, according to court filings in a federal civil case, which stemmed from the collapse of Petters’ business empire in 2008, when a $3.5 billlion Ponzi scheme was uncovered. Springworks was the venture capital arm of Petters Group Worldwide, which sought out start-up companies for early-stage investments. Doug Kelley, the court-appointed receiver in the Petters case, tried to sell Springworks’ patent portfolio in 2008 but couldn’t reach a deal. The sale efforts started again recently, and a buyer was found in Ernest Demaray, according to Tuesday court filings. The deal essentially allows Demaray to reacquire the patents for technology developed by Symmorphix, a company he co-founded in the late 1990s. Springworks had invested in Symmorphix, which was based in Sunnyvale, Calif. Symmorphix developed high-tech materials used in the manufacturing of wireless devices, and raised $44 million in three different rounds of fundraising starting in the late 1990s.”
Today in Bachmannia: On Tuesday, NBC talk show host Jimmy Fallon tweeted an apology for his house band playing “Lyin’ Ass Bitch” as Our Gal strode on to his set Monday night. But she wants more. At FoxNews, the story says: “Bachmann addressed the controversy surrounding her appearance on ‘Late Night With Jimmy Fallon’ this week, saying if what happened to her had happened to the First Lady, heads would have rolled. … while Bachmann said she accepts the comedian’s apology, she thinks NBC should apologize as well. ‘If that had been Michelle Obama, who’d come out on the stage, and if that song had been played for Michelle Obama, I have no doubt that NBC would have apologized to her and likely they would have fired the drummer, or at least suspended him,’ she told Fox News. ‘This is clearly a form of bias on the part of the Hollywood entertainment elite,’ she said, adding the incident smacked of sexism as well.” Never mind the business about using that song for Mrs. Obama … why does the drummer always take the heat for this stuff?
Also, in a startling departure from her usual meticulous veracity, Jon Avlon of CNN finds several, um, “errors” in Our Favorite Congresswoman’s assertions in last night’s foreign policy debate. “[O]ne candidate in particular kept playing fast and loose with the facts: Michele Bachmann. It’s part of her usual schtick: playing politics by talk radio rules, where impact is far more important than accuracy. Here’s one of my favorite Bachmann howlers from last night:
‘This is one thing we know about Barack Obama. He has essentially handed over our interrogation of terrorists to the ACLU. He’s outsourced it to them. Our CIA has no ability to have any form of interrogation for terrorists.’
Sounds scary — and what I love about this particular riff is that it hits so many paranoid-style themes all in one place. There is the image of President Obama as the naïve professor, an out-of-touch egghead compromising national security by bringing in card-carrying members of the ACLU to interrogate terrorists. Not only that, he’s ‘outsourced’ the effort, taking jobs away from our fighting men and women. Finally, there’s the bedrock proof point that makes the rhetoric sound real: Our CIA now has no ability to interrogate terrorists. Somewhere, Jack Bauer must be weeping. But what are the facts? … the CIA is still interrogating terror suspects in the field in certain cases. For example, CNN reported in July that CIA operatives have secretly traveled to Mogadishu, Somalia, to help interrogate terrorism suspects about terror operations in East Africa and Yemen. … In other words, Bachmann’s claims aren’t true. They have more to do with fear-mongering than facts. And of course, her characterization of the Obama administration as pursuing a ‘doctrine of appeasement’ flies in the face of Osama bin Laden’s corpse and a massive escalation of drone strikes that have killed numerous high-level al Qaeda operatives based on actionable intelligence. … I couldn’t help but notice a Politico report that Bachmann received an overheated nod of support (but not an endorsement) from Glenn Beck on his radio show this week. The Pied Piper of the paranoid style said that of all the candidates in the 2012 GOP field, Bachmann ‘truly comes the closest to embodying the spirit of Lincoln or Washington.’ “
OK, so our paint thinner-swilling neighbors to the east are doing juuuusst a bit better than we are, sports-wise. But to watch ESPN, you’d think no one in Bristol, Conn., passed third-grade geography. Get a load of the graphic in this post at Max Thompson’s PostGame blog: “It’s been a great year for the state of Wisconsin. The Brewers went deep into the playoffs behind the MVP bat of Ryan Braun. The Packers haven’t lost since 2010. And yet the Badger State can’t get any respect. As the all-seeing CNBC sports business reporter Darren Rovell shows in one of his tweets, ESPN’s SportsCenter did a report on Braun and Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers in front of an artist’s rendering of … Minnesota.”
A couple of turkey items: Blair Euteneuer at Bloomberg notes that turkey rancher/farmer/raisers aren’t doing all that well off their birds: “Near-record prices for Thanksgiving turkeys may do little to boost profit for some U.S. producers after a surge in spending on feed grain. The average cost of corn, the primary feed ingredient, jumped 58 percent this year from 2010 and is headed for an all- time high, erasing the benefit of retail turkeys that the government says averaged $1.59 a pound this year, up 6.4 percent from last year. About 70 percent of the cost of raising each bird is feed, farmers say. Higher spending on grain is hurting profit for processors including Hormel Foods Corp. and led Butterball LLC to announce the closure of a Colorado plant, even as the American Farm Bureau estimated turkey served at Thanksgiving meals tomorrow will be 22 percent more expensive than in 2010.” On the upside, a lot of my corn-planting buddies in western Minnesota are driving shiny new trucks this fall.
And … the Pierce Country Herald reports that we are … the biggest turkey state in the country: “An estimated 46.5 million turkeys will have been raised in Minnesota by the end of the year. Arkansas and North Carolina are tied for second-place with 30-million apiece. Minnesota’s 2011 turkey production amounts to nearly 19-percent of the nationwide total.” It’s saying something when you can out-turkey either of the Carolinas.
As a barely so-so science student, I gotta say this stuff amazes me. In the journal, CleanTechnica.com, Andrew Burger writes about using Iron Range mines … to store wind-produced electricity: “The potential is there to re-purpose abandoned open pit iron ore mines in northeastern Minnesota’s Mesabi Iron Range to store energy from wind turbines and farms, according to a team of researchers at the University of Minnesota-Duluth’s Natural Resources Research Institute (NRRI). Doing so would not only enhance the competitiveness of wind power, it would make beneficial use of land that’s been severely degraded. Wind energy has been growing fast in Minnesota, thanks to its geography, climate and impetus from the state’s Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS), which requires that utilities and electric co-ops [get] at least 25% of their electricity from qualifying renewable sources by 2025. … Hydroelectric pumped storage systems were first used in Italy and Switzerland in the 1890s, Energy Journalism Fellow Dan Haugen writes in his report for Midwest Energy News. Some 104 gigawatts (GW) of electricity capacity was stored in hydroelectric pumped storage systems worldwide in 2008, according to the US Energy Information Administration (EIA), with the US accounting for just over 22 GW, or around 21% of the total. The system’s basic design requires a permanent reservoir of water at a lower elevation and a temporary holding pond at a higher elevation. In the case of storing energy from wind turbines and farms, the water would be pumped from the reservoir to the holding pond during the night and then released during the day, passing through a water turbine or turbines on their way back down to the reservoir during the day as required by electricity demand.”