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Bachmann presidential campaign $1 million in debt

Renter’s credit defended; restaurateur Russo thinks east metro is short-changed; stadium swing vote; good reviews for “Hunger Games”; Cargill’s “pink slime”; and more.

Rep. Michele Bachmann

In the event of exactly this, there was always an assumption that she was trying to catch Mitt Romney’s eye … The AP story says: “Republican Michele Bachmann owes more than $1 million from her unsuccessful presidential bid. The Minnesota congresswoman’s sizable financial hole is detailed in a just-filed federal campaign report. A month late, she disclosed her finances through late January. … She is running for a new term in Congress. Half of the debt is owed to a fundraising consultant and her campaign manager is also due a large chunk.”

A Rochester Post-Bulletin editorial expresses displeasure with a GOP bill that goes after the renter’s tax credit: “The assumption is that landlords pass their own property tax bills along to their tenants in the form of higher rent, so the state provides a partial refund. Eligibility and the amount refunded is based on a number of factors, including rent paid, household income, number of dependents, age and disabilities. Refunds are capped at $1,550. Republicans in the Minnesota House of Representatives want to substantially reduce that refund. On Wednesday, they approved a tax bill that would reduce and eventually eliminate the state property tax on businesses. Doing so would create an $880 million hole in the annual budget, and to help cover that gap House Republicans would cut $70 million out of the renters property tax refund. … Perhaps the Republicans have backed this bill in the House just to make the Senate’s tax bill more palatable by comparison. That bill would reduce and eventually eliminate the business property tax, but without raiding the renters property tax refund. We hope that’s how this debate plays out if the tax bill reaches a House-Senate conference committee; however, if the GOP is truly serious about passing what amounts to a tax increase on people who don’t own a home, we’d point out that renters will vote in November.”

Longtime local restaurateur/hospitality pro Lenny Russo writes a post for the Strib’s “Local Voices”: He’s not a fan of the current west metro-centric Vikings stadium financing plan: “Minneapolis is asking [legislators] to approve funding for a billion dollar football stadium and a $150 million renovation of an obsolete basketball arena. Is it any wonder that those of us in the east metro feel slighted? Where is the balance and equity when the state considers how best to aid in the development of the Twin Cities metropolitan area? In addition, what kind of message does this send to billionaire professional sports team owners? It seems the message is this: If you contribute almost the entire cost of the construction of your facilities as the Wild did, then you are idiots. It would be smarter to hold out for deals like the Twins and Vikings have where around 40% or less of the facility cost is borne by the team.  Otherwise, you will eventually find yourselves at a competitive disadvantage. The solution is actually a pretty simple one. The Target Center should be torn down, and the land should be put up for sale to private developers who could return it to the public tax rolls.  Minneapolis should help a potential developer fund the demolition and reduce the public liability.  The Timberwolves should play their games at the Xcel and share the facility with the Wild as is done in other cities.  The taxpayers win; the Xcel is more profitable, and the Timberwolves get the more up to date facility they deserve.  As a result, St. Paul is spared an evisceration at the hands of Minneapolis and the Minnesota Legislature, and Minneapolis can propose a Vikings stadium deal that might actually make some sense.”

At MPR, Tim Nelson focuses on … the focus on Minneapolis City Councilwoman Sandra Colvin Roy. “Colvin Roy said she hasn’t signed onto the memorandum that [Council President Barb] Johnson and Mayor R.T. Rybak want to present to lawmakers, to show the city is ready to ratify a stadium deal. ‘I had a knee-jerk reaction to subsidies for sports stadiums,’ Colvin Roy said, as she was leaving the building. ‘But I have been listening to the financial projections, I have been listening to the city attorney, I have been listening to my constituents. Nothing got signed today.’ That’s a crucial point. Colvin Roy is possibly THE pivotal vote on the council, which would have to approve a key detail of the city’s Vikings stadium plan, diverting state-authorized sales taxes to a new NFL venue, after they pay off the city’s Convention Center. Stadium supporters sent in the plan’s chief financial consultant and development director Chuck Lutz to meet with Colvin Roy. She said it wasn’t a brow-beating. ‘They didn’t try to give me any pressure. Mark Kaplan and Chuck Lutz gave me the financial runs,’ Colvin Roy said. ‘Most of the pressure is coming from me internally, frankly. Because this is a very important decision for the city of Minneapolis for a very long time.’ ” That ma’am, is very true.

The movie version of “The Hunger Games” is generating remarkably good — which is to say not at all “Twilight”-like reviews. At the Strib, Colin Covert writes: “The much-repeated motto for teen gladiators of “The Hunger Games” is “May the odds be always in your favor.” The odds of making a good film of the property were daunting. How can you balance the demands of a violent science fiction opus, a story of star-crossed young love, and a dark portrait of class warfare and dystopian decadence? Above all, how do you cope with the ardent expectations of 23 million readers who turned Suzanne Collins’ books into a global pop cult phenomenon? Happily, the film should meet most high hopes and exceed the rest. ‘The Hunger Games’ is a furiously compelling metaphor for adolescent angst, where the competition for friendship and love unfolds in an arena where kids kill each other. In a disturbing near-future, this televised blood sport is a tool used by the rich totalitarians of the Capitol to control their once-rebellious states.” So, sort of a teenage “Real Housewives” death match on pay-per-view?

Cargill’s “pink slime” is getting less and less respect. Mike Hughlett of the Strib writes: “Kroger Co. on Thursday joined two other national food retailers in saying it will no longer sell hamburger with finely textured beef, a move that could hurt Minnetonka-based Cargill Inc. The beef filler, which has been dubbed ‘pink slime’ by some food industry critics, has been the subject of negative publicity in recent weeks, with several fast-food chains also pulling the substance. … While ammonia-treated finely textured beef has received the most heat, Kroger’s ban also includes a citric-acid-treated version of the meat filler. Cargill makes the latter. Both ammonia and citric acid kill pathogens.”

Three currently bankrupt downtown St. Paul buildings have another chance at financial integrity, according to a PiPress piece by John Welbes. “[P]roperty owner John Rupp and his largest lender have a deal that could keep him in control of three prominent buildings now in bankruptcy — but he’s up against a June 11 deadline. The agreement worked out with Mortgage Acquisition LLC, which holds the mortgages on the three buildings, gives Rupp a chance to avoid foreclosure by satisfying the mortgages for a reduced price. If he can’t come up with the money to get the deal done by early June, though, the properties will be auctioned off. The buildings are in high-profile spots in downtown St. Paul. They are the St. Paul Athletic Club at 340 Cedar St., the Lowry Hotel at 345 Wabasha St., across from City Hall, and the St. Paul Building at the corner of Wabasha and Fifth streets. Foreclosure proceedings had started on the three buildings months ago. Rupp, a longtime commercial property owner and developer in St. Paul, filed for bankruptcy protection for each of the buildings in February, one day before they were set to be auctioned off at a sheriff’s sale.”

The team formerly known as the Fighting Sioux will play tournament hockey this weekend without a nickname or logo. The AP’s Dave Campbell and Dave Kolpack write: “[A]s the University of North Dakota starts the NCAA Division I men’s hockey tournament this weekend, the jerseys will look a little bare. The NCAA ban of the Fighting Sioux nickname and logo — deemed ‘hostile and abusive’ by the NCAA — has officially taken effect despite years of defiance and lingering legal challenges from proud supporters. That means North Dakota will take the ice in St. Paul, Minn., for its West Regional semifinal game against Western Michigan as, well, North Dakota. The team will don new jerseys without the nickname or the logo for the first time Saturday afternoon. Same for the uniforms of the cheerleaders and band members, too. ‘It’s sad that we don’t get to wear it, but at the same we’re trying to win a hockey game against Western Michigan,’ said captain Mario Lamoureux, the only North Dakota native on the roster. ‘If anyone’s focus is on the jersey or what we have to wear, they should change that right away.’ UND ordered 30 new sets of jerseys and socks in each of their three color schemes — white, green and black — at a cost of $21,000, said Patrick Swanson, the team’s director of operations.”

Finally, Steven Hayward at Power Line is upset with his forces. He writes: “There seems to be a concerted effort this week to prove that the Republican Party really is the Stupid Party.  There were lots of people Tuesday night saying that they hoped that after the convincing win in the Illinois primary, Mitt Romney would avoid saying something stupid the next morning to blunt his momentum.  So instead of doing it himself, like any good private sector executive that I hear he once was, he delegated the job to his communications director, who obliged with Etch-a-Sketch-Gate.  Romney says he enjoys firing people who perform their jobs poorly.  Well . . . how about showing us? But not to be outdone, Rick Santorum demonstrated why he acquired the reputation as one of the U.S. Senate’s least likeable members during his two terms by suggesting that if Romney is the nominee, we might just as well stick with Obama because Romney is virtually the same guy.  Look, I get how the burning ambition for office makes you swing wildly at your opponent, but please don’t insult our intelligence. Finally, Republican Rep. Tim Huelskamp of Kansas, a member of the Ways and Means Committee, says he will vote against the Ryan budget because it doesn’t go far enough in cutting spending.  This is frivolous political immaturity of the first order.” Yes, but Steve, we already knew that.