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Parties hand state $628K bill from redistricting fight

The DFL, the GOP and an independent group have put in their legal bills for redistricting expenses. The AP says: “The Minnesota court panel that settled the latest round of political redistricting is now being asked to cover more than $628,000 in legal bills for the Democrats, Republicans and citizens who joined the lawsuit. The political parties submitted their legal costs — mainly hundreds of hours of attorney fees for as much as $620 an hour last week. Copies of those submissions, obtained Tuesday by The Associated Press, show that the DFL asked for $292,000 and the Republican Party is seeking $246,000. Another attorney representing a separate group of citizens submitted paperwork last month detailing $180,000 in outlays. It’s the fullest accounting yet of legal costs associated with the court’s work to redraw political boundaries, a task that fell to a special redistricting panel of the Minnesota Supreme Court after elected Republicans and Democrats failed to agree on a new map.”

The nonprofit Minnesota Waters is going out of business. Dennis Lien at the PiPress reports: “Minnesota Waters, a statewide organization that’s been deeply involved in water quality and invasive species issues, will end operations Saturday, its executive director said Tuesday … The nonprofit organization has been saddled with financial problems for some time and already has cut its staff to reduce costs, according to Lois Sinn Lindquist, its head for the past year. Lindquist said Minnesota Waters explored other options, including combining functions with another operation. But she said its board of directors decided last week to put it into a dormant state, which allows it to keep its corporate identity in case it resumes operations.”

The Mall of America has picked a partner for its $200 million-plus expansion. Sam Black at The Business Journal writes “The Mall of America has selected a local partner to develop and build an addition to the Bloomington mall that is expected to cost $200 million to $250 million and include a luxury hotel, a large medical office building for the Mayo Clinic, and new retail and parking space. Ryan Cos. US Inc. beat out a few other local developers for the right to partner on the next expansion project, said Kurt Hagen, senior vice president of development for Triple Five Worldwide, the shopping center’s Edmonton, Alberta-based ownership group.”

The GOP’s story and they’re sticking with it is that Dayton sold them out with that last tax cut veto. ButBill Salisbury of the PiPress says: “Republican legislative leaders are outraged and disappointed that Gov. Mark Dayton vetoed the second tax relief bill they sent to him last week, but the governor says they shouldn’t be surprised. ‘I told them I wasn’t going to sign it because it violated fundamental principles of fiscal responsibility,’ Dayton said at a St. Paul Downtown Airport news conference Tuesday … The second bill had a lot of job-creating tax breaks in it that Dayton liked, but he said he vetoed because it also included a statewide business property tax freeze that would have added $73 million to the budget shortfall. But House Taxes Committee Chair Greg Davids, R-Preston, said those ‘tails’ in the bill amounted to just a ‘rounding error’ in a $35 billion state budget. ‘I really believed he (Dayton) would sign the bill’ because Republicans met him ‘more than half way’ … Davids said the governor refused to meet with him to discuss the bill and didn’t return his phone calls or electronic messages. ‘He wouldn’t even meet with us to create tens of thousands of jobs,’ said.” I’m guessing he might have met up if he knew exactly where and when those jobs would appear.

We’ve followed Neil de Mause’s thinking on our stadium drama for so long it only seems right to check in post facto. “It all sounds very equitable halfsies! but there’s a lot that that equation leaves out. First off, the Vikings will control all football-related stadium revenue, and as this is going to be a football stadium, that means the team will get vastly more than half of the proceeds from the new building. Second, Wilf’s $477 million will largely be covered by new revenues: He’ll be getting a $200 million loan from the NFL (really a grant, since it’ll come largely from money the team would otherwise have to share with the league); plus maybe $210 million in naming-rights fees over 30 years (worth about $100 million in present value), since under the deal the state gets nothing from the sale of the name of the building it will own and pay for half of; plus an estimated $40 million in up-front seat-license sales. … These numbers are courtesy of an astonishing 1500ESPN radio column by longtime Minnesota journalist Patrick Reusse that ran last Friday astonishing less because of the figures in it than the tone that Reusse took once the stadium deal was all but finalized:

We in the Twin Cities sports media were so amped up over getting a new stadium for the Vikings and thus maintaining them as a subject to write and talk about that not much time was spent looking at the financial realities. We have allowed owner Zygi Wilf to be crowned as a patient, generous hero in the proceedings that led to the approval of the stadium on Thursday in the State Legislature. … The truth is that at the new number for the team share, $477 million, this remains a marvelous deal for Wilf and the Vikings.

“[I]t might have been nice for Reusse to come clean about it fully to his readers — ‘this is a massive giveaway to the Vikings, but I still think it’s worth it’ — when there was still time to make a difference.” But I ask you would the Star Tribune have run that column?

He’ll be gone but hardly ignored … Best Buy’s Richard Schulze. Thomas Lee of the Strib writes: “Richard Schulze will be giving up corporate titles when he steps aside as Best Buy Company’s chairman and board director, but not the vast influence he holds over the company, analysts and former executives say. Schulze’s standing with the company was suddenly diminished when he resigned over the weekend after it was disclosed that he didn’t tell the board of directors of allegations that former CEO Brian Dunn had an inappropriate relationship with a female employee. … in turbulent times, the company also needs someone who understands the consumer electronics business and who knows Best Buy inside and out, Schulze’s proponents say. That kind of expertise is difficult to find, especially on Best Buy’s board, where almost none of the directors has any meaningful retail experience. ‘Best Buy is fighting for its life,’ said Burt Flickinger III, managing director of Strategic Resources Group, a consulting group in New York. ‘What the company needs is its founder.’ ”

The Strib editorializes — maternally — on Best Buy’s annus horribilis saying: “Now, Best Buy can begin anew because it must — with Schulze’s successor on the board, Hatim Tyabji, who will help lead the search for a successor to Dunn (George L. Mikan III has been named interim CEO). Of course, the trajectory of Best Buy won’t be determined entirely by a few corporate leaders. Many others, including leaders and staff at the store level and especially those who work at Best Buy’s corporate headquarters in Richfield, will be crucial in shaping the company’s future. We hope Best Buy can soon move past the self-inflicted turmoil — and even find a fresh start opportunity in it — and continue to prosper as a key local employer and contributor to the community.”

At MPR, Martin Moylan looks at the sticky issues surrounding office romances: “Such relationships can be a minefield for companies, exposing them to lawsuits, creating discontent in the workplace and costing top executives their jobs. That’s why most big companies have policies intended to police or even prohibit executives and managers from getting too close to the people working for them. At Best Buy, at least one employee complained to the company in writing about 52-year-old CEO Brian Dunn’s relationship with a 29-year-old female employee. … A company in Oregon called EthicsPoint helps employers collect complaints. Best Buy is among the thousands of companies that use the service, which includes telephone hotlines, web-based reporting and case management. EthicsPoint will not disclose if it received complaints about Dunn but says overall about 30,000 concerns, questions and complaints come in from workers at the various employers every month. ‘Companies want a system where they can get those concerns internally, manage them internally and investigate them internally,’ said Bob Conlin, EthicsPoint’s chief products officer.”

Denny! You really should check out the dunes and maybe the Indy 500 while you’re there. Dee DePass of the Strib says,:“It’s been three months, and fallen auto mogul Denny Hecker remains locked up in Terre Haute, Ind., despite being told that the U.S. Bureau of Prisons is not done moving him yet. Hecker was transported from the minimum-security federal prison camp in Duluth in early February to a prison in Wisconsin. He was transferred again the next day to Indiana, where he was only supposed to stay a short while. Asked on Tuesday if Hecker will remain there indefinitely, Bureau of Prisons spokesman Chris Burke said Terre Haute ‘is not his final destination. I don’t know the reason for the holdup on the transfer, but I would expect him to be moving in the future’. Burke declined to say which prison will become Hecker’s new home for the remaining 8 1/2 years of his sentence.”

You’ve heard of the rich, the super-rich and the Texas rich? Well, North Dakota is going to need some attention. The AP says: “North Dakota has passed Alaska to become the second-leading oil-producing state in the nation, trailing only Texas, state officials said Tuesday. North Dakota oil drillers pumped 17.8 million barrels in March, with a daily average of 575,490 barrels, Assistant State Mineral Resources Director Bruce Hicks said. That compares with 17.5 million barrels in Alaska, though still far behind Texas. The state’s oil patch is drilling at record levels and shows little sign of slowing down. The 152.9 million barrels of crude oil produced in 2011 set a record, surpassing the previous year’s mark by nearly 40 million barrels, according to the state Industrial Commission. The number of wells in the state jumped from 6,726 in February to a record 6,921 in March, Hicks said.”

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Comments (6)

  1. Submitted by Tom Christensen on 05/16/2012 - 07:19 am.

    Sounds to me like a republican tactic

    It sounds to me like Gov. Dayton is using the republican tactic of “my way or the highway” and they don’t like it. Everything the republicans do has to have a poison pill associated with it. Rounding of a number here and rounding of a number there and pretty soon you are talking about real money. Voters November will be a good time to give the republicans the consequences they deserve. Voters speak loudly!

  2. Submitted by Greg Kapphahn on 05/16/2012 - 08:33 am.

    Somewhere in the Cosmos

    There is a room wherein an initially breathlessly excited group of citizens gathered to hear “conservative” Republican reports of the massive numbers of jobs that had been created by tax cuts for the wealthy (in all their various guises).

    The hors d’oeuvres have long since run out. The drinks have run dry. The restless crowd has wandered off. The lights have gone out.

    The podium now stands at the front of an empty room covered in a thick layer of dust. The PA system is still on, but even after all these years (since the Reagan/Stockman tax cuts), there has been NOTHING to announce. Not a single well-paying job with benefits has been created.

    But the room has been left untouched. Eventually it will be featured in a museum with a plaque attached outside the door which reads,…

    “This room is left as a monument to the stupidity and gullibility of many of our ancestors in the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries who ignored facts, evidence and reality, itself, in order to enact public policy based on what they believed MUST CERTAINLY be true.”

    I can’t help but wonder how long it will take those of us living in this era of dysfonic demagogues and entire networks of media dedicated to vomiting out a continuous stream of “conservative” propaganda to realize the truth of that plaque,…

    and that that room where the announcement of jobs (and other promised public benefits) created by “smaller government” and tax cuts for the wealthy should have long since occurred will remain forever, infinitely, soundlessly, empty.

  3. Submitted by David Koski on 05/16/2012 - 08:59 am.

    Rounding Error

    Playing with big numbers, many do get confused with the magnitudes. To throw out “rounding error” and then build an entire case around it, is just typical Republican blasphemy.

    Looks as though Reusse may have demanded an out clause to bolster his reputation. Everyone knew that the deal going down stunk to high heaven and PR (Pat Reusse) most likely agreed to muzzle himself, as long as he had a chance for redemption afterwards.

  4. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 05/16/2012 - 11:18 am.

    Rounding errors and reality

    We threw 35,000 people off of health care for want of $75 million a few years ago…drop in the bucket? The problem with these budget cuts and shortfalls is that although the actual dollars in a given instance may not look like much compared to the over-all budget, the effects on actual programs and people can be devastating. You may think that a $79 hit to the budget isn’t much, but it can be enough to kill a few a people.

  5. Submitted by James Hamilton on 05/16/2012 - 11:46 am.

    Why do we pick up the tab

    for the legal battle over redistricting? The legislature must have passed a full-employment for lawyers bill while I was sleeping. By the way, who bills $620 an hour?

  6. Submitted by Jackson Cage on 05/16/2012 - 12:11 pm.

    Color me startled…

    Reusse doesn’t write an anti-stadium piece in the strib, but is allowed to on the Hubbard/GOP radio station website?

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