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Taxpayers covering $100 million in state crop insurance premiums

Children in poverty on the rise; bar crash goes nationwide; mellow DFL gathering expected; pipeline may get scrapped; and more.

Rampant socialism! Jim Spencer of the Strib reports on the feds propping up … crop insurance: “Federal taxpayers are paying nearly $100 million in crop insurance premiums to protect Minnesota farmers, the Environmental Working Group (EWG) reported Thursday. One agribusiness growing corn and soybeans in eight Minnesota counties collected almost $1.7 million in publicly paid  insurance premiums in 2011, EWG claimed. Crop insurance protects farmers’ incomes in the result of disasters. EWG mined state-by-state data from records collected under the Freedom of Information Act. The law did not require the government to reveal the names of the individual businesses or farmers that got the money.” That might open them to scurrilous attacks.

From the Forum papers, Ryan Johnson covers Minnesota’s steady climb in the number of children living in poverty: “After a long streak of boasting one of the nation’s lowest rates of children living in poverty, Minnesota has been ‘slipping’ in recent years compared to the rest of the nation, said research director Kara Arzamendia with the Children’s Defense Fund. About 9 percent of the state’s children lived in poverty in 2000, but the number shot up to 15 percent by 2010, the latest data available. That year, about 192,000 of the state’s under-18 population lived in households with incomes less than $22,314 for a family of four. … That was one of the findings in the latest Kids Count report released Wednesday. For more than two decades, the Annie E. Casey Foundation has released the state-by-state data book that tracks several factors in children’s health and well-being and aims to raise awareness of the issues now facing children across the nation.”

The crash at Gordy’s Place (in Little Canada Wednesday) … has gone coast to coast, thanks to a security cam. At Sports Grid, Eric Goldschein writes: “Yesterday began like any other day for patrons at Gordie’s Place … They were probably sitting around, watching some sort of game, shooting some sort of [bleep], just like they always do. Then, unexpectedly, the bar came crashing down around them. … Life is incredibly random. But accidents like these shouldn’t keep you from patronizing your local food-and-beer-serving establishment. In fact, you should go there more often. Because hey — you never know which Minnesota Twins game will be your last.” And how would you feel if the last thing you saw was a Twins game? … Well, you wouldn’t feel anything, would you?

John Brewer’s PiPress story says: “[Jim] Cossack, who appeared on national television early Thursday … to detail the crash, said later that all but one of the injured patrons had been released from the hospital. One man suffered several broken ribs, he said, while a still-hospitalized woman had both of her legs broken when she was pinned between the truck and bar. Authorities closed Little Canada Road for about 90 minutes as the truck was pulled from the building and utility crews removed the downed telephone line. [Ramsey County Sheriff’s spokesman Randy] Gustafson said emergency responders were quick to arrive on the scene because two sheriff’s deputies happened to be parked across the street from the bar when the accident occurred.”

The GleanAlso at the Forum papers, Don Davis reports that the DFL is thinking of renting dancing bears: “Minnesota Republicans a couple of weeks ago held a spirited, and sometimes raucous, convention to pick their U.S. Senate candidate. Democrats meet in Rochester Saturday in what is expected to be a quiet event. Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party leaders expect such a quiet event that they joke they will bring in dancing bears to liven things up. ‘There is not a lot of controversy’, DFL Chairman Ken Martin said, not a common situation for his party. The party plans to endorse U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar for a second six-year term beginning at noon Saturday. That could be the only day with official action.”

A North Dakota-to-Minnesota oil pipeline may be on the verge of getting scrapped. The AP writes: “A Colorado company says its proposed $650 million pipeline that would move 150,000 barrels of North Dakota crude daily to a hub in Minnesota is at risk of being scrapped. High Prairie Pipeline, a subsidiary of Durango, Colo.-based Saddle Butte Pipeline LLC, alleges Enbridge Energy Partners LP has refused to allow a connection to the Canadian company’s terminal at Clearbrook, Minn., in favor of tar sands oil from the province of Alberta, where Enbridge is based. High Prairie wants to force Enbridge to take North Dakota crude shipped by the Colorado company and has taken its complaint to federal regulators.”

Now THIS is good newsThe AP reports: “Minnesota growers expect a sensational strawberry season. Minnesota strawberries are ripening early, as much as two to three weeks ahead of normal, and most growers are reporting an excellent crop. Some pick-your-own strawberry farms in the Twin Cities area and southern Minnesota expect to open during the first week of June.”

A couple of weeks ago, it was revealed that her company has enjoyed several completely tax-free years. Now we learn that she has, too. The AP says: “A Wisconsin billionaire who is Gov. Scott Walker’s largest campaign donor owed no state taxes in 2010 because of a change in her corporation’s structure. According to records from the state Department of Revenue and ABC Supply Inc., Diane Hendricks’ tax obligation dropped from $2.2 million in 2009 to zero in 2010. Hendricks owns ABC Supply, the nation’s largest wholesale distributor of roofing, windows and siding. Hendricks had a seven-figure tax bill in four of the previous five years, the records show. … ABC Supply’s tax director Scott Bianchini tells the Journal Sentinel that Hendricks did not owe state taxes in 2010 because the firm changed its structure so the profits and the tax obligations stay with the company, not with Hendricks. ‘Now ABC is paying taxes on it,’ Bianchini said. Despite the 2010 bill, Bianchini said ABC and Hendricks have paid their fair share in taxes. ‘Diane Hendricks and Ken Hendricks paid $10 million in taxes since 2005,’  Bianchini said, adding that focusing on the tax bill of zero in 2010 is ‘meaningless and minutiae.’” I’m sure they wouldn’t mind releasing their forms for the past say 10 years, would they? The innocent have nothing to hide.

Craig Gilbert of the Journal Sentinel is puzzled how Gov. Scott Walker and President Obama could both be leading in state polls: “Neither is ahead by a lot. Both are in close, competitive races. Neither is assured of winning. But one perfectly plausible outcome this year is that both incumbents carry Wisconsin, despite the partisan abyss between them and despite how polarized Wisconsin voters are along party lines. One reason this could happen is that Walker and Obama are running in different elections — June and November — that will feature a different mix of voters (the November electorate will undoubtedly be larger).  In both these elections, the overwhelming majority of Republicans will vote for Walker and against Obama: in the new poll, 88% of Republicans support Walker and 9% support Obama. The overwhelming majority of Democrats will vote against Walker and for Obama: in the new poll, 94% of Democrats support Obama and 16% support Walker.”