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Doom, gloom and warnings on cliffs, deficits and reform

Lake Street bar suing city; Gary Schiff ramping up for possible mayoral run; five Grammy nominations in state; trade secrets case will cost Best Buy $27M; and more.

More verbiage on cliffs, deficits and “tax reform” … Danielle Killey and Don Davis of the Forum papers say: “Senate Majority Leader-elect Tom Bakk, DFL-Cook, said in discussions with people across the state it has become evident that “a growing reliance on property taxes is a problem.” But he was reluctant to say that tax changes would mean higher payments. ‘I think tax reforms and raising taxes are different things,’ Bakk said. … Bakk said he has talked with Sen. Rod Skoe, DFL-Clearbrook, who will chair the Tax Committee, about tax goals for the coming year. He said when it comes to tax reforms, the idea is to ‘not make us an outlier.’ ”

At MPR, Annie Baxter covers state economist Tom Stinson’s Debbie Downer act re: the fiscal cliff: “[W]eak growth of 50,000 jobs would shrink to a flimsy 5,000. Looking further, between now and the end of 2014, the state would lose out on a total of 70,000 new jobs. This gloomy message is courtesy of the fiscal cliff. ‘The fiscal cliff is real and it’s the most important damper on the economy we can see,’ said Tom Stinson, chief economist for the state. Stinson said under the fiscal cliff scenario, higher taxes would cause consumers and businesses to retrench and push the nation back into recession at the beginning of 2013. Stinson said the recession would likely linger through most of next year. In Minnesota, unemployment would spike to 7.1 percent from its current 5.8 percent. Personal income would plunge.” … And the undead will walk among the living.

Patrick Condon’s AP story on the budget chatter includes this gem: “Republicans, vanquished from legislative leadership in the November elections, said it was their two years of stewardship at the Capitol that helped clear the way for a lower deficit than recent years. [House Republican leader, Rep. Kurt Daudt of Crown] and the new Senate Republican leader, Sen. David Hann of Eden Prairie, suggested that Democrats should consider tax cuts in an attempt to further stimulate the state’s economy.” Is that what they’re calling it? “Stewardship”?

In D.C., MPR’s Brett Neely says: “As part of its campaign to raise tax rates on the wealthy, the Obama Administration is touting a new report that says two million Minnesota families will each see their income taxes rise by $2,200 next year if no agreement with Congress is reached. The study, conducted by the White House National Economic Council, also estimates that consumer spending in Minnesota would drop by $3.6 billion if tax rates rise on those making less than $250,000 a year as scheduled at the beginning of 2012.”

And … if you’re not freaked out enough … Christopher Snowbeck of the PiPress writes: “If the federal government goes over the fiscal cliff early next year, the Minnesota Department of Health would suffer a big hit. That was the message Thursday, Dec. 6, from health department officials testifying at the Capitol before a joint meeting of two health committees in the state House of Representatives. A series of federal budget cuts and tax increases are scheduled to take effect after New Year’s, unless officials reach a deal to generate a required level of budget savings, testified Dave Greeman, the budget director at the Minnesota Department of Health. The automatic cuts would result in a $33 million to $37 million reduction in federal support for health programs in Minnesota between July 2013 and June 2015. The nutrition program Women, Infants and Children would experience the single biggest cut at $8 million.”

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Oh! “Malicious and racially motivated”? The Strib’s Eric Roper says: “A popular Lake Street bar is taking the city of Minneapolis to court for engaging in what it says was a malicious and racially-motivated scheme to close its doors. Champions, located on Lake and Blaisdell, filed a lawsuit this morning detailing months of wrangling with police and city licensing officials over the bar’s license. Many of the accusations, which include claims of defamation and retaliation, stem from an undercover drug sting that police revealed this March. The bar claims that the city has attempted to use the sting arrests, as well as a city requirement that bars sell a substantial amount of food, to revoke the establishment’s 31-year-old license. The suit says the license is exempt from the food requirement.” Maybe they should invite the City Hall folks over for Family Night.

The Glean OK, who is NOT “exploring” a run for Minneapolis Mayor? Roper previously posted: “The ‘Gary Schiff for Mayor exploratory committee’ is hosting a fundraiser at the not-yet-open Dangerous Man Brewing Co. in Northeast next Thursday. Schiff said recently that he’ll decide in January whether he’s running. The committee isn’t yet listed on the Hennepin County campaign finance website, but it will need to be registered before the event on December 15. Schiff’s colleague, Betsy Hodges, recently formed a fundraising committee because she had begun raising money. Schiff is hosting the event at Dangerous Man as a nod to his efforts to loosen Minneapolis’ liquor laws. Dangerous Man Brewing will be able to open a microbrewery/taproom because of an ordinance that Schiff introduced.”

Minnesota copped five Grammy nominations. Marianne Combs’ MPR story says: “Minnesota musicians are up for five Grammy Awards this year. The locked out Minnesota Orchestra musicians are nominated for Best Orchestral Performance, specifically for a performance of Sibelius Symphonies Nos. 2 and 5 (conducting Sibelius is widely considered one of Osmo Vanska’s strengths). Composer Rene Clausen’s new cd of choral music “Life & Breath” is nominated for three different Grammy Awards: Best Engineered Classical Album, Best Choral Performance (for the Kansas City Chorale), and Classical Producer of the Year. Clausen teaches at Concordia College in Moorhead. The Okee Dokee Brothers’ album ‘Can You Canoe?’ is nominated for Best Children’s Album.”

At City Pages, Reed Fischer talks with the Okee Dokee Brothers: “The Minneapolis-based Okee Dokee Brothers, AKA Joe Mailander and Justin Lansing, have had a busy 24 hours. The Americana act with a focus on music for children just got nominated for a Grammy …
What do you want to say if you win?
I haven’t thought about specifics. On a limb, if we do by chance win — which we’re not putting a lot of hope in, it would be nice — we would try to represent the kids’ music genre as a whole. There’s some really good stuff out there that’s clever and not dumbed down and is well-produced music that whole families can enjoy. Not just aimed at the cheesy demographic that kids’ music is known for.
Things seem to have really taken off since you relocated to Minnesota in the past couple years.
We love it here. Not only are the families and friends into the music we’re playing, but we’ve got some good outdoor canoe enthusiasts here who fall in line with our theme of canoeing down the Mississippi River. That vibe translates well here. Not to mention, Minnesota’s structure, legislatively speaking, legacy funds is great because we’re involved in libraries and we do a lot of outreach to communities in rural parts of the state about bluegrass and Americana, the outdoors, and being active.” So they’re socialized musicians!

When it rains, it pours. Best Buy lost another $27 million Wednesday. Leena Rao at TechCrunch writes: “Score one for the small guys. Startup TechForward just won a huge lawsuit against electronics retailer Best Buy over misappropriated trade secrets. The judge has awarded TechForward $22 million in damages, as well as another $5 million in punitive damages. Here’s the background. In 2009, Best Buy and TechForward … engaged in a trial program of TechForward’s Guaranteed Buyback Plan in a number of Best Buy Stores. TechForward has done similar deals with other big-name retailers as well. Basically, customers choose to purchase the plan at the time they’re buying a gadget, similar to the way you purchase an extended time warranty. With the plan, customers also have the option of selling the gadget back to Best Buy for store credit on a sliding scale. … TechForward’s procedure in evaluating buybacks is unique — the company took the price, exercise rates, managing cash reserves and more into account to determine how much a gadget is worth. BestBuy allegedly held out the promise of a partnership and got TechForward to give them highly proprietary data under a confidentiality agreement. Six weeks after the exchange of TechForward’s proprietary information, Best Buy decided to end the relationship and start a similar program of its own, that of course closely resembled (basically copied) the startup’s procedures and format. It gets worse.”