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Scores of water-permit holders illegally using ‘billions of gallons’

Really? “Billions of gallons”? Mark Steil of MPR reports: “At a time when drought threatens state water supplies, scores of water permit holders in Minnesota are illegally using billions of gallons more water then they’re entitled to. Over the last six years, hundreds of individuals, businesses and even state government agencies have pumped more than their permit allows, according to state Department of Natural Resources records. But violators face few consequences for these misdemeanor violations. Even in a two-year drought, DNR officials admit they don’t spend much time enforcing permit limits. The violations come from nearly every category of water user: cities, crop irrigators, power companies, private businesses, golf courses, schools, government agencies, even a church.”

The ATF has cracked down on an Albert Lea gun shop. The AP story says only: “A longtime firearms supplier in Albert Lea plans to surrender its federal firearms license. The Albert Lea Tribune reports a 2011 Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms audit led to Hart Bros. Weaponry’s plan to surrender the license March 9. Owners Milan and Elaine Hart attribute the action to paperwork mistakes but wouldn’t go into detail. ATF spokesman Robert Schmidt said Wednesday he couldn’t comment because the case is active. Hart Bros. sells 5,000 to 7,000 guns a year and has been in business since 1977.” Does that work out to about 20 guns … a day?

Speaking of gummint gun-grabbin’ … The AP says: “The Minnesota Supreme Court says a man convicted of a drug charge is not entitled to the Second Amendment right to bear arms. The Wednesday, Feb. 27, ruling comes in the case of Andrew Craig, who was found guilty of possessing a firearm while ineligible to have one. Prosecutors said Craig was ineligible because of a prior fifth-degree drug conviction. Craig appealed, saying Minnesota’s law barring felons from having firearms violated his Second Amendment rights. The high court disagreed.” So now I guess he’ll have to stock up at the local gun show, like everyone else.

The Department of Human Services is taking heat. Paul Walsh of the Strib says: “Most notably, according to the findings released Wednesday by the Office of the Legislative Auditor, some facilities have had ‘significant difficulty finding placements’ for individuals ready for discharge. Also, the auditor is recommending ‘modification of civil commitment laws to ensure periodic judicial review of persons committed as mentally ill and dangerous or as developmentally disabled.’ ”

Some people … Bethany Wesley of the Bemidji Pioneer writes: “A 6-year-old boy was forced to walk a quarter-mile home in freezing temperatures last week after a school bus driver refused to let the child off the bus at his house. According to Daryl Bohn and Amber Thayer, their younger son, Darrion, tried to disembark the bus after his 8-year-old brother, Devin, was let off at their driveway after school last Wednesday. But the bus driver physically held Darrion back and shut the door in his face, driving him a quarter-mile down the road and making him walk home in the cold as punishment for not following directions, they said.” The bus driver has, uh, “resigned.”

He didn’t know he was on camera? Kevin Giles of the Strib says: “A Washington County deputy accused of pilfering prescription drugs from the Sheriff’s Office drug takeback bin was charged Wednesday with three felonies. Ricky Harry Gruber, 43, of Oakdale, was seen in videotape removing the bin — where the public surrenders old prescription drugs — and then removing several bottles of medications, the complaint said. When he was confronted by a commander and sergeant he tried to run but he was subdued and stripped of his service revolver.” I’m guessing the drugs weren’t Lipitor.

The GleanTim Post of MPR writes: “To make up for budget shortfalls, Minnesota lawmakers delayed $1.1 billion in payments to schools in recent years. Some lawmakers are calling for the state to deliver the payments in full this year. But school administrators [said] they’d rather receive an increase in funding from the state this year, and have their IOU paid back over the next several years. How much the state owes schools could change again on Thursday when the latest budget forecast comes out. By law any budget surplus will be sent to schools to help make good on promised state funds.”

There will be a penalty on “spilt milk” jokes … Tim Harlow of the Strib says: “The eastbound lanes of Interstate 94 remain closed nearly two hours after a tanker carrying milk overturned in the Lowry Hill Tunnel in downtown Minneapolis. The tanker was headed westbound on 94 around 11:15 a.m. when it struck the concrete median and flipped over onto the eastbound lanes, spilling milk on the highway, said Lt. Eric Roeske of the Minnesota State Patrol. At least three other vehicles were involved in the crash. The truck driver and one other person were taken to the hospital, Roeske said.”

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Comments (9)

  1. Submitted by Greg Kapphahn on 02/27/2013 - 04:03 pm.

    Before We Start to Criticize the DNR

    over failure to take action against those over pumping on their water permits,…

    let us not forget that we’re just coming out of more than a decade of former Gov. Tim Palwenty followed by the Republican-dominated legislature of the last biennium,…

    who sought to minimize the effectiveness of state regulation over business concerns by cutting staff in the departments responsible for enforcing those regulations,…

    effectively minimizing such enforcement if not making it impossible,…

    coupled with a demand on the part of Pawlenty and his appointees that no business should be FORCED to comply with regulations, but rather, we should pursue a toothless policy of “voluntary compliance,”…

    wherein state departments were reduced to begging those they regulated to “please be good,”

    and the targets of those regulations were free to respond, “we’ll think about it.”

    This failure to enforce state regulations was carefully designed and arranged and, to our shame (and damage) continues as a hangover of the bad old days,…

    when it was (wrongly) believed that businesses would never allow profit to trump the public interest,…

    and the best government was the smallest government.

    It will take considerable investment to staff up our state agencies to the point where they will be able to do their jobs once again,…

    but I remain firmly convinced that, had the Democrats and strong (yes, indeed, “big government”) state agencies been in charge, White Bear Lake (as an example) would NEVER have been allowed to suffer the damage it has,…

    nor would property owners around that lake have suffered the loss of property value about which our Republican friends were clearly not concerned in the least.

  2. Submitted by Todd Hintz on 02/27/2013 - 04:53 pm.

    Water Pumping

    So much for people doing the right thing. These people and businesses have permits and yet they think the limits don’t apply to them. Because no one checks up on them and the punishment is slight, they just pump away with abandon. In the meantime the rest of us suffer through a drought and White Bear Lake and surrounding bodies of water are depleted.

  3. Submitted by Frank Phelan on 02/27/2013 - 05:23 pm.

    My Word!!! What Next???

    Our guns. Our water. Our liberty. What will they take from us next!?!

  4. Submitted by Ray Schoch on 02/27/2013 - 07:00 pm.

    Wait…

    Some Minnesota water users need permits?

    There are penalties for illegal use?

    As stories on MinnPost and elsewhere have documented, and recently, we’re using far more water than nature is providing, and it may be — at least in terms of human lifetimes — a more or less permanent condition. Those accustomed to leaving the faucets running will not like the consequences.

    In Colorado, where this sort of thing has had to be dealt with basically forever, there’s an elaborate (and often contentious) system of rights and laws, along with a whole separate court system, that deals with nothing else but water. I won’t be here to witness it, but if, as other climate-change-related stories have suggested, we could be having winters like Des Moines and summers like Hays, Kansas, by the end of the century, there’s a whole new field opening up for at least a few law school graduates. and lawn-watering, not to mention the lush green of a golf course, might not be so common in some areas of the state a few decades down the road.

  5. Submitted by Tom Anderson on 02/27/2013 - 08:54 pm.

    Can the educators tell the difference

    Between a $20.00 bill from a new spending authorization and a $20.00 bill repaying an IOU?

    • Submitted by Greg Kapphahn on 02/28/2013 - 08:00 am.

      There is a HUGE Difference

      State education leaders, both administrators and teachers, are asking that the status quo be maintained as far as WHEN school districts receive their money from the state. The loans that the schools must float to keep operating while they wait for that state money are already in place and interest rates are extremely low.

      What they’re asking for, instead of getting their money on the schedule they got it back before former Republicans worked his shift as an accounting gimmick to get out of a budget crisis,…

      is an actual increase in the state aid formula, which would be money they can use to increase their operating budgets instead of having to beg district voters for referenda support every year,…

      support that the populations in some districts are simply unable to provide.

      If some of us can’t tell the difference, perhaps we were not paying attention in math or accounting class a few years back.

      • Submitted by Tom Anderson on 02/28/2013 - 07:08 pm.

        So they can tell the difference

        Because money paid back early (allowing them to pay off the loans and save interest costs) can’t be used to increase their operating budgets, which I guess means that the money cannot be spent at all in less they wait until later.

        I certainly encourage changing the state aid formula so that the horrible inequites are fixed and that areas like Mpls. and St. Paul who don’t have the populations capable of providing adequate funding start receiving a fair share.

      • Submitted by Tom Anderson on 02/28/2013 - 07:12 pm.

        Oh no!

        State law says that the school districts will have to take the $295 million dollar surplus right now. Perhaps they can give it back until their loans come do since they can’t use it in their budgets.

  6. Submitted by Tom Anderson on 02/27/2013 - 08:57 pm.

    White Bear Lake

    Seems to have had it’s biggest problems in the last two years. And it is due to global climate change. And why should property values around the lake suffer any less than the rest of the state?

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