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Minnesota wetland losses five times the size of Minneapolis

Decline in property taxes projected at $121 million; GOP disputes estimate; solar power explored for Saints stadium; Samuels calls on two cops to resign; Dayton defends “mystery trip”; and more.

Minnesota has lost wetlands equivelant to five times the size of Minneapolis. Josephine Marcotty of the Strib writes: “In just five years, Minnesota has lost 312 square miles of valuable wetlands and the natural vegetation that surrounds them — an area about 5.7 times the size of Minneapolis — reducing a resource that provides vital habitat for waterfowl, minimizes floods and keeps agricultural chemicals out of rivers and streams. Between 2008 and 2012, rural landowners nationwide plowed up 11,300 square miles of wetlands and highly erodible land, most likely because of the high payouts that come with federally subsidized crop insurance, according to an analysis of land use trends released Tuesday. The loss of wetlands was by far the greatest in the Dakotas and Minnesota — a total of 1,142 square miles — according to the Environmental Working Group (EWG), a national watchdog group that uses data to sway federal policy.”

Jennifer Brooks of the Strib reports: “The Minnesota Department of Revenue is projecting a $121 million decline in property taxes next year. Gov. Mark Dayton and Democratic lawmakers cheered the prediction, which would be the first drop in Minnesota property taxes in a decade. The state steered millions of extra dollars to local government aid in the most recent budget, with the expectation that the money will be passed along to the taxpayer in the form of lower property tax levies. The state will have to wait until after December … to know for sure if that happens. … How reliable are these estimates? Dayton joked that the department that makes the property tax estimates isn’t the same one that predicted that electronic pulltab devices would bring in enough money to fund the state’s share of the new Vikings stadium.” Although, now that you mention it, that $121 million would really help close the gap on the stadium …

But The Can-Kicking Corps is not impressed. Doug Belden of the PiPress writes: “At a news conference after Dayton’s, Senate Minority Leader David Hann, R-Eden Prairie, said the administration’s prediction was ‘complete bunk.’ Local officials will decide what to do with the increased state aid, Hann said, and historically what they’ve done is spend it. ‘I don’t think there’s any evidence to show that increasing local government aid has the effect that they’re claiming, that that somehow translates into reduction of local taxes. It just doesn’t work that way,’ Hann said.” What he may have meant to say is, ‘What works is taking away school money and making superintendents borrow the difference from large banks.”

At MPR, Tim Nelson has more details about the solar power installation that still might go up at the new Saints stadium: “The city of St. Paul has proposed putting up a 105kW photovoltaic solar power array in the stadium’s parking lot, on the east side of the project, near Highway 52. The city is seeking a $555,000 grant from Xcel’s $30 million renewable energy grant fund. Total project cost is estimated at about $741,000. … The city’s environmental policy director, Anne Hunt, says the array, over a carport and an air conditioning unit, would supply about 8 to 10 percent of the stadium’s annual electrical needs.”   

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Don Samuels has seen and heard enough from the two cops who wrangled in Green Bay last week. Says Matt McKinney in the Strib: “City Council member Don Samuels, who is running for mayor, called on the two officers to resign immediately, saying the facts of the case will remain even with the investigation. ‘I can tell you that the words used by these officers are intolerable, extremely hateful and show that they cannot honorably serve and protect every resident of Minneapolis,’ especially those in the gay and black communities, he said at a late-afternoon news conference Tuesday. Earlier, Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak and Police Chief Janeé Harteau said they were appalled by the officers’ profane and racist statements.”

And what about the governor’s “mystery trip”? Rachel Stassen-Berger of the Strib writes: “Gov. Mark Dayton on Tuesday was steadfast in his insistence that he did the right thing by keeping the target of his economic development trip last week a mystery. ‘I went because I am trying to get jobs for Minnesota and part of that is meeting with businesses who don’t share my willingness to be put in the public limelight,’ he told reporters on Tuesday, the first day he met with the media since his mystery mission. ‘If I am going to have to disclose where I went in that kind of situation, it is going to cost me the opportunity to try to [create] jobs in Minnesota.’ ”

A commentary in the Strib asks that we not forget the need for gun control. Seventeen year-old Sami Rhamim writes: “When my father Reuven was killed alongside five other men at his business, Accent Signage Systems, last September, the Minneapolis community mourned — but I didn’t expect anything more to come of it. No longer. A powerful and growing movement, led by New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and his coalition of more than 1,000 mayors, is fighting on behalf of families like my own to improve our gun laws and help save lives. And powerful state groups, like Protect Minnesota, are fighting for common sense in capitols across America. … legislation in the U.S. House sponsored by Reps. Peter King, R-N.Y., and Mike Thompson, D-Calif., has garnered more than 180 co-sponsors, including Minnesota Reps. Keith Ellison, Betty McCollum and Rick Nolan. It’s time for their House colleagues from Minnesota — Reps. Erik Paulsen, John Kline, Collin Peterson, Tim Walz, and Michele Bachmann — to follow suit.”

That bad-boy morning-jock thing is a double-edged sword … Tad Vezner of the PiPress says: “The Minnesota Department of Education has asked Clear Channel Communications to pull its sponsored public service announcements from the company’s radio stations, following a series of Twitter posts by a Twin Cities DJ disparaging a number of high schools statewide. On Tuesday morning, Dave Ryan, the host of KDWB-FM’s ‘Dave Ryan in the Morning Show,’ sent a message via his Twitter account stating: ‘Tweet me anything, your city, your school, etc and I’ll make fun of it via Twitter. #gift #YoureWelcome.’ That message was followed by a series of tweets insulting various Minnesota cities and high schools, both public and private, using phrases pertaining to drug abuse, teen pregnancy, intelligence and literacy, and socioeconomic status, among other themes.” Hey, Dave, your mother is so ugly …

If you’re connected to Comcast, you’ll be interested in the piece on the upgrade coming. Says Julio Ojeda-Zapata in the PiPress: “The cable giant this week plans to deploy next-generation television gear that will give thousands of its Twin Cities customers modernized screen controls, increased storage for recorded shows, a redesigned remote and a smartphone app that responds to voice commands. … the Philadelphia-based company, which is the Twin Cities’ dominant cable and Internet provider, has been slowly deploying its ‘X1 Platform’ gear across the country. … The catch: Not every Twin Cities customer can snag X1, which Comcast has trumpeted as ‘the world’s first entertainment operating system.’ Only ‘triple-play’ subscribers who bundle the company’s television, telephone and broadband Internet services are eligible at the moment.” What was the last time a cable company offered an unencumbered, no-strings, straight-as-you-see-it deal?