So it’s not just the Pentagon that has a tough time controlling budgets … Dave Shaffer of the Strib says: “Xcel Energy expects to restart its Monticello Nuclear Power Plant this week after a four-month shutdown that allowed workers to replace aging pumps and other equipment to keep the 43-year-old reactor running another two decades and to boost electric output by 12 percent. But the cost of the work surged $267 million, or 83 percent, over its 2008 budget of $320 million. The Minneapolis-based electric and gas utility says the final costs will be even higher, but hasn’t publicly disclosed the amount. In the meantime, Xcel’s 1.2 million electric customers in Minnesota are being asked to pay for the cost overruns.” Replacing my lawn mower cost more than I expected. Whom do I bill?
Dirk Bak, president of a local janitorial services company, gets space at CNBC to rip the policies of Gov. Mark Dayton: “Gov. Mark Dayton (D) and the Minnesota Legislature seem intent on disrupting the competitive trajectory developed over the last century and replacing it with a toxic blend of massive tax and spending increases. The recent omnibus tax bill passed during the 2013 legislative session is just one example of this change for the worse. … The impact of these massive tax increases is twofold: a loss of Minnesota jobs and a decrease in accessibility of the goods or services offered by the business. … Restrictions and regulation also threaten growth. New minimum wage laws have been proposed that would harm low-skilled employees, the businesses that employ them and raise prices significantly for consumers. … In addition to this, ever-increasing proposed environmental restrictions look to further saddle Minnesota corporations with burdensome and often redundant regulations. Strong unions also put a strain on business leaders in Minnesota as their influence and power make the state less competitive than even our Upper Midwest neighbors in Wisconsin and Michigan.” Wow. That’s almost the complete litany.
On the somewhat-less-apocalyptic front … The AP reports: “A study on Minnesota’s manufacturing climate gives the state high marks for innovation and productivity but low marks for its tax climate. The analysis was conducted by Michael Hicks, an economics professor at Ball State University in Muncie, Ind. The 2013 Manufacturing and Logistics Report Card offers a state-by-state analysis of manufacturing climates … Minnesota ranked near the top in the nation in terms of manufacturing patents and spending on research and development per capita. The study also concluded that Minnesota’s high-quality labor force is a competitive advantage that could encourage companies to relocate in the state.” If it weren’t for everything being so damned awful …
The PiPress reliably channels much of what Mr. Bak says and a lot of state GOP leaders when it writes: “[W]hat’s ahead, now, after Gov. Dayton and the DFL-controlled Legislature abandoned restraint and loaded the budget with $2.1 billion in new taxes, despite rising revenue from an improving economy? A statement from GOP House Minority Leader Kurt Daudt included a reminder that June 2013 was the final month under a Republican budget (ultimately signed by Dayton) that contained no tax increases. ‘Under Republican leadership, Minnesota’s economy has seen steady, consistent improvements,’ Daudt said. The news is ‘yet another signal that what we did works.’ … The increases mean bigger government that will reach deeper into the pockets of all Minnesotans and risk putting recent gains in jeopardy. … In 2013, lawmakers heard and granted the wishes of those with pent-up demand for spending. They defied thoughtful arguments from others who maintain — as we do — that higher spending in an already high-tax state should be influenced more by economic growth than desire.” Remind me, where was the PiPress with the “kick the can” approach?
Duluth Mayor Don Ness jumped at the chance to claim a title. A News Tribune story says: “[O]ur mayor proclaimed Duluth ‘the Craft Beer Capitol of Minnesota,’ or the ‘CBC of MN.’ He even tried to trademark it when he made the proclamation in a column in the [craft brew magazine] Growler, also in February. And on what did the mayor base his proclamation? ‘I called dibs on it,’ Don Ness wrote. ‘I was the first mayor in Minnesota to proclaim my city the CBC of MN. (St. Paul Mayor) Chris (Coleman) or (Minneapolis Mayor) R.T. (Rybak) could have done it, but they sort of missed their window to be the first city to do it. That’s pretty important. Sure, there’s nothing that would stop either of those guys from becoming the second mayor in Minnesota to make that proclamation. But I think we can all agree that would be pretty lame.” When was the last time Minneapolis said, “We’re No. 2, and proud”?
Zebra mussels have made it into the Cross Lake chain. The AP story says: “Dave Fischer, president of the Whitefish Area Property Owners Association, said he was disappointed at the discovery of the zebra mussels. He said his group would continue its strategy of educating people and inspecting watercraft. He said his group has paid and unpaid inspectors who check boats at the access points. … The Whitefish chain has 14 lakes and 199 miles of shoreline, and seven access points. … Other Brainerd-area waters infested with zebra mussels include Ossawinnamakee Lake, Rice Lake, Gull Lake and Pelican Lake, Duval said. They were also discovered in Lake Winnibigoshish this year and in Round Lake last year.”
Under “Things I Hadn’t Worried About Until You Mentioned It”: Pam Louwagie of the Strib says: “Aaron Schaffhausen already knows most of his fate. Monday afternoon, he is scheduled to be formally sentenced to serve three mandatory life prison terms for the brutal murders of his three young daughters. How and where he’ll spend his next decades behind bars — as well as whether he’ll ever be eligible for release — is still in question. Schaffhausen and the corrections administrators responsible for him will have to navigate a pecking order of inmates who may not look kindly upon him for his crime, experts say. ‘There’s a hierarchy among prisoners,’ said Martin Horn, a lecturer at John Jay College of Criminal Justice who once led corrections for the state of Pennsylvania and city of New York. ‘Inmates who are bank robbers are very high-status prisoners because they’re viewed as very bold. But inmates who prey on children are viewed as weak.’ ”
On the verdict in the George Zimmerman trial, the Strib editorializes: “The verdict does not mean that Zimmerman’s claim to have acted in self-defense has been proven. It means that the state could not prove ‘beyond reasonable doubt’ that Zimmerman’s actions constituted a crime — the high standard America’s system of justice demands before the government can take away a person’s freedom. It appears that, for jurors, the knowable facts simply were not sufficiently consistent with the prosecution’s portrait of Zimmerman as a reckless and malicious killer. For example, Zimmerman called police before the shooting and waited for them afterward — actions that seem unlikely if he had harbored criminal intent. But surely this disaster, for all concerned, has reiterated one lesson, especially critical in this era of coast-to-coast concealed-carry gun laws. That is the importance of avoiding all unnecessary confrontations.” Or … stay in your house.
And the latest … from Bill Glauber of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel on the G.I. Joe security guards at the Gogebic Taconite site in northern Wisconsin: “Sen. Bob Jauch (D-Poplar) said the protesters seen in the video ‘were hooligans, hooligans who are not from the north.’ He said the incident ‘frustrated and angered every person who has been involved in this issue.’ Jauch also criticized the company for bringing in the heavily armed guards. But he said appropriate security is needed at the site. ‘Why did they need to bring in this military presence when there was no danger?’ Jauch said. ‘This armed militia looked like it came out of the jungles of Nicaragua.’ Bob Seitz, a spokesman for Gogebic Taconite, said ‘multiple Wisconsin security groups’ are on the site and he ‘anticipates’ the return of the Arizona-based firm. ‘They’ll be put back into a rotation once we have their license secured,’ he said.” We’ll all feel safer then.