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Monticello repair overruns; Xcel asks consumers to pay

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?

The GleanDuluth 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.

Comments (12)

  1. Submitted by Tom Christensen on 07/15/2013 - 07:48 am.

    Lets just

    remove everything in front of GOP House Minority Leader Kurt Daudt’s house that was paid for by tax money and then watch his whining begin. Let’s make his street nothing more than a cow trail. When he calls 911 tell him, sorry we can’t come to your house. When his kids try to go to school and they find the school has been removed because it cost tax dollars to build, maintain, and run it. When his business needs infrastructure to run his trucks and a mail system to get his advertising out to potential customers they won’t be there. Lets just strip Minnesota and the rest of America back to the way Columbus found it. Now GOP House Minority Leader Kurt Daudt and the rest of the Republican’s will finally get what they yearn for, a way to keep all their money just to serve themselves. Remember Pawlenty? It is his short sighted thinking that got us into the mess we are just now starting to recover from. Voters, the Republicans give you a lot to think about and none of it is any good. Have you noticed any changes that the Republican’s said they want to make to their party? Answer – Absolutely not!

  2. Submitted by Greg Kapphahn on 07/15/2013 - 08:11 am.

    Why Not Move?

    Isn’t Dirk Bak EXACTLY the kind of hard-working, innovative business leader that Wisconsin’s Gov. Scott Walker has been claiming his enrich-the-rich, punish-the-poor-and-middle-class, economic policies would bring, en masse, to our economic mecca to the East?

    With it’s breathtaking levels of new prosperity, all accomplished as the direct result of Gov. Walker and his Republican crony’s economic polices, I have NO doubt that Mr. Bak’s company would explode exponentially if he just moved to Madison, Milwaukee, or Green Bay. No doubt his workers would all WELCOME the chance move with him since Wisconsin promises them unparalleled health, wealth, and prosperity, wouldn’t they?

    Regarding Mr. Daudt’s “government reaching deeper into the pockets of all Minnesotans” comments, I would much RATHER that the government be doing that reaching (since I get at least some of it back in public services, public infrastructure, public education, etc.,),..

    than Mr. Daudt’s PREFERRED deeper pockets reaching scenario in which financial institutions, dinosaur energy companies, etc., reach ever deeper into my pockets, with NO ONE to stand in their way,…

    and the extra money they extract from me provides me NO benefit, but only goes for private yachts, additional mansions, private islands, and serves to further inflate whatever the latest Wall Street financial bubble/boondoggle is,…

    and that’s not to mention the Republican’s own favorite “privatization of government services” boondoggle which means that a big chunk of my TAX money is actually going to buy the same yachts, mansions, private islands, etc., for the executives of the companies now handling government functions that used to be handled at far more reasonable wages by civil service employees and managers.

    • Submitted by Howard Salute on 07/15/2013 - 11:51 am.

      ULINE moving from MN to WI

      Mr. Kapphahn, Not to diminish your point, but would I be correct that a big chunk of your TAX money still does not add up to a big chuck of money?

      Just got a notice in the mail today that ULINE is moving from Eagan, MN to 600,000 square foot warehouse in Hudson, WI. Great company with great jobs.

      • Submitted by Pat Berg since 2011 on 07/15/2013 - 12:05 pm.

        ULINE move

        The ULINE move is not something that just happened in response to this year’s legislation. Here’s an article about the groundbreaking that happened in 2011:

        They’ve been planning and building for this move for some time now.

      • Submitted by Logan Foreman on 07/15/2013 - 02:57 pm.

        Well Howard

        Just a few minutes of online research reveals the Uline move was designed when the Republicans were in the majority of the MN house and senate. What did the Republicans do? Nothing! Too busy with voter id, gay marriage and sex scandals. Plus the owners of this company live in Wisconsin and are Walker lovers. The good question to ask Howard is how much money it cost middle class taxpayers in the Hudson area to attract the rich owners to this sweetheart deal. LOL

  3. Anonymous Submitted by Anonymous on 07/15/2013 - 08:17 am.

    So…one billion! dollars to *repair* a nuke plant, to be paid for by us? How many windmills or solar panels would that have bought?

  4. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 07/15/2013 - 08:42 am.

    Just remember…

    Cut taxes and magic WILL HAPPEN. And… nuclear power is the cheapest, cleanest, safest, greenest, source of energy we have.

    We still cant’ trust economists. The primary assumption that underlies economic analysis is still based on the ideological belief that taxes are economic burdens to be classified as liabilities rather than investments that yield assets. This is simply wrong. It’s ignorant accounting practice masquerading as economic analysis. It surprising to see that this paradigm is still in play given the overwhelming evidence of the last three years that government spending is actually good for the economy.

  5. Anonymous Submitted by Anonymous on 07/15/2013 - 09:01 am.

    $1.3- $2.2 million per MW of commercial installed wind turbine capacity:

    At the lower end the $1 billion spent on the nuke plant would provide over 700 MW of power – approximately the output of the expanded Monticello plant. So for the cost of repairs we basically could have replaced a nuke plant with wind power.

  6. Submitted by ALAN BELISLE on 07/15/2013 - 09:20 am.

    Comparison shopping

    This should be a historic opportunity to see which party has the correct vision on how to run a state. Let’s watch Wisconsin and Minnesota carefully over the next two years and see which prospers more. Prediction: the loser will blame the other party.

  7. Submitted by Peter Stark on 07/15/2013 - 09:25 am.

    “Held the line on taxes….”

    AKA did absolutely nothing legislatively except get themselves fired.

  8. Submitted by Lora Jones on 07/15/2013 - 09:25 am.

    Zimmerman got off by admitting that he was a pathetic, frightened little man who was allowed to carry a gun around — metallic as opposed to liquid “courage.” I hope he is reminded of the price of his freedom every single day of his life. And that he wakes up every morning knowing that even dogs are put down for fear-biting, that this acquittal means he’s been held to a lower standard than an abused dog, and that the only thing he truly deserves in all of this, is the very low opinion many of us have of him.

  9. Submitted by Ray Schoch on 07/15/2013 - 11:38 am.

    My 2¢

    Paul Udstrand is right on the money (no pun intended) about “economic analysis” regarding taxes. Many billions of dollars’ worth of infrastructure is slowly collapsing all around us because of the combination of economic delusion and Republican navel-gazing. That includes public education — the engine that drives the Minnesota economy — which has been starved by Republican faith in an ideology that’s ethically and intellectually bankrupt. Mr. Pawlenty’s legacy is that it will take decades for the state to recover from his 8 years of ideologically-driven parsimony.

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