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Pohlad estate facing big bill, fines from IRS

Accent Signage suits continue; state seeks federal storm-cleanup money; B. Todd Jones nomination; church vandalized over same-sex marriage stance; and more.

Look who has an IRS problem …  Janet Novack of Forbes writes: “When long time Forbes 400 member and Minnesota Twins owner Carl Pohlad died in January 2009 at the age of 93, construction of the primarily taxpayer-financed stadium that the famously penny-pinching dealmaker had sought for years was finally underway.  A few months later, Forbes valued the Twins at $356 million and boosted that to $405 million after Target Field opened in 2010. Today, we estimate the major league baseball team is worth $578 million. But according to a previously unreported lawsuit filed by Pohlad’s estate in U.S. Tax Court last month, it valued his Twins stake as just $24 million for tax purposes. IRS auditors disagreed, pegging it at $293 million and slapping his estate with $121 million in extra taxes for the team, plus a $48 million (40%) penalty for gross valuation misstatement.” $24 million … $293 million … those are rounding errors.

Legal action in the Accent Signage shootings may continue. Abby Simons of the Strib writes: “Judge Denise Reilly did dismiss claims by the family of Jacob Beneke, 34, against the estate of shooter and fellow employee Andrew Engel­dinger, for the Sept. 27, 2012, shootings, while allowing two negligence claims against the company to continue. Attorneys for Accent argued that Beneke’s death falls under the Minnesota Workers’ Compensation Act, which applies to cases of injury or death that arise out of the course of an employee’s job. The Beneke family’s lawyers countered that Beneke was gunned down as part of a personal vendetta, and that the company was grossly negligent, citing the shootings as ‘reasonably foreseeable based on Engeldinger’s past incidents of employment misconduct and his known propensity for abuse and violence.’ ”

Minnesota wants federal money to help pay for those late June storms. The AP says: “ … state disaster recovery experts estimate cleanup costs from the June 20-21 storms could exceed the $7.26 million minimum to be considered for federal funding. Minnesota Homeland Security and Emergency Management director Kris Eide said the damage to public infrastructure could cost as much as $12 million.” Will Our Favorite Congresswoman demand off-sets?

GOP resistance to an Obama appointee? Have we ever heard of such a thing? In the Strib, Kevin Diaz reports: “The nomination of Minnesota U.S. Attorney B. Todd Jones to head the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) is running into stiffening GOP resistance in the Senate. Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee requested Tuesday that top federal law enforcement officials in Washington turn over documents that might reveal ‘conflicts’ with Jones, President Obama’s pick to become the permanent head of ATF, a position he now holds on an interim basis. … letters, obtained by the Star Tribune, allude to three unnamed witnesses, presumably all law enforcement officials in Minnesota, who reportedly talked privately to [Sen. Chuck] Grassley’s staff. Sources close to the matter say they are afraid to come forward for fear of retaliation. Nevertheless, Grassley cited them to contradict Jones’ testimony before the Senate last month that he was unaware of any ‘deterioration’ in relations between his office and law enforcement agencies in Minnesota.”

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At WCCO-TV Kate Raddatz reports: “Authorities said a Maple Grove church was vandalized for the second time in recent months, and police need the public’s help to find out who is responsible. Pilgrims United Church of Christ was the apparent victim of vandalism for the second time since early June, and it’s believed the motive is that the church is supportive of same-sex marriage. Maple Grove Police said church-goers spotted graffiti on the building, handcuffs on the front door and that the building had been egged again when they arrived for services on Sunday. There was also the message ‘Gay pride, No’ on the exterior walls of the building.” No points for punctuation.

The GleanThe St. Paul Yacht Club doesn’t see why it has to be a part of clearing that logjam near the Wabasha Bridge. Kevin Duchschere of the Strib says: “An unusual logjam on the Mississippi River near downtown St. Paul of storm-swept trees and branches, some as big as telephone poles, is awaiting resolution of a different sort of logjam on who exactly should pay to break it up. ‘We’re trying to reach an agreement with the St. Paul Yacht Club to get a contractor in there to move material out,’ Rick Larkin, St. Paul’s emergency management director, said Tuesday. ‘It needs to be a shared solution for a shared problem’. The Yacht Club begs to differ. ‘I’m just very surprised because we know it needs to be done, and we’ve never been responsible for it before,’ said Roger Anderson, the Yacht Club’s manager.”

An MPR story says the one year delay in small business employer reporting for Obamacare won’t effect MNsure. “The delay in the mandate will not affect MNsure because businesses of that size were already exempt from the mandate, MNsure’s Executive Director April Todd Malmlov said. MNsure goes live Oct. 1 and will offer small business coverage but only for firms with fewer than 50 employees. ‘For small businesses going through MNsure, it won’t have an impact. They’re not subject to the employer mandate,’ Malmlov said.”                                           

On the matter of violence-prone Minneapolis cop Lucas Peterson, the Strib editorializes: “Police-accountability organizations and experts confirm that most officers know who their ‘problem’ colleagues are. They know the small minority among them who have quicker tempers or are more likely to use excessive force. When that kind of behavior costs a city and its taxpayers thousands of dollars, something needs to change. Minneapolis police officials maintain that the necessary procedures are in place to deal with excessive-force claims, but the problem persists. It is incumbent upon officials to break the patterns of repeated complaints — both to reduce payouts and build better community relations with the citizens they serve.” In other words, “do something … else.”

We’re 42nd! … in decent highways. At City Pages, Aaron Rupar digs out a study of American roads and writes, “The Reason Foundation’s 2013 installment of its annual state-by-state highway rankings puts Minnesota toward the bottom of the list. … The study pegs Minnesota’s highways as the eighth worst in the country. Our marks are especially poor in the areas of urban interstate congestion (49th) and rural interstate pavement condition (49th). Ironically, our roads ranked highly when it comes to the percentage of deficient bridges (third) and fatality rate (third). Minnesota’s 42nd-place ranking represents a precipitous drop from the 2011 and ’12 reports, in which our highways ranked 15th and 24th, respectively. The main culprit is rapidly deteriorating interstate pavement conditions …” If you can feel the potholes and expansion joints, your vehicle is too small.