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White House moves to stop Medtronic’s Irish tax strategy

Calls for public pension reform; Minnesota Power penalty; mystery “vandal” at Target Field; and more.

President Barack Obama
MinnPost file photo by Jim Walsh

“Retroactive,” no less. Jim Spencer in the Strib reports, “The Obama administration wants to stop corporate deals like a proposed Medtronic acquisition that could enable the company to save millions in U.S. taxes by shifting its headquarters to Ireland. Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew this week urged the finance committees of both chambers of Congress to push legislation that restricts the ability of U.S. corporations to move their headquarters abroad to lower their tax bills. Lew wants the law made retroactive to May, a move that could scuttle Medtronic’s proposed $42.9 billion acquisition of Dublin-based Covidien.” It’ll be fascinating to see who opposes that one.

Another of the perennial crises for conservatives … . Jennifer Bjorhus of the Strib says, “A local advocate for public pension reform calls the $17.3 billion Minnesota owes in unfunded pension obligations a ‘ticking fiscal time bomb,’ despite legislators’ attempts to shore them up. In a four-prong fix-it plan out Wednesday, the Center of the American Experiment said the state should maintain the pension system for current state employees and retirees but create a new defined-contribution plan, such as a 401(k), for state employees in the future.”

The AP reports on a deal concluding a long-running pollution fight up north. “Minnesota Power has agreed to install technology to reduce air pollution from three coal-fired plants in northeastern Minnesota, government officials and the company said Wednesday. The Duluth-based company will install the technology to help settle allegations that it violated the federal Clean Air Act by failing to get permits and installing less-than-best pollution control technology at its plants, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Justice said. The deal also calls for Minnesota Power to pay a $1.4 million penalty … .”

Let’s get the SWAT team after this guy … . Another AP story says, “Minneapolis Police are looking for a suspect after a protester allegedly gained access to a video board and put up a large banner during the All-Star Game Tuesday night at Target Field. … Somebody was able to gain access to the video board in right field by climbing to the top of the B parking ramp, then using a horizontal ladder to get to the stadium. Twins officials said the ramp is right behind a bank of seats in right center field and there’s a seven foot gap between structures. The protester allegedly tied a banner reading ‘Love Water Not Oil’ to a railing before fleeing the area.” Damn vandals!

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Minneapolis has been making some good dough off false alarm fees. Alejandra Matos of the Strib writes, “Over the past five years, Minneapolis collected more than $2.5 million in false-alarm fees from businesses and homeowners, according to data obtained by the Star Tribune. It took in nearly $40,000 from the downtown Macy’s alone and more than $22,000 from the Minneapolis School District. Business owners say that the penalties are eating into their revenue and that it’s time for the city to charge less. The city says it needs to charge the fees to pay for the police resources used to respond to false alarms.”

An “outside consultant” thinks the MNsure website has what it takes to work … . Says Steve Karnowski of the AP, “Brian Keane of Deloitte Consulting LLP told the MNsure board that his team has identified 30 key functions that have to work properly by Nov. 15, including processing of renewals. He said they’re determining which functions must be automated and which can be manual systems if necessary. ‘By our review there is plenty of horsepower available,’ Keane said in a discussion heavy on automobile analogies as board members struggled to understand the complexities of information technology project management … .” Did he ever say, “This baby is one smelly lemon”?

Mother Strib says … save for a rainy day. In an editorial, the paper warns, “… numbers suggest that Minnesota’s rebound from the Great Recession, while strong, is still incomplete. And with a surplus built of one-time gains and possible trouble ahead in the ag sector, Minnesotans should be wary of campaign promises about tax cuts and/or more spending. We hope to hear from candidates who aim to keep building the state’s reserves.”

Sheriff Stanek has competition. Brandt Williams of MPR says, “Eddie Frizell, a 21-year veteran of the police force and a former commander of the National Guard’s Red Bull Brigade, is running to unseat current Sheriff Rich Stanek. … Frizell says he was endorsed by a majority of members of the Hennepin County Sheriff’s Deputies Association. According to the association’s website, nearly 88 percent of its 270 members chose to make an endorsement, and three-fourths of them endorsed Frizell.”

The Boss wants Kevin Love to stay where he is. Andy Greder of the PiPress reports, “In an NBA TV interview during a Wolves summer league game Wednesday, [Glen] Taylor said he wants the all-star power forward to play in Minnesota this season despite rampant trade speculation. It was not known if Taylor was bluffing amid reports that some of the trade offers aren’t as rich as previously envisioned.”