Big differences in transportation funding plans

Kyle Potter of the AP sets the infrastructure funding battle thusly: “House Republicans unveiled a proposal Thursday that would tap a projected budget surplus and shave spending at the Department of Transportation to fund $750 million in repairs over the next four years. A package of tax hikes and fee increases favored by Gov. Mark Dayton and a coalition of Minnesota businesses would likely raise more than that every year for the next decade.”

Yeah, yeah, your depressed energy stocks. Cry me a river. President of the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis Narayana Kocherlakota likes the outlook with oil this low. In a Reuters story by Ann Saphir we learn, “The oil price decline will put downward pressure on drilling and on production in North Dakota, where the local economy has been experiencing an oil-driven boom for the past several years. Kocherlakota also said he believes the U.S. economy can continue to grow even if the world economy weakens, but reiterated his view that the biggest challenge for U.S. growth is whether the Fed will be patient enough before raising rates, a move that could potentially choke off the recovery.”

Flu season is not relenting. Jeremy Olson of the Strib says, “A fourth pediatric death linked to seasonal influenza was confirmed Thursday in the Minnesota Department of Health’s latest update of statewide flu activity. While the number is ‘tragic’ and two more than the pediatric deaths reported in all of the last flu season, state health spokesman Doug Schultz said it doesn’t suggest a need for panic.”

Talk about a demolition derby out there yesterday. Paul Walsh’s Strib story on weather-related pile-ups says, “To the State Patrol’s lament, three crashes involved troopers getting hit, although none was seriously injured, according to Lt. Tiffani Nielson. These incidents occurred in Brooklyn Center, Marshall and Virginia on the Iron Range, Nielson said. Between 8 a.m. and 8:30 p.m., the State Patrol documented 654 crashes, 87 of them with injuries. None was considered serious or fatal.”

This would make a good movie. At MPR, Peter Cox writes, “A federal magistrate judge on Thursday ruled that a Brooklyn Park man charged with trying to overthrow the Gambian government in West Africa should remain in custody, much to the dismay of those who consider him a freedom fighter. Federal prosecutors say 46-year-old Papa Faal helped ship guns overseas and was part of a group of about a dozen men who tried, but failed, to overthrow the sitting president. … Former U.S. Attorney Tom Heffelfinger said he understands the frustrations of Gambians who feel their plight is being ignored. But he said federal law makes it clear that people in the United States are not authorized to ship weapons and plot to overthrow a government.” Because we have shadowy intelligence organizations for that kind of thing.

Court time for the clergy. Also at MPR, Madeleine Baran reminds listeners, “Three clergy sex abuse lawsuits against the Twin Cities archdiocese are headed for trial later this month amid uncertainty about whether the archdiocese will file for bankruptcy. All three trials are scheduled to begin Jan. 26 in Ramsey County District Court. However, a bankruptcy filing would likely halt the trials, and many victims would likely instead file claims as creditors.”

The Strib editorial board is not so down with the MOA protestors — who disrupted some advertisers on a day of holiday shopping. Says the editorial: “We are a nation of laws — laws that must be respected and followed despite legitimate concerns about how specific cases are adjudicated. The Bloomington protesters deserved a chance to hold a peaceful protest, but not on property the Minnesota Supreme Court affirmed in 1999 as private. Protesters were warned, and now some of them will face the consequences.”

Can’t you see them? They’re right there, man! Tom Olsen of the Forum News Service reports, “Bail was set at $10,000 Thursday for a Duluth man accused of leading police on a 20-minute chase that ended in gunfire early Tuesday in western Duluth and the man telling law officers that drones or satellites were following him. Jared Steven Haske, 43, faces four charges in the incident that ended with a state trooper firing several rounds at his vehicle … . That complaint alleges that Haske told officers he had not been drinking, but had been using methamphetamine over the previous two days. Officers also noted that he was acting erratically, appearing antsy and twitching.”

Well, nice wheels, anyway. At City Pages Susan Du writes, “Rep. Pat Garofalo (R-Farmington) is anti-solar subsidy, pro-oil pipeline, and pro-fracking, but he also drives a Tesla and backs wind power. The longtime lawmaker is heading up Minnesota’s energy and jobs committee in a new Republican-controlled legislature House, and he’s starting the year with big ideas on how to strike maximum power for minimum costs at the risk of [bleeping] a lot of people off. … Garofalo wants to get a piece of the boom while it lasts, by mining Minnesota sand for use in fracking operations, and then transporting shale oil back into the state through the proposed Sandpiper pipeline. At the end of the day, Garofalo can rest assured that his own carbon footprint must be beyond reproach. He just bought a Tesla, and it’s ‘totally awesome.’

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Comments (13)

  1. Submitted by Bill Schletzer on 01/09/2015 - 06:41 am.

    Bloomington and MOA protesters

    I agree that the protesters broke the trespassing law and are responsible for that. However I don’t think they are responsible for “lost income” to stores the cops forced to close or to the city for police overtime. A parallel would be if a person was stopped during rush hour for DUI. Would that person then be responsible for all the lost wages of people caught in traffic? When there is some big singalong at the mall I doubt the organizers have to pay the stores for “lost income”. Do other lawbreakers have to pay the wages of the cops who arrest them? No. That tells me Bloomington and their city attorney are doing so because they don’t like the protesters exercising their right of free speech and peaceful protest. I would guess that “Black Lives Matter” is not a slogan the city attorney would subscribe to.

  2. Submitted by Todd Hintz on 01/09/2015 - 08:10 am.

    Road Repairs

    What a minute here… The transportation department needs about a billion more per year than they already have in order to maintain the roads and bridges we have. And what’s the Republican solution to this problem? Slash their budget!

    Explain to me again how they plan to reinvest in Minnesota. I may not be a brilliant budget wonk, but this doesn’t sound like a winning formula.

    • Submitted by Edward Blaise on 01/09/2015 - 09:21 am.


      These are dark days for right wing ideology. Mark Dayton did EVERYTHING the right said would lead to economic disaster and what happens? Prosperity breaks out all over! Right wing thought prevails in Wisconsin and Kansas with wins for Governor and legislative majorities. They do everything they want: tax cuts, union busting, all those things they are certain will lead to prosperity. What happens? Wisconsin goes half in and looks like Minnesota’s poor cousin, Kansas goes full in and a complete economic melt down occurs to the extent that Gov. Sam Brownback is now talking the need for tax hikes. What’s a poor Minnesota Republican to do? Admit their may be cracks in the old ideological foundation? Not a chance. Rationalization, is the key to mental health, if not functional government.

  3. Submitted by Edward Blaise on 01/09/2015 - 08:23 am.

    The protest

    Organizers likely knew that the numbers they would draw to the protest and the impact it would have on the Mall on the last Saturday shopping day before Xmas. They went ahead anyway, why? Why not move it to a truly public location where the risk to hurt local businesses and employers was considerably less? Simple: they had two priorities: express their message (a fine thing and their absoulute right to do so) and stay warm at the same time (which they broke the law in order to achieve). I have no sympathy, the organizers made a conscience decision to put these businesses at risk in order to stay warm. I guess the conviction of their beliefs only goes so far.

    • Submitted by Jonathan Ecklund on 01/09/2015 - 09:39 am.

      Please explain how or why any business were put ‘at risk’?

      • Submitted by Thomas Swift on 01/09/2015 - 11:49 am.

        Risk: Losing the single biggest day to support their businesses.

        Obviously you have never had to meet a payroll.

        • Submitted by Jonathan Ecklund on 01/12/2015 - 08:59 am.

          The MOA overreacted, assuming violence, and shut the stores down, not the protesters. Those individual stores were not closed all day, but for several hours. If the MOA had not shut the stores and had accommodated the protest, that would seem to be another few thousand potential customers sitting in the mall. It is unfortunate that the MOA is so myopic as to ignore this. I still fail to see any business put at risk, certainly not physical risk, and I doubt the financial risk was grave at all. If you can find any reports of people being laid off because of this, or business having to shutter their doors, I’d love to see it.

          And yes, I have managed employees and paid them. I’ve also worked retail in a business, and have had protests (Iraq war protests, at the time) obstruct access to said business. What of it?

      • Submitted by Edward Blaise on 01/09/2015 - 02:00 pm.


        I am not a bricks and mortar retail expert; but, I believe a key element of success is getting customers through the door. Do to crowds initially and security operations later, businesses near the Rotunda could not get customers in their doors. Since most MOA retailers are not offering redundant products (ie: there is more than one place to buy a scented candle) customers took their business elsewhere and those folks lost out because the protesters elected to protest on private property, against the property owners stated rules because they wanted to stay warm while protesting. Minnehaha Park was also available.

        • Submitted by Jonathan Ecklund on 01/12/2015 - 09:03 am.

          And how many people would have seen the protest in Minnehaha Park? How much news coverage would it have garnered? There is a reason protesters chose the MOA, because it would have the biggest possible impact. If a tree falls in the forest, and no-one is around to hear it…

          Either way, the disproportional response from the MOA and city atty to what ended up being a non-event in many ways are proof-positive of the adversarial nature of the relationship between minority communities of color and a financially entrenched white elite.

  4. Submitted by richard owens on 01/09/2015 - 09:05 am.

    It’s unkind to pick on Republican fiscal aptitude.

    We know they are trying to re-work the trickle down arithmetic to find that elusive sweet spot where ‘if you cut enough, you get more’.

    Their own party coffers are bare and they can’t seem to get that out-of-state campaign money funneled into their party’s payables account.

    TPAW is learning how to be a banker now, but his time-tested disastrous budgeting is still in memory- a nightmare of “everybody owing everybody else”.

    STILL the “cut to get more” plans didn’t work.

    I ask readers to be kind and think “what if it was ME who worked in the public eye and couldn’t do simple arithmetic?”

  5. Submitted by Rod Loper on 01/09/2015 - 12:36 pm.

    Let’s face it.

    The austerity strategy is bankrupt.

    • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 01/09/2015 - 01:22 pm.

      Yes and no

      Austerity strategy has never been about finances. The theory that cutting taxes and slashing spending would unleash a river of peace and prosperity is just hokum used to sell laissez faire economics to the public. It’s just a way of benefiting the wealthy, and of institutionalizing their advantage. Taxes are cut, and regulation is minimal to ineffectual. If wealth did in fact trickle down, that would be beside the point.

      So yes, the moral or policy justification of austerity is bankrupt. As long as there is greed, however, it will still have its champions.

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