Okay, Mayor. You are on the record. Erin Golden of the Strib tells us, “Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges doubled down Wednesday on her rejection of a plan to provide tax breaks for a new professional soccer stadium, calling the request from the team’s owner unprecedented and ‘extraordinary.’ … Hodges dismissed [Bill] McGuire’s suggestion that the plan includes ‘no public subsidy whatsoever,’ and said she and other city leaders have not been provided with enough information to assess the full cost of the project to taxpayers.” I don’t know about either the “unprecedented” or “extraordinary” parts.
Please, can we finally put this story out of its misery? Mike Tighe of the LaCrosse Tribune reports, “Wisconsin and Minnesota revenuers could be close to settling a feud and making tax time easier for workers who cross state lines to get to their jobs. Caught in the crossfire are the workers forced to file income tax forms in both states since 2009, when Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty canceled the tax reciprocity agreement the two states had for 41 years.”
This one, too, would be a step in the right direction. The AP says, “Republicans are bringing Democrats back to the mat to save a public health care program for tens of thousands of low-income Minnesota residents as they seek to build up $2 billion in tax relief through cuts and cost savings. GOP lawmaker’s efforts to abolish MinnesotaCare by 2016 has triggered echoes of 2005, when a GOP-led attempt to reduce enrollment — and Democrats’ refusal — played a major factor in a government shutdown. Expected to be unveiled later this week, abolishing MinnesotaCare will likely be the centerpiece of Republicans’ budget bill for health and human services as they try to push those 90,000-some enrollees to buy private coverage through the health insurance exchange.”
Also in the GOP’s sights … Michele Kelm-Helgen. Says Mike Kaszuba for the Strib, “House Republicans are taking aim at Michele Kelm-Helgen, Gov. Mark Dayton’s appointment to chair the public body overseeing the building of the new Minnesota Vikings stadium. The Republican-controlled House State Government Finance Committee unveiled a budget late Tuesday that would eliminate Kelm-Helgen’s salary, barely two weeks after questions arose over whether her role was overlapping that of Ted Mondale, the executive director of the Metropolitan Sports Facilities Authority.”
Let the objections and obstacle-building begin. Stribber Beena Raghavendran says, “President Barack Obama nominated Justice Wilhelmina Marie Wright to serve on the U.S. District Court for Minnesota Wednesday. … Wright is the first African American woman to serve on the State Supreme Court, and would be the second black federal judge.” Is there a Benghazi angle to play?
Code Red … flag. The AP says, “Gov. Mark Dayton is authorizing the Minnesota National Guard to help fight wildfires in the state. … In his order, Dayton notes that the center was fighting more than 35 wildfires on Wednesday. The National Weather Service has issued red flag fire warnings for all of Minnesota, due to dry conditions, high temperatures, low humidity and strong winds.”
Apparently that NFL pension wasn’t cutting it. The WCCO-TV story on ex-Viking Stu Voight’s legal problem says, “Two Minnesota men, including a former Minnesota Vikings tight end, are charged with running a Ponzi scheme that defrauded investors out of millions of dollars. The U.S. Attorney’s office says 66-year-old Stu Voigt and 61-year-old Jeffery Gardner face several criminal charges in connection to a real estate scheme between 2005 and 2007. The complaint says Voigt and Gardner raised money from private investors in connection with Gardner’s business, Hennessey Financial, LLC, promising returns of 10 to 20 percent annually. But the duo is accused of using the funds instead to repay previous investors and pay off Gardner’s debts from his other companies.”
Our fine neighbors … still struggling with this 21st century thing. At Midwest Energy News, Kari Lyderson writes, “Utility rate cases have become a major battleground over the future of distributed solar generation and the evolving structure of the nation’s electricity system. In the Midwest, Wisconsin has been ground zero, with state regulators last year approving three rate cases that made solar much less viable through several mechanisms, including a drastic increase in the fixed monthly charges for all ratepayers, regardless of how much electricity they use. … Across the country utilities have been requesting fixed rate increases and other changes that make solar installations less viable. Renewable energy advocates say the utilities are trying to protect the traditional model revolving around large centralized power plants and limited distributed generation.” Hmmm. Now do we know anyone in Wisconsin who has important friends in the fossil fuel industry?
Didn’t a recent president declare these things a major cause of pollution? At MPR, Elizabeth Dunbar says, “The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources is asking the Legislature for another $4 million in the next two years to manage the state’s forests. The DNR oversees the harvesting of roughly 40,000 acres of forest every year on state lands. The additional money will help the DNR better deal with invasive species, diseases, climate change and other threats to the forest, said DNR forestry director Forrest Boe.”
City Pages’ “Best of” issue is out, with the usual gushing over eating and shopping. But on the, uh, relationship side we have this: “Best Place to Meet Single Men (Straight) Minneapolis … (Sneaky Pete’s). … Thursday’s Kill the Keg special of $5 bottomless Miller High Life taps and one of the Twin Cities’ longest happy hours make this boys’ bar a low-key night out for any sports fan looking to drink and curse at a TV. Bartenders are attractive, and the older gents are unafraid to try their hand at the stripper poles. The club stays open till 2 a.m. and attracts a more authentic crowd of ladies than other downtown bars that pressure them to squeeze into catsuit Spanx and six-inch heels just to get a nod through the door. It’s probably not the best place to meet a future husband, but the guys are available, and often single.”