Lawmakers pushed through $2 million in additional funds to upgrade Capitol furniture

Maybe they thought this was how to deliver service to rural Minnesota? Brian Bakst of the AP reports, “In restoring Minnesota’s Capitol to its old glory, renovators planned to spend $4.5 million on furniture and decorative finishing touches on the inside. That was until House Republicans quietly pushed to bump up the furnishings allocation by $2 million, or 45 percent. According to interviews and internal Department of Administration documents reviewed by the Associated Press, the extra money is intended to accommodate historically compatible furniture in more spaces, higher-end upholstery, refinished hardwood flooring rather than carpet in leadership offices and even a $10,000 door on the House speaker’s Capitol suite.” I assume that door leads to the Taj MaSenate Office Building?

So if the IRS wants another $1,000 from me I should be able to negotiate that down to around $160? In the Strib, David Phelps writes, “A $255.8 million government claim on the estate of the late billionaire banker Carl Pohlad has been quietly settled for a fraction of the initial amount the Internal Revenue Service demanded. The Pohlad family resolved the IRS case for $36 million, including a penalty of $1.8 million and interest of $5.3 million, according to documents filed in U.S. Tax Court earlier this summer. The settlement appears to validate the family’s contention for the past two years that the IRS greatly overvalued Carl Pohlad’s interest in the Minnesota Twins. Before his death in 2009, he had transferred the bulk of ownership to his three sons.” Making those holdings worth far, far less. Right?

Lawyers for sex offenders want several rule changes. Says Tom Olsen of the Forum News Service, “Attorneys representing Minnesota’s confined sex offenders proposed sweeping changes Wednesday to overhaul the state’s treatment program, which has been ruled unconstitutional. The remedies include immediate risk evaluations of all current patients confined in the Minnesota Sex Offender Program, changes to commitment and discharge standards, and replacement of the high-security facilities in Moose Lake and St. Peter.” Mmmmmm. Doesn’t sound cheap.

In the highly unlikely chance the soon-to-be-Super Bowl champion Minnesota Vikings don’t win it all this year, we’ll at least have this to look forward to. Nick Paglino at says, “Lester Bagley, The Vice President of Public Affairs for the Minnesota Vikings, recently spoke about the new $1 billion US Bank Stadium being built for the Vikings. During the video, which you can watch at this link, Bagley had the following to say: ‘Before the building is even open, we have already secured the Super Bowl in 2018, the NCAA basketball Final Four in 2019. We are a finalist and seem to be in a very good position to secure the college football playoffs, the BCS Championship game and you know we’ve got WrestleMania coming.’ WrestleMania 32 has already been announced to be taking place in Dallas, TX this year, so the earliest Minnesota could be hosting the event is in 2017, for WrestleMania 33.” My personal seat license will get me up real close, I’m thinking.

Back to stay. The AP says, “The caskets of eight family members will be lined up inside a church in a small Minnesota community, far from the Texas home where they were killed. The victims, including six children, will be buried in La Crescent, a city of about 5,000 along the banks of the Mississippi River. A funeral service at United Methodist Church is scheduled for Thursday afternoon. Pastor Gregg Nelson says the family from Houston will be buried in La Crescent because the last surviving sibling lives there.”

It is true Lynyrd Skynyrd will be at the state fair. By pure coincidence Jon Collins of MPR tells us, “A Minnesota-based group has been given the go-ahead to hold a rally in support of the controversial Confederate battle flag on the Minnesota Capitol mall next month. The group calling itself ‘Minnesota 10,000 for Southern Heritage’ plans to hold the rally on the morning of Sept. 5. ‘[W]e feel this flag should be allowed to fly and seen as an image of heritage,’ according to the group’s application. ‘We do not condone violence, hate, bigotry, racism, etc. for those choosing to use our flag to promote their delinquencies because of its popularity.’” But if any of that happens, well, they’re just havin’ fun.

Have I mentioned that I live in Edina? WCCO-TV picks up on the annual Newsweek survey of the country’s best high schools. “Newsweek Magazine has released its top 500 high schools in the country for 2015, and 10 from Minnesota made the list. Of those 10, one was able to crack the top 100. Newsweek bases its school rankings on a range of data on those that prepare their students the best for college. The rankings include a college readiness score, graduation rate, percentage of students that attend college and that community’s poverty ranking. Based on the rankings, Edina High School is the best in Minnesota and ranks No. 71 nationally. It had a college readiness score 85.5 and a graduation rate of 99.8 percent. More than 93 percent of graduates move onto college.” And no, it is not true that freshmen study abroad, preferably in Paris, for the spring quarter.

An options trader accused of tax evasion and fraud? Has the whole world gone mad? Says Stribber Dan Browning, “A Twin Cities options trader and author who’s been leading courses from his home on how to get investment returns exceeding 150 percent a year is under criminal investigation by the IRS for allegedly evading nearly $350,000 in income taxes and filing false returns. John D. Ondercin, 45, of Mound, hopes to work out a civil settlement and avoid criminal charges, his lawyer said. He said Ondercin was a ‘true believer’ in what turned out to be an illegal tax-avoidance scheme that he learned at an investment seminar promoted nationwide by Roderick Prescott, of Orem, Utah.” Something tells me he’s one of those “Constitutional scholars,” too.

Also in stunning news, First Avenue needs a lot more work than first thought. Andrea Swensson of The Current says, “Though the club had initially hoped to reopen its Mainroom this weekend, general manager Nate Kranz just confirmed that they won’t be ready to host any events quite yet. ‘Unfortunately we got a bad review from the inspection,’ Kranz said today. ‘We had an engineer come out and we were done with the work we expected to have to do, but they wanted to look at the rest of the ceiling, and unfortunately they didn’t like what they saw so we’re going to stay closed’.” I sure hope they get it back together by Fair time, so the Skynyrd boys can stop by and jam with Lizzo or Brother Ali.

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Comments (13)

  1. Submitted by Max Hailperin on 08/20/2015 - 06:34 am.

    In which the con artist is conned?

    The story of Ondercin, who promoted too-good-to-be-true investment schemes to rubes, being himself a true believer in Prescott’s schemes strikes me as nothing so much as a fish claiming to have been eaten by a bigger fish. Prescott is quite the colorful character and in addition to selling bogus tax evasions trusts sold his own super-high-yield investment fund, which of course turned out to be a Ponzi scheme. Among the more interesting things Prescott bought for his personal consumption using his investors’ money was $1.1 million worth of frozen food. (This was as Y2K neared.)

  2. Submitted by Ray Schoch on 08/20/2015 - 07:16 am.

    Capitol furniture

    Isn’t it interesting, how the temporary employees (this time it’s GOP, but I’d guess it’s been DFL from time to time, as well) so often behave as if it’s *their* building rather than ours?

  3. Submitted by Julie Barton on 08/20/2015 - 07:29 am.

    Vikings Stadium – BCS game?

    from the article: “We are a finalist and seem to be in a very good position to secure the college football playoffs, the BCS Championship game”

    I call shenanigans on this statement. As a longtime college football fan, I firmly believe there is NO WAY that the powerful, warmer climate conferences (re: SEC & PAC-10) would ever allow the championship game to be played in Minnesota in January! So the stadium is inside. They still have to get there & you know the Alabama fans won’t know what to do when it’s so cold their snot starts to freeze…

  4. Submitted by Greg Kapphahn on 08/20/2015 - 08:02 am.

    It’s ALWAYS Fascinating How Our “Conservative” Friends

    so freely say to everyone who is NOT themselves,…

    we can’t afford what you need (rural highways, broadband, etc.),…

    but those luxurious offices and furnishings we’ve decided to buy at your expense aren’t really for US!,…

    they demonstrate respect for all the citizens of the state,…

    making Minnesota seem important,…

    by providing an impressive State Capital.!

    In addition to that, WE’RE so IMPORTANT, that what we WANT,…

    FAR outweighs anything you commoners and serfs out there in our districts NEED.

    I can’t help but think that if our Republican legislative leaders were to give the physical appearance on the OUTSIDE,…

    of the attitudes they hold on the INSIDE,…

    they’d all look like the “Master” of “Laketown,”

    or Alfrid Lickspittle, his weasely, sometimes-loyal lackey,…

    from the “Hobbit” movies.

  5. Submitted by Pavel Yankovic on 08/20/2015 - 08:15 am.

    The IRS….

    would spend thousands of dollars to get a nickel of back taxes out of a “regular guy” but negotiate a deal like this with the rich and famous.

  6. Submitted by Mike Worcester on 08/20/2015 - 08:18 am.


    Sorry to have to be the Grammar Nazi — okay, actually, I’m not — it should be “*By pure coincidence”.

  7. Submitted by RB Holbrook on 08/20/2015 - 10:09 am.

    Confederate Flag

    Perhaps they are celebrating the flag the First Minnesota captured at Gettysburg, when they were holding the line against Pickett’s charge. That’s the only confederate flag heritage I can think of in Minnesota.

    Perhaps they would like to go to Gettysburg to spit on the graves of the men who died holding the line against that flag, and its “heritage.”

  8. Submitted by Edward Blaise on 08/20/2015 - 10:13 am.

    I guess…

    It is easier to find a consensus on getting hardwood floors and $10,000 office doors than doing something to help the Mille Lacs businesses decimated by multiple factors including legislative failures to anticipate and fix the problem. Why read those cryptic scientific journals when you can pour over the latest issue of “Interior Design” picking out that new office side chair. Our politicians, left and right, love their jobs and the perks they offer far more than any service they may render to us. In the past ten years one can find only a few votes where an elected official put their job at risk to cast a vote that they knew was the right thing to do. A Unicameral legislative body with term limits of 2 – 4 year terms and we will have a good start.

    • Submitted by Greg Kapphahn on 08/20/2015 - 03:27 pm.

      A Unicameral Legislature

      would change the tendency of “conservative” politicians to ignore the needs of their constituents in favor of feathering their own nests,…

      by exactly 0%.

      But, by all means, keep on flogging that dead horse.

  9. Submitted by Norm Champ on 08/20/2015 - 11:27 am.

    1st MN did not repulse Pickett’s Charge.

    They were involved in breaking the charge of 1,200 Confederate forces the day before. That was where they suffered the historic casualties and were awarded the battle flag for their valor. I believe the few remaining able bodied troops did help repulse Pickett’s Charge the following day.

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