Minnesota railroad operators tout investments in safety

REUTERS/Rick Wilking

Unfortunately, this always sounds like a last reassurance. For the Forum News Service, Don Davis says, “Minnesota’s railroads are becoming safer, railroad officials and legislative transportation leaders agree. The state’s four largest railroads invested more than $500 million on infrastructure last year, most of which improved safety. By far the biggest investment was from Minnesota’s largest railroad, $326 million by BNSF Railway Co. … Besides improving safety, the construction is speeding up traffic that a couple years ago faced massive bottlenecks. The Amtrak Empire Builder, which runs on BNSF tracks, recorded a ‘dismal’ 23 percent on-time rate in 2014, Sweeney said, but last month hit the 90-percent mark.

Well, if the Vatican says he’s ok. An AP story says, “The Roman Catholic Church in southern India has lifted the suspension of a priest convicted last year of sexually assaulting a 14-year-old northern Minnesota girl more than a decade ago, a spokesman said Saturday. The suspension of the Rev. Joseph Palanivel Jeyapaul was lifted last month after the bishop of the Ootacamund Diocese in India’s Tamil Nadu state consulted with church authorities at the Vatican, said the Rev. Sebastian Selvanathan, a spokesman for the diocese.”

Redneck festival? The AP says, “Organizers of the Minnesota Redneck Festival say they will reschedule their event out of respect for the family of a sheriff’s deputy killed in the line of duty. Aitkin County Sheriff’s Deputy Steven Sandberg was killed in October after a hospital patient grabbed his weapon and shot him. A 5K and community day to honor fallen officers is scheduled in Aitkin on May 20 and May 21. … Redneck Festival events will include lawnmower racing, an armpit serenade, toilet seat horseshoes and Miss and Mr. ’Merica contests.”

More on those recent numbers on solar employment. This time from Frank Jossi at Midwest Energy News. “The capacity growth is coming from utility scale efforts such as the 100 MW Aurora Solar Project being built by Geronimo Energy and a dramatic increase in community solar gardens that are being proposed in Xcel Energy’s territory. More than 1,400 MW have been proposed since Xcel began accepting applications in 2014. … The next wave of hires will likely be installers, electricians and others involved in the construction process.”

Some things never change. John Hageman of the Grand Forks Herald astounds us with this news: “The Minnesota Chamber of Commerce is preparing to push its biggest legislative priority for this year: business tax relief. In a meeting with the Herald’s editorial board, the chamber’s Director of Communications Jim Pumarlo outlined Minnesota’s state property tax on businesses. That levy comes on top of the property taxes businesses already pay to local governments, and it represents about 30 percent of their total property tax bill, according to a chamber fact sheet.”

Not that you saw her on TV. Jon Bream of the Strib, following the Grammys, says, “Maria Schneider is not shy. The celebrated jazz composer/conductor — who grew up in Windom, earned a music degree from University of Minnesota and settled in New York — collected her fourth Grammy Monday in the pre-telecast. But she seized the moment and instead of celebrating her victory for best large jazz ensemble record inspired by land in southwestern Minnesota (the album is ‘The Thompson Fields’ by the Maria Schneider Orchestra), she launched into a speech about artists owning their own rights – music, recordings and fan base.”

Also in pop, Chris Riemenschneider of the Strib says, “Prince’s first female protégé-turned-girlfriend-turned-ex, Vanity, has died from natural causes in a California hospital at age 57, according to various industry sources. The Canadian singer, actress and model born Denise Matthews had been battling a variety of health issues and recently started a GoFundMe page asking for help fighting a condition called sclerosing encapsulating peritonitis.”

Oh OK, while we’re talking good looking pop stars. Melinda Newman at Billboard has this news: “Bob Dylan is back in Studio B at Hollywood’s famed Capitol Studios recording the follow up to his critically acclaimed 2015 album, Shadows in the Night, engineer Al Schmitt told Billboard Feb. 11. … When asked one thing that surprised him about Dylan, Schmitt said it was his level of intelligence. ‘He’s extraordinarily smart and he’s so aware of everything that’s going on, so he knows what’s happening at every moment.’” “Shadows” was pretty good. Maybe because all the tunes were within a range that didn’t strain Bob’s golden larynx.  

KHON in Honolulu, with an assist from CNN covers this story from Minnesota. “A woman in rural Minnesota gave birth on the side of the road while trying to reach the hospital. To make things worse, the temperature was minus-28 degrees Fahrenheit. Rogue Maxa earned her name simply by being born. Her father Ben said, ‘Any time that I envision her, like, not following directions or being in trouble, I can just hold it over her head for the rest of her life, I think.’ With a due date next Saturday, Ben and Dexi Maxa were not expecting they’d be heading to the hospital Saturday morning. … But four miles out of town, Dexi was ready to give birth, so Ben pulled over to the side of the highway, opened the sliding door, and delivered their daughter himself.” Be honest. Would you know what to do?

Great. More paperwork. Christopher Snowbeck says, “Large employers and insurers in Minnesota are distributing for the first time this winter more than a million tax documents that show who had health insurance last year, a seemingly straightforward task that has nonetheless created some clerical headaches. The notices are part of how the IRS will check to make sure individuals and employers complied with coverage mandates in the federal Affordable Care Act. For employers, it’s been a big job figuring out how to accurately fill out the forms. For health insurers, the printing presses have been running overtime. Just this month, the state of Minnesota is sending about 959,000 forms to people in public health insurance programs.”  I think “Medicare for all” might spare us this headache, too.

OK, now we’re getting down to the critical stuff. Says Steve Brandt in the Strib, “With only six months to go before the kickoff for the Minnesota Vikings’ home preseason, the team is still scrambling for tailgating space near its new home in a rapidly developing end of downtown Minneapolis. The team is assured of only 125 spots for tailgating that it owns across the street from the new stadium. Although some private owners are likely to allow their lots to be used, some of the 500 to 800 spots the team says it needs to meet fan demand could be up to a 15-minute walk away. And even with those, that’s roughly a third of the spots that were available in Metrodome days.” How can the Vikings ever win the Super Bowl if we can’t do keg stands within a 15 minute walk of the stadium?

More on that bizarre Plymouth shooting — the one with two concealed carry permits. This time from Karen Zamora of the Strib. “[Trisha] Nelson and [Correy] Perry met by having a similar interest in body modification and suspension, or hanging from hooks piercing the skin. Nelson’s Facebook page displays her love for the hobby in several photos and videos. In one, she hangs from a pair of hooks piercing her torso, while Perry, who also appears to be suspended by hooks in his shoulders, looks on. Another photo features her pet iguanas, Dulap and Iggy, sitting in Santa’s lap.” Did I mention the Second Amendment thing?

You can also learn about all our free newsletter options.

Comments (6)

  1. Submitted by Ray Schoch on 02/16/2016 - 07:18 am.

    Grass grows (in spring)

    …and the Chamber of Commerce wants lower taxes on business.

  2. Submitted by Greg Kapphahn on 02/16/2016 - 08:46 am.

    The Chamber Can Have Their Tax Cuts

    Just as soon as they agree to give up every single benefit their member’s businesses receive from the State of Minnesota.

    Lacking that, they’re just pursuing their usual approach,…

    seeking to pad their own pockets,…

    by forcing their fellow citizens (those who DON’T own businesses),…

    to pay MORE in taxes so that those wealthier business owners can pay less,…

    or NOTHING if they could accomplish it.

    What ever happened to the civic giants who led Minnesota businesses in decades past,…

    mature, intelligent, reasoning and reasonable adults,…

    who willingly contributed to the State Government,…

    in order to build the state which now makes today’s selfish and self-serving Chamber members so successful?

    By comparison, today’s business leaders seem like nothing so much as spoiled children,…

    who want us to believe that a huge dose of pop, candy, cookies, and cake,…

    extracted from the pockets of their fellow citizens,…

    will make them happy.

    (THIS time, if you give us what we want, we’ll stop whining. We PROMISE!).

    • Submitted by Tim Walker on 02/16/2016 - 10:42 am.

      Amen, Greg

      Clearly, the honor system is broken.

      Businesses promise to create jobs if we give them tax breaks, but the jobs rarely if ever materialize. I’ll be more inclined to give tax breaks WHEN those jobs are created. But NOT before, based on dubious promises and shaky economic theory.

      Honestly, it’s as if the Chamber types have never run a small business. You hire people when your current employees are overworked because demand for your product or service is high. Or because you see an unmet demand somewhere. You don’t hire people just for the hell of it because you have extra money lying around.

      But, I think deep down they really know that, and their call for tax cuts is just unmitigated greed.

      It’s time elected politicians stop believing the Big Lies of Big (and small) Business.

      • Submitted by Dan Berg on 02/16/2016 - 05:34 pm.

        So why….

        So why give tax breaks at all? Why not just a simple flat and transparent system? Because it hurst politician’s ability to claim they are doing something. Basically manipulating government at all levels is a requirement for businesses because government determines to such a great degree the winners and losers in the marketplace. If you want to keep business from trying to influence policy take away the incentive by not allowing government to tilt the playing field. No more stadiums of any sort or infrastructure built for “development” reasons or subsidies for different sorts of industries like oil or solar. No more tax breaks for relocating to different areas or special districts like the IRRRB.

        Businesses are constituents just like any other and have all the right in the world so seek that their priorities are viewed favorably by the state, even if they might dare to not align with those of some who read this blog. If you actually want to reduce the power of business to manipulate policy reduce the power of government to enact what they are asking for.

        • Submitted by Harris Goldstein on 02/16/2016 - 07:24 pm.

          Flat for how long

          No matter how flat you start, businesses will lobby to pay less. Until they pay zero. Then they’ll lobby to get s subsidy. Does matter how profitable they are or how reasonable their current tax rate. Medtronic for example.

          They may have the right to lobby for preferred treatment, but that doesn’t mean they have the right to receive it.

          • Submitted by Dan Berg on 02/17/2016 - 12:39 pm.

            Influence

            If you want too reduce the influence of businesses then reduce the value that influence has. The more power government has the move valuable influence is. This is true not just for businesses. Lobbying has a good ROI which is the reason there is so much of it. Businesses will always have significant influence because it is in their financial best interest. In fact if they don’t work to have influence their competitors will use what they have to gain an advantage.

            What you say about always asking for more is only true if we first accept the idea that government should have the authority to select winners and losers. The only way to limit the influence certain group of citizens (all that businesses are) have on government is to limit the reward for that influence by reducing the power of government. Unless you are willing to go that route there is no reason to think the influence of business will ever decrease.

Leave a Reply