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More Drama as Rochester Civic Theatre Returns Taxpayer Funds to City

Heightened city council scrutiny over local taxpayer funding for the Rochester Civic Theatre has already begun to pay dividends. After recently expressing alarm over the nonprofit's finances, the city received a six-figure check from the theater out of the blue. The drama over $200,000 in public funds set aside annually for the theater's maintenance and utilities costs continues to play out  in the pages of the Rochester Post Bulletin. The Rochester Civic Theatre has returned three-quarters of the funding it received from the city, which could mark a new path for city-supported performing arts in Rochester. Theater Board President Jeff Haynes said a...

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Rochester Considers Crackdown on Taxpayer Funding of the Arts

It may not exactly be an open checkbook of public funding for the arts in Rochester, but close enough. Last year the city doled out more than $850,000 in taxpayer funds to the Rochester Civic Theatre, Rochester Arts Center and senior center. But financial irregularities recently uncovered at the Civic Theatre have at least one city council member ready to ask the non-profit for the taxpayers' money back.  And that could be just the beginning, according to MPR News. "It's insulting to me that you'd sit here and say, 'Oh jeez, we didn't know what was going on.’ You are on the...

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MN Taxpayers Would Spend $17 Million a Year to Subsidize Duluth Train

For years backward-looking bureaucrats and local officials have sought to revive the failed passenger rail line between the Twin Cities and Duluth. But a legislative hearing in Duluth this week designed to rally support for the proposed Northern Lights Express instead exposed an utter lack of justification for the boondoggle. The train offers no advantage over I-35, taking just as long to reach Duluth as going by car, roughly two and a half hours. Moreover, NLX would be operated by Amtrak, whose one line running through Minnesota--the Empire Builder--continues to lose riders and runs chronically behind schedule. Before anyone  goes  anywhere,...

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How the Latest DHS Scandal is Just the Tip of the Iceberg

This article appeared in the Fall 2019 issue of Thinking Minnesota. To receive a free issue send your name and address to info@americanexperiment.org. Minnesotans of a certain age will always recall the Land of 10,000 Lakes as that squeaky clean, good government state personified by the still-famous August 1973 Time magazine cover of plaid-shirted DFL Governor Wendy Anderson hoisting a trophy northern pike. As Time wrote back then, “Minnesota is a state whose politics is almost unnaturally clean— no patronage, virtually no corruption.” Perhaps Minnesotans can be forgiven for holding their state in such high esteem. After all, U.S. News & World...

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Walz Doubles Down on Taxpayer Subsidies for Failed Amtrak Train Lines

The Walz administration's attempt to get Minnesota taxpayers to subsidize a proposed $550 million passenger train to Grand Casino Hinckley and Duluth-Superior came up empty with the failure to pass a bonding bill at the legislature this year. But outdated, wasteful government projects rarely fade away, they just get bigger and bolder. MnDOT now plans to double down on its $15 million request from this year in the 2020 legislative session, according to the Star Tribune. The $30 million funding request from state coffers would move Northern Lights into its final design phase, with service beginning in 2023. Rail planners say local and...

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Fraud and Mismanagement Should Be Red Flag for City Funding of Credit Union

The Minneapolis Star Tribune editorial board had a great opinion piece last week investigating allegations of fraud and mismanagement for a new credit union designed to promote economic opportunities for African-Americans in North Minneapolis. According to the Strib: "In one of the worst scenarios that a financial institution can face, a startup north Minneapolis credit union is embroiled in allegations of fraud and mismanagement. Two top leaders of Village Financial Cooperative were terminated in August for alleged financial misconduct. Both deny the charges and have countered with allegations that they were fired because of racial discrimination. Village Financial is an African-American-led credit union sponsored...

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The Masquerade of Good Government

This article originally appeared in the Fall 2019 issue of Thinking Minnesota, now the second largest magazine in Minnesota. To receive a free trial issue send your name and address to info@americanexperiment.org. Minnesotans of a certain age will always recall the Land of 10,000 Lakes as that squeaky clean, good government state personified by the still-famous August 1973 Time magazine cover of plaid-shirted DFL Governor Wendy Anderson hoisting a trophy northern pike. As Time wrote back then, “Minnesota is a state whose politics is almost unnaturally clean— no patronage, virtually no corruption.” Perhaps Minnesotans can be forgiven for holding their state in such high esteem. After all, U.S....

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In The Tank (Ep210) – Government Spending Waste Report, Bernie’s Wealth Tax

Hello! This week on the In the Tank Podcast, Isaac Orr is joined by Heartland's Donald Kendal, Justin Haskins, and Jim Lakely for Episode 210 of the In The Tank Podcast. This weekly podcast features discussions that explore the work of think tanks across the country. We talk about how Bernie's wealth tax would be a disaster and would act as an "economic Berlin Wall," or Bernline Wall, for those feeling the Bern. The episode also features work from the Tax Foundation, the Cato Institute, and the American Action Forum. https://soundcloud.com/user-694711047/in-the-tank-ep210-government-spending-waste-report-bernies-wealth-tax?in=user-694711047/sets/in-the-tank-podcast...

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MN Amtrak Ridership Declines Again in 2018

Amtrak continues to lose passengers in Minnesota, even as DFL Governor Tim Walz, MnDOT and the national rail service continue to pursue a partnership to initiate two new Amtrak-operated but heavily state-subsidized routes from the Twin Cities to Duluth and Chicago. RELATED: Are Minnesotans Being Taken for a Ride by Amtrak? Ridership on the only Amtrak line in Minnesota, the Empire Builder from Chicago to Seattle, has waned nearly 30 percent in recent years. The latest numbers compiled by the Rail Passengers Association indicate the Empire Builder lost another 10,000 riders in 2018, dropping to a total of 126,700 compared to 177,600...

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