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MnDOT Demands Another Amtrak Train Despite Big Ridership Decline

MnDOT wants to add a second Amtrak train between Chicago and the Twin Cities. By the front page story in the Star Tribune, you'd likely think ridership on the taxpayer-subsidized passenger line must be on the upswing. Adding a second daily passenger train between St. Paul’s Union Depot and downtown Chicago, a proposal that has been bandied about for many years, would likely cost from $137 million to $169 million. But it’s unclear at this point how the project would be funded, and by whom, says a new study. But the paper left out an inconvenient fact on the campaign underway to double...

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Austin Pushes Businesses to the Brink with Potential 15 Percent Levy Hike

Minnesota's high income and business taxes put our state near the top of the least taxpayer friendly states in the union. But some local tax levy rates can be just as onerous, even in Greater Minnesota. Tonight, for example, the Austin City Council will consider approving a nearly 16 percent hike in the local levy. Much of the burden falls on small business owners, who told the Austin Daily Herald they're already stretched to the breaking point. Randall Fett currently owns 12 commercial properties in Downtown Austin. Some of his tenants include George’s Pizza, Rydjor Bike Shop and Heartman Insurance. And like some...

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Weekend Shootings Last Straw for Minneapolis Craft Brewer

The wild west-style shootouts in north Minneapolis over the weekend killed four and wounded six more. But there's another side to the violence that doesn't appear on the police blotter. Residents so scared and fed up they're moving out before they become a statistic, including a business owner featured on WCCO radio. The Friday night shooting left 42-year-old Steven Fields of Richfield dead on a sidewalk and wounded three others. Another causality of the shooting - Boom Island Brewing Company - whose owner says they‘re tired of the crime and it’s time to pack up and leave. The shooting happened just a...

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State Wants to Raid REAL ID Funding to Fix Botched Registration System

The more things change, the more they stay the same. That should be the tagline for MNIT, the state agency responsible for development and implementation of  the disastrous vehicle and registration system that still doesn't work, despite being tens of millions of dollars over budget and years behind schedule. No wonder some Republican lawmakers want to disband the troubled tech agency once and for all. Now MNIT plans to divert millions more taxpayer dollars from the mission critical REAL ID driver's license program and use it to prop up the failing MNLARS vehicle registration system, according to the Pioneer Press. The likely...

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New Park Board Commissioners’ Proposed Pay Raise Comes Under Fire

Not so fast! That's the essence of the Star Tribune's editorial aimed at the new slate of Minneapolis Park Board commissioners who ran on reform but now want to more than double their own pay now that they're in control. In yet another example of elected officials considering raising their own pay, members of the Minneapolis Park Board have discussed increasing their annual stipend from $12,438 to $30,000 to attract more diverse candidates and reflect the work involved in serving on the nine-member board. In our view, more than doubling pay in one fell swoop would be excessive. But reasonable increases over...

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Milton Friedman: Politics and Violence

As government in America has grown bigger and assumed power over more and more of our lives, people on both sides of the political divide either look to it to further their agenda, if their party is in power, or view it as a threat to their way of life if it isn't. As Milton Friedman explained in this Newsweek column from 1968, government is about conformity. As it grows, the space for us to live and let live shrinks. In a vast, sprawling, diverse country such as the United States, that is a recipe for trouble now, just as...

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For New Park Board Members Change Starts With Big Pay Raise

The election of six outsiders to the Minneapolis Park Board last fall was supposed to change everything. MinnPost summed it up this way when the new commissioners took office this year. Change had been in the air since September 2016, when activists accused commissioners of discriminatory policies during a heated board meeting. Ten people were ejected, four were arrested, and retribution was promised. In November, with the election of six new commissioners — many of whom were endorsed by Our Revolution, an organization affiliated with the Bernie Sanders for president campaign — that comeuppance was seemingly delivered. The next month, Park Superintendent Jayne Miller,...

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MN County Overestimates Property Assessments by $133 Million

When some say government should be run more like a business, it's safe to assume they don't mean Enron. But that sort of excess comes to mind when hearing about the over-the-top property valuations St. Louis County tax assessors tried to get by with earlier this year. The Duluth News Tribune continues to expose the embarrassing financial fallout. Property owners in downtown Duluth were thunderstruck when they opened statements from the St. Louis County Assessor's Office a couple months ago only to discover the estimated market value of their buildings had soared. Many of the increases were met with incredulity. For instance, the assessor's...

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