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Dayton Leaves Big MNLARS Mess Behind

He's only a year and a half late. But even Gov. Dayton now admits the MNLARS vehicle registration system rolled out on his watch has been nothing short of "disastrous." The latest appearance by Dayton's team before an oversight committee left many lawmakers aghast this week again. It didn't exactly enhance their credibility when the state's top tech and public safety officials claimed that getting up to answering almost 60 percent of their calls and delivering one-third of 32,000 REAL ID license applications represents progress. “Eighteen months,” said Rep. Paul Torkelson (R-Hanska), co-chair of the [MNLARS Steering] Committee. “Are we more than...

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Roseville Whiffs on Liquor License for New $3 Million Golf Clubhouse

Municipal golf courses are notorious money losers for the taxpayers of most local governments that get into the game. Just four of 35 municipal courses named in the Minnesota State Auditor's most recent available report on city finances managed not to run an operating loss in 2016. In fact, more golf courses have closed than have opened across the country every year since 2006. This year, the City of West St. Paul shut down the 9-hole Thompson Oaks municipal "executive" track after years of losing seasons. Nevertheless, the Twin Cities suburb of Roseville recently doubled down on its 9-hole course, investing $3...

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Fred Barnes: Three ‘Easy’ Steps to a Trump Re-election

Fred Barnes has written a smart, welcome piece in the Weekly Standard that gives President Trump an “easy” path to win re-election in 2020, if only he can do three things. President Trump is in deeper political trouble than he thinks. And I’m not talking about whatever special counsel Robert Mueller has up his sleeve. Trump has real-life re-election trouble. The midterm results were clear about this. Millions of voters whom Trump needs to win a second term in 2020 expressed their disdain for him in the only way they could—by voting against Republicans. Those GOP candidates were his surrogates, like it...

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Winthrop Taps Reserves, Cuts Cops and Pothole Repairs to Subsidize Internet Network Debt

Recently American Experiment shared the predicament of ten southern Minnesota cities facing an unexpected property tax hike to subsidize their new high speed internet system. The RS Fiber network was was supposed to pay for itself, but that's not how it's working out. The first phase of construction wrapped up in early 2018, connecting all ten cities to the fiber-to-the-home network and providing wireless service in rural areas. Some 2,000 residents signed on, more than 30 percent of available homes and businesses, yet short of the 3,000 subscriber break-even point. Then in an August bombshell, RS Fiber announced discontinuation of bond payments for...

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Duluth to “Rebrand” by Streamlining Some City Services

The city government may have a long way to go, but give Duluth Mayor Emily Larson credit. Turnover at top positions in City Hall has paved the way for the proposed consolidation of the planning, construction services and economic development units into one department. The goal? To increase efficiency and streamline services, according to the Duluth News Tribune. As part of the restructuring, the city has eliminated a position — director of business and economic development — a move that is expected to yield significant savings. The salary range for the now-vacant post was between about $84,000 and $127,000. With benefits factored...

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Being pro-free enterprise is not the same as being pro-big business

There is no problem with big businesses per se. If they have grown and stayed big by producing goods and services that consumers want to purchase, they are to be applauded. This is a good thing. But where they have gained and maintained their size by sucking up to the government, that is to be opposed. ...

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Taxpayers Push for Vote on City’s Pricey Community Center Plan

One issue won't be on the ballot in the Twin Cities suburb of Andover. It's the mega-bucks proposed expansion to the city's community center. The nearly $19 million price tag has stirred up controversy and calls for a referendum, according to the Star Tribune. The project has split the City Council, which voted 3-2 last month to move forward while directing staffers to cut costs. An $18.9 million project budget would mean a property tax hike of about $113 for owners of a $250,000 house, the median value in town. Some residents point out that would come on top of the tax sting from...

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Public Safety Does It Again with Long Delays for Driver’s Licenses

Minnesota motorists can't get a break. The Dayton Administration's Department of Public Safety continues to struggle to salvage the disastrous roll-out of the motor and vehicle registration system that has rivaled the MNsure state health exchange  for technical malfeasance.  Nearly a year and a half later, the so-called MNLARS system remains tens of millions of dollars over budget and in dire need of expensive technical triage. Yet now comes word via the Star Tribune that many applicants for new driver's licences face their own frustrating delays in customer service for road tests and licenses. New driver Priscilla Thomas said the state told...

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