Tag Archives: Minnesota

Big Ten = 16

I’m from Minnesota and live in North Carolina.

That makes this big news:

As Lee Barfknecht of the Omaha World-Herald writes: “Let’s just get on with it.”

His topic: The next round of expansion for the Big Ten, about which Barfknecht contends: “Commissioner Jim Delany is a smart, powerful man who knows the era of four 16-team superconferences is coming sooner than any of us wanted to believe.”

And who would those schools be? How about one that the Gophers just paid $800,000 to avoid on their football schedule?

Barfknecht: “Four BCS conference coaches and administrators I talked to Tuesday said they think the Big Ten is actively hunting for members 15 and 16, and mentioned the Tar Heels and Jayhawks.”


Football Stadiums And WHo They Are Built For

There was talk that the Minnesota Vikings were going to move.  The Metrodome is old and not built to take advantage of the revenue streams available in today’s market.  Further, the dome collapsed recently and is showing it’s age.

Given the popularity of the team in Minnesota, the state legislature, run by republicans at the time, along with the governor, a democrat, passed legislation that created a publicly assisted stadium to be built.

At them time I was conflicted.  I hate it that private business is able to successfully lobby the government to get taxpayers to build them infrastructure while keeping all the profits.  But given all the money going the other way, I felt a guilty and legitimate pleasure on being on the receiving end of the public dole.  I don’t like it but I do get to keep my team.

But now the governor is expressing his disappointment in the Viking’s management:

Gov. Mark Dayton wrote a stern letter Tuesday to the owners of the Minnesota Vikings threatening to undo the stadium deal if they pass on the cost of building the $975 million project to the fans.

“The project’s strong support came from many regular Minnesotans, not just rich Minnesotans, because they believed the Vikings are also their team,” Dayton wrote. “If a new stadium were to betray that trust, it would be better that it not be built.”

Dayton sent the letter to Vikings owners Zygi and Mark Wilf.

I refuse to be shocked and outraged over the fact that the governor feels the Vikings ownership is going to increase their wealth as a result of the Viking’s stadium being built with taxpayer money.  But the governor continues to prosecute the issue:

“I strongly oppose shifting any part of the team’s responsibility for those costs onto Minnesota Vikings fans,” Dayton wrote in his letter to the Wilfs. “This Private Contribution is your responsibility. Not theirs. I said this new stadium would be a ‘People’s Stadium,’ not a ‘Rich People’s Stadium.’ I meant it then, and I mean it now.”

The stadium legislation gives the Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority, which is working with the team to oversee development of the project, the right to own and sell the seat licenses, although the revenue then goes to the Vikings construction costs. “Reportedly the purpose for this arrangement is to shield revenue from taxes,” Dayton wrote in the letter dated Nov. 13. “If true, I deplore it.”

He added that since it is the Authority which will make the decision on whether to sell the licenses, “I will urge its Board not to proceed.”

I don’t know what kind of tool thought otherwise; of COURSE building stadiums for sports teams is being done for the rich at the expense of the non-rich.

Oh Minnesota How I must Weep

So I was researching some stuff for my post on the USS Minnesota when I came across this trivia:

Minnesota has the longest streak of voting for Democratic presidential candidates than any other state in the nation.

And this is during a discussion of who Romney should choose for a running mate.

Minnesota giveth and Minnesota taketh away!

Chisago County: Entitlement Program Case Study

I grew up “In the Land of Sky Blue Waters.”  I know those people, my people.  I know how they feel about government, how they feel about compassion and how they feel about responsibility.

I know what it’s like to have a neighbor lose a barn to fire.  I know what it’s like to have the community come together to rebuild that barn, to donate seed and feed, horses and cattle.  I know what it’s like to have a barn raising.

I know what those people in the New York Times article are getting at, hinting at and struggling with.

Continue reading

Voter Fraud and Voter ID Laws

States are passing Voter ID laws.  The stated reason is that if you have restrictions on who can and can’t vote, it’s a reasonable position to take that these requirements are validated.  For example, you wouldn’t pass a speed limit an then refuse to allow officers to use speed detectors.  You don’t require that a teacher have a license and then not allow administrators to validate that license.

If you require a thing, you must validate that thing.

Now, Democrats are crying foul claiming that Republicans are trying to prevent other Democrats from voting.  I disagree.  I think that Republicans are doing what anyone in their right mind would do; allow validation of legal requirements.  Further, Democrats will argue that fraud simply doesn’t happen; there are few cases of voter fraud.

Some thoughts:

First, the number of dead voters in Minnesota:

A review of Minnesota’s statewide database of registered voters revealed at least 2,812 deceased individuals voted in last November’s general election, according to a new report by the “traditional values” advocacy group Minnesota Majority.

After obtaining the list of voters who participated in November’s election, the group hired an independent firm who specializes in “death suppression” for direct mailing lists to review the data. The process, which involved matching names and addresses to state death records, bore troubling results.

According to Minnesota statute 201.13, the commissioner of health is to report monthly the name, address, date of birth, and county of residence of voting-age deceased residents to the secretary of state.

Presumably the commissioner of health would not issue incomplete reports (read: no motive), the blame then falls elsewhere – namely, at the feet of Minnesota Secretary of State Mark Ritchie, whose partisan leanings and curious alliance with vote fraud-magnet ACORN are becoming more salient by the day.

For those of you not familiar, this is in relation to the 2008 election where Al Franken defeated Norm Coleman by 312 votes.  This was the election where votes were trucked in by the trunk load of boxes.

For even more history, this was the election that allowed the Democrats to push through the Health Care law.

Franken defeated Coleman by 312 votes.

Three Hundred.


And two.

Almost 3,000 dead people voted.

Then, consider the testimony of an ACORN whistle blower:

Former ACORN/Project Vote employee Anita MonCrief agreed.  “It’s ludicrous to say that fake registrations can’t become fraudulent votes,” she said.  “I assure you that if you can get them on the rolls you can get them to vote, especially using absentee ballots.”

There are even reports of blank absentee ballots being distributed on election day in the Scott Brown election.

When Democrat politicians tell you that fraud doesn’t take place, they are lying.  It does take place.  And the fact that they don’t wanna address it means that the fraud is taking place in their favor.

Michelle Bachmann Drops Out Of The Race

As expected, Michelle Bachmann announced that she is leaving the race for the Republican nomination.  This comes on the heels of a poor showing in Iowa, a state that Bachmann had to have in order to demonstrate viability.

She did poorly last night and this morning she is  out:

Mrs. Bachmann said on Wednesday morning that she would not continue her campaign for the Republican presidential nomination.

“Last night, the people of Iowa spoke with a very clear voice, and so I have decided to stand aside,” Mrs. Bachmann said at a news conference in West Des Moines.

I never thought that Bachmann was a serious candidate.  Typically it’s an insider with long term ties to the party that gets the nod.  Further, we have a history of nominating political “Do’ers” and not “Voters”.  This is why we see more governors running than Senators,  And Bachmann wasn’t even a Senator.

She added value to the race by providing a serious conservative slant.  And hopefully, she was able to pull candidates further right than they otherwise would have.  Further, her national attention will now allow her to mount a run for the US Senate where she would face Democrat Amy Kloboucher.  After having the seat stolen from the Republicans in 2008, it would be nice to get one back in 2012.

Good luck Michelle.

Minnesota Metro Transit Bus Drivers: Pay And Overtime

A recent analysis of bus drivers for the Minnesota Metro Transit system provided some interesting data:

  • Base pay for drivers is nearly $50,000 a year.
  • The top earner in the system made $120,000 a year.
    • He did this by working, on average, 74 hours a week.
  • Overtime in the system has jumped by 52 percent from 2008 to 2010.
  • A driver on overtime – paid at time and a half – saves Metro Transit $4 an hour on average.
    • This due to the fact that the agency would have to pay for training, additional benefits and pension.
  • A union agreement says that no more than 24 percent of Metro Transit’s workforce can be part time – prompting the agency to turn to overtime.
  • In October, 89 percent of weekday overtime assignments were during rush hour and lasted less than three hours.

The incentives are undeniable.  For a system that demands flexibility; traffic doesn’t occur in neat 8 hour blocks, the rules prohibit the proper response.  Further, regulations surrounding benefits, those benefits that include vacation, retirement and health care, make it more cost effective to work an already employed person than to hire someone else.  And lastly, being a Metro Transit driver isn’t all that bad; 50 large is a good deal of money.

Finally I’d like to point out that for at least one of these drivers, the overtime is a feature and not a bug.  And it’s a feature because of decisions HE’S made in HIS life:

Lance Wallace is happy to drive a few extra hours if it means his wife can stay home with their four children – all younger than 5.

The New Hope man is among the top 5 percent of overtime earners at Metro Transit. Picking up extra shifts and working nearly every day, he averages 60 to 70 hours a week. The $37,700 in overtime he earned last year pushed his total earnings to $86,400.

“I don’t really want to work overtime,” Wallace said. “But I do it to make up the income.”

The extra work doesn’t make him “overly tired,” Wallace said. In fact, after working two jobs before, he “feels good” to now work where he can dictate his own hours.

Mr. Wallace is a father.  A father of FOUR.  A father of FOUR in a family that has the mother stay home.  And of those FOUR kids, all are younger than 5.  And this father of four young children is happy that he’s able to work the hours he does in order to prevent having to carry two jobs.

My point?  Incentives matter.  Raising the cost of hiring means that you will see less hiring.  Wage earners will enjoy working more hours if it benefits them, not the other way around.  Government union work pays well.  People who have 4 kids in 4 years time have a more limited ability to dictate their time.

Nanny Statism

The desire to protect the citizens drives crazy results.  People, intending to “do the right thing” and “protect” the people, get so caught up in that role they never stop and consider the absurdity of what it is they are doing.  The never ending desire to prevent harm is a constricting burden when placed within the hands of those who fail to understand that man is largely able to craft positive outcomes for himself.

And so it is that government has created a condition such that we are unable to hand our free hot dogs to free people:

Tin Cup’s bar and restaurant in St. Paul’s North End will pay a $500 fine to the city for grilling hot dogs outside on Oct. 2 without an event permit.

Co-owner Gidget Bailey appeared before the city council Wednesday to explain that she inquired with a state agency before cooking the hot dogs, which were given away inside the bar at 1220 Rice St. and not sold or consumed outside.

“I did call the Minnesota Department of Health asking if there was anything I needed to do,” Bailey said. “They told me no.”

The city’s Department of Safety and Inspections cited them for not obtaining a “temporary extension of service area” license for the outdoor event, which led to several calls to the District 6 Planning Council. The planning council then informed DSI of the event.

Council Member Lee Helgen reminded the bar owners that they should have known to check with the city.

The council vote to impose the fine was unanimous.

Note one member of the government body felt that the regulations describing the proper offering of hot dogs was so onerous as to prevent the levying of the fine.


Teacher’s Unions: Not In Favor of Students

One more for the file labelled: We Hate Kids, the Minneapolis Federation of Teachers has come out against a policy that would allow the city to fire and hire teachers based on merit, you know–teaching kids–rather than on seniority:

A coalition of City Council members, former school leaders, parents and pastors are calling for Minneapolis public schools to end seniority-based hiring and firing practices in the next teachers union contract.

In its “Contract for Student Achievement” position paper, the group argues that past agreements between the district and the Minneapolis Federation of Teachers (MFT) “repeatedly put the needs of adults over the academic needs of students.”

“We call on the district and the MFT to negotiate a different kind of contract — one that recognizes the academic crisis in our schools and makes student achievement the top focus,” the coalition says in its letter, which was delivered to the school board this week.

Saying the letter “feels like an attack” on teachers, union president Lynn Nordgren disputed some of its findings and the argument that past contracts have halted reform.

At the heart of all successful organizations is innovation.  And innovation requires change; sometimes massive disruptive change.  And Unions aren’t in favor of that.

A Win Win For Me

The State of Minnesota is reporting that they may soon have a record number of job openings available for state government jobs:

The executive director of the Minnesota State Retirement System, Dave Bergstrom, said Monday that 2,733 state employees have retired as of this month, up 675 from the record 2,058 who retired in 2010.

This news should cause much happiness and relief for the State, right?  As more and more people feel comfortable leaving the work force, younger folks can move up and be replaced at THEIR level by new job market entrants.  This is the nature of things.  Further, it may spell a growing confidence that we have seen the worst when it comes to our economic doldrums.

However, the State doesn’t see it that way:

However, State Demographer Tom Gillaspy said the wave of retirements does pose some problems for state government, which is faced with replacing senior employees with unique skills in subjects like school finance, tax collections and building roads in Minnesota’s hard climate.

Now, to be sure, from the perspective of Minnesota State executives, this IS a problem.  Finding quality staff to replace senior staff is definitely an issue.  Both in the government sector and in the  private sector.  However, from MY perspective, the fact that we have people less good at school finances and tax collections is a most wonderful condition.

The harder the State finds it to take and spend my money, the happier I am.

By the way, how, in this jobless recovery, is THIS possible:

The retirements could also bring into focus the state’s difficulty hiring top quality replacements, given that pay and promotions in state government now lag the private sector and academia, Gillaspy said.