Posted at 8:00 AM on April 23, 2009
by Than Tibbetts
Good morning, all. Make it a good day.
Van Pilsum said she was "shocked" by the reaction to the story, saying that vein of story is commonly done, though Brauer notes:
But when pressed, Van Pilsum admits she can't think of an example where the faux luring involved cruising public streets, a tactic that still strikes me as so absurd I can't believe a news director let it out of the building.
In the end, Brauer apologizes to Van Pilsum for coming up short in his own reporting. Later, we'll all get together for a group hug and discuss what we've learned.
(If you're confused, head over to In the Loop, where Jeff Horwich first reported on this story.)
Posted at 10:38 AM on April 23, 2009
by Than Tibbetts
We'll keep tabs on Midday's 11 a.m. conversation with Sen. Tom Bakk, DFL-Cook, and Rep. Ann Lenczewski, DFL-Bloomington. They are the chairs of their respective tax committees.
With the Legislature getting to the meat of the state's massive budget deficit, a showdown is in the works between the Senate, House and Gov. Tim Pawlenty. The House and Senate have released tax plans that call for tax increases, while the governor has vowed to veto any bill that includes one.
11 a.m.: The House was up late last night and both houses will likely work a long shift today getting the budget bills together. The House takes up early childhhood, education and state government omnibus bills later today. The Senate should get to transportation and environment bills.
11:04: Remember that you're listening to a 2010 candidate for governor. Here's Bakk's website.
11:08: Gary asks, why pass any increase when the governor has promised a veto?
Bakk says the governor has new revenue in his budget, too, but he doesn't call it "taxes".
11:11: The House bill raises $1.5 billion in new revenue. The Senate bill offers $2.2 billion in new revenue. The Senate's version would raise income tax across the board for all Minnesotans.
11:12: Bakk recalls the 1990s, when living was easy for state legislators. Now, he says, the "pendulum has swung too far" as a result of a "tax cutting frenzy" in the 90s.
11:14: The House bill raises revenue with tax increases on cigarettes, alcohol and Minnesota's top earners (>$300,000). As these bills will have to be reconciled before they get to the governor, which approach will win out?
11:15: I'd been mulling a post along the lines of this topic for a little while that boils down to this: Is there a way this can possibly end well?
Can the governor, the Senate and the House get the work done on time in a civil enough manner that doesn't leave a horrible taste in your mouth?
11:18: Already there's going to be a showdown between the two Democratic branches of the Legislature, before we even get to the Republican governor. Bakk says he doesn't agree with the House's tax approach.
11:20: Bakk says he hopes to get Gov. Pawlenty involved in the conference committee process. But with the House and Senate so far apart on some fairly fundamental structural changes, it might serve Tim just as well to let them duke it out.
11:22: Gary asks about extending the sales tax to clothing, etc. Bakk says it would be a "major reform" to Minnesota's tax policy, and needs to be initiated by the governor.
"I think it's kind of a waste of our time," Bakk says.
11:25: Caller: Statistically, more smokers are poor folks. Why add another tax to their burden...
Lenczewski says people who are smoking are costing the state a tremendous amount of money. The state is already subsidizing smokers through the cost of health care.
Bakk says the cigarette tax is one of the most regressive taxes in the system. Re: alcohol taxes, neighboring states with lower rates would siphon business away from border communities if taxes were increased.
11:28: Caller: aren't the proposals just replacing private sector jobs with government jobs?
Bakk rattles off a list of tax credits to counter the notion that his bill isn't job-friendly.
He adds that Pawlenty's track record hasn't been that great when it comes to job creation, but is that a fair critique given the recession we're in?
11:32: Lenczewski calls the 4th tier tax adjustment a "moderate adjustment."
11:33: It's news break time, so that means it's time for a quick poll.
11:37: A caller from rural Minnesota: My property values are going down, but why do my property taxes keep going up?
Pawlenty's budget forecast assumes that property taxes will go up.
Perhaps as a consequence, many local governments are spending more money lobbying the state government.
11:39: Lenczewski boils it down. "There is no joy in this." House and Senate are choosing to pay it off now, while the governor is using debt to cover the current situation.
11:41: Caller passes along the argument that higher taxes on higher earners will be a disincentive to job-creators.
Bakk says middle income folks pay 12% in state and local taxes. Earners making $150,000 pay about 9%. See for yourself... Here are Minnesota's tax incidence studies.
11:45: Basically, with a $4.6 billion budget deficit, somebody is going to get hurt.
11:49: In the comments, Mel says:
I estimate that the House tax plan will cost our family 6-7 thousand $ a year. This money will come directly out of our support for MPR, Minnesota Orchestra, Guthrie, St. Marks' Cathedral, etc. I don't think we're alone or unique. How will reduced support for these cultural treasures help our Minnesota quality of life?
A salient point. What does the ripple effect from this budget crisis look like a few years down the road?
Commenter Martha makes the same point with a different twist. What about bartenders, etc. who depend on tips? Won't an alcohol tax take a chunk out of their earnings?
11:52: After all this budget mess is said and done, are we going to see a sea change in the membership of the Minnesota Legislature? Will we have a new governor in 2010? Or do you get the sense that our representatives are doing the best they can with the hand they've been dealt?
11:54: Bakk: if the governor does not agree to new revenue, we're going to see some deep, deep cuts.
11:57: The Senate bill comes up for a floor vote tomorrow. The House bill comes to a vote on Saturday.
11:59: Thanks for following along folks. I'll post the audio as soon as its available. Feel free to continue the conversation in the comments.(4 Comments)
Posted at 3:28 PM on April 23, 2009
by Than Tibbetts
ABC News is reporting that jailed U.S. journalist Roxana Saberi has gone on hunger strike to protest her espionage conviction in Iran.
The Fargo native has been in jail since late January, when she was arrested for buying alcohol. The charges subsequently escalated into espionage, and Saberi was tried behind closed doors and sentenced to eight years in prison.
ABC's George Stephanopoulos interviewed Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad who gave little indication whether there would be any change in the conviction.
"I think Mr. Obama, as a sign of change, and also to encourage friendship should allow laws to be processed fairly and to allow the judiciary to carry out its duty," Ahmadinejad said. "I am sure she will not be mistreated."
That seems to be a little bit of a step back from earlier reports:
Ahmadinejad instructed chief Tehran prosecutor Saeed Mortazavi to personally ensure that "suspects be given all their rights to defend themselves" against the charges. "Prepare for the court proceedings ... to observe and apply justice precisely," the IRNA state news agency quoted the president as saying.
We've previously pondered how Saberi fits into a push-pull puzzle of Iranian politics, both internally and internationally.
And beyond the diplomatic tension this is creating between the attempts to forge a new relationship with Iran, it's sometimes easy to overlook the fact that there's a very human story behind it all.
Roxana Saberi's parents, Reza and Akiko Saberi, have been making the rounds, giving the media plenty of updates on her condition. They spoke with the BBC this week.
To Roxana Saberi, Iranian with an American passport(2 Comments)
If I kept quiet until now, it was for her sake. If today I speak, it is for her sake.
She is my friend, my fiancée, and my companion. An intelligent and talented young woman, whom I have always admired.