Posted at 11:35 AM on May 25, 2012
by Catharine Richert
Filed under: Political parties
Citing jurisdictional issues, Ramsey County Attorney John Choi's office said it will not investigate a special fund set up to pay for recount costs associated with Tom Emmer's 2010 gubernatorial campaign.
"Our office is not the appropriate office to act upon your request to undertake a criminal forgery investigation and is presently without jurisdiction to take any action with regard to alleged violations of the state's campaign finance and practice laws," wrote First Assistant Ramsey County Attorney John Kelly in a letter to Common Cause Minnesota, the group that filed the complaint against Count Them All Properly.
The St. Paul Police Department is in charge of investigating forgery crimes. Further, the Ramsey County Attorney cannot investigate alleged violations of unfair campaign practices until a complaint has been filed and disposed of by the Minnesota Office of Administrative Hearings, the letter explains.
Count Them All Properly was set up on the advice of the GOP's lawyers in early December 2010 to help former Republican candidate Tom Emmer win the recount, according to former Republican Party of Minnesota Chair Tony Sutton.
Common Cause believes the fund should be investigated for making illegal in-kind contributions to a candidate and a political party and for forgery.
Here's the response from the Ramsey Count Attorney's office:
Posted at 4:30 PM on May 25, 2012
by Tim Nelson
Filed under: Vikings stadium
In case you were wondering what's next for the Vikings stadium, it was right there for everybody to see, written on the whiteboard in mayor R.T. Rybak's office Friday afternoon:
For those of you who don't follow the nitty gritty of city and stadium development, the top item is Rybak's two appointments to the five member Minnesota Sports Facility Authority. Gov. Mark Dayton will be appointing two others, as well as a chairperson.
The city is also appointing a "stadium implementation committee," as laid out in the now-ratified stadium law. It isn't clear how many folks will be on that committee, but the appointments for both bodies need to be made within 30 days from the day after final enactment, which would be June 14.
Here's the only insight Rybak would offer:
"I'll have to... think about a way to really have some people who bring the urban planning, land use expertise we're going to need to make sure this is a great place on game day, but also a great place on every other day. I'll be looking for folks who represent the nearby communities, people who have some development and design expertise. And as I say, I don't think there's a limit to the number of folks. It sounds like we need a Metrodome full of people, but there'll have to be some limit."
Of course, the Vikings new home is just one of the sports facilities Minneapolis will be working on. Target Center is also in line for an upgrade. Here's Rybak's to-do list from the other end of downtown:
And that's how to spend more than $2 billion in 16 easy steps.
Posted at 1:44 PM on May 25, 2012
by Tim Pugmire
Filed under: MN Legislature
The Minnesota Senate has rung up a $46,150 legal bill so far to defend its firing of former Republican caucus staffer Michael Brodkorb.
The invoice from the Larkin Hoffman Daly & Lindgren law firm released today details the first three months of legal bills. The Senate hired outside attorney Dayle Nolan when Brodkorb threatened a wrongful termination lawsuit.
The four-page invoice itemized 169 hours of work from mid-January through March. Most of the work was done at a rate of $330 an hour.
The bill includes a $3,960 charge for Nolan to prepare for and attend a hearing on an ethics complaint filed against Sen. Geoff Michel, R-Edina, over his handling of Brodkorb's firing.
Bordkorb lost his job shortly after Senate Majority Leader Amy Koch resigned her leadership post. It was later revealed that the two were having an affair.
Brodkorb is preparing a potential lawsuit against the Senate.
Here's the invoice:
Posted at 3:45 PM on May 25, 2012
by Catharine Richert
Filed under: Campaign 2012: Presidential Race
During his trip to Minnesota next Friday, President Barack Obama will give a public address about the economy at Honeywell's Golden Valley facility.
In his speech, Obama will ask Congress to act on the "To-Do List," a plan that includes new or expanded tax credits for companies that move their operations back the United States, for small businesses that hire new workers or increase wages, and for clean energy manufacturing.
Here's a link to the "To Do-List."
Obama will also hold three fundraisers while visiting Minnesota, all held at The Bachelor Farmer, a Minneapolis restaurant owned by Gov. Mark Dayton's sons.
Now that the Legislature has adjourned for the year, campaign season is underway.
Democrats say they intend to regain control of the Legislature. House Minority Leader Paul Thissen is among the party's loudest cheerleaders, writing in the Star Tribune that a DFL Legislature would adopt policies that help middle-class Minnesotans, that strengthen education and that balance the budget.
On the last point, Republican legislators don't have a great track record, Thissen wrote.
"In February 2011, when the Republicans took charge, the budget deficit was about $5 billion," Thissen wrote. "In January 2013, when the next Legislature returns to St. Paul, the budget deficit will be more than $4 billion."
Depending on your politics and your accounting, there are multiple ways of looking at the coming biennium's deficit, and Thissen's is just one perspective.
Minnesota is expecting a $1.1 billion shortfall in the coming biennium, according to Minnesota Management and Budget's latest forecast.
But that figure doesn't include two other important numbers that Thissen's estimate does.
According to the same MMB forecast, the state can expect to spend an additional $1.06 billion in inflation in the coming biennium. Previously, the state's deficit included inflation projections, but the law no longer requires it.
The state also owes roughly $2.4 billion to public schools to correct a payment shift it enacted to balance the current budget. Current law doesn't require MMB's deficit projection to include this debt either.
So, is Thissen's take on the deficit fair?
Wayne Simoneau, who served as Finance Commissioner under former Gov. Arne Carlson and is a former DFL legislator, says the deficit can legitimately be argued both ways.
Thissen's number "reflects the real world obligations of the Legislature and the finance department," Simoneau said. He said MMB's projection "complies with state statute."
If he were doing the calculations, Simoneau said he would include inflation and the school payments to portray the deficit more accurately.
Former MMB Commissioner Tom Hanson, who served under Republican Gov. Tim Pawlenty, agrees that inflation should be included in deficit projections.
But the school payment shift is murkier, and Republicans would probably disagree with Thissen's projection because many don't believe schools must be paid right away, Hanson said.
The debate over borrowing money from schools "has become more a philosophical debate on whether the shift is a debt that needs to be immediately paid off versus something that can be paid off over time," Hanson said.
Nevertheless, he doesn't believe that Thissen's statement is misleading or false.
Issuing a ruling on this claim is tricky. On one hand, Thissen is using a higher number to describe the deficit to make a political point.
But just because law doesn't require inflation and the school payments to be included in the deficit doesn't mean the state doesn't owe that money. Two former MMB Commissioners agree that the state's deficit could legitimately be argued both ways.
As a result, this claim leans toward accurate.
The Star Tribune, Minnesotans, bring back a DFL Legislature, by Rep. Paul Thissen, May 20, 2012
Minnesota Management and Budget, February 2012 Forecast, accessed May 25, 2012
E-mail exchange, Mike Howard, spokesman House Minority Leader Paul Thissen, May 24, 2012
Interview, John Pollard, spokesman, Minnesota Management and Budget, May 25, 2012
Interview, Tom Hanson, former MMB Commissioner, May 25, 2012
Interview, Wayne Simoneau, former Finance Commissioner, May 25, 2012(1 Comments)