FFM Bulletin 10/13/11

Wright County: Boatin’ on the Bayou, bought by you

What has a 550-hp Corvette engine and looks like it belongs in the Florida Everglades? A new Wright County Sheriff’s Office airboat paid for entirely by taxpayers.

We learned of this, ahem, unique purchase when the Wright County Journal Press wrote a story about DiamondBack, the airboat manufacturer.  Apparently DiamondBack has been training Wright County deputies on operating the vehicle for search and rescue purposes. According to the Wright County newspaper, however, the airboat will not be used for patrol duties because it “uses too much fuel.” The office’s Recreational Enforcement Division already owns several “conventional boats” for water patrols. So that begs the question:  what will the airboat be used for?

You really can’t make this stuff up.

Wright County’s new toy came with a $62,500 price tag (including shipping), fully funded by a grant from the Department of Homeland Security.  In local government parlance, that grant meant that the boat was “free.”

Unfortunately, this almost comical example of wasteful government spending is a reflection of local governments’ view on spending priorities. It’s true that local taxpayers did not put up the $62,500 alone, but consider the currently 3,000+ counties and county-equivalents in the country.  Suddenly, $62,000 spent by each of those 3,000 counties on an unnecessary airboat becomes $189,000,000.  That’s a substantial amount of “free money.”

Minneapolis city officials visit France on taxpayer dime

The Star Tribune reported this week that Mayor RT Rybak and two other city representatives are on a weeklong trip to one of Minneapolis’ sister cities in France, and taxpayers are paying for the majority of the bill.

According to a Rybak spokesman, the costs will come out of the respective department budgets and that total costs will not be available until they return.

Officials owe taxpayers full disclosure on the costs of the trip, especially while laying off Minneapolis firefighters and police officers and blaming it on the legislature. As FFM’s Jonathan Blake asked on Twitter: “Anyone know how to say Local Government Aid in French?” 

"Pre-Occupy MN" - Accountability Alert Video

A crowd estimated to be about 250 protesters turned out last Friday at the Hennepin County Government Center in downtown Minneapolis for the “Occupy MN” rally, a Minnesota version of the Occupy Wall Street press event in New York City.
Though billed as a non-violent protest against big banks, big companies, and big everything (except government), a handful of signs appeared anything but non-violent with slogans such as "off with their heads" and "eat the rich."

The Freedom Foundation of Minnesota (FFM) was at the newly designated "People's Plaza" to file an Accountability Alert Video: Pre-Occupy MN.

Watch the video here
, and check out some of the photos from MN State News of the ongoing rally and their “non-violent” protests. (See photo.)

Help Us Preserve Freedom in Minnesota

We know these misguided “Occupy MN” protestors believe that government “is the center of our existence” and that only big government can solve the problems plaguing our state.  Their solution is more government spending, ineffective stimulus programs, and a continuation of an unacceptable status quo in our public schools. But they’re wrong.
That’s where the Freedom Foundation of Minnesota comes in.  We’re yourvoice, the "voice of the 53." 

Check out our latest online fundraising campaign and pass it along to some of your friends. 

Op-ed: Why did Metro Transit sign on as a “business partner” of a protest group?

FFM CEO Annette Meeks wrote a fantastic op-ed featured this week onMPR News where she questioned Metro Transit's recent decision to serve as a business partner for MN350, a group of  “environmental activists” rallying against fossil fuels and climate change. As a business partner, Metro Transit offered free rides to the Capitol for protestors who, presumably, oppose the fossil fuels that power Metro Transit’s busses.

Be sure to read the entire piece here.

Freedom Foundation of Minnesota internships available! 

The Freedom Foundation of Minnesota is looking for part-time interns this fall and winter to assist with research and communications projects. Interns will work with FFM's government transparency and accountability initiative, monitor cases of government waste and abuse, and help maintain the FFM website. We can also work with applicants who are interested in earning college credit for the internship. Interested applicants should send a resume to FFM Development Director Christina Pajak or call 612-354-2160.


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