FFM Bulletin 11/4/11

Leaked Memo Adds Fuel to Concerns Over Child Care Union Debate

The contentious proposal to unionize childcare providers in Minnesota continues to receive attention from citizens and lawmakers alike. The latest development: a memo handed out to DFL legislators last week.
The memo obtained by the Freedom Foundation of Minnesota was a feature of a 5 Eyewitness News investigation.

The Freedom Foundation of Minnesota released a leaked memo that was distributed to DFL members of the Minnesota House of Representatives. The memo provides a rare behind-the-scenes view of DFL strategy on one of the most divisive issues facing the state—whether and how to unionize Minnesota’s 11,000 in-home licensed childcare providers.

The document indicates there are numerous questions on the legality of this proposed unionization and the DFL author of the memo expresses wariness over a potential public relations minefield. “These unanswered questions should not necessarily foreclose the possibility of a union, but they will have to be answered before a union of child care providers is up-and-running.”

The memo highlights several controversial policy options. The document:
  • Concedes that Minnesota law does not provide a clear basis for unionizing independent contractors such as childcare providers;
  • Discusses possible tax increases to increase state childcare subsidies;
  •  Acknowledges the possibility of forcing non-union members to pay fair-share fees; and,
  • Raises the possibility of compensating labor unions directly with state funding intended to subsidize low-income childcare
Read the entire memo on our website, and be sure to watch the 5 Eyewitness News investigation from Wednesday evening.

Duluth asking voters to increase their property taxes 

During this prolonged and deep recession, most families and local governments around the state have cut back and reevaluating their spending habits.  Leave it to Duluth to buck this trend. They are planning on asking residents to raise their own taxes to the tune of $2.6 million for a dedicated park fund.

The latest proposal will come in the form of a referendum that asks residents to raise their property taxes by 3.2 percent in order to restore some of the cuts already made to parks, city funded recreation programs, and library services. Figures from the St. Louis County auditor’s office show residents will already see a tax hike next year, and with the additional request for parks (as well as the school levy), the tax rate increase could be in the double digits for many residents.

At least one city councilmember seemed to understand the current (and dire) economic circumstances facing many Minnesota families. He said:  “Tough times mean people should lower expectations for things like parks and libraries. Perhaps there are higher priorities than the parks for this year and maybe next year.”

MnDOT gives motorists "false impression" in voluntary survey

The Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) is facing serious questions from residents in one northern Minnesota town for their questionable methods in conducting a transportation survey.  What should have been a routine roadside survey turned into anything but after MnDOT contractors appeared on the side of the road carrying guns while stopping unsuspecting motorists and questioning their driving patterns.

Read the entire piece from MN State News.

I wonder if she’s related to Mr. Magoo…

It was probably her first time using the Martin Olav Sabo bike-ped bridge over Hiawatha Avenue on the Midtown Greenway, so it’s no wonder the driver looked so confused while crossing Hiawatha Ave and was the only car on the wide roadway.  So what was the problem? The puzzled woman was driving across the exclusive bicycle/walker bridge in her car.

As reported in the Star Tribune this week, the bridge is wide enough for cars and was built to sustain emergency vehicles, though it is frowned upon to use as a roadway, even for a lost or confused motorist. Officials acknowledge that there are several places that a car could access the bike-ped bridge.

The bridge was built in 2007 and has since seen steady traffic from bikers and pedestrians. Now we can add motorists to that list, too.

FFM in the news

FFM’s latest Accountability Alert on the Institute for Justice’s case against the City of Winona was featured on BigGovernment.com. The article highlights Ethan Dean, a homeowner currently serving in Afghanistan, and a controversial 30 percent rental rule in Winona that restricts his property rights.
FFM CEO Annette Meeks made a guest appearance on Channel 5’s “At Issue” last Sunday morning. This Sunday, she will be on Fox 9 Morning News with former MN Attorney General Mike Hatch discussing the 2012 election, now just one year away. Catch last week’s At Issue clip here, and be sure to tune into Fox 9 on Sunday morning!


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