FFM Bulletin 3/16/12

Tickets now on sale for the Freedom Foundation of Minnesota's 2012 annual dinner with special guest John Stossel

Emmy Award-winning journalist and bestselling author John Stossel will headline the Freedom Foundation of Minnesota’s annual dinner on Tuesday, April 17.  The topic of Stossel’s remarks will be “Why Government Fails, but Individuals Succeed,” which is also the title of his forthcoming book. The event will begin with a private dinner with Mr. Stossel followed by a general reception and, of course, his speech.

For details on the event, please visit our website or stosselatffm.eventbrite.com to reserve your seats!

Government funded puppet theater lobbies for...more government funding

It’s not every day that a puppet theater is at the center of a public policy discussion. But when it has received nearly $200,000 in direct Minnesota Legacy fund grants and is performing at an event for the benefit of the Institute on the Environment at the University of Minnesota, this puppet show is anything but fun and children’s entertainment.

As described on the U of M’s event page, the Heart of the Beast Puppet and Mask Theatre “brings people together for the common good through the power of performance.” Furthermore, the group explains where they came up with their unusual name:

“The phrase, ‘In the Heart of the Beast,’ comes from Cuban poet Jose Marti and popularized by Ernesto ‘Che’ Guevara. Here, in the center of a city, in the center of the country, we are In the Heart of the Beast. For us, this means the best way to make change in the world is to seek beauty and work for justice in our backyard.”

We can’t imagine how a Marxist revolutionary responsible for the deaths of thousands of people has anything to do with Minnesota’s legacy and is deserving of tax dollars, but we digress…

Recently, the Heart of the Beast has received thousands in federal stimulus dollars, taxpayer funds and $450,000 in grants from the Minneapolis McKnight Foundation was seen lobbying the state legislature to restore $5 million in funding for the University of Minnesota’s Initiative for Renewable Energy and the Environment (IREE) program. Until last year, Xcel Energy ratepayers had funded the IREE.

Now that this spigot of taxpayer funds has been shut off, the IREE program has teamed up with another “fellow traveler” in their quest for additional government funding to spread their ideology. You can be sure that the Freedom Foundation will continue to monitor their “rainbow tour” for funding as it works its way through the Minnesota Capitol.

What's the DIF? City of Minneapolis Wi-fi Digital Inclusion Fund (DIF) Comes Up $1 Million Short - Accountability Alert

In the beginning, expectations for Wireless Minneapolis, the city’s municipal wireless broadband network, were off the charts.  The venture promised and eventually delivered on “community benefits” such as dozens of wireless hotspots. Perhaps the biggest benefit to the city was to be a revolving account managed by the Minneapolis Foundation to bridge the so-called digital divide—a Digital Inclusion Fund (DIF) financed annually with a “minimum” of five percent of the network’s profits.

Now, nearing the halfway point of the decade-long agreement, the project has failed to generate hundreds of thousands of dollars in projected payments to the city’s Digital Inclusion Fund.

To read the entire Accountability Alert and learn more about Minneapolis’ DIF, click here.

Also, be sure to check out the 5 Eyewitness News segment on Wireless Minneapolis not fulfilling the promise to the city. The segment ran earlier this week as the lead story during the 6 o’clock hour and features FFM Investigative Director Tom Steward. That clip can be found here.

Independent tax preparers file suit against IRS for new federal licensing

As American citizens prepare their tax returns to meet the April 15 deadline, the Internal Revenue Service  (IRS) may be the one feeling a little added pressure this tax season.  That's because of their recently announced new licensing practices that could have a serious impact on taxpayers and independent tax return preparers.

On Monday, the Institute for Justice (IJ), a national civil liberties law firm, announced that they have teamed with three independent tax preparers from around the country to file suit against the IRS in federal court.

The new regulations, effective for this tax season, require the more than 350,000 independent tax preparers nationwide to receive permission from the IRS before they can file tax returns on behalf of their clients. Beginning this year, these small business owners must take 15 hours of continuing education classes each year to be considered a “registered tax return preparer.” By the end of 2013, these tax preparers will have to pass an IRS-mandated competency exam.

“Congress never gave the IRS the authority to license tax preparers, and the IRS can’t give itself that power,” said Attorney Dan Alban of the Institute for Justice. “This is an unlawful power grab by one of the most powerful federal agencies.”

Read more on MN State News and watch the short video released by IJ on their website.


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