FFM Bulletin 3/23/12

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!

Update: $70 Million Taxpayer-Funded Broadband Plan is in Trouble

The Arlington City Council members voted Monday 4-1 to opt out of the proposed $70 million broadband network for Renville and Sibley counties (RS Fiber), citing a host of concerns over the network’s financial viability. Arlington is the city with the largest number of potential subscribers.

“It’s a great idea with a bad plan,” said Jim Kreft, mayor of Arlington.  “I am proud of our council and our staff for examining the project at face value and examining the numbers. No one can refute the advantages of technology, but the numbers just don’t work.”
The timing couldn’t be worse for the RS Fiber network, which would have capacity to provide “fiber-to-the-farm” services (high speed internet, cable, video and phone service) to some 8,300 homes, farms, businesses and government entities. In the next few weeks, ten other communities, along with both county boards, will be voting on whether to move forward with $70 million in bonding to build the network. The loss of Arlington’s 1,000 potential subscribers could significantly affect RS Fiber’s financial projections, placing taxpayers at even greater risk than they are currently.

To read more on the background of the project, visit FFM’s website.

How much money is spent to influence legislation at the State Capitol?

Organizations spent more than $59 million in lobbying expenses last year at the State Capitol, according to recent records filed with the Minnesota Campaign Finance and Public Disclosure Board.

Topping the list was Xcel Energy which spent  $2.36 million, followed by the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce.

The Alliance for a Better Minnesota, the liberal advocacy group with direct ties to the Dayton Administration and Dayton family, increased spending in 2011 to $670,000, a huge jump from the $16,664 it spent in 2010 on lobbying efforts. In 2009, the first year in which ABM reported lobbying activities, the group spent $45,888

Read the entire story here on MN State News.

Finally! Common sense enters the debate over light rail

One project was noticeably absent from the Minnesota House Transportation Committee’s list of projects recommended to receive funding: the proposed $1.25 billion Southwest Light Rail Transit (LRT) line, which would run from Eden Prairie to downtown Minneapolis. The project is one of Governor Dayton’s top transportation priorities. Under the current plan, funding for half of the project would come from the federal government and local governments would be on the hook for 40 percent. Proponents of the project are asking the state taxpayers to provide the final 10 percent to build what would be the state’s third light rail line. 

Transportation leaders from the House, however, oppose public funding for the project, especially since federal funds have not been secured and are far from guaranteed.

"It got a very weak reception," said Rep. Mike Beard (R-Shakopee), committee chairman.

The Southwest LRT setback was on top of the news this week that Hennepin County is still short $30 million in their efforts to expand their rail/transit industrial complex (FFM’s shorthand for the massive and unnecessary $67.7 million plaza and train platform in downtown Minneapolis). While there is no actual need for this project, Hennepin County and the Metropolitan Council continue their efforts to build the massive “transit hub” adjacent to the Twins ballpark to “facilitate transit connections for passengers and pedestrians.”

Bids for the platform project were opened this week with three out of four bids received projecting that the project will cost Hennepin County taxpayers a whopping $20 - $40 million in addition to the $67.7 million in costs. As Hennepin County officials lobby the state legislature (see story above) for additional taxpayer funds, the Federal Transportation Administration showed their unenthusiastic support for the project by granting the project $10 million – almost two-thirds less than requested by the county.

The Freedom Foundation of Minnesota will continue to track this expensive and unnecessary project in the coming weeks. Stay tuned and readMNStateNews.com to stay on top of where and what projects your tax dollars are funding.

Burnsville man arrested, jailed for improper siding on his home
From the “You Can’t Make This Stuff Up” files comes a story about a Burnsville man who was arrested, jailed and subjected to electronic home monitoring for failing to put up adequate siding on his house.
That’s right, siding.

According to a KSTP news report, the case goes all the way back to 2007 when the city sent a letter to homeowner Mitch Faber directing him to complete the siding work on his home. Faber said tight finances prevented him from finishing the project. But the city continued to pursue action, and in 2010 Faber appeared in court, where he was ordered to finish the siding or go to jail. Faber then spent $12,000 putting a stucco finish over the plywood siding, which he thought would appease the city. He was mistaken. The work was deemed unsatisfactory and Faber was sent to jail.

“I'm walking around in a green and white jump suit, I had to shower in front of a sheriff, I was shackled, my wrists were handcuffed to my waist — for siding,” he said.

“What did you accomplish other than wasting the city's money, the county's money, our money, and then all the mental and emotional anguish? What did you accomplish?”

Learn more about this incredible story of government overreach that has garnered national media attention by watching the news clip on KSTP.com.


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