FFM Bulletin 6/14/11 "Flag Day Edition"

What So Proudly We Hailed – Happy Flag Day!

So what’s the point of Flag Day? Leon and Amy Kass have a great article featured today in National Review Online about the purpose and history of the United States’ unique flag. As we learn from the article, Flag Day is not an official federal holiday, but the president is requested to issue a proclamation for US government officials to display the flag on all buildings. Incidentally, each president has done so since President Harry Truman. To read the rest of this fascinating piece, follow this link and take a moment with your children or grandchildren tonight and recite the Pledge of Allegiance.

Taxpayers Taken for a Ride

With summer almost officially underway in what has been dubbed America’s “most bike friendly city” (an arguably dubious honor), an increasing number of urban commuters can be spotted on the bright green Nice Ride bicycles. Often touted as a model government-run bike share program, the nearly 700 bikes and 73 stations across the city are intended to encourage residents to change the way people “experience and perceive transportation.”

But what perceptions can be drawn from Nice Ride MN’s own 2010 ridership statistics?

  • Total Trips: 100,817
  • Percentage of Nice Ride riders that own bikes: 76%
  • Percentage of riders that earn more than $60,000 per year: 63.7%
  • Percentage of riders that have a masters or doctoral degree: 37.4%

Nice Ride’s mission statement says they plan to “enhance the quality of our urban life by providing a convenient, easy-to-use bike sharing program that will provide residents and visitors a healthy, fun, different way to get around town.” After learning about their “successful” first year, taxpayers can surmise the following:

  1. Nice Ride shouldn’t receive one additional dime from any government entity.  Reflecting on the education and income of their first-year subscribers, this bicycle sharing program isn’t merely a middle-class recreational subsidy but one that serves a group of especially highly educated, high-income hobbyists who need no taxpayer support.

  2. It’s also interesting to note why Nice Ride attracted such an affluent, well-educated group of customers: bicycle renters must have Internet access as well as a major credit or debit card.  Of course, it’s hard to come by both for many folks who might actually need government subsidized transportation. Another problem: it’s darn near impossible to rent a green bike in a neighborhood where many transit-dependent people actually live.  A bicycle-sharing program for them might be a welcomed, alternative form of public transportation, but very few bicycle kiosks are actually located in these neighborhoods.   Perhaps that’s why some advocates for the poor consider this program “recreational apartheid.”

FFM Accountability Alerts:

Minnesota Ranks 34th in Overall Freedom Among the States -How free are we in Minnesota? According to a recent report from the Mercatus Center at George Mason University, Minnesotans enjoy less freedom overall than residents of two-thirds of the other states. The report singles out our higher than average taxes and social services spending.  Check out the entire piece and the full “Freedom in the 50 States” report.
Home Daycare Providers Organize Against Statewide Unionization Campaign - 
Thousands of licensed Minnesota day care providers may soon become unionized at the stroke of Governor Dayton’s pen via executive order as an increasingly contentious organizing campaign apparently nears its end. An investigation also ran on 5 Eyewitness Newson the same topic, drawing further attention to the union daycare card check drive. Read the entire piece here.

A $25,000 Slush Fund

The City of Lakeville has tapped its liquor fund for a $25,000 study to determine if the city should stay in the liquor business. According to the most recent State Auditor report on municipal liquor operations, Lakeville is home to the state’s most profitable government-run liquor operation.  In 2010, the city took in $1.1 million in liquor store profits.
City officials decided to bring in the outside consultant to study the economic impact of the stores.  Mayor Mark Bellows has been an advocate for opening up the community to private businesses that currently are not allowed to sell liquor, including stores like Costco.
Though Lakeville pulls in significant profits from the city monopoly on liquor sales, the question still remains if municipalities should be in the liquor store business at all. 
"We want to be a pro-business community. Municipal liquor, by state statute, doesn't allow competing business,” said Bellows.

Many other cities across the state lose money on their liquor stores every year and force their residents to pick up the tab. Lakeville and several other Twin Cities suburbs have greatly benefited from the liquor store monopolies. It sounds like Lakeville is on the right track and we remain hopeful that city residents will soon have some welcomed competition to this long-standing public monopoly.

Minnesota State News update

Minnesota State News has been busy covering the latest from St. Paul, especially as lawmakers and the governor search for a budget agreement before the looming July 1 government shutdown. Need to bring yourself up-to-date on what’s happening at the state Capitol? Read on…
  • Budget talks continue between legislative leaders, Dayton officials in latest LCPFP meeting
    Budget negotiations continue to heat up in St. Paul as meetings between legislative leaders and Governor Dayton and his administration. Yet, lawmakers appear wary of signifying any real progress even after several rounds of budget talks last week. Read more…
  • Potential government shutdown not exclusive to Minnesota
    As Governor Mark Dayton and legislative leaders continue to spar over the $5 billion budget deficit, other states around the country are also facing serious challenges in their efforts to avoid a state government shutdown of their own. Read more…
Keep up with all the latest from Minnesota State News, by liking us on Facebook, following us on Twitter, and adding www.mnstatenews.com to your RSS feed. 


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