MINNEAPOLIS, MN--When superintendent Bernadeia Johnson took over the struggling Minneapolis Public Schools (MPS) two years ago, she pledged to renew the district’s commitment to transparency andaccountability. Minneapolis Public Schools had a reputation for secrecy and evasiveness, a reputation they earned. Unfortunately, despite the district’s renewed commitment to open government, some things never change.
Not so long ago, kids walked and biked to their neighborhood school as a matter of course. Now, there’s a federal government program that spends hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars to prod students and parents to do what used to be second nature: bike and walk to school.
When Dale Malheim retired from the Army last year, he never planned to be on the front lines in his new hometown of Winthrop, Minnesota. But the more he learned about the $70 million proposed RS Fiber telecom network, the more he felt duty calling again. So Malheim began a petition drive to force a referendum, thus allowing Winthrop residents a chance to overturn the city council’s recent decision to support the sprawling countywide broadband network.
A Freedom Foundation of Minnesota analysis of Lobbying Disclosure Act filings finds that Minnesota’s local governments spent more than $1.1 million to lobby the federal government in 2011, and at least $3.7 million since the start of 2009.
The biggest spenders in 2011 were the City of Minneapolis ($180,000), Hennepin County ($140,000), and Anoka County ($116,000).
Thousands of CenterPoint Energy ratepayers will receive refunds after being overcharged on their heating bills under an experimental natural gas pricing system unveiled in 2010 by Minnesota environmental groups and state regulators. The politically correct pricing program--designed to penalize ratepayers for using more than a pre-determined allotment of natural gas--was the focus of an April 2011 FFM investigation.
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.
Featuring: a Minnesota Court of Appeals ruling that forces greater transparency in school district elections, Sunshine Review's analysis on MN governments, a daycare union update, and the latest from MN State News.
Maybe there’s no such thing as a free lunch, but a deal in the works to bring a controversial $70 million broadband network to Lake and St. Louis counties comes pretty close, depending on which side of the county line you pay taxes.
A Freedom Foundation of Minnesota analysis of Lobbying Disclosure Act filings finds that Minnesota’s local governments and their associations spent at least $5.217 million lobbying the federal government from 2006 through the first half of 2010. Annual lobbying expenditures have risen each year and are on pace to set a new record in 2010, with at least $729,000 spent the first half of the year. However, much of this lobbying flies under the radar, as cities are not required to report federal lobbying expenditures.
FFM's Tom Steward wrote a commentary piece for MPR on the proposed Northstar extension from Minneapolis to St. Cloud.
Investor's Business Daily featured significant FFM research on the serious conflict of interest between a top Obama energy official and an energy efficient window company located in California. The article focuses on how cronyism is investing cap-and-trade.
5 Eyewitness News ran a follow-up piece on their office space story, both featuring FFM investigative research.
Original FFM investigative research was featured in a KSTP report on how much the state spends on office space this year. Could the state have saved taxpayers' money by leasing more reasonably priced office space? Watch the 5 Eyewitness News segment and read the story here.
Featuring: local governments getting creative during tough times, FFM in local and national news, FFM Watchdog training, and more.
Ed Morrissey at Hot Air picked up the serious conflict of interest first reported by the Freedom Foundation of Minnesota between top energy official Cathy Zoi and her husband, Robin Roy, executive of Serious Materials, an energy efficient window company that has received significant attention from the Obama administration.
FFM's investigation into the Obama administration's serious conflict of interest was featured on the green energy website GreenEnergy101.net.
FFM's latest story on a loophole that exempts over 100 staff members of three Minnesota congressmen from the health care bill was featured on BigGovernment.com.
A commentary piece by FFM CEO Annette Meeks and American Council of Trustees and Alumni (ACTA) president Anne D. Neal ran in the Star Tribune today. The piece, which references the recently released report by the two organizations, examines the increases in both tuition and spending and what these institutions can do to "earn the funding they seek.
Governor Tim Pawlenty mentioned FFM's latest report on an oversized pier on a small northern Minnesota fishing lake on his weekly radio show: Good Morning, Minnesota. Listen to the audio and view the original report!
VIDEO: 5 Eyewitness News featured FFM's "Pier Pressure" story on the Tracking Your Money segment. The story uses significant FFM research on a huge pier that cost taxpayers $667,000.
FFM's investigation into stimulus spending in non-existent zip codes was featured in the Review Messenger and also on KFGO, AM-790 in Fargo. The article describes how the Recovery.com website showed has some serious problems with its goal of tracking each dollar awarded from the stimulus package.
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