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.
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.
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