Tom Steward covers government waste, spending and policy issues in his home state of Minnesota. Also a documentary filmmaker and in-depth broadcast journalist, Tom's work has appeared on NPR, Animal Planet, WCCO-TV, WGBH-TV, PBS, Australian Broadcasting Corporation, KSTP-TV, CBC, among other outlets. Highlights include the fall of the Berlin Wall, a Peabody Award, the first footage in the wild of the endangered Sumatran tiger and rhino and countless individuals who shared their stories, big and small. Steward served as a communications strategist in the U.S. Senate before returning to reporting on issues and people often overlooked by other media.

Democratic control on the line in Minnesota on Election Day

By   /  October 31, 2014  /  Elections, Minnesota, News, Politics, State Government, State House  /  No Comments

MN Jobs Coalition Legislative Fund Photo.

By Tom Steward | Watchdog Minnesota Bureau
ST. PAUL, Minn. — Regardless of whether Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton holds on to his job next week as polls suggest, Minnesota voters appear poised to topple one party rule in St. Paul on Tuesday.
Even as Governing magazine moved the race for control of the Minnesota House of Representatives into [...]

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Taxpayers can’t get a ‘break’ with St. Paul’s artsy stop signs

By   /  October 30, 2014  /  Budget and Spending, Government Waste, Local Government, Minnesota, Uncategorized  /  No Comments

King Studios Photo.

St. Paul may be predictably progressive, but the powers at City Hall enthusiastically embrace the “1 percent.”

The 1 percent, that is, of costs automatically taken off the top of local government construction projects, under a city ordinance mandating taxpayer-funded public art.

Form counts as much as function in city infrastructure projects.

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Government agency fights $23,000 city tax bill

By   /  October 24, 2014  /  Energy and Environment, Minnesota, transportation  /  No Comments

MMCD Photo.

Dozens of property and business owners seethed when the city of St. Paul handed out $2.3 million in assessments for street improvements on the Green Line light rail construction project.

Still, it came as a surprise this week when someone not only complained but stepped up, refusing to pay a $23,000 assessment for streetscape and lighting improvements — at least for now.

Even more surprising the group that decided to take on the city wasn’t a business or landlord, but rather another unit of local government, namely, the Metropolitan Mosquito Control District board.

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The Un-Expendables: Superintendents retire, get rehired with pension and pay

By   /  October 22, 2014  /  Education, Minnesota, Pensions  /  No Comments

THEY'RE BACK!: MN public school superintendents who qualify for a pension can retire for a brief period, get rehired at their same job and collect both pay and pension under state law.

They could be called “The Un-Expendables,” public school superintendents who retire for a few days before they’re lured back for a sequel at their former jobs — with full salary, benefits, incentives and pension.

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Legislator wants to revoke permit on unpopular wind project

By   /  October 17, 2014  /  Minnesota, News  /  No Comments

Barb Wenninger Photo.

How long is too long?

Well, about six years— and counting — in the view of dozens of rural residents fighting a proposed 1,600-acre, 10-turbine wind farm in southern Minnesota.

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St. Paul bills businesses thousands for light rail work

By   /  October 14, 2014  /  Business, Government Regulation, Local Government, Minnesota, News, transportation  /  No Comments

Light Rail-Central Corridor

Just as St. Paul retailers began recovering from an average 30 percent loss in sales during the new $1 billion light rail line’s construction, dozens of businesses received a bill from the city’s Office of Financial Services for street improvements tied to the construction of the 11-mile-long line.

“I think it sucks, but you have to pay for it, you know?” said Evangelos Hatzistamoulos, who received a $1,585.82 tax notice for the curbside work outside the Best Steak House.

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