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.

‘Free’ stimulus broadband project costs MN taxpayers millions

By   /  December 17, 2014  /  Federal Government, Minnesota, News, Stimulus, Wasteful spending  /  No Comments

Lake County Photo

“Get connected, stay connected, live connected.”

That marketing tagline sums up how Lake County officials manage to keep one of the most expensive federal stimulus broadband projects in the country alive.

The costs of the Lake Connections fiber optic network project in the vast northern Minnesota wilderness continue to increase, and local taxpayers are now footing part of the ever-growing bill.

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Timeout! Minnesota city passes moratorium on solar craze

By   /  December 15, 2014  /  Energy and Environment, Government Regulation, Local Government, Minnesota, News  /  No Comments

Monticello Facebook Photo

The future is bright for solar power in Minnesota, thanks to a slew of subsidies toward requiring big utilities to generate 1.5 percent of their power from solar by 2020.

Despite a rush by some cities to get on the bandwagon, Monticello was the first municipality in the state to impose at least a temporary moratorium prohibiting installations to generate solar power.

“Given this emerging technology, it would be wise for the city to be proactive and take the opportunity to understand this issue for development and for regulations,” said Angela Schumann, Monticello community development director in recommending the moratorium to the City Council on Nov. 24.

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Blowback! Minnesota wind developer takes on opponents’ ‘vendetta’

By   /  December 8, 2014  /  Energy and Environment, Minnesota, News  /  No Comments

Submitted Photo

The developers of a proposed 10-turbine wind farm under fire from dozens of residents denied alleged permit violations, while reaffirming plans to proceed with the controversial project, in newly filed documents with the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission.

Indiana-based WESCO Wind blamed bad weather and opponents’ pressure to study the Sibley Wind Substation’s potentially lethal impact on eagles and bats for construction delays in a project on the drawing board since 2005.

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Property tax levies climb despite increased state aid

By   /  December 4, 2014  /  Budget and Spending, Finances, Legislature, Local Government, Minnesota, News, State Government  /  No Comments

City Photo

Minnesota legislators boosted the local government aid program for cities by $80 million in 2013 and sold it as a slam dunk toward lowering property tax levies.

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Are some Minnesota schools out to lunch over GMOs?

By   /  December 2, 2014  /  Economy, Education, Energy and Environment, Minnesota, News  /  No Comments

Minneapolis Public Schools Photo

Just when the backlash over first lady Michelle Obama’s school lunch menu leveled off, students in a handful of Twin Cities schools got a taste of what could be another controversial food fad.

The main course? Non-GMO (genetically modified organisms) meals.

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On demand: Chaotic meetings lead agency to post videos

By   /  November 28, 2014  /  Accountability, Local Government, Minnesota, News, Video  /  No Comments

MCWD Photo

Meetings of the Minnehaha Creek Watershed District meetings won’t give “Parks and Recreation” a run in the ratings, but a few more viewers would be nice.

“Just so we don’t finish last,” said MCWD interim administrator Jeff Spartz. “The other watershed district (Rice Creek) that has videotapes of its meetings available typically gets under a dozen hits a month.”

The obscure agency’s meetings premiere on YouTube in December.

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