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.

Bakken oil pipeline faces decisive MN hearing

By   /  May 25, 2015  /  Energy and Environment, Government Regulation, Minnesota, State Government, Uncategorized  /  No Comments

AP photo

After months of delays, Minnesota got a go-ahead from an administrative law judge to go with the flow of Bakken oil from North Dakota.

The proposed 610-mile Sandpiper pipeline would connect the Bakken oil shale fields in western North Dakota to refineries in Clearbrook, Minn., and Superior, Wis. Environmental opponents have vowed to fight the project down to the wire.

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Land of 30,000 cameras: Minnesota cities focus on video surveillance ‘ring of protection’

By   /  May 21, 2015  /  Local Government, Minnesota, News  /  No Comments

MnDOT photo

Don’t look up. You may be “live” on one of the 30,000 government surveillance cameras that security experts estimate to be mounted in the greater Twin Cities.

Not so slowly, but surely, metro cities and some government agencies are installing video technology capable of networking surveillance systems in a so-called ring of protection — and detection.

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Stranger than fiction: Book bike pedals more library use

By   /  May 15, 2015  /  Legislature, Lobbying, Minnesota, News, State Budgets, State Government  /  No Comments

Rochester Public Library Photo

They call it a little library on wheels. Not a bookmobile, but a book bike — the latest twist in the plot to drive more traffic to flagging Minnesota libraries.

The state’s first book bike just rolled out from the Rochester Public Library, and $7,000 in taxpayer-provided grants from the Legacy Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund and regional library system paved the way.

But libraries hoping to follow in Rochester’s tracks may need to get in gear. Legislators are negotiating a cut in regional libraries’ $3 million annual Legacy Fund appropriation.

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Poor marks for MN teacher board lead to state investigation

By   /  May 13, 2015  /  Education, Government Regulation, Legislature, Minnesota, State Government, Uncategorized  /  No Comments

Copyright MN Hse of Rep. Photo by Paul Battaglia.

It’s responsible for ensuring public schools get quality teachers, yet the Minnesota Board of Teaching is getting progressively poorer marks from administrators, legislators, teachers and education advocates.

The board now faces its toughest exam — a 10-month investigation by the Office of the Legislative Auditor — the equivalent of going to the principal’s office.

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Car and truck groups gear up to stop Minnesota biofuel mandate

By   /  May 11, 2015  /  Energy and Environment, Government Regulation, Minnesota, News  /  No Comments

MN Commerce Dept Photo

Minnesota has long been considered part of Midwestern flyover country. Now the North Star state is becoming drive-over country, among truckers and other drivers of diesel vehicles.

The state’s 10 percent biodiesel mandate is propelling some to go out of their way to refuel in bordering states — and a federal lawsuit to eliminate the nation’s highest required bio-diesel blend.

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MN Legislature ponders ‘first new union contract in decades’

By   /  May 7, 2015  /  Government Regulation, Minnesota, News, State Government  /  No Comments

Submitted Photo

Note to union organizers: Don’t even think about asking. Cindy Lindbloom, a personal care attendant in St. Joseph, won’t sign a card authorizing part of the state subsidy for her special needs son, Brad, to go toward union dues.

“The union comes in and wants to take consumer-directed money from us and it’s like, How is that even legal?” she asked. “I’m the consumer using it for my son, and they’re telling me that I have to take money for a union that we neither need, nor want.”

Minnesota legislators are deciding whether to approve what the Service Employees International Union calls the “first new union contract with the state in decades.”

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