City fights citizen watchdog case amid mounting legal fees

By   /  September 12, 2014  /  Accountability, Good Government, Government Waste, Local Government, Minnesota, News  /  No Comments

Photo courtesy of City of Victoria.

You would be hard pressed to put a price on the impact of citizen watchdogs and their role in holding government accountable.

But in the small Twin Cities suburb of Victoria, the cost of local accountability, at least by one measure, comes to $68,000 in legal fees — and counting.

“The legal defense in this action is a very costly endeavor. An indication of the costs involved can be found in the extent of the initial document search, which required the review of 30,000 pages,” Mayor Tom O’Connor of Victoria said at an Aug. 25 City Council meeting.

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Federal appeals court overturns MN ballot campaign speech restrictions

By   /  September 10, 2014  /  First Amendment, Minnesota  /  No Comments

Photo courtesy of Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals.

A Twin Cities school district, smarting after a 2007 levy referendum loss, threatened legal action against a citizen opposition group under a century-old state law banning false political speech.

So grassroots activists — anticipating a potential $5,000 fine, legal costs and possible criminal prosecution by the county attorney — upped the ante.

They joined another anti-levy increase group in a federal lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of prosecuting disputed political statements in ballot question campaigns under the Minnesota Fair Campaign Practices Act.

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In the hole: Minnesota residents, businesses charged monthly fee to fix city streets

By   /  September 2, 2014  /  Economy, Local Government, Minnesota, News  /  No Comments

Duluth-crosswalk-Crop

You quickly get a clue about the scope of Duluth’s street repair problem by logging onto the city website.

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Home-care workers’ union election prompts new legal challenge

By   /  August 28, 2014  /  Minnesota, State Government, unions  /  No Comments

Photo by Tom Steward.

After years of organizing home-care workers and waging a divisive 2013 legislative battle, the Service Employees International Union prevailed this week in the largest public-sector union election in Minnesota history.

The victory, certified by the Minnesota Bureau of Mediation Services, came with asterisks that will determine the ultimate effect of the outcome.

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Bird-friendly glass won’t fly on billion dollar NFL stadium

By   /  August 26, 2014  /  Accountability, Minnesota, News, State Budgets, State Government  /  No Comments

LOOK OUT ABOVE:  For about $1 million, the MN Vikings new stadium could be far less lethal to migratory birds in the Mississippi River flyway.

Minnesota Vikings bird-loving fans are flustered the NFL franchise won’t ante up a million bucks for bird-safe glass at the stadium now under construction.

“Blatant refusal to replace the glass because birds will die crashing into the windows has now convinced me this project is an embarrassment and horror to our Flyway and to our State. Conceit and greed is now painfully obvious and everyone involved should be ashamed,” wrote Mary Madeco-Smith on City Pages website.

Critics flocked to post online comments on news sites following reports that $46 million in newly announced stadium upgrades will not include $1.1 million for bird-friendly glass.

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Non-union workers written out of $85-million city project

By   /  August 22, 2014  /  Local Government, Minnesota, News, State Government, unions  /  No Comments

City of Rochester photo.

Jim Gander’s local and state taxes will help pay for an $85 million expansion of the Mayo Civic Center. So will the heating and plumbing contractor get a shot at some of the 700 jobs spread over three years of the publicly funded project?

Not a chance, Gander says, blaming a project labor agreement, which city officials signed with organized labor.

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