MN broadband project stuck in federal stimulus time warp

By   /  May 5, 2015  /  Federal Government, Government Waste, Local Government, Minnesota, News, Technology  /  No Comments

Lake County Photo

A costly government-owned broadband network in northern Minnesota is stuck in a sort of stimulus time warp.

Six years after passage of the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act, the Lake Connections network remains under construction and behind schedule. It faces losing millions in Rural Utilities Service money, because the federal stimulus program ends later this year.

“I know we’ve got construction going heavy. We’re fighting hard to get on that deadline,” said Lake County Commissioner Peter Walsh. “… I’m sure things could be better, but we’ll see how things go at this point.”

Read More →

Bottoms up: Muni liquor stores take big losses in Minnesota

By   /  May 1, 2015  /  Government Regulation, Local Government, Minnesota, News  /  No Comments

Edina City Photo

Minnesota’s municipal liquor stores already lost the battle to keep four Total Wine superstores out of Minnesota, but they can’t afford to lose the war.

That conflict, the price war, costs some municipal liquor operations hundreds of thousands of dollars in profits that go to subsidizing city programs such as golf, art centers and ice arenas.

Cities with liquor stores may have monopolies inside their boundaries, but Total Wine draws consumers that are looking for a deal from near and far. As competition picks up, cities scramble to cut prices and try new tactics that rile the mega discounter.

Read More →

Businesses say state plan inflates road project costs — by billions

By   /  April 29, 2015  /  Budget and Spending, Legislature, Minnesota, State Government, transportation  /  No Comments

Watchdog Photo

Minnesota’s bridges, roads and public transit need work, but the state blueprint for fixing and upgrading them contains an accounting flaw that overestimates — by billions of dollars — how much Minnesotans need to spend.

In an unusual outside report, a convoy of transportation-dependent Minnesota businesses say taxpayers could save almost $5 billion on transportation infrastructure projects over the next 20 years.

Read More →

Education week-in-review: Ghost teachers and the ghost of Jim Crow

By   /  April 24, 2015  /  Education, Education Blog, Minnesota, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Vermont, Virginia, Wisconsin  /  No Comments

Education Watchdog_square-01 (1)

From taxpayer-funded ghosts in Philadelphia to a flawed study trying to scare people by invoking the ghost of Jim Crow, it’s been a frighteningly busy week in education.

Read More →

Man bites dog: Politicians vote against spending public money on soccer stadium

By   /  April 24, 2015  /  Budget and Spending, Issues, Minnesota, News, State Budgets, State Government  /  No Comments

Photo via Wiki Commons

Here’s a story that doesn’t often get written: Politicians in Minnesota voted against spending public money on a new stadium.

Read More →

Watchdog Podcasts: Behind the Headlines — The economics behind taxpayer-funded stadiums

By   /  April 23, 2015  /  Finances, Minnesota, Podcast, State Budgets, State Government, Watchdog Radio  /  No Comments


In this week’s episode, host Eric Boehm sits down with Victor Matheson, a professor of sports economics at The College of The Holy Cross to discuss a stunning development in Minnesota: politicians voted against using public funding for a new soccer stadium.

Read More →