What happens when an SBA-backed loan goes bad?

By   /  March 30, 2015  /  Federal Government, Government Regulation, Minnesota, Washington  /  No Comments

State Senate Media Services Photo

Somewhere along the line, the Small Business Administration got big.

The volume in Minnesota of $1 million plus SBA-backed loans, which fell during the recession, has rebounded, according to “OpenTheBooks.com,” a new online tool for tracking federal outlays.

Seven-figure SBA-insured loans went to 151 Minnesota companies in 2013, compared to 75 in 2009. Altogether, 865 such loans have flowed to Minnesota businesses since 2007, according to the federal database.

Minnesota’s million-dollar loan list includes a dog spa, craft brewery, plastic surgeon, golf course, car-racing team, hotel chains, bowling alleys and chic restaurants. Private equity firms since 2007 have received a total of more than $500 million to further the SBA’s call to “start, build and grow businesses.”

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Bounty outlives gophers in some Minnesota city budgets

By   /  March 24, 2015  /  Minnesota, News  /  No Comments

NPS Photo

OAK GROVE, Minn. — If you have a problem with pocket gophers in this town, the city will pay you for its paws. Yep, that’s right. An item in the city’s $2.5 million annual budget allocates $800 for gopher feet.

The city will pay a $1.50 bounty per pocket gopher turned into City Hall. It wasn’t in their job description, but the handful of employees at City Hall consider it a public service in this Anoka County community on the northern fringe of the Twin Cities metro area.

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Crash course in transparency proposed for MN local governments

By   /  March 20, 2015  /  Budget and Spending, Government Waste, Local Government, Minnesota, News, Open Records, State Government  /  No Comments

Submitted Photo

It’s no secret we’re attached to our tablets, specifically our IPads. But so are thousands of local government officials, who rely on another IPAD — the state’s Information Policy Analysis Division — to comply with a greater volume of data and public information requests.

Under a bill before the 2015 Minnesota Legislature, government officials across Minnesota would undergo a sort of crash IPAD course in transparency requirements under the Minnesota Data Practices Act, Minnesota Open Meeting Law and data privacy statutes.

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Minnesota libraries have something for everyone, but is that something everyone should pay for?

By   /  March 18, 2015  /  Accountability, community, Education, Legislature, Minnesota, News, State Budgets  /  No Comments

MELSA Photo

Patrons used to go to the library to check out books. Today, people go for any number of reasons. But while there’s something for everyone in 365 branch libraries statewide, some events leave discerning taxpayers wondering whether it’s something everyone should pay for.

People go for the secret life of puppets ($13,200), farmer comedian Roger Radley ($9,154), stage combat demonstrations with sword fights and mock brawls ($608), duct tape wearables classes ($300) and a series on darkness ($3,816).

All are taxpayer-funded programs, now commonplace in Minnesota libraries.

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Rural Minnesota schools fight state-ordered end to 4-day week

By   /  March 12, 2015  /  Education, Government Regulation, Minnesota, News, State Government  /  No Comments

Submitted Photo

Parents, teachers, students, administrators and school board members say it’s not broke. So why does the Minnesota Department of Education insist on fixing it by eliminating the option of a four-day school week?

Eight rural school districts remain gung-ho on maintaining a four-day academic week that began as a measure to cut costs, but evolved into a way of life six years later.

The standoff between the four-day week schools and the state’s top educator has become a flashpoint over local control of education in an era that demands innovation in learning.

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