Is Edina's Solar Power Investment Really Benefiting the City?

FalconHeights_City-Hall-Solar-Panel-Roof_FromCity2014.jpgWe highly recommend that you read Kim Crockett’s opinion piece in the January 20, 2017 edition of the Star Tribune, reprinted on the CoAE site.   How Much is ‘Green Bling’ Costing your Town or City”  argues that Edina’s expensive foray into solar power panels is an example of “feel-good environment projects”. 

A 2014 study done by the Center of the American Experiment concluded that Edina’s 2011 city hall rooftop project had a very low return when compared to the costs being funded by Edina’s 50,000 federal taxpayers and Xcel ratepayers.  Given the savings generated by that Edina solar power plan, it will take 154 years to cover the costs.  The panels themselves only have a useful life of a few decades

The article’s key points:

  • The scale of Edina’s project is too small to measurably reduce greenhouse gases

  • Money spent on other conservation actions would most likely deliver much more immediate returns

  • If Edina still wants to invest in so-called “green” technology to reduce carbon emissions, it should be willing to justify spending its own money

  • As citizens, we need to continue to take a closer look at what our city staffs are putting in front of our city councils.  We need to volunteer to serve on our city commissions. 

  • While embracing true conservation measures that better our cities, we need to help our councils say “no” to “free” grants and federal money that can’t be justified by returns on investment.

(Photo is of a similar city hall rooftop project in Falcon Heights.)

Minnesota's Great Wealth Migration

Legislature Should Take Tax Actions To Slow Minnesota's Great Wealth Migration

Leaving-MN.jpgPeter Nelson of the Center of the American Experiment and Dale Kurschner of “Twin Cities Business” have written in 2016 about the flight of wealthy individuals from Minnesota to states where they are “better appreciated.”  Thousands are now moving billions of dollars in annual taxable income, gross estate value and net worth to other, more welcoming states.  Nelson and Kurschner identified two primary reasons: higher taxes and a growing perception that the state government does not respect its business people.

Higher Taxes.  In 2014 and 2015, Minnesota lost or began losing an estimated $2.1 billion in taxable income from 3,099 taxpayers. These same individuals have $17 billion in median net worth and $31 billion in median gross estate value.  In almost three-quarters of those moves, respondents said the reason for leaving had to do with Minnesota’s tax policy and collection practices.

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Book Recommendation - The Intimidation Game

BookCoverIntimidationGame_.jpgWe now know that this election cycle’s harassment, confrontation, sign-burning and even violent attacks on Republican supporters were coordinated and funded by Democrat activists.  These and other acts of intimidation have been escalating since the mid-1990’s. But they reached new highs (or lows) as the IRS under the Obama Administration focused on Tea Party organizations applying for nonprofit status.  And intimidation continued as prosecutors in Wisconsin used unconstitutional “John Doe” investigations in 2013 – 2015 to suppress conservatives in that state.

The Intimidation Game is a well-written, page-turner of a book.  It is the stories of individuals who’ve been “called up, served up, beat up, and run out” for taking part in political causes.  Kimberley Strassel explains in understandable language some of the legal twists and turns.  Strassel reveals how we got from the 1950’s Supreme Court decision that protected the rights of Americans to engage in politics with some degree of anonymity to today’s pressures for full and immediate disclosure, without regard for the risks of retaliation.

The Intimidation Game: How the Left is Silencing Free Speech, by Kimberley Strassel, c.2016, ISBN 978-1-4555-9188-6, Twelve/Hachette Book Group.

To see a video of author Kimberley Strassel speaking in June 2016 at a forum hosted by the Heritage Foundation,


Will a $15 Minimum Wage Help the Poor?

The debate about raising Minnesota's minimum wage to $15 per hour has been in the news a lot lately. On the surface, it sounds like a good idea. Why wouldn't we want people in low skill jobs to make more money?  However, what's not often mentioned or understood is that raising the minimum wage will ultimately hurt the people it's meant to benefit.  Substantially increasing a business's labor cost will result in fewer jobs (layoffs and less hiring) and increases in the prices customers must pay for their goods and services.  In some instances, mandating higher wages could force marginal businesses to close.   

Minimum_Wage_Small_2016021115now.jpgRecent coordinated nationwide 'Fight for $15’ protests held at the end of November have spurred on propaganda and news stories.  It is curious that often people who don't even work at the businesses under protest seem to be leading the protests.  

The protests appear to be union backed and/or driven.  Are the unions involved purely out of altruism or do they have another motive?  Would the unions benefit from a higher minimum wage?  Some radio talk hosts suggest that many union contracts have a pay scale that is linked to minimum wage.  Unions are also trying to organize the various service industry workers.  If those workers unionize, it means more dues for the parent union(s).  Writing about this is not an attempt to disparage unions.  Unions have been and can be good and bring much needed changes to the benefit of workers.  That said, in this case it appears unions may have ulterior motives in the 'Fight for $15.'

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Is Voter Fraud Virtually Nonexistent, or Just Not Prosecuted?

An article by Ricardo Lopez, published in the Star Tribune on September 28, on the MN Supreme Court decision to dismiss the MVA suit, (requiring that it first be heard in a District Court), included this note:

“Recent court decisions have rejected stricter voter regulations approved in Kansas, North Carolina, North Dakota, Texas and Wisconsin, finding in virtually all cases that voter fraud is nonexistent and that the tougher regulations disenfranchised minority voters.” 

Ironically, Fox & Friends reported the next day, on September 29  that Arcan Cetan, the man who went on a shooting rampage, killing 5, at a Washington state mall north of Seattle, wasn't even a U.S. citizen but he still voted three times! 

Cetan was a permanent U.S. resident but had never applied for citizenship.  Nonetheless, he registered to vote and participated in three voting cycles.  Like Minnesota, the state of Washington operates on the honor system.  Cetan did not have to provide proof of citizenship when he registered to vote

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An Open Letter to MNSure by Max Rymer

The following has been adapted from an opinion piece that Max Rymer, our 49B candidate for the Minnesota House, posted on his campaign website: 

Dear MNSure,

In typical millennial fashion, I am writing you an open letter. Not because I have something I want to say directly to you, but because I want to make a point to everyone else reading it.

MNSure, last weekend I knocked a low-income housing unit in Bloomington. I talked to a young man, Jerell, who had been on Minnesota Medical Assistance for the better part of a decade. He informed me that, since your inception, he had seen his own costs go up and his benefits go down. Jerell had a number of medical issues, was also on disability, and had preexisting-type conditions that disqualified him from a number of private-insurance options.

MNSure, this confused me.

This man would have and should have been one of the biggest benefactors of the supposed 95% of people who now have affordable coverage.

But he wasn’t.

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Legislator Pay Amendment on Ballot - Why Vote No

I_VOTED_graphicjpg.jpgOur ballot this year will include a state constitutional amendment to establish a commission whose purpose is to set the compensation payable to Minnesota state legislators.  Today, the legislators themselves must vote whether or not to increase their pay. 

As you may be uncertain how you should vote on this proposed amendment, we offer you MN Rep. Matt Dean's advice, which he posted on FACEBOOK, September 21, 2016. 


Rep Matt Dean on the Constitutional Amendment to Raise Legislator Pay

You should vote NO on the legislator pay increase amendment on your ballot this November.  Here is why:

The lawmakers pushing this want to get more pay. But the way the law is written makes it look like if you vote YES you are voting to stop us from doing that very thing. That’s duplicitous.  It’s wrong.  But that’s what government is becoming.  Politicians who publicly pretend to fight against that which they work with the other party to privately enact.

In Minnesota, our base salary is about $31,000/year.  We also receive per diem (which can be over $10K)

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Will Bloomington and Edina Follow Duluth's Lead on Franchise Fees, Taxes in Disguise?

An August 24 MN Supreme Court decision may, eventually, open the door for nonprofits to challenge the pass-through utility Franchise Fee schemes that have become popular ways for cities like Bloomington and Edina to fund road, sidewalk and trail repairs without constraining discretionary budgets or increasing property taxes.

road-703804__180.jpgWhile the cities of Bloomington and Edina have made no comment on the court decision, the City of Duluth is wisely not waiting for someone to file a separate lawsuit on their Franchise Fees that are directed towards general city services like road repair.  Instead Duluth is responsibly and proactively making plans to adjust tax levies and their budget priorities to ensure non-Franchise Fee funding for such core city services.

Here’s why:

The MN Supreme Court unanimously decided against the City of St. Paul and for two churches that appealed their right-of-way (ROW) fee assessments. The judgement stated that these fees were actually taxes and so must be administered as such.  Constitutional limits on taxes exempt churches and other nonprofits.  The case is now back In District Court for final resolution.

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Edina Council Rejects Proposed Braemar Ski Trail, Snowmaking

On September 7, the Edina City Council did not approve the current proposed project for Braemar Park – which included the addition of a 50-foot-wide Nordic Ski Trail and an11-lane tubing hill, with snowmaking for both. Most Council members based their rejection on the high cost of the proposal, the inherent noise and light pollution, the dangers to public safety that snow-making machines would introduce, and the incredibly rapid pace at which the project was moving forward. The Council asked the Parks and Recreation Department to instead refocus attention to resolution of the neglected 2015 list of priorities, which includes a “master plan” for redevelopment of the Braemar area.

This "mistake" cost taxpayers some $150k - 200k in "exploratory" (feasibility) studies that should not have been implemented prior to the completion and approval of a master plan for the golf course. We Edina residents need to put continued pressure on this Council and demand better stewardship of our tax dollars so that this type of waste doesn’t happen again. Indeed, the articulate and respectful outpouring of opposition to this proposal had an impact, something Mayor Jim Hovland acknowledged thoughtfully at the public hearing.

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SWLRT Key to Met Council’s Plan for Urban Densities in the Suburbs

Metro_Transit_Light_Rail.jpgThe Southwest Light Rail Transit plan is the latest power grab by the big government planners at the Metropolitan Council.  Accountable to no-one but the Governor, the Metropolitan Council is intent on re-imagining our lives through centralized planning.  The central feature of this centralized planning is ever increasing levels of light rail transit.  While some refer to the “dream” of light rail, the reality is more like a nightmare.

The so-called “Green Line Extension,” otherwise known as the Southwest Light Rail Transit (SWLRT), appeared to be in jeopardy when the Minnesota legislature did not approve $144.5 million in state funding for it.  However, in a calculated political move, Gov Dayton bypassed the legislature.  He got three metropolitan boards to come up with the funding instead.

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