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Progressive Politics in Minnesota, the Nation, and the World

Minnesota's $157,000 Stairway to Boondoggle

Category: I-35 Bridge
Posted: 01/12/08 17:40, Edited: 01/12/08 17:42


This is not just a stairway....it is a symbol. A $1,000 per step symbol of a department that can't decide the difference between frugality and excess.

This stairway was needed at the I-35 Bridge collapse. The Pioneer Press pointed out this little "monument" to the recovery process. The discussion about the why and how much is a relevant one.

MnDOT defends the "stairway". People needed to get down the embankment to the river. It was imperative for rescue workers and demolition crews to get to the river bank. Stairs were needed and there wasn't time for bidding. The cost, at the time, was secondary.

I understand the argument. It has some relevance. But as you look at this picture, some questions arise. Look to the left of the bottom section. There is a path through the snow that seems to indicate nobody is bothering with using that bottom section. Also, the stairway looks pretty narrow to be moving any equipment up and down. The article points out that the stairway is partly dismantled now.....probably not used much. If the stairway was never meant to be permanent, why couldn't cheaper methods have been employed? Maybe simply hauling in dirt and making a gradual slope to the river. Maybe a rope ladder or pulleys. I can't imagine the National Guard doesn't have equipment that can be utilized for this purpose.

In the larger scheme of things, this "stairway" is not the big issue; but it is part of a pattern. The bidding process that led to a largesse contract.... the repair work that was by passed because of costs..... the hiring of inspection teams, only to ignore their advice, the cost overruns on Wakota, and the Crosstown debacle.

Maybe $157,000 can get lost in contracts that cost millions, but that stairway begs the question. Are Minnesota's transportation issues being addressed properly? We have to answer that a $1,000 step at a time.

*photo from Pioneer Press article -- Jean Pieri, photographer
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C'mon Norm: Tell the Truth on Property Taxes!

Category: Norm Coleman
Posted: 01/11/08 15:20

by Paul Bartlett

After listening to Norm Coleman pontificate on MPR's Friday Midday program, I can only shake my head in disbelief.

Norm Coleman -- former Saint Paul mayor -- lashed out at the City of Saint Paul leadership for the recent increase in his real estate taxes.

He claims a tax jump of forty to forty five percent. He also claims that under his leadership no similar increases occurred.

Coleman exposed the depth of his partisanship and willingness to twist the truth for political gain. Norm Coleman received an enormous Limited Market Value discount. (I know that for a fact; I've looked at his Ramsey County assessment record.) Coleman's tax has increased largely due to the phase-out of LMV. Simply put, Coleman will now pay his fair share of Saint Paul taxes -- just like the rest of us.

Coleman either doesn't understand Minnesota real estate tax law - a sorry commentary for an ex-mayor -- or he chooses to skip that detail. Either way, the guy is self-serving and not fit to represent Minnesota in the U.S. Senate. Coleman owes the City Council and the other Mayor Coleman an apology.
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Minnesota's Political Parties: Serving the State or Pointless?

Category: Minnesota Politics
Posted: 01/11/08 04:27, Edited: 01/11/08 04:28

by Dave Mindeman

Minnesota's Democratic and Republican parties look like a pretty hopeless lot these days. It shakes a person's confidence as to whether or not the people's business can ever get done.

Democrats. Transportation has been an issue for years really. The I-35 Bridge collapse exposed our infrastructure problems but what is really getting done? The Senate Democrats were forcefully discussing the ouster of Carol Molnau -- you know, accountability. Well now it seems that talk is "not so much".

One scenario goes like this:

One theory, he said, is that a DFL-led removal of Molnau might anger House Republicans who may be needed later in the legislative session to help override a possible veto of a transportation funding bill by Gov. Tim Pawlenty, a Republican. While Senate DFLers have enough votes to override a governor's veto, House DFLers need the votes of some Republicans to do the same.

So, solving a transportation problem hinges on keeping an incompetent transportation commissioner, because House Republicans will be voting on "politics" rather than need?

Not even a mention about negotiating with the Governor's office -- it's like.... don't even go there. Is it really broken that much?

Republicans. Republicans can't even begin to talk about the needs of the state. Nope. They are too busy squabbling over their current chairman, Ron Carey.

Carey riled some party activists this week when he endorsed the former Arkansas governor (Mike Huckabee). Some sources said his action is causing growing discord among Republican activists, with some insisting that his support of a candidate could undermine party unity less than a month before Minnesotans vote in precinct caucuses.

If I was a Republican, my eyes would be rolling. Carey has been a pretty awful party chair. His tenure has seen unprecedented losses for his party and now he creates more discontent by backing a Presidential candidate while supposedly, maintaining party unity. Boy, that is sure working.....

And then you have the party leader, Governor Pawlenty. He just can't see how we can reach any agreement on transportation, but he comes out, front and center on.......immigration?

Gov. Tim Pawlenty waded back into the immigration debate Monday, reaffirming his concern with an issue that is heating up his party's presidential nomination contest and drawing complaints that his motives may be political.

Sure....that's a great way to get problems solved....bring in some more controversy.

The average Minnesota citizen is not being served here. Democrats and Republicans get elected to do a job. They are supposed to fix problems and enhance our quality of life.

But they don't do that. They posture and pander and procrastinate. I could come up with some more "p" words but it all leads to just one bottom line....pointless.

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