Government spends your money


Park board completes deal to sell land at Fort Snelling to Boy Scouts

Wednesday, July 22nd, 2009

drillhall.JPGLast year, Whistleblower described how a long-vacant property owned by the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board would become an urban base camp for the Northern Star Council of the Boy Scouts of America. The Boy Scouts bought the old cavalry building last year, and on June 24, the council closed on the second parcel, finishing the deal and ending the park board’s nine-year history with the property, said Don Siggelkow, park board general manager.

The sale of the old cavalry building and an adjacent parcel brought the park board $4.2 million, approximately the same amount the park board spent on acquisition, legal fees and other associated costs, Siggelkow said. The money went straight to the city to pay off the bonds used to acquire the property, he said.

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Private eye seeks help from Whistleblower to solve the mystery of the $1 tax refund

Monday, July 20th, 2009

Richard Lind runs a private detective business in Champlin, so it’s safe to say he deals with his fair share of mysteries. This June, he stumbled into his own caper, one that left him with a $1 check from the IRS and a lot of questions about the efficiency of government.

Lind received a letter from the IRS in June saying that he had missed his quarterly tax payment and he was going to be charged a penalty and interest. He was surprised because he has the money withdrawn electronically from his checking account. A quick phone call to the IRS cleared up the confusion – the payment had been made but the letter was sent before the IRS received it. In fact, the letter had been sent before the payment was due, which bothered Lind.

“I don’t think you should get a demand letter from the IRS that’s generated prior to the time the payment is due,” he said.

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Second homeowner in Victoria blames cracked foundation, warped house on sewer project

Tuesday, July 14th, 2009

Last month I wrote about the ordeal of Pete and Ethel Nelson, who are battling the Metropolitan Council over who will pay to repair their home and yard in the aftermath of an immense sewer reconstruction project. The start of the next phase of the sewer upgrade has been a contentious issue before the Victoria City Council, with council member Kim Roden putting the Met Council’s feet to the fire about improving the way it responds to property owners’ claims of collateral damage. Today, Roden told me she’s pressuring the regional government to take a second look at the struggle of another Victoria property owner, Gary Corwin.

Corwin, a pilot for the airline formerly known as Northwest, has lived on Virginia Shores Circle with his family since 1988. He told Whistleblower that the excavation for the sewer shifted the footings under his deck, cracked his foundation and warped his house to the point that windows and doors don’t open and close. “You can tell it looked like an earthquake,” he said. He estimates the damage at $200,000 to $250,000.

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Steve Lang has indoor showers and toilets again after city fixes ruptured pipe

Wednesday, July 8th, 2009

The porta potty has been towed away, the makeshift shower has been disassembled and the waste pipe is flowing again at Steve Lang’s Minneapolis home.

His sister Angela called Whistleblower at lunchtime Wednesday to report that crews had fixed the damage done by a wooden pole installed this winter for the city Wi-Fi equipment. My story in today’s paper chronicled the creative ways the Langs maintained their personal hygiene over the weekend.

It took a while to sort out what caused the collapse of the waste pipe, but Angela Lang said one of the contractors at the scene told her an auger had likely nicked the pipe when the pole was put in place. For several months, the pole sank into the ground until it ruptured the pipe last Friday.

Lang said she was told by a city inspector Wednesday that “the city would take care of everything.”