Public records

The next tax scofflaws targeted for public shame: bars, restaurants and liquor stores

Tuesday, August 18th, 2009

This time, it’s the taxman yelling “Last call!” Having gotten so much notoriety (and cash) out of its public lists of tax delinquent businesses, the Minnesota Department of Revenue this week rolled out its newest deadbeat roster. (My colleague Bob Von Sternberg reports that 180 establishments owe $7.7 million).The list includes businesses now prohibited from buying and reselling liquor, beer and wine because they haven’t paid sales, withholding or other state taxes. The list (available here and updated at noon each day) is divided into three sections, according to a revenue department news release:


Dog owner data is public once again, hunters and fishers can go undercover, and when soliciting a prostitute goes on your driving record: public records highlights

Wednesday, July 15th, 2009

As I usually do, Whistleblower pored through the latest newsletter of the state Department of Administration’s Information Policy Analysis Division within minutes of it landing in my inbox. The division is the main agency that weighs in on what’s public and what’s not when it comes to state records. The Legislature didn’t pass a general data practices bill this session, but that doesn’t mean it didn’t tinker with the law. As usual, most of the changes are about information sharing between agencies and making more information secret.

To wit: names, addresses, driver’s license numbers and dates of birth of hunters and fisherpeople will no longer be public:


White House pushes a consumer protection agency for financial products, still hasn’t responded to Whistleblower’s question

Tuesday, June 30th, 2009

In light of the colossal failure of regulators to stop the rampant fraud and incompetence that put us in our economic mess, this busy new administration is applying the Washington solution – proposing a new federal agency to bring some law and order to the wild world of financial products. In his weekly address on June 20, President Obama described the Consumer Financial Protection Agency this way:

It will have the power to set tough new rules so that companies compete by offering innovative products that consumers actually want – and actually understand. Those ridiculous contracts – pages of fine print that no one can figure out – will be a thing of the past. You’ll be able to compare products – with descriptions in plain language – to see what is best for you. The most unfair practices will be banned. The rules will be enforced.


Top Dakota County prosecutor among five lawyers disciplined by high court

Thursday, June 25th, 2009

Dakota County Attorney James Backstrom was the best-known lawyer to receive a disciplinary slap today from the Minnesota Supreme Court. But he had company: three other attorneys were “publicly reprimanded” and one other, Albert Isiaka Usumanu, was suspended from practice for 30 days, according to the court’s Thursday opinions. The links for each lawyer typically give only a brief summary of the issue, details of the discipline and the process. For a fuller explanation of how disciplined lawyers got in trouble, you’ll need to check out the Office of Lawyers Professional Responsibility, the agency that regulates attorneys in Minnesota and builds the disciplinary case that’s usually approved by the high court.