Brooks is an investigative reporter and business columnist at the Duluth News Tribune.
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Like the blank T-shirts that will one day come hot off the printer, right there along the wall, this building is a blank canvas. Imagine if you will a shipping container, indoors, among the impossibly high ceilings of an old warehouse on South Lake Avenue. That will be the new retail storefront for Duluth Screen Printing Co., and atop that container will be the main office for the upstart T-shirt slingers.
The Number: 39,000 That's how many Minnesotans "are not paid what is owed to them in earned wages, overtime and benefits annually," according to a recent bulletin from the Department of Labor and Industry. While the agency didn't give a specific dollar amount of missing money — well, not missing, but illegally kept by employers — it's probably not a small bill. DLI says employers who commit wage theft gain "an unfair cost advantage over their competitors who follow the law." Thieves!
Feeling lucky after getting away with a few expired parking meters last year? Don't expect your luck to last. In 2017 the city issued 20,000 fewer parking tickets than usual, a welcome surprise for many rule-bending motorists. It was more of a happy accident than an experiment in altruism, however. "The reason for that drop is basically that we were short-staffed," said Mark Bauer, parking operations specialist with the Duluth Police Department. "A number of circumstances led to lower staffing," but the department is back to full strength today.
The Number: $37,000 That's what North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum paid for Super Bowl tickets, though initially he and his wife went for free after Minneapolis-based Xcel Energy gave them seats in a suite. Gov. Mark Dayton paid his own way without having the meddling media tell him that is the proper thing to do. Both men are outrageously rich, so all I'm trying to demonstrate is Minnesota's unrivaled superiority. The time for modesty is past — we need to recruit a workforce, after all (see below). The Word
Duluth leaders are optimistic the Legislature will approve a local sales tax increase to help rebuild the city's roads. History shows they should be nervous. Sales tax requests have been scuttled by lawmakers plenty of times in the past 20 years, according to the Minnesota House of Representatives Research Department. "Several local sales taxes were requested several years in a row before they were eventually passed, often in a modified form," Legislative Analyst Pat Dalton wrote in a recent memo.
"Rabble rouser." "Dedicated public servant." "Thank you." The tributes came pouring in Friday morning as U.S. Rep. Rick Nolan announced he would not run for a fourth term representing Minnesota's 8th District in Congress. The DFLer from Crosby has weathered increasingly tight races in a geographically massive district that is starting to lose its solid blue hue. After initially campaigning to hold his seat in November, Nolan now intends to serve out his term and "pass the baton to the next generation."
The Number: 2 That's Minnesota's spot on Politico's States of the Union ranking, bringing us in under New Hampshire due to slightly — and I mean slightly — better per capita income and unemployment and poverty rates. The North Star State does hold the edge in home ownership rates and the percentage of high school graduates, and it has the ninth-lowest obesity rate in the country. What I'm trying to say is, Minnesota topped Wisconsin, which came in 10th place overall, and that's really the only metric that matters in these things.
The wave of baby boomers leaving the workforce is cresting as the largest generation of American workers continues to reach retirement age. Yet while the number of employees between ages 55 and 65 will peak over the next decade, many will remain in the workforce past the traditional retirement age, by choice or necessity. That can be dangerous.
Minnesota Power rates are coming down. The state Public Utilities Commission on Tuesday approved a 3.5 percent rate increase for residential and business customers and a 1-2 percent increase for industrial customers. But that “increase” is lower than the 5.6 percent interim rate increase that went into effect last January, while Minnesota Power’s request for a greater increase was under consideration.
The Number: 480,000