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Smilin’ Tim’s Neverending Shell Game: The Rushford Screwjob

Posted by Phoenix Woman on September 23, 2007

A Bluestem Prairie’s reporting on some interesting things happening (or not happening) in flood-ravaged southeastern Minnesota that Tim Pawlenty is no doubt hoping don’t get noised about too much in the Twin Cities media:

The Fillmore County Journal, the Rushford Tri-County Record, and the Winona Daily News all report that the Pawlenty administration’s interpretation of the flood relief bill is at odds with what its local authors intended for small business recovery. 

Issues develop in fund formula for businesses, according to the Rushford paper. What’s the issue?:

The commissioner of the Department of Employment and Economic Development Dan McElroy told business people at the City of Rushford Village city hall Friday that the Minnesota Investment Fund, where the state placed $35 million will contract with the city as the recipient and issue loans. Some of it is “forgivable,” usually 20 to 25 percent as determined by the city, and the rest may have deferred interest, he said.

Ron Zeigler of the Southeast Minnesota Development Corporation which some cities have designated as their loan applicant processor, said the loan is one-third forgivable, one-third paid back into the revolving loan fund of the community, and one-third returned to the state investment fund.

“We were told forgivable loans and grants,” said Ted Roberton, one of seven who went to St. Paul last Tuesday to observe the legislative process.

That was the understanding of area legislators as well:

Told of this interpretation Saturday Rep. Ken Tschumper was flabbergasted. He was the chief author of the bill, but “I never heard anything about that-Pawlenty’s people said ‘trust us’. They said it would be flexible and they said it would be forgivable loans. Some of us are really angry how this is being carried out.”

He’s also heard about the governor’s interpretation that the $16 million appropriated to the Minnesota Housing Finance Agency is being used to “backfill” he said, the amount the governor announced a day earlier as being taken from the agency for homeowner relief in the stricken area. “We believed we were getting $32 million for housing and they are saying it’s $16 million. They aren’t going to get away with that if I can help it,” said Tschumper. . . .

There’s more at the Tri-County Record. The Fillmore County Journal in Preston tells a similiar story in Aid package fine print raises many concerns:

. . .The bottom dropping out, that must be what Rushford residents and members of the business community felt when they met with Dan McElroy, Commissioner of the Department of Employment and Economic Development on 14-September and learned that grants and forgivable loans they were expecting would not be delivered as promised. . . .

. . .The apparent contradiction between DFL-lawmakers’ promises and the restrictions or limitations announced by Dan McElroy, the head of DEED – a key appointment by a Republican Governor with a well-deserved reputation for fiscal conservatism – came as a poignant partisan snub to the Rushford business community. Its members have independently estimated direct business damages, that is lost buildings, inventories, equipment and clean-up costs, at $27.6-million. In Rushford alone, 58-businesses suffered significant flood damage. In addition, 272-fulltime and 191-parttime employees were idled by the disaster, and many remain out-of-work. . .

The Winona Daily News has more in Officials split on flood relief for businesses.

Tim Pawlenty and his crew talk really big, but then wait for the spotlights to be pointed somewhere else so they can then do their backstabbing in the dark.

No wonder why Pawlenty doesn’t think we need a tax hike to pay for flood relief. He wasn’t actually planning on spending what he’d promised, anyway.

2 Responses to “Smilin’ Tim’s Neverending Shell Game: The Rushford Screwjob”

  1. Charles said

    It’s looting. If the real expenses ever get put on the books, the need to restore the taxes that have been cut will become obvious.

  2. Exactly. Pawlenty’s been shuffling money around in a shell game, promising things to one agency or group or city after another, only to forget his promises once the cameras aren’t rolling.

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