10 Thoughts on The Iron Range’s Current Challenges (and One Idea)

Here are some things I think I understand about the iron industry and its impact on Minnesota’s economy.

And, here is where this post is going: I’m all for providing government assistance to people going through tough times, but I really want to see viable long term outcomes.

So, below is my take on what I know based on what I’ve read about the challenges facing the Iron Range. It’s rather bleak. But, I do include an example near the end of one program that appears to be helping people find comparable wages in a growing and less dangerous industry.

1. International iron prices are low. That hasn’t happened overnight:

Iron Prices

2. It looks like they’ll likely stay low for a long time.

Global iron ore demand will contract over the 2020s as steel consumption growth in China peaks, according to Citigroup Inc., which reduced its long-run price forecast for the raw material by 32 percent.

The long-run estimate was cut to $55 a metric ton from $81 as the world’s major mining companies added more cheap supply, analysts including Ivan Szpakowski wrote in a report on Wednesday. From 2016 to 2018, prices may average $40, it said.

3. Aaron Brown has reported on his blog that the cost of iron production in Minnesota’s mines is in the $40-50/ton range. If that’s the case, it’s tough justify running a mine if you can’t sell what you’ve mined profitably now or possibly for years in the future.

4. Large iron mines in other parts of the world are capable of mining iron at half the cost of Minnesota’s mines. Differences in the iron that’s mined, proximity to large manufacturing countries, and huge investments in automation (replacing workers) all play a role in the cost differences.

Australia: The Low Cost Leader

The cost of producing iron ore in Australia is substantially lower than the global average due to the abundance of high-grade hematite ores (iron content of 62.5% and above) and extensive infrastructure facilities. Hematite ores (also known as ‘direct shipping ores’) can be fed directly into iron-making blast furnaces and require relatively little beneficiation. As such, production from these deposits tends to place miners at the lower quartile of the cost curve. We believe mining giants such as Rio Tinto, BHP Billiton and Fortescue Metals will continue to enjoy the lowest cost of operations and remain the largest players in the global seaborne market. While the escalation in operating cost will be a major drag on miners’ profits over the coming years, the high quality ores and geographical location of Australia will keep a lid on cash costs and places the country as one of the best places for iron ore investment.

5. Each generation of mining brings technological improvements. For example, haul trucks have gotten bigger over time, which leads to fewer drivers. I found a history of haul truck sizes on a truck manufacturer’s website in Belarus (BELAZ) and used their milestones to chart out the changes:

image (9)

6. Trucks can now drive themselves. This is from Rio Tinto’s website:

Autonomous haulage systems (AHS): We are the world’s largest owner and operator of autonomous haulage system trucks. We have 69 autonomous trucks in operation at our Pilbara sites moving high grade ore and the number of trucks is set to grow in coming years. Implementing autonomous haulage means more material can be moved efficiently and safely, creating a direct increase in productivity.

7. Drilling is becoming automated:

Automated drilling system (ADS): In 2008, our automated drilling system was successfully trialled at our West Angelas mine in preparation for deployment across our Pilbara operations over the next few years.

8. Rail hauling is becoming automated:

AutoHaul®: AutoHaul® is the world’s first fully-autonomous heavy haul, long distance railway system, a key part of our Mine of the Future™ programme. We have invested US$518 million in autonomous trains for our Pilbara rail network.

They have a 1,000+ mile rail network.

9. There are accusations that Minnesota’s mining industry is being hurt by illegal dumping (charging lower prices on international markets than domestically for iron). Rep Melin made this accusation on Twitter:

Screen Shot 2015-11-25 at 11.19.01 AM

I asked her if what’s happening is truly illegal:

Screen Shot 2015-11-25 at 11.19.54 AM

I never heard back. I don’t know if the legal definition of dumping is really happening, but assumed someone from the Iron Range making that accusation might. Dayton has asked congressional legislators to look into this, but I haven’t found statements from anyone saying, definitively, that the reason prices are low in the USA is due to foreign countries selling iron at deflated prices to the USA.

It seems like market realities of the first eight points on this list would hurt Minnesota’s mining industry with or without illegal dumping. If we can’t produce iron below market rates, we can’t produce iron. That seems to be supported by the head of the IRRRB, who told the StarTribune last week:

Mark Phillips, commissioner of the Iron Range Resources and Rehabilitation Resources, said this is the worst downturn to hit Minnesota’s taconite industry since the 1980s.

“There is just a glut of iron ore in the world,” he said. “It’s the first time in my memory where the U.S. economy is relatively healthy and that the steel and iron industry is in this bad a shape. Usually, we ride with the economy. That is the sad point about this.”

Basically, it sucks, but it’s not due to overseas evildoers but worldwide changes to both supply (increasing) and demand (decreasing).

10. Extending unemployment benefits for laid-off workers seem like a short term solution to a long term problem.

Senate Majority Leader Tom Bakk on Tuesday endorsed Dayton’s proposal, saying in a letter to the governor that he is “receptive to negotiating the parameters” to aid several hundred steelworkers who are expected to exhaust their unemployment benefits before lawmakers convene in March.

Dayton said in a news conference that “it’s a very severe situation up there,” and warned that without legislative action, several hundred steelworkers will “be subjected to that additional financial hardship, in addition to the emotional distress of not being employed.”

This is a very difficult situation. People were laid off. The reason they were laid off is due to world-wide depression in the price of the product they help product. The price of the product they produce doesn’t appear to be forecasted to rebound to anywhere near the levels needed to return the industry on the Iron Range to where it was for possibly half a decade if the analysts cited above are correct.

And, if prices actually do rebound, mines will likely return with a need for less workers per ton of iron mined than they needed in the past in order to compete with mines that are producing iron at half the cost due to higher quality mined iron and serious automation. There is simply no way that the people on unemployment will be returning to the jobs they’ve had in the past.

What can be done?

The inspiration for this post was an article I recently read about a similar situation for coal miners. “Canary in the Code Mine” is a story about a town in Kentucky that faced similar challenges to the Iron Range. In fact, their challenges may be worse for coal because iron likely has a better chance of rebounding at some point.

A guy in this community was insulted by comments by Michael Bloomberg, who funds programs to kill coal burning power plants (existing and planned). It wasn’t his opposition to coal burning power plants that really motivated the guy in Kentucky. It was a patronizing comment by Bloomberg where he said that coal miners couldn’t be retrained as coders. Long story short (it’s worth a read), the community launched coding classes to retrain miners in an industry with similar pay, but less risk of lung cancer or suffocation in a mine.

They paid people $15/hr to go through coding training. They vetted people to determine if people were logical thinkers and capable of sitting at a desk for 8 hours/day. They also trained them on how to communicate over chat with white collar nerds (their new peers). It turns out that blue collar nerds have some good ideas on programs to built that white collar nerds would never consider. Sure, an app for on-demand massages (yes, this exists) is likely a decent business, but there are some more practical things that could also be built if people with experience in blue collar industries had some coding experience to tie it all together.

This is a program that would be easily replicable anywhere. Their training was done by leveraging Lynda.com. Lynda.com, for those who aren’t familiar with it, is a great website for people interested in learning just about any piece of software or programming language. Here is what it costs:

Screen Shot 2015-11-25 at 2.54.52 PM

This article is around 89% pessimistic about the future of the Iron Range based on the economic realities of the iron mining industry and the idea that emergency extensions of unemployment benefits can solve long term problems.

I’m also trying to be optimistic since there are real ways to create new skills for motivated people interested in changing industries and covering their mortgage while potentially working from home or at new startups that pop up to solve problems using the newly developed skills.

Coding as a new opportunity undersells the transferrable skills from mining jobs to IT. Project management is a universal skill. The article linked above mentions that errors in mining can blow up the wrong side of a mountain while errors in programming are more of a fail fast and fix situation. While that’s true in some cases, there are many industries where attention to detail is absolutely critical to a project’s success. People in project management roles don’t need to know how to code, but they need to understand what’s possible in what time frames (by asking questions). Instead, they need to know how to scope out a project, manage people, ask good questions, communicate well, and try to hit deadlines.

For some Rangers, the leaving the Iron Range is going to be a more rational choice. That was the same choice made by the people who moved to the Range 100 years ago. Perhaps some laid-off workers will see the writing on the wall and see the future for their families in growing communities elsewhere? They wouldn’t be the first to make that choice. And, based on what I’ve seen with Rangers in the Twin Cities, they never fully leave The Range behind since everyone in Minnesota is within two degrees of separation of a Ranger.

Energy Policy Questions Too Hot for @LibertyTPP_MN to Handle

The Liberty Tea Party Patriots hosted a talk about energy at their monthly meeting last night. Energy is an important topic that’s certainly worthy of discussion by any group. Here’s how this group promoted their event:

Tea Party Patriots Energy Event

I’m not sure why renewables in is quotes. I suppose is someone doubted that the sun would keep shining or the wind blowing in Minnesota, that would make sense. However, there may be larger issues to discuss than our energy mix if that’s what our future looks like.

This event was hosted in Champlin, so close to the largest producer of both energy and pollution in the State of Minnesota. Xcel’s Sherco power plant. Xcel announced last month that they’re going to transition two of the three coal burning generators at the plant (the older, dirtier, of the three) to a new cleaner-burning natural gas powered generator. And add a large solar array. And, make up for some of the other energy differences with additional wind and solar.

I found the premise and setup of this event fascinating. When I hear the term “Freedom” followed by opposition to locally produced energy, I get confused. When I went through the process of researching solar panels for my home, I watched a lot of YouTube videos on DIY installations. One thing most of those videos had in common is they were done by right-wing Tea Party type individuals who consider themselves Preppers. The Survivalism crowd is full of people who prepare for doomsday scenarios. Prepper tactics include storing food, having a fall-out shelter, an arsenal, or off the grid power generation. To me, these vary in rationality, but something like solar panels can benefit a person whether or not a doomsday ever arrives, so there’s less downside than, say, having a ton of guns around the house.

Frankly, as long as a huge percentage of the state’s energy comes from a single location, we’re more susceptible to doomsday energy issues than if energy is generated in a highly distributed format (and closer to it’s end use). As a bonus, less energy is wasted in transmission. So you’d think freedom loving prepper types would be all over solar in general. However, that’s not necessarily the case. I get the impression the best ideas can suddenly become the worst if the perception is that there were Obama’s idea.

So, I thought it might be interesting to toss a few freedom-centric energy questions into the mix with the Liberty Tea Party Patriot crowd. I did this by posting to their Facebook event’s page last night (typos are all mine):

Questions for Liberty Tea Party Patriots

Since that was a public post, it started to pick up some views and likes from people I know and don’t know. I didn’t receive an immediate response from any members of the Liberty Tea Party Patriots group.

Then something odd happened.

Deleted Post on Liberty Tea Party Patriot's Event Page

Too hot to handle? It’s not like I brought up global warming. I tried to focus on the aspects of locally produced distributed energy generation that would appeal to people who claim to value freedom. The kind of stuff that right-wing Tea Party folks in Georgia used to lobby for more solar energy purchasing by their local utility.

In this case, I get the impression that any idea coming out of the Obama administration is automatically bad. And, that people living near the Sherco plant want government to protect the pollution importing, centralized power producing status quo since there are jobs in those communities tied to the that plant.

It’s a shame that people in that community don’t seem to be able to see a future where there are more energy industry related jobs installing and maintaining locally produced – distributed – micro power plants on houses, offices, and farms, but that’s where things are heading. And, as we go there. As we create a distributed power grid that’s less susceptible to catastrophic outages at huge power plants, with power produced within the communities it’s used (even on the same property in some cases) there will be no going back. We won’t one day say, “You know what, get Wyoming on the phone. Let’s go back to burning trainloads full of coal in Minnesota.” It’s the kind of thing that we already know is ridiculous, and will look only more ridiculous in hindsight.

@Twins on Pace to Set New Attendance Record

This tweet from Bob Collins reminded me to take a look at how attendance is looking at the Twins’ latest publicly financed ballpark:

Screenshot 2015-09-18 08.58.35

If we, generously, average out the first 72 home games to create a projection for the full season, things will shake out like this:

Twins Attendance by Year
*Projected by averaging first 72 games.

That puts 2015 on track for a new record by 9,939 tickets.

But, this isn’t a mathematical certainty. The Twins just need to find 10,200 more people per night than they found last night for each of the last 9 games of the 2015 regular season to avoid their continued streak of attendance declines.

Or, if the Twins sold out the next 7 games, fans could take the last two games of the year off knowing that it’s only the second worth year for attendance at the latest publicly financed ballpark. At this point, there is a mathematical lock on this being either the worst or second worst season for attendance yet.

Assuming attendance stays pretty much on track, here’s how the per ticket subsidies continue to grow.

image (55)
*Projected by averaging first 72 games.

Same costs. Fewer fans.

Watch movie online Movie Boyka: Undisputed IV (2017)

Watch Full Movie Boyka: Undisputed IV (2017), Free Download Full Movie Boyka: Undisputed IV (2017) Online , Boyka: Undisputed IV (2017) English Subtitles , Free Streaming Movie Boyka: Undisputed IV (2017).

Watch movie online Boyka: Undisputed IV (2017) Free Online Streaming and Download HD Quality

Quality: HD
Title : Boyka: Undisputed IV
Release : 2017-01-15
Language : English.
Runtime : 100 min.
Genre : Action, Drama, Science Fiction.
Stars : Scott Adkins, Bashar Rahal, Teodora Duhovnikova, Alon Aboutboul, Julian Vergov, Valentin Ganev.

In the fourth installment of the fighting franchise, Boyka is shooting for the big leagues when an accidental death in the ring makes him question everything he stands for.

Incoming search term :

Boyka: Undisputed IV
Boyka: Undisputed IV English Subtitles
Watch Boyka: Undisputed IV
Watch Boyka: Undisputed IV English Subtitles
Watch Movie Boyka: Undisputed IV
Watch Movie Boyka: Undisputed IV English Subtitles
Watch Movie Online Boyka: Undisputed IV
Watch Movie Online Boyka: Undisputed IV English Subtitles
Watch Full Movie Boyka: Undisputed IV
Watch Full Movie Boyka: Undisputed IV English Subtitles
Watch Full Movie Online Boyka: Undisputed IV
Watch Full Movie Online Boyka: Undisputed IV English Subtitles
Streaming Boyka: Undisputed IV
Streaming Boyka: Undisputed IV English Subtitles
Streaming Movie Boyka: Undisputed IV
Streaming Movie Boyka: Undisputed IV English Subtitles
Streaming Online Boyka: Undisputed IV
Streaming Online Boyka: Undisputed IV English Subtitles
Streaming Full Movie Boyka: Undisputed IV
Streaming Full Movie Boyka: Undisputed IV English Subtitles
Streaming Full Movie Online Boyka: Undisputed IV
Streaming Full Movie Online Boyka: Undisputed IV English Subtitles
Download Boyka: Undisputed IV
Download Boyka: Undisputed IV English Subtitles
Download Movie Boyka: Undisputed IV
Download Movie Boyka: Undisputed IV English Subtitles
Download Movie Online Boyka: Undisputed IV
Download Movie Online Boyka: Undisputed IV English Subtitles
Download Full Movie Boyka: Undisputed IV
Download Full Movie Boyka: Undisputed IV English Subtitles
Download Full Movie Online Boyka: Undisputed IV
Download Full Movie Online Boyka: Undisputed IV English Subtitles

Shifting Retail Buying Patterns Doesn’t Create New Jobs

When a company worth $200 billion decides to build a warehouse on land owned by billionaires, you know there will be subsidies. Today’s example comes from Shakopee where Amazon is planning to build a distribution center on land owned by the Pohlad family.

Amazon’s very good at what they do. They know how to put stuff in boxes and get it to your door quickly and reliably better than anyone. It’s really behavior-changing for those who’ve become Prime members where you get free 2-day shipping on purchases for $99/yr.

Behavior-changing retail is great for people who appreciate the convenience. I sure do. But, let’s not pretend that it creates new jobs. When I buy paper towels on Amazon, I clearly didn’t buy them somewhere else. I still use the same amount of paper towels as I did before, so there was no net increase in sales. It’s just a shift from purchasing at one store to another.

Because of this, spending $5,000 per job to “create” 1,000 “new” jobs is really a case of spending tax dollars to accelerate a shift of Minnesota’s retail jobs to one company based in Seattle. It’s certainly good for Amazon, but I don’t see how there will be a net gain in jobs from shifting where people buy the same stuff they’re already buying from one retailer to another.

In fact, it seems possible that we’ll end up with fewer jobs in retail after this since Amazon is so efficient at what they do. For example, Target’s a very efficient company by retail standards, but Amazon has $20 billion more in sales than Target with nearly 200,000 less full time employees last year. Amazon doesn’t have many cashiers or people restocking shelves.

Here are the winners and losers from this type of subsidy.

Winners:
Amazon, due to corporate welfare benefits.
The Pohlad Family, due to corporate welfare benefits.
People who live near Shakopee who can work in Shakopee rather than commuting elsewhere.
People who think the income and wealth gaps in America aren’t large enough already.

Losers:
People around the state who get less hours at the retail store they work at today.
Taxpayers who subsidized the corporate welfare deal.
People who prefer jobs with benefits.

Neutral:
People who use Amazon, and would see the same benefits from having a local Amazon warehouse with or without corporate welfare expenditures.

We should be mature enough to not subsidize “economic development” projects in one city that have no net benefit for the state, but we’re probably not.

Math Only a Corporate #wilfare Queen Could Believe @mnunitedfc

I was hoping that MN United would somehow be different than every other professional sports franchise in our local market, but then I read stuff like this:

We will pay our fair share of tax. The entertainment/sales/food/beverage taxes the facility generates will be 5x current tax. @edkohler

If you’re a business or resident in Minneapolis and you buy a property and improve it, you’re expected to pay property taxes. That’s the deal. It’s really quite simple. But, MN United seems to think that they deserve to redefine “fairness” based on sales tax generation.

It’s as if pro sports are the only industry that competes for entertainment dollars and generates sales taxes. Why should they be subsidized while local restaurants aren’t? If we were going to subsidize an entertainment business, how about subsidizing ones that are open more than 17 days per year?

But, the bigger issue with MN United’s claims is the math. It’s the kind of math only people who mistakenly trust pro sports franchise owners can believe.

Here’s the problem with their sales tax math. It assumes that every single dollar of sales taxes generates at the soccer stadium would not have been generated anywhere else in the entire state of Minnesota if there wasn’t a publicly subsidized pro sports stadium.

It’s an utterly preposterous assumption. Put another way, they’re lying. And, people who mistakenly trust MN United’s statements are falling for it:

@edkohler @_NickRogers_ Ed, if you didn't pay property tax, would your provide 5x those taxes in sales tax? Your analogy seems flawed.

People blindly trust pro sports owners that are in the business of subsidizing their businesses rather than competing fairly for entertainment dollars in the private market.

But, what makes this situation particularly interesting is that even loyal MN United fans seem to be embarrassed by the requests to shift property tax burdens onto homeowners and local business in order to further enrich some of MN’s richest residents. This is my assumption based on the lack of response to questions like this:

@lockstockspock I noticed that you ignored this tweet, which makes me wonder why you're so concerned about handouts:

Let’s try being honest. MN United doesn’t need subsidies. The team will be here. A stadium will be built. And Minneapolis will benefit from hosting a new local business while expanding its property tax base. That’s what fairness looks like.

How Power Companies Profit from Net Metering #mnleg

One of the nice things about residential solar systems in Minnesota is that they’re eligible for net metering. You have an upstream meter and a downstream meter and are charged for electricity based on the net consumption. So, if your home uses $40 of electricity over a month but your panels produced $60, you’ll get money back from Xcel. Not $20 back, since there are base fees to cover, but you’ll still get a check.

A common beef from the pollution industry and their legislative allies against net metering goes something like this:

Residential solar users are freeloaders. They’re selling electricity to the grid at retail rates, yet benefit from being attached to the grid when they really need it.

Or, as Rep. Pat Garofalo puts it “solar is dumb“.

Granted, this argument makes sense at a high level. If the price a residential solar user receives for the energy they contribute to the grid is the same as what they take off the grid, that’s a pretty sweet deal.

But, it’s a bit more complicated than that, which is something the anti-solar crowd chooses to ignore.

Here are Xcel’s current rates for electricity (not counting base fees, taxes, etc.):

Energy Charge per kWh:
June through September…$0.08671
October through May…$0.07393

But, Xcel offers other pricing models, including Time of Day pricing where customers are charged far higher rates during peak grid times, then far less during off-peak times.

Xcel Time of Day Pricing

That’s a significant difference. They charge more than 2X as much for electricity during the day, and offer a whopping 70% discount on overnight power consumption.

Now, let’s look at what hours solar panels generate power. Here is data from the past three days from my home’s roof:

Three Days of Solar Generation

Looks like 6am – 6pm is the energy producing window. So, during those hours, my panels are a net-contributor to the grid of most of that energy. That’s when my power meter runs backwards (technically, there’s a separate upstream meter).

My family is generally out of the house well before 9am, so our morning electricity consumption would be considered off-peak by Xcel in their time of day pricing plan. We’re generally home by 5:30pm, so there is some on-peak consumption between 5:30 and 9pm, but generally nowhere near what was added to the grid throughout the day.

So, I’m selling around $3/day of electricity during peak-grid hours Xcel at $0.08671/kWh. They can then turn around and sell that electricity for more than twice what they pay me for it. Of, if time shifting makes more sense to you. They sell me back my own electricity overnight at a time when electricity is 70% cheaper than they paid me for what I generated.

I’m a net-contributor of electricity to the grid at times when the grid needs it most. I’m generating that electricity locally so it doesn’t need to be transmitted from polluting power plants or rural wind farms. I’m selling electricity for far below market rates, and I’m buying electricity for far above market rates. Yet, I’m the freeloader?

Oh, did I mention that Xcel doesn’t allow solar power generators to use Time of Day pricing? Net metering is only allowed when net metering allows Xcel to arbitrage the power they’re buying/selling to solar power generators.

My guess is that the return on my solar panel investment would be around twice as fast if I could net meter at rates available to others. Taking away this ban on market rate solar sales/purchases seems like a good way to stimulate private investments in locally produced power.

@mngop Math: Light Rail Fare Edition

David Montgomery with the Pioneer Press has an article about a recent audit of fare skipping by light rail riders:

A recent audit conducted by the Met Council found around 3 percent of Blue Line riders and between 4.6 and 9 percent of Green Line riders were evading their fares. That adds up to between $800,000 and $1.5 million per year in lost money.

This created some outrage from a MN GOP rep:

Rep. Mark Uglem, R-Champlin, said during a Monday transportation bill discussion in a House committee meeting. “We have $1.5 million in taxpayers’ money that we’re being cheated out of.”

Let’s go with the absolute high end figure Rep. Uglem latched onto. I’m 100% confident that no level of fare enforcement or implementation of more rigid boarding systems would bring in anywhere near that kind of money.

The fallacy in his statement is assuming that every fare not collected actually would still exist under more rigid boarding/enforcement scenarios. It’s the same mistake the MPAA makes when they claim that every illegally downloaded movie should be treated as a lost DVD sale.

In the reality based community, it might be worth considering whether those fare skippers would have still taken the LRT if they had to pay the fare. I’m willing to be that a significant portion of them would not, because they likely have little to no money. But, they still need to get to work, visit their family, or get to the grocery store.

So, we could dump a whole bunch of money into attempting to increase revenue generated from the LRT’s poorest riders.

In the end, Rep. Uglem could proudly state that he helped kick poor people off the trains. But, there’s little chance that he’d see the uptick of $1.5 million in annual revenue he claims can be recovered. A good example of why can be found in the same article:

The fare-dodging audit said that all mass transit systems, even those with turnstiles, saw at least 2 percent to 3 percent of riders avoid paying their fares.

If we take the average of the Blue and Green line fare skippers (6.8%), and put that up against the reality that people will skip fares even if expensive turnstiles are installed, it becomes pretty clear that the potential savings – even before reality checking that many people would simply stop riding – could be more like $235k – $440k/year.

The article also mentions:

Once installed, turnstiles would cost about $1.3 million per year to operate, he said.

Even ignoring the huge costs of retrofitting LRT stops to make life harder for poor people and less convenient for all transit riders, this seems like a colossal waste of money.

If the goal was to invest taxpayer money into increasing the amount of money generated by light rail trains, there is probably a much better options such as increasing frequency. This would likely increase ridership among those who can and do pay.

Or – I know this is going to sound crazy, but we already do it for airline travelers – how about making the LRT free? We could save a ton of money on turnstiles and enforcement.

But, I suppose that’s less interesting to a Rep from Champlain than picking on poor urban people.

Adam Heskin: One of The Pioneer Press’ Racist Commenters

The Pioneer Press posted an Associated Press article about a group of Somali immigrants who’re dealing with discrimination and bullying. They claim that they’re being treated unfairly by fellow students and staff and, based on the original piece in the St Cloud Times, they’re right.

One of the parents involved in the protest, Sadwda Ali, said similar issues exist at South Junior High. Sadwda Ali said students there have taunted her 11-year-old daughter for wearing a hijab and spat in her face.

Sadwda Ali said she’s particularly disheartened to hear about students trying to link Somalis with the Islamic State group.

“They think that all Somalis and all Muslims are terrorists,” Sadwda Ali said. “That’s totally wrong. Our religion is peace.”

Here’s what Pioneer Press Commenter, Adam Heskin, had to say about this:

adamh2o: Is that all liberals know how to do anymore? Protest this, protest that, who cares if it even makes sense, scream and yell about it.

Adam Heskin Racist
Adam Heskin – Racist Commenter*

I’m not sure if it takes work to willfully ignore the concerns of protestors, or if racists like Adam Heskin save time by jumping straight from headlines to the comment box.

Heskin goes on:

Somali’s should be thankful we even let their Muslim terrorist a$$es into this country.

Adam Heskin - One of the Pioneer Press' Bigot Commenters
Adam Heskin – Pioneer Press Bigot

It looks like the “Heskin” surname is English. It’s really unbelievable that we allow English people into this country considering how much blood is on their hands.

Heskin goes on to explain that recent immigrants from a war torn country are a menace to society.

Get everything off the government dole, work for nothing, send money back to your terrorist families and yet you still whine and cry every chance you get.

Adam Heskin - Not a Fan of Today's Immigrants
Adam Heskin – Not a Fan of Today’s Immigrants

But, that was just a warm-up up for his big bigoted close:

Filthy animals should be grateful you aren’t put on the first plane out like you should be.

Adam Heskin can be found on Twitter @adam_heskin and Facebook adam.heskin.3 and as a racist commenter on many platforms that use the Disqus commenting platform as @adamh2o.

For those of you thinking “There’s no way that comment was actually published to the website of the second largest newspaper website in the State of Minnesota, here’s a screenshot of the article and comment with ads for Cub Foods and the Parade of Homes.

Screenshot 2015-03-19 09.33.19

* I figured that it was important to include pictures of the racist Adam Heskin in order to make it clear which Adam Heskin is the racist commenter on the Pioneer Press’ website. Personally, I find most people named Adam Heskin to be peaceful individuals who’re doing the best they can for themselves and their families during their stay on this planet. To suggest that all Adam Heskins are racist web commenters would be a broad generalization that tarnishes the reputations of the vast majority of Adam Heskins and I wouldn’t feel comfortable doing that.

Glen Taylor’s StarTribune: Crunching Minneapolis’ False Alarm Costs

Imagine how you’d feel if you figured out a way to save 26% of the time your employees spend dealing with worthless stuff only to read an article claiming that you’re being wasteful. Here’s an example of Glen Taylor’s StarTribune reporting on the Minneapolis Police Department’s handling of false alarm responses at businesses in the city.

Alejandra Matos has an article in the StarTribune about the Minneapolis’ costs of dealing with false alarms at businesses. It contains incredibly poorly supported comparisons of costs to Minneapolis’ neighbor. Is this an example of the Glen Taylor ownership era at the StarTribune? Misleading people to justify cutting government costs seems pretty GOP to me.

Matos provides background on Minneapolis’ false alarm response costs:

[Minneapolis] used to give alarm users two free false alarms in a year and charge $200 for the third, with each additional alarm costing an additional $100. But heavier fees were implemented in 2007 after the city estimated it was spending more than $800,000 to respond to them. In 2006, police responded to 15,600 false alarms.

The article seems to suggest that Minneapolis’ false alarm fees are ridiculous, while St Paul’s are far more fair because they’re cheaper for businesses that waste extraordinarily large amounts of police time (yes, you read that right).

It looks like Minneapolis spent $800,000 responding to 15,600 false alarms at businesses operating in the city in 2006.

If I divide $800k by 15,600, I come up with an average false alarm response cost of $51.28. The problem the city appears to have been trying to address wasn’t that it spent $800k on false alarms. The problem is that the costs of dealing with false alarms exceeded the costs businesses generating them were paying. This isn’t a gross cost issue. It’s a rate problem that the StarTribune didn’t explain.

The article continues:

When an alarm is triggered, the alarm company must try calling the key holder, often the home or business owner, twice before they ask for police response. If that person can’t be reached, the police usually send two squad cars to respond to the alarm. If the officers find nothing wrong, they can designate a false alarm.

Is it just me, or do these numbers seem extraordinarily reasonable? What does it cost to have a plumber or Geek Squad show up at your house? The last time I called a plumber for an emergency it was a lot more than $51.28 with a 12 hour response time. The last time I called Geek Squad, the costs were more than double that, and that was well before 2006. Yet, Minneapolis sends TWO squad cars with at least two cops to address an active alarm and the cost is less than $26/person? I’m pretty sure that the cost per hour per police officer is at least $50/hour after equipment, training, and benefits, so these cops are somehow responding to alarms and writing up their cases in under 30 minutes? That seems unlikely.

The article mentions that the cost of clerical processing of an alarm statement alone can be $27. Yet we can send multiple cars with fully equipped, trained officers for less than $26 per cop per call?

To me, based on the information presented in this article, it sounds like Minneapolis was severely underestimating the cost of responding to alarms in 2006.

I would like compare the $800k figure to what Minneapolis is bringing in on average now after updating their fee structure, but the StarTribune didn’t provide that information. The article does mention that response calls have dropped:

False alarms have dropped 24 percent in the six years since the stiffer penalties were put in place. Although city officials say they are pleased by that, local business owners are not.

Correct me if I’m wrong, but a 24% drop in false alarms sounds like a $206,000 savings in otherwise wasted police time based on the reported 2006 false alarm response cost figure. You may have a hard time finding that $206,000 savings in the StarTribune’s column because it’s not mentioned.

Matos many paragraphs explaining that fees have gone up in Minneapolis while they’re cheaper in St Paul (under certain circumstances if you read closely enough).

Matos offered an explanation of St Paul’s system:

St. Paul requires all alarm users to purchase a yearly permit for $27.

Ricardo Cervantes, director of St. Paul’s Department of Safety and Inspections, says this system anticipates that alarm users will have at least one mishap. St. Paul gives residents and business owners two free false alarms, then charges $35 for the third. Adding all the fees together in one year, a seventh false alarm will cost a user $427. In Minneapolis, the cumulative cost would be $2,130.

Matos didn’t explain how much St Paul brings in through those yearly permits, how that compares to Minneapolis, and how that breaks down on a per-false alarm basis. And, she didn’t offer any quotes from business owners in St Paul who has to pay a yearly fee of $27 even when they have no false alarms.

What did we learn from this article? Nothing. To learn something we’d need comparisons of 2006 numbers vs 2014 in Minneapolis. Or Minneapolis’ numbers vs. St Paul’s. Since no actual, honest, relative comparison was presented, I can only assume that the goal was to sell a bias for Glen Taylor that’s not supported by the numbers.

Basically, her editor – assuming their was one – wasted the StarTribune’s reader’s time with a handful of non-apples to apples comparisons that give the perception that Minneapolis’ fees are outrageous compared to St Paul’s without actually proving that point. Was misleading readers the editorial goal of Glen Taylor’s StarTribune with this article? The StarTribune was better than this article.