The Whistleblower blog was started in 2008. Look for posts by these contributors: James Eli Shiffer, Jane Friedmann, Brandon Stahl, Eric Roper and Alejandra Matos. | Check out the Whistleblower archive.
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Last week, Erika Smith got a ticket in St. Paul for expired tabs. She was peeved, because she dutifully renewed her tabs. Yet the little license plate stickers had something in common with last year’s — they were red.
Tabs are supposed to change color every year. Whistleblower contacted the state’s Driver and Vehicle Services Division, which apologized for the error and said the 2012 tabs should have been gold.
“This was the first we had heard of this oversight,” a division spokeswoman said.
The division wants anyone who received red 2012 tabs to e-mail a photo of the incorrect tabs and license plate number to DVS.firstname.lastname@example.org or visit a deputy registrar office or call 651-297-2126 to have the tabs replaced at no charge.
A gun permit holder recently found an easier way to keep carrying his weapon without renewing his Minnesota permit. Instead of paying $100 and taking a class to renew the license for five years, he found out he can get a nonresident gun permit from Utah.
That state requires only a one-time training class, a $65 first-time fee and then $10 every five years to renew. Utah gun permits are recognized in 33 states, including Minnesota.
“I bring this to your attention because I feel the state of Minnesota is losing out on a bunch of revenue because their permit policies cost the end user too much,” the gun permit holder wrote.
Revenue from gun permits goes to counties, not the state, according to Department of Public Safety spokesman Doug Neville. A Utah permit holder can't do everything a Minnesota permit holder can do either. A Minnesota permit serves as a permit to purchase a firearm, while a Utah permit does not, Neville said. To see a list of out-of-state permits that are valid in Minnesota, click here.
Lt. Doug Anderson, of the Utah State Patrol, said Utah permits are often sought by out-of-state residents because they have one of the most widely recognized permits in the country.
Utah doesn't allow just anybody to get a gun permit. Several types of criminal convictions disqualify you from getting a permit, including a felony, a crime of violence, an offense involving moral turpitude, domestic violence or the use of alcohol.
It's difficult to tell how much money Minnesota counties may be losing to Utah. Anderson said he did not know how many Minnesotans have non-resident Utah gun permits.
Should Minnesota do something about this?
A smooth ride might finally be in sight for Minneapolis’ most pothole-infested street. This week, a Minneapolis City Council committee approved the layout of a reconstructed 33rd Av. SE. and adjacent Talmage Av. SE.
Last summer, Whistleblower took a bone-jarring ride down 33rd, which has never been paved and routinely degenerates into a hazardous field of potholes and gullies. See the video here. One day later, the city dumped 17 tons of asphalt to fill the largest holes, but the city’s street maintenance chief said it was only a temporary fix.
It will cost about $4.3 million to pave the streets, which will have gutters, curbs and sidewalks. While the committee’s action means the project is moving forward, the work may start this spring. Or next spring.
In Sunday's column, I wrote about a Burnsville couple who received a startling letter from the state Department of Revenue this summer. Jerry Blaschko was personally assessed for a tax debt owed by a golf course where he had served as a volunteer board member 20 years ago. It was up to him to prove that he didn't have anything to do with the golf course and wasn't responsible for unpaid 2009 withholding taxes.
The Blaschkos contacted Whistleblower and state Senator Chris Gerlach to complain that the revenue department should have done some research before sending out the letter assessing personal liability. Their efforts paid off. Last Friday, they received a letter from the revenue department notifying them that Jerry Blaschko was no longer being personally assessed for the $8,574 debt.
To read the state law that allows the revenue department to go after individuals for an unpaid business debt, click here.
Most people assume that juvenile court records are private, but that's not always the case. Kyle Lewis recently found out that his juvenile record was mistakenly displayed on the state court website. I wrote about his situation in Saturday's paper.
State officials said Lewis' record should have been private because he was 15 at the time of his offense, but the law isn't always that clear. When an offender is 16 or 17 and charged with a felony, the record becomes public, even if the charge is later dropped to a misdemeanor. Mark Haase, who used to work with the Council on Crime and Justice, advocated for a change to the law last legislative session. Haase now works with 180 Degrees, which also focuses on issues affecting ex-offenders.
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