What are you reading now?

Discussion in 'Off Topic' started by Dngrsone, Aug 25, 2009.

  1. RickAgresta

    RickAgresta Peanut, leader of the Peanutty Forces

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    Something else worth sharing is that Bookbub and other sites (Google, Amazon, B&N, Kobo & others) allow one to search for free downloads. Bookbub actually might be the best, since it lists where the downloads are available. Yes, it will include books in Apple format, too. Some of the descriptions are candidates for Out of Context Quotes, imho:
    Screenshot_2020-08-02_084416.jpg
     
  2. RickAgresta

    RickAgresta Peanut, leader of the Peanutty Forces

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  3. lelisa13p

    lelisa13p Your Super Moderator Super Moderator

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    Ugh. :vbfrown: Wants a subscription to view.
     
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  4. RickAgresta

    RickAgresta Peanut, leader of the Peanutty Forces

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    let me see how much I can scrape…
     
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  5. RickAgresta

    RickAgresta Peanut, leader of the Peanutty Forces

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    Business
    Landscape of rubble persists as Minneapolis demands taxes in exchange for permits
    Don Blyly stood on the ruins of Uncle Hugo's Science Fiction & Uncle Edgar's Mystery Bookstores on S. Chicago Avenue in Minneapolis on Wednesday.

    — Carlos Gonzalez, Star Tribune

    411

    By Jeffrey Meitrodt , Star Tribune
    August 13, 2020 - 7:54 AM

    In Minneapolis, on a desolate lot where Don Blyly’s bookstore stood before being destroyed in the May riots, two men finish their cigarettes and then walk through a dangerous landscape filled with slippery debris and sharp objects. The city won’t let Blyly haul away his wreckage without a permit, and he can’t get a contractor to tell him how much it will cost to rebuild the store until that happens.

    In St. Paul, where Jim Stage’s pharmacy burned down during the same disturbances, crews have already removed the bricks and scorched timbers. A steel fence keeps out trespassers. Stage expects construction of his new Lloyd’s Pharmacy to begin later this month.

    The main reason for the different recoveries is simple: Minneapolis requires owners to prepay the second half of their 2020 property taxes in order to obtain a demolition permit. St. Paul does not.

    “Minneapolis has not been particularly friendly toward business for some time,” said Blyly, who prepaid $8,847 in taxes last week but still hasn’t received his demolition permit. “They say they want to be helpful, but they certainly have not been.”

    City officials say their hands are tied, pointing to a state law that prohibits the removal of any structures or standing timber until all of the taxes assessed against the building have been fully paid.

    A deeper look at areas most damaged by rioting, looting in Minneapolis, St. Paul
    Civil unrest damage in St. Paul totals $82 million

    The law, however, leaves enforcement to the county, and Hennepin County officials said they made it clear to the city of Minneapolis this summer that they would not enforce the requirement for any riot-damaged properties.

    “We don’t feel like we have an ability to block these permits, and I don’t see why we would,” said Derrick Hodge, one of the managers in Hennepin County’s property tax office. “One of our missions in the county is to reduce disparities, and if we took action to block these permits, that would arguably be creating more disparities instead of reducing disparities.”

    Local business owners are appalled by the finger-pointing, noting that nearly 100 properties in Minneapolis were destroyed or severely damaged in the riots following the death of George Floyd. The vast majority of those properties are either still standing or have been turned into ugly and often dangerous piles of rubble. Owners say the lack of progress is discouraging reinvestment and sending customers to other parts of the metro.

    Cleaning up that mess is expensive. Most property owners must pay $35,000 to $100,000 to clear their sites of debris, with larger tracts — such as strip shopping centers — costing as much as $400,000, according to property owners. That doesn’t include the money those owners must pay to get their permits. On average, the owners of properties destroyed or significantly damaged owe $25,000 in taxes for the second half of 2020, which come due in October, according to a Star Tribune review of county property records.

    “When it first hit my desk, I was flabbergasted that this was a requirement,” said developer David Wellington, whose family owns several properties that were destroyed in the riots. “We need to make noise for people who really need the help and, frankly, it isn’t us.”

    In Wellington’s case, the family paid $188,944 in property taxes to get a demolition permit for their Hi-Lake Shopping Center, which was hit by three or four fires that gutted the property. Wellington said his company has deep pockets, so that wasn’t a major hardship. But he said many property owners lost their only source of income to the riots and the pandemic, leaving them unable to comply with the city’s rules.

    “People are suffering pretty dramatically, so this is a considerable ask,” Wellington said.

    Other investors worry about public safety. Basim Sabri, owner of Karmel Mall and other real estate on or near Lake Street, said he has filed three complaints with the city in recent weeks about safety hazards in the neighborhood.

    “You can’t just allow a bunch of rubble and hazardous material to sit in the middle of Lake Street,” Sabri said. “People could get hurt. Where are our City Council members? What are they doing? Have they seen it?”

    Minneapolis City Council Member Andrew Johnson agreed it is “outrageous” to require property owners to pay thousands of dollars in taxes to obtain a demolition permit.

    “Nobody at the city wants to hold up these demolitions,” Johnson said. “We have been looking at every angle to try and help property owners out.”

    Johnson said he has asked city workers to look for evidence that a property is a public health hazard, which would qualify it for expedited demolition and waive the property tax requirement. The city also has told property owners they don’t need to survey their lots as part of the demolition process, which can save them a few thousand dollars, said Steve Poor, the city’s director of development services.

    Poor said he met with officials from Hennepin County a few weeks ago, after property owners asked if they could have the property tax requirement waived.

    “They said they will not sign off on a wrecking form unless they are satisfied, and they said satisfied means the taxes are paid in full,” Poor said.

    Hodge, however, said the county also told city officials that Minneapolis could approve the demolition permits without any input from the county.

    “It is up to them to decide whether they need to involve us,” Hodge said. “But if they choose not to involve us, we are not going to take offense.”

    Johnson said he will ask Hennepin County officials to put their position on the matter in writing, since it contradicts an e-mail received from the county in June. The city has yet to approve more than half of the 27 demolition permits that have been requested since the riots, records show.

    In St. Paul, officials have been issuing demolition permits in as little as a week, records show. City officials said the only reason they would hold up or deny a demolition permit is if a contractor was not properly licensed for the work.

    City spokeswoman Suzanne Donovan said staffers within the Department of Safety and Inspections have tried to expedite demolition permits “to help accelerate construction that needs to take place to ensure commerce moves forward in St. Paul.”

    Stage said he would have thought twice about rebuilding in St. Paul if the city had asked him to prepay $11,793 in property taxes when he applied for a demolition permit in June.

    “It would have been a little insulting, considering the circumstances,” said Stage, who paid $65,000 to remove the rubble left from the destruction of Lloyd’s Pharmacy. “I’d say, ‘Do you really want us to build back in your city?’ That’s how it makes you feel.”

    Jeffrey Meitrodt is an investigative reporter for the Star Tribune who specializes in stories involving the collision of business and government regulation.
    jeff.meitrodt@startribune.com 612-673-4132 JeffMeitrodt
     
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  6. jigwashere

    jigwashere Mobile Deity

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    And a follow-up to the follow-up:


    Minneapolis removes tax demand that was blocking rebuilding of riot-torn areas
    by Jeffrey Meitrodt, startribune.com
    August 13, 2020
    Minneapolis officials will no longer require property owners to prepay the second half of their property taxes in order to start removing rubble from sites damaged in the May riots.

    Mayor Jacob Frey announced the change Thursday after the Star Tribune reported on the controversy.

    Minneapolis property owners have complained that the policy was slowing the recovery and turning piles of debris into safety hazards. The situation is different in St. Paul, which has been issuing demolition permits without requiring the prepayment of the second half of 2020 property taxes, which are due in October.

    Frey said the city will begin issuing permits and waiving demolition fees for any properties damaged in the riots "irrespective of whether taxes have been paid." The new policy went into effect Thursday.

    "I recently learned about the predicament and took quick action to fix it," Frey said in an interview. "For the sake of our businesses, we need to be removing every last possible barrier to recovery and reopening."

    Minneapolis property owners applauded the move, but they also complained about a continued lack of support from city and county officials. They hope that officials will expedite approvals going forward and help them by lowering the assessments on their heavily damaged properties.

    "It is refreshing to see them doing the right thing," said Steve Krause, owner of Minnehaha Lake Wine & Spirits, which was destroyed in the rioting. "But the taxes are outrageous. They are based on improved real estate, and obviously the real estate is no longer improved. It is devastated."

    Krause had to pay $17,116 in taxes on his property to get a demolition permit because his building is still valued at $363,400, according to county property records.

    "This will remove one small roadblock, but I am not sure how much it will actually speed up the entire rebuilding process," said Don Blyly, owner of Uncle Hugo's and Uncle Edgar's bookstores in Minneapolis, which were destroyed in the riots. "You are still going to have the problem of a whole lot of demolition permits being handled by people who are working at home because of COVID-19."

    Blyly, who hired a contractor to remove the rubble from his lot a month ago, still doesn't have his demolition permit, even though he paid his taxes last week.

    Minneapolis City Council Member Andrew Johnson said he will introduce legislation at Friday's council meeting that would require city officials to expedite the approval process for riot-damaged properties and waive all administrative fees.

    "We should be processing their applications first, in front of everyone else's, and they shouldn't be subject to any unnecessary steps that are slowing stuff down," Johnson said. "We need to bend over backward and do everything possible to help them with rebuilding."

    In a statement, Frey said he consulted with Johnson before deciding to waive the collection of property taxes as part of the debris removal process. Johnson has been lobbying city and county officials on the issue since June.

    Though Hennepin County officials said they told city officials to leave them out of the permitting process weeks ago, the county was still pressuring property owners to pay their property taxes as recently as last month.

    In a July 28 e-mail to property owner Marc Snover, the county's property tax department warned him that "the full year's taxes need to be paid in order for us to sign off on a wrecking permit." Snover subsequently paid more than $42,000 in taxes so he could clear his lot of debris left from the destruction of a Family Dollar store and an O'Reilly Auto Parts shop.

    "They were sending me demand letters saying I had to get the debris off my lot," Snover said. "I didn't want to get in trouble. But my building is worth zero right now, so it feels like they are kind of taking advantage of the situation."

    Snover said the county should refund his property tax payment.

    Carolyn Marinan, a spokeswoman for Hennepin County, said property owners who paid the taxes to get a permit can apply for a refund. "We would make a decision on a case-by-case basis," she said.

    "Finger-pointing is not helpful," Marinan said in an e-mail. "Everyone wants to make this right."

    Though Minneapolis officials will no longer force property owners to pay their taxes for a demolition permit, a spokeswoman for the city said that individuals who clear their lots without first paying their taxes will be "guilty of a gross misdemeanor."

    However, city and county officials told the Star Tribune that they would not enforce that law and will not be citing any property owners or contractors who go ahead with demolition work without first paying the taxes.

    "Due to the unrest and the mass destruction, properties that have been determined to be an unsafe and health risk are being encouraged to remove the debris," Minneapolis spokeswoman Sarah McKenzie said in a written response to questions. "We are going to be handling this appropriately in the best interest for the citizens of Minneapolis effective today."

    City officials said they will continue to seek additional property tax relief from the Legislature, which has not moved forward with any bills related to rebuilding efforts in the Twin Cities. Democrats have proposed legislation that would require the reassessment of all riot-damaged property and provide abatements worth up to 100% of a property's 2020 tax bill. The size of the abatement would depend on the amount of damage.



    Sent from my moto g stylus using Tapatalk
     
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  7. RickAgresta

    RickAgresta Peanut, leader of the Peanutty Forces

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    pity Washington (not the state) isn't so responsive…
     
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  8. EdmundDantes

    EdmundDantes Mobile Deity

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    I will say that the whole thing strikes me as very un-Minnesota/Minneapolis-like; and I mean that in the most complimentary way possible.

    As for reading, I'm going to follow the trend several years late (as usual) and start Elena Ferrante's Neapolitan novels. I'm enraptured by the HBO series and want to read the books.
     
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