Letter: Howe costs city deal with XcelOn May 4, Prairie Island nuclear plant received a letter from John Howe.
By: Steve Murphy, Red Wing, The Republican Eagle
To the Editor:
To the editor:
received a letter from the Mayor of Red Wing, John Howe. This letter, on official city letterhead, explained Howe's positions on nuclear power and support for the local facility. The mayor stated that he fully supports nuclear energy, a claim I strongly dispute. In the letter, he tried to disguise his role in obstructing the re-licensure of the PINGP and jeopardizing the 500 good local jobs it provides. Further, as a candidate for Minnesota Senate, this letter was intended to do more than clarify policy positions, but earn votes. Using taxpayer dollars to subsidize a political campaign is simply, unethical.
Through firsthand experience with the Mayor, I believe he has a very limited understanding of nuclear power and clouded judgment on what is best for the City of Red Wing and our district as a whole. At our first meeting following his election as mayor, Howe told me he was going to make Xcel pay $9 million
more in taxes. As one who has dealt with the valuation and property tax process for the past 18 years, I wondered how this was possible, given the $4 million/year that Red Wing already receives from the plant.
The answer, I learned later, was an attempt to squeeze the power plant for more money On May 4, employees of the Prairie Island Nuclear Generating Plant (PINGP) by joining forces with anti-nuclear groups to interfere with the Public Utilities Commission (PUC) re-licensing process. The paperwork Howe filed with the PUC was filled with anti-nuclear rhetoric and misconceptions. It was a
clear attempt to bully Xcel through threatened closure of the plant. I advised Howe, both publicly and privately, that it was a bad idea to intervene with the PUC regulatory process- I was further disturbed by the tens of thousands of taxpayer dollars that were being used to lobby against the PINGP during the past
Meanwhile, knowing Red Wing was in a budget crisis, Rep. Kelly, other City Council members, and I were working with Xcel on developing a plan for the company to pre-pay some of their future property taxes.
For months, we worked exhaustively to craft a deal that would've advanced $2 million of Xcel money to the City of Red Wing at a time when they needed the money the most. Unfortunately, at one of our last meetings the mayor disrupted our negotiations and in a display of showmanship, made closing a deal impossible. As a result, the City of Red Wing got nothing-its worst-case scenario.
In these dealings with the Prairie Island Nuclear Generating Plant, John Howe not only showed poor judgment, but fiscal irresponsibility and vindictive behavior. Xcel has paid over $100 million to the City of Red Wing over the 25 plus years of safe operation, provided good jobs for our citizens, and been a partner in local charitable efforts. They are currently upgrading their plant to make it safer and more efficient, a move that will provide the City of Red Wing with several million more dollars per year in future payments.
Folks may want to pause and truly consider if John Howe will represent our local interests in the Minnesota Senate or continue his grandstanding to higher office.
It is clear to me that we need a thoughtful, strong voice representing us in St. Paul. That voice belongs to Joe Fricke.
Democrat Steve Murphy is the incumbent District 28 senator.