Memo to KSTP (Channel 5): Don’t mess with the Iron Range.
A story last night, purported to be an “investigation,” asked how many taxpayer dollars are being spent to keep Ironworld, the Iron Range tourist attraction open. “Even if you’ve never heard of it, it’s costing you money,” the station said.
The story raised the dander of Iron Range writer Aaron J. Brown:
KSTP makes it sound like the state taxpayers are paying for Ironworld when that is just not true. Mining taxes pay for Ironworld and these taxes are paid by the mining companies in lieu of local property taxes. These funds are funneled through a state agency, Iron Range Resources, but the money belongs to the region, not the state. So the people who have the right to be angry about Ironworld are the residents of Iron Range cities, and most of them recognize the unique role Ironworld plays in preserving and sharing Iron Range culture.
But none of that came through in the story. Instead, Reporter Bob sticks a microphone into the face of strangers in the Twin Cities and asks them if they’ve “heard of Ironworld.” They hadn’t of course, but then again not many Iron Rangers have “heard” of KSTP. Then he sticks the microphone into the face of Iron Rangers and the worst he could find was someone who hadn’t been to Ironworld in “a couple years.” When’s the last time you paid to go to the zoo, Bob?
For a little history on the IRRRB, including background in the politics of it all and the criticicism that the “taconite tax” has been used for things outside its original mission, see this 1999 MPR story.