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Angela Davis talks about her life, her shift from television to public radio, living in Highland Park and being known for being nice

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Angela Davis talks about her life, her shift from television to public radio, living in Highland Park and being known for being nice

As I often do when I’m about to interview a public figure, I asked some friends for their impressions of that person. In this case, it was longtime local television anchor and current Minnesota Public Radio News host Angela Davis.

Each person I talked to said something along the lines of “she seems nice.” And despite the fact several were gay men, no one was being shady in the slightest. After decades in the Twin Cities media, Davis has a stellar reputation for being nice.

“I hear that a lot,” Davis said with a laugh. She proceeded to tell me a story from her time at the University of Maryland. Her then-boyfriend was in a fraternity that was sponsoring a Miss Black Unity pageant and he urged her to enter.

“In rehearsing and preparing, I wasn’t sure about the talent section,” she said. “I don’t sing, I’m not good at any arts. I ended up devoting a lot time to coaching other contestants. But when it came time for the pageant, I wanted to win. If I’m going to devote time to something, I want to win.

“I won Miss Congeniality. The prize that goes to the person who is nice. Who wants to be known for being nice? But that’s always been the impression I make on a lot of people. And I appreciate that and value that. It comes from the way I was raised.”

Davis, 53, grew up on a tobacco farm in Virginia. Her mother got pregnant while in college, moved back home and lived with her parents. Davis’ mother moved away when she was 9 and Davis stayed with her grandparents.

She went on to attend the University of Maryland on a full four-year scholarship and graduated with a journalism degree. After spending a few years at CNN and stations in Lexington, Ky., and Washington, D.C., Davis took a job at KSTP in 1994 and, beyond a brief stint living in Dallas, the Twin Cities has been her home ever since.

After decades at KSTP and WCCO, Davis made the decision to move to public radio and landed a hosting gig at the 11 a.m. hour in 2018. Davis lives in St. Paul’s Highland Park neighborhood with her husband of 25 years, Duchesne Drew, who took the job as MPR president last summer after spending decades at the Star Tribune and nonprofits. They have two children currently attending historically Black colleges: Charlotte, a marketing major who just started her freshman year at North Carolina A&T State University; and Kevin, a software engineering major at Morehouse College in Atlanta.

Earlier this month, Davis’ talk show moved to 9 a.m. at MPR. I spoke to Davis on the final day of her first week in the new time slot.

Angela Davis and Duchesne Drew at Lake Bde Maka Ska (then named Lake Calhoun) during the summer of 1995 when they were dating. Davis, a veteran local television anchor, joined Minnesota Public Radio News in 2018. Duchesne Drew was named president of Minnesota Public Radio in April 2020. (Courtesy of Angela Davis)

On growing up on a farm:

“There wasn’t a lot to do outside of work, church and school. I read a lot. I was the kid who had a subscription to Highlights. My grandparents were interested in history and politics and I watched the network news with them. And the Black church is a place of a lot of discussions about politics and business and life and survival.

“I developed an interest in how do people live outside the world I know. I watched ‘The Today Show’ and was fascinated by Bryant Gumbel. I loved being able to read the newspaper or watch network news and see other parts of the U.S. and the world.

“Early on in school, I was identified as someone with strong writing skills who was very chatty. Mr. Terry used to call me out in class. He called me by my last name. ‘Davis, I hope one day you’re able to get a job that pays for talking because you’re always running your mouth.’ Well, I’m getting paid for talking. I hope you’re proud of me.”

On choosing to pursue journalism:

“When I was growing up, I was deep into Home Ec and the Future Homemakers of America and that brought me into public speaking. I never had a fear of speaking in front of people, it always felt very natural. When I was deciding on a major, journalism seemed to fit. At the time, the Baltimore Sun was trying to diversify its staff, which was overwhelmingly white. They offered full four-year scholarships and four summer internships to train high school graduates. At the end, they had someone ready to hit the ground running.”

On her shift to television news:

“Having worked as an intern, I realized I didn’t want to work in newspapers. I love the power of strong writing and video. I turned down an offer to become a nightside police reporter and instead went to Atlanta to work at CNN, which paid half what the Sun would have paid me.

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Real World Economics: Global corporate taxes are a good step

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Real World Economics: When good intentions go bad

Usually, international finagling among rich people and corporations to minimize paying taxes, legally or illegally, is not visible to the eye.

Edward Lotterman

Occasionally it is. On a trip to Switzerland, my wife and I went for lunch in the neighboring country of Liechtenstein. We started in Chur, a pleasant regional Swiss city in the Rhine Valley. An impulsive query of a hotel clerk told us that all we needed to do to visit another country was to drive 20 miles on the freeway, turn right at the big McDonald’s sign, cross the bridge, one left, one right and we would be in the business heart of Vaduz, tiny Liechtenstein’s capital.

A neat town the size of Redwood Falls, its only notable difference from a Swiss burg was a zone of six or eight blocks on two streets jammed with small, neat office buildings closely adjoining others. Each had small brass plaques next to the doorbell, 20 in one case. Such are the Liechtenstein “headquarters” of hundreds of international businesses.

I had seen similar plaque-bedecked buildings in Barbados on a much smaller scale. Yet I don’t think I’ll see any in Sioux Falls, although the South Dakota Legislature is drumming up analogous businesses.

All this relates to a positive recent development: the agreement among 130 countries to coordinate taxation of corporations, including a minimum global tax of 15 percent. This may reduce the legal contortions so benefitting brass plaque engravers.

Let’s step back a bit: The general problem is the world has some 200 countries, each sovereign over laws seen as best benefiting the country’s and its citizens’ and residents’ needs. This can include earning a few million dollars or euros by writing laws that allow businesses in other countries to in turn save billions in taxes. This is little different from Liberia and Panama offering near-regulation-free registration of commercial ships for a modest price.

There are thousands of businesses, mostly incorporated, that do legitimate business in multiple countries. There are thousands of rich people too. Naturally they try to minimize taxes owed. This can include juggling funds between countries to lower total taxes owed or paid.

This can be, and usually is, legal — at least within the letter of the law. This is “tax avoidance,” and is little different from what accountants might tell any of us.

There also is “tax evasion,” or fraud, in which laws are broken. Sometimes this is from otherwise legitimate businesses. Other times it’s hiding dirty money garnered from government corruption, criminal activity or simple personal crime.

The global agreement just reached aims to reduce avoidance strategies by legal companies, not crime, but the incentives and mechanisms for legal avoidance overlap those for illegal acts.

For example, Minnesota’s own Medtronic has its “legal headquarters” in Dublin, Ireland, even though its “operational headquarters” remains in Fridley. Johnson Controls is another major U.S. business nominally headquartered in Ireland. And hundreds of other corporations still legally based from this country have subsidiaries in Ireland. This has been part of the Celtic boom that propelled Ireland from poverty to prosperity.

Many also may have wholly-owned subsidiaries in Liechtenstein, Panama, Bermuda the Bahamas or similar havens. Frequently these have some innocuous name that gives no indication of the true owner. Transfers between subsidiaries of one corporation across several countries can move money so that low or even zero income taxes are paid.

In 2017, Google reportedly moved $22 billion in income to a Dutch company that transferred it to an Irish company, but one with a subsidiary in Bermuda. Bermuda has no tax on income. The Bermuda entity can “loan” funds back to Google’s home office in California, funds on which no U.S. corporate income tax was ever paid. All of the entities involved were owned 100 percent by Google and under their exclusive control.

So how does one transfer money in this way? Usually, it is through an old dodge known as “transfer pricing” already common and legal when much multinational business was in manufacturing.

For years, my favorite surplus machinery outlet in south Minneapolis had dozens of metal skids marked “Return to Ford, Taubate BR.” The St. Paul Highland Park Ford plant used four-cylinder engines produced in one of Ford’s Brazilian factories. Ford do Brasil is a separately-chartered Brazilian corporation owned entirely by the Michigan-based parent.

So when Ford-Brasil sells to U.S. Ford, money must change hands, but at what price per engine? There is no market price for these as there is for the soybeans Cargill trades, for example.

Set this transfer price high and it increases Ford profits in Brazil but reduces them in the U.S. Ford as a whole has more income here and less in Brazil. Price the engines low and Ford’s Brazil profits drop but those of U.S. Ford rise.

There are limits to this with physical products. One engine is not worth $1 million nor is it worth $100. But with software or intellectual property or pure service-based businesses, the sky’s the limit. What does one subsidiary charge another for design of an implanted medical device, but not the actual device? Writing advertising and designing logos for hamburger wrappers? Writing code for a search engine or social media? Accounting and legal services?

For years, McDonald’s, using the “double-Irish with a Dutch sandwich” ploy so beneficial to Google, moved franchise-fee income versus corporate overhead to lower taxes. It’s all legal, and corporate transfers between subsidiaries based in myriad locations will remain legal. Countries will retain control over their own tax laws, subject to the new provision that a multinational business will have to pay a 15 percent tax on corporate profits to some country. There inevitably will be hitches, but “progress, not perfection” applies here.

The recent ”Pandora papers” leak revealed how South Dakota changed its laws governing trusts at the dictation of law firms specializing in such work, so as to make it a favorable location for them to be established in that state. As for Liechtenstein or Bermuda, there is nothing illegal about this. But in both cases, such favorable rules can attract illegal money as well as legal. A U.S. state or a sovereign nation may gain economic activity and employment, but society on a global whole loses.

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Jackknifed tractor-trailer closes Interstate 70 eastbound at Eisenhower Tunnel

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Jackknifed tractor-trailer closes Interstate 70 eastbound at Eisenhower Tunnel

A jackknifed tractor-trailer shut down Interstate 70’s eastbound lanes Sunday morning at the Eisenhower Tunnel, according to the Colorado Department of Transportation.

The eastbound interstate was closed between mile markers 206 and 213 around 8 a.m. and is expected to reopen around 10:15 a.m., according to CDOT.

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Denver barbecue restaurant Smōk opens in Fort Collins

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Denver barbecue restaurant Smōk opens in Fort Collins

Smōk opened a location Monday in Fort Collins at the Foothills shopping district.

This is the third site for the barbecue restaurant and the first outside of its Denver base. The 3-year-old chain has locations in RiNo and at Junction Food Hall.

Executive chef and owner Bill Espiricueta worked with Chef Steve Redzikowski at Acorn in Denver and at Oak in Boulder. Prior to that, he worked at Nobu in Dallas and Bluestem in Kansas City, Missouri.

Smōk’s rotating menu includes burnt ends, turkey, pork spareribs, chicken, brisket, wings, sausages, smoked meat sandwiches and “southern-influenced sides [and] house-made pickles,” a press release said.

“Chef Bill executes an easy-going barbecue-joint vibe with the high expectations of a fine-dining chef,” the release said.

Beverages include beer, “boozy slushies and balanced cocktails.” There are eight TVs and room for 155 people in the restaurant and on the patio.

© BizWest Media LLC

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