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January 27, 2005

Dick Day is a tad bit upset

Imagine you are a state senator from southeastern Minnesota. Let's say Owatonna. For years you've been pushing the idea of a "racino." Essentially, you want to put slot machines at Canterbury Park and have the state reap the benefits. In the early days of your idea you promise that proceeds from a racino could build as many stadiums as the state of Minnesota wants. Then, when the "lean years" come and the state budget goes in the red, you promise a racino could generate as much as $150 million for the state every two years. Every year you put forth your bill, and every year it never gets out of committee.

Then, in 2005, the governor of Minnesota releases a budget that includes ... no not a racino, but a state sponsored casino in the Twin Cities metro area. The governor promises many of the same things you've promised in terms of revenue for the state but he does not specify an exact location for his enterprise. He suggests that his plan could include a casino at a race-track, but Canterbury Park is not mentioned. You are seemingly not consulted or brought in for discussions concerning the governor's plan, and you are essentially blind-sided by the whole proposal. Who are you? You guessed it, you are Dick Day.

The StarTrib had a very entertaining article in today's paper that had some very choice quotes from Dick Day:

"There are very few of our caucus members who would endorse [the governor's plan] unless it was teamed with racino," Day said, referring to putting slot machines at a track, which he supports. "If it was by itself ... the Democrats and the governor would have to get it passed in the Senate. Good luck there."

Can you just smell the sarcasm dripping off of this statement? Beautiful, T-Paw, just beautiful. Teaming with the Democrats on this proposal doesn't seem very likely, does it? Day also said "Pawlenty's persistent focus in recent months on a tribal-state casino at an unspecified location was a 'slap in the face' to him, Sviggum and other Republicans." Ouch. This is not looking good for Pawlenty's plan.

What on earth prompted Pawlenty to take this route with his proposal? Dick Day has done so much leg work on this already, you would think that teaming with him would have made this a lot easier. Does he not like Dick Day? Or maybe he thought it would be more politically and socially prudent to team up with some of the tribes that don't yet have casinos? Whatever the case, it suddenly looks like Pawlenty is going to have a really hard time getting this bill to go through.

Even T-Paw's cronies the Taxpayer's League have come out against this plan:

"Government should not get into businesses to fund its operations. That's a bad idea today, tomorrow, and forever," said David Strom, president of the Taxpayers League of Minnesota and a Pawlenty supporter. A tax group that has supported Democratic causes also took a dim view of the casino proposal.

So, let's see, the Taxpayers League and one of the most powerful Republicans in the Senate have come out against this plan. And I think it is fair to assume most Democrats will be against the plan just because ... sigh ... welcome to Minnesota politics in a nutshell. Nobody can agree on anything.

I must say I like Day's proposal much more than Pawlenty's. It keeps a casino out of the metro area, it still brings in the same amount of money, we could still include the "have-not" tribes, and it improves an investment we've already made and built: Canterbury Park. What is Pawlenty's motivation for not going this route in the first place. Anyone?

Whatever the final plan, I will continue to hope and pray that it still includes Pawlenty's "Community Assets Account." Again, using casino money to pay for stadiums is just a great idea. If you don't want to pay for a stadium, just don't gamble. Simple.

Posted by snackeru at January 27, 2005 4:26 PM | Stadiums


You want to know:
"What is Pawlenty's motivation for not going this route in the first place. Anyone?"

Votes from members of the tribes who stand to benefit? That's my guess. Or is that too cynical?

Posted by: Stacie at January 27, 2005 9:41 PM

Yeah, that could be it, but even if that is true, how many votes is that? I mean, we're talking about tribes from northwestern Minnesota. Not exactly a huge population in that area of the state. Could Pawlenty's intent be more altruistic?

Posted by: Shane at January 28, 2005 1:09 PM

I heard Sid was going to be on for 30 min with
T-Paw on his CCO show this morning (Friday). did anyone hear it or get the highlights? I heard that Sid was really going to rip into the Gov about stadiums.

Posted by: Jim in St. Paul at January 28, 2005 1:53 PM

Oh you are kidding me! Man, I would have loved to hear about that sooner. I'm going to have to listen to Sid this Sunday to see if he mentions anything about this conversation. Usually, though, Sid doesn't rip into anybody. I'm sure he was much tamer than either you or I would have been.

Posted by: Shane at January 28, 2005 2:00 PM

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