April 4, 2006
Let the games begin
Let's get the obvious stuff out of the way: I am very excited for the first Twins game of the season today. Santana vs. Halladay should be a good one. And I am also excited to see 1) Kubel take over right field, 2) Liriano get the Rookie of the Year award, and 3) Morneau belt over 30 homers. I think all of this is a given. So, let the games begin!
But you don't come to this blog to hear all of that, do you? You come because, like me, you like to torture yourself with news about stadium politics. Well, as has already been reported, the Twins actually won their first game of the season yesterday when their 10th stadium bill effort passed through the Senate State and Local Government Operations Committee. And not only did the bill pass, but it passed quite easily.
For those of you that want to know, the Senate State and Local Government Operations Committee has 14 members. 11 of those members voice voted "Yes" for the bill.
Linda Higgins - Yes
Charles W. Wiger - Yes
Debbie J. Johnson - Yes
Dick Day - Yes
D. Scott Dibble - No
Michelle L. Fischbach - No
Gary W. Kubly - Yes
Sharon Marko - Yes
Claire A. Robling - No
David H. Senjem - Yes
Yvonne Prettner Solon - Yes
David J. Tomassoni - Yes
Jim Vickerman - Yes
Betsy L. Wergin - Yes
Sen. Fishbach made an interesting speech at the end saying that she only voted "No" because there was no referendum attached to the bill and that she expects the Senate Taxes Committee to attach one in the next couple of weeks. She said then she would vote "Yes." Gutsy position, Senator.
All of this talk of votes in the Senate has whetted my appetite to figure out where all the Senators stand on my favorite topic. Yes, I am putting together a Senate version of the Voters' Guide. I am about a fourth of the way through and I should be done by the end of the week. I must say though that putting the Senate version is proving to be more difficult than the House version. Our senators have been a little quiet about this issue.
And speaking of Taxes Committees, I read in the AP version of yesterday's committee hearing that the House Taxes Committee will hear the bill this Monday. Can anyone confirm this? I don't see it on the schedule yet, and quite frankly I would be surprised if Krinkie has agreed to hear the bill so soon. Stranger things have happened I suppose.
In conclusion, I've got three thoughts. The first is that yesterday's committee hearing has now prompted the Twins and Hennepin County to begin negotiating a new agreement. Opat hinted yesterday that the extra $30 million would be split between the county and the team and that the agreement will look almost the same. We'll see how that shakes out. Secondly, it is very interesting to me how it looks like both the House and the Senate are building off of the work that was done last year concerning this bill, especially the House. Thankfully, it looks like this bill will not need to go through the House Government Operations Committee or the House Local Government Committe since last year's bill already passed these committees. Methinks House leadership (Sviggum) is working in the background to move this bill along in a timely fashion. Finally, now we will see the real fun begin when the bill is heard in both the House and the Senate Tax Committees. Oh boy, this will be interesting. Truth be told, I don't think the bill will get out of either of these committees without referendum amendments attached. And this might not be a bad thing. It looks like there are enough votes on the whole in both bodies to strip these amendments off if the bill gets to the floor of the House and Senate. At this point, it may be more important to get these bills to the floor than to fight off referendum amendments. We shall see.
Talk to you soon.
I attended the hearing last night and Sen. Robbling voted no. She's from Jordan, a huge baseball town, but she represents the same area as Rep. Mark Buesgens (a stadium-hater) so I'm not that surprised.
Posted by: Mike at April 4, 2006 9:45 AM
Ah! Very good. I have adjusted the count and put her down as a no. Anything else interesting happen in the hearing that I may have missed?
Posted by: Shane at April 4, 2006 9:47 AM
The Senators were very friendly. It was great. Sens. Dick Day, Dave Senjem, Dave Tomassoni and Jim Vickerman (2 R's & 2 D's) all thanked the Commissioners of Hennepin for stepping up when nobody else would. I think they're starting to realize that no other unit of government has the capacity or willingness to take on this issue.
Posted by: Mike at April 4, 2006 10:01 AM
Did you hear the stadium discussion on MPR through the 9 o'clock hour? Second call was from a "Jim in St. Paul." Hmmm....
Posted by: bjhess at April 4, 2006 10:57 AM
What's up with this quote from Jerry Bell in the Strib?
"There is not a better site in the United States for a ballpark, in our view," said Jerry Bell, the lead negotiator for the Twins on the stadium proposal. "It will keep the Twins here for 20 years."
I must have missed this one at the hearing! Did anyone respond to him on this? It's still a 30-year "iron-clad" lease, right? Shouldn't that be the minimum number he can publicly cite? Maybe even 35, if you consider it will take a few years before the stadium is built.
Posted by: spycake at April 4, 2006 1:40 PM
I heard him when he said it. This was a definite speaking flub. In the comment before he said 30 years, someone asked him to clarify, and he misspoke by saying 20 years. I wouldn't read anything into this except that Mark Kuszuba of the Strib is anti-stadium and is looking to create any wave he can.
But I agree with you, if this is just for 20 years everything is off. In fact, if the Twins don't think they can stay in this new stadium past 30 years that would upset me a great deal. Let's just put it this way: I'm not going to be on the front lines of this battle again in 30 years, I can guarantee you that.
Posted by: Shane at April 4, 2006 3:14 PM
I am disappointed that Scott Dibble voted no (My State Reps are Hornstein and Dibble, County Commissioner is Dorfman. I guess I hit the No-Twins-Ballpark trifecta). In a letter Sen Dibble sent me last year, he said he had an open mind on the issue and wasn't willing to rule out public financing for a ballpark. I think he was big on Representative Kahn's community ownership Bill.
Posted by: freealonzo at April 4, 2006 4:25 PM
What's wrong with a referendum? The Twins have wanted a decision all along. If the people vote yes, they get their stadium, if they vote no, they can look for a new home. Sounds good to me!
Posted by: let's vote at April 4, 2006 5:31 PM
Sorry, that was not me caling MPR. I would have been tempted if I had heard Jerry Bell tald about there not being a better site in the county for a ballpark. Jerry, have you seen Pittsburgh? A river. The new St. Louis park? The arch. I could keep going but when you get to Minneapolis you still just have the garbage burner and the back of some crummy old buildings. If we had some leadership with vision hear in St. Paul we could look underneath the High Bridge. That old coal burning NSP plant is being converted to natural gas and will be taking up half the space with the old smokestack coming down. I have been told there is plenty of room down there for a ballpark. Can you imagine the views? Again, I don't want to get back on my St. Paul thing again but this will be a lifetime investment and I don't see why we have to settle for a site just because people can gt there easily.
Posted by: jiminstpaul at April 4, 2006 5:49 PM
I suspected that wasn't the real Jiminstpaul. He was on a soapbox about referendums and I didn't recall the real Jiminstpaul being gung ho on that point.
Posted by: bjhess at April 4, 2006 6:22 PM