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May 2, 2006

We just want you to vote on the stadium bill that was presented to you

From freealonzo:

Word is that Legislators read this site so this comment is directed to them. Elected officials, do you realize how foolish you look? When you read polls on how low regard we hold you, exhibit A will be this stadium mess. Right now you've put yourself in the inenviable position of making everyone angry at you: Pro-stadium, anti-stadium, people who could care less look at the events of the last week and shake their head in anger and amazement. We just want you to vote on the stadium bill that was presented to you. Either vote yes or vote no. We don't care if you put the Governor in a box, we don't care if are trying to fix other problems, we don't care if you make the republicans or democrats look bad, we just want to know if there is going to be a stadium. The lack of leadership from Gov. Pawlenty is appalling. The utter lack of legislative control from "Leader" Johnson is a joke, the ability to deal with the issue in a controlled manner from Senator Pogemiller is practically criminal. And using the stadium bill to ram a roof down our throats, while larding more funds for every other social issue facing the State by the Senator I used to support for Governor, Steve Kelley, is just plain gross. And you wonder why the population is so disconnected from politics.

Posted by snackeru at May 2, 2006 7:50 PM | Stadiums 2006


I agree 100%.

Posted by: ML at May 2, 2006 8:30 PM

It is really too bad that we all have to be so involved with our ballpark situation here and how our elected officials are trying to screw it up. I would love to be able to sit down for a while and figure out how the Yankees and Mets will probably have new stadiums approved before the Twins.

Posted by: Jiminstpaul at May 2, 2006 9:00 PM

We Just Want To Vote On The Tax Without Being Railroaded

As a resident of Hennepin County, I certainly do not want to be mugged and steamrolled in the Senate like I was in the House by outstate and non-Hennepin metro legislators who say, with nauseating glee, "Go for it!" when asked if Hennepin County taxpayers alone should pay $1 billion for their statewide asset without a referendum. I don't care at all for "leadership" and "legislative control" that gets defined only as trying to ram a no-referendum stadium tax down my throat with state law, explicit campaign promises, more than ten years of intense citizen opposition, and common sense as casualties of this unnecessary and unprincipled massive public subsidy for multi-billion dollar pro sports businesses and their billionaire owners. And I'll be angry - nay livid - if and only if the legislature passes billion or multi-billion dollar public subsidies paid for by one or a handful of counties without a citizen referendum, thumbing their nose at the majority who oppose these deals on the strength of votes of those legislators whose constituents don't have to pay the tax (and if fact have refused to pay a tax when repeatedly offered the opportunity).

"Leadership" is doing the right thing. The right thing is protecting the taxpayers who are being told they have to pay by asking them first if they agree with this unnecessary deal just as is required in state law. The right thing is not exempting the largest, most controversial, unpopular, and unnecessary local option sales tax from the very law meant to subject it to an up-or-down vote NOT by the legislature, but by the people. The right thing is to recognize that for different philosophical reasons that end in the same result, neither the DFL Party nor the Republican Party should be supporting 30-year tax increases to pay for the infrastructure of pro sports industries, especially given what the difficulties the past several years have wrought in our state. The right thing is keeping a campaign promise as governor to oppose these sorts of massive public subsidies for pro sports stadia, and not defining "leadership" as changing one's position on stadia and taxes and referenda in the political wind.

The Senate has the same obligation that the House had. The obligation is certainly not to vote on whatever comes before it. That's not what "we," defined by the majority of us in Hennepin County who are being force-fed this raw deal, want. We don't want the Twins stadium tax. But we sure don't want it without the direct voice state law is designed to provide. If a one county or seven county tax is approved on the merits by a majority of voters at the polls, so be it. But if approved over our opposition by a majority of state legislators who don't have to pay a dime of the county tax, then freealfonso is right.

We will be angry.

Posted by: David at May 2, 2006 9:05 PM

I believe that most Minnesotans have grown tired of following this issue and just want the stadium built. They're not interested in who gets credit or blame, or who gets to have a referendum or doesn't. Billions of our tax dollars are spent on all sorts of things every year with no referendums.

The plan that passed the House is a reasonable plan that will actually get a stadium built. The plan that was passed in the Senate committee today is a fine idea in theory that will never get anything built. The Senate Democrats have decided to play games with the issue, instead of getting something done after all these years. They are more worried about who will get the credit, then actually getting anything done.

Senate Democrats you are making a mistake. If the Twins stadium gets built you will all get the credit. If it's not built, you will all share blame, but you will share more of it for playing these stupid games. We are smarter then you give us credit for. Stop playing games, pass the House version of the Twins bill and get it built. There is no reason you can't pass seperate Twins, Vikings and transit bills and we all know it.

Posted by: David Howe at May 2, 2006 9:15 PM

You had a check. When you elected your county commissioners. You got to vote then. They are responsible for looking out for the interests of county residents. They made the decision. State legislators are responsible for the interests of the whole of the state- which they are doing.

Leadership is about making tough choices when not popular, for the betterment of the whole. High quality of life in the twin cities is worth more than .15% sales on some items. Government by referendum does not work because voters are self interested to the point where they want government services, but refuse to raise taxes to pay for them. For a good case study, turn west- take a look at California. There is a heck of a model for government.

Posted by: Ryan at May 2, 2006 9:52 PM

Ryan -- Appreciate the tone and tenor of your response. State law says even when a local gov't unit passes a local option sales tax, a referendum is required absent exemption. I don't believe that given the law on the books, there is any persuasuive argument at all to be made that a exemption is justified. The fact that legislators from places that don't pay the tax say Hennepin County citizens don't deserve a vote is hardly legislators voting for what is not popular for the betterment of the whole. It is legislators voting for what is popular to those getting a free ride for the betterment of themselves at the expense of Hennepin County taxpayers. That's not how state law is designed -- that's precisely what the local referendum is for, and rightly so. State reps were given the option to vote for unpopular stadium deals for what some believe is general betterment, and they said no b/c their own constituents would have had to drop their money in the bucket too. The only thing that has changed is it is now Hennepin only. In that case, Hennepin taxpayers deserve the protection of state law for this county-specific, rather than statewide, solution.

I should add that the local option sales tax authority is a function of state law, not county authority, and is a relatively recent authority. That it was granted subect to referendum is not inconsistent with any representative theory of government whatsoever. In fact, having legislators who don't represent taxpayers whose ox is being gored steamrolling legislators who do is not representative governmental theory; it is the unusual nature of the state-supervised local option taxing authority that requires the unusual step of local referendum.

California is a straw man. We don't have a petition-based intiiative system, especially at the state level. The referendum re: local option sales tax is a narrow statutory provision that is tailored to the nature of the special taxing authority granted local governmental units by the state.

Against that backdrop, add that no voter, however well-informed, could have anticipated this county-only stadium deal when these commissioners were elected. Retroactive retribution against the Hennepin 4 will be too late. It's no accident that this was struck between election cycles, and will disappear if Hennepin voters are ever allowed to exercise their vote on this issue through electing commissioners who are against this deal. All that said, for the reasons stated above, the inadequacy of the county board as a representative body in this circumstance is reinforced by the state law referendum requirement, which especially in this case should be faithfully observed.

As for the quality of life question vs. the quality of this stadium tax deal, we disagree about how the balance should be struck. As Shane often says, it's unlikely we'll convince one another of each other's position. We'll have to agree to disagree.

Posted by: Anonymous at May 2, 2006 10:28 PM

I see nothing wrong with the Senate bills. The stadiums by themselves are totally worthless and serve no purpose. By including money for transit the senate is not only adding something necessary to a boondogle project, but it pays for the unneeded stadiums much faster.

Posted by: .5% metro sales tax at May 3, 2006 3:51 PM

This 30 year term of this also bothers me. The stadium will be replaced in less than 30 years, so why are we doing a 30 year term on this? That makes no financial sense.

I had to laugh when legislators on the tax committee were saying that if we'd done this 10 years ago we would save money. No we wouldn't - if we'd done this 10 years ago, the Twins would be back hat in hand in another 5 or 10 years ready to feed at the public trough again.

Posted by: Eva Young at May 3, 2006 11:17 PM

In the 40 year history of the Twins they have NEVER had a stadium built for them. The old Met was originally a minor league park that was periodically updated however eventually was considered unsafe, check link. http://www.prescott.imbri.com/bpmagic/MspMet/MspMetH11.shtml

To say that the Twins will be back every 15 years for a new ballpark is not historically accurate.


Posted by: Shannoninwayzata at May 4, 2006 4:54 AM

Shannon --

The original Met Stadium was built as a minor league park, but with the singular intention of drawing a major-league team and being expanded. There was one deck that was later closed, but to call the whole stadium 'unsafe' is a bit inaccurate. Mostly it suffered from a complete lack of maintainance/investment on the Twins' part (they controlled the park, but were notoriously one of the cheapest organizations in all of pro sports). It probably wouldn't have survived until today, but it would have made it into the 1990s like other parks of its era, and building a new stadium would have seemed much more palatable then.

Although most would disagree with the strict 15 year timeframe, it's probably very close to that when you consider how early pro teams start lobbying for new/upgraded facilities these days. The Timberwolves have started voicing concerns about Target Center, and that's just 15 years old. If there weren't 3 other stadiums on the docket this year, we'd likely hear about major Target Center renovations or potential team relocation, just like they are currently hearing in Seattle (where their NBA arena was last renovated in 1995).

Posted by: spycake at May 5, 2006 10:10 AM

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