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May 30, 2006

Life is good

• What the heck people!?!?!? What the heck am I supposed to write about? For the past three nights I have sat down at my computer ready to lay into those morons at the legislature only to realize they have actually passed a workable stadium bill! Can you believe it? Who am I supposed to lay into now? This recent development has changed my life. You remember the Seinfeld episode where George stops having sex and becomes more intelligent? That is now happening to me. Not thinking about stadiums has freed up oodles of time and brain waves. I can feel myself getting smarter, healthier, happier. Needless to say, I am a better person because the legislature passed a workable stadium bill. In fact, the Minnesota legislature may have actually saved my life (if not my marriage). It is a strange feeling not having to think about stadiums. I kinda like it.

• So, Cheesehead Craig and I were watching the Twins game on Sunday when we started talking about the players on the current Twins roster that will be around when the new stadium opens in 2010. Specifically, we asked the question, what 5 players do you want to see on the Twins roster when the new stadium opens in 2010? What five players do you want to still see in a Twins uniform in 2010? Anyway, here is the list I came up with:

Johnan Santana
Francisco Liriano
Joe Mauer
Justin Moreneau
Torii Hunter

Yep, that is my list and I'm sticking to it. Santana and Liriano are no brainers, Mauer is a must have, and Moreneau ... I just really like him. But more than anything, I want to see Torii Hunter in a Twins uniform in 2010. I think he has given enough of himself and his body to stick around 4 more years. Pohlad has already said he wants Torii to stick around. Torii himself has said he wants to stick around. And this isn't because I think he is the best player, or because I don't think Denard Span will be ready, it is only because seeing Torii Hunter in center field on opening day 2010 will make me feel good. It will give me the warm fuzzies all over. It will make me happy. And I like to be happy. If you've got a list of your own, put it in the comments.

• So, I got an email from Jiminstpaul today. Jiminstpaul has been reading this blog almost as long as Cheesehead Craig, and more importantly Jiminstpaul is putting together the big New Ballpark Celebration going on this Thursday at the Summit Brewery Rathskellar (you are invited). Anyway, when Jim first came up with this idea last year to hold a "ballpark celebration" it was going to be just for "Greet Machiners" ... maybe 20-30 people who read this blog and who would be interested in getting together to quaff a few brews in the company of friends. Well, Jim now tells me that his little party has been advertised in the Star Tribune and on Cities 97. What was originally going to be 20-30 people may now actually be hundreds of people. So, are you coming? I'll remind you again tomorrow.

• So, I got a comment today from long time reader, and stadium opponent, David Wintheiser that was just too good to not highlight:

Betty Crocker Park. Come on.

General Mills has long been a supporter of pro sports in the Cities - they had a long-standing agreement with the Vikings to purchase unsold tickets so that Vikes games wouldn't be blacked out on local TV, though that agreement finally ended some time around the start of the Red McCombs era. It's a well-known Minnesota company with strong ties, would make a nice family-friendly image, and opens up some interesting cross-marketing opportunities, since food is a big reason to go to a game (and Hormel will still be there regardless).

And those of us who aren't quite classy enough to get behind the ballpark now that it's a fait accompli can refer to the place as 'The Crock'. It's a win-win!

I'm sorry, but that is funny. "The Crock!" Genius! David! Where the heck have you been all this time? By the way, I think some Summit Brewery fans/employees have made my little poll on the ballpark's potential name a little less than "scientific." For shame! I'm of half a mind to declare Land O'Lakes Park the winner and start the negotiations for naming rights! Don't mess with the Greet Machine!

• Finally, back to my opening point. What the heck am I supposed to write about now that the legislature has passed a ballpark bill? I'm sure I'll write about more ballpark stuff as the news comes out, but 2010 is four years away, and as I said above, I don't want to think about this anymore. It isn't healthy.

So, after the big New Ballpark Celebration, I may take a little break. I've got to regroup and "reinvent" this little site. I may talk more about music, or religion, or books, or libraires (I am a librarian), or maybe all of the above, including new ballparks. We'll see. Whatever the case, I am looking forward to a little vacation. Hopefully I'll see you on Thursday!

Posted by snackeru at 8:26 PM | Comments (14)

May 25, 2006

More of the same

• Hello! Sorry for my silence everyone. Time Warner cable went out in my neck of the woods yesterday which meant a couple of things. One, both the Lost season finale and the American Idol were essentially "off the air" for a whole lot of people and two, I had no Internet access last night. So, I read all night. It was nice.

Anywho, if you haven't been reading the DTFC Twins Forum you've been missing some good stuff. There are a couple of threads there talking about the potential design of the new stadium and how a ballpark might fit on the Rapid Park site. For example, check out this graphic:

pnctwins.jpg

The above picture is an overlay of Pittsburgh's PNC Park on the Rapid Park site (created with Google Earth). Note that it is still a little big, and PNC is considered to be an "intimate" ballpark. Well, it appears we might get something even more intimate. We'll see.

The creative genius behind this picture (and more) is Rick Prescott of BallparkMagic.com, a pre-Greet Machine pro-ballpark site. Rick, or rixware1 as he is known on the DTFC Twins Forum, is also creating a new site: http://twinsballpark2010.com/. This will be THE site to watch the construction and learn about the design of the ballpark. I just hope the Greet Machine can keep up!

• Secondly, there have been some questions on these pages regarding the veracity of the claim that automobile purchases in Hennepin County are going to be ballpark tax expempt. Well, I have an answer, and reader David Howe had it mostly right. Essentially, the automobile sales tax is separate and different than the general sales tax that will fund most of the ballpark construction costs. In other words, automobiles are taxed under a completely different statute than the general sales tax. Cars are not covered by the general sales tax. If Hennepin County wanted to tax cars to pay for the new ballpark, they would have had to explicitly ask for it.

That's it for now. Sorry for the brevity. More later.

Posted by snackeru at 9:35 PM | Comments (16)

May 23, 2006

New Ballpark Celebration! You are invited!

You are cordially invited to a New Ballpark Celebration at Summit Brewery in St. Paul this next Thursday, June 1 from 5:00 - 8:00 PM. The party will be put on by long time Greet Machine reader, and St. Paul booster, Jiminstpaul, and all "Greet Machiners" are invited! The Twins will probably send a representative, as will New Ballpark Inc.. And most importantly, there will be FREE BEER (and root beer, kids are welcome)!

If you can make it, leave a comment below! Jim and I have already heard from a lot of people who are going to be there. This is the party you've been waiting 10 years for! We look forward to seeing you!

NEW BALLPARK


CELEBRATION!


twins-summit.jpg

AFTER 10 LONG YEARS, THE TWINS FINALLY HAVE APPROVAL FOR A NEW BALLPARK

LIKE THE TWO GUYS IN THE TWINS LOGO, LET’S GET ALL ST. PAULITES AND MINNEAPOLITANS THAT HAVE WORKED HARD TO INSURE THE TWINS REMAIN IN MINNESOTA TOGETHER TO SHAKE HANDS AND TOAST OUR SUCCESS


WHEN- THURSDAY JUNE 1, 5:00-8:00 pm
WHERE- SUMMIT BREWING COMPANY RATHSKELLAR
910 MONTREAL CIRCLE, ST. PAUL
HOSTED BY- JIM LONETTI & SUMMIT BREWING COMPANY
FOR INFO- JIM LONETTI: 651 399-5155 SUMMIT BREWING CO: 651 265-7800

BEER, FOOD, MUSIC, SPEECHES?

Let us know if you can make it! Spread the word!

Posted by snackeru at 5:00 PM | Comments (33)

Governor Pawlenty to sign stadium bills

Just got this in (this one is for you MOJO!):

-GOPHER STADIUM-

WHO: Governor Tim Pawlenty
WHAT: Governor Pawlenty signs the Gopher stadium bill.
WHEN: Wednesday, May 24, 3:00 p.m.
WHERE: University of Minnesota,McNamara Alumni Center, 200 Oak Street SE, Minneapolis

-TWINS STADIUM-

WHO: Governor Tim Pawlenty
WHAT: Governor Pawlenty signs the Twins stadium bill.
WHEN: Friday, May 26, 7:00 p.m.
WHERE: Minnesota Twins v. Seattle Mariners, H.H.H. Metrodome, Minneapolis

So, there you have it. Exciting times!

Posted by snackeru at 2:50 PM | Comments (13)

May 22, 2006

What can I say?

• You know when something really good happens and you just don't know what to say? That is where I am at right now. I am just happy, happy, happy without anything really too important or compelling to say. Besides, cmathewson at Twinkie Town said it much better than I ever could. When somebody writes something this thoughtful, what is the point of even trying?

• That won't stop me, though, so here it goes. I think it is a given that Opening Day 2010 at the new ballpark will be called on account of rain or snow. In fact, I think it is a guarantee. And you know what? I will absolutely love it. A called game? In Minnesota? It will be cause for celebration! Let's embrace our crappy weather, put away our pansy attitudes about it, and revel in the fact that we live in Minne-fricken-sota, land of 9 month winters, 3 day torrential downpours, and mosquito infested summers. Bring ... it ... on!!!!!

• Now for something even more important than the new roofless ballpark: what will the new ballpark be called? I have heard a lot of people already calling it Best Buy Field but I must say that doesn't really excite me. I would love it if the new stadium was called Kirby Puckett Park, but I seriously don't think that will happen either. There is too much money to be made from naming rights. So, for your edification, I present to you the major companies that make Minnesota home:

Best Buy (Best Buy Field/Park? Too obvious)
Cargill (Cargill Field? Nope)
3M (3M Park? Yes, I could live with that. Or how about Post-it Notes Park? Yeah, that has a nice ring to it ...)
Northwest Airlines (No way)
Target Corporation (Nope, already have the Target Center)
U.S. Bancorp (Yes, there is a chance this will be U.S. Bancorp Ballpark. Not the best choice but a distinct possibility)
TCF Bank (Nope. Already the name of the new Gophers stadium)
Medtronic or Ecolab? (Wouldn't like it, but it is possible I suppose)
Dairy Queen (Started in Illinois, but now headquartered in Minnesota. Anything with "Queen" in the title should be avoided)
General Mills (Obviously, Wheaties Field would be highly appropriate, but how about Fraken Berry Field?)
Polaris Industries (Polaris Park ... now that would be cool)
Wells Fargo (Technically not a Minnesota company, but it does have a strong Minnesota presence with the merger with Norwest)
Kemps (Based in St. Paul, and they do make some very good ice cream)
Hormel Foods (Spam Park ... you know, that just might work)

So, what do all of you think? Any potential winners here? Anything I haven't thought of? I must admit a few years ago I thought the name "Marshall Field" was the best of all possible names. Dayton's had just changed their name to Marshall Fields and I thought naming the ballpark Marshall Field would be a good opportunity to build community interest in the name. I even wrote Target to tell them the idea. Obviously, it is not to be.

So, let me know what you think the name will be! I'll put together a poll and see if we can't figure it out on our own.

• I'm watching WCCO news right now and one of their top stories is that the Twins came out today and said there is a 5% chance that the new ballpark will have a roof! The Twins have said that a decision will be made in the next 4 months. Of course, there is no word where the money will come from, but I'd be surprised if it came from the state. Construction will start next spring,and the plans have to be finalized long before then, most likely before the legislature starts meeting again. I wonder what the Twins have in mind? Could the thoughts of having more out-state fans coming to the stadium and spending money be opening Pohlad's wallet a little wider? Unlikely. I'll see if I can't find something out ...

• Of course, at this point it is important to contact all the legislators that voted yes and thank them for having the guts to keep baseball in Minnesota. It may also be important at this point to write all the Hennepin County Commissioners and tell them how important it is that this Twins stadium plan actually builds a Twins stadium. You see, there is still one more step to go: The Hennepin County Board of Commissioners have to approve the plan one more time. And you better believe the three women on the board will do everything in their power to thwart this plan. Write them today, especially if you live in Hennepin County, and tell them to approve this plan!

• Finally, I've got a little story to tell you. Perhaps it illustrates the power of writing your legislators, and perhaps it doesn't. Quite frankly I don't know. Allow me to explain.

On Friday night, I was getting ready to hit the hay when I thought to myself, "What the heck. I'm going to write Ron Latz another letter." Ron Latz is my representative, and he has told me over and over and over again, that he will not vote for the stadium. But did that stop me? Nope. So, this is what I wrote him:

Tomorrow you will have a chance to vote for a bill that increases funding for Minneapolis police, that gives more money to Hennepin County Libraries and youth sports, and that creates a huge public works project in downtown Minneapolis with all those needed construction jobs. And of course, this bill will insure baseball remains in Minnesota for years to come. Do the right thing: vote for the Minnesota Twins stadium bill. Thank you for your consideration.

I won't give you exactly what Rep. Latz wrote back, but he did say, "At this time, unless there is a significant change in the Twins stadium finance package, I do not see how I will be able to support it."

This was not a surprise. And since I try not to be a one-issue voter, I wrote him back:

I understand. Of course, I am not surprised by your response. And believe it or not, I will not hold it against you. Have a good summer, Ron! Keep fighting the good fight.

He wrote back: "Thanks, Shane. I will ..."

So, why is this an interesting piece of correspondence? Rep. Latz voted in favor of the Twins stadium. Now, I am not stupid enough to think that my letter(s) to him actually had a big impact. I'd like to think, though, that they made a small difference, but probably not more than that.

Or did they? Was my correspondence with him on Friday night the straw that broke the camel's back? Who knows. Regardless, I sincerely appreciate his vote, and I will definitely have a Ron Latz sign in my front yard come election season.

Posted by snackeru at 9:24 PM | Comments (30)

Stadium Architect Presentations Set for May 24

U of M Homecoming button, 1922

So, I was expecting to take a little break today, and then this news came out. If you want to get a little taste of how a stadium architecture firm is selected, this is the event for you. Note that HOK will be there, and they will discuss past projects. Maybe they'll throw a little about the Twins stadium in there.

Wouldn't it be nice if the Twins process was as open as this? Hopefully that will be the case.


Stadium Architect Presentations Set for May 24

Three finalists to design the proposed on-campus football stadium will make public presentations May 24. Public presentations will be in the Rapson Hall Auditorium [see map].

1:30 pm: HNTB Architects
2:30 pm: Crawford Architects
3:30 pm: HOK Architects

Each firm will be asked to present their qualifications and team, provide an overview of their firm, highlight past projects and experience, and talk about their approach to our project. Firms will not be showing images or pictures of what the new stadium will look like if their firm is selected.

(The image at the top is the U of M Homecoming button for 1922. Memorial Stadium opened in 1924, so this button must be in reference to the excitement the campus felt over its construction. This image has been graciously provided to me by the Social Welfare History Archives at the U of M Libraries.)

Posted by snackeru at 3:46 PM | Comments (6)

May 21, 2006

Hallelujah!

YES!
House passage

71-61
Senate passage

34-32
My thanks to all the legislators who voted yes. You have saved baseball in Minnesota.

Posted by snackeru at 6:43 AM | Comments (64)

May 20, 2006

Now it is the Senate's turn

If you are just joining us, the Senate will vote on the Twins stadium bill sometime tonight. The House passed the bill by a vote of 71-61, which is a bit closer than Sviggum had us believe it would be, but I really don't care at this point.

The Senate passed a completely different Twins stadium bill the first time around, and it should also be pointed out that not one Republican voted in favor of the bill. With the House passage of the Twins bill, the Senate should now be able to pass the Twins stadium bill in a more bi-partisan way. We may lose some of the DFL votes, but we will be gaining a lot of Republican votes.

Anyone have any idea when the Senate will start hearning the bill again? Hopefully shortly after this conference commitee on sales tax dedication for environment and culture.

So, are we having fun people?

UPDATE I: Well, according to the knowledgeable Cody:

>From what I've heard, here's what has to happen.

The Senate is waiting for the House to adjourn so the House-Senate Committee can meet and take care of some things. Then the Senate will come back together, then who knows what they will do before the get to the stadium. Seriously, it may be 3-5 more hours.

3 to 5 more hours huh? Well, that is it for me. I am confident the Senate will pass the bill and I need to get up early for church. If anyone is up when it is happening, please leave me a couple of comments.

Thanks for the fun night everyone! Hopefully tomorrow will be like Christmas for me with a big present of Senate passage waiting for me when I wake up!

Posted by snackeru at 11:36 PM | Comments (33)

The House is voting on the Twins bill

Finally. The House is about to vote on the Twins bill. Finstad is giving his description, and a discussion will happen soon.

Vandeveer is moving that the House refuse to concur on the conference committee report since there is no referendum on the bill. I seriously doubt this will pass. This will give a good indication on where the votes will fall when the bill is actually voted on.

UPDATE I: So far, really the only people that are for a referendum are getting up to speak. I think pro-stadium legislators are keeping quiet to move things along. Hopefully anyway.

And David is right, there is a lot of talking in the background. I wonder if anyone is really paying attention to these naysayers.

UPDATE II: This is gonna be ugly. Thank goodness Demmer is talking some sense. "We are elected to come here to make decisions!" Amen brother. Direct democracy is a bad idea. Turning over decisions to an ill-informed public is ill-advised at best. You rock Demmer!

Dang it! Can't they just vote on the Vandeveer motion? Do these people realize they are all saying the same thing over and over and over again?

UPDATE III: Dorman is a great advocate for this stuff. Do you like the Metrodome? Do you like the Xcel Energy Center? How do you think these buildings were paid for? That's right, a tax without a referendum. Vote red against the Vandeveer motion!

UPDATE IV: I gotta say, if this bill gets killed because the bill now includes language on the potential Vikings stadium, I am going to be seriously ticked at Sen. Kelley. It sounds like Dorn is now a no.

UPDATE V: If you want to watch (hey Vince!) click on this link: http://www.house.leg.state.mn.us/htv/liveweb.htm.

UPDATE VI: We are losing votes. This is just a stunner. Keeping the Vikings in this bill is the worst thing that could have happened. Now, if the Vandeveer motion is passed, that just means it will go back to conference committee. Of course, there isn't anymore time to debate this.

Lanning is really flipping out now and I gotta say I am with him. "Don't read into the bill something that isn't there! We won't build a Vikings stadium unless a future legislature says we should!!!"

Hey legislators, if you vote for the Vandeveer motion you will kill the Twins. I hope your constituents will be all right with that.

And Abrams ... put the smugness away.

UPDATE VII: Goodwin must be really dense or something. Believe me I wish the Vikings weren't in this bill, but all the bill says, according to Lanning, is that "the Vikings issue is still before us." People, drop it and lets get to the vote!

Stadium opponents are now grasping at everything possible to defeat this. It appears we have lost some votes, but we have 8 to lose. Hopefully we still have the 68 necessary.

UPDATE VIII: Ha! You see what I mean? Nothing to worry about! An overwhelming victory for the keeping baseball in Minnesota! The Vandeveer motion has been defeated 75-57!!!

This is a done deal people!

UPDATE IX: Hey Erhardt, as a Hennepin County resident I am thankful that we have some legislators with even a modicum of leadership ability. It is a shame our best legislators seem to live outside of Hennepin County.

Nornes is making some sense here. The debate should be over! We have discussed this and hashed it out for 10 years! Nothing is going to change any minds at this point. Let's move on!

UPDATE X: Do these legislators realize how much time they are wasting? They keep on saying that they have more important things to worry about, and yet they continue to argue a bill that WILL pass. Get this bill done and start focusing on your "more important" issues!

UPDATE XI: Third reading. Here comes the vote...

The bill has passed 71 - 61!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Oh man. I can barely type. I am overwhelmed with happiness! On to the Senate people!

Posted by snackeru at 9:42 PM | Comments (70)

House in recess

The House is in recess. I imagine they won't return until at least 8:00, like the Senate. We are getting closer, but I think the two bodies will deal with taxes, transportation, and bonding before they get to the Twins. We'll see.

Go outside for a little bit and enjoy yourselves!

Posted by snackeru at 7:02 PM | Comments (5)

House vote on the Gophers stadium

The House is now discussing the Gophers stadium bill. We'll see if it lasts as long as the Senate discussion. Getting this out of the way clears the way for the Twins stadium bill.

We'll see how the votes shake out.

UPDATE I: 30 minutes later and they are still yapping. And this bill should pass easily. The Twins discussion is going to last a long time.

UPDATE II: The Gophers bill has passed 96-37. It is official. Stadium Village will again have a stadium.

Funny thing: During the roll call Abrams light was red for most of the voting. It switched to green before the roll was closed. Very humorous.

Posted by snackeru at 6:00 PM | Comments (6)

Senate in recess

The Senate is in recess until 8:00. Before the Senate was dismissed Dean Johnson mentioned that they have some big bills to tackle including taxes, transportation, bonding, and of course, the Twins. We are in for a long, long night.

I must also say that as a U of M employee, I am very excited that Gophers football is returning to the outdoors and to the campus. I am going to love watching that stadium be built.

Before the final vote for the Gophers stadium there was a lot of complaining from some legislators that the state has its priorities out of whack concerning funding for higher education. Dean Johnson, in the final argument before the vote, got up and made a great statement, the crux of which was that it is naive to think that a good football program does not at least indirectly positively impact the academic mission, and the funding, of a university. For many people the only connection they have to a university is through their sports teams. I'm not saying this is a good thing, only that it is a reality.

Building a Gophers stadium on campus is a good thing. It will strengthen the community on campus, and it will strengthen the relationship between the University and the people of Minnesota. We are about to enter a "golden" age of Gophers football in terms of recruiting and the sucess of the football program. This will also positively impact the University as a whole.

The House is still in session. No word on when they'll get to the Twins.

Posted by snackeru at 5:47 PM | Comments (0)

Gophers stadium vote

The Senate is currently discussing the Gophers stadium bill. I'm sure a vote will come soon. I wonder if the Twins bill will be next. I'll let you know how the vote goes.

UPDATE I: If the length of "discussion" for a Gophers stadium takes this long, I think the discussion for the Twins stadium is going to last all night.

The Gophers bill has passed 43-24. The House will vote on it next.

No word on when they will tackle the Twins bill. Looks like after dinner break.

Posted by snackeru at 4:22 PM | Comments (5)

Saturday stadium bill updates

Hello everyone. Just checking in to give you some updates that I've heard and read. First, I've heard that the votes probably won't happen until late afternoon at the earliest and more than likely they'll probably happen in the evening sometime. From my perspective, though, I hope they happen soon because it appears that there are still efforts underway to unrail the stadium plan.

Eric Eskola reported on WCCO radio early this afternoon that some out-state legislators are threatening to withold their votes from the Twins bill unless there own pet projects are given the go ahead. I don't have any specifics at this point, but one project thatwas mentioned was improvements to a sports facility in Duluth which I guess did not get approved. Fortunately I don't think a vote lost here or there will matter much, especially with Steve Sviggum predicting as many as 80 votes on the House side.

Also, from "Black 47," the Star Tribune is reporting this troubling piece of news:

Before House and Senate lawmakers weighed in Saturday, a committee working on the tax bill provided some high drama on the stadium front. They nearly attached an amendment to that bill that would have allowed for a petition-driven referendum on the Hennepin County tax. Sen. Mee Moua, DFL-St. Paul, switched her vote at the last minute, killing the measure.

Like I said, final passage of this Twins bill and the end of the session can't come fast enough as far as I am concerned. There is always a chance for someone to screw things up.

JimJ also points some important realities in a comment below in that while Tim Pawlenty's signature on the bill may look like the end of our troubles, we still have to get past a final vote of the Hennepin County Board of Commissioners. They will be the final vote on whether to proceed or not with the plan. So, during this summer they will hold three public hearings and then vote on the final plan. Luckily the bill that should pass the legislature today is almost identical to the bill that they originally negotiated with the Twins. Their final vote is really nothing more than a protective measure that gives them an out in case they don't agree with what comes out of the Minnesota Legislature. I think it is safe to say they'll agree with this bill.

And as Jeff A points out, monkeys are getting ready to fly out of my butt. Back in March I made the joke that if everything happened to the point where the first shovel full of dirt is dug, monkeys will fly out of my butt. So Jeff, I must point out that the monkeys will remain until dirt is dug. The monkeys are sad, but they understand what is at stake here.

More later...

Posted by snackeru at 2:12 PM | Comments (3)

May 19, 2006

When will the fat lady sing?

• It is taking everything in me not to just burst out of happiness, but there are still two steps to go. The main question I think everyone is asking (pro-stadium people anyway) is when will the final votes in the House and the Senate actually take place? We all know that they will happen tomorrow, but when exactly? I doubt the Senate and the House will vote on the bill at the same time, but I have heard that the votes may take place Saturday morning. If anyone has any more definite information on this, please let us all know.

UPDATE: The vote will happen after bonding and tax legislation. Probably later in the afternoon, according to Steve Sviggum.

• In the meantime, it may be a good idea to write your legislators one more time. I know. If you're anything like me you have wore out your keyboard writing your legislators. And if you have never written your legislator, well, I suppose now is as good a time to start as any. Check this handy District Finder to find your legislator, and write him or her now. It isn't too late. And if you are sure your legislator will be voting yes tomorrow, write him or her a thank you!

• I don't think it is any secret that Aron Kahn of the Pioneer Press is the premier stadium beat writer in the Twin Cities. Today he highlighted some interesting new aspects of the Twins stadium bill that legislators will be considering when they vote tomorrow:

If [legislators] vote against the new compromise, they will be voting against more than a new ballpark.

The bill applies Minneapolis' 3 percent entertainment tax to Twins tickets at the ballpark, which is estimated to raise $2 million to $3 million a year that the city can use for police protection around the facility. The tax is not applied at the Metrodome.

The measure also gives Minneapolis $5 million from Metrodome cash reserves for downtown infrastructure improvements, even though Hennepin County is responsible for those costs at the new ballpark ...

While the negotiated measure reflects the House bill more than the Senate's, which included a regional sales tax, the transit funding and a Vikings stadium, Kelley did win some concessions for his body.

One of those funds youth activities and expanded library hours in the county for 30 years. The funding for each begins at $2 million a year and increases by 1.5 percent a year thereafter.

To recap, the new agreement includes more money for police, $5 million for Minneapolis, money for youth sports, and money for expanded library hours in the county. And the money for libraries starts at $2 million per year and increases by 1.5% each year. Don't think Hennepin County Libraries are excited about this Twins stadium bill? Well, they are.

I've been ticked at Kelley for about 5 days now, but these add ons may make the bill even more appealing to House and Senate legislators. As long as the Twins ballpark bill passes tomorrow, all will be forgiven.

• And just a reminder, back in February long time reader Jim in St. Paul extended this invite to everyone associated with this site:

I was tempted to throw this out last year but maybe this is the year. If our esteemed legislators can finally see the light and pass a Twins ballpark bill this session I would like to extend an invite to all loyal Greet Machiners to come down some Saturday afternoon to my place of business, Summit Brewery, for a tour and celebration. I may even go through my archives and get out for display all my St. Paul related ballpark campaign items (I have a bunch). Like I said, hopefully this is the year and some celebration would definitely be in order.

Jim! If the House and the Senate approve the bill tomorrow, I expect that you'll be sending me some dates for this party! Man, what a joyful occasion that will be!

And speaking of parties, freealonzo just recently sent out this comment:

Who wants to get together on Saturday and watch the Twins and Brew Crew to celebrate a new Twins ballpark??? [Email me] if interested.

What did you have in mind freealonzo? I must say I am very interested! Let's get the party started early!

• Finally, what a journey this has been. It is amazing that it is almost coming to an end. And honestly, I don't know what will happen to the Greet Machine when it does. A new Twins stadium has been my bread and butter for so long, I'm not sure what I will write about! The Vikings stadium? I'm not sure I have it in me, truth be told. This battle has taken a lot out of me, and it has taken a lot of my time. I am also of the opinion that someone in Anoka County may have to pick up the torch. Quite frankly, I am sick of arguing.

After the Governor's signature I may take a nice little vacation. But before I do, I might reveal just what the name "Greet Machine" actually means. Unfortunately it isn't really all that exciting, but I would be surprised if you haven't wondered what is behind the name of this blog. We'll see.

Anyway, have a good night everyone! We are about ten feet away from home, and the throw is coming in late. Man I feel good!

Posted by snackeru at 8:18 PM | Comments (16)

Sounds like the Twins bill is moving on!

I just got back to my desk. I'm going to have to rely on a couple of commenters but it sounds like the Twins bill (sans trasit) has finally been approved and is moving on. First we have a comment from an anonymous reader saying:

I just caught the end of the session, and they took a vote on some motion which I can only assume is to adopt the language presented by the Senate this morning which was basically the House bill. So I *think* it's through for final passage by the House and Senate! Kelly decided to recess the meeting rather than adjourn to leave open the possibility of reconvening if there were any questions about the final language of the bill. But for now, things look very good! Finstad was very happy at the end of the meeting.

I am guessing they recessed just to get all their ducks in a row, because then the illustrious "zooom" made this comment:

It appears to me that an agreement has been reached on an open air Twins Stadium.

Channel 17 is replaying the vote right now

Oh glorious day! Couple this fantastic news with this comment from Dean Johnson in Sid's column today:

But we will see how much power Senate Majority Leader Dean Johnson, DFL-Willmar, has. He called again Thursday and assured me the Twins bill will pass.

Things are looking good people! Very good! I dare say my optimism is at an all time high! On to the floor of both the House and Senate, and then to the Governor's desk. Could it be? Could this finally be it? Keep thinking positive thoughts!

Posted by snackeru at 10:47 AM | Comments (27)

May 18, 2006

Thursday Conference Committee Updates

OK! Here we go. I just tuned in and found that the conference committee is in recess right now. So, I have no idea what they have just talked about or what they are in recess for. I can imagine they are recessing to discuss a proposal, and I'm hoping that it is a proposal from the House to finally put this all behind us and move the original Hennepin County Twins bill to the floor of both the House and the Senate. When they resume the committee I will fill you in.

Before that, though, I just received an email from someone deep inside New Ballpark, Inc. who told me:

The word from the marble clad back hallway is that Kelley and Finstead have agreed to let the Twins bill out tonight. There may be some more theater but it is all moving in the right direction. We have one more set of hurdles to sweat the leadership in both houses may put ballparks at the very end of session which means they could fall victim to the clock running out.

Yes. That piece of information has both good and bad news. First the good news: it appears the Twins bill will finally be "let out tonight." However, the bad news that the Senate and the House still have a lot of big bills to work out, including the Omnibus Tax bill and the Omnibus Transportation bill, before the session ends. TIme could very well run out.

Anyway, more later. Stay tuned...

UPDATE I: I have just heard in an email that the Committee work may "spill into the morning." This is bad news as far as I am concerned. I want them to get this done tonight. We'll see. More coming...

UPDATE II: The committee is back. Kelley seems to be moving a proposal that suggests the transit stuff will move to the Transportation Committee, and it includes language that would give the Vikings the net proceeds of a sale of the Metrodome, except for $5 million that would go to Hennepin County. Kelley would also like some of the Twins bill to go to the State High School League.

Kelley is saying that the transit piece of the proposal could be discussed more tomorrow when they could be more assured the transit stuff could be taken up by the Transportation Committee. Kelley wants the Transportation Committee to feel some heat and give his transit requests a fair shake knowing that the Twins stadium legislation is waiting on them.

Kelley and Finstad are now saying that they could meet tomorrow at 9:00 and "move expeditiously" once Kelley can be assured the Transportation Committee is heeding his request. Kelley is saying that he doesn't think the meeting would last more than an hour tomorrow. Kelley, quite frankly, is driving me nuts.

UPDATE II: Lanning is saying that he is very happy that the Senate wants to move the transit piece to a more appropriate committee. And I gotta voice some frustration here: how can Kelley hold this conference committee hostage like this? It is crazy. I can't believe they are going to let this go on another day! Argh!!!

UPDATE III: The Star Tribune is reporting:

The state Constitution prohibits passing of bills on the last day of a session, which is Monday; that day can be used for ceremonial activities. That gives the Legislature an absolute effective deadline of midnight Sunday.

But convening floor sessions on Sunday is considered bad form and is apparently unprecedented, and Johnson and House Speaker Steve Sviggum, R-Kenyon, have set a deadline of 7 o'clock Sunday morning.

Wow. The House and the Senate could seriously be working late into Saturday night. In fact, I think it is a given.

UPDATE IV: Finstad is a little frustrated right now. It sounds like he is frustrated that Kelley has bumped the transit piece back up to a tax of .5% (from .25%) and he is frustrated that we seem to have to wait until the Transportation Committee takes up Kelley's proposal tomorrow before the Twins bill can be moved on alone. He is saying he longs for the day when a face to face conversation and a handshake is all you need to make this kind of deal "in this place." I agree. Kelley is holding things up for very suspect reasons, especially considering (and according to Kelley) that his Senate colleagues have the gavel in tomorrow's Transportation Committee! Finstad has moved that the commitee recesses until 11:00 so that the House can discuss Kelley's proposal in full.

I'm sorry if my updates don't make a whole lot of sense right now, but I must admit that I don't fully understand the logistics of this potential handoff between the Stadium Conference Committee and the Transportation Conference Committee. But again, why is Kelley so concerned about this handoff? Transportation should have never been a part of the Twins stadium conference committee in the first place. Man! If time runs out and the Twins are left hanging again, I will put the blame squarely on Kelley's shoulders. Time is running out Senator! Stop messing around!

UPDATE V: We're back. The House has discussed the issue. Finstad wants to split the transit stuff off and let the Twins bill stand on its own. Duh. Kelley is saying that the committee will meet again at 9:00 tomorrow morning, the same time the Transportation Committee is meeting. The committee will also hear reports concerning some questions that Rep. Peterson was asking about funding for libraries (and education?), and youth sports that the Senate wants to put in the Twins bill.

Well, the meeting has adjourned. Before it ended Kelley said, "Tomorrow we'll try to get as far as we can." That just plain ticks me off. Senator, don't get as far as you can! Get the job done!

I will be in a meeting tomorrow at 9:00 at work, so I will not be watching this fiasco anymore (unless it carries on until tomorrow night ... I seriously can't bear the thought!). Please leave me some comments and let me know what is happening if you are watching it. See you tomorrow.

Posted by snackeru at 9:32 PM | Comments (18)

For your edification

This is what Sviggum said last Sunday on the Sports Huddle with Sid and Dave:

"I wanted to finish a week ago. Here's where we are at. The constitution says we have to finish by the 22nd. We can not pass any bills that day. We're not going to meet next Sunday. That brings it to Saturday. That means to come out of conference committee you have to have an agreement no later than Thursday. Preferably, Wednesday. It takes some time to get back through the process and have bills drafted."

Tonight is the night. I don't know how hard this deadline is, but it would appear a deal must be struck by Thursday night for the Twins bill to have time to be voted on either Friday or Saturday.

Keep your fingers crossed ...

Posted by snackeru at 4:20 PM | Comments (3)

We're almost there

Last night's conference committee was a fascinating display of "strained politeness." Kelley and Finstad should be commended for keeping things cordial when it was obvious both were getting a little frustrated with each other. To recap:

A couple of things are clear to me: 1) The House and the governor definitely have the upper hand here, and 2) I seriously doubt the House or the governor are going to accept any kind of transit funding attached to this bill. It looks like to me that Kelley is trying desperately to do something to make his mark on this piece of legislation. Whether he is trying to bolster his campaign for governor, or if he really thinks transit should be a part of the bill (probably both) he is grasping at straws here. And if this is a play to somehow gain some traction in the race for governor, you can be assured that Pawlenty will not play along.

I'm pretty sure that when the conference committee meets again today, Finstad (who now controls the gavel) will propose the same thing he proposed last night: a Twins bill only. Transit will be removed again with the statement that "transit proposals should be heard in the Transportation Conference Committee." Obviously, it will be interesting to see what happens.

Posted by snackeru at 7:30 AM | Comments (22)

May 17, 2006

Conference Committee Updates

UPDATE I: Well, finally the discussion has begun to separate the Vikings bill from the Twins bill. Finstad is coming on strong saying "Let's call a spade a spade, the Vikings need to be attached to the Twins bill in order to be successful." No one seems to be disagreeing. Neil Peterson is making some hilarious analogies between the Twins/Vikings bills and the conjoined twins that were recently separated in Rochester. "In order for them both to survive, we need to separate them."

It appears the Vikings have a plan that they are comfortable with proceeding on but they, and Anoka County, are adamant that the Vikings and Twins move together. Dave Johnson, an Anoka County official, even seems to be threatening a lawsuit if the bills are separated. Wow. More coming...

UPDATE II: Lanning is arguing convincingly that the Vikings bill has not been "aired" properly in the House. He is also saying that the Twins bill was only passed 76-55. Good call. It would not take much to lose enough votes where nothing gets done. Lanning wants to separate the bills.

Kelley has argued before that the costs keep on rising and that now is the time to build a Vikings stadium. Can the Vikings bill pass the House on its own?

Dave Johnson is now arguing that Anoka County may not want to play this game anymore if it takes another year. That is a load of crap. Too much has been invested to give up now and Zygi has bought up too much land. Anoka County will be back.

UPDATE III: Kelliher is grilling Bagley concerning the proceeds from the sale and demolition of the Metrodome and whether or not the entire proceeds of that sale will go to the Anoka County Vikings proposal. Bagley is conceding that yes, the proceeds of the sale would go to that project.

I'm not sure I have a problem with this. The Twins don't have it in their proposal, and the Gophers certainly don't. Kelliher seems to be upset that the money will go to Anoka County when the stadium sat in Minneapolis and Hennepin County. It is an interesting debate, and it seems this would be a sticking point against the Vikings current proposal. More legislators in the House may not like this. Kelliher wants an "equitable" distribution of the funds.

UPDATE IV: Recess until 9:00 (probably 9:15 or 9:20 knowing how the legislature works), but it appears Finstad is going to come back with a proposal. My guess it will be to separate the bills. I know, quite a stretch on my part, but the other details of the plan should be interesting. More later...

UPDATE V: You know I honestly wonder what the other Senate conferees think about all of this. Since I've been watching they have been very quiet. Do they agree with Kelley? Or do they also think the bills should be separated?

UPDATE VI: Proposal time. Finstad says the 18% selling fee has been removed, and the MLB guarantee that the team stays in Minnesota is gone. The bill is back to almost its original form when the legislative session first started. The Vikings are gone from the proposal but Finstad is saying that the House will consider them in a separate bill. Finstad moves the proposal. Question time.

Kelley seems ticked. It appears that he can barely contain his anger. Finstad is saying, "This is the original bill. This gets a ballpark built for the Minnesota Twins."

Sen. Marko is saying that the Senate bill builds two stadiums for less and at a decreased cost to the taxpayer. Ugh. Marko and the Senate need to understand that their proposal doesn't build a ballpark or a Vikings stadium. Pawlenty will never sign it! The House will never approve it! I can't believe we are still arguing this!

UPDATE VII: Kelley and Marko are now really pushing the transportation add on to the Twins bill. Lanning is making a strong argument that the Transportation Omnibus bill conference committee is the most appropriate place to discuss transportation. Amen.

UPDATE VIII: Kelley is recessing for 10 minutes as the Senate conferees meet in one place and the House conferees meet in another. This may be it. If the rest of the Senate conferees can override Kelley and Marko, we may be done with this and back on the House and Senate floors.

UPDATE IX: Kelley is now handing out the Senate proposal. Argh!!!!! I thought this might be coming to an end! Unfortunately I have no idea how these things work. Kelley is proposing the Twins/HC financing, but adding language for libraries and youth sports. No roof and no referendum. Plus, the Vikings bill as it was suggested tonight with no referendum and a .25% tax for the 7 counties. 2 stadiums. We'll see what the House conferees think...

The original .5% tax has been reduced to .25%. This bill will raise $4.2 billion, a far cry from the original $12 billion. And only the county governments themselves would have to approve the tax. Kelley seems to think this is a big concession to the House. Marko is claiming that the governor would be amenable to this proposal if local county governments would approve it. Sykora is asking do all counties have to approve it? If only three approve it, does that scrap everything? Kelley responds that the Vikings and Twins would go forward, but the transportation portion would not.

What the heck?!?!? I suppose that would mean if Anoka County government and Hennepin County government approved, the two stadiums would be built. I am quite surprised by this, truth be told. It sounds interesting, but again, would the governor approve? Anyone got any thoughts?

They are in recess again until 10:20. I must say, this proposal sounds very interesting...

UPDATE X: OK, I've thought about it some more. The problem with this new Senate proposal is still that the Vikings side of things is a little shaky. It is better than it was yesterday, but will the House go for a bill that includes a Vikings stadium proposal that they really haven't aired out? That remains to be seen. Knocking the bill down to $4.2 billion and still including transit, plus leaving it up to county governments ... that is very interesting. I expect that Finstad and the House conferees have been in conversation with the Governor and Sviggum. It will be very interesting to see what they say. I agree with ryanlee_wags, if Kelley can pull this off ... wow. That would be impressive.

UPDATE XI: New House proposal. Twins bill stays relatively the same, but now it includes the Vikings proposal but separates it from the Twins and creates a new bill. It all but guarantees that the House will give the Vikings an up or down vote by the end of the session (am I right about that?). No transit. Finstad appreciates the Senate's recent move "in the right direction" but feels the transit debate should happen in the Transportation Conference Committee. So, I would guess the Governor and Sviggum had said, "No way."

Interesting ... there is discussion that the Vikings proposal could be attached to an existing bill so that it could be on the floor sooner. It sounds like Finstad has spoken with both Sviggum and Entenza who have both said that the House would not oppose attaching the Vikings proposal to another bill and voting on it. This is a move in the right direction. Kelley has recessed again for 15 minutes (yeah right) so the Senate can discuss it.

Kelley also wanted to wait to sign off on the Twins bill until the committee finds out what the fate of the Vikings is. In other words, if the Vikings proposal (and the bill it is attached to) fails, he wants to have an opportunity to re-evaluate the Twins side of things again (probably to try to again attach the Vikings to it). Finstad did not seem to pleased with this idea. Finstad and Sykora both said they can't guarantee that a Vikings bill would pass because the House has not ever voted on one. I don't think Kelley's proposal in this regard will fly.

UPDATE XII: Senate proposal. Then they'll take questions and adjourn. It looks like Kelley is going to still push for transit. Twins propsal as is, plus some form of transit funding. The Vikings have been removed. Language in the bill would suggest that the Vikings would be handled next year.

The meeting is adjourned. It sounds like the House will be given a chance to mull this over and that they'll meet again tomorrow (time unknown). I wish they would have gotten into the specifics of what the transit funding will look like, but I guess we'll have to find that out in the Strib or PiPress. And with that, I leave you for tonight. Thanks for tuning in and we'll see you tomorrow!

Posted by snackeru at 8:02 PM | Comments (37)

May 16, 2006

Time for Finstad to drop the hammer

Sorry for the delays in my reports, everyone. When you have three kids and a wife, plus a sunny day and a couple of lawns to mow, time seems to rapidly go away. I only watched the last half hour of the conference committee, but from what I saw of the committee they didn't make much progress. And by "progress" I mean finally splitting the bill and focusing on the Twins alone. Mike Opat spoke towards the end saying that Hennepin County has done a lot of work towards getting a new Twins ballpark in the Warehouse District of Minneapolis, and their plan deserves a vote. Amen to that. Steve Kelley then made the claim that Andy Westerberg, the House sponsor of the Vikings bill, has done a lot of work too, and that his needs deserve consideration. I would have to say I disagree at this point.

The Twins and Hennepin County have a rock solid plan. You may not agree with the specifics, but the Twins and Hennepin County negotiated every aspect of the proposal and came up with a relatively simple, extremely tight plan to build a new ballpark. No state money, a third of the money from the Twins and the rest from the county in the form of a .15% general sales tax. Simple. The Twins bill that passed the House only has minor modifications. On the flip side, the Vikings and Anoka County still haven't agreed on if there should be a roof, or who should pay for it. Give me a break! The plan isn't ready. In fact, new plans seem to pop up everyday.

Here comes another one. According to Aron Kahn of the PiPress:

The new plan, to be unveiled today, is expected to include a user fee, possibly for spectators or businesses that benefit from the stadium. But state funds, albeit at a lower level, would still be needed to help pay for a retractable roof.

So, we've got yet another Vikings plan for the conference committee to consider while the Twins and Hennepin County are left to again wonder when their plan will be heard. One thing I will agree with Sen. Kelley on is that it would make a whole lotta sense to get a Vikings bill done this year in order to save time and money. But I seriously wonder, does Kelley have the votes? The conference committee could talk about the Vikings plan forever, but does Kelley have the votes to pass a bill out of the House and the Senate, and one that will probably call for state funds? I would have to say that from where I am sitting the answer is no.

At the end of the conference committee meeting last night, the Vikings agreed to come to the meeting today with a concrete plan. As David has already pointed out in a comment below, Finstad seems to be getting a little upset with Kelley's insistence that they spend so much time on the Vikings. It appears that the conference committee has the votes to override Kelley's delays and finally move on the Twins ballpark plan. I think it is time for Finstad to make a power play and shift the focus of this committee away from the Vikings and on to a bill that actually has a chance of passing.

The committee will meet again after the House and Senate floor sessions today. My guess is that it will be sometime in the afternoon, probably between 1:00 and 2:00.

Thoughts anyone? I must admit that it pains me to write stuff like this. I love the Vikings. I absolutely love them. But I think it is time to be realistic. Time is running out, and the specifics of a plan to build a Vikings stadium are not ready. Having said that, if Kelley can pull something off I would be highly impressed. My only hope is that at a bare minimum they get a Twins stadium done. Here is hoping they don't screw it up.

Posted by snackeru at 10:27 PM | Comments (22)

Humorous look at the new Twins ballpark

In case you haven't seen this yet, Jim Caple, formerly of the PiPress and currently writing for ESPN, has a humorous set of design options for the new Twins ballpark:

Minnesota's Perfect Ballpark

My favorite new feature is the cornfield and silo in center field. That would put Houston's stupid little hill to shame.

It kind of reminds me of this rather ribald send up of the new Twins ballpark from Sportsgoons.com in which they write:

The stadium, which will be called the Mall of America Super Duper MegaField, will cost $18 billion. Investors will finance roughly $200 million, while citizens will cough up an estimated $17.8 billion - $500 million through a tax increase in the sale of fishing lures and snow shovels for the next 75 years, and the remaining $17.3 billion by channeling money that was previously used for welfare and education into the stadium fund.

Ummm yeah ... pretty funny stuff. I think both pro and anti-stadium people should be able to appreciate it. Watch out though, it has some pretty colorful language.

And in case you are wondering, as of 4:15 the House is still talking about the Omnibus Transportation Bill. The stadium conference committee should start a half hour after the session ends.

Posted by snackeru at 4:05 PM | Comments (9)

Blah, blah, blah

Greetings and salutations, Greet Machine reader! Well, this post will be a little more of the same from your's truly. Man, I can't wait for this Saturday to come. After that this will be all over and I can start thinking about other stuff. Although, the only reason you are here is probably to get some stadium news. Well, I will try not to disappoint.

• Let me just say, I love the Vikings. Just love them. Sunday afternoons in the fall are a pure joy for me just because I know the Vikings are playing football. Truth be told, I grew up just across the border in Wisconsin. River Falls, Wisconsin to be specific. But my Minnesota born Mom brainwashed me to be a Vikings fan, and I have been in pain ever since. Growing up in Wisconsin as a Vikings fan was not very easy. I was definitely in the minority, and I even got into a couple of scuffles over it. It is probably for that reason that I am so rabid about the Vikings today.

Having said that, it is time for the Vikings to stop what they are doing and let the Gophers and the Twins finish off their stadium plans. The Vikings plan is at best a little messy, and during the conference committee yesterday it became clear that Anoka County and the Vikings haven't even agreed on whether or not there should be a roof. Zygi, please, give it up for now so we can move on. The Twins have been at this for much, much longer than you and they are rounding third on their way to home. Please let them get out of the way and then you can have the full attention of the legislature. Mr. Cheer or Die writes about this issue today as well. We are running out of time Zygi, and it is time to get this done.

The only good that could come out of this is that possible delays in stadium construction could convince Zygi to build one himself without a roof. I know, this is very unlikely, but if he wants to go down that route I think it is clear that he will do it without the assistance of Anoka County.

• Today or tomorrow a second stadium conference committee, this one for the Gophers stadium, will begin meeting. And if you haven't read Doug Grow's column on Larry Pogemiller, it is eye-opening. Pogemiller really screwed the pooch with all of these "shenanigans."

• I have been given some information about an old Strib Minnesota poll from 1978 that asked if people were in favor of building the Metrodome. 42% said no and 38% said yes. Hardly the difference in opinion that there is today, but had the legislature listened to the "will of the public" back then we wouldn't even have that building. In the case of the Metrodome, and the Xcel Energy Center for that matter, the legislature went against the will of the people, they showed some leadership, and the state became a better place for it. Does anyone regret these decisions to build these buildings now? No. Of course not. The same thing will happen with a Twins stadium. I guarantee it.

And more recently, we have yet another example of the legislature going against the will of the people, and this example still has me steamed. I am speaking of "conceal and carry." Really, how in the world did the "conceal and carry" law pass? According to a May 2003 article in the Star Tribune, there was nearly two-thirds opposition to this bill and yet after 6 years of trying the legislature still passed it. Check this out from the Strib:

"At least three-fifths of college graduates, DFLers, liberals, Twin Cities-area residents and those in the lowest income bracket also believe the state will become more dangerous. The view of a safer Minnesota is most prevalent among Republicans and conservatives. But even in those groups, more think it will be more dangerous than safer."

Everyone was against this bill, and it still passed. Like I said, I'm still not in favor of the bill, but I will concede it hasn't turned Minnesota into the lawless wasteland that I thought it would. And I dare say not one legislator lost his or her job over it. Perhaps the stadium issue riles people up a little more, and perhaps the stadium issue is a little more bi-partisan, but I am almost certain that most people will be indifferent to this issue come November.

David Howe writes in a comment to another post:

So, even though the poll shows more people are opposed, legislators may lose more votes by voting against the stadium. Those of us in favor, are strongly in favor, and will vote against a candidate if they oppose it. Where the majority of those saying 'No' are really indifferent when it comes right down to it.

I absolutely agree with this. Most people, while they voted no in the most recent poll, won't care that the Twins are getting a new stadium. They won't even notice. However, one thing they would definitely notice is if the Twins left Minnesota. And that is when you would see the fur fly.

Oh well, it has been argued, dissected, and discussed ad naseum at this point. The end is coming, and I for one can't wait. Zygi, get out of the way so we can get this done! According to the Legislative Television web page, the committe will begin meeting at 8:30. Hopefully they make a little more progress today.

UPDATE: The conference committee just adjourned after spending most of their time talking about the Vikings stadium situation. Paul Tagliabue, the NFL comissioner, spoke convincingly about the need for a new Vikings stadium and the benefits of not waiting to build one. However, towards the end of the meeting it became clear, at least to me, that the committee will begin leaning towards dropping the Vikings off the bill and focusing on returning it to a Twins bill once again. Brad Finstad, author of the Twins bill in the House, said that he will be talking with House leaders today during the session to gauge the feasibility of splitting the two stadium needs and how likely it is that a Vikings stadium bill could move through the House in the remaining days of the session. My guess would be that isn't very likely or feasible. Regardless, I think the committee is finally moving in the right direction.

The committee will meet again today, a half an hour after the Senate and the House ends their respective floor sessions.

Posted by snackeru at 7:37 AM | Comments (3)

May 14, 2006

More detailed thoughts

According to the Pioneer Press, T-Paw has identified construction of two stadiums, one for the Gophers and one for the Twins, as very high priorities that need to get done during this session:

Sviggum said the goals Pawlenty planned to give Johnson included construction of two stadiums — for the Minnesota Twins and University of Minnesota football team, pay raises for prison guards and new spending to house sex offenders committed to state hospitals. Sviggum said Pawlenty also would seek a Senate vote on an amendment banning gay marriage, approval by the Senate of anti-abortion measures and action by the Senate to crack down on illegal immigration.

• Pay close attention to Sid Hartman's column for Monday as Steve Sviggum was his in studio guest for his Sunday radio show. As of my writing of this (Sunday night), his column hasn't come out yet, but I'm sure it will highlight comments made by the Speaker of the House. While I didn't hear all of the interview, I heard enough to take away the optimism Sviggum has concerning a new Twins stadium, as well as the legislative session on the whole.

• I've held off on putting this up until I was reasonably sure that the Hennepin County plan was going to win out, so here it is: the Ballpark Tax Calculator. Feel free to download this and use it to try to figure out what your monthly and yearly ballpark tax will be. For me, I am hovering right around $10.00. It will probably be more like $15.00. And please keep in mind that this calculator assumes that you only spend as much as you actually bring in. Many of you, me included some months, may spend more than you make.

Also, if you still have a problem spending $10 - $15 a year on a ballpark just know that you will be making me (yes, me specifically) very happy. Isn't it worth it just to make me happy? Me? Your neighbor and friend? Who cares about Carl Pohlad. Just think about me and you should be fine. I would definitely spend $15 a year to make you happy. In fact, I probably already do.

By the way, thanks to freealonzo for making the calculator! (Sorry I didn't thank you sooner!)

• I had written a long winded rant concerning the most recent Minnesota Poll, but I've taken it down after reading the most recent Strib take on some new results of the same poll: Specifics boost stadium support. This is so obvious. The more you tell people and explain to people what is at stake here the more reasonable they become. In this case, the results now show that outstate Minnesotans become more supportive after being told they won't be taxed for it unless they visit Hennepin County. I would wager that if even more "specifics" were made apparent, such as the fact that the Twins aren't bound to the Metrodome anymore, even more people would support the plan. Hopefully it will all be moot after this week.

• Finally, if a stadium isn't approved this week, I will enjoy watching the fallout. Minnesotans are a fickle bunch. I'm not saying legislators won't feel heat over this issue if they approve the Hennepin County Twins stadium proposal. Some of them surely will. But not nearly as much if something happens to the Twins. If nothing gets done once again, and something happens to the Twins ... oh boy. I don't think our legislators want to deal with that. In fact, I am counting on it.

Posted by snackeru at 7:17 PM | Comments (12)

More coming ...

Sorry for my silence everyone. The past couple of days have just been extremely busy with birthday parties, church activities, and Mother's Day. Some interesting things have been happening concerning my favorite topic which I will expound upon later. Until then:

So, this should be a fun week. More later.

Posted by snackeru at 2:09 PM | Comments (10)

May 11, 2006

So close

• Friday morning, between 8:30 and 9:00, the conference committee will start. Watch it online, and keep us all informed on how it is going. There have been some positive developments which lead me to believe something will work out.

• First of all, Sid Hartman reported this morning:

Senate Majority Leader Dean Johnson, DFL-Willmar, says he will meet with Pawlenty this morning and present some plans he believes the governor will like.

And why, you may ask, is this good news? Because we didn't hear anything about it. This means either a) the meeting was cancelled or b) it went reasonably well. No news is good news I say.

• Secondly, I was excited to read these comments from Steve Sviggum, who obviously is much closer to the situation than I am:

"My guess is that the committee will come up with a bill that's very close to the House's," Sviggum said. House members include the author of the Twins bill and the others were "very involved in the debate," Sviggum said.

This statement is much more positive than some of the other statements Sviggum has said since the Senate passed their bloated bill a few days ago. It leads me to believe that behind the scenes negotiations have been positive, and that the Senate and the House are willing to negotiate.

• And let's take a look at the conferees:

Senate conferees are: Sens. Steve Kelley, DFL-Hopkins, chief author of the Senate combination bill; Don Betzold, DFL-Fridley, Senate author of the Vikings bill; Linda Higgins, DFL-Minneapolis; Sharon Marko, DFL-Cottage Grove; and Julie Rosen, R-Fairmount.

House conferees are: Reps. Brad Finstad, R-New Ulm, the Twins bill author; Barb Sykora, R-Excelsior; Morrie Lanning, R-Moorhead; Neil Peterson, R-Bloomington; and Margaret Anderson Kelliher, DFL-Minneapolis.

Did you catch that oddity in the Senate conferee list? Yes, Julie Rosen, a republican from Fairmount, is on the committee. Julie Rosen, by the way, voted NO on the Senate version of the Twins bill. This development proves a couple of things 1) I don't know what I'm talking about and 2) legislators that vote no on a bill that passes CAN be on the resulting conference committee. That is good news for this process.

Dean Johnson's appointment of Julie Rosen on the committee is what I would consider to be "throwing a bone" to the Republicans in the House and Senate. If this isn't indicative of Johnson's willingness to negotiate, I don't know what is. I wouldn't be surprised if Dean Johnson is looking for something in the bonding bill, or maybe even wiggle room with a possible Vikings bill. But needless to say, I am enthused by the appearance of a Republican on this committee. Very good news indeed.

On with the show!

• Finally, I got this press release from the New Ballpark Inc. people. If you are going to the game tomorrow, you might want to check it out:

To: All Media Outlets

From: New Ballpark Inc.

Event: “It’s Rally Cap Time;? a pre-game public rally on the Metrodome Plaza for a new Twins ballpark. Featuring former Twins; Tony Oliva, Dan Gladden & Tim Laudner.

When: 6:00 to 6:30p.m. Friday, May 12
** Please note PHOTO OPPORTUNITIES between innings of Friday’s Twins-White Sox game !

Where: Metrodome Plaza; The Plaza is located on Kirby Puckett Place on west side of the stadium.

New Ballpark Inc. is hosting a pre-game rally encouraging Minnesota baseball fans to show their support for a new outdoor stadium in Downtown Minneapolis. Fans are invited to the Metrodome Plaza to join former Twins Tony Oliva, Tim Laudner , Dan Gladden along with other personalities from the Twins broadcast team for a special pre-game rally to watch the easy steps on how to transform a baseball cap into a Rally Cap – and also learn details how fans can show support for a new Twins ballpark during the game. Friday night’s game against the defending World Champions is Dairy Queen Cap night; the first 20,000 fans going through the gates prior to the game will receive an adjustable Minnesota Twins cap.

A TIP OF THE RALLY CAP: FANS PHOTO OPP:
After the Twins bat in the bottom of the 2nd inning, all fans will be asked to please stand and tip their “Rally Caps? to show their unified support for House File 2480, encouraging lawmakers to pass the Twins ballpark bill.

2006 is the 20th anniversary of the Rally Cap. The Rally Cap was conceived during the 1986 World Series when the New York Mets were playing the Boston Red Sox. The Mets were losing Game Six and already down 3 games to 2 in the series. In the seventh inning, something amazing happened; the Mets all started wearing their caps inside out while sitting in the dugout. Catching on, the fans also started to sport their caps inside out and called it the 'Rally Cap'." That unique symbolic act has become a baseball tradition to try and help ignite a rally in support of your team. The Mets’ “Rally Caps? help the team overcome big odds and succeed, just as Twins fans hope their rally will spark a win at the Capitol.

New Ballpark, Inc is a grassroots organization made up of business leaders whose goal is to find an acceptable public/private solution to the long festering ballpark dilemma in Minnesota.

• Finally, if you have any thoughts or insights, let us all know! Especially if you think I am being too positive about all of this. I blame spycake for that. His well reasoned rebuttals to almost all of my "flying off the handle" posts have finally calmed me down for good I think. Unless, of course, the conference committee goes poorly. Then you are going to see some true "freaking out." Later!

Posted by snackeru at 9:00 PM | Comments (24)

May 9, 2006

On to the conference committee

• Let's try to keep a positive outlook on this: there are only three more steps until a new Twins ballpark is a reality:

  1. Conference committee hammers out a compromise that everyone can agree on (including the Governor)
  2. House and Senate both vote to pass the compromise
  3. Governor signs it into law

Believe it or not, we have never been this close. Both the Senate and the House have passed a Twins ballpark bill. That is seriously amazing.

• And when you think about it, the conference committee should favor the House version of the plan. The House plan had 39 Republicans and 37 Democrats that voted in favor of the bill. That is an impressive bipartisan showing. The Senate version of the bill had 34 Democrats voting in favor, but ZERO Republicans. This lack of bipartisanship will weigh heavily on the conference committee. And if the committee decides on a compromise more in line with the House plan, there should be enough Democrats and Republicans on the Senate side that will vote to get this done.

We still need to help convince our representatives and senators, but things are still looking positive.

• From what I have heard, the conference committee will probably be made up of between 8-10 senators and representatives. The House appointees will probably be dominated by Republicans, with at least one Democrat that is a strong supporter of the House plan. The Senate appointees, however, will all be Democrats since only senators that voted for the bill are eligible for the committee. That should make things interesting, I would think.

• Today's events were exciting on a very shallow level, but they also raised a whole ton of questions. So many questions that freealonzo wrote me after the vote and spelled them out quite nicely:

Why did a majority of the Senate vote for a bill that they know is DOA with Guv and House? Is this a way to kill the stadiums while allowing Senators to say to their constituents that they passed a bill and was voted down by others? Or do they know that a workable bill will eventually be passed by the Conference Committee? Why so little debate? Why no debate on referendum? Why no amendments? It all seems so odd they had this huge complicated bill in front of them and it passed with barely an hour of discussion.

This is where the troublesome aspect of today's events come into play. Why was there no attempt to strip the referendum off the bill? Why was their so little discussion on such a complicated bill? It was almost anticlimactic.

There are, of course, some ideas I'm hearing that could answer some of these questions.

  1. Kelley knew he didn't have the votes in the Senate to get the House bill passed, so he stuck on transit and a referendum now in the hopes that he can pick up some votes after the confernece committee cleans the bill up.
  2. Kelley wanted to get his name in the paper a few times to jump start a struggling campaign for governor, but will most likely push the House version of the bill in the conference committee.
  3. Dean Johnson and Kelley both wanted the Senate to move quickly on the bill so they left transit and the referendum in knowing that, again, the conference committee will make the bill more acceptable to the House and the Governor.
  4. As commenter BT has written "the transit thing was a way of exorting more transit money out of the capitol bonding bill... not an effort to waylay the twins... i assure you on this." I like this thought. I could definitely see the House make this kind of compromise.
  5. And a more troubling possibility could be that Dean Johnson and Steve Kelley actually think they can get the Governor and the House to compromise on a metro-wide sales tax. If that is the case, give me some of what they are smoking. That is just plain nuts.

Whatever the case, it is very, very, very obvious that the Senate is putting a lot of faith in the ability of the conference committee to come up with a reasonable compromise. And by now we've all read what Dick Day had to say about that:

"There's a huge train wreck that's coming," said Senate Minority Leader Dick Day. "You're betting on a conference committee to solve it all."

This is not good to read. However, we also know that both Steve Kelley and Tim Pawlenty have said the Twins are their number one priority in the stadium sweepstakes. Let's keep the faith for now and hope Dean Johnson and Steve Kelley know what they are doing.

Posted by snackeru at 9:03 PM | Comments (27)

May 8, 2006

What else is there to say?

There are two weeks left in the 2006 legislative regular session. The Senate will vote on the Twins and the Gophers stadium bills this week. The Governor has said he will veto any Gophers stadium bill that includes a 13% memorabilia tax, and he has said he will veto any Twins stadium bill with a metro-wide sales tax.

When the Senate floor hears the bills, there will be attempts to revert them back to the way they passed the House: clean, unbloated, and simple.

If you haven't done so already, and I'd be surprised if you haven't, now is the time to write or call your Senator to tell him or her that you favor the House versions of the bills. The House versions both passed with bipartisan support and it is time for the Senate to follow suit.

If you don't know who your Senator is, use this handy district finder. And if you are actually anti-stadium and you'd like your Senator to not vote in favor of a Twins or Gophers stadium bills, use this handy link to find your state senator.

Make no mistake, if a Twins stadium bill fails to pass the legislature this session, it will be the fault of the Senate DFL. They know it, and we know it.

For me, it is as simple as that. Let's get this done and move on.

UPDATE: The Twins stadium bill debate is underway in the Senate. You can watch it online. Leave a comment if you see something interesting!

Posted by snackeru at 10:34 PM | Comments (39)

When? and more

• The big question on everyone's mind is "When?" When will the Senate finally vote on the bill? I have heard either tomorrow afternoon or Wednesday. I am betting that it is Wednesday. And unfortunately for all of us, all we can do really is wait. Leaders in both major parties have all come out in favor of the Twins stadium. They have all said they'd like to see it "get done." We are all just waiting to see what "get done" actually means.

I heard Pawlenty on Sid's Sunday morning radio show, and apparently Dean Johnson was also on the show. This is what Sid had to say about the situation:

Gov. Tim Pawlenty said he is ready to go along with the stadium bills voted by the House for both the Twins and the Gophers. But the Republican is definitely against the seven-county tax for three stadiums -- including the Vikings -- that has been proposed by the Senate.

He has been in favor of a referendum for the Twins, but he said he will go along without one because he is convinced the Twins will leave if a stadium bill isn't passed this session. The governor is not in favor of the putting the Twins and Vikings bills together as proposed by the Senate. In fact, he said the Vikings bill needs a lot of work before it is ready for a vote by the Legislature.

Pawlenty is in complete conflict with Senate Majority Leader Dean Johnson, DFL-Willmar, who wants a vote on a combined Vikings-Twins bill but promises to appoint stadium- friendly conferees if the House and Senate bills for all three stadiums don't agree and go to conference committees.

On Sunday, Johnson did everything but promise that the Twins and Gophers bills will be reality. And he is going to try to make it three stadiums with the Vikings.

Johnson said that in a poll taken of 2,000 of his voters, 71 percent are in favor of voting in favor of all three stadiums. Of course his area won't be taxed for either the Twins or Vikings stadiums.

Again, I feel good about this. I expect the DFL will screw around a little bit, but in the end 71 percent of Johnson's district are in favor of getting this done. If Dean Johnson goes home this June without a resolution to at least the Twins stadium fiasco, he will be in big trouble. He has got to know that. Famous last words, heh?

• Bad news of the week: Phil Krinkie lost the GOP nomination for the 6th Congressional District to Michelle Bachmann. And not only did he lose, he got crushed. Why is this bad? This means the Minnesota legislature, and Minnesotans in general, are stuck with him for eternity. Yes, eternity. It is that bad. Phil Krinkie's motto seems to be "Making Minnesota into the 3rd Dakota Today!"

physicssuper.gif So, last Friday I took some time to attend a Libraries' sponsored lecture entitled the "Physics of Superheroes" by James Kakalios, a U of M professor of physics. Dr. Kakalios uses superheroes and their daily crime-fighting ways to illustrate some of the more important concepts in physics. It was by far one of the more enlightening and entertaining lectures I have seen in a long, long time. Dr. Kakalios used Superman's leaping ability, the death of Gwen Stacey (Spiderman's early girlfriend), Magneto, Electro, and Mr. Atom to discuss physics in a very easy, and hilarious, way that even a simpleton like me could understand. Consider:

Dr. Kakalios opened up his presentation with Superman's leaping ability. In the early days, Superman could not actually fly. He could just jump really far thanks to his super-human strength. How did he get this super-human strength? Well, it was always assumed that his home planet of Krypton had a higher level of gravity which made Superman that much stronger here on Earth. And as you all know, Krypton blew up after Superman's father put him on a spaceship bound for Earth, but more on that later ...

Using various mathematical equations and scientific theories, Dr. Kakalios postulated that if Superman was to leap a 200 foot building he would need a velocity of 140 MPH. And using more equations and theories Dr. Kakalios came to the conclusion that Superman would need 6,000 lbs. of pressure (leaping ability) to reach that velocity. Futhermore, and taking into account the theory that Krypton has a higher gravity than Earth, in order for Superman to exert that kind of force, Krypton must have had a gravity 15 times that of Earth.

The trouble is, the only planets that have that kind of gravity are a great deal larger than Earth: the gas giants. So, how did Krypton have that kind of gravity? Dr. Kakalios further theorizes that Krypton must have had a netron star as its core. A neutron star core would only have to be about 600 meters across to exert this kind of gravity. Interestingly enough, a neutron star core would also account for the instability and eventual self destruction of the planet Krypton which forced Superman to flee in the first place.

As I said above, this was all presented to us in an entertaining and "matter of fact" way that had all of us just nodding our heads. "Yep, that must have been what happened..." And we were talking about Superman. Anyway, if I ever had to take a physics course, this would be the one.

By the way, The Physics of Superheroes is now a book available for purchase. I am definitely going to read it. I'll let you know what I think.

Posted by snackeru at 6:29 AM | Comments (21)

May 7, 2006

Memories

There once was a little girl. On her way to Grandma's house, she found a baby turtle struggling to cross the street. Concerned that the turtle wouldn't make it across the busy road, her dad picked it up and decided to help it out.

The turtle was small in the little girl's hands.

turtle1.jpg

The girl and her dad took the turtle to the local nature center to talk with someone about what they should do. The naturalist at the center said the turtle was probably only a day old. She told the little girl she had three options. She could put the turtle in the lake, she could keep the turtle as a pet, or she could let the nature center put the turtle in an aquarium.

The little girl said she wanted to put the turtle in the lake. So, the little girl and her dad walked to a dock on the lake.

turtle2.jpg

The little girl bent over on the dock until her fingers could touch the water.

turtle3.jpg

And she let the turtle go.

turtle4.jpg

And they watched the turtle swim away.

turtle5.jpg

The little girl was very proud of her decision. "The turtle will be happier in the lake than he would be in a cage," she said.

Her dad was proud of the little girl, too, and he doubts the little girl will ever forget the time when they put the baby turtle in the lake.

It was a beautiful and memorable day.

Posted by snackeru at 4:59 PM | Comments (7)

May 5, 2006

Strangely at peace

• After 10 years of debate, all of this seems to be finally coming to a head. And I am strangely at peace about all of it. Believe it or not, I actually think this will all work out. I don't know what has brought about this sudden surge of optimism, but I am concerned enough to go see a doctor. Now then, on with what I am thinking about.

• A reader was kind enough to send me a letter he received from Steve Kelley himself. It has some interesting information:

My current proposal grew out of conversations with Scott Dibble, Frank Hornstein, and Jim Davnie about their concerns over the stadiums and the need to have a broader approach that embraced transit. I took their ideas and made them concrete in terms of the stadium debate and how we could build them for less money and have money for transit. I became convinced that I had to talk about and be an advocate for a better way to build the stadiums, saving hundreds of millions of dollars, and jump starting a commitment to transit as we enter an era of high gasoline prices ... With this deal, I have some hope of having more Minneapolis senators support the project. Either way, I am committed to getting a stadium bill passed this year.

It is a noble goal, to be sure. I can't disagree with his intentions of trying to to fix a problem that is sure to get worse in the coming years. There is also something telling in his last sentences when he says he hopes to have the support of "more Minneapolis senators." Could this suggest that the Senate needed the support of more Minneapolis Senators to even pass a stadium bill in the first place? Perhaps. But his last sentence gives me the most hope, "Either way, I am committed to getting a stadium bill passed this year." A Twins stadium bill is sure to pass the Senate in some form. Will this "committment," though, carry over to the conference committee and the Governor's desk? Is Kelley willing to give up at some point and find a compromise?

I think what we all need to ask Sen. Kelley is does he have the votes? Does he have the votes in the Senate? Does he have the votes in the House? Can he convince Pawlenty that this is the best plan? If not, when will he cut his losses and make a compromise?

When will Kelley and Dean Johnson realize they don't have the upper hand here?

• We all know that both Sviggum and the Governor are dead set against Kelley's plan. However, today the Governor finally spoke out himself strongly about keeping the Twins in Minnesota:

In his first public comments on major DFL changes in stadium legislation, the Republican governor said the Twins are his highest priority for a stadium by far, and that two newly proposed stadium-related taxes are dead on arrival to his desk unless major changes are made.

"The real urgency or concern here is the Twins," Pawlenty told reporters. "The others can be considered on their own merits in their own time, in their own way, but the one team that we're at risk of losing now or in the near term is the Twins, and so we will stay focused on that as a priority.''

For a stadium supporter like myself, these are wonderful words to read. They show a real fear that it is possible something could happen to the Twins. They show the Twins are the Governor's top priority. But more importantly, T-Paw's words demonstrate he may finally be getting involved. And we need that.

So, what will happen?

• Craig Westover, the Pioneer Press columnist, writes on his own blog what he thinks could happen and who he thinks has the upper hand:

What the DFL is counting on, of course, is once we've tasted the sweetest of having a ballpark, the bitterness of a the 7-country metro plan (which philosophically is no different than the House stadium tax-and-spend plan, it only differs by degree) won't be noticed. Moreover, the GOP House (as Republicans are wont to do) prematurely declared mission accomplished on the ballpark. The GOP has lot of political capital invested in providing a ballpark. The Democrats never promised new transportation money. So who’s in a better position for compromise?

Unless the DFL blinks, and Sen Steve Kelley the author of the 7-county metro bill doesn't blink (see Q-Comp), if the House GOP is dead-set on delivering a ballpark, look for the "compromise" to be a Twins Stadium (no Vikes) and a 7-country tax something less than .5 percent but includes transportation funding. If not, the campaign rhetoric is the Democrats support the right of the people to the vote; the Republicans failed to deliver on their promise of a new Twins stadium.

What? Does anyone else think this? Does the DFL really have the upper hand here? I'm not convinced that the Republican House and the Republican Governor are in the backseat on this one. I am also not convinced that Sviggum and Pawlenty won't revel in their ability to blame the DFL in the case that this all falls through. My impression is also that the bulk of Twins fans state-wide (and there are a lot of them) are actually kind of ticked with the DFL Senate right now. Does anyone else feel differently?

• Given all this I think the Hennepin County plan, and its bi-partisan support in the House, will ultimately win out. The Senate will vote on Kelley's bill next week. Two things could happen: 1) it could pass and move to conference committee with the House or 2) it could fail only to be replaced by the bill that the House passed which the Senate will then pass. Whatever the case, a bill will pass the Senate and it will either be something the House will support and the Governor will sign, or it will become something the House will support and the Governor will sign.

That is the way I see it.

And if it doesn't happen this way, I would take a 7 county metro-wide sales tax too. I'm not picky.

Whatever happens, though, I am strangely at peace with the whole thing. It is almost over. Hallelujah!

Which Twins ballpark plan do you prefer?
The Hennepin County plan that passed the House
The Senate plan that includes a metro-wide sales tax for Twins, Vikes, and transit
Free polls from Pollhost.com

Posted by snackeru at 6:04 AM | Comments (32)

May 4, 2006

Random thoughts

• First of all, I must apologize for the problems I'm sure you've been having getting to this site. As you probably know, the site is hosted by the UThink blog server at the U of M. UThink as a whole has been seeing increased traffic in recent days on a number of blogs, so much traffic in fact that it is bringing the server to its knees. Usually, increased traffic on a site would be a good thing. However, it has caused me nothing but problems.

So, today we are working on upgrading the server. This hopefully will fix the problems for good. Thanks for your patience.

• You know, yesterday I was joking around when I called T-Paw: Tim "Scooby Doo Where Are You" Pawlenty. But it is absolutely amazing how appropriate the Scooby Doo theme song is for our silent governor. Check this out:

tpawgoldy.jpeg
T-Paw! Don't make Goldy cry!
T-Paw Doo, Where Are You?

T-Paw, T-Paw Doo, Where Are You?
We got some work to do now.
T-Paw T-Paw Doo, Where Are You?
We need some help from you now.

Come on T-Paw Doo, I see you... pretending you got a sliver
But you're not fooling me, cause I can see, the way you shake and shiver.

You know we got a mystery to solve,
So T-Paw Doo be ready for your act.
Don't hold back!
And T-Paw Doo if you come through
you're going to have yourself a T-Paw snack!
That's a fact!

T-Paw, T-Paw Doo, here Are You.
You're ready and you're willing.
If we can count on you T-Paw Doo,
I know you'll catch that villian.

Well, as you can see, the only place where this new theme song falls through is the ending line ... unless you consider Steve Kelley to be a villain. But you may not. Anyone got any suggestions for the last stanza?

• Here are some links for you to enjoy.

• Because of the problems this site has been having, and to celebrate another end to the class I teach at St. Kate's, I went out for pie last night:

pie.jpg

I love French Silk pie. Yummy! What is your favorite dessert and where do you get it?

Posted by snackeru at 7:06 AM | Comments (37)

May 2, 2006

Key passage

Brian Bakst of the Associate Press has written the only Strib version of the events so far which include this key passage concerning Kelley's troublesome plan:

The Republican governor has kept a low profile in recent days. His spokesman, Brian McClung, issued a two-sentence response to the Senate activity.

"The primary problem is that the Senate bill does not build a stadium," McClung wrote. "The people of Minnesota should ask their senators how this bill would get the job done."

Pawlenty probably won't be forced to decide what to do with the bill. House Speaker Steve Sviggum, R-Kenyon, said flatly that the House won't support the Senate version.

"It doesn't get the job done. It doesn't move ahead," he said.

This is very troublesome to say the least. I've searched the Senate website for Kelley's amended bill to no avail, but this passage suggests two things: 1) Tim "Scooby Doo Where Are You" Pawlenty will veto Kelley's version of the bill (duh) and 2) Kelley's plan must have more holes in it than Swiss cheese. How can you reconcile McClung's statement, "... the Senate bill does not build a stadium." Is he just saying T-Paw Doo would veto it (so it wouldn't build a stadium) or is he saying that the plan is financially unsound? Most likely it is both.

This is a nightmare. Believe me, I would love to have the Vikings situation taken care of too, and I would love to expand LRT, but Sviggum and the Governor's spokesman have both said this plan will go nowhere! Why does the Senate insist on pushing this?

Governor Pawlenty! Say something!

UPDATE: Great comment in post below from David Howe:

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.

Steve Sviggum is the only legislative leader in this whole state that is worthy of the label "leader." I may not agree with him on every issue, but at least I can trust his intentions. Dean Johnson, Steve Kelley, Tim Pawlenty ... all of them are more interested in playing games, taking credit, or passing blame than actually getting anything done.

Who will be most to blame if a Twins stadium isn't built?
Governor Pawlenty
Steve Sviggum
House Republicans
Senate Democrats
Steve Kelley
Dean Johnson
  
Free polls from Pollhost.com

Posted by snackeru at 8:46 PM | Comments (26)

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 7:50 PM | Comments (10)

Still trying to sort out what happened ...

Good stuff happened today ... I'm still trying to sort it out. But for those of you that want to know, the stadium bill the House passed has been moved out of the "pit of death" (Pogemiller's Senate Tax Committee) into the Senate Rules Committee. The Rules Committee received permission from the Senate floor, and the Senate floor moved it back to Rules. Rules is now deliberating and will report back to the Senate soon. There will be no vote today, but it looks like the Tax Committee is out of the picture. I wonder if this is true for the Gophers bill too?

Either tomorrow or the next day, the Senate will probably vote on the bill. Oh yeah, the referendum was removed. And the Senate floor had the votes to allow the Rules Committee to make this move ...

UPDATE: Well, there is definitely more to this. According to the the PiPress, this move will also include Steve Kelly's attempt to tax the entire metro for a Twins stadium, a Vikings stadium, and transit improvements. I'm going to mull this over some more...

UPDATE II: And now the referendum is back, except now it is a seven county-wide one. Sigh. This plan won't work. The House is pretty much saying no way, and the governor is saying no, too. I suppose Kelly is trying to get their approval by tacking on a referendum, but then the Twins will say no way. Sen. Kelly's bill is too complicated and heavy. Again, I'm going to have to think about this some more. The news is coming out too fast and furious, and you better believe Kelly is trying to sell his plan. We'll see if he is successful.

Posted by snackeru at 5:59 PM | Comments (11)

Shuffle on my iPod!

I have started the shuffle on my iPod. Here are the songs that are coming out:

More as they come out.

Posted by snackeru at 3:07 PM | Comments (8)

Hanlon's Razor

I've written about Parkinson's Law, and Parkinson's Law of Triviality. Now, we have Hanlon's Razor.

Hanlon's Razor states:

   Never attribute to malice that which can be adequately explained by stupidity.

I think you'll find that this law is applicable in your daily lives in more ways than one. Personally, I can already apply this law to numerous circumstances I've observed over the last few years. Maybe even events I've seen recently.

What about you?

Posted by snackeru at 6:28 AM | Comments (9)

May 1, 2006

A referendum has been attached

On a unanimous vote, the Senate Tax Committee has just added a referendum to the bill that was passed out of the House. I don't know what else to say besides that. Well, actually, this doesn't surprise me at all at this point. I can't believe I ever thought a workable stadium bill could be passed and signed by the governor. Oh well, I'm used to it. The game isn't over yet, but the home nine is definitely behind.

I think this is probably pretty indicative of how the Senate as a whole feels on the matter. The Tax Committee is now adjourned. My hopes might be too.

UPDATE: You know, spycake's comment below got me to thinking. At first I thought that since it was a unanimous vote, this must be how the Senate as a whole feels. Now I am thinking the stadium supporters on the commitee, including the ultra-pro stadium Tomassoni, are just trying to get the bill out of the Taxes committee and onto the floor of the Senate. OK, I feel better now. Thanks spycake (Even though I'm getting tired of your always trying to calm me down. Don't you know I just want to be angry sometimes?).

UPDATE II: As Opat has already said, it is time for Pawlenty to speak up. In fact, it is well past time. T-Paw needs to make clear what kind of bill he would sign, and what kind he wouldn't sign. The 10:00 news should be interesting.

Posted by snackeru at 5:30 PM | Comments (12)

Back in the saddle

Greetings and salutations, Greet Machine reader! You know what? I've got to admit something. It is kind of hard to do. I must admit that I don't have a clue what is going to happen. After years of focusing on the House, I have to admit the Senate is almost a complete mystery to me. Sure I know the big players, like Dean Johnson, Dick Day, Larry Pogemiller, John Marty and my own Senator Steve Kelly, but after that ... clueless. For the past three years it has been all about the House. Who is for it in the House? Who is against it in the House? What committees will it go through in the House? The Senate? Piece of cake. We don't need to worry about that! Wow, how wrong can a person get?

A couple of weeks ago, Lori Sturdevant wrote a great column in the Strib that discussed my favorite topic. She ended with this sentiment:

But within the Senate DFL caucus abides a core of bitterness over the fact that Gov. Tim Pawlenty, running as a stadium opponent, defeated then-Senate Majority Leader Roger Moe, a stadium supporter, for governor in 2002. The DFLers so afflicted won't let Pawlenty win one or two, let alone three, stadiums without trying to make him squirm first.

So, those of us on stadium politics watch are keeping an eye on Sen. Larry Pogemiller and the drama he directs in the Senate tax committee. Look for a move there to alter the proposals' financing. These are state facilities, he will argue, and should be paid for with an increase in state taxes.

And then look to see if Johnson and the rest of the Senate are more interested in irritating the governor or building some ballparks.

And that, dear friends, is where we are at. What are the true intentions of Dean Johnson and Larry Pogemiller, who are increasingly becoming DFL thorns in T-Paw's side? Before anything can happen, the Twins stadium bill has to be passed out of Pogemiller's Senate Tax Committee. There are four scenarios that I can see:

  1. Pogemiller and the Senate Tax Committee could vote to send the Hennepin County plan as amended and passed out of the House to the floor of the Senate. Alone. Chances: Highly unlikely.
  2. Pogemiller and the Senate Tax Committee could vote to send the Hennepin County plan to the floor of the Senate, but with a referendum attached. Chances: likely
  3. Pogemiller and the Senate Tax Committee could try to pass a form of the idea to impose a 0.5 percent sales tax on the entire seven county metro area to pay for a Twins stadium and a Vikings stadium, plus transit projects. Chances: highly likely.
  4. Or, Pogemiller and the Senate Tax Committee could kill the Twins bill all together. Chances: unlikely.

So, you might be thinking to yourself, great! Let's get the Twins and the Vikings out of the way at the same time! You know, I absolutley agree with you, but there is the little problem of partisan politics and the Republican controlled House's hatred of the idea. Speaker Sviggum said last week:

Republican House Speaker Steve Sviggum said there's no chance the new tax plan would win support outside the DFL-controlled Senate, meaning not in the House and not by Pawlenty. Some Senate Republicans claimed Pogemiller is trying to put the heat on Pawlenty to approve taxes he normally would oppose, while minority leader Day said in a statement that Pogemiller's ego is the problem.

Holy crap, can you believe this? What was once a hot potato issue (I'm not going to touch it!), stadiums are now the ultmiate political weapon. What party's plan will ultimately result in stadiums being built in Minnesota? What party will ultimately be able to claim that they finally solved the problem? I have no doubt that Steve Kelly is doing what he thinks is best for the state of Minnesota, and solving two stadium problems at once is definitely best, but overarching this altruistic attitude is the idea of, the appearance of, a DFL victory concerning this issue. And that is a problem for Twins fans.

Unfortunately the best I think we can hope for at this point is the Senate Tax Committee to pass any bill they can, and get it passed on the Senate floor. From there a conference committee could work out the differences so that it has a chance to pass both the House and the Senate. I must say I'm feeling a little more pessimistic every day this drags on.

Back to Sturdevant's column: is the DFL just trying to make T-:Paw squirm? Or do they really think they can pull this off? To put it another way, how far is the DFL willing to push this? Because I can tell you one thing, T-Paw will not sign a bill that includes a 0.5 percent seven county metro-wide sales tax. Or maybe he just won't do it happily.

Again, what the heck do I know? If anyone can shed some light on this, I am all ears. Tomorrow the Senate Tax Committee will meet again sometime after 3 PM where they are expected to vote on the issue. Seriously, I don't think my heart can take this anymore. How many "most important day in Twins franchise history" can we have in the span of two weeks? Apparently not enough.

Posted by snackeru at 7:24 AM | Comments (26)

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