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With $50M more from Vikings, House passes compromise stadium bill

After a day of closed-door, de facto conference meetings on the Vikings stadium bill, things moved quickly late Wednesday and early today. By the end, the Minnesota House approved 71 to 60  a compromise stadium bill that calls for the team to raise its contribution to $477 million. Tim Nelson of MPR has the details: "The Minnesota Vikings are just a step away from getting a new, $1 billion home in downtown Minneapolis. After a conference committee worked out a deal, the state House of Representatives passed the final version of a stadium bill early Thursday morning, and the Senate is expected to follow suit later in the day. But the Vikings first had to agree to increase their share of the project's costs. Despite the team owners' long insistence that they wouldn't give any more financial ground on the stadium deal, they agreed to increase their contribution by $50 million, minutes before the Legislature was to take up the deal for a final vote."

Here's the text of the revised stadium bill.

Earlier, Tim Pugmire’s MPR story says of the maneuvering leading up to the final agreement: “{The] House bill increased the Vikings' share of the stadium by $105 million over what the team had pledged. The Senate wants the team to kick in an extra $25 million. The team's lobbyist objected to both amounts.  Senate Majority Leader Dave Senjem of Rochester said the team contribution is the big challenge for negotiators, and the main reason they've been meeting in private with the Vikings. ‘I think they want to respect the business privacy of the Vikings in particular in terms of their relationship with them, their dealing with them on this,' said Senjem. ‘They're going to convene in open air here pretty quickly, I think.’ Senjem voted for the Senate bill. Sen. John Marty, DFL-Roseville, a longtime opponent of public subsidies for professional sports facilities, did not. Marty said he wasn't surprised to learn about the closed-door negotiations. He said he thought the process used to craft the bill was closed from the beginning.

Basically though, the Vikings had to decide if it would be their way or the highway. Brian Bakst’s AP story says: " 'The Vikings didn't get whatever they wanted,' said GOP Sen. Julie Rosen, the bill's chief sponsor. She said the team will have to come up with more to come away successful. … Conference committee members, legislative leaders and Dayton administration officials spent hours Wednesday behind closed doors in multiple simultaneous meetings. They were careful to avoid bringing together a quorum of conference committee members that would trigger a state law requiring legislative meetings to be conducted in public. They revealed little about the discussions."

FoxNews served up a Vikings stadium story that might have been written by the press office at the NFL: “[T]he Vikings aren't enamored with the legislature's audible, and they appear to have a reasonable gripe. The $427 million that the Wilf family, the team's majority owner, had previously consented to paying would be the third-highest sum of private funds allotted to the construction of an NFL stadium, and count for roughly 44 percent of the venue's estimated cost. … The changes are enough to make a Vikings organization that has been admirably patient throughout the drawn-out process of trying to build a replacement for the outdated Metrodome seriously weigh all of its options, and there's one very lucrative one that could be on the table. Los Angeles has made no secret of its desire to rejoin the NFL fray by luring an existing team, and the prospect of having the second-largest market in the United States as part of its footprint once again is an idea that has obvious appeal to the league as well. … Still, with plenty of strong opposition to the project despite the economic benefits (namely, a possible Super Bowl in the future) that both the stadium and its construction will provide, and the legislature scheduled to adjourn for the remainder of the year on May 21, the outcome remains very much touch- and-go.” They really should stick to Tea Party politics.

On that funky “no black-out” amendment written in to the Senate version, Mike Florio at NBC Sports writes: “When word first emerged on Tuesday that the Minnesota Senate had amended the stadium bill to prevent any Vikings games played at the proposed facility from being blacked out, it seemed ludicrous to think that such a stipulation would fly, given the NFL’s staunch insistence on adhering to its decades-old blackout policy. But then the light bulb flickered.  The NFL doesn’t need to carve out an exception to the blackout policy in order to allow the games played at the new stadium to be televised locally.  Instead, as part of the Vikings’ contribution to the stadium construction, the team must commit to purchasing — at 34 cents on the dollar — any unsold non-premium tickets."

On the tax cuts-for-business ... business, the House has scaled its proposal down to $47 million. Tim Pugmire at MPR writes: “The measure includes a one-year freeze on business property taxes and other tax breaks aimed at businesses. Wednesday's passing House vote was 73-56. … Jim Davnie, DFL-Minneapolis, said the bill is still not fiscally responsible, because the tax breaks are not paid for. ‘Many of the fine provisions that are in here are a lot less fine when you don't actually pay for them,’ Davnie said. ‘It's like taking the kids out to dinner and then trying to find out where the window in the men's room is, so you can sneak the family out rather than pay the bill.’ ” Now, that’s funny.

Word is that the cops always have the best stuff. Mara Gottfried at the PiPress reports: “The state has suspended drug recognition training for law enforcement officers and launched a criminal investigation into allegations that a Hutchinson police officer provided marijuana to a potential subject last week, the Minnesota Department of Public Safety said Wednesday ... A Minnesota State Patrol trooper was placed on paid administrative leave Wednesday in connection with the case. A police officer made the allegation about the Hutchinson officer two days after a video was posted on YouTube claiming that police officers were recruiting people from the Occupy Minneapolis movement and giving them drugs for law enforcement training.” Just so I understand this …. giving protesters drugs … for law enforcement training … Nope. Still don’t get it.

Another mug shot classic … Emily Gurnon of the PiPress follows up on ... the rest of the story … about the St. Paul attorney who got into it with the cops in a parking lot last January: “The state board that monitors lawyers' ethics has recommended that Rachel Toberman of St. Paul be disciplined for failing to follow through on a divorce case and then refusing to cooperate with investigators, according to a petition for disciplinary action filed with the Supreme Court on Tuesday ... The petition did not address Toberman's alleged conduct the night of Jan. 16, 2011. She hit a vehicle in the parking lot of Sweeney's Saloon in downtown St. Paul and then kicked and swore at police who tried to arrest her, according to a criminal complaint filed in Ramsey County District Court. She was charged with obstructing legal process and refusing to take an alcohol breath test.”

This trial on other characters in the so-called Trevor Cook Ponzi scheme is such good stuff. At the Strib, Dan Browning writes: “Jason "Bo" Beckman's mother testified Wednesday in Minneapolis that long before he was accused of defrauding investors in Trevor Cook's $194 million Ponzi scheme, her son had bilked her and her sisters out of much of their inheritance. Sandra Peterson told a reporter she didn't want to testify and was doing so in response to a subpoena. Beckman didn't look up as she was sworn in and stepped up into the witness stand beside Chief U.S. District Judge Michael Davis. … Peterson said she learned that Beckman had used much of the equity from the estate to pay for golf outings, a Florida time-share, and to pay off loans on two cars, a boat, and a home equity line of credit. She sued him and reached a settlement covering part of her losses.” Hey Bo, don’t forget flowers for Mother’s Day.

After a long lapse between postings, I had dropped John Hugh Gilmore’s Minnesota Conservatives blog from my “to do” list. Checking for this edition of The Glean his most recent offering — from late last month — still has relevance as the state GOP tries to deal with the Ron Paul insurgency: “Congressman Ron Paul is a career politician with no legislative accomplishments to his tarnished, crackpot name. Representing Texas's 14th congressional district, Paul has a long track record of loony ideas few responsible people hold. He's an anti-semite and hostile to blacks and other racial minorities. He has repeatedly praised white supremacist David Duke over the years. His newsletters are full of vile and paranoia. He advocates a feckless foreign policy, whining in his trademark nasal pitch that we should leave the world alone because it will then leave us alone. Ignorance is rarely this invincible. He blames America for the 9-11 Islamo-fascist attacks. … Paul's juvenile brand of libertarianism appeals to both a wide and narrow group of devotees. Most can be justly categorized as neo-hippies. Not too bright, reflexive, not previously engaged in politics for the most part. Their body odor at the MN GOP CD 3 convention was staggering. … The cancer has infected the race for senate as well. Hand picked by Anna, the head Minnesota zombie, Rep. Kurt Bills is in over his head and it shows. Did he not vet Ron Paul? Apparently not.”

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Comments (7)

Geographically Challenged?

The PiPress article does not put Sweeny's Saloon in "Downtown" Saint Paul. Was it put there by an Edina based MinnPost columnist who no longer gets to Saint Paul since he longer works there? I'm pretty sure Sweeny's is still up on Dale Street.

An Unacknowledged Republican Article of Faith

The "revised" Republican business tax cut bill is just more of the same old fiscal irresponsibility on their part.

From the Presidency of George W. Bush on, a clear (and clearly delusional) article of economic "faith" among Republicans of every stripe seems to have been this:

WE are so productive, so amazing, so adept at managing and working with financial resources, that government policies which give us more money to work with and the freedom to work whatever schemes we want with it will ALWAYS and INEVITABLY result in massive increases in prosperity for EVERYONE.

No doubt "Bo" Beckman and Trevor Cook told their investors exactly the same thing, as do the executives of the entire Wall Street Casino system.

There has, of course, never been even the slightest shred of evidence to support that article of "free market" "faith." ("Trust us!" and "How dare you ask me any reality-based questions!" is NOT evidence.)

If we continue to operate our government by "faith" in the "free market," we'll eventually ALL be in the same position as Cook and Beckman's "investment" clients.

Let me piggyback....

..I'm always struck about how carefully we monitor the funds we give to welfare recipents, i.e. what foods they purchase, drug testing, etc. Yet we just keep handing out tax breaks to businesses with some blind belief that it will "create jobs", despite the fact it never does.

Spot on! That sales tax

Spot on! That sales tax break on capital equipment purchases will sure (not) create more jobs. Small business owners will smile all the way to the bank as they save some money on planned purchases.

Open Meeting Law Rendered Meaningless by Legislature

Their conniving kept all meaningful negotiations completely out of sight of the public, from the beginning to the end of this whole stadium business - "closed from the beginning", in the words of Senator Marty.

Sen. Senjem's rationale that "they" wanted to "respect the business privacy of the Vikings" is so servile and weak, you'd think he'd just remain mute and retain some dignity. Where is the voter and taxpayer in Sen. Senjem's mind ??

And by the way, who are "they", anyway ?? What are "their" names ?? Who, exactly, sold us down the river ?? Or don't we voters and taxpayers get to know who made the decisions that spent all that money of ours ?? The name of every person in these meetings should be published by a responsible local press, but don't hold your breath on that one.

Sen. Rosen's "The Vikings didn't get whatever they wanted," is laughable - yeah, they didn't get everything - only 99%.

Open Meeting Law doesn't apply

The Mn Supreme Court has ruled that circumventing the Open Meeting Law thru a series of non-quorum meetings is illegal. But the legislature isn't subject to the Open Meeting Law. It's subject to its own open meeting law, which requires committee meetings to be open, except ... (wait for it) ... the courts have no jurisdiction to enforce it! Self-enforcement only.

Not a bad deal

The Vikings get the stadium they want, Minneapolis for $150 million gets a needed replacement of the old Metrodome (a much better deal than the $125 million St. Paul is spending for the restored Union Depot) and the state gets to keep the gold standard of sports franchises, which is worth a lot in terms of PR for both the Twin Cities and Minnesota. And the new stadium will be available for tractor pulls and monster truck rallies, and maybe even a return of U2, sans rain.