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Ramsey County first to jump in for Vikings stadium plan

AFTERNOON EDITION ALSO: Bong water issue is back; how to improve state’s parks and trails; “CityTargets” on the way; and more.
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The question “Can it benefit taxpayers?” seems ripe for parsing. But that’s the official line of the Ramsey County Board as it begins the mating dance with the Vikings over a stadium in Arden Hills. The Strib’s Rochelle Olson writes: “On a 6-1 vote that was more guarded than it might appear, the board agreed to try to determine whether the site could be developed to benefit the county’s taxpayers. The cost of the study and financing options for the stadium weren’t part of the discussion and remain troubling questions for some.” Pack that last line away for consideration when it’s time to vote for “Understatement of the Year.”

The AP story says: “Some residents say the NFL is a hugely profitable business, and that the public should not be forced to subsidize stadiums for its private use.
Greg Copeland, a St. Paul resident, interrupted Tuesday’s commission meeting by saying if the county tries getting taxpayers to shoulder even part of the cost of building a stadium, he will try to overturn the decision through a referendum. ‘Zygi, take your team and go somewhere else, or else write a check and build a stadium yourself,’ said Copeland, referring to Vikings owner Zygi Wilf.”

Always remember who your friends are. The Coalition of Greater Minnesota Cities has gone public saying nice things about Gov. Dayton and his LGA-protecting budget. Bob von Sternberg drops its statement into a blog post at “Hot Dish Politics”: “The continued cuts to local government aid has taken a very heavy toll on our communities — city property taxes have skyrocketed 77% since 2002 and communities have been forced to make very painful cuts in core services like police, fire, libraries and snow plowing. Today, Governor Dayton’s budget is changing the direction Minnesota was heading by saying ‘enough is enough’ of the property tax increases and cuts that are crippling communities.”

Among those analyzing Dayton’s budget, MPR’s Elizabeth Dunbar writes: “Overall, Dayton’s budget raises more than $4 billion in revenue while making $950 million in permanent cuts. Besides a tax hike for the wealthiest Minnesotans, Dayton also proposes raising revenue through surcharges on hospitals, doctors and clinics that care for people on the federal Medicaid program, and through provider rate increases. Both measures will raise $877 million over two years. Creating another income tax tier will raise about $1.9 billion permanently, and the temporary surtax on those making more than $500,000 will raise an additional $918 million. The property tax for million-dollar homes raises $84 million.”

Andy Birkey at the Minnesota Independent scoops out some early GOP reaction: “Senate Majority Leader Amy Koch said, “This is the highest income tax in the country.” House Speaker Kurt Zellers said, ‘This is a feeble and pathetic attempt to go back in time. It will not work. It’s not what governors across the country are doing.’ He added, ‘Don’t worry, we are not going to let Mark Dayton tax our jobs out of our state.’ Koch said, ‘We will work to find common ground, but the tax increases are not going to be accepted by the House and Senate.’ Sen. Geoff Michel added, ‘What he chose was to put together his campaign platform and that’s fine; I’ll give the governor credit for being consistent, however, I don’t want to say it’s dead on arrival but I don’t think i’ts got much of a heartbeat.’ ”

Birkey has another story with even deeper psycho-socio implications. Namely, is bong water a drug? “A new bipartisan bill would exclude a specific amount of water from a bong, or water pipe, from the weight of drugs calculated when someone is charged with possession. Former Gov. Tim Pawlenty vetoed a similar bill last year after legislators overwhelmingly passed the measure in response to a high profile Minnesota Supreme Court case. The Minnesota Supreme Court ruled that because Minnesota’s drug laws are vague, bong water could be added when measuring the weight of drugs in an accused person’s possession. The threshold for considering bong water is 25 grams, or just under one ounce.” One of the sponsors is gun-totin’ police chief/GOP Rep. Tony Cornish. And don’t you want some YouTube of the first time Chief Tony has to weigh the accused’s bong water?

Today’s Question,” asked by Eric Ringham over at MPR, is: “What would you do to improve Minnesota’s parks and trails?” The responses vary:

“Gordon” says: “Encourage individuals and groups, and organizations to “adopt” parks and other public wildlands. Much maintenance could be done, and citizens might even become more invested in their public lands. Removing invasive species, repairing trails, bridges, etc. are only a small part of the potential tasks that could be ongoing. How about using more ‘Sentence to Serve’ prisoners (non-violent) to do more of the grunt work? It would create job skills, and build confidence in individuals who would eventually be re-entering society anyway. All of this could be done at a minimal expense to the taxpayer.”

“Steve the Cynic” writes: “Let’s make them into another divisive partisan issue to fight about. That way the extreme ideologues can have lots of practice making up lies and distortions to impugn each others’ motives, so that they can be in their best fighting trim for the next election season. Wouldn’t that be fun?”

And “Kevin” says: “Maybe ban humans from going into them. Litter, beer cans, ruined trails because morons use ATV’s … Seriously. I would say educate people, but that keeps getting cut in any budget. And I suspect people already know what they are SUPPOSE to do and NOT to do … They just act like morons and do it anyway. And considering the budget is being hacked to death spending money on it is not a viable solution.”

Those big city, downtown, almost-no- parking Target stores that company has been talking about for a while? “CityTarget” is what they’ll be branded. Tom Webb at the PiPress reports: “Last fall, Target announced its goal of building 10 small-format urban stores around the country, including one in the Twin Cities. That fueled chatter about whether it was eyeing a location in downtown St. Paul, but the Minneapolis-based discounter said last fall that it wasn’t ready to commit to either city. … Today, Target said that a CityTarget will open in Chicago in 2012. The store will be located downtown in the historic Carson Pirie Scott building, now called Sullivan Center, at State Street and Madison Street.”

The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel’s Jesse Garza posted the story the AP and hundreds of other outlets picked up Monday about the Packers fan, I’m sorry, Wisconsin citizen, found passed out with a blood alcohol level seven times the legal limit. “The unconscious man, who carried no identification and had a blood-alcohol level of 0.559, later left the hospital against doctors’ advice, according to the release.”  Come on. You’re thinking it. He got in his green-and-gold pickup and drove himself home.