Nonprofit, independent journalism. Supported by readers.


Ramsey County and Dayton talk voter input on Vikes stadium

AFTERNOON EDITION ALSO: Unmanned aircraft program takes off; home-price news mixed; protesters on hand for Obama; Basilica party hit with financial indigestion; and more.
Read Tuesday Morning Edition


This is not good news for Zygi Wilf. Frederick Melo of the PiPress writes:Left-leaning activists and a vocal alliance of tea party conservatives are banding together with a common outlook: Public funding for private football stadiums makes little sense during a sour economy, they say, and the people, not lawmakers, should have the final vote. The Ramsey County Charter Commission will meet Wednesday to discuss putting a question before voters about using a half-percent countywide sales tax to fund the proposed $1.1 billion Minnesota Vikings stadium, and meeting foes from the left and right are expected to attend. The question probably won’t make it to voters before the November 2012 election, but the support of the Charter Commission would at the very least further energize anti-stadium critics.”

To that, add this from the AP: “Gov. Mark Dayton says he would support letting Ramsey County voters weigh in on a proposed sales tax increase for a new Vikings stadium. Stadium backers have been working on a plan that would not allow voters a say in building a Vikings stadium in Arden Hills. At the Star Tribune’s State Fair booth Monday, Dayton told fairgoers he thinks there are a lot of unanswered questions about Arden Hills. Even though Hennepin County built Target Field without a referendum, Dayton says a countywide vote now might be appropriate.” I guarantee you the phone calls are flying today.

At the national SportsFan blog, the Wilfs get no sympathy: “[I]f the Wilfs are so concerned about getting a new stadium, why don’t they build one with the $400 million they are already offering? Sure, it’s not going to be billion-dollar Cowboys Stadium or the New Meadowlands, but those stadiums hold the Dallas Cowboys and the two New York teams. Further, the Jets and Giants put forth all the money for the New Meadowlands, so why shouldn’t the Vikings? A $400 million stadium would be more than adequate, of course, the problem is that it wouldn’t have the luxury seating that a billion-dollar stadium would, and of course, that’s what this is all about: getting the public to fork over stadium costs so ownership can reap luxury seating profits. Moreover, the county … has already agreed to kick in $300 million for a new stadium there, so that’s $700 million the Vikings can work with. Do they really need an extra $300 million from the state, which is broke? Of course, not.” Easy for them to say. But when I go to pro football game I like to have an in-suite kitchen with a Viking range to re-heat my creme brulee.

We’re not talking Predator and Reaper drones … exactly. But MPR’s Dan Gunderson reports on a class in unmanned aircraft: “A first of its kind program in Thief River Falls is training students to repair and maintain unmanned aircraft. The program just started this month at Northland Community and Technical College, but officials there say companies are already trying to recruit graduates. Three years ago the aviation mechanic program at Northland Community and Technical College nearly shut down because of a lack of students. Consolidation in the airline industry eliminated mechanic jobs and student interest in the profession. That’s when school officials decided to focus on unmanned aircraft systems, often referred to as UAS. This fall, the college will have 70 new students in its unmanned aviation program, Dean for Aviation Jim Retka said.”                                            

Not that there’s anything definitive about these things, but Gita Sitamariah of the PiPress reports: “The Twin Cities home price rose 3.2 percent in June from May but posted the biggest decline year-over-year of any market nationally for the fourth month in a row, reports a respected housing index. Year-over-year, the metro’s home price fell 10.8 percent, according to data through June 2011, released today by S&P Indexes. The S&P/Case-Shiller U.S. National Home Price Index increased by 3.6 percent in the second quarter from the first quarter. It fell 4.1 percent in the first quarter.” In other words … up and still worst.

If you had something to protest, the place to be this morning was downtown Minneapolis as President Obama rolled in to give a speech to the American Legion convention. Tim Nelson of MPR reports: “More than a hundred protesters gathered across the street from the Minneapolis Convention Center to demonstrate at President Barack Obama’s appearance at the national American Legion convention on Tuesday. Many protesters were anti-war activists, opponents of US detentions at Guantanamo Bay and critics of FBI raids on activists’ homes in Minneapolis and Chicago last year.”

The Prez may have coined a new moniker when he referred to “the 9/11 generation.” Says David Jackson of USA Today: “President Obama paid tribute today to the ‘9/11 Generation,’ the more than 5 million military members who have served in Afghanistan, Iraq, and beyond since deadly terrorist attacks on the United States. ‘In a decade of war, they have borne an extraordinary burden, with more than two million of our service members deploying to the war zones,’ Obama said to an American Legion convention in Minneapolis. ‘Hundreds of thousands have deployed again and again, year after year.’ ‘Never before has our nation asked so much of our all-volunteer force,’ the president added, praising ‘that one percent of Americans who wears the uniform.’ “

It’s bad when you can’t even trust an ex-con selling organic food … Dan Browning of the Strib writes: “An organic food company run by an ex-con is causing financial indigestion for the sponsor of the Basilica Block Party, the Minnesota Wild and others. Nature’s Prime Organic Foods, based in Victoria, wrote nearly $40,000 in bad checks to pay its sponsorship fees for the main stage area, the Cities97 VIP tent — which it also catered — and several food booths at the two-day event in July. ‘Part of the fee that he owes us, of course, we pass through to the Basilica of St. Mary,’ said Brian Maginnis, a senior marketing specialist with Clear Channel Radio Minneapolis, whose Cities97 is the prime sponsor of the block party in downtown Minneapolis. ‘That’s the whole point, the renovation of the basilica.’ “

Sally Jo Sorensen of the refreshingly confrontational Bluestem Prairie blog goes after much-publicized freshman GOP legislator Steve Drazkowski. “The Draz” is quite sympatico with the Koch Brothers and Wal-Mart-funded American Legislative Exchange Council, the so-called “bill mill” churning out one-size-fits-all legislation for conservative state legislators around the country. “Bluestem modestly suggests that, given Drazkowski’s deep involvement with throwing ‘jackets’ on ALEC model legislation (witness his ‘authorship’ of  Minnesota’s SB1070 copycat anti-immigrant and anti-brown bill [HF3830]),that Draz is really talking about outsourcing government redesign to ALEC’s corporate bill factory, which will supply the heavy lifting in crafting the redesign. Because of the state’s lobby gift ban, Draz and others cannot accept “scholarships” from ALEC to travel to its meetings, nor does state law allow Minnesota public funds to be used for this travel. And it can’t hold meetings on its own in Minnesota without registering as a lobby (not that the law stopped it from doing so). Bluestem thinks that the selfless creation of model bills on the part of America’s finest corporate citizens should be acknowledged in Minnesota by cutting legislative pay by two thirds and doing away with the per diem system. Since the Republicans believe that there’s nothing wrong with having the American Legislative Exchange Council write our laws, perhaps Minnesotans should simply concede our out-dated and expensive conceit that legislators work for us. We can save a lot of money by not paying them for plagiarizing model bills written elsewhere. Surely $10,000 should be a generous stipend for each lawmaker to act as ALEC’s file clerks.”