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Slots for touchdowns: Talk of casino-funded stadium is back

AFTERNOON EDITION ALSO: Rising property taxes; Bachmann truth-squadding; OccupyMN protest costs adding up; kids’ gold necklaces; and more.
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Priorities are everything. The idea of adding more casinos to subsidize pro football is rearing its head again. Tim Nelson’s story, for MPR, says: “Stadium backers have stepped up their pitch since the end of the legislative session. One of them, Republican State Rep. Tom Hackbarth, said he and another lawmaker met with the governor’s staff just Tuesday to talk about funding a stadium with track and gaming proceeds. Would-be Block E casino developer Bob Lux is scheduled to meet Wednesday with Gov. Mark Dayton to discuss the stadium. Charlie Weaver, a former Republican legislator and executive director of the Minnesota Business Partnership, said gambling might be the compromise that stadium supporters have been searching for. Gaming revenues would meet the governor’s requirement that the stadium be paid for with something other than existing state revenues. Weaver said gambling might be able to sweeten an otherwise difficult stadium deal. ‘The most obvious solution, at least in our view, that would be I think the most palatable to most politicians, is a gaming solution,’ Weaver said. ‘I think that’s probably the one that’s most easy to swallow.’ “

Can’t say I have any idea who he is, but Duff McKagan, musician/author/tattooed human billboard, has his deep thoughts on the Vikings and L.A. and fans shelling out for stadiums up on the ESPN site: “If we fans of sports are doing all this buying of seats and stuff, and paying the tax to build newer and newer stadiums, ballparks and arenas, shouldn’t we have some say when it comes to matters of our teams? Instead of just feeling like used-up workers in the world’s oldest profession?
“Here is what I propose:
“If the ownership needs taxpayer support for a new stadium, we the season-ticket holders get a 51 percent vote in matters that ever have to do with moving the team. Like a majority shareholder in a private company. If we have to help pay for the cost of doing business, treat us as trusted executives.
Or (and I am just spit-balling):
“Show us —- if your argument is that pro sports bring revenue to a region — that this revenue plainly and exceedingly does the greater utilitarian-esque good. If I spend $5 to make $6, I’d be much more comfortable with an extra tax for a stadium or arena. But the logic has to be irrefutable.”

The various ways rising property taxes are pushing up costs gets another look from Curtis Gilbert at MPR: “If you rent an apartment in the state of Minnesota, there’s a good chance your rent will go up next year. High demand and the fewest vacancies in 10 years are two big reasons. But there’s another factor pushing rents up: a state change in property taxes. In an effort to save about $261 million a year, state lawmakers this year overhauled a program designed to give property tax relief to homeowners. But in the process they caused local property tax burdens to shift away from lower value homes and onto other types of property. ‘Higher value homes get hit by increased taxes. So do commercial properties, industrial properties. So do apartments,’ said Chris Samuel, who calculates property taxes for Ramsey County. The tax increases will vary widely from city to city. But the Minnesota House Research department estimates apartment buildings around the state could see an average property tax increase of 4.6 percent, even if local governments don’t increase their tax levies.” And the crowd that concocted that $261 million “savings”? They’re reconvening to decide on a stadium tax.

Up at the Bemidji Pioneer, Bethany Wesley gives full ear to Matt Entenza’s Minnesota 2020 report on “Hemorrhaging Homesteads: Projecting 2012 Property Tax Increases.” She writes: “The 28-page report, available online at, reviews the actions taken last session, during which legislators cut $632 million in property tax aid and credits from local governments and examines the results of those actions. Property taxes are now projected to rise statewide by $376 million in 2012. ‘The latest round of aid cuts comes after a near-decade of declining state funding in Local Government Aid and other property tax aids and credits,’ the report states in its executive summary. ‘In a time of shrinking state funding and national economic decline, Minnesota’s local government units have shown great fiscal discipline; yet, they’ve become scapegoats for conservatives’ “no-new-taxes” policy.’ The report makes four recommendations: increase progressive, state-level revenue; restore the homestead credit; restore LGA and county aid cuts; and use a balanced approach to state budget that doesn’t shift the state’s fiscal burden to property taxpayers.”

Today in Bachmannia: Pity the poor fact-checkers after any GOP debate. But last night’s, in Vegas, had the truth squads near meltdown. On Our Favorite Congresswoman alone, the AP’s Calvin Woodward writes:MICHELE BACHMANN: “Even the Obama administration chose to reject part of Obamacare. … Now the administration is arguing with itself.” THE FACTS: True, the administration is moving to scrap a long-term insurance program that was part of Obama’s health care law. But it would be wrong to take that as a sign the administration is losing faith in the overhaul. Quite the contrary. Unlike the central provisions of the health care law, the long-term insurance plan, called CLASS, was voluntary. From an accounting viewpoint, that was its fatal weakness. Without some reason for large numbers of healthy people to sign up, experts warned all along that CLASS would attract too many people in frail health. Rising benefit costs would send premiums spiraling upward. Healthier people would drop out, and eventually taxpayers would have to bail CLASS out. Obama’s health insurance mandate, requiring nearly everyone to have insurance, protects his overhaul from a similar fate. ‘You have to have a broad risk pool,’ said Robert Bixby, executive director of the Concord Coalition, a nonpartisan group that advocates cutting the federal deficit. ‘By mandating coverage, (the health care law) creates a broad risk pool and that makes the system much more sustainable.’ “

A Fox9 story puts the cost to date for policing the OccupyMN demonstrators at $152,295: “The cost to Hennepin County for security and management of the Occupy Minnesota protests has hit $152,295. The county board is seeking a transfer of funds to cover the cost. The county board met Tuesday afternoon to discuss the financial challenge and its next action in regard to the ongoing issue [of] security on the plaza. Commissioner Gail Dorfman feels there has been too much of a police presence for the protests, while Commissioner Mike Opat worries the footprint of Occupy Minnesota is growing.” Is $152K so much to control the constant rioting and thuggery Sean Hannity keeps talking about?

Drawings of plans for the renovated Peavey Plaza, next to the maybe-soon-some-day renovated Orchestra Hall are out. Graydon Royce of the Strib reports: “The iconic park bordered by Orchestra Hall and Nicollet Mall has been targeted by the city of Minneapolis for a makeover that coincides with the Minnesota Orchestra’s plans to refurbish the hall’s lobby and exterior. The Peavey project has no specific timeline or cost. Estimates range from $5 million to $10 million, of which $2 million has been committed by the state of Minnesota. The Orchestra Hall renovation is a separate project that has raised approximately $45 million and breaks ground next year.”

The lawsuit in the infamous “You’re going to have to man up here” case, where a nurse skimmed pain drugs from a guy undergoing a kidney stone procedure, gets into excruciating details. Says Paul Walsh in the Strib: “The lawsuit, filed Tuesday in Hennepin County District Court by plaintiff Larry V. King, essentially follows the same scenario laid out by prosecutors who led the criminal case earlier this year against Sarah May Casareto, 34, of Forest Lake. Casareto entered an Alford plea of guilty on Aug. 31 to a fifth-degree controlled substance crime for possessing fentanyl and was sentenced to probation in connection with the Nov. 8 medical procedure for kidney stones at Abbott Northwestern Hospital. The plea enabled Casareto to maintain her innocence while acknowledging ample evidence to convict her. The suit, which seeks at least $50,000 in damages, alleges that Casareto was “negligent and careless” in her care for King, 57, of Bloomington and also names Abbott as a defendant. … The suit did not name Dr. Subbarao Inampudi as a defendant because he ‘began the procedure with the reasonable assumption that [Casareto] would follow his orders and administer’ the painkillers as he directed, Tony Nemo, King’s attorney, said Wednesday. ‘Once he tunneled … into the kidney, there was no turning back, and he had to continue the procedure,’ Nemo added. According to the lawsuit, King said that his doctor told him he would not likely feel pain during the procedure. However, Casareto told King before surgery: ‘You’re gonna have to man up here and take some of the pain because we can’t give you a lot of medication.’ An assisting surgical technologist said that King was ‘writhing in pain’ and had to be held down on the table. At that point, Casareto advised him to ‘go to your happy place, Larry. Go to your beach.’ “ … And that, folks, is a contender for Quote of the Year.

The complex economic thinking of 8th District Congressman Chip Cravaack is on full display in a commentary in this morning’s Strib:Regrettably, bipartisan consensus has been in short supply in our nation’s capital, but one thing we all agree on is that with our ailing economy and with millions of people out of work, creating jobs is the No. 1 priority for the country. … Backers of a high-speed rail line between Duluth and the Twin Cities claim the project would cost about $750 million, and they say the federal government could pick up 80 percent of the cost. Considering the federal government is already borrowing 40 cents of every dollar it is currently spending, the idea of adding more to our debt load doesn’t make sense. We just averted a debt crisis, and the solution we reached doesn’t reduce our massive deficit — it merely slows its growth. We still have a long way to go. The wisest course of action for us is to not spend money on a venture that can’t pay for itself. Instead, we must first attend to the crumbling roads, the bridges in urgent need of repair and the incomplete highway projects that we have throughout the state. … Why is our transportation system in this condition? Because prior Congresses not only raided the Social Security Trust Fund to pay for an increasing number of government programs, they also diverted funds from the federal gas tax away from maintenance of our roads and bridges. Gas-tax funds that should have been set aside for transportation purposes were spent elsewhere — on things like bike path bridges, flower plantings and historical preservation.” I love that one word, “regrettably.”

Little kids are wearing gold necklaces? A Brady Gervais story in the PiPress says: “Police received a report Tuesday that five necklaces had been taken from children at Hmong Market, 217 Como Ave., since Oct. 10. Investigators believe a woman, who has not been identified, approached the children who were strangers to her and coaxed them to give her their necklaces, said Howie Padilla, a St. Paul police spokesman. Police don’t have information that the woman used force or was aggressive, he said. Police also were sent Friday afternoon to a marketplace at 1001 Johnson Parkway for a necklace theft, according to a police report. In that case, a gold necklace was taken from an 8-year-old boy.