Nonprofit, nonpartisan journalism. Supported by readers.


5 legislators: Racinos are the answer to stadium funding


GOP Sen. Claire Robling of Jordan, GOP Rep. Bob Gunther of Fairmont and three other legislators offer a Strib commentary calling for racino money to fund a  Vikings stadium: “Do you want a people’s plan for the stadium? Consider the following:
1) More than 70 percent of Minnesotans support racinos to fund a new stadium.
2) Racinos will increase employment in the hospitality and construction industries, two sectors badly damaged in the recent recession.
3) Racino revenue will be used to increase horse racing purses and revitalize the horse industry. That’s real economic development that will ripple through the rural economy and provide a shot in the arm for people employed in agricultural businesses in all corners of the state.
4) Racinos will generate at least $133 million in new state revenue every year without increasing taxes, more than double the amount needed to pay the public portion of new stadium costs.
5) With the remaining state revenue, we can repay our local school districts the money borrowed from them to balance the budget last July.”
Why, I hear racinos can even cure cancer and, some say, make your kids clean up their rooms.

Some kids are playing catch-up before they’ve even started. Tom Weber of MPR files a story saying: “The Minnesota Readiness Study finds children of color and children who live in poverty are less likely to be considered ready for kindergarten than white students and those living above the poverty line. According to the study, 60 percent of all students were considered “proficient,” meaning they had enough skills to enter kindergarten. But only 44 percent of Hispanic children were considered ready for kindergarten, compared to 63 percent of white children. State Education Department spokeswoman Charlene Briner says it’s not surprising that the achievement gap between children of different racial and ethnic backgrounds, and between those from different economic situations, is showing up in children at such young ages.”

What the Better Business Bureau can taketh away, it can giveth back. Gita Sitamariah at the PiPress writes: “The Better Business Bureau on Friday withdrew a “Third Strike” ruling that accused local auto dealership Fury Motors of violating a new advertising policy and has restored Fury’s A-plus rating. The Better Business Bureau of Minnesota and North Dakota reported Friday that certain disclaimers required by Minnesota Automotive Advertising Standards could not be achieved reasonably by Fury Motors on websites it doesn’t own or control. Jim Leonard, whose Fury dealerships are in Lake Elmo and South St. Paul, said he’s considering legal action given the ‘significant amount of harm done to our reputation’ after a BBB news release last month said Fury was reduced to an F rating after violating the new advertising ‘Three Strikes Policy’. … Last month’s BBB news release said Fury advertised a $1,000 discount on cars without disclosing ‘clearly, conspicuously and in close conjunction’ with the price that the discount was contingent upon financing through Fury Motors.”

MaryJo Webster of the PiPress tees it up for everyone who wants public employees feeling the same down-sized pain as their private-sector peers. She leads her story on accrued sick-time payouts saying: “State of Minnesota employees can go into retirement with an extra nest egg that’s almost unheard of in the private sector. Some get $100 or less. A few get more than $100,000. Most take home $10,000 to $30,000. It all depends on whether an employee has an ironman-like career — rarely, if ever, calling in sick — and what that employee is paid. Unused sick days paid out at retirement, most often into health care savings accounts, usually cost state government about $14 million per year. But this year, Minnesota exceeded its annual sick time payout total by June 30. The reason: Thousands of workers took early-retirement incentives designed to trim the workforce and balance the budget. Although paying out unused sick time is extremely rare in the private sector, it’s common at all levels of government around the country. It’s been the standard policy in Minnesota for at least 40 years, before state workers were unionized.”

Did you catch Stribber Jim Ragsdale’s Sunday piece on Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker? Along the way of resetting the saga since the election of 2010, Ragsdale writes: “[Walker] points out differences between benefit packages for public and private workers and blames national unions seeking to reclaim their dues for the opposition. He objects strenuously to the most persistent criticism of him — that his ‘original sin,’ as foes call it, was in not disclosing during the campaign that he planned radical changes in public employee bargaining. ‘For eight years as a county executive I talked repeatedly about the problem of collective bargaining and arbitration,’ Walker said. He said he has dealt with an inherited $3.6 billion deficit the way he said he would. ‘We clearly said we’re going to do it without raising taxes, we’re going to do it in a way that creates more jobs in the private sector, we’re going to do it by protecting core services — and that’s what we’ve done,’ Walker said.” Well, to essentially ask the question again, did he or did he not make public comment during the campaign vowing to do what he did? And if we know the answer, why not say so?

In the latest New Yorker, John Seabrook tells readers the tale of the U of M’s development of the SweeTango apple. There’s subscriber/paid access through the link, but the synopses lays out the story: “In its débutante season, supplies were so limited that few New Yorkers got to taste it; this year, there were three times as many nationwide. Like Honeycrisp, SweeTango has much larger cells than other apples, and when you bite into it the cells shatter. The bursting of the cells fills your mouth with juice. … the University of Minnesota has managed the release of the SweeTango. Instead of an ‘open release,’ which meant that anyone could grow the apple, the university decided to release it as a ‘managed variety,’ or what’s known in the business as a ‘club apple.’ The university would grant a license to an outside company, which would establish a consortium that could market and grow the apple nationally.”

In an opinion piece in the Strib, Terry Larkin seems to have found the villain at the core of America’s unenmployment problem: “I fear that the biggest risk threatening America’s exceptional character is that more Americans would rather complain about the lack of job than go find one. If you regard this as blasphemy, then tell me how a nation with more than 14 million people not working can have one single illegal immigrant fixing a roof, mowing a lawn, cutting a hog, washing a dish or changing a nursing home bed? … My parents were almost penniless when they were booted off their family farms. And yet, in the middle of the Great Depression, they thrived through work. America will again thrive and be great when each of us, and especially the Occupy Wall Street protester seen carrying the sign, “One more MBA without a job,” understands that successfully finding work is less about a person’s education level and more about a person’s character.” Oddly, there’s nothing in the piece about CEO compensation, collateralized debt obligations or 25 years of middle-class stagnation.

Here’s a gutsy move. Jessica Lussenhop at City Pages writes: “On Monday afternoon, Seth Coleman,  a seasonal Target employee in Northfield, will deliver a hard copy version of the ‘Save Thanksgiving’ petition to the retailer’s headquarters on Nicollet Mall. ‘My choice is stay up all night and work two shifts like a zombie, or sleep and not have a Thanksgiving,’ he says. After Target announced it would be opening at midnight on Black Friday, a Target employee in Omaha realized he’d have to go to bed at 2 p.m. in the afternoon on Thanksgiving if he had any hope of surviving his shift at 11 p.m. He started the ‘Tell Target to save Thanksgiving’ petition online, and so far it has over 181,000 signatures. … Since the petition is directed at CEO Gregg Steinhafel, someone has to deliver it to him. That’s why the folks at went scouring the signatures looking for a Minnesotan who’d be willing to risk his or her job to make Target look bad. They found a local boy in Seth Coleman, a line cook by trade who says jobs are hard to come by in Northfield. He took a seasonal job unloading trucks at Target and is currently scheduled to work two shifts on Thanksgiving in order to keep the store stocked for Black Friday lunatics. He’ll be on the clock from 4 a.m. to 10:45 a.m. and then again from 10:45 p.m. until 8 a.m.” Good luck, kid. Maybe they’re hiring at Malt-O-Meal?

Today in Bachmannia:  Someone should do a photo mash-up of her eyes and his hair. Our Favorite Congresswoman will be meeting with … Donald Trump again (this is the fourth time) today. Shannon Travis at CNN writes: “Republican presidential candidate Michele Bachmann will meet with real estate mogul Donald Trump on Monday in New York City, her spokeswoman said Sunday. The meeting will happen at Trump Tower. It will be the fourth meeting between the Minnesota congresswoman and the reality TV star. ‘He called the other day … and she’d mentioned she was going to be in New York,’ Bachmann Communications Director Alice Stewart told CNN. ‘It should last about an hour or so.” Bachmann will also tape a show for NBC’s “Late Night with Jimmy Fallon’, Stewart said.” OK, here’s a show pitch to NBC — the “All GOP Presidential Candidates Apprentice,” where no idea is too batty or bizarre to win a job as The Donald’s wing man, or woman.

Comments (13)

  1. Submitted by William Souder on 11/21/2011 - 07:16 am.

    If racinos are a sure and painless source of new state revenue I say let’s go for them. But let’s not waste the money by handing it over to billionaire Zigi Wilf and his hapless band of perpetual losers, the Minnesota Vikings.

    Instead, let’s put the money toward infrastructure, toward reduced tuition and increased funding for the U of M, and toward K-12 education. Roads, bridges, and schools should be way higher on our priorities than a greedy and unsuccessful professional football team.

  2. Submitted by Mark Gisleson on 11/21/2011 - 08:03 am.

    Racinos won’t be enough. But a few more tweaks and I think they can build their stadium if we just do the following:

    • License and tax prostitutes
    • Legalize and tax illegal drug sales
    • Allow convicted felons to buy their way out of prison
    • Sell permits to allow drivers to ignore speed limits
    • Allow parimutuel betting on all sports events in the state from middle school track meets to Vikings games

    And let the same marketing geniuses who flog the state lottery promote these new revenue enhancers. We should also loosen up zoning laws while we’re at it. How many jobs-creating strip clubs could Minnesota attract if they were allowed to build new clubs in residential areas (where the customers are)? The state also artificially depresses the number of bars. How many job-creating liquor establishments could we have if we just dumped our archaic liquor laws?

    Minnesota’s just not trying very hard to raise money for this new stadium. We’re a long ways from hitting bottom, and there’s plenty of money to be made between where we’re at and where we’re headed.

  3. Submitted by Ray Schoch on 11/21/2011 - 08:12 am.

    Amen to Mr. Souder, though I’d modify his diatribe against the Vikings somewhat. It doesn’t matter to me whether the football team’s owner and players are greedy or modest, or whether they’re 2-14 or 14-2 at the end of the season. Either way, roads, bridges and schools ought to be substantially higher on the state’s list of items to be subsidized with public dollars than a group of professional entertainers and their “owner.”

  4. Submitted by William Souder on 11/21/2011 - 08:37 am.

    Hey…maybe we’re missing something here. Why not put a casino IN a new Vikings stadium? We all know that professional football is about gambling anyway. Plus, the imagery of Zigi & Co. living large off the pathetic dreams of the desperate and the addicted would clarify on a continuing basis the moral bankruptcy at the heart of any publicly funded stadium deal.

  5. Submitted by Greg Kapphahn on 11/21/2011 - 08:38 am.

    Evidently our Republican friends believe that the profits from racinos, like the outrageous profits of oil companies, just magically appear out of thin air,…

    and are not the result of money being extracted from someone’s pockets to benefit someone else (in this case, decidedly UNdeserving and certainly NOT needy).

    Racinos in this form would just be another form of regressive tax – just another way of taxing the poor and middle class to benefit fabulously wealthy folks such as Mr. Wilf and his wealthy players and coaches.

    RE Mr. Larkin: he seems to have missed that fact that, unlike in the days of his parents, when working any job available was a way to survive in what were temporarily very bad times – times which would get better with time,…

    for today’s college-educated young people to accept the non-living wages jobs with no benefits that are available to them is akin to accepting that the economic restructuring that has taken place in America,…

    the class warfare, the rich against the poor and middle class, that has been being carried out since the days of Ronnie Raygun,

    i.e. the reduction of the average worker, no matter how much they have done everything that should have led to a stable life and a good job, to the status of a third-world day laborer is all they can and should expect out of life.

    This is NOT the America I grew up in. That America has been stolen from all of us by the machinations of the fabulously wealthy and their sycophantic followers such as Mr. Larkin.

    That he does not and cannot realize that he is a willing participant in the destruction of his own life and his own nation is testament to the level of his psychological dysfunction and the blindness it causes in him (or his overindulgence in weasel news).

  6. Submitted by Tom Rees on 11/21/2011 - 09:24 am.

    Here’s from Minnpost:
    Racino plan sputters as gambling issues pile up;By Jay Weiner | Friday, May 6, 2011;
    “These gambling proposals are simply another proxy for garnering more state revenue to avoid spending reductions and structural reforms necessary for an honestly sustainable budget going forward,” Sutton said. “There is nothing ‘free market’ about expanding gambling as a scheme to garner more revenue for the state — especially when Gov. Dayton marks gambling revenue for ‘economic development,’ which means government picking more winners and losers in the market place based on politics and not productivity … Funding education is a constitutional obligation of state government. As such, education funding should be built into the existing tax structure, not dependent on whether or not ‘baby needs a new pair of shoes.’

  7. Submitted by Jackson Cage on 11/21/2011 - 09:58 am.

    I suggest Mr. Larkin put his theory to the test. Quit his job, doctor up his resume to mirror that of a new college grad, then show these young whippersnappers how easy it is to climb back up the ladder. And yes, Mr. Larkin, I DO want fries with that!

  8. Submitted by Thomas Swift on 11/21/2011 - 09:59 am.

    Bri, you’re a good helper. If anyone was unclear about what Terry Larkin was saying, you provide a nice example right there to clear things up for thoughtful Glean readers…now, someone just needs to come up with an “tear squirtin’ child” emoticon and your work will really shine!

  9. Submitted by James Hamilton on 11/21/2011 - 10:07 am.

    Sorry you didn’t find Ed Lotterman’s Sunday piece on the defense budget worth mentioning. Among other things, it reveals that we’ve spent far more than we’ve been told on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

    Racinos: robbing Peter to pay Zyggi.

    Sick-time payouts: though few private enterprises pay out unused sick time, most do pay unused PTO, which combines sick and vacation time. Unless the terms of employment say that private employees aren’t paid for unused PTO at the time of separation, they likely are entitled to it under Minnesota law.

    Mr. Larkin’s rant: Apparently, three of the four unemployed people for every job available in America are morally deficient. I knew it!

  10. Submitted by James Hamilton on 11/21/2011 - 10:13 am.

    @2: Legalize and tax prostituion and drugs? Absolutely. Use the money for a stadium? Never. It would help pay for the damage wrought by both, however.

    Sex for pay and intoxication go back to the beginning of recorded history. Yet, after more than 5,000 years of failure to control either, we still pretend they’re within our control.

    What’s that definition of insanity?

  11. Submitted by Steve Titterud on 11/21/2011 - 11:26 am.

    #4: Heck, if we’re going to put a racino IN the stadium, why not put a whorehouse in the stadium, too?

    All those state legislators surely can vote for it – they know all about the economic and social benefits.

    This will be very popular with the people of Minnesota because at least they’ll get off their feet once in a while!

    If you’re going to hang for a lamb, you might as well steal a sheep.

    Here’s a solution to the stadium financing “problem” – UNELECT those 5 legislators!

    Interesting that the Star-Trib article does not cite its source for this 70% figure. I recall a little while ago that a survey was run which posed the question which went something like this: IF a stadium were to be built, which manner of funding would you most favor? Is this the source of this 70% baloney?

    If so, to turn this into a statement such as appears in the Strib article and is quoted above is a complete distortion. But we can expect nothing less from the Strib than this kind of deceptive cheerleading and chicanery.

  12. Submitted by Barbara Miller on 11/21/2011 - 02:18 pm.

    Chuck, Chuck! I’ve got an idea!

    Gut the Mall of America, leaving just the periheral retail shops and build the new, REAL Mall of America field where what most of us still think of as Camp Snoopy is/was.

    Fantasy football reaches a whole new level! Little betting booths everywhere.

    Vendors on roller skates in the mall. Vendors on trapezes in the game stadium, headed up by Wally the Beer Man (think jobs, jobs, jobs!). They will sell beer (duh), mojitos, sushi, hot dogs and pulltabs.

    There will be addiction counselors available at each level. Alcohol, drugs, gambling, sex — you name it. 12 Steps or pray it away…your choice!! Also investment advisors and grief counselors (think Vikings games). Personal shoppers. More jobs!!

    Valet parking (jobs, jobs, jobs). Designated drivers (jobs, jobs, jobs).

    So many possibilities, so little time. Skol, Vikings!!

Leave a Reply