Reaction to Tuesday’s word that there’s no legislative support for tax assistance for a Vikings stadium continues to roll in. At ESPN, Kevin Seifert writes: “There have been some strong reactions to this news. Some of you see [Gov. Mark] Dayton’s announcement as the effective end of the Ramsey County project. Others think it’s the beginning of a site shift to Minneapolis. And all of you are wondering if it’s possible to finalize a deal before the Feb. 1 expiration of the Vikings’ lease at the Metrodome. After that point, they would be franchise free agents and officially in play for relocation to Los Angeles or elsewhere. My take: Given the political situation in Minnesota, this development shouldn’t be a surprise. Did we expect state legislators to raise taxes for a football stadium when they refused to do so for schools and health care? Gone is the proposed funding for a third of the stadium’s financing. But that doesn’t mean state leaders have turned their back on the project entirely. More likely, the Vikings will have to team up with another special interest group, possibly the gambling lobby, to solve multiple issues in one move. Can that happen before Feb. 1? We’ll find out in a matter of weeks.”
The Strib’s Jim Souhan corrals Harvey Mackay for his thoughts and gets this: “We agree that: Big-time sports offer immense tangible and intangible benefits; the Vikings are the most popular entity in the state; losing them would be an embarrassment to our cities and state; the price of building a stadium only goes up every year; building a stadium creates jobs and stimulates at least a portion of the economy; if we lost the team we eventually would pay three-fold to replace it. ‘The most powerful argument is the creation of 7,000 to 8,000 jobs,’ he said. ‘That’s a really big number. I’m a believer that you have to invest during difficult times.’ … What everyone should remember as the debate turns risky and complicated is that the costs of building a stadium will be far less than the costs of losing the team, and far less than the costs of replacing the team. This isn’t a ‘sports’ issue. This is a competitive market and quality-of-life issue.” Isn’t it strange that as obvious as it is to some, others don’t feel it all?
At the national stadium-watch website “Field of Schemes,” Neil de Mause writes, stepping off from Gov. Dayton’s reference to exploring “other funding options”: “Those other financing options include … hang on, there has to be something. Right, sports jersey taxes. And racinos! And, um, wait, wait, somebody’s got to have a plan to raise money fast. More realistically, since the stadium plan already had a $200 million-plus funding gap, this effectively sends all the players back to square one. The prediction here on what happens next: Vikings execs issue a statement that walks the line between disappointment and blowing a gasket and start dropping hints about moving to L.A. or San Antonio or Guadalajara; their state legislative backers come up with crazier and crazier funding schemes in hopes of something that’ll stick; and maybe, just maybe, people start taking seriously ideas that don’t involve building a brand-new $1 billion stadium. One thing I’d say is unlikely: The Vikings hightailing it out of town before this whole mess comes back up again in the legislature. The team’s friends in the state capitol may have empty pockets, but that’s better than no friends who want to give you money at all — like in some other places I could name.”
At the PiPress, Tom Powers writes: “It really does take a crisis to get politicians to do something. And, brother, we now have a crisis. Now instead of focusing on referendums, taxes, public opinion and all things political, everyone seems focused on the bigger picture of trying to figure out how to keep the team. Without some type of follow-up action, Tuesday’s announcement basically was one big “drop dead” to the Vikings organization. Not a very subtle one, either. But at least now there appears to be unity among our elected officials. They realize that the end is drawing near and they need to get off the dime. It could turn out that Tuesday’s announcement really was the death knell for the Vikings in Minnesota. But at least the politicians will spend their last days working toward the common goal of trying to keep the team instead of lining up on opposite sides of the fence and trying to torpedo one another.” Actually, instead of “get off the dime,” Powers should have said, “get off the $650 million.”
Sarah Kliff at The Washington Post sees the use of executive orders, such as by Gov. Dayton here in Minnesota, as a trend in dealing with health care reform implementation. “By my count, governors in five states — Alabama, Georgia, Indiana, Rhode Island and now Minnesota — have used executive orders to move forward on the law. And when you count states that have pursued grant money through their executive branch, that number rises to 15, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. … Dayton is actually a bit of an anomaly: It’s mostly Republican governors who have used executive action to move forward on implementing the law. Republican legislatures that oppose the health reform law have stymied some states’ efforts toward implementation. That leaves governors with an uneasy choice: Implement a law they don’t like or watch the federal government come in and do the job itself. Georgia’s Nathan Deal and Indiana’s Mitch Daniels have landed on the latter option, issuing executive orders to allow their states to avoid federal intervention.”
After three months on strike, the American Crystal Sugar staff still isn’t biting on a new contract. Dan Gunderson of MPR reports: “Locked out union workers at American Crystal Sugar Company Tuesday rejected a second contract offer. The union said 90 percent of the workers who voted turned down the latest contract offer from American Crystal, which they said did not address their concerns about job security and rising health insurance costs. The vote turnout was 92 percent.”
With the deer hunting opener this weekend, Fox9-TV has a list of the Top 10 violations hunters were cited for last year.
1. Fail to validate tag: 180 citations
2. Hunt over bait: 150 citations
3. Untagged: 131 citations
4. Transport uncased/loaded firearm: 127 citations
5. Fail to register: 110 citations
6. Misdemeanor shining: 92 citations
7. License not in possession: 89 citations
8. Trespass: 87 citations
9. Shoot from road right of way at big game: 81 citations
10. No license: 63 citations.”
Tongue firmly in cheek, Jay Sorlein writes a Strib commentary on the best reason to build the Vikes stadium: “People opposing public funding for a new Vikings stadium are missing the point. Don’t they realize that if this deal gets done, the words ‘stadium debate’ will disappear from Minnesota’s lexicon for decades to come? Without the stadium on the ‘to-do’ list, politicians might start talking about educating our kids, about balancing the budget — or about earmarking funds for a much-needed iguana research farm near Hinckley. … A stadium deal means no more artists’ renderings in the newspaper of the latest purple palace with sparkling search lights, glass walls, and a retractable roof — the newsprint wet from tears of sadness for the tax money that’s going to millionaires, or from the drool of a Vikings die-hard who can practically smell the padded seats with the adjustable beer cup holders.”
Remember last winter and spring’s scuffle over an expansion of the so-called “castle doctrine,” giving homeowners more legal protection in the event they needed to gun down someone on their property? The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel throws up an editorial on precisely that legislation floating around over there in Badger Land: “Today’s quiz:
1) Just exactly what problem are lawmakers trying to solve with a proposal to extend new legal protections to people who shoot intruders in their homes, vehicles or businesses?
2) What is it about the current system that isn’t working?
3) How many homeowners are sitting in jail because they were simply defending themselves against intruders inside their houses?
The answers are:
1) There is no problem.
2) The current system works just fine.
There is no need to change state law to allow for a “castle doctrine” defense (“castle doctrine” as in “your home is your castle”). Indeed, doing so could put some innocents in greater danger. This bill needs to die. The above answers come by the way, from Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisholm and the Criminal Law Section of the State Bar of Wisconsin, made up of more than 600 prosecutors, judges, criminal defense lawyers and academics. That’s a reliable set of expert witnesses.” Yeah, but tell any of ’em to just try and walk across my lawn.