The Strib is loving the Metrodome stadium momentum

MORNING EDITION

Here’s a shocker. The Strib editorial board is delighted with Mayor Rybak’s new-found aggressiveness on behalf of the Metrodome site for a new Vikings stadium: “Rybak stressed the cost difference in May, too, but the Dome plan had languished until gaining momentum at the hearing. Meanwhile, legislators treated Ramsey County officials last week as if they were last month’s front-runner. The chilly reception prompted county commissioner Tony Bennett to allege a pro-Minneapolis bias. If true, it would be the first time in years that Minneapolis has received favored treatment at the Capitol. It’s more likely that legislators have finally been exposed to the many serious flaws in the Arden Hills proposal. … In a meeting with the Vikings last week, Rybak told an editorial writer, he discussed the possibility that the team could work with the city to acquire and develop the five blocks now owned by the Star Tribune near the Dome. (Disclosure: At one time the Vikings had an option to buy the Star Tribune property for $45 million. Although the option expired, the value of the property is likely to be affected by the stadium decision.)” Maybe as a civic-minded gesture the Strib will offer to sell its parking lots to Zygi Wilf for $1?

“[W]ithout admitting wrongdoing,” but paying $23.5 million to settle. That, says the AP, is the situation with regards to Medtronic and that long-contested kickback case: “The U.S. Justice Department says Medtronic Inc. has agreed to pay $23.5 million to settle allegations that the company paid kickbacks to doctors to implant its pacemakers and defibrillators. The government alleged that Medtronic caused false claims to be submitted to Medicare and Medicaid by using two post-market studies and two device registries as vehicles to pay illegal kickbacks to doctors. Each of the studies and registries required a new or previous implant of a Medtronic device in each patient. In each case, Medtronic paid doctors a fee ranging from about $1,000 to $2,000 per patient.”

The mayor is due a love note from Joe Soucheray. Frederick Melo, colleague of the PiPress’ property-tax-and-pointless-government-activities columnist, reports: “Mayor Chris Coleman has proposed a series of 11th-hour changes to the 2012 city budget, which is scheduled to be voted on by the City Council on Wednesday. The mayor’s budget recommendations would lower the property tax levy by nearly $1 million next year. He would also fill three vacant police officer positions, thanks to an additional $300,000 from a new contract with the St. Paul Public Schools. Another $184,000 would be freed up for the fire department, and $376,000 restored to the libraries, which could allow the library system to maintain morning hours that were to be reduced in certain locations. The Department of Safety and Inspections would receive $55,000 for a new inspections official. Coleman’s new budget recommendations are split almost equally between property tax relief and preserving city services.”

If money equals free speech, then unlimited money equals even freer speech. Right? The AP reports from Madison: “A federal appeals court on Monday struck down a Wisconsin law limiting how much any one person can donate to independent political action groups. A three-judge panel of the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in favor of Wisconsin Right to Life’s political action committee, saying the state’s $10,000 annual limit was an unconstitutional restriction on free speech. Wisconsin Right to Life brought the lawsuit just before recall elections targeting nine state senators in August. It won a temporary injunction in August and the federal appeals court made that permanent Monday. Since the limit had not been enforced since August, Monday’s ruling does not change anything, said Reid Magney, a spokesman for the Government Accountability Board, which oversees elections in Wisconsin. … Barbara Lyons, executive director of Wisconsin Right to Life, called it a ‘sweeping victory’ that will allow the organization to ‘significantly contribute to the state and national dialogue on speech and elections.’ ” So, if you, too, want to be heard, remember to “contribute … significantly.”

Got (a half-dozen) law school grads looking for work? Consider … South Dakota. An AP story by Kristi Eaton says: “Cash-strapped communities are spending more money to bring in lawyers from nearby towns for board and commission meetings, while businesses and estates that used to turn to one person for legal guidance are now forced to use firms with multiple specialists — making the process much less personal. In South Dakota, 65 percent of the state’s 1,861 attorneys are in four cities: Sioux Falls, Rapid City, Aberdeen and Pierre. … The South Dakota State Bar Association is hoping to change that by creating a rural practice task force to help bring more lawyers to small towns. A similar effort is underway in Iowa.  … One idea is to create a loan forgiveness program for lawyers who commit to serving a small community for a certain period of time, similar to programs for health care professionals in rural areas. Another goal is to improve job placement for lawyers’ spouses, who sometimes have a difficult time finding work in rural areas, said Phil Garland, co-chair of the Iowa State Bar Association’s rural practice committee.”

Minnesota will continue to buy Israeli bonds, thank you. Tim Pugmire of MPR says: “Members of an organization called Minnesota Break the Bonds Campaign have been trying to convince the state to divest the bonds, which they claim support human rights violations against Palestinian people. The group has a lawsuit pending in Ramsey County District Court. During Monday’s meeting of the State Board of Investment, [Gov.] Dayton said he takes ‘real offense’ with the group claiming that the bonds are illegal. ‘These have existed for 20 years. You can disagree with it, that’s one thing. You can blast us for that,’ Dayton said. ‘But to say we’re acting illegally, in direct contradiction to any evidence, is just, I don’t think responsible.’ “

The Strib’s David Phelps follows up with the testimony of Tom Petters associate Deanna Coleman: “She revealed more detail than she has in previous court appearances, estimating that ‘99 percent’ of the electronic consumer goods purportedly sold through Petters Cos. Inc. (PCI) ‘were fake.’ Her testimony in St. Paul came amid an effort by bankruptcy trustee Doug Kelley to get more legal leverage over investors who made money during the Ponzi scheme. Kelley, who is seeking to consolidate several Petters-related investment entities under one bankruptcy umbrella, ultimately aims to recover, or claw back, nearly $1 billion in so-called ‘phantom profits’’ and assets. Several hedge funds are fighting Kelley’s efforts, contending that they made legitimate investments and loans and got legitimate returns.”

Lucky you if you own a Starbucks franchise next door. The Strib’s Janet Moore says: “Target Corp. confirmed Monday that it will move about 3,900 employees from downtown Minneapolis to its corporate campus in Brooklyn Park. The moves will take place from 2012 to 2014. The $66 billion Minneapolis-based retailer said 2,400 employees in technology services and 1,500 contractors will move to the office complex in the north suburban city. Target now employs about 10,000 employees in downtown Minneapolis, and 1,300 in Brooklyn Park.”

The lefty Capitol Times in Madison lays into Gov. Scott Walker on the one-year anniversary of turning down that fed money for high-speed train-related improvements: “[E]xactly a year ago, federal officials redirected $810 million in transportation funding that Gov. Scott Walker had rejected to improve Wisconsin’s rail system. That rejection may go down as one of the biggest political goofs in state history. … when it became obvious the Obama administration was going to send the rail funds to other states, Walker had to fall on his sword to save face. That prompted the Los Angeles Times to famously write “Thanks a billion, cheeseheads” after the money was sent instead to California. Now, as other states move forward to upgrade their rail systems — the 110 mph train could be a reality by 2015 — Wisconsin is floundering. No 2,300 construction jobs, no track improvements, no plan. … This week, the Legislature’s budget committee slowed planning for a permanent train maintenance facility in Milwaukee, opening the possibility the Amtrak cars will be serviced in Chicago instead. Republicans have balked at spending an estimated $53 million on the maintenance facility, saying it wasn’t worth it for only two dozen permanent jobs. But not building the facility would result in the state defaulting on its contract with Spanish train company Talgo. Sadly, the $810 million federal grant would have covered the cost of the maintenance facility, along with upgrades of tracks for the Milwaukee-to-Chicago Hiawatha line. Earlier this year, the Walker administration went back to the feds and begged for $213 million to pay for upgrades to the Hiawatha line and most of the cost of the maintenance facility. But that request was denied.”

Comments (11)

  1. Submitted by andrew stephens on 12/13/2011 - 07:24 am.

    Walker really annoyed liberals by turning down the rail money. Mission accomplished for him and his allies.

  2. Submitted by Robert Moffitt on 12/13/2011 - 08:12 am.

    The Strib really needs to shut up on the Vikings Stadium issue. As does the rest of the local newsies.

  3. Submitted by Jackson Cage on 12/13/2011 - 08:27 am.

    Cloleman was Petter’s “associate”? OK, then I guess Lewinsky was Clinton’s “associate”.

  4. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 12/13/2011 - 08:53 am.

    Walker didn’t just make a political goof when turned down a billion dollars, it was huge ideologically driven public policy goof. By the way, note that the Republicans in Wisc. refused to pay $53 million for a couple dozen full time jobs, while here in MN they clamor to spend $700 million for Ziggy’s new stadium- full time jobs created= 0. They’ll just move existing jobs to a new location.

  5. Submitted by Jeff Klein on 12/13/2011 - 09:49 am.

    @1: Annoyance, mission accomplished? Wow, welcome to third grade.

    @2: Nobody should report on the stadium?

  6. Submitted by Beryl John-Knudson on 12/13/2011 - 11:10 am.

    I agree with most moves Dayton has executed lately…but to say that because something has been done “for twenty years’ makes it right or legal? If I had the time it would be easy to count on my fingers and toes, how many policies and actions that qualified as unjust after how many years. Not the greatest defense governor?

    Also, been just wondering about the definition of “Money Laundering”…if money is sent by individuals or groups within this nation, to be sent overseas to support ‘family’ or a government that has been terrorizing its neighbor (even as the other fights back)…and with such terrorist actions, activities so documented, when does money giving or attendant investments become “laundering”and a questionable act by those who exchange or send money to directly or indirectly support such terrorism?

  7. Submitted by Rich Crose on 12/13/2011 - 12:57 pm.

    The conversation in the media is “Where should we build it?” As if it were a foregone conclusion that we are going to hand Ziggy a wad of taxpayer money and 200 acres of prime building land for free.

    Isn’t anyone asking the question, “Should we really be using taxpayer money to build a new stadium for rich people when the state has a budget shortfall in the billions?”

    If every taxpayer in Minnesota would pay me just $2 each then I too could buy a $19 million dollar apartment.

  8. Submitted by Eric Ferguson on 12/13/2011 - 01:44 pm.

    What’s annoying about the $53 million for 20 jobs, even if we believe that figure, is it ignores the construction jobs to build the facility, the jobs to make the materials for it, and the jobs that will be generated by the activity the facility allows. It’s like saying roads don’t create jobs because you don’t see people spending their work days doing something on the road itself, and ignore what happens because the road is there.

  9. Submitted by Bernice Vetsch on 12/13/2011 - 09:54 pm.

    Eric (#8) Rather than building a stadium for a billionaire who can afford his own monument to sport, the state could be investing in green energy, in upgrading school buildings, and in repairing roads and bridges. These would be permanent, decent paying jobs.

    Danie (#9) It’s all fallout from the Supremely ill-advised Supreme Court decision that corporations are people and money is speech.
    At least one member of Congress (Senator Bernie Sanders) has proposed a constitutional amendment negating that decision.

    Meanwhile, the Court’s decision has added greatly to the control of our government and our economy by giant corporations with no sense of obligation except to make more and more money. As long as they can “talk” with money in the form of campaign contributions, they give themselves a level of influence that the rest of us will never see.

  10. Submitted by Bernice Vetsch on 12/13/2011 - 10:03 pm.

    Re: St. Paul’s budget. Mayor Coleman and the City Council have worked near-miracles by making less money go further each year as first Pawlenty and now the Republican ALEC and anti-tax Right majority in the legislature shrinks the amount of our real estate taxes available to our city.

    Their plan is to reduce what the state calls “aid” but I call “our money” to zero over a four-year period. There must be some way cities and counties could retain what they need from property taxes and give the state whatever is left over. The Right has damaged the Minnesota Miracle — which actually worked for the good of the entire state — and called it good government.

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