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North suburbs call stadium process ‘unorthodox, unfair and convoluted’

Assessing Zygi Wilf’s potential “windfall”; a 28-year run of plagiarism; Rep. Franson attacked, defended; Sarah Janecek on Bruininks’ “nest”; and more.

It’s difficult to disagree with their characterization. Frederick Melo of the PiPress reports that the Twin Cities North Chamber of Commerce has sent a testy letter to state leaders: “For days, Ramsey County Commissioners Tony Bennett and Rafael Ortega have accused key state leaders of holding their proposal for a Vikings stadium in Arden Hills to a tougher standard than the plan that has gained the governor’s blessing just east of the existing Metrodome. On Thursday, they got some company. A letter to state leaders from the Twin Cities North Chamber of Commerce decries the supposedly ‘unorthodox, unfair and convoluted process’ that currently favors Minneapolis over Arden Hills. The letter to Governor Mark Dayton, Senate Majority Leader David Senjem, R-Rochester, and House Speaker Kurt Zellers, R-Maple Grove, is signed by attorney Bill Gschwind, who chairs the chamber’s Public Policy Committee.”

The conventional wisdom that Vikings owner Zygi Wilf will reap an equity bonanza via a new publicly subsidized stadium is challenged by Tim Nelson at MPR: “Forbes’ [Kurt] Badenhausen says there’s no doubt a new home will be a windfall for the Vikings. ‘A new stadium would be an absolute home run for the team,’ he said, although it isn’t clear how big a home run it will be until a deal is inked. [Andrew] Zimbalist, the Smith College sports economist, agrees. He says the raw numbers, like the cost of a new stadium and the value of a team, aren’t the most telling factors in how a stadium deal works out for an NFL franchise. The difference between business in their old home — another fact the Vikings don’t disclose and the business in their new home is the real value. ‘Some deals are 100 percent publicly funded. Some deals, like what the Giants and Jets did in the Meadowlands in New Jersey are 100 percent privately funded,’ Zimbalist said. ‘Some deals have substantial lease rental payments. Some deals don’t have that. Because of these different characteristics, you’re going to see some teams have enormous jumps in their franchise value, over $100 million, and other teams are going to have very modest increases. I don’t think any of that speaks to what would happen for Zygi Wilf under certain conditions if he got a new stadium in the Twin Cities.’ Taxpayers can take some consolation: the tentative Vikings stadium deal announced last month has a ‘clawback’ provision. The public stadium authority gets up to 18 percent of the capital gain if the team is sold within 15 years of the signing of a stadium bill, although that percentage drops by 1.2 percent annually.”

In a Strib commentary, local news veteran, Doug Stone responds to radio host Jason Lewis’s weekend spiel against certain types of nonprofits. Says Stone: “I’m not sure what Jason Lewis’s point was in his anti-nonprofit commentary (“One’s break is another’s tax burden,” March 4). Is he against nonprofits because he believes the only really useful organization in society is a for-profit business? Or is he against them because they are somehow stealing from the tax coffers because they are tax-exempt? Or is he against them because the ones he cited espouse more progressive causes that he can tolerate? … what seems to bother him the most is those nonprofits that he thinks have a social or political agenda. And, according to his examples, they are all progressive groups. … Lewis offers no sarcastic comments about conservative-oriented nonprofits that also pay no taxes, groups like the Center of the American Experiment and the Freedom Foundation of Minnesota. Apparently, if you advocate for free enterprise and limited government, it’s OK to be tax-exempt.” Talk radio tends to struggle outside the bubble.

A 28-year run of plagiarizing has led to the resignation of a newspaper veteran. Ryan Johnson’s story in the Grand Forks Herald says: “A former North Dakota newspaper owner has resigned from a weekly newspaper in southern Minnesota after being confronted with allegations that he plagiarized other writers’ work in columns printed across the Midwest during his 28-year career, the publisher said today. Jon Flatland came to The Times in Blooming Prairie, Minn., a weekly newspaper with a circulation of about 1,400, as interim managing editor in November 2011 after responding to an ad placed with the Minnesota Newspaper Association. He was the past owner of the Steele County Press of Finley, N.D., and also was the 2009 president of the North Dakota Newspaper Association. … It is ‘troubling’ enough when a rookie reporter plagiarizes other writers’ work, [Singapore-based writer David] Fox wrote [on his blog]. But Flatland’s actions were ‘unfathomable,’ he wrote, because he was a respected reporter, columnist and editor at several newspapers in the Midwest for 28 years.
‘For nearly three decades, he has masqueraded as a legitimate writer when in fact, he has been a journalistic parasite, feeding off the hard work of others,’ Fox wrote.
Flatland received a first-place writing award for a humorous column from the North Dakota Newspaper Association in 2011, a column that Fox said ‘was in fact written by Jason Offutt, a writer in Missouri.’ ”

GOP Rep. Mary Franson’s problems are not receding. As Don Davis of the Forum papers reports: “Protesters chanted for Rep. Mary Franson to resign and a liberal organization submitted a petition this morning demanding that she apologize after making comments that some say insulted poor Minnesotans. Welfare Rights Committee members held signs proclaiming “People are not animals ever” and “Rep. Franson, you are out of touch” as they waited for her to go into a House Agriculture Committee meeting in the State Office Building across from the Capitol. The reaction was to a video the Alexandria Republican posted Friday on YouTube in which she said: ‘I’ll read you this little funny clip that we got from a friend. It says, ‘Isn’t it ironic that the food stamp program, part of the Department of Agriculture, is pleased to be distributing the greatest amount of food stamps ever. Meanwhile, the Park Service, also part of the Department of Agriculture, asks us to please not feed the animals, because the animals may grow dependent and not learn to take care of themselves.’ ”

On the conservative blog “Hot Air,” Mitch Berg responds, saying: “Franson has been a lighting rod for Minnesota’s demented left for a long time now. A Central Minnesota teacher and leftyblogger apparently expressly condoned some of the local droogs-in-the-making in bullying one of Franson’s children in school because, in his role as moral judge, jury and executioner, he figured it served her right, having a parent who opposed gay marriage (LL has the audio; it’s a fairly searing indictment of the “Clockwork Orange”-y inner id of way too much of public education today, not to mention the dingo-like morality of a good 80% of Minnesota leftybloggers).  By extension, it served her right, being a conservative woman. Because women, like blacks and latinos and gays, are supposed to be liberals.  And if they wander off the reservation, there need to be consequences. … So the story is this:  the hyenas of the Ministry of Truth twist Franson’s statement far out of context to whip up hysteria – part of a long-running campaign to harass Franson and, indeed, all conservative women, to make being involved in politics too emotionally draining for all but the supernaturally-toughest conservative women (and by God, your leading conservative women could make a Navy SEAL cry uncle).  Hysteria duly ensues, with less-mentally-gifted DFLers promising one of their made-to-order mini-riots on Saturday.” Now THAT, my friends, is working up a sweat.

Sarah Janecek praises Stribber Anthony Kennedy’s eyebrow-raising piece on former U of M President Bob Bruininks’ new, well-feathered nest. Then she says: “As best I understand Bruininks’ feather defense is that the money he channeled to the U’s Center for Integrative Leadership (CIL) was used to leverage a million dollar contribution from Marylin Carlson Nelson. Let me respectfully suggest that Carlson would have made the contribution regardless of who was doing the asking. After all, Carlson chairs the CIL. Further, the U’s Carlson School of Management and the Hubert H. Humphrey School of Public Affairs share oversight of the center.”… From my perch as an alum of the College of Liberal Arts and the Law School, Bruininks seemed to do an ok job running the U. But, really, Bob? You just finished a tenure as President of the U from 2002-2011. In that position, you made $733,421 a year. [Plus you had no mortgage or expenses to pay while you were  living at Eastcliff.]  Then,  you received $455,000 last year to take year-long a break for the purpose of ‘assisting [your] return to the University.’ Now you’re going to make $341,000 (plus a benefits package that has not been disclosed) in your new faculty role at the CIL. And you finessed another $355,000 out of mystery funds — while you were President — to take care of long-time staffers.”

Also from yesterday … you did catch Michele Bachmann’s quotes from Glenn Beck’s show, yes? The ones where she’s planting the notion that Barack Obama is going to be restricting American couples to (China-like) one-child families? As Eric Kleefeld at Talking Points Memo covers it: “Bachmann appeared last night on Glenn Beck online TV show, ‘Real News From The Blaze.’ ‘Women have a lot to lose under Obamacare, and I’ll give you an example. If you want to go into specifics, what the government can give, the government can take away. It certainly isn’t beyond the pale to think, in light of Kathleen Sebelius, the Health and Human Services Secretary — she said that it’s important that we have contraceptives because that prevents pregnancy, and pregnancy is more expensive to the federal government. Going with that logic, according to our own Health and Human Services Secretary, it isn’t far-fetched to think that the President of the United States could say, we need to save health care expenses — the federal government will only pay for one baby to be born in the hospital per family, or two babies to be born per family. That could happen. We think it couldn’t’?’ Co-host Amy Holmes then asked: ‘Congresswoman, are you suggesting that this administration, or a next administration, would actually advocate a one-child policy like Communist China?’ Bachmann responded: ‘What I’m saying is that now that we know the President of the United States unilaterally can tell insurance companies, you must offer the morning-after abortion pill, you must offer sterilizations, you must offer contraceptives free to the recipients of those products, because we tell you to — which means they’re effectively setting the price, as well — that says that whoever the health care dictator, could conceivably make that order, as well.’ ” And it could, you know, if you go with THAT logic.

Wisconsin’s report on jobs numbers aren’t exactly helping Gov. Scott Walker’s “It’s working” pitch, says Craig Gilbert at the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, “Thursday’s much-anticipated jobs report contained at least one huge nugget of good news for Gov. Scott Walker as he touts his economic record in advance of a recall election: the best one-month jobs number since he took office. Wisconsin gained an estimated 15,700 private-sector jobs in January of 2012. But it also contained some not-so-good news: Revised data that shows job trends in Wisconsin during 2011 Walker’s first year in office were considerably worse than previously thought, with the state a net jobs loser for the year.”