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Stadium chances are '50-50,' says Dayton

Gov. Mark Dayton is giving a Vikings stadium only even odds. Tim Nelson’s MPR story, off an interview Dayton gave WCCO-TV, says: “Dayton said Sunday while he supports a new Vikings stadium, he's not sure it will win approval at the Legislature. ‘I'd say it's 50-50. You know, it's there to be gained, and it's there to be lost,’ Dayton said on WCCO-TV. ‘I think the various opponents are a lot more outspoken and engaged at the Legislature right now than the people who would be advocates for it.’ … charitable gambling operators don't support a proposal to pay the $400 million state share by legalizing and taxing electronic pull tabs. King Wilson, head of the charities trade group, said there isn't enough money to make an expansion worthwhile after the money is taken out for a new Vikings stadium. ‘We are open to sitting down, but if it's going to be that electronic pull tabs and electronic linked bingo are going be the sole source of building a Vikings stadium, I think it's going to be difficult, like I said, to bridge that gap.' "

Don Davis, writing for the Forum papers, explains a bit more about the “deal” for enhanced profits Dayton is offering charitable gambling: “The state Gambling Control Board and Revenue Department estimate electronic pulltabs and bingo would bring $62.5 million in new money to each the state and charities, with $28 million more to host businesses, such as bars. Estimates released Friday show large gains in profits from charities that host games. A typical example is the Sexual Assault Program of North St. Louis County that now receives $1,153 from the games would get $20,847 under the new proposal. But an economist who watches gambling finances wonders about the estimates. St. Thomas University professor John Spry said it is impossible to predict how much more, or less, could be spent if electronic pulltab and bingo games are allowed. The estimates could be high or low, he said. When the state estimates a new type of revenue, it usually is based on existing sales, income or whatever is being taxed. But the professor said there is no way to know how customers would react to a new form of gambling. ‘I would suggest to lawmakers that they very, very carefully look at the proposal,' he said.” Why do that when we can dive head first into the shallow end?

The Strib can’t say enough good things about electronic pull-tabs. You may have caught its editorial Sunday: “An NFL stadium in which a franchise can thrive and a region can take pride comes close to being a basic public amenity in a modern American metropolis. We'd rate it important enough to justify financing with public-purpose state general obligation bonds, serviced by general sales or income taxes. That funding approach would widely spread the cost of a widely shared resource, minimizing the burden any subset of the population would bear. It would also minimize borrowing costs, since general obligation bonds carry a lower interest rate than the appropriation bonds that are contemplated in the stadium financing plan that Gov. Mark Dayton unveiled on March 1.” So much for having the people who need the stadium to reaffirm their “major league-ness” paying for the thing, I guess.

The fun of the next few weeks will be in watching how nakedly the Minneapolis City Council blows off its own charter mandate about that maximum $10 million subsidy or a referendum. Eric Roper in the Strib newsroom writes: “The three sentences in the Minneapolis charter have prompted a majority of the City Council to speak out against the latest stadium plan, which would bypass the referendum. When the referendum idea was born around a table in St. Paul 15 years ago, then-Mayor Sharon Sayles Belton wanted to dedicate $50 million to a new home for the Twins. ‘I knew, as I said at those meetings, that they were going to get around it,’ said then-mayoral candidate and City Council Member Barbara Carlson, who supported the referendum requirement. But times change. Carlson now believes it was ‘a bad decision’ and ‘referendums are insanity.’ … City voters have resisted stadium subsidies before. In 1973, they approved a charter amendment meant to prevent city funding of what would become the Metrodome. The prohibition of city bonding for more than $15 million on infrastructure projects without a referendum — which remains in the charter — was later skirted by issuing the bonds through separate agencies. The ineffectiveness of that 1973 amendment arose during a committee discussion of the 1997 proposal, according to meeting minutes. Carlson felt politicians were circumventing the 1973 amendment and was unhappy to hear the state could override the wishes of city residents. ‘Carlson was surprised that it seemed to make no difference what the residents want,’ the minutes said.” Well, you see Barbara, there are “residents” and then there are “The Residents.” If you know what I mean?

The archbishop is having Sunday visitors. Andy Greder of the PiPress writes: “More than 100 people are gathering on Sundays outside Archbishop John Nienstedt's residence in St. Paul to oppose the constitutional amendment to define marriage. On Sunday, about 100 people held signs and rainbow flags and marched on the sidewalk, across from the Cathedral of St. Paul. On the first Sunday of Lent, about 80 attended, and about 120 came out March 4, said organizer Michael Bayly of the Catholics for Marriage Equality MN. Bayly said organizers hope attendance will increase through Palm Sunday. ‘It's an attempt by Catholic people to stand up and say no to the priority the archbishop has set in spending last fiscal year, 2011, $650,000 of diocese's money to promote passage in November of the marriage amendment,’ said former priest Ed Flahavan of St. Paul. ‘It comes at a time when social agencies, including Catholic Charities, are hurting for adequate resources to feed the hungry and give shelter to the homeless.' " Since when does feeding the starving take precedence over stopping The Gay Peril?

In Sunday’s edition of the PiPress, Ol’ Sooch renews his demand for transparency and respect for the Average Schlub’s hard-earned dollar. No, not on how those dollars might be funneled off to a new stadium for the already wealthy, but why we can’t learn the reasons Burnsville paid that HR director $255K to just go away. Says Joe Soucheray: “In just 38 years, we have gone from a couple of metro reporters at the Washington Post ultimately bringing about, as a result of digging and digging and digging, the resignation of the president of the United States, to a time when local reporters in St. Paul and Minneapolis cannot find out why Burnsville paid a quarter of a million dollars to a school human resources director to resign. … As newsroom resources have declined under the pressures of lost advertising revenue and the onset of the Internet and changing lifestyles that have left less time for the newspaper as a ritual of the day or evening, the layers of insulation and civil service rules and laws protecting public employees have increased. We, the bringers of sunlight, have less light to shine on public officials, who, during the period of our diminishing batteries, have built lead walls of protection that shield them from transparency. … But that is all we know, forcing us to wonder if it is corruption or incompetence. In Burnsville, they took a quarter of a million dollars of taxpayer money and wrote a check for somebody to resign. Why? It leaves us to depend on the good character of public officials to be straight with us. How is that working out?” Uh, not well, Joe. But perhaps you could persuade your boss to peel off some of the sports section budget and slide it over to your investigative department?

It’ll take a bit more bureaucratic noodling to get isobutanol in your tank. David Shaffer of the Strib reports: “[L]ike ethanol, it is made from corn and can be mixed with gasoline as a motor fuel. But the state's fuel-blending law was written years ago with ethanol in mind — and new biofuels don't qualify to be part of the mandated 10 percent mix. Now, as the nation's first commercial-scale corn-to-isobutanol plant nears completion in Luverne, Minn., plant owner Gevo Inc. says it can't legally offer the fuel at Minnesota pumps. ‘What we want to see is a level playing field,’ said Chris Ryan, president and chief operating officer of Gevo, based in Englewood, Colo., who testified about the problem before a House committee Thursday. Ryan said in an interview that the state's blending restriction, a relic of the era when ethanol was the only biofuel on the market, could affect Gevo's further expansion in the state. He said Minnesota and Florida appear to be the only states where isobutanol faces such legal barriers.”

Great! Now I can watch Adam Sandler’s “Jack and Jill” over and over off a flash drive I can load up at MSP. The Strib’s Steve Alexander explains: “This week the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport will debut, for the first time anywhere, a dozen vending kiosks that rent or sell movies on a computer flash drive that can be watched on a Windows PC. The rental service, from a company called Digiboo in Santa Monica, Calif., is being introduced at a time when consumers are shifting away from movie rentals to online movie streaming. Whether the Digiboo kiosks mark the next evolution in watching video, or just another dead end like the Betamax VCR, they illustrate the enduring allure of the movies even as technology morphs them into new forms. But Digiboo's advantage may be that its service is initially aimed at air travelers who, for the most part, don't have access to Internet streaming while on a plane. … Consumers can rent a film for $3.99, or buy one for $14.99, Thomas said. Kiosk-to-flash-drive downloads take about 30 seconds using a USB 3.0 flash drive, and from two to five minutes on an older USB 2.0 device. Consumers must provide the flash drive.”

Here’s new legal territory. The national press has picked up on the story of a western Minnesota schoolgirl forced to give up her Facebook password to her school. At The Huffington Post, they write: “Children's Facebook privacy is at the center of a new lawsuit filed against Minnewaska, Minn., schools. WDAY and CNN report that the American Civil Liberties Union is representing a 12-year-old girl who claims her school's officials detained her and forced her to give up her Facebook password. An ACLU news release says the student, referred to only as ‘R.S.’ was taken into a school administrator's office where she was ‘coerced’ by school officials and a local deputy to give up her Facebook password ‘because of allegations that she had online conversations about sex with another student off-campus.’ The ACLU alleges the girl was ‘intimidated, frightened, humiliated and sobbing’ during the interrogation. ‘R.S. was called a liar and told she would be given detentions if she did not give the adults access to her accounts,’ the release says. The student's mother wasn't told about the search until it had already happened, according to the release. ‘Students do not shed their First Amendment rights at the school house gate,’ Charles Samuelson, Executive Director for the ACLU-Minnesota, said in the release.” 

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Comments (4)

Charles Samuelson's authority

It's worth pointing out that Charles Samuelson is paraphrasing Abe Fortas's majority opinion in Tinker v. Des Moines Sch. Dist., 393 U.S. 503 (1969): "It can hardly be argued that either students or teachers shed their constitutional rights to freedom of speech or expression at the schoolhouse gate."

Ryak, gambling and the stadium.

Any deal that gives the largest public subsidy in history to an NFL team is a bad deal, but if you're going to do it anyways, and your going to do it with gambling revenue, why speculate? Nothing illustrates the degrading influence of these stadium deals like the irrationality of the plans themselves. In a normal world, you would simply hold off on the project until the new revenue stream demonstrated it was sufficient, you'd introduce electronic gambling first, for say a year, and if it produced the revenue you needed you could move ahead on the project. Instead we're being told we have to move ahead with no idea how much money will actually be available, and no plan to make up any shortfall. This is simply irrational, and will probably not end well.

Rybak and Carlson in the meantime are engaging the insane argument that relinquishing city control of millions of sales tax dollars is a good idea. Do they have any idea what kind of precedent this would establish and how it could effect future budgets and revenues? Their basically turning their city into a bank for any project state legislators decide they need money for. What does is tell you when a mayor fights to relinquish control of his cities revenues rather KEEP control?

Another Stadium Paety

Both times a downtown stadium was built, both against prevailing attitudes, the Star Tribune owned land it was to be built on. Coincidence?

With all due respect...

"It's an attempt by Catholic people to stand up and say no to the priority the archbishop has set in spending last fiscal year..."

Former priest Flahaven is free to describe himself as a bird, but he will never fly....