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GOP heavyweights unhappy with all the additional stadium gambling

Unhappy legislative freshmen; Joe Senser’s intriguing testimony; Gen-Xers’ underwater mortgages; JT’s Hamburgers faces foreclosure; Power Line’s take on environmentalists; and more.

A few GOP heavyweights don’t like the idea of all the new gambling required to guarantee the Vikings stadium stays out of other funds. Baird Helgeson of the Strib reports: “Highlighting a strong divide in the Republican Party, a group of GOP legislators spoke out strongly against a proposed expansion of charitable gambling to pay for a new Minnesota Vikings stadium. About a half-dozen legislators outlined their doubts Thursday that new charitable gambling would bring in enough money to pay the state’s $398 million share of a new stadium in downtown Minneapolis. ‘This project is based on some very sketchy assumptions,’ said state Sen. David Hann, R-Eden Prairie. Rep. Mike Benson, R-Rochester, said he will introduce an amendment that would pay the state’s share through an income tax hike on players and a menu of other stadium-related tax increases.”

At MPR, Tim Pugmire checks out how well the 2010 freshman class of legislators are sticking to their “no new taxes” ethos: “The incoming class of GOP lawmakers — many of whom promised to hold the line on spending and taxes and also reduce the size of state government — is dealing with the big push for a new stadium for the Minnesota Vikings. Sen. Roger Chamberlain, R-Lino Lakes, said last year’s session was a big success for reform-minded freshmen, but he thinks this year has been a step backwards. Chamberlain said the proposed $1 billion publicly subsidized Vikings stadium is at the top of his list of frustrations. ‘It’s little wonder that the citizens have little faith and trust in their elected officials sometimes when they see this happening. It’s probably wise that they don’t’, Chamberlain said.” I assume some hard-bitten member of the local media asked NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell why the league wouldn’t accept a favorable-interest loan, right? Right?

Ex-Viking Joe Senser was charming on the stand during Thursday testimony … on Day No. 2, his picture of wife Amy got a bit more … idiosyncratic. The KARE-TV report says: “As prosecutors questioned him about his wife’s activities the night of Phanthavong’s death, Joe Senser’s words painted a picture of someone he couldn’t always depend on. The following was an exchange between a prosecutor and Senser.
Prosecutor: Did she say anything about hitting a cone?
Joe Senser: No.
Prosecutor: It was not out of the ordinary she didn’t make it to Xcel?
Joe Sense: No.
Prosecutor: It was not out of ordinary she got lost on I-94?
Joe Senser: No.
Prosecutor: If there was a plan to pick up your girls at the X she might just choose to do something else?
Joe Senser: You nailed it.
On cross examination, defense attorney Eric Nelson asked Joe Senser about his wife’s personality. Mr. Senser described Amy Senser as fiercely independent, and that it was not unusual for her to disappear for hours.”

The Glean

Senser also took a scolding from the judge for talking to members of the jury. Holly Wagner at WCCO-TV reports: “The second day of testimony did not start out well for Joe Senser, who was admonished by the judge to not talk to members of the jury after it had come to light from prosecutor Deborah Russell that he had spoken to at least two jury members after court had adjourned Wednesday. He was heard by two of the prosecutor’s assistants saying, “She expects me to tell the truth? Doesn’t she?” Russell was livid, telling the judge that in all her years as a prosecutor, she’d never seen such blatant, inappropriate contact between a witness and the jury. On the stand Russell was relentless, beating Senser down with his own timeline, which had numerous discrepancies when confronted with the official record. ‘Mr. Senser, you testified that you went to bed before the 10 p.m. news, so how do you account for two text messages you sent to your wife at 22:11 p.m. and 22:26 p.m.’? Russell questioned. Senser paused and then quipped, ‘I said I went to bed, not to sleep.’ However, Joe Senser said he could not recall the text messages.”

At MPR, Brandt Williams story includes this: “[Family friend] Sandra Delgahausen testified Thursday that [Amy] Senser texted that there was an accident the night before, that it was a nightmare and that she would not be able to talk about it. Delgahausen testified in Hennepin County District Court that Senser told her to find out more about it in the news. … Delgahausen also said she had a brief telephone conversation the night of the crash with Amy’s daughter Molly. Senser was supposed to drive her two daughters and their friends home from a concert in St. Paul that night, but didn’t. Delgahausen said Molly asked her if she had been with her mother earlier that night. Delgahausen said she told Molly she hadn’t, and Molly told her to stay away from her mother. Delgahausen said she then asked Molly to put Amy on the phone, but Molly refused.”

At the PiPress, David Hanners zeroes in on a soapier topic: “The hit-and-run homicide trial of Amy Senser took a turn for the sordid on Thursday … when a prosecutor asked the defendant’s husband, former Viking Joe Senser, about his wife’s extramarital affairs. … He had testified that in 22 years of marriage his wife had never lied to him, and court had recessed for the day. As he retook the stand Thursday — and with the jury out  — Assistant Hennepin County Deborah Russell said the former tight end’s comments about his wife’s honesty raised questions about his own credibility. ‘That broad statement has allowed the state to inquire of that issue,’ she told the judge. He agreed, and when the jury was brought back in, after some other questioning, Russell raised the matter. She asked Senser if he had ever asked his wife about ‘having affairs with other men.’ ‘I’ve never asked her if she had an affair with another man,’ he replied. ‘Did you ever catch her in an inappropriate relationship with another man’? ‘Not inappropriate, no.’ ” We can only imagine what that means.

Also at MPR, a good story by Laura Yuen on Gen-Xers with underwater mortgages and long(er)-term immobility: “Falling home prices mean many of these young homeowners now owe tens of thousands more than what their houses are worth. As they ponder career choices or start families, they are sinking under the weight of so-called negative equity. A recent Pew Research study found that Generation X is more likely than older generations to feel the pinch of underwater mortgages, meaning they owe more than their houses could sell for. Gen Xers are now in their 30s and 40s. Unlike homebuyers who signed subprime mortgages or purchased more house than they could afford, many of them simply bought at the wrong time.”

It’d be a shame if we lost JT’s. Nick Ferraro of the PiPress writes: “The days appear to be numbered for JT’s Hamburgers, a West St. Paul eatery that dates back to the 1950s but soon could be shuttered through foreclosure. Earlier this month, Park Midway Bank received a judgment of foreclosure in Dakota County District Court to sell the South Robert Street business at a sheriff’s sale. Luyen Le, who owns and runs JT’s with his wife, Trang Tong, admits that he made a very costly ‘mistake’ that led to the foreclosure.”

Power Line’s Steven Hayward, quite possibly not a scientific savant, offers more opinions on bio-sphere issues today: “With the slow fade of the climate change issue toward political oblivion, the green authoritarians need a new bandwagon to jump on and flog.  And so this headline in Scientific American online is manna from heaven: “World Governments Establish Biodiversity Panel.”  It’s clearly from the ‘if-at-first-you-don’t-succeed-at-the-UN-try-try-again’ school: Governments from more than 90 countries have agreed to establish an independent panel of scientists to assess the very latest research on the state of the planet’s fragile ecosystems. … [A]s I have said here on Power Line in the past, I think the bundle of issues we lump under the ‘biodiversity’ banner (species extinction/habitat fragmentation/ ecosystem health) are the most serious environmental issues on the global scale — much more so than climate change, but two things need to be kept in mind.  First, as always, environmentalists overestimate the magnitude of the problem … and second, environmentalists will politicize the science and propose their usual authoritarian, centralizing, power-grabbing solutions that will maximize political conflict, and fail to solve the problem, when it doesn’t make the problem worse. As I like to say, the environment is too important to leave to environmentalists; they’ll just make a mess of things, as they have with climate chance. I’ll say it again because it never gets old: Losers.” Damned environmentalists … always stirring up political conflict.