It appears Minneapolis has its City Council ducks in a row for a pro-stadium vote. Eric Roper of the Strib reports: “Mayor R.T. Rybak delivered seven ‘yes’ votes for his Vikings stadium plan from the Minneapolis City Council Tuesday night in a test vote that followed two hours of public testimony. The vote adds Rybak’s stadium plan to the city’s lobbying agenda, a largely symbolic measure which reaffirms to lawmakers at the State Capitol that Minneapolis has enough support to pass the final legislation. Rybak has proposed using existing sales taxes — a citywide sales tax, downtown liquor and restaurant taxes and a hotel tax — to pay for the city’s share of a new Vikings stadium … In modern dollars, the city’s contribution will be $150 million for construction and $198 million for operations. But at a public hearing Tuesday, the city’s chief finance officer said the city’s contribution will actually amount to $675 million when accounting for inflation. ‘I think that’s the first time publicly that dollar figure has ever been released,’ said Council Member Gary Schiff, an opponent of the mayor’s plan.”
So … on to the floor, and a real vote. The day in stadium news includes: Doug Belden of the PiPress says: “The Vikings stadium bill got a strong vote of confidence in a Senate committee and has one more to clear before reaching the floor. The Senate Jobs and Economic Growth committee approved the bill without recommendation Tuesday … and forwarded it for review by the Finance committee Wednesday morning. The voice vote appeared to be unanimous — Chair Geoff Michel, R-Edina, said he didn’t hear any ‘No’ votes. Following approval in a different Senate committee Friday, the bill appears to be on a roll, Michel said. ‘I do think after a while it starts to take on a little bit of momentum and an air of inevitability,’ he said.”
At MPR, Tim Nelson offers coverage of an unhappy St. Paul mayor: “[GOP Sen. Julie] Rosen restored language to the bill allowing Minneapolis to fund a rehab project for Target Center with some of the money from the downtown sales taxes … That drew an objection in person from St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman. He said Minneapolis has had a ‘great deal’ of state investment that has allowed it to build facilities like the Minneapolis Convention Center and the Metrodome. ‘St. Paul has gone it alone without that revenue. Even the state loan for the Xcel Energy Center is repaid by the city of St. Paul and the Minnesota Wild,’ Coleman said. ‘There’s no equity and no comparison to what the investment on the part of the state has been in the city of St. Paul.’ DFL Sen. Jim Metzen, of South St. Paul, said he was going to rectify that. He offered an amendment that would write off more than $30 million in city debt to the state on the Xcel Energy Center. He also offered …. an additional $43 million … to pay off city debt from the RiverCentre convention center.” And while you’re at it, how about a couple grand for pavers for that patio I want to build?
Pat Kessler at WCCO-TV can’t resist including a near Romney-like moment for Mayor Coleman: “A century old rivalry between Minneapolis and St Paul erupted Tuesday. Capitol City lawmakers demanded subsidies for The Xcel Energy Center, RiverCentre and a new ballpark for the St. Paul Saints as a price of their support. ‘We’re not so much the Twin Cities as we are Siamese Twin Cities in the sense that one who is healthy and the other who is struggling,’ said St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman.” On TV Coleman was this close to saying, “dying.”
MinnPost’s Doug Grow offers more on the two-city rivalry here.
The Strib’s Mike Kaszuba writes: “Tuesday’s action showed that stadium supporters were again trying to steer the proposal through a series of House and Senate committees without, if possible, having legislators individually vote on the project. Of the five House and Senate panels that have debated the Vikings stadium plan this month, three of the panels have passed the proposal on simple voice votes. In one of the two hearings where there was a roll call vote — with legislators having to cast individual votes — the plan failed. Since National Football League Commissioner Roger Goodell visited the state Capitol last Friday, the Vikings stadium plan has not only been resurrected but gained increasing political steam. Some legislators however have complained that the quickened pace of the proposal — and the political short cuts being taken — might be offensive to the public. Sen. Richard Cohen, DFL-St. Paul, said the Legislature’s treatment of the Vikings stadium plan in the past few days was making lawmakers look like ‘a total gang of idiots.’ ”
The fireworks are on the governor’s desk. Jim Ragsdale at the Strib reports: “Gov. Mark Dayton will soon decide whether Minnesotans can purchase and use more powerful fireworks. The Senate on Tuesday gave final approval to the bill and the amendments that were added on Monday in the House. That means the bill goes to Dayton, who has heard from both sides in the debate but has not said which way he is leaning.”
Longtime conservative activist/personality Joe Repya files a commentary in the Strib on … the complete mess that is his Republican Party: “In a stealthy, below-the-radar maneuver, most of MNGOP has been taken over by the Ron Paul movement. It appears that most selected delegates to the Republican National Convention in Tampa this summer will cast their votes for Ron Paul … At my Second Congressional District convention on April 21, Paul supporters openly bragged that they had 45 to 50 percent of the state convention delegates and that they would capture the remaining 17 at-large delegates to add to the 20 they already have. They also claim they will endorse state Rep. Kurt Bills, R-Rosemount, backed by Ron Paul himself, to run against U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar. When asked whether they would support Mitt Romney if he wins the nomination, many Paul supporters said no, unless he selects U.S. Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky, Ron Paul’s son, as his vice presidential running mate. That more than anything has the establishment MNGOP in a dither. Rightly or wrongly, they see many of the young, undisciplined and politically naïve Ron Paul movement members as anti-Semitic, anti-immigrant, anti-national defense and pro-legalization of drugs.”
The belief is that his opposition to a taxpayer-supported stadium cost him his position. Frederick Melo of the PiPress writes: “A prominent St. Paul political activist who has steadfastly opposed efforts to pay for a Minnesota Vikings stadium in Arden Hills with county funds says it may have cost him the chairmanship of the Ramsey County DFL. Rod Halvorson, a founding member of the “No Stadium Tax” coalition, was defeated by fellow St. Paul resident and retired printer Fred Perez by a wide margin. The vote, which was 113 to 63, took place Saturday during the Congressional District 4 DFL Convention … Halvorson said he was ‘surprised and disappointed’ by the outcome, which struck him as an organized effort to oust him because of his anti-stadium views. He called Perez a friend of Ramsey County Commissioner Rafael Ortega, one of two county commissioners who have pushed for a new stadium in Arden Hills. A push by labor interests ‘supportive of jobs at any cost’ probably helped Perez, as well, Halvorson said.”
I’d like to think I’d do the same, but … Chad Richardson of The Hastings Star Gazette reports: “Two dogs were rescued from a house fire in Hastings on Monday, with one of them receiving mouth-to-mouth resuscitation from a neighbor. The dogs were rescued from a burning home by firefighters from the Hastings Fire Department, then were quickly cared for by bystanders and rushed to the veterinarian. … The residents were not home at the time, but their two dogs and a rabbit were. After firefighters knocked down the flames enough to enter, they found the two pets and rushed them outside into the arms of a family member. One white dog was struggling to breathe, and that’s when neighbor Tara Mauch jumped in. While the dog was held by another bystander, Mauch began giving the dog mouth-to-mouth. ‘I was just trying to blow the air out of his lungs,’ she said. What she did apparently helped the dog.” I’d draw the line at pet pythons.