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NFL is not pleased with Minnesota over stadium

Arden Hills makes a comeback; Dayton talks of a special session; Minnesota’s minority population grows; good news in Duluth; and more.

The Strib today is all in on the Vikings stadium story. Mike Kaszuba and Mark Craig report that like poor Howard Beale in “Network,” Minnesota’s legislators have meddled with the primal forces of nature, and the NFL is not happy. “The National Football League said Wednesday the Minnesota Vikings’ chances of getting public money for a new stadium appears to have reached a stalemate, and that the league’s commissioner is ready to tell Gov. Mark Dayton which other cities were willing to have the team. … ‘This was portrayed as having support and likely to pass as recently as a couple of weeks ago,’ said Eric Grubman, the league’s executive vice president of business operations. ‘So this will come as quite a blow. This is quite a blow. There are plenty of willing buyers. I think the Wilfs do not want to sell the franchise, but I think there is a point where they probably would be open-minded,’ he added. ‘I would not be surprised if [NFL commissioner Roger Goodell] tells the governor, if he asks, what other cities are interested.’”

Speaking of movies, how many times did Jason Voorhees and Freddy Krueger return from the semi-dead? They have competition from Arden Hills. Mike Kaszuba of the Strib reports: “Taking advantage of the stalled plans to build a new Minnesota Vikings stadium in Minneapolis, the proposal to instead build the project in Ramsey County’s Arden Hills was dusted off late Wednesday. A group of DFL and Republican legislators unveiled what would be the fourth funding proposal for an Arden Hills stadium – this time calling for a suburban Ramsey County food and beverage tax that would be subject to a voter referendum in November. ‘We’re still alive. We’re still around,’ said Ramsey County Board Chair Rafael Ortega.” But, strangely, they have no reflection in the mirror.

If one of the Legislature’s key definitions of “success” was avoiding a floor vote on a Vikings stadium, a special session would not be very popular. But Gov. Dayton, not to be accused of playing matador with the stadium, like Tim Pawlenty, is leaving his options open. Baird Helgeson of the Strib writes: “Dayton said Wednesday he would not rule out calling a special legislative session to approve a new Minnesota Vikings stadium. The governor said he has always preferred a special legislative session to deal with something as large and complex as the nearly $1 billion stadium project. A special session would force legislators to remain focused on a single topic, without the distraction of legislators’ wish-lists that tend to clog the end of regular sessions, he said. ‘I’d give it consideration, but I would have to talk to the legislative leaders,’ Dayton said. The governor said he has no interest in calling a special session until it’s clear there is an agreement. ‘I don’t see going through another round of this,’ he said … .” Who does?

I was a couple days early on my call for another pro-stadium trumpet blast from the Strib’s editorial page. Let’s just say they, like the NFL, are quite disappointed in our legislative, um, leaders. “Delay until next year means adding upwards of $40 million to the project’s cost, prolonging the uncertainty surrounding a valued community asset and dragging this debate into every legislative race this fall. … Stadium opponents who pretend that the Vikings problem will be magically solved if it is ignored are themselves ignoring NFL history. Several markets have lost teams when they balked at public-private stadium efforts, only to pay through the nose years later to attract new franchises. … if Minnesota loses the franchise, this much is clear: The state would pay a high price if it later tried to bring NFL football back to this market and reclaim the major-league status that’s in jeopardy today.” Again with the losing “major league status” … .

Apparently every available body at the Strib got the memo to hammer on something or someone in favor of the stadium. On the sports page Jim Souhan goes after GOp Rep. Dean Urdahl. “The man is a poet. Monday night, he evoked the likes of T.S. Eliot and Tupac, packing worlds of meaning into a handful of words. ‘Why should the state of Minnesota contribute to a stadium for a billionaire owner?’ he asked. … Urdahl has studied the stadium issue for years, and he comes up with a question a third-grader would ask? There are no major sports teams that are not owned by billionaires, or that do not employ millionaires. Ruling out building a stadium that could benefit a billionaire is like ruling out building roads for all those elitists who own cars. … Instead of being asked to come up with a few hundred million dollars to protect a state asset, Minnesota [if the Vikings leave] would be asked to come up with billions. And it would. Urdahl should be asked to pay the difference.” That road analogy might need a little tuning, Jim.

Minnesota’s minority population will nearly equal the white population in another generation. Brady Gervais of the PiPress reports: “In 2010, people of color comprised 24 percent of the regional population in the Twin Cities. By 2040, projections suggest that 43 percent of the residents in the region will be people of color, according to a preliminary forecast by the Metropolitan Council. An anticipated 463,000 new residents will be international immigrants, the report said. Of these, 83 percent are expected to be people of color. The rest will include non-Hispanic whites.”

In case you ever wondered, encouraging someone to kill themself is … “protected free speech.” So says defense attorney Terry Watkins. Emily Gurnon of the PiPress writes: “The attorney for the former nurse in Faribault, Minn., who encouraged two people online to commit suicide argued before a state Court of Appeals panel that his client’s acts were protected free speech. Not only did his client have the constitutional right to say the things he did, but his words to a Canadian woman and an English man were not intended to induce suicide and thus did not violate state law, attorney Terry Watkins argued. William Melchert-Dinkel, 49, was convicted in March 2011 in Rice County District Court of two felony counts of aiding suicide. … Watkins said that both [victims] had made ‘an autonomous decision’ to take their own lives. And Melchert-Dinkel’s behavior did not go as far as, for example, giving a gun to someone so that they could pull the trigger, he said.” I’m glad the judge is paid to take that seriously.

It was a “good news” day in Duluth when the Chinese owners of Cirrus, the airplane manufacturer, kicked in money to hire as many as 200 new, skilled workers. Dan Kraker’s MPR story says: “Cirrus Aircraft’s new Chinese owners will provide a nearly $100 million investment to complete development of the company’s long-delayed personal jet, the Vision SF-50, a project that could create hundreds of jobs in Duluth and Grand Forks, N.D. … By making the Vision SF-50, Cirrus is trying to bring the first single-engine jet to the marketplace. The seven-seat plane, now priced at $1.72 million, will sell for just under $2 million in July — about half the price of small, twin-engine jets. … The company will be hiring 100 engineers and technicians to help develop the Vision. Hundreds more jobs are possible when production begins.”

In The New York Times, attorney and corporate advisor Michael Peregrine offers his thoughts on CEO behavior, in the wake of Brian Dunn’s departure from Best Buy. “The Best Buy scandal is the latest in a string of prominent controversies in which boards have moved quickly to terminate executives over concerns with personal conduct rather than legal or financial impropriety. And these cases may mean boards will need to set up new guidelines for their leaders in order to resolve thorny issues involving personal rather than business ethics. … Evaluating reputation risk is a component of the board’s oversight. Reputation risk can arise from the public disclosure of an event — violation of prevailing law, professional ethics, or standards of business conduct, product quality, public safety or values. The theory is that an event can create a negative public impression, which in turn jeopardizes a company’s value on a broad scale. While reputation is difficult to monetize, it is equally difficult to restore once damaged. The ultimate governance lesson from Best Buy is that reputation risk can arise from untoward personal conduct of executive officers. Thus, the traditional compact may need to be amended. … Thanks to Best Buy, boards may want to be more proactive concerning the personal conduct of their executives.”