Following last night’s not-even-close House committee vote against a Vikings stadium funding package, key players are (again) talking about “next year.” At the AP, Brian Bakst writes: “Gov. Mark Dayton conceded Tuesday that the deal to build the Minnesota Vikings a new stadium may not happen until next year, but he said he’s confident it will get done despite a critical setback in the Legislature. A state House committee rejected the plan in a 9-6 voter Monday, and with the legislative session nearing an end, Dayton said it’s up to lawmakers to decide whether to try again this year. … Dayton has made the stadium a priority, arguing that it would result in construction jobs and keep the NFL franchise, whose lease at the Metrodome expired, from leaving the state. Dayton says he has ‘no doubt’ it will prevail in 2013. ‘We have to get a stadium next year or the Vikings will leave,’ he said. ‘It’s just as clear as that.’ ” If you say so, Governor.
At MPR, Tim Nelson and Tim Pugmire are saying: “After meeting with Republican legislative leaders Tuesday morning, Gov. Mark Dayton said he’d offered to personally lobby legislators to help win approval for a stadium plan in a House committee Monday. ‘I did, and remain willing to do, whatever I’m asked to do,’ Dayton said. ‘But my sense was from what they said, that that was what was needed, and that was sufficient, and obviously, that was wrong.’ “
The PiPress publishes Vikings punter Chris Kluwe’s tweets, standing up for the boss. “Here is Kluwe, in a six-part tweet posted on @ChrisWarcraft:
‘A lot of you are asking for a rant against the Legislature. As much as I enjoy invective, it’s unwarranted. This is how representative … democracy works; if you don’t approve of the actions taken, you can vote against the people responsible and vice versa. Either way, the state … has finally made its position clear to Zygi, and while they should have been more upfront about it sooner, now means that he can respond … however he feels appropriate to the situation. Speaking as someone who’s seen firsthand the amount of effort and money that Mr. Wilf has put … into this team and trying to make it championship caliber, all I can say is that he’s held up his end of the bargain.’ ” And it is quite a bargain for him.
At the Strib, Jim Ragsdale reports: “In Monday’s vote, only one member of Dayton’s DFL party, Rep. Michael Nelson of Brooklyn Park, voted for the bill, joining five Republican members. That angered Zellers, who is not leading the charge on the stadium but who has said the bill must draw bipartisan support to move forward. ‘We can’t pass the stadium by ourselves in the Republican caucus,’ said Zellers. ‘This is going to have to be a bipartisan approach. Last night, it clearly was not. Now, I’d say it’s up to the governor and the Democrat leader in the House if they want to go forward, because very clearly last night, they weren’t interested in passing the bill out of committee without recommendation. … If I was the governor, I’d be livid; if I was big labor, I’d be really, really livid.’ ” I must have missed the part where the speaker so actively wheedled and courted DFL votes.
Doug Belden at the PiPress throws in: “[DFL Rep. Ryan] Winkler asked for details on how much the value of the team would rise with a new stadium. ‘How do we know we’re getting a good deal?’ he said. ‘Are we subsidizing more than we need to?’ [Vikings finance chief Steve] Poppen said the amount the team would be contributing over the life of the facility is greater than what’s being done with other teams in the Midwest. He said state representatives have reviewed the team’s financial statements and that the Vikings are not making money. ‘The Vikings are not cash-flow positive as we currently stand,, Poppen said. Metropolitan Sports Facilities Commission chair Ted Mondale, Dayton’s point person on the stadium issue, estimated in December that the team was roughly breaking even financially in the Metrodome. He said at Monday’s hearing that it’s not realistic to think the team will continue year after year to invest in an operation that breaks even.” In a similar situation, wouldn’t any other business simply “cut to profit”?
At ESPN, Kevin Seifert writes: “It’s time for the Minnesota Vikings to recognize that their admirable but toothless stadium strategy has failed. It’s time to end the exclusivity they have given the state of Minnesota on this issue. There’s no more reasons to tiptoe around skittish state leaders who root for the Vikings but won’t commit public money to maintain their long-term presence. It’s time for the Vikings to play their last remaining card, the one I’m surprised they haven’t used already. What’s the secret to securing public financing for a new stadium? Relocation. Relocation. Relocation. … It’s time for Wilf to acknowledge in a public way that Minnesota state leaders might not be willing to support any part of the financing of a $975 million stadium. If that’s the case, it would only make prudent business sense for the Vikings to begin investigating stadium sites outside of Minnesota.”
The bodies of the White Bear Lake couple were among those recovered last month from the Costa Concordia sinking in Italy. Paul Walsh of the Strib says: “The bodies of retired couple Gerald and Barbara Heil were among five identified using DNA, said the prefect’s office from the Tuscan town of Grosseto. Their bodies were recovered in late March. John Heil, a son of the Heils, told the Associated Press that the family was declining to speak about the identifications. … The five bodies were all found in spaces between the hull and the seabed, according to the Italian Civil Protection agency.”
So how about a fake election for fake candidates? Jason Stein of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel reports: “State elections officials Tuesday said that six fake Democrats could remain on the ballot in the upcoming recall elections, ensuring that all the races would hold primary elections on May 8 and general elections on June 5. The Government Accountability Board voted 6-0 to leave in place the protest candidates who filed paperwork to run in the recall elections against Gov. Scott Walker and five other GOP officials. The effort was devised by Republicans to ensure that their state Senate candidates didn’t face general elections on May 8, the day that Democrats will hold a real primary in the governor’s race. The accountability board also approved a slate of candidates for governor, lieutenant governor and state Senate, including a liberal Walker critic who is also running as a spoiler candidate in the governor’s race.”
Also at the Journal-Sentinel, columnist Daniel Bice is keeping an eye on “John Doe” developments. “It’s the biggest question hanging over Gov. Scott Walker’s recall election: Will Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisholm file additional criminal charges as part of his John Doe probe before the June 5 election? For nearly two years, Chisholm’s office has been looking into various activities in Milwaukee County during Walker’s time as county executive. So far, prosecutors have brought charges against three ex-Walker aides, one appointee and a major campaign contributor. Chisholm has sent strong signals that additional charges are in the offing.”