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It’s signing day for the Vikings stadium bill

Legislative accomplishments; the value of a new stadium; the “real” political divide: Mayo’s Mount Everest research; a civility forum; and more.

History will record today as the day the new(est) Vikings stadium became a reality. A PiPress team looks at the rest of this year’s legislative, um, accomplishments and says: “The culmination of a decade-long debate over providing the National Football League team with a new, $975 million home overshadowed everything else lawmakers did this year. Not that they accomplished a lot more. They didn’t have much to do. After erasing a $5 billion deficit and balancing the state budget in 2011, the only job they were expected to do this year was pass a public works bonding bill, a tradition in even-numbered years. They got that done.” They go on to detail the rest of it, such as it was.

Don Davis and Andrew Tellijohn at the Forum papers say: “Democrats’ term for the just-completed Minnesota legislative session is “do nothing,” but if that is true, the House speaker said it is because of what he calls Gov. Mark Dayton’s top priority. ‘I blame it all on the stadium,’ said Speaker Kurt Zellers, R-Maple Grove. Zellers, who opposed the stadium plan, said ‘it took up so much time, so much air.’ Democratic Sen. Roger Reinert of Duluth sided with Zellers on that point: ‘This is what kind of took all the energy out of the room, all the energy out of the building.’ Both sides talk more about failings than successes, blaming each other. … Some point to approving a Vikings stadium construction plan as a premier accomplishment done with bipartisan work. … Senate Minority Leader Tom Bakk, DFL-Cook, said the session ‘was about to go down … as the biggest do-nothing session,’ but it did not because Democrats were able to put up the votes to approve a stadium. Bakk said the session likely will have the fewest number of bills signed into law since 1869, something Republicans who believe in smaller government consider a plus.” By that logic, an even “plus-er” plus would be no session at all, right?

At the AP, Tim Dahlberg looks at the Vikings deal and says: “If Zygi and Mark Wilf had known it was going to be this hard to get a new stadium built in Minneapolis, they might have gone looking for some other taxpayer-funded trough to guzzle at. They’re going to get their new stadium, though, and what a place it should be. … The best part of it is they’ll get it for next to nothing. Sure, $477 million seems like a lot of money, even for billionaires. By the time the Wilfs get done selling stadium naming rights and the dreaded personal seat licenses, though, they may not even need the $200 million loan the NFL has promised to help get it done. … What it mainly does, though, is make owners even richer with streams of new revenues from luxury box sales and premium seating charges they could only dream of in their old digs. That’s particularly true for the Vikings, who were ranked 28th out of 32 teams in valuation by Forbes last year at $796 million. The Wilfs didn’t have to look far to see what a new stadium can do. The Indianapolis Colts, who were ranked 24th among NFL teams by Forbes in 2005 are now 11th, thanks to a $720 million stadium they paid only $100 million for.”

Over the weekend, Doug Tice at the Strib looked at the “real” divide in politics: “We tend to view politics almost entirely as a struggle between ideologies, the left against the right. But just now, in America and beyond, there’s another kind of conflict underway as well, pitting those who recognize a need for significant change in governments’ priorities and finances against forces that tend always to preserve and protect the status quo. Advocates for change are a herd of contrasts and contradictions — extremists and moderates, progressives and conservatives, pragmatic incrementalists and utopian idealists. The more elemental and immutable forces that support business-as-usual are universal self-interest and what you might call the law of political gravity. Well-organized and well-financed interest groups will usually, sooner or later, get their interests tended to. And large numbers of voters will seldom be subjected to real sacrifice if politicians can avoid it, or delay it.”

A Mayo Clinic research team has returned from Mount Everest. The AP story says: “They left in mid-April and stayed at a base camp until a week ago, then began a 50-mile trip, with plans to do 10 days of research. But they returned a couple of days early for reasons related to the athletes they were studying. Because Everest is the highest mountain in the world, Mayo officials said it’s a natural lab for studying heart disease and other problems. The extreme altitude puts climbers under the same conditions experienced by patients suffering from heart disease.”

At the Grand Forks Herald, Chuck Haga, hyping an upcoming symposium on civility in public discourse, writes: “[C]ompromise has become a dirty word, [Sen. Byron] Dorgan said, and public talk more coarse. Radio talk shows, cable TV ‘news’ shows and blogs ‘impose judgments on compromise that are pretty harsh,’ he said. ‘There are now two choices: You either stand by our principles or you compromise, and compromise means caving.’ … Rob Port, proprietor of the conservative blog, will participate on a media panel May 23. ‘I’m looking forward to this topic,’ he wrote on his blog last week. ‘I worry that efforts like this are misguided, at best, or at worst an attempt to limit or control speech under the guise of civility.’  He discounted the notion that civility is in decline and that the Internet is to blame. … The notion of civility is subjective, he said, ‘and for most people has a lot more to do with whether or not they agree with the speech in question as opposed to whether or not it’s polite or respectful.’ ”

Not one, not two, but … a herd … of deer crashing into a mall. The AP reports: “After becoming disoriented and wandering into the city of Moorhead, Minn., over the weekend, a herd of deer panicked and crashed into windows and doors at the local mall, police said. Police were called Saturday morning when about six Whitetail deer had become disoriented … The deer then ran into the Moorhead Center Mall, with one dying after it crashed through a large window at the center. Another was accidentally run over by a minivan nearby. According to WDAY-TV, the driver took the dead deer home for dinner. Moorhead police officer Josh Schroder told the station, ‘This is one of the most interesting things I have seen since I have been up here.’ “

Good piece by Slate’s David Weigel on the pro-Scott Walker fervor in Wisconsin: “The Walker campaign — the one currently leading in polls — is what every Republican presidential candidate tried and failed to build. There’s a perfect link-up here between Tea Party, Republican Party, and megadonor. Walker’s TV ads run constantly; the Democratic ads don’t. Walker’s swag is everywhere, paid for by $25 million in donations, two-thirds of which dropped in from outside Wisconsin. Tom Barrett, Walker’s Democratic competition, has raised less than $1 million. The yawning money gap grew out of a loophole in campaign finance law. From the start of the recall process until the date the election was official — five full months — Walker’s campaign was able to raise unlimited money from any source. Sheldon Adelson cut him a $500,000 check. Diane Hendricks, one of the state’s richest women, gave Walker $510,000, becoming the biggest donor to a single candidate in state history. … Organizing for America is pushing its staff and activists to work on the recall. But labor-backed Kathleen Falk blew $4 million on a campaign that lost to Barrett.”

Candace Renalls of the Duluth News Tribune looks at the waiting list for the new low-cost personal jet being built by Cirrus: “About 45 Cirrus owners and prospective buyers turned out for the jet showing, which included a flight demonstration that wowed observers with its fast and slow flybys and steep climb. The event, Cirrus’ only one in the region this year, was held at the Rochester International Airport because Rochester is a big jet market. And Duluth, where Cirrus is based, already has a lot of Cirrus owners, said Gary Black, Cirrus regional sales director. Cirrus is banking on the single-engine personal jet to fill a gap in the light-jet market between high-performing propeller planes and light business jets. Twice as big inside as Cirrus’ four-seat piston planes, the jet will seat five adults and two children with the advanced technology, avionics and luxury features similar to its pistons.” It also costs roughly four times as much.