COMMUNITY VOICES | Minneapolis DFL Party should apologize

The Minneapolis DFL Party owes the citizens of Minneapolis an apology and ought to make a statement to that effect — whether by resolution or otherwise — at its upcoming city convention.At its convention last year, the Party refused even to consider a resolution expressing the will of the body on the proposed “People’s Stadium.” This was five days before the Minneapolis City Council’s Committee of the Whole — with 12 DFLers out of its 13 members — was going to take the key vote on the stadium bill the legislature had passed. But the Minneapolis DFL Convention remained silent.How is that defensible?The primary business to be conducted at that convention was endorsement of school board candidates. But it was clear that after the at-large endorsements had been voted on, a motion would be made and passed to adjourn so that the smaller political units could make their district school board endorsements. This would mean the resolutions portion of the agenda would fall by the wayside.So at the time the agenda was being considered for adoption, a motion was made to move to the top of the agenda a 10-minute discussion on a stadium resolution. Continue Reading

Artie and Barbara: A Short Story

Once upon a time, in a small Midwestern town, a young couple, new to the area, were expecting their first child. So they decided to visit the town hospital to make arrangements for the baby’s delivery. “Viking Hospital” seemed a strange name to them for a hospital, but it was the only one in town.

Their conversation with the hospital administrator, Mr. Continue Reading

FREE SPEECH ZONE | Rybak Target Center Renovation, Statewide Vikings Tax

Minneapolis Mayor R. T. Rybak wants to have it both ways. On the one hand, this Tuesday (Feb 1, 2011), he appeared with billionaire publishing magnate Glen Taylor, hawking a plan to spend $155 million, much of it public money, on a “facelift” for Target Center, which the City owns and Taylor’s Timberwolves and Lynx basketball teams play in. On the other hand, Rybak wants to be seen as a practical mayor who shares the priorities of city residents and neighborhood activists.Free Speech ZoneThe Free Speech Zone offers a space for contributions from readers, without editing by the TC Daily Planet. This is an open forum for articles that otherwise might not find a place for publication, including news articles, opinion columns, announcements and even a few press releases. Of a potential Timberwolves Tax to pay for his grand plan for Target Center, Rybak tells Minnpost “I don’t want to deal with this issue, frankly, but we simply have to do it.” Continue Reading

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Vikings stadium bill: Not dead yet

After a House committee voted 10-9 Wednesday against a proposed Vikings stadium finance bill, many are writing early obituaries for this latest public handout request.But let’s not be too hasty to dance on its grave yet, shall we?Take a closer look at what’s in the bill and you’ll see how stadium backers might still find enough carrots to get them to a majority before this is over.But first, let’s look at why the stadium bill is on life support.Gov. Tim Pawlenty said he won’t sign any bill with a tax increase in it. So portions of the bill, from Rep. Loren Solberg, DFL-Grand Rapids, that raised money through a tax on sports jerseys and memorabilia, lodging taxes and rental car taxes had to go.But that effectively removes every location option for building a new $791 million stadium except for one — Minneapolis. The other funding provision in the bill would allow Minneapolis to divert local taxes already in place for its Convention Center to pay for the new stadium in 10 years, after the Convention Center debt is paid off.Problem is, Minneapolis isn’t too thrilled about giving up that revenue for the Convention Center, and doesn’t think it should have to pay all the public cost of a stadium that will be used by people from all over the state. City Council member Elizabeth Glidden said as much Wednesday in committee.So how to win over Minneapolis? How about letting the city throw some funds at the financially ailing Target Center? Continue Reading

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Let the stadium bidding wars commence

A Vikings stadium bill that allows Minnesota cities to bid against each other to offer tax breaks and other incentives could be introduced at the Legislature as soon as Monday. 
Yes, there are still the small matters of a $1 billion state budget deficit to resolve, a General Assistance Medical Care fix that apparently doesn’t fix anything, whether $408 million in hypothetical federal health care funds can be counted on, and a Minnesota Supreme Court ruling on last year’s unallotment that could upset the whole budget applecart to deal with before the Legisature’s May 17 deadline. But heavy hitters in both houses of the Legislature and on both sides of the political aisle are finding enough time to line up behind a plan that would allow cities, or counties, to choose from a menu of local funding options to pay the cost of a $791 million, retractable-dome stadium, according to multiple media reports. In the Senate, Tom Bakk, DFL-Cook, and Julie Rosen, R-Fairmont, are putting the finishing touches on the proposal, which could offer Minneapolis the option of rebuilding a stadium on the current site of the Metrodome, or letting local governments set up a stadium commission that would put together its own funding package. Local funding options could include using taxes currently going to the Minneapolis Convention Center, a sports memorabilia tax, a lodging tax, rental car tax and more. In the House, Rep. Loren Solberg, DFL-Grand Rapids, head of the Ways and Means Committee, would carry the bill, which might meet Pawlenty’s requirement that no state tax dollars would be used. Continue Reading

FREE SPEECH ZONE | “Education” from Hennepin County Environmental Services

Hennepin County Environmental Services, essentially a subsidiary of big incinerator company Covanta, thinks baseball fans need education on the merits of breathing garbage incinerator pollution. Hennepin County owns the “HERC” garbage burner, right next door to the new Twins baseball stadium (“Target Field”) in downtown Minneapolis.  Covanta runs it.  They both want to burn more garbage there, but the public is balking. Hennepin County Environmental Services wants to put up two giant signs (21 feet high and 86 feet long each) facing the stadium.  The purpose?  To “educate” baseball fans and presumably everybody in the area.This was too much for even the Hennepin County Board, which, according to the Strib, said “NO.”Apparently too many members of the Legislature have already been (mis)educated, as Rep. Frank Hornstein’s bill to ensure that garbage incinerator power doesn’t qualify as “renewable energy” doesn’t seem to be progressing.  H.F. No. 3060 (Hornstein ; Wagenius ; Hilty )We don’t yet know the exact wording Hennepin County and Covanta intended for their “educational” banners.  Here are some suggestions (source) for Environmental Services Director Carl Michaud, who presented the sign proposal to the county board: #1:     “These smokestacks belch out an average of 1.4 million pounds per year of health-damaging air pollutants.” #2      “Our emissions might give YOU asthma, bronchitis, heart disease, strokes, or cancer.” Continue Reading

Students shine green light on garbage burner

Starting in April 2010, Minnesota Twins fans for the first time in decades will get to experience the sights of outdoor baseball. The open sky, pennants rippling in the breeze, the natural green grass, and … the smokestacks of a giant garbage incinerator? The Hennepin County Energy Recovery Center, or HERC, is a just a long foul ball from the new stadium site. The facility burns household trash to power steam turbines, which generate electricity for about 26,000 homes. Continue Reading