Governor Mark Dayton received a standing ovation during a visit Saturday to the annual “Fun(d)raiser” for the Minnesota State Retiree Council, AFL-CIO, where he emphasized the need to build a new Minnesota Vikings stadium. Dayton was greeted with hugs and handshakes by union retirees in the crowd, many of whom have known and worked with him over his decades of public service in Minnesota.
Dayton’s visit to the event at the Sheet Metal Workers Local 10 union hall came just as the Legislature was about to meet for the final scheduled week of the 2012 legislative session. In brief remarks, Dayton commented on the session so far — and highlighted the importance of legislative action to approve construction of a new stadium in the week ahead.
“This is a critical week,” Dayton said. “It’s a week we decide if the ‘L’ in DFL means anything.”
Dayton clearly was referring to a committee vote in the Minnesota House which voted down the stadium when only one DFL committee member — Representative Mike Nelson — voted in favor. The other DFLers on the committee voted no.
“What do we want stand for and what do we want to accomplish?” Dayton asked.
With thousands of construction workers unemployed, Dayton said, “this is about jobs and this is about economic development.”
He asked the union retirees to contact their state legislators — whether Republicans or DFLers — to urge support for the Vikings stadium. “It’s not a partisan issue,” Dayton said.
Over the weekend, news reports quoted both Dayton and Republican Speaker of the House Kurt Zellers saying that stadium legislation had a 50-50 chance of passing in the coming week.
Dayton also commented on other issues at the Legislature, observing that Republicans had appeared to back off on pushing a “Right to Work” amendment, thanks to union members mobilizing against it. He noted that legislation attacking prevailing wage was still on the table.
“I’m an old hockey goalie,” Dayton noted. Facing the Republican-controlled Legislature, “it’s the same thing, one slap shot after another.”
With his DFL party in the minority, Dayton said that his role as governor has become to “prevent more bad things from happening” rather than accomplishing “good things.”
“I’ve got a veto pen,” he said, joking that he has had to refill it several times.
Dayton told the union retirees he wouldn’t have been elected “if it hadn’t been for you.”
“I’m very proud to be standing shoulder to shoulder with you,” he said.
The crowd gave Dayton a standing ovation as he concluded his remarks.
“He’s good with the people,” said Gayle Bolin, Eagan, an AFSCME Local 8 retiree.
As Dayton left the meeting hall, Musicians Union Local 30-73 retiree Jim Shannon played “For He’s a Jolly Good Fellow” on the electric organ.