Where will you be at 8 o’clock a.m. the morning of Tuesday, Aug. 20? I’ll tell you where you want to be: You want to be at the Government Center in downtown Minneapolis, witnessing a little slice of history.
Last month, Southside Pride reported that Minneapolis mayoral candidate Doug Mann and his wife, Linda, had a plan to petition for a writ of mandamus to force the city to hold a referendum on the use of city tax revenues to pay for the Vikings stadium. The mandamus petition, filed with the District Court on July 16, could have a huge impact on the city’s political landscape. Surprisingly (or perhaps not) the mainstream media ignored this event. Perhaps not, because Doug Mann is perfectly cast to be the perennial candidate, and in this year’s hot and swiftly-changing mayor’s race, a real dark horse. But that could change …
Leading with the big news—on Aug. 20 at 8:30 a.m., there is going to be a hearing on the writ. This is a big deal, because the writ of mandamus, not a very familiar legal tool to the lay world, can be easily dismissed by the judge on first viewing of the petition. The fact that a hearing is scheduled means the judge found some merit in the petition’s main points. Having a big crowd at the courthouse will not, technically, have any bearing on the outcome of the petition. But it certainly will send a message, and hopefully it will make the establishment politicians and their house-organ media feel at least a little chagrin for ignoring both Doug and Linda’s petition and the groundswell of resentment and opposition in the general electorate about the original “deal.”
The Minneapolis Farmer-Labor Association is organizing at 8 a.m. to turn out a crowd to hold a press conference before the hearing and then pack the courtroom. There is an event page on Facebook where you can RSVP if you plan to show up. There is also a temporary group organizing around the petition itself, called Citizens for a Stadium Vote. Our main slogan is WE GET TO VOTE!
Donations are being accepted to offset the legal costs (filing, service fees, etc.) The group and page on Facebook are both called Citizens for a Vikings Stadium Referendum in 2013. (Join the group and Like the page.) There will be a fundraising event Saturday, Aug. 10 at 6:00 p.m. at 4200 Cedar Avenue South. Live music and food will be available (no alcohol, open to all ages.) There is no admission charge, just a free-will donation to support the action.
Although the mainstream media did not consider the imminent hearing on a referendum newsworthy, Doug Mann was interviewed on the Don and Ron Call-in Talk Radio Show on blogtalkradio.com. You can listen to the podcast of the show at http://www.blogtalkradio.com/on-point/2013/07/23/the-ron-and-don-show-new-vikings-stadium-episode.
The petition is taking a slightly different approach from previous legal arguments, which focused on the City Charter. This petition is focusing on the State Constitution provisions for special legislation. Doug Mann has this to say in explaining the key legal points in the petition: “The key issues to be decided by the judge in this case are 1) whether the Vikings Stadium Act is special legislation that requires approval by the local government unit; 2) whether the use of local-option, City of Minneapolis tax revenues to fund the Vikings Stadium project was lawfully approved by the City Council; and 3) whether the issue must be referred to the voters in a referendum. It is my contention that the Vikings Stadium Act is “special legislation” that requires approval by the local government unit, as expressed by voters in a referendum or by the local governing body, per Minnesota’s Constitution, and that the local-option, City of Minneapolis sales tax revenues that shall be used to fund the stadium project are “city resources” within the meaning of the Minneapolis City Charter. The Vikings Stadium Act circumvented the City Charter by asserting that the revenues generated by the local-option, “City of Minneapolis” sales taxes are not “city resources,” and therefore a referendum is not required.
”I am not a lawyer, and am acting ‘pro se,’ i.e., without a lawyer. However I am a trained legal-medical consultant with some additional on-the-job paralegal training, doing research, case analysis, writing, etc. And my wife has a law degree and practiced law for about a dozen years in the 1980s and ’90s.
”I am opposed to funding the Vikings stadium because I have other priorities. I am also a candidate for mayor of Minneapolis. My highest priority is to eliminate systemic racial discrimination in employment and housing by empowering the Minneapolis Civil Rights Department to detect and prosecute those engaged in covert, illegal discrimination. That is a project worth an investment of millions of dollars annually. Elimination of systemic racism in the court system, law enforcement and public school system is also part of my agenda.”