Being a Vikings fan (yet not a Viking Wilfare fan) I took Cory up on this. I didn’t have a chance to catch the 9/12/11 Late Debate show live, since I was in St. Paul (Ramsey County) spending taxable dollars watching Monday Night Football in a bar at the time. But, I was able to find the recording online.
I trimmed the episode down to Merrifield’s segment for your listening pleasure. Click here to download. The full episode is available here.
The Late Debate with Jack & Ben is a radio show hosted on the Tea Party Radio Network from 10pm-Midnight Sunday through Thursdays. Its signal is strongest in the north Twin Cities metro and St. Cloud, which seems like a good fit. Jack is Jack Tomczak, who’s recently worked on campaigns for Tom Emmer, Michele Bachmann, and Joel Demos (the guy that most recently ran against Keith Ellison). Ben is Benjamin Kruse, a local graphic designer who’s done quite a bit of work for Republican political campaigns, including Emmer, Demos, and Harry Niska’s.
I point that out to help explain the playing field Merrifield was stepping onto. These guys are hardcore small government guys and Cory is begging for hundreds of millions of dollars in Wilfare.
So, how did it go?
Opening statement from one of the hosts:
“I don’t agree with public money going to a stadium, but I am okay with it going to infrastructure, because I think that’s government’s job.”
“This is one of the only issues, actually the only, issue that the governor and I agree on is the Vikings stadium issue.”
Which goes to show that Merrifield is a cafeteria Republican who’s willing to ask for a handout if it’s a reverse Robinhood move that benefits an out of state businessman.
Merrifield mentions that the Vikings are willing to put up $432 million toward the stadium. That’s an interesting figure since it’s higher than any figures I’ve seen reported publicly. Based on what I’ve seen, $407 million is where the team was at earlier this year, and later stated that they’d go up to $420 million out of $1.1 billion, so they are still around $600 million short of where they need to be to get a deal done, in my opinion.
Merrifield then claims that the Vikings contribution toward their stadium proposal is the 3rd largest ever, which I’ve previously addressed here.
Merrifield states that the transportation costs for rebuilding the roads in Arden Hills to support a stadium would run $80-$100 million. That figure seems a bit low to me considering the state of the current transportation infrastructure in that area. He then goes on to mention that sewers, power, and telecommunications would also need significant infrastructure upgrades.
“I know for a fact that you won’t see a cent out of the general tax funds being used for a Vikings stadium.”
Which is Cory’s way of saying that money should be earmarked for the Vikings rather than going to K-12 education, higher education, health care, transportation, etc.
“Any funds that do come from the state, we’re trying to from the taxes that are generated from the Vikings and the stadium itself and the other 300 events that go on.”
Which is Cory’s way of saying that the Vikings think it’s fair if the tax dollars generated by their business are all rolled back to their business rather than contributing to the public good, such as K-12 education, higher education, health care, transportation, etc. Is that how taxes work for you? Do you directly get back every dollar that you pay in taxes, or do many of your dollars go to fund public services? Why should the business known as the Minnesota Vikings be held to a lower standard than individual taxpayers and most businesses?
“We are very conscientious of the fact that we are going through tough economic times.”
But not conscientious enough to stop lobbying for Wilfare, attempting to force Ramsey County residents to new pay a sales tax for 30 years without a vote, or bring forward a plan that doesn’t rely upon public funding.
“I, myself, have pushed all the way for Racino as a way to do this.”
Because exploiting Minnesota gamblers for the benefit of a New Jersey businessman is in the public’s interest?
“Frankly, for a Vikings stadium, you’d only need a small sliver of Racino dollars to pay for the stadium, and the rest you could use to help offset the school shift money.”
How does earmarking new sources of public revenue to a private business owned by a guy in New Jersey who wants to build a 21,000 car parking lot in Arden Hills make any sense?
“We get that we’re in a tough time, but the bottom line is that January 1st, 2012 the Vikings lease expires at the and they are essentially a free agent and can leave the State of Minnesota at any time.”
Yet Merrifield chooses to make this a taxpayer issue rather than a Vikings franchise issue. Wilf owns the team, and, as a private businessman, should take the best offer he can get. But, that doesn’t mean we should provide Wilfare to the guy. You’d think a Republican like Merrifield would get this, but he appears to be looking at the situation through purple tainted lenses.
Late Debate Host:
“I’m not pro-giving the Vikings any money, but I’m okay with providing infrastructure, because I think that’s the responsibility of government for a business. If there are any taxpayer dollars used, it’s just going to be going into infrastructure?”
“I can’t necessarily say that that’s the case.”
Well, no kidding. Merrifield is lobbying to have the public pay for not just infrastructure costs but the majority of the stadium construction costs too.
Late Debate Host:
“For what it’s worth, politically, for people on our side, that’s far more palatable than any kind of Wilfare.”
Wilfare does have a nice ring to it. It’s like Welfare, but worse, since instead of helping people in need, it’s a reverse Robinhood tactic that profits an out of state millionaire.
Late Debate Host regarding the Arden Hills site:
“If putting a stadium there – that the Vikings pay for – means that the state spends money on roads, I could end up supporting this.”
“As much as I’d love to leave it at that, and say that’s the case, because it helps my cause, that’s really not the case.”
Nice piece of honesty here from documented liar, Cory Merrifield.
“This is what it’s about: a public/private partnership. At the end of the day, both parties (trust me) both parties are going to benefit.”
That’s strange. If the public benefits, why is the public opposed to public funding for Zygi Wilf’s Wilfare proposal?
“When you look at the $30-$40 million per year the Vikings are going to generate in terms of tax revenue; direct tax revenue from the team. You know, when you tax millionaires you generate a lot of income tax from that. So you’re looking at $30-$40 million per year just from the Vikings alone.”
That’s an interesting statement, considering that the Vikings organization’s own consultants, CSL, claim that $12.5 million would be collected in income taxes from the team. And, even that $12.5 million figure is inflated because it assumes that every person who works at the stadium would somehow not be employed elsewhere (servers, security, janitorial, etc.) if the Vikings weren’t here.
“And then, on top of that, you have all of the commerce, and the businesses associated with that, which is anywhere from $100-$150 million per year.The sales tax that you collect off of that, . . .”
Which assumes that people attending Vikings games would NOT spend their entertainment dollars elsewhere if there wasn’t a local professional sports team. Personally, I’m willing to assume that people will still watch football, drink beer, and eat food with or without the public providing stadium Wilfare. In fact, they would have more money to spend commerce if hundreds of millions of it wasn’t being earmarked for Zygi Wilf.
“. . . and all the people traveling into the metro area, which is about 60% of the people who go to the Vikings games.”
How does the STATE benefit when Minnesotans spend money in Arden Hills rather than Shakopee, Minneapolis, or Stillwater? Reality check: it doesn’t. The state sales tax is the same everywhere. Yes, some people do come to Minnesota from other states to watch Vikings games, and bring money with them, but that doesn’t justify the expense. Also, many Vikings fans take money out of the state to watch Vikings games in other cities, so let’s be honest about the marginal benefits here.
“The state legislature has told the Minnesota Vikings that, if they want to build a stadium, they need to have a local partner.”
Actually, I believe what the state said is that they are only willing to contribute $300 million in Wilfare toward Zygi World, so Zygi’s shopping around for supplemental Wilfare opportunities, such as extracting $350 million from Ramsey County.
“A lot of people like me, who work downtown and live in the west suburbs [ed. is Shakopee a west suburb?] think it would be convenient to have it in Minneapolis. The bottom line is that the City of Minneapolis and Hennepin County are not willing to put up any sort of dollars at this point, so that is a non-starter for the Minnesota state legislature. In order to make that work, they have to have a local partner.”
In other words, the City of Minneapolis and Hennepin County have been unwilling to meet Zygi Wilf’s welfare (Wilfare) demands, so Wilf turned to Ramsey County Commissioners, Tony Bennett and Rafael Ortega, who seems willing to give their constituents’ money to Zygi Wilf without their consent.
“I get some liberties that other people don’t. I get to say things that the Vikings would never be able to say in the press.”
Actually, here is how this has been working. Cory Merrifield talks like the world will end of the Vikings’ Wilfare demands aren’t met. The Vikings then retweet Merrifield using their fake grassroots Twitter account, @mnmomentum.
“If you go to savethevikes.org/stadium you can see my stadium plan, which shows how we can finance this without a single tax dollar. Using nothing but user fees and money from the Wilfs.”
It is an interesting plan that relies upon the creation new forms of public revenues which are then earmarked for a businessman in New Jersey so he can fulfill his dream of building a 21,000 car parking lot with a stadium in Arden Hills.
That wraps up Merrifield’s appearance on the show. The hosts stuck with the topic for another 10 minutes.
Late Debate Host:
“The two ways, politically, I could be okay with this is if the money went for infrastructure – roads – which I think the government would do for most businesses. And if I’m wrong on that, let me know. Or, if they allowed the people who would be taxes on it to vote on it. Those are two politically palatable solutions. We have a story in the stack that talks about the reluctance on the part of the Ramsey County Commission Board to allow the voters to vote, and I think that’s foolish. I think – and, of course, I’m a big fan of putting big issues to voters – to have faith in your argument and go sell it to the people, as opposed to forcing it down people’s throats, which just causes hurt feelings and ill will; sore tonsils. But, here’s what the Vikings are thinking (and the politicians who support this): there was that kind of talk about the Twins stadium, and then they built it, and everybody’s happy.”
“Our friend with the Vikings here sure polished his presentation since the last time he was on. Jack, I think I’m with you. The only thing I can think I can see the state paying for is the roads. I don’t think we should extend any sort of bonds, or any of these other things. I mean, you see so many of these outer ring suburbs get in trouble with that. Rogers, which is a great example, where they’ve dang near hung themselves with the Cabella’s out there. And, their property taxes are pretty darn high, and now they’re trying to annex a bunch more land to bring in a tax base to pay off this bad debt.”
Late Debate Host:
“Ramsey County did kinda the same thing. They bent over backwards to get their CityCenter and now the core built, and blew a ton of money and a ton of political careers too.”
“I just can’t see doing this just because they are a sports team. I work for a company that our division is worth more than the Vikings. Our sales are more than the Vikings. Would people ever consider building us a new factory to double our production? They’d laugh at us. We bring real economic development. We have suppliers that generate things and employ people in the area. That’s free enterprise. That’s on our back to make these things happen. Just because they are a sports team, and they get network coverage, they seem to think that they are entitled to these types of things.”
Late Debate Host:
“If any dime goes to actually building the building or building anything for the Vikings, I’m against it. But the roads? The roads need it regardless of whether there is a stadium or not.”
Late Debate Host 2:
“If your business was going to do an expansion that was to this scope, whatever infrastructure your business would get, or any other business would get, I am pro that. Just because the Vikings happen to need a larger footprint that might require more roads, well, that’s the nature of their business, and I’m pro the government paying for that.”
“That’s as far as I could go with that. And, if you want to use racino for that, I’m okay with that.”
Late Debate Host 2:
“I’m not sure on that.”
Late Debate Host:
“Didn’t one of the plans involve having a casino at the stadium?”
Late Debate Host 2:
“There have been a handful, but I don’t believe that is part of any plans now.”
“I say open up the gambling.”
Late Debate Host 2:
“That is another show. My problem with racino is I’m not looking to give the government any more money. However, I’m not entirely sure the government should be telling people that they can or can’t have a certain type of business, and that includes gambling. And, there are people who’ll say, ‘Well, it’s free market to have a racino.’ and there are other people who say ‘well, that’s not free market. That’s just granting another monopoly. So if you want to be pure about it, just make gambling legal. And make whoever wants to have slot machines or whatever at their establishment, make that legal. If you want to be pure, that’s the answer.”
Late Debate Host:
“I want to read this before going to break just to get it out of the way. ‘Trying to understand Ramsey County Commissioner, Tony Bennett. This from a website called The Deets, apparently asking “Can you handle The Deets?” I don’t know what that means . . .
Could someone help reconcile the following two nuggets?
First, a quote from Vikings fanboy, Tony Bennett, [queue Tony Bennett singing] who wants to spend Ramsey County’s money on welfare payments to Zygi Wilf. He doesn’t want the public to decide whether this is a good idea. In fact, he’s admitted that letting the people vote on taxing themselves so Ramsey County can give the money to Zygi Wilf (on top of what their state dollars they’d be paying) would be a deal killer. Ramsey County voters aren’t flush with cash or dumb enough to agree to the terms of the current Vikings stadium proposal.
He goes on to say:
“Now, I don’t know about you, but something about this quote “Ramsey County Commissioner Tony Bennett, a sponsor of the current deal, urged fans at Canterbury to call their legislators in support of the deal — without a referendum. “Our form of government is called a democracy. We don’t do [referendum] for anything else . . . “
Okay, I think Tony Bennett what democracy means. What he’s talking about is representative democracy. We are a representative democracy, but that doesn’t mean that we can’t put things up to a vote. That’s called democracy, and we do that all the time. And for him to go, “well, we don’t do that” HELLO, every single school board levy!
And, if there is Ramsey County money that’s going to go to the Vikings to build their stadium, yes, put that up to a vote.
If it loses it loses. So what? If it wins it wins.
If you’re going to build some roads to facilitate a business that’s come to town, I don’t think has to go to a vote.
The last word from The Deets was a pleasant surprise.
Overall, I think this gives us a pretty darn good feel for where the Tea Party stands on the stadium debate. If you’re for small government above all else, how could you possibly support increasing the amount of money the government extracts from the public? Especially when that money would go toward subsidizing a professional football franchise, which, last I checked, wasn’t a constitutional mandate at a national or state level (maybe it is in Texas?).
The strange thing here is that Cory Merrifield, who under normal circumstances seems to consider himself a political conservative, is behaving like a tax and spend liberal when it comes to extracting hundreds of millions of dollars of Wilfare from the public so he can have cheaper season tickets to Vikes games.