I decided to look back at Minneapolis City Council Member, Kevin Reich’s campaign for his city council seat to get a feel for whether voting to authorize $675 million in corporate welfare for an NFL franchise is what voters were expecting from him when they voted for him.
1. Kevin Reich created a campaign video in 2009 where he outlined his values and his planned approach to governance. He kicked it off by explaining that his campaign would be a “community building initiative” where he’d reach out and connect with people in local schools, churches, and community associations. Reich says that he’ll rely upon those groups in his political efforts:
2. Reich them makes it clear who he plans to represent. “If it’s about people, it should be with people and it should be on their terms.”
3. Reich reiterates that he’s going to “let the community’s voice direct this, and on their own terms.” He also touches on the importance of mutual trust:
4. Reich then gives a great example of how the community in Northeast has worked together to solve problems with vacant homes, drug homes, and to improve the local schools. He then closes by explaining that “what is good for Northeast is good for the City of Minneapolis”:
5. On Reich’s campaign page on Facebook, his platform is laid out one post at a time. He puts kids first:
Supporting youth opportunities and quality education in Minneapolis schools
Kevin’s primary goal in office is to help to bring people together to make Minneapolis a great City for everyone. His history is one of supporting youth opportunities and quality education in Minneapolis schools. Kevin has a demonstrated commitment to work with all stake holders to make Minneapolis’ public school system strong, safe and effective, not only to support our state’s economy long-term, but also to make a difference for Northeast families and in the lives of young people.
6. The Environment:
Protecting and enhancing our natural environment
Kevin’s primary goal in office is to help to bring people together to make Minneapolis a great City for everyone. He has a long history in Northeast of working with all stakeholders to leverage economic development projects to protect and enhance the environment.
7. Small Business:
Fostering a thriving small-business climate in Northeast Minneapolis
Kevin’s primary goal in office is to help to bring people together to make Minneapolis a great City for everyone. He has a long history in Northeast of working with all stakeholders to foster a thriving small-business climate in Northeast while maintaining Northeast’s unique community character.
8. The Arts Community:
Promoting the Arts community and the needs of increasingly diverse Northeast
Kevin’s primary goal in office is to help to bring people together to make Minneapolis a great City for everyone. He knows first-hand as the Project Director for the Holland Neighborhood Improvement Association how important it is to promote the Arts community and the needs of increasingly diverse Northeast.
9. Public Safety:
Developing a community centered approach to public safety
Kevin’s primary goal in office is to help to bring people together to make Minneapolis a great City for everyone. He knows first-hand as the Project Director for the Holland Neighborhood Improvement Association how important it is to develop a community centered approach to public safety.
Campaign Promises vs. Corporate Welfare
1. Charging local teachers 0.5% sales tax on purchases for decades to subsidize an NFL team is a strange way to build a community. That city-wide tax is a regressive tax that redistributes money out of communities like Northeast through downtown to New Jersey. Unless Zygi Wilf decides to spend money in Northeast Minneapolis, that money does not come back around.
2. If it’s really “about people, it should be with people and it should be on their terms.” it’s clear that honoring the people’s wishes by allowing a referendum on stadium spending is the right move. If the people agree with the terms, they will vote for it. If not, they won’t. This is exactly why Minneapolis residents amended the city charter.
3. Mutual trust comes from upholding the letter AND the spirit of the law. Honoring the charter is how it’s can be done.
4. Redistributing money from Northeast Minneapolis to downtown and from downtown to New Jersey does not make Northeast a stronger community. Removing the regressive city-wide sales tax from the set of taxes paying the Convention Center debt once that’s paid off would make Northeast stronger.
5. Northeast families, teachers, and kids will all be chipping in for 30 years to subsidize Zygi Wilf’s private business if the current Vikings stadium bill is approved. Why are we using regressive city-wide sales taxes to subsidize an NFL franchise?
6. How is it environmentally friendly to tear down and rebuild a new NFL stadium every 30 years? The 49ers signed a 40 year lease for their new stadium, yet MN only negotiated a 30 year deal with the Vikings, virtually guaranteeing that we’ll build yet another stadium the day this one is paid off.
7. Small businesses in Northeast will have to collect a 0.5% sales tax on every purchase for decades in order to redistribute money out of Northeast, into downtown, and from there, to New Jersey. For every $200 spent in Northeast, one will be lost.
8. Local artists create local jobs, spend money locally, and help turn around neighborhoods that are on the margins. They do not benefit from paying regressive sales taxes to subsidize an NFL franchise.
9. While I understand that the revenue generated from the Convention Center taxes may not be transferrable directly to neighborhood public safety initiatives, I understand that money is fungible. Minneapolis does not need to continue taxing downtown visitors and residents the highest tax rates in the country, and imposing a city-wide regressive sales tax on all city residents. Instead, residents may prefer to be taxed in different ways to satisfy different priorities than what the convention center taxes allow.
Which brings us back to: “If it’s about people, it should be with people and it should be on their terms.”
The people of Minneapolis – including the people who voted for Kevin Reich – truly do value schools, the environment, the arts, and public safety. If your goal is to legislate based on principles of community involvement and mutual trust, the approach one should take regarding spending $675 million of the people’s money is extraordinarily clear.
Take the decision to the community by honoring the charter.
I realize that this won’t be an easy vote, but wouldn’t it be much better to be known for doing the right thing than forgotten to doing wrong? As Aaron Rupar framed it at CityPages:
What if a majority of your city’s residents stood behind you when you voted “no”?
That’s the political reality of this issue. The community wants to decide what’s best for the community and will support city council members who honor that request.
Honor the charter.