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Blocking David Landsteiner on Twitter Remains a Good Decision #wilfare

I was reading some recent comments submitted to this site when I was reminded of this gem from 2012.

I’m feeling pretty good about my decision to block David.

Granted, maybe I would have heard about this pee-pee incident earlier than today if I followed him. My loss.

Is this what Skoldiers do?

Vikings Stadium Fans Still Haven’t Found Their Checkbooks #wilfare

A guy who thinks that it’s the state and city’s responsibility to heavily subsidize his entertainment – John G. Morgan, of Burnsville – wrote an op-ed for the StarTribune that the StarTribune published. Morgan writes a counterpoint to the anti-stadium (ah-hem, pro-Vikings fans finding their checkbooks) arguments he’s heard.

Here’s a counterpoint to his counterpoints:

“The NFL is a dying league.”

Wrong. The NFL is the most popular sport for at least the 30th year in a row.

If it’s such a popular sport, why does it need to rely on billions in public subsidies every year?

“Exorbitant ticket costs.”

While there certainly will be expensive seats, many will be $50 or less, about midrange for entertainment options. Many concerts cost well more than $100 to attend these days. It costs more than $30 just to see a small production at the Ames Center for the performing arts in Burnsville, where I live.

I totally agree with this one. The tickets are far too cheap. They should include a $100/ticket fee on top of today’s prices to allow fans to cover the public’s stadium obligations.

“Nonprofits, charities, cities and otherwise worthwhile causes lost funding due to the stadium.”

Just flat-out false. There is not, nor has there ever been, a connection between funding a stadium and not funding roads, schools, hospitals, charities, etc. By the way, how many millions do the team and players contribute to charities every year?

It has been brought to my attention that public money collected to subsidize Vikings fans is not fungible. Yes, this makes no sense, but don’t let that stop a StarTribune op-ed from being published.

How many millions do the team donate to charity every year? Millions? The Vikings don’t even contribute a million to their primary charity per year. Seriously. We’re converting $30 million in taxpayer dollars per year into less than $1 million for sick kids. You know what would work better than that? Devoting more tax dollars to sick kids rather than subsidizing Vikings fans in Burnsville.

“The Super Bowl won’t bring anything to our city other than headaches.”

Again, saying it or believing it doesn’t make it true. A Super Bowl would bring tens of millions to the local economy.

Superbowls have costs and benefits. Just look at what the last Superbowl did for Minnesota’s economy! Wait a second. We didn’t hear much about what it did for our economy during the last stadium debate. Strange, eh? By the way, have you watched that halftime show?

“Neighbors of the new stadium, who will live near an empty, hulking behemoth for about 350 days a year.”

I’m pretty sure of two things: (1) These people knew about the stadium before moving across from it and (2) no one forced them to do so.

At least he’s willing to admit that NFL stadiums do nothing for a neighborhood.

“Rich out-of-staters like the Wilfs don’t deserve to be further enriched on the public spigot.”

Yes, because they’re the first out-of-state entity ever to receive a subsidy. Sheesh. At least the public will get a return on this one.

I saw a lot of “The government wastes money on all kinds of things, so us Vikings fans deserve our share of waste too!” arguments during the stadium debate. As you can imagine, they normally came from people who consider helping people with nothing wasteful government spending.

Again, it’s amazing that the StarTribune would publish an op-ed with an unsubstantiated claim like “At least the public will get a return on this one.” That doesn’t seem to pass the reality check. Perhaps the StarTribune was thinking of their own return when they read that?

“Most Minnesotans didn’t want this stadium.”

Again, simply not true. A vast majority didn’t want to lose the Vikings. The issue was how to pay for the stadium, not whether it was needed or wanted. The majority favored a penny-a-drink tax or some other common-sense, statewide solution.

The vast majority of of Minnesotans didn’t want to lose the Vikings until asked to pay to keep them. Were Vikings fans knocking on doors at the state capital offering to help pay for it? Nope. They were lobbying to have other people cover the costs for something they claimed to value.

I, like most Minnesotans, would probably support a penny-a-drink tax if it went toward improving the education of young Vikings fans so they don’t grow up to think that subsidizing the NFL is the government’s role.

“I’ll remember that stadium when I spend my money and when I vote.”

The same thing was said about the gutsy people who made Target Field happen, and they subsequently were re-elected. Target Field is a gem and a smashing success, regardless of whether the same can be said of the team that plays there.

A case can be made that some Minneapolis city council members lost their seats due to the stadium vote. RT Rybak said that, rather than holding a referendum on the Vikings stadium – as required by the Minneapolis city charter – voters should use the next mayoral election as their referendum. Then he decided not to run again for mayor. And, the city voted for a candidate who voted against the stadium while a candidate who voted for the stadium finished way back.

As was suggested by the comment by US Bancorp President and CEO Richard Davis that led to Friday’s letter, it’s time to get over it. Or at least bring facts to the argument.

He brings up a good point. Bring facts to the argument. That could have been done in that op-ed but he through out easily challenged statements instead.

Did Minneapolis’ Kids Lose Out to Vikings Stadium Subsidies? #wilfare

Curtis Gilbert at MPR reported on Governor Dayton’s choice to go against the recommendations of the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development, by NOT funding top priorities in the 2012 Capital Projects Grant program and instead kicking $2 million toward Southwest LRT.

Gilbert explained that Minneapolis public schools were on the list to receive funding for some projects up until two days before the list was changed and announced to the public. Among the losers:

Minneapolis Public Schools asked for almost $2.8 million from the $47.5 million fund. It planned to use the money pay for improvements at three athletics facilities on the city’s north side: Artificial turf at Patrick Henry High School, an updated the swimming pool at Olson Junior High and renovations to Victory Memorial Ice Arena.

Now, why would Dayton do something like that? Who benefits from putting the SW LRT ahead of Minneapolis public schools?

Then, I remembered the Vikings stadium. During speeches from the house floor, at least one member of the legislature explained that he was going to vote for the Vikings stadium bill – despite it being a seriously flawed bill – because it would be reachable by the soon to be built SW LRT line. At the time, I thought “ah, that explains that vote. Dayton promised him money for LRT.” And, now we see where Dayton found the money. By taking it from Minneapolis public schools. (If someone knows how to pull transcripts from those hearings, I’d love to remind myself who made those statements.)

Here’s a look at the map of Senate and House votes (via Elevated GIS) for/against the stadium. Note that Minneapolis’s legislatures generally voted against the stadium while legislators along the new SW LRT line voted in favor of the bill:

MN Senate Vikings Stadium Votes along SWLRT Route

MN House Vikings Stadium Votes along SWLRT Route

And, of course, to the east of Minneapolis, we saw St Paul’s legislators receive state funding to publicly subsidize the Saints and Wild in exchange for subsidizing the Vikings and Timberwolves.

Janet Moore and Baird Helgeson Repeat Ridiculous Vikings Stadium Jobs Claims #wilfare

Note the sentence in parentheses at the end of the below paragraph from Janet Moore and Baird Helgeson’s StarTribune piece on Vikings stadium corporate welfare subsidies:

Gov. Mark Dayton said in a statement that although the Supreme Court challenge “had no merit, I was extremely concerned that this lawsuit would delay the financing of the stadium, and the progress” of the Downtown East development. “[The] decision clears the way for thousands of Minnesotans to get to work on these two important projects.” (The stadium project alone is expected to create 7,500 jobs over the next two years.)Watch Full Movie Online Streaming Online and Download

Think about this. The Vikings stadium will take three years to build. The Vikings claim that it will take 4.25 million work hours to build the stadium. Let’s do the math:

425,000,000 work hours
Divide that by 2,080 hours (hours in a work year) converts that to 2,043 work years.
Divide 2,043 work years by the three years of the project gives us 681 full time jobs worth of work over three years.

Janet Moore and Baird Helgeson repeated the ridiculously misleading figure that uses the number of people who work on the job site over three years rather than the number of full time equivalents. It’s almost as if they work for a paper who’ll profit from the public subsidy.

Another way to look at this: The StarTribune could create 20 more jobs overnight if they cut back Janet Moore and Baird Helgeson’s hours to 3.632 hours per week and hired 18 new employees with the same hours. That would be a big jobs creation strategy if the goal was to inflate the number of people receiving a check from the Strib.

If the StarTribune wanted to be intellectually honest when reporting jobs claims by corporate welfare boosters, they’d explain stuff like this to their readers.

A “Reasonable Liberal” on Publicly Financing the NFL #wilfare cc @LiberalPolitico

A Twitter user who goes by the name “Reasonable Liberal” broke down a justification for subsidizing the Wilf Family of Fraudsters in New Jersey rather than investing Minnesota tax payers money in Minnesotans.

True. And, the people and businesses who appreciate that additional value the most are perfectly capable of finding their wallets to support the entertainment they appreciate. The MN Orchestra, unlike the MN Vikings, exposes kids to music rather than how to create concussions between arrests.

According to the Pioneer Press, the MN Orchestra received $962,000 in subsidies for a year, and the Minneapolis Convention & Visitors bureau claims that the MN Orchestra had 215,000 paid attendees. That’s an average subsidy of $4.47/ticket. Compare that to the Vikings subsidies of closer to $70/ticket per game for 30 years. And, I don’t believe I’ve ever seen an orchestra attendee buy beer by the case, then park in an empty lot to pre-orchestra.

The NFL puts you on the map for sure. Just look at what it’s done for Buffalo, Cleveland, and Detroit.

You’re right. Warren Buffett’s wrong. Case closed.

And, Kiplinger was wrong when they named Omaha the 3rd best place to live in the USA. And, was wrong when they named Omaha the 8th best place to live in America for families. Granted, Kiplinger’s overlooked having an NFL team in their ranking criteria. Instead, they used:

Population Growth Since 2000: 6.6%
Percentage of Workforce in Creative Class: 30%
Cost-of-Living Index: 89.4 (100 being national average)
Median Household Income: $51,627
Income Growth Since 2000: 15.1%

Different strokes.

Totally. No Minnesotan is proud of the local bands they’ve seen at First Avenue or Triple Rock. None take any pride in the orchestra, our local arts scene, or local beers. If you’ve ever seen a Minnesotan talking to someone from another state, there’s simply NOTHING they can bring up about Minnesota that they take pride in outside of our publicly subsidized NFL team. You’ll never hear a single mention of Target, General Mills, the Mayo Clinic, Surly or Summit beer, Spam, the State Fair, Lake Minnetonka, cabins, Bob Dylan, the Jucy Lucy, or the Coen Brothers. When it comes to sports references, you’ll never hear a single mention of the Timberwolves, Twins, Wild, Lynx, or any Gopher sports. None. Actually, one would have to have a very narrow obsession with a single sport that plays 10 home games per year to overlook this reality.

Personally, I’d like to see an “allegiance with my neighbor” built around this: what’s the best we can do for our kids? I don’t think the answer would be “subsidize the Wilf Family of Fraudsters” for many people who ask their neighbors that question.

Without four pro sports teams in Minneapolis and St Paul, what could people from the lakes region talk to people from the Twin Cities about? Would they have to cave to talking about subsidized baseball? Subsidized hockey? Subsidized basketball? Subsidized college football? What kind of world is that?

Do you honestly believe that America is healthiest if “the national conversation” revolves around alliances to each person’s publicly subsidized private NFL franchise?

Prove it. Not anecdotally. Prove that Minnesota and Minneapolis see actual net gains in population that justifies sending subsidizing a the Wilf Family of Fraudsters rather than spending that money investing in the kinds of things that tend to drive real estate prices (quality schools, low crime).

Haven’t you noticed that Minnesota pops up on nearly every list put out by publications ranking cities based on positive attributes? Best places to live, healthiest cities, fittest places, longest life spans, most educated populations. Where does having a publicly subsidized NFL team compare to things that have a significant impact on people’s lives rank? Have you not noticed that Minnesotans go outside in the winter? Ice fishing, hunting, snowmobiling, and XC Skiing don’t rely upon the level of subsidies we’ve given to the Wilf Family of Fraudsters.

The “no big loss” theory assumes that people may spend their weekends and entertainment dollars differently, but still largely within the State of Minnesota if we didn’t publicly subsidize an NFL team with $1.66 million PER GAME for 30 years BEFORE interest, and WITHOUT considering operating costs and the obvious future demands from the NFL to upgrade the stadium to make it “competitive”.

Those are all local non-profits that receive FAR LESS public subsidized than the for profit NFL team that’s owned by the Wilf Family of Fraudsters.

I’ve been to all. They’re assets to the community. As I’ve mentioned before, “The Guthrie’s per seat subsidy over 30 years comes to $1.67, compared to the Wilf’s current demand of $77.” Even with the Vikings being owned by the Wilf Family of Fraudsters who’ll suck money out of the State of Minnesota, I could see subsidizing a new Vikings stadium to the same per-seat rate as the Guthrie. That comes to $10.8 million.

It declares that we’re not Bridgeport, not Madison, not Raleigh, and not Austin, who all have higher numbers of college educated residents, but no NFL team.

Minneapolis is optimistic about its future. And Minneapolis residents just voted overwhelmingly in favor of a new mayor who voted against subsidizing the NFL.

Agreed. When the Building Trades lied to people on push poll phone calls, they didn’t do it out of love for the Vikings. They did it to influence people into supporting public subsidies for a bad project that would put them to work. Greed is a good motivator.


No. That’s a huge difference for a very small number of recruits who happen to be into music AND the Red Sox.

Many of the most elite schools in the United States are in communities that don’t have NFL teams. Perhaps we should focus on being more elite than providing entertainment to college students?

No, that’s not why the city and state did what they did. The DFL voted to support the unions who support them. Country club GOP members voted to subsidize the entertainment expenses of large corporations. Deciding votes among Minneapolis city council members justified their votes based on threats of money being taken from them by the state by union member legislators.

We didn’t invest. We subsidized. Los Angeles somehow survives just fine without pro football. I have no interest in living in Chicago and have many well paid friends who feel the same. If you need an NFL team to sell the benefits of Minneapolis over Chicago, you really should spend more time getting to know Minneapolis.

Honestly, the recruiting angle doesn’t do it for me. If local businesses thought that having an NFL team was critical to their success they could invest in it. In fact, that actually happened when the Metrodome was built. There was even money from a company called Dayton’s. Now, we have a Dayton redistributing money from Minnesota and Minneapolis taxpayers to the Wilf Family of Fraudsters in New Jersey.

Speaking of “reasonable liberals”, when the vote on the Vikings stadium took place, the reasonable liberals voted against the stadium. Reasonable liberals like Karen Clark, Jim Davnie, Frank Hornstein, Erin Murphy, Michael Paymar, and Jean Wagenius voted against the Vikings stadium corporate Wilfare bill in the house, and Scott Dibble, Kari Dziedzic, John Marty, and Patricia Torres Ray in the senate. These are reasonable people. I’m curious to find out who “Reasonable Liberal” considers to be reasonable liberals considering the opposition to the stadium subsidies by reasonable liberals.

Who are taxpayers paying to store Vikings stadium construction dirt? #wilfare

Building a “People’s Stadium” to the NFL’s specs involves moving a lot of dirt. The upside of building a stadium where an NFL stadium already exists is that it’s easy to find empty lots to store that dirt on since NFL stadiums don’t spur development.

Tim Nelson reported that the MSFA has found a temporary home for some of the dirt from the construction site. Nelson quotes Ted Mondale:

We worked out a lease with the property next door.

That’s convenient.

Who owns that property?

The Wilf Family.

Wait a second.

We’re leasing land from the Wilf’s?


Aren’t taxpayers buying this same piece of land from the Wilf Family for an undisclosed sum to incorporate it into the new stadium?


Then why are we leasing it? Why not just buy it now?

Who’s side is Ted Mondale on?

The #MNGOP’s Vikings Stadium Financing Disaster Continues #wilfare

A MN GOP group called something like the MN Corporate Welfare Coalition* is going after Governor Dayton on the day of the groundbreaking on the new Vikings stadium with a blog post titled: “Mark Dayton Fumbles on the Vikings Stadium Deal“.

Fumbles. Get it?

It’s almost as if the MN Jobs Coalition has forgotten who controlled the MN House & Senate in 2012. Does the MN Jobs Coalition know the party affiliations of Rep Lanning and Sen Rosen?

Screenshot 2013-12-03 09.36.18

The MN GOP authored Vikings stadium bill in the MN House and the MN GOP authored Vikings stadium bill in the MN Senate were indeed disasters.

Can you believe that MN GOP Rep. John Kriesel’s gambling exploitation through e-pulltabs bill was used as the funding source? I testified at the Commerce Committee hearing about the pending e-pulltabs disaster, but the MN GOP majority committee passed along the highly questionable MN GOP authored financing scheme.

Screenshot 2013-12-03 09.38.56

Why the heck did MN GOP Vikings stadium bill authors, Rep Manning (GOP) and Sen Rosen (GOP) agree to such ridiculousness?

Here’s an interesting Twitter exchange on this topic. Former Rep. John Kriesel appears to disagree with the MN Corporate Welfare Coalition about the role the Vikings stadium bill plays in Dayton’s current approval ratings:

Dayton's sinking approval ratings are due to his tax increases, MNSure/Obamacare debacle and other broken promises, not the Vikings Stadium.

Sen. Nienow broke this down for Kriesel:

Screenshot 2013-12-03 09.45.26

As Nienow explained to Kriesel, it never was about whether folks wanted a new stadium. It was about who should pay for it, and how, and – should the public would put money in – is the funding source reliable?

This, not surprisingly, gave Kriesel crappy pants:

Screenshot 2013-12-03 09.46.53

Again, it’s not a joke to commit the state to paying tens of millions in corporate welfare in order to subsidize your own entertainment. Especially when something as sketchy as e-pulltabs is used to do it:

phony funding nor #FuFuDust=funny RT @johnkriesel @SNienow your FuFu dust joke hasn't ever been funny. Continuing to use it wont change that

The shine has come off the corporate Wilfare through gambling exploitation scheme that Rep Kriesel sold to the state:

.@johnkriesel Why so defensive over this stadium boondoggle you helped create, John? @SNienow

Notice that this is a case of MN GOP folks attacking the MN GOP author of a MN GOP financing scheme for a MN GOP authored corporate welfare bill.

I can see why they’d rather blame Dayton for the financing mess, but Dayton didn’t write the bills, hold the committee hearings, or have a vote in the MN GOP controlled house or senate.

I think Rep Kriesel’s closing arguments on why he supported subsidizing the NFL with e-pulltabs explains why this was a MN GOP disaster. The first thing he does is choose to ignore the financing and instead focuses on how important it is to him to publicly subsidize his private entertainment:

Note that this video is hosted on the MN GOP’s official YouTube channel. As in, they’re proudly touting the financial disaster they created.

* I think their mission is to create minimum wage jobs with no healthcare on behalf of publicly subsidized corporations who support MN GOP candidates.

Vikings Stadium Tailgaters Sold Out By the Wilf Family of Fraudsters #wilfare

The MSFA (Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority) has an interesting video illustrating how the Metrodome, with it’s new roof and turf, will be destroyed to make way for a new parking lot, VIP suite bathrooms, and stadium restaurants to compete with existing downtown restaurants.

Another thing the video shows is the loss of tailgating lots. The tailgating crowd spent a lot of energy lobbying for a new Vikings stadium, and it looks like their reward for their efforts will be the destruction of their tailgating lots. I’m not sure if they fully considered how a stadium that serves the same purpose but takes up twice the space could be built without doing so.

And, since Minneapolis wants to pretend NFL stadiums drive development (didn’t they learn anything from the Metrodome?) they’ve handed the public’s money to Wells Fargo to build a new facility on tailgating lots.

But, what interests me the most about this are the two lots between the existing Metrodome and 3rd Street / Chicago & 10th Ave.

I ran past those lots back on October 13th in the middle of a 22-miler. The lots were packed with tailgaters preparing themselves for the Vikings’ 35-10 loss to the Panthers.

Wilf Family of Fraudsters Tailgating Lot

Here’s what’s happening to those two lots. If you click the image and watch the video, you can watch those lots disappear at around 38 seconds in:

Metrodome with Tailgating Lots

People's Stadium with Fewer Tailgating Lots

Who owns those two lots? The Wilf Family of Fraudsters:

Property Parcels for New Vikings Stadium

The Wilf Family of Fraudsters have far more important plans for that land than to host tailgaters. They’re planning an easy-on/easy-off VIP-parking lot for suite holders that allows them to enter and exit games without having to interact with the tailgating crowd. Nothing personal. It’s just about money.

But, would the Wilf Family of Fraudsters be in a position to build their publicly subsidized VIP parking ramp for suite holders without the help of the tailgaters who camped out at the Capitol to lobby on behalf of the civil racketeer owners? Isn’t that a strange relationship?

A Vikings Stadium #Wilfare Perspective on Why Betsy Hodges is My First Choice for #mplsmayor

Three Minneapolis City Council members decided to run for mayor after casting votes for or against spending approximately $675 million over 30 years to cover a portion of construction (plus interest) and 30 years of maintenance costs to replace the Metrodome with a slightly larger facility that would remove land from the property tax base, increase competition with local bars/restaurants for entertainment dollars, and leave the convention center without a revenue source for future upgrades.

Two of those three candidates chose to vote against that bill: Gary Schiff and Betsy Hodges. Schiff has since dropped out of the race and threw his support behind Hodges. Don Samuels supported the Vikings stadium bill, and continues argue that spending $675 million to subsidize the NFL is justifiable because of the jobs created during the three year construction project.

Betsy Hodges on the Vikings Stadium

Betsy Hodges was interviewed about her stance on the stadium by MinnPost before the vote in February 2012. It’s worth a read. She put a lot of thought into why NFL welfare, in general, is a bad idea, and why this bill in particular was a bad bill. In bullet point form, here’s her take:

  1. Philosophically I don’t believe in public funding for private sports.
  2. If you take that the past is prelude, there is no guarantee that in the future if a stadium for the Vikings is built, that the residents of Minneapolis won’t be told by the state that they don’t want to be part of it anymore, so if you guys want to keep it, you should pay for it. And if you don’t, the Vikings are going to leave which is essentially what they’re doing now.
  3. [T]here was a referendum that passed in 1997 that changed our charter, that requires a vote if the city is going to spend more than $10 million on a public sports facility.

    “So even if I didn’t have a philosophical objection to public funding, even if all of the questions were answered about the current funding plan, we’d still be left with the question of the people of Minneapolis, the vote they’ve taken and the vote they want to take in the future.

    I believe that needs to be respected.

This, to me, is the language of someone who understands money, understands her role in government, and understands that there are better investments a city can make than subsidizing the most profitable sports league in the world.

To recap, it’s not the government’s job to subsidize private sports over everything else that the public tax dollars could be spent on (or not spent by government at all), the deal with the state is questionable, and city residents made it darn clear (they put it in the city’s charter) that they want to vote on sports subsidy plans that involve spending more than $10 million on public sports facilities. That, to me is a well reasoned justification for opposing the bill presented to the city council and was the right thing to do.

Mark Andrew on the Vikings Stadium

Here’s what Mark Andrew had to say about the Vikings stadium bill in April (this was when vocal Vikings stadium welfare opponent Gary Schiff was still in the race so he may have been talking about both Schiff and Hodges at the time):

As for the new Vikings stadium, Andrew said “any mayoral candidate who voted against the stadium was irresponsible.”


I’ve previously outlined 13 points on why this was a bad bill. Betsy Hodges makes a sound justification for her opposition (as did Gary Schiff, who supports Hodges). Can you honestly say that voting against funding something that didn’t need to be funded (especially not in any dire way in 2012) was irresponsible?

Andrew expanded on his “irresponsible” characterization:

“I will not preside over a hole in the ground. That will not happen on my watch,” he said.

That’s a ridiculous statement. The vote against the stadium financing bill presented to the city council was not a vote to finance a new stadium or tear down the Metrodome.

There was no hole in the ground.

There is no hole in the ground.

And, there wouldn’t be a hole in the ground if the vote had gone 7-6 rather than 6-7 in opposition. We have an existing stadium, with a new roof and turf, that’s hosted decades of NFL seasons, MLB seasons (including two world series wins), a few seasons of NBA basketball, decades of Gopher football, decades of college baseball, decades of monster truck rallies, decades of inline skating and running.

It’s a workhorse.

It’s paid for.

If money wasn’t an issue, could we build a better stadium than the Metrodome. Of course.

But, this issue comes down to whether spending other taxpayer dollars to subsidize the NFL, the Vikings, Vikings fans, and downtown businesses who are too cheap to spend their own money to invest in their own team or businesses is a good use of city tax dollars.

Andrew continued:

“However, the funding mechanism for the stadium was fatally flawed from the start, and I was not a Johnny-come-lately on that issue. I’ve been critical of the financing plan throughout the legislative process.”

Guess what? The city council was presented with a chance to vote on a “fatally flawed from the start” Vikings stadium funding mechanism. A funding mechanism that – while “fatally flawed from the start” – was somehow worthy of voting for in Mark Andrew’s world. If something’s “fatally flawed from the start” the responsible thing to do is to oppose it from the start and only support it once it’s not fatally flawed.

Additionally, I attended city council meetings and state legislative hearings on this issue and don’t remember seeing Mark Andrew at any of those events. While he may have been “critical of the financing plan throughout the legislative process” Google shows that he managed to avoid leaving a paper trail of his opposition. Isn’t that strange? I guess Mark Andrew was critical enough of the Vikings stadium financing plan to almost do something about it.

Honestly, I have a hard time following Mark Andrew’s reasoning on this issue. Apparently, it’s irresponsible to vote against a hole in the ground when there isn’t a hole in the ground, yet it’s not irresponsible to vote in favor of a “fatally flawed from the start” funding mechanism?

Who needs a straw-man argument when you can manufacture a hole in the ground argument?

The responsible thing to do in a situation like this is to take a deep breath, realize that there is no hole in the ground, and work toward a better financing scheme that year, the next year, etc.

This is what Betsy Hodges did.

Entertainment subsidies are not emergencies.

Still, Mark Andrew dug deeper:

Andrew said he is opposed to using gambling revenue to finance public projects.

If that’s the case. If Mark Andrew opposed using gambling revenue to finance public projects, why would he say that it’s irresponsible to vote against a bill that relied upon tens of millions of dollars per year in gambling revenue?

You can’t be opposed to exploiting gamblers for the benefit of the NFL while simultaneously calling city council members who were opposed to exploiting gamblers for the benefit of the NFL irresponsible. City council members Schiff and Hodges, when presented with the opportunity to vote on the Vikings subsidy bill with all of its flaws, proved that they were opposed to exploiting gamblers to subsidize the NFL with their votes.

Still, Andrew dug deeper:

Still, despite his reservations about the financial framework for the Vikings stadium, he said: “You can’t be for jobs and against the stadium.”

Actually, you can be for jobs and against the stadium because Minneapolis could employ people doing far more important work for city residents than tearing down an existing stadium to build a slightly larger one in its place.

Whenever I hear a corporate welfare project being sold as a jobs project I know that it’s a bad project. Nearly all government spending creates jobs. Let’s spend money creating the types of jobs that make our neighborhoods safer, our kids smarter, and our transportation more efficient. Subsidizing the NFL achieves none of those goals.

How Mark Andrew Justifies Bad Public Projects

It’s not just that Mark Andrew supports corporate welfare for the NFL that bothers me. It’s how and why he justifies this poor use of taxpayer dollars. When Mark Andrew says that it’s irresponsible to vote against the stadium while simultaneously claiming to oppose how it was funded, it’s hard to take the guy seriously. The question on the table on the Minneapolis City Council was whether they should vote to authorize $675 million in tax dollars over 30 years to pay for demolition of the Metrodome, construction of a larger stadium in its place, the removal of taxable land from the city’s tax rolls, and a significant chunk of ongoing stadium maintenance costs. Schiff and Hodges did the right thing, and Andrew chose to criticize them for doing so.

It’s worth noting that Andrew’s campaign has been endorsed by the Building Trades, who lied to Minneapolis residents during the Viking stadium corporate welfare campaign using push polls to garner support for Vikings stadium subsidies. Mark Andrew’s endorsements page verifies this, and also includes an endorsement from the head of the building trades, Dan McConnell (who’s also stated via Facebook profile photo that he’s planning to vote for Andrew).

In a nutshell, a union that’s willing to lie to extract tax dollars for corporate welfare construction projects supports Mark Andrew. Personally, I’d rather see those workers working on make Minneapolis a stronger and healthier city rather than subsidizing a family of New Jersey fraudsters.

If the ridiculously bad Vikings stadium financing bill is/was an important issue to you (or not), it’s clear to me that there are better choices in this race than Mark Andrew.

Betsy Hodges is the obvious choice. She voted against the poorly drafted bill and provided strong rationale for why that was the right thing to do.

What’s the Next Corporate Welfare Justified as a Jobs Bill Project?

If we look to the future, one question I have is, “What does Building Trades union plan to lobby for next, and why do they think Mark Andrew is the right guy to back for the corporate welfare that project will require?”

As I understand it, that project would be a huge convention center hotel built at taxpayer expense. That project will not improve the quality of our schools, the number of cops on the streets, the number of street lights in North Minneapolis, or fill more potholes. Yet, strangely, this is the kind of project the Building Trades would back, and their candidate of choice is very clear.

Again, if you’ve read this far, it’s not just the vote but the rationale used for or against that vote that explains why Betsy Hodges is the best choice for our next Minneapolis mayor.

Should Local Businesses Subsidize Shifting Sales from Local Businesses to the NFL? #wilfare

Judd Zulgad from 1500ESPN tweeted a few observations during his trip to Lambeau Field, including the one below regarding revenue captured on-site at Lambeau Field compared to the Metrodome:

Honestly, there is nothing the Vikings can do in their stadium to capture these revenue streams. Packed restaurant, packed pro shop ...

That’s certainly true. Lambeau does offer fans more to look at, including Lombardi Trophies (couldn’t resist).

But, who’s problem is that? Based on how Minneapolis chose to fund a huge chunk of the Vikings stadium corporate welfare package, locally owned restaurants, bars, and concert venues are responsible for helping the NFL capture more revenue from people who visit downtown Minneapolis 10 times per year.

How so? Downtown businesses selling food and alcohol are forced to charge their customers higher sales taxes than the rest of the city (on top of the higher sales taxes charged in Minneapolis than the rest of the state) 365 days per year in order to help build a stadium that will capture more fan dollars within the stadium.

Are the publicly financed parking ramps connected to the publicly financed stadium with publicly financed skyways going to increase or decrease the amount of time Vikings fans spend downtown before and after games?

It’s odd to see businesses forced to fund their own competition but that’s what the city agreed to.