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September 01, 2011
Vikes mull upping stadium offer in exchange for other concessions
More new developments on the Minnesota Vikings stadium front:
- Vikings stadium point man Lester Bagley said that team owners could be willing to put in more upfront money, but in exchange for other considerations such as control of stadium revenue: "It's possible that the ownership contribution could go up, but all things are connected. There's a couple of other open issues that are all part of the package and all part of the negotiation, like the operational control of the facility and things like that. Those are big issues to everybody."
- Gov. Mark Dayton may not be committed to a public referendum anymore, but state senate majority leader Amy Koch says she thinks a public vote should be required.
- The Ramsey County Charter Commission met last night and voted to put off any action until October, holding two public forums in the interim. Not that the charter commission necessarily has say over a stadium deal, depending on what the state legislature does, but it's hoping if nothing else to exert public pressure on the shape of any deal.
Add it all up and ... enh, everything will probably change again by tomorrow, anyway, so no use reading tea leaves until they've hatched.
I support a referendum too. I think we should have a referendum on every discretionary spending item on the budget. Museums, parks, the Guthrie theater, the Mall of America, the Minneapolis Convention Center, the Northwest airlines bailout, let's put it all to a public vote. I am sure they will fail; few want to be taxed or pay for public goods especially ones they don't regularly use like the convention center.
Why do we need a representational government? Direct democracy works so much better. Why limit referendums to this one case? We should decide!!!!!!!!!
TPM has a nice characterization of the dangers of direct democracy. AT the same time direct democracy is a good check against insider political log rolling.
When I lived in Duluth in the late 90s the Mayor and his construction buddies pushed through three or 4 very questionable economic development projects funded with city debt. Then in 2005 suddenly the city was extremely broke and there was chaos because surprise surprise none of the ED projects met their (completely insane fantasyland) revenue projections.
They built a new freshwater aquarium and projected 1000 tickets a day at 10$/ticket when the old one was doing under 100/day at 4$/ticket.
Needless to say the new aquarium hemorrhaged money for a decade. Just like the Vikings Stadium will.
You need to avoid direct democracy because otherwise no one would pay to clean up the shit or take care of the homeless, but it can be very useful when talking about things like ED projects where it is simply about dollars and cents and the opportunity cost of one investment versus another.
The biggest reason to have a referendum here is because they know it will fail. If you know a referendum will fail you probably shouldn't green-light the project.
If I were a state legislator, on the first day of any special session I would propose a statewide tax increase equal to the one proposed for Ramsey County and force proponents to justify why the current plan is better. Yes, legislating through referendum is usually a bad idea that sounds good, but in this case you have a proposal that takes a scattershot approach to taxation that is hard to form a legislative coalition against, but with one element--a countywide sales tax--that has a legal requirement to be put to a referendum. It's not the end run in this situation; it's the defensive end that turns the end run back into the teeth of the defense.
The funny thing is that the current proposal has random taxes (DVR users, sports memorabilia), an illegal tax (surtax on players income), and an overly broad sales tax in Ramsey County, but the Vikings organization itself seems to pay no state income tax. You know if they did it would be at the top of the list of the benefits to having the team in the state, and yet we never hear about it.