Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Thanksgiving with the Colemans: Way too much w(h)ine

Posted by Craig Westover | 10:18 AM |  

If I do land the poet laureate job in St. Paul and must have Thanksgiving dinner with the extended family Coleman, I hope the Twins stadium issue doesn’t come up. Even when I agree on outcomes with Nick and Laura, it’s tough to digest their logic.

In yesterday’s Pioneer Press, Laura split hairs on the stadium issue by making the distinction between the for-profit (i.e. evil) Twins and the non-profit (i.e. saintly) Guthrie Theater. It’s okay to fund the Guthrie, but not a ballpark for a billionaire. In today’s Strib, Nick claims not letting Hennepin County residents vote on the sales tax, as required by law, is a victory for wealth over democracy.

“[T]he parliament in the former Soviet Socialist Republic of Kazakhstan is a model of democracy compared to our Legislature,” he writes as is his overwrought way.

More turkey, please.

When it comes to ladling on the gravy, Laura, it doesn’t make any difference whether the legislature pours it over a billionaire baseball owner or a nice-to-have regional theater (more often than not, by the way, attended by the those that can afford Twins season tickets than we bleacher bums). If I grab your piece of pumpkin pie, it doesn’t matter whether I give it to the little match girl with her nose pressed against the Coleman’s window or hand it over your well-heeled hubby -- you’re still out a piece of pie.

And, Nick, not giving Hennepin county the right to vote is what democracy is all about -- the majority imposing their will on the minority. Kind of like smoking bans. Kind of like light rail. Kind of like ethanol mandates. I agree, we have a law that requires a vote and Hennepin County should get to vote. But that’s not the major issue.

In republican form of government, legislators are free to act, but only within a rule of law. Our Legislature has no neutral criteria for when it is or is not appropriate to exempt a project from the referendum law. Without such criteria, the law is meaningless. In the same vein, without criteria for a public good any government expenditure -- beautiful ballparks or shinny trains -- is just a matter of opinion combined with clout.

Don’t bitch about the ballpark, Nick and Laura, if you aren’t prepared to bitch about something like light rail -- Why are the folks in Koochiching County required to ante up to transport people to a stadium they aren’t required to pay for?

No thank you. I’ve had enough w(h)ine.