Wednesday, May 03, 2006

READER RESPONSE -- What the heck is going on with the stadia?

Posted by Craig Westover | 9:43 AM |  

Dear Captain Fishticks:

What the heck is going on? Just when I thought legislators were getting a lick of common sense and demanding a Hennepin County referendum, I turn around and find out that this "gift" is under a Christmas tree of huge new taxes and a spending binge that will buy us TWO stadia, a whole bunch of "transportation," and probably some new bunny slippers for the mistress somewhere. The only nice thing I can say is that maybe a sensible compromise-- a Twins stadium WITH a referendum-- might come out of conference committee. And that really tells you how far we have come, where we consider the possibility of spending 3/4 of a Billion dollars of tax money on a stadium for "billionaire owners and millionaire players" running a private entertainment business.

Fuming and Frustrated
Dear Fuming and Frustrated --

A stadium with a referendum? Not a chance. When you make a deal with the devil, don't be surprised when it goes to hell.

Here's what the Captain reads in the stars. The House caved in on principle and with no solid criteria for judging "public good" passed a stadium bill that essentially gave the green light to the Twins stadium. A ballpark was so close that fans could taste it. Hell, I could feel the sun on my neck, the cool slide of the beer down my throat and hear the crack of a bat echoing off the incinerator plant. After a decade of political wrangling, and 40 plus years playing baseball in pieced together and piece of crap ballparks, the Twins were going to get a real stadium.

Not to be.

The DFL Senate, pretending to be the party of the people, goes Torii Hunter on the fans and reaches over the fence and pulls the ballpark back in play by requiring a Hennepin County referendum. Want it? (Oh it would be so grand wouldn’t it?) Can't have it!

But little children, dry those eyes.
Perhaps there is a compromise.

Hey, if 3 cents on $20 dollars is okay for (Democrat) Hennepin County residents, then certainly a mere 10 cents on $20 is okay if the base is wider and the tax pain is shared across 7-county metro (i.e. the Republican burbs). The House gets its ballpark and the Senate gets its trains (and taxpayers get the shaft).

What the DFL is counting on, of course, is once we've tasted the sweetest of having a ballpark, the bitterness of a the 7-country metro plan (which philosophically is no different than the House stadium tax-and-spend plan, it only differs by degree) won't be noticed. Moreover, the GOP House (as Republicans are wont to do) prematurely declared mission accomplished on the ballpark. The GOP has lot of political capital invested in providing a ballpark. The Democrats never promised new transportation money. So who’s in a better position for compromise?

Unless the DFL blinks, and Sen Steve Kelley the author of the 7-county metro bill doesn't blink (see Q-Comp), if the House GOP is dead-set on delivering a ballpark, look for the "compromise" to be a Twins Stadium (no Vikes) and a 7-country tax something less than .5 percent but includes transportation funding. If not, the campaign rhetoric is the Democrats support the right of the people to the vote; the Republicans failed to deliver on their promise of a new Twins stadium.

Compromise on principle, and you shouldn’t expect things to turn out well in the end.