MN: Wilfare State

Oct 18

The Stadium that Ate Minnesota (stadium shark by Ken Avidor)

DAY Three: Minnesota Held Hostage by Wilfare ‘Queens

It may be s worse than we thought: Gov. Mark Dayton, always a threat to become a loose cannon on any topic (he resembles his late mentor, Gov. Rudy Perpich, in his penchant for going off on tangents without regard to his base), has thrown himself under the limo, claiming that he, himself, will  devise a $billion-plus plan for a taxpayer subsidized stadium to “save” the Purple.

My God, the man is a Miracle Worker.

Maybe the scion of a wealthy, civic-minded family is tortured by the fear that Minnesota might lose its NFL franchise on his watch. A governor more used to brawling would go head-on against the NFL Oligarchs and challenge them to try. After all, Minnesota has two Democrats in the Senate in Washington and a friend in the White House. With Big Guns like that on your side, you don’t need to play loose cannon: Just threaten anti-trust investigations, draft some anti-monoply legislation and drop some F-bombs behind closed doors. I guarantee you the NFL would shrivel and pee in the corner like a scared chihuahua. Instead, Dayton seems to be playing Gentleman at the Country Club: I’m going to put my  best people on this, Mr. Wilf, and I hope I’ll have something to please you by Nov. 21. Meantime, what do you say to a rousing game of Whist?

Dayton’s chutzpah takes the breath away: His misguided sense of noblesse oblige is making the tightwad Republicans who control the Legislature look good: They are the ones talking about the job-less, the put-upon, the economic melt-down while Gov. Trust Fund deals with the billionaires to pad their private fortunes. This must be a bit how it felt back in the lumber days when governors met with the barons. Only those governors were Republicans.

Where are the liberals and progressives who helped Dayton beat the party bosses to win the governor’s office? Why are they standing by, silent, while their boy plays with the devil? Who represents common decency and conscience? Kurt Zellers and Tony Sutton?

As I said at the top, it’s worse than I thought.

If Dayton calls a special session for Thanksgiving week to pass a turkey of a stadium giveaway, OccupyMN should be there.

Day Two: Minnesota Held Hostage by Wilfare ‘Queens (Oct. 19)

If you or I walked into Gov. Mark Dayton’s office and told him we will leave Minnesota unless he finds us $1 billion in public subsidies by Thanksgiving, he’d call State Troopers and have our keisters kicked down the marble steps to our waiting limo.

Minnesota Vikings: The Real Welfare 'Queens

Unfortunately, Dayton did not do that to NFL hatchetmen who drove up in a big black limo Tuesday to threaten — nakedly — that the NFL will let the Vikings move to Los Angeles if the state doesn’t drop trou by Turkey Day. This is an empty threat from bagmen who should’ve been arrested for an attempted heist from the taxpayers. Instead of playing patty-fingers with them, the governor should have drawn a line in the sand:

The Vikings belong to the people of Minnesota and we have a lot of real problems to solve in this state at the moment before we start worrying about how to keep billionaires happy. Nevertheless, we will work this out if we can, but don’t come in here holding a gun to our head or I will make you wish you never heard of Minnesota and we will suck you dry of every nickel you thought you’d shake us down for and we will have public ownership of your pathetic little monopoly business.

Now get the hell out of here before I get mad.


Day One: Minnesota Held Hostage By Wilfare ‘Queens (10-18)

Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton has jumped on the $1.1-billion Vikings Stadium boondoggle, jeopardizing his reputation as a Democratic do-gooder and setting up an epic Turkey Bowl for Thanksgiving Week that will pit the people against the plutocrats.

Which side Dayton ultimately embraces remains to be seen, but he has bravely — or foolishly — kick-started the debate and gone further to give the Vikings and owner Zygi Wilf more hope than his predecessor, Tim Pawlenty ever did.  As I have noted before, Dayton has a loose-cannon quality that can be refreshing at times and scary at others. The stadium deal is one of the scary times when Dayton seems to go out of bounds with the ball and keeps running like a kid who doesn’t know the rules.

If Dayton brokers a deal that gives the Vikings a pile of tax dollars, he is likely to be a one-term governor. But at least he’ll always have a seat in Zygi’s luxury suite. If that sounds too cynical, well, maybe Dayton has a brilliant sucker-plan here where he calls out the Republican legislative majority to put up or shut up and then watches the stadium go down in flames and shrugs and says, “Well, don’t blame me. I tried.” But I don’t think Dayton is that shrewd. I’m afraid What You See is What You Get: Mark Dayton mistakenly feels he somehow is responsible for keeping the Vikings happy and doesn’t have the brass to tell the NFL and the Wilfs to put a sock in it. This is a dangerous game he is playing, especially when you already have protests in the street a few miles away.

The tents go up on the State Capitol lawn on Nov. 21, if you want my guess. I will be down there with a bullhorn. To even consider heavy public subsidies of $700 million or more for a monopoly business worth $800 million that already occupies a publicly financed TV-friendly playground at a time of economic decline, deficits, budget cuts, unemployment and rising anger is insane.

Not to mention morally reprehensible.

Minnesota’s 99 percent –including the 80-percent that consistently tells the pollsters that they oppose any Vikings subsidy — are not stupid. And they are not cows: If this deal is forced down their throat, there will be consequences.

I will be writing more on this as the Turkey Bowl approaches. And I already have Tweeted (last Saturday) three guiding principles that should be accepted by anyone seriously interested in trying to push a stadium plan, including — especially including — Dayton:

Rule No 1: Any/all meetings between officials and NFL/team MUST BE OPEN TO PUBLIC.  Dayton, who is meeting privately with NFL officials and Wilf this week, has repeatedly violated this principle. Although not required by law to open his meetings with the aristocrats who want public money, he should be bound by fealty to his duty and to DFL governing practice. This is public business; the public must be allowed inside the process. Rule No. 1(a) If a county or municipal charter or a state law says there must be a public referendum to approve any stadium expenditures, you better not screw with that law. If the people are supposed to decide, you better let them. And if you have any hope of success, you better craft a plan the public will accept.

Rule No. 2: GOP legislative leaders must SHOW SOME BACKBONE and Say No to Wilfare for Billionaires: Republican legislative leaders Amy Koch and Kurt Zellers are waffling. Koch says her Senate GOP caucus won’t accept a Vikings give-away unless Dayton wangles some DFL votes to join the GOP. This is the old let’s-jump-off-the-cliff-together pact that is meant to evade responsibility. Koch and Zellers showed no compunction about acting unilaterally last spring in passing a budget that led to a state shutdown. If they have any backbone — and any real principles — they will have to find the courage to stand (sorry; that bromide already is taken) they will have to find the balls to tell Dayton and the Vikings they will not pass a Wilfare Bill.


Rule No. 3: ANY public $$$ for Wilfare for billionaires MUST BE OFFSET BY TAXES ON RICH: You may not take a single dollar from any existing fund. You may not divert a single dollar of any increased or unexpected revenue that should be restored to the scores of programs and departments that have been cut and cut and cut again. You MUST, if you want to spend state dollars, offset them, one-to-one, by increased income taxes on the wealthiest one percent of Minnesotans. Anything less than that is to rob the old, the young, the sick and the needy to enrich the greedy. Anything less will bring outrage to your doorstep.

Won't You Help This Man?

OK, that’s all for now. I will write more as the occasion arises. If you think I sound angry, well, I have a question for you: Why aren’t YOU angry?

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