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Sunday, February 05, 2006

Edina City Council Will Consider Taking Stand Opposing Stadium Tax Without Referendum

URGENT: Public Hearing

Twins Stadium: $1 billion tax on us!!

A sales tax increase on our purchases!

FACT: Minnesota law requires a voter referendum for any sales tax increase, BUT team owner & Hennepin County want a SPECIAL exception!

Edina Public Hearing:

WHEN: This Tuesday, February 7, 2006 at 8:00 p.m.
WHERE: Edina City Hall
AGENDA: Whether the Edina City Council supports your lawful right to vote on any sales tax increase and will pass a resolution stating this.

Does your right to vote on a sales tax increase matter to you?
Let your voice be heard – vital that everyone attend!

Contact your City Council Members:
Ann Swenson...952-927-7524 Alice Hulbert…952-942-5615
Scot Housh…763-302-7174 Linda Masica….952-942-6770
Mayor James Hovland….612-874-8550
put member's name in subject line

Citizens for a Stadium Tax Referendum

I helped Laura Lehman distribute these flyers in her neighborhood. Plymouth, Eden Prairie and Mound have all passed similar resolutions. Edina should follow suit. So should Minneapolis.

Mike Kazuba has an excellent article in the Strib that exposes the conflict of interest in the Governor's Office over the Hennepin County Stadium boondoggle.

Gov. Tim Pawlenty's personal efforts to salvage plans for a new Minnesota Twins baseball stadium in downtown Minneapolis have immersed the governor in a proposal that has a series of ties to him politically.

Brian McClung, Pawlenty's communications director who now briefs reporters on the stadium's progress, was a lobbyist for Twinsville Inc., the corporation formed to promote the ballpark site and pitch redevelopment plans for the surrounding area.

In that job, which he held for less than two months in 2004, McClung worked for Twinsville executives Bruce Lambrecht and Rich Pogin, who contributed money to Pawlenty's 2002 campaign and co-hosted a fundraiser for the governor at Lambrecht's Minnetonka home. Lambrecht and Pogin manage three limited partnerships, comprised of about 200 investors, that own most of the stadium site.

Soon after Pawlenty was elected, Lambrecht's wife, Jeanne Braun, was hired as Pawlenty's personal assistant, and for more than two years worked side by side with Pawlenty in the governor's office until she resigned in May.

In 2004, while his wife worked for the governor, Lambrecht spent $90,000 lobbying for Twinsville but said in a statement to the Star Tribune that his efforts were primarily directed at the Legislature. "At no time did I lobby the governor," said Lambrecht, who described Pawlenty as "an acquaintance through politics and not a 'friend' through social circles."

Though McClung, Lambrecht and Pogin said the relationships have existed for years and have not moved the stadium closer to reality, Pawlenty's increased involvement has brought additional scrutiny by ballpark opponents of any role these ties may play.

Since Christmas, Pawlenty has hosted meetings in his office and at the governor's residence to inject new life into the $478 million baseball stadium proposal. It would be partly financed by a 0.15 percent sales tax in Hennepin County, a deal approved May 3 by the Hennepin County Board. McClung said the governor plans more meetings before the Legislature convenes in March.

Although Pawlenty had previously lent only lukewarm support to the Hennepin County proposal, he said after meeting with team and county officials in December that "we need as a state to keep our Minnesota Twins." The governor added that he preferred a referendum on using sales tax money but realized the team is opposed to doing so.

"There's so many conflicts of interest in the whole deal, it's enough to make your head spin," said Laura Lehmann, a spokeswoman for Citizens for a Stadium Tax Referendum. The group opposes plans by the county and the Twins to seek a legislative exemption to a state law requiring a referendum on the use of sales tax money.

Read the whole thing. Then call the Governor at 651-296-3391 and tell him you want a referendum on the Hennepin County Stadium tax.