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Thursday, April 20, 2006

Sounds Like Quite the Raucus Stadium Boondoggle Hearing

Strib has coverage here.

At times, the hearing took on a sports feel — with speakers being cheered, jeered and heckled — leading committee chairman Phil Krinkie to admonish the audience.

"This isn't a ballgame folks. This is a committee hearing," Krinkie, R-Lino Lakes, said. "If you want to go cheer we encourage you to go to the ballgame."

The hearing, the committee's second in as many days, was held in Bloomington, in the heart of Hennepin County. The county is asking the Legislature to sign off on a 0.15 percent increase in its sales tax, which would pay for $392 million of the estimated $522 stadium cost before interest on the bonds.

County leaders want to enact the tax without a voter referendum, as state law requires, and they need the Legislature's approval to have the vote waived.

Laura Lehmann, an Edina resident, reminded committee members that schools need voter approval for new buildings, including gymnasiums.

"We all love baseball," she said, "but do we love it more than we love our country and the democratic principles on which it was founded?"

Twins officials and the county say a delay from a referendum would add to costs that have already risen $82 million in the last three years.

Lehmann was among dozens who signed up to testify. About 700 people crammed into the auditorium, many decked out in Twins gear, and more settled into an overflow room.

With the long list of testifiers, a vote on the bill was doubtful for Thursday night. A third hearing was announced for Friday at the Capitol.

Thanks to the Lloydletta readers who sent emails to the Tax Committee urging them to vote NO on this boondoggle.