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Saturday, April 26, 2008

Mall of America House Omnibus Discussions Coming Up Monday and Tuesday

Senator John Marty has an article in the Twin Cities Daily Planet about this boondoggle. It's well worth reading.

"Shopping mall parking ramp to get public money?"

Erik Paulsen is on the house tax committee, it will be interesting to see how he votes. Laura Brod, who signed the taxpayer league no new taxes pledge, but voted for the stadium swindle is also on this committee. Minneapolis Representatives and Senators include:

Scott Dibble
Jim Davne
Joe Mullery

Here's a list of house tax email addresses that you can paste into an email:,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,

From the Minneapolis Issues list.

Minneapolis has an official position on the MOA is strongly opposed.

During a 5-hour televised hearing last week supporters had +20 testifiers (mall management, construction trades, hotel service workers, mayor of Bloomington). Opposition included the City of Mpls., Downtown Council, etc.

I am new to the state funding mechanisms so if I 'got it wrong'...please jump in.

Opposition considers it an improper use of Fiscal Disparities Funding and the possibility of a MOA theater would negatively impact our downtown theater district (which, according to our Mpls lobbyist, was built without using large public subsidies) . While not opposing MOA expansion, Mpls feels that use of the funding mechanisms (TIF changes and use of FDF) for a private venture forces non- MOA residents to subsidize their competiton. Downtown Council Exec (Grabarski?) gave examples of how this expansion could be done without the subsidy. One was charging for parking...the MOA is strongly opposed to doing that.

The Chair of the Tax committee (who reps Bloomington and opposes this proposal) presented pages upon pages of computer runs demonstrating the effect on ALL of Minnesota. One committee member said the one thing he had learned is that tinkering with one funding mechanism buldged out some where else.

Those feeling a disproportionate negative impact would be rural areas, small towns, schools and counties. One change could also affect non-MOA twin city suburbs.

These particular Tif changes can decrease LGA forcing local government units to raise property taxes. Use of FDF changes tax capacity and, if the Mall is exempted, the pool shrinks, again affecting everyone's LGA (and property taxes). The Chair said FDF was is not intended to be a private subsidy but a sharing tool spread among disparate tax bases.

There is a fear that approving the MOA proposal would create a precedent...with others coming to the legislature. The chair said that there are groups waiting to see how the MOA plays out so they can submit their projects. Comments were also made about the philosophy of these mechanisms...Perpich era, JOBZ... Also a legal question on what's included in a Tif district and an entity (Bloomington) would have 2 rates...and changes would be challenging as no one actually lives at the MOA.

Committee members asked other many real living wage jobs would be created, what's included in compliance, impact on construction was a long, complicated (at least for me) session but fascinating. It might be in the legislature's webcast archives but I haven't checked.

with best wishes,
cheryl luger
nokomis east

From a reader:

HOUSE Omnibus discussions coming up on Monday and Tuesday.

This is the house tax commitee next week (omnibus). People need to check with the tax comm for updates/changes. No Agendas have been posted listing specific bills. Found out you can hang around for floor sessions that don't end until 8:30 pm or later.

MONDAY, April 28, 2008
9:00 AM
Meeting Time Note: The committee will recess for the floor session
Committee: Taxes
Room: 10 State Office Building
Chair: Rep. Ann Lenczewski
Agenda: Omnibus Tax Bill

MONDAY, April 28, 2008
12:30 PM

TUESDAY, April 29, 2008
9:00 AM
Meeting Time Note: The committee will recess for the floor session
Committee: Taxes
Room: 10 State Office Building
Chair: Rep. Ann Lenczewski
Agenda: Omnibus Tax Bill


3) here are tax committee numbers. People contacting legislators need to remember Civility is very important.

a) House tax members:

Phone Number
(651) area code E-mail Address
Chair: Ann Lenczewski (DFL) 296-4218
Vice Chair: Sandy Wollschlager (DFL) 296-8635
Lead-GOP: Dean Simpson (R) 296-4293
Joe Atkins (DFL) 296-4192
Laura Brod (R) 296-4229
Lyndon Carlson (DFL) 296-4255
Jim Davnie (DFL) 296-0173
Chris DeLaForest (R) 296-4231
Randy Demmer (R) 296-9236
David Dill (DFL) 296-2190
Ron Erhardt (R) 296-4363
Debra Hilstrom (DFL) 296-3709
Mike Jaros (DFL) 296-4246
Lyle Koenen (DFL) 296-4346
Paul Kohls (R) 296-4282
Morrie Lanning (R) 296-5515
John Lesch (DFL) 296-4224
Tina Liebling (DFL) 296-0573
Paul Marquart (DFL) 296-6829
Joe Mullery (DFL) 296-4262
Erik Paulsen (R) 296-7449
Tom Rukavina (DFL) 296-0170
Loren Solberg (DFL) 296-2365
Cy Thao (DFL) 296-5158
Tom Tillberry (DFL) 296-5510
Kurt Zellers (R) 296-5502

Links on a Senator's name leads to their biography
Number of Members: 13
Chair: Thomas M. Bakk
Vice Chair: Dan Larson
Ranking Minority Member: Julianne E. Ortman
Member: D. Scott Dibble
Debbie J. Johnson
Keith Langseth
Warren Limmer
John Marty
Mee Moua
Lawrence J. Pogemiller
David H. Senjem
Katie Sieben

Rod Skoe

Is it time for them to go home yet? As a property taxpayer in Minneapolis, I feel safer when they aren't in session.

Mall Boondoggle

Posted to Minneapolis Issues:

4. One MOA try to build a parking ramp. Once again the Mall of America is asking state legislators for a subsidy to pay for a parking ramp for their expansion plans. Last year's proposal was Old Yeller'd when Governor vetoed the Tax bill:
this year's proposal will hopefully meet a similar fate. But don't take our word for it. Read what State Senator John Marty [DFL-Roseville] has to say about taxpayers picking up the tab for the benefit of a few developers:
"There are many urgent needs that deserve public funding, but a parking ramp for a shopping mall is not one of them. Yet the Senate tax bill contains provisions allowing for the use of local and metro-wide tax revenue to finance a $186 million parking ramp as part of a new 'Phase II' expansion of the Mall of America in Bloomington. "Proponents of the parking ramp subsidy argue that this project will create construction jobs at a time when many construction workers are out of work. But we could create just as many construction jobs building schools, or libraries, or roads. In fact, we could create just as many jobs repairing or replacing bridges." [ed. or cutting capital gains taxes.]

If that isn't reason enough, when you factor in how Mall developers came to own the land in the first place, you'd think one instance of larceny was plenty. Marty continues: "This is not the first time that taxpayers have subsidized the developers here. Several years ago, lobbyists for the MOA succeeded in pressuring politicians to essentially give them the valuable property north of the current Mall. The MOA traded it for a piece of real estate that they had previously purchased for one dollar. Taxpayers essentially gave this property to the developers for free, and now taxpayers are asked to pay $186 million to put a parking ramp on it." Not a bad history lesson.

Kudos to Sen. John Marty for speaking out about this. Why aren't more DFL legislators in Minnesota speaking out loudly AGAINST this nonsense. The City of Minneapolis should take a position against this - because it subsidizes free parking at the mall.

Boondoggles are endless at the legislature.

I've heard the vote is coming up on May 1st on this one. Contact your legislator and let them know how you feel. This type of subsidy increases property taxes - since the revenue has to be replaced somehow - and who replaces it - well chumps like the Minneapolis homeowners.

Franken's Campaign at the 6th CD Convention

I asked the kids manning the Franken's table at the 6th CD convention about the latest publicity of Franken's problems with paying taxes. They didn't want to give me a statement since I had a media badge. They did tell me they'd talked about this on the trip up. One said the newspaper article didn't give the whole story, and I asked, "does that mean the newspaper story isn't accurate", and he wouldn't say. Franken would not comment to the Strib.

There were a number of people at the convention who are concerned about the effect of this story on the Franken campaign. The campaign is doing a horrible job at damage control.

More Thug Radio

Rush Limbaugh calls for riots in Denver at the Democratic National Convention.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Hamlet's Soliloquy

With cliffnotes.

Why Does Rich Stanek's Official Website Look So Much Like A Campaign Website

Check it out here. Rich Stanek has a bio that leaves out important parts of his public record on the site. Google searches for Rich Stanek and Sheriff Stanek drag up the 20 Days in August Story.

Minnpost on Rich Stanek's Self-Promotion

David Brauer reports:

KSTP chronicles the further adventures of publicity hound Rich Stanek. The Hennepin sheriff staged a photo op giving recovered shoplifted goods to a women's shelter. Problem: His office had nothing to do with the bust. A frustrated Edina detective says no credit was given to Edina cops and Scott County deputies who broke the case. Minneapolis police and pols have already gnashed teeth over Stanek's credit-hogging on the I-35W collapse.

Meanwhile a commenter responded to my earlier post commenting on the situation.

An anonocommenter named "newsie", who joined blogger in April 2008 left the comment:

Good morning Lloydletta,

I appreciate your diligence in trying to help spread the news. All good journalists know though, you must make sure to check your sources, and when you are reporting something that might be seen as controversial - make sure you have more than just one source before you report a story.

Macy's refutes this story STRONGLY and so does the Hennepin County Sheriff's Office.

Macy's came to the Sheriff's Office in January and ASKED the Sheriff's Office to find a good home for all of the clothing that was sitting in a warehouse for a very long time after a shoplifting bust.

Macy's would not - even after many questions from the Sheriff's Office - offer details to the Sheriff's Office regarding the investigation. The Sheriff's Office asked more than one Macy's representative several times for the details - but Macy's wanted the story to be about GIVING not the investigation.

The investigators who made the bust two years ago received credit in the media for their great work. Again, this week's story was ONLY about GIVING.

Sheriff Stanek did NOT know who made the bust and had his staff ask Macy's several times to gather that information for him - but Macy's did not want to talk about the investigation because the focus of this week's story was GIVING.

These are important details that KSTP had Tuesday night before they went with the story - but KSTP decided not to report the REAL story. KSTP is to blame for taking the focus off the non-profit Ready for Success, NOT Sheriff Stanek.

The good news this morning: even with KSTP's mud-slinging story, Ready for Success says because of the Hennepin County Sheriff's Office work in facilitating this request and because the Sheriff's Office chose this very worthy non-profit -- Ready for Success is being flooded this week with donations.

This is EXACTLY why Macys's and the Sheriff's Office did the story - to place attention on this wonderful non-profit that helps people find and secure jobs so they can feed their families.

Great work Macy's and Sheriff Rich Stanek.

This sounds suspiciously like the writing of a PR person unhappy with bad press. KSTP contacted the Sheriff's office:

A spokeswoman for Stanek said neither the sheriff nor anyone in the office was trying to unfairly take credit.

She said officials got the clothes from Macy�s and were never told who was responsible for the investigation.

This is different than newsie's claim that Rich Stanek had tried to get Macy's to tell them who made the bust. Hopefully newsie will stop back and clarify, since clearly s/he is close to Rich Stanek.


DFL Disses Gays in 6th District Message

Larry Schumacher from the St Cloud Times writes about the DFL's message when running against Michele Bachmann.

The first argues that Bachmann "has shown that she is incapable of putting her constituents' basic need ahead of her allegiance to George W. Bush and the far-right ideology with which she is enthralled" and runs down a litany of votes they believe will haunt her, including voting against expanding SCHIP, increasing college tuition aid, allowing the government to negotiate with pharmaceutical companies to lower Medicare Part D prescription drug prices, higher fuel efficiency and renewable energy, and ending pay discrimination against women.

It notes that Bachmann still strongly supports Bush's policy on the Iraq war, despite the mounting costs in financial and human terms and growing public opposition.

It also hits her again for her "workingest state" comment, saying she "celebrated (the) middle-class squeeze."

It's notable that the DFL is avoiding framing Michele Bachmann's extremist rhetoric against her. You'd think most people in the 6th District would be offended by a sign that said "Death Penalty for Homosexuals" - well that was rather typical of signs carried at the rally she headlined that was supposedly about "traditional marriage."

Person with sign that says Death Penalty for Homosexuals at 2004 Bachmann Amendment Rally

So the DFL is throwing gays under the bus on this one. Not surprising.

They will lose on this issue unless they frame it aggressively - because Bachmann and the outside groups will frame it as "traditional marriage", and the DFL should be framing it as bigotry (using photos of signs like the one I've described to back up their case). Having Bachmann trying to explain why she is not a bigot is exactly where you want her. Here's her speech to Edwatch about the Effect of Same Sex Marriage on Education. During this speech she talked about the group of loving people at this rally.

Since the DFL doesn't use this issue against Michele Bachmann, it makes me wonder whether they aren't particularly offended by someone who headlines a rally that has "Death Penalty for Homosexuals" signs. This is one of the reasons why I am not a member of the DFL.

Cross posted to Lloydletta's Nooz.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Rich Stanek Claims Credit for Edina Police Departments Shoplifting Bust

KSTP has the story.

A big shoplifting bust lead to a generous donation Tuesday, as piles of clothes stolen from Macy�s were given to needy Twin Cities women. But the act of kindness became overshadowed with a photo opportunity for the Hennepin County Sheriff�s Department.

"We're going to make some women very happy and make some great partnerships out in the community," said Hennepin County Sheriff Rick Stanek said in front of a sea of cameras and reporters.

However, 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS has learned that neither Hennepin County Sheriff Rich Stanek nor his department had any role in the investigation.

In fact, two other law enforcement agencies conducted the entire investigation.

"The Hennepin County Sheriff�s Office had nothing to do with it, so that's what blew me away," said former Edina Police Detective Brandon Deshler.

Deshler retired from the Edina Police Department one year ago. One of his last cases was this shoplifting bust. Deshler helped seize nearly $185,000 worth of Macy�s merchandise found at a Shakopee home in 2006.

"It was the biggest one I�d ever done," Deshler told 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS.

He sent several pictures he took during the case � showing huge piles of women�s clothing. Some of the same articles of clothing that Sheriff Stanek posed with Tuesday.

Stanek and Macy�s donated the recovered clothes to a group called Ready for Success. The non-profit organization provides low-income women with suitable clothing for the workplace.

Deshler supports the cause. But he told 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS he was upset the credit wasn�t given to the case-solvers: Edina Police officers and Scott County Deputies.

"Let's give credit where credit is due," Deshler said.

This isn't surprising from the star of 20 days in August.

Expelled Gets Panned in Detroit Weekly

The Creationist propoganda film Expelled gets panned again. Orac, a Detroit native has the scoop.

Before I abandon the disgusting piece of fecal matter that is Ben Stein's Expelled! for (hopefully) a long, long time, if not forever, I can't resist pointing out that it's good to see that at least someone totally gets it and sees through the lies. It's even better to see it coming from a hometown publication Real Detroit Weekly (you'll need to scroll almost all the way to the bottom of the web page to get past all the other movie reviews).

Here's excerpts from the review:

Mark Mathis, one of the producers of Expelled, wants the “theory” of Intelligent Design (ID) taught in science classrooms alongside evolution. Proponents of ID are fond of saying that it's not the same as creationism (read: creationism sans the talking snake and the magic rib). But if ID isn't creationism, then oral sex isn't sexual relations. Beyond semantic nuances, the underlying argument of creationism and ID is the same: If there is any phenomenon that science has yet to provide an explanation for, there clearly is no scientific explanation—God did it.

More gems:

If we do decide to teach Intelligent Design along with evolution, let’s at least be consistent and give equal time to other supernatural theories. Here are a few suggestions:

  • The theory of relativity will be taught alongside the theory of divinity, which maintains that E = whatever God good and well pleases.

  • Gravitational theory will be taught alongside the theory of Deliberate Motion, which proposes that celestial bodies do not move as a result of gravitational force, but as a result of an Intelligent Mover pushing them around.

  • The germ theory of disease will be considered, but so will the Divine Retribution theory, which posits the existence of an intelligence who distributes diseases in order to punish sins. Of course, this will necessitate that medical schools give time to traditional pharmaceutical approaches to healthcare, as well as "faith-based" approaches, which will rely on prayer and the sacrifice of baby rams.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

6th District Convention Shenanagans

The Chair of the 6th CD, Mark Swanson wrote a letter to delegates regarding the controversy over binding Ron Paul delegates to vote for John McCain. Andy Applikowski has a screen shot of the letter. Craig Westover is carrying water for the Party people opposed to the Ron Paul people. Minn Post:

In the cadence of an NFL referee, Swanson wrote: "After consultation with our party leadership and a review of the appropriate documents, we have come to the conclusion that the motion does not pass constitutional muster ... Delegates (and alternates) are not bound to vote for any particular candidate."

Instant replay got it right ... maybe.

Larger issues at stake
Although delegates (and alternates) to the GOP national convention are not legally bound to any specific candidate, ethical issues and questions about the representative role of national delegates still simmer in the Sixth.

"The purpose of the motion and the reason I supported it was an integrity issue," said Swanson. "I expect the delegates that represent me to act with integrity, that they mean what they say. The delegates elected were less than fully honest.

"The question [whether the delegate candidate would support John McCain] was clear," Swanson said. "It meant you were going to the convention to support John McCain."


A plurality is not a majority
Although Swanson is not prepared to release the exact vote totals for elected delegates and alternates from the Sixth District, he did say that delegates to the national convention were elected with plurality vote totals. In other words, while individual Paul delegates garnered higher vote totals than other delegate nominees, in aggregate more votes at the convention were cast for McCain supporters.

"It is the right of the Paul people to be organized," said Swanson. But, he noted, national delegates also "have an obligation to represent the sense of the district at the convention."

"To debate whether anyone but John McCain is going to get the GOP nomination is a waste of time," said Swanson, but he agrees "to debate what principles are written into the platform is a worthwhile activity. The platform is what the grassroots stands for – they decide what should be in the platform."

The chair of the Ron Paul campaign commented:

My recollection is that the RP national delegates got roughly 100 votes each out of the 300 in attendance. Out of 90 candidates, that's a pretty strong plurality.

For the record, at least one candidate for delegate told me he was asked if he would support McCain. The candidate specified, "after the endorsement" meaning nomination, and the Nom Com guy said, "I'll put that down as a 'yes'." So there was a bit of confusion over the question.

I thought Olson Was Booted from the Republican Caucus

A user named "Minnesota GOP" uploaded this youtube:

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Ad Goes After Norm Coleman on Supreme Court

It's on an issue that resonates for working women also - fair compensation.

It will be interesting to see how Norm Coleman votes on this bill tomorrow.

Presidential Candidates Pander to Anti-Vaccinationists

Orac has the scoop.

Well, so much for Hillary Clinton's and Barack Obama's reputations for supposedly being well-informed about scientific issues. True, they didn't sink as far into the stupid as John McCain did about vaccines and autism, but what they said was bad enough. Let's put it this way: If David Kirby thinks what they said about vaccines and autism is just great, they seriously need to fire all their medical advisors and get new ones who know how to evaluate evidence.


Unfortunately, thanks to Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama's poorly thought out statements, David Kirby is actually correct when he says:

So there you have it, our next President will share the views of such radical fringe crazies as, well, me, Democrat Robert Kennedy, Jr., Republican Joe Scarborough, former NIH and Red Cross chief Bernadine Healy, and several researchers at Harvard, Johns Hopkins, the Universities of California and Washington and elsewhere.
Well, not quite. I 'm not sure who those researchers at all those prestigious institutions are who think vaccines cause autism the way that David Kirby and the mercury militia do. As for Bernadine Healy, I remember seeing her disappointingly credulous article and was just too burned out on dealing with the stupidity being laid down in such copious quantities about vaccines and autism lately to comment on it. David Kirby is right, though, that he and Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. are radical fringe crazies, even though (I think) he meant it ironically. He may also be correct that the candidates "share their views," albeit only in a superficial sense. Kirby and RFK Jr., for instance, are very committed to their view that vaccines cause autism. I doubt the candidates gave it half a thought; they probably just signed off on a statement by their scientific advisors, which, if true, is strong evidence that they really need to fire their scientific advisors immediately.

I realize that Clinton and Obama are politicians. I realize that they didn't want to tick off the group that sent them the questionnaire. I further realize that politicians will pander, as they are no doubt pandering to the mercury militia here. The problem is that pandering to this group can have very real and very serious consequences in terms of protecting the health of the people of the United States. Let's just put it this way. If the nattering nabobs of antivaccinationism over at The Age of Autism and credulous antivaccinationists like Ginger like what all three candidates have to say with regards to the issue of vaccines and autism, no matter which candidate is elected, on this issue at least, those of us who support scientific medicine and accept what it has to say about the value and safety of vaccines are likely to be well and truly screwed. Worse, if antivaccinationists get their way in a new administration, it could be the nation that is well and truly screwed.

Go read the whole thing. The real problem with the vaccine hysteria, is that when people don't vaccinate their children, it means there is an increase in diseases like measles.

Watch Your Wallets


Will megamall deal usher in one for Vikings?
By MIKE KASZUBA, Star Tribune

April 22, 2008

The Mall of America’s plan to help finance its second phase could face an important legislative hearing today — and among the interested observers will be the Minnesota Vikings, who see in the proposal a possible method to build a new football stadium.

After a previous version of the plan went down last year when Gov. Tim Pawlenty vetoed a sweeping tax bill that included it, the mall’s lobbyists are back in force at the Capitol. They’re hoping to tap money that otherwise would go into a met­rowide business property tax pool and use it to help finance a $204 million parking ramp accompanying the $2 billion mall expansion. Last year alone, the mall spent $740,000 on lobbying.

Critics are rallying opposition to the plan in part by arguing that the Vikings would likely want to use the same mechanism to help build a $954 million stadium.

The Vikings acknowledge that they are watching the mall’s efforts, and team Vice President Lester Bagley said it will be “hard to explain” to owner Zygi Wilf why the mall project is moving forward while the Vikings’ stadium is not.

“Our ownership is alarmed at the lack of urgency” to bring about a new stadium, Bagley said.

“What do you think they’re thinking if [the mall’s plan] goes through?” asked House Taxes Committee Chairwoman Ann Lenczewski, DFL-Bloomington, whose panel could take up the proposal today. The Vikings, she said, are thinking, “Yeah, we got a funding source” for the stadium.

John Marty was a guest on Minnesota Matters discussing this article tonight.

'Fiscal disparities’ pool

The mall’s plan to finance the parking ramp involves the state’s “fiscal disparities” pool, a complex financial tool that dates to the early 1970s.

Under fiscal disparities, 40 percent of the growth in the commercial-industrial tax base in the metro area is shared among communities in an attempt to strike a balance between “have” and “have not” cities in terms of tax base.

Bloomington, which has a large commercial tax base, is contributing $24 million in tax base to the pool this year and will receive $9 million in tax base in return. In contrast, St. Paul is contributing $23.4 million and is getting back $45.3 million.

By any measure, fiscal disparities offers a potentially rich source of money — and one that has largely been off-limits to fund private developments. This year, the total tax base contribution to the pool is $402 million.

The state Senate has already approved a plan that would take the additional fiscal disparities money generated once the mall’s second phase is built — estimated at $4.5 million annually — and give it to the city of Bloomington rather than putting it in the pool.

The city, according to the mall, would use the money to help finance the new parking ramp . In addition, the city would boost its lodging tax to help pay for the ramp.

Not 'new ground’

Mall officials said that the money being diverted amounts to only 1 percent of the total fiscal disparities pool, and that the mall’s exemption would be no different from those granted more than 20 years ago for other projects. Moreover, mall officials said last year’s proposal has been reconfigured to satisfy many critics.

“We’re not breaking new ground here,” said Kurt Hagen, vice president for Triple Five Corp., the owners of the mall, and the company’s manager of the second phase project. “Nobody is going to pay a penny for Phase II parking” other than those paying Bloomington lodging taxes and shoppers at the mall.

Hagen said the $200,000 in fiscal disparities contributions now generated annually by the second phase site — which is currently a parking lot — would continue to go to the pool.

Without public subsidies, he said, the mall’s second phase will not be built.

The 5.6 million-square-foot project, spread across 42 acres, will create 7,000 construction jobs and during the first 20 years generate $1.1 billion in new sales taxes, according to the mall. It would include stores, hotels, offices, a dinner theater and a water park, among other things.

As for the Vikings, Hagen said he endorsed any effort that brings large amounts of tax revenue to Minnesota. “If anyone can generate those kinds of returns [as well as the mall] for the state of Minnesota and the region, bring it on,” he said.

Slow go for Vikings

For the Vikings, whose lease at the Metrodome expires in 2011, getting a warm reception at the State Capitol has been difficult. A proposal last month for a $2 million study on a new stadium was rejected by the Senate.

The Vikings said they and the National Football League are committed to providing $250 million toward a stadium, but have no clear public funding source to pay for the bulk of the project.

The Minnesota Chamber of Commerce has tried to referee complaints that others would want the mall’s fiscal disparities deal. Tom Hesse, a chamber lobbyist, said the group spoke to the Vikings as early as last year to try to discourage them from seeking the same exemption.

“We had a brief conversation with them saying we suggest other sources if they’re going to look for money,” he said of the Vikings. With the mall being a high-profile corporation, Hesse said the chamber was “trying to walk a fine line here.”

Bob DeBoer, policy director for the Citizens League, a nonprofit public policy group, said the proposal’s complexity and its relative obscurity — it encompasses 10 lines in a 202-page tax bill — puts critics and ordinary citizens at a disadvantage. He also said that because the fiscal disparities pool was never meant as a tool to subsidize private development, there is no mechanism requiring the mall (or potentially the Vikings) to show why it needs such a subsidy.

The mall’s proposal is also opposed by many Twin Cities businesses, who said the fiscal disparities plan would essentially force them to subsidize a competitor. “This would subsidize free parking at the Mall of America,” said Brad Sherman, vice president of Hubert White, the longtime downtown Minneapolis clothier.

The mall’s proposal, however, is luring many legislators with a promise of jobs and an increase in tax base.

“The state badly could use the economic stimulus,” said Sen. Tom Bakk, DFL-Cook, chairman of the Senate Taxes Committee.
Bakk, like others, downplayed the likelihood of the Vikings getting a similar deal. But given the financial firepower of the Vikings, others are not so sure. Kaye Rakow, a lobbyist for the 1,000-member Minnesota chapter of the National Association of Industrial and Office Properties, which opposes the mall’s subsidy plan, is one of them.

“When you think about what’s the next big one, well — the Vikings,” she said.

It's time to write your legislator, telling them you oppose the Mall of America's boondoggle. It looks to me that the end result is increased property taxes on others besides the Mall.

This is another reason to strongly oppose Tom Baak if/when he runs for Governor. If he got elected governor, the taxpayer would be on the hook for endless boondoggles of this sort.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Clinton and Obama Appear at Religious College that Categorizes Homosexuality with Stealing, Adultery & Sexual Abuse

Jake Tapper, ABC News:

Both Democratic presidential candidates on Sunday night appeared at a CNN "Compassion Forum" at Messiah College in Grantham, Pennsylvania.

Messiah College describes itself as embracing an "evangelical spirit rooted in the Anabaptist, Pietist and Wesleyan traditions of the Christian Church."

As such, its "community covenant" states that members of the Messiah College community "avoid such sinful practices as drunkenness, stealing, dishonesty, profanity, occult practices, sexual intercourse outside of marriage, homosexual behavior, and sexually exploitative or abusive behavior."

In the past, Republican presidential candidates have been criticized for speaking at universities where certain religious beliefs are considered bigoted, most notoriously when then-Gov. George W. Bush in 2000 spoke at Bob Jones University, where anti-Catholic dogma was taught and inter-racial dating banned.

Messiah counsels its gay and lesbian students to seek the help of controversial organizations that use Scripture and behavioral exercises to coach them to stop acting on gay feelings and impulses.

It's not difficult to imagine a big outcry among liberal activists if, say, Republican presidential candidates attended such a forum hosted by, say, Fox News at such a university.

Asks a reader, "Shouldn't Democratic presidential candidates, both of whom are explicitly on the record as being in favor of gay rights, avoid schools like this as assiduously as previous generations of politicians were urged to avoid Bob Jones University?

"How can politicians appear at a college that espouses these ideas and then turn around and court the gay community at the same time?

"How can the two leading Democratic candidates appear on stage at this college and not be questioned by the press about the hypocrisy of appearing there?"

Good questions.

Will Jake Tapper question them about this hypocrisy? What about other reporters. This may have been a better question for the debate than some of the questions they were asked.

Hat Tip: Steve Miller at the Independent Gay Forum.

Republican Platform Includes Plank Advocating the Teaching of Creation Science in Public Schools

The Senate District 42 Republicans want to change the wording of this from "Creation Science" to "Intelligent Design".

15: Intelligent Design: We support protecting educators from disciplinary action for including discussion of creation science intelligent design, and adopting science standards that acknowledge the scientific controversies pertaining to the theory of evolution.

As Adrian Mellott wrote: "Intelligent Design is Creationism in a Cheap Tuxedo."

It would be worth while asking Erik Paulsen what he thinks of this platform plank. He voted for an amendment to require balanced treatment for creationism in 2005 (Source: MFC Voter's Guide here and here.) The only time Paulsen voted against the MFC this year was when he voted in favor of a state run casino.

Despite the efforts of the Intelligent Design creationists, creationism cannot be dressed up as "Intelligent Design" in order to get into public school science classes. Judge Jones decision in the court case Kitzmiller v Dover clearly established that Intelligent Design Creationism was NOT science.

Wacked Priorities

Senator Amy Klobuchar has not agreed to sign on to a bill to repeal Don't Ask Don't Tell. People might consider asking her why.

Press Releases

Victor Maldonado
Senior Communications Associate

April 21, 2008
Military Continues Recruiting Serious Ex-Felons While Discharging Qualified Gay Service Members
WASHINGTON, DC – The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee today released data showing a dramatic rise in the number of moral waivers issued to recruits joining the Army and Marine Corps. The number of waivers granted to recruits convicted of manslaughter, rape, kidnapping and making terrorist threats, doubled between 2006 and 2007. During that same time, the Pentagon continued discharging service members under the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” law banning lesbian, gay and bisexual personnel from serving openly in the military. Pentagon officials released the data following a request for the information from Committee Chairman, Congressman Henry A. Waxman (D-CA).

“This data shines a bright light on the outrageousness and absurdity of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,’” said Aubrey Sarvis, executive director of Servicemembers Legal Defense Network (SLDN). “On the one hand, the Pentagon is discharging highly-qualified, honest, law-abiding men and women because they are gay, while on the other hand granting waivers to rapists, killers, kidnappers and terrorists. Granting waivers for child molesters and rapists to serve while discharging lesbians and gays is utter madness. Repealing ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ will reduce the need to grant felony waivers.”

In 2006 the Pentagon discharged approximately 700 service members under “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” According to the Department of Defense data, in 2007 the Army granted 511 felony waivers, including: three soldiers convicted of manslaughter, one soldier convicted of kidnapping or abduction, seven soldiers convicted of rape, sexual assault, criminal sexual assault, incest or other sex crimes, three soldiers convicted of indecent acts or liberties with a child, and three soldiers convicted of terrorist threats including bomb threats. Moral waivers are granted to personnel who do not otherwise qualify for military service due to a criminal background.

“Keeping ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ on the books hardly helps the military’s personnel crisis. In fact, if Congress got rid of the law there would a need for fewer waivers,” Sarvis said. “It is in our national security interests to get rid of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”

To see the Department of Defense data on felony waivers, visit and for more information on “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” and Congressional legislation to repeal the law, visit

Steve Simon Gets Minnesota Lawyer Profiles in Courage Award

Simon gets this award for standing up to his party and calling for an investigation into Lori Swanson's office.

The post references an April 9 Strib article.

In the latest flare-up of a DFL quarrel, a Democratic legislator sent colleagues an e-mail questioning the motives of another DFLer who sought an investigation into Attorney General Lori Swanson's management.

The e-mail suggested that the legislator seeking the probe held a grudge against Swanson for an unwanted transfer years before. The dispute led to a closed-door caucus meeting.

Swanson's office has been beset by high turnover amid discontent about her management and directives. The discord, including a controversial union-organizing effort in the office, has put DFL legislators in the middle of a fight between one of their party's top officeholders and one of its biggest constituencies, organized labor.

Rep. Debra Hilstrom, DFL-Brooklyn Center, wrote to all House Democrats a few days after Rep. Steve Simon, DFL-St. Louis Park, called on the Legislative Audit Commission to investigate allegations that Swanson pressured subordinates to compromise ethical standards.

In calling for the inquiry March 28, Simon referred to his service from 1996 to 2001 as an assistant attorney general, during which he worked with Swanson, who was a top aide to Attorney General Mike Hatch after his election in 1998.

Hilstrom began her March 31 e-mail by saying she is working as an intern in Hatch's law office.

"I have talked to Mike Hatch," it read. "I think that as long as Representative Simon spends his time talking about his time working down the hall from Lori Swanson, he ought to disclose to the people the facts and circumstances under which he was transferred without his consent from the consumer division to the education division by Lori Swanson."

The e-mail became a subject of a closed-door DFL House caucus that party members have declined to discuss. "This was a misunderstanding between two lawmakers that has since been resolved," said Speaker Margaret Anderson Kelliher, DFL-Minneapolis.

Neither Hilstrom nor Hatch returned phone calls Wednesday, and the Attorney General's office declined to comment about the e-mail.

Mark Cohen at Minnesota Lawyer comments:

MinnPost's G.R. Anderson, who attended the legislative hearing at which Simon took his bold stand, reported that the DFL lawmaker then explained his decision to call for a probe as follows: "The attorney general is the people's lawyer. I don't care if you're a Republican or a Democrat. It ought not to matter." Wise words indeed. (And let's not forget that that the auditor's investigation may actually clear Swanson of any legal or ethical violations.)

If, as the e-mail purports, Mike Hatch is in fact the spinmeister impugning Representative Simon's integrity, history provides a simple, yet elegant response to Mr. Hatch's political chicanery: "Have you no sense of decency, sir, at long last? Have you left no sense of decency?"

Isn't it a classic example of an ad hominem attack: avoid the substantive issue by trying to smear the person (in this case, people) raising it.

If it walks like a Hatch tactic, smells like a Hatch tactic, and quacks like a Hatch tactic, what is it?

Mark Cohen, editor said...

The last commenter is missing the point. I am not saying Simon never had a negative run in with management during his entire tenure in the office. In fact, it seems to me likely he did at some point given the environment of the office. What bothers me is the assumption that Simon must be acting out of some sort of petty personal grudge when there are so many legitimate reasons for the auditor's inquiry. The whole thing reads like a political dirty trick. (Yes, the classic ad hominem attack.)

I do have to award points for creativity, though. So far, by my count, people with management complaints or calling for someone to look into matters have been written off as union plants, right-wing troublemakers, agents of Matt Entenza, employees with axes to grind and, in one post, communists. It's an enemies list that would make Nixon blush.

It seems that Lori Swanson has been the apple that hasn't fallen far from the Mike Hatch tree.