By Jake Rossen
By Jesse Marx
By Michelle LeBow
By Alleen Brown
By Maggie LaMaack
By CP Staff
By Jesse Marx
EVEN THE TWINS now admit that the misleading spin they put on their first proposal for a new stadium back in January was a major PR blunder, but the real question is whether they've learned anything in the meantime. It turns out that there's a big-time caveat in the second, supposedly "surprise-free" proposal: The Pohlads and their agents swear that the Twins' $15 million cash contribution is a gift, not a loan. Technically, that's true. What they failed to mention is that while the team would ante up the cash now, it would recoup the money out of ticket taxes, money that normally would go to maintenance, operation, and improvements on the taxpayer-owned Metrodome.
The change-up, which House staffers are calling a kickback, is hidden in a vaguely worded clause in the proposal titled "Metrodome Lease Enhancements": The Twins would be "reimbursed" 100 percent of the ticket tax--a reported $1.4 million last year--during their remaining seasons in the Baggie. Once in the new stadium, the team would get 51 percent of an estimated $2 million-$5 million a year in ticket tax revenue, and would be exempt from paying $1.6 million in rent.
Metropolitan Sports Facilities Commission Executive Director Bill Lester says the MSFC would have to agree to any such provision. "Presumably, the Vikings and the Gophers would want similar arrangements," he notes, "but that would mean a significant negative impact--
about $3.7 million total--on the Metrodome's bottom line." Lester adds that the dome costs $8 million-$10 million a year to maintain and to operate.
The new stadium bill's sponsor in the House says she's "not sure of the magnitude" of the tax break. Speaking through a staffer, Rep. Ann Rest (DFL-New Hope) suggested that the provision could also be interpreted as a way to offset the Twins' current operating losses. Rest has insisted that a ticket tax be part of any new stadium deal, while the Twins are equally adamant in opposing any such fee.
RETURN OF THE QUISTIANS
ALLEN QUIST, THE conservative populist endorsed by the state Republican Party for governor over Arne Carlson in 1994, is trying to do it again. Republican activists report getting letters from Quist urging their support for a 1998 run. Reached at his St. Peter farm, Quist declines to comment, saying it's "way too early to talk about it right now. I think it would actually antagonize the public." But he confirms he's been working the party circuit, joining GOP gubernatorial hopefuls Roy Terwilliger, a state senator from Edina, and Lt. Gov. Joanne Benson as they address county conventions around the state this month. An early start and a strong grassroots organization were among the main reasons for Quist's success in the 1994 caucuses. But he went down to defeat in the Republican primary amid controversy over a remark that men were "genetically" destined to be the heads of households.
MINNESOTANS TURN SOFT
GIVEN THE CRIME hysteria that's enveloped local media for the last few years, you'd expect more than one in five Minnesotans to name crime as the "single most important problem" in the state. But that's the result the University of Minnesota's Center for Survey Research came up with in a study released last week. Only 21 percent of respondents named crime as their top quality-of-life concern; just as many identified "the economy," an interesting assessment during what's supposed to be a boom period. Thirteen percent of those asked named taxes as the state's biggest problem; health care, education, the family and the environment polled between 4 and 7 percent each.
WELFARE KINGS REDUX
THE MINNESOTA ALLIANCE for Progressive Action says the state has failed to crack down on corporate welfare cheats, so it will take matters into its own hands. In 1995, MAPA and other advocacy groups convinced the Legislature to require companies getting public subsidies to meet certain job goals or pay the money back. Saying the state Department of Trade and Economic Development has lobbied to have the provisions repealed rather than enforcing them, MAPA last week announced a special "corporate welfare fraud hotline" (641-4051). According to a MAPA study, state economic assistance to corporations amounted to $1.5 billion in 1995--about 13 times the AFDC outlay of $116 million. The group wants corporate subsidies frozen until
the state produces a "full accounting of where the money goes and what
it does." State officials say that's impossible to track, and even harder to enforce. CP
Last week Minnesota Public Radio held its
latest pledge drive--when the regular jocks put aside their scripts to beg for memberships on the air. The results sound sometimes like a tramp scrounging bus change, and sometimes like... poetry. CP presents the POETRY OF PLEDGING:
It's a complex situation
We try to make it simple;
If you are driving around tonight,
If you have had
A cup of tea at a local
After the concert,
After the movie,
You're in the car,
You can pick the cellular phone up,
Tomorrow, it's not going to be here
They all go away...
It'll take the next three
To replace these three
Because they're gone
Just like that
It'll be easy.
What it is?