Sports commission sloth leaves politicians scrambling to pass the buck

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Is this a peaceful creature watching the world go by or a Legislative Commission on Minnesota Sports Facilities' member?

In a City Pages story from earlier this week, an aide to state Sen. Bobby Joe Champion (DFL-Minneapolis) had an excuse. The Minnesota Sports Facilities Commission hadn't convened in almost a year because Champion, one of its co-chairs, was waiting on House and Senate leaders to appoint new members.

The two-year terms for its 12 members had expired at the end of last year.

The commission is charged with looking out for taxpayers during the construction of the new Vikings stadium.

Soon after Tuesday's article, legislative staffers were on the horn pointing out how their bosses had indeed lived up to their responsibilities.

Yet the question remains: Why is an important commission that's legally required to meet no less than semiannually still not doing its job?

City Pages had reported that three of the four political leaders each responsible for appointing three members hadn't done so.

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Senators Bakk and Rosen can smile effortlessly. It's your money.

According to the Senate DFL and GOP Caucuses, that was inaccurate.

The Senate Journal from Feb. 10 shows Senate Majority Leader Tom Bakk (DFL-Cook) did name three appointees to serve this year through 2016.

Bakk reappointed Champion. He also picked senators David Tomassoni (DFL-Chisholm) and Terri Bonoff (DFL-Minnetonka).

Senate Minority Leader David Hann (R-Eden Prairie) had done the same in February, reappointing the three members who had served on the commission in 2013-14.

That leaves only House Speaker Rep. Kurt Daudt (R-Crown) unaccounted for.

Repeated messages left for House GOP leadership yesterday went unreturned.

The sports commission is charged with heavy duties.

It's assigned to babysit the Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority, which represents the public in the $1 billion-plus undertaking. This includes monitoring any possible project cost increases.

Commission oversight is also to ensure that the authority doesn't simply suck at its job, seeing it controls doling out hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars.

Aides to Bakk, Thissen, and Hann couldn't explain why the commission remains in hibernation. Instead, they referred the query to Senator Champion.

State law provides no clear-cut answer as to who's responsible for convening the commission once its term has ended. However, legislative staffers intimated that, in lieu of a new commission, the onus should revert to the most recent co-chairs.

That would be Champion and Sen. Julie Rosen (R-Fairmont).

Questions left yesterday on the Capitol office voicemails for both chairs wait in vain. 


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