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State leaders' indifference to stadium funding reaches new lows

Sen. Bobby Joe Champion is the reigning slothful legislator titleholder.

Sen. Bobby Joe Champion is the reigning slothful legislator titleholder.

When we last checked in with the Legislative Commission on Minnesota Sports Facilities, it wasn't doing squat. The commission, which is composed of 12 state lawmakers, is supposed to look out for taxpayers' money during the construction of the Vikings stadium. 

But it hasn't met in nearly a year.

Yesterday, an aide to co-chair Sen. Bobby Joe Champion (DFL-Minneapolis) called to explain why the body had been checked out for so long. 

"Senator Champion has been waiting for the Senate majority leader to appoint the commission's new members," said legislative assistant Joane McAfee.

Senate and House majority and minority leaders are charged with appointing the commission's members. The current crop's term expired at the end of last year, yet only House Minority Leader Rep. Paul Thissen (DFL-Minneapolis) bothered to name replacements.

That leaves nobody to watch out for Minnesota taxpayers, who are disproportionately bankrolling the stadium deal. The peculiar silence comes at a time when taxpayers would appear to need their alleged leaders most.

At its July 17 meeting, the Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority — the agency the commission's supposed to be overseeing — approved $40,000 in public monies toward "additional work" needed for "Suite Ice Bins."

The luxury work order was submitted by contractor Mortenson Construction, most likely at the behest of the Vikings. It totals almost $250,000, with the team picking up the lion's share of the tab.

Still, public dollars subsidizing plush perks for the 1 percent seems bad policy at best, if not a boot to shins of Minnesota's working families.