Put that funding plan before the voters


I cannot understand how the elected officials of any locality can take the position of not allowing a public vote on stadium funding because they know it won't be approved. When it's schools that want levy funding, it has to be voted on.

Let's put this Viking stadium deal with all of the school funding issues. If we have money for schools first, then, and only then, can a stadium be considered.


• • •

On Aug. 30, Minnesota Vikings owner Zygi Wilf complained that "it's not fair" if the prospective new football stadium is subjected to a voter referendum when the Twins' baseball stadium wasn't. On the same day, the Star Tribune published an article headlined "7 things kids should never say to parents." The first child's complaint that was listed was "it's not fair."

According to the article, "parents shouldn't strive to treat their kids equally but rather [should] adjust their approach to what each child needs, not what they want. There might be different rules for kids within the same family."

Who is the child and who is the parent in the stadium debates?


• • •

Wilf would "like to be held on the same playing field as the Twins." This means having no referendum for the county sales tax increase. Fair enough. But it also means that no state funding is provided.


• • •

It would be nice to have Gov. Mark Dayton express as much zeal to get the Polymet Mining deal done in Hoyt Lakes, Minn., as he has expressed toward getting the stadium deal done.

These folks have been in limbo longer than the Vikings have, and they have spent more than $25 million for environmental studies and can promise 400 to 500 permanent private-sector jobs -- to say nothing of the ancillary small businesses that will be started and the additional tax base that will be generated with the approval of this project.

It is time for the governor and his other elected colleagues get their skin in the game.


• • •

"How many of you have been touched to your fiber by the Minnesota Vikings?" Wilf asked at a luncheon to stir up enthusiasm among taxpayers for a new football stadium. Oh, I have been touched -- "irritated" is a better word. The "Love Boat" excursion ... Randy Moss running over traffic cops ... and I am supposed to support these thugs, these children?


* * *


They deserve it for navigating the thicket


I see that the "business is evil" fire is being stoked even further by the Sept. 1 report that CEO pay exceeds tax liabilities for some top companies.

I have always worked for a business of one sort or another, and our objective has always been to maximize shareholder profit. This is done by cost reducing the product, streamlining manufacturing and/or distribution or legally minimizing the tax bill.

Sometimes minimizing the tax bill involves relocation -- for example, Delta from Minnesota. If it's true that these companies paid more to their CEOs than to the taxman, my reaction is:

1) Those CEOs should get paid more for working within the rules created for them and figuring out how to make their companies more profitable.

2) Politicians should be ashamed of themselves for selling their souls and creating a tax code with so many loopholes and exceptions to allow this.


* * *


It's not just for the criminally insane


A Sept. 1 letter left a few folks off its list of people who have heard God's voice and have impacted the public square: Gandhi, the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., Mother Theresa, Reinhold Niehbuhr, St. Augustine, St. Francis of Assisi ... dangerous people indeed.


* * *


Consider the origin of the recent debate


I value both firefighters and planning for increased bicycling in Minneapolis ("Despite fiscal woes, city aims to hire bike coordinator," Aug. 25).

This whole discussion has roots in the recent budget debate. We are being asked to sacrifice bikes or firefighters (and that's not all, by a long shot) to protect the wealthiest from a small increase in taxes.


• • •

As Hennepin County commissioners, we listen to the public, staff and expert recommendations concerning the county budget. In recent years, we've made tough decisions to cut back some programs. We understand there are consequences to those decisions for the people the county serves.

From our perspective, the city of Minneapolis is making the wrong budget decision for its residents by laying off firefighters. The consequences could compromise people's health and safety.

Public safety is an essential function of government. Firefighters protect residents, businesses and the local economy from devastating fires. They also protect the public's health as first responders providing emergency medical assistance in life-threatening situations.

Last year, Minneapolis firefighters saved many lives, from people choking on foreign objects to those in cardiac arrest.  

The national standard response time for first-responder units is about four minutes.

Dr. Brian Mahoney, medical director for the Minneapolis Fire Department and Hennepin Emergency Medical Services, has said that these firefighter cutbacks will lead to slower response times.

For every one minute of delay in treating cardiac arrest, there is a 10 percent decrease in survival and in the quality of survival.

Budgets at all levels of government are being squeezed. But we respectfully urge the city to listen to experts and prioritize our firefighters -- our lifesavers -- as essential to protecting the safety of our residents and visitors by fully funding and staffing the fire department.


The writers are members of the Hennepin County Board.