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Thursday, April 27, 2006

Sometimes Taxation With Representation Is Ugly

There is a lot of sentiment regarding our beloved Minnesota Twins. They were heroes in 1987 when Calvin Griffith's home grown ball players won their first World Series. During that series the Homer Hanky made its debut and the MetroDome’s "tenth player" raised the roof with noise – lots of noise.

The Twins won their first two games in the Dome. They lost the next three in the great outdoors of Busch Stadium. Then the Twins returned home to win the last two games – and the series -- IN THE DOME.

This was a remarkable feat to win the World Series by only winning those games played in one’s home park. It was a feat the Minnesota Twins repeated four years later in 1991 – again, in the Dome.

But today, the Dome isn’t good enough for the Twins. They want to trade in that inflated roof for an outdoor park. With the rising costs of mega-million-dollar ball players, the Twins want Minnesota taxpayers to foot the bill and the legislature is poised to write the check -- for over $522 million.

However, this stadium bill is a bad deal on many counts:

  • State law requires that voters be allowed to decide on tax hikes that are specific to a single county. Unfortunately, lawmakers chose to silence the people by granting Hennepin County a waiver to raise taxes without consent of the voters.
  • Lawmakers from 86 counties across the state chose to build a playground for the Twins and make Hennepin County pay for it.
  • Republicans – not all, but far too many – are abandoning the principles upon which they once stood. In doing so, they are likely to loose the support of those who volunteered to help them win their current seats.
  • Where's the roof? Think back about 30 years. The Minnesota Twins and the Vikings had a fantastic outdoor stadium in Bloomington where the Mall of America now sits. Both teams claimed they needed a dome stadium to compete. We gave them a dome stadium and the Twins won two World Series. Now, with the baseball season extending further into the frigid days of October, how does a lidless playground help the Twins?

My complaint isn’t with the Democrats in St. Paul. Some of them actually voted correctly to defend rights of Hennepin County voters.

My complaint is with the Republicans who should know better. Given the loss of a dozen Republican seats in 2004, perhaps the remaining Republicans fear the wrath of Twins fans in November should the team once again start polishing its moving vans.

But, retribution may come early. Volunteers who once enthusiastically worked for a conservative victory at the polls may be less interested in this year's race. A stadium bill would have been palpable if Hennepin County voters were allowed to decide their own financial fate. Republicans blew it on this one.

For those active at the grass roots level, it's delegate season. Let your candidates know where you stand.

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