Thursday, February 09, 2006

Edina smackdown

Laura Lehmann from Citizens for a Stadium Tax Referendum ventured into the lion's den on Tuesday in support of a very simple resolution that would have put the City of Edina on record in favor of asking all citizens of Hennepin County for permission to levy a county-wide sales tax to subsidize a new Twins Stadium:



WHEREAS, Hennepin County and the Minnesota Twins are proposing to construct a baseball stadium in the City of Minneapolis; and

WHEREAS, Hennepin County is proposing to financially fund a significant portion of the stadium with a County-wide sales tax; and

WHEREAS, Hennepin County and others are in favor of bypassing Minnesota State Statute 297A.99, subdivision 3, part (a), which requires a referendum before imposition of a local sales tax.

NOW THEREFORE, LET IT BE RESOLVED that the City Council of Edina, which is the representative governing body of the residents of Edina, supports the necessity of a referendum, as it is required by law.

Over four hours later, after the resolution's turn on the agenda finally arrived (it was after 11:30 pm), Lehmann emerged from a verbal smackdown from the council. Lehmann recalled in an e-mail to me:
He [Council Member Scot Housh] said "You accuse us of politicizing this (which I did not, I merely asked that they lay political considerations aside and think only of the good of the citizens of Edina) but you are the one politicizing it." He kept saying this was a County and State matter, not a City matter. I asked how it was not a city matter when every resident in the city would be taxed personally for purchases and businesses' sales would be affected?

The Mayor [James Hovland] said it was "premature." I asked how it was premature when a judge had just ruled the day before that the Twins had to stay in the Metrodome only on a year-to-year basis and it was all over the papers, TV and radio how the Twins would use this as leverage at the Capitol to get a deal through the legislature — there had even been quotes from the governor and legislative leaders on the subject. The mayor said he didn't know anything about that and I said I guess he must not read the paper then. It was ridiculous.

You can witness this spectacle on Edina Community Channel 16. Set your VCR for four hours after the rebroadcast of the February 7, 2006 city council meeting begins.

Besides the rude treatment received by this citizen speaking to a resolution that was properly on the agenda before her city council (nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition), they protest too much, methinks. This is the perfect bipartisan issue. Liberals can protest the corporate welfare, while conservatives can protest the wink-and-a-nod exemption from state law. As Plymouth Mayor Judy Johnson was quoted: "The Plymouth City Council, last year, passed a motion that Hennepin County should send this proposed tax increase to the voters as required by current law...cities that propose a local option sales tax or an increase in their sales tax for local projects, like libraries, must go for voter approval as required by state law." If it's good enough for local governments, why not Hennepin County?

Citizens interested in looking past the (anti-referendum) marketing language about "representative government" from certain Hennepin County Commissioners and politicians in both parties (notably DFL Sen. Steve Kelley and Republican Governor Tim Pawlenty) should consult the following for more information:Do I wish we had a beautiful new ballpark for the Twins, like Miller Park in Milwaukee? You betcha. But let's uphold the law of the land and let the people vote.

1 comment:

lloydletta said...

Thanks for covering this Matt.