Friday, January 19, 2007

Gail Dorfman: county core services suffer for Twins stadium

Gail Dorfman (photo: Hennepin County)
I received this e-mail from Hennepin County Commissioner Gail Dorfman in response to an e-mail I sent to her, thanking her for her vote against Hennepin County's public subsidy to a private business with millionaire employees and billionaire owners, a vote that would not even have been necessary had Minnesota Sen. Terri Bonoff (DFL-Minnetonka) voted against authorizing Hennepin County to levy this $1.1 billion local option sales tax increase in the first place (the exemption passed the Minnesota Senate by one vote).
Thank you for contacting my office last year regarding funding for a new ballpark for the Twins. While I was unable to respond to you immediately due to the volume of emails and letters I was receiving, I very much appreciated hearing from you.

I have consistently opposed public funding of a ballpark. Over the past few years, Hennepin County has faced state and federal budget cuts that challenge our ability to provide many of the core services that fall to county government and are at the heart of our mission to care for our most vulnerable residents. In light of this, it is particularly difficult to justify subsidizing the construction of a ballpark with taxpayer dollars.

There are more important priorities for Hennepin County.

As you know, a majority of my colleagues on the County Board voted in 2006 to move forward with the ballpark, and they were supported by a majority in the State Legislature. So as we begin this new year, we have begun the process to acquire the land and negotiate the development agreement for a new Twins stadium in Minneapolis. On January 1st, the sales tax to fund the stadium took effect.

I have been appointed by my colleagues to serve on the Ballpark Implementation Committee, which has some oversight over design of the stadium and surrounding area and will make recommendations to the County Board and Minneapolis City Council. I accepted this appointment even though I remain opposed to the funding mechanism. As a member of this committee, I will at least have some say in making sure that public dollars are spent in a manner that benefits the community to the greatest extent possible.

Again, I appreciated hearing from you during the difficult debates over stadium funding. Please feel free to contact me on this or other issues over the coming months. Best wishes for the New Year.

Gail Dorfman
Hennepin County Commissioner

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