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Progressive Politics in Minnesota, the Nation, and the World

Norm Coleman: He Brought Hockey Back!!

Category: Norm Coleman
Posted: 07/23/08 21:57

by Dave Mindeman

"But he brought hockey back!"
--Norm Coleman commercial

A couple of year's ago I visited Washington, DC and I stopped at Norm Coleman's office to get passes for the Capitol tour. Of course I didn't see our senior Senator in person but I got a quick look at the lobby area of his Washington workplace.

Prominently displayed in a huge shadowbox is a Wild jersey with Coleman's name on the back above a big #1. Coleman never hesitates to take full credit for bringing hockey back to Minnesota and it is true that he played a large role.

But the details about the way it happened get lost in translation. So, let's review.

I am quoting passages from the book, A "Wild" State of Hockey, by Thomas Tuttle:

(quoting Norm Coleman)...."The whole arena financing thing died at the state legislature on a Monday, and the next morning I called NHL Commissioner Bettman and said, 'Gary, you're going to read in the paper that this thing is dead, but don't believe it. Give us a week and I believe that we can stick to the original deadline and make it happen."

That deadline was mere days later and time was running out. The Mayor needed to take quick and decisive action if his NHL hockey dream was to stay alive.

"I reconvened my people the next day and came up with a plan for the city to back the state part of the deal. That put us on the hook-- not only for the city piece (of the financing), but for the state part as well! Not a small number, mind you; we're talking about $65 million. I then went to the Governor (Arne Carlson) with people from organized labor, the City Council and the Chamber of Commerce and asked for his support. The Governor said, 'I'll do everything I can next session to make sure the state comes through. I'll commit to that'. We had a special meeting with the city council on Friday and came back the next Monday and passed a resolution in which the city guaranteed the state's commitment. So we were on the limb for another 65 million bucks. I think we got all this to the league on the day of the deadline, and by doing so we were still in the hunt."

Emphasis added.

That's how hockey came to Minnesota. Norm Coleman took a $65 million gamble with St. Paul taxpayer money. Remember, this was not based on any referendum (later the taxpayers of St. Paul would defeat a measure to build a Twins stadium).... this wasn't even put out there for public comment. This was railroaded through the city council days before an NHL deadline for franchise applications...and it was Norm who rolled the dice.

Now, a short time later, with the new arena financing guaranteed by the city (the state would not even be discussing it until next year's legislative session), the NHL awarded Minnesota the expansion team (helped along by the fact that Houston had to take themselves out of the running because their financing fell through... must not have had a gambler for a mayor).

In the euphoria that followed the announcement of getting the new franchise, the scrutiny over Coleman's $65 million gamble was glossed over and never really examined. We had hockey back... that was all that mattered.

Norm's own assessment of his actions was this:

"I was going to get killed if I left the city on the hook for $65 million. I was running for Governor at this point and you don't want that kind of baggage. We were getting squeezed from several directions at this time. Randy Kelly stood tall for us at the legislature and said that the city should not be penalized on this, that the state needs to come through."

(Ironic (or maybe not) that Randy Kelly was the next mayor of St. Paul -- with full support from Norm Coleman)

Norm's description of his tenure as Mayor of St. Paul is always followed by -- "and we didn't raise taxes." But if the state had not put the Xcel Center funding into the bonding bill the next year, the citizens of St. Paul would still be paying for that arena -- and they would have had Norm Coleman to thank.

Decisions about the raising or lowering of taxes is an item for debate. Public input or outcry is expected and warranted. But is it OK for a person in position of authority to make "guarantees" of public money without public input? or public debate?

Norm Coleman did that in 1997 -- he gambled with public money.

But hey, it's OK,.... "he brought hockey back!"
comments (1) permalink

To Lower Oil Prices -- Let Bachmann Rant

Category: Michele Bachmann
Posted: 07/22/08 17:52

by Dave Mindeman

Michele Bachmann has been on a relentless rampage to increase drilling here, there, and everywhere for several weeks now.... and wouldn't you know it -- without getting one single new well authorized or even one drop of oil extracted from anywhere, she seems to have dropped the price of commodity crude by $20 per barrel in the last 10 days (from $147 to $127 per barrel).

The woman is a miracle worker!

The oil speculators must be cowering in fear of oil gushing out all over and hammered down the futures contracts. Rumors of Michele using her direct line to God flourished on the Chicago Board of Trade and an oil panic spread far and wide.

Rumors abound that Bachmann will begin the next phase of her war on gas with a new campaign plan.... quoting the rumor:

"You've heard of a chicken in every pot? Well, we want a rig in every backyard!"

Congress had better watch out. She blames YOU!

To quote the AP:

Michele Bachmann said Tuesday that the United States must tap its energy reserves and that only Congress is standing in the way of making a dent in rising fuel costs. ......"It's like having a room full of hungry children and a pantry full of food with a lock on it," is how Bachmann described the refusal of congressional leaders to authorize more domestic energy production.

Please, ma'am, may I have some more?

Yes, we have found our answer to the rising cost of oil -- just let Michele Bachmann rant.

It seems to be working so far.

comments (2) permalink

Franken or Coleman? Do Democrats Really Have to Think About It?

Category: Al Franken
Posted: 07/22/08 16:37, Edited: 07/22/08 16:58

by Dave Mindeman

If the voters of Minnesota would rather be represented by a hack, like Norm Coleman, than laugh off a few jokes that didn't work, then they should stop complaining about being stuck with professional politicians. And the real joke will be on them.
--Michael Kinsley, Slate.com

I have listened to a number of people grouse and complain about Al Franken's campaign. Unfortunately, a lot of them are Democrats who think Franken can't win. The Catch-22 in all of this is Al Franken could win if those Democrats would look beyond this "culture of umbrage" (as Kinsley calls it), and support a candidate on the merits.

Democrats, by and large, don't like Norm Coleman. He is, by Garrison Keillor's definition, a hollow man. Not much substance. A professional politician in every bad sense of the word.

Al Franken, by contrast, exudes every progressive value that Democrats are looking for. He wants out of the Iraq War. He stands with working men and women. He upholds a woman's right to choose. He champions the middle class and promises to roll back the disastrous Bush tax cuts for the wealthy.

So, why is the choice so difficult?

It would seem to be because Al Franken had a non-political and, in many ways, a very politically incorrect life before becoming a candidate. He was a comedian...a satirist. Not a common occupation in the Senate (although maybe we could use one). No, we have attorneys, business moguls, former prosecutors, and a lot of the wealthy social class. Not many people like Franken.

In the past, his language has been crude and sometimes shocking. But what exactly are we worried about, in that regard? Do we think that Franken can't meet the current standards of decorum in a stuffed shirt Senate? Are we afraid that he might drop the F-bomb on the Senate floor? (Really no need to worry, Cheney has already set that precedent).

Franken knows the difference between what he was and what he is campaigning to be. I think it is time that we, as Democrats, stop being gullible worrywarts and start analyzing what is best for the progressive agenda in November.

When you think about the future of Roe v Wade, who would you rather have representing us? Franken or Coleman?

When it comes to the hard work of moving our country into new environmental policy changes, who would you rather have in Washington? Franken or Coleman?

When it comes to the inevitable selection of new Supreme Court justices, who do you want representing Minnesota in that debate? Franken or Coleman?

It is an easy choice for me. And I think it was an easy choice for most Democrats as a whole until they allowed relentless Republican attacks to cloud their judgment.

We aren't electing the best comedian. And we aren't electing the best hockey promoter. We are electing a US Senator... a representative for Minnesota's best interests. We have had a 6 year window into how Norm Coleman plans to handle that job. I think you would agree that we have had enough of that. Al Franken has told us what he would do and I believe his fundamental principles are sound.

And I also think he will be a great United States Senator.

comments (2) permalink


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