I've done my best to steer clear of politics in the increasingly tense debate on the Minnesota Vikings stadium bill, but the events of Tuesday left little choice. One political party (the Republicans) introduced a substantially different stadium proposal than had been discussed for much of the past eight months. Another political party (the Democrats) complained bitterly, bringing the issue to the stalemate where it currently exists. The headline "Republican Takeover" in Tuesday's post was a factual representation of what happened Tuesday: The leaders of the majority party took over the conversation by supporting the new proposal.
The recitation of those facts nevertheless implied to some of you that I have been "campaigning" for the new stadium. Citizen Cane asked me to "stop trying to cram the new stadium down our throats." Joe Blow wrote: "I get it, you're a Democrat."
Let me be as clear. I have gone out of my way to avoid steering this conversation one way or the other. I recognize reasonable arguments on both sides, and as a local taxpayer I acknowledge the inherent conflict of interest in taking sides. What I've tried to do is distill the news for those who aren't wading through the minute-by-minute coverage, and at times try to use my contacts -- I've been covering this issue for almost 13 years -- to provide some insight into what the news does or doesn't mean.
What I will say is I will be disappointed and critical if this issue gets swallowed up by political posturing that has nothing to do with the matter at hand. If the majority of Minnesota's state leaders object to the idea of a publicly-funded stadium, then fine. They should vote this bill down and be done with it. And if they want to keep the team in Minnesota, they might as well approve the bill now and move on to other things.
But the last two significant stalls on this project have been caused by political infighting, not debates about the stadium itself. The first, the bill's defeat in a House committee, in essence occurred because the sides couldn't agree on the appropriate proportion of votes that should be made by members from each party.
And Tuesday's news sure looked like part of a larger political tug-of-war that Minnesotans saw leading up to last summer's record-breaking government shutdown. It's a maddening part of politics that is perhaps unavoidable but gets in the way of efficient and sometimes even effective government.
The only side I'm taking is to campaign for resolution. On Wednesday morning, Gov. Mark Dayton invited Republican leaders to an afternoon meeting to salvage the bill. That's progress. Up or down, let's have it already.