May 24, 2012 by Sarah M
By Nick Halter
The Minneapolis City Council’s Committee of the Whole today approved of a Vikings stadium deal on a 7-6 vote. Tomorrow, the City Council will take the same vote, and unless a council member has an 11th hour change of heart, planning will soon begin for the $975 million facility.
Voting for the deal were council members Barb Johnson, Don Samuels, Kevin Reich, Diane Hofstede, Meg Tuthill, John Quincy and Sandy Colvin Roy.
Voting against the deal were council members Cam Gordon, Lisa Goodman, Robert Lilligren, Betsy Hodges, Elizabeth Glidden and Gary Schiff.
Here are some excerpts from what council members had to say before the vote:
Robert Lilligren (Ward 6), who represents the area just south of Downtown.
“There are a number of reasons I don’t feel like I can support it today. One of them is the scope of the subsidy. I think it’s enormous and I think it’s way too much for the public sector to be bearing in what is essentially a private business and a private market concern.”
Cam Gordon (Ward 2), who represents Cedar-Riverside and the University of Minnesota area
“I can’t support this, because I feel like I am violating my oath of office. I also feel like I am violating my commitment to the people of Minneapolis to try to be responsible and follow their will.”
“This is something that people appreciate, a professional football team, and clearly it’s an asset to our state and to our region. Then the question is, why does so much of the burden have to be borne by the businesses, residents, and the visitors to the city of Minneapolis.
“No wonder the suburban and out-state legislators thought this was fine, because it’s not going to impact their residents.”
“I don’t know that I can be proud of being on the council when I look back and say … I will put it this way, I never imagined that when I was on the Council, I would be part of what may end up being the largest public subsidy, the largest corporate subsidy, in the history of Minneapolis, and maybe, who knows, the biggest boondoggle anyone will be able to remember.”
Lisa Goodman (Ward 7), who represents Downtown and the Cedar Lake area
“I have not been able to sleep in weeks. I am distressed by the volume of e-mail that I am getting from constituents who are so emotionally against this. And I agree with them on such a deep and visceral level that, to me, this is a really sad day for the city.”
“I do not want to be a part of a DFL party for sure after what happened at the Legislature, and a group of people in the city who have pushed forward the largest public subsidy in the state and city’s history.”
Gary Schiff (Ward 9), who represents Southeast Minneapolis
“I know that Mayor Rybak and Council President Johnson and city financial staff worked hard to negotiate the best financial deal they could, but the best deal from the worst Legislature in history is not good enough, and that’s reason to send it back … Let’s negotiate this with a better Legislature, one that will truly fund this from everybody who enjoys the Vikings, which is everybody in the state of Minnesota.
Elizabeth Glidden (Ward 8), who represents the south central part of the city, including Powderhorn Park and Kingfield.
“Spending our dollars in this way is making a choice. It has implications for our residents for 30 years.”
“We are now obligating ourselves not for one, not for two, but for three public facilities, and that’s a 30-year obligation, and maybe even beyond.”
Council President Barb Johnson (Ward 4), who represents North Minneapolis
“We wouldn’t have a theater district in our community, we wouldn’t have the Nicollet Mall if people hadn’t taken tough decisions and invested in this community and this particular bill lets us keep some of the revenues that those kind of investments produce for our community.”
“I believe in investing in this community, and I believe in investing in the people that work in the community and the people that come to our community for all the different things that we provide as a city because we’ve invested.”
Mayor R.T. Rybak
“What we’re really choosing, is really to say, are we going to agree to a long-term plan that really addresses these issues, or are we going to say no and hope? And the reality, folks, is I’ve been hoping for 10 years we can figure out a way to solve the Target Center. This is our one shot to really clean that up.”
Diane Hofstede (Ward 3), who represents Northeast Minneapolis and both sides of the upper riverfront
“This is when I was visiting a public housing facility in North Minneapolis … One of the residents came to me and said, ‘Council member, could I have a house like that?’ And I said, ‘Well, yes you could.’ And he said, ‘But council member, I need a job. I need a job to have a house like that. So council member, can you help me? Can you help me get a job?’ And when I left, I asked the residents what needs did they have, what did they want to ask? And they said, ‘Council member, we need jobs. Will you help us get a job?’ They don’t want a handout. They want an opportunity, and that’s what I think we’re talking about today.”
Don Samuels (Ward 5) who represents North Minneapolis
“I am proud to make this decision today, not just because it’s an easy decision. I am proud because it’s a tough decision. I’m proud because there are people writing me to say I am going to put money against your next election. That’s why I am proud of it, because I am making it in hot water.”
“I don’t like making rich guys rich. There’s a saying that the rich get richer and the poor get poorer. We’ve tried to put some things in there from the very beginning, as we’ve heard today, that while the rich get richer, the poor will get richer, too.”
Meg Tuthill (Ward 10), who represents Uptown
“I am interested in the jobs, I am interested in the money that is being spent when people come to this city and I want to see it continue. This was not an easy vote. I don’t ever want to vote on something like this again.”
Betsy Hodges (Ward 13), who represents Southwest Minneapolis
“Today there is seven of us and six of us. Next week there is going to have to be 13 of us and the mayor. We are going to be charged with guiding one of the biggest economic development projects in our city. We are capable of doing it. We are capable of being 13 and the mayor on things that we were 7-6 a day before.”