More on that Vikings stadium

The The Ramsey County Charter member I quoted a bit ago has just had an interview with KSTP television. Beforehand he sent this explanation on why a referendum ought to be offered on the proposed Vikings stadium in Ramsey County.


Here are some attached letters that explain the legal aspects of the charter that I have been trying to convey to the pro-Vikings fans. None of their letters have said anything about the charter.

Points are explained in the Blume letter regarding the often heard question “why wasn’t there a referendum for the Twins Stadium or the Guthrie Theatre?”

There are 107 cities and 1 county in Minnesota that have the charter form of government. There are many cities in the metro that have a charter. It’s a set of laws that sort of serves as a constitution for that entity – a city or county. The laws are generally additional laws on top of state statutes. The charter cannot conflict with state law nor can it be looser than state laws. It can be tighter than state laws.

There are 855 cities in total in the state, the rest of them being statutory cities whose organization falls under state law and the two most used forms of government are Plan A and Plan B, then there is also the charter option.

One area in which most charters in MN are similar is that there is often a provision for initiative and referendum. Citizen petitioning is available. I have noticed that this aspect is much more restricted in Iowa cities (there are only 5 or 6 that are charter). There are provisions for recall in most city charters too – however that is a whole ‘nother kettle of fish . . . recall provisions can be on paper but that doesn’t mean they will always withstand a court test. The recall laws in Wisconsin are much, much looser than MN and you can recall anyone you want there for no reason. Ashland just had an attempt to recall the mayor.

In the attached letters you’ll also see my explanation about the “two hoops” that the Vikings have to jump through in Ramsey County versus any other county, where it would be one.

The legislature will be backed into a corner politically and they will have to decide as a body how much egg they want on their face.

1) They would have to ignore their own state law that says all sales taxes must have a referendum attached.

2) Then, they also have to ignore the RC charter which is a constitution for the county citizens, and the voted for the charter and its I & R provisions, in the 1990 election.

If the legislature chooses to ignore a charter, that might set a precedent. Its a document that people voted for. In my mind, it’s nullifying that election. For years now we have heard so many complaints about our election system and voting, that I can’t believe the legislature would even think of overriding a charter.

Can they do it? Yes, legally they can do it. They are the ultimate authority. Counties and Cities exist solely at the pleasure of the legislature.

The question is a political one – not legal as much. Politically, does the legislature, facing reelection in a year, want to have a double dose of egg on their faces by overriding a state law and a people’s charter?

The objective of the charter commission members who do not want the charter overriden by higher authority, is to place the charter amendment on the ballot for Nov 2012. If there is a ballot question set for the 2012 election, the legislature would then have a third hurdle to jump through — they would be nullifying an election that hasn’t happened yet!

What if we told everyone now there is not going to be a presidential election next year? Can you imagine what would happen!

Bryan Olson

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