From MSNBC.com on Wednesday, May 24, 2006
”MILFORD TOWNSHIP, Mich. - An excavating machine on Wednesday began ripping chunks out of a barn on a horse farm where dozens of FBI agents and others have been searching for the remains of former Teamsters boss Jimmy Hoffa since last week.
“The farm was once owned by a Hoffa associate and is located not far from where the former Teamsters chief vanished in 1975. No trace of Hoffa has ever been found, and no one has ever been charged in the case.“Agents plan to spend a couple weeks trying to determine if Hoffa is buried somewhere on the farm about 30 miles northwest of Detroit. Officials have said the search would involve cadaver dogs, demolition experts, archaeologists and anthropologists.”
Would someone please take Sid Hartman’s old Hammond typewriter away from him? I mean, seriously, this guy needs to go.
In his May 14 sermon…er…column, Hartman blames a recent Minnesota Poll for not providing good questions that would steer the majority away from negative feelings about the stadium issue. Hartman is so far off base that he’s now outside the dome.
The poll asked, very plainly, for opinions about a new stadium for not only the Twins but also the Vikings and the Gophers. The first question was, “Who needs a new ballpark?” Every single answer, across both genders, and all political parties, finds the majority of people voting to keep the teams in the dome. The next question asked, “Would you favor or oppose using public money for a new team ballpark/stadium?" Once again, all respondents strongly opposed using public money. This wasn’t even close.
Other questions when into detail about specific proposals for each park, with the majority of respondents strongly opposing the plans to use public funding for each team and their respective stadium.
Steve Sviggum, as reported in the Minneapolis Star Tribune, said, “’sometimes in life it takes leadership’ to take action that may counter results in the polls.” Yes, you read that right. Regardless of what the majority of people think, Speaker Sviggum is going to get these proposals passed. A true representative of the people, don’t you think?
Republican House Representative Brad Finstad, the major author of the Twins ballpark bill said results may have been different if respondents had been asked, “Do you want the Twins to leave Minnesota this year and go to Las Vegas?”
Like most of the Twins hitters this year, Representative Finstad has completely missed. No one wants the Twins to leave. That’s not the issue. The issue is that no one wants to pay for a ballpark. If Mr. Finstad asked me that question, I would have no problem telling him I look forward to a long weekend of gambling and rooting for the Las Vegas Double Deuce, nee Twins.
That brings me to Mr. Hartman, who has turned his column into a pulpit for Carl Pohlad and all things taxable for a new ballpark and his new press box seat.
Hartman doesn’t have a problem with the questions asked, but would have added other questions because the results of the poll clearly don't favor his views on a new ballpark for the Twins. He asks:
“If it looked like Major League Baseball and the Twins were going to leave this area unless a new stadium bill was passed, would you be in favor of limited public support from taxpayers?”
The answer is still no, Sid. That’s what the poll shows.
Even if I did vote in favor of the proposals, would the sales tax hike used to pay for the ballpark(s) go back down once the revenue was generated? Hardly. Someone will come along and say, quite easily, “Hey, they’ve been paying this much for four or five years now. They’re all used to it. Let’s find somewhere else to spend that money!”
“If the Twins leave, do you realize there would be a loss of thousands of jobs, a loss of millions of dollars in sales tax and in state income tax paid by the Twins and visiting teams?”
The answer is yes, I do realize that, and I still vote no. I am sympathetic to those who would lose their job. I have been fired before, and it’s just about the worst feeling ever. But for that exact reason, I don’t care about anyone else’s job. I care about my own life, and I care that my own money is being taken from me to fund a ballpark that I don’t want, money that I would spend on the welfare of my family, not the welfare of whiny owner who threatens to take the team away every time he’s denied his personal 500 million dollar sandbox. And if there is so much money being generated in terms of taxes by the Twins and visiting teams, then that money should be used to build the ballpark.
“How would you vote if you realized that if one or all three stadiums would mean thousands of new jobs, multiple millions spent for materials and income taxes from the works? And how would you vote if you knew the addition of a baseball stadium downtown and 81 game dates would create big crowds and help solve the great amount of crime going on now in downtown Minneapolis?”
I would vote no. While all of these are definite benefits, it is not enough incentive to fund this park. In this case I say no because I personally will not benefit from this infrastructure. I will not be working on it, I will not be supplying any of the materials, and I certainly won’t benefit from any taxes generated. If I did, I wouldn’t be paying 7.5% sales tax right now as it is. Also, I’m not sure how large crowds create less crime, unless you have a large enough police force. And where will the money come for that? Don’t say “from the ballpark!” No, it won’t. It will come out of my pocket.
The Minnesota Poll, Mr. Finstad, and Mr. Hartman have it wrong. There are only three questions to ask:
“Would you pay for a ballpark?”
Pretty straightforward, really. If you answer yes, you’re willing to pay for a new ballpark. If you say no, you’re not. And your representatives in the House and the Senate should listen to you.
“If you do not want to pay for a new ballpark, and your elected representative votes to do so anyway, will you vote him or her out of office?”
My final question would be: “Since Sid Hartman can’t write about anything but a new ballpark, do you hope he moves to Vegas with the ball team?”
Yep. Then, when I open the sports section, I can read about sports, something Hartman hasn’t done in a long time.
On Thursday, USA Today published a report that the NSA has apparently built a database of phone records of calls made from land lines, cell phones and businesses across the country since September 11, 2001, and did so with the help of AT&T, Verizon, and Bell South.
George Bush responded to the legitimacy of the database. “Al-Qaeda is our enemy, and we want to know their plans," he said. And you’re going to find those plans in a database of phone calls made in the United States? The last time I checked, Al-Qaeda did most of their business out of the middle east.
Our government has for decades boasted the best intelligence on the planet. But instead of using that intelligence to find the man who killed 3,000 people, the government is trying to find out if Jenny Teenager can provide clues to his whereabouts when she tells her best friend Marsha that Vince is the hottest and she can’t wait to go to prom with him because he’s so cool and drives and ohmuhgawd did she see what Angie was wearing today at school what a complete tramp and she hopes she makes the cheerleading squad.
"We are not mining or trolling through the personal lives of innocent Americans,” Bush said.
That is exactly what they are doing. If the USA Today report is correct, the NSA is building a database of phone records that would allow them to go back and see patterns of phone activity if any phone number is linked to an enemy of the United States, or if anyone does have a problem with Vince taking Jenny to the prom.
Osama Bin Laden is the most wanted man in history, and the best our intelligence community can do is keep track of phone calls. That’s like trying to catch a minnow with tweezers when you own a fishing net.
Republican Senator Arlen Specter, the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said he would call on phone company executives to appear before the panel “to find out exactly what is going on.” Sure. And those telecommunication execs will burst with information. Just like the oil execs caved when you demanded to know why they were making so much money. Because, you know, that type of activity is not allowed in this country. Sorry, Arlen, but you’re just saving your big, smelly elephant’s face.
What I find more amusing is that this is supposed to be a secret. No one is supposed to know about this activity. Just the fact that this has leaked to the public further proves the absurdity of it. Perhaps they have the phone number of the person who did it.I guess Osama Bin Laden really bangs away on his cell phone to his good old buddies in the states and, bygummit, they’re gonna find out.
Carl Pohlad’s spokesman is at it again.
In his May 7 Star Tribune column, Sid Hartman again showed amazing bias and favor for Carl Pohlad and a new ballpark by not only aiding Pohlad’s threats, but assuring fans that if the team doesn’t get a new park, they’ll most certainly move.
He starts by explaining that MLB commissioner Bud Selig called Governor Tim Pawlenty, saying that it was critical that the Twins get a new ballpark, the point being that there are other entrepreneurs out there who would like to own a major league team.
Hartman writes that there are several major league owners who would welcome Major League Baseball buying the Twins and moving them and that there is no shortage of potential owners with money to burn who would buy the club if they moved to a new market.
If there are so many millionaires out there willing to buy the club, how come Pohlad won’t sell? How come none of them are willing to pay for a new ballpark? The answers are pretty basic. The team isn’t worth the artificial grass they play on in the old dome. The value will skyrocket when the team gets a new ballpark and the revenue rolls in. Pohlad knows this and won’t sell before that happens, either in Minneapolis or some other city. And no owner would willingly cough up private funds for a new park and be on the hook for a multi-million dollar patch of grass when the team on it can’t generate two dimes to rub together because they stink.
The most insulting prose from Hartman: “A new owner might come in here and say: ‘I am not going to contribute one nickel to building a new stadium. Build it with tax dollars like they have done in other places or this team is going to move.’” So, according to Hartman, we have to be like other cities and pay for a park so we can keep our ball team.
The Twins are not profitable, but it is no one’s fault except Pohlad’s that he has owned them for so long and lost money. Most successful business owners would sell or cut their losses if they can’t make their business profitable. And the fans are not to blame here. Neither is Major League Baseball. Even with revenue sharing, it is not MLB’s responsibility to make teams profitable. If it were, MLB would own all the teams. But he’ll continue to threaten the state and the fans with moving the team unless they provide a new place to play so he can make money. And when the team does become profitable, Pohlad will sell.
Anyone who threatens his or her supporters has no loyalty toward them.
Because Pohlad can’t apparently grease the government wheels as much as he wants, he sidles up to Hartman who can climb on his soapbox and call out anyone who might have a problem with public funds paying for a private playground. Hartman knows that if the Twins don’t get a new park, he’ll lose his free seat in the press box, and I’ll bet Pohlad reminds him of that every Twins home game.
Business is a game, money is how you keep score. Carl Pohlad is a loser. A big loser. He is holding fans accountable for his failure and the future of the team in Minnesota.If the threat really is, “build it, or we are gone,” then take the team and go.
First and foremost, I am a huge baseball fan. I love everything about the sport. But the April 22 Minneapolis Star Tribune, columnist Sid Hartman left out some important information in his completely biased support for a new ballpark for the Minnesota Twins and Twins owner Carl Pohlad.
For baseball statisticians, consider these facts:
Since 1991, 18 teams have opened new parks in the Major Leagues. While 15 of those teams have made the playoffs, only nine have made it to a World Series, and only four have won the crown: the White Sox (2005), the Marlins (2003), the Diamondbacks (2001), and the Braves (1995).
If you compare yearly payrolls for each of these teams, the average increase between the year the park opened for a particular team and 2006 is roughly 30%. But, of those 18 teams, three clubs have actually reduced their payroll since their ballpark opened: the Marlins, the Phillies, and the Pirates. The Reds have a 2006 payroll only 1.5 million dollars higher than their payroll in 2003, the year they opened Citizens Bank Ballpark. It took the Chicago White Sox 15 years and an almost 80% increase in team salary to bring home a championship.
Are the fans of Minnesota prepared to wait 15 years?
Even though a new ballpark generates more revenue, it is up to the owner to spend the money on the team. There is no law that requires an owner to allocate any percentage of revenue to team payroll. This is where the “business” of baseball comes to play. What is more important to a team owner: Fat pockets or championships?
On April 26, 2006 the Minnesota House of Representatives voted 76-55 to approve a bill allowing a $522 million ballpark to be built in downtown Minneapolis. The Twins would fork over $130 million, while the residents of Hennepin County would pay the rest, about $390 million or about 75 percent.
Recently a story popped up that questioned the Pohlad family’s political contributions to members of the Minnesota state government. The Speaker of the Minnesota House of Representatives, Republican Steve Sviggum, is quoted as saying, "There is absolutely no connection to Mr. Pohlad's contribution to Governor Pawlenty or the Democratic caucus or Steve Sviggum or wherever." No connection? Really? Then what is Pohlad’s reason for donating the money? Speaker Sviggum voted in favor of the ballpark bill. According to an Associated Press article, Governor Tim Pawlenty “opposed Twins plans as a state legislator but has been supportive as governor.”
Hartman goes on to throw two House members under the bus. One of them, Ann Lenczewski, DFL-Bloomington, voted against the bill, an action that “…might have led the Twins to leave the Twin Cities,” according to Hartman.
"My district is 72 percent against the Hennepin County bill," Lenczewski is quoted as saying Thursday night, April 27th, the day after the bill was passed.
I’m not sure who represents Mr. Hartman in the House, but it is the responsibility of a House representative to “represent” the voice of his or her constituents. If the people don’t want a ballpark, he or she votes “no.” I hope Ms. Lenczewski remains a member of the House for a long time. She seems to be good at her job.
By the way, earlier in the day when the bill was passed, a small clause was struck down that would have required the team to change their name from the Minnesota Twins to the Hennepin County Twins. Since Hennepin County residents are paying most of the bill for the ballpark, I think they have the right to name the team what they want. Remember, the fans pay the salaries, not the owner. And as long as you’re willing to cough up top dollar for tickets, the owner is willing to keep it.
Hartman writes that Pohlad has “made it clear that once he knows a ballpark is guaranteed he will be more than willing to spend money to put a winning team on the field…In fact, you could see Pohlad spending some money to improve the team this year once a ballpark becomes a reality.”
I can’t. If Pohlad wanted to spend money on the team, he would have during the off-season. He would not need a new ballpark to do it. If he wanted to spend "some money," how much is “some?”
The State of Minnesota has allowed Pohlad to continually threaten that he will take his team and go elsewhere if he is not given a new ballpark for his team, and finally the State caved. The revenue won’t start pouring in until the ballpark is built, so you have to wonder where he’ll get the money to spend for the next three to five years while the park is under construction. Perhaps from the same pocket he dug in to “donate” to House members.
Based on the bill, it looks like Pohlad has $130 million sitting around. If he took that and added it to the Twins 2006 payroll, the Twins would have the 2nd highest payroll in Major League Baseball at $193,396,000, only about $1.2 million behind the Yankees.
If Carl Pohlad wants to win championships, he should give less money to legislators and more to his team and, ultimately, the fans. Maybe it’s easier to ask Mr. Hartman to publish a column only a few days before the vote on the bill, just enough time to let the true Twins fans call their House representatives.
Sid Hartman’s article: http://www.startribune.com/507/story/387539.html
Story on MN House passing bill:
By now, everyone has heard the ruckus from those wacky illegal immigrants. It appears they don't take kindly to laws that would prevent them from chasing the American dream. Thousands have taken to the streets to proclaim their displeasure at the federal government's efforts to curtail what has now become an obvious epidemic.
Am I missing something? Aren’t you already breaking the law? Did you ever think that by joining a rally you are admitting that you are, in fact, an illegal immigrant? If I were a G-man short on my quota, it would be like waking up in a dream.
America was founded on immigration and with the exception of native Americans, everyone in this country right now is either an immigrant or descended from one. When I hear modern immigrants complain about how hard they have it and how poor they are treated, I am surprised. They are not unique to this situation. I did not have to go through the hell that my ancestors did, but I have amazing respect and honor for their journey. Back then, one of the biggest obstacles—and at the same time a source of pride—was to become a U.S. citizen. It was the crowning achievement, the sign at the end of the journey that said, “Welcome home.” Earning U.S. citizenship does not seem to be at the top of the list these days.
The only real reason to avoid getting a green card is to avoid paying taxes. Being a taxpayer, I sympathize. When you make three dollars an hour, you want the three bucks. When the government comes along and taxes you, it hurts. A lot. But doing jobs that most people wouldn’t does not exonerate you from paying taxes. The title of your job has no correlation with your tax bracket.
The other culprit here is the employer. And, again, I sympathize. As an employer, you pay taxes on your employees. If you can avoid taxes, that’s more money in your pocket. Hard to argue with that.
Over the past few weeks I have seen rallies on TV and heard many immigrants say that the U.S. not only owes them for their hard work at jobs no one else will do but also should support their desire to chase “The American Dream.” This country doesn’t owe them anything. On the contrary, they owe this country several years of back taxes. They’re acting like this country would fall flat on its face if they left. I don’t agree. Sure, we’d go through growing pains, but if they leave someone will be there to take their place. Every time. Forever. Where there’s money to be made, regardless of the amount, there’s someone willing to make it. That is chasing the American Dream.
To be a citizen of the United States, you must assume the two certainties of American life: citizenship and taxes. Otherwise, you are an illegal immigrant, no matter what country you come from. Until you file for citizenship, you are not a citizen of this country. You are nothing more than a hired hand. And by being in this country, right now, you are breaking the law. How can you claim to support a country where you break the law the second you step in it?
When an immigrant says that all they’re trying to do is make a better life for their family and children, the best thing to do is become a U.S. citizen. Their children will have better education by going to public schools, they’ll receive better health care and insurance, they may be protected by this country if something should happen, and they will get to help shape the political landscape of this country by actively taking part in local, state, and federal elections and decisions. Heck, they may help keep Social Security alive for a few more years, until the feds completely waste it on pork.
Would we have such a problem with immigration if it were as easy to get into any other country? Of course not. That’s why they all want to come here. No one in the U.S. will claim that the policies and procedures are perfect, but in relation to other countries I would say that immigrants do owe the U.S. some gratitude based on the fact that this is about the only country where they could get away with what they’re doing.
If ya want to be in the club, ya gotta pay the dues.Copyright © 2006 The Dirty Diaper
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