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Capitol Chatter: Vikings stadium timing couldn't come at worse time

ST. PAUL -- A New York Times story may best explain the Minnesota Vikings' woes in seeking a new stadium: "The country's most popular sport is colliding with the country's emergent political philosophy -- smaller government and lower taxes."

Reporter Ken Belson examined problems ranging from this summer's Minnesota government shutdown to opposition from St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman over a proposed sales tax increase that he claims would hurt business in his town.

Even the national spectacle of the Metrodome's roof collapsing has not helped the Vikings' cause.

Many National Football League franchises have received government help to build stadiums in recent years, But, Belson writes, "the Vikings' pitch stands apart from other NFL stadium deals because it is running headlong into a vastly different economic and political landscape. In a state whose financial hardships were so severe that the Legislature shut down state services for several weeks over the summer, a franchise in the $9 billion NFL is asking the public to pay about 60 percent of the cost of a $1.1 billion stadium. ..."

Flooded roads?

It is tough to predict conditions in 50 years, but the Minnesota Department of Transportation says one factor it must consider in the next half century is a changing climate.

MnDOT predicts more flooding, especially flash floods, will affect transportation.

Weather experts predict climate changes mean there will be more thunderstorms, MnDOT says. "This could lead to regular incidence of simultaneous drought and flood conditions. This is an issue that affects infrastructure design and runoff management strategies."

Check those lists

Candidates sent thank-you notes, mostly via email, in recent days to supporters who donated to them, but campaigns have not always mastered the art.

Tarryl Clark's congressional campaign, for example, sent a "personalized" thank you the Duluth News Tribune and other media, which did not donate a penny to her effort.

"Dear Duluth Paper," the News Tribune note said, "thank you for all of your help making sure we surpassed our goal last week."

Wanted man runs

Jack Shepard is running for office again, despite still being wanted on an arson charge and continuing to live in Italy.

This time, the dentist is challenging U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar in the Democratic-Farmer-Laborite primary next year.

A Shepard news release indicates he "is running to eliminate Sen. Klobuchar because he is unhappy and very disappointed about many of Sen. Klobuchar votes in the Senate." Those votes include those to keep troops in Iraq, reducing American liberties and failing to clean up the air.

Shepard has run for several other Minnesota offices from his Italian home, never making much headway.

Shutdown case goes on

Minnesota's government shutdown ended July 20, but a court case about it continues, for now at least.

A group of state legislators seeking court clarification has told the Minnesota Supreme Court that the issue should be resolved in case the situation comes up again.

The case revolves around whether the courts have the right to order spending to continue without a legislative appropriation.

The courts did order much state spending to go on during the shutdown, for what were called urgent needs, despite a constitutional provision that requires the Legislature to appropriate money before it is spent. The shutdown came because the Republican-controlled Legislature and Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton did not agree on a budget, so the state essentially ran out of money.

The high court is deciding whether the case is moot because the shutdown ended.