Minneapolis-Saint Paul is the last place on earth I would have expected a “structurally deficient bridge” to collapse, but it happened. As sure as the levees broke in
I went to college in the Twin Cities, a refugee from the scowling confines of New Yawk.
It was also a place, with its social democratic traditions, that constantly frustrated the ambitions of a man named Carl Pohlad. Pohlad is the 92-year-old multi-billionaire owner of the Minnesota Twins. He has spent the last two decades of his life trying to get the taxpayers of his home state to give him 500 million dollars for a state of the art mega dome. The people in numerous referendums were polite and firm that the Pohlad way was not the
As Rudolph Giuliani once said, the problem with stadium referendums is that people won’t vote for them. Pohlad took the Giuliani gospel to heart. He slunk behind the scenes, giving hundreds of thousands of dollars to politicians in both parties – eventually making a mockery of the Labor label on the Democrats and the
Gov. Tim Pawlenty, who has vetoed every effort to raise taxes to refurbish the state’s infrastructure, became a born-again stadium supporter. Others as well “got religion” and began to worship at the altar of “revenue streams, “naming rights,” and “luxury boxes.”
As the Minnesota City Pages put it, “After a long string of public relations disasters that have entrenched his reputation as a miserly, something-for-nothing businessman, Carl Pohlad – the richest owner in major league baseball – has finally learned his political lesson. This time all the hardball haggling occurred behind closed doors.”
Groundbreaking for the Pohlad’s monument to corporate greed and political graft was supposed to be on Thursday, August 2nd, but the plans were hastily scuttled. The irony was simply too much for even these assorted scoundrels to bear. To celebrate the fleecing of the public to the tune of half a billion dollars – over 300 dollars out of the pockets of every man woman and child – while bodies have still yet to be recovered from the fallen bridge, would have been monstrous.
But this monster is already long loose and rampaging the countryside. It’s difficult to not recall Hurricane Katrina and the way the Superdome became the homeless shelter from hell for 30,000 of the city’s poorest residents. The Superdome, also funded by the public dime, became completely unfit for humanity in a few short hours. At the time, many – particularly in the Northern liberal media – cluck clucked at
[Dave Zirin is the author of the new book "Welcome to the Terrordome:" with an intro by Chuck D (Haymarket). You can receive his column Edge of Sports, every week by going to http://zirin.com/edgeofsports/?p=subscribe&id=1. Contact him at [email protected]]