Excuse me Council Member John Quincy, but what is it about ‘Referendum’ you don’t understand?
It’s quite simple. The people of Minneapolis on two separate occasions, in 1973 and in 1997, passed amendments to the City Charter that required the City of Minneapolis to allow the voters of Minneapolis to determine whether they wanted to use city money to pay for a sports stadium. The Charter quite clearly says the voters must approve that kind of expenditure.
But Council Member John Quincy is unconvinced. He thinks there might be some wiggle room. In an interview he said, “I don’t know if a referendum is actually necessary legally, because I think it’s the job of people who are elected to make those kinds of decisions.”
That’s true Mr. Quincy, except when the people have explicitly demanded in their Charter the right to vote on such a question. And, Mr. Quincy, the moment you assumed office you took a solemn oath to defend that Charter.
But Mr. Quincy doesn’t see it quite that clearly: “The confusion for me is that I don’t see Minneapolis public funds going into this financing package. It’s an existing hospitality tax that’s state-imposed. So we’re not spending Minneapolis money.”
That argument is silly. All Minneapolis taxes are authorized by the State. The original Charter for Minneapolis was granted by the State, and the State has the authority to change and amend that Charter. But the Minneapolis sales tax that was authorized by the State is a Minneapolis tax and the money goes into the budget of the City of Minneapolis, and if that money is to be diverted to pay for a sports stadium then the people of Minneapolis have demanded the right to vote on that question.
Quincy soon realizes the silliness of his argument: “Legally, is that true? I don’t know. That’s just a personal rationalization.” He admits he’s just trying to find an excuse to circumvent the Charter amendment.
Charley Underwood said it best, “To me, this has always been a simple question.
Zygi wants a new sports palace. Most citizens of Minneapolis don’t. (That’s why they always want to skip the referendum requirement.) Zygi has the money. We don’t. Solution: Zygi buys whatever stadium he wants. End of story.
“The worst part of this whole flim-flam job is the long-term damage it will cause to the city. We are already broke, cutting back on every city service imaginable. It isn’t that the City can’t pay a fancy billion-dollar subsidy to a New Jersey billionaire. The real problem is that we won’t be able to pay for anything else much, for the next 30 years or so. Fire stations will close. Police enforcement will decline. Streets and sewers and inspection services and bridges and schools and parks and everything will suffer. Simply because we do not have the money.
“Is this truly the sort of legacy our mayor wants to leave us? Is this the future that the city council plans for our children and our grandchildren.”
So, Mr. Quincy, what is it about “Referendum” you don’t understand? You are just about the only City Council member in South Minneapolis who does not support allowing the citizens of Minneapolis the right to vote on a new stadium. Sandy Colvin Roy, Gary Schiff, Cam Gordon, Elizabeth Glidden, Robert Lilligren, Linda Goodman, Betsy Hodges, all support allowing the people a vote on this issue.
That’s seven votes. That’s a majority. The mayor has filled you so full of sunshine you forgot that your primary job is to serve the people of the 11th Ward. It’s not too late, Mr. Quincy, please do the right thing. Stand with the 99%, the people of Minneapolis. Let the people decide!