Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Vikings to Plot of Land East of Metrodome VI -- An Interesting Admission

So R. T. Rybak went out and talked to the citizenry last night concerning the Vikings stadium. And as the Star Tribune reports, Rybak made an interesting admission:

Opponents in the crowd shot back that the plan requires a citywide vote -- a referendum that the mayor opposes. One man rose to read Rybak the text of the city's charter amendment requiring a vote when Minneapolis spends more than $10 million on a stadium.

"How can you get around saying the people do not have a right to vote on it?" the man asked, adding that the mayor has "danced around" the issue.

Rybak said the city attorney has told him a referendum isn't legally triggered by his plan, since the taxes are controlled by the state. He later added it was an oral -- not written -- opinion from the city's counsel.

Emphasis mine. So in other words, people just have to take Rybak's word for it.

This is very strange. I lived in Chicago as a young man and worked for a number of years for a large law firm that did a lot of commercial real estate work. As a matter of course, if there was a dispute over the law that affected any project, the lawyers would issue a formal, written opinion based on applicable case law, with specific citations supporting the position. Most of the time the lawyers would have no trouble issuing such an opinion; however, if there was a question of law and the attorneys weren't able to make an affirmative case, a project would not go forward.

So in this case, you have a mayor who is essentially offering hearsay as a basis for going forward. Which city attorney offered this opinion? On what basis and reading of statute does this opinion rest? Or did an attorney in the office say something like, "well, you might be able to get by with this?"

This sort of thing matters, especially when the mayor is committing public money to a project. I would suggest that a formal, written legal opinion from the city attorney's office, signed by an actual attorney, is in order at this point.

1 comment:

Night Writer said...

Reminds me of former Majority Leader Dean Johnson assuring his fellow clergymen that he had private assurances from three MN Supreme Court justices that they would not overturn MN's law banning same-sex marriages so there was really no reason for clergy to get involved in promoting a DOMA initiative. That didn't turn out very well.