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Welfare Rights Committee demands Governor Dayton veto Viking stadium bill

By Kim DeFranco |
May 14, 2012
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Members of Welfare Rights Committee protest public financing for Viking's stadiu
Members of Welfare Rights Committee protest public financing for Viking's stadium. (Fight Back! News/Kim DeFranco)

Saint Paul, MN - The Welfare Rights Committee and their supporters held a press conference and picket at Governor Mark Dayton’s office, May 11, to demand he veto the Viking's stadium bill.

For many years, Vikings' owner Zygi Wilf threatened legislators that he would move his team out of Minnesota if he didn't get a new stadium. This year he got his stadium.

Lena Buggs of the Welfare Rights Committee (WRC) stated, “We are upset that this legislative session has chosen to bail out a rich man and his profession team while ignoring hard working and struggling Minnesotans trying to survive during this economic recession.”

Since before session began the Welfare Rights Committee spoke out against every stadium proposal that uses public money - in other words, all of them. WRC demanded the state should not be using any tax money, from any source, to give to a rich team owner.

The Viking's stadium bill was off to a slow start, but one month before the close of session, it moved at lightning speed. The Welfare Rights Committee was a force opposing the passage of the stadium bill. WRC’s Kristin Rafferty said, “We are not against the Vikings stadium. But if we need to save the Vikings and build a stadium, ok but not at the expense of the poor and working families of Minnesotans.”

WRC shouted, “Make the rich pay for their stadium. Bail out the people of Minnesota, not the rich!” while Vikings fans sang the Vikings' fight song outside the House Chambers earlier in the session.

The WRC’s Angel Buechner said May 11, “We urge you, Governor Dayton, to veto the stadium bill. We urge you not to use any public money for this stadium. However if you decide to sign the bill, we say, ‘Shame on you for giving the people’s money to a rich man.’”

Ebony Harris, member of Welfare Rights Committee, “Our families are still struggling to find work and keeping our families above water to survive the economic depression we are still living in. It is criminal that the session took up the stadium talk, to help a rich team owner. Poor and working families all around the state are dealing with foreclosure, unemployment, schools running on empty, homelessness and huge cuts to critical health and social services. Now is not the time to bail out the rich and corporations!”

Angel Buechner stated, “After the passage of the stadium bill, we see they don't have any qualms of throwing us under the concrete slabs of a new rich man's stadium.”

This bill will create jobs for the construction industry for a few years. However, after the stadium is built, the jobs left will be in the concession and souvenir stands. They will be minimum wage and families can't live and survive on those poverty wages. WRC noted that if state politicians want to put building trades for people to work, they should be funding the creation of more affordable housing and other projects to help the majority of Minnesotans who are suffering in these economic times.

Reflecting on the millionaire team owner demanding state money, the WRC’s Deb Howze said, “Our families will be in the front line of cuts. Once again the poor and working Minnesotans will be in that firing line with even more devastating times for us. We know all too well that the rich will be in line again demanding bailouts.”

After the press conference, the Welfare Rights Committee marched into Governor Dayton’s office demanding to see him. “He needs to hear from us, the people of his state that oppose a stadium that will be built on our families' backs,” demanded Buggs. The Governor was ‘off site’ at a meeting, his staff stated. Members of the committee told his staff to veto the bill and handed them a letter and posters.

The Committee marched out of the Governor's office chanting, “Wilf got bailed out, we got sold out!”