As you can tell from the accompanying ad prepared by the campaign, I am supporting John Hayden for the Minneapolis City Council. I do this for a very simple reason: he believes in the public’s right to know how their money is being spent and he has the courage and intelligence to make this a reality.
Now that may seem a bit absurd. After all, of course, the public has a right to know when their money is involved. But tragically, that is increasingly not true.
Just ask yourself a few basic questions:
· Do you know what is in the package involving the NFL and the Super Bowl committee? Is the taxpayer on the hook? And for how much?
· Do you know how, when or why the state legislature overrode the Minneapolis City Charter which limited taxpayer contributions to professional sport teams owners to $10 million? The new law now opens the door for unlimited taxpayer monies to the billionaires owning the teams. Why did our elected city officials support this?
· Do you know how or why the Vikings got use of the downtown Common parks free of charge? We, the taxpayers, bought the park for some $20 million and we pay millions for its upkeep. Where is Zygi’s money? (Answer: In his pocket.)
· Did you know that the city property taxpayers are on the hook for the parking ramps used by the Vikings on game and other days for free? Property taxpayers likely will spend some $30 million to subsidize these ramps.
If you did poorly on this test, it is understandable. There has been very little transparency on the transfer of public monies to wealthy team owners. The issue here is openness in government and the right of the public to participate in decisions that take their money. We can debate the wisdom of government/ sports teams’ partnerships later. But, for now, we should agree on full and open disclosure.
This is particularly essential when we realize that we are cutting back on education for our children, reducing our commitment to public safety, and ignoring the thousands of youngsters and war veterans looking for a place to sleep.
Let’s have a full public discourse on our priorities and it all starts with supporting candidates who will lead the fight for openness.
John Hayden fits the bill. He and his wife, Jackie, are currently raising a three-year old son in the Waite Park neighborhood and, like all parents; they want the doors of opportunity open and the streets safe.
This coupled with a background of service to disadvantaged children as a teacher and mentor speaks to his commitment. Currently, as a manager with Genesys Works, he creates opportunities for young people by helping them develop useful job skills and employment internships. This also involves working with schools and businesses to form partnerships for employment.
Frankly, we need that kind of dedication to the public good in City Hall. I know that he will fight for us. If you can, please send a modest contribution or a note of support to John at his website: www.myneighborjohn.com.