TruthToTell, Dec 26: HUNGER BOOK / STADIUM PETITION - AUDIO BELOW

On-air date: 
Mon, 12/26/2011
Father Solstice

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A series of Christmas stories published and sold as a way of beefing up the fight against hunger in Minnesota plus a brief chat with the leader of a petition to stop Ramsey County’s pursuit of a Vikings stadium in Arden Hills are our post-Christmas/end-of-Chanukah discussions come Monday.

The Christmas stories, penned over several years by St. Paul author and education activist Roger Barr, center on the Bartholomews of St. Paul and the odyssey their family crèche endures each year, including its partial destruction at least one year. We follow Matt, Deidre, Allison and Christopher Bartholomew as well as Matt’s brother, Tim, through their Christmas adventures in Barr’s book, Getting Ready for Christmas and Other Stories – twelve others, to be exact, over a 13-Christmas period. Things said and unsaid over the years pile up toward the end until everything spills out to reveal histories for both Matt and Deidre neither had addressed, despite the years and two children spent together.

Barr is putting all the receipts of the book’s sales toward the Emergency Food Shelf Network and the quest to provide 100,000 meals to EFSN and toward eradicating hunger. We talk about the plague of hunger in this most prosperous of countries where the imbalance between the rich and everyone else grows greater every day, felt most acutely as these holiday season come ‘round yet again and very little has been done thus far.

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We, the undersigned registered voters in Ramsey County, hereby petition the Ramsey County Board of Commissioners for the purpose of enacting an ordinance, as follows:

Ramsey County shall be prohibited from making expenditures, incurring debt, or entering into any agreement, directly or indirectly, related to a stadium on the TCAAP* site in Arden Hills.

Advancing an initiative petition for an ordinance preventing Ramsey County from taxing county residents to finance a Vikings stadium on the former *Twin Cities Army Ammunition Plant site in Arden Hills is Ady Wickstrom, a current councilmember in the nearby suburb of Shoreview. She’s not alone in her quest. Other councilmembers and mayors in other Ramsey County municipalities, St. Paul included, support the initiative of NoStadiumTax, which would, if the proper number of signatures are collected and verified, be placed on the 2012 election ballot.

A slim majority of the Ramsey County Board has been pushing a $1.2 billion combination development deal with Minnesota Vikings ownership to clean and fill that polluted site with an entertainment, hospitality and residential complex, including a massive stadium with moveable roof. First, they proposed a .5% increase in local sales taxes (with nothing from other Metro counties), which was dead on arrival in both the Governor’s office and the Legislature. Now comes a proposal to tax food and beverages a 3% tax to fund the county share, a preliminary approval coming last week by a 4-3 vote.

Ramsey County is the only one of Minnesota’s 87 counties with a home rule charter of its own – the county’s version of a municipal constitution – and, as such, its governance is subject not just to state law, but to its own specific code of laws county voters approved some 15 years ago, right after legislators gave counties the option of doing so.

The charter allows for initiative, referendum and recall (I&R) – the three legs of citizen democracy usually exercised when elected officials, in this case the county board of commissioners, are viewed as unresponsive to the public will. The Ramsey County initiative process is convoluted – much more so than in many states. Ady Wickstrom will explain it to us, but her job and that of her supporters is to secure signatures from Ramsey County registered voters equal to 10 percent of those who voted for President of the United States in the last general election. 27,817 signatures are required this time around, given the Presidential votes of 2008. Several steps intervene first, including a chance for the County Board vote to pass it themselves. Not likely. The primary movers on the Board, Tony Bennett and Rafael Ortega, are unavailable Monday, but we’ll re-visit this item when things heat up over the next several months.

On-air guests: 

HUNGER: ROGER BARR – Fiction and Nonfiction Writer; Playwright; Author, Getting Ready for Christmas and Other StoriesExecutive Director, Support Our Schools

ADDITIONAL HUNGER LINKS:

Emergency Food Shelf Network

Hunger-Free Minnesota - a large coalition of food shelves and networks - CLICK TO REACH SPECIFIC SITES

Hunger Solutions Minnesota – provides food to those in need, advancing sound public policy, and guiding grassroots advocacy

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STADIUM PETITION:  ADY WICKSTROM –  Shoreview City Councilmember; past president, Arden Hills/Shoreview Rotary; Leading the NoStadiumTax initiative

ADDITIONAL LINKS:

Ramsey County Board of Commissioners

Ramsey County Home Rule Charter

Minnesota Vikings