Escape language in legislation allows steel purchase outside Iron Range
The Minnesota Sports Facility Authority met November 22, 2013, to sign the contract to put the final stadium construction process and procedures into place. The local daily newspaper’s picture of John Wood of M.A. Mortenson, shaking hands with a colleague, with a large group of people smiling and applauding in the background, shows how well steel facts were withheld as happy faces turned unhappy within 24 hours as people realized not all the steel would come from Minnesota, as “promised.”
The legislative language: “to the extent practical…MN steel” (see Stadium legislation, Section 11, lines 2423-2424) is the escape hatch from “all Minnesota.” This is how the State and City continually get away with not hiring Black Americans on construction projects, using equivalencies of good-faith effort, as we’ve long reported. Now its the Iron Range White man’s turn, as 20 percent of stadium steel will come from steel mines of ArcelorMittal (in the Duchy of Luxembourg, Ruhr Valley, near Germany). After Mittal bought Arcelor in 2006, the Mittal family of India has owned 40 percent of ArcelorMittal.
The issue is not where the steel comes from (you want the best so the stadium doesn’t collapse). The issue is a few legislators deliberately misleading the rest to get their vote, needlessly creating controversy and rage when Iron Range voters learned of the 20 percent coming from the Duchy of Luxembourg only after the contract was signed. Minnesota stadium dollars will now go overseas, to Luxembourg and India.
Key politicians would have taxpayers believe that in early 2012, while finalizing the legislative language, they didn’t know that the best quality of steel would be found outside Minnesota (but they did, hence the escape language: “to the extent practical”? This column (2012, 2013) has consistently raised questions about the steel needed to erect this mammoth “people’s” “multi-use” stadium. Their silence got the legislation passed. How many other “surprises” are waiting?
The anger, outrage, and sense of betrayal in the Iron Range is understandable, as they had been led to believe that all steel preparation would come out of Northern Minnesota. Now if this Black journalist understands that the steel would have to come from other global locations, the legislators, key Iron Range movers and shakers, and Star Tribune knew also. They just chose to be silent until the contract was signed.
As ArcelorMittal has two subsidiaries in the Iron Range, Essar Steel Minnesota LLC and Arcelor Mittal Minorca Mine in Virginia, MN, ArcelorMittal will double dip as Minnesota tax payer money goes to Luxembourg and India.
No outrage when Blacks are left out of diversity hiring, but there is outrage in this lack of White diversity in distribution of tax payer dollars. Even though Sports Authority says high quality out- of-state steel will only cost five million dollars, it is clear a forensic auditor is needed to make sure the integrity of Minnesota taxpayers is protected. That would include an examination of the production of the steel made by the ArcelorMittal company in Luxembourg and the work of their Essar and Minorca subsidiaries in the Iron Range.
There is no mystery. The discipline to withhold information until after the contracts were signed is impressive. Again: what else has been withheld?
Business interests with relationships with the European subsidiaries in Northern Minnesota knew about this 20 months ago, and so too did those behind the scenes working for “escape” language in the legislation. So Minnesota taxpayers, dig deeper while thinking of the wonderful stadium that is supposed to be under your Christmas tree by 2016. By 2016? Really?
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