Financial disaster for Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority


When Douglass Mann filed his motion with the Minnesota Supreme Court, early Friday morning, January 10, 2014, no one knew his motion was being sent to the State Supreme Court, raising serious constitutional issues with regard to the funding of the $1 billion “people’s stadium.”

As of the writing of this column, three days after the filing, the Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority (MSFA) did one of the most peculiar things in the modern legal history of Minnesota: asked to be a defendant in this landmark constitutional case, peculiar because one thing that never happens in America is for people to rush into court to be a defendant, especially when there are allegations of constitutional violations.

Besides obviously believing they can’t/won’t lose, the MSFA is employing a shrewd strategy: requesting that the Minnesota Supreme Court impose a $50 million bond upon the Mann group to stop their pursuit seeking justice and fairness for the taxpayers of the City of Minneapolis, and, by extension, the taxpayers of Minnesota, The MSFA, in about 16 months or less, has gone through $74 million, including the $50 million in cash provided by Ziggy Wilf and the Minnesota Vikings.

Before the Supreme Court does anything, it should require a forensic audit as to how the MFSA conducted its business from July of 2012 through December of 2013, and how it has spent its money ($74 million) and doesn’t have money to pay the bills due ($28 million) later this month (Public Company Accounting Oversight Board says one in three company audits have “high levels of deficiencies.” How high for government agencies?).

The MSFA is paying more for the foreign steel they purchased than they are confirming, and have apparently consummated contracts that are $50 million beyond what they have ever had in their bank accounts. And Thursday evening, Jan 9, MSFA Equity Director Alex Tittle not only pointed out that 46 percent of current stadium work force were women and minorities (hard to believe), but that “to date more than $120 million have been awarded in contracts.” Really? With what money?

I’m not sure who is doing the math for the MFSA or the state, but this offers a better understanding of how $50 million was on the MFSA radar scope (if the MFSA loses and the deal falls through, MSFA would have to pay the Wilfs back their $50 million), when they asked the MN Supreme Court to impose those conditions on Mr. Mann and his group (or any other MN citizen who challenges the breaking of the rule of law by officials embracing the doctrine that it is okay to break the law as long as it is the rich and privileged taking care of the rich and privileged just as bank robbers rob to take care of bank robbers).

The MN Supreme Court has to decide whether they will protect the rule of law or continue to break law in the name of favoritism, cronyism, and rich privilege. This is a historic test for the state that produced Floyd B Olson, Hubert H. Humphrey, Nellie Stone Johnson, Cecil Newman, and other great Minnesota initiators of principle.

Many great legal scholars who have sat upon the bench of the Supreme Court of Minnesota will be looking down from afar to see if the rule of law is still in place. We know the MN Sports Facilities Authority is broke, but woe to us if breaking the rule of law is authorized by the state Supreme Court. Will the Court establish a dangerous precedent or take the constitutional and moral high ground?

Stay tuned.


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