Thursday, October 27, 2011

Last to Know

For anyone close to a situation, there is nothing worse than being the last to know about a development. In the World of the Minnesota Vikings, being the last to know has become common place this season, with three additions to that list just this week.

On Monday, Minnesota Vikings' head coach, Leslie Frazier, announced that the Vikings had to sit down with erstwhile wide-receiver, Bernard Berrian, "to make sure everyone is on the same page." Berrian took that to mean yet another opportunity to solidify his role as the most overpaid player in Viking history.

Frazier had something else in mind. Namely, he wanted to make clear that all were on the same page regarding the Vikings' rationale for what would become Tuesday's release of Berrian. Berrian, as has been true of his much coddled association with the Vikings over the past two years, was, of course, the last to know, claiming until the end that he wanted to remain with the team--an odd contention for someone who has not been with the team for at least the past two years.

Berrian joins Donovan McNabb in the current edition of "last to know," having expressed dismay at his demotion in favor of rookie Christian Ponder. That dismay would not be surprising were it a reflection of McNabb's uncertainty over why he was merely demoted rather than cut outright. Alas, McNabb was merely expressing the confusion that he generally has exhibited on the field.

In his first game, Ponder passed for one-third the yards and half the touchdowns that McNabb managed in six full games as a starter this season. Adrian Peterson also had his most productive game of the season, rushing for 175 yards--fifty-two more than his previous season high and nearly double his season average. Ponder's ability to roll out of the pocket and make completions down-field and to receivers in stride demonstrated why the change to Ponder or Joe Webb should have been made several weeks ago--a fact that Frazier, himself, appeared to be the last to know.

Then there is the unfolding saga of state budgets, revenue streams, and ill-advised constitutional amendments. In 2008, Minnesota voters unwisely amended the state constitution to require sales tax contributions to a fund known as the "Legacy Fund." The amendment was pitched as one intended to ensure clean water and environment in Minnesota for generations to come. Unquestionably, the fund is used to achieve these purposes--much as legislation previously accomplished such goals.

Not surprisingly, however, at least to some, the Legacy Fund has become a welcome wagon for anyone with a notion remotely tied to claims of state heritage and/or culture, along with other problems.

This week, the Minnesota Historical Society, one of the large recipients of Legacy funds, has expressed outrage over Governor Dayton's attempt to raid the Legacy Fund endowment to pay for a new Vikings' stadium. Clearly, MHS and others were not paying attention to the wording of the Legacy amendment, an amendment that so generally defines Minnesota's cultural heritage as to permit funding of virtually anything in the state with Legacy funds. It's unfortunate for state residents that MHS and others failed to heed this generous wording--or simply preferred to look the other way on a referendum pitched as a clean air and water referendum that MHS and others knew also would amply fund their own non-water/air designs--but the language clearly permits, and practice clearly supports, the funding Dayton now, however disingenuously, proposes.

The ultimate irony, of course, is that the Vikings are now suggesting raiding a fund created through a referendum as a means of circumventing a referendum on stadium voting. If you love conniving politics, dunderheaded agencies, complicit legislators, mayors, and commissioners, there is nothing like the confluence of public funding of a Vikings' stadium achieved through expropriation of funds constitutionally mandated by virtue of a vote taken on a measure sold as an environmental stand. Classic.

Up Next: Who Will Be Next?

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