In Mayo Civic Center shut out of DEED funding, the Rochester Post Bulletin reported:
Mayo Civic Center was shut out of funding today in its quest for state help in a $77 million expansion of the site in downtown Rochester. . . .
The city had asked for $35 million during the last legislative session, and Dayton’s bonding proposal included the project, but the Republican-led Legislature decided not to include any civic centers. Instead, they created the grant pool and a set of criteria to determine which projects should get funded.
. . .The civic center seemed well poised to get funded heading into the last legislative session after Rochester Republican Sen. Dave Senjem was named both Senate Majority Leader and chairman of the Senate Capital Investment Committee. But the bill failed to make it into the final bonding bill with civic center projects facing strong opposition from some legislative Republicans. In the end, Senjem and state Sen. Carla Nelson, R-Rochester, pushed for this DEED grant as a way to fund some economic development projects. Both lawmakers said the criteria was written with the civic center project in mind.
But at the press conference today, Dayton said that Senjem was simply unwilling to fund the civic center in the bonding bill this past legislative session.
The failure to secure funding for this project played in the Post Bulletin's decision to endorse Judy Ohly, the DFL challenger in Senate District 25. In Our View: Senate District 25 Judy Ohly vs. Dave Senjem, the editorial board writes:
Senjem shouldn't bear the blame alone. We're not thrilled with Dayton, DEED and some other Republican members of Rochester's legislative delegation. If they'd fought for the civic center in the House, things might have turned out differently.
But they didn't. And in this case, the buck stops with Sen. Senjem. He didn't deliver, and in this election year, there's a strong challenger waiting in the wings.
The editors praise Ohly's tested experience as an Olmsted County commissioner and business woman in endorsing her over Senjem, though it's something else that closed the deal for them:
Ultimately, however, what we like most about Ohly is the "local" knowledge she'd bring to St. Paul and her eagerness to help other legislators understand what's been taking place in counties all over Minnesota for years.
Earlier endorsements went to incumbents Duane Quam (R-Byron) for 25A and Kim Norton (DFL-Rochester) in the House races in SD25. In SD26, the paper endorsed incumbent Tina Liebling (DFL) on the A side, and DFL challenger Pat Stallman over Mike Benson in the B half.
Senjem was under pressure from the Rochester Tea Party Patriots for sponsoring the civic center. On March 28, the group's twitter account posted:
Another Etch-A-Sketch politician...Dave Senjem decides to put the Mayo Civic Center back into the bonding bill. #mnleg— Rochester MN TPP (@RochesterMN_TPP) March 28, 2012
The next day:
Senate Bonding bill is irresponsible. Funding a Civic Ctr that is $10 million behind in repairs & runs 1 mil in hole evry yr. #mnleg— Rochester MN TPP (@RochesterMN_TPP) March 29, 2012
Readers will get the drift. When DEED didn't fund the proposal:
Will the endorsement matter as the candidates sprint toward the finish line?
Photo: Judy Ohly.