State: Redskins complaint won’t block new Vikings stadium financing

Angelique Vazquez, of Leech Lake, protest the Redskins outside the Metrodome Thursday, Nov. 7, 2013 in Minneapolis.
MPR Photo/Jennifer Simonson

Complaints that the Washington Redskins might play in the new Vikings stadium should not block its financing.

That’s according to a response from Minnesota Management and Budget to the American Indian Movement National Directors, Inc., which opposes the use of the team’s name. AIM founder Clyde Bellecourt and others petitioned the state’s finance department last week to seek a public hearing on the matter, ahead of the Vikings game against Washington last Thursday night.

Attorney Larry Leventhal argued that the name “Redskins” was racist and violated anti-discrimination ordinances and laws, so the state should rethink financing the new stadium, or at the very least hold a court hearing so that opponents to the Washington team’s name could make their case.

That isn’t going to happen.

“The Commissioner is not authorized to enforce local, state and federal anti-discrimination laws, or United Nations covenants or declarations,” Minnesota Management and Budget said in the response, signed by MMB Commissioner James Schowalter.

MMB also said a Supreme Court review, which the state sought for its tobacco bonds back in 2001, isn’t mandatory, even though the stadium appropriation bonds are similar, legally speaking. The tobacco bonds were funded by appropriations from the Legislature, using the proceeds from the state’s historic settlement with cigarette makers.

Here’s the original petition, and the response:

  • Skip James

    “The Commissioner is not authorized to enforce local, state and federal anti-discrimination laws, or United Nations covenants or declarations,” Minnesota Management and Budget said in the response, signed by MMB Commissioner James Schowalter. Excuse me, Mr. Schowalter. What laws DO you abide by? If not local, state or Federal, what is your legal standard? Should your code be a model of how other Minnesotans should think? Guess what? We teach children in school that discrimination is offensive and intolerable. Maybe you should resign and let someone with a conscience run your department. Perhaps the governor should just fire you!