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Capital Chatter: Politics mull sports bloggers, columnists

ST. PAUL -- Don't believe everything you read, especially in sports blogs and columns about government issues.

That is what some Minnesota politicians say after dealing with Vikings stadium issues for months, or years.

For instance, in a week dominated by stadium news (a frenzy in some minds), Rep. Dean Urdahl, R-Grove City, was none too happy with a Star Tribune sports column critical of him for opposing a stadium. Just one problem: In his only chance to vote on a stadium bill, Urdahl favored it.

Urdahl asked one of the first questions at a stadium committee hearing, saying that he heard many Minnesotans wonder why the state needed to help finance a stadium to benefit a billionaire team owner. He never said that was his opinion, and talked in favor of a stadium during the meeting.

Jim Souhan wrote a blistering anti-Urdahl column, including: "Those like Urdahl who shamelessly pander to the simple-minded people should not be taken seriously. Next time you ask a question about the stadium, Mr. Urdahl, please get help from someone with a better grasp of stadium politics, like, oh, a Kardashian."

Urdahl said he received a call from the top Star Tribune editor apologizing for the column.

Some media also attributed Urdahl's question to Rep. Morrie Lanning, R-Moorhead, the chief House author of the stadium bill. Lanning shook his head when he related the mistake, which indicated he opposed a stadium even though he has worked for years to build one.

There have been other examples of not understanding Capitol politics.

Back when Minneapolis, state leaders and the Vikings announced a stadium plan, at least one sports blog reported the Legislature would vote on the issue that day. The problem? There had not even been a bill written.

For the birds

The federal government is spending $7 million to improve Red River Valley waterfowl habitat.

Minnesota's federal congressional delegation also said the money will help prevent floods.

"Increasing wildlife habitat will help ensure that duck hunters and other outdoors enthusiasts can enjoy the Red River Valley's natural resources for years to come," Sen. Amy Klobuchar said.

Sen. Al Franken emphasized the flood prevention efforts, which he said would help valley residents for decades.

The federal money will go to some landowners who agree to store water on their frequently flooded land. That slows water movement to the river, and thus slows flooding.

Lanning leaves

Rep. Morrie Lanning is one of two representatives who regularly fill in when House Speaker Kurt Zellers cannot preside over the House.

The Moorhead Republican was running things Thursday, when suddenly all work paused and he left the raised rostrum. Rep. Greg Davids, R-Preston, ascended the stairs and took over.

The mystery soon was solved when House Minority Leader Paul Thissen, DFL-Minneapolis, offered a motion to move the Vikings stadium bill from a committee that had voted it down to another committee.

Lanning, the House stadium bill author, was furious and wanted to respond, something he could not do while running the House. Thissen had not told him about the move, so Lanning rose to protest the action, which soon was tabled.

Later, Lanning said that moving the bill to another committee could be a good strategy, but those who are shepherding the stadium bill should be involved in such decisions

Informal Tuesday

Minnesota House members from both parties donned golf shirts Tuesday.

The one-day dress code was to honor retiring Rep. Mark Murdock, R-Ottertail, who favors golf shirts over suits.

Davis works for Forum Communications Co., which owns the Daily Globe.

Don Davis
Don Davis has been the Forum Communications Minnesota Capitol Bureau chief since 2001, covering state government and politics for two dozen newspapers in the state. Don also blogs at Capital Chatter on Areavoices.