MINNEAPOLIS -- The new Vikings stadium may be a done deal, but mayoral candidate Dan Cohen doesn't see it that way. He has madestopping thestadiumone of his top campaign themes.
"This is a democracy. People should have a vote on something like this," Cohen told KARE 11.
"We got to vote on a same sex marriage. We got to vote on Voter ID. Andwe're talking about spending$500 million in taxpayer dollars the votersdidn't get to decide."
He concedes that if Minneapolis were to pull its $150 million share off the table, the Vikings owners would be tempted to sue the city, but Cohen, an attorney and advertiser by trade, believes the city would prevail in court.
"There isn't a jury in the state of Minnesota that will uphold this contract once they hear this evidence from New Jersey," Cohen remarked, making a reference to a long standing civil lawsuit Vikings owners Zygi and Mark Wilfare fighting in New Jersey.
Cohen is no stranger to City Hall. He currently serves on the Minneapolis Planning Commission and the Charter Commission.
He was a city council member from 1965 to 1979, spending many of those years as council president. And in 1969 he made an unsuccessful bid for the mayor's post.
"I'm ringing doorbells I haven't rung in 40 years, and some of the same people are answering the door!" Cohen laughed.
"So that's kind of fun."
Cohen is also advocating a downtown casino, as a means for sparking new private development in the core of the city. He noted that Duluth, Kansas City, St. Louis and Milwaukee all have casinos in their downtown area.
"It doesn't have to be our money," he explained.
"I mean this is for tourists. It's a year-round attraction that will generate business."
Hot Button Issues
Cohen said he agrees with the Met Council's move to delay picking a final route for the Southwest Light Rail, after the city ofMinneapolisobjected to the idea of co-locating the transit linewith the Kenilworth Trail and a freight line.
He said theMet Council's favored solution, burying the light rail in a series of shallow tunnels, may not work with the water table in the areanear Cedar Lake and Lake of the Isles.
On the issue of Minneapolis police officers who made the news for their off-duty behavior in Green Bay and Apple Valley, Cohen said there should be zero tolerance
"You and I both know that if you had people at your TV stationthat talked that way, their lockers would be cleaned out and they'd be out on the sidewalk!" Cohen said.
"A police department can't function unless it has the respect of people in all the neighborhoods."
When it comes to addressing the achievement gap in the city's public schools, Cohen said the solution begins with adding jobs that have the potential of giving families a pathway out of poverty.
Star Tribune Lawsuit
He was the first candidate in the race to buy advertising time, including billboards around the city advocating the casino idea.
Cohen says he's financing those ad buys with money he won in an epic legal battle with the Star Tribune newspaper, one documented in his book, "Anonymous Source."
"It's an involuntary campaign contribution from our beloved Minneapolis Star and Tribune," he quipped.
The saga began in 1982 when Cohen was assisting Republican gubernatorial candidate Wheelock Whitney in his race against Democrat Rudy Perpich.Cohen learned that Perpich's running mate had a shoplifting conviction, and he tipped offa Star Tribune reporter after she agreed to let Cohen remain anonymous.
The newspapers editors overruled the reporter after the fact and outed Cohen as the source of the tip. The coverage focused on Cohen's decision to leak the information, and whether it was part of the Whitney campaign strategy.
The newspaper asserted that laws protecting confidential sources are designed to protect the media from divulging sources, rather than the people who provide information to reporters.
"It went all the way to the Supreme Court.We won $300,000. That is basically what's financing this campaign!" Cohen said.