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Gov. Dayton: Planned Black Lives Matter Fair protest 'inappropriate'

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Gov. Mark Dayton at the Fair
Gov. Mark Dayton joins MPR News' Tom Weber to answer questions from the audience
MPR News

MPR News' Tom Weber was joined at the Fair by Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton to answer your questions. 

On the Black Lives Matter planned protest of the Fair

Dayton says the group Black Lives Matter has raised valid concerns about the Minnesota State Fair, but he described a planned protest outside the fairgrounds on Saturday as "inappropriate."

The group contends that people of color are shut out of opportunities to become State Fair vendors. Dayton said Black Lives Matter members should have taken their complaints directly to the State Fair board, several months ago.   "Being responsible citizens doesn't mean just protesting. It means taking responsibility for making it better. If they had been working with the fair board for the last six months and pressed this point, and the fair board was unresponsive, then I think the protest would make a lot more sense."

Dayton contrasted the State Fair, and its lack of statistics on minority vendors, to the construction of the new Minnesota Vikings stadium. The stadium project has what he called an impressive 36-percent minority workforce.

On the major league soccer stadium in St. Paul

Dayton says he supports making a "minor language change" in state law to assist with the construction of a major league soccer stadium in St. Paul.

The city is proposing a property tax exemption for a stadium that built with private money, something the city currently doesn't have the authority to do. Dayton said that while he remains opposed to state support for another stadium, he said it's the prerogative of city leaders to offer local tax breaks.   "I looked at the language. It's literally five words, and it doesn't affect state revenues one way or the other. So, I told Mayor [Chris] Coleman I would support those five words, that language change, and authorizing the City of St. Paul to do what they propose to do."

Dayton said he's optimistic that Minnesota will land a Major League Soccer franchise. But he doesn't know if it will end up in St. Paul or Minneapolis.

Sunday liquor sales

Dayton said that he knew of no reason to have those businesses closed on Sunday. He would sign a bill to that effect. 

On transportation spending

"The roads keep getting worse, that is the guarantee if we don't do anything, find a stable source of funding for the transportation improvements the highways will get worse and public transit is going to lag." 

"The writing is on the wall if we don't face up to the need for additional money put into our transportation system, we're going to suffer in the next years to come and our kids and grandkids are going to suffer. So it's time to belly up and say, 'OK, we're going to provide the funding.'"

On walleye and Lake Mille Lacs

"DNR is coming forward... with revised configuration for the leadership format for leadership on Lake Mille Lacs and getting citizens up there involved and talking about and deciding what's to be done and looking at stocking for next spring. I think people are going to be very pleasantly surprised and impressed by what the DNR is coming forward with to really change the management of the lake."

On Donald Trump  

"I'm glad he is in the other party... the guy is obviously a huckster... They are welcome to him."

On climate change goals

Dayton said Minnesota is on track to meet goals, but we need to drag other states along.

"These other states like North Dakota who just have their heads in the sand and want to profit and then pollute our air accordingly," he said.