Longtime Minnesota Twins owner Carl Pohlad died today. Major League Baseball's official website has a loving tribute:
The son of a poor family during the Great Depression, Pohlad rose from humble beginnings to head a family-owned network of banking, bottling, real estate and other companies. Forbes magazine wrote in September that Pohlad was worth around $3.6 billion, ranking him No. 102 on the magazine's list of America's wealthiest people.
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Over the nearly quarter-century he presided over the Twins, Pohlad and his family donated millions of dollars and devoted countless hours to the community through the Twins Community Fund and the Carl and Eloise Pohlad Family Foundation. The Twins' annual award for community service is also named after the owner.
Pohlad kept hold on the franchise and watched as it was revitalized earlier this decade with the Twins winning division titles in four of the past seven seasons. The club also saw its future in Minnesota assured for the near future as it will open its new ballpark, Target Field, in 2010 -- a testament to Pohlad's persistence of keeping baseball alive in the Twin Cities.
MLB.com is too polite to say this, but "Pohlad's persistence" meant robbing the taxpayers of Hennepin County at gunpoint. Pohlad refused to pay more than one-third of Target Field's cost himself, so the state and county imposed a $392 million sales tax increase. Normally such tax hikes require voter approval, but the Minnesota legislature bypassed the voters entirely because it would inconvenience the Pohlad's schedule. And just to add insult to injury, Hennepin County used eminent domain to steal the land for the stadium site.
Pohlad was the true embodiment of the term "robber baron"; he used his personal wealth as moral sanction to justify theft from others. Free market champions already face a difficult task in challenging the prevailing evils of socialism and statism. Criminals like Pohlad only add to that burden, and for that he richly deserves eternal scorn.