Wilf lawyers fighting to keep finances from the public

It’s bad enough you have this Stadium Facilities bunch rooting around in your books, but lordy, let’s not show the numbers to the people putting up the money. Stribber Richard Meryhew reports: “As the public board overseeing Vikings stadium construction digs deep into the Wilf family finances, attorneys for the team owners will be in a New Jersey courtroom next week lobbying to keep that information from the public. A hearing on the issue of sealing the family’s net worth and other financial records is scheduled for Monday in Morristown, N.J., before Superior Court Judge Deanne Wilson, who is expected to decide later this month how much the Wilfs must pay former business partners in that state. … Although the details of the Wilfs’ financial holdings won’t be made public, the due-diligence team will outline the process for arriving at its conclusions ‘so the public has a sense of what was done,’ Kelm-Helgen said.” The public, you see, is not “need to know.”

Meanwhile … Tim Nelson at MPR writes: “[T]he company owned by Minneapolis developer Bob Lux and several partners is saying that the agency that runs the stadium didn’t give Minneapolis Venture proper notice for the traditional game-day use of the plaza for the Vikings pre-season game against the Tennessee Titans last week. A letter from Minneapolis Venture, called a ‘notice of default,’ threatens to kick the stadium authority off the property if they don’t comply with the terms of a 2003 lease … . Spokesman Jon Austin took it further: ‘We continue to be disappointed in the actions of the Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority (MSFA) and its apparent contempt for our property rights as owners of the Plaza. Just last Friday, for example, the Authority filed a legal claim asserting that it has a right to use the Plaza under the Use Agreement even as it was — at that very time — using the Plaza without complying with the explicit requirements of the Use Agreement.’ ” That guy Austin sounds tough.

When in doubt … hire some consultants. Pat Doyle of the Strib says: “Anxious to solve a dispute threatening the future Southwest Corridor light-rail line, Hennepin County officials have asked planners to hire a Colorado firm to take a fresh look at rerouting the freight train traffic that has become a stumbling block to the light-rail transit (LRT) project. ‘Our view, in asking for this group of experts to come in … was really to make sure that we’re not ruling something out prematurely,’ Hennepin County Commissioner Gail Dorf­man said Tuesday. ‘To make sure we’re getting the best engineering advice on this.’ ”

We’re No. 2 in states, but No. 6 in countries. The Strib looks at a New York Times story and says: “[H]ere’s a reason to be optimistic about young Minnesotans’ learning potential. The latest Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study, which surveyed the knowledge of more than 600,000 fourth- and eighth-graders around the world, turned up some surprising good news for Minnesota and even for the United States as a whole, according to an article in today’s New York Times’ ScienceTimes section. The study, which used 2011 data, the most recent available, looked at achievement in 63 nations, also including data from many U.S. states, which it treated as if they were countries. Here are the study’s top 10 science and math achievers: Singapore, Massachusetts, Taiwan, South Korea, Japan, MINNESOTA, Finland, Slovenia, Colorado and Russia.”

The GleanAnd if you don’t like that list … Brian Todd at the Rochester Post-Bulletin says: “[W]hat if I told you the good ol’ North Star State ranked in the top quarter of all states when it comes to renewable energy? Would you be surprised? … ‘The new solar energy standard, geared to investor-owned utilities, will require a total electricity output of 1.5 percent by 2020,’ said Matt Norton, campaign director at Minnesota Environmental Partnership. ‘Right now, it’s way under 1 percent.’ Minnesota currently has 13 megawatts of solar power installed through those utilities, Norton said. The new law will increase that total to 450 megawatts. ‘That’s good for the grid and good for Minnesota’s trade balance with other states.’ he said. … A survey conducted by MEP found that 99 percent of respondents who describe themselves as DFL supporters said they believe … Minnesota should support more use of solar power. But 83 percent of independents and 76 percent of Republicans surveyed share that belief.

There’s some energy business changing hands down in the southern part of the state. Thomas Content of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel writes: “Alliant Energy Corp. said Tuesday it has agreed to sell its electric and natural gas utility businesses in Minnesota for $128 million. The Madison-based company operates Wisconsin Power & Light Co. in Wisconsin and Interstate Power & Light Co., based in Cedar Rapids. The Iowa-based utility has 43,000 electric customers and 10,600 natural gas customers in Minnesota, representing about 4% of Alliant’s total customer base. Alliant said it will sell the electricity side of the business to Southern Minnesota Energy Cooperative, with the natural gas piece being sold to Minnesota Energy Resources Corp., a subsidiary of Chicago-based Integrys Energy Group.”

Graydon Royce of the Strib says: “Minnesota Orchestra leaders Tuesday conceded that the ongoing dispute with union musicians could cost the orchestra its renowned conductor and prestigious performances at Carnegie Hall. Richard Davis, chairman of the orchestra’s negotiating team, said management will stand firm in the 11-month lockout, despite the looming prospect of outcomes once deemed unthinkable — including the departure of Music Director Osmo Vänskä, the cancellation of key concerts at Carnegie Hall and delaying the start of the 2013-14 season in the newly remodeled Orchestra Hall. ‘Osmo may have to leave,’ Davis said in a meeting Tuesday with the Star Tribune editorial board.”

You invested in Choosatron, right? Julio Ojeda-Zapata of the PiPress writes: “Minnesota has seen a streak of enormously successful tech-related Kickstarter crowd-funding campaigns within the past year. The latest is the Choosatron, a choose-your-own adventure computer device with story twists printed on a receipt-like roll of paper instead of being shown on a screen. The Choosatron, dubbed the ‘interactive fiction arcade machine’ by creator Jerry Belich, brought in just over $75,000 in pledges from 570 backers at the close of its Kickstarter campaign late last week, or 341 percent of its $22,000 goal.”

And we have State Fair polling results. Jennifer Brooks of the Strib says: “State Fair visitors came down overwhelmingly on the side of a higher state minimum wage, background checks at gun shows and the legalization of medical marijuana [in] this year’s poll by the House Public Information Services. Every year, the nonpartisan House and Senate information services poll of visitors to their booths at the State Fair. The results are far from scientific, but can produce some interesting results. More than 7,000 people participated in the House’s 2013 poll. The most lopsided results came from a question about mandatory background checks on firearms purchases at gun shows — 82 percent favored background checks, 14 percent opposed.”

Comments (18)

  1. Submitted by Steve Titterud on 09/04/2013 - 06:35 am.

    Michelle Kelm-Helgen is in a REAL HURRY, isn’t she ?

    “We’re not going to wait for the judge to decide on damages,” said Michelle Kelm-Helgen.

    But the judge’s complete written findings may disclose other pertinent information besides a raw number for damages. Pertinent to what ? Pertinent to whether Minnesotans want to do business with the Wilfs – at all.

    She claims the investigators will use a “worst case scenario” – which refers ONLY to the Wilfs’ finances, which she prefers to hold forth as the ONLY issue. But for many Minnesotans, it is NOT the only issue, and it is only one dimension of a worst case scenario..

    Examples: did the Wilfs make material misrepresentations to public officials in MN in order to get public money ? Did the AMOUNT of that public money rely on the representations of the Wilfs and the Vikings ? Did the Wilfs involve their Minnesota operations in the fraud by funnelling some of the fruits of their NJ fraud to Minnesota and the Vikings ?

    It seems the Cheerleader-in-Chief doesn’t want the Court’s rulings to interfere with the MSFA’s predetermined conclusion. Indeed, why even wait on your investigator’s report, having decided the issue already ?

  2. Submitted by Jackson Cage on 09/04/2013 - 07:32 am.

    There’s this little thing called “evidence”

    Steve, absent a determination that the Judge’s ruling bankrupts the Wilfs, all the questions you ask are completely irrelevant. The fact that you can raise red herrings doesn’t make them “facts”. Look, we get most people at this site don’t like the public subsidy. But that ship has long sailed. An agreement’s in place. Unless the Wilfs can’t hold up their end of the deal, it’s DONE.

    • Submitted by Steve Titterud on 09/04/2013 - 09:11 am.

      Incorrect. The necessary agreements are not concluded.

      In fact, the terms haven’t even been negotiated yet, as the Vikings walked away from those talks with the MSFA several days ago. The necessary bonds have not been put up for sale.

      There is plenty besides a Wilf bankruptcy that could interfere here, even though there is a powerful combination of interests who’ve bet a lot of money on a new stadium, and will do whatever they can to make it go.

      • Submitted by Jackson Cage on 09/04/2013 - 11:14 am.

        You opinion is news to 98% of us

        If the “terms haven’t been negotiated”, why is there consternation at the amount the taxpayers are funding? Bonds haven’t been sold? Again, irrelevant. If I sign a contract to build a house, it’s not invalid because the house isn’t built yet.

        Only a small minority still tilting at windmills think this isn’t a done deal. Like it or not, the rest of us have moved on.

      • Submitted by Joe Musich on 09/04/2013 - 01:20 pm.

        Let’s have …

        Polymet build the new stadium and have it managed by the Minnesota Orchestra board. Teach for America could supply staff. How many absurd issues can be on one state’s plate ?

    • Submitted by chuck holtman on 09/04/2013 - 12:37 pm.

      Mr Cage, the deal is so adverse to the public welfare

      That for a long time yet, it still will be preferable to walk away from it and incur damages than to proceed with it. The ship never “sails”; a party to an agreement always can decide that breach is preferable to performance. I certainly don’t expect that to happen here, but that is for political reasons, not reasons of rational public self-interest.

      • Submitted by Jackson Cage on 09/04/2013 - 04:25 pm.

        Let me make sure I understand…

        …..we strike a deal (whether or not you like it), nothing changes except maybe one party’s ability to perform (of which we have no evidence) and regardless of the fact bthat nothing’s change, we should now purposely breach the contract? Let’s be really bold and do it wilfully, so we can pay punitive damages. Wow, this just gets better and better.

        • Submitted by chuck holtman on 09/04/2013 - 05:33 pm.

          Calm down, Mr. Cage.

          First, what stadium opponents would like to change is for our elected officials to realize, if belatedly, what a betrayal of the public trust they have committed, whether the realization follows from the steady and uninterrupted accumulation of evidence of public risk and private benefit contrary to earlier assumptions that we have witnessed, or from an apparition that visits at night.

          Second, as a matter of law, breaching a contract does not subject a party to punitive damages. Whether to breach is a rational calculation for a contracting party to make within the framework of incentives and disincentives established by the contract.

        • Submitted by Steve Titterud on 09/04/2013 - 05:56 pm.

          Can you tell us, PRECISELY, what “contract” you speak of ?

          Jackson, It can’t possibly be the user and development agreements, they are still subject to dispute and negotiation, much less a final sign-off.

          What, exactly, is the “contract” you refer to that makes the state of MN or the city of Minneapolis currently obligated to the Vikings, even, you say, subject to a breach of contract ?

          You know, the “we strike a deal” assumption at the beginning of your comment above, and the “we…purposely breach the contract” continuation of the same assumption.

          I really don’t know what you mean here. Inform us.

  3. Submitted by Dennis Tester on 09/04/2013 - 08:46 am.

    “Minnesota should support more use of solar power”

    The reason democrats said “yes” and republicans said “no” is because the implication of “support” has historically been government mandates. Let the market decide.

    • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 09/04/2013 - 10:06 am.

      In that case . . .

      Why did 76% of Republicans support more use of solar power? That doesn’t sound like saying “no” to me.

    • Submitted by Jay Willemssen on 09/04/2013 - 10:54 am.

      76% said “yes”

      So, Republicans as a whole said “yes”, not “no”.

      A “free market” is a theoretical, idealized economic concept, not a reality.

    • Submitted by James Hamilton on 09/04/2013 - 11:04 am.

      Read more.

      The energy industry in the United States has received government support at least since the first electrical generation and distribution systems were built. We’ve granted the power of eminent domain, permitted the use of public rights of way, provided special tax advantages (e.g., the oil depletion allowance), directly subsidized construction (e.g., the Rural Electrification Adminsitration and TVA), funded the basic research and design for nuclear power generation and on and on, ad infinitum. 2011 subsidies, direct and indirect, have been estimated at more than $500 billion while solar and other non-traditional forms of energy generation are estimated to have received $80 billion. If fossil fuels and nuclear energy consumers paid all of the costs inherent in their use, alternative sources would be far more competetive than they are today, even without tax incentives.

      Government often funds research and development of new technologies and invests in the purchase of these technologies in order to permit operation at an economically viable scale. I see no reason why energy should be any different.

  4. Submitted by Jonathan Ecklund on 09/04/2013 - 10:03 am.

    76%

    Republicans said “YES” overwhelmingly. Let the people decide.

  5. Submitted by tim johnson on 09/04/2013 - 01:29 pm.

    braking wind

    “Minnesota currently has 13 megawatts of solar power installed through those utilities, Norton said. The new law will increase that total to 450 megawatts. ‘That’s good for the grid and good for Minnesota’s trade balance with other states.’ he said. … ”
    As in most discussions of solar and wind energy – including by those who know better – production CAPACITY often is confused with production itself.
    Wind and solar are fairly inefficient sources of energy; wind farms put out about 40 percent of their rated capacity – the pipe dream is 50 percent and it probably won’t get much better than that.
    So you can about halve the “production” numbers/estimates.
    Coal and gas sources run 85 percent to 95 percent of capacity; much more efficient.
    Wind and solar never are going to amount to much in providing energy to us all; we always will need fossil fuels or nukes to make sure we are cool or warm, as needed, when the days are cloudy and still, as they often can be for a week or more at a time.
    Even if we fill the country with windmills to tilt at, we still will need coal, gas and nukes; and then we also will all have the hum and shadows of living in a forest of tall turbines.
    Go spend a couple hours in or near a wind farm; see how cool it is…..
    Do some math: figure out how many years it would take a typical wind farm to produce enough energy for its own creation, including manufacturing the towers, blades, turbines, wire, transmission lines, buying or leasing the land, the construction costs, and the cost of backing up the “regular” power sources… it doesn’t pencil out….
    Ever heard of a windmill manufacturer using only wind energy to, say, make turbines, blades, towers? Or a solar panel company using solar power alone to make them?
    Wonder why?
    Using wind and solar energy instead of fossil fuels is, among other things, trading space – thousands of square miles of landscape, often called “the environment” – for the time distilled in fossil fuels and in a more nuanced way, in atoms.
    And remember, all the energy we have on this planet is solar, as far as we know; it’s just whether you want it raw or distilled.

  6. Submitted by tim johnson on 09/04/2013 - 11:37 pm.

    wind sucks and blows (just kidding)

    J. Willemssen: Your figures are off to the extent one must wonder….
    any nat. gas capacity factor of 24 percent is simply figuring a turbine that only works in a peal power system, i.e., not running much of the time….

    Wind turbines take up way more space than a quarter-acre; in practice, including the needed space between turbines to not get caught up in the “wake,” etc, reducing wind, (literally breaking wind) takes several acres, up to 32 or more acres, much more in some settings, per megawatt of capacity; figuring how much space is needed is very complicated, based on many factors that differ from place to place… and of course, some of the land within the needed space can still be used for its p revious use, such as farming or pasture…..but it’s clear you weren’t even including the roads and other “indirect” space needs when you install wind turbines in a “farm” ….; each turbine needs to be connnected with lots of wire to the system, too… ;

    and of course,you are assuming the vertical space taken up doesn’t count;; it does, you know… takes red blinking lights to warn aircraft, takes “lay down” space for towers; it takes really really deep holes and lots of cement to anchor the giant towers that are growing all the time, to 200 to 300 feet tall and more…; and it does kill lots of birds…. and no doubt upsets other wildlife with the rattle and hum and flickering shadows….if you think crude oil pumps disturb the landscape….
    go out and check out some, and compare with the noise and size and shadow of a wind turbine… oil pumps now are all electric and amazingly quiet;;; and remember; they are pumping out way more “megawatts” of power than a wind turbine,,, which is much more offensive, aesthetically…. o r, say, three or four of them are, than is one oil pump, it could be argued…
    Wind turbines are pretty intrusive….. many landowners like the money they get for the easements;;; many don’t think it’s worth it, if they live within a half mile of turbines…..
    again… with wind power you are spending lots of space to make up for the “time” distilled in fossil fuels;;;
    sure, we can argue over the “true cost” of such resources as oil, gas and coal….but it seems like cutting off our nose to spite our face to assess some giant tax on it just because it’s been there for millennia or centuries….;
    remember… any incrrease in the “cost” of petroleum will increase the cost of wind and solar energy, because of the all the plastics, etc, and other manufacturing that goes into wind turbines and solar panels….and trucking them to sites…. and all the plastic coating on all the extra wires needed to hook up all the low-output generators together into systems….
    so…
    plus, if you triple the number of wind turbines and solar panels, you are going to start changing the climate by removing all this sun and wind………. AAARRRRGGG

    https://www.wind-watch.org/faq-size.php

    • Submitted by Jay Willemssen on 09/05/2013 - 07:46 am.

      Wind Watch? Be serious. Deal with facts.

      “The ‘footprint’… is typically around 0.25 acres per turbine”

      http://www.nrel.gov/analysis/power_databook/calc_wind.php

      Point is, that’s the actual ground footprint, meaning, actual land used up. The rest is usable, which is both common sense and readily observable. Go out to SW Minnesota and see cattle and farming being done under the generators.

      As for capacity factor, that’s how it’s defined. You don’t get to pick and choose definitions as they suit you. Wind has a higher capacity factor than natural gas. The point is to illustrate that capacity factor is a meaningless metric compared across different fuels. It’s only relevant when tracking trends for a specific fuel. That’s why one focuses on the economics.

      The bird argument is also ridiculous. Typical anti-wind talking point. Many things kill way more birds than wind turbines, but yet somehow anti-wind people never seem to call for knocking down buildings, power lines, taking away motor vehicles and pesticides, and euthanizing all house cats. That’s because they don’t actually care about birds, just want something to bash wind power with.

      Before subsidies, wind is 20% cheaper than nuclear, 13% cheaper than coal. Fact. All the debunked talking points don’t change that, and investment is flowing accordingly.

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