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Wilf lawyers fighting to keep finances from the public

Stadium Plaza squabble continues; county seeks Southwest Corridor consultants; how Minnesota students stack up worldwide; Orchestra seems prepared to lose Vänskä; Choosatron a crowd-funding favorite; and more.

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.”

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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.”