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10 DFLers want purge of Orchestra leaders

A few DFL legislators have had it with the Orchestra’s management Graydon Royce of the Strib says: “Ten DFL legislators have sent a letter to the Minnesota Orchestral Association board of directors, saying the current administration is ‘destroying the Minnesota Orchestra’ and calling for the resignations of CEO Michael Henson, chairman Jon Campbell and past chair Richard Davis. … The letter accuses orchestra leaders of manipulating financial results ‘in a deliberate deception of the public.’ In addition to calling for the resignations, the letter urges the board to immediately end the lockout and resume contract negotiations.”

Minneapolis City Council member Don Samuels may get his $9,000 back … Brandt Williams’ MPR story says: “Minneapolis City Council member Don Samuels said the U.S. Justice Department investigated his ties to a non-profit group headed by his wife. FBI agents, Samuels said Tuesday, interviewed him for several hours in January, asking him if he used his influence as a council member to secure city funds for the Peace Foundation. The U.S. Justice Department dropped the investigation shortly after the interview, he added. … Samuels hired an attorney, which cost him about $9,000. The city attorney’s office has recommended the Council reimburse Samuels for that cost.” Does the Justice Department have anything new on any of those AIG execs?

The AP’s Patrick Condon reports: “Minnesota’s local jails are badly overburdened by mentally ill inmates who don’t have access to the kind of treatment they need, law enforcement officials said Tuesday. The state Senate’s Judiciary Committee held a hearing Tuesday on mental health issues facing both the state Corrections Department and county jails. State Sen. Barb Goodwin, who chaired the hearing, said Minnesota, many other U.S. states and the federal government have ‘dropped the ball’ in providing consistent mental health care for the indigent. … Hennepin County Sheriff Rich Stanek estimated that 25 to 30 percent of inmates in Hennepin County — the state’s largest county jail system — are suffering from some form of mental illness at any given time.”

The Dan McGrath of Take Action Minnesota has a few ideas for what to do with the budget surplus … In a Strib commentary, he says: “The tax plan passed in 2013, even with this surplus, restores only about half of what the state lost in the Pawlenty years. It returns the state to the revenue levels of the mid-2000s. That’s it. … before we consider rolling back corporate taxes, we ought to ask ourselves what our shared priorities are. There are at least 10 things we ought to invest in before corporate tax cuts are on the table. We could use $825 million to:
• Increase K-12 funding to reduce class size.
• Reverse health care cuts.
• Create jobs by increasing next year’s bonding bill.”

Today’s archdiocese legal news … Madeleine Baran of MPR reports: “A Ramsey County judge has allowed to go forward a lawsuit that alleges the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis created a public nuisance by failing to disclose information about priests accused of sexually abusing minors. In an order today (posted below), Ramsey County District Judge John Van de North denied a motion by the archdiocese to dismiss the public nuisance claim. … [attorney Jeff Anderson] said he will next seek to question Archbishop John Nienstedt and other top Catholic Church officials under oath.” Would Jesus take the Fifth? 

Keep on rockin’ … for another day. Chris Riemenschneider of the Strib says: “Consistently one of the hottest concert tickets each summer in the Twin Cities, Rock the Garden could be two of the hottest tickets next year. The annual rock ’n’ roll bash outside Walker Art Center will expand from a one-day affair to a two-day party in 2014, scheduled June 21-22 (a Saturday and Sunday). That could mean twice as many bands, and more profits for the nonprofit organizations that put it together. Staged near the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden on a hillside overlooking the downtown skyline, Rock the Garden was devised in 1998 as a way to drive up membership and raise funds and awareness for the Walker. … Rock the Garden netted the Walker about $186,000 in 2012, according to a museum spokesperson.”

If you live in Minneapolis, you will be taxed … to replace trees. Stribber Bill McAuliffe writes: “Armed with a just-approved tax levy specifically designed to blunt the impact of the deadly emerald ash borer, foresters will remove 3,000 ash from city boulevards, parks and golf courses in 2014, and possibly up to 5,000 for each of the following seven years. About 20 percent of all Minneapolis trees are ash. … The levy backing up the canopy replacement plan will kick in Jan. 1 and generate about $1.1 million per year. It will cost the owner of an average-value home $8 each year … .” That they could have used on pulltabs …

Former Gov. Arne Carlson’s antennae are up in reaction to the funding scheme for the big Downtown East project. On his blog, he says: “The reality is that the inner financial arrangements between the city, the state, the Vikings, the developer, and the Minnesota Sports Facility Authority (MSFA) are far more complicated than any Rube Goldberg device. For instance, the financial report submitted to the City Council on December 5, 2013 outlines that the MSFA will pay $17.9 million towards a parking ramp with the City paying $32.6 million. The developer will be responsible for bond payments for 10 years but possibly longer if certain revenue targets are not met. However, ownership will reside with the MSFA with the City retaining development rights. This raises a host of legal and practical issues. For instance, can a city bond for the development of property it does not own? Who is liable for the ramp debt if the developer defaults? How did a financially minority participant gain ownership?”

Let’s see what that baby can do … The St. Cloud Times says: “The federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission has approved Xcel Energy’s request to increase the output of its Monticello nuclear plant by 12 percent. In the next month, plant operators will begin slowly increasing power at the plant, according to a news release from Xcel. The utility also is awaiting an NRC decision next spring that would allow it more flexibility before the plant starts producing a full 671 megawatts. The five-year effort to upgrade the Monticello plant was completed earlier this year. The final cost was $665 million, more than double original estimates.”

Comments (6)

  1. Submitted by Hiram Foster on 12/11/2013 - 07:42 am.

    DFL letter

    The Strib article is an example of how newspaper types bring a print view of the world to the internet. Do you notice, there is no link to the letter? That’s because newspapers don’t have computer links, and no one at the Strib in this particular instance, is giving any thought to how the story appears online.

    • Submitted by Robert Owen on 12/11/2013 - 03:18 pm.

      There is a link

      To the very right of the story is a section labeled “related content.” Immediately under that is a link to “Legislators’ letter to orchestra board.” I’ll agree that the link wasn’t in the story but it was on the same web page right next to that story.

  2. Submitted by Greg Kapphahn on 12/11/2013 - 10:24 am.

    It Has Long Been Abundantly Clear

    to even the most casual observer,…

    that under its current leadership, the Minnesota Orchestra Association’s agenda does NOT include preserving a world class orchestra, nor providing excellent service to the concert-going public, nor in straightforwardly and honestly seeking to raise the funding necessary to accomplish those ends.

    These people don’t want to bother with fundraising. They want to make money on investing the orchestra’s endowment (which, of course, meant that the endowment was considerably damaged by the downturn of 2008).

    Then they decided that to cover their backsides and keep hidden their pathetically bad management of the orchestra’s financial resources, they would seek funding for a shiny new upgrade on orchestra hall as a smokescreen behind which they hoped to hide,…

    while they dismantled the orchestra because they absolutely detest uppity workers who, through worker organizations, claim the right to seek compensation over and above the pittance their “betters” (management) want to pay them.

    It’s time to clean house at the MOA board and management.

  3. Submitted by Hiram Foster on 12/11/2013 - 12:02 pm.

    Bad people

    I really don’t think the people calling the shots at the MOA are bad people. They are doing what they feel is best for the orchestra according to the way they see things. They aren’t in it for the money.

    • Submitted by Amy Adams on 12/11/2013 - 03:25 pm.

      Well, that should draw a lot of counter-argument, Hiram.

      If that’s your goal, well done, I guess.
      “They aren’t in it for the money”…holy cow. Then what are they in it for? The prestige of destroying an institution?

  4. Submitted by Michael Wunsch on 12/11/2013 - 01:36 pm.

    … and the road to hell is paved with good intentions

    Hiram, I would agree with you that the people at the helm of the MOA are not bad people, but that doesn’t mean that their actions aren’t causing the destruction of one of the country’s greatest orchestras. The road to hell in this case is indeed paved with good intentions.

    I would urge to pause just a minute and ask yourself if the MOA under its current leadership is really an organization that inspires people to donate; at this point, most dedicated patrons want nothing to do with the organization as it is currently managed. Michael Henson and the senior members of the board continue sending out disingenuous PR spin that is blatantly misleading, and they have no apparent vision except for the production of pops programming and the cutting of labor (but not management) salaries. They have clearly miscalculated the intelligence of their audience.

    FYI, the full letter from the leglislators can be found in the MPR article on this subject:

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