This weekend’s return of the Minnesota Orchestra is being followed by ears and eyes near and far … On the San Francisco Classical Voice blog, Mark MacNamara writes: “[T]he news from Lake Wobegon these days is good. The orchestra community has a future again and most musicians believe they won the battle against ‘Minnesota’s political and financial elite.’ The minimum base salary will fall to $96,284 this year, down from $111,566, but Minnesota remains among the nation’s top ten salaried orchestras. While musicians must pay more for health care, and did lose millions of dollars during the lockout, the settlement arrived in time to deflect the loss of unemployment benefits (from $400 to $600 a week) on Feb. 1, and the last of COBRA in March.”
At MPR, Euan Kerr says: “Orchestra Hall has new colors and seating, but the audience will find that its famed acoustics remain. Changes on stage have made it easier for musicians on either side of the platform to hear one another. Outside the hall, the lobby has doubled in size, with easier access, and far more restrooms. There will be open houses before concerts this weekend and next to let the public tour the hall. Marianne McKenna, chief design partner from KPMB Architects in Toronto, hopes visitors will appreciate the choreography of the hall and enjoy the ease of moving through the reconfigured building.”
So exactly how much do you love football? The AP reports: “Fifty yard-line season tickets in the new Minnesota Vikings stadium come with an upfront licensing fee of $4,500 to $9,500. A seat in the nosebleeds will set loyal fans back a $500 fee. That’s according to a new pricing structure the team and the public stadium authority announced Friday. Those one-time charges are on top of the annual price of buying a ticket. Stadium builder’s licenses average $2,500, but most run lower. Three-quarters of the stadium’s 65,000 seats will have a license fee attached.” If I spend more, does that give me more “nationwide recognition”?
At MPR, Tim Nelson says: “They also announced a financing plan in October: MSFA chairwoman Michele Kelm-Helgen said that buyers can pay for the seat licenses over three years without interest, and extend their payments with interest, over another five years. The sale is expected to take in $125 million , and net $100 million toward the construction of the stadium. That counts towards the Vikings share, you may remember.”
I guess this is what happens when you mess with a guy who knows a thing or two about fire. A Forum News Service story says: “The Dilworth City Council on Thursday fired the community’s longtime fire chief who has been charged with making threats against the council and city staff. Kurt Kennedy, 49, was charged in Clay County District Court in December with one felony count of making terroristic threats. He allegedly said the department ruined his life and he had a plan for revenge against several members of the department and City Council, at one point allegedly saying he was going to ‘burn everyone’s house on the Fire Department,’ according to court documents.”
Bloomberg Businessweek’s Tim Jones has a piece on our tax situation: “Washington’s nonprofit Tax Foundation, which studies policy, in a July 2013 analysis said Minnesota had the seventh-highest tax burden among U.S. states, which would ‘discourage productive behavior.’ It parodied the Land of 10,000 Lakes as ‘The Land of 10,000 Taxes.’ But if the increases and spending have hurt, it’s not evident. Minnesota has the nation’s seventh-lowest unemployment rate, a figure that has dropped steadily to 4.6 percent in December, compared with 6.7 percent nationwide. Moody’s Investors Service cited ‘strong financial management’ in an October report, and said the state’s diverse and stable economy is ‘expected to out-perform the nation over the long-term.’ ” Those Bloomberg hippies wouldn’t know “ruinous” if it bit ’em in the butt of their Armani jeans.
After the Target data breach, another warning about debit cards. In the Washington Post, Danielle Douglas says: “Not all of the 40 million Target customers who had their debit and credit card numbers stolen during the holidays can rest easy about their liability for fraudulent charges, Ed Mierzwinski of the U.S. Public Interest Research Group pointed out to lawmakers. ‘The zero-liability promise the banks make is just a promise; it’s not the law,’ he told the Senate Banking Committee. ‘All plastic should be equal.’ But it’s not.” Are mom-and-pop retailers less susceptible than giant chains?
So … clever … Stribber Rachel Stassen-Berger tells us: “The National Republican Congressional Committee has created a website that looks, at first glance, designed to support Democratic U.S. Rep. Collin Peterson. The site … says in large letters ‘Collin Peterson for Congress’ and invites people to sign up and donate. But in smaller type it says, ‘Washington is broken, and Collin Peterson is part of the problem’ and if visitors click the ‘donate’ button the site will take them to a NRCC website.” Petty fraud would be one example of a “broken Congress,” right?
This could get popular … fast. Dan Kraker of MPR writes: “A group of Duluth cyclists is 35 miles along on its ambitious quest to build a 100-mile single-track mountain bike trail across the city called the Duluth Traverse.”