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FBI investigating U athletics ticketing scam

Plus: attorney general comes out against proposed Minnesota Power rate hike; former Taco Bell manager-in-training claims he was fired for reporting health concerns; Alexandria couple makes it big on social media; and more.

A ticket scam at the U, and we’re not talking about the “convenience fee.” The Pioneer Press’s Josh Verges reports: “The FBI is investigating what the University of Minnesota calls a sophisticated fraud in its athletics ticketing office. … Soon after an internal audit uncovered discrepancies in ticketing transaction records, the university on Feb. 4 fired Brent Holck, its assistant athletic director of sales and services. … ‘Audit initiated an investigation into the matter that revealed a sophisticated scheme where tickets reported as unused and not paid for were, in fact, distributed and used. These discrepancies dated back to 2011,’ athletics director Mark Coyle said in a written statement Friday.”

No love for northern Minnesota electric rate hike. The Duluth News Tribune’s John Myers reports: “For the second time in as many days, a state agency has weighed in loudly against Minnesota Power’s proposal to raise its customers’ electric bills. … Minnesota Attorney General Lori Swanson on Friday blasted the Duluth-based utility’s request for a rate hike that is now being considered by the state Public Utilities Commision. … ‘Many families in the region continue to be financially squeezed and cannot afford an increase to their utility bills. It is particularly galling that the company seeks to disproportionately raise rates on families at a rate more than triple what it’s seeking for its large power customers,’ Swanson said in a statement.”

Gross. City Pages’ Susan Du reports: “At 58, William Bisek decided that he wanted to run his own Taco Bell. He had experience in restaurants, owning pubs in Centerville and Fridley for more than two decades, which left him with an outsized concern for food safety. … In January he was hired by Border Foods — a New Hope Taco Bell franchisee with more than 50 restaurants in Minnesota — as a manager-in-training at the Columbia Heights location. … Soon, he began to notice food safety problems, according to a whistleblower lawsuit Bisek filed against Border Foods. These included mold growing in the water supply tank, mold covering the soda dispensing spouts that was ‘green, gooey, with a foul odor and clearly contaminating the beverages,’ expired meat and tortillas served to customers, and the storing of a toilet brush and plunger ‘often dripping with used tissue paper and toilet water’ near the front register, where customers placed their orders.”

Alexandrians kind of a big deal on the internet. The Echo Press’ Beth Leipholtz writes: “Alexandria couple Hailey Kneprath, a photographer, and Bryce Miller, a videographer, have about 137,000 people keeping tabs on what they do every day. … These followers come through various forms of social media: 100,000 followers on Kneprath’s Instagram, 22,000 on Miller’s Instagram and 15,000 on the couple’s YouTube channel. Gaining such a following wasn’t something the two planned. In fact, the growing number of people invested in their social media posts continues to shock them.”

In other news…

Regulation on the way for St. Paul Airbnbers? “Short-Term Rental Regulations Go Before St. Paul Planning Commission” [KSTP]

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It could work: “University of St. Thomas names dean for new, lower-cost college” [Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal]

Update: “In reversal, Al Franken won’t appear with Kathy Griffin in July to pitch his new book” [Star Tribune]

Remember pink slime? “ABC News Braces for $5.7 Billion ‘Pink Slime’ Trial in the Heart of Trump Country” [Hollywood Reporter]

The poorly named “Lone Tree Island,” to be precise: “You can buy this crazy island on Prior Lake” [City Pages]