The president of the division where I used to work had a simple, effective model for navigating through ethical and conflicts-of-interest decisions; let’s call these decisions “Suite Deals.” His rule was if Mike Wallace (I know he’s dead; my boss’ rule was applicable when he was alive!) or any reporter from “60 Minutes” catches you as you’re walking out of an elevator (or perhaps walking out of a Vikings stadium suite) and asks you about Suite Deals and your answer is “no comment” (or not making yourself or other beneficiaries available for questions), then you probably shouldn’t participate in the Suite Deals. I think Michele Kelm-Helgen, Ted Mondale and their Suite Deals friends (“Agency’s suite use draws state audit,” Dec. 1) would have received a failing grade to the “60 Minutes” test.
Mark Lasswell, Eagan
• • •
Use of the luxury suites is just the tip of the iceberg in terms of seating and access at the U.S. Bank Stadium. If anything is audited, it should be ticket scalping. The football stadium was paid largely by citizens, by taxpayers. Now, with inflated pricing for resold (scalped) tickets, taxpayers are paying twice to get in. Plus, inflated ticket prices encourage overbuying in the hopes of reselling, and other problems such as counterfeit tickets. The average citizen is left out, and priced out, of the game. Let’s set a date to end ticket scalping, and make it illegal again to sell for above the face value of a ticket.
Peter Berglund, St. Paul
• • •
Ever since it was reported that construction of the pedestrian bridge adjacent to U.S. Bank Stadium has a $1 million cost overrun, there has been criticism of the Metropolitan Council’s spending priorities. A Dec. 1 letter writer’s comments (“Let’s build a better kind of bridge”) tend to oversimplify the issue by suggesting the council could spend the $1 million on housing or meals for the homeless.
Advocating for the homeless is a worthy cause. However, those moneys are not allocated for that type of use, and to suggest they could or should be is taking things way out of context. And, to suggest the Met Council doesn’t blink at spending another $1 million for the pedestrian bridge is not accurate. There’s actually a lot of scrutiny going on due to the cost overrun, as there should be.
The price tag for the pedestrian bridge is definitely high, but to suggest that Minnesota Vikings fans, who pay $300 per ticket to see a game, can survive crossing the street is missing the point. Not only does the bridge provide a safe means of accessing the stadium, it also allows traffic to flow more efficiently in an area that is already heavily congested before and after stadium events. Besides the Vikings’ eight home games, there are two preseason games, as well as soccer events, state high school football playoff games and other uses of the stadium such as breast cancer fundraising events that belong in the cost/benefit equation.
Patrick Bloomfield, Chisholm, Minn.
• • •
On Thursday, our $1.1 billion stadium was in the spotlight for a national broadcast once again. I snapped my own photos of the place on my way to work, but I doubt these scenes will have ended up on TV. You see, someone in this PPP (public-private partnership) didn’t think to include security as part of the design. (I’m assuming that with all the private clubs around the exterior, it was the private parties that screwed up.) So, on game days, they erect a Guantanamo-style fence around the place. When our governor signed the bill authorizing public money, he called it the “people’s stadium.” He forgot to add the qualifier: rich. It’s clear to us “regular people,” who only see the place from the street during our commute to work on public transit, that this crystal gulag wasn’t designed for us.
Sam Catanzaro, Minneapolis
• • •
Gov. Mark Dayton appointed Michele Kelm-Helgen and Ted Mondale to head the Metropolitan Sports Facilities Authority, and it seems the MSFA can do as it pleases. The governor does not need to suddenly be disturbed by MSFA behavior (StarTribune.com, Dec. 1) — he is ultimately responsible for this arrogance and lack of transparency.
Meanwhile, the Met Council is trying to recover close to half a million from EVS of Eden Prairie, which, according to the council, made “costly errors in the bridge design.” The council employs dozens of construction “experts” earning more than $100,000. Those alleged errors should have been caught early on. Oh, and Met Council members, including Gary Cunningham, who was a suite attendee, are appointed by Dayton. Again, the governor needs to be held accountable.
Wayne Dokken, Robbinsdale
Is the glass half-empty?
I am stunned by the creative ways our Minnesota elected officials avoid actual work. Now the state Senate is seriously hung up over the critical matter of whether members can avoid spilling water at their desks (“Thirsting for change in Senate chambers,” Dec. 1). Don’t they have more important things to do at the Capitol? And this isn’t the first time the issue of allowing grown-ups to drink water at work has been debated on the Senate floor!
What could have been a mere footnote in an article about plans to make progress for our state during the upcoming legislative session consumed nearly 30 column inches in Thursday’s paper. What is more embarrassing for the people of Minnesota? That the state senators will go on record over such a trivial topic, or that the Star Tribune will cover it with a straight face? This could be the start of a new drinking game: Every time politicians avoid the task at hand, citizens take a drink — just don’t spill your water!
Suzanne Olson, Maple Grove
STATE CAPITOL ART
Here is some better context for the ‘Civil War paintings’ debate
Regarding “Civil War paintings spur war of words at State Capitol” (Nov. 30): The assertion that “[m]any of those veterans helped build the Capitol, which was completed in 1905” is not correct. The average age of a Civil War veteran of the Union Army was just under 26 years. Major construction of the Capitol got underway in 1898, when the statistically average veteran would have been at least 60, way too old for the hazardous and physically demanding construction work in that era before workers’ compensation. The six workers who were killed on the project ranged in age from late teens to early 30s.
In our research for the documentary film “Who Built Our Capitol?”, created by Randy Croce of the University of Minnesota Labor Education Service, we found no workers who were anywhere near that age, nor any who were identified as Civil War veterans. Further, most of them were immigrants or children of immigrants. John Rachac, the very senior chief carpenter on the project, was in his teens when his Bohemian immigrant family’s train was held up in Philadelphia for several days in July 1863 while the Battle of Gettysburg raged.
In their rush to wrap themselves in the flag of ostentatious patriotism, the obvious failure by the New Republicans (party of Trump, not Lincoln) to acknowledge what central issue the war was fought over — the extinction of human slavery imposed on 4 million African-Americans, is hardly accidental.
David Riehle, St. Paul
LETTERS TO THE EDITOR
Write to heart’s content; we’re all better for hearing your views
My greatest thanks to all who thoughtfully and caringly write to the Star Tribune with their thoughts and reactions to all and sundry. You make me laugh, cry and want to be better informed. You make me search out fact from fiction and look for the whole story. You care enough to write about just about everything, and even when I completely disagree, I become enriched by having access to so many points of view. Keep it comin’, folks!
Cath Regan, Shakopee