Thursday, December 01, 2016

Pigs in the dining room

A week later, in the afternoon, a number of dogcarts drove up to the farm. A deputation of neighbouring farmers had been invited to make a tour of inspection. They were shown all over the farm, and expressed great admiration for everything they saw, especially the windmill. The animals were weeding the turnip field. They worked diligently, hardly raising their faces from the ground, and not knowing whether to be more frightened of the pigs or of the human visitors.

That evening loud laughter and bursts of singing came from the farmhouse. And suddenly, at the sound of the mingled voices, the animals were stricken with curiosity. What could be happening in there, now that for the first time animals and human beings were meeting on terms of equality? With one accord they began to creep as quietly as possible into the farmhouse garden.

At the gate they paused, half frightened to go on but Clover led the way in. They tiptoed up to the house, and such animals as were tall enough peered in at the dining-room window. There, round the long table, sat half a dozen farmers and half a dozen of the more eminent pigs, Napoleon himself occupying the seat of honour at the head of the table. The pigs appeared completely at ease in their chairs The company had been enjoying a game of cards but had broken off for the moment, evidently in order to drink a toast. A large jug was circulating, and the mugs were being refilled with beer. No one noticed the wondering faces of the animals that gazed in at the window.
-- George Orwell, "Animal Farm"

Now I know why Gov. Dayton said the U.S. Bank stadium would be known as “the people’s stadium.” 
It’s because the big-shot DFLers who have been given access to some of the best seats in two exclusive suites in the Vikings Magnificent Palace are, technically, people.

Calling it “The Special People’s Stadium” just didn’t have the proper populist ring to it.

Those seats, in the rarefied and inebriated air along the 20-yard line, were essentially free to a cabal of party loyalists, until Star Tribune reporter Rochelle Olson called to ask about them.

Sultans of Swag Michele Kelm-Helgen and Ted Mondale then scrambled to collect checks from public officials who took advantage of the chance to watch mediocre football in the house that taxpayers bought. That must have been awkward. The DFL insiders came for the “free lunch” and ended up buying the timeshare.

Still, it was a heck of a deal. The Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority (MSFA) honchos retroactively determined those tickets were worth $132 apiece, and added $68 for food, for a total of $200. The public officials, all DFLers from what I can tell, dug deep for the dough and all was well.

Nice try. If you are not a DFL insider, just try to buy seats anywhere near those boxes for $132 for Thursday’s game against Dallas. The cheapest I found in the entire stadium were for $195, and those closer to the party’s party box were much higher. That didn’t include food or VIP parking.
-- Jon Tevlin, Star Tribune, November 29

The best person in Minnesota government, Legislative Auditor Jim Nobles, has noticed the faces in the window:
The state's top auditor said he's opened a "priority" investigation into the Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority's control of two prime luxury suites in U.S. Bank Stadium. Separately, the state senator who sponsored the bill authorizing the stadium said she's "disgusted" by the lack of transparency by the authority over who uses the suites at Vikings games and other events.

Legislative Auditor Jim Nobles said Wednesday that he had begun an inquiry into the MSFA's "control and use of suites in the U.S. Bank Stadium."

The nonpartisan office conducts routine audits on the financial activities of state agencies and boards and investigates potential wrongdoing.
You don't want to be in the crosshairs of Jim Nobles. So who has been using the suites?
Kelm-Helgen and Mondale said they and the four MSFA commissioners use the suites to host potential clients who are looking to rent all or portions of the stadium, which opened in August. Last week, they released the identities of 12 current and former public officials who reimbursed the authority $200 for their tickets to the suite.

In the past two weeks, reimbursement checks were deposited from Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges and her husband, Gary Cunningham, city attorney Susan Segal and her husband, Minnesota Management and Budget Commissioner Myron Frans (who attended two games and deposited a total of $800) and City Council Member Jacob Frey, who said he was there to talk to X Games officials and doesn't even like football.
Any time of the year, don't you hear? Spendin' cash, talkin' trash
I'll show you a real good time, come on with me, leave your troubles behind
I don't care where you've been, you ain't been nowhere til you've been in
With the in crowd, with the in crowd, in crowd!

Twelve voices were shouting in anger, and they were all alike. No question, now, what had happened to the faces of the pigs. The creatures outside looked from pig to man, and from man to pig, and from pig to man again; but already it was impossible to say which was which.

And that's why Jim Nobles is on the case.

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