5 x 8: Business the Zygi way

1) HOW ZYGI OPERATED

Nothing is really working out very well in the state’s partnership with the Minnesota Vikings over a new stadium, at least from the perspective of the state. The method of paying for the state’s share of the new stadium — electronic gaming — has been a bust.

It probably wouldn’t have made much difference in the political debate, but a 21-year-old civil lawsuit that Vikings owner Zygi Wilf was involved rarely came up — if it ever came up at all. It’s significant because it involves other business partners who got involved with Wilf.

Yesterday, a judge in New Jersey found Wilf guilty of racketeering in the civil suit. Consider this Newark Star Ledger passage that describes the actions of Minnesota’s business partner in the stadium deal:

The Wilfs’ business partners claimed family members systematically cheated them out of their fair share of revenues from Rachel Gardens, a 764-unit apartment complex in Montville, by running what amounted to “organized-crime-type activities” in their bookkeeping practices that gave the Wilfs a disproportionate share of the income.

(Judge Deanne) Wilson found that Zygmunt Wilf, along with his brother, Mark, and their cousin, Leonard, committed fraud, breach of contract and breach of fiduciary duty and also violated the state’s civil racketeering statute, or RICO.

The partners, Ada Reichmann of Toronto and her brother, Josef Halpern of Brooklyn, the longtime former on-site manager at Rachel Gardens, are entitled to compensatory damages, punitive damages, triple damages under the RICO statute, a redistribution of revenues dating to 1992 and reimbursement for their attorneys’ fees, Wilson said.

“The bad faith and evil motive were demonstrated in the testimony of Zygi Wilf himself,” Wilson said.

Wilf’s “candid and credible” testimony detailed how he felt Reichmann got “too good a deal,” and he “reneged” on the arrangement initiated by his uncle, Harry Wilf, back in the 1980s, when construction began on Rachel Gardens, Wilson said.

All of this should provide a solution to the state’s bad stadium deal, Star Tribune columnist Patrick Reusse argues today: Renege on it.

The governor and most Legislators know by now that in the stadium arrangement the Wilfs received “too good a deal.”

And now this could be an option,right out of Zygi’s playbook: renege on the first deal, change the terms, and battle in court for the next two decades.

2) AARON’S LAST WISH IN NORTH DAKOTA

Seth Collins has surprised another restaurant server. He’s traveling the country, giving huge tips to servers, which was the last wish of his brother. He’s stopped in Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa, and now North Dakota, surprising a server in Fargo. Collins got the perfect reaction.

3) SUPPORTING THE TROOPS

The number of veterans who show up for this week’s 21st annual Metro Area Veterans StandDown at Fort Snelling is expected to eclipse last year’s 900 by the time it ends later today.

Veterans can get free blankets, duffel bags, sleeping bags, legal advice, food, and a haircut.

Half of the veterans showing up this week are homeless, the Pioneer Press reports.

“Veterans risk their life for their country so your country can at least try and help you out when you’re beat up and broke up and banged up,” said one veteran, now sober but also homeless.

Related: After 68 years, former Packer and veteran to get war medals (Duluth News Tribune)

4) THE TITANIC VIOLIN DEBATE

What would lead a Benson, Minn., man to take a perfectly fine violin and submerge it in a barrel of salt water? Ken Amundson did it to find out whether the violin of the Titanic’s bandmaster really could’ve survived 20 days in the water, strapped to the musician’s body, the West Central Tribune says.

That violin is about to be auctioned off and not everyone is buying the story.

5) CHASING DREAMS

Another explorer is launching a canoe trip down the Mississippi. Dean Jacobs of Fremont, Neb., launched from Itasca State Park yesterday, the Bemidji Pioneer says, with the intention of reaching New Orleans and stopping along the way to give young people a message: Don’t let “fear stop you from doing what you want to do.”

Jacobs reportedly quit a high-paying job with a pharmaceutical company years ago because he wanted to see the world while he could.

He’s blogging about the trip — and currently the nicenessof Minnesota — here.

Bonus I: The sun’s magnetic field is about to flip.

Bonus II: We can learn a lot about the way otherwise professional media treated this video yesterday of a marriage proposal at a  minor league baseball park in New Britain, Conn., home of the the Minnesota Twins AA affiliate New Britain Rock Cats.  It was repeated as real by news organizations that never bothered to check to see if it was a promotional stunt, which it obviously was.

http://youtu.be/gI3_lYftijg

“As soon as we got that crowd reaction we thought it might be a good experiment online,” the team’s PR mastermind has acknowledged. “It started to ask the question what does people think about public proposals. It split down the middle as to whether or not to propose in public.”

Lesson: It’s time to be more skeptical about the things newspeople tell you.

Bonus III: How Spring Break Changed My Life : The Picture Show (NPR)

Bonus IV: The last moderate: Dale Schultz might be on his way out of the Wisconsin Senate (Capitol Times).

TODAY’S QUESTION
Are domestic tracking programs critical to security?

WHAT WE’RE DOING

Posting will be light here today. I’ll be in Buffalo, MN., as part of the You Should Meet project.

Daily Circuit (9-12 p.m.) – First hour: The arguments against college.

Second hour: Retired foreign service officer William Davnie, who served in more than a dozen countries over a nearly 30 year diplomatic career, has firsthand experience of embassy closures and evacuations. He’ll speak with Tom Weber about the tension an embassy closure creates with the host country.

Third hour: Guitarist Albert Lee.

MPR News Presents (12-1 pm): From the Aspen Ideas Festival: “The Future of News: Is it the End of Journalism as We Know It?” Ezra Klein, Kurt Andersen, Alexis Ohanian & Alexis Madrigal.

The Takeaway (1-2 p.m.) – Critics: Texas Abortion Law Hurts Poor, Latina Women | Yankees’ A-Rod, 12 Other Players Receive MLB Suspensions | Trial Begins for Fort Hood Army Base Shooting

All Things Considered (3-6:30 p.m.) - Patty Stonesifer spent a decade running the Gates Foundation, one of the worlds largest philanthropies. Now, she runs a small, local non-profit that serves the poor. The change in jobs baffled her friends. Stonesifer talks to NPR about her long career and why she gave up the big paycheck.

  • corrie patrick

    excellent 5×8 today! and thank you for keeping us updated on Aaron’s last wish….

  • Starquest

    Wow, a stadium deal working out poorly for the taxpayers and great for the owner?

    Pull the other one!

  • kennedy

    Re #1: The numbers were fudged to convince voters that the stadium was a good deal. Anyone who is surprised now wasn’t paying attention then. Elected officials that promoted the deal are either deceitful or ignorant.

    • MikeB

      And media members (sports columnists, sports talk radio) who trolled in the willful ignorance about the financial benefits and public policy impacts of a new stadium. Ciriticize the quarterback all you want – any attention on the team is good – but fall in the line when it really matters (when a one sided stadium deal is needed).
      All they did was just put dollars in the Wilfs’ pockets.