Another Hearing and a Lockout Flier

It seems you can’t swing a dead cat these days without hitting yet another politician looking into the Minnesota Orchestral Association. Here’s the latest…

On Tuesday February 12 at 2:15pm, there will be a committee meeting discussing Minnesota Legacy funding in Room 5 of the State Office Building in St. Paul. The Minnesota Orchestra and the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra will be subjects of discussion. Representatives from both sides of the Minnesota Orchestra labor dispute (including Mr. Henson) have been asked to speak. Community voices such as Orchestrate Excellence will also be present. The public is welcome to attend. The Legacy Committee is chaired by Rep. Phyllis Kahn, who, as you may remember, was the first lawmaker to sound the alarm over the Minnesota Orchestral Association’s behavior toward musicians and taxpayers back in early December. It’s worth re-reading her editorial to get a vibe for where she stands on this issue. Needless to say, it ought to be one of the more gripping Legacy committee meetings in recent memory.

If I were you, I’d thank the representatives for showing an interest in this cultural and economic catastrophe. The lawmakers who are on the Legacy committee are:

  • Phyllis Kahn
  • Leon Lillie
  • Dean Urdahl
  • Mike Freiberg
  • Steve Green
  • Alice Hausman
  • Joe McDonald
  • Mary Murphy
  • Paul Torkelson
  • Jean Wagenius
  • John Ward
  • Anna Wills

Click here to go to a page with their contact information.

You may also want to pass along a link to this blog if you have found it helpful in understanding the conflict. (Especially if you’re in Minnesota; Minnesotans’ emails are read more quickly than Wisconsinites.)

Since the representatives’ time to study up on this ridiculously complicated topic is extremely limited, you may want to share a link to this flier I made a few weeks ago. Use it whenever, wherever. Post it on Facebook; hand it out to friends; keep a couple in your purse. No attribution is necessary. Feel free to alter it to reflect your personal concerns… If, say, the impact of the lockout on education resonates more strongly with you than something else already on the flier, then change it. Insert an email address or phone number if you would like to establish personal contact with whoever you pass it out to. Of course this is only a very brief summary, and a lot of important points are left out, but it’s a bit difficult to cram a years-long labor dispute into two pages.

Here’s a direct link.

Also, the citizens’ group Orchestrate Excellence has a status update on Facebook right now:

“Orchestrate Excellence has been invited to testify before the Legacy Committee of the House of Representatives this Tuesday, February 12th. We are pleased and honored to be your voice – the voice of the community – during this difficult time.

We will continue to share our research into the effects of the lockout with legislators and civic leaders, but we also want to know what you think. What are your ideas for positive ways the entire community can move to resolve the lockout?”

What ideas do you have?

I shared my three biggest ones in my Minnesota Public Radio commentary: “Minnesota Orchestra’s ‘fresh start’ needs to go beyond talks with musicians.” Those were:

  1. Release the entire 2012-2015 Strategic Plan to public scrutiny.
  2. Require Minnesota Orchestra CEO Michael Henson, Wells Fargo Vice President and MOA Board Chair Jon Campbell, and US Bancorp CEO and Immediate Past Chair Richard Davis to participate in multiple in-depth interviews about their plans and intentions for the Minnesota Orchestra.
  3. Hold a series of meetings with the public: a listening tour, if you will.

I’ve got plenty more ideas, too – believe you me – but these three things won’t cost a single dime. The only thing keeping the Minnesota Orchestral Association from doing them is fear that they’ll come across as utter incompetents. However, they really ought not worry, because they’ve already secured that reputation…and not just in Minneapolis, but around the world. Them worrying about coming across badly is a bit like worrying about a sprinkler getting you wet after you’ve fallen into a pool.

So. What are your ideas to help end the lockout? If you were in charge, what you do to fix the Minnesota Orchestra’s innumerable and seemingly intractable problems? Unlike the Minnesota Orchestral Association, I want your input…and so does Orchestrate Excellence.

Anyway. This is quite the turn of events, isn’t it? If you’ll excuse me, I hear some popcorn popping…


Filed under Labor Disputes, Minnesota Orchestra

4 responses to “Another Hearing and a Lockout Flier

  1. Ann K. Smith

    Recently you asked if it was time for the Attorney General to step in. I worked for a number of years with a non-profit housing development corporation utilizing public funds and federal subsidy funding. If I had misrepresented our fiscal condition in order to get approval for funding I would have been guilty of fraud. How is it different for the Orchestra’s Management?.

    • Anon

      It’s not Ann. They have members sitting on other corporations’ boards though. Those other corporations operate in and around Minnesota and pay taxes there. That tax revenue and interconnected power stays all but the most courageous of politicians’ wills to act against it.

      At least when the initial drum beats of discontent sound.

      You see, tax revenue may pay the politicians’ salaries, but tax payers’ votes get them their jobs to begin with.

      Management may be able to influence peddle behind the scenes (and avoid political-legal oversight) through suggestions of leaving the area if they aren’t taken care of and thus removing corporate tax revenue from the gov’ts purse; and they can court public opinion with highly paid public relations firms; but they can’t cheat the people out of their power to correct their corruptive influences using the ballot box and public outcries for politicians to do the right thing.

      And that’s where Lark comes in, on her drum.

    • Sarah

      The difference is – corporate types think they can get away with it. Most of the time, they can and do.

    • Edward Richardson

      The issue is the legal definition of fraud. Most jurisdictions require essentially 9 things to be proven to have occurred for the action to be termed “fraud” in the criminal or civil violation sense. The party that is accused of fraud must:

      1. make a representation of a fact–in this case the facts on record are 2 years of balanced budget followed by 2 years of deficits
      2. is the fact material to the end result, does the fact aid in the exchange of goods or services–the budget numbers before the legislature were considered material to receiving state $$
      3. is the fact false–this is the crux of the issue. The previous 2 budgets were balanced and the 2 budgets following were deficits. I’m sure there are smarter people than I who can really explain why those statements, while misleading, are not false in the legal sense of fraud
      4. the party declaring the fact must be aware of its falsity
      5. the party must intend the other party to act on that fact–another issue, since you would have to show that the ONLY reason state money was given was because of the budget facts presented, difficult at best
      6. the receiving party must be ignorant of the falsity
      7. the receiving party must rely on the fact being true–again, did the legislature rely ONLY on the budgets to give a grant of $$
      8. the receiving party must also have a right to rely on the fact–this one is not really applicable because the fact was given voluntarily and not a part of confidential information, budget documentation for a non-profit being a public record. Comments by the board in minutes is a privileged communication the the Association released after the fact.
      9. the receiving party must also be damaged by the fact–and this is the final difficult hurdle. The legislature did not suffer damages due to the nature of the funding. If the Association used the state $$ to pay for a private jet for management, the state was damaged by the testimony that lead to the grant of $$. But the Association has theoretically used the money for a building, something that the state actually will benefit from when the construction is completed and somebody–anybody–uses it.

      These are very intelligent people who determine large scale strategy. This was no different than GoldmanSachs asking for TARP money, Chrysler asking for federal $$, standard S&L bailouts, the Wild/Twins/Timberwolves/Vikings asking for stadium $$, or any other situation where a party asks a governmental entity for taxpayer dollars.

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