The latest reminder that there is the world that you and the rest of us call home, and then there is the lofty, utopian existence enjoyed by the beautiful people who breathe air from a more pure, higher stratosphere came courtesy of the Minneapolis Star Tribune.

    The latest reminder that there is the world that you and the rest of us call home, and then there is the lofty, utopian existence enjoyed by the beautiful people who breathe air from a more pure, higher stratosphere came courtesy of the Minneapolis Star Tribune.

    We should thank them for their efforts, which continue today, as they dig deeper into the dirty little secret that was/is the two luxury suites set aside by the five-member Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority (MSFA) at the gorgeous, $1.1 billion, taxpayer-funded U.S. Bank Stadium – suites that they’ve used to entertain DFL big shots as well as their friends and family, free of charge, at every Minnesota Vikings football game played in the new stadium this season.

    When Star Tribune reporter Rochelle Olson started pressing for the release of the names of the people who have had so much free-of-charge fun in the luxury suites this season, she was first told that their identities weren’t public information. When that notion was debunked in rather rapid fashion, it was almost tragically comic how fast Michele Kelm-Helgen and Ted Mondale – the MSFA’s chair and executive director, respectively – sprung into action by tracking down the family, friends and cronies who’d been in the suites during Vikings games this season and telling them they needed to pony up $200 for each game they’d attended.

    First off, $200 for the premium parking, the time in the suite and all of the free snacks and booze you can drink is an enormous bargain. How that dollar amount was arrived at is suspect, to say the least. Second, how Kelm-Helgen and Mondale have managed to convince the powers that be that they should both remain employed and handsomely paid for essentially doing the same job is nothing less than a great train robbery.

    But let others hash all that out. Let’s get back to how this cozy, uppity little arrangement reeks to high heaven, and it’s hard to know what deed is actually more dastardly: That this sweet suite deal exists at all, or that the Star-Tribune’s efforts to get some basic information on the suite arrangement were initially rebuffed by the MSFA and other big-wigs on paper-thin grounds, leaving the newspaper no other alternative but to have its photographers zoom in on the two suites during games and take photos of those enjoying the high life.

    Apparently, the old Metrodome had three “club rooms” set aside for similar “marketing” purposes. Big deal. As the Strib stated in a recent editorial, the “we’ve always done it this way” excuse doesn’t fly. Were attempts made back in the Dome’s days to keep the names of the people in the club rooms secret, too? Mondale and Kelm-Helgen need to look in the nearest mirror and ask themselves why they wanted the names of the people enjoying Vikings games in the new stadium’s suites for free kept under wraps. It looks like they’re trying to hide something, and rarely does anyone ever try to hide something that they’re proud of, or that they think is right and good and entirely on the up and up.

    Kelm-Helgen’s explanation, which included the statement that the free use of the two suites at Vikings games is a way to show the attendees that she and Mondale “know what we’re doing” comes across as insulting, condescending and embarrassing.

    The entirety of this story is far from being told. Legislators have been alerted, and obviously they want to look good in the eyes of their constituents, so the larger topics of free stadium suites and schmoozing and political favors and secrecy and all that juicy stuff are certain to be discussed further.

    Thanks to the Star Tribune’s efforts.