Allied Charities of Minnesota

News

  • 12 Jan 2017 14:29 | Allen Lund (Administrator)

    Here is the House and Senate versions of the charitable gaming tax relief bill for the 2017 legislative session.

    HF0226.0.pdf

    2017SF0419.pdf

    We have our House file number and the Senate file number for the Community Vitality Investment Act. It is HF226.  This bill is a matter of fairness and common sense. It makes our donations exempt from the state gambling tax, giving us more to invest in our missions and our communities. 

    Contact your Representative and ask them to sign onto the bill.  In the House every Representative can sign onto a bill.  Contact your Senator and and ask them to support the bill.  In the Senate only six Senators can sign on to a bill.  ACM will cover that.  You can find out who represents you at http://www.gis.leg.mn/iMaps/districts/

    How important is it that you educate your legislators? Earlier this week, we sent the Star Tribune opinion article (http://www.startribune.com/charitable-gaming-bears-more-than-its-fair-tax-share-time-for-a-change/410456545/) to all members of the state legislature. We heard back from several members that they already knew about the legislation and wanted to co-sponsor it BECAUSE they heard from a charitable organization in their community. 

    We have a long way to go; we are hearing that there is a possibility that the legislature will pick up the tax bill from last session that did not get passed.  Tax relief for all charitable gaming was not in that bill.  We need to make sure that we are all in any tax bill passed this year.  And that won't happen if legislators don't hear from you. Your voice and your voice alone can provide legislators with the understanding they need of just how much you are doing for your communities and how valuable it would be to be able to make your contributions without also having to pay taxes on the donation. 

    Educate your Representative on the importance of charitable gaming in your community, what the extra dollars would mean to your community and what is not getting done in your community today because of the money you are sending into state government. 

    Regards,

    Al Lund


  • 14 Dec 2016 12:58 | Allen Lund (Administrator)

    Members,

    Please review the attached.

    201612141taxrelief.pdf

    2017 Dear Legislator.docx

  • 29 Nov 2016 08:44 | Allen Lund (Administrator)

    Members,

    Please read the article that was in the StarTribune this past Sunday.  Below is the letter to the editor that I submitted yesterday.  We are in the process of preparing our tax relief bill that will ask that our donations be exempt from the monthly state gambling tax (Chapter 297E).  We will get you a suggested letter to send to your legislators asking them to author a tax bill with the necessary language.  It will only be through the efforts of all of us that we will get much needed tax relief in 2017.  Stay tuned.

    Letter to the editor:  

    I call it the gift that keeps on giving or being exceptionally thankful if you are a Wilf, Michele Kelm-Helgen, Ted Mondale or the MN Sports Facility Authority board.  I just finished reading another article in the Star Tribune (11/27/2016 Suite Deal, Stadium Leaders get free seats, secret guest list) on how the stars have aligned if you are one of the aforementioned.  

    The Wilfs are thankful for naming rights (on the stadium and a parking ramp), seat licenses, state contribution, doubling of franchise worth and NFL payment.  Michele Kelm-Helgen and Ted Mondale are thankful for six figure salaries along with free use of suites and last but not least freebies for the MN Sports Facility Authority board.  

    Not so thankful are the not for profit organizations that are tasked with paying for the stadium.  Not for profit charitable gaming organizations were tasked with paying for the stadium in the 2012 legislation that made the stadium a reality.  There are no individual tax payer taxes paying for the stadium.  Early on when not for profit organizations were not sending in enough taxes to make the annual bond payments a corporate unity tax ($20 million annually) was instituted to help. Not for profit community based charities collectively paid $55.8 million in taxes this past fiscal year to pay towards the stadium bonds ($18.9 million) and pay into the general fund ($36.9 million).      

    There is now an excess of taxes going into the stadium fund to make the annual bond payments.  Minnesota non-profits such as fire, police, veteran, church, civic, youth, community and fraternal groups are now on the cusp of sending more money to the state than they have for their missions.  Minnesota charitable gaming was a means to an end to get the new stadium built.  The end has been delivered, some would say on a silver platter.  It is now time to let up on the means and lessen the burden on the good folks and organizations that do great work in our local communities.  

    Community resources are being depleted in order to pay for a glass edifice dedicated to billionaires and millionaires.  The neediest in Minnesota would be grateful if the legislature could right a wrong in the 2017 legislative session.  

    Al Lund

    Executive Director

    Allied Charities Of Minnesota (ACM)
    3250 Rice St
    Saint Paul, MN 55126-3080
    Office #: 651-224-4533

    Fax #: 866-240-6160 

    alliedcharitiesmn@gmail.com


    ---------- Forwarded message ----------
    From:  <alliedcharitiesmn@gmail.com>
    Date: Sun, Nov 27, 2016 at 11:06 AM
    Subject: Allen Lund sent you an article from startribune.com
    To: alliedcharitiesmn@gmail.com


    This article from StarTribune.com has been sent to you by Allen Lund.
    *Please note, the sender's identity has not been verified.

    The full article, with any associated images and links can be viewed here.
    Work or perk? U.S. Bank Stadium executives have free access to luxury suite seats
    Rochelle Olson, Star Tribune

    The government appointees who oversee U.S. Bank Stadium on behalf of taxpayers get a perk unavailable to most Minnesotans: free tickets to two lower-level luxury suites for all events held there. The suites are for marketing purposes but, they admit, friends and family are often in attendance.

    Taxpayers covered almost $500 million of the $1.1 billion cost of the stadium, but the public cannot find out who gets those 36 suite seats each game. The Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority (MSFA) members decline to say who joins them for complimentary food, beer and, in some cases, free parking in the same lot reserved for Vikings players and coaches.

    The Vikings sold “Norseman suites” identical to the two used by the MSFA for between $200,000 to $300,000 for the 10 NFL home games.

    Both MSFA Chairwoman Michele Kelm-Helgen and Executive Director Ted Mondale say confidentiality is critical as they seek to book the stadium’s event spaces to cover the cost of amateur events such as high school football, baseball and soccer games, along with University of Minnesota baseball games.

    “If people think they’re going to be in the newspaper, it’s not going to be effective,” Mondale said.

    Still, the perk and the lack of transparency are prompting ethical and perhaps legal questions.

    David Schultz, a Hamline University political science, law and ethics professor, said the board is violating state law by using public positions for personal benefit and to access something not available to the general public. The notion that they are using the suites for marketing purposes is “dubious at best,” he said. “Beyond state law, it just looks bad.”

    Two of the original five MSFA members also question the need for two prime suites.

    “These seats are not in the bleachers; they’re currency,” said Duane Benson, who resigned from the board in 2015 after a public disagreement with Kelm-Helgen about board management. “There’s a concentration of power here that could be a problem as time goes on.”

    Kelm-Helgen and Mondale said they work long hours on game days and spent long nights negotiating on behalf of taxpayers during construction of the building, so having friends and family there is reasonable. They also say they need to be in the suites to sell the stadium to clients. “The whole idea is to develop the confidence that we know what we’re doing,” Kelm-Helgen said.

    The Vikings so far have played five home games and two preseason games, meaning up to 252 people could have attended games in the suites.

    After the Star Tribune made a request through Gov. Mark Dayton’s office, Mondale and Kelm-Helgen provided the names of 12 current and former public officials who attended and paid for suite tickets to NFL games. All but one, former Vice President Walter Mondale, paid for the tickets recently. Mondale, who attended the opening Green Bay Packers game Sept. 18 as a guest of his son, wrote a $350 check that was deposited late last month. No other checks were deposited until Nov. 17, after the Star Tribune began inquiring about the seats.

    Among the guests in the suites who reimbursed the MSFA $200 this month were: Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges and her husband, Gary Cunningham; several state commissioners; Minneapolis City Attorney Susan Segal and her husband, Minnesota Management and Budget Commissioner Myron Frans; and Minneapolis City Council Member Jacob Frey.

    Dayton supports the MSFA’s decision on disclosure. “The governor believes that is the decision of the Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority,” said his spokesman, Linden Zakula, who attended a game in the suite.

    The spokesman said state law doesn’t require commissioners or staff to pay for their tickets because the stadium is a “public entity” and they’re engaged in public business. Zakula said he recently paid $200 for his ticket to “avoid the appearance of impropriety.”

    Minnesota public officials are subject to a gift ban, which includes a prohibition on accepting privileges not available to the public. But the ban allows public officials access to services and privileges when they are part of their duties.

    As chairwoman of the Legislature’s State Government Finance Committee, state Rep. Sarah Anderson, R-Plymouth, said she wants to “bring some integrity to the process” of the MSFA’s management, including the suites.

    “We should be able to have a list of who’s there and when they’re there,” she said, adding that she’d like to know if tickets are being illegally given to campaign donors. “There definitely needs to be a change in how they do this.”

    Across downtown at Target Field, the Minnesota Ballpark Authority (MBA) has a single suite, on the upper level at the end of right field attached to its offices. The MBA’s paid executive director, Dan Kenney, said no log is kept of the number of tickets used and by whom. He said it’s not uncommon for the suite tickets for midweek day games to be given to charity.

    Negotiated with Vikings

    U.S. Bank Stadium has 27 Norseman suites on the lower concourse. The two that the MSFA controls, after negotiations with the Vikings during the stadium’s construction, are at about the 20-yard line on the visitor’s side of the field. Kelm-Helgen, whose job description includes “distribution of event tickets,” declined multiple requests from the Star Tribune to be allowed to visit the suite on a game day. When a reporter arrived at the suite during a recent game, Kelm-Helgen was chatting with her adult daughter and declined to speak to the reporter.

    In an interview last week, Kelm-Helgen provided only the broad categories of guests in the suites, including members of the city’s convention bureau, labor leaders, business leaders, higher education officials and neighborhood leaders. The MSFA eventually identified guests who paid to attend.

    Longtime lobbyist Andy Kozak wasn’t on the list provided by the MSFA, but said he attended the Nov. 6 game against the Detroit Lions as a guest of Kelm-Helgen and used a free parking spot. He said he’s known Kelm-Helgen for 40 years and his clients have been involved in stadium issues like electronics and security. “I frankly didn’t think much of it,” said Kozak, who has a roster of powerful clients at the State Capitol. “All I can say is I was invited and I went.”

    Kozak went for free, but Kelm-Helgen and Mondale said they recently determined the market rate for a spot in the suites at $200 by charging $132 for the ticket and $78 for food.

    Minnesota taxpayers cover the price of food for MSFA guests. Alcohol is paid for separately by commissioners. The commissioners, who are appointed by the governor and the city of Minneapolis, are not paid beyond a small per diem for monthly meetings.

    Kelm-Helgen and Mondale wouldn’t say how many tickets commissioners get for events.

    Commissioner Tony Sertich, a former DFL lawmaker who lives in Hermantown, said he is allotted up to five tickets per event, including one for himself. He was unable to recall which games and events he had attended, but said he has brought his wife, as well as social and business associates. “I don’t cold-call people” to go to the game, he said.

    Commissioner Barbara Butts Williams, a dean of business and technology at Capella University, did not respond to e-mails or voice messages. Commissioner Bill McCarthy, Minnesota AFL-CIO president, sent a brief e-mail saying he tries to attend as many events as possible. He declined follow-up questions.

    Commissioner John Griffith, a sometime critic of Kelm-Helgen whom Dayton declined to reappoint to the MSFA, will attend his final meeting Dec. 16. He bought his own Vikings season tickets, but used suite tickets for two soccer matches and a Vikings preseason game. “If every week you’re just bringing your family to the games,” he said, “that’s not right.”

    Rochelle Olson • 612-673-1747

    Twitter: @rochelleolson


  • 10 Nov 2016 06:08 | Allen Lund (Administrator)

    Elections are over and there is going to be a new crop of legislators to get to know.  I have already had calls regarding how people think that getting tax relief will be easier this coming year.  Ray Bohn (ACM contract lobbyist) reminds me that there was the exact same situation years ago and we got no relief.  I am hearing from legislators that they are not hearing from their constituents on our tax issue and are wondering aloud just how important tax relief is to us.  Use the attached to see who is representing you in 2017.  Call or e-mail your newly elected state senator and legislator.  Congratulate them on their election and tell them that after the dust settles that you would like to talk to them about our current tax structure. We will have a tax relief bill next year, but without input from you it will not be important to legislators.  

    elecdir16.pdf

    16mem_elect.pdf

  • 03 Nov 2016 16:41 | Allen Lund (Administrator)

    A quick note to let you know that the new 2016 editions of the Gambling Laws, Gambling Rules  and Lawful Gambling Manual (also known as the Gambling Manager’s Handbook) are now available from Minnesota’s Bookstore.

     Here are links to all three books from our web site: 

    2016 Gambling Laws:  http://tinyurl.com/bock65f
    2016 Gambling Rules:  http://tinyurl.com/kohu5rv

    2016 Lawful Gambling Manual (also known as the Gambling Managers Handbook):  http://tinyurl.com/cy2twb6 

    If you’d prefer to order over the phone with a credit card, feel free to give the bookstore a call at 651.297.3000 (metro) or 1.800.657.3757(nationwide).

     One final note – we’ll be selling all Gambling Control Board products at the Allied Charities Conference later in November in Rochester.  Our booth will be located near the Gambling Control Board book. Stop by and say hello!


  • 03 Nov 2016 07:08 | Allen Lund (Administrator)
    It's a bingo! Women, wine and designer handbags make for fun trend
    Kevyn Burger, Special to the Star Tribune

    The tension was palpable across the hushed room. The more than 200 women gathered fell silent as they concentrated on filling the squares on the cheap newsprint cards in front of them. The only sound was the voice of the caller intoning number after number.

    Then, from a corner, one voice shattered the silence: “Bingo!”

    A collective groan escaped from the women, who laughed, refilled their wine glasses, wadded up their losing cards and returned to their conversations. Only a few cast an envious gaze at Shannon Witzel as she danced a celebratory cha-cha to the front of the room to claim her prize — not a rack of ribs or a wad of cash, but a high-end designer purse.

    “My style icon is Audrey Hepburn,” said Witzel, beaming at the new patent leather double-strapped Coach carryall that she selected. “Couldn’t you see her carrying something this elegant?”

    Bingo has gotten fashionable.

    Around the metro area, Designer Purse Bingo is the hot new game, drawing crowds in working-class taverns as well as high-end private clubs. The all-in-good-fun event combines ladies night, adult beverages and the chance to take home a handsome new handbag, all while raising money for good causes.

    “I call it a meat raffle for girls,” said Carrie Chavez, director of business development at the Tournament Players Club in Blaine, which recently hosted the event in its elegant banquet room.

    For a fee of $26, the mostly female crowd daubed their way through 13 games, with the lucky winners being able to choose from 50 handbags carrying prestigious labels — Coach, Kate Spade, Michael Kors — in an array of styles from hobo bags and backpacks to totes and even a black leather diaper bag.

    “They’re not knockoffs,” said Amanda Jackson, gambling manager for the Spring Lake Park Lions Club. “We put them all out on the table ahead of time so people can touch them and pick the one they want and then fantasize about winning.”

    Jackson, who seized on the idea for purse bingo three years ago, now makes regular jaunts to outlet malls to purchase the handbags. The civic organization she works for is licensed by the state’s gambling control board to stage charitable gambling at a variety of venues in the north metro area, with proceeds going to community nonprofits.

    “We run pulltabs in five bars, and it’s a perk for our bar owners when we do purse bingo,” Jackson said. “The ladies eat and drink while they play so it’s a good night for the hosting sites.”

    The Lions Club typically hosts purse bingo twice a month, promoting it on Facebook and electronic billboards alongside Anoka County roads.

    On the evening at the Tournament Players Club, all proceeds (after expenses and taxes) were designated for the Alexandra House in Blaine, which provides shelter and advocacy to families escaping domestic violence. The event, which included raffles of designer wallets between games to boost revenue, raised $2,800 for the nonprofit.

    A classic – with a twist

    Jessica Spedevick arrived at the players club carrying a taupe Coach cross-body bag, a trophy from a previous evening. A regular on the purse bingo circuit, the North Branch resident figures she’s played seven times in the past year. Her most memorable evening came last winter at an Anoka County watering hole when she hollered “Bingo!” three times in one night.

    “I was really lucky, but there was also a lot of snow on the ground then and not as many players as usual,” she said, sipping a vodka cranberry drink as she studied her bingo cards on the table. “It’s so much fun when you win — your heart races.”

    The beauty of bingo, thought to have originated in Italy in the 1500s, is that everyone shows up knowing the rules. It’s a game you can play with a dauber in one hand and a wine goblet in the other.

    “We need an excuse to go out once a month,” said Sandy Lang, who shared a table, a cheese plate and beers with her sister Mindy Bauer. “As soon as I heard about this, I called her to ask if she was in. We’ve been looking forward to it ever since. We love being together where the kids can’t interrupt us.”

    “Everyone likes bar bingo but this is an added twist,” said Bauer.

    While the event is known among fans as Coach Purse Bingo, the luxury handbag manufacturer has requested that the events be called Designer Handbag Bingo.

    That may reflect the changing status of the luxury brands, which have become more available to the masses.

    “These premium brands have been losing their luster of late, and being associated with bingo probably doesn’t help,” said Mary Meehan, consumer strategist and co-founder of Minneapolis-based Panoramix Global.

    “A high-end handbag has always telegraphed prestige for the woman who carries it. You used to have to be very lucky to find one secondhand, but thanks to the online consignment phenomenon, they’re accessible to the value-conscious consumer,” Meehan added. “When these brands are less exclusive, it changes their cachet.”

    Don’t tell Katherine Shanklin.

    As her friends and tablemates squealed in delight, the Minneapolis woman claimed victory in the second game of the night, choosing a fabric-and-leather Coach handbag from the selection on the table.

    “This will hold a lot of my stuff,” she said. “And don’t I look great carrying it?”

    Kevyn Burger is a Minneapolis based freelance broadcaster and writer.



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