Tours of the Vikings' new HQ proving elusive as a Super Bowl

Eagan Mayor Mike Maguire, far right, has had access to the Vikings' new headquarters few city residents will likely see.
    Hoping to get a look inside the new Vikings headquarters?
    Keep hoping. It doesn't appear to be coming anytime soon.
    Despite statements to city officials about public events at the facility, the new headquarters is proving to be off-limits to Eagan taxpayers. Even the Dakota County Chamber of Commerce's Vikings Training Camp Kick-Off Event scheduled for this week is being held off-site, at a local country club, rather than at the Vikings new headquarters or the TCO Performance Center. A ribbon-cutting event held last Friday was closed to the public.
   Apparently, the facilities are in good enough shape to host players and show off to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, who was filmed at the site last Friday, but not the local community. Even the media have been segregated to a separate entrance at the new facility.
    The Vikings have recently stated, on their website and in appearances at Eagan city meetings, that public admission to training camp will likely be more limited than in past years, when the pre-season event was held in Mankato and will require tickets for admission.
   Drop-ins will likely be discouraged. One fan posted on Twitter that he was escorted from the property by police when he tried to show his support for players arriving for pre-season activities. Eagan police were unable to locate a record of the call when requested.
    When Mayor Mike Maguire visited the facility after the Vikings moved in last March and asked when the public might be allowed to see the facility, the NFL team's public relations executive said it could be within 30 days, which would have been April.
    "When are people going to be able to come out and see the facility and take tours or limited tours?" Mayor Mike Maguire asked last March.
    "It'll probably be 30 days or so," the Vikings' public relations executive replied. "A community-wide celebration, that'll be more in June....In April, we'll get some folks in here, but the big celebration will come in June."
    The 40-acre facility, and the adjoining 160 acres slated to be used for hotels and housing, have consumed considerable city staff time to review permits and development requests, most of which have been approved with little resistance by the Eagan City Council. The development has also prompted changes to the city's sign ordinance, as well as the creation of rules for tailgating at the site. The development also prompted the hiring of five new police officers and a full-time fire department staff, contributing to a property tax hike for city taxpayers.
Eagan Police, on-site to provide security at the performance center opening, posted photos in Vikings headgear.

District 196 spends $5 million on furniture spree

A flash flood warning was issued for Eagan Sunday night as heavy rains hit the city.
Taxpayer-financed lounge furniture was featured in a presentation at this month's school board meeting showing how District 196 spent $5 million in bond funds. The school district inventoried and replaced student desks.
   District 196 showed off its $5 million furniture shopping spree at its June meeting, just moments after staff discussed shortfalls in state funding and the outgoing superintendent warned of future program cuts.
    The $5 million was part of a recent bond package intended to improve technology and safety in local schools. The new furniture for middle and high schools was shown to school board members via a video produced in the style of a home decorating program, with tranquil music accompanying a montage of photos of empty classrooms with new furniture. The furniture was selected with the help of a "Furniture Task Force," which included representatives from high-end office furniture sellers used by private companies to purchase items such as Herman Miller designer desk chairs, according to the district's presentation.

   The old school furniture included traditional student desks and chairs, according to the presentation. The new furniture includes chairs for lounging. The presentation included photos of students who look more like they're playing video games at home than attending class.
  Items such as furniture are typically covered under school districts' capital budgets. District 196 has a capital expenditure budget, but shifted the $5 million furniture expense to bond debt, a long-term expense to taxpayers. The district then shifted $1 million per year in staff salaries to its capital expenditure budget.
   The presentation did not include information about how much was spent on particular items of furniture for the middle and high schools. At the elementary school level, the cost of furniture items in the district's annual capital expenditure budget is typically about $100 - $200 for items such as chairs, although costs of some items are higher. For example, at the Highland Elementary school capital budget included $1,203 for 60 student chairs, about $20 each. The budget for 25 teacher chairs was $4,414, about $175 per chair, about one-tenth the price of a Herman Miller desk chair.
   The school district had not determined what furniture needed to be replaced at the time it requested the $5 million from voters, according to the presentation. Once the district received the bond funds, it hired an architectural firm to take an inventory of broken and damaged furniture in the school district. The district then selected a "Furniture Task Force" which included representatives from the private companies Intereum and Innovative Office Solutions, according to the presentation. Intereum is a high-end furniture dealer selling Herman Miller designer furniture. Innovative Office Solutions is a high-end office equipment distributor.

Felony charge stems from keying car

  An Eagan man is facing a felony charge for allegedly scratching the car of his ex-wife's new boyfriend.
    Pedro Ortiz, 37, of 4130 Rahn Road, Eagan, has been summonsed to appear in Dakota County district court on July 23 to answer to a felony charge of criminal damage to property in the first degree, according to court records. The charge stems from a Feb. 27 report of property damage to police. The victim reported he was walking towards his car, parked at his apartment complex, when he saw a man walk past the passenger side of his car before driving away in a truck.
    The victim then saw a long scratch along the passenger side of his car, which looked as if the car had been scratched with a key. The victim identified the man near his car as his girlfriend's ex-husband, according to investigators. Police allege Ortiz admitted scratching the car with his fingernail, not a key, according to a criminal complaint. He allegedly admitted to police he was upset with the victim for dating his ex-wife.
    The damage to the car was estimated at more than $1,700, according to court records, which escalates the property damage offense to a felony.

Ousted City Council Member Tilley reinstated

  The Eagan City Council voted unanimously to reinstate Council Member Meg Tilley to her seat at a special city council meeting Tuesday, June 12.
  Tilley returned to city hall for her first council meeting since Jan. 16 in a wheelchair recovering from surgery that led to her absence from the council. Because of the length of her absence, the remaining three council members on June 5 voted to declare her seat vacant, beginning the process of searching for a replacement for the missing council member.
  The resolution vacating Tilley’s seat included a provision for her reinstatement if she returned to the council and could affirm she would be attend future meetings. At Tuesday’s special city council meeting, Mayor Mike Maguire grilled the ailing council member about her ability to attend future meetings if her medical problems continued.
  “I’m excited to be back,” Tilley told the council as she sat in her wheelchair. “This is where I love to do. I’ve had some medical issues. They do continue.”
  “But, I have a wheelchair,” Tilley went on, cheerfully, as she grabbed the arms of the wheelchair. “And I can sit here. I can sit here and just be comfortable. And nobody has to be involved in shipping me around. I plan to be here. I love what I do.”
  Tilley was elected in 2016 with 14,719 votes, the second highest number of votes of four city council candidates. The only council member who received more votes than Tilley was council member Cyndee Fields, with 15,220 votes, according to the secretary of state’s office. The two other city council members, Paul Bakken and Gary Hansen, were elected in 2014 and are up for re-election this fall. Bakken received 11,366 votes in the 2014 election. Hansen received 8,967.
  The mayor – who travelled through a snowstorm to greet Vikings executives with hugs and bagels when they moved to their headquarters in Eagan last March – appeared to show little compassion for the city council member’s health struggles. The mayor continued to grill Tilley, looking down at a paper rather than at the returning council member in a wheelchair sitting a few feet away.
  “If, in the future, your health issues become such that you are unable to attend,” the mayor cautioned the council member, “I think it would be prudent to be in more proactive communication with city staff and with the council so that we avoid a situation like we’ve gone through the past two months.”
  “I certainly will,” Tilley replied. “I just didn’t know where this thing was going to go. It was a little surprising to me.”
City Council Member Meg Tilley
appeared at the June 12 special city council meeting in a wheelchair after being removed from her post by fellow council members the week before.
EHS cheer team holds fundraiser

  Okay, Eagan, it’s time to support the people who cheer on others.
  Eagan High School’s Competitive Cheer team will be hosting a fundraiser at the Town Centre Cub Foods next Saturday, June 16, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. to 6 p.m.
  You can have your groceries expertly packed by members of the cheer team and drop off a donation. Or, you can save them the work and yourself the calories and just drop off a donation.
  The team needs donations to help pay for uniforms, training, travel to competitions, and other expenses. 
Leigh Monson reviews Hotel Artemis

Music teacher sentenced to 60 days in jail

   A former Burnsville High School music teacher who had sex with a 16-year-old student was sentenced to 60 days in jail and 15 years probation. 
  Erik Akervik, 30, of 15349 Greenhaven Lane #106, Burnsville, was sentenced by Dakota County district court Judge Arlene Perkkio Thursday. He pleaded guilty to one count of criminal sexual conduct in the third-degree on March 5, according to court records. A second charge against the same victim was dismissed. Akervik will not begin serving jail time until June 28. 
   The plea does not apply to a second victim discovered later in the investigation of the case. Akervik’s defense lawyer successfully argued that the former music teacher should be tried separately on another charge related to a second victim. That case is currently scheduled to go to trial July 9. 
  Prior to Akervik's sentencing, the court ordered a pre-sentencing evaluation for chemical dependency and psycho-sexual issues. During the investigation, according to court records, the former high school teacher told police he frequently drank to the point of blacking out. 
   Judge Perkkio was assigned to the case after the departure of Dakota County Judge Erica MacDonald, who was nominated to the position of U.S. Attorney. 
Erik Akervik
Eagan police and firefighters responded to the scene of a two-car crash at the intersection of Johnny Cake Ridge and Cliff roads at about 8:30 p.m. Tuesday, June 12.

Suspected iPhone thief arrested in Eagan

  Eagan police have arrested a man wanted on a nationwide arrest warrant stemming from the early morning robbery of the Hastings Walmart last December.
  Roba Hassan, 20, of 1003 E. 80th St. #106, Bloomington, was charged with a felony county of theft over $1,000 in connection with a Dec. 31 theft. Hassan was arrested in Eagan this week on unrelated charges, according to court records.
  This week’s charge against Hassan resulted after police were called to the Walmart in Hastings at about 4:30 a.m. Dec. 31 for a report that a group of people were stealing cell phones.
  Store employees reported that a group of young black males ran into the store and headed for the back. When employees followed them, another employee reported over the radio that a group of women were at the front of the store behind the tobacco counter.
  While employees were distracted by the women at the tobacco counter, the group of ten black males allegedly entered the stock room in the back. The thieves used bolt cutters and other tools to break into a storage case, according to investigators. Twenty-one cell phones valued at about $7,000 were stolen. The ten men fled to three waiting vehicles, according to court records. Police believe most of the males in the group were juveniles and, therefore, have not identified them publicly.
  Apple Valley police stopped one of the vehicles suspected in the crime after it was allegedly driven from the scene of another Walmart theft in Apple Valley. A juvenile suspected of stealing from the Apple Valley Walmart was in the vehicle, a stolen Nissan Rogue. Police obtained a warrant to search the car and found six iPhones stolen from the Hastings Walmart still in their packages, according to court records. The driver of the vehicle searched identified Hassan as one of the men from a surveillance photo of the Hastings Walmart robbery, according to a criminal complaint.
  Hassan had five active arrest warrants from Hennepin and Rice counties, according to police.
  Hassan was being held at the Dakota County jail in lieu of bail after his arrest.
Roba Hassan

Complaints: Jailed principal hacked ISD 196 files, stole credit card numbers and stalked school staff

   As Independent School District 196 closed out its school year, the Dakota County Attorney’s office released new criminal complaints against a Lakeville middle school principal. The new criminal complaints detail District 196 information security breaches, including allowing a criminal accused of stealing from his own in-laws access to the records of the district’s most vulnerable students. The new criminal charges, which include identity theft and stalking, raise questions as to why a school district would employ and pay $137,000 a year to a man few parents would likely want anywhere near their children.
   In three separate criminal complaints released Friday, Christopher Endicott, a former administrator at Eagan’s Dakota Hills middle school, was charged with felony counts of stalking, identity theft, and financial card transaction fraud. Endicott, 50, of 13745 Fawn Ridge Court, Apple Valley, is currently in a Crow Wing County jail following his recent arrest in Brainerd on charges of stealing coins from his in-laws. He is facing previous charges in Dakota County based on allegations he stalked a police officer investigating a stalking complaint against him and stole sports collectibles from tenants renting his house.
   District 196, which has recently spent tens of millions of taxpayer dollars putting portable electronic devices in the hands of school administrators, teachers and students, has remained silent about the criminal charges against its former school administrator and his access to the school district’s computer network. The issue is not included on the agenda for the school board’s June 11 meeting, which is scheduled to instead include discussion of student furniture and increasing early childhood education fees. The superintendent’s office did not respond to a request for comment about the most recent charges, which provide further details about Endicott’s alleged unauthorized use of the District 196 computer network:

To read more, click Endicott Charged
Former Dakota Hills middle school administrator Christopher Endicott in a recent mug shot. Endicott, who taught an anti-bullying program at the Eagan school, is facing new felony charges of stalking.