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City takes a knee on Vikings liquor rules

      Eagan city officials Tuesday night rejected any suggestion of tougher restrictions or higher fees for liquor licenses at the new Vikings facility, suggesting that organizations using the facility could police themselves and lumping the liquor licensing fee structure together with those for non-profits holding fundraising events.
      Eagan Mayor Mike Maguire expressed concern about the appearance of a “money grab,” if city officials considered imposing higher fees at the site of the new headquarters of an organization that charges a minimum of $150 per ticket to attend a football game, $5.50 for a 20-ounce water, and $9 for a beer at U.S. Bank Stadium. He rejected the suggestion that a special 30-day liquor license available only for the new Vikings facility carry a $500 price tag. The group eventually settled on a fee of half that amount.
      The suggested new licensing fee of $250 is about one-third the amount the Vikings charged children for a recent youth sports clinic, one of several events sponsored under the Vikings brand at local sports clubs. The Lifetime Fitness Club, where the Vikings youth clinics are held, charged 30 children $25, in addition to their family's membership fees, for the one-hour clinics for children ages 5 to 12. The organization  also restricted registration so not all children whose parents were willing to pay the fee were allowed to attend.
      The mayor and city councilors also rejected a suggestion that sales of alcohol could be prohibited at certain events at Vikings Lakes, such as high school football games.
      The city is faced with enacting new liquor rules specific to the Vikings headquarters site after the state legislature passed special legislation, applicable only to the Vikings Lake site in northeast Eagan, allowing for special liquor licenses.
      City officials discussed the matter at a special city council meeting Oct. 10 without input from legal counsel on state liquor laws or local or state police. Eagan Police is the agency responsible for enforcing public safety in the city and conducting background checks on applicants for liquor licenses. During the discussion of the liquor licensing fees, there was no mention of fees at similar facilities or recent violence and other problems related to alcohol served at sports facilities.
Art Works Eagan will be hosting its grand opening and first gallery exhibit in the former Fire Administration Building at 3975 Pilot Knob Road Sunday, Oct. 15, from 6 to 9 p.m. Art: The Unexpected Application of Skill, will feature this dress, and other works by five local artists. To see more, go to the exhibit Sunday. Admission is free.
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Not that we need a reason to post a photo of Ryan Gosling, but Leigh Monson reviews Blade Runner 2049.

School bus drivers seek vacation and holiday pay

   School bus driver union representatives made a plea to the District 196 school board for better benefits.
   In a break from the typically congratulatory tone of District 196 school board meetings, one of the bus drivers’ union’s five stewards, as part of a recognition of transportation employees’ appreciation week Oct. 16-20, said a lack of paid time off makes the district less competitive for hiring school bus drivers.
   The district has been actively for new school bus drivers, advertising wages on signs and messaging throughout the district and sending ads home from school in student backpacks.
   While District 196 is competitive for wages and health insurance, the union representative told the board, it falls short in paid vacation and holiday time.
   “I, along with my fellow drivers, serve as the first face of the district students see in the morning and the last face that our students see at the end of the day,” said Kat Briggs, a bus driver and one of five union shop stewards.
   While she thanked the board for recognizing transportation employees’ appreciation week, Briggs said she and other drivers “are also here to remind you of the transportation employees’ dedication to this district and its education program. The district prides itself on transporting students efficiently. This is at the expense of the drivers of the district.”
   She noted the district has a shortage of drivers and chaperones. Because of the number of holidays and school release days in the district, the driver’s union representative said, school bus drivers face up to four weeks of unpaid leave per year.
   “Currently no driver or chaperone in this district receives holiday pay,” she said. Surrounding districts give their drivers up to 11 paid holidays, she said.
   “If other districts offer holiday pay to their transportation employees, why can’t this district?” Briggs asked.
   At the conclusion of her speech, School Board Chair replied simply, “Congratulations, that’s a lot of miles.”
   The transportation employees then shook hands with board members.