Lawsuits claim top Hilton Hotel execs held banquet-room orgy

Love is in the air here in Minneapolis, and it's destroying lives as we write this. First it was the strangers getting it on in a Metrodome handicapped bathroom stall with their own crowd of rowdy fans. But Minneapolis Hilton employees may have taken it to a new low after they allegedly had an orgy in one of the hotel's banquet halls. We just hope they changed the tablecloths before the next wedding party arrived.

A Coon Rapids woman is suing the Hilton Hotels chain for harassment-by-orgy after she allegedly walked in on drunken upper-management group sex in one of the hotel's banquet halls. After she complained about the orgy to Human Resources, she was fired, court documents allege.

Deborah Smith, 43, was the night manager for the hotel restaurant, SkyWater. She is seeking at least $50,000 in damages. According to the lawsuit, "When Smith opened the door to the banquet room, she saw various Hilton executives inebriated and engaging in sexual acts. In fact, she observed Hilton executives on top of a table engaging in sexual activity. After Smith walked away from the orgy Manager (James) Vennewitz said she would be fired, and he would make sure of it."

Then a participant in the alleged orgy came forward. April Bezdichek, 25, is suing the company as well as Vennewitz, 38, who was the hotel beverage manager at the time of the incident.

According to the lawsuit, "Vennewitz told Plaintiff to come to the hotel on her night off. She was instructed to come to the banquet room in which (unknown to her), an orgy was occurring."

We weren't able to reach Vennewitz, though we did talk to his wife, who said, "All I can say is you are going to have to talk to the attorneys." The attorneys did not return calls seeking comment.

Bezdichek is asking for $50,000 per count, damages, and civil penalties. In responses filed Thursday, Hilton Hotels Corp. denied the allegations in both cases. Emily Kaiser

Friendly emergency

Facebook sure doesn't like it when someone tries to create a page with the word "Emergency!" in it. Could be that CEO Mark Zuckerberg has an aversion to sirens, or maybe he just wants his site reserved for actual humans.

So when the city of Minneapolis wanted to create a profile page to spread the word about its snow-emergency street-plowing plans, Facebook promptly rejected it.

But Facebook didn't realize that it was up against Minnesotan ingenuity, a magical trait that's allowed people to turn leftovers into a culinary delicacy: hot dish. The city quickly came back with a plan: Combine the words "snow" and "emergency" to create one word: Snowemergency.

"One word," says Jeremy Hanson, communications director for the mayor's office. "'Snowemergency.' We'll see how many friends we get."

As of last week, Snowemergency had 859 friends. That's about 3,040 less than Mayor R.T. Rybak, the unabashed Facebook-friend whore (author's note: jealous.). And to ensure that the Facebook overlords didn't mess with it, the city went the extra step and anthropomorphized their creation.

Snowemergency's "About Me" section reads: "It's really unfortunate that my parents named me 'Snow Emergency.' Anybody who's got 'emergency' in their name is bound to have a rough social life. But you should still be my friend. Because, face it, you need me."

As for favorite movies, Snowemergency selects Dr. Zhivago and Ice Station Zebra. "Any movie with semi-frozen, parka-clad men with inch-long icicles hanging from their mustaches gets a thumbs up from me," he[?] says.

And even though we just befriended Snowemergency, we do wonder if he's gone diva, claiming to be the inspiration for "Let It Snow."

"I think this song is about me," admits Snowemergency. "I don't care much for the tune. But it's flattering just the same." Bradley Campbell

Street fight over street furniture

Given the recent frigid temperatures here, commuters huddling under downtown Minneapolis's bus stop shelters are probably more worried about keeping warm than about looking like an Ikea catalog. But not the Minneapolis Downtown Council. A pending contract between the city and Clear Channel Outdoors for street furniture—600 bus stop and transit shelters, 700 benches, 900 trash cans, and a number of newspaper bins—has the Downtown Council up in arms over advertising and aesthetics.

At issue is the size of the proposed furniture—some of the bus shelters will be as long as semi trucks, says Sam Grabarski, president and CEO of the Downtown Council—and the city's lack of control over the advertising to be displayed on it. Under the 15-year contract, which Grabarski gripes is far too long, Clear Channel would control all the ads.

"Why would we want to see Wal-Mart advertising in front of a building that houses Target, for instance?" Grabarski says.

What's more, downtown businesses want to take charge of the street furniture themselves, through a new Downtown Improvement District that the city is expected to approve Friday.

But the contract with Clear Channel, which is still under negotiation, could be a good financial deal for the city and for other business areas. Clear Channel would install the furniture for free and actually pay the city to advertise on it, says Jon Wertjes, negotiator for Minneapolis. The current contract with CBS Outdoors provides the city a minimum of $110,000 each year.

We don't care where the ads go. Just keep us warm while we wait for the bus! Erin Carlyle

 
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