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15,000 Nurses Is A LOT of Nurses

Plus LRT woes, a defense of Matt Birk, and squirrel mayhem in today's Flyover.

Keith Ellison via Flickr

We’ll Say it Again: Give the Nurses What They Want

Minnesota nurses are on strike, and news outlets from all over the country are paying attention. “We are not on strike for our wages. We’re fighting for the ability to have some say over our profession and the work life balance,” Mary Turner, a Covid ICU nurse and the president of the Minnesota Nurses Association, told CNN. Of the “largest private-sector nurses strike in U.S. history,” Washington Post labor reporter Lauren Kaori Gurley writes that “the strike spotlights nationwide nursing shortages exacerbated by the coronavirus pandemic that often result in patients not receiving adequate care.” (Bernie Sanders has also weighed in.) 

Roughly 15,000 nurses began their strike this morning against 16 hospitals in seven hospital systems throughout Minneapolis, St. Paul, and the Twin Ports. Want to support nurses? Here’s how to find your nearest picket line, donate to the strike fund, and more. Are you a striking nurse? Thanks for all you do! Get to Slice at Midtown Global Market today, they’re once again supporting striking workers in MN with free pizza.

Anyone Got an Extra $535 Million?

Over at MinnPost, Peter Callaghan dives into the legislative auditor’s report on the Southwest Light Rail project today and discovers… it’s a mess! No big news there, of course—the report mostly clarifies what we already know about the long delayed transit project, which is currently about $535 million in the hole. That’s after accounting for $969 in federal funds and $772 from Hennepin County, and don’t look for that latter number to increase: A big takeaway is that relations between the Met Council and Hennepin County are, shall we say, strained.

This sucks for the Met Council, which remains somehow convinced that the money will somehow materialize. “I am confident we will have an answer and will have it by the end of the year,” says Met Council chair Charlie Zelle, and when has he been wrong before? (Semi-related: Zelle declined to speak with us last about living in the Queen of England’s ol’ Minneapolis house.) While there are no indications of fraud, council staff did omit certain projects from its initial bid that critics say hid the total cost of the project. The 14.5-mile project will connect Target Field and Eden Prairie, and the Met Council says it’s 62% complete with an estimated completion date of 2027.

Brave Squirrel Wrecks Human Utilities

As anyone with a hamster knows, rodents are destructive little creatures. And, just like hamsters, squirrels’ teeth never stop growing. That means that they have a primal urge to chew on things, including delicious electrical wiring. One squirrel managed to hit the jackpot this weekend, killing power for about 9,500 Excel customers on Sunday morning. “What happened is that a squirrel came into contact with some of our equipment that caused the outage,” explains Xcel spokesperson Lacey Nygard via the Star Tribune. Power went out around 10 a.m., and was back on about 40 minutes later. There’s no word on whether the squirrel survived its mishap, but we suspect that the little buddy probably fried itself. RIP, tiny friend.

Stop Sharing the Fake ‘Milky’ Birk Tweet

There are lots of reality-rooted reasons to dislike Matt Birk—the lifelong anti-abortion crusade, the PPP shenanigans, and the war on public ed, to name just a few. Deep-faking creepy tweets purported to be from the GOP lieutenant governor candidate? Not rooted in reality, it turns out, and frankly a pretty shitty, confidence-eroding act by whoever cooked ‘em up. Last week, one such tweet depicting Birk replying to a photo of Bally Sports correspondent Annie Agar made the viral rounds locally. “You can’t keep teasing the milky, Annie,” the phony tweet suggested Birk’s account said to Agar’s. “Annie has NO recollection of ever meeting or talking to Matt,” Agar’s agent/lawyer, Debbie Spander, tells Racket. “She didn’t really even know who he is.” Similar fake tweets that imply Birk is a foot freak? They’re likely fake as well, and whoever is making them isn’t doing anyone any favors. When you get duped by this shit, it looks just as bad as when your QAnon aunt in Hinckley falls for Obama-is-a-secret-Muslim memes. And another thing! It’s waaay too easy to generate these fake tweets. Congress must act swiftly to make it much, much harder.