Welcome back to The Flyover, your daily midday digest of what local media outlets and Twitter-ers are gabbing about.
More Like HELL-icopters
Not sure when it was decided that the police should be watching us from the skies at all times (this reporter’s opinion: they shouldn’t!) but constant aerial surveillance doesn’t come cheap. The Minnesota State Patrol is hoping to scoop $45 million out of our collective pockets to buy more copters and planes, Axios reports. Police officials say choppers are a better way to catch carjackers than engaging in high speed chases. Police officials say a lot of things.
For instance, last year the MPD and Hennepin County sheriff’s office said that increased copter surveillance had led to 87 arrests for carjacking and dozens of felony-level charges. After the Strib investigated a bit, the cops admitted that “dozens” was actually 15. Here it is, March again, and once more the cops are out there plugging the effectiveness of air surveillance—surely a coincidence that this story about how many speeders the sky cops have busted ran just as this budget request is surfacing, eh?
Nor do we know the full extent of the surveillance efforts these craft are used to conduct. We do know it’s more than officials let on, and that they’re bringing in high quality stuff: The inspector general of the US Air Force has stated that the Minnesota state patrol can gather better quality images than the feds’ RC-26 spy planes. Maybe don’t write a check until we get full disclosure of what these aircraft are being used for.
Finally, personally, as a south Minneapolis resident whose body still tenses at the sound of chopper blades after 2020: Fuck helicopters. Air surveillance is also a quality of life and mental health issue. (That goes double for “news” choppers.) I think Minneapolis resident and Racket contributor Molly Priesmeyer speaks for many of my neighbors. As does Homer Simpson.
Anyway, for $45 million you could buy everyone who was carjacked last year a new ride.
Mora Roads, Mora Problems
Once the Strib’s John Reinan gets a story in his teeth, he doesn’t let go till it ends. That means he may be chewing on the saga of the Crisman family’s gravel road in Mora, Minnesota for months or years to come. The conflict between the homeowners and the local government seemed to have been resolved when voters instructed the township board to drop its appeal of a state court decision that required them to plow Hornet Street. But township board chairman Ryan Martens has called the resolution illegal, non-binding, and “absolute garbage.”
The story began in 2017 when the Crismans moved to town from the Twin Cities’ suburbs. They asked the township to plow the gravel road leading to their house, which had been unused for years. When this request was denied, the Crismans spent more than $20,000 to fix the road and build a school bus turnaround. Still no dice. So the homeowners sued and eventually won, but the township board filed an appeal that they apparently have no intent to drop.
We await the next installment, John.
No More Face Masks in Government Buildings; Emotional Masks Still OK
As Omicron wanes, Minnesota, like the rest of the country, is moving to lift the last of the mask mandates. While general indoor mask rules ceased in Minneapolis and St. Paul in February, until recently city buildings still required visitors to mask up. Today, both cities announced that they’re cool with your face freeballing it in government facilities and other city spaces. “We are entering a new, promising phase of our recovery,” St. Paul’s Mayor Carter said in a statement. Although the CDC extended its mask mandate through April 18, a mysterious, anonymous source told Reuters that they are also looking for a strategy to ease requirements on airplanes, buses, and other forms of public transportation. It’s face time, everyone!
New Large Ship Just Dropped
Quite literally. The Viking Mississippi, the newest ship from Swiss cruise line Viking Cruises, just plopped into the Gulf Coast for finishing touches. We’ve not heard this much about Vikings and watercraft since Fred Smoot took a boatful of condoms, lube, sex toys, teammates, and sex workers onto the purifying waters of Lake Minnetonka. Folks! But seriously, the large ship will begin offering all-inclusive luxury cruises along various lengths of the Mississippi River beginning this summer; she’s expected to first reach St. Paul in June. The continent-bisecting trips won’t be cheap—trips from the Minnesota port run $4,500 (St. Paul to St. Louis) to $10,000 (St. Paul to New Orleans). Let’s get a good look at that big, beautiful boat chilling in the Big Easy, courtesy of Viking Cruises.