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Chase to North Minneapolis: Thanks, But No Banks

Plus gun control in MN, the U dumps Tom Bakk, and dogs lose jobs in today's Flyover.

Mike Mozart via Flickr

Welcome back to The Flyover, your daily digest of what local media outlets and Twitter-ers are gabbing about.

Another No for North

What the fuck is going on with businesses in north Minneapolis? Following the news that Aldi is closing its Penn Avenue North location, contributing to the neighborhood's lack of food access, and then that Walgreens was closing its North Side location, creating a pharmacy desert, it appears Chase Bank is pulling the plug on a branch planned for the Satori Village project. The Business Journal's Keith Schubert reports that while construction on the branch was underway in mid-November with plans to open this October, it's no longer happening. Former Minnesota Vikings defensive back Tim Baylor, whose JADT Development Group is heading up the project, told the Biz Journal that Chase canceled its plans for the branch “without explanation.” He added that the decision goes against the bank's $30 Billion Racial Equity Commitment, a companywide effort that kicked off in 2020. “This is an area that needs an infusion of goods and services. Why they would not put a location here, there is the question,” he told Schubert.

So, Is Minnesota Gonna Do Gun Control or What?

Oh, sorry, “gun safety” is the preferred term now. In any case, two measures have been proposed in the Minnesota legislature and have a decent chance of being passed by the DFL majority, according to MPR News. One would expand criminal background checks, which are already required when buying from a dealer, to include all purchases, including sales from one owner to another. The other would allow judges to issue “extreme risk protection” orders to confiscate guns from those who pose a threat to themselves or others. As this MinnPost story explains, advocates of the latter proposal argue that this will not only possible curb mass shootings and domestic violence but also suicides.

The arguments against these measures from the Minnesota Gun Owners Caucus quoted in the MPR story are pretty weak. Rev. Tim Christopher claims that such laws won’t do any good because of all the bleeding-heart judges letting criminals walk free, while Rob Doar says, “The bills only add hurdles for law-abiding citizens." (Both of these statements seem to argue for having no laws about anything at all?) The big question right now is how Sen. Grant Hauschild (DFL-Hermantown) will vote on the bills. With a one-vote senate majority, the DFL can’t afford a single defection, but the NRA-endorsed Hauschild hasn’t yet committed one way or the other.

Bakk Out as U of M’s “Brand Ambassador” 

Eyebrows raised from campus to the Capitol when former state Sen. Tom Bakk was named “brand ambassador” for the University of Minnesota. In this role, the lapsed Democrat was to provide legislative strategies to the public university. The position apparently came as a surprise to some on the U’s Board of Regents. "I am very disturbed that we as a University are paying for 'advice,'” Steve Sviggum, in a true broken-clock revelation, wrote to fellow regents last month in an email shared with Racket. "But paying for advice is ridiculous. Advice is very free and very prevalent in the public sector... especially at the Legislature. Glad no one asked me about this.” Things turned even more ridiculous when additional sunlight was shined on Bakk’s current lobbying efforts, notably the ones on behalf of Big Tobacco and northern Minnesota mining interests. 

We asked Bakk to talk last night, to which he responded: “I am no longer in that position with the U, I helped them in January prepare for the session but am no longer advising them.” The agreement, which would’ve paid Bakk $5K+ per month for his wisdom, was not just for January, U of M regent Darrin Rosha tells us. Hm! Closure came today via J. Patrick Coolican’s indispensable newsletter for the Minnesota Reformer: Under heavy pressure from legislators and lobbyists, the university “severed” its relationship with its fledgling brand ambassador, according to Myron Frans, the U’s senior VP for finance and operations. “If you could read a room you’d know that was a bad call,” a lobbyist tells Coolican. Now Bakk, who recently began caucusing with Republicans, can focus more time on extolling the virtues of cigarettes and copper-nickel mining.

New Reason Not to Legalize Weed: Dog Unemployment

Sometimes dogs have jobs. But as GOP State Senator John Jasinski pointed out at a recent hearing on legalizing adult-use marijuana, giving the full thumbs up on THC could mean that some drug-sniffing dogs will have to retire and live as normal dogs. “What’s it going to cost our local law enforcement agencies who’ve done these dogs; who’ve spent thousands and thousands of dollars on these dogs to get these dogs drug trained?” he asked when arguing against legalization. “And now they’re gonna have to be retired? That’s a big issue.” Or—hear me out—legalizing weed it could be a huge money saver for police. We're talking billions and billions of dollars: The ACLU estimates that legalizing marijuana would save the U.S. approximately $7.7 billion in government expenditure on enforcement.

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