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Cops are Watching Construction Workers Do Their Job

Plus money for community orgs fighting crime, Feeding Our Future is really bad at pandemic fraud, and Jensen/Birk are still being weird in today's Flyover.

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

Do Construction Workers Need Police Security Onsite?

If you’re Michels Corporation, a company that frequently takes on energy and infrastructure projects in the Twin Cities, the answer is yes. Off-duty cops make bank taking these off-hours independent gigs, which allow them to wear their uniform and use police cars. The bigger issue with working with Michels, as thoughtfully laid out by Deena Winter at the Minnesota Reformer, is that the company is co-owned by Tim Michels, a Trump-endorsed GOP candidate in Wisconsin’s governor race. “I have to think very few Minneapolis taxpayers like the idea of the Minneapolis PD functioning as the security force for a company owned by a wealthy conservative Wisconsin resident,” concerned citizen Dimitri Drekonja wrote to City Council Member Emily Koski after seeing cops hanging out in his neighborhood all summer. Further complicating things is that Michels has received $26 million in contracts from the city over the past five years, including replacing major gas lines throughout the city.

That’s a Lotta Fraud!

Huge news out of Minnesota today: 47 people were charged in the Feeding Our Future scandal, a $250 million scheme the New York Times calls “brazen pandemic-aid fraud” and Sahan Journal reports is the largest pandemic fraud in the nation. The fraud surely was both big and brazen: Perpetrators allegedly faked receipts for 125 million meals, massively inflating the number of students they were feeding and pocketing the difference—a difference of millions of dollars. Charges thus far include conspiracy, wire fraud, money laundering, and bribery, and authorities have seized “60 bank accounts, 14 vehicles, and 45 pieces of property valued at more than $50 million,” according to Sahan Journal. SJ has the whole list of those indicted—including Aimee Marie Bock, founder and executive director of Feeding Our Future, and Abdi Nur Salah, former senior policy aide to Minneapolis mayor Jacob Frey—here.

Hell Yeah! Hennepin County Throws Money at Crime Problem

Twist: But this time, it’s not being thrown at the police! Instead, Hennepin County is awarding grants to organizations and services with programs that might actually help prevent crime, aid with trauma healing, lead to employment, and, hopefully, yield some great results. So far, the county has given away $5 million this year, and another $5 million will be given out by the end of 2023. Of the over 50 groups that have received money so far, some of the biggest benefactors include Shiloh Temple, an outreach working to stop street crime; Neighborhood HealthSource, which will provide peer education for youth; and the Next Step Program, which staffs trained employees at hospitals to talk with victims of violent crime. North Hennepin Community College will use their $50,000 to cover costs for a new course on community violence prevention. “It’s a big county, and lots of communities have very different needs,” Lisa Bayley, senior policy advisor overseeing the program, tells the Star Tribune. “But we realize one size doesn’t fit all.”

2 Strange Nuggets from the Bizarre Jensen/Birk Campaign

What a strange, unpleasant time to be alive. Nowhere is that feeling more vivid than in the current gubernatorial race between Gov. Tim Walz and Dr. Scott Jensen, the latter of whom’s larger-than-life running mate, Matt Birk, is taking up all the oxygen in the room. Late last week, the doctor dropped a new campaign ad that portrays Walz as a crime-loving putz, before pivoting to more pleasant instrumentation while underscoring the many virtues of Scott Jensen. One such virtue, being an enemy of inflation, is illustrated with a video of familial budgeting around the ol’ kitchen table. As many online observers noted, the housing and food figures are, uh, perhaps a bit off: 

Another head-scratching element of the Jensen/Birk campaign surfaced Monday, when Birk boasted of two impending victory’s from Apple Valley’s Cowboy Jack’s:

The Vikings were later steamrolled 24-7 by the Philadelphia Eagles. The watch party produced this clip of Birk and Jensen bragging about their heroic meat consumption, a circuitous own of Walz… not bowing at the ceremonial meat altar to… show respect for farmers? It’s really unclear. 

Anyway, compelling video from the weirdest ticket in recent Minnesota election history.