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DFL Gets Trumpy With a Reporter Just Trying to Do His Job

Plus Chauvin's badge will be destroyed, a new parking app for Minneapolis, and Tonka's Minnesota roots in today's Flyover.

Phil Roeder via Flickr|

Say reasonable things here at your own peril.

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

Local Media Outlets Call Out the DFL

On February 9, respected MinnPost political reporter Peter Callaghan was at the Minnesota State Capitol, attempting to do his job. During a House DFL news conference that day, reporters were told there'd be time for just one more question, to which Callaghan responded: “No, we can take several more questions. We’re trying to understand this bill.” Watch the exchange for yourself:

In a letter co-signed Wednesday by several sympathetic Twin Cities media orgs, here's First Amendment lawyer Leita Walker describing what happened next: "[House DFL PR guy Matt Roznowski] approached Mr. Callaghan and, in front of his colleagues from other news organizations, upbraided him for his comment and threatened to call his editor. Mr. Callaghan perceived Mr. Roznowski to be visibly angry and physically aggressive and responded with a profanity.” 

Callaghan was then briefly blacklisted from House DFL press releases, and, on February 17, a DFL HR exec alleged that Callaghan's words during the press conference amounted to harassment and discrimination. (He doesn't work for you!!! Also... what?!) DFL leaders sent a letter to the reporter's actual bosses at MinnPost, stating “serious concerns” that Callaghan had violated their harassment and discrimination policies. "House counsel, the House Sergeant at Arms, and Capitol Security were notified," they wrote (somehow) with zero shame or embarrassment.

This dangerous sort of anti-press, anti-speech behavior had Democrats pulling their hair out for four years under Trump. But, it seems, they're fine stooping to those cynical lows if it (somehow) benefits them at the Minnesota Capitol. (Minnesota Reformer's Max Nesterak arguably outdid our headline with his newsletter subject line of, "House DFL goes full Karen on MinnPost reporter.") Or, as Walker put it: "One reasonable interpretation of [the House DFL letter] is that Mr. Callaghan is now under surveillance and should watch his step—a message that is alarming due to its capacity to intimidate journalists and chill the exercise of their constitutional rights.”

A seemingly exhausted Callaghan politely told Racket via email Friday that he'd like to share his side of the story, but can't at the moment. House Speaker Melissa Hortman issued this say-nothing statement later in the day.

Update: We connected with Tanner Curl, MinnPost's executive director, post-publication. “The letter really speaks for itself," he says. "This is not ideal, for how we want to spend our time and resources, but we need to do that to make sure our reporters and the entire Capitol press corps can do their jobs. We’re not looking for a big public fight, but we will stand up and defend our rights.” 

MPD to Retire Chauvin’s Number

At a press conference yesterday, the city of Minneapolis announced a $9 million settlement with two 2017 victims of abuse at the hands of former officer Derek Chauvin, while also zeroing in on the real problem here: Chauvin’s badge. "This badge, betrayed and so egregiously dishonored, will be destroyed, and the badge number permanently removed from our rosters so that no future Minneapolis police officer should have to wear it," said Minneapolis Police Chief Brian O'Hara. To his credit, O’Hara also acknowledged that Chauvin was merely a symptom of a “systemic” problem within the department.

But everyone (including us) is talking about the business with the badge because, well, it's pretty ridiculous. How easy would it have been to simply discontinue the number without acting like the badge is a freakin’ Horcrux or something. Mayor Jacob Frey was certainly half-correct when he called the action "symbolic but important," and we’ll say this for the Minneapolis Police Department—there is no action too symbolic for them to take. Until it comes to old 3rd Precinct building on Minnehaha & Lake, which the city is seriously considering reactivating over the protests of citizens and, notably, area business owners—an action that would serve as both a real and symbolic "fuck you" to the community.

Your Minneapolis Parking App is Going to Stop Working This Weekend

If you use the MPLS Parking app to pay for parking on your phone, you’ll need to download a new app on Sunday, when the city’s contract ends with ParkMobile. The new app comes from Flowbird, which claims to be “easier, safer, and faster” via its website. (Were we not safe before with the other app?) The city says users of the old program should see most of their data transfer when they download the new app, though they may be asked to change their password. (To any Racket reader who has been annoyed by our sign-in system, to you we say: We can claim no moral high ground here.) Perks of the new service include expanded maps of metered areas and currently open spots, text reminders when time’s almost up, and options for families with more than one car to use the app simultaneously on one account. The future is now, folks! For more details, you can check out MPLS Parking’s website.

Tonka Trucks Is One of Us!!!

Here's a local angle the Racket staff learned together this morning: Tonka Toys, maker of those bright-yellow dump trucks and backhoes beloved by children everywhere, is from Minnesota! The Star Tribune dives into the history of the toy company (now a subsidiary of Hasbro) in its Curious Minnesota podcast today. Tonka's origins stretch back to 1946, when a brand called Mound Metalcraft started producing gardening tools and the like. Mound began making metal toys in '47, and these proved way more popular than the stuff for adults. The brand became Tonka Toys Inc. in '48, taking its name from nearby Lake Minnetonka. The Strib's Nick Williams lays out the evolution of the toy company through its 1991 Hasbro acquisition, and includes an absolute banger of a jingle deeply rooted in the gender binary—"attention boys, Tonka Toys are made just for you!"

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