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Downtown: Still Not Dead

Plus squirrel madness in Mears Park, the futility of individual acts of charity, and the Potter jury wonders what to do if they can't reach a verdict in today's Flyover.

1:22 PM CST on December 22, 2021

Ryan Cos.

Welcome back to The Flyover, your daily 1 p.m.(ish) digest of what local media outlets and Twitter-ers are gabbing about.

2 Large Buildings to Save Downtown?

Good news for the crowd that breathlessly obsesses over the viability of downtown Minneapolis: Two big ol' buildings are about to break ground. (For the crowd that breathlessly obsesses over the viability of Uptown... click here!) Early next year Minneapolis-based Ryan Cos. will build a 24-story, 342-unit outside U.S. Bank Stadium, Axios Twin Cities reports, while Houston-based Hines will start work on two towers, not unlike Sauron, in November near Target Field. Centrist biz-booster Steve Cramer, president of the Minneapolis Downtown Council, still has worries about recent civil unrest, spikes in crime, and the fact voters demanded rent control, but "none of it has knocked us on our back," he says. It's almost as if the playing field has been and always will be tilted in favor monied interests. In other downtown news: Wells Fargo, the third-largest employer in town, is once again delaying the return of its 7,000-person workforce due to the endless pandemic.

(Ed. note: While Jay's Sauron joke is very good, it's not entirely accurate: Orthanc, the impenetrable tower of Isengard controlled by Saruman the White, was actually built by the Dúnedain long before the Great Years and the War of the Ring.)

Hungry Squirrels Ruin Christmas in St. Paul

There's a growing squirrel problem in downtown St. Paul. Specifically, in Mears Park, according to Friends of Mears Park. “They could bite people, they could be disease-ridden. I think they would crawl up your leg if you let them,” FOMP co-chair Lee Ann LaBore tells WCCO. And she's not talking about those varmints in Washington, D.C.—folks! Park-goers keep feeding the rodents, LaBore says, thus making them more powerful and aggressive. So much so that the squirrels have begun feeding on the park's holiday light display, causing organizers to scale back the twinkling bulbs. Why are the ravenous little monsters devouring Xmas cheer? The polylactic acid that coats the wires tastes sweet, according to an unattributed theory floated by 'CCO. FOMP finds itself in an intractable situation: Some like the squirrels, others like the lights. “We’re not here to hurt the squirrels, we are here to help the community,” LaBore says.

Thirsty News Coverage of Charitable Acts Masks Our Threadbare Societal Safety Nets: Exhibit No. 5,294,719

Look, we're happy for these single mothers who'll be paraded across the screen tonight on WCCO. It's good they have cars now; it's great PR for whatever organization or dealership hooked 'em up. But this genre of TV story, one that's seemingly irresistible to station managers, is a gross distraction from the gutted U.S. social safety programs that are supposed to prevent wide-scale homelessness and poverty. Enough of our preachin'; cue this neat meme:

The Potter Jury Seems Stuck

The jury in Kim Potter's trial had two questions for the judge as their second day of deliberations wound down. The first, according to the Star Tribune: "If the jury cannot reach consensus, what is the guidance around how long and what steps should we take?" Hm. They also wanted to know if the zip ties could be removed from Exhibit 199—Potter's gun—so it could be held outside the evidence box, which Judge Regina Chu allowed. Still no news during day three of deliberations, and if a verdict doesn't come down by Thursday, it'll be a ways off: Judge Chu said she won't make jurors deliberate on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day.

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