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Drama at Mia: Controversial Termination, ‘Toxic’ Work Environment Allegations

Plus Dean Phillips campaign gets deeply weird, leaked ShotSpotter intel, and how's Lindell holding it together in today's Flyover news roundup.

Mia

Welcome back to The Flyover, your daily digest of important, overlooked, and/or interesting Minnesota news stories.

What About Bob, Mia?

Current staff, former employees, and union reps are coming together to call out what they say is a toxic work environment at the Minneapolis Institute of Art. “The termination of [Mia’s Curator of Paintings] Bob Cozzolino on January 9th was the last straw for both union staff and the art community,” states a press release from the union. So far, an open letter supporting Cozzolino has over 500 signatures, including filmmaker David Lynch, Smithsonian senior curator Eleanor Harvey, and Guggenheim fellow Ta-Coumba Aiken, along with an impressive list of local artists, teachers, and curators in town.

“It has become common knowledge across much of the Minnesota arts community that many Mia employees have felt undermined, unsafe, undervalued and uncared for,” the letter states. “We ask the leadership of Mia–a celebrated cultural institution locally and nationally–to explain their position.”

Museum director Katie Luber has said that the firing was “for cause,” but has not further elaborated. Meanwhile, former Mia employees are speaking out on why they quit, detailing how leaders at the museum have allegedly been dismissive when given constructive criticism (take a look at this open letter outlining content concerns in a recent exhibition for an example), thus creating a "toxic" work environment at the museum. “If you look at the group of folks [who are gone], Bob Cozzolino included, it’s all folks who are pretty vocal, and gave a lot of thought and work to DEIA [Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Access] initiatives,” former employee Angela Olson tells Alex V. Cipolle at MPR

More Weird News From the Rep. Dean Phillips Campaign Trail

Nomadic magician Paul Carpenter says he was paid by Steve Kramer, a Dean Phillips campaign operative who once helped Kanye run for president, to create an AI audio of Biden telling New Hampshire Democrats not to vote in the primary. (I bet you didn’t have that on your 2024 election bingo card!) The fake clip, which Carpenter says he was paid $150 to make, went on to become a robocall that is under federal investigation. “The only thing missing from the political circus is a magician and here I am,” he tells NBC News.

When he isn’t working on deep fakes, Carpenter likes bending forks with his mind and escaping straight jackets; he holds world records for both, NBC notes, though he doesn't hold a fixed address. Phillips's presidential campaign staff—how much longer will we have to type those words?—has disavowed the calls, claims it was unaware of them, and says it is looking into prosecution. Kramer, who has worked for Phillips’s team on ballot accessibility, tells NBC that an op-ed he plans to publish on Saturday “will explain all." 

In other (somehow less crazy?) news, Phillips says that should he fail to secure the Democratic nomination, the U.S. House Rep from Minnesota would consider running as an independent with Republican Nikki Haley as VP. Together, he says they would be “actually doing for the first time—perhaps in our country's history—what most  Americans really want: cooperation, collaboration, participation, decency, common sense.” Has he told any of this to Haley? Not yet! “I think it’s a conversation Haley and I should have,” he tells News Talk 830 WCCO. Good luck with everything, Dean.   

Map of Every ShotSpotter Sensor Location Leaks

Over 12 million Americans live near at least one ShotSpotter sensor, tiny microphones placed in high-traffick areas that alert police to gunshot sounds. And, according to data recently leaked to Wired, if you live in a low-income neighborhood with a higher-than-average African American population, you are disproportionately being listened to. Yesterday Wired published a map showing the locations of 25,580 ShotSpotter microphones and, sure enough, if you zoom in on Minneapolis you’ll see that aside from a sprinkling of mics south of downtown, the vast majority of sensors are on the North Side.

Senior VP Tom Chittum at SoundThinking, the company that owns ShotSpotter, argues that their service and tech are merely tools, and that “it’s up to the police to decide how they use it.” Turns out they’re using it badly; activists argue that the sensors are a Civil Rights Act violation and lead to over policing of Black neighborhoods. Before announcing that they would be discontinuing their contract with Shotspotter, a leaked report from Cook County’s State's Attorney’s Office in Chicago found that only 1% of shooting arrests there are mic tips and that most sensor-related arrests weren’t for gun violence. 

Jesus, Please Take Mike Lindell’s Wheel

Local pillowman and noted Trump stan Mike Lindell had been looking pretty disheveled lately while live-streaming from his car. Some are speculating that the famously sober-via-god's-grace individual is drunk, though it’s probably hard to appear put together when your company is “under attack daily,” as he says, and you owe millions of dollars to a variety of people and businesses. (You could argue Lindell owes Racket an apology, having called our Jay Boller, "Some kind of weird bot-troll—don't call me again, you're a disgusting human being." Don’t panic though: The troubled pillow magnate is not actually driving in the clip; someone added a moving background and engine revving car sounds to the original video. 

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