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Ex-Guv: Walz ‘Refuses to Answer Questions’ About Corrupt Mining Giant

Plus Pride considers leaving Mpls, a new price tag for snow removal, and new unaffordable housing in today's Flyover news roundup.

Minnesota Pollution Control Agency|

PolyMet’s NewRange Copper Nickel facility near Babbitt—right on the cusp of the Boundary Waters.

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

Carlson's Crusade Against Mining, 'Monied Interests'

To say Gov. Arne Carlson wouldn't fit in with today's GOP is a tired understatement. In fact, Minnesota's Republican governor from 1991 to 1999 is to the left of most current-day DFLers when it comes to the environment—specifically when it comes to his crusade against copper-nickel mining in northern Minnesota. "How could our state’s leaders even think of processing a permit to mine resources knowing that there was a real threat of arsenic, mercury, asbestos, and cadmium entering the state’s water?" Carlson wrote in an open letter to Gov. Tim Walz, which was published this past March in Racket. Today, in a wonderful Minnesota Reformer profile by Colleen Connolly, we learn that Carlson "has tried to get a meeting—or even a phone call—with Walz, whom he campaigned for, only to be rebuffed." Yet the 88-year-old, who now considers himself an independent, plows ahead. Yes, he's worried about the pollution from PolyMet—one of two major proposed mining projects near the BWCA, along with Twin Metals—but Carlson can't shake why state politicians seem reluctant to speak out only against Twin Metals.

"[His] focus is on what he sees as an even more sinister element poisoning Minnesota politics: The growing influence of 'monied interests,' i.e. Glencore, the Swiss conglomerate that owns PolyMet," Connolly writes. (PolyMet took a major L earlier this week when U.S. Army Corps of Engineers rejected a key permit, much to the delight of the Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa.) If you have the good fortune of being on Gov. Carlson's journalist email chain, you receive routine and reasoned rants on this very subject, and this morning was no exception. "Putting ego aside," the ex-governor wrote while providing a link to his Reformer profile, "Colleen Connolly laid out a powerful scenario making it clear that Governor Walz and his administration refuse to answer questions about Glencore and its corrupt record. Even to the press, he will not comment. That should offend every journalist. Let us keep in mind that he wants to turn over Lake Superior and the BWCA to Glencore but, apparently in Walz’s eyes, that is not any concern of the public." 

Pride Fest Considers Moving to St. Paul or the Burbs

Has the Twin Cities Pride Festival outgrown Loring Park? Executive director Andi Otto says T.C. Pride, which has hosted the big three-day event for over 50 years, is weighing its options for next year, according to this piece from Audrey Kennedy at Axios. So, where would it go? Possibly the Minnesota State Fairgrounds, possibly a nearby suburb (dear god no). Although Otto hopes the event can expand rather than move—the fest is spilling over to the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden across the street this year, for example—he says the ever-growing crowds and the cost of shutting down Hennepin Avenue for the parade are both factors in what happens next. Moving Pride Fest would certainly be a big loss for downtown, which is desperately trying to appear cool these days. In the meantime, this year’s blowout is set to be bigger than ever, with attendance expected to swell to 600,000+. Part of the influx will be out-of-town visitors from oppressive states coming in to celebrate, plus fans from that freakin’ Taylor Swift concert scheduled on the other end of downtown.

How Much Would You Pay for Snow-Free Sidewalks?

If you answered “Forty million dollars!” well, that’s uncanny, because that, according to a new report from the Minneapolis public works department, is how much a snow removal program would cost the city. Axios's Nick Halter, who doesn't seem like a fan of such a program, reports that $40 million is twice as much as a previous estimate and would swallow up about 8% of the city's property tax intake, while the program would also mean “noisy machines would be outside peoples' homes overnight.”

Jacob Frey remains a staunch opponent of a municipal snow removal program. Councilmember Robin Wonsley, a program supporter, is not shaken by the price tag. “At yesterday’s public hearing on the Climate Equity Plan, dozens of residents gave spoken and written public comments encouraging the city to be bold in confronting climate change and to make big investments in this work,” she told Racket. Noting the exorbitant funds the city has paid out to victims of police violence over the past decade, she added, “I hope we would also have the collective political will to fund a sidewalk plowing program that ensures our city is accessible year-round and resilient to climate change.” Racket, you may recall, looked into the possibility of such a program in March 2022.

Wanna Buy a Four Seasons Penthouse?

Minneapolis became a proper city last June, when our first five-star hotel—a 36-story, 222-room Four Seasons—opened in the heart of downtown. The luxe construction features 34 private residences, and late last year those began flying off the shelf at the $2 million each as well as the $6 million CEO tier. Over the past week, four more of the rarified units hit the market. Three of 'em—#3602 ($6.9 million), #3502 ($6.5 million), and #3505 ($6.4 million)—represent the most expensive condos for sale in Minnesota. Bring your imagination to the $6.9 million option; it's being sold as a "raw unbuilt space," as you can see from the listing photos. "Incredibly rare opportunity to own one of the only penthouses atop the brand new Four Seasons Private Residences!" raves the description of the three-bedroom, four-bathroom, 4,332-square-foot space. Bargain shoppers could opt for the two-bedroom (emphasis ours), $2.5 million space a few floors below. Happy condo-peepin'! Remember: You'll never join their income strata, but passing judgment on how they spend their riches remains free and fun.

Correction: A previous version of this story referred to Gov. Arne Carlson as GOP-endorsed. In fact, the state party endorsed more conversative Republican candidates in the 1990 and '94 gubernatorial races.

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