Hungry? Better Get Vaxxed.
As of next Wednesday, January 19, both Minneapolis and St. Paul will require proof of vaccination or a recent negative COVID-19 test (within 72 hours) for anyone entering a business where food and drink are served. In a press conference, Minneapolis mayor Jacob Frey stressed that the measure was temporary. As Racket reported last month, many people in the local restaurant industry were hoping for such a decision. So if you’re not vaccinated, better chow down at all your favorite restaurants this weekend. (Just kidding. Please do not do that. Just get vaccinated.)
RIP Clyde Bellecourt
A giant of Native American political activism passed yesterday. Clyde Bellecourt, also known by his Ojibwe name, Neegonnwayweedun (or “The Thunder Before the Storm,” in English) died of prostate cancer at his home in Minneapolis at the age of 85. Born on the White Earth reservation in northwestern Minnesota, Bellecourt was a co-founder of the American Indian Movement (AIM) and a leading Red Power figure in the ’70s. The group staged high-profile, high-risk protests, including a 71-day occupation of Wounded Knee, South Dakota, to draw attention to the conditions under which Native Americans were living, at a time when these issues were largely ignored by white Americans. He continued his work in the decades to come and remained a powerful influence on younger activists.
His Way or the Highway
Hate interstates? Love Duluth? Well, have we got a story for you. And by “we,” I mean MPR News, which spoke with Jordan van der Hagen, whose proposal to transform I-35—today a multi-lane menace that slices the Zenith City of the Unsalted Seas in twain, tomorrow possibly a tree-lined “urban-scale street”—is meeting with unexpected positive feedback from local government and businesses alike. The project has been cutely dubbed “Highway 61 Revisited” after the road that the interstate displaced and the Bob Dylan song (which is in part about grifters doing PR for World War III but we’ll let that slide). As Duluth city council member Roz Randorf put it “Who knew we didn’t need 14 lanes of highway cutting through and splitting our city right down the middle?”
State Eases Quarantine Requirements for Child Care Centers
Until yesterday, the state of Minnesota required child care providers to quarantine students and staff who’d come in contact with anyone testing positive for COVID-19, which seems reasonable, what with the pandemic and all. The state Department of Human Services dropped that requirement yesterday, though it still “strongly encourages” providers to follow CDC and state health department guidelines, which call for the unvaccinated (which includes all children under five, who cannot yet be vaccinated) to be quarantined after exposure. The upshot? Some responsible providers will continue to quarantine, but now they’ll look like the bad guys. Others will cut corners because they can. And if you think this is just another way that government actors are sloughing the responsibility for keeping others safe onto the rest of us… well, it’s not not that.
Trouble for High School Coach Who Worked with Troubled Kids
Matthew McCollister is a coach who has greatly improved struggling high school basketball teams. He’s also a sketchy lawyer. And since we live in a society that doesn’t allow that kind of duality, he’s now neither of those things. McCollister had been coaching South St. Paul since 2019, also working there full-time as a paraprofessional, getting at-risk teens’ lives back on track. Now he’s facing a felony conspiracy to commit health-care fraud charges. Like most teachers, McCollister had a side hustle: He had run an injury law practice since 2015. The problem was that some clients were actually recruits who would go to chiropractors who were also in on the scam. They would sign off that the recruits needed treatment, and McCollister would file claims with the insurance company. Unfortunately for McCollister, he eventually solicited a recruit who was actually an undercover agent. He’s now looking at 10-16 months in prison, and has been suspended from lawyering. His lawyer, Ryan Pacyga, says he plans to plead guilty to the charges, which will lead to termination at South St. Paul, too. “He’s kind of immediately just cooperating with the process and falling on the sword for himself,” Pacyga told the Pioneer Press.