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Gov. Walz: It’s Marijuana Time!!!

Plus Twin Metals mining woes, a food bank on fire, light rail expenses, and Sheila Nezhad jumps from the Community Safety ship in today's Flyover.

Manish Panghal/Unsplash

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

Gov. Walz: 420? How about 24/7?

When Gov. Tim Walz submitted his annual budget proposal last night, stoners (presumably) rejoiced at the news that he has included funding that would move our state towards the legalization of everyone’s favorite weed: sweet Mary Jane. “The Governor and Lieutenant Governor know that Minnesota needs modernized solutions to harness the benefits of legalizing cannabis,” the official release begins. Those benefits? A new economy, jobs, less work for cops, and fewer people in prison. Under his budget, a new Cannabis Management Office would be formed, creating a path for taxation and regulation, grants for people looking to get into the market, resources for addiction prevention and treatment, and expungement of records for nonviolent marijuana offenses. Sounds win/win, right? Don’t get too excited, folks. The GOP-controlled Senate will probably kill the effort, because they hate fun.

Twin Metals Minnesota loses its lease, can’t fuck with the Boundary Waters… for now

There’s gold in those Boundary Waters. Well, there’s stuff like copper and other minerals that go into things like cell phones and personal computers out there. Twin Metals Minnesota, which is actually owned by a Chilean mining giant, had planned to make bank stripping the area of its valuables, but whether or not they would be permitted to has been a stressful back-and-forth journey. First, Obama denied the mineral lease. Then, in 2019, Trump’s Interior Department reversed that decision. Now, Biden’s Department of Interior Secretary Deb Haaland has again revoked the lease. Twin Metals is appealing the decision, however, though an environmental study on the potential environmental devastation mining would have in the area could kill the beast for good.

Sheila Nezhad bails on Mayor Frey’s safety workgroup

When Jacob Frey assembled his 35-member Community Safety Workgroup, the newly reelected Minneapolis mayor extended something of a Lincolnian olive branch by including his recent mayoral rival, Sheila Nezhad. Now Nezhad is out, as she details in this MinnPost piece. The leftist organizer’s reasons are twofold: a total lack of transparency to the public, she says, plus the workgroup’s wasteful uses of city staff resources. “Closed door meetings do not align with my values,” Nezhad writes. “I think that the best problem-solving happens out in the open, and I was unable to persuade my fellow group members to adopt a transparent approach.” A similar commission in St. Paul is live-streamed to the public, she points out, adding: “I think the benefits of public process far outweigh the risks, and with virtual meetings, it’s easy to make them available to the public.” With Nezhad’s resignation, there’ll be more oxygen in the closed-door room for Downtown Council stooge Steve Cramer, Pohlad Foundation VP Susan Bass Roberts, and quizzically exalted former MPD Chief Medaria Arradondo. Expect the secretive voices to rally behind the status quo. 

More like Southwest LRTease

We got an update on Minnesota’s largest ongoing public works project Wednesday, and it’s not exactly ideal. Last anyone heard, the Southwest light-rail line that would connect downtown Minneapolis to Eden Prairie was projected to open in 2023 and cost around $2 billion. Not anymore! The Metropolitan Council now says service won’t begin until 2027, and it’s expected to cost up to $2.75 billion—an increase of anywhere between $450 million to $550 million. As for who’s gonna fund this sucker? “That is a puzzle to be solved,” Met Council Chair Charlie Zelle told the Strib.

House of Charity’s food bank caught fire last night

Located in downtown Minneapolis near the Hennepin County Medical Center, the House of Charity hosts the only free daily lunch program in town. Last night, the building that houses their food bank caught fire around 11 p.m. Thankfully no one was hurt, and firefighters were able to put the blaze out in about an hour. Extensive damage was done, however; the fire managed to destroy the roof. Moving forward, House of Charity is working with other organizations and partners to provide services while the nonprofit recoups. “We’ve been providing help in this way since 1953,” Paul Verrette, director of community engagement, told MPR this morning. “And we do not expect this to stop us.” You can donate funds via the org’s website. There is no word yet on how the fire started.