Welcome back to The Flyover, your daily digest of what local media outlets and Twitter-ers are gabbing about.
Disgraced Sheriff Hutchinson is Baaaaack and Making Bank
Never underestimate a white guy's ability to fail upward. Case in point: Former Hennepin County Sheriff David Hutchinson is now a sergeant at the Metro Transit Police Department, where he’ll be taking home $114,587 annually—$22,527 more than he was making when he had the same gig before his disastrous sheriff stint (according to Fox9, he was making $185K a year as sheriff). Hutchinson made a splash in the news in 2021 when he flipped his cop car—which was full of Delta-8 gummies, vaping cartridges, and (probably) delicious banana bread—while driving drunk at 125 mph. While he tried to dodge a BAC test and blamed the wreck on a totally real rideshare driver, fellow cops somehow saw through his story; he was later put on the hook for the cost of the totaled vehicle.
In the following months, Hutchinson charged $17,588 on the company card; fees included trips to Perkins, a white noise machine, and a one-day trip to Vegas for a sex-trafficking conference. Just last month, a 10-page report from human resources detailed Hutchinson’s horrific office behavior, which included racist/sexist jokes, instances of megalomania, and threats to staffers. Hutchinson, who has been on paid medical leave since May, has been an active employee since January 2. Even more incredible, according to this story in the Strib, Met Council was required by law to rehire him. What a town!
Lotsa Opposition to Proposed Healthcare Merger
Fairview Health Services and South Dakota-based Sanford Health have wanted to merge for years, and earlier this winter the two healthcare companies began another go at it. To weigh public opinion on the matter, Attorney General Keith Ellison held the first of several open meetings, and MPR News reports that there was pushback from an array of voices. Dr. Jakub Tolar, the dean of the University of Minnesota’s medical school, wanted to know what would happen to the U of M’s medical center, currently Fairview-operated, and objected more broadly that the U had no voice in the merger.
Unions were concerned that their contracts would not be honored by the merged companies. Nurse Sandie Anderson, who works at M Health Fairview St. John’s Hospital, said it was a red flag that Fairview never mentioned the possibility of a merger during the union’s last contract negotiations. Still others were leery of Sanford’s Dakotan roots, and the effect it might have on abortion and gender-affirming care. “I am worried that if we don’t have a formalized commitment, we will lose… access to safe and effective reproductive health in the state,” said Dr. Cresta Jones. Sounds like Fairview and Sanford still have a lot of questions to answer.
Gov. Carlson, Richard Painter Want $2B for Education Endowments
As you may have read, Minnesota is sitting on a record $17.6 billion budget surplus. Folks are coming out of the woodwork—à la Springfield's oil boon—with ideas on how to spend it, ranging from Walz Bucks to housing for the homeless. Former Gov. Arne Carlson and U of M law professor Richard Painter have their own pitch: $2 billion set aside as special education endowment funds. One would go toward lowering student tuition at public universities; one would go toward "innovative programs in K-12." The duo issued their proposal via this open letter, which takes shots subsidizing stadiums for billionaires, firehosing cash at "overpaid [U of M] administrators," and, generally, our institutional predilection for "instant satisfaction and greed."
Item No. 1 of their action plan is for U President Joan Gabel, she of recent egregious conflict of interest infamy, to not receive a salary that outpaces the president of the United States's. (Gabel makes over $1 million; Biden makes $378,333.) They write of the proposed funds: "The overall goal must be to guarantee to our children access to a quality and affordable educational experience so they are properly equipped to guide us through the enormous challenges of climate change and the restoration of a growing middle class democracy." Free public college, in our view, should be the ultimate goal. But in a backwards country that can't even swing free community college or student debt relief, Carlson and Painter's state-level plan seems like a no-brainer.
Steak & Ale Returns
To be perfectly honest, I (Em) had never heard of Steak & Ale until yesterday, when I learned a.) of its existence and b.) that it is incredibly not a Medieval Times-style dinner theater concept. Oh and c.) that the chain, which closed all of its locations (including one in Bloomington) when the company went bankrupt in 2008, is preparing to make a comeback. Texas-based Legendary Restaurant Brands announced this week that it'll open 15 Steak & Ale and Bennigan's restaurants throughout the Midwest, starting with one in Burnsville, the Strib reports. LRB, Bennigan's parent company, bought the brand when it went belly-up, but so far hasn't brought back any Steak & Ales. There's no word on exactly where the steakhouse will open, but look for it sometime this summer or fall.