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Hunger-Denying MN Senator Raising Cash off Backlash

Plus flood alert, Herkimer housing, and the 20th anniversary of the Iraq War in today's Flyover.

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Steve Drazkowski has discovered there’s money in being deliberately offensive.

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

Draz: I Am a Victim of the Media!

The secret to succeeding in U.S. politics is to never back down from what you say, no matter how nasty or inane your statement is. Let's say, for instance, you are Sen. Steve Drazkowski (R-Mazeppa) and you deny the existence of hungry children in your state. On the floor of the Minnesota Senate, you declare "I have yet to meet a person in Minnesota that is hungry,” while opposing a bill to provide free lunch to public school children. Your statement does not go over well, and it reverberates well beyond Minnesota: Vanity Fair calls you “uniquely evil” (which, the current GOP being what it is, gives you too much credit) and even the New York Post (which admittedly doesn’t mind crossing the aisle if there are clicks to be had) calls you out.

Time to apologize, backtrack, clarify, or otherwise do damage control? Nope. Instead, Drazkowski is raising money off the angry reaction to his stupid statement. In a new email sent to potential donors, the southeastern Minnesota lawmaker claims that he’s been battling “food fraud,” and as a result, “far-left Democrats” are using “their partners in the media to slam me!” Notably, Drazkowski did not make any statement regarding his initial comment to the press during any of this time. Why should he? It would only spoil his game.

Flood Watch

For Bring Me the News, meteorologist Sven Sundgaard writes that we could be counting down the seconds on a "flooding ticking time bomb." We're at the tail end of one of our biggest winters ever, snow-total-wise, and we've had a rainy, slow start to spring. Taking those factors into account, Sundgaard reports that the National Weather Service upgraded the flood outlook in Minnesota to a "well above normal" risk. What makes this year worse than the average year? It's not just all the snow sitting around—it's the fact that the chilly temps have made the snow act like a giant sponge, soaking up rainwater and freezing it rather than letting it drain away. "The 1.5+ inches of water we received in just rain in January and February is basically still sitting in the snow pack…waiting," the weatherman reports, ominously. Great!

Could Herkimer Become Housing?

Possibly! According to Melody Hoffman at Southwest Voices, Lowry Hill East Neighborhood Association is looking to turn the former brewpub/restaurant into an affordable housing complex with a commercial space on the ground floor. That’s an unusual move for a housing association, but the group is on track to make things happen. They’ve teamed up with nonprofit CommonBond Communities and the city of Minneapolis has already approved LHENA using $500k of its revitalization funds for the purchase. They’ll still have to come up with a lot more money, as the building, which has been for sale since 2020, is going for $1.2 million. LHENA board member Peter Schmitt isn’t worried though. “It’s overpriced at the moment,” he tells SWV. Next steps could include applying for grants and looking for a business to invest in that street-level retail spot.

Let Me Rant About the Iraq War for a Minute

On February 15, 2003, around 8,000 Twin Citians marched up Hennepin Avenue from Uptown to Loring Park ahead of the astronomically stupid, evil, and costly Iraq War. Here's astute 17-year-old protester Vanda Smrkovski to the Star Tribune, who buried its local protest coverage on A15: "This war is really about expanding the American empire… What the hell do these [idiots] take us for?" Gotta wonder what insult she actually used! Video of the demonstration, posted below, was uploaded Thursday to YouTube, sparking memories upon the grim 20th anniversary. For many locals, including this writer (Jay), our first taste of activism came on March 20, 2003, during the student-walkout protest that drew 5,000 from downtown to the U of M on the eve of Baghdad's invasion. "We're not blaming this school for the war, but how can you go on when the whole world is falling apart?" Savannah Rhomberg said in a much larger A1 Strib piece spearheaded by the great Randy Furst.

As you may recall, the water-carrying U.S. media parroted George W. Bush administration lies that paved the way for the post-9/11 military adventurism that—accounting for all U.S.-led conflicts across the Middle East and Afghanistan—resulted in the deaths of almost 1 million people, according to Brown University's Costs of War project. In late 2002, just 23 U.S. senators voted against authorizing military force against Iraq, Sen. Paul Wellstone and Sen. Mark Dayton of Minnesota thankfully among them. Reportedly, Vice President Dick Cheney once told Wellstone, “If you vote against the war in Iraq, the Bush administration will do whatever is necessary to get you." The senator died in a northern Minnesota plane crash weeks after the vote; click here to read our 20th anniversary remembrance of Wellstone, conscience of the Senate.

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