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Is Klobuchar a Better Senator Than She Was a County Attorney?

Plus the great deer vs. wolf debate, ICE falls out of favor, and a snow beast gets potential names in today's Flyover news roundup.

5:37 PM CST on December 11, 2023

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Which era of Klobes is depicted here? We’ll never reveal the year! (It’s from 2012.)

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

Innocent Man Freed After 19 Years

At the request of the Hennepin County Attorney's Office, a county judge set Marvin Haynes free today, the New York Times reports. Haynes was convicted in 2004 of murdering a flower shop clerk; he has maintained his innocence ever since. Armed with new evidence that the detectives involved in the original investigation threatened witnesses, overlooked exculpatory evidence, and showed the sole witness an old photo of Haynes in which he more closely resembled the suspect she’d described to them—you know, regular MPD stuff—Haynes was seeking a new trial. Instead County Attorney Mary Moriarty’s team proactively took the unusual step of asking the judge to vacate the conviction. After 19 years of unjust imprisonment, Marvin Haynes was vindicated.

Haynes’s case doesn’t tell us anything about the Minneapolis Police Department that we didn’t already know, though the Times coverage reminds us that our police screwups, whether new or historical, are now national news. And as that story points out, this case renews scrutiny on Amy Klobuchar’s eight years (1999-2007) as Hennepin County attorney. (Klobuchar issued a non-comment comment late Monday about Haynes.) This is the second high-profile repudiation of a homicide conviction secured by Klobuchar’s office. In 2020, when she was running for president, a report from the Associated Press suggested that Myon Burrell, who had been sentenced to life in prison at the age of 16 for the murder of 11-year-old Tyesha Edwards, was in fact “railroaded by police.” Following the report, the state looked into the case and his sentence was commuted. The prosecutor in both cases was Mike Furnstahl, now retired, who has continued to maintain that Burrell is guilty despite the subsequent developments. (Klobuchar called Burrell's release “the right and just decision.”) 

On the sunnier side of things, a bill that now-Sen. Klobuchar co-sponsored in the Senate is getting good marks from the music industry, Marc Hogan Pitchfork reports. The Fans First Act, introduced on Friday, is being hailed as “the most comprehensive ticketing industry reform package” to ever appear before Congress. The legislation would require ticket sellers and resellers to disclose the total cost of a ticket, including fees, up front, and also to break down the cost of that ticket and state whether they are the original seller or not. The bill also contains multiple consumer protection measures and punishment for those who break the law. Critics of the bill say that while the FFA ban “speculative sales” of tickets the seller does not actually own, it does not prevent the use of “concierge services,” or hiring people to stand in line for you digitally. 

Deer Hunters Cry Wolf

How many deer is too many deer? How few are too few? When it comes to these two questions, Minnesota farmers and hunters seem to disagree. Dan Gunderson at MPR News talks to farmers who are fed up with pesky critters descending on their farms and gobbling up whatever hay and grain they can. Farmers say the total cost of deer destruction is incalculable. “You can’t really measure it because it’s all the stuff they stand on and crap on and pee on,” says farmer Jennifer Rickford, who lives near Barnesville, Minnesota. Over at the Minnesota Reformer, however, Christopher Ingraham quotes frustrated deer hunters who say that wolves, who are no longer hunted in Minnesota, have been gobbling up all the deer. Upon looking at the date from the last deer hunting season, however, Ingraham has determined that this is just an excuse—though the numbers are slightly down, there’s nothing to suggest a drastic thinning of the deer herd. What’s more, the MPR story points out a big reason deer are finding their way to farms more frequently: They’re being driven there by hunters.

Holding Detainees on ICE

Once upon a time, a county could supplement its budget nicely by jailing ICE detaintees. The feds would pay a set rate for each immigrant detainee, and counties would come to rely on the additional revenue. (Any nice new county jail that’s been built in the past 20 years was probably at least partly funded by this dubious practice.) But as Nafi Soumare in the Minnesota Reformer reports, Sherburne County, which embraced the program more wholeheartedly than any county in the state, is now down to a single ICE detainee.

The program seemed to be dwindling under the Obama administration, as I wrote about for MinnPost in 2013, but 2016 changed all that. Sherburne County signed new a contract with ICE guaranteeing the availability of 300 beds for detainees per day, and they’d get $100 per detainee housed (up from $80 a few years earlier). But he county faced two lawsuits in 2020: one for wrongful imprisonment and attempted deportation of a U.S. citizen, and another resulting from an inmate suicide, alleging that correctional officers ignored warning signs. In general, Sherburne has also “failed to meet ICE detention requirements for mental health care and general wellbeing of their detainees,” the story says. So long to a lousy way of funding local government.

Finalists Announced in Beautiful, Beloved Snow Creature Contest

Some might say that Racket has already spent entirely too much time on the Midtown Global Market’s contest to name its new snow creature. But I say once you start covering a story, you need to provide follow ups until you’ve beaten that damn story into the cold, dead ground. And so I present to you the five finalists in the naming contest: Eddie McYeti, Snoseph, Snowgre, Benjamin Blizzard, and Walter Winter. You can vote for your favorite here; the winning name suggester will receive a $100 MGM gift card. Are those names somewhat disappointing? Yes, yes they are. Will there be yet another follow up when the winner is announced? If I’m responsible for the Flyover that date, then yes, yes there will be.  

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