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Lawmaker to U of M Prez: Resign from Board, End Gross Conflict of Interest

Plus violent crime declines in Minneapolis, the postal service might be fibbing, and new beer labels in today's Flyover.

U of M President Joan Gabel.
University of Minnesota

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

Sen. Marty to President Gabel: Step Down from Securian Board

Looks like a lot of people aren’t thrilled with the Minnesota Board of Regents’ 9-3 decision to allow University of Minnesota president Joan Gabel to accept a seat on Securian Financial’s Board of Directors. Racket covered the basics of this fishy situation in December: The U president, who already pulls in $1 million for her day job, would receive about $130,000 for taking the board seat. Since the U pays around $4.6 million annually for employee life insurance to Securian, which also manages $1.3 billion in “legacy [retirement] business” with the U, we’d seem to have a pretty clear conflict of interest here.

That’s what Regent Darrin Rosha, U of M prof Richard Painter, and former governor Arne Carlson believe. In an open letter, the three noted, commonsensically, “One cannot serve as a fiduciary for two entities with millions of dollars in business between them at the same time.” And Sen. John Marty (DFL-Roseville), who opposed allowing Gabel to take the post from the start, sent an even stronger letter Monday to the Regents about this “unacceptable situation.” “I urge you to step back and recognize that your responsibility is not to simply rubber stamp the desires of the university administration,” Marty wrote in an email that was shared with Racket. “Your blind spot over this obvious conflict-of-interest does not bring honor to the University that you serve.”

Fewer Cops Leads to Less Violent Crime in Mpls?

Well, if it isn’t our old friends “perception” and “reality.” According to year-end city statistics, violent crime in Minneapolis declined from 2021 to 2022, with homicides dropping from 93 to 79. Of course, many publications were reporting the decline in real time, before the election, when it was inconvenient for many city officials to acknowledge this fact. (It is worth noting, however, that the numbers are still higher than in 2019, the last time Minneapolis registered a decrease in violent crime.) 

So why the drop off? We don’t know, and neither do you. MPD chief Brian O’Hara credited “hard work by a shorthanded MPD staff,” according to KSTP. (Their words, not his, as though there’s a difference.) But we have to wonder: If the previous rise in crime could be attributed to a diminished police force, as many insisted at the time, could the subsequent decline in violent crime be an argument for the same smaller force? Maybe the best conclusion to reach is that crime statistics are notoriously difficult to interpret, especially when it comes to year-to-year fluctuations. And so maybe they shouldn’t be politicized. (Ha yeah, good luck with that.)

Is USPS Gaslighting Us About Service Delays?

Have you been getting your mail regularly? Folks living in Twin Cities suburbs Falcon Heights, Edina, Lakeville, Eagan, and Mendota Heights haven’t. Some have reported not getting mail for weeks at a time. As documented in this Strib article, people are stressing out over not receiving license tabs, birth certificates, property documents, and other important things that come through the mail in a timely manner. “There are definitely weeks where we’ll go three or four days without mail,” says Lakeville mayor-elect Luke​ Hellier of issues he’s experienced since summer. “I think that there [are] other post offices that certainly are having that holiday season bottleneck, but the Lakeville problems have extended well beyond that.”

Last August, U.S. Sen. Tina Smith took notice, and sent a letter to Postmaster General Louis DeJoy. In November, Rep. Angie Craig sent DeJoy a letter as well. Last Friday, Craig received a response: “The Postal Service is committed to providing the best possible service to our customers, and we apologize for any inconvenience that may have been experienced.” While the Post Office acknowledges that there have been delays, mostly due to rough weather and the holiday spike, mail should be up to date in most areas; Eagan and Mendota Heights should be caught up by the weekend. 

A New Way to Talk Beer Gossip: Looking at Monthly Label Submissions

Any time a brewery slaps a label on a new beer, they gotta get it approved first by the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau. Interestingly, submissions are available for the public to view, if you know how to use their website. Michigan-based beer journalist Ed Norton discovered this, and thus a new series on craft beer website Better on Draft was born. As the inaugural article is quick to point out, these are merely label submissions; their existence doesn’t mean that a beer is coming to stores—or will ever even exist. It is, however, a really unique way to predict potential beer trends (boysenberry sour beer? A super alcoholic citra? Something called “Galactic Face Slap”?!) and to look at some cool beer labels you may see soon.