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Let’s Study Sen. Lucero’s Increasingly Deranged Twitter Activity

Plus facial recognition software stinks, Met Council fumbles again, and violent Skittles in today's Flyover news roundup.


Normal stuff!

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

The Satanic Panic Posts? They're Escalating!

Like any well-adjusted person, Minnesota state Sen. Eric Lucero (R-St. Michael) seems to spend a good part of his day worrying about devil worship and the End Times. Last April, he brought his not-at-all-crackpot concerns that taxpayer dollars were paying for necromancy- and occult-themed art to the Senate floor. The following month, in need of additional attention, he showed up in a velvet purple suit to vote “no” on the Prince Rogers Nelson Memorial Highway. And now, he’s combined all his passions into… this Satanic diagram thingy he calls the “Democrat 5-Point Priorities.”

Recent posts from this guy also include a tweet confusing the Muslim holiday Eid with moon worship, blaming gay people for global warming (“The next worldwide judgment will be by FIRE.”), and speculating that artificial intelligence will bring “Terminator and Matrix closer to reality.” So we're all going to die via some sort of robot war with moon-worshipping Satanists and rainbow fire? Honestly, that sounds kinda amazing right now.

Lawsuit: Facial Recognition System Mistook One Black Man for Another

A longstanding concern about facial recognition tech (aside from the basic fact that it’s creepy and dystopian as hell) is that it mimics the racial bias of its users and its designers. The case of 21-year-old Minneapolis man Kylese Perryman certainly seems like evidence of such bias. In 2021, Perryman was charged with carjacking and armed robbery by Hennepin County prosecutors after a facial recognition system falsely matched his photo with security footage of a different young Black man, who had allegedly been spotted using the robbery victims’ credit cards at a Walmart.

Now, MPR news reports, Perryman is suing authorities in federal court for violating his civil rights. “I feel like I had to prove my innocence more than they had to prove I was a suspect," Perryman says. He also says he endured five days in jail, was released with a GPS ankle monitor, and then spent months clearing his record. The ACLU cites studies that Black people are 100 times more likely to be misidentified by such tech as whites, and the rates are even worse for Indigenous people.

More Like Met CLOWN-cil

A new legislative audit has some more bad news about the Met Council, the unelected, badly managed regional governmental entity that so many of us know so little about, reports Michelle Griffith at Minnesota Reformer. Was this about how construction on the Southwest Light Rail went over budget and blew all deadlines? No, that was the September 2022 audit. Oh, so this must have been about oversight errors on that project. No, that was the March 2023 audit. This audit (which will not be the last—a fourth is due this fall on SWLRT financing) examined how the council’s failure to enforce agreements with contractors led to hundreds of millions in additional costs as well as countless delays. 

The SWLRT project is already at least $1.5 billion over budget and a decade behind schedule, and these new revelations drew another round of exasperated complaints about the council from lawmakers. “The agency is impervious to critiques and criticism and good ideas,” said recent Racket interviewee Sen. Scott Dibble (DFL-Minneapolis). Legislative Auditor Judy Randall went even further, MinnPost's Peter Callagha reports. “The council and the state have other light rail transit projects coming up, that are being discussed, that are being vetted,” she said. “Now is the time to think hard about who should be the responsible party for those projects.” We get the feeling she thinks it shouldn't be the Met Council. 

Alleged Mankato Skittle Assault Receives International Press Coverage

Sometimes local news items are so trashy, so barely worthy of your attention, that they seem to transcend our state’s borders and flutter to their true homes: The NY Post and the U.K. Daily Mirror. Both of those tabloids are all over the recent legal woes of a Mankato teenager. Tristan Stetina, 19, made headlines because of his facial tattoos, sure, but also because of his alleged behavior inside a Blue Earth County restaurant last Friday. 

The teen entered the establishment and “began throwing Skittles at employees and customers,” according to the police report. (“Taste the pain-bow,” reads the excellent Post lede.) A person ID’d as Victim 1 claims she was “hit in the back with a Skittle which caused a stinging pain.” The cops noticed “Skittles all over the ground and a bag of Skittles near the garbage,” per the report, and after hearing Victim 1 describe her alleged assailant's face tats, officers “knew the male to be Tristan Stetina” from previous arrests, including a drug arrest in May. After police learned that Stetina was at “another business,” the suspect was “taken to the ground” there by three cops and, later, charged with misdemeanor assault, misdemeanor disorderly conduct, and resisting arrest.

We haven't heard of this much drama outta Mankato since the last time we spoke to Mike Lindell!

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