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Mary Lucia Is Back in Radio

Plus no more Commandments in Itasca's jail, Wuollet sued for late rent, and loopholes thrive at charters in today's Flyover news roundup.

Courtesy of Mary Lucia

Welcome back to The Flyover, your daily digest of important, overlooked, and/or interesting Minnesota news stories.

Mary Lucia's Got a New Gig

When Mary Lucia, one of 89.3 the Current's original hosts, left her job at 89.3 in 2022, she did it like a total badass, pointedly playing songs like Margo Price’s “Pay Gap” during her final broadcast. “I've been concerned with equity and fair treatment of all of my sisters at the station,” she wrote in a Facebook announcement at the time.

Many of us had faith that she would land on her feet elsewhere, and we were right. After a brief stint as a columnist at The Dispatch (RIP), she’s headed back to radio, this time as a leader at Radio K, the enduring, locally loved, nationally respected student-run radio station at the University of Minnesota. “Radio K continues to grow their record-breaking listenership and will continue to rock with the addition of Mary Lucia as Program Advisor who will be training the next generation of broadcasters,” a press release sent out this morning states, noting that Lucia “likes cats and dogs more than people.”

Lucia will also publish a memoir this spring via U of M Press, titled What Doesn’t Kill Me Makes Me Weirder and Harder To Relate To

God is Dead at Itasca Jail

When the fancy-schmancy, brand-new $75 million Itasca County Jail began offering tours to the public, some folks were taken aback by the artwork, which included a spare, two-story high reproduction of the Ten Commandments in the building’s workout facility. (Because everyone loves being reminded not to take “the Lord’s name in vain” while at the gym, right?) Well that shit has been painted over, thanks to complaints from the community and from the Freedom From Religion Foundation, which argued subjecting captive audiences to Bible-propaganda violated First Amendment rights. "Ultimately, it just had to do with defending the situation and how many public dollars might be at risk there," Brett Skyles, Itasca County administrator, tells Jana Hollingsworth at the Star Tribune.

Other bon mots throughout the building were also painted over, including a Bible-endorsing quote from Ronald Reagan, a George Washington Carver quote that was misattributed to George Washington, and a Squire Bill Widener quote attributed to President Theodore Roosevelt. Not everyone hated the quotes; some constituents in the area argued that they should remain. "Some don't even know the name of Jesus until they come in here," claimed one resident. (From what I can tell from tours of the space, Jesus wasn’t mentioned or quoted anyway.)

Wuollet Booted From Wayzata Space

After 18 years, Wuollet Bakery has been evicted from its space at 795 Lake St. E. in Wayzata. According to files obtained by Bring Me the News, Wuollet's landlords filed a lawsuit in March alleging that the bakery owed over $8,000 in rent. In this very in-depth piece on the history of Wuollet, Daniel Gustafson at Wayzata.com shares images of the sheriff’s order taped to the businesses window, stating that former tenants "are subject to arrest and prosecution for trespass." (In that same story you can see photos showing that the space has been cleared out.) But the folks behind Wuollet, which has locations in south Minneapolis, Edina, and Hastings, among others, say that it’s not leaving Wayzata yet. “We do want to continue to provide our delicious baked goods in the Wayzata area and are looking at several other potential retail locations,” a spokesperson tells KSTP. Sounds legit! If they don't relocate, it certainly would be an end of an era; Wuollet and its owners have had some kind of bakery in Wayzata for over 80 years.

Charter Schools Are Actually Above the Law? 

That’s kinda the main takeaway in this detailed dive from Becky Z. Dernbach at Sahan Journal into how funds, jobs, and contracts are managed at charter schools. What she found was a trail of questionable hiring practices, conflicts of interest, nepotism, and loopholes galore. Minnesota charters were awarded $132 million in state money in 2021-22, yet unlike public schools they are not obligated to be transparent on how their contracts get awarded, and that includes state procurement laws and public records laws. “So who is responsible for monitoring how charter schools award and spend that $132 million in large outside contracts?” Dernbach asks. “The Minnesota Department of Education? The schools’ authorizers? The individual school boards? Could the answer be, No one is fully responsible?” It’s a long read, but there are layers of uncertain accountability here, folks. Speaking of long reads: Click here to read Racket's 2022 deep-dive into the history of local charter schools. 

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