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Hm. Why is Michael Rainville Hassling This Particular Proposed Downtown Business? Hmmm.

Plus Keith applies to the Strib, a wolf in every pot, and downtown's new hero in today's Flyover news roundup.

Facebook: Michael Rainville for Ward 3|

Michael Rainville

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

Council Member Rainville: MPD Isn't Strong Enough for Presence of Afrobeat Lounge

You won’t find downtown boosters much bigger than Minneapolis City Council Member Michael Rainville. So, then, you might expect the All of Mpls-backed rep to welcome new small businesses with open arms, especially ones that’ll draw folks to Ward 3 by the hundreds. You might even think such a politician would move heaven, earth, and bureaucratic liquor licensing snarls to enhance entertainment offerings! 

Rainville, however, doesn’t seem to like the idea of one aspiring business in particular: The Bazemnt, a 250-capacity lounge/venue themed around Afrobeat music that’s already built out inside 501 S. Washington Ave. It’s the dream of lifelong Minneapolitan Peter Juasemai, who recently shared his struggles to open with Brianna Kelly of Downtown Voices. “[It’s] roadblock after roadblock,” Juasemai says of the licensing process. “My hands are tied right now... an empty bar doesn’t do anything for me.” The confusion seems to stem from the fact that Eric Vedasto, an apparent friend of Juasemai’s, had used that same business name on a separate application to the city. Vedasto briefly operated an unlicensed club called The Bazemnt three years ago in St. Paul, which caused Minneapolis officials to reject his 2022 attempt to open a club with that same name at 501 S. Washington Ave.

But back to Rainville! Along with a “small but vocal group of residents,” DT Voices reports, the council member warned in a letter that “MPD does not have the manpower to properly respond to problems that may occur at a 250-person late-hour night-club in the Mill District.” Kelly reports that about 30 residents expressed noise concerns for their “sleepy” neighborhood in a February meeting about The Bazemnt. As you may recall (we did not recall), a ping-pong bar called Hop21 operated at that exact address from 2015 through 2022 with a full bar and hours that extended until 2 a.m., and nobody seems to grouse about nearby nightlife spots like Crooked Pint Ale House and Eagle MPLS. Also: The 8,400-capacity (!) Armory is three blocks away. Makes ya wonder what's so different about The Bazemnt…

The City Council’s Business, Housing, and Zoning Committee will vote on April 16 about whether to green-light The Bazemnt, which has already won conditional approval from the city’s licensing department (Vedasto can't be involved; workers must wear "professional" attire). If approved by the committee, the venue's fate will go before the full council on April 25. In any event, never forget that Rainville is the kinda guy who vindictively throws sleeping bags belonging to “riverbank vagrants” into the Mississippi.

Hire Me as Strib Opinion Editor, You Cowards! 

To: Steve Grove, Star Tribune Publisher.

Hi Steve! I saw here that you’re hiring a new Opinion Editor and Vice President for the Strib and—no, wait, hear me out. I’m sure that ever since Scott Gillespie retired you’ve been hearing from folks hoping that you’ll make their childhood dreams of editing Katherine Kersten and reposting Chicago Tribune editorials come true. And I’m sure you hear from a lot of bozos saying, “You should hire me, I’ve got lots of opinions, ha ha ha!”

But me, I’m different. First off, I have a true vision that would not only make your newspaper a leader in redefining the role of the Opinion section, but would also save the Strib a few bucks. My very first executive decision would be to put myself out of a job. That’s right—disband the Star Tribune Editorial Board. The community need for editorials, if it ever existed, is no more; an editorial board is just a way for a news company’s owner to put his thumb on the scale of public opinion, and I’m sure you, me, and Mr. Taylor all agree that this is not the proper role of a newspaper in the 21st century. Editorials also often undermine the work that the rest of the paper’s actual journalists do by failing to meet the same standards of factual verification. As for opinion pieces… well, have you seen the internet? I think we’re good for those.

But even if you’re not ready to let me shut down the Ed Board right away (we’ll put that on the back burner), I agree that bringing in “diverse voices across the demographic, political, and geographic spectrum is essential.” A key way to begin achieving demographic diversity would be to no longer allow politicians, think tankers, or reps of large non- or for-profit organizations to write opinion pieces. As for political diversity, I would strike an even balance between pro- and anti-capitalist viewpoints. And let’s hear it for “geographical diversity”—I think it is indeed time that the Ed Board acknowledge that other parts of Minneapolis exist beyond downtown, and that the city does not merely function as an economic engine for the metro region and the state, but that people live here. 

And if you’re thinking, “I’m sorry, Keith, but we absolutely do not need another white guy for this job”… well, I was hoping you’d say that.

Yours truly,

Keith Harris, Racket Co-Founder

Anti Wolf Hunting? MN Senator Will Punish You With Pet Wolves, Fences.

Sen. Torrey Westrom (R-Alexandria) really wants to legalize wolf hunting in Minnesota, so much so that when a DFL-endorsed amendment banning it was pitched, he proposed a novel approach to sway its supporters.

“Maybe we should establish trapping, a live trapping program, and start letting these become released in the backyards of these people that are in denial and then see how nice of pets they think they are,” he said Thursday from the Minnesota Senate floor, per the Rochester Post-Bulletin. “And we can put a fence around their backyard so they can stay." (While he’s obviously joking, a wolf in your yard is a small price to pay free fencing—have you seen lumber costs these days?) 

The ban, which had already passed in the House, didn’t make it through the Senate yesterday. Regardless, wolves in our neck of the woods are protected federally via the Endangered Species Act, though that could change with DNR reporting that the population is bouncing back. Hunting groups also argue that the wolf boom is impacting deer populations in the Arrowhead Region of the state. However, the DNR reported last fall that harsh winters and loss of habitat, not hungry wolves, are more likely to blame for the deer dip. 

Still, Westrom urges you to think of the children. "When the coyotes and the wolves are a possible danger, you can't leave children out in the backyard," he continued. It’s worth noting that wolves don’t generally attack humans; according to a worldwide study on incidents from 2002 to 2020 by the Norwegian Institute for Nature Research, the risk is “far too low to calculate.” We've made Racket's position quite clear.

Downtown Minneapolis Is So Back

To quote Twitter user @dunktankdoug...

"Downtown Minneapolis is dead? Then explain to me why a 70s impala elevated an extra 3 feet off the ground is circling 8th ave blasting I Can Feel it Coming in the Air Tonight on repeat!"

Certain facts can be debated—is it an Impala or, as one replier pointed out, an '89 Chevy Caprice?—but we cannot argue the following hard and fast truth: This guy rocks. If anyone knows the owner of this car, briefly silhouetted in this viral clip by a sparking lighter, please send them our way. He's the folk hero downtown Minneapolis needs and deserves.

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