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Minneapolis Park Board Pays Musicians in 🙄 Exposure, Experience 🙄

Plus the 2040 Plan still on hold, number crunching how much you gotta earn to live OK in MN, and all hail the laser loon library cards in today's Flyover news roundup.

Facebook: Minneapolis Parks|

The Belfast Cowboys playing Lake Harriet for free.

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

Musicians to MPLS Park Board: Pay Up, Bozos!

Minneapolis's "Music in the Parks" series will return in 2024, and once again, participating musicians won't get a dime for their time and talent. That's according to applications (due today), which, as always, require "MITP" hopefuls to check a box acknowledging an understanding that these aren't paid performances.

Park Board reps tell the Star Tribune's Chris Riemenschneider that there just isn't money to pay for the 200+ shows that are part of the series each year, but there's a growing backlash from featured acts who take the stage at (freshly painted) Lake Harriet Bandshell, Minnehaha Falls Park, and other city parks. "It's embarrassing that a city that fancies itself a progressive role model stubbornly maintains an 'if it ain't broke, don't fix it' mentality when the music community unanimously is shouting, 'It's broke!,'" Stephen Kung, a horn player with the Suburbs, tells the Strib. Kung is behind a Change.org petition encouraging the Minneapolis Park & Recreation Board to pay musicians; he's also in the comments of this Park & Rec Facebook post, in which the board is getting rightfully blasted for asking artists to work for theoretically valuable exposure.

Riemenschneider notes that cities including Duluth, Rochester, Minnetonka, and Bloomington all somehow find a way to pay artists for their work in similar outdoor music series (St. Paul does not). "All of our musicians are paid," Avital Rabinowitz, director of the Rochester Public Music department, proudly tells the Strib.

What Does it Cost to Live in MN?

In Racket's fan-favorite (and currently dormant) Money Journal series, we always ask: "How much do you think a person or household needs to earn to live comfortably in the Twin Cities?" That data exists in a non-vibes-based sense, of course. According to the Economic Policy Institute’s 2024 Family Budget Calculator, a single person in the Twin Cities metro needs to earn $47,442 a year to make ends meet; for a family of four, the parents have to take home $119,229 a year. Max Nesterak at Minnesota Reformer dove into the numbers today, and while those figures exceed the minimum wage in Minnesota and Minneapolis, most households across Minnesota do make more than the basic cost of living, according to data from the Census Bureau.

The median four-person household in the Minneapolis-St. Paul metro earns $148,901 annually, for example, while in the Duluth area a cost of living of $102,649 annually is exceeded by a median four-person household income of $114,034. That trend is seen across counties, while in the metro areas of other states—New York, Massachusetts, California—that's not reliably the case. (The biggest driver of that disparity? Housing.) The Reformer has all that data for you in a handful of nifty plotted charts.

As for Money Journalists? They often tell us they'd figure a single person living in the Twin Cities would need about to make about $70,000 annually, and that feels right—the key word in the phrasing of our question, of course, being comfortably. Take-home pay of $47,442 a year affords you only the very basics: no retirement savings, no dining out, no V-Day gifts for your sweetie. That $47,442 is the bare-minimum amount you'd need to make in order to scrape by in the Twin Cities sans government assistance.

The 2040 Plan: In 'A State of Limbo'

Let's check in on the 2040 Plan, shall we? The series of zoning policies meant to get more housing built in Minneapolis has been stalled out since November of last year, when a Hennepin County judge ruled that the city must "immediately cease" its implementation in response to a lawsuit invoking the Minnesota Environmental Rights Act. Minneapolis has appealed that decision, and an appeals court will hear arguments on February 21, after which it will have 90 days to issue a decision. Of note, according Zak Yudhishthu at Southwest Voices, the city is not working to resolve the suit by undergoing an environmental review. So... where does that leave us?

“We're in this little bit of a state of limbo,” Minneapolis city planner Jason Wittenberg tells SWV, adding that the court order more or less prevents the city from taking legislative steps to implement the 2040 Plan. Mayor Jacob Frey said last month that he's working to make sure it'll be enacted in full, and there's a state bill, first introduced in 2023 and likely to be reintroduced this session, that would exempt these kinds of comprehensive plans from the Minnesota Environmental Rights Act. And the city is taking a similar tack, arguing that plans of this nature shouldn't be subject to ERA.

Evidence Mounts That St. Paul Is Cooler Than Minneapolis

They've been all over the internet already, but credit where credit is due: St. Paul's laser loon library cards are an absolute stroke of genius. Outstanding stuff from the public library system, Mayor Melvin Carter, and PK, Minnesota United FC's loon mascot. Put the laser loon on more things, IMO! Like, I just shelled out for blackout plates, and I'd pay at least another 20 bucks to have the laser loon on there.

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