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Iron Range Politician Mocks Union with Basket of Pacifiers

Plus questionable nonprofit dollars, Jessica Lange gets reflective, and creepy local spots in today's Flyover news roundup.

Via the Mesabi Tribune|

Virginia’s Julianne Paulsen handling labor relations.

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

Virginia City Council Mocks Union Members, Cracks Down on Right to Picket

There's some messy city vs. labor drama up on the Iron Range. Virginia City Council Member Julianne Paulsen didn't win any friends with the 60 city workers repped by AFSCME Local 454 when, during Tuesday's City Council meeting, she presented the union with a basket of pacifiers, the Mesabi Tribune's Jim Romsaas reports. At that same meeting, the council approved an “emergency ordinance’’ that prohibits “targeted picketing in residential neighborhoods in the city of Virginia’’—a seemingly undemocratic move inspired by Local 454 members picketing outside the homes of council members during contact negotiations. (Following go-nowhere mediation talks with the city, union members recently filed a petition to strike over proposed benefit cuts and alleged civic budget mismanagement; they could walk off the job as soon as March 5.)

Tuesday's heated meeting reconvened this morning, and Paulsen apologized for the pacifier stunt while alleging that picketers caused “emotional disturbance and distress’’ and vandalized her jewelry business. (VPD is currently investigating the latter allegation.) “Nobody wants to prohibit the application of free speech,’’ Mayor Larry A. Cuffe Jr. said this week, perhaps unreassuringly. Semi-related: Some U.S. lawmakers want to charge picketers who target the homes of U.S. Supreme Court justices under a "Red Scare"-era federal law, NBC News reports, though First Amendment advocates warn that'd be unconstitutional. So, for now, protestors have the right to shout "the whole world hates you” outside of Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s house.

MN Firehoses Nonprofits with $1.1B

When The Minnesota Reformer asked the state's budget agency to make sense of the $1.1 billion in funds lawmakers directed to nonprofits last year, the agency couldn't provide intel on where all of the money is headed. That apparent lack of accountability is at the center of this great watchdog reporting from Deena Winter and Michelle Griffith.

The reporters use one graspable example, a Minneapolis anti-violence nonprofit called A Mother’s Love, to demonstrate the potential for questionable appropriation. That nonprofit is set to receive $3 million from the state over the next two years—more than double the amount it raised from all other funds throughout 2022. All of that would be head-scratching enough, but The Reformer also points out that the money is being drawn from the budget of the Department of Employment and Economic Development... the very agency that discovered A Mother’s Love had misclassified workers two years ago. Later on in the story, the nonprofit wheelings/dealings of Sen. Bobby Joe Champion (DFL-Minneapolis) elicit seriously raised eyebrows.

And those are just a couple anecdotes from a pool of hundreds of direct allocations to nonprofits scheduled through 2025. “There were some that just came through [that were] brand new, with no track record, no nothing," Sen. Eric Pratt (R-Prior Lake) tells The Reformer, reflecting on the last Legislative session. "We couldn’t tell if these were legitimate organizations or not.” The issue is apparently not new: Last year, the Office of the Legislative Auditor found “pervasive noncompliance” around grant management policies, “signaling issues with accountability and oversight.” The Reformer compiled a nifty searchable table at the bottom its story, where you can search to see which agencies are sending how much money to specific nonprofits over the next two years.

Let's Hear From Hollywood's MN-Launched Queen

Today in Vulture, staff writer Matt Zoller Seitz condenses the mighty bio of Jessica Lange with impressive skill, detailing her "hippie intellectual" roots in Duluth, her jet-setting to Paris to study miming, her break as a "daffy sexpot" in 1976's King King, and her eventual war chest of prestigious roles, awards, and lovers. Today, the Cloquet-born actor carries herself with a "regal presence" and "keeps challenging herself," Zoller Seitz concludes in his intro, "even though, at 74, she has nothing to prove." Here are some highlights from the Q&A that follows, although we encourage you to read the whole damn thing...

On falling in love with cinema...

I loved all the old movie stars. Bette Davis and Joan Crawford. Geraldine Page. Vivien Leigh. There was kind of a febrile quality to Vivien Leigh, and it was fascinating. Those were the actors who thrilled me as a little girl watching black-and-white movies on the TV with my mother up in some backwoods town in northern Minnesota.

On the different eras of her amazing career...

Without a doubt. I mean, the first third I would say was thrilling. And then I hit a really dry patch for the middle third. If I think of my work, my so-called career, it’s three acts. The second act was almost across-the-board disappointing. And it wasn’t just the people I worked with that were disappointing. It was also me. I was distracted. I had children growing up, a family at home, a lot of… I can’t blame anybody but me, really. A great deal of my distraction was the regret that I’d be sitting in a trailer somewhere in Bumfuck, America, rather than being with my children. And that tortured me. 

On the love expressed for her via social media...

Well, that’s nice to hear. You know, I have no access to social media, which is probably for the best. Everybody seems to comment on everything. That’s a rabbit hole I have avoided at all costs. I’ve always had a hard time seeing myself in the public eye. After King Kong was released and I was flying home to Minnesota, somebody on the airplane had Time magazine and that was the cover: me in the hydraulic hand. And I was so, so horribly embarrassed — I don’t even know what the word is, but I almost started to cry. I thought, Oh no. Is this what it’s going to be? Some kind of something happening that you have no control over? In some way, it’s always been that way for me. Does that make any sense?

On relating to Streetcar's Blanche DuBois...

That sense of her tremendous vulnerability and the madness that’s right below the surface. Obviously, Blanche was close to Tennessee Williams. I think she’s probably the best character he ever wrote. You think about her young husband, who killed himself because of what she said to him. How do you live with that? How do you live with that kind of remorse or guilt or loss? Even the last line, where she takes the doctor’s arm and talks about the kindness of strangers: There’s just something so lyrical and poetic about that character. It seems to me that she’s one of the most beautifully written characters in American theater along with Mary Tyrone in Long Day’s Journey Into Night. They’re both dealing with remorse and loss and sorrow. There’s that surviving, that desire to make things — Oh God, I don’t even know if I can explain it! To find the reason to keep going.

On why she hasn't appeared in Star Wars and MCU movies...

Nobody’s ever asked... Never. I would say “no.” I wouldn’t know what to do with parts like that!

Where Are the Creepiest Places in Minneapolis?

That's the prompt over on Reddit, and we think it's, quite frankly, a spooktacular one. But you're all smarter than the average Redditor (and immune to pandering!), so sound off in the comments: Which places around town give you the willies?

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