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New Strib Cartoonist 0-2

Plus students weigh in on Gabel, a drug board is kneecapped, and spying for Legal Aid in today's Flyover.

Rakesh A. via Flickr|

This is from 2012. Please nobody point this out.

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

The Strib's New Political Cartoonist Seems Kinda Dumb

Lord knows the standards for political humor are not high these days. An Andy Borowitz post, “Fox Replaces Tucker Carlson with Lying Chatbot,” currently has 14,000 likes on Facebook. Even so, new Strib political cartoonist Mike Thompson seems like a particularly joke-challenged individual.

Thompson, of course, drew fire (get it) this weekend for a convoluted two-panel cartoon that smooshed together two subjects: gun violence and Minneapolis’s recent decision to allow the Muslim call to prayer five times a day. To put the most charitable spin on the piece, it’s muddled hackwork working off the dumbest assumptions about city life. Most respondents on social media this weekend were justifiably more blunt in their criticism. (The Strib is probably just excited that he Has People Talking. Sigh.) 

But people have already had so much to say about that cartoon, so let’s talk about this less offensive but equally baffling one.

Huh? What's event the joke here? Nobody trying to legalize weed is saying Minnesotans aren’t mellow enough. And Minnesotans aren't mellow—even the old stereotyped Minnesotan is quietly uptight, which is a whole other thing. And on top of that it's just... not really a joke? Anyway, Thompson will probably fit right in on the Opinion page because he’s the D.J. Tice of cartoonists—you can tell he’s wrong, but he’s not coherent enough for you to figure out exactly how he’s wrong.

U Community Sez: Gabel Stunk

Earlier this month, when news of ex-University of Minnesota President Joan Gabel bolting for the top job at the University of Pittsburgh broke, friend of Racket Jason DeRusha was incredulous. The Maple Grove radio DJ found the level of vitriol directed at Gabel “honestly shocking,” and spent a segment exploring “why everybody’s so mad.” More conclusive intel on the subject arrived Monday via the Minnesota Daily.

The student paper polled 528 U of M community members—about half of ‘em students, plus staffers, faculty, and alumni—on all things Gabel, based on a 1-5 approval scale. Overall, the former Prez flunked big time; 56% of respondents put her job performance at a 1 or 2. Asked how upset they were about her departure, 63% chose 1—the lowest level of upsetedness. Elsewhere, Gabel scored OK on COVID-19 precautions, pretty poorly on campus safety, and landslide terrible on transparency. (That last score was likely influenced by her egregious conflict of interest with Securian Financial, which resulted in her resignation from that company’s board in January.) 

Survey takers threw around words like “greedy” and “money hungry” to describe Gabel, who took large raises as tuition costs soared, while others claimed she faced increased scrutiny as the U’s first woman president. “I have heard a lot of negative things about her taking a lot of money for her own benefit, raising her salary and not really adding a lot of value to the school as a whole,” strategic comms student Steph Robertson told the Daily. The U of M Board of Regents met today to discuss finding Gabel’s replacement. Says freshman computer science student Braylin Pantila: “I hope that the next president sees more of the students and what the students want and need.”

Lone Dem ‘Guts’ Drug Affordability Bill

Looking for a DFLer to be mad at today? Look no further than state Sen. John Hoffman (DFL-Champlin). A bill that would’ve helped curb prescription drug price gouging by creating a Prescription Drug Affordability Board was working its way through the Senate, Minnesota Reformer’s Deena Winter reports, though its ability to set price caps got kneecapped last week. Hoffman was the lone Dem to vote for a Republican amendment that effectively works as “a poison pill; it guts the entire bill by excluding nearly all high-cost drugs from being reviewed,” Kenza Hadj-Moussa, a spokesperson for lefty political org TakeAction, tells Winter. Cool!

It might not surprise you to learn that Big Pharma launched a PR blitz against the drug board bill, and consultancy and lobbyist freaks aligned with both parties have worked hard to maintain the disgusting status quo. One such consulting firm, DFL-friendly United Strategies, recently saw its founder, Richard Carlbom, appointed as Gov. Walz’s deputy chief of staff. Very cool! Meanwhile, you and everyone you love suffers. “It’s a racket,” Hadj-Moussa says. “No other country in the world allows Big Pharma to rig the system like this.”

Become an Undercover Anti-Discrimination Spy!

Thanks to the Minnesota Housing Act and the Minnesota Human Rights Act, landlords, rental agencies, sellers, real estate agents, and others in the housing field cannot discriminate against applicants based on gender, race, nationality, religion, marital status, sexuality, financial aid status, or disability. But still, we all know it happens. So, Mid-Minnesota Legal Aid is looking for volunteers to help test for discrimination. After some training via Zoom, “fake shoppers” are sent out by the org to pose as potential renters or buyers, touring spaces, talking to reps, and then sharing their experiences with MMLA. "It is a way to gather evidence of potential differential treatment of people who are seeking apartments and other homes," housing attorney Elana Dahlager tells Zoë Jackson at the Star Tribune. The program employs volunteers who are in protected classes as well as those who are not; variations in cost, requirements, and sudden unavailability can be signs of discrimination. You can find more info on how to sign up here.

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