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NY Times George Floyd Story Is Why We Need Local Journalism

Plus controversial city government nom chugs along, Big Ag vs. Big Meat, and getting (lightly) stoned buddddday in today's Flyover.

Chad Davis via Flickr

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

Times Credits Frey for Trying

Derek Chauvin murdered George Floyd two years ago today. In light of how little progress has been made to rein in the Minneapolis Police Department and protect the city’s Black residents from armed agents of the state, there’s not much to say that won’t come off as empty pontificating or despair fodder. In fact, there’s not much to say that we don’t say here every day, not much that anyone reading this doesn't already know. The police and the mayor’s office have dealt in bad faith with the public; Frey in particular has misrepresented his positions and those of his political opponents; and for all the city's policy fine-tuning, large-scale, effective reform isn't even on the agenda.

If you’re wondering how the world outside of Minnesota will see what’s been going on here, though, the subhead for today's New York Times story on whether policing has changed in Minneapolis in the past two years insists “the mayor has tried to overhaul the police.” Max Nesterak of the Minnesota Reformer offers a good rebuttal on Twitter. It’s almost like you can’t distill the local political dynamics affecting a complex issue into a single general interest story from 1,500 miles away.

Controversial City Coordinator Nom Keeps Cruisin’ 

The most contentious city coordinator nomination in recent Minneapolis history keeps chugging toward the finish line. Citing a “toxic” and “racist” workplace, her subordinates told Racket earlier this month that interim coordinator Heather Johnston should not "be retained in any leadership role with the City of Minneapolis.” Supporters and opponents gathered for two-plus hours Tuesday to watch a Minneapolis council committee vote 8-4 to let the council later decide Johnston’s fate, though they declined to offer a recommendation. Johnston-backers—like former Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak and Chanhassen Mayor Elise Ryan—lauded the nominee’s “budget chops and courage to work under difficult circumstances," the Star Tribune reports. Meanwhile, workers at the City Coordinator’s Office adamantly maintain that Johnston is not fit to lead their workforce. "Heather has consistently and intentionally chosen not to listen to our complaints of discrimination and has directly committed harms against Black staff," CCO worker Gina Obiri said Tuesday. "A vote to confirm Heather is a vote to deny our humanity and dignity." Get a deeper sense of their numerous grievances here. Johnston assured reporters that, if appointed, she won’t retaliate against the co-workers that despise her. Nice!

Ag vs. Spam in CD1

Minnesotans in the First Congressional District, meet the two major-party nominees to fill Jim Hagedorn’s shoes: Brad Finstad and Jeff Ettinger. In yesterday’s Republican primary, Finstad edged out state rep Jeremy Munson by about 400 votes. (Jennifer Carnahan, despite and/or because of her ability to grab headlines, scored a mere 8% of the vote.) Where Munson pledged to join the extremist right-wing “Freedom Caucus” if elected, Finstad has struck a more moderate tone, touting his bona fides as a former federal Agriculture Department official. But his website still depicts him as a protector of guns and fetuses, prominently mentions Donald Trump, and vows to fight the “extreme Biden and Pelosi agenda,” as though the Democrats have an agenda. Ettinger, who ran away with the DFL nomination, is the former CEO of Hormel, and I can’t think of a better way for the Democrats to prove they’ve got working class interests in mind. Who doesn't want to vote for their boss? In August, there will be a special election to fill the seat until Hagedorn’s term ends in January 2023. That same day, the party will hold primaries for November's general election. Hope you like voting, southern Minnesota.

Thing We're Already Doing Will Soon Be Legal

CBD, Delta-8, and THC-infused products are super popular, but their legality in Minnesota has stayed in the gray zone. (Unless you live in Stillwater. They really don’t want CBD shops in their town.) Now Minnesota is slooooowly inching toward a more stoner-friendly world, thanks to a new omnibus bill that would allow us to legally sell and purchase edibles containing a tiiiny amount of the good stuff. The bill has already made it through the House and Senate, and Gov. Tim Walz is expected to sign it into reality. This would allow for hemp-derived cannabinoids in things like food (gummies and pot brownies), beverages (CBD tea), and topicals (weed lotion), among other products. Here’s the bummer though: There's a relatively low limit on the amount of cannabinoid permitted. A product must contain less than 0.3% THC, and consumables can be no more than 5 mg per serving/50 mg per package. That’s basically a Miller Lite in terms of weed dosage. But if the bill goes through, we can all get government-approved high on August 1.

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