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Pardon Me? NYT Goes Long on Minnesota Board of Pardons.

Plus a Third Precinct update, an MEA primer, and lotsa food news in today's Flyover news roundup.

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

An In-Depth Look at the Pardon Process

A Sunday’s New York Times feature, headlined “‘I Want to Be Forgiven. I Just Want to Be Forgiven,” features a triforce for factors that tend to elevate stories to greatness: author Dan Berry got to write long, he got to write lyrically, and his subject—the agonizing 10 minutes afforded to prisoners to prove they’re “worthy” of pardons—packs enough heartbreaking human interest for a full series. And we’re telling you about it because, on a recent steamy summer day at the Minnesota Capitol, Barry visited to profile this twice-yearly ritual of redemption or reconfinement.

“The doors opened to reveal Minnesota officialdom personified: the governor, the attorney general and the state’s chief justice — the three members of the Board of Pardons,” he writes, setting the scene. “They sat, unsmiling, at a long table facing a much smaller table that featured tissue boxes and a digital clock set at 10 minutes.” 

Goddamn… The odds are stacked against the cast of characters we meet, with Minnesota only having granted 800 pardons over the past 39 years, though the Times highlights Gov. Tim Walz’s tiptoe efforts toward criminal justice reform. Our main character throughout the dramatic, complicated drama is Jim Lorge, a “retired meth cook” who was convicted in 2005 but has since transformed into a well-regarded drug counselor with a fiancée. Did Lorge receive the two-vote minimum for pardon, one of which must be cast by the “regular-guy governor”? We won’t spoil it for ya.  

You Wouldn't Burn Down a 'Community Service Center,' Would You?

The Minneapolis City Council still isn’t sure where to store the Third Precinct. As you may remember, there was a tentative agreement to situate them downtown in Century Plaza, alongside the First Precinct; Council President Andrea Jenkins was credited with the idea, and Mayor Jacob Frey seemed on board. But the council nixed the proposal upon learning the full cost and the fact that the city would be locked into a 10-year lease. So what's the plan for now? Further delay! Yesterday the council decided not to take the matter up for another two weeks. An impatient Jacob Frey is intent on returning the cops to their burned-out site on Minnehaha Avenue, though he seems to believe adding other services besides police and calling it a “community safety center” will make that decision less objectionable to those in the neighborhood who oppose the Third Precinct's return. Yesterday’s vote means the council won’t take the matter up again until October 31, though it’s unclear what will have changed by then.

For the Love of God, Will Someone Tell Me What 'MEA Weekend' Is?

Em here, to confess that for years I've harbored a terrible secret. Each October since I've lived in Minnesota, whenever someone has said something about MEA weekend, I've had no idea what they're talking about. Thankfully, MPR's Estelle Timar-Wilcox spoke with the folks behind the MEA to explain to people like me who didn’t grow up in the state (and perhaps even some of you who did): What the hell is MEA weekend? Timar-Wilcox reports that the tradition dates back to 1861; for more than 160 years, schools have closed on the second-to-last Thursday and Friday in October for educators to gather.

These days, it's essentially a professional development conference, with a keynote speaker (Last Chance U's Brittany Wagner this year) and assorted workshops and panels. Why October? Minnesota Education VP Monica Byron tells MPR it's just good timing—educators and students have settled in and gotten to know each other, but they're ready for a nice little two-day break. And as for why it's called "MEA?" The event was originally hosted by the Minnesota Education Association, which merged with Minnesota's other teachers union in 1998. They kept the acronym, which they've since retrofitted to "Minnesota Educators’ Academy."

So Much Food News!

This is a big week for new news—new things to try, and soft openings, and closings, and it's only Wednesday. First up: Public Domain, the menu-free cocktail bar taking over the old Haute Dish space (119 Washington Ave. S., Minneapolis), is also planning on opening an “elevated dive bar” in the back called Neon Tiger. Bring Me the News says Neon Tiger will have a separate back entrance, and plans to open in November. Eats will include small plates inspired by chef Nettie Colón’s time growing up in Puerto Rico.  

El Sazon Cocina & Tragos started as a taco spot offering sold-out, five-course dinners inside an Eagan BP. Now, they’re adding their own space at 5309 Lyndale Ave. S. to their operations, and Audrey Kennedy over at Axios says it’s really good. (“The appetizers alone sold me on coming back, but once I tried that birria, I wanted to make a reservation for the very next day.”)

Finally, we’ll close this out with some good news and bad news. Good news first: Taco Bell is using a bunch of Twin Cities locations as a test market for chicken nuggets. (Stay tuned for Racket’s review!) The bad: Financial woes led Pilsner-focused Pivo Riverplace, formerly Wilde Cafe on St. Anthony Main, to close earlier this week.

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