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Reminder: MN’s Ceremonial Thanksgiving Turkey Likely Dies Horrible Death

Plus Blaine conflicts of interest, DQ deaths, and state flag foofaraw in today's Flyover news roundup.

Twitter: @GovTimWalz|

Good luck out there, buddy.

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

Guv's Grim Turkey Ritual, Sorta Explained

In 2019, the Pioneer Press tiptoed around it, writing: "This turkey didn’t travel to the state Capitol to get pardoned." You'd be forgiven if, upon viewing Gov. Tim Walz fraternizing today with the turkey pictured above, you assumed the bird would live a long, gobbling life on some sanctuary farm. That's the gimmick of the presidential turkey pardon, an annual White House production that just saw President Joe Biden bumble his way through saving two Minnesota-hatched turkeys, Liberty and Bell, from Thanksgiving dinner buffets.

But our turkey theatrics are more macabre here in Minnesota, where, apparently, one, uh, lucky ceremonial bird is subjected to a photo op inside the Minnesota State Capitol alongside the grinning faces of the Minnesota Turkey Growers Association, only to later waddle back to the kill floor. (Minnesota is the nation's top turkey producer, accounting for 18% of total birds raised to be eaten.)

A pardoned Minnesota bird wouldn't offset the innumerable horrors of industrial meat production—as experienced by animals and humans—but hey, it'd be a nice PR layup and a shade less grim. We reached out to the governor's office last year to confirm the nuts/bolts of the non-pardon, and also offer unsolicited advice about letting the bird live for the sake of optics. Here's the cryptic response from Walz spokesperson Claire Lancaster: "It’s true it doesn’t have a name*… it’s headed to a hobby farm now and then fate will decide."

*This year's turkey received the pro-forma name Tom the Turkey, perhaps due to Racket's 2022 Thanksgiving shame offensive.

Blaine Rocked by Baseball-Themed Scandal

Who says the suburbs are boring? “The mayor of Blaine is an investor in a baseball-themed restaurant going up near a planned massive sports entertainment district that may include a taxpayer-subsidized minor league baseball stadium,” reports Deena Winter for the Minnesota Reformer. That sentence that leaves much to be unpacked that I’ll let you just sit with it for a minute. First off, “a massive sports entertainment district” is coming to Blaine? Yes, Blaine is financing the National Sports Center with a total of $42 million in bonds, in the hope, apparently, of drawing a minor league baseball team.

Now what about that restaurant? Blaine mayor Tim Sanders is among the investors hoping to open The Ball Park, not far from the planned sports district. Councilmember Lori Saroya, the Blaine council’s sole Democrat, pointed out that the mayor is also a friend of the project’s developer. When someone spoke in opposition to the restaurant, saying it looked improper for the mayor to be piggybacking off the success of a project he helped approve, things got heated. According to Winter, “Vice Chair Jess Robertson told Saroya she didn’t know how to do her job and suggested they take the argument out to the parking lot.” 

Say Goodbye to the Worst Dairy Queen in the Twin Cities

Was the Dairy Queen on 1959 Ford Pkwy. in the Highland Park neighborhood of St. Paul the worst DQ in all of the Twin Cities? So said Dan Samorodnitsky in his definitive DQ rankings* from last year, and since Racket published it, I guess we agree? (The subpar nature of the Highland Park DQ is somewhat corroborated here by the Star Tribune’s Greta Kaul and friend of Racket/Mike Scioscia nemesis Norm Charlton.) One thing’s for sure: It ain’t anymore, because the store’s been shut down. According to Bring Me the News, the building is being remodeled to house a Dave’s Hot Chicken, which may arrive early next year. Kris Humphries and his family have plans to open 10 Dave’ses, and this would make three, after Minnetonka and Maple Grove. In closing, congrats to our new worst Twin Cities Dairy Queen on Nicollet Mall in downtown Minneapolis... wait, shit, it closed too! St. Paul's Maryland Avenue DQ is now, officially, the worst.

*By “Twin Cities,” we mean Minneapolis and St. Paul proper, as Dan’s intro clearly states. Please do not be like so many people on social media and ask “where is [suburban Dairy Queen]?” You’re better than that, people!

Petition for Even NEWER State Flag Designs Already Launched

Are you, like so many others, irate over the subpar finalists for Minnesota's new state flag? Then join the growing army of 39 folks who've flexed their democratic muscle via this petition to "Redo the Minnesota State Flag Design Contest." Writes organizer Zac Harding: "We, the undersigned, are writing to express our concern regarding the current designs presented for the new Minnesota State Flag. We believe that these designs do not adequately represent the rich history, diverse culture, and unique identity of our state." The petition's first two concerns—lack of representation and design quality—seem valid, considering the six finalists don't appear to really represent anything other than minimalist star designs of suspect quality. The third critique of the State Emblems Redesign Commission's process, "lack of public involvement," might hold less water—over 2,000 Minnesotans submitted redesigns, the goofiest of which you can view here. In any case, hard to argue with the fourth and final item on Harding's list of demands for a (not-gonna-happen) new contest: "Set high standards."

To bring it back to Norm Charlton, the real winner may have been in front us since 1865...

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