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Report: RIP to the Last Taco John’s in Minneapolis

Plus decriminalizing more drugs, executive pay, and Amy K ducks a big q in today's Flyover news roundup.

5:05 PM CDT on July 21, 2023

Twitter: Andrew Sullivan @sullympls|

The crew at the downtown Minneapolis TJ’s on Friday. Thank you for your service!

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

New Angel in Potato Olé Heaven

Taco John's is headquartered in Wyoming, but its biggest footprint and fanbase is in Minnesota. That footprint just got a little smaller, according to local taco enthusiast Andrew Sullivan: The only Taco John's in Minneapolis proper, the one located in the skyway, has closed forever. "You will be missed dwtn TJs," he wrote via Twitter, adding that he received the last-ever order. "Plz excuse me while I cry into these oles." (Racket sought out independent verification, but the company doesn't list a media contact; we cold-messaged a man who appears to be its chief marketing officer instead.) The Tex-Mex chain, which still operates almost 400 U.S. locations, was just reviewed in front of a live Minneapolis audience by the popular fast-food podcast Doughboys; it didn't fare well, earning scorn for its under-seasoned beef but praise, mercifully, for those beloved Olés. Axios reporter Nick Halter tweeted that he's "pretty sure" the recently departed TJ's location was "the last traditional fast food restaurant" remaining in downtown, though for that to be true you'd have to omit Subway (Chipotle and Five Guys are technically fast-casual). In any case, we're firing off a Six-Pack & a Pound salute to a Taco John's in the sky that was too beautiful for this world.

Weed Legalization: Gateway Drug to ‘Shroom Legalization?

No, it’s not legal here in Minneapolis, but as of now it’s been knocked way down to the bottom on the city’s policing triage. Today, Mayor Jacob Frey signed an order placing the “investigation and arrest of people planting, cultivating, purchasing, transporting, distributing, and engaging in practices with, or possessing entheogenic plants or plant compounds to be the lowest priority for law enforcement in Minneapolis.” So, kinda like how weed was low priority in the years leading up to legalization. Drugs that fall under this category of psychoactive (aka trippin’ plants) include psilocybin, ayahuasca, iboga, and mescaline. (This executive order, however, does not include peyote, which is legally used in Native communities for sacred purposes, or lab-made hallucinogens like LSD.) Frey cited recent studies that suggest that these drugs can be therapeutic for folks suffering from PTSD, depression, addiction, and other mental health problems as a major impetus for easing up on laws. “Regardless of the stigma attached, when you look at the science behind the benefits of entheogens, it all points in one direction,” Frey says. “Experts are telling us that these plants help people.”

Hm, Why Is Your Health Care So Expensive?

Might wanna look at the Star Tribune's just-released annual tally of Minnesota executive compensation. Nine of the 50 mega-earners work in the health and medical fields, industries that fight tooth and nail to kneecap anything resembling single-payer health care in the U.S. (In their defense, they've got bloated C-suite salaries and administrative ranks who very much enjoy the status quo.) But that's just one conclusion you can draw from the list of public company brass that's topped by James Cracchiolo, the leader of Ameriprise Financial Inc. whose compensation package fell 17% to $54.2 million. Overall, pay declined by 20% for our state's CEOs, the Strib's Patrick Kennedy found, so that's why Racket is launching a GoFundMe to help defray living expenses for this diminished class of corporate titans. Good luck tightening those designer belts, gentlemen! (In a companion piece, we learn only six women and two POCs made this year's top 50.)

Barbuchar? Klobenheimer?

The more inconsequential a choice she is asked to make, the more Amy Klobuchar equivocates. NBC News asked a bunch of U.S. senators whether they would see Barbie or Oppenheimer first. It’s just one of those dumb little questions you agree to field in exchange for ruling the most trivial nation on Earth. Many took this as an opportunity to make bad jokes (“I’d love to give you the answer to that, but it’s extraordinarily classified,” said Senate Intelligence Committee Chair Mark Warner, D-Va.), pontificate about their importance (Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., picked Oppenheimer because he had worked on a bill to restore the scientist’s security clearance "long before the movie was on anybody’s radar”) or, in the case of Cory Booker, D-NJ, remind us just how truly weird they are (he is “taking hundreds of people” to see Barbie).

So, where does Minnesota’s senior senator fall on the most pressing question of the age? “My plan is to see both of them in the next week." Yes, yes, yes, but which one first, Amy? "That I don’t know.” This, as you may recall, is not the first time Klobuchar has ducked a question like this. During her 2020 presidential run, she famously refused to say whether Minnesota or Iowa had the better state fair, and refused to take a stand even when Racket later gave her the opportunity to show some political courage. Shameful.

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