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Ride-Share Drivers to Frey: Take a Hike!

Plus a new top cop, caller I.D. in Columbia Heights, and leaf-peepin' in today's Flyover.

The scene outside the mayor's office on Thursday.
@robin4mpls via Twitter

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

Ride-Share Drivers March on Mayor’s Office

Over 100 Uber and Lyft drivers—one of whom was wearing a shirt that was bloodied during a ride—protested Thursday at Minneapolis City Hall. At issue: Their infamously greedy companies creating unsafe work environments and exploiting workers. Their newly formed joint group, Minnesota Uber/Lyft Driver Association, is exploring unionization options. Particular ire was directed at Mayor Jacob Frey, who Councilmember Robin Wonsley says refused to meet with the aggrieved workers. (Frey’s office says he simply wasn’t able to meet today, which is what the drivers demanded, but he is open to meeting next week.) “No more votes for him,” the drivers shouted at the mayor’s office, per the Star Tribune. “He’s gone.” They’re pissed at the biz-friendly mayor because he helped craft biz-friendly regulations for ride-share companies while on the City Council, they allege. If our local Uber/Lyft workers are successful, they’ll become the country’s second ride-share drivers’ union, the Strib reports, following the formation of one in Seattle. Give ‘em hell, drivers.

This Police Chief Will Be Different?

Minneapolis, your new police chief is likely to be Brian O’Hara, the deputy mayor of Newark (that’s one syllable, Minnesota newscasters), New Jersey. As cops go, O’Hara’s track record is impressive: The stat you’ll see come up a lot is that Newark police did not fire a single shot in 2020. The descriptor you’ll see is “reform-minded.” (In his introduction, Jacob Frey used the phrase “holistic expertise” but we’re predicting that won’t catch on.) If he meets city council approval, all O’Hara has to do to succeed at his job is tame the historically brutal Minneapolis Police Department and introduce the opaque, condescending Frey administration to the concept of transparency and accountability.

But isn’t it weird to start your big anti-crime op before you hire a new chief? We’re hearing a lot of reports of unoccupied police vehicles parked with their lights flashing downtown, and you know what that means—Operation Endeavor is in effect, baybee. KMSP secured a copy of the plan whose details we’ve been all eager to hear, and anyone who had suspicions that this is a cosmetic rollout intended to make downtown Target shoppers and Vikings fans feel safe won’t be reassured. Typical language: “The mission is to be visibly present and seen by as many people as possible. Deter criminal activity through uniformed presence and bring peace to the area.” However, Community Safety Commissioner Cedric Alexander assures Fox 9 that they shouldn’t believe everything they read: “Don’t go by the plan cause the plan changes every day.” Not to be a stickler for “words” “meaning” “things” but that’s not really a “plan,” then is it?

Caller I.D. Screws Over Columbia Heights Councilmember Who Made a Very Creepy Phone Call

In this age of modern technology, it’s a really bad idea to call up a potential colleague to question his ethnicity. That’s what Red Cedar Consulting says Columbia Heights Councilmember KT Jacobs did when she “anonymously” called Justice Spriggs, who is running for a seat on the council. Caller I.D., something everyone has on their phones these days, did her in. “I think initially I had a feeling something was up when the name that had been on the form on my website… didn’t match up to the caller I.D.,” Spriggs tells KSTP. The caller first asked a few policy questions, then went on to ask Spriggs if he was “really biracial” and whether he had been raised in a white or black household. “That’s not how that works,” the caller responded when he explained that his grandfather was Black. Jacobs later blamed a family member for stealing her phone, but the independent investigations concluded that it’s very likely she was the one who made the call, and allegedly lied during questioning. Mayor Amáda Márquez Simula is recommending she step down from her council seat.

Leaf-Peepin’ Experts Predict a Heckuva Year for Peepin’

If it’s “basic” to love leaf-peepin’, then by god, throw Racket in Basic Jail and lose the damn key. Near-prime peepin’ season just arrived in northern Minnesota, per the DNR’s indispensable Fall Color Finder, and we’re quivering—leaf-like—with excitement. This year, a long and warm summer delayed the majestic yellows, reds, and oranges throughout the state, but the wait is almost over. “It’s that combination of shorter days, but especially the colder temperatures, that cause the change in hormones in the leaf that trigger senescence, the color change,’’ UMD leaf expert Eric Singsaas tells the Pioneer Press. “The warmth we’ve had is slowing this all down.” But! Now that things are cooling down, we find ourselves simmering amid the ideal ingredients for bountiful peepin’ this fall. “We’ve got an overabundance of water everywhere, so it should be a great year,” the DNR’s Val Cervenka explains to the PiPress. “We’re going in with really healthy trees, which gives the trees the best chance of showing fall color.” Hell yeah, we love healthy trees, don’t we folks? So start gassing up the compact SUV and hit I-35W—leaf-peepin’ season is finally upon us.