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RIP Minneapolis Rapper Mike Dreams

Plus an in-depth look at homelessness, a condo worker fired for unionizing, and turtle harvesting in today's Flyover.


Mike Dreams

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

Local Rapper Mike Dreams Dies at 34

Mike Dreams, the 34-year-old south Minneapolis rapper born Michael Hannah, has died, according to testimonials from friends on social media. Dreams began rapping in high school after his brother’s murder in 2006. “I was this 420-pound kid,” Dreams told Jerard Fagerberg for a 2016 City Pages profile. “I was reclusive, just always workin’ on stuff.” (The rapper later underwent gastric bypass surgery.) Soon Dreams got out of his shell to become an integral part of local hip-hop, also engaging with community and arts organizations. In his music and in interviews, he was candid about his experience with substance abuse and depression. ”I want it to be less taboo for me—or for rappers or for black men—to talk about mental health,” he told City Pages in 2016. His most recent release available on Bandcamp is 2021’s CAREPHREE.

How Minneapolis Continually Fails Its Homeless Population

Bulldozers don’t solve homelessness. We already knew that, but in Grace Birnstengel’s excellent five-part series for MPR, she explores how these communities are often misunderstood, and why this complex problem isn’t solved by simple solutions. In part one, folks in encampments explain why encampments can be safer than going it alone, and how the lack of communication from the city on evictions—as well as increased police presence—has led to distrust. In part four, Minneapolis City Council policy aide Sean Broom details his two-month struggle to bring toilets and hand-washing stations to encampments. (“The entire time that this is happening, human beings have their most basic dignity denied to them, because of the worst in government finger pointing and blame avoidance,” he says.)

The series also points to some things that are working, like Avivo Village, an indoor community of 100 small units in the North Loop. But those services have limits. “We don’t have enough capacity to meet the need,” says Emily Bastian at Avivo. They’re hoping to set up another facility in south Minneapolis, but in the meantime, homeless people must wait, often while living in an encampment, for a space to open up.

Face of Organizing Condo Workers Fired, Will Lose Home

You might not notice the 250 workers at First Service Residential, but they could be a big part of your life. Working inside condo and apartment buildings, they’re “the Swiss army knives for residents,” writes Minnesota Reformer’s Max Nesterak, folks who often work as “part security guard, part concierge, part janitor, part pool cleaner.” Those workers have been working to unionize FSR, the Twin Cities’ largest property management company, since last summer. Last week "the face of" their campaign, caretaker Kevin Borowske, was fired and, thus, will lose his home inside the building. “No worker should be fired for being part of union organizing,” Borowske said in a statement issued by SEIU Local 26, the union FSR workers are trying to join. “It is frustrating that instead of doing what is right and creating a fair path for FSR staff to have a union vote free from interference, management in my building decided to fire me and cause my wife and I to lose our home… This won’t stop our fight.”

Making matters worse: Borowske was forced to sign a non-compete agreement, meaning his job prospects are severely limited. SEIU Local 26 filed an unfair labor practice charge against FSR on his behalf. “FSR needs to give these workers their jobs back and end their 'non-compete' practice immediately,” Brahim Kone, the union’s secretary treasurer, said in a statement. The condo workers went on strike last fall to protest their employer’s alleged unwillingness to even entertain unionization.

Turtle Trouble

Turtle harvesting isn't legal in too many states, but Minnesota is one of 'em. Yes, as we learned thanks to the Minnesota Reformer's Christopher Ingraham today, you can harvest, sell, and export turtles from MN—a practice, according to the Department of Natural Resources, that threatens to end the presence of turtles in Minnesota entirely. (Please follow that link to see the Reformer's amazing lead turtle pic.) “Our turtle population can no longer sustain the pressure of commercial harvesting,” said Senator Foung Hawj, who chairs the Committee on Climate, Environment & Legacy and is the author of a new bill that would ban turtle harvesting. Because the thing is, while the state implemented a moratorium on new harvesting licenses in the early aughts, the 19 license holders that remain have just upped their turtle biz—they captured and sold 10,000 in 2021, a figure that's tripled since the mid-'00s. Racket's stance? That's not good! Take us away, I Like Turtles Kid!

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