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Surplus? More Like, ‘Sir, Plus $1K to My Bank Account, Please!’

Plus Khâluna is one of the nation's best restaurants, an unusual feud at Minnesota's first Korean church, and remembering the 'Harold and Maude' protests in today's Flyover.

the exterior facade of the state capitol building in st. paul
Teresa Boardman via Flickr

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

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The big news in Minnesota today: Thanks to lower-than-projected spending and higher-than-expected tax collections, the state’s projected budget surplus has soared to $17.6 billion. That’s a lotta dough! And DLF leaders are already rah-rah-ing and rubbing their little hands together in anticipation of what they could do with all that money and a DFL trifecta in the legislature. MPR reports that Gov. Tim Walz wants to “lower costs for families,” saying, “now’s the time to reduce and get some money back in their pockets, now’s the time to make sure that those classrooms are funded with the things that they need to do to make our kids the best qualified workforce in the world.”

Yes, yes, but what about so-called “Walz Checks” (we still prefer “Timmy Stimmy”), which the Guv proposed earlier this year before his party ditched ’em? Star Tribune reporter Rochelle Olson says Walz has again proposed rebates of $1,000 per person ($2,000 per family), a suggestion that was received “coolly,” though he plans to bring it up in the future. Walz also said he’d propose a cut to the tax on Social Security income along with increased spending for schools, child care, and climate efforts.

Eater Loves Khâluna

In a celebration of “the most normal-feeling year in, well, years,” Eater released its list of 2022’s best new restaurants in America today. Making the cut is Khâluna, one of just 15 restaurants honored by the food and drink publication this year. “The first thing you notice about Khâluna is its beauty,” Jaya Saxena writes, noting the soft, beachy colors and gold and green flourishes that make the place feel like a summer night even in the middle of a south Minneapolis winter. But of course, the beauty is just an appetizer: “Everything tastes stunning, too.” Lest you forget, Khâluna is also one of our favorite new restaurants, though we gave it that nod in 2021 (Eater’s new restaurant picks opened between September 2021 and September 2022).

Pastor Turmoil

Here’s an unusual story out of Minnesota’s first Korean church: The Star Tribune’s Kim Hyatt reports that members of the congregation have filed a lawsuit to remove a pastor they say refuses to step down. More than a dozen senior members of MN Korean Church of Christ Grace voted to terminate Wanpyo Hong, who not only won’t relinquish his position, but also continues to live in the northeast Minneapolis church while allegedly engaging in illegal activity including making unauthorized applications for Paycheck Protection Program loans. Hong has “waged an aggressive campaign to unlawfully terminate the membership and officer positions of all who opposed him,” per the lawsuit filed in Hennepin County District Court. He got restraining orders against three members who are now banned from attending services and (allegedly) physically assaulted folks who voiced their concerns. Churchgoers are looking to get at least $50,000 in damages and want to recoup illegally obtained funds and property, including $9,000 in PPP loans they allege was used to buy the pastor’s family appliances.

Remembering the Harold and Maude Westgate Protests

This is an old one that’s making the rounds on Twitter again, but I’ll never miss a chance to talk about the time the Westgate movie theater in Edina ran Harold and Maude for 114 consecutive weeks—long enough that neighbors actually picketed the theater in protest. The year was 1972, and the movie, which debuted to terrible reviews and abysmal box office numbers, found an unlikely home at Westgate. But the flick overstayed its welcome, leading moviegoers to picket the humble second-run theater with signs reading “two years is too much” and the very Minnesotan “some variety please.” Earlier this year, the fiasco was the subject of an episode of the Only in Theaters podcast, which spoke with folks including local historian/friend of Racket Andy Sturdevant; producer Charles Mulvehill, one of the few surviving people who worked on the film; and former Westgate employees like Randy Green, about the “floundering” theater’s role in making Harold and Maude a cult-classic phenomenon.