Welcome back to The Flyover, your daily midday digest of what local media outlets and Twitter-ers are gabbing about.
Billionaire-owned Sports Teams to Fight Income Inequality with Fuckin’ App
The racial wealth gap in the Twin Cities is abysmal. In 2020, the median household income for local Black households was $40,785—about $35,000 lower than white ones, according to a report from the Minnesota Department of Employment & Economic Development. There are direct ways to address this galling income inequality, like taxing the living shit out of billionaire Glen Taylor and his wealth-hoarding ilk. Or there’s whatever bad-faith PR effort Glen’s two basketball teams just trotted out. Reported with maximum credulity by the Taylor-owned Star Tribune, “a new partnership focused on financial wellness” between the Timberwolves, Lynx, and Boston-based financial app Stackwell was unveiled Wednesday.
What is Stackwell? It’s a goddamn robo-investing stock app that cynically parades itself as a force for racial, economic, and social justice; the company just attracted $3.5 million in seed funding from a collection of ghouls in the sports, development, and VC worlds. Or, to hear Wolves COO Ryan Tanke tell it in this stirring quote: “We looked at the opportunity with Stackwell as another step forward. While there’s certainly been progress and we’re proud of our efforts to be part of that conversation, there’s still a lot of work to be done.” Now that’s a gifted C-suite orator. Anyway, read the entire story if you want to hear George Floyd’s murder invoked in a de facto press release for an app that has real potential to further enrich Stackwell CEO Trevor Rozier-Byrd, a 20-year Wall Street veteran, and his fellow investors.
This Year’s Halloween Panic: “Rainbow Fentanyl”
The prevalence of fentanyl on our streets is a serious problem, as Racket reported in April. And, like most serious problems, it is not best addressed by whipping up unnecessary panic—like, for instance, saying that an influx of brightly colored tablets are being marketed directly to children. We mention this because the Minnesota River Valley Drug Task Force has announced that they recently found three such pills that contained fentanyl in southern Minnesota. Dutifully taking the lead of the never sensationalist DEA, media outlets are calling this product “rainbow fentanyl” because that sounds scary.
The DEA contends that such pills are both new to the scene and marketed to kids. (The DEA, we should note, contended for years that mere physical contact with fentanyl was dangerous, a position that exactly 0% of health care professionals hold.) Experts with knowledge of illegal drug sales call bullshit on both claims. “My guess is that it’s a fairly superficial little marketing flourish,” UT-Austin harm reduction instructor Claire Zagorski told Salon. “I just don’t see the evidence that it’s meant as a very pointed way to capture the hearts and minds of small children.” But Halloween is coming up, and no one believes they put razor blades in apples anymore, so we need a new moral panic to peddle.
A Downtown Rebound
Downtown has rivaled Uptown, as far as over-discussed Minneapolis neighborhood pulses go, since the pandemic hit. Is it dead? Dying? Is it a crime-filled hellscape visited only by the brave, who venture beyond its borders with extreme caution and under duress, and also Vikings fans? Or is is not, actually? Of late, the discourse seems to be turning a corner into more hopeful territory. Last week, we got not one but two local stories about how downtown lunches are back, and the theory is that more workers will return now that Labor Day is behind us. (Work-life balance be damned!)
Here’s another, potentially better, way to get folks downtown: Have ’em live there rather than work there. That’s the thought driving real estate developer Sherman Associates, which announced last week that it has plans for $400 million worth of residential buildings on a block connecting the Mill District, the Central Business District, and the North Loop. The currently vacant office space will be demolished to make way for three new towers along Washington Avenue, which will include retail and restaurant space (and potentially other kinds of spaces, if there’s a demand for that). The plan is still very preliminary, but perhaps other developers will follow Sherman’s lead in our housing-strapped city, bringing people—and vibrancy—back to an area that’s been kinda culturally lackluster since long before COVID-19 hit.
You don’t hear much about trainjackings these days, which makes sense considering how far removed we are from cowboy times. Yet the rare trainjacking went down Tuesday just outside of Sauk Rapids, WJON reports. The details can only be described as nutty. At around 8 a.m., Sauk Rapids Police responded to an assault call, leading them to a stalled BNSF Railway train near Sartell. Officials say that a knife-wielding suspect—42-year-old Samuel Hohman—had burst into the locomotive and assaulted the engineer, who leapt from the speeding train to escape. The train lurched to a stop nearby; Hohman was arrested and booked into the Benton County Jail; the engineer was treated for non-life-threatening injuries at CentraCare-St. Cloud Hospital. How closely did the incident resemble the terrific 2013 sci-fi/action film Snowpiercer? Unclear, but still: wild stuff.