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Tom Emmer Wastes Local Media’s Entire Afternoon

Plus an argument against editorial board endorsements, more news on the Kmart fire, and cool pumpkins in today's Flyover news roundup.

5:20 PM CDT on October 24, 2023

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Beloved Minnesota statesman Tom Emmer

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

Tom Emmer Won't Will Won't Be Speaker of the House

Look, this stupid blurb was started before U.S. Rep. Tom Emmer’s nomination for Speaker of the House was yanked, and we’re not about to leave it unfinished just because he ducked for cover later this afternoon. Some of us finish what we set out to do, Tom! The crypto-lovin’ conservative from Stillwater seemed doomed almost immediately after he was officially nominated for the somehow unfillable leadership position today. Apparently Emmer’s just not Trumpy enough, despite casting doubts on the 2020 election (before ultimately voting to certify it) and supporting Trump early on. In fact, though Emmer sucked up to the former president by phone over the weekend, Trump called Emmer “a Globalist RINO" today. (We assume that Trump’s definition of a “real Republican” is simply one who supports Trump—what other core party values are left?) The only question remaining now is whether it’s more humiliating to submit yourself to a vote you can’t possibly win or to parachute out of the race like Emmer did.

Editorial Boards Cannot Be Reformed, Only Abolished

We appreciate the intent behind the statement that Minneapolis City Council Member Elliott Payne posted on social media Monday, declaring that he would not be seeking the endorsement of the Star Tribune in this year’s election. When politicians attack “The Media,” it can be corny and, depending on the issue and the politician, dangerous, but editorial boards are absolutely fair game for blanket criticism. In his “you can’t fire me, I quit” letter, Payne calls out the Strib ed board for endorsing Tom Emmer and Pete Stauber in the last election, despite each GOP representative initially failing to recognize the results of the 2020 election, and for the board’s disastrous 2021 endorsement of Mickey Moore for City Council, later withdrawn when the board realized Moore didn’t live in the ward he wanted to represent, or even in Minneapolis. 

But Payne’s phrasing doesn’t take into account the real problem with the Strib ed board. “They don’t share Minneapolis residents’ values.” Fair enough! “I don’t trust them to provide an unbiased, objective assessment.” Well, to be fair, that’s not their job. Any endorsement shows bias, and an editorial board, unlike the journalists on staff, has no obligation to be objective. (True objectivity is a myth, of course, but let’s leave that for another time.) Editorial boards are, directly or not, the voice of the owner. And their time is past. At best, they creakily restate the status quo. At worst, they embarrass the journalists doing the real work. Honestly, editorial boards should have been jettisoned years ago. 

In related news, Strib ed board's D.J. Tice is retiring. Let’s hope he starts a trend.

We May Never Know What Caused the Kmart Fire

Last Friday, the empty Kmart we all love to hate at Lake & Nicollet caught fire. It's believed that the fire started somewhere in the back of the building; by the time firefighters arrived at the scene, flames had already reached the roof. Speculation on the cause has included arson or an accident with squatters (the homeless encampment in the parking lot had been cleared by crew two days earlier). But ultimately, “the final origin and cause of the fire are undetermined,” reads a statement issued Tuesday by the city of Minneapolis.

Cadaver dogs and rescue crews have gone through the building, with special attention paid to areas where the roof collapsed, but, thankfully, it appears that no one was hurt during the fire. Still, the Kmart’s recent ordeal may have expedited the tear-down process, which was set to start sometime in 2024. “[The city] is in the process of determining the demolition and clearance plans for the remaining structure,” the statement continues. “These plans will become clearer in the coming days, including the start date of that work.” To relive happier days at the 10 W. Lake St. Kmart, check out these 1987 pics from James Orndorf.

Look at These Goddamn Pumpkins!

The Minnesota Zoo's Jack-O-Lantern Spectacular is now in its fifth year, and Alex V. Cipolle over at MPR has an incredible look at the big orange gourds and the artists who make them. “Nobody is trained in pumpkin art,” Brian Christensen, a pumpkin artist and the manager of the Pumpkin Artist Workshop (where the pumpkins get made), tells MPR, a delightful quote in a story that's chock full of 'em. Elsewhere, Christensen describes the pumpkin extravaganza's wildlife theme: "We have fish. We have groundhogs, we have white-tailed deer, ravens, toads, bats. We have a lot of bears." It's worth clicking through just to see Cipolle's wonderful photos—you will not believe what some of these artists can do with pumpkin flesh.

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