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Top Minneapolis Safety Commissioner Candidate Doesn’t Live in Minneapolis

Plus Garth builds houses, GOP donors lose thousands, and a White Castle goodbye in today's Flyover news roundup.

University of St. Thomas School of Law|

The honorable Judge Toddrick Barnette, non-resident of Minneapolis.

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

Suburban Man Makes Case for High-Level City Job

Cedric Alexander, the first-ever Minneapolis community safety commissioner, did a bad job. (Click here for a blow-by-blow recap of that Florida resident's tumultuous year at the city's highest-paying position.) Will Alexander's potential successor, Hennepin County Chief Judge Todd Barnette, fare any better at the $300K+ gig? Impossible to know, but Fox 9's Paul Blume shed some light on the nominee ahead of next week's confirmation hearing. For our money, here's the most interesting tidbit revealed about the man who might oversee five key Minneapolis departments—Police, Fire, Emergency Management, 911, and Neighborhood Safety.

Blume: "Do you live in the city of Minneapolis?"

Barnette: "No."

Blume: "Do you think this position requires someone to actually live in the city and be a resident and taxpayer here?"

Barnette: "I know that there is no requirement at this point to live in the city. What I can say, is that for over, I think now 30 years, all of my work has been here in the city. So, I feel like I have a good handle on what is going on in the city. You know, I can't think of anything, any work or volunteer work that I have done that is not in the city of Minneapolis."

Not ideal! In 2020, the Star Tribune calculated that only 8% of MPD cops live in the city they police, while just 22% of St. Paul Police Department cops claim residency in the capital city; the national average for cops living where they work is around 40%. You know how that's working out.

Viewers don't learn where Judge Barnette resides from Fox 9, though plenty of online clues suggest Maple Grove—also home to "Thong Song" hitmaker Sisqó. This much is more certain: The dude loves hanging out at his non-Minneapolis home and playing some strange smartphone game. "Most of all, I enjoy spending time with my family at home," the judge told the U of M Law School a few years ago. "On a lighter note—no one will believe this—but I enjoy playing Panda Pop on my cellphone. It’s a mindless game that allows me to escape reality for a few minutes." Huh...

Two of a Kind, Workin’ on a St. Paul House

Garth Brooks and Trisha Yearwood will host a 2024 Habitat for Humanity housing event in the Twin Cities, Bring Me the News reports. The event will honor longtime Habitat supporters and volunteers Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter, who are now in hospice care. Brooks and Yearwood will join more than 2,000 volunteers next fall to build dozens of homes on St. Paul's East Side; Habitat for Humanity’s full goal is 150 homes. The project will take place in an "environmentally friendly" development, built on the 112-acre former Hillcrest Golf Course at Larpenteur Avenue and McKnight Road, which is set to eventually contain 1,000 affordable housing units and some light industrial space. "President and Mrs. Carter have helped open doors for thousands of Habitat homeowners while advancing racial equity in housing," said former St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman, who is now president/CEO of Twin Cities Habitat for Humanity, thereby answering the question, “What is former St. Paul mayor Chris Coleman doing these days?” 

Ha Ha—and We Can't Stress This Last Part Enough—Ha

Over the weekend, Star Tribune reporters Ryan Faircloth and Briana Bierschbach delivered a political finance story bursting with delicious schadenfreude. In it, we learn that some of Minnesota's most ghoulish, obscenely rich right-wing donors—Stanley Hubbard, Mark Davis, and Tom Rosen among 'em—each gifted small fortunes to a shadowy PAC, Right Now Minnesota, that likely wasted all their money. Now you, the non-dumbass/non-billionaire, might've encountered trashy memes like the following one and opted to not shower the group with six-figure donations...

But crass political grifting is what this country does best (just look at the Lincoln Project on the other team), and it seems our state's GOP-backing money men fell for Right Now Minnesota's, ahem, racket. (The PAC spent $95,000 over five years to flood Facebook with similar meme-based advertising, the Strib reports.) When your wealth exceeds sane strata, however, you lose some discretion about where it goes, and don't feel any pain when you lose it. Here's an encapsulating bit from Hubbard, whose glowering portrait illustrates the article:

Billionaire Stanley Hubbard donated to Right Now Minnesota and Right Now USA in 2018-2020, but his assistant said he donates to so many causes that he didn't remember the details and told her: "Somebody must have told me this was a good idea."

Goodnight, Sweet Prince

It brings us no joy today to share with you the following Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal scoop: The White Castle at 100 W. Lake St. has permanently closed. Reps for the steamed burger chain confirmed that the now boarded-up building closed for good on Friday, with company spokesperson Jamie Richardson calling it a "tough decision" in a statement presented to the Biz Journal. "As with all restaurant chains, from time to time a location closes," Richardson says, and it's... tough to argue with that statement of fact! Last week, in somewhat more positive White Castle-related news, a new vintage store (oxymoron?) was announced for the historic "moveable" White Castle building at 3252 Lyndale Ave.

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