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U of M Regent Says Gabel’s Conflict of Interest Is Illegal

Plus Jesus drama at MOA, glowing purple streets, and Stella's Fish Café hits the auction block in today's Flyover.

The official 2022 U of M Board of Regents portrait.

Welcome to The Flyover, your daily digest of what local media outlets are gabbing about.

Regent Calls for Special Session to “Reconsider” Prez’s Conflict-y 2nd Job

University of Minnesota Regent Darrin Rosha was an early and vocal critic of U President Joan Gabel’s new $130,000 side hustle. “It’s just stunning,” he said of the 9-3 vote last month to greenlight Gabel’s paid board position at Securian Financial Group. “That was the feeling: Like, is this really happening?” On Saturday, Rosha issued an email to his colleagues calling for a special meeting to a) “reconsider the approval” granted for Gabel to join Securian; and b) “direct a review and reconsideration” of the U’s $1 billion-plus in financial entanglements with the St. Paul-based firm.

Rosha alleges that several Regents were briefed about Gabel’s Securian aspirations early last November, “although they did not inform the rest of the Regents until the third week of December, shortly before our meeting [to vote on the since-approved conflict management plan].” He further argues that Gabel’s been gabbing about the gig since 2020. “More critically,” Rosha writes, “President Gabel’s receipt of payment from Securian or its affiliate violates Minnesota’s Criminal Code. Specially, Minn. Stat. 15.43 prohibits the payment by a party that contracts with the University to a person who influences the contracting process.” The U ignored Racket’s request for a Gabel interview, but the U prez did later claim her critics, including Rosha, put forth “multiple inaccuracies and misleading claims” in their open letter calling her out. (She didn’t specify what was inaccurate or misleading.)

You can read Rosha’s full email from Saturday below: 

MOA: We Didn’t Kick out the Annoying “Jesus Saves” Guy

Did you hear that a guy wearing a “Jesus Saves” T-shirt got booted from the Mall of America? Well, he didn’t, MOA officials told Bring Me the News. The evangelically attired Paul Shoro had a brush with mall security on January 7 because he was attempting to convert shoppers to Christianity, per the mall. (Shoro had been 86’d from the mall for 24 hours for the same reason in December.) Saving souls runs afoul of the mall’s ban on “soliciting,” and the mall being a private business, it can set codes of conduct as it wishes. This hasn’t stopped certain outrage junkies, stoked by right-wing pubs like the Daily Mail, from pretending Skoro was accosted solely for his T-Shirt and raising “free speech” claims. (Should malls be treated as public spaces? That’s a whole other question to which California and New Jersey have answered “kinda.” Worth exploring, but I don’t suspect the aggrieved and online are looking for a serious discussion of the matter.) Anyway, the guy kept his shirt on and he didn’t have to leave. But that won’t stop this dumb controversy from eventually making it to Tucker Carlson, and your most annoying relative will never believe you when you tell them the full story.

No, These Purple Street Lights Aren’t a Sign from Prince

Folks in St. Paul and surrounding suburbs have reported seeing street lights changing color, going from the traditional white to an intense, bluish/purple hue reminiscent of a blacklight. But this isn’t new tech, an impromptu rave, or the city’s attempt at trying a new aesthetic. Turns out it’s a manufacturer error. As explained in this MPR article, the occurrence is called “phosphor displacement.” In less fancy terms, basically the wrap-around material that turns these blue-hued LED bulbs white are delaminating. Faulty lights have been found in St. Paul, Apple Valley, and Columbia Heights, as well as throughout the country. Cities are asking folks to report the purple lights so they can be replaced, but honestly? Why? They look pretty cool, right?

Wanna Buy Relics from Stella’s?

When food/drink establishments go to Restaurant Heaven, their earthly remains are often sold off by Auction Masters. The Osseo-based auction house has handled liquidation events at Nye’s Polonaise Room, Porky’s Drive-In, the Roller Garden, and, now, at Stella’s Fish Café, which closed this past November. If your business is some sort of anagram for STELLA’S FISH CAFE, then start bidding on the 20-foot sign that glowed over Uptown for 17 years (the 12-foot-long “PRESTIGE OYSTER BAR” is also available). Among the other interesting lots: tons of industrial bar/kitchen whathaveyous, including the expensive-looking MagiKitch’n 60″ Char Grill; stools, tables, chairs, and booths; lobster- and fish-themed wall art; a gigantic lobster tank; TVs; flatware… basically everything you need to run a large seafood restaurant. We didn’t look close enough, but we bet the sushi rice bin that once housed this viral, thicc-ass rodent is ready for your bid. Memories!