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Veto-Proof Mpls City Council Calls for Gaza Ceasefire, End of Military Support to Israel

Plus rural wage theft, wrongful jailhouse death allegations, Open Streets gets a price tag, and congrats to HOFer Joe Mauer in today's Flyover news roundup.

Photo by Emad El Byed on Unsplash|

A street in Gaza following the Israeli attacks.

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

Gaza Resolution Prevails

There are certainly reasons to be skeptical whenever local government officially weighs in on a matter of foreign policy that it, by definition, has no control over. Did the Minneapolis City Council, for instance, need to vote to oppose the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2007, four long years after the bloody military blunder began, at a time when opposition was hardly controversial anywhere, let alone in a reliably liberal city like Minneapolis? But the resolution that the Minneapolis City Council took up today, calling for a ceasefire in Gaza, is another story. Despite the rising death toll and the indisputable humanitarian disaster resulting from Israel's assault on the Palestinian population, the outcry has been far from unanimous, which makes any official acknowledgment of what’s happening all the more significant. 

So yes, it means something that a veto-proof majority of the council, meeting as a committee, voted 9-3 on Tuesday, with one abstention, in favor of a ceasefire in the Israel-Hamas war, also calling for an end to U.S. military aid to Israel, the release of hostages held by Hamas, and the release of Palestinians held without trial in Israeli military prisons. (The final vote will take place on Thursday.) Wedge Live provided excellent blow-by-blow coverage today as the committee debated amendments to the resolution. Council Members Linea Palmisano, Michael Rainville, and LaTrisha Vetaw were in opposition; Emily Koski abstained. The opposing council members said the resolution was a distraction from their work on local issues. It’s worth noting that Council Member Rainville did not have a problem proposing a resolution calling for “unity with the people of Ukraine,” which passed unanimously in 2022.

Let’s Get Tough on Crime 

In 2018, Minnesota passed one of the strongest anti-wage theft criminal laws in the U.S., with possible penalties of 20 years in prison and a $100,000 fine. But as Max Nesterak reports at the Minnesota Reformer, criminal charges are rarely if ever filed against employers. Nesterak looks at the case of dairy farmers Keith Schaefer and Megan Hill, who operate Evergreen Acres Dairy and Morgan Feedlots in Stearns and Redwood counties. The father and daughter allegedly stole at least $3 million from hundreds of their workers, regularly shaving hours off workers’ paychecks, refusing to pay for employees’ first and last weeks of work, and illegally docking wages to rent out barns and garages to a workforce of largely undocumented immigrants who didn’t speak English. 

Attorney General Keith Ellison has filed a civil suit against Schaefer and Hill, but why don’t they face criminal charges? Well, while Ellison has beefed up the state’s enforcement of wage theft, only county prosecutors have jurisdiction over criminal cases. Neither Stearns nor Redwood seem eager to pursue those charges in this case; in fact, country prosecutors have brought criminal wage theft charges only five times since the law went into effect in 2019. And the one apparent conviction under the law, Nesterak writes, “appears to be a filing error since the man was prosecuted for stealing televisions and other electronics from Walmart.”

Family of Jailed Man Denied Medical Care Alleges Wrongful Death

A.J. Lagoe always delivers. In this horrific three-part story, the reliably great KARE 11 investigative reporter, along with Steve Eckert and Gary Knox, tells how Lucas Bellamy, a 41-year-old incarcerated in the Hennepin County Jail, begged for medical care for days, but was only given Maalox and Tylenol by jail nurse. He died in incredible pain, and now his family is suing the country for wrongful death. The son of Penumbra Theater founder Lou Bellamy, Lucas was arrested in July 22 after leading police on a high-speed chase; he swallowed drugs during his arrest and was admitted to Hennepin County Medical Center, where doctors said he seemed to be suffering no ill effects but indicated that should be readmitted to the ER if that changed. Well, that did change, and staff at the jail ignored Bellamy’s repeated complaints, leading to his death. “Mr. Bellamy would be alive today,” says civil rights attorney Jeff Storms, who is representing the Bellamy family, “if anyone cared enough to treat Mr. Bellamy like he was a human.” Hennepin County Sheriff Dawanna S. Witt has not spoken to KARE 11 about this story.

How Much Is Open Streets Worth to Minneapolis?

Apparently $50K per event. The Minneapolis City Council set aside $250,000 for Open Streets in December, and, Bring Me the News reports today, the city has planned five events in total for 2024. (Even we can do that math.) The planned locations are West Broadway in north Minneapolis, Lyndale Avenue and Nicollet Avenue, both in south Minneapolis, Central Avenue in Northeast, and Franklin Avenue between Park Avenue and 26th Ave. S. The city is now seeking proposals from organizers, through February 15, but none of that money will be going to Our Streets, which had run the popular festivals since 2011. When Our Streets requested $841,000 from the city last August, Minneapolis ended its contract with the org. (The city said this was “by mutual agreement,” though Our Streets denied this to Racket.) This newly contracted amount is $50K more than the city was willing to pay in the past—its contract with Our Streets was for $0. Our Streets, meanwhile, is launching its own program, Imagine, which will hold three events this year. 

Congrats, Joe Mauer!

Alongside fellow inductees Todd Helton and Adrián Beltré, hometown hero Joe Mauer will join the 2024 Baseball Hall of Fame class this summer in Cooperstown. Earlier today Mauer, who won three AL batting crowns and one MVP award through his 15 seasons with the Twins, became just the third catcher to ever earn first-ballot HOF honors; Johnny Bench and Iván Rodríguez preceded the sweet-swinging .306 hitter from St. Paul. We love ya, Joe!

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