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Watch AOC Blast Tom Bakk

Plus lobbying in overdrive, a Pokémon heist, and fishman for sale in today's Flyover.

3:55 PM CDT on May 11, 2023

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Bakk, left, and AOC

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

What Would You Say... You Do Here, Tom Bakk?

Retired Minnesota State Sen. Tom Bakk is a corporate lobbyist these days. But, as pointed out in soon-to-be-viral fashion by U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), the former Iron Range lawmaker initially failed to say as much during a legislative committee hearing Thursday on Capitol Hill. AOC asked, point blank: "Are you presently a registered lobbyist in the state of Minnesota for Twin Metals Minnesota?" Bakk stammered, sidetracked, and obfuscated before admitting, yeah, he's a paid influence peddler for Twin Metals, whose proposed mine near the BWCA poses a dire ecological threat to northern Minnesota's wilderness and whose parent company, Antofagasta PLC, is a Chilean mining giant.

The DFLer-turned-independent didn't specify his current day job during opening remarks, and the title on his name card simply reads "FORMER MINNESOTA SENATOR." So kudos to AOC for eliminating any potential confusion, even if it was like pulling teeth. (Bakk did, for the record, disclose his lobbying efforts in his written congressional testimony.)

The resulting AOC vs. Bakk clip, which has been viewed 125,000+ times, concludes with with Ocasio-Cortez addressing Save the Boundary Waters leader Becky Rom, who told the New York congresswoman: "The science is overwhelming. It's been peer-reviewed, it's been published. It demonstrates that a sulfide or copper mine in the location of a Twin Metals mine would pollute the Boundary Waters—it's not a matter of if, it's a matter of when." At stake here is the Biden administration's recent 20-year ban on mining Near the Boundary Waters; a pair of bills introduced by U.S. Rep. Pete Stauber (R-MN) would reverse the moratorium, reissue government mining contracts, expedite the review of prospecting permits, and exempt this process from judicial oversight. For more on the fight against Twin Metals, check out Rom's commentary today in The Minnesota Reformer.

Speaking of Lobbying...

Medtronic. General Mills. Target. UnitedHealth Group. These are some of the corporations who’ve been meeting with Gov. Tim Walz and his staff, and also with House Speaker Melissa Hortman and other Minnesota legislators, according to Michelle Griffith at the Minnesota Reformer. Among the corps’ concerns are a ban on non-compete agreements and paid family medical leave. (They are, of course, against both.) Another bête noire of the bizzes was a plan to require them to pay state income tax based on global (and not just U.S.) profits, which has already been ditched. Did lobbying play a role in killing that proposal? Sen. Ann Rest (DFL-New Hope) says that’s “bull—.” (As a non-family website, we would be happy to print the entire obscenity, but it would be improper journalistically for us to speculate on what Rest actually said.) Lobbying is nothing new, of course, but Griffith notes that an active DFL trifecta has sparked “a new sense of urgency... among corporate leaders.” Rep. Pat Garofalo (R-Farmington) tells Griffith that the corporations are desperate because they feel legislators are not listening to their concerns. Oh no! Will no one listen to the corporations???

Two Grown-Ass Men Stole Over $150K in Pokémon Cards

Pokémon Cards are big business these days, as adults hoard new pack releases like Covid toilet paper and assholes like Logan Paul are shelling out millions on rare cards. (Leave it to adults to take the joy out of something intended for kids.) So of course there’s a healthy black market for these things. That’s probably what drove two 40-year-old dudes to claw their way into Punch Out Gaming Store in Forest Lake and make off with $150,000-$250,000 worth of cards. Also: meth. In February 2022, the men broke into the store next door, then used a knife to carve their way into the collectors’ shop. When one of them was brought up on federal meth-ring charges, he admitted to keeping watch as his accomplice chopped up with wall. (A CSI team was also able to confirm his DNA was on the knife.) Both men are facing third-degree burglary charges, which come with up to five years in prison and a $10,000 maximum fine. But store co-owner Eric Johnson says that is not enough, and wants them to suffer more. "These guys need to pay some serious charges for it," he told the Star Tribune. So far, the stolen goods have not been recovered.

Wanna Buy a Wacky Fishman?

When uniquely strange Facebook Marketplace oddities come to our attention, we feel dutybound to present them to you, the valued Racket reader. Today, it's a 65-inch-tall fishman available for $125. But not just any fishman—this particular fishman happens to be a tuxedoed butler on roller skates.

Seller Brian Holstine provided Racket with this additional intel:

I wish I had a grand story to tell (a "fish tale," if you will; sorry, couldn't help myself), but it's not so elaborate. I buy/sell vintage antiques and sometimes do estate clean-outs. Mr. Fish came my way a year or so ago through a local estate. It passed through a few hands before it came to me, so I truly don't know the origin. A rather simple item, he is simply a 2x4 plywood mock-up with the clothing as seen. I don't believe it is very old, based on the apparent age of the skates. I have had some heart-stopping, pants-wetting fun with it, though. The scene (needs to be dark): Put Aquaman in a room and position him just inside where the door swings. Close the door. Instruct unsuspecting party to go fetch something from the room. They open the door, turn on the light, and SCREAM! This is when I'm glad to have hardwood floors; puddles are easier dealt with. As soon as everything settles down and we get the AED put away, the victim immediately asks, "Who can we get next?" That's pretty much it. I have had a lot of laughs with it, but have just decided to let him move on.

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