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‘She Threw a Live Tarantula’: Family Values Candidate Arrested on Assault Charges

Plus Mickey's might be on the move, damn dam disasters, and gymnastics explainers in today's Flyover news roundup.

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Leavin’ jail, feelin’ fine.

Welcome back to The Flyover, your daily digest of important, overlooked, and/or interesting Minnesota news stories.

Who Is Marisa Simonetti and Why Was She in Jail? 

Marisa Simonetti, the conservative “family values” candidate for District 6 Hennepin County Commissioner, lost a special election to Heather Edelson last month, and is now running for the seat again in this November’s general election. She may also have recently thrown a tarantula at a tenant. 

Simonetti was arrested late last Friday and charged with fifth-degree assault and misdemeanor domestic assault after some sort of incident between her and Jacklyn Vasquez, who was apparently renting an Airbnb in Simonetti's basement. The source of the conflict is unclear, as are the details.

Simonetti told the Strib she'd called the police more than once but was unable to remove Vasquez from the apartment. Vasquez says she called 911 to say that "her landlady is trying to trespass into her section of the home" and that Simonetti "broke down my door and threw tacks, toys and things to hurt me. ... She threw a live tarantula. … It was right out of a scary movie."

Let's get a look at that actual (allegedly thrown) spider, courtesy of KARE 11's Lou Raguse:

Simonetti told Raguse, who is all over this story, that Vasquez is a female squatter who won’t leave [her] basement.” There is LOTS more coming in about this, so I'd expect this isn't the last you'll be reading about Simonetti in Racket.

In any case, the candidate certainly seemed unperturbed as she filmed herself this morning leaving jail, closing her message with a smile and a jaunty “I’m still running for Hennepin County Commissioner in District 6. MarisaSimonetti.com.”

#Content doesn’t always come easy.

Mickey’s Diner Is Moving?

That’s what Charlie Walters at the Pioneer Press suggests in a little tidbit tucked away casually among various sports rumors in the “Don’t Print That” section of his column. To quote Walters precisely: “Don’t be surprised if St. Paul’s iconic downtown Mickey’s Diner is soon purchased by a local sports family and relocated several blocks closer to Kellogg Ave.” Well, we won’t be surprised, but sorry, Charlie—we’re printing that! 

Walters mentions a “local sports family” as though their identity is obvious. Minnesota Wild owner Craig Leipold would seem to have the most interest among local sports magnates in getting Mickey’s up and running and closer to the downtown St. Paul action. But he’s generally not thought of as part of a family. So maybe the Pohlads? (Certainly not the Wilfs, who would more likely move Mickey's to Secaucus.) Is there someone we’re forgetting? 

Mickey's has been closed since the pandemic. When we ran our last update in late 2021 the owners had hoped to open the following spring. Three springs later, and still no Mickey’s. Over the years, the storied diner has appeared in The Mighty Ducks and a Pet Shop Boys video, as well as Jingle All the Way. In his oral history of that locally sourced Christmas flick, Racket's Jay Boller collected this anecdote from the film's location manager, Anne Healy-Shapiro, about Arnold Schwarzenegger: 

Arnold was not a diva at all. He fell in love with [longtime waitress] Mary [Kiritschenko] at Mickey’s Diner because she would talk back to him, and nobody talks back to Arnold. She would sit on his lap and tell him dirty jokes. He would go for breakfast there, and one day she was shoveling snow off the top of Mickey’s, and he was trying to climb up there because he made her a hand-embroidered Jingle All the Way T-shirt. The lawyers were like, “Get down!!!”

Be Safe, Mankato

This has been a rough week for flooding. Up North, the water got waist-deep in towns like Cook and other parts of St. Louis County as the Little Fork River swelled. Road closures became too numerous to note and washouts left many people trapped. And today, things are looking bad down near Mankato, where the Blue Earth River began surging around the Rapidan Dam, resulting in staggering video like this.

Officials say the dam is in “imminent failure condition,” but circumstances aren’t quite as dire as that sounds. The status of the dam, built in 1908, has been questionable for years, though its repair was never a high priority because a levee system protects the surrounding area. The levees will contain up to 39.5 feet of water, and the river is predicted to rise no more than 30 feet, the Mankato Free Press reports. There are still concerns about detritus from the dam floating downstream, and flooding already washed out an Xcel Energy substation, resulting in power loss for 600 customers. 

As for the future of the dam? “Personally, I've thought the dam should be removed, and Blue Earth River restored as a great canoeing/kayaking river,” tweeted Sally Jo Sorenson of Blue Stem Prairie, who has written about it plenty in her time.

Oh, and we shouldn't even have to say this, but as Jeff Bengston, Mankato's associate director of public safety resources told KEYC-TV, "This is a very significant event and everybody wants to see it, but stay away from the water."

Explain the U.S. Gymnastics Trials to Us, MinnPost!

There are gonna be some amazing gymnasts competing at Target Center this weekend, all hoping to make it to the U.S. Olympic Team. And over at MinnPost today, Jazzmine Jackson has the rundown on who’ll be competing (including Simone Biles and St. Paul’s own Suni Lee), what their chances are at advancing, and how selections are made. Reportedly, some tickets are still left. Should be a thrilling event. Too thrilling, if you ask me. I’m much too nervous a person to watch gymnastics. I am 100% certain they’re gonna split their heads open on the beam every time. Elsewhere in the localized world of gymnastics, the Strib's Jeff Day has a nice piece about how Minnesota became a hub for gymnastics in America.

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