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Hmm: How Is Sen. Tina Smith’s Household So Incredible at Stock Trading?

Plus our freaky winter makes national headlines, a whole lotta restaurant real estate, and encampment residents sue the mayor in today's Flyover news roundup.

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Sen. Tina Smith, left, and the Wall Street sculpture known as ‘Charging Bull.’

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

Hmm, Indeed...

Back in 2022, a New York Times analysis flagged three Minnesota congressional Democrats—Rep. Dean Phillips, Rep. Angie Craig, and Sen. Tina Smith—for stock trades that signaled potential conflicts of interest. Smith continued to raise eyebrows, drawing scrutiny this past fall after disclosing six-figure investments made into a Minnesota med-tech company whose stock price—surprise!—popped shortly thereafter.

And, earlier today, the popular finance website Unusual Whales, which studies fishy stock trades made by the powerful, released its report on how members of congress fared in their 2023 wheelings/dealings. "Congress blew the market out of the water," the site writes, noting that 33% of those studied beat the average S&P 500 return rate of 24.8%. Bringing it back to Smith: Her household's portfolio posted returns of 35.4% in '23, per the UW report. Hmmmm.

“Senator Smith and her husband have different jobs and keep them completely separate," Ed Shelleby, Smith's deputy chief of staff, tells Viraluae. "Archie’s job is to invest in medical device companies which he has done most of his career since they moved to Minnesota in 1984. Sen. Smith does not know about and has no role in any of his investment decisions.”

This past September Sen. Jon Ossoff introduced legislation that would ban sitting members of congress and their families from trading stocks, a move that 86% of Americans seem to support. The Obama-era Stock Act sought to eradicate a "deficit of trust" by mandating disclosures and penalizing insider trading from lawmakers, though studies like the one from Unusual Whales hammer home why the distrust persists.

Coastal Elites Notice Our Freaky Non-Winter

How freaked out should Minnesotans be about our current meteorological march toward historical infamy, 1887's "Year Without Winter"? Glad you asked! Viraluae will pose that verbatim Q to a U of M climate scientist tomorrow afternoon. In the meantime, big coastal newspapers are dispatching reporters to document our simmering dread around this winterless winter.

A recent New York Times report, "A Record-Breaking Warm, Snowless Winter Confounds Midwesterners," began by quoting a rich-lady transplant from San Diego. “I spent hundreds of dollars on a new wardrobe and winter gear that so far has gone totally unused,” Lucy Wallace told the paper. "Here I am wearing my San Diego wardrobe in December in Minneapolis." The story references our record-setting high temp on Christmas Day (54 degrees, IYR), attempted ice fishermen being rescued from Upper Red Lake, and the cancellation of the Minnesota Ice Festival. Climate researcher Dr. Jessica Hellmann says the unseasonably warm temps summon "a visceral feeling of what climate change looks and feels like." Elsewhere, Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey, who's also not from here, admits to liking the warmth, but adds: "Any enjoyment of the warmth is overshadowed by concern for what’s going on."

A Wall Street Journal story from Monday hits many of those same notes, though I applaud their superior, kinda kinky-sounding headline: "Minnesota Nice Wants Minnesota Ice: Locals Crave Bone-Chilling Normal." Amen, WSJ!

Wanna Buy a Whole Lotta Different Restaurants?

Alright folks, let's do a speed round of our popular "Wanna Buy?" series! (A more biz-minded media exec might save these as standalone articles, but we prioritize you knowing stuff over our clicks.) First up: The once-popular Lyn-Lake restaurant/coffee hang Muddy Waters, whose earthly remnants you can score for $1.5 million; its interior and neato alley patio are preserved like a restaurant Pompei. Next up: Twin Spirits, reportedly the state's first woman-owned distillery, which you can acquire for a negotiable price; open as TS from 2016 through last month, the Northeast building is being sold with all the booze-making what-have-yous included. Now we come to: May Day Cafe, the cute Powderhorn bakery/coffee shop that can be yours for $750,000; sez the listing: "With a proven 27-year track record of profitability and success, the business comes with a team of skilled and dedicated staff members who have contributed to the establishment's stellar reputation." And, finally, we return to pioneering Birchwood Cafe, the Seward breakfast institution that just re-hit the market for $1.35 million; that's a steep discount from when we spoke with the listing agent last summer: "At this point in her life, it's time for her to let go and let somebody else do it," Mike Smith told us at the time.

Encampment Residents Sue Mayor

Another twist in the saga surrounding Camp Nenookaasi, the large Minneapolis homeless encampment at 23rd St. and 13th Ave. S.: Two of its 100ish residents sued Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey today in U.S. District Court. "Given the long and brutal history of encampment sweeps in Minneapolis and the deadly frigid winter ahead, Defendant Frey’s planned eviction is dangerous," the lawsuit alleges. "Plaintiffs not only face irreparable harms, but reasonably fear for their lives." Last month city officials announced plans to raze Camp Nenookaasi this coming Thursday. "All of our encampment members deserve safe and dignified housing. An encampment–especially in winter–does not provide that," city spokesperson Sarah McKenzie said via a statement after the lawsuit was filed. "Additionally, the City must address the ongoing public health and safety issues, like a recent homicide at the encampment." Entirely related: I encourage you check out a 2022 Citations Needed episode titled, "The Squishy Liberal Euphemisms Big City Dem Mayors Use to Sell Criminalizing Homelessness."

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