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Is This the Only Photo of Would-Be Pot Commish Erin DuPree That Exists?

Plus billboards for Judaism, PAC money for St. Paul, and the state's worst drivers in today's Flyover news roundup.

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Erin Dupree

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

Ousted Weed Czar Cries Cronyism

“Who?” was the reaction we got when we checked in with THC biz owners last week after the announcement that Loonacy Cannabis Co.’s Erin DuPree would be Minnesota’s first weed czar. About 24 hours later, she had resigned from the position, releasing a statement on social media. One of the things that led to that decision was the discovery of posts on her company’s Facebook page, made by DuPree herself, advertising edibles and vapes dosed higher than the legal limits. Gov. Tim Walz, who appointed the Apple Valley business person for the position, called his nomination “not the finest hour.” 

DuPree claims she never knowingly sold anything out of compliance, and the opportunity to straighten out regulatory confusion was a big reason why she took the gig in the first place. But now, she says, she feels like she was thrown under a bus. “The process in general has been a very poignant learning experience,” she told Vineeta Sawkar at WCCO Radio this morning. “I know now more about how controlled and kinda contrived and how much cronyism actually exists here in the cannabis market.”

Dosage legalities aside, other issues may have also prompted DuPree to step down. A recent piece from MPR found two court judgments awarded against her for unpaid wages, another woman who says she’s still owed a $10K settlement from a 2013 trial, and her defunct cleaning business owes the IRS and MN Department of Revenue over $115K in unpaid taxes.

Look, At Least It’s Not Kris Lindahl

What is JewBelong and why are they advertising on so many billboards around town? That’s what the Star Tribune’s Erica Pearson set out to learn. You’ve probably seen them: They have winky little copy like "Even if you think kugel is an exercise for your vagina … JewBelong,” and, according to co-founder Archie Gottesman, the intent is to reach "the people who are feeling like, 'I'm Jewish, but I don't really know what this religion has to offer me." Not all Jews are crazy about the billboards; Some note that Judaism does not have a tradition of proselytizing, others that the billboards play fast and loose with Jewish religious beliefs. Other JewBelong billboards call out antisemitism, which is certainly an issue in Minnesota, as elsewhere—a Holocaust denier is currently running for school board in Roseville. But Jewish Community Action executive director Beth Gendler doesn't think the billboards are helping anyone. "I don't think that we have solved any problems in the history of problems or of people through snarkiness," she says. Hm, we’re gonna have to think about that. 

St. Paul Gets Its Own PAC

Here in Minneapolis, we’re used to our financial betters pooling their money to elect their favored city officials. The creepily paternalist All of Mpls recently announced their slate of preferred city council candidates, and it’s like they have a factory that turns out cut-rate Michael Rainvilles. But don’t feel left out just because you live in the state capitol, because “Service St. Paul” is here to tell you how to vote in your council races. Fred Melo reports for the Pioneer Press that “a coalition of labor unions and businesses with ties to the real estate community” claims it has raised about $300,000, to be used “in a variety of ways—from backing particular candidates for St. Paul City Council to focus-group style surveys and polling, as well as general issue-oriented advertising around the need for more affordable housing and public safety.” Their big targets: Rent control and “anti-policing rhetoric.”

MN Suburbs Have the Worst Drivers, Also the Best

Can both be true at once? Yes, according to the number crunchers at Lending Tree. Using incident-related data taken from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, they discovered that the best drivers are in Edina, because of course they are. White Bear Lake, Plymouth, and Blaine took spots two through four respectively. The suckiest drivers? Well you can find them in Maplewood, the survey says. The list of places with questionable drivers includes Oakdale, St. Louis Park, and Minnetonka. Not on the list? Minneapolis or St. Paul. Other info deduced from the study: Nine percent of our roads are in unacceptable condition, four percent of our bridges are in poor shape, and both of these issues “cost drivers an average of $543 per year.” 

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