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MN GOP’s Growing Royce White Problem

Plus Starbucks didn't touch that mural, police downsizing is good, and the Bundt Cake has MN roots in today's Flyover news roundup.

Facebook: Royce White for Congress|

The Facebook caption here reads: “If someone openly threatens to go after your public image… you know they’re working for the Deep State, K Street or liberal White women — Sometimes all 3 of them. Once you understand the impetus toward reputation tarnishing, it becomes clear how we got here. Blackmail! #Godspeed.” OK, Royce!

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

Royce White: Major Party Candidate, Major Strip Club Food Fan

We've been (and will continue to be!) hard on Sen. Amy Klobuchar around here, having written screeds that her comms team deemed "gratuitous." But man, it is really difficult to understand why MN GOP enthusiastically anointed Royce White as the sacrificial lamb to run against Klobes this fall. White, a former Minneapolis prep hoops star who briefly played in the NBA, is about as freakishly fringe as political candidates get. Which, in the year of lord 2024, is really saying something.

And national media are picking up on that: Today Daily Beast reporters Roger Sollenberger and Mini Racker published a bruising exposé on the proud conspiracy theorist, noted antisemite, one-time Steve Bannon protégé, and current GOP-endorsed U.S. Senate hopeful. Among their findings on White, after analyzing Federal Election Commission docs from his failed 2022 campaign to unseat Rep. Ilhan Omar: huge tabs at out-of-state strip clubs, $100,000 in "mysterious wire transfers and checks," eye-popping shopping sprees, nights at "posh hotels" across seven states, thousands spent on limos, and other "unexplained" cash withdrawals.

In a statement to the Daily Beast, the 33-year-old White sounds unfazed: "If the FEC wants to fine us, that’s completely fine, there are much bigger scams with political campaigns." It might not be that simple. “We’re not talking about small stuff,” says Brendan Fischer, a campaign finance law specialist. “This takes us well outside the realm of FEC fines. This looks a lot like the kind of thing that people go to jail for.” Adds Jordan Libowitz at Citizens for Responsibility & Ethics in Washington: “In nearly a decade of reviewing FEC disclosures, I’ve never seen a mess quite like White’s disbursements.” White might, might be able to explain away the $1,200 he spent at Miami's all-nude Gold Rush strip club, having once said via a podcast that he "like[s] the food there."

While not a potential legal matter, you would think MN GOP would have at least vetted White's not-particularly-hinged tweets:

You Can Stop Tagging Starbucks in Your Angry Mural Removal Posts

Last week, Viraluae reported that Minneapolis artist Gustavo Lira Garcia's mural Flor de Piña, a colorful piece that decorated the building at 1851 Central Ave. NE, had been painted over, with no prior warning to Garcia. "I feel very devastated—something you created has been destroyed with no consultation whatsoever, nothing that indicates that's going to happen," the artist told us.

We included the rumor swirling on Instagram: That Starbucks was moving into the space, which may have prompted building owner Tryg Truelson of Truco, Inc. to paint over the work.

Well, your angry tags reached Starbucks HQ—company PR guy Sam Jefferies reached out to Viraluae earlier this week to clear the air. The coffee chain is not moving into that building, and had nothing to do with the decision to paint over Flor de Piña. "It was something that we explored," Jefferies says. "We didn't even get close to signing a lease, and we would have had no say or input over any decision about the exterior of the building."

"This is one where it falls to others to defend their actions," the Starbucks spokesperson added.

“I didn’t know it was part of a community project — that mural was — and I was never told by the landlord that it’s part of the community,” Aslam Jamal told Alex V. Cipolle at MPR last week of his decision to paint over it. He’s planning on opening Yemeni coffee shop named Qahwah House in the space this fall.

How MPD Dismantled Itself and How Minneapolis Could Benefit

That’s the big takeaway from this excellent article by Michelle Phelps for The New Republic titled "The Minneapolis Police Department Is Dismantling Itself." She argues that having a smaller force, one that struggles to hire new recruits, actually opens the door for better police models as well as developing different programs and services. A few examples include new behavioral crisis response teams, community-led safety programs, and the newly launched Office of Community Safety.

“While research is complex on the question of whether low-level police stops deter more serious crimes," she writes, "what is clear is that they come with significant social costs, including the erosion of community trust and the destabilization of the families of those who undergo them."  

The fully funded, greatly diminished MPD has certainly squandered plenty of goodwill and trust over the years. The Minneapolis Department of Human rights released a report in 2022 detailing an organization where racism, misogyny, and violence is ingrained in police training, culture, and practice. The report, which examined 700+ hours of bodycam footage and over 480,000 pages of city and MPD documents, also exposed the MPD’s use of “covert social media accounts.” In 2023, the Department Of Justice released a 92-page report that basically came to the same conclusions.  

This weekend marks the four-year anniversary of the murder of George Floyd by Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin and the protests that ensued. Folks who wish to pay respects this Saturday can visit 38th & Chicago, where there will be a community wellness and resource fair; it'll conclude with a family-led candlelight vigil for Floyd at 7 p.m.

Is Bundt Cake One of Us?

We're noted fans of the Star Tribune's Curious Minnesota series, and the latest installment from Nicole Hvidsten doesn't disappoint. Hvidsten answers a fun one from reader Tim Drake: Did Bundt cake originate in Minnesota?

You bet your Bundt! The circular cake style dates back to 1950, and while it originated in Europe, it "became a uniquely American creation via Minnesotan ingenuity," Hvidsten writes. You have Minnesota-based Nordic Ware to thank; the company responded to two Minneapolis women, Rose Joshua and Fannie Schanfield, who wanted to replicate something they called a bund pan.

Thanks to lightweight cast aluminum and something called the Tunnel of Fudge cake, the Bundt is an American icon today—she's even got a place in the Smithsonian National Museum of American History.

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