Jul 23, 2021

Axios Twin Cities

Good morning. We made it to Friday. Hooray!

Situational awareness: More than 70% of the state is now experiencing severe drought, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor.

Today's newsletter is 917 words, a 3 1/2-minute read.

1 big thing: Minnesotans go for the gold

Photo illustration: Annelise Capossela. Photos: Andy Bao, Carmen Mandato, Maddie Meyer, Tom Pennington, Jamie Squire/Getty Images

Minnesota is well represented on Team USA as the the Tokyo Olympics kick off today.

Driving the news: More than a dozen athletes with ties to the state are set to compete in events ranging from shot put to rifle shooting.

Why it matters: It's fun to cheer for our hometown heroes as they go for the gold!

What to watch: It turns out we're a gymnastics powerhouse. Minnesota natives Sunisa Lee, Grace McCallum and Shane Wiskus are all competing in the fan-favorite event.

Here are a few more local athletes to keep on your radar:

  • Regan Smith of Lakeville will compete in the 100-meter backstroke and the 200-meter butterfly, while Gopher Bowe Becker is on the men's relay team.
  • Edina grad Jordan Thompson is a star front-row attacker on our top-ranked women's volleyball team.
  • Gable Steveson, the Gophers' undefeated heavyweight, is vying to become one of the USA wrestling's youngest gold medalists.
  • BMX racer Alise Willoughby of St. Cloud is on her third trip to the games. She won silver in 2016.
  • Two Hopkins alums — Team USA's Joe Klecker and Liberia's Joseph Fahnbulleh — will compete in the track and field events.

How to watch: The Games air on NBC, channel 11 here in the Twin Cities, and its streaming service, Peacock.

  • And keep your eye out for local watch parties and events. Vertical Endeavors, for example, plans to show events featuring Shoreview native Kyra Condie at its area climbing gyms.

A full schedule of events available here.

Go deeper with Axios' full Olympics coverage.

Bonus: How our athlete representation compares
Expand chart
Data: Team USA; Cartogram: Connor Rothschild/Axios

When it comes to feeding Team USA greatness, Minnesota is in the middle of the pack.

  • Yes, but: The above data only includes Olympians' hometowns, versus all those who lived or studied here at some point.

We're rooting for all our Olympians!

2. Your weekend playlist: Summer Jam and Smash Mouth

Illustration by Brendan Lynch/Axios

🎥 Buckle up for a drive-in showing of the 1996 hit "Twister" at Union Depot at 9:30 tonight — pay per car and grab some concessions from the on-site hot dog truck.

🎤 Twin Cities Summer Jam at Canterbury Park continues tonight and tomorrow with a lineup including Carrie Underwood, Brett Young, Zac Brown Band and more.

🚲 Bring some lawn chairs and watch the Twin Cities' most creative cars and bikes ride around Lake Harriet tomorrow night for the 27th annual ArtCar + ArtBike parade.

🎆 Minneapolis didn't have a Fourth of July fireworks show, but the Aquatennial's Target Fireworks along the Mississippi Riverfront is still on for tomorrow night.

🌟 Smash Mouth, known for the legendary song "All Star," is hosting a free concert in Rochester Sunday night.

3. Union fight rattles ranked-choice group

Illustration: Megan Robinson/Axios

A labor dispute is roiling the campaign to expand ranked-choice voting in Minnesota.

Driving the news: Former FairVote Minnesota staffers are accusing leaders of engaging in "union avoidance strategies" by laying off all five employees who had been involved in the bargaining process for their just-formed union's first contract.

  • A petition supporting the terminated employees has gained support from more than 270 people, including local DFL lawmakers, progressive candidates and well-known labor organizers.

The big picture: There's a growing movement on the left to unionize campaign and political organizations from the top of the ticket on down.

Why it matters: Ongoing drama here could hurt FairVote's standing among DFL allies and undermine its efforts to change more elections in Minnesota to the ranked-choice system.

What they're saying: FairVote MN executive director Jeanne Massey said in a statement that the positions were always supposed to be "time-limited," and ended after the legislative session due to budget issues.

The other side: Two of the former employees disputed that account in interviews with Axios, saying they first learned of the layoffs at a bargaining session in June. The entire field team, which is covered by the union, was let go.

What to watch: The former staff released a list of demands that includes reinstating their jobs.

  • Massey declined additional comment until after a planned FairVote board meeting.

Read the full story.

4. Crystal Court's new look

The new Crystal Court. Photo: IDS Center

Crystal Court — the 23,000-square-foot urban park located in downtown Minneapolis’ IDS Center — reopened yesterday after a six-month renovation.

What's new: Updates to the eight-stories-tall atrium include new seating, a larger group of trees and an infinity edge water feature.

  • Several retailers in the building have also reopened, including Roti, Nordstrom Rack and Starbucks.

The big picture: The reopening comes as many office workers prepare to return downtown by the end of summer.

See more photos on the @AxiosTwinCities Instagram account.

5. 🤘 Catch up quick: The Stones return

The Rolling Stones, pictured at TCF Bank Stadium in 2015, are coming back. Photo: Jeff Wheeler/Minneapolis Star Tribune/Tribune News Service via Getty Images

🏎️ Eden Prairie's police department appears to be the first in the state to add a Tesla to its fleet. (Star Tribune)

💻 Sen. Amy Klobuchar is leading a new push to hold social media platforms liable for promoting health-related misinformation. (Axios)

🔨 The Stillwater company behind the Hammer-Schlagen game is suing another area bar for trademark violation. (Pioneer Press)

😛 The Rolling Stones are the latest big act to announce a rescheduled concert in the Twin Cities. The "No Filter Tour" will roll into U.S. Bank Stadium on Oct. 24. (Tickets)

6. 🍳 One delicious thing to go: Al's Breakfast reopens

The inside of Al's Breakfast. Photo: David Joles/Star Tribune/Getty Images

Al's Breakfast finally reopened at 6am this morning.

  • The Dinkytown staple is Audrey's favorite hole-in-the-wall restaurant — literally, it's only 10 feet wide with a 14-seat countertop.

If you go: Bring cash, expect long lines inside and out (you stand and wait inside directly behind the seated diners) and definitely order the bacon.

🐓 Audrey got up bright and early to eat (and photograph) the best chocolate chip pancakes and bacon in the Twin Cities.

🤑 Final notice: Today is the last chance to enter our $100 giveaway on Instagram. Follow us @AxiosTwinCities for your chance to win.

Our weekend plans:

  • 📺 Torey is going to start the new season of "Ted Lasso" and have dinner with her in-laws, who are kind enough to cook even after watching the baby all week!
  • 🎸 Audrey will probably be back at Al's, then driving to Rochester with friends for the Smash Mouth show on Sunday (for the meme, she swears).
  • 🍺 Nick is drinking this, which he brought back from Wisconsin, and finding the nearest water to stay cool.

Thanks for reading! Catch you Monday.