Sep 20, 2021

Axios Twin Cities

Good morning! It's already Monday. Where did the weekend go?

  • ☔ Grab that umbrella. It's going to rain all day.

Breaking this morning: Pfizer says trial data show its COVID-19 vaccine is safe and effective for kids 5-11. The company says it will submit an emergency authorization request to the FDA soon. Full story.

Today's newsletter is 968 words, a 3.5-minute read.

1 big thing: Minneapolis mayoral hopefuls weigh in on cops

Photo: Stephen Maturen/Getty Images

What the Minneapolis Police Department should look like in the future is a huge topic in the city's mayoral race.

State of play: The public safety charter amendment on the ballot would do away with the current minimum officer requirement and replace MPD with a new public safety agency that could include traditional police.

  • If the amendment passes, many details of a new department will be decided by the next mayor and City Council.

Context: The city has budgeted for an expected monthly average of 770 police officers, but due to a wave of retirements and long-term leave, it's been operating with around 650 officers for the past several months.

Where they stand: There are 17 candidates in the race, but only four have reported substantial fundraising: incumbent Jacob Frey and challengers Kate Knuth, Sheila Nezhad and A.J. Awed. Here's what they've said recently about how many police officers they would employ:

  • Knuth said at a DFL Lawyers Committee debate last week she would commit to 770 for a two-year period.
  • Frey said he wants 888 officers — the current targeted size of the force.
  • Nezhad said she wants 888 public safety staff, including police, mental health responders, domestic violence advocates and gun violence prevention specialists. Her campaign didn't respond when asked how many would be officers.
  • Awed wasn't at the debate, but his campaign spokesperson told Nick he wants 888 officers, and to eventually add 200-400 unarmed peace officers.

Between the lines: Recent polling suggests Minneapolis voters want both major changes to MPD and the same number of officers as we have now.

What to watch: With early voting underway, debate about the future of MPD is sure to intensify, potentially shaping both the outcome of the charter amendment campaign and the mayor's race.

2. Housing, rent control fuel forum debates

(From top, left to right) Moderator Joe Nuñez and candidates Kate Knuth, Jacob Frey and Sheila Nezhad participate in a virtual DFL Lawyers Committee forum last week. Screenshot via Zoom

Minneapolis mayoral forum season is in full swing, and while public safety and police reform are taking up most of the energy and attention, candidates are also weighing in on other big issues that will shape the city's future.

What they're talking about: Affordable housing and rent control have been major topics at recent forums.

  • A ballot measure would give the City Council the power to enact rent control policies, which cap how much landlords can raise rent on their tenants.

Where they stand: There are no policy specifics in the amendment — that would be decided later — but Frey, Knuth, Nezhad and Awed all said they support it.

  • Frey stopped short of endorsing rent control, saying he would have to see a policy after it's drafted through the legislative process.

Other hot topics:

  • Nezhad said she wants a municipal snow shoveling program, which was raised by some a couple years ago when the city cracked down on property owners who didn't clear their sidewalks.
  • Knuth wants to create a college savings plan for every kid in the city.
  • Frey said that under his leadership, Minneapolis spends more per capita on affordable housing than any other city in the nation.
  • Awed said at a League of Women Voters forum that he wants to increase taxes on renters of luxury apartments.

Of note: Apartment building landlords already pay property taxes and pass those on to renters.

What's ahead: Make Homes Happen is hosting a virtual mayoral forum on Wednesday, Sept. 29 at 7pm.

3. Summer dining season at the parks winds down

Photo courtesy of Sea Salt

Last call for one of our favorite summer dining spots.

What's happening: Sea Salt Eatery, the Cajun-inspired seafood stand at Minnehaha Falls, will close for the season on Oct. 3.

Of note: Some of Minneapolis' other popular park dining spots are also winding down for the fall.

  • Sandcastle at Lake Nokomis is already shuttered. Bread and Pickle at Lake Harriet will be open through mid-October.

Torey's go-to order: Sea Salt's Cajun tuna po'boy (it's on the specials board) with a side of fries and a Sea Salt Lime Supra Deluxe from Modist Brewing.

Don't be sad: The long winter won't last forever. Sea Salt will reopen April 18, 2022.

4. The Spoon: The best part of waking up

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

🏈 Sunday served up another heartbreaker for Vikings fans: They lost to the Cardinals 34-33 after Greg Joseph missed a 37-yard field goal with seconds remaining.

❓Mayor Frey and the City Council both registered underwater approval ratings in the latest Minnesota Poll. (Star Tribune)

🌳 A $1 million donation will help restore the former Aiple house at Stillwater's Lumberjack Landing park. (Pioneer Press)

🎭 The arts scene is picking up this fall with events across the region. (Star Tribune)

🏥 At least 11 people were wounded in Minneapolis shootings over the weekend. (MPR News)

5. Mapped: How our Tesla fleet compares
Expand chart
Data: IHS Markit; Chart: Danielle Alberti/Axios

The Twin Cities trail other major metros when it comes to Tesla ownership.

By the numbers: Our area was home to 6,595 registered Teslas as of April 1, a report from IHS Markit shows. That ranks us 26th in the nation.

  • For context, we're the 16th largest major metro area.

Between the lines: Electric vehicles represent a tiny portion of the overall auto market in Minnesota — just 1.14% of new sales in 2018 were EVs. So it shouldn't come as a surprise that the Twin Cities' share of higher-end Teslas remains smaller than some cities.

6. 🎵 1 ditty to go: Backstreet's back (in Duluth)

AJ McLean hanging out by Lake Superior. Screenshot via @ajmcleanofficial/TikTok

"Damn, Duluth, you ain't got no Ubers. Damn, Duluth, you ain't got no cabs."
Backstreet Boys alum AJ McLean sings to his TikTok followers about his efforts to get to a buddy's wedding.

Before you get too offended: McLean also praised the area as a "little taste of heaven."

Seeing a 90s teen heartthrob visit Duluth got us thinking ... What's your best celebrity sighting here in Minnesota?

Thanks for reading!