Axios Twin Cities

Picture of the Twin Cities skyline with MSP written across it.

Happy Friday!

  • This morning's rain should give way to sunny skies later today, with highs in the low 70s.

Today's newsletter is 856 words — a 3.5-minute read.

1 big thing: The (early) vote begins

early vote center
Photo: Stephen Maturen/Getty Images

Early voting begins in Minneapolis this morning, with a consequential question on the future of the police department back on the ballot.

Driving the news: In an eleventh hour ruling, the Minnesota Supreme Court overturned a Hennepin County judge's decision to strike the police charter amendment from the ballot over concerns that the language was too vague.

Why it matters: Question 2, which proposes replacing the Minneapolis Police Department with a new public safety agency that could include officers "if necessary," could fundamentally change public safety in Minneapolis. Changes include removing the minimum officer requirement and giving the City Council more say in police policies.

  • Supporters argued that the judge's intervention subverted the will of the 20,000-plus voters who signed a petition to get the measure on the ballot.

Between the lines: The fight over the measure is attracting national attention and major spending on both sides — opponents are launching their first TV ad.

  • The battle could impact turnout and the outcome of other local contests, including the mayoral race and competitive City Council match-ups.

Zoom out: Voting is not just in Minneapolis. Early voting begins in dozens of municipalities and school districts across the state today.

  • Voters in St. Paul pick a mayor, school board members and face a rent control question of their own.
  • Contests elsewhere cover city government, school boards, tax levies and other local ballot questions.

Be smart: Absentee ballots can be cast in person, often at an early vote center or local election office, or by mail. There are many voting sites across Hennepin and Ramsey counties.

Read and share the full story.

2. What's on tap this weekend

cool emoji guy with sunglasses
Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

It's going to be a beautiful weekend in the Twin Cities! Here are some things to do:

🌾 Celebrate Minnesota's harvest season and Native American culture at Saturday's Wild Rice Festival in Roseville. Enjoy traditional wild rice harvesting demonstrations, apple cider pressing and Native drummers and dancers from Little Earth. Free.

🚶‍♀️ Take a walking tour Saturday afternoon and discuss one of Minnesota architecture's most recognizable features: the three-season porch. Artist Monica Sheets will lead the tour, in collaboration with Birchwood Palace Industries and Free.

🌟 Walk/bike/rollerskate to the Midtown Greenway Saturday night for the Greenway Glow Arts Festival, featuring art installations, theater performances and live music. Free, or VIP for $55.

🥦 Twin Cities VegFest is back. The biggest plant-based festival in the Midwest takes over Harriet Island Park on Sunday with 120+ vendors, speakers and cooking demos. Free.

🐶 Bring your pups to Goldzilla on Sunday, a fundraiser and fair dedicated to golden retrievers. All money raised supports rescuing and rehoming golden retrievers and golden mixes. Free.

🗓 This is just a sample of what's coming up: View the full list, including Oktoberfest celebrations, a wrestling match and a zine fest.

3. Mapped: Afghan refugees headed our way

Data: White House; Chart: Jared Whalen/Axios

Minnesota is expected to welcome 275 Afghan refugees to our state in the coming weeks, State Department data obtained by Axios' Stef Kight shows.

The big picture: The arrivals are part of an initial group of about 37,000 Afghans heading to states across the country, Kight reports. Many faced harrowing journeys to get here.

  • Of note: The group includes Afghans who helped the U.S. in Afghanistan and applied for the Special Immigrant Visa.

What we're hearing: The Minnesota Department of Human Services has been advised that the total number of evacuees and Special Immigrant Visa holders arriving in the weeks ahead could be even higher, at 340.

How you can help: Sahan Journal rounded up a list of local groups collecting supplies for the evacuees who land here.

  • DHS set up an email list for those who want information about how to get involved.

4. The Spoon: Get your quick news fix

Illustration of a pattern of the Spoonbridge and Cherry sculpture in Minneapolis.
Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

🍺 The owners of Gasthof in Northeast Minneapolis sold their building for $2 million. The German restaurant hasn't reopened since its closure during the pandemic. Real estate records indicate it may become a school. (Finance & Commerce)

🦠 More than two dozen Minnesota schools have reported five or more COVID-19 cases over the last two weeks, data released by MDH Thursday shows. That's up from six as of last Thursday. (MDH dashboard)

⚖️ The Minnesota Supreme Court ruled in favor of unanimous decisions by the state's Board of Pardons, dealing a blow to Gov. Tim Walz, who wanted only 2/3 votes. (Star Tribune)

5. On this day: The Vikings play first game

Paul Flately catches a pass from Fran Tarkenton in a 1963 game
Fran Tarkenton throws a touchdown pass to Paul Flately in a 1963 game at Met Stadium. Photo: John Croft/Star Tribune via Getty Image

Sixty years ago today, the Minnesota Vikings played their first game as a new NFL franchise, crushing the Chicago Bears 37-13 at Met Stadium in Bloomington.

  • Fran Tarkenton threw four touchdown passes and ran for another.

The season didn't go so well after that. The Vikes, under coach Norm Van Brocklin, finished 3-11.

6. Don't miss leaf-peeping season

A map showing green and yellow fall colors. The middle part of the state has almost no foliage while the northern parts have 20-30 percent
Image: Minnesota Department of Natural Resources

Don't blink or you might miss the fall color this year.

State of play: While trees remain mostly green in the Twin Cities, areas in northern Minnesota are already more than one-quarter of peak fall color.

What to know: Experts predict this summer's drought will cause peak fall color to come sooner and end quicker than normal in some areas.

Weekend picks:

🍁 Audrey leaves for a weekend trip to Grand Marais today. She's hoping she's not too early for fall colors.

🍔 Torey is going to do some yard work and head to a BBQ. She's pumped about season two of "The Morning Show" on Apple TV debuting tonight.

👶🏼 Nick is doing some house projects as he and his wife prepare for a third child, coming in January. They'll have three girls under the age of 4. Gulp.