Daily Glean: Nonplused about soaring Hennepin County suicides?

Hennepin County suicide numbers have gone “way up” — 35 percentin the year’s first four months, WCCO’s Caroline Lowe reports. One suicide expert is nonplused: “The rate of suicides has increased in this state every year for the last seven years,” he says. The economy is blamed; a Hastings medical examiner says 90 percent of the deaths involve mental illness or substance abuse. In 2006, Minnesota saw 550 suicides, compared with 126 homicides.

A small PiPress story says U.S. Sen. Norm Coleman voted to allow debate on an oil-company “windfall profits” tax — but voted against extending tax breaks for alternative-energy development. In the latter case, the story doesn’t say why. Are we so into SatireGate we don’t have time for policy scrutiny? This San Jose Mercury News editorial explains things. The Business Journal looks at Norm’s push to get the IRS to raise business mileage-deduction rates.

Allina will announce a five-year, $100 million preventive-care experiment to end heart attacks in New Ulm and boost health in its inner-city Minneapolis backyard, the Strib’s Josephine Marcotty reports. New Ulm is a challenge because of “their three major food groups — beer, brats and butter,” but 90 percent of residents use Allina for care. The Minneapolis effort is “larger and more complex”; the community pressured the health giant to help impoverished neighbors. Programs and goals still must be set.

The Strib’s David Phelps states that UnitedHealth’s Bill McGuire knew as far back as 1991 that backdated stock options were a problem. That’s according to documents in a shareholder suit. McGuire says he doesn’t remember the 1991 conversation, but acknowledged backdating in a 1999 board memo. A 2002 options-manager email noted “the accounting and legal folks want UHG grant reform.” Auditors were apparently unaware of backdating.

City Pages’ Jeff Severns Guntzel has an in-depth look at state funding cutbacks hitting courts. Hennepin County’s one-stop Domestic Abuse Service Center has seen its budget cut 50 percent; it processes half the state’s protection and harassment-restraining orders. Fourth District Chief Judge Lucy Weiland lost her law clerk, arbitration hours have been cut, and service centers are shutting down early. Even conservative Sen. Warren Limmer laments the situation.

The PiPress’s Dave Orrick sayshigh gas prices will probably force St. Paul cab fares up 30 cents per mile. The regulator-recommended hike will hit before the GOP national convention. The increase mirrors a Minneapolis proposal, and Bloomington will probably follow suit. The PiPress’s Gita Sitaramiah writes that the SimonDelivers grocery service now won’t deliver orders under $50 and has lengthened delivery windows to maximize route and fuel efficiency.

More gas: What kind of mileage does an ambulance get? About 10 mpg, the Business Journal’s Natasha Orrick reports. The average run now costs $18. Ambulance companies can’t slap on surcharges, but high fuel prices will mean higher medical costs. However, the companies’ insurance reimbursements don’t reset until next year, so organizations are eating the cost for now.

Ron Paul will hold a Williams Arena “revolution rally” during the GOP convention, MPR’s Tom Scheck reports. State Republican chair Ron Carey says, “We aren’t going to lose a lot of time with this distraction.” The GOP blocked the presidential hopeful from a convention speaking role. Libertarians will lose a lot of time finding hotel rooms amid the RNC crush. Over at City Pages, Jeff Shaw has been taking after the Paul supporters, and see-no-evil local press coverage.

Political scientists are probably the most overquoted local sources, which explains why Carleton Prof. Steven Schier is now a comedy critic. “The thing I don’t understand about Al Franken is how he thought those jokes were funny,” Schier tells Politico. “The biggest failing of any comedian is failing to be funny.” Yes, it’s the new “never bomb” standard for comedy writing — the best satire always happens that way.

GOP convention protesters say St. Paul’s narrow protest route will incite “violence,” the Strib’s Randy Furst reports. Tight space heightens police-confrontation chances. MPR’s Laura Yuen says protesters would like to march down the wider John Ireland Boulevard, not skinnier Cedar Street. Police say marchers can’t mix with traffic. No hearing has been granted. MPR’s Elizabeth Stawicki notes St. Paul prosecutors and police are working to avoid charging bottlenecks that caused a New York judge to release 560 protesters in 2004.

You don’t often read about municipal finance successes, but the Strib’s Steve Brandt notes that Minneapolis has paid off a budgetary credit card that, in the late ’90s, was drenched in $68 million of red ink. The city’s “internal service fund” is now $13 million in the black, with a completed workout plan in five years. Twinned with a recent drop in crime rates, it’s good news for the city, which still faces big problems like delayed street maintenance.

The PiPress’s Nick Ferraro writes that South St. Paul will likely become the nation’s first school district to offer K-12 International Baccalaureate classes. Middle-school accreditation, expected this summer, is the final link to continuous IB. These programs are usually more expensive; how does the district pull it off?

The Strib’s Maura Lerner says a rabies vaccine shortage means only locals needing immediate care can get shots. If you want preventative shots, forget it. One mega-manufacturer had production problems just as another shut a plant for maintenance.

In the Twin Cities Daily Planet, Doug McGill looks at the struggles of Darfur — Minnesota. It’s not faring well, either.

KARE offers some interesting footage of a meth-lab trailer being emptied.

The PiPress’s Kathie Jenkins notes that the Pop! family restaurant signed a lease to take over the Fhima’s space in downtown St. Paul.

Fox9 has a piece on a Cannon Falls family who moved into their new home and found a live grenade in a desk drawer. The former homeowner brought it home from Vietnam, but didn’t take it with. The new homeowners are wary of a shed still filled with his junk.

Nort Spews: Tough night for the home teams. Cleveland’s C.C. Sabathia shut out the Twins 1-0 for Minnesota’s sixth loss in a row. How far has the ballclub fallen? The Strib relegates them to the bottom corner of the front page in favor of the Lynx, who unfortunately let Lindsay Whalen’s Connecticut Sun win again, 75-66. A highly touted Gopher football recruit, Sam Maresh, needs open-heart surgery; he hopes to play in 2010, which is possible.

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Comments (1)

  1. Submitted by Bernice Vetsch on 06/11/2008 - 01:48 pm.

    Re: Norm Coleman’s “No” vote to extend tax breaks for alternative energy development.

    An anti-tax old-energy “grassroots advocacy group with 362,000 members” called the National Taxpayers Union (www.ntu.org) has been funding full-color almost-full-page ads in the Pioneer Press for weeks that urge readers to “Call Senator Norm Coleman: Tell Him Minnesotans Just Can’t Afford Higher Energy Taxes.”

    NTU, similar to Grover Norquist’s Americans for Tax Reform (home of the No New Taxes Pledge signed by our governor), says it has “fought for pro-taxpayer, pro-consumer energy policy since 1969.” You can bet their ad was about urging Norm to vote against the bill that would have funded alternatives to oil, coal, gas and nuclear. Which he did, of course, do.

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