Nonprofit, nonpartisan journalism. Supported by readers.

Donate
Topics

DFL Sen. Marty: Taxpayer subsidy for stadium is $77 a ticket

Emergency room “horror stories”; Accretive Health reassessing procedures; Chip Cravaack’s time allotment;  when session could end; and more.

Another perspective-heightening story on the Vikings stadium funding scheme from DFL Sen. John Marty and … Forbes magazine. Mike Ozanian writes: “If the bill for the Minnesota Vikings new stadium passes the cost to taxpayers will be $77.30 per ticket, per game, for 30 years, according to an analysis by state senator John Marty, who submitted his findings to his colleagues [Friday]. … If the taxpayers of Minnesota think $77.30 is too much, Marty has even worse news: the real cost is much greater because his calculation does not include the value of the property tax exemption on the stadium and the parking ramps, nor the value of the sales tax exemption on construction materials.

You knew the first-person stories about the collection agency-in-the-emergency room experience were going to be good. The Strib’s Maura Lerner delivers some goods: “Deb Waldin showed up at Fairview Southdale’s emergency room just after 8 one night last July with the worst pain she’d ever felt— a kidney stone. While she waited to see a doctor, a man rolled a computer into her emergency-room bay and asked her to pay $750 or $800. ‘I’m like, are you kidding me? Here I am dying and I’m just going to reach over to my purse and give you my credit card’? She kicked him out but is still furious about it to this day. … Waldin, who lives in Edina, said she was still writhing in pain when an unnamed staffer pulled up to her bedside last July 11 … She had no previous debts at the hospital, she said; but the man told her this visit would cost her $750 to $800 and asked for her credit card. ‘I was pretty vulnerable, being in the kind of pain I was in, but I still wasn’t handing over 800 bucks,’ she said in an interview last week. ‘I just said, ‘Go away.’ He did, and Waldin had no complaints about the medical care that followed. ‘That was fabulous,’ she said. But afterward, she called to complain about the finance man. ‘I don’t even recall getting an apology.’ ” Apologies are $900.

At Bloomberg, Dan Hart and Alex Wagner cover Accretive (the debt-collecting service’s) Sunday statement: “Accretive Health Inc. … said it’s working with advisers to address concerns raised by the Minnesota attorney general’s office that it puts bedside pressure on patients to pay bills. The claims ‘grossly distort and mischaracterize’ its revenue cycle services, the company said today in a statement. The suggestion Accretive puts bedside pressure on patients to pay their bills out of pocket are a ‘flagrant distortion of fact,’ the company said.” They don’t really refer to squeezing patients undergoing treatment as “revenue cycle services,” do they?

The Forum papers group out of North Dakota famously endorsed Congressman Chip Cravaack over Jim Oberstar in 2010. They still have his back. In an editorial — reprinted in the Strib — they say: “No matter what anyone may have predicted, Cravaack has been spending far more than a day a week back home in Minnesota, working with constituents and staying in touch with their needs and challenges. In 2011, he spent 164 days in Minnesota’s 8th District, or more than three days a week, according to the pages of the congressman’s official calendar and schedule, access to which was granted exclusively to the News Tribune Opinion page. Cravaack spent another 139 ‘voting days’ in Washington, D.C., and 19 other days working at various spots around the world. He spent only 11 days in 2011 in New Hampshire, including Dec. 23 and Christmas Eve. His family regularly spends time with him in Minnesota, too, he said in an interview. ‘That’s the job, to reach out to people in the 8th District,’ Cravaack said. ‘But it’s good. We’re making it work. My wife is making it work for us.’ ” Good PR work is so hard to come by.

Also in Sunday’s Strib, editor Nancy Barnes explains/praises her employees coverage of the Amy Senser trial, saying in part: “Our job has been to sort through the theatrics, share the charges and facts, and help readers come to their own opinions about what really happened here, just as jurors must do at the end of this trial. At the heart of this case is not whether Amy Senser was driving the car, how much she drinks, or whether she’s a responsible mother or wife. It’s not about wealth or class, although that is obviously part of the story line. The key question is simply this: Did she know she had hit someone that night? As the trial began, we had two reporters in place, one photographer, one videographer and a sketch artist; their challenge has been to report on the story around the clock and across multiple platforms, as is the nature of modern-day journalism.” After devoting the better part of four months and God knows how many forest acres of newsprint speculating on the NFL draft, you can’t say the Strib’s Senser trial coverage is over the top, but Barnes might have explained why this case warranted that much staff power?

The GleanThe stadium negotiations as we start work on what was once thought to be the last day of the session is this, courtesy of Don Davis of the Forum papers: “GOP leaders want to adjourn for the year on Monday, but [DFL Sen. Tom] Bakk said there is no reason the Legislature cannot continue after that. The state Constitution allows the Legislature to meet seven more days before May 21. Dayton said Republicans who control the Legislature should schedule a vote and let the public know in advance. Bakk said the decision is up to Zellers because, technically at least, the bill needs to pass the House before it heads to the Senate. [GOP Rep. Morrie] Lanning and [GOP Sen. Julie] Rosen have said it will be difficult, if not impossible, to finish the stadium issue by Monday. The two chambers likely will pass differing bills, so negotiators would need to work out the differences after the House and Senate pass their own measures.”

The little-known Vikings player who allegedly laid into another party-goer in Oak Grove Friday night was insulted because the kid said … he looked like Eddie Murphy? Paul Levy’s Strib story says: “[Andrew] Hayek and [Caleb] King “were pretty chummy until they left” the party, [Hayek’s sister, Jenny] Eagle said she was told. When Hayek told King around 3:15 a.m. Saturday that he resembled Eddie Murphy, the mood changed dramatically, Eagle said she was told. According to an Anoka County sheriff’s report, Hayek went outside to wait in a vehicle for a ride home. King allegedly confronted Hayek outside the car and struck him in the face.” I know Murphy’s made a lot of lousy movies lately, but a beating … ?

Who knew there was muck at the bottom of the St. Croix? Mary Divine at the PiPress writes: “The price tag for the new St. Croix River bridge could run as high as $676 million — a figure almost three times as much as the $234 million spent replacing the Interstate 35W bridge over the Mississippi River in Minneapolis. Why so much? The main reason, according to the Minnesota Department of Transportation employee in charge of both projects, is muck. Foundation work for the new St. Croix bridge accounts for 40 percent of the total cost estimate, said Jon Chiglo, project manager for the St. Croix River Crossing. … Crews working on the St. Croix bridge are expected to have to drill down 160 feet; the longest shaft drilled for the I-35W bridge was 90 feet, Chiglo said. ‘In some instances, we have 85 feet of muck in the St. Croix that we have to drill through before we reach the softer sandstone,’ said Chiglo.”

And yeah, a bear … in Frogtown. Andy Greder of the PiPress writes: “St. Paul police shot and killed a black bear Sunday … in the Frogtown neighborhood, a police spokesman said. Residents called police to the 500 block of West Charles Avenue at about 12:30 a.m. Sunday. Officers followed the bear three blocks north to West Lafond Avenue, where the bear climbed a tree. Officers set up a perimeter and waited until the bear to descend. At 1:30 a.m., the bear left the tree and was killed. Sgt. Paul Paulos said officers coordinated with the Department of Natural Resources on the option of tranquilizing the bear. The DNR advised to kill the bear because of unknowns in the proper dose needed to tranquilize the bear and repercussions if not properly subdued.”