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Swanson goes after wind turbine dealer

No industry is without questionable characters. AG Lori Swanson has filed charges against an Excelsior wind turbine company. Dan Browning of the Strib tells us: “The Minnesota Attorney General's office returned to court Wednesday seeking an emergency court order that would immediately stop an Excelsior company from selling any more small wind turbines to farmers while a lawsuit the Attorney General filed against the company last month proceeds through Hennepin County District Court. The lawsuit alleges that Renewable Energy SD (RESD) and its owner, Shawn Dooling, 46, of Shorewood, sold farmers in Minnesota and elsewhere faulty windmills using federal stimulus money aimed at helping the country during the recession. The company either failed to deliver many of the windmills, or in some cases, erected faulty turbines that failed to perform properly or at all.” This’ll make talk radio by mid-afternoon.

“Mandatory staffing ratios” are back. The AP says: “Minnesota nurses are forging ahead with a call for state lawmakers to enact standards that dictate how hospitals staff their units. The Minnesota Nurses Association planned Wednesday to outline its legislative proposal. The nurses union, which staged a brief strike at some Minnesota hospitals in 2010, has been making a case for mandatory staffing ratios based on the number of patients and type of unit. … With Democrats fully in charge of the Minnesota Capitol, the staffing proposal has a strong shot.”

Say what you will about Quixotic, but it isn’t “small ball.” Duluth’s Northland NewsCenter says: “US Rep. Rick Nolan has introduced legislation declaring that corporations should not have the same first amendment rights as individuals, as ruled by the Supreme Court decision in ‘Citizens United’ versus the Federal Election Commission.    ‘It's a very difficult process to amend the constitution’. But Nolan has vowed to try. ‘It's just not going to pass with two-thirds majority in either house and there is no chance three-fourths of the states would pass it,’ said Duluth lawyer Richard Holmstrom. But its attempt stands as a possible rallying cry to his supporters in the 8th District.”

Jason DeRusha of WCCO-TV asks: "How many people are killed each year by assault rifles?" You may already know it’s “only” about 2 percent, but he offers more numbers or your next gun argument: “According to the Minnesota report to the FBI in 2011, the last year there is Uniform Crime Report Data, three people were murdered with a rifle of any type. The report does not break rifle murders into ‘assault’ rifles. Four died in fist fights, 12 by knife and 51 by handguns in Minnesota in 2011. … In 2011 [nationally], knives were used in 1,694 murders. Fists and feet were used in 728 murders, and blunt objects — like clubs, bats and hammers — were used in 496 murders.”

Osmo Vanska and the Minnesota Orchestra has a fan at NPR.  Tom Huizenga says: “In the run-up to Sunday's Grammy Awards, I was listening to this album for luck — hoping it would win an award for the poor Minnesota musicians who, due to a stubborn labor dispute, have been locked out of their orchestra jobs since last October. Osmo Vänskä is arguably the finest living Sibelius conductor and these immaculately detailed, marvelously recorded performances are further proof.”

The GleanFrom Tuesday … Euan Kerr of MPR says: “The chair of the Minnesota House Legacy Committee says she is considering reallocating funds currently designated for the Minnesota Orchestra and the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra. DFL State Rep. Phyllis Kahn made the suggestion at the end of public testimony Tuesday afternoon on the effects of musician lock-outs at both orchestras. Kahn said she likes the idea of continuing concerts that the locked-out musicians have organized themselves. … The Minnesota Orchestra received almost $700,000 for fiscal year 2012 in legacy funds. Orchestra management said it is being held in a special fund for the duration of the lock-out. Several lawmakers expressed disappointment that the contract disputes have continued so long, and urged management to settle quickly.”

The video seems to have been yanked, but sites like SBNation are telling the story of the Farmington High School goalie who melted down last night: “Farmington high school (Minn.) held a 2-1 lead over Chaska high school with just over three minutes remaining in the third period of their game on Thursday night when the truly bizarre happened. Farmington senior goalie Austin Krause retrieved a puck behind his net, skated to the crease and put the puck in his net. Krause then proceeded to remove his gloves, and while skating off the ice, turned to his bench, flipped them off and gave them a salute before exiting the ice.” Apparently he isn’t happy about losing his starting gig to a sophomore … But, kid, that is instant immortality.

Julie Siple of MPR has a story about Hennepin County’s plan to decentralize some basic services: “For two decades, county residents seeking assistance with food, money or health care have gone to the county's main financial assistance center in downtown Minneapolis. Between 25,000 and 30,000 people visit the building every month. Hennepin County has a five-year plan to close that center and move services closer to clients by building six regional hubs, the first of which has been up and running for about four months in Brooklyn Center. Two more hubs are slated to open before the end of 2013, one in south Minneapolis and one in Bloomington. Officials expect to open the three remaining sites by the end of 2014, though they do not yet have a location for the north Minneapolis site. The plan also includes more than a dozen smaller, satellite locations.” Are they saying downtown is convenient?

The DUI charge is now official. The AP says: “Fired Minnesota Senate aide Michael Brodkorb has been charged with drunken driving and other counts after a January crash that left him injured. Lilydale City Attorney Thomas Lehmann says Wednesday he has filed a complaint charging Brodkorb with four counts, including fourth-degree driving under the influence, a misdemeanor. He also faces a misdemeanor count of careless driving, and a petty misdemeanor count of wearing no seat belt.”

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Comments (2)

I'd prefer to leave medical decisions

to medical personnel, whether it be in regard to abortion or to staffing. If the Minnesota Nurses Association believes there are staffing related problems, then perhaps they can propose performance standards which hospitals and other medical institutions are required to meet, without dictating how they are met. Until then, color me skeptical about the motivation for the Association's efforts.

If You've Had Anyone in the Hospital Lately

Then you might realize that Doctors are pretty scarce on the average hospital floor. It is the nurses who provide care, and they are rightfully concerned about the number of patients whose lives they hold in their hands on each shift.

Far too often a patient's time in the hospital, especially outside the ICU (but sometimes even there) is a complete crap shoot. Most families I know of try to make a point of having a family member present with their loved one most of the time, because hospitals tend to schedule nurses so that there's just enough of them to cover the most basic needs of the number of patients under their care.

When a crisis arises (let alone, God forbid, multiple crises) in the patients a particular nurse is assigned to care for on a given shift, the basic needs of other patients are NOT going to be met. Because nurses are scheduled so thin as to be unable to provide anything but the most basic care, with no time to go "above and beyond" that level of care, the extra attention needed to notice in the most timely manner possible that a patient is developing unforeseen and perhaps very serious difficulties, means longer hospital stays and more complications for patients,

but many hospitals administrators are ALWAYS trying to push up the profit margin to the extent that far too many of them are willing to take risks with patients' lives and hope that nothing will happen.

Of course the worst case scenario involves a quiet, unassuming person who doesn't have anyone to sit with them to be sure that a nurse answers in a timely manner when they push their call button. Such patients are very easy to neglect in favor of those who are more demanding.

Because of these factors, the average hospital ward is an accident waiting to happen (although clearly some are better than others). It is for THESE REASONS that nurses push "minimum staffing levels." THEY care more for the patients than for profit (which, far too often, their administrators and boards do not).

It is the investors, administrators and doctors (often the same people) who are far more likely to be seeking to pad their pockets by sacrificing patient well being and safety.

And let us never forget that when we're told that staffing levels should be left in the hands of "professionals," it's important to remember that, in vast majority of cases, that means professional bean counters (accountants), NOT people who are caring for patients.