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AG Lori Swanson to Sanford takeover of Fairview: Not so fast

Tina Smith to lead Mayo talks; more e-pulltabs fallout; eighth prison stop for Hecker; Scott Walker memoir on its way; and more.

She’s heard “it’s pretty hot and heavy.” So, according to Tony Kennedy and Jeremy Olson at the Strib: “Attorney General Lori Swanson said Tuesday she is investigating a proposed takeover of Fairview Health Services by South Dakota-based Sanford Health and will hold public hearings on the issue starting April 7 at the State Capitol. … Fairview was formed more than 100 years ago as a Minnesota charitable trust. Swanson said it has grown into a major health care player in part by not paying taxes and by receiving gifts of land and money, and in exchange has community obligations with the state that should be honored and protected. She said the assets that Fairview has accumulated over the years with public and private support should not be allowed to benefit Sanford’s expansion or other private business plans.”

When you want it done, call Tina Smith. Tom Scheck of MPR says: “Gov. Dayton announced today that his chief of staff will take a lead role in talks with the Mayo Clinic about its plans to expand in Rochester. ‘I’m asking my chief of staff, Tina Smith, to spearhead the administration’s role in that,’ Dayton said when responding to criticism by some area lawmakers that he wasn’t doing enough to get the project done. The Mayo Clinic is seeking more than $500 million in taxpayer money over the next 20 years to make infrastructure improvements in Rochester. Clinic officials say they want the state to commit to the project before they spend $3 billion to expand in the city.”

What’s your first reaction when someone tells you not to worry? Jim Ragsdale of the Strib writes: “Gov. Mark Dayton said all sides acted ‘in good faith’ in depending on new e-pulltabs to fund a Vikings stadium and must accept responsibility for the games producing a fraction of the revenue that was predicted. ‘We’re all in this together,’ Dayton said Tuesday. ‘We’re all responsible for its creation.’ He said it is far too soon to panic about whether the electronic games will eventually cover the state’s share of the new state. ‘We’ll work this out,’ Dayton said. … ‘I don’t know what caused it to go awry,’ he added. ‘I know we’re going to work to correct it.’ ” So why not call the NFL in New York? They renegotiate player contracts all the time.

Following the “who knew what,” or “who forgot what,” Tim Nelson at MPR says: “Governor Mark Dayton today sounded a different tone after critical remarks on whether the Gambling Control Board was as open as it should haven about the gambling industry’s role in estimating the revenue the state could expect from electronic pulltabs. Asked about the industry’s role for a second day, he defended his administration’s previous consultations with the gambling industry, dating back to 2011 … Dayton’s explanation today: he might have forgotten that part. Here’s how he actually put it:

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‘Well, I don’t track every legislative hearing, and there was a tremendous amount going on in those last weeks of the session, as there are in any legislative session. I am just telling you truthfully what I was aware of, what I wasn’t. If somebody told me something and I don’t recall it, that’s my responsibility. I don’t know that’s the case, but I was asked the question and I gave a truthful answer.’

Somehow I doubt Zygi Wilf and NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell ever forget parts like that.

And if the Governor thought he was taking heat from the Capitol press, now he’s got Ol’ Sooch on his case. In his PiPress column, Joe Soucheray says: “More crucially, we have been thoroughly fleeced by the Zygi Wilf crew, who know their rubes when they see them. Unlike the Pohlads, who actually wrote checks, I’m not sure Wilf will ever have to touch his own wallet. Our eyes should have been opened wider when it became known that the National Football League, making it sound like they were being benevolent, would loan the Vikings $200 million that they can pay back using game receipts over 15 years. Hmmmm. … the governor can wail and moan all he wants to about the overly optimistic electronic gambling proceeds, but he has a chance here to take a bigger step and call a time-out. I suppose this deal is ironclad and passed into law so that he can’t literally tear up the paper the bill was written on. But he has a bully pulpit to pound his fist on and say, ‘Hey, Zygi, we need to talk. It is true that you saw us falling off a turnip truck, but we have gotten up and slapped the dust off our trousers and we need to adjust the handicaps before the steam shovels arrive.’ ” Even more startling, Sooch got through a whole column without complaining about property taxes and overpaid teachers.

Over at Field of Schemes, Neil deMause, who followed our rush to construction with undisguised dismay, says: “To be fair, the state gambling board says that it came up with its own projections, then merely ran them by gambling industry representatives to check their accuracy before releasing them. (Though given how the projections have worked out, you have to wonder whether the gambling board are idiots rather than dupes. Or both. There’s nothing saying they can’t be both.) But we can still get a chuckle over the governor of Minnesota complaining that he didn’t bother to ask where his own state officers got their projections from. I mean, what kind of elected official defends himself against a deal coming out badly by complaining that he didn’t read it before he pushed it through the legislature?”

The GleanDo they give frequent prison bus miles? Our Guy, Denny Hecker, has pulled up stakes again. Dee DePass of the Strib tell us: “The former Minnesota auto dealer was transferred to a federal prison in Oklahoma City, his eighth prison in 14 months, the U.S. Bureau of Prisons confirmed this week. Hecker, 60, had been housed at a low-security facility in Loretto, Pa., since June. But on March 8, U.S. marshals took him from Loretto to the Canaan Penitentiary outside Scranton, Pa.” So no chance of Padre Island for spring break?

Who’ll play him in the movie? The AP says: “Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, a possible contender for the presidency in 2016, is writing a memoir detailing the policies he has introduced during his two years in office. The Sentinel imprint of Penguin Group says ‘Unintimidated: A Governor’s Story and a Nation’s Challenge’ is tentatively scheduled for release late this year.” Somewhere there’s an ex-governor/presidential candidate with a trunk full of signed copies of “Courage to Stand: An American Story.”

Pam Louwagie of the Strib reports on a change of legal strategy for Aaron Schaffhausen, accused of murdering his three daughters last summer: “Aaron Schaffhausen may change his plea to guilty to killing his three daughters, his defense attorney said Tuesday, but Schaffhausen would maintain a plea that he is not responsible for the crimes because of mental disease or defect. The possible change could come at a scheduled pretrial hearing in the case Wednesday morning. ‘I think that we’re going to change the plea tomorrow, just have an insanity phase’ of the trial, defense attorney John Kucinski said in a brief phone interview Tuesday.”