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Minnesota docs cool to new cholesterol guidelines

Expungement laws get legislative look; “economic insecurity” dropping; judge stern with swindler; wife allegedly attacks husband’s lover; tax hikes annoy DFLers; and more.

Still popping Lipitor like breath mints? Lorna Benson at MPR says: “Some Minnesota physicians returning from the American Heart Association meeting in Dallas say they will stick with old guidelines for determining when to use cholesterol-lowering drugs, or statins, until the validity of a new risk calculator is verified. … Physicians at Mayo Clinic in Rochester won’t be using the risk calculator either, until the debate over its accuracy is settled. Dr. Randy Thomas, director of the Cardiovascular Health Clinic at Mayo Clinic, said his team also found inaccuracies in the assessment tool when they plugged in some test cases.”

Bet you haven’t thought about expungement much lately … Abby Simons of the Strib writes: “Fair housing advocates and convicted felons alike urged lawmakers Tuesday to reform the state’s expungement laws, which they say provide a clean slate in name only. The two dozen witnesses ranged from a 30-year-old Spicer mother who can’t complete her studies as a nurse because of her juvenile record, to a counselor who said he found work only because his record was sealed. In each instance, the theme was the same: Despite their best efforts to move forward, offenders can’t get past the blemish on their records. In a decision last May, the Minnesota Supreme Court ruled that judges could seal only the court records of offenders who sought expungement, but [not] executive branch agency records, such as the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension or Department of Human Services. As a result, those records still show up in background checks, preventing applicants from finding work or housing.”

On the other hand, “economic insecurity” probably still comes up. John Welbes at the PiPress writes: “Minnesota was one of 11 states to report a decline in ‘economic insecurity’ last year, a sign that more people in the state are recovering financially from the recession. The annual Economic Security Index is compiled by the Rockefeller Foundation and Yale University as a measure of the security of household finances. In Minnesota in 2012, 13.7 percent of households experienced economic insecurity — meaning they saw their available household income drop by 25 percent or more. In 2011, that figure was 15.1 percent in Minnesota. Nationally in 2012, 17.8 percent of Americans experienced such a drop in income, compared with 18.9 percent in 2011.”

Five years … Randy Furst of the Strib says: “U.S. District Judge Joan Ericksen was stern in her assessment of a 61-year-old Rochester woman who swindled a next-door elderly couple out of their life savings. ‘This level of coldblooded manipulation is beyond what even a normal fraudster exhibits,’ said Ericksen, looking down on Carolyn Jean Cassar, who stood silently next to her attorney. Ericksen added that ‘you knew what you were doing to the victims.’ Cassar was sentenced to five years in prison, 14 months more than federal court guidelines, although two years less that what prosecutors had sought. Cassar, who pleaded guilty to wire fraud in July, bilked the couple out of $840,000, using ever more elaborate lies as she asked for increasing amounts of money.”

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Ladies … ladies … no man is worth it. The Strib’s Paul Walsh reports:, “With an open wine bottle at her side, a woman under the influence of pills and jealousy repeatedly rammed a car driven by her husband’s lover during a confrontation on a major Dakota County thoroughfare, then got out and hit her rival in the head with ‘full-out swings’ of an aluminum baseball bat, according to charges. … A woman told police she was driving on County Road 42 with her boyfriend in the vehicle when [Beatriz] Fernandez rammed her several times with her vehicle. The woman briefly pulled over, and the man got out of the car. Fernandez kept hitting the woman’s vehicle as it moved along and eventually forced it to come to a stop.”

The Strib’s take on those recently announced property tax hikes? “You’re irritated that the ‘Truth in Taxation’ statement you recently received shows a property tax increase coming next year? You’ve got company. The State Capitol is full of annoyed DFL-majority politicians who beefed up state aid to cities, counties and schools last spring in the expectation that most of those jurisdictions would curb or cut their levies in response. Instead, preliminary totals show more increases than rollbacks, enough to produce projected average statewide increases of 2 percent, state revenue officials reported last week. … To be sure, local circumstances vary. In many places, a pent-up demand is waiting to be satisfied. Equipment purchases, infrastructure repairs, building improvements, new hires and salary increases were put on hold as state officials squeezed local aid to cope with recurring deficits from 2002 through 2012. One more year of increases is needed to catch up, many are likely thinking.”

They better have the website working first … Brett Neely of MPR says: “The Democrat in charge of putting his party back in control of the U.S. House says voters in Minnesota’s 2nd and 3rd Congressional Districts, which are represented by Republicans, can expect to hear plenty next year about last month’s partial government shutdown. He also argued the current struggles Democrats face with the roll out of the Affordable Care Act are unlikely to hold a lasting impact for his party. … it’s clear Democrats have an uphill battle ahead of them. Paulsen still hasn’t drawn a DFL challenger and has $1.5 million in his campaign war chest. The DCCC recruited businesswoman Sona Mehring to challenge Kline but she dropped out of the race after only a month. It now appears Kline’s 2012 opponent, Mike Obermueller, will be his only challenger next year. Kline defeated Obermueller by 8 percentage points last year and has $1.3 million in the bank, more than 10 times Obermueller’s reserves.”

The Twins are bumbling even in the off-season … Mike Berardino of the PiPress says: “Double-A second baseman Eddie Rosario, the Twins’ highly rated prospect, has received a 50-game suspension for a positive drug test, according to a report by the Puerto Rican website Frankie Thon, general manager of the Mayaguez team of the Puerto Rican Winter League, is quoted in the report saying Rosario ‘supposedly hurt his arm and took some pills and (tested) positive.’ According to Thon, Rosario will be allowed to play winter ball in Puerto Rico but will be required to serve his suspension at the start of the 2014 regular season.” What next? Joe Mauer accused in a bullying scandal?

Can you bear The Huffington Post’s take on why we’re so damned wonderful? “Minneapolitans are not ones to brag, so those who haven’t spent time in the area would be surprised to know that Minneapolis and its twin city, St. Paul, are perennial winners on nationwide surveys of health, happiness, fitness and well-being. How do they do it? … Minneapolis ranks in the top three most literate cities, thanks to a high density of bookstores, high newspaper circulation and a well-read populace. And, as we’ve recently explored, reading can contribute to better sleep, better cognitive function and improved stress release. It doesn’t hurt that Minneapolis is friendly to writers, according to a Ploughshares report, with great libraries, cafes and citywide WiFi plans that allow you to get connected from anywhere.” Hey … you’re reading this.