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Fewer than half of Minnesota’s detox centers still operating

Minnesota’s dental therapists growing; wave of police and firefighter retirements coming; Glidden challenging for council presidency; icy streets prove perilous; and more.

A “dispensable luxury” … Chris Serres of the Strib writes: “[D]rug and alcohol detoxification centers like the one on Chicago Avenue are fast becoming relics of the past. Quietly and with little debate, more than half of the licensed detox centers in Minnesota have shut down in recent years. There are now just 23 in the state, down from nearly 50 two decades ago, as counties from the Iron Range to the Red River Valley have sought to cut costs. The network of treatment centers grew rapidly in small towns and cities across the state in the 1970s, a period when Minnesota sought to decriminalize public intoxication and create safe, inexpensive alternatives to county jails and hospital ERs. Today in many counties, detoxification is seen as a dispensable luxury for a small population of chronic alcoholics, many of them homeless or mentally ill — even though the patients also come from comfortable homes in prosperous communities.”

Do you have a wayward molar that needs therapy? MPR’s Lorna Benson writes: “Over the past two years universities have trained, and the state has licensed, 28 dental therapists, practitioners who perform many basic dental procedures that previously only a dentist would do. Dental therapy was created to provide care in areas of the state where dentists are scarce, or unwilling to accept Medicaid coverage. Minnesota is one of just two states that are using the new profession to reach underserved patients. … Her patients are primarily low-income children and pregnant women. They usually have no dental insurance or their coverage is provided through the government’s Medicaid program. That plan includes dental care, but many private dentists won’t accept Medicaid’s low reimbursement rates.”

Another look at the coming wave of police and fire retirements … Nicole Norfleet of the Strib says: “Out of about 10,500 peace officers in the state, an estimated 10 percent could be eligible to retire early by May 31, 2014, after which pension reductions will increase for those who retire before they turn 55. By May, there will be about 105 St. Paul officers age 50 or older and eligible for retirement, about 17 percent of the total active officers. In Minneapolis, 166 officers could retire now, out of 814 sworn officers. About 30 percent of sworn deputies working for the Ramsey County Sheriff’s Office could be eligible for retirement. Some fear that if a large number of those officers leave all at once, it could mean fewer cops on the street — or at least fewer with experience.”

Curtis Gilbert at MPR has a piece on maneuvering for power on the Minneapolis City Council: “The political change that swept over Minneapolis City Hall in this year’s election could sweep a new City Council president into office. Council Member Elizabeth Glidden is challenging Barbara Johnson for the council presidency, a position Johnson has held for the last eight years. Glidden’s bid is being fueled by a group of newly elected council members. If she succeeds, it could pull the state’s most liberal city council even further to the left. … It’s unusual for council members to talk publicly about the selection of the council president. But this year, the campaign is especially intense, and the undecided members are being heavily lobbied. Council member-elect Blong Yang said the choice leaves him torn.”

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Smooth move … Raya Zimmerman of the PiPress reports: “A suspected drunken driver rear-ended a police car parked on a roadside with its lights flashing early Sunday in Crystal. Neither the officer nor the five people in the moving vehicle were hurt. Around 12:30 a.m. Sunday, the Crystal police officer was in his squad car on County Road 81 and 62nd Avenue North waiting for an electric company to repair a downed power line … Crystal police are investigating the incident, including the suspected drunken driver’s speed and blood-alcohol level. [Crystal police spokeswoman Lisa] Vague said icy road conditions did not contribute to accident.” Swear to God, officer, I thought you were a UFO and I was trying to stop an invasion.

Since we won’t see 15 degrees until … Rochelle Olson of the Strib reports: “Hold tight to those steering wheels and go easy on the accelerators. Perilously slick roads won’t be improving any time soon despite round-the-clock efforts by Twin ­Cities public works departments. Sidewalks and bikeways also pose a threat. ‘Sometimes in a case like this, Mother Nature wins for a while,’ said Mike Kennedy, director of transportation maintenance and repair in Minneapolis. ‘Everything was right to cause the wrong conditions.’ Because of the volume of traffic and the preponderance of on-street parking in Minneapolis and St. Paul, city streets have been in a bad way for the past few days. Before the salt can start gnawing into what Kennedy called the ‘bulletproof’ ice pack now on the roads, the sun must come out and temperatures need to hit at least 15 degrees.”

The GleanPiPress business columnist Ed Lotterman sees value in Pope Francis’ message on consumerism: “[I]f consumption really did fall significantly in response to papal urging, total output might fall. That does not necessarily mean that our society would be worse off, that there would be less total happiness or human satisfaction. There is a general phenomenon of ‘diminishing marginal utility’ in which the additional satisfaction people get from additional consumption of something tends to decline as we consume more if it. And that probably applies to consumption in general. As we have more and more things, the increase in our happiness can be small indeed. If our societal values changed so that we got more satisfaction from human interaction and less from consumption, as the pope suggests, this might offset the decline in satisfaction caused by using fewer market goods and services.���

Talk about a guy with a grudge … Sally Jo Sorensen, at Bluestem Prairie, let’s us know: “Failed Second American Revolutionary and Judicial Watch founder Larry Klayman has refiled his defamation lawsuit against City Pages blogger Aaron Rupar, cartoonist Ken Avidor, City Pages, Phoenix area media and Voice Media of Denver, court filings in the Florida Middle District court system reveal. As we noted last month in … the case was dismissed without prejudice, meaning that Klayman could refile the lawsuit. Once again, Klayman calls Rupar a ‘radical pro-homosexual activist’ while Avidor is merely a ‘pro-homosexual activist’ who were out to defame Klayman because he represented Bradlee Dean in a separate defamation lawsuit brought against Rachel Maddow, MSNBC, local journalist Andy Birkey and the now-defunct Minnesota Independent.”

Not to get all pedantic about spelling and such … In a post on the return of GOP politician Marty Seifert, blogger Andy Aplikowski writes: “From the people I have talked to,  it sounds like the self proclaimed savior and mighty Seifert’s media blitz was easily trumped in Republican circles by the possible entrance of a person unknown outside the Capital inteligencia and umber lobbyist ranks with little to no legislative accomplishment Karin Housley.” Personally, I like my lobbyists in a range of puce tones …