Minnesota’s top D.C. Dems turn on V.A.’s Shinseki

Minnesota Congressional Dems collectively decided yesterday the head of the scandal-plagued VA must goThe AP reports, “Minnesota U.S. Sen. Al Franken is calling on Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki to resign. Franken said Wednesday that an inspector general’s report on VA medical care is ‘so troubling’ that the department ‘needs new leadership.’” Later, U.S. Reps Collin Peterson and Tim Walz joined in; colleague Rick Nolan was there a few days ago. All are up for re-election this year.

When in doubt, or when you just don’t want to be the one making a decision … call for another studyLaura Yuen of MPR reports, “The Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board says it will withhold support for the proposed Southwest light rail transit line, setting up yet another showdown. Park board commissioners last week asked the Metropolitan Council to take a deeper look at sending the passenger trains through a tunnel … .” The action could further delay the billion-dollar-plus line.

Meanwhile … Shannon Prather of the Strib is saying. “More than two dozen Brooklyn Park homes could fall to the wrecking ball and nearly 100 property owners might lose land for a road expansion and, ultimately, a light-rail line in the north metro. Every landowner along a two-mile stretch would be affected under a Hennepin County plan to widen West Broadway Avenue and create space for the Bottineau LRT, which would run from Minneapolis to Brooklyn Park.” But … do any of them have a, uh, close, functioning relationship with anyone in local government?

The purchase agreement has been signed. The AP says, “Minnesota Timberwolves owner and printing company billionaire Glen Taylor has signed a purchase agreement to buy the Minneapolis Star Tribune. The Star Tribune reports publisher Mike Klingensmith wrote in an internal company memo that Taylor and the newspaper’s owners signed the agreement Wednesday. Klingensmith said he expects the sale to close around June 30.”

As is customary in these moments … . Adam Belz and Rochelle Olson of the Strib write, “[Taylor] could not be reached for comment Wednesday. Klingensmith declined to discuss details of the agreement, other than to say that they haven’t changed since both parties signed a letter of intent for a possible purchase almost two months ago.” They could be buying and selling a frozen pizza operation for all the higher standards of journalism on display.

If you were outside at dusk last night you know … they’re baaack. Says Esme Murphy at WCCO-TV, “The Metropolitan Mosquito Control District said over the Memorial Day weekend there was an explosion in the mosquito population. Before last weekend, Mosquito Control said there were almost no mosquitoes in the area. Now, the battle to track and get rid of these pests shifts into high gear.” If you had to choose: Sleet or mosquitoes?

The Strib’s Pat Condon offers a deeply reported feature on those left out of Minnesota’s uniquely restrictive medical-marijuana bill. Because the penalties for having leaf pot actually escalate for those also using state-approved oils and liquids, those who need the foliage are opting out and staying in the black market.  

Think of drought and pests as terrorists … . Dan Gunderson of MPR writes, “Hundreds of farmers in the Upper Midwest are collecting data about their fields with drones this year, hoping the information will make their farm operations more productive. They’re embracing drones, even as Federal Aviation Administration rules regulating their use remain unclear.”

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Comments (7)

  1. Submitted by Steve Titterud on 05/29/2014 - 06:22 am.

    How to cut Veterans’ benefits

    Now all the public officials who participated, actively or passively, directly or indirectly, in cutting benefits for veterans, howl in unison in displaced aggression at Shinseki, hoping to place themselves above suspicion.

    The parties who contributed to this episode – and it is only one rather dramatic episode in a long term trend of declining willingness to pay for the health care of veterans – are both Republican and Democrat.

    If we don’t want to pay for veterans’ health care, let’s not send them to war in the first place.

    All these recent wars are elective adventures, none relates to the fundamental and vital interests of the U.S.

    Don’t want to pay ?? Then stop making war.

  2. Submitted by Bill Schletzer on 05/29/2014 - 08:01 am.

    please explain….

    I’m a vet and I don’t understand why anyone would go to the VA other for a service related injury. I would assume most vets, like most people, have jobs and get health insurance through their jobs. If I need a prescription or need to see a doctor I can do it within days. Why would I wait six months for a medical appointment. Seems like a lot of the stories in the news now have nothing to do with service related issues so why mess with the VA. I would think most competent medical people who were good enough to get a job out in the world would not want to work for a messed up beauracracy like the VA. LIike Steve says, this place has been messed up for decades.

    If we had true universal, single payer, health care the VA hospitals could go back to only treating service related injuries and illnesses and these vets could get the same care as the rest of us. What am I missing?

    • Submitted by John Eidel on 05/29/2014 - 10:05 am.

      I am not sure that there are a significant amount of veterans without service-connected disabilities that go to VA facilities, if for no other reason than veterans without a service connection cannot get an appointment. There are vast variations in wait times around the country, but I can tell you that the wait times for VA facilities in Minnesota and North Dakota are not nearly as long as those noted in the Phoenix story. My stepfather goes to the VA hospital in Fargo and rarely has to wait a week for an appointment. I also know that at least in Minneapolis, if you cannot get an appointment at the VA within 14 days the VA will provide a voucher for private care.

      As for why health professionals would want to work for the VA, for many the reason might be similar to the reasons why you and others served in the military: they believe in the mission and want to serve their country and the men and women who defend it. After all, why else would competent people that were good enough to get a job out in the world want to work for a messed up bureaucracy like the military?

      • Submitted by Bill Schletzer on 05/29/2014 - 12:07 pm.

        glasses?

        In one of the stories I read or heard a guy was waiting to get an eye prescription. That has nothing to do with the service. As for why people would serve, for my generation it was the draft. Let yourself be drafted and you had a very good chance of being in a combat unit. Enlist in the army for an extra year and you could either chose your job or your duty station. Or give them two extra years and join the air force or navy and be even safer. The next safest choice would be to do what George Bush did: give six years in the national guard.

        But anyway thanks for the explanation.

        • Submitted by John Eidel on 05/29/2014 - 12:47 pm.

          re: glasses

          I saw that story about the guy waiting for glasses and couldn’t believe it. A guy that I work with (100% service connected disability) goes to the Minneapolis VA on a regular basis, and was trying to get an appointment to see an Opthamologist. His wait would have been at least 1 month, however due to the approximate waiting time the VA gave him a voucher to see a private eye doctor. I don’t know why there would be a discrepancy from one hospital to another within the VA system, but I do know that this is not an issue in Minneapolis.

  3. Submitted by Bob Shepard on 05/29/2014 - 08:58 am.

    Spot on, both Steve and Bill!!

    Think of how the money saved by not making war could be used to advance the US by investing in the high quality educations of our citizens. Imagine the return on that investment….

  4. Submitted by John Eidel on 05/29/2014 - 10:15 am.

    The Phoenix VA scandal is bad, but…

    Where is the outrage over the ongoing rejection of Medicaid expansion in largely Republican states? Over 7 million Americans, many of whom are veterans, who would otherwise be fully covered under the expanded Medicaid program have no coverage at all outside of the emergency room. The expansion is funded 100% for the first five years by the federal government and 90% covered thereafter, but these states do not participate out of blind ideology, hatred of the President and his Health Care law, and ambivalence if not outright disdain for the less fortunate among us.

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