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VA prescriptions fed opioid epidemic near Tomah, Wisconsin

Plus: Walker aide quits over Iowa-disparaging tweets; nonprofit lags in minority-hiring goals for Vikings stadium; private funding for Zip Rail?; Replacements sell out; and more.

From the Center for Investigative Reporting and the LaCrosse Tribune, a vivid picture of how the VA clinic in Tomah, Wisconsin, came to be known as “Candy Land.” In a wide and well-documented investigation, author Aaron Glantz looks at:

dozens of tragedies that begin to hint at how the flood of narcotics from the VA scarred this region.

It begins with the veterans themselves, who have become addled and addicted and who have overdosed. The collateral damage ranges from distraught sisters to fatherless children and dead girlfriends.

At the root of the epidemic? One VA pschiatrist, doctor Dr. David Houlihan, who came to be known by some veterans as “Candy Man” for his extensive and generous prescriptions of a cocktail of opioids and amphetamines. 

It’s a chilling look at both the challenges faced by veterans today and the ramifications those challenges can have for society as a whole. We strongly commend it to you.


Elsewhere in Wisconsin, Politico takes note of the short-lived career of Scott Walker aide Liz Mair, who resigned from the campaign a day after her joining it was announced. Her crime? Tweets that were interpreted to be critical of the citizens of Iowa. She violated the first commandment of presidential campaigns: Thou shallt pander to Iowa at every opportunity. In this case, as others, though, the best advice comes from Federal judge Katherine B. Forrest (uttered during the Silk Road trial):

The latest from the People’s Stadium: A nonprofit designated to recruit and train minority workers to build the new Vikings stadium has fallen well short of its goals, the Star Tribune’s Mike Kazuba reports. That’s not to say minority workers aren’t building the arena — 800 stadium workers so far have been minorities, 32 percent of the work force — just that Summit Academy hasn’t been the pipeline that got them hired. To date, Summit is only responsible for 48 of the workers.

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A novel idea for building high speed rail between Rochester and the Twin Cities: Let the private sector do it. The Post-Bulletin’s Heather J. Carlson has the details on a new business venture formed to build the line:

The North American High Speed Rail Group has been meeting with county officials and Minnesota lawmakers to pitch its proposal for high-speed rail service between Rochester and the Twin Cities, said Wendy Meadley, the group's chief strategy officer. She said North American has pulled together a group of investors interested in the rail line and that the project would also include an economic development component that's tied into the rail corridor.

The Replacements finally sell out "Let It Be." The Star Tribune’s Chris Riemenschneider reports, “The party is over for the Replacements’ “Let It Be” on original Twin/Tone vinyl. Thirty-one years after the legendary album hit stores, the last sealed copy of it from Twin/Tone Records' original stock pressing was sold earlier this week, according to Twin Cities record retail guru John Kass. Thus, for at least the next few months, the record is more or less sold out on vinyl.

Well, this takes the whole “mall cop” stereotype to a new level. Lee Fang in The Intercept: “Documents obtained by The Intercept indicate that security staff at the Mall of America in Bloomington, Minnesota used a fake Facebook account to monitor local Black Lives Matter organizers, befriend them, and obtain their personal information and photographs without their knowledge.”

In other news…

Can new dean Dr. Brooks Jackson save the University of Minnesota medical school? [MPR]

MN GOP executive director Bob De Haven is stepping down. [@jpkolb]

Should Minnesota lawmakers be above the law? [City Pages]

March Madness office pools are illegal. [MPR’s News Cut]

A bipartisan, interstate effort to maintain Great Lakes restoration funding [AP via WCCO]

In addition to disrupting the taxi market, Uber would like to disrupt the insurance regulation market [City Pages]

“Lindsey Vonn wins World Cup downhill title ahead of Austrian rival Anna Fenninger” [AP via Star Tribune]