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UnitedHealth CEO is Minnesota’s highest paid exec

Plus: Minnesota authorities bust massive sex-trafficking ring; blue rooster installed at Minneapolis Sculpture Garden; U of M official gets two-week suspension for sexual harassment misconduct; and more.

UnitedHealth Chief Executive Officer Stephen Hemsley
REUTERS/Danny Moloshok

To the surprise of absolutely no one, the AP reports, “A new survey shows the top paid executive in Minnesota is in the health care industry. Calculations by The Associated Press and the executive data firm Equilar show UnitedHealth Group CEO Stephen Hemsley tops the compensation list in Minnesota, earning $15.7 million last year. The health care company is based in Minnetonka and is sixth in the United States on the Fortune 500.” Any arts teachers? Nurses? Anyone? Bueller?

Crackdown. The KSTP-TV story says, “Twenty-one people have been indicted in what authorities are calling a sophisticated, international sex-trafficking ring that brought hundreds of women from Thailand to America and forced them to work as prostitutes. Authorities in Minnesota were part of an Anti-Trafficking Coordination Team dedicated to tracking and stopping sex trafficking operations. That team assisted in the investigation of this particular ring.”

Uh, so what’s your definition of “fully”? James Koren at the Los Angeles Times reports, “Wells Fargo & Co. may have to cough up more than $142 million to settle a bevy of class-action lawsuits in connection with its unauthorized-accounts scandal. A federal judge in San Francisco said late Wednesday that he would approve a settlement deal reached by the bank and plaintiffs’ attorneys, but only if they agree to several conditions — including a guarantee that all customers will be fully compensated for their losses. That could further boost the amount the bank will have to pay to put the lawsuits behind it as questions remain about how many customers were harmed and how much money they lost.”

Soon to be on t-shirts and coffee mugs everywhere. Euan Kerr and Jeyca Maldonado-Medina of MPR tell us, “The Walker Arts Center installed what promises to be a new iconic piece in the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden today in the shape of a gigantic blue rooster. German sculptor Katharina Fristch’s piece ‘Hahn/Cock’ stands close to the gardens famed ‘Spoonbridge with Cherry.’ It’s one of 16 new works installed as part of the Garden’s multi-million dollar renovation and expansion.” Better than a puce Asian carp, I guess.

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Two weeksMPR’s Peter Cox reports, “A University of Minnesota athletics department administrator will serve a two-week, unpaid suspension for sexual harassment misconduct. The university on Thursday released the findings of an internal investigation into sexual harassment allegations against Randy Handel, who serves as the associate athletic director of development. A subordinate said Handel’s behavior included frequent hugging, touching and inappropriate comments about the person’s looks, according to the investigative report.”

For god’s sake, take the money, turn off the lights and go home. Says Brian Bakst at MPR, “A legislative pay raise approved by Minnesota voters hasn’t been provided for in a new state budget, but some lawmakers say the Legislature is only harming itself in the end. A state government budget bill leaves funding for the House and Senate flat. That means costs of the 45 percent increase in pay approved by an independent commission will have to be covered by cuts elsewhere. The pay raise — the first in two decades — is set to take effect July 1 and will result in lawmakers earning $45,000 per year.”

 The Strib is, uh, unimpressed with the revised health care bill. You know, the one whacking 23 million off health insurance. “A point of clarification for Reps. Erik Paulsen, Tom Emmer and Jason Lewis, the three Minnesota Republican U.S. House members who voted for their party’s health reform plan: When you vowed on the campaign trail to repeal the Affordable Care Act, the expectation was that the replacement plan would improve upon former President Obama’s signature health care law. But for the second time now, one of the nation’s most authoritative voices has confirmed that the GOP’s American Health Care Act (AHCA) would be a disastrous step backward when it comes to cost and quality coverage, particularly for older and sicker Americans. There’s no honor in keeping a promise to repeal the Obama law … when the replacement would gut Medicaid, a safety-net program for children and the elderly, and would leave millions more Americans without health insurance.”