Flu shot freedom (5×8 – 1/3/12)

Do nurses have the right to refuse a flu shot, after Macy’s, the 100-year-old employee, the rescuers who die while rescuing, and the Emancipation Proclamation outloud.


1) NURSES FIRED FOR REFUSING FLU SHOT

Quite a row broke out on NewsCut yesterday in the post about Hobby Lobby’s refusal to provide insurance reimbursement for the so-called day-after contraceptive pill, citing religious reasons.

A twist on religion and health care today; Should you be free to refuse to get a flu shot?

Several veteran nurses at an Indiana hospital have been fired

More flu: Sandy Christenson of St Louis Park may be the sickest person in Minnesota today, WCCO reports. She’s hospitalized with the flu. “Every morning I get there, and she is there, it is another day with her, so that is all I can ask right now,” her dad says. She apparently got a flu shot in the fall.

And a Texas boy died in a Minnesota hospital, just a few days after enjoying Christmas morning in Wisconsin.

2) DOWNTOWN SAINT PAUL. WHO’S GOT AN IDEA?

Macy’s, to nobody’s surprise, is announced early this morning it’s closings its downtown Saint Paul store, and the huge property will join the growing number of vacant properties in the city’s downtown.

Here’s the city’s news release which puts a happy spin on things:


Today, Macy’s, Inc. announced the closing of its Saint Paul store along with multiple other locations across the country. Saint Paul’s Department of Planning and Economic Development (PED) staff have already begun to consider reuses for the site, which will be one of four downtown light rail stops when the Green Line opens in spring of 2014. In 2001, the city provided a $6.3 million forgivable loan to assist with asbestos abatement and some store improvements. Repayment terms for the loan expired on December 31, 2012.

“In 2001, downtown Saint Paul was in the beginning stages of recovery after several years of decline, and losing a big-box store like Macy’s could have potentially jeopardized that recovery. But today the face of downtown has changed, and we stand on a firm foundation that includes the building of hundreds of new housing units, a Lund’s grocery store, the Lowertown regional ballpark, a revitalized Union Depot, and an almost completed Central Corridor light rail line,” said Saint Paul Mayor Chris Coleman. “Downtown Saint Paul’s momentum and rebirth continues. And much like when the ballpark or light rail was in the infant stages of great redevelopment ideas, the Macy’s site provides the city with a tremendous opportunity to bring another part of our city into the 21st century.”

The closing of Macy’s brings with it great redevelopment potential, according to Matt Kramer, President and CEO of the Saint Paul Area Chamber of Commerce. “We understand that large national retailers have been trending for years to the suburban mall model. And while we hate to see Macy’s leave Saint Paul, we are very optimistic about the quick redevelopment of this site given its prime real estate location.”

PED Director Cecile Bedor noted, “We are confident that the development community will recognize the potential of this site, and we’re looking forward to working with Macy’s to ensure a quick and efficient sale and reuse.”

The bottom line is clear: People don’t want to shop in downtown Saint Paul. Macy’s is the last department store in the city that once supported more than a half dozen of them. But any casual observer in downtown knew that as soon as Macy’s could legally close the store — it had agreed to keep it open in exchange for some city cash years ago — it would.

It was already a struggling location when the light-rail construction started several years ago, but having most roads torn up around Macy’s didn’t help.

And it’s an ugly building with a huge footprint downtown as this image I shot a couple of years ago shows.

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It’s unlikely another large retailer will take a shot at the location. It’ll have to be something else (Shot in the Dark’s Mitch Berg predicts it’ll be another state building).

Discussion point: What else would work?

Related: In Saint Paul’s Lowertown, the City Council is considering expanding sidewalks from Wacouta to Sibley, allowing sidewalk dining. But opponents of the idea say it’ll remove too much parking.

3) WHAT DO YOU MEAN YOU DON’T WANT TO GO TO WORK TODAY?

Rosa Finnegan of Massachusetts is 100 years old. She’s going to work today.

NPR did a story on elderly workers when Ms. Finnegan was only 98.

She said she’d planned to have a nice retirement. Then her husband died.

4) THE RESCUERS

A nurse, a paramedic and a pilot died last night when their medical helicopter crashed and burst into flames near Mason City last night, a reminder of the people we take for granted who risk their lives in service of others on a daily basis. They were on their way to pick up a patient.

It happens more often than many people realize. It happened in Oklahoma yesterday afternoon. It happened in Illinois in December. It happened in Texas last week.

5) THE EMANCIPATION PROCLAMATION

The U.S. Postal Service this week released a stamp marking the 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation, with a reading of the Emancipation Proclamation. It took more than seven minutes to read, partly because there were so many exceptions.

Bonus I: My evening as a mascot for the Miami Heat. (h/t: Brian Hanf)

Bonus II: It’s been nearly two years since the tsunami and earthquake hit Japan. What’s happened to the area around the Fukushima nuke plant? It’s a ghost town. (BBC)

Bonus III: Adrian Peterson is the NFL’s most valuable player, right? Right? (Daily Norseman)

Related: Adrian Peterson wired for sound.

TODAY’S QUESTION

Health officials suggest that this could be a bad flu season for Minnesota, judging from the early onset of the season and the number of patients admitted to hospitals. One of the best measures to fight the spread of the flu is for people who feel sick to stay home. Today’s Question: Do you feel free to take sick days?

WHAT WE’RE DOING

Daily Circuit (9-12 p.m.) – First hour: Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak.

Second hour: The year in words.

Third hour: Garth Sundem and 2012′s world-changing ideas.

MPR News Presents (12-1 pm): A debate from the Intelligence Squared series; “Does science refute God?”

Talk of the Nation (1-2 p.m.) – An exit interview with NPR’s Mike Shuster. Over the years, diplomatic correspondent Shuster took us into the deliberations at the Security Council, to Berlin, at the Fall of the Wall, inside Iraq during the worst of the war, to Israel during conflicts with the Palestinians and Hezbollah. And through every step of the still-growing tensions with Iran.

All Things Considered (3-6:30 p.m.) - A rebuilt New Jersey shore might not have the same beachfront homes or roller coasters of people’s vacation memories. Town officials want that nostalgia, but not its vulnerability to severe storms like the one that washed stores and amusement rides out to sea. NPR looks at post-Sandy plans for rebuilding the Jersey shore.