A week in the life of courthouse screening (5×8 – 5/1/12)

What’s in the pocket of people heading to court, a road map to moral leadership at the hospital, can animals feel harassed, is it art or just spit, and why isn’t Minnesota better at improv?


From all appearances, Hennepin County Judge Lloyd Zimmerman was right when he refused to hear cases in Brooklyn Center because there was no security for judges.

Last week, the county started providing some screening at several suburban courthouses and last night issued this photo of the first week’s haul.


For his insistence on more security, Judge Zimmerman was reassigned to family court, a move he said was in retaliation.

(h/t: Hart VanDenburg)


The Fairview Hospital billing/collection agency story (considered in this space yesterday) is piece-by-piece exposing the seedy side of how some hospitals do business.

In an op-ed in the Star Tribune today, Paul Olson, who served on the board of a hospital, reveals that hospitals hire consultants to coach doctors on how to jack up the amount of a patient’s bill. It is, he says, an example of how non-profit hospitals have lost their way.

He offered steps to change that:

First the board (especially the CEO and former board chair on whose watch the collection effort occurred) need to do more than say “sorry.” That would be asking for cheap grace.

Rather they need to articulate the values that guide the organization, and hence affect every employee. Then they need to assure us that the values are being practiced.

Second, the CEO and the executive who owned stock in the collection firm need to come clean about a serious conflict of interest. Address it before the state and federal authorities make it another headline.

Third, they should remind themselves of the Burton Act, which obligates hospitals to provide charitable care in exchange for the public funding received for facilities.

And finally, they must reach their minds back to who founded their organizations and why, and follow the moral leadership of people who went before.

Meanwhile, the Associated Press reports a survey of hospitals in California reveals there’s no rhyme or reason to how they set a price for the service they provide. And the Duluth News Tribune found a wide range at that city’s medical institutions:

In Duluth, the average cost for an appendectomy varied only slightly, from about $14,600 at St. Luke’s, to $15,297 at Essentia Health St. Mary’s Medical Center.

But prices for some procedures at Duluth hospitals varied by several thousand dollars — even within the same hospital system. Treatment for a gastrointestinal hemorrhage at Essentia Health Duluth (formerly Miller-Dwan) has an average price of $9,614, while the same procedure at Essentia Health St. Mary’s Medical Center costs an average of $15,283, according to data from the Minnesota Hospital Association. St. Luke’s charged an average of $13,260 for the procedure.

And if you survive and need long term care? Don’t ask. NPR breaks it all down today with the beginning of a new series called Family Matters, the first installment of which reveals the true cost of long term care.


The question is at the heart of a court case in Iowa where two Des Moines-area pilots are charged with violating a federal law when they flew their planes low over a reservoir where birds were resting.

“Flying is what birds do,” the pair’s attorney said in court documents asking the case be dismissed. “Who can say if the bird is pleased or annoyed to have taken flight? Indeed, who can say whether the bird’s flight was the result of any cognition and not just impulse?”


Chad Kartenson of Fargo took a smoke break once and spit on the ground. Then he looked at it and grabbed a sketch pad. Artistic inspiration takes many forms. He has a solo show opening this week. The Fargo Forum provides the video to show how spit is art.


Sure, this could happen in Minnesota. So why doesn’t it?

Bonus I: Joe Mauer, hair stylist.

Bonus II: “Turns out the Rock Garden Tour isn’t really about rock music or gardening, nor is it a true tour. Instead, it’s primarily a comedy, one that’s silly to the point of being smart and vastly different in person than over the air.” (TVFury)

Bonus III: How does one go from being a minister in a church to an atheist?


The United Kingdom High Court has ruled that U.K. Internet providers must block access to The Pirate Bay, a notorious, defiant and resilient file sharing site where users swap movies, television shows, and music.

Today’s Question: After another legal ruling against file sharing, how have your feelings about the trading of copyrighted material online changed?


Daily Circuit (9-12 p.m.) – First hour: Making sense of mixed economic signals.

Second hour: How to build resilience.

Third hour: The value of an undergraduate education.

MPR News Presents (12-1 pm): On “Law Day,” MPR’s Cathy Wurzer interviews Minnesota Supreme Court Chief Justice Lori Gildea. The event was held at the Minneapolis Woman’s Club.

Talk of the Nation (1-3 p.m.) – First hour: The challenge of China.

Second hour: Feminist scholar Susan Gubar, author of “Memoir of a Debulked Woman.”

All Things Considered (3-6:30 p.m.) – Toby Groves thought of himself as ethical. His colleagues did, too. So how could this reputable businessman defraud banks of millions of dollars, and convince his co-workers to join in? NPR examines the anatomy of a fraud.