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 Response Page - Opat  Interview -      

These comments are responses to the questions listed below,
which were generated in regard to the
Mike Opat Interview of

In this wide-ranging conversation, Mike Opat, chairman of the Hennepin County Board of Commissioners discusses changes to the state’s General Assistance Medical Care (GAMC) law and how it affects the Hennepin County Medical Center’s response to a new funding mechanism for low-income, childless adults.

He addresses the relationship of Hennepin County to out-state counties with significantly different priorities; the choice to elect or appoint county sheriffs; and actions Hennepin County is taking in response to looming budget cuts. 

For the complete interview summary see:

Response Summary:  Readers have been asked to rate, on a scale of (0) most disagreement, to (5) neutral, to (10) most agreement, the following points discussed by Opat. Average response ratings are shown below.  Note:  these average ratings are simply the mean of all readers’ zero-to-ten responses to the ideas proposed and should not be considered an accurate reflection of a scientifically structured poll.

1. Trauma hospitals. Trauma hospitals such as Hennepin County Medical Center should provide preventive care for poor, single adults, not just be reimbursed for expensive emergency room care. (6.3 average response)

2. Sheriffs. County sheriffs should be appointed, not elected. (6.0 average response)

3. Economic development   County governments as well as city governments and state government should become involved in economic development. (6.7 average response)


Response Distribution:

Disagree Strongly

Disagree Moderately


Agree Moderately

Agree Strongly

Total Responses

1. Trauma hospitals







2. Sheriffs







3. Economic development







Individual Responses:

Richard Angevine  (2.5)  (7.5)  (7.5)

Robert Freeman  (10)  (2.5)  (10)

1. Trauma hospitals.  Better still the hospital should have gotten these people into participating partner clinics to receive that care - this may be a moot point now as Dayton expands Medicaid eligibility. 

2. Sheriffs.  Appointed by whom - the governor?  The county commissioners? 

3. Economic development.  Everyone should be rowing in the same direction.

Dave Broden  (10)  (5)  (10)

1. Trauma hospitals.  Why did the question say poor, single adults only? Why not all citizens who are of an appropriate need category, poor, or other special condition.   Preventive care must be part of the core solution and HCMC is the best delivery approach for many of this population. 

2. Sheriffs.  This has always been a political animal for discussion. Merits certainly both ways. I lean toward an appointed approach but only if the appointment process can be made politically neutral by the term of the appointment or by who does the appointing etc. The Sheriff should not be driven by the periodic potential shift in who controls the county board etc.  3. Economic development.  Short answer is ‘yes’, but only as a coordinate role--certainly not as a separate economic development team and group. There should perhaps be friendly competition between counties as well as cities but not at the risk of not getting the economic development that Minnesota needs. A well thought out state approach with focus on various areas, (with) the governmental units well-linked (and with) some local goal, objectives, and development approaches, thrusts, is recommended. Duplicating staff is not consistent with the needs for fiscal control-but we clearly do need a strong and aggressive economic development thrust and action.

Anonymous  (5)  (2.5)  (7.5)

Don Anderson  (7.5)  (7.5)  (10)

1. Trauma hospitals.  All hospitals should provide preventive care (to) all who need it including poor families as well as single adults. 

2. Sheriffs.  County Boards are more qualified to know the qualifications of candidates for Sheriff (other than persons who commit crimes). 

3. Economic development.  Since all of government is accused of not knowing the problems of the private sector maybe becoming involved in economic development would be a good idea in bringing the private sector together with the government sector.

W.D.(Bill) Hamm  (5)  (0)  (7.5)

1. Trauma hospitals.  This is great wishful thinking but very unlikely to happen without a funding scheme. The for-profit system has gotten worse at preventive medicine not better. On the other side of the coin we can't afford the cost or trust of a top-down Socialist structure to ever meet the preventive needs of the poor, especially dental. The only structure that can accomplish this is a locally controlled hybrid Coop structure such as that used by the Industrial Coops in the Mondrago region of Spain. 

2. Sheriffs.  We need a Sheriff who is independent of the county board and accountable to the people he or she serves, not under the thumbs of or beholden to any County Board members.  3. Economic development.  While I believe these organizations need to be supportive of economic development, being too involved only distracts from other things and tends to lead to unproductive favoritism that far too often ends in failure. I point to the IRRB as a perfect example of an economic development fund that has turned into a political giveaway every year before election. We have lost more money to that kind of stupidity than most people can imagine. Politicians and public servants rarely-to-never create private sector jobs.

Joe Mansky  (10)  (5)  (5)

Virginia Rutter  (2.5)  (10)  (7.5)

1. Trauma hospitals.  The summary didn't address as much as I would have liked (maybe the original conversation did?) whether there are better places for preventive care to be provided to these individuals -- clinics, etc -- to which the funding would need to go.  I think that the trauma hospital should be reserved for emergencies and other serious situations/conditions, and preventive care should be provided elsewhere. 

Peter Hennessey  (2.5)  (0)  (0)

1. Trauma hospitals.  Single adults have no excuse to be "poor," unless of course they are old or disabled. Then it is the job first and foremost of private charities to provide assistance.  Primary care is the natural job function of individual doctors, not hospitals.  Emergency rooms have no business delivering "primary care"; it is a gross misuse of their function.   Private doctors can always form a walk-in clinic, with or without being directly affiliated with a particular hospital.    As to the comment in the Summary, "Society's appetite for services grows with time," the only possible reply to that is a quote from Frederic Bastiat: "When plunder becomes a way of life for a group of men living together in society, they create for themselves in the course of time a legal system that authorizes it and a moral code that justifies it." Or a quote attributed to Jefferson, Madison or Franklin, which says that “the end of democracy comes when people realize that they can vote themselves benefits that others have to pay for”, or something like that. Of course demand for free services increases with time... The only way to stop that is not to have them paid for by the government in the first place. If the service is valuable, someone will go into business to provide it and figure out how to make it both profitable for himself and affordable for his clients. But as long as some fool in government is throwing money around like it was free, people will be all too happy to grab it up. 

2. Sheriffs.  Absolutely not. The people have a right to determine who will enforce our laws and by what standard we decide to judge those who apply for the job. 

3. Economic development.  Absolutely not. It is the function of the Chamber of Commerce to advertise the economic benefits of locating in their geographic area, to entice businesses from other regions to relocate, to promote local growth.  It is the job of the government at any level to make sure the economic climate is favorable: low and predictable taxes, minimum and equitable regulation, safe streets, good schools (if we must have government schools...) and fair and impartial enforcement of the laws.

Arvonne Fraser  (5)  (10)  (7.5)

1. Trauma hospitals.  Preventive care is important.  HCMC might be involved but this should be thought through carefully and not rushed. 

2. Sheriffs.  As a voter I know little about sheriffs.  Hiring one should be up to the board that can vet the candidates.  And they shouldn't have to be so transparent as say, the U presidency was!  Hiring and firing employees should be left to elected and appointed boards. 

3. Economic development.  Depends on what is meant by economic development.  If it just means helping businesses, I don't agree.  If it means serious thinking of what economic development encompasses, that's good.

Will Shapira  (10)  (na)  (na)

When are you going to tackle the billion-dollar Vikings stadium issue?

Robert J. Brown  (10)  (10)  (8)

Jerry Fruin  (4)  (4)  (2)

Bert Press  (10)  (10)  (10)

Bev Bales  (10)  (10)  (10)

We are involved in No. 3, Economic Development

Chuck Lutz  (10)  (10)  (9)

William Kuisle  (5)  (0)  (0)

David Detert  (2)  (9)  (10)

Al Quie  (0)  (10)  (5)

Preventive care should be provided in community settings.

Marianne Curry  (8)  (10)  (3)

1. Trauma hospitals. The best preventive care for the homeless is secure housing, which goes a long way toward preventing health care problems.  First things first! 

2. Sheriffs.  Law enforcement is a professional job, which requires proper credentialing best evaluated by county board evaluation and selection by appointment.

3. Economic development.  Government is notoriously poor at deciding who the winners and losers are in terms of economic development.  I believe this is a private sector responsibility and governments should get out of the way by easing the regulatory process and streamlining permit applications.  Time is money.

Tom Swain  (7)  (5)  (2)

RogerA Wacek  (0)  (0)  (10)

Tom Spitznagle  (8)  (5)  (5)


The Civic Caucus   is a non-partisan, tax-exempt educational organization.   The Core participants include persons of varying political persuasions, reflecting years of leadership in politics and business. Click here  to see a short personal background of each.

   Verne C. Johnson, chair;  David Broden, Charles Clay, Marianne Curry, Bill Frenzel, Paul Gilje,  Jim Hetland,  Marina Lyon, Joe Mansky, John Mooty,  Jim Olson,  and Wayne Popham 

The Civic Caucus, 01-01-2008
8301 Creekside Circle #920,   Bloomington, MN 55437.
Verne C. Johnson, chair, 952-835-4549,       Paul A. Gilje, coordinator, 952-890-5220.

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