Talc is cheap

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June 9, 2003 // UPDATED 10:51 am - April 30, 2007
By: Sam Grabarski
Sam Grabarski

How moving one letter per phrase can improve Downtown

Some of the outcomes of the 2003 legislative session left me in a cynical mood. My concealed weapon doesn\'t satisfy me as much as I thought it would. Women have a new Right To Know, but I think they already knew. I can drink in pubs until 2 a.m. but can\'t stay awake that late when I drink. My taxes won\'t go up, but funding for police and social services went down.

To salute a session that reduced funding for health care, makes students pledge allegiance, and still doesn\'t allow Hennepin County to build a ballpark, I offer the following one-letter changes to a few familiar sayings:

TALC is Cheap applies to an innovative new clinic scheduled to open Monday, June 16, on the first floor of the Medical Arts Building, 825 Nicollet Mall. QuickMedx is a new health care company that charges bargain prices on treatments that can be provided within 15 minutes. Urgent care centers and larger clinics are clogged by people wanting these treatments, where the costs range from $150 to $300 per visit, but QuickMedx will only charge $38. They\'ve already set up clinics in eight Cub Food Stores and Best Buy headquarters. Managed health care programs are warming fast to these clinics to cut costs, free doctors for more serious illnesses, or return people to their jobs or homes quickly.

QuickMedx uses a licensed nurse practitioner or physician assistant in these small clinics (waiting area and treatment room only) to treat our most common ailments. For $38, the clinics will treat strep throat, ear or sinus infections, pink eye, influenza, bladder infections, mono, styes, seasonal allergies, poison ivy, or acne, among other things. They\'ll deliver screenings for cholesterol, pregnancy, glucose or blood pressure or vaccinate for tetanus or influenza for the same price. An upgrade to $45 buys a vaccination against Hepatitis B, or you have warts removed. These clinics are not equipped with x-ray tools, so bronchitis, pneumonia, bone fractures, or sprains won\'t be treated. Downtown\'s first QuickMedx clinic (www.quickmedx.com) could lead to several more. So, don\'t put all your EKGs in one basket.

Fight Fire with HIRE describes the summer youth employment program being promoted by Mayor R.T. Rybak and Hennepin County Commissioner Peter McLaughlin. Job prospects are surprisingly low this year for youth, so the Step-Up Program asks businesses to provide entry-level ($5.15 per hour) or skilled ($7.50 per hour) jobs to young people ages 14-21. For a tax-deductible donation of $2,400, a business may sponsor an internship elsewhere. Without jobs, students face a listless summer. If you can help, call 399-9999.

The Best Things in Life are TREE is one way to summarize progress on our Downtown Special Services District study team. Thirty stakeholders are considering the unthinkable: paying higher taxes to make a yet-undefined district cleaner, safer and better. People are more attracted to the \"hard services\" than the \"soft services.\" Hard services include all the cleaning and maintenance associated with the physical assets of the district. TASTE Not Want Not, so feast your eyes on this list of infrastructure: awnings, banners, benches, bus shelters, chairs, canopies, curbs, decorative pavers, display cases, fire hydrants, gutters, information booths, kiosks, lighting, marquees, newsstands, sidewalks, tables, telephone booths, traffic signs, trash receptacles, and utility connections. That\'s just one sub-category of 24 hard services!

CLARITY begins at home, so I\'m attracted to the soft services list. A few examples are market research, retail store recruitment programs (including leasing incentives and free design services), employment or social service programs for the homeless or night courts. There are 25 soft-service categories on the list at this point. Political hot potatoes are the boundaries of a larger service district, and whether or not residential properties should be assessed. The sticker shock of 50 service categories could cause nation states to fall. To salute our lofty ideas, \"There\'s always DOOM at the top.\"

Sam Grabarski is president and CEO of the Minneapolis Downtown Council, a group of business leaders