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When MNLARS got off to a difficult start, Republicans criticized the rollout. They’d seen this movie before with the MNsure rollout. Gov. Dayton took to the microphone to complain that Republicans were grandstanding for political gain, saying “Once again Republican Legislators are just delighted to jump on something if they think they can do damage to the credibility of state government, especially to a Democratic Governor.”

This week, Jeff Baillon reported that Bob Helland, “a MNLARS Business Process Analyst”, took his complaints about MNLARS directly to the governor’s office. In “March of 2015, he went straight to the Governor’s office.” That’s where he “met with Jaime Tincher, the Governor’s Chief of Staff at the time and secretly recorded their nearly hour-long conversation.” On one recording, Helland can be heard saying that there’s “very little confidence in DVS management. This was kind of the last straw for me to say, there’s no truth in the public about this project and we have no truth internally, so I felt compelled to let you guys know.”

That’s the last he heard about it. That’s why Sen. Benson issued this statement:

Gov. Dayton knew MNLARS wasn’t ready for primetime. They rolled it out anyway. When it flopped and Republicans criticized Gov. Dayton, he defended himself, saying that this was all about Republicans picking on a DFL governor. He deserved the criticism because his chief of staff at the time knew about the problems, then did nothing to get the project delayed or corrected.

The DFL, aka the Party of Big Government, hasn’t done a thing to make certain that big government delivers the services that citizens need. If they won’t do that, then we need a different governing model. ASAP.

I just finished reading Rep. Dale Lueck’s op-ed on the MNLARS disaster. Of all the articles I’ve read, Rep. Lueck’s op-ed makes the most sense. I especially appreciated him writing “Delta, United, and American Airlines operate tens of thousands of aircraft daily. However, they rely on Boeing and Air Bus to design and build those airplanes. That model works. The private sector is good at designing and building things, including new buildings, new machines and new software systems. Once built and properly tested, then operation and general maintenance can be turned over to our state agencies. We are pushing the executive branch to adopt this approach. The long-term solution is not asking for more money to hire more state employees in this area.”

Gov. Dayton’s administration has already spent $93,000,000 on the MNLARS project. The DFL was only too happy to vote for spending that money. Now that MNLARS is a disaster on multiple fronts, the DFL wants to spend another $43,000,000 to fix the disaster.
Check this out:

Does anyone think that MN.IT meets “the promise of business value by delivering quality IT solutions on time and on budget”? Those of you who think that MN.IT is capable of guiding this project to a swift and successful conclusion are kidding themselves.

What was found is agencies that have been working on this project for almost 10 years, have spent $93 million in taxpayer money, and now want another $43 million to fix the “new” system. Even with more funding, they are not sure when the system will be functioning properly.

The legislature shouldn’t appropriate a penny until MN.IT is removed from this project. This is ridiculous. Gov. Dayton’s administration thinks that government can do all things. The DFL complained that “Once again Republican Legislators are just delighted to jump on something if they think they can do damage to the credibility of state government, especially to a Democratic Governor.”

Gov. Dayton was named the worst senator when he served in the U.S. Senate. Shouldn’t we expect him to be the biggest screw-up in Minnesota’s gubernatorial history?

Jeff Baillon’s article should get heads rolling at MNLARS. Whether that’ll happen is anyone’s guess. (I’m betting it won’t.) First, everyone who’s dealt with MNLARS knows that it’s a gigantic failure. That’s indisputable. What’s in question is whether the Dayton administration knew it was heading for a crash and whether the administration gave it the go-ahead anyway. According to the article, Bob Helland was “a MNLARS Business Process Analyst.” He’s the key figure in this mess. This is one of the major contributions he made to the investigation:

Plans to test and catch software defects were woefully inadequate. They warned both DVS and MN IT management the project was in danger of becoming a “public and political spectacle.” Helland said his concerns fell on deaf ears.

That led to Helland’s second major contribution:

So in March of 2015, he went straight to the Governor’s office. He met with Jaime Tincher, the Governor’s Chief of Staff at the time and secretly recorded their nearly hour-long conversation. “There’s very little confidence in DVS management,” he can be heard telling Tincher on the recording. “This was kind of the last straw for me to say, there’s no truth in the public about this project and we have no truth internally, so I felt compelled to let you guys know.”

Tincher seemed interested in what Helland had to say. “I would like to look into this. I want to do some outreach,” she told Helland. She added she was going to talk with Tom Baden, the Commissioner of MN IT. “So I’d kind of like to get a sense from him and just ask him to dig in and come back to us with what he thinks is going on, what is happening there and try to dig into that,” she said on the recording.

Baden, who in Feb 2018 took early retirement, told the Fox 9 Investigators he does not remember ever getting a call from Tincher about the concerns. “To the best of my recollection I did not have that conversation,” he said to the Fox 9 Investigators.

The issue didn’t die there:

And a spokesman for Governor Dayton said the Governor doesn’t remember anyone on his staff bringing Helland’s concerns to his attention back in 2015. After MNLARS tumultuous roll out last summer, Dayton was quick to say things weren’t as bad as critics were making it sound. “Once again Republican Legislators are just delighted to jump on something if they think they can do damage to the credibility of state government, especially to a Democratic Governor,” he told reporters during a news conference last August.

This video is frightening:

It’s clear that this project was mismanaged. Further, it’s apparent that nobody should trust the Dayton administration. In Gov. Dayton’s final term, his administration has leapt from one crisis after another. In Gov. Dayton’s final term, he’s failed to protect Minnesota seniors. Now, he’s screwed up a major revamping project with MNLARS.

Gov. Dayton’s administration hasn’t policed its ranks in terms of getting their responsibilities completed properly. MNsure was a disaster. They didn’t supervise the program that was supposed to provide heating assistance to poor people in Minneapolis. Gov. Dayton’s Health Department didn’t crack the whip on elder abuse investigations until it turned into a political disaster for the administration.

I don’t see a reason to give the DFL the benefit of any doubt to run things right.

Apparently, Steve Cwodzinski isn’t capable of telling the truth. In this recent interview, Sen. Cwodzinski was asked “What are the biggest issues facing your district this session?” Sen. Cwodzinski’s reply was “Right now, the thing I am hearing most about from my constituents is the federal tax bill, and the increased taxes that they will pay because of it. The cap of $10,000 for deductions of state and local taxes will massively impact residents of Senate District 48. I am hopeful that both DFLers and Republicans can come together to find a way to reclassify some state taxes and restore these deductions.”

First, the truth is that everyone’s tax rates have dropped. That’s indisputable fact. Next, numerous studies have verified that the only people who will pay more in taxes are upper middle class people who itemize their deductions rather than accept the standard deduction. The chances of there being a significant number of people who fit into that category in Sen. Cwodzinski’s district is minimal. This is a DFL talking point. Period. Third, it’s important to note that people living in high tax states are paying more than people living in low tax states but that doesn’t mean that they’ll pay more in taxes next year than they’ll pay this year.

If the DFL doesn’t figure it out that we’re losing wealth to other states because of our high taxes, it won’t be long before we’re in the same sad shape as California and Illinois. The truth that the DFL has denied is that we’re losing wealth to other states in all age categories. That’s been happening for years.

This has stupidity written all over it:

What should the legislature do about the $43 million request by Gov. Mark Dayton’s administration to fix the Minnesota License and Registration System?
This is an incredibly difficult issue. If we do have the funds, and are not in a deficit, I would still like to know what other options there are. I’m not sure what choice we have other than seeing this through but have been working to see what possibilities we have.

Here’s a thought: the bureaucrats failed miserably and repeatedly. It’s time to hire a private company to fix this immediately. That $43,000,000 isn’t coming from an ATM. It’s coming from taxpayers. DFL politicians like Sen. Cwodzinski haven’t demanded accountability. They’ve essentially thrown their hands up, then thrown money at the problem in the hope of doing the same thing will produce a different result.

That’s the definition of insanity. That’s why the DFL should be stripped of its ability to govern. The DFL has earned a place on the sidelines. That starts with Gov. Dayton and continues through Sen. Cwodzinski and other DFL politicians.

What are your thoughts about the latest delays in the Southwest Light Rail Transit project?
These delays are completely unacceptable. Our state has put together the resources necessary to get this done, and now the federal government is leaving us waiting. As I said earlier though, I am very hopeful that out state and the federal government can build an effective partnership on infrastructure. Southwest LRT is the cornerstone of that, so am hopeful that we will receive the federal funds this year.

Hopefully, President Trump will prevent money from reaching boondoggles like SWLRT. Let those projects die.

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Ramsey County Judge John Guthmann dismissed Destiny Dusosky’s lawsuit, saying that ‘the suit lacks ripeness,’ adding that her claim ‘is premature and based on speculation.'” Judge Guthmann then wrote that “Dusosky, a Sauk Rapids resident, ‘failed to demonstrate that she was injured in a way that is any different than all residents of Senate District 13.'”

Sen. Fischbach’s best argument might be that “past court cases say she can hold down both offices if the lieutenant governor job is ‘temporary.’ She said that since the job would end early next year, it must be considered temporary.” The counter-argument to that is that the job isn’t temporary in that it’s for the rest of the term.

The bad news for Sen. Fischbach is that “the judge dismissed the case in a way that a new one may be filed. His decision also may be appealed. The judge made it clear a new case could be accepted. ‘However, this is not the right case, the right plaintiff, the right time or the right legal context. …'”

In other words, a new lawsuit will be filed soon. Either that or this ruling will be appealed to the Minnesota Supreme Court, which Gov. Dayton packed with DFL activists. If I was a betting man, I’d bet that the Minnesota Supreme Court will rule against Sen. Fischbach. By that time, most of this session will have been wasted.

Sen. Fischbach could’ve avoided all this by simply resigning her Senate seat, taking the oath of office for Lt. Gov., then resigning the minute Gov. Dayton announced the date for the special election to fill the SD-13 seat. Had Sen. Fischbach done that right away, she’d be Senator-Elect Fischbach. That would let her vote for a weak DFL senator in a swing district to be the next Lt. Gov.

I’ll start by admitting that other publications have written about DFL candidate Leah Phifer. This MinnPost article is one such article.

What’s interesting is how strident Ms. Phifer is in her environmentalism. It started with this:

Fresh tensions over mining in CD8 began at the end of 2016, when the outgoing Barack Obama administration moved to deny the company Twin Metals a renewal of leases it held on a valuable trove of copper, nickel, and other metals in the Superior National Forest, a few miles from the protected Boundary Waters Area Canoe Wilderness.

That also set in motion a process to potentially impose a 20-year moratorium on any mining exploration or activity in a quarter-million acres of land. The U.S. Forest Service stated that the kind of technique that would be used to extract these metals, sulfide mining, is unlikely to be conducted in a way that does not seriously pollute the water and soil of the surrounding area.

Nolan, fresh off another close election victory, condemned this move harshly, and framed it as a “slap in the face and a punch in the gut” to the Iron Range and its economy. The Democrat joined 6th District GOP Rep. Tom Emmer in sending a letter to Trump, asking him to reverse the Obama decisions; the duo has met with the relevant Cabinet secretaries, Agriculture Department chief Sonny Perdue and Interior Department boss Ryan Zinke, to urge them to reverse the decisions as well.

It quickly transitions to this:

The Timberjay newspaper of Ely, in a recent editorial, pointed out a notable moment from May, in which Nolan appeared at the Twin Metals office on the Iron Range alongside Emmer and a handful of Republican congressmen from the so-called Western Caucus, a group that pushes strident right-wing views on resource extraction and public lands, to advocate for action to reverse the Obama decisions on the Twin Metals leases.

“His recent alignment with some of the Republican Party’s most radical anti-environment and anti-public lands members of Congress has left Nolan incongruously positioned to the right of the Trump administration on the environment,” the Timberjay wrote.

That didn’t sit well with Ms. Phifer:

“Certainly,” Phifer says, “the legislation the congressman has pushed forward, especially throughout the summer, that has been the last straw for a lot of folks willing to overlook militant, pro-mining stances that could put the regulatory process in jeopardy. It’s gotten to the point where we’ve lost quite a few people,” Phifer says of Nolan’s stance.

For her part, Phifer believes the Obama decisions should stand, and she is against defunding the U.S. Forest Service’s two-year study evaluating whether or not to place a lengthy mining moratorium on the swath of Superior National Forest identified by the government. Nolan supported an amendment onto a spending bill that would have defunded the Forest Service’s study, effectively killing it.

It isn’t a stretch to think that Ms. Phifer is a strident anti-mining environmentalist. She isn’t a bashful politician, either:

Phifer said she was “disappointed” in the characterization of the mining communities on the Iron Range, but that she has a broad perspective of life in the 8th District since growing up in Two Harbors and now living and working in Isanti. She hopes the two sides warring over the proposed copper-nickel projects can come together to talk about what is best for the 8th District.

“Really, acknowledging the divide and then moving on is a good plan because we need to start looking at this in a broader perspective and not letting these wedge issues completely suck the oxygen out of the room,” Phifer said.

Though she isn’t a typical politician, she is a politician nonetheless.

Don Davis’s article puts forth an interesting question with multiple ramifications. In the article, Davis wrote “On Tuesday night, Feb. 6, Democratic precinct caucus attenders in the 8th favored State Auditor Otto 1,072 to 729 in a governor race straw poll. It may have been the only congressional district U.S. Rep. Tim Walz did not win in his effort to become governor (the party reported Friday with most, but not all, votes counted that Walz led Otto by three votes in the 6th District, in the northern Twin Cities suburbs and northwest to St. Cloud). From all accounts, many of the DFL caucus sites were heavy with environmentalists who backed Otto. The same type of liberal may not be as happy with Nolan, who supports mining in the district.”

Had he not retired, Nolan would’ve faced a primary challenge from Leah Phifer. It’s clear from Ms. Phifer’s environment page that she’s a hardline environmentalist. It says “Minnesota has a complex, layered practice of permitting and protections designed to safeguard the public, the economy, and the environment. It is a process of which Minnesotans should be proud and one that Leah will fight to protect. Similarly, the federal government has due process – a system built upon three coequal branches that provide checks and balances to one another, protecting citizens from exploitation and unfair application of our laws. Leah has seen the crucial importance of due process throughout her career and opposes the use of legislative power to circumvent the role of the judicial or executive branches.”

It then continues, saying:

For these reasons, Leah opposes H.R. 3115, a bill that passed the U.S. House in early December 2017 to push through a land swap needed for the completion of the PolyMet mine in Hoyt Lakes. Enacting this legislation will void four pending lawsuits on the matter, preventing Minnesotans from questioning the legality of the land swap and eliminating the judicial branch’s role. Leah also opposes the MINER Act (HR 3905), which will prevent the completion of a two-year Forest Service study related to economic and environmental issues associated with mining near the Boundary Waters. It also designates Minnesota as the only state in the nation unworthy of public lands protections, requiring Congressional intervention into decisions regarding public lands in Minnesota. Leah believes politicians should not use their legislative power to place their thumbs on the scales of these important projects, as it prevents the regulatory process from working as intended and erodes our system of due process. She will fight to preserve Minnesotan’s trust in our procedural systems and work with all Minnesotans to build a strong, sustainable economy for many years to come.

Pipeline Removal

Minnesota has two petroleum refineries and an extensive system of pipelines transporting crude oil and refined petroleum across the state. Some of these pipelines contain deteriorating infrastructure, causing companies to seek their replacement. Leah supports exercising corporate responsibility through the removal of decommissioned pipelines where appropriate and requested by landowners. In addition to respecting individual property rights, such removal could have significant positive impacts on Northern Minnesota’s economy. A current proposal for the removal of Enbridge’s Line 3 has the potential to create 8,000 jobs and a inject over a billion dollars into the local economy. Furthermore, Leah will ensure discussion surrounding pipelines includes and respects Native American voices, a community that is disproportionately affected by the location of these pipeline routes.

Phifer doesn’t support rebuilding the Line3 Pipeline. She supports decommissioning and tearing out the Line3 Pipeline. Then, to throw a little pandering into her politicking, she said “Leah will ensure discussion surrounding pipelines includes and respects Native American voices, a community that is disproportionately affected by the location of these pipeline routes.”

I’ll expand on Ms. Phifer’s campaign later today.

Saturday, Sen. Klobuchar, Sen. Tina Smith and Rep. Emmer brought their dog and pony show to St. Cloud to talk with Electrolux employees. This isn’t a criticism of Electrolux employees. It isn’t even a criticism of the federal government, though I’m not thrilled with the fact that Sen. Klobuchar and Sen. Smith voted against the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.

It’s mostly a criticism of the Dayton administration and the DFL. The DFL are the idiots who’ve created a hostile environment for companies. The DFL raised taxes. The DFL implemented unreasonable regulations. The DFL put in place systems that give special interests multiple bites at the same apple in terms of granting permits.

I can blame Sen. Klobuchar for wanting to accept more refugees than Minnesota can handle. That matters because of this information:

There’s also a segment of Somali workers, about one-quarter of the Electrolux workforce, Klobuchar said. One of the workers who spoke in the meetings is part of that community. Many of them don’t have a high school degree or came here for this job. “This is their whole life, the life they’ve known,” she said “Losing that community of the people you’ve worked with forever, you’re not going to be able to replace that and that was really heartbreaking.”

It was utterly predictable. Why would a company stay in a place and accept workers who weren’t considered part of a well-trained workforce? South Carolina has a better tax environment, a more skilled workforce and it’s a right-to-work state. Why would Electrolux choose to deal with union negotiations when it doesn’t have to?

Companies (and wealth) have been fleeing Minnesota for a couple decades. The DFL keeps pretending that everything’s just fine when things aren’t fine. It’s time for the DFL to finally admit that their policies aren’t pro-growth policies.

Democrats are going on the offense in their attempt to retake the US House. They’re targeting 101 GOP House seats. The way things are going in Minnesota, they’d better target 150 seats because they’re likely going to lose 2 seats in Minnesota.

When Tim Walz announced that he wasn’t running for re-election so he could run for governor, that seat was all-but-officially lost for the DFL. The DFL’s bench is virtually nonexistent while Republicans have 2 quality candidates who are ready to rock.

Today, Rick Nolan surprised people by announcing that he isn’t seeking re-election in MN-08. That immediately threw that race into toss-up status. Early this afternoon, Stewart Mills announced via Twitter that he’s considering jumping into the race:

Then there’s this:

Other new DCCC targets include South Carolina’s 5th Congressional District, where Democrat Archie Parnell outperformed expectations in a special election last year and is running again; New Jersey’s 4th Congressional District, represented by veteran GOP Rep. Chris Smith; Wisconsin’s 7th Congressional District, held by Rep. Sean Duffy; and Maryland’s 1st Congressional District, which includes the state’s conservative Eastern Shore, where Democrats initially planned to have their retreat.

The DCCC can target Sean Duffy if they’d like but it’s a waste of time. Further, with the economy getting stronger and the tax cuts getting more popular, Democrats won’t be able to stay on the offensive much longer.

Once the ads start running showing every Democrat voting against the tax cuts, Democrats will be in God’s little acre — east of the rock, west of the hard place.

Jeff Johnson and Tim Walz won their party’s non-binding straw polls at Tuesday night’s precinct caucuses. Unfortunately for both men, that won’t get nearly as much publicity as the breaking news from earlier in the day. The other noteworthy news from Tuesday night’s straw polls is that Keith Downey underperformed, losing to Commissioner Johnson by a 45.4% – 14.6% margin. Perhaps, more embarrassing for Downey is the fact that he lost to “Undecided” by a 15.6% – 14.6% margin.

After such a lackluster performance in the straw poll, the Downey campaign must ask themselves if there’s a legitimate pathway to the endorsement. At this point, nothing seems to suggest that there is a path to the endorsement.

Full disclosure: I’m still undecided so I don’t have a dog in this fight at this point. At some point, I’m sure that will change. It’s just that it hasn’t changed yet.

On the DFL side, it appears as though Paul Thissen, Tina Liebling and Chris Coleman have difficult paths to the DFL endorsement, with Walz, Rebecca Otto and Erin Murphy having the strongest finishes:

Here’s the unofficial results of the GOP straw poll:

Turnout at Republican precinct caucuses were significantly smaller than at DFL, which can’t please Republicans. Still, tonight was the night when initial assessments were made. This isn’t the night when final decisions are made.

If Walz is the DFL-endorsed candidate, it isn’t likely that he’ll have much of an enthusiasm gap in his favor. The Bernie Sanders wing of the DFL is dominant. That’s where the enthusiasm comes from. That isn’t where Tim Walz is from. Further, like I said earlier this week, Walz alienated NRA voters and the Iron Range. OF the 3 DFL finalists, all have difficult paths to the governor’s mansion. Erin Murphy is little known outside the Twin Cities. Further, she’s hated in rural Minnesota. Rebecca Otto is hated on the Range, especially after fundraising off of her decision to vote against approving mining exploration leases.