Archive for the ‘Congressional Oversight’ Category
If I could pass a law or if I could mandate a particular type of behavior, I’d require every senator and every representative from both parties ask the types of probing, cut-through-the-BS questions that Trey Gowdy consistently asks.
Chairman Gowdy isn’t into grandstanding. He isn’t prone to making speeches for the purpose of scoring political points. He’s prone to doing his homework first so he’s a self-taught expert on whatever subject he’s addressing. He’s prone to asking questions that elicit informative, substantive answers that enlighten citizens and exposes politicians.
It isn’t difficult to think that Loretta Lynch was squirming while she was being questioned by Chairman Gowdy. Watch this video and tell me whether you think Chairman Gowdy is making Ms. Lynch squirm. I’m thinking Ms. Lynch’s answers made Mrs. Clinton squirm, too. One of the questions that likely made Mrs. Clinton squirm came when Chairman Gowdy asked Ms. Lynch “Why do you think it’s important to use official email to conduct official business”?
That likely didn’t make Mrs. Clinton squirm as much as when Chairman Gowdy said “I doubt that you even use your usdoj -dot- gov account to send classified information, do you?” Ms. Lynch replied that she didn’t use that account, noting that “we have separate systems. There would be a classified system for that.” That’s when Chairman Gowdy moved in for the kill against Mrs. Clinton:
GOWDY: So not only do you not use personal email. You don’t even use your usdoj -dot- gov account. You’ve got a separate, dedicated system to handle classified information. Why?
LYNCH: We have a separate system to handle security needs.
GOWDY: But my question is why. Why is it important to you to not use your personal email to conduct official business and to use a separate system, more safely-guarded system when you do handle classified information?
GOWDY: But it’s not just a personal preference, is it?
LYNCH: It allows for the protection of the information.
It’s painfully obvious that Hillary knew that was the system. It’s painfully obvious because she once was a US senator who had to obey the rules established by the committee chairs on viewing confidential information. Mrs. Clinton had been to Sensitive Compartmented Information Facilities, aka SCIFs. SCIFs are defined as “accredited area, room, group of rooms, or installation where sensitive compartmented information may be stored, used, discussed, or electronically processed.” Access is limited. Electronic devices aren’t allowed to be brought into a SCIF because of the sensitive information stored in SCIFs.
Knowing about the existence of and the purpose for SCIFs, why did Mrs. Clinton ignore that phalanx of security precautions and use a system that a high school kid could hack into? Was it because Mrs. Clinton didn’t care about protecting top secret information? Or was it because Mrs. Clinton wanted to hide her emails from the public at all costs? Or did she do it for both reasons?
Technorati: Hillary Clinton, National Security, SCIF Rooms, Private Email Account, Loretta Lynch, Attorney General, Trey Gowdy, US Attorney, Classified Information, Prosecutor
During her testimony Thursday at the House Select Committee on Benghazi, Hillary Clinton made some exotic statements that require follow-up questioning. During Rep. Adam Schiff’s, (D-CA), first round of questioning, Hillary testified that “I’ve thought more about what happened than all the rest of you put together. I’ve lost more sleep than all the rest of you put together. I have been racking my brain about what more could’ve been done or should’ve been done.”
Stephen Hayes’ article includes a quote from Charles Woods, the father of murdered American patriot Ty Woods, about what he was looking for at the hearing. In the quote, Mr. Woods said “The truth, hopefully.” One of the unasked questions from Thursday’s hearing relates to Mrs. Clinton’s statement that she’s racked her brain about what more could’ve been done. The proper follow-up questions should’ve been ‘Mrs. Clinton, while you were thinking about what more could’ve been done, did you think that you should’ve contacted Christopher Stevens directly? After all, you knew from your daily CIA briefings that the security situation in Benghazi was rapidly deteriorating. At minimum, shouldn’t you have directed your staff in charge of embassy security to contact Ambassador Stevens directly to see if his security was adequate?’
Another important question that didn’t get asked was with regards to the steep decline in email traffic between Mrs. Clinton and her staff about Libya. In 2011, there were sometimes hourly updates on Libya. The stack of printed out emails for 2011 was almost a foot high. The pile of emails for 2012 was 67 pages. Mrs. Clinton explained that little of her communications were via email. The proper follow-up question should’ve been ‘How do you explain the significant use of emails in 2011 to the virtual elimination of using emails to communicate in 2012? Mrs. Clinton, what caused you to virtually stop using emails in 2012 after using prolific amounts of emails in 2011?
During one of his outbursts, Elijah Cummings wondered aloud why people focused on Sid Blumenthal. The easy explanation is that Mrs. Clinton promptly replied to more than 180 of Mr. Blumenthal’s emails compared with Mrs. Clinton’s testimony that she never approved or rejected Christopher Stevens’ requests for additional security because they never got to her desk.
The logical question at that point should’ve been ‘Mrs. Clinton, how can you justify prompt responses, many of which happened while you were in the State Department Building, to an employee at the Clinton Foundation, especially considering the fact that you never responded to security requests from your ambassador serving in one of the biggest hot spots for terror in the world? Shouldn’t you have put a higher priority on making sure U.S. ambassadors are safe than you put on responding to Clinton Foundation employees?’
During questioning by Rep. Jim Jordan, (R-OH), the American people found out that Mrs. Clinton told daughter Chelsea that “two” people had been killed by al-Qa’ida-inspired terrorists less than an hour after she’d issued an official statement that suggested a video sparked an attack in Benghazi. Here’s part of Mrs. Clinton’s testimony:
And if you look at what I said, I referred to the video that night in a very specific way. I said, some have sought to justify the attack because of the video.
The logical question should be which people “have sought to justify the attack because of the video”?
Isn’t it reasonable to say that Mrs. Clinton’s priorities were badly wrong? Isn’t it reasonable to ask why she put a higher priority on taking time during a terrorist attack to tell her daughter about a terrorist attack while the terrorist attack was still being fought? In 2008, Mrs. Clinton ran a campaign ad about a phone call coming in at 3:00 am that suggested she, not Barack Obama, was the only one prepared to take that call.
The call from Libya came in at 5:00 pm ET. Mrs. Clinton and President Obama both failed to protect Christopher Stevens and 3 other American Patriots. Then they failed to tell the American people the truth about the terrorists’ coordinated attacks. Doesn’t that mean that the biggest unanswered question should be whether either of them was qualified to be commander-in-chief?
Here’s Hillary’s racking my brain video:
MNGOP Chairman Keith Downey’s op-ed mentions a statistic that needs to be expanded upon:
Most importantly, Schultz never once mentioned the most basic budget facts: State spending on autopilot is scheduled to grow 21 percent over four years, from $34 billion to $41 billion, without spending a dime of the surplus or raising any new taxes. And Democrats have proposed a budget that spends almost the entire surplus — and raises taxes, for an $8 billion, 24 percent increase in spending over four years, from $34 billion to well over $42 billion.
The DFL automatically calculates inflation into their budgets. That’s because, in their way of thinking, that every penny ever appropriated needs to be spent forevermore. It presumes that that money is being spent efficiently and that there isn’t a better way of providing the same service less expensively.
That’s assuming that each agency’s and department’s staffing must increase. The DFL wouldn’t think of eliminating the Met Council or the MnSCU Central Office. In the DFL’s mind, they’re pictures of efficiency and importance. In reality, they’re neither. They’re portraits of inefficiency, cronyism and corruption.
When MNsure was created, the legislature created an oversight committee. It met a couple times, then went silent for months while MNsure imploded. The committee didn’t meet again until after April Todd-Malmlov resigned after taking a 2-week vacation to Costa Rica while MNsure imploded.
The DFL doesn’t believe in oversight. They never have because they don’t think money is ever misspent. Either that or the DFL legislators that think there’s a need for change get bullied by the DFL machine into giving up their reform ideas.
That’s what happened with Gene Pelowski. Everyone knows Rep. Pelowski hates MnSCU. He initially talked a great reform/accountability game while he chaired the House Higher Ed Committee. That changed when it came time to put a budget together. Suddenly, Chairman Pelowski, the reformer, turned a blind eye towards MnSCU. He didn’t even know that Dr. Rosenstone had signed a contract extension that raised his pay by almost $50,000 a year.
If Minnesotans want to continue getting fleeced, all they have to do is keep voting for budget by autopilot. As a bonus, they’ll get a legislature that doesn’t believe in oversight or accountability.
Technorati: Keith Downey, Reforms, Accountability, MNGOP, David Schultz, Gene Pelowski, MnSCU, MNsure, Met Council, April Todd-Malmlov, Cronyism, Community Action, Corruption, DFL Culture of Corruption
Joe Atkins, one of the co-chairs of the MNsure Legislative Oversight Committee, insists that Tim O’Driscoll’s editorial was misleading. Actually, it’s Atkins’ editorial that’s misleading:
Republican Rep. Tim O’Driscoll’s recent op-ed (“Insurance premiums are going up,” Oct. 12) was very misleading and continues the practice of attacking MNsure, celebrating technical problems and distorting the facts about rate increases.
The fact is that Minnesota’s rates remain the lowest in the nation and our uninsured rate dropped by 40 percent, to the lowest level in state history.
Republicans ignore the $20 million in federal tax credits that Minnesotans received this year. When tax credits are accounted for in next year’s rates, many Minnesotans statewide will actually see a decrease in their premiums.
In Region 8, which includes Stearns, Sherburne and Benton counties, a 25-year-old selecting a silver plan, the most commonly selected plan, will see an average increase of 3 percent with tax credits. A 40-year-old on a silver plan will see an average increase of 1 percent, and a 60-year-old will see no increase.
Talk about misleading. That’s stunning. From Rep. Atkins’ perspective, premiums didn’t increase because taxpayers are footing the bill for MNsure’s premium increases.
Rep. Atkins, there’s no such thing as a free lunch. Someone’s paying for those premium increases. When premiums increased by 22% in Benton, Stearns, Sherburne and Wright counties, the premiums really skyrocketed. When premiums increased by 43% in Meeker, Kandiyohi, Chippewa or Yellow Medicine counties, premiums really increased. When premiums increased by 34% in Cottonwood, Lyons, Nobles and Murray counties’, premiums really increased.
Let’s remember Chairman Atkins’ happy talk in Atkins’ interview with Julie Bartkey in mid-September, 2013. After that, let’s fast forward to January, when KSTP’s reporter Jay Kolls interviewed Jim Nobles, the Legislative Auditor. Here’s what Kolls reported:
KOLLS: There are all kinds of red flags popping up at MNsure and Jim Nobles tells me that MNsure has not delivered what it promised to taxpayers and the agency needs to be held accountable.
In the interview, Jim Nobles said this:
So I think everyone agrees that we simply have not delivered what we promised.
Watch this video of Atkins talking about whether the rollout would be smooth:
This interview happened a week before MNsure and HealthCare.gov went live.
BARTKEY: How are you feeling with everything? Are you feeling confident? Off camera, you said that the whole nation’s eyes are watching.
ATKINS: I’m actually feeling better about it every day. One of the best news days that we had was when we found out that this would have the best rates of any insurance marketplace in the country. My understanding is that tomorrow — I don’t know when this all gets shown — that the federal rates are going to be released for all 50 states and I’m keeping my fingers crossed that Minnesota will lead the nation of having the lowest rates anywhere in the country.
BARTKEY: What about any of the technical aspects, any concerns that it will crash or that people won’t be as trained as they should be to make sure that consumers can pick the right plan?
ATKINS: When you’re as technically unsavvy as I am, anything like an iPad or a computer concerns me. But that’s why you hire the professionals that you do and I’m — from all that I hear — we’ve got the best folks involved both at the state level and externally coming in and taking a look at how we’re doing business to make sure that we’ve got those protections, to make sure that we’ve got the IT network in place to handle it.
That’s proof that Rep. Atkins is a king of happy talk, the point person to deliver sunny-sounding statements that everything’s just fine whether that’s true or not.
Having Atkins say that rates are really cheap because they’re heavily subsidized is like saying Northstar Rail is inexpensive because taxpayers, not riders, pay for most of the cost of transporting people. Rep. Atkins shouldn’t be trusted because his op-ed is spin:
Compare that with rate increases over the last decade as high as 19.5 percent. In Region 8, some carriers are offering plans that are 18 percent cheaper than they were last year. When was the last time you heard of health plans going down in price?
Let’s compare that with the truth:
From 2003 to 2010, individual market insurance premiums rose a total of 35 percent in Minnesota, compared with 47 percent in our first year under Obamacare.
Rep. Atkins’ spin and cherrypicking is anything but the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. Rep. O’Driscoll’s advice is good advice:
Keep a copy of this article, and when open enrollment begins Nov. 15, take a look at your new premiums and compare my math to the 4.5 percent number being marketed by MNsure.
Rest assured that Chairman Atkins’ spin won’t withstand strict scrutiny.
Technorati: Joe Atkins, MNsure, Spin, Health Insurance Premiums, Premium Increases, Obamacare, MNsure Rollout, Data Security, Security Breeches, DFL, Tim O’Driscoll, Jim Nobles, Legislative Auditor, MNGOP, Election 2014
Apparently, the DFL is trying to pander to MnSCU executives. This article sounds like the DFL’s attempt to pander to MnSCU voters:
DFL leaders said today they would work to provide more money for higher education and work closely with the University of Minnesota and Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system to ensure each system is becoming more efficient in order to better direct state dollars toward tuition stabilization and reduction.
That’s DFL demagoguery at its worst. The DFL never insists that government becomes more efficient. The next time they insist on MnSCU spend the taxpayers’ money efficiently, it’ll be the first time that the DFL will have insisted that MnSCU spend the taxpayers’ money efficiently.
The DFL chairs of the House and Senate Higher Education committees didn’t find out that Chancellor Rosenstone had gotten a big raise and a new contract until 9 months after the fact. They didn’t know that Chancellor Rosenstone paid McKinsey and Co. $2,000,000 until after the fact. Here’s how important it was to hire McKinsey:
Dean Frost, a professor at Bemidji State University and a former management consultant who reviewed some of the documents McKinsey produced, said the playbooks feature general, common-sense instructions on conducting a task force. He said the supporting research mostly includes publicly available materials rather than reports generated specially for MnSCU.
In other words, the work McKinsey did wasn’t particularly enlightening but it was expensive. Now the DFL expects me to buy the notion that they’ll actually pay attention? They expect me to buy into the notion that they’ll reform MnSCU? Why would I buy into that? This part leads me to think that the DFL isn’t trustworthy:
In an election year where candidates are promising to make education more affordable, the Minnesota House DFL says it wants to freeze tuition at Minnesota’s public higher education institutions until 2017. The effort would build on an existing tuition freeze through 2015.
That isn’t what happened in 2013-14. First, the DFL legislature imposed a tuition freeze on MnSCU universities in 2013. In 2014, the DFL legislature passed a supplemental appropriation of $17,000,000. Then it negotiated a contract with the IFO. When MnSCU got the $17,000,000, it didn’t spend the money on the new contract, which is what the supplemental appropriation was supposed to pay for. It went elsewhere.
That means the DFL legislature froze tuition, raised the universities’ biggest cost substantially, then told the universities that they’d have to figure out how to pay the higher contract costs without raising tuition. Meanwhile, Chancellor Rosenstone paid McKinsey $2,000,000 for work they could’ve done in-house and President Potter insists that losing $7,500,000 in 5 years on the Coborn’s Plaza Apartments is a great success for SCSU.
That last part is especially galling considering the fact that a) Zach Dorholt is the Vice-Chair of the House Higher Education Committee and b) SCSU is in his district. He’s paid no attention to SCSU except to rally students for his campaign this fall.
These aren’t the actions of politicians that are committed to making sure that the taxpayers’ money is spent efficiently on necessities. They’re the actions of politicians pandering to voters. Period.
Technorati: Paul Thissen, Gene Pelowski, Zach Dorholt, Tuition Freeze, Pandering, Steven Rosenstone, MnSCU, Charting the Future, McKinsey and Company, Earl Potter, St. Cloud State, Coborn’s Apartments, IFO Contract, DFL, Election 2014
After fleecing taxpayers, Community Action Partnership of Minneapolis has shut its doors:
DHS auditors accused the corporation of spending more than it helped. The state wants Community Action Minneapolis to repay more than $850,000 in grant money that was spent incorrectly. The audit showed more than $200,000 paid for unallowable costs like cruises, golf trips and alcohol. William Davis, the Chief Executive Officer, is accused of receiving an excessive bonus and spending thousands on a personal car loan.
Initially, Davis tried rationalizing the expenditures:
Auditors blamed Community Action’s board, which includes several well-known politicians and community leaders, for a lack of oversight and for personally benefiting from $34,892 worth of activities that “do not appear to serve a business purpose, and are considered waste and abuse as defined in state policy.”
Those activities included two weekend trips, between 2011 and 2013, to Arrowwood Resort in Alexandria, where board members and senior management spent $9,000 for lodging, $3,200 for food and $900 for spas.
Davis defended the trips as a “small gesture on our part to offer them a moment of relaxation or entertainment. It’s not like we do this every single week of the year.”
What’s telling is that Davis didn’t think he’d done anything wrong. The only thing more appalling than Davis attempting to rationalize his reckless spending was Gov. Dayton’s statement denying that something like this could happen:
Initially, Mark Dayton responded to Jeff Johnson’s call for an extensive audit of NPOs by saying “The decades-old accusation that Minnesota government recklessly wastes money on people who are poor, sick, or elderly is unfair and unfounded.”
Later, Dayton backtracked quickly:
Gov. Mark Dayton on Monday said that a Star Tribune report of a nonprofit using state funds to subsidize cruises, a director’s car lease and spa treatments was very concerning and alarming. “I was personally really appalled,” Dayton said. “I take it very seriously.”
Let’s revise Gov. Dayton’s statement. Gov. Dayton was “personally really appalled” the minute he thought that the fiasco might damage him politically. Prior to that, he pretended that Community Action was totally trustworthy.
The truth, I’m afraid, is that Gov. Dayton knew about this audit prior to the story going public. Since the Strib article was published, DHS has tried pushing the notion that they should get credit for spotting this during their audit of the organization. Gov. Dayton can’t first say that he’s surprised by this, then say that his administration spotted this during an audit.
I’ve never bought into Gov. Dayton’s I-didn’t-know-about-[Fill in the blank] schtick. I’ve always thought that he used that gambit to get through a politically embarrassing situation. See FarmFest. The DFL legislature should’ve taken their oversight responsibilities seriously. Then again, with tons of prominent DFL politicians and activists on Community Action’s board, it probably didn’t take much to get them to look the other way.
Technorati: Community Action Partnership of Minneapolis, William Davis, Arrowwood Retreat, DFL Legislature, Oversight Hearings, Jeff Hayden, Keith Ellison, Mark Dayton, Department of Human Services, Audit, DFL, Election 2014
Tom Hauser’s Truth Test of Gov. Dayton’s ad might’ve gotten an A in accuracy if he hadn’t tried marketing himself as a tax cutter:
NARRATOR: Cut taxes while increasing our rainy day fund and investing in education.
HAUSER: It’s true that Gov. Dayton increased the rainy day fund and invested more in education but it’s false to say that Dayton cut taxes, so false that it nearly overwhelms everything else that’s true in this ad. In fact, Dayton and the DFL legislature raised taxes by $2,000,000,000 in the 2013 session. In 2014, they cut taxes $508,000,000, partially by repealing taxes that they’d increased the year before. So over those 2 years, there’s a net tax increase of $1,500,000,000.
Later in the segment, Hauser said that “He admits it. He ran for governor by promising he’d raise taxes.” I’ll repeat what I’ve said previously. Repealing taxes that you just raised and/or created isn’t a tax cut. It’s a reduction in the size of the tax increase.
Gov. Dayton’s first instinct, which is shared by House and Senate DFL leadership, is to propose raising taxes first, then submitting a mulligan budget later when political pressure mounts:
In 2011, Gov. Dayton proposed massive tax increases, including a top income tax bracket of 10.95% and a 3% surcharge for people making $1,000,000 or more. When the deficit forecast was revised down from $6,200,000,000 to $5,030,000,000, Gov. Dayton immediately dropped the income tax surcharge. Eventually, the GOP majority forced him to drop his tax increases.
Raising taxes won’t be Jeff Johnson’s first instinct. He’ll ride herd on bureaucrats that don’t have the taxpayers’ best interests at heart because that’s who he is:
The difference between Jeff Johnson and Gov. Dayton is stunning. Gov. Dayton starts with the assumption that every state agency should have its budget increased. Jeff Johnson doesn’t start with the assumption that agencies’ budgets should be automatically increased.
Jeff Johnson has a lengthy history as Hennepin County Commissioner of highlighting government spending money foolishly. He’ll continue that habit as governor.
Minnesota families don’t need a governor who raises taxes first, spends money foolishly second, then tells them that he’s cut taxes on the campaign trail. Minnesota families deserve a governor who’s proven that he’ll be the taxpayers’ watchdog.
Jeff Johnson is the only gubernatorial candidate who fits that last description.
It’s beginning to look like the Democrats are giving Tom Harkin’s Senate seat away. First, Bruce Braley insulted Iowans by criticizing Chuck Grassley for being a hog farmer. Now Braley is fighting for his political life for ignoring his committee assignment on the Veterans’ Affairs Committee:
Over a two-year period, Democratic U.S. Rep. Bruce Braley missed 75 percent of meetings for a committee that provides oversight over the Veterans Administration, including one meeting on a day he attended three fundraisers for his 2012 campaign.
A few months later, news reports exposed systemic problems in patient care that have since resulted in the resignation head of the federal department of veterans affairs.
Of course, Democrats were quick to defend Braley:
Democrats who back Braley, a trial lawyer and seven-year congressman who is now running for U.S. Senate, say he has been an outspoken voice for veterans and it’s wrong for his GOP rival, Joni Ernst, to “try to inject partisan politics into veterans issues.” He missed the veterans affairs meeting on the day of the three fundraisers because he went to another congressional hearing, his aides said.
Veterans don’t need someone who’s all talk. What they need most is someone who’s committed to solving the VA crisis. Clearly, Rep. Braley doesn’t fit that description. By comparison, Ms. Ernst does. In fact, she’s currently away from the campaign trail so she can fulfill her commitment in the Iowa National Guard:
Republicans are appealing to Iowans to help campaign for Joni Ernst while she’s on leave for two weeks for active duty training.
Ernst, a candidate for Iowa’s open U.S. Senate seat and a battalion commander in the Iowa Army National Guard, leaves Friday for Fort McCoy for annual training.
“During this time, she will not be able to fund-raise, walk in parades, door knock or do other political activity,” Republican Party of Iowa Chairman Jeff Kaufmann said in a letter posted on the party’s website this afternoon. “We know Bruce Braley and his liberal D.C. pals will continue their slash-and-burn campaign against Joni while she’s on duty, so anything you can do to help us until Joni returns is greatly appreciated.”
If Braley continues making major mistake after major mistake, he’ll be Ms. Ernst’s best weapon against Bruce Braley. That seems likely considering the fact that he wasn’t where he said he was:
Braley’s aides said he skipped it to attend a 9:36 a.m. Oversight and Government Reform Committee meeting on the “Fast and Furious” gun trafficking scandal. The congressional record marked Braley “present,” but reveals that he offered no testimony during the three-hour hearing, which ran until 12:45 p.m.
Video caught no sight of Braley. His seat isn’t always visible, but the multiple times it’s within camera view during the window the Veterans Affairs committee was in session (10:19 a.m. to 11:54 a.m.), Braley wasn’t seated, a Register review of C-SPAN 3 and committee footage found.
Skipping a House VA Committee hearing for a trio of fundraisers is bad enough. Saying that you’re participating in another commitee hearing might get you off the hook…if you’re where you said you were. Apparently, he couldn’t even manage that.
This race isn’t over by a long shot. Still, it won’t help Democrats if Braley continues his litany of major mistakes. Insulting hog farmers in Iowa is as foolish as insulting Packers fans in Wisconsin. Attending a trio of fundraisers while saying you’re in a committee hearing is foolish, too.
This afternoon, I was sent a copy of a letter that Jim Grabowska sent to MnSCU Chancellor Steven Rosenstone about MnSCU’s hiring of McKinsey and Co. as consultants. Grabowska is the president of the Inter Faculty Organization, aka the IFO. Here’s part of Grabowska’s letter:
You can well imagine our dismay this morning when we found out about the $2 million contract that existed with McKinsey to support Charting the Future. We are writing to ask what the firm actually did for the $2 million they collected from Minnesota taxpayers and students. What assessment/criteria lead to the conclusion that the System Office needed a consultant firm to assist staff on implementation? Of specific concern is why it was determined before our collective internal implementation teams were even formed, or allowed to make recommendations for an implementation plan.
What’s disappointing (infuriating?) is that the IFO president asked more probing questions in that paragraph than the St. Cloud Times reporters have asked of President Potter since he was hired years ago.
The IFO asked substantive questions that question Chancellor Rosenstone’s justification for hiring McKinsey in that paragraph in a respectful fashion. Here’s more from the IFO’s letter:
From the story in the Pioneer Press, it sounds like consultants were hired on January 2nd, began work in March and finished in June. What could they have done in three or four months that wasn’t noticed but was worth $2 million?
I suspected that this consulting contract wasn’t legitimate. The fact that the IFO is questioning what McKinsey did to earn the money highlights why they’re questioning Rosenstone’s decision. There’s nothing that I’ve seen that suggests McKinsey’s work product was worth $2,000,000.
In the article, you justify the expenditure by saying students and their families might save $14 million if 10% of the students graduate faster. The problem is there is no indication that the $2 million spent will result in $14 million of savings — or any savings at all.
In the past decade, MnSCU has spent money by the tens of millions on IT consultants that claimed they would create efficiencies that would result in efficiencies for students — student tuitions still continued to skyrocket. The only savings we have seen for students in recent years came from the legislative buy down of tuition rates.
As much as this letter is an indictment of Chancellor Rosenstone, it’s an indictment of MnSCU’s trustees and the chairs of the higher education committees the past few years. This has been a bipartisan failing, with Bud Nornes and Michelle Fischbach failing to conduct proper oversight before Gene Pelowski and Terry Bonoff failed in their oversight responsibilities.
It’s a frightening statement that the IFO’s oversight of MnSCU outdistances the oversight provided by the MnSCU Trustees and the higher ed committees in the legislature. Combined.
At this point, it’s reasonable to ask whether MnSCU serves as anything more than another do-nothing bureaucracy. Further, it’s reasonable to ask whether the higher ed committees’ leadership pays attention to anything other than appropriating money. I haven’t seen proof that they’ve paid attention to what’s happening at MnSCU or the universities.
Taxpayers can’t afford this consistent nonchalance from Chancellor Rosenston, the Trustees or the higher ed committee chairs. Their performance, or lack thereof, has been infuriating.
UPDATE: Here’s the IFO’s letter to Chancellor Rosenstone:
Technorati: IFO, Jim Grabowska, MnSCU, Board of Trustees, Steven Rosenstone, Higher Ed Committees, Gene Pelowski, Bud Nornes, Terry Bonoff, Michelle Fischbach, Oversight Hearings, McKinsey & Co., Consultants, Tuition Increases
Greg Riegstad’s LTE is short because he accepted the task of explaining why Zach Dorholt deserves re-election:
Zach Dorholt deserves re-election to the Minnesota House of Representatives.
After years of gridlock in our state government, this last session made real progress. The Legislature made a real commitment to education, reduced taxes for the middle class, and turned the budget deficit to a surplus.
The second paragraph is utterly laughable. First, the DFL spent more money on education. That isn’t the same as saying that they “made a real commitment to education.” Dorholt was the vice-chair of the Higher Ed Committee. As vice-chair of the committee, Dorholt didn’t pay attention to the corruption within MnSCU. Clarence Hightower, then-chairman of the MnSCU Board of Trustees, negotiated a contract renewal with MnSCU Chancellor Steve Rosenstone.
What’s stunning is that the House Higher Ed Committee did’t even know that it’d been negotiated. The other thing that’s stunnning is that Hightower negotiated the contract extension before giving Rosenstone a performance review.
During the 2014 ‘Unsession’, the House Higher Ed Committee met 4 times, twice to hear bonding presentations, once to hear about a supplemental appropriation and another time to move a bill onto the General Register. Noticeably missing are any oversight hearings.
Thanks to Mssrs. Pelowski and Dorholt, $2,000,000 was quietly spent on a consulting firm that prefered to “work in the background.” Saying that oversight wasn’t a priority for Mssrs. Pelowski and Dorholt is understatement.
Second, the DFL promised property tax relief. That won’t happen because school districts are raising property taxes. A tiny percentage of people will see the property tax relief that the DFL promised.
Third, saying that they started with a deficit and turned it into a surplus isn’t an accomplishment. Thanks to the fiscal restraint of the GOP legislature, the deficit was $624,000,000. When the DFL controlled the legislature from 2007-2010, the deficits were more than $5,000,000,000.
Fourth, what the DFL isn’t telling people is that they spent one-time money on ongoing expenses. The surplus that they’re bragging about doesn’t exist.
Let’s also remind people of some other things that this “working group” accomplished. They spent $90,000,000 on a plush office building that’ll be used 4 months a year. They spent it on that instead of using that money to fix Minnesota’s roads and bridges. That money could’ve fixed ton of roads. Instead, Mr. Dorholt chose to spend it on his friends in the Senate.
Mr. Dorholt also voted to raise taxes and fees by $2,500,000,000. Then he voted to reduce that tax increase by $300,000,000, which he’s now calling a tax cut. The taxes he raised has sent companies scurrying from Minnesota.
We can’t afford more of Zach Dorholt’s accomplishments. That’s why he needs to be replaced by Jim Knoblach.
Technorati: Zach Dorholt, Gene Pelowski, Higher Ed Committee, Oversight, Steven Rosenstone, MnSCU, Charting the Future, Tax Increases, Senate Office Building, Property Taxes, DFL, Jim Knoblach, Taxpayer Watchdog, MNGOP, Election 2014