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The best thing that will be said about Johanna Clyborne is that she won’t be around much longer. Based on her insistence on not cooperating with the legislature, this might be a case of good riddance.

For instance, state “lawmakers blasted a state agency leader Tuesday for not telling them about a report that blamed a former Minnesota IT Services executive for the problems in rolling out a new vehicle licensing system. The report … focused on the performance of Paul Meekin, who held the title of chief business technology officer, blaming him for failing to address known defects prior to the MNLARS launch last summer.”

That’s bad enough but it gets worse. “During the hearing, Rep. Jim Nash, R-Waconia, told IT Services Commissioner Johanna Clyborne that he was concerned that the report surfaced in the media, and he didn’t hear about it from her agency. “If it sounds like evasiveness and looks like evasiveness, it may be evasiveness. I’m just wondering when we were ever going to hear about this report from you, because had it not been for the press, I don’t believe we would have known,” Nash said.”

It went downhill after that:

Rep. Sarah Anderson, R-Plymouth, the chair of the state government finance committee, said she too was left out of the loop. “MNIT is actually under the state government finance purview, and yet you never bothered to call.”

Clyborne, who’s only been on the job for two months, defended her agency’s handling of the report. Clyborne said she told a key lawmaker that the report was completed. But she said no one in the Legislature asked for it. “It would be up to the body to request that information. I would be violating the laws that were put in place by this Legislature had I willy-nilly handed out that information, because it deals with an employee,” Clyborne said.

Apparently, Ms. Clyborne thinks that oversight in the middle of a crisis is a time for business-as-usual. Didn’t she notice that her ship is sinking and people are asking questions? This isn’t a time for business-as-usual. It’s a time for proactively doing the right thing.

She’s been on the job 2 months now. Isn’t it long past time that she starts doing her job?

This amendment puts the DFL in a bind this election season. Right now, I’m betting that they’ll vote to put the constitutional amendment in front of voters.

Here’s what’s happening. For 3 years, Republicans have pushed for additional funding for roads and bridges. Then-House Transportation Chair Tim Kelly proposed dedicating “a portion of existing tax revenue to transportation. Those taxes may include the sales tax on auto parts as well as taxes on leased vehicles and rental cars.” Initially, the DFL balked, saying that the money wasn’t dedicated, then arguing that taking that money from the general fund would take money from health care and education.

This week, “Scott Newman finally got his bill in front of lawmakers for the first time.” His constitutional amendment would dedicate “sales tax dollars from vehicle leases and rentals toward transportation projects” to the building of roads and bridges.

It isn’t amazing that the GOP is attempting to put this question on the ballot. What’s astonishing is that it’s garnered the wide-ranging support that it’s gotten:

The coalition supporting the bill includes business groups like the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce, contractors and some labor unions, including the International Union of Operating Engineers Local 49 and the Northern States Regional Council of Carpenters. “This is the biggest job creating bill you can pass this year,” said Jason George, the legislative and special projects director for Local 49, noting that the total spending would amount to dedicating less than 1 percent of the state budget toward transportation.

It isn’t surprising that the DFL opposes this constitutional amendment:

“There are two things we should be treating with the utmost caution, and it’s our general fund and our Constitution,” said Bradley Peterson with Greater Minnesota Cities. “Putting a constitutional amendment on the ballot for potentially $300 million per year is premature.” School groups and other labor unions, including SEIU Healthcare Minnesota, testified that the bill would limit the pool of funds available for education and health programs across the state, which don’t currently have any dedicated funding streams.

“We shouldn’t be pitting students against roads, and we shouldn’t be pitting healthcare against the trades,” said Sen. Matt Little, DFL-Lakeville.

The question now is whether the DFL actively opposes this proposed constitutional amendment or if they’ll support the construction unions. At this point, they’re in a can’t-win situation. Thanks to Sen. Newman, Minnesota’s roads will likely have dedicated funding for roads and bridges.

Gov. Dayton promised to veto the House MNLARS bill if it reaches his desk, saying “There’s no justification whatsoever for taking that money from other state agencies. I will veto that measure if it’s in the bill. I will veto the bill, and then we’ll be done.”

What Gov. Dayton didn’t say is that he’s fine with having taxpayers paying extra for his incompetence. It’s his administration that failed to successfully implement the MNLARS upgrade. Taxpayers shouldn’t pay for his administration’s incompetence and virtually nonexistent oversight. In his usually bombastic style, Gov. Dayton accused Republicans of extending the problem for political gain, calling it a “contrivance.” Here’s a hint for Gov. Dayton: people have seen his administration’s incompetence. The people understand that he’s at fault for not implementing MNLARS.

Further, the people understand that this isn’t the first time the Dayton administration failed in its implementation of a major software upgrade. Before MNLARS, there was MNsure. I’m thankful that we’re almost to the end of Gov. Dayton’s reign of incompetence.

Dayton said a veto would end the MNLARS discussion this session. “We’ll just have to put MNLARS improvement on hold, and the next administration can take it over,” he said.

House Republicans say they want Dayton to take financial responsibility for the MNLARS mess.

It’d be nice if Gov. Dayton actually admitted he’d failed in implementing MNLARS but I’m not holding my breath on that. I’d be happy letting the next governor, who likely will be a Republican, fix Gov. Dayton’s mess. We’ve seen Gov. Dayton’s incompetence too often. Jim Knoblach put Gov. Dayton in his place with this statement:

Governor Mark Dayton wants the state to charge a two-dollar “technology fee” beginning in fiscal 2019 for transactions on the state’s vehicle registration system to “support fixes of the MNLARS system and provide ongoing maintenance.” House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Jim Knoblach from Saint Cloud says that’s dead on arrival. “To me, it just adds insult to injury. He’s now going to try to charge everyone who uses the system to pay for this disaster. We’re not gonna do that,” Knoblach says.

There’s nothing fair about raising people’s taxes and fees to pay for a politician’s incompetence.

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The DFL has insisted that Republicans have to fund the MNLARS disaster without providing oversight. One of their chief arguments is that not funding MNLARS is that the programmers who’ve bungled the project thus far might leave if Republicans don’t fund MNLARS to the tune of $43,000,000. Tom Steward’s article for the Center for the American Experiment highlights the DFL’s argument, saying “‘We’re going to lose all these programmers,’ Dibble said. ‘We might as well turn off the lights and not proceed with MNLARS anymore if we don’t do this today.'”

DFL Rep. Rick Hansen “issued this long shot in the Morning Take tip sheet. ‘…Now these highly sought after workers are seeking new jobs and at least one top project developer has resigned…Continuous stalling, blaming and pontificating, instead of problem-solving, continues to make the problem worse and will add months until we have a fully functioning system for Minnesotans…There is a cost to the House Republican inaction…Republicans now own the MNLARS problem. It’s on them and only them.'”

Republicans should be praised for getting rid of the programmers who created the MNLARS mess. Republican legislators should be further praised for insisting on rigorous oversight of the project. The MNLARS project has been a disaster from the time the Dayton administration took it over. The Dayton administration was told before MNLARS went online that it would fail. The Dayton administration ok’d the project anyway. Then it insisted on a ton more money to fix MNLARS. That took it from a $40,000,000 price tag to a $93,000,000 price tag.

It’s still failing. The additional $50,000,000 didn’t fix the DFL’s MNLARS crisis either. Now the DFL is insisting that Republicans will be blamed if they don’t write another $43,000,000 blank check to the Dayton administration, who will use the money to pay these failed programmers.

Meantime, Dayton has proposed penalizing Minnesotans even further for the dysfunctional system with a $2 per vehicle transaction fee to go to fixing MNLARS. Not a chance, according to MNN’s coverage. House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Jim Knoblach from Saint Cloud says that’s dead on arrival. “To me it just adds insult to injury. He’s now going to try to charge everyone who uses the system to pay for this disaster. We’re not gonna do that,” Knoblach says.

Chairman Knoblach is right in declaring that proposal DOA. Why should we pay for the Dayton administration’s incompetence?

I’ve said it before but I’ll repeat it here. The DFL is the party of big government. Gov. Dayton and DFL legislators like Scott Dibble, Rick Hansen and Frank Hornstein have insisted that the money be appropriated but that the legislature not provide oversight on the project.

This can’t be taken seriously. Republicans are right in insisting on rigorous oversight. If that costs us a few of these programmers, it’s worth it.

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If the debate and vote in the House Transportation Finance Committee indicates anything, it’s proof that the DFL, Gov. Dayton included, isn’t interested in accountability for the MNLARS fiasco. Rep. Frank Hornstein’s amendments prove that.

Rep. Hornstein insisted that his amendments had to be passed immediately, saying “‘We have to act now.’ He proposed another version of the bill at the House Transportation Finance Committee meeting that did not include the executive agency budget cuts or progress reports. It was rejected on a party-line vote in the Republican-dominated committee.”

Seriously? Rep. Hornstein, what do you have against the people and the legislature getting progress reports? Don’t you or the DFL think that accountability is important? Further, cutting the executive budget is important. The Dayton administration screwed things up. Taxpayers shouldn’t have to pay to fix the DFL’s mistakes.

This article is filled with DFL BS. At first, I didn’t know where to start. Then this popped off the page at me:

Dayton initially downplayed the problems and accused critics of playing politics, but he has since taken responsibility.

That’s significant when combined with this:

“I’ve really come to believe that there are some legislators who don’t want us to improve MNLARS,” Dayton told reporters Tuesday morning. He then accused Republicans of trying to score political points: “I’ve said all along I’m to blame for this. My administration is to blame. I’m to blame. … As long as they keep bashing this, it’s good political fodder.”

Let’s get this straight. Gov. Dayton initially accused Republicans of grandstanding on MNLARS but he’s “said all along I’m to blame for this.” It can’t be both. Gov. Dayton and the DFL didn’t admit that they’d screwed up MNLARS until the outrage by people and businesses got loud and didn’t disappear. Why should these people pay for Gov. Dayton’s foolishness?

Friday night on Almanac, Sarah Anderson debated Frank Hornstein about the failed MNLARS system. Saturday afternoon, I got Chair Anderson’s first e-letter update of the new session. The first item in Chair Anderson’s e-letter update was about MNLARS. I’m thankful Chair Anderson took the time to explain the history of MNLARS in the e-letter update.

It said “Ten years ago, the Legislature provided $40 million in funding to replace the mainframe system that manages vehicle and licensing services. Completion of the project was repeatedly delayed and the Legislature poured more money into it to get it up and running. Last summer, the vehicle title, registration, and permits portion was rolled out for use. It quickly became apparent the system was not ready for prime time. Ten years and $93 million later, we are stuck with a system that doesn’t work.”

Chair Anderson continued, saying “On February 21, Governor Dayton asked for another $10 million immediately because MNIT (agency responsible for technology) and the Department of Public Safety miscalculated their budget and are set to run out of funds at the end of March and there are still fixes to be made. This “no questions can be asked” request is not how the Legislature operates. The agencies involved still need to detail how the funds will be spent and whether it will actually fix the problems with the system. At this point, we are told the system will cost around $160 million (four times the original amount) with $20 million in ongoing costs. This is not how government should run.”

Chair Anderson is right. Governance via ultimatum isn’t acceptable. That’s Gov. Dayton’s preferred style at this point with MNLARS. Being the faithful DFL soldier that he is, apparently, that’s Rep. Hornstein’s preferred method, too:

I’ll give the DFL credit for one thing: when the word goes out that they’re expected to defend the indefensible, they all-in. They don’t question orders. Watch Ellen Anderson and Ember Reichgott-Junge insist that Republicans will get hurt in November if they don’t blindly pay for the MNLARS fixes:

Sen. Koch is right. MNLARS is a disaster. For Sen. Anderson and Sen. Reichgott-Junge to insist that Republicans will pay a price for the DFL’s ineptitude is laughable. Eventually, Republicans will appropriate more money. The thing is that they won’t appropriate more money until MNIT gives the legislature a plan for how that money will be used.

If the Party of Big Government, aka the DFL, won’t explain how the money will be spent and lay out a timeline for when each phase of the project will be completed, MNLARS’ failure will fall on the DFL. Anything else is pure spin.

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The DFL, aka the Party of Big Government, have given us another crisis because the Party of Big Government can’t get government to deliver essential services. I’m talking about the MNLARS system, which, theoretically, was supposed to help transfer vehicle titles and issue new license tabs and plates.

God bless Tom Hauser’s Twitter feed. According to Hauser’s tweet, “A spokeswoman for the MN Automobile Dealers Association says 92% of their members say the MNLARS system for vehicle registration is as bad or worse than it was in November.”

Don Davis of Forum News is reporting that “Contractors trying to fix the state software are receiving notices that the state is out of money to pay them. Minnesota Information Technology Services mailed letters Thursday night to 39 people working as independent contractors. The state agency says workers will begin to leave right away, which will stop work to repair the ill-fated computer system that has angered Minnesotans since summer.”

Thus far, Minnesotans should applaud this because the bill for this project will stop at $93,000,000. The Dayton administration knew that the new system wasn’t ready. That didn’t stop them from letting it go live. It’s been a disaster ever since. That started in July.

This isn’t the only IT disaster tied to the Dayton administration. The Dayton administration’s first IT-related disaster was MNsure. That was a disaster for months.

The Party of Big Government has failed at producing stable, reliable services that Minnesotans can rely on. It’s time to turn Minnesota state government over to people who know what they’re doing and who will get things done on time and under budget.

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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.

Thursday night, I wrote this post about Sen. Cwodzinski’s interview with a local paper. One of the things covered was infrastructure. The reporter asked “What are your thoughts about the latest delays in the Southwest Light Rail Transit project?” Sen. Cwodzinski replied “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.”

It’s time for Sen. Cwodzinski to stop relying on wishful thinking. It’s time for him to deal with reality. Kim Crockett’s article reports that the “FTA is not recommending funding for any projects in Minnesota. The projects that have applied for federal funds are Southwest LRT, Bottineau LRT, the Metro Orange Line bus rapid transit along 35W, and the Metro Gold Line bus rapid transit in St. Paul. The FTA is limiting funding to ‘projects with existing full funding grant agreements. For the remaining projects in the CIG program, FTA is not requesting or recommending funding. Future investments in new transit projects would be funded by the localities that use and benefit from these localized projects.'”

This is a major blow to Gov. Dayton and Sen. Cwodzinski.

The Met Council, under [Gov. Dayton’s] leadership, developed a long-term transportation and housing plan that was entirely based on light rail expansion into the suburbs, with subsidized housing along the LRT to drive ridership and transform the metro area under a vision called “Thrive MSP 2040.”

The plan has been rejected by the five suburban counties in the metro area. The Legislature in 2017 withdrew its support from Southwest LRT and placed the Met Council under a quarterly audit by the Office of Legislative Auditor.

Apparently, Sen. Cwodzinski isn’t in touch with his constituents. They’ve rejected the Met Council’s vision for transportation. Seeing that, the GOP legislature pulled funding for these boondoggles, then ordered quarterly audits of the Met Council by the legislative auditor’s office. I’d consider that a harsh slap to the Met Council’s face. After watching this video, hopefully lots of people will think that the Met Council needs a harsh slap in the face:

First, my compliments to the ladies that put the video together. It’s long overdue. Well done. After watching it, I’m questioning what (if?) Gov. Dayton and Sen. Cwodzinski were thinking. Next, Sen. Cwodzinski’s constituents should ask themselves if they’re ok with unaccountable central planners making expensive decisions that dictate what types of things their cities and their neighborhoods will have.

Finally and most importantly, people should question whether they like the thought of not having a say in their neighborhood’s matters. I’m betting that they’d prefer keeping their decisions in their hands, not in the Met Council’s hands.

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