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First off, this year’s governor’s race won’t be a change election. It’s impossible to think of Gov. Dayton or Rep. Walz as change agents. They’re traditional non-thinking DFL establishment types. If the unthinkable happens and Becky Otto wins the endorsement or primary, she’s part of a different wing of the DFL establishment. To be fair, Gov. Pawlenty, Jeff Johnson and Keith Downey are part of the GOP establishment.

Next, it’s important to notice what’s frustrating Minnesotans lately. Topping people’s list of things they hate about government is MNLARS. People expect that renewing their drivers license, transferring the title on a car or getting new license tabs for the family vehicle is fairly effortless. The Dayton administration is the first administration to make those things all-day adventures. It’s also the first administration that isn’t serious about investigating reports of elder abuse and deaths in nursing homes.

Gov. Dayton has been a disaster. He’s raised taxes, presided over a state that’s lost wealth to other states virtually every year and seen high school graduates leave Minnesota in droves. Further, the DFL has done its best to punish businesses through regulations. Because the DFL is highly indebted to the environmentalists, they’ve proposed outrageous regulations.

First, the DFL pushed, then passed, the buffer strips legislation that hurts farmers. Next, the DFL, through the Minnesota Board of Water and Soil Resources, aka BWSR, is implementing a stiff penalty against farmers who don’t comply with the DFL’s controversial legislation. That penalty is $500 per linear foot per day. That’s a disaster waiting to happen to Minnesota farmers.

It isn’t difficult to tell that MNLARS is a mess when watching this exchange:

The answers provided were filled with hesitation. They were evasive, too. It felt like Sen. Dan Hall was pulling teeth. Finally, he got a reply.

Just based on whose administration was relatively incident-free vs. whose administration was incident-prone, Gov. Dayton is the governor with the lackluster history.

Unlike the DFL governor, Republicans haven’t turned a blind eye towards the nursing home crisis. For 7 years, DFL Gov. Dayton hasn’t paid attention to the nursing home crisis. After the Strib published a multi-part series on nursing home abuse, in which some people literally died of neglect, Gov. Dayton appointed a task force to look into the abuse.

Before that panel was appointed, the Strib examined state records. One of the appalling pieces of information was that there were “25,226 allegations of neglect, physical abuse, unexplained serious injuries and thefts last year in state-licensed senior facilities” and that “97 percent were never investigated.” When I wrote this post, I noted something in State Sen. Karin Housley’s statement. In her statement, she said “Instead of taking responsibility for the shortcomings and negligence of his own state agencies, one of the main drivers of this issue, the governor placed the blame wholly on the care providers. Despite a well-documented culture of intimidation and neglect that prevented the governor’s Office of Health Facility Complaints (OHFC) from serving its function, the governor refuses to accept accountability for the failings of the executive branch.”

Despite the DFL owning this crisis, the House DFL campaign committee, tasked with getting DFL legislators elected, issued this propaganda:

The bill fixing this DFL crisis was chief authored by Sen. Housley. The DFL knows that it’s being run through the Senate first. (PS- the bill # is SF3437.) The bill will be passed in the Senate first, then sent to the House, where it will be passed, then sent to Gov. Dayton.

This BS fundraising appeal reveals the DFL’s (lack of) character. The DFL knows that their governor ignored the problem. The DFL knows that Republicans are cleaning up the DFL’s mess. Still, the DFL is pretending like it’s the Republicans’ fault if the DFL’s problems aren’t fixed. Fortunately, Republicans are in the habit of doing the right thing. They’re fixing the DFL’s problem.

This is entirely on Gov. Dayton:

When investigations did happen, often they were essentially botched, with evidence destroyed or tampered with, interviews not conducted, and sometimes police or prosecutors not contacted as required by state law. Sometimes investigations were done by public employees or nursing home employees not trained in criminal investigations.

The legislative branch has nothing to do with the actual investigations. That’s exclusively the executive branch’s responsibility. Period.

This highlights the fact that the Dayton administration, aka Minnesota’s executive branch the past 7+ years, was incompetent. The DFL’s investigations were botched, which placed additional seniors in harm’s way. Now the DFL is attempting to blame Republicans for the DFL’s incompetence!

Finally, it’s important to remember this November that the DFL was both dishonest and incompetent in dealing with this crisis. The DFL will campaign on creating a “Better Minnesota.” That’s BS. If the DFL thinks that this is a picture of “a Better Minnesota”, then it’s obvious that the DFL sees things through rose-colored glasses.

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It isn’t surprising that the Alliance for a Better Minnesota started attacking Tim Pawlenty before he’s entered the gubernatorial race. This indicates who they see as the most formidable GOP candidate. Without endorsing anyone (I’m not a delegate to the GOP State Convention), this makes sense to me from the standpoint that Pawlenty has won 2 statewide races (in 2002 and 2006). Meanwhile, Jeff Johnson has lost 2 statewide races (in 2006 for attorney general and 2014 as governor)j

Of course, ABM is telling its readers that the moderate Pawlenty is a combination of the worst traits from the Koch Brothers and President Trump. It isn’t surprising that ABM’s fundraising letter focuses on Pawlenty and President Trump. It starts by quoting Gov. Pawlenty as saying “I agree with much of what President Trump is trying to do.” From there, it jumps directly into saying “Those words came straight out of Tim Pawlenty’s mouth last week, before he even announced his latest run for Minnesota Governor. This is why the Alliance for a Better Minnesota is committed to stopping Trumpism in Minnesota and why we’re committed to holding Tim Pawlenty accountable for what he’s said and done.”

Honestly, I’d welcome a spread of “Trumpism” to Minnesota. Compared with the Dayton administration’s incompetence, some Trumpism and, for that matter, Pawlentyism would be refreshing.

Let’s simplify this as much as possible. Tim Walz will have tons of strife with mining because his running mate is a strident environmental activist. Yes, he’ll win that fight but the strife will exist between him and Rep. Flanagan. Rebecca Otto won 1 district in the DFL’s statewide straw poll on the strength of a strong turnout of environmental activists in the Eighth CD. If I had to guess, Otto is the frontrunner because Walz isn’t crazy enough for the activists. That doesn’t mean he isn’t crazy. It just means he isn’t as far left as Otto.

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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One thing that’s obvious from Gov. Dayton’s proposal to prevent elder care abuse is that he isn’t willing to admit that his administration didn’t do its job.

Included in Gov. Dayton’s proposal are “streamlin[ing] reports of abuse, increase licensing requirements for long-term care facilities and strengthen penalties for those who hurt seniors and vulnerable adults.” Nowhere is it mentioned that the Dayton administration failed its oversight responsibilities. State Sen. Karin Housley noticed:

“Nearly all the governor’s recommendations come from his handpicked working group, which I believe only reflect one side of an extremely emotional, complex situation,” said Housley, who chairs the Senate long-term care committee and has her own legislative proposals. “While many of the working group recommendations are incorporated into my legislation, it will not ignore the critical oversight role played by the state.”

Later, Sen. Housley issued this statement:

While the governor and I share the same goal of making sure elderly and vulnerable Minnesotans are cared for with dignity and respect, I believe his proposal falls well short and ignores many of the realities of the problem. Nearly all the governor’s recommendations come from his handpicked working group, which I believe only reflect one side of an extremely emotional, complex situation. In fact, the governor’s proposal does not consider any of the recommendations of the senior care facilities, which were almost entirely left out of the conversation.

Instead of taking responsibility for the shortcomings and negligence of his own state agencies – one of the main drivers of this issue – the governor placed the blame wholly on the care providers. Despite a well-documented culture of intimidation and neglect that prevented the governor’s Office of Health Facility Complaints (OHFC) from serving its function, the governor refuses to accept accountability for the failings of the executive branch. The many hardworking care providers across Minnesota depend on the OHFC for oversight, but it did not live up to its end of the bargain.

I will be introducing legislation tomorrow that I believe moves us in the right direction and brings all stakeholders to the table. While many of the working group recommendations are incorporated into my legislation, it will not ignore the critical oversight role played by the state. I have been working on this issue for over a year, bringing all stakeholders to the table and searching for a solution that works for all – and those conversations have virtually all pointed toward an urgent need to fix the OHFC.

I look forward to working with the governor’s office, my colleagues, and stakeholders in passing substantive change this session.

Here’s the tape of Housley’s press conference on her new bill:

Follow this link to read the Elder Care and Vulnerable Adult Protection Act. The first question from the press asked what disappointed Sen. Housley about Gov. Dayton’s proposal. Here’s her reply:

SEN. HOUSLEY: I felt it was a one-sided — he appointed his working group. I admire and I’ve listened to everyone in that working group from AARP to Elder Justice to Elder Voices. It was just one side and you also have the huge problem within the OHFC and that wasn’t addressed and that is his administration and that is where he failed. I know that Sheila van Pelt has been emailing the government since 2013, the governor and his administration trying to get answers on why she wasn’t getting answers so to not look in the mirror is disappointing.

Gov. Dayton’s administration failed to investigate these abuses. According to the OLA report, they didn’t even put a plan in place to investigate. After the crisis was exposed, Gov. Dayton’s proposal didn’t include anything to hold his administration accountable.

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The Minnesota Senate Transportation Committee passed legislation that likely won’t put a smile on Gov. Dayton’s face. The Committee “advanced legislation Monday to provide $7.3 million for ongoing repairs and improvements to the state’s motor vehicle licensing system and to establish a new layer of legislative oversight for future funding.”

Further, “Sen. Scott Newman, R-Hutchinson, the transportation committee chair, said he left out money the agencies wanted for staff to handle MNLARS complaints. ‘I reject the idea that we should be hiring more folks at this point to answer the telephone, principally because I think we ought to be spending the money on getting the program up and running,’ Newman said.”

Sen. Newman’s point should be highlighted. Why spend money on people whose job is to spin what’s happening at MNLARS? That’s like spending money on rebranding universities. It’s wasting money. Fixing MNLARS is important.

It’s apparent that Gov. Dayton is doing his best to limp this project across the finish line. There’s little confidence it’ll get fixed before Gov. Dayton leaves office. That’s what makes this fight pathetic:

It’s time for a change in governing philosophy. It’s time to infuse state government with competence. That isn’t found in any DFL gubernatorial candidates.

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?

Saying that Rep. Paul Torkelson’s op-ed is scathing is understatement. Chairman Torkelson’s op-ed is a line-in-the-sand statement op-ed.

First, Chairman Torkelson wrote “The Minnesota House Transportation Finance Committee held hearings to find out what was going wrong. We’ve dedicated thousands of hours between legislators and staff responding to and fielding complaints from Minnesotans about the troubles they’re seeing. We’ve held several hearings to demand answers from Gov. Mark Dayton’s administration officials. We were told the problems were fixable and that the issue was not money-related.”

Next, Chairman Torkelson wrote “The problem is, the Dayton administration cannot guarantee the massive amount of funding they’re asking for will make MNLARS fully functional in the next year. We are committed to working with the Dayton administration to fix the problem, as Minnesotans deserve hassle-free trips to the DMV, but we will not give Governor Dayton a blank check. Until we receive some specific answers, assurances that those responsible for this mess are being held accountable, and a new direction that will likely involve outside technology experts, the legislature has no plans to throw good money after bad. Minnesota taxpayers deserve nothing less.”

Before he became governor, Dayton was the worst of 100 U.S. senators. During Gov. Dayton’s watch, we’ve had to endure the MNsure and MNLARS fiascoes. What’s to trust about Gov. Dayton? After reading this, I don’t trust Gov. Dayton:

A recent KMSP-TV investigative report found that three years ago a MNLARS analyst told the Governor’s Office directly that the program was “headed for a cliff,” and in a secret recording the Governor’s Chief of Staff told this analyst she was going to look into it.

That chief of staff is now employed in the private sector. Isn’t that a coincidence?

It’s obvious that the DFL, aka the Party of Big Government, is incompetent. Electing another DFL governor just means 4 more years of stunning incompetence.

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Joe Soucheray’s column is brilliant in that it highlights the fact that, to the public, the old system was working flawlessly.

In the second paragraph of his column, Soucheray wrote “So far, $93 million has been spent to upgrade the MNLARS software. I never had a problem getting my tabs or securing a new title. Did you? I mean, things were going along swimmingly and getting tabs and titles was just part of the contractual bargain we have with the state, like paying taxes or getting a fishing license.” I’m betting that 99% of people would agree with Mr. Soucheray’s statement.

Soucheray dropped the hammer in the next paragraph, saying “But then somebody decided we needed to upgrade the system. Maybe some software salesman in a plaid suit and orange shoes blew through town and they went for his pitch. Now there is a delay in getting tabs and titles. This falls under the rubric of fixing something that apparently wasn’t broken.” Ouch.

A longtime friend once told me when he helped me install my first PC that he preferred “trailing edge technology”. Bruce told me that he liked new technology after the inevitable bugs had gotten fixed. Apparently, though, with MNLARS, their problem is that they haven’t identified the bugs.

Then Soucheray drops the hammer:

Is this one of those deals where somebody’s brother-in-law is getting rich? Probably not. But I cannot think of a boondoggle of this scale that displays so clearly for us the difference in the mindsets between the public and private sectors. Imagine if your private employer told you to upgrade the computer software — you work in your company’s information technology department — that governs the loading of finished products from your loading docks into the waiting trucks.

“OK, boss, will do. What’s my budget?”
Sheepishly, you go back to the boss in a month and tell her you need more money.
“How much more?”
“Another $43 million might do it, but I need $10 million of that right now or I am going to lose this team of sharpshooters I brought on board.”
“You’re fired.”
“Yes, ma’am.”

Yes, incompetence happens in the private sector. That’s why companies go out of business. Either that or they quickly get new management that quickly rights the ship. What doesn’t happen in the private sector is letting the same failed management continue screwing things up without consequence.

Last Friday night, the DFL ‘ladies from La-La-Land’, aka Ellen Anderson and Ember Reichgott-Junge, insisted that Republicans would pay a political price this November if they didn’t appropriate the $10,000,000 immediately and without question. These ladies apparently aren’t bright enough to understand that the people that screwed things up, aka the Dayton administration, get blamed.

This sounds like a reasonable compromise:

Find the old software and reinstall it. That couldn’t possibly cost $93 million or require another $43 million of which $10 million is needed immediately.

I’m betting there are tons of frustrated customers out there that’d be fine with this solution.

Finally, the DFL, aka the Party of Big Government, has proven yet again that they’re incompetent. I wish that was a surprise.