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This Our View editorial in the St. Cloud Times proves how intellectually dishonest the Times’ editorial page is. Here’s exhibit A:

Even if the bill had passed, President Obama doesn’t support the bill. He prefers to have the State Department work through the approval process for the project.

It isn’t that President Obama prefers having “the State Department work through the approval process.” It’s that he’s using the State Department to delay the project because he’s a true believer in climate change. This isn’t about process. It’s about President Obama’s ideology.

Further, President Obama has consistently and repeatedly sided with environmental activists rather than occasionally siding with construction unions. Thus far, President Obama hasn’t shown an interest in helping farmers or siding with the unions.

That isn’t the only spin in the Times’ editorial. Here’s another part:

Closer to home, Gov. Mark Dayton said he thinks the best way to untangle the glut of oil trains on Minnesota rail lines is to transport more oil by pipeline. The large increase in the number of trains carrying oil from North Dakota to Midwest refineries has caused delays for grain, propane and coal shipments by rail.

Gov. Dayton is as enthusiastic about building pipelines as President Obama. Gov. Dayton’s appointees to the Public Utilities Commission voted to delay the building of the Sandpiper Pipeline by asking “for a review of six alternative routes proposed by opponents of the project.”

The net effect of that is to effectively delay construction of the Sandpiper Pipeline project until after he leaves office. It’s possible the Sandpiper Pipeline will eventually get built but it isn’t likely to happen with Gov. Dayton’s time in office.

Throughout this campaign, Gov. Dayton hasn’t told Minnesotans the truth about MNsure. In his final debate with Jeff Johnson Friday night, Gov. Dayton insisted that MNsure was getting better all the time. Gov. Dayton said that despite this information:

Counties will have to start next month processing thousands of paper applications for health insurance for MNsure, the state’s online health exchange.

Local officials say the unexpected shift will result in a significant increase in workload for counties, which already are dealing with additional duties related to the Affordable Care Act. “We will have to gear up for it, there’s no doubt about that,” said Mary Jo Cobb, Sherburne County health and human services director.

Apparently, Democrats think spending $155,000,000 on a website that didn’t work last year and that isn’t working this year is proof that MNsure’s getting better all the time. People living in the real world, however, think that’s a gigantic waste of their hard-earned money.

Politicians, for the most part, don’t think about whether money spent improves people’s lives. Businessmen, on the other hand, are constantly monitoring whether the money they’ve spent is producing positive results because it’s either their money or their job depends on spending their investors’ money wisely.

The Twin Cities legislators that voted to create MNsure will likely win with 75% of the vote. For them, consequences don’t exist. As long as they do what the DFL machine tells them to do, they won’t have a thing to worry about.

This information is frightening:

Since the MNsure exchange launched a year ago, it’s been plagued with technical problems. That’s caused more people than expected to resort to submitting paper applications, said Janet Goligowski, gateway services director in Stearns County’s human services department.

“Presumably, the concept is that the online system will be so easy and so intuitive and user friendly that no one would really think to go to paper applications, which are very hefty and very long,” Goligowski said. However, since the exchange has been unable to process many applications promptly, “people just really naturally gravitated toward the paper applications,” she said.

That’s frightening. Apparently, the Dayton administration thought that the website would work beautifully so they didn’t need a tested manual system. The Dayton administration’s actions and assumptions wouldn’t be tolerated in the private sector. The thought of not being prepared for multiple eventualities is disgusting.

Why Gov. Dayton’s administration didn’t prepare for this is beyond incomprehensible. Apparently, Gov. Dayton thinks that his job is to sign bills. He hasn’t shown an interest in making sure the nuts and bolts operations are operating properly.

That’s why MNsure is an ongoing disaster. That’s why his administration is an ongoing disaster.

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This article highlights another set of problems for MNsure. It doesn’t take a great prognosticator to predict that MNsure will be a disaster when open enrollment starts.

Minnesota Association of Health Underwriters Board Chair Alycia Riedl says health insurance brokers who work with MNsure are nervous. Riedl says there is no computerized renewal system in place, and if it is not functional by the next MNsure open enrollment, Nov. 15, it could affect tens of thousands of people who are already enrolled through MNsure.

Riedl says it will severely limit their access to information if they want to change their policies in any way and could create lengthy delays for MNsure consumers. “The renewals would literally have to be done by hand, and that will take a long time, creating a backlog that hurts consumers who want to make better choices, and it will hurt MNsure’s bottom line if it isn’t taken care of soon,” Riedl said.

Considering the incompetence and corruption of the MNsure Board of Directors, Gov. Dayton’s head-in-the-sand routine during debates and the DFL’s insistence that everything’s fine, it isn’t surprising that MNsure isn’t working.

Gov. Dayton should be booted from office for his intransigence. Voters should turn on him for being dishonest about MNsure getting better. MNsure is getting better at a snail’s pace. According to DeLoitte’s study, 47 of 73 sub-functions either won’t work properly or won’t exist at all when open enrollment starts in 2 weeks:

During the assessment, 47 of the 73 sub-functions addressed were found either to be absent or not functioning as expected. Six of the 73 sub-functions could be considered for implementation post-open enrollment. The remaining 41 sub-functions need to be provided for the 2015 Open Enrollment either through changes/enhancements to the systems or through contingent means.

That’s just part of the lengthy list of failures I’ve written about. I don’t want to gloss over it, though, as just another item on a checklist. It’s much more than that.

Not having a “computerized renewal system in place” means everything renewal-related is done manually. If open enrollment started at the beginning of October, Minnesotans would be irate with Gov. Dayton to the point that they’d throw him out of office next Tuesday.

Whether it’s called incompetence or whether it’s called something else, the inescapable truth is that Gov. Dayton a) created MNsure, b) improperly implemented MNsure, c) ignored MNsure’s mismanagement then d) lied about MNsure to get re-elected.

Personally, I’d call it an unmitigated disaster. I’m not alone with that opinion.

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There’s all sorts of buzz around St. Paul of post-election plans by radical environmentalists to launch an offensive to kill copper-nickel mining in Minnesota. That’s been the stated goal of environmental organizations like the Minnesota Environmental Partnership, Friends of the Boundary Waters, Conservation Minnesota and MCEA. It’s verified fact that Alida Rockefeller, one of the DFL’s biggest contributors and Gov. Dayton’s ex-wife, is responsible for much of the money that goes into these anti-mining organizations while supporting Gov. Dayton’s political activities.

Sources close to organized labor active in northeastern Minnesota say that Ms. Messinger and her allies are now prepared to fund a PR campaign to kill PolyMet. That’s certain to get these miners’ attention. Alida Messinger’s post-election agenda won’t sit well with union workers who would work on the construction of the mine or the union workers who would fill the mining positions once the plant opens. As a result, at least some of the rank-and-file might stop supporting the DFL.

Rumor has it that a prominent, talented DFL strategist is already lined up for this aggressive campaign. This strategist allegedly has been approached by Big Labor. This strategist has allegedly been quite coy about what’s coming.

The biggest question remaining is simple. What, if anything, does Gov. Dayton know about this anti-PolyMet PR offensive? Given his unwillingness to support mining projects like PolyMet even if they meet environmental standards, I think it’s a more than fair question to ask.

I still think that Jeff Johnson will win this race. If Gov. Dayton is re-elected, though, will Iron Rangers trust Gov. Dayton to not be swayed by a massive anti-mining ad campaign? Will blue collar voters in northeastern Minnesota demand answers from Dayton before Tuesday?

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In Part I of this series, I highlighted the Times’ sloppiness with basic facts. In this post, I hope to highlight the wishful thinking found in the Times’ article. Here’s the first bit of wishful thinking in the Times’ article:

In addition to leading the Legislature to shore up transportation funding, Dayton should give serious consideration to tax reforms aimed at making Minnesota’s business climate more competitive with other Upper Midwest states.

That’s pure fantasy. The last 2 years, we were afflicted with a DFL legislature and a DFL governor. They could’ve done anything they wanted to do. They chose not to implement “tax reforms aimed at making Minnesota’s business climate more competitive with other Upper Midwest states.” Instead, the DFL legislature and Gov. Dayton worked together to pass tax increases on “the rich” because, in their own words, “the rich” weren’t “paying their fair share.”

With the Times explicitly stating that they want Gov. Dayton to continue and with the Times implicitly stating that they’d prefer keeping a DFL legislature, why would anyone think that the DFL would repeal the tax policies the DFL governor and the DFL legislature just implemented?

This statement is frightening:

The past four years leave little doubt that under his leadership, the state’s budget situation has stabilized.

While government is fat and happy, families that don’t live in southeastern Minnesota are getting hit with skyrocketing health insurance premiums and unaffordable deductibles. The Times’ preference that government funding is stable while families struggle is perplexing. Government’s first priority should be to put in place policies that get government out of the way so businesses can do what they do best: create prosperity. Gov. Dayton’s administration and the DFL have specialized in telling families they know what’s best for them.

When the DFL legislature passed the bill forcing unionization on child care providers and Gov. Dayton signed it into law, Gov. Dayton and the DFL told those small business ladies that they knew what was best for them. When the DFL legislature passed the legislation enabling the creation of MNsure and Gov. Dayton enthusiastically signed it into law, Gov. Dayton and the DFL told Minnesota families that Minnesota families weren’t smart enough to make informed decisions on what they needed for health insurance.

The Times’ endorsements this year have emphatically stated, albeit implicitly at times, that they believe government knows best. It’s apparent that the Times thinks its readers aren’t that bright:

Plus, while he’s certainly been aided by DFL majorities, he’s also demonstrated an ability to compromise. Look no further than scuttling proposals involving major sales tax reform along with repealing the minor ones that did pass in 2012.

The only reason why the DFL repealed the tax increases they enthusiastically passed is because not repealing them would’ve led to a political bloodbath this election. Their decision didn’t have anything to do with compromising. It had everything to do with saving their political hides after they’d overreached.

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In the St. Cloud Times’ endorsement article where they endorsed Mark Dayton, they made some sloppy statements that simply aren’t factual. Here’s one of the Times’ sloppy statements:

Republican challenger Jeff Johnson’s strongest arguments seem rooted more in attacking Dayton than detailing exactly what government programs and priorities he would change and cut.

The Times apparently didn’t interview Commissioner Johnson. In fact, it isn’t clear that they even visited Commissioner Johnson’s campaign website. If they had, they would’ve gotten this important insight into Commissioner Johnson’s agenda:

I will initiate a top-to-bottom audit of the programs that Minnesota taxpayers fund. We will celebrate those that can prove they produce the results we claim to want; we will end those that cannot. From the first day I am in office to the day I leave, I will work to put government back into its place as a servant of the citizens, not their master.

Apparently, the Times hasn’t figured it out that you can’t list programs and departments that will be dramatically changed until you’ve initiated “a top-to-bottom audit” of state government programs and departments. Finding out which programs and departments are working and important is the essential first step. Apparently, the Times didn’t grasp the importance of that first step. Either that or they just weren’t interested because they’d already decided that they were endorsing Gov. Dayton. This statement is laughable:

Yet those details are important amid his broad push for lower taxes and less regulations.

Actually, those details aren’t important at this point. It’s only important to tell voters that government won’t waste their money like the Dayton administration has. It’s only important to highlight the ways that the Dayton administration has spent money foolishly. This statement is driven either by total ignorance or blind partisanship:

Plus, unlike Dayton, it’s hard to see compromise emerging from his rhetoric and record.

At last week’s debate, the candidates were asked by Don Davis how they could work with the other party. Gov. Dayton’s answer was highlighted in several articles as essentially being ‘I can work with the other side as long as I have a DFL legislature.’ During his answer, Gov. Dayton launched into a lengthy diatribe about how Republicans’ ideas were unreasonable, which forced him to work only with the DFL.

How is that proof that Gov. Dayton will work out compromises with the GOP? In fact, we have proof that he won’t work with Republicans. Gov. Dayton intentionally shut state government down while rejecting Republicans’ lights-on bills that would’ve kept government open. Gov. Dayton wouldn’t even keep transportation projects going even though those projects have little or nothing to do with general fund revenues.

Check back later today for Part II.

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The biggest takeaway from the Strib’s latest Minnesota Poll article is that Jeff Johnson has cut Gov. Dayton’s lead in half:

Gov. Mark Dayton maintains a lead over Republican Jeff Johnson in a new Star Tribune Minnesota Poll, but Johnson gained some ground while Dayton’s support stayed flat.

The poll taken Oct. 20-22 shows Dayton leading Johnson, 45 percent to 38 percent, with Independence Party candidate Hannah Nicollet at 5 percent. In September, the poll showed Dayton at 45, Johnson at 33 and Nicollet at 1 percent. With Election Day just over a week away, the DFL governor has shown a consistent polling advantage.

More Minnesotans also now say they have made up their minds about the race, with 10 percent still undecided, compared to 20 percent five weeks ago. They would have to break in large numbers for Johnson if he is to overcome Dayton’s lead.

Jeff Johnson is still fighting an uphill fight. Still, he’s got to be happy that he’s closing the gap while he’s getting better name recognition.

Johnson’s campaign has leveled charges of incompetence against Dayton, and spokesman Jeff Bakken said the Star Tribune poll shows Johnson has room to catch up and pass Dayton amid a national political climate that Republicans see as favorable. “All the momentum in this race is on Jeff’s side, and the result is going to come down to turnout,” Bakken said. “And in the midterm election in this political environment, we like Jeff’s odds.”

The DFL’s GOTV operation is generally thought of as being superior to the GOP’s GOTV operation. This election will tell the tale of whether those reputations are deserved or not. It wouldn’t surprise me if the GOP’s GOTV operation performed better than expected.

Today marks the start of the final sprint to the finish line. Thanks to these poll results, it’s likely to be an interesting finish.

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In September, Mark Dayton insisted that PreferredOne’s leaving MNsure was competition in action:

Gov. Mark Dayton says a key provider’s decision to drop out of the state-run health exchange is competition in action.

The Star Tribune is reporting it’s nothing of the sort:

Sometime after the insurer PreferredOne submitted its proposed rates for the first year of the MNsure exchange, state regulators asked the company to consider lowering the numbers. Ultimately, the insurer responded with “a total rate decrease of 37 percent,” according to a July 2013 letter from an outside actuary to the company. Those final rates were the lowest in the Twin Cities, and across the country, in many cases, and helped Preferred­One to grab nearly 60 percent of the MNsure business.

Now, those subscribers face an average premium increase of 63 percent if they stay with PreferredOne, a yo-yo scenario that health policy experts say points to the challenge in setting prices under the federal health law. The big swing also suggests that the low prices were out of step with the reality of the business.

Dayton’s dishonest numbers, combined with his disdain for competition, have caused Minnesota insurance prices to skyrocket. Dayton’s dishonest health insurance numbers were always dishonest. Now it’s verifiable.

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Whenever a DFL politician talks about major construction projects, whether it’s the Sandpiper Pipeline project or the PolyMet Mining project, they always say these 6 extra words:

“We need to do this right.”

This time, the politician was Al Franken and the project he was talking about was PolyMet. Unfortunately, Sen. Franken loves using the environmental activists’ code words. Here’s a perfect example:

The Minnesota Democratic senator, who is in a re-election contest with Republican challenger Mike McFadden, spoke about the copper/nickel/precious metals venture during an interview at the Mesabi Daily News Monday morning. The senator said he believes “a vast majority of Minnesotans want to see those (PolyMet) jobs … no question about that.”

Franken said he has regularly been in touch with PolyMet officials. And he has also heard from critics of the project. “One thing I’m very aware of is that we haven’t done this before here,” the senator said. “But boy, can I understand how people are frustrated” about the nine years of environmental review. “Believe me that’s not lost on me.”

Franken said he aligns himself with the Iron Range Legislative Delegation on the issue — “Get it done based on the science.”

“Get it done based on the science” is code for ‘let’s let the environmental activist organizations drag this out with lawsuits, PR stunts and propaganda wars’. DFL politicians are experts at that. DFL politicians like Sen. Franken and Rep. Nolan are professionals when it comes to looking like they’re doing something while dragging their feet.

That’s what they’ve both done since getting to DC. Nolan voted for HR 761, then promised environmental activists that he wouldn’t vote for it again if it came back for final passage:

Northern Minnesota is known for its great fishing, so perhaps it’s fitting that tracking 8th District Congressman Rick Nolan’s position on a bill that deregulates the mining industry and fast tracks the permitting process for PolyMet is a bit like watching a fish flopping around on a dock: first he’s against it, then he’s for it and now he once again opposes it, this time promising to vote against the legislation if it “comes anywhere near close to becoming law.”

This weekend, Nolan told Tom Hauser that he voted to streamline the permitting process. Sen. Franken couldn’t say that because he hasn’t lifted a finger to make PolyMet a reality. Nor has he done anything to streamline the permitting process in the future.

Instead, Dayton, Franken and Nolan have worked hard to walk a perilous tightrope. Dayton, Franken and Nolan have to appear to be friends of the miners without overstepping the environmental activists’ boundaries.

The PolyMet supplemental draft environmental impact statement is currently in the comment review phase, which Department of Natural Resources Commissioner Tom Landwehr said earlier this month should be completed in early-2015.

If the project receives a certificate of adequacy from the SDEIS, permits can follow, with construction beginning. The venture is projected to create 360 permanent jobs, hundreds more spin-off positions and more than 2 million hours of construction.

“We’ve got an incredible deposit of minerals,” Franken said. “But if this had been done too soon and it was tainted and the watershed contaminated, it would be mitigated for decades or centuries. And what would that have meant for the second or third project?”

Throughout this process, environmentalists have portrayed mining companies as deadbeats that destroy the environment, then skip the country while taxpayers foot the cleanup bill. They’ve also portrayed mining companies as thugs who love destroying the environment in their lust for big profits. This is dishonest.

That isn’t what happens. These companies have a history of following the rules. They have a history of doing things right.

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I’ll risk saying this but the professional political punditry needs to get start seeing things through a policy impact perspective, not through a ‘will it play politically’ perspective. During this morning’s gubernatorial debate, Gov. Dayton said that he’s long advocated for a single-payer health care system.

What was the collective reaction from the professional political punditry? Crickets. No big deal. Keep moving.

The government, whether we’re talking about the Obama administration or the Dayton administration, is incapable of handling anything that complex. In too many instances, it’s incapable of handling fundamental responsibilities.

That professional political pundits think it isn’t a big deal to advocate for a system that’s never worked anywhere because that’s been his standard answer is shameful. Style points seem to matter more than character, policy impacts and what’s best for Minnesota.

It’s time to tune out the professional political pundits because they’re too interested in election outcomes. Unfortunately, they aren’t interested enough in policy outcomes. Jeff Johnson’s policies will make life better in Minnesota. Unlike Gov. Dayton, Jeff Johnson will fight to build the Sandpiper Pipeline because that’ll free up railcar space so farmers can get their crops to market. That makes life better for hard-working Minnesota farmers. Unlike Gov. Dayton, Jeff Johnson will fight to open PolyMet because that’ll create hundreds of good-paying jobs. That’d make life significantly better for miners and mining communities.

Apparently, these things don’t matter to the professional political punditry from both sides of the aisle. Their tweets didn’t speak to what’s best for Minnesota. They just spoke to who won or lost based on game-changing moments and style points. That isn’t responsible journalism. That’s the type of partisanship that’s rotted our institutions and corrupted the political process.

If Republicans retake the House of Representatives and Gov. Dayton gets re-elected, Republicans will have a mandate because they spoke about issues. Gov. Dayton will have retained his title but he won’t have a mandate because he hasn’t spoken about what he’d do in his second term.

The DFL isn’t the party of no. They’re the party that won’t say no to their special interests that are driving Minnesota’s economy into the ground. Ask an Iron Ranger if they’re better off now than when Gov. Dayton took office. If they’re honest, they’ll say they aren’t. Their median household income has increased marginally. The percentage of people living below the Federal Poverty Level (FPL) grew by roughly 50%.

Health insurance premiums have skyrocketed. It’s virtually impossible to get changes made to policies to include or drop people from coverage. Still, Gov. Dayton insists that “it isn’t perfect” but that it’s getting better. Once a month, if not more often, we hear of another MNsure-related disaster.

Meanwhile, the professional political punditry insist that Gov. Dayton is winning because Jeff Johnson didn’t have that big game-changing moment. With all due respect, these political junkies are missing the point. Jeff Johnson has been solid. He’s provided sensible solutions to Minnesota’s biggest problems. Gov. Dayton has been dismissive, arrogant and utterly incompetent. He’s Minnesota’s version of Jimmy Carter.

It’s time to ignore the political junkies because they’re worried more about gamesmanship than doing what’s right for Minnesota. While we’re at it, it’d be great to get rid of the incompetent in the Governor’s Mansion, too.

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