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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

That led to Helland’s second major contribution:

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

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

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

The issue didn’t die there:

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

This video is frightening:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Republican friends in SD-54, today’s the day we can elect Denny McNamara. Today’s the day Republicans can solidify their Senate majority. In fact, a McNamara victory gives Republicans a chance to hand Gov. Dayton and the DFL a major defeat.

First, McNamara is excellent on environmental issues. He isn’t a squish on these issues. He’d bring lots of grit to those issues, which is a big deal considering how many jobs-related issues are tied by the DFL to the issue. In Minnesota, the biggest jobs fights are tied directly to the environment. Electing McNamara will give Republicans a better chance of winning those fights.

Next, Jason Lewis supports McNamara. Jason even campaigned with him:


Sen. Dan Hall wants Denny McNamara as a colleague:


Finally, a McNamara victory gives Republicans at least 34 senators regardless of the outcome of the Fischbach fiasco. Think about this possibility: The court rules that Sen. Fischbach can’t keep her Senate seat. Gov. Dayton sets the date for the Fischbach special election. Fischbach resigns as Lt. Gov. With McNamara in place, Republicans elect a DFL senator from a swing district, perhaps from David Hann’s or Dave Thompson’s former districts. That gives Republicans a great shot at recapturing another seat in the Senate. After Fischbach wins her special election, combined with a McNamara victory and another victory from Hann’s or Thompson’s district, Republicans would have a 36-31 majority instead of the 34-33 majority they had last year.

That’s a long way of saying it’s important (imperative?) to get out and vote for Denny McNamara today.

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When the honest history is written on Gov. Dayton’s legacy, it will be filled with total ineptitude. I’ve started writing about the elder care crisis a couple weeks ago. That crisis killed people. In that instance, the Dayton administration didn’t pay attention until it was a crisis. This week, the crisis is about MNLARS. According to this Pi-Press article, “More than eight years after its planning began, nearly three years after it was developed and after more than $93 million in taxpayer funds had been spent, the state’s new computer system for vehicle registrations, MNLARS, was launched over the summer, and failed. It failed so badly that, six months later, officials determined that it will cost $43 million and another year and a half to fix the problems and make needed improvements, officials said Wednesday.”

What’s frightening is that there’s no guarantee that the next $43,000,000 will fix things. The thought that MNLARS would take eight years to plan, develop and implement and $136,000,000 to partially implement is infuriating. This wouldn’t take nearly this much time or money to implement in the private sector. What’s worse is watching Gov. Dayton attempting to explain things away while protecting union workers:

MNLARS isn’t the first tech thing that’s turned out disastrous. MNsure was a disaster for the first year. I remember writing about it in this post because “the state failed to send out letters to 16,000 low-income Minnesotans seeking medical assistance to let them know their applications had not been processed”, which caused tons of headaches in Olmstead County.

Then there’s the elder care facilities where patients were abused. While that isn’t a tech failure, it’s a failure of gigantic proportions. The question that needs to be asked before writing Gov. Dayton’s legacy is whether he paid attention to details. I’m not certain he ever did. This is illuminating and disgusting:

Joan Redwing took a stab at answering it. Redwing, a veteran of the private sector, was hired by MN.IT several months ago to help prioritize the problems and come up with a plan to fix them. Her title is chief enterprise architect. Here’s some of what Redwing said:

We analyzed that. … One reason was there were some real lapses in technical leadership within the organizational structure, where we had bottlenecks of decision-making and didn’t have enough programmer supervisors. We had a tier of management but we did not have individual supervisors that managed small groups of programmers. So (as) you’d imagine, all those decisions got backed up to just a critical few resources.

That resulted in concerns that were escalated by members of the team to project leadership and to these few critical decision makers that were not really listened to or were disregarded. Sometimes they said they’d like to delay those decisions until post-launch.

There’s no reason to think this group will fix the problems they created. They’ve made things worse, not better. Minnesota would likely be better off if they hired the best private contractor and have them fix this mess.

Now that Electrolux has officially announced that it’s moving to South Carolina, it’s time Minnesota admitted what Minnesotans have known for years. It’s time Minnesota, especially the DFL, admitted that we aren’t competitive with other states.

This isn’t shocking in that Minnesota’s taxes are far too high. Gov. Dayton’s tax-the-rich administration brought this on. The phony-baloney award that Minnesota received is meaningless. According to the award, Minnesota is “the 2nd-strongest state in the union.” The thing about the award is that they don’t consider whether Minnesota is competitive from a business standpoint.

Minnesota’s DFL politicians have insisted that all that’s been needed to have a great economy is a great investment in education. In the 1970s, that was enough. This is the 21st Century. That isn’t enough anymore. Other states have well-trained workforces, too. Unlike Minnesota, though, other states, like South Carolina where Electrolux is moving to, have low taxes and minimal regulations. South Carolina’s policies invite people to the state.

Mayor Dave Kleis painted this the best he could, saying “It’s significant. It’s one of our largest employers. It’s not welcome news, but it’s something where we can coordinate with a number of folks to find employment before the end of two years.”

Minnesota has 2 options to change this. If Minnesotans keep giving the DFL any of the levers of power in St. Paul, we won’t become competitive anytime soon. The other option is to elect a reform-minded Republican governor and maintaining reform-minded Republican majorities in the state House of Representatives and the Minnesota Senate.

If Minnesota doesn’t elect pro-growth legislators and a pro-growth governor, Electrolux won’t be the last company leaving.

Electrolux, St. Cloud’s fifth biggest employer, just announced that it’s leaving Minnesota, saying in a statement that “Electrolux announced Tuesday they are planning to close their plant here in St. Cloud. The freezer maker says production is expected to continue through the end of 2019. Electrolux spokeswoman Eloise Hale says they have about 900 employees in St. Cloud. She says all impacted employees will be eligible for jobs elsewhere in the company.”

King Banaian commented that “The unemployment rate is quite low. A 17-year low is correct. So there’s a very tight labor market. Our employers keep saying to us in our surveys that finding qualified workers is one of the most serious issues.” That’s the good news. The bad news is that Minnesota keeps losing high-quality employers and employees each year. The outmigration of wealth from Minnesota is devastating. It isn’t just retirees fleeing for warmer climates, either.

According to Minnesota’s State Demographer, people of all age groups are leaving. It’s the chief reason why Minnesota will lose a congressional district after the next census.

Under Gov. Dayton’s ‘leadership’, the Twin Cities have done well while the rest of the state has regressed. Gov. Dayton’s anti-wealth policies, coupled with Minnesota’s oppressive regulations, are driving businesses away while making Minnesota less competitive with other states.

St. Cloud Area Chamber of Commerce President Teresa Bohnen says it’s good news that the community has two years to prepare for the job losses. And, she says the local Workforce Center will start working with those workers that are affected as soon as possible.

We have the jobs in St. Cloud, that’s the great news. And, we’ve already been approached by Senator Smith’s office this afternoon to talk about what they can do to help us. So we’re hoping for grant money, workforce grants, those kinds of things to get us help to get these people retrained and into new jobs as soon as possible.

Sen. Smith’s former boss, Gov. Dayton, is part of the problem. The DFL’s economic policies aren’t pro-growth. The regulations strangle investment.

The DFL hasn’t hidden their support for public employee unions like AFSCME, SEIU and MAPE. That means they’ve supported the things described in this article. What’s outlined in this article, though, seems more like highway robbery than representation.

For instance, “Labor unions in a handful of states have been able to take a portion of [Medicaid payments paid to PCAs] by organizing all the personal caregivers as one bargaining unit. Lawmakers in those states have allowed the practice by implementing policies that classify the caregivers as public employees – but only for the purpose of collective bargaining.”

The previous paragraph describes who these PCAs are, saying “Medicaid funds can be provided to personal caregivers who care for an elderly and disabled individual. The caregiver in most cases is related to their client. It’s a system that allows for personalized treatment and oftentimes it allows families to care for loved ones. But it’s also a system that has enriched unions.”

The unions have enriched themselves to the tune of “$200 million annually from Medicaid funds through personal caregivers.” These aren’t public employees. They’re relatives. The union collects their dues but the relatives don’t get the benefits that the unions bargain for. What part of that sounds justifiable?

Here’s what happened in Minnesota:

The union practice exists in states like California, Washington, Oregon, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Vermont, and Connecticut Minnesota lawmakers, for instance, allowed a state union to organize Personal Care Providers (PCA) as a single bargaining unit by passing a law dictating they are state employees simply because they collect Medicaid funds. Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton tried to do the same in 2011 through an executive order, but it failed in the courts.

The same bill that allowed unionization of in-home child care providers also authorized the unionization of family-based PCAs. Here’s part of the committee debate on that legislation:

Rep. Mahoney didn’t tell the truth. The union dues get taken out of money paid by government to in-home child care providers and PCAs. With PCAs, that money comes from Medicaid. These aren’t wages. They’re support payments paid to help families provide care for family members who otherwise might be housed in nursing homes or mental institutions. The state is actually saving money as a direct result of this program.

The family member is subsidized to care for family members because they’ve given up their jobs. That’s essentially a reimbursement paid in exchange for helping the state save money. That isn’t a wage.

“Medicaid will pay for homecare services for the elderly and disabled,” Nelsen told InsideSources. “The SEIU and AFSCME, back in the late 90s, when union membership was generally declining saw these workers, and this pool of Medicaid dollars, as a potential organizing opportunity.”

The U.S. Supreme Court addressed the issue to an extent during the 2014 case, Harris v. Quinn. The justices ruled that Illinois home care providers couldn’t be forced to pay dues because they weren’t technically state employees. Nelsen argues that unions and state leaders have found ways around those restrictions. “The states and unions have worked hand and glove to design a series of workarounds to the Harris v. Quinn decision, and to keep people paying dues whether they want to or not,” Nelsen said. “There are literally hundreds and thousands of these care providers around the country paying union dues to the SEIU and AFSCME against their will.”

In Minnesota, PCAs have petitioned the government to hold a decertification vote. If it’s held, the largest unionized bargaining unit will be decertified. The vote won’t be close.

When the unionization vote happened for in-home child care providers, it was rejected by a 1,014-392 margin. There’s no reason to think this vote won’t be similarly lopsided.