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After signing a bill into law that contributed to Eric Dean’s death, Gov. Dayton “took a series of executive actions” to protect children from abuse:

Governor Mark Dayton today took a series of executive actions to protect children in Minnesota from the threat of abuse and neglect. These efforts include both immediate changes to the child protection system, and the establishment of a new Governor’s Task Force on the Protection of Children. The Task Force, appointed by the Governor, will make specific recommendations for comprehensive improvements to the child protection system in the upcoming 2015 Legislative Session.

Unfortunately, Gov. Dayton’s actions come after he signed a bill into law that contributed to this situation.

Legislators want to change bill they voted for, saying they didn’t know it would restrict past abuse reports. The state’s top child protection official wants to scrap a law her agency helped pass four months ago that made it more difficult for social workers to investigate maltreatment cases.

In May, the Legislature overwhelmingly approved a bill that forbids county child protection agencies from considering past abuse reports that were rejected when deciding whether to investigate a new report.

In the wake of the Star Tribune story on Aug. 31 about the death of 4-year-old Eric Dean, some of those same legislators say they did not realize what they had voted for, and now are calling for a law that will require agencies to consider all prior abuse reports.

Dean’s death was a preventable tragedy.

Erin Sullivan Sutton, the assistant commissioner for children and family services for the Department of Human Services, said the law passed in May codified what had already been common practice for years.

Sullivan Sutton said DHS was concerned that allowing agencies to use prior maltreatment reports would increase the economic and racial disparities already prevalent in the child protection system. Sen. Jeff Hayden, DFL-Minneapolis, who sponsored the Senate version of the DHS bill, said he did not want child protection workers to confuse poverty with neglect. However, he said, the law was not intended to discourage those workers from identifying patterns of abuse.

Sen. Hayden should’ve taken more time in putting this legislation together. He should’ve read through the bill to see whether there were unintended consequences hidden in the bill.

Sen. Hayden should be criticized for submitting sloppy legislation. Gov. Dayton should be criticized for signing sloppily-written legislation. Gov. Dayton should also be criticized for acting like he’s the man in charge who’s going to clean up others’ messes when the truth is that he’s cleaning up the mess created by the DFL legislature and his administration.

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The Strib’s article about a nonprofit’s reckless spending is worthy of multiple posts because this isn’t the first time the NPO has gotten caught:

This is not the first time that an audit has found issues with Community Action’s spending. A 2012 audit by the state’s legislative auditor singled out $1.35 million given to households that were not eligible for emergency benefits. Community Action paid a $100,000 fine to the federal government.

You’d think that the Dayton administration would pay additional attention to this NPO after they were fined for misappropriation of funds. It’s pretty apparent that the Dayton administration didn’t pay the requisite attention to this NPO. Unfortunately, that isn’t surprising. This administration is the Asleep-at-the-Switch administration when it comes to tracking the details.

Gov. Dayton has a substantial history of not knowing important things. He didn’t know that the tax bill he personally negotiated included a sales tax on farm equipment repairs. He didn’t find that out until right before talking at FarmFest. He didn’t know that the Vikings stadium bill that he personally negotiated included a provision that allows the Vikings to sell personal seat licenses, aka PSLs, to season ticket holders.

Gov. Dayton is taking credit for lots of things that aren’t accomplishments, starting with the low unemployment rate. It isn’t that high unemployment is a positive thing. It’s that far too many people in those jobs reports have part-time jobs or are working in jobs that they’re overqualified for. The headline is nice but families need sustained economic growth that produces full-time jobs with good pay, not headlines.

No matter how much concern the DFL, starting with Gov. Dayton, express about Community Action’s mismanagement and the betrayal of the public’s trust, the DFL, starting with Gov. Dayton, can’t hide the fact that they aren’t interested in being watchdogs of the taxpayers’ money.

The inescapable truth is that government has tons of slop in it that the DFL hasn’t paid attention to. The inescapable truth is that Minnesota’s unemployment rate is the only positive in an otherwise mediocre economy.

Gov. Dayton and the DFL haven’t grown the economy. Gov. Dayton and the DFL haven’t paid enough attention to whether the taxpayers’ money is spent wisely or foolishly. Finally, they’ve supported a fatally flawed health insurance system.

In 2012, the board also approved a $17,624 bonus to Davis, three times the amount allowed by state guidelines, according to the audit. Davis made $273,060 in salary, bonuses and deferred compensation in 2011, according to the most recent tax records.

It’s time we hired a governor with a lengthy history of highlighting, then eliminating, foolish and disrespectful spending. That’s Jeff Johnson’s history, not Gov. Dayton’s.

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This Star Tribune article isn’t stunning from the perspective that people generally don’t worry how they spend other people’s money. It’s startling from the perspective that Gov. Dayton didn’t have a clue about this. First, here’s what the Star Tribune is reporting:

Leaders of a Minneapolis nonprofit that serves low-income residents used taxpayer money to pay for a celebrity cruise and trips to Palm Beach and the Bahamas, according to a recently completed state audit.

Along with the trips, the audit by the state Department of Human Services found that the nonprofit’s leaders spent public money on bonuses, golf, spa treatments, furniture, alcohol and even a personal car loan.

The audit concluded that the organization’s longtime chief executive, Bill Davis, misspent hundreds of thousands of dollars from 2011 to 2013.

I’m not a prosecutor but I’ve got to think that it’s illegal to use taxpayer money to make payments on a personal car loan. It isn’t that I think that the other things listed are good governance. It’s just that I think there might be a semi-plausible explanation for some of the things listed. This part jumps off the page at me:

Davis said his group, Community Action of Minneapolis, sent the state 112 pages of information in early September challenging some of the audit’s findings. He said in an interview that information has been “totally ignored” in the final report.

“I’ve been here for 24 years,” Davis said. “I’m well aware of my responsibilities. I wouldn’t be elected to national boards if I was doing things I shouldn’t be doing.”

Let’s look at that last statement about being “elected to national boards” if he was doing things he shouldn’t have been doing. Of course he would. That wouldn’t matter to people swimming in the same cesspool. They’re cronies who think that they’re entitled to the perks. In this instance, Mr. Davis went too far.

This part is jaw-dropping stunning:

Auditors blamed Community Action’s board, which includes several well-known politicians and community leaders, for a lack of oversight and for personally benefiting from $34,892 worth of activities that “do not appear to serve a business purpose, and are considered waste and abuse as defined in state policy.”

Those activities included two weekend trips, between 2011 and 2013, to Arrowwood Resort in Alexandria, where board members and senior management spent $9,000 for lodging, $3,200 for food and $900 for spas.

Davis defended the trips as a “small gesture on our part to offer them a moment of relaxation or entertainment. It’s not like we do this every single week of the year.”

Spending $13,100 isn’t a “small gesture on our part.” That’s spending lavishly and/or extravagantly. Other than identifying that fact, I’d like to know what Community Action of Minneapolis’s employees did to justify this lavish spending.

Our taxes are paying for a significant portion of Community Action’s budget:

Community Action had an $11 million budget in fiscal year 2011, with over half of its revenue coming from government grants. The audit’s findings put Community Action at risk of losing at least $2.8 million in aid.

Initially, Mark Dayton responded to Jeff Johnson’s call for an extensive audit of NPOs by saying “The decades-old accusation that Minnesota government recklessly wastes money on people who are poor, sick, or elderly is unfair and unfounded.” Now that the facts are out, Gov. Dayton is singing a different tune:

Gov. Mark Dayton on Monday said that a Star Tribune report of a nonprofit using state funds to subsidize cruises, a director’s car lease and spa treatments was very concerning and alarming. “I was personally really appalled,” Dayton said. “I take it very seriously.”

Now that it’s been proven that Community Action of Minneapolis spent taxpayers’ money foolishly, Gov. Dayton is backtracking. Fast. We don’t need a governor who takes things seriously after the fact. What’s needed is someone who takes steps to prevent it from happening in the first place.

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On a trip to Albert Lea this weekend, GOP Senate candidate Mike McFadden called Obamacare “a train that continues to wreck“:

“The biggest lie of all from the president and Sen. Franken is that this would make health care more affordable,” McFadden said.

With this week’s announcement that provider PreferredOne will depart from MNsure, he said costs are only expected to rise even more. He said Preferred One provided 60 percent of the premiums for MNsure. “This is not the Affordable Care Act,” McFadden said. “This is the Unaffordable Care Act.”

The DFL will cite people who now have insurance thanks to Obamacare. The reality is that many of those people were eligible for taxpayer-subsidized coverage but didn’t sign up for it. In 2012, 93% of Minnesotans were insured. Of those that weren’t, over 50% of them were eligible for taxpayer-subsidized health insurance. That means 96%-96.5% of Minnesotans were insured or eligible for taxpayer-subsidized health insurance.

That’s back in the days before MNsure made it infinitely more difficult to apply for insurance. Let’s remember, too, that PreferredOne didn’t get entirely out of the individual market. They just got out of the individual market that runs through MNsure:

“Our MNsure individual product membership is only a small percentage of the entire PreferredOne enrollment but is taking a significant amount of our resources to support administratively,” a company statement says. “We feel continuing on MNsure was not sustainable and believe this is an important step to best serve all PreferredOne members.”

In other words, MNsure, aka Obamacare in Minnesota, was so totally messed up that PreferredOne said dealing with MNsure wasn’t “administratively and financially sustainable going forward.”

McFadden said he has heard from residents who have seen 50 percent proposed increases in their health insurance premiums for next year and other small business owners who have said they can’t afford the increases.

Unfortunately, these people aren’t alone. Altogether too many of them are getting hit with higher insurance premiums than they got hit with before Obamacare:

This morning, in an exclusive interview with Examiner.com, Plombon went into detail about what’s happening with insurance premiums. What Mr. Plombon said is that some people who get their insurance through the small group market are renewing their policies. Thus far, Advantage 1 has seen these clients’ premiums increase from as ‘little’ as 30% to as much as 106%.

This isn’t a hypothetical situation. It’s a report from a guy who deals with health insurance for a living.

Mike McFadden is right. Obamacare isn’t about affordable care. In Minnesota, it’s easily proven as a significant step backwards.

Thanks for voting for Obamacare, Al.

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If this article is accurate, then the DFL is flirting with another MNsure disaster. Here’s what I’m talking about:

Is your baby married? It’s a ridiculous question. But if you just had a baby and went to MNsure to update your family status, the health exchange website may ask you anyway.

Agents wouldn’t ask this question because they know better. Thanks to the MNsure world of assinine questions and unreliable manual workarounds, parents will get annoyed when they’re asked this question. If only that was MNsure’s only problem. But I digress. Back to MNsure’s failures:

One example: It used to take five minutes to add a baby to a plan under Medical Assistance, Minnesota’s version of Medicaid, but now that Medical Assistance runs through MNsure it takes about 45 minutes and “you have to say whether or not a baby is married,” said Dakota County director of employment and economic assistance Marti Fischbach, who helps clients sign up for plans.

This isn’t gossip. It’s a quote from someone who works with MNsure on a daily basis. Based on this quote, it sounds like the question gets asked of each parent changing their status. This is understatement:

MNsure Chief Operating Officer Katie Burns on Wednesday admitted there are still major problems with entering life event changes. Much of the work is not automated and data must be entered manually, she told the MNsure board. “It’s much more cumbersome right now than ideally it needs to be over the longer term,” she said.

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This morning’s startling news that PreferredOne dropped out of MNsure is the latest in a lengthy litany of problems MNsure has dealt with since its rollout. First, there were the mismanagement issues that State Sen. Michelle Benson highlighted. Then there was Jim Nobles’ announcement that the Office of Legislative Auditor would audit MNsure. After that, WCCO’s Pat Kessler reported that MNsure executives lied to him.

Like I said, it’s a lengthy list of problems. Unfortunately for Minnesotans, that lengthy list isn’t even close to being a comprehensive list. I could double that list and still not have a comprehensive list of MNsure’s problems. It’s that big of a disaster.

This afternoon, the St. Cloud Chamber of Commerce held a candidate forum. Zach Dorholt put his foot in his mouth when he said “This is a huge change. You can’t have change without anxiety.”

Rep. Dorholt, these aren’t growing pains. They’re ongoing problems that can’t be fixed in the next couple years. This isn’t a bump in the road. They’re a Humvee-sized pothole. In fact, they’re a Humvee-sized pothole that you voted to create.

Thanks to the misadministration of MNsure, PreferredOne is pulling out of MNsure. Since PreferredOne had the lowest premiums in MNsure, that likely means the price increase in health insurance premiums will likely go up much higher than before PreferredOne’s announcement.

Gov. Dayton and the DFL, Rep. Dorholt included, owns this disaster. Every vote for final passage of the bill creating MNsure came from Democrats. Republicans refused to vote for it because they knew it’d be an unmitigated disaster.

The website still isn’t working. Health insurance premiums are going up. Provider networks are getting smaller. Things that once took minutes now take months to do. That’s what an unmitigated disaster looks like.

Finally, now that one health insurance provider has dropped out of MNsure, it’s more likely that another provider will follow PreferredOne’s path. PreferredOne essentially said that they can’t make money through MNsure. Why wouldn’t others follow PreferredOne’s lead?

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Mark Dayton’s explanation for why PreferredOne is leaving MNsure is stunning:

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

Gov. Dayton either doesn’t understand free market capitalism or he’s doing his best to hide the fact that MNsure is a failure. The other possibility is that he’s hiding the fact that MNsure is a failure and he doesn’t understand free market capitalism.

PreferredOne’s decision was based on MNsure’s problems:

“PreferredOne Spokesman Steve Peterson tells Hauser this is “purely a business decision.” He says the company decided continuing to offer insurance through MNsure is “not administratively and financially sustainable going forward.”

“Our MNsure individual product membership is only a small percentage of the entire PreferredOne enrollment but is taking a significant amount of our resources to support administratively,” a company statement says.

Competition didn’t drive PreferredOne from the market. MNsure’s administrative requirements drove PreferredOne’s decision. PreferredOne’s decision was also driven by the fact that government regulations made it virtually impossible for them to make a profit. Why would a company volunteer to do tons of work and not get paid for that work?

Dayton says the company gained market share due to its low rates.

PreferredOne dropped out because it’s impossible to continue to offer those low rates. That means rates will increase this fall.

When it comes to public embarassments, Mark Dayton wrote the book on the subject. Now he’s calling Adrian Peterson’s behavior embarassing:

It is an awful situation. Yes, Mr. Peterson is entitled to due process and should be “innocent until proven guilty.” However, he is a public figure; and his actions, as described, are a public embarrassment to the Vikings organization and the State of Minnesota. Whipping a child to the extent of visible wounds, as has been alleged, should not be tolerated in our state. Therefore, I believe the team should suspend Mr. Peterson, until the accusations of child abuse have been resolved by the criminal justice system.

However, I will not turn my back on the Vikings and their fans, as some have suggested. The Vikings belong to Minnesota – and in Minnesota. This has been the team’s only home; and our citizens, including myself, have been its most dedicated fans.

Like many of his worst moments, Gov. Dayton’s statement will give thoughtful people intellectual whiplash. First, he says that Adrian Peterson is entitled to due process and “should be ‘innocent until proven guilty.'” Next, Gov. Dayton said that the Vikings should suspend him until he’s had his day in court.

That doesn’t make sense. What happens if Peterson is found guilty? At that point, the NFL has the right, under its personal conduct policy, to tack on an additional suspension. That additional suspension might be indefinite, meaning Adrian Peterson will have been suspended twice for a single offense.

Actually, that might not be legal because of the collective bargaining agreement between the NFL and the NFL Players’ Association. If that’s the case, Gov. Dayton might’ve just told the Vikings to ignore the collective bargaining agreement between the players and the owners.

I don’t doubt that Mark Dayton will react by saying that he didn’t know about the particulars of the NFL-NFLPA collective bargaining agreement. That’s shameful. This was a prepared statement. His staff should’ve done their research. They should’ve known about this provision in the NFL-NFLPA CBA.

The governor of a state should known what he’s talking about. Unfortunately, Gov. Dayton hasn’t done what smart governors have done. He’s shot his mouth off for political purposes, only to have to walk his statements back.

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This article will certainly impact the governor’s race in addition to impacting health insurance prices and health care networks:

Golden Valley-based PreferredOne Health Insurance just notified MNsure and the Minnesota Department of Commerce of their decision through a letter. Sources tell KSTP’s Tom Hauser that MNsure CEO Scott Leitz was notified by phone Tuesday morning.

PreferredOne Spokesman Steve Peterson tells Hauser this is “purely a business decision.” He says the company decided continuing to offer insurance through MNsure is “not administratively and financially sustainable going forward.”

“Our MNsure individual product membership is only a small percentage of the entire PreferredOne enrollment but is taking a significant amount of our resources to support administratively,” a company statement says. “We feel continuing on MNsure was not sustainable and believe this is an important step to best serve all PreferredOne members.”

That’s just the tip of the iceberg. This is damning information, too:

The company also says MNsure was unable to effectively verify information submitted by enrollees, but insurance companies are still required to accept and enroll them. As a result, the company ended up with enrollees who don’t even live in Minnesota in some cases.

That’s damning because it says MNsure still can’t provide health insurance companies verified information. That says MNsure is still winging it.

That’s a damning indictment against Gov. Dayton, the DFL and MNsure. This was supposed to be Gov. Dayton’s signature accomplishment. This morning’s news is turning MNsure into Gov. Dayton’s biggest failure. MNsure’s latest calamity is an indictment against the DFL legislature, too. They bought into Obamacare lock, stock and barrel because their ideology told them this was a great idea.

PreferredOne disagrees with Gov. Dayton’s and the DFL legislature’s decision. Apparently, MNsure is, in PreferredOne’s opinion, a disaster waiting to happen.

As of Aug. 6, Preferred One had 59 percent of the individual market MNsure enrollees. Blue Cross Blue Shield was a distant second at 23 percent, with HealthPartners, Medica and UCare much further back. Preferred One got such a large share because they had the lowest rates of the five insurance companies in the program.

I can’t wait to hear the DFL spinmeisters attempt to spin this as anything other than a disaster. People chose PreferredOne because their rates were the lowest in MNsure.

It’s possible this could signal big rate increases to be unveiled in early October, and that could have a significant impact on the elections.

PreferredOne didn’t get 59% of the MNsure health insurance market by having health insurance policies that were a little cheaper than its competitors. It got 60% of the market by being significantly cheaper than its competitors.

This won’t trigger other health insurance companies to lower their rates, which means the average price for a health insurance policy will go up more than originally expected. If that happens, this news has the potential to dramatically change the dynamics of the gubernatorial election and the legislative races. Jeff Johnson’s statement cuts to the heart of the matter:

“This is yet another example of everyday, middle-class Minnesotans paying the price for Mark Dayton’s incompetence. Six out of 10 people who’ve purchased insurance through MNsure will now have to go through the nightmare process of purchasing another plan all over again-thanks to Mark Dayton.

We now know that Mark Dayton’s claim about MNsure having some of the lowest rates in the country was artificial and based on a house of cards.

Nobody but Mark Dayton is to blame for this whole debacle. As he always does when his actions hurt Minnesotans, Dayton will try to blame everyone but himself. But he created MNsure and hand-picked its board and staff. This is all on him.”

Actually, I have to correct Jeff on one detail. The MNsure calamity isn’t just Gov. Dayton’s fault. It’s the DFL legislature’s fault, too. Otherwise, everything Jeff Johnson said is right. Potentially, this is Gov. Dayton’s worst nightmare. If health insurance prices spike by 10-15%, which is what’s rumored, Gov. Dayton’s biggest accomplishment will turn into a weighty millstone around his neck.

This has the potential to totally shake up legislative races, too. Almost every DFL legislator voted to create MNsure. If health insurance premiums jump, the DFL will have to take all the blame because Republicans refused to vote for this disaster.

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This ad, paid for by the House DFL Caucus, says that Zach Dorholt is “delivering for St. Cloud and the middle class”:

Like I said in this post, the DFL dances to the tune that Education Minnesota tells them to dance to. Zach Dorholt is no different. Like the rest of his DFL colleagues in the House of Representatives, Zach voted against teacher accountability because that’s what Education Minnesota told them to do. Rather than doing what’s right for Minnesota’s students and parents, Zach Dorholt and the DFL decided they couldn’t risk Education Minnesota pulling their campaign contributions or their Get Out The Vote (GOTV) operations.

When it’s a fight between doing what’s right for parents and students or doing what’s right for Education Minnesota, Zach Dorholt and the DFL will always fight for Education Minnesota.

The best way I can illustrate who the DFL fights for is to ask everyone when the last time was that the DFL picked the people instead of picking one of their special interest allies. Take your time. Do your research. Go through all of the DFL’s votes. That includes Zach Dorholt’s votes. Check out their votes in committee. Check out their votes on the GOP’s amendments to bills.

I’d bet that the DFL sided with the people less than 5% of the time when it was a fight between the people and one of the DFL’s special interest allies.

Let’s take this from the theoretical to the concrete. At their State Convention, did the DFL side with the blue collar workers of the Iron Range or the Twin Cities plutocrats and trust fund babies on mining? Did Dorholt and the DFL side with the women who ran in-home child care businesses or did they side with their friends in the SEIU and AFSCME instead?

The simple answer is that the DFL didn’t side with blue collar miners or the women who run in-home child care businesses. The DFL took the side of their special interest allies. Not once but twice. Unfortunately, those weren’t the only times that Zach Dorholt and the DFL didn’t take the people’s side.

In the spring of 2013, convenience stores lobbied the DFL legislature not to raise the cigarette tax, saying that raising the cigarette tax would hurt convenience stores on the Minnesota borders with North Dakota or Wisconsin. Zach Dorholt and the DFL couldn’t resist the ideological pull. They raised the cigarette tax, which led to Minnesotans driving to North Dakota or Wisconsin to buy their cigarettes.

Thanks to Zach Dorholt’s and the DFL’s decisions, middle class Minnesotans are getting squeezed. Despite significant increases in LGA and school funding, people’s property tax bills are going up. The jobs created during the time when the DFL controlled the entire state government are mostly part-time jobs or they’re low-paying jobs.

The unemployment rate on the Iron Range is 64.3% higher than the statewide average, thanks mostly to policies advocated for by environmental activists.

Zach Dorholt and the DFL are delivering. Unfortunately, they’re delivering for Education Minnesota and their other special interest allies, not for the middle class.

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