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I’m predicting that the Democrats’ campaign that focuses on criticizing the Trump/GOP tax cuts is on its last legs. This article doesn’t do anything to change my opinion of that. Tuesday night on Shannon Bream’s show, Guy Benson debated Jehmu Greene about the Trump/GOP tax cuts. It wasn’t a fair fight.

Ms. Greene argued that Democrats had lost ground in the generic ballot polling because they didn’t stay on offense. That’s a foolish argument. Benson picked up on that immediately, saying that “Democrats don’t have a messaging problem. They’ve got a reality problem.” That’s what I’ve been saying on LFR since the tax cuts passed. I’ll question whether this is entirely a Nancy Pelosi problem, though. At this point, that’s true. This fall, though, Nancy Pelosi will just be the icing on a very right, tasty chocolate cake. The ‘cake’ itself is that the Democrats voted unanimously against the Trump/GOP tax cuts.

When Pelosi infamously referred to the bonuses as “crumbs”, didn’t everyone notice that Democrats immediately distanced themselves from Pelosi? Here’s the perfect illustration of the difference between crumbs and $1000 bonuses:

During the Benson-Greene debate, moderator Shannon Bream said that there’s sure to be lots of ebbs and flows left in this race. That’s true. What’s equally true is that the last month of the campaign is utterly predictable. Republicans will run ads nonstop highlighting the fact that every Democrat voted against the tax cuts. Imagine the narrator stating “Democrats voted against pay raises, big bonuses and better benefits” before switching to a middle class couple thanking Republicans for voting for the tax cuts before explaining how his bonus let them start saving for their daughter’s college education and how her raise is helping pay for a summer vacation. The ad would be finished by the GOP candidate saying “My opponent voted against you keeping more of your hard-earned money. I will fight for you, not the special interests.”

The reality is that Democrats are facing a difficult endgame situation. Like Benson said, the Democrats made their bed. Now they can sleep in it.

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?

Yesterday, I wrote this post, which I titled “SCSU: flunking the basics?” One of the categories I included was financial management. In that section, I talked about specific examples of financial mismanagement. While relaxing Sunday, I remembered an oldie but goodie that I’d omitted. Specifically, I’d forgotten about the Masters Degree St. Cloud State offered for a while. I wrote about it in this post in 2011.

I opened the post with a quote ‘explaining’ why Aviation had to be shut down. At the time, President Potter said that “We have very fine students in a very strong program we can no longer afford.” I found that to be more than a little dishonest. I replied to that quote by noting that the salaries for the professors for the Masters Degree in Social Responsibility was $1,218,000 whereas the salaries of the professors for Aviation was less than $300,000.

Why would the University spend that much money in salaries for a marginal (at best) victimology degree when they could’ve used that money to expand the Aviation program to include drone training? Graduates from drone training get hired almost immediately after graduation to salaries starting at $50,000 a year.

MnSCU is partially to blame for this. Specifically, former Chancellor Rosenstone is partially to blame. Several years ago, he said that he’d consider reinstating Aviation if President Potter asked for it to be reinstated. That’s a classic dodge. It was his way of not leading. Devinder Malhotra, currently the interim chancellor of ‘Minnesota State’, aka MnSCU, refuses to lead, too. The chancellors both deserve a D- grade because they haven’t lead and they haven’t solved MnSCU’s problems.

St. Cloud’s community leaders have been apathetic at best. Various leaders have praised the University for being more involved in the community. That’s fair. Unfortunately, they’ve been silent about the University’s inability to produce a well-trained workforce. The chief responsibility of SCSU isn’t to be involved in the community. SCSU’s chief responsibility is to train St. Cloud’s workforce of the future. Considering what Dick Andzenge wrote in his monthly column, there’s no way they’re meeting that responsibility. Here’s what Andzenge wrote:

My granddaughter is a college-bound senior in one of the area high schools. Since last year, she has received weekly solicitations in the form of email, fliers and postcards from universities and colleges from several universities in Michigan, Wisconsin, North Dakota, Montana, South Dakota, other universities in Minnesota, and New York. Some offer her special status consideration and include routine updates of events at the university. I asked her if she and her friends have received such solicitations from St. Cloud State University. She said she has not received anything and does not know of her classmates who did.

It’s one thing to lose a competition with another school. There’s no shame in that. Losing without a stiff fight for local students, though, that’s unacceptable.

Similarly, it’s one thing to praise the University for its civic involvement. It’s inexcusable to sit silent for years while the University doesn’t meet its primary responsibility. This pertains equally to the politicians, too. That isn’t to say that they’ve done nothing. It’s fair to say, though, that they haven’t done enough or that they haven’t been effective in changing SCSU’s direction.

Apathy and ineffectiveness are hurting SCSU. That must end ASAP.

Finally, too many of the faculty at St. Cloud State have operated in a ‘what’s in it for me’ attitude for years. Too many of them have played politics to establish cushy little do-nothing jobs. It’s time for the University to either get rid of that dead weight or to force them to teach classes. It’s time to declare ‘no more free lunches’ at taxpayers’ expense.

Towards the end of Dick Andzenge’s monthly column, Professor Andzenge wrote “My granddaughter is a college-bound senior in one of the area high schools. Since last year, she has received weekly solicitations in the form of email, fliers and postcards from universities and colleges from several universities in Michigan, Wisconsin, North Dakota, Montana, South Dakota, other universities in Minnesota, and New York. Some offer her special status consideration and include routine updates of events at the university. I asked her if she and her friends have received such solicitations from St. Cloud State University. She said she has not received anything and does not know of her classmates who did.”

Earlier in Andzenge’s column, he wrote “Regional comprehensive universities, such as St. Cloud State, have the clear purpose of serving university-bound high school graduates from the region in which they are located. High school students enrolling at the university do not commit to staying at the university. In fact, many of them do not. They do not pay regular tuition and therefore cannot be the solution. The expectation of transferred students from two-year colleges is also not a solution.”

This is appalling. St. Cloud State is in the midst of an eight year enrollment decline but they can’t be bothered to send a simple email to prospective college-bound high school seniors pitching their campus as a place to get an education? Why wouldn’t the University have someone tasked with talking with every high school junior or senior within a 75-mile radius of the University? Especially for a university in St. Cloud State’s predicament, isn’t this a display of utter incompetence? If it isn’t, why isn’t it?

There’s no question that President Potter’s death stunned the campus community. Still, shouldn’t the community ask what was being done in the most important functions of the University? It’s fair to say that the primary function of a university is to provide a great learning experience. What grade has the University earned in this respect? One of the worst-kept secrets in town is that some types of businesses won’t even interview a recent SCSU graduate. This isn’t true of all of the University programs. Still, it happens often enough to warrant concern.

Another important responsibility of universities is to make sound financial decisions. On this front, there’s more than sufficient evidence to conclude that SCSU has failed this responsibility. The highest-profile example of financial incompetence is the University’s lease with the Wedum Foundation. That lease has cost SCSU approximately $10,000,000 since it opened. That’s just the checks that the University sent to the Foundation. That isn’t counting the lost dorm revenue.

Another financial boondoggle was paying the City of St. Cloud $240,000 per year for 3 police officers who didn’t police the campus. The original contract was for 3 years. The sad news is that that contract was extended. It’s incomprehensible that a university that’s experiencing enrollment declines and that’s sending $1,000,000 checks each year to a foundation for rooms not getting rented would then spend $250,000 a year for something that the city is responsible for. I wouldn’t agree to that policing arrangement if the University was flush with money, much less when it’s running multi-million dollar annual deficits.

That’s before the one-time expense of rebranding. SCSU spent almost $450,000 on that project. (I still get a kick out of the fact that EMG opaquely said that LFR was responsible for the University’s negative image.) Five years later, it’s apparent that the reason why the University has a negative image is because it isn’t being run properly from a financial standpoint.

That’s before the $50,000 Great Place to Work Institute boondoggle.

As of this morning, the University is paying a professor not to teach. Instead, he’s being paid to do union work and be a political activist in the community. That’s been going on at least 3 years at $70,000/yr.

As for the community and the politicians, they’ve been invisible for the most part. Zach Dorholt was the vice-chair of the House Higher Ed Committee. He did nothing. This year’s DFL candidate, Dan Wolgamott, has talked a big game about “bringing people together.” Thus far, he hasn’t said anything about the crisis. As a real estate agent, he’s seen the drain of wealth from St. Cloud. Why hasn’t he done anything to turn SCSU around?

For that matter, why hasn’t the business community stepped forward and insisted that the University become relevant again? It isn’t like their workforce needs are being met. It isn’t like businesses are racing to buy land to build ‘value-added’ companies. When was the last time that St. Cloud built a new factory?

I’ve said this before but I’ll repeat it here. SCSU needs a turnaround artist with leadership skills. They haven’t had that in years. That shortcoming needs to stop ASAP.

After reading this email, there’s little doubt that Sartell High School’s principal, Brenda Steve, engaged in political activism on the public’s time:

From: Brenda Steve
Date: Sat, Feb 10, 2018 at 1:01 PM
Subject: Message from Gender Equality Club

Hello Sabres! This year, for International Women’s Day, Gender Equality Club is selling shirts to fundraise for Planned Parenthood! All of the proceeds will be directly donated to the charity to protect the healthcare rights of women locally and around the globe. On March 8th, Women’s Day, everyone is encouraged to wear their shirt in celebration! Thank you!

Shirts can be purchased via this link. Feel free to share the link, too! Additional donations are welcome :)

Again, thank you!
GEC Presidents Monte Belmont & Belle LeBlanc

Here are email links to school officials:

Sartell HS Principal Brenda Steve: steve@SARTELL.K12.MN.US

Sartell Schools Superintendent Jeff Schwiebert: Jeff.Schwiebert@SARTELL.K12.MN.US

Link to contact the school board:

This is political activism. If it was nonpartisan, both pro-life and pro-choice organizations would have been listed. Further, Principal Steve would have listed the community health care clinics created through the ACA.

Taxpayers shouldn’t pay for political activism. If Sartell High School’s principal wants to be involved, that’s the principal’s right. That’s only if it isn’t taking time away from her official responsibilities.

When President Potter’s legacy solidifies, one of his biggest failures will be closing the Aviation program. This article, written years after the fact, verifies the foolishness of that decision.

The article starts by talking about a major problem, saying “As baby boomers gear up for retirement it has left the aviation industry struggling to replace positions quickly. Boeing, for example, is estimating that over the next 20 years, North America will need about 117,000 more pilots.” Next, it talks about a possible solution to this major problem, saying “Most recently, Rochester Community and Technical College announced they are looking at starting an Aviation Pilot Education Program. If the program is approved, the college says it will be designed for students to get an associate’s degree in aviation and then transfer to Minnesota State University, Mankato to finish their bachelor’s degree. Here in St. Cloud, St. Cloud State University discontinued their aviation program in 2011. The last students graduated from the program in 2014. As for the future, St. Cloud State says they are not considering bringing back the program leaving just one option for Central Minnesota students who wish to soar the sky, Wright Aero.”

Shutting down the Aviation program was stupid, both in the long- and short-term. The Aviation program was one of St. Cloud State’s anchor programs but it didn’t fit President Potter’s or Dean DeGroote’s blueprint for the future. The question isn’t whether shutting the program down was the right thing to do. The question is why the leadership team isn’t considering re-instating a successful program.

As I wrote back then, the program had a significant following. Also, the University’s costs associated with it were minimal. The simulator, for instance, was bought with student fees. When Aviation shut down, the flight simulator was sold; the cash went into the University’s general fund. (In light of the University’s ongoing financial difficulties, that isn’t surprising.)

Before the St. Cloud State University program was discontinued, on average Mavencamp says about 200 students were learning through Wright Aero. If a program through either institution was to start up again, Mavencamp thinks it would take about 5-10 years to get it to the successful point of the former St. Cloud State program.

I don’t doubt Mavencamp’s figures if the program were to be rebuilt to what it used to be. That being said, it would be foolish to not expand the Aviation program to include drone training and aerial firefighting. Those disciplines are growing new opportunities. With St. Cloud State’s declining enrollments and chronic deficits, why shouldn’t the program be re-opened and expanded?

The job opportunities in both those new disciplines are high, with jobs being virtually guaranteed upon graduation. I’ll ask the previously unasked question: why was the Aviation program shut down? Apparently, the people in charge were allergic to success.

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Listening to Democrats, you’d think that Devin Nunes was the devil himself. House Democrats insist that the Nunes Memo is a political document, not an intelligence document. Rep. Schiff will have difficulty selling that story in light of the criminal referral by Sen. Grassley and Sen. Graham.

Their referral “[appears] to back up [Chairman Nunes] claims, though, in a criminal referral sent in early January to FBI Director Christopher Wray and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein. The surveillance applications, they said, ‘relied heavily on Mr. Steele’s dossier claims.'” Sen. Grassley’s and Sen. Graham’s referral states that the application also didn’t admit that “the identities of Mr. Simpson’s ultimate clients were the Clinton campaign and the DNC.”

Mr. Schiff has spent his time telling everyone that Devin Nunes is a hyper-conservative. He’s been somewhat effective in making that stick. Convincing people that Sen. Grassley is a bitterly partisan person will be quite a bit more difficult to prove. Check out this timeline:

Now that additional credible people have stepped forward as being on the case, Counsel Mueller has to know that his work will be scrutinized. I like the thought of investigating the investigators. Nobody is beyond scrutiny.

This editorial opens by saying what Minnesotans who’ve had to deal with renewing license tabs, transferring vehicle titles or get new license plates have said. The editorial states “There’s no question the development and rollout of a new computer system for the state’s licensing offices has been a disaster.”

What it didn’t say is that this disaster is the fault of the Party of Government; it didn’t say that it’s the DFL’s fault. It didn’t say that the Party of Government, aka the DFL, doesn’t know how to fix the mess. Instead, the Editorial Board of the Mankato Free Press said “Last week state officials laid out a road map to fix the MNLARS system at a cost of another $43 million. The report comes from Dana Bailey, who was tapped by Gov. Mark Dayton late last year to come in and find a fix for the system. Bailey worked with state IT staff and traveled the state talking to officials at license bureaus.”

Later, the Mankato Free Press said “The Republican-controlled Legislature must approve the appropriation. The GOP, along with plenty of DFLers, have lambasted state agency officials and Dayton for the bungled MNLARS system. That criticism is justified.”

Actually, Republicans shouldn’t appropriate money for a “road map” with little chance of success. The MFP is right in that the system must be fixed. What needs to be done is to turn this project over to competent people. Taxpayers are getting overcharged for mediocre (or worse) performance. Spending more money on incompetent people is insanity. (The definition of insanity is doing the same thing again and again and expecting different results.)

This collection of incompetents have gotten things wrong for 8 years. We’ve already spent $93,000,000 on this disaster. Why should we think that these idiots will fix things in a timely fashion? The point is that the private sector does this stuff all the time at a much cheaper price and in a much shorter time period.

I understand that reactionary liberals will scream at the thought of privatization. That’s fine. It’s time to start demanding accountability and professionalism. The days of accepting DFL incompetence, then paying extra for that incompetence, needs to stop. Immediately. DFL incompetence already cost us too much.

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I won’t pretend to be a lawyer. I didn’t even go to law school. I certainly have never stood before a judge in a FISA court. That isn’t needed for this article, though. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to know that a man applying for a FISA warrant when the chief ‘witness’ is a political operative who’s spent months digging up dirt on a presidential candidate.

That’s what Jim Comey did. Now he’s pretending like he’s the man integrity. He’s a warped individual. Unfortunately, he isn’t a man of integrity anymore. I remember when he tweeted “All should appreciate the FBI speaking up. I wish more of our leaders would. But take heart: American history shows that, in the long run, weasels and liars never hold the field, so long as good people stand up. Not a lot of schools or streets named for Joe McCarthy.” Here’s a question for Comey that also applies to Adam Schiff: how many schools and streets are named for FBI directors that withhold relevant witness information from a FISA court?

Jonathan Turley put things in perspective when he said this:

Let’s put this one in perspective. The memo concerns allegations that Comey signed off on multiple secret court applications to put a Trump aide under surveillance. It appears that Comey and his staff never told the court that the infamous “dossier” by Fusion GPS was paid for in significant part by the Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee. It was never revealed that the author of the dossier had told the FBI that he was “desperate” to prevent Trump from being president or that he had shopped the story with various reporters, who could not verify its contents.

Does Comey think that information is irrelevant? Does Mr. Schiff think that’s irrelevant? If they think that, then that’s proof that neither man has the integrity required for the job they currently hold or that they once held.

As I said in my opening, I’m not a lawyer. I’m willing, though, to say that Comey’s omissions are worthy of investigation.