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This past Friday, I received an email from the McFadden campaign in which he announced an initiative to reduce spending. Here’s the heart of that email:

There’s a culture among our nation’s professional political class that accepts the fact that our government wastes over $200 billion every year – that’s nearly one-third of last year’s deficit!

Some senators like Al Franken don’t seem to think it’s a big deal. I couldn’t disagree more.

That’s why I announced yesterday that I will release an annual report on wasteful spending as your senator. I’ll go through the budget line-by-line and expose the wasteful projects that are eating up your tax dollars and adding to our deficit. Some say this report will make Washington uncomfortable, and that’s fine with me because I want to get rid of the culture of waste in our Capitol.

I’ve written articles about Sen. Tom Coborn’s Sequester This video series. Follow this link to the first article. This link will take you to the second article. It sounds like Mr. McFadden would fit into the Coborn wing of the Senate quickly. This video explains why Mr. McFadden wants to get spending under control:

While it’s imperative that we eliminate deficits for financial reasons, it’s morally imperative to get the economy growing robustly so families don’t have to live paycheck to paycheck like they’ve been doing the last 5+ years. It’s time to reject the Obama-Franken economic policies. It’s time to embrace pro-growth economic policies that return the U.S. economy to being the envy of the world.

That won’t happen if Sen. Franken is re-elected. He’s proven that he doesn’t know how to get America’s economy growing. Mike McFadden knows how to grow the economy because that’s what he’s done the last 25 years. If you want to grow the economy, hire a businessman. Hiring a comedian to grow the economy is a joke. At least it would be if it wasn’t such a serious matter. But I digress.

The McFadden campaign is highlighting the ways in which he’ll eliminate wasteful spending and how he’ll reduce the scope of the federal government through regulatory relief.

This Strib article certainly can’t help Rick Nolan:

Republicans on Friday slammed Democratic Rep. Rick Nolan for planning a fundraiser with Peter Yarrow, the singer from the 1960s band Peter, Paul and Mary, who admitted in 1970 to having improper relations with a 14-year-old girl.

Rep. Nolan must be totally stupid for planning a fundraiser with this pervert. “Having improper relations with a 14-year-old” is timid language. Mr. Yarrow should still be in prison for statutory rape.

What’s interesting is that Nolan’s campaign didn’t respond to the Strib reporter:

Nolan’s spokeswoman deferred comments to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.

“This is a desperate attempt from Stewart Mills to distract from the fact that he is personally offended when millionaires like himself are asked to pay their fair share,” said Brandon Lorenz, in an emailed statement.

If Rep. Nolan and the DCCC thinks that playing the class warfare card will deflect attention away from Peter Yarrow’s stench, they’re fools. If anyone’s desperate, it’s Nolan’s campaign and the DCCC.

Stewart Mills just was endorsed this weekend. According to people attending Saturday’s convention, Mills gave a great speech. Most importantly, these activists reported, the party’s support for Stewart Mills is enthusiastic. They think they’ve found a great candidate who’s got a fantastic message and who’s got a great fundraising machine.

Something else that’s interesting is what the Strib’s article didn’t include. Here’s part of Yarrow’s Wikipedia file:

In 1970, Yarrow was convicted of, and served three months in prison for, taking “improper liberties” with a 14-year-old girl who went with her 17-year-old sister to Yarrow’s hotel room seeking an autograph.

Why didn’t the Strib include this in their article? Saying that Yarrow admitted that he’d had “improper relations” with a 14-year-old isn’t the same as saying the pervert was convicted of a crime that included a prison sentence.

I’d be suprised if Nolan doesn’t disinvite Yarrow from the fundraiser. If he doesn’t, his political opponents will have a field day with him.
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Back in February of 2007, then-Senate Majority Leader Larry Pogemiller pushed through a $30-a-day increase in per diem payments for senators:

The Senate voted 59-7 to ratify an increase in daily expense allowances from $66 to $96 per senator, a 45 percent boost. The ratification came with a hitch: Those who voted for it automatically get the expense payments, known as per diems. The seven senators who voted against it don’t get it. “You can’t vote ‘no’ and take the dough,” Senate Majority Leader Larry Pogemiller, DFL-Minneapolis, said after the vote.

The seven dissenters, all Republicans, can still collect expense checks. But first, they must tell the Senate fiscal staff how much they will take, and that paperwork will be public. Voting “no” were Sens. Ray Vandeveer, of Forest Lake; Dick Day, of Owatonna; David Hann, of Eden Prairie; Bill Ingebrigtsen, of Alexandria; Amy Koch, of Buffalo; Geoff Michel, of Edina; and Pat Pariseau, of Farmington.

One of the senators that voted for that outrageous increase was Julianne Ortman. According to this article, Sen. Ortman was a busy person that winter:

It’s been a busy and prosperous spring for Sen. Julianne Ortman.

For the past six weeks, Ortman has been working full time in her new $91,000-a-year job as chief financial manager for the office of Hennepin County Sheriff Rich Stanek, a political ally. At the same time, she has been collecting her $31,149-a-year legislative salary and a $96 daily expense allowance while missing some committee hearings and Senate floor sessions.

The dual roles of the Republican from Chanhassen, an assistant leader of the minority caucus, were evident May 11. Ortman was paid by Hennepin County as working on county business from 8 until 10 a.m., while state records show her answering a roll call for the start of the day’s Senate session in St. Paul at 9:20 a.m. A review of county payroll records and Senate documents from April and early May show that Ortman often bounced between her two jobs, at times starting one job just minutes after officially punching out from the other.

According to this search website, the article was first published by the Star Tribune on May 19, 2007. Mark Brunswick and Mike Kaszuba were the reporters. Mssrs. Brunswick and Kaszuba should be praised for their work in piecing this information puzzle together.

It’s bad enough that Sen. Ortman voted for that expensive per diem increase. I said at the time that $66 a day is more than enough, especially when the senators that voted for the per diem increase were getting the per diem 7 days a week from the first day of the session until the last night of the session.

It’s worse knowing that Sen. Ortman was on the clock for the legislature and for Hennepin County at the same time:

In two instances, she missed Senate committee meetings while working for the county, according to the records. Meanwhile, many of her county payroll records show her working long hours, evenings and weekends on days when the Senate was in session.

Sen. Ortman owes taxpayers an explanation for how she worked long hours for Hennepin County at the same time the Senate was also in session. They’d probably like to know how it’s possible to be in two places at the same time.

Obviously, this isn’t a policy difference. However, it’s the type of thing that raises ethical and potentially legal questions about Sen. Ortman.

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According to this email from Corie Beckerman, the director of Student Health Services at St. Cloud State, MnSCU has decided to drop its “domestic student health insurance plan for the 2014-2015 academic year”:

To all SCSU Faculty and Staff:

Minnesota State Colleges and Universities (MnSCU) has decided to no longer offer a domestic student health insurance plan for the 2014-2015 academic year. Due to the requirements of the Affordable Care Act that went into effect January 1, 2014, the cost of insurance for domestic students by our current provider would have increased substantially. There are several insurance coverage options available to students, which include being covered on their parent’s policy until age 26 or purchasing coverage through the Minnesota Health Insurance Exchange (MNsure). A detailed explanation of this MnSCU decision can be found at www.stcloudstate.edu/healthservices.

Resources:

MNsure has numerous resources available on their website for students to help navigate their system as well as address any health insurance questions – www.mnsure.org or toll-free 1-855-366-7873.

For assistance in the in the St. Cloud area, students may contact Mid-Minnesota Legal Aid at projectcare@mylegalaid.org or 1-320-253-0121.

International students will continue to be required to purchase health insurance through the MnSCU sponsored health plan, as in the past, in accordance with MnSCU Board Policy 3.4.1 part 3, subpart B.2.

Thanks

Corie

Corie Beckermann, Director
Student Health Services
St. Cloud State University
720 Fourth Avenue South
St. Cloud, MN 56301-4498

This sentence jumps off the page in importance:

Due to the requirements of the Affordable Care Act that went into effect January 1, 2014, the cost of insurance for domestic students by our current provider would have increased substantially.

This is a stunning admission that the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, aka Obamacare, isn’t affordable. MnSCU is filled with people who support President Obama and Obamacare. This isn’t a decision they made lightly. It’s instructive that MnSCU didn’t make this decision out of spite.

MnSCU made this decision because the ACA, aka Obamacare, is exceptionally expensive.

Last week, President Obama had his “Mission Accomplished” moment in the Rose Garden. The thing he highlighted most was the enrollment numbers. That moment will be fleeting. Most people have forgotten about the enrollment figures. Since that event, the administration has gotten hit with stories like MnSCU cancelling its health insurance program for domestic students and other horror stories.

Kathleen Sebelius must feel like the weight of the world’s been lifted from her shoulders now that she’s resigned. She won’t have to deal with the ACA mess once her replacement is confirmed.

That’s the opposite of Gov. Dayton. This is just another reminder that the ACA is anything but affordable.

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Jeffrey Meitrodt’s article shows how anxious Gov. Dayton and the DFL is to put their mismanagement and inattentiveness behind them:

DFL Rep. Joe Atkins, co-chairman of the oversight committee, said he “prefers to look forward” and not rehash the decisions that brought MNsure to where it is today. He praised the agency for signing up 181,000 customers since Oct. 1, well above its conservative goal of 135,000.

Whether Rep. Atkins prefers looking forward or not, I won’t until I highlight the terrible decisionmaking made by Gov. Dayton and April Todd-Malmlov. I won’t look forward until it’s exposed how disinterested the DFL-dominated MNsure Legislative Oversight Committee was about the systemic mismanagement problems Republicans were highlighting.

I wrote here that Sen. Lourey admitted that the Republicans were asking legitimate questions:

State Sen. Tony Lourey, the DFL co-chair of the oversight panel, said Republicans have “legitimate questions” that deserve to be answered.

It won’t be long before Sen. Lourey gets a call from Gov. Dayton’s enforcer. They can’t afford for him not to be on the same page with Gov. Dayton and Rep. Atkins.

Republican committee members, however, were frustrated with their inability to question administration officials about MNsure’s rollout. Dayton blocked key officials, including Human Services Commissioner Lucinda Jesson, from appearing Wednesday before the panel.

“We can’t improve things if we can’t work together,” Benson said.

Republican members of the panel said they welcomed tough media coverage of MNsure, citing the Star Tribune’s report that revealed Dayton was informed of major problems with MNsure’s website 12 days before the exchange launched. Dayton acknowledged this week that he “misspoke” when he previously said he was unaware of technical problems until November.

Sen. Benson said that she doesn’t think Gov. Dayton lied about his being unaware of MNsure’s difficulties. I disagree. Gov. Dayton didn’t misspeak. He lied about not getting briefed on MNsure’s impending disastrous rollout. Meitrodt’s article provided proof that Gov. Dayton was briefed by April Todd-Malmlov 12 days before MNsure went live.

The only way Gov. Dayton didn’t know about Todd-Malmlov’s brieifing is if he’s got Alzheimers. Since there isn’t any proof of that, it’s safe to say Gov. Dayton lied about MNsure for political/re-election campaign purposes.

Tuesday, Gov. Dayton made a major political mistake. He told legislators of both parties that the architects of MNsure couldn’t testify at an oversight hearing. Then he said that the Republicans’ strategy was a farce. Then Sen. Lourey, one of the co-chairs of the oversight committee, said that Republicans had legitimate questions that should be answered.

Thanks to his foolish tactics, Gov. Dayton’s flailing to regain his political footing. He’s acted like a monarch ruling from his throne. Until this week, Gov. Dayton had a likeability factor. Thanks to his imperious actions, he isn’t as likeable.

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It’s been a topsy turvy day in Minnesota’s 6th Congressional District, After reading Commissioner Sivarajah’s statement announcing her intent to run in the GOP primary, I’m left wondering if she hasn’t already admitted she can’t win the primary. Here’s what she said that makes me question her:

“We are told we need to broaden the base of the Republican Party and a primary will help accomplish that,” she observed. “I am eager to take my record of achievement to the voters of Sixth Congressional District which will allow all voters–Republicans, Independents and Conservative Democrats, to have a say in who they think will best represent them.”

There aren’t many conservative Democrats or independents that’ll vote in this August’s GOP primary. Politically speaking, Tom Emmer’s support is a mile wide and a mile deep. They’ve passionately supported him since he ran for governor. Their enthusiasm for him hasn’t dipped since 2010.

I wrote in this post that “activists will show up en masse for the primary, too, possibly in record numbers to send the message to Sivarajah and Krinkie” that they enthusiastically support Tom Emmer.

“Voters are hungry for an accomplished conservative candidate,” she said. “My record of cutting taxes and reducing the size of government is unmatched by any other candidate in the race. People want results, not rhetoric.”

That’s been Commissioner Sivarajah’s battle cry since getting into the race. It didn’t sell during the precinct caucuses and it didn’t sell during the BPOU conventions. Even Commissioner Sivarajah admitted that Tom Emmer will win a first ballot endorsement victory.

What activists know, however, is that Tom Emmer didn’t have a prayer of cutting taxes because the DFL was the majority party in the Senate. Cutting taxes with a conservative majority is considerably easier than cutting taxes with an intransigent, obstructionist DFL majority in the Senate.

“I don’t fear the voters,” Sivarajah concluded. “People are not swayed by inevitability; I want to earn their vote. I am confident I will do so.”

That last paragraph of Commissioner Sivarajah’s statement makes me question whether she’s serious. She’s an experienced candidate so she knows how to count votes. Commissioner Sivarajah knows she lost the CD-6 Straw Poll by 50 points. Even before Wednesday’s announcement, Commissioner Sivarajah knew she was heading for a first ballot defeat at the CD-6 Convention.

That’s before factoring in her pathetic fundraising totals the last 2 quarters and Emmer’s significant name ID advantage. If independents and Democrats don’t turn out to vote for Sivarajah in historic numbers, Commissioner Sivarajah will lose the primary by 30-35 points. It won’t be that close.

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According to Mark Sommerhauser’s article, Phil Krinkie and Rhonda Sivarajah are taking the gluttons-for-punishment path:

Anoka County Board chair Rhonda Sivarajah will take her campaign to a GOP primary election, she confirmed Wednesday in an interview with the Times.

The 6th District seat is being vacated by Rep. Michele Bachmann, who isn’t seeking a fifth term. Republicans are set to endorse a successor at a convention Saturday in Monticello.

The other 6th District GOP candidate, former state Rep. Phil Krinkie, said Wednesday that he won’t attend Saturday’s convention or seek the party’s endorsement. Krinkie also said for the first time that he’s mulling a third-party run for Congress, but said he still sees a Republican primary run as his most likely path forward.

Both Sivarajah and Krinkie have left open the possibility of running in a primary. Only Emmer has said he’ll abide by the GOP endorsement.

Sivarajah finished a distant second in the CD-6 Straw Poll, with Krinkie finishing far behind Sivarajah:

6th District Congress (97% Reporting):

Tom Emmer with 67.7%, Rhonda Sivarajah with 17.7%, Phil Krinkie with 10.1%

If Commissioner Sivarajah and Rep. Krinkie want to run in the primary, that’s their option. I just question their judgment. They don’t have a chance of winning. With an August primary, most of the turnout for the primary will be the dedicated activists that showed up for the precinct caucuses on a snowy Tuesday night this past February. These activists will show up en masse for the primary, too, possibly in record numbers to send the message to Sivarajah and Krinkie that their political careers are history.

That’s before factoring in Tom Emmer’s 100% name recognition, the fact that he handily carried CD-6 in 2010 when he ran for governor and the fact that he’s got an overwhelming cash-on-hand advantage.

If Krinkie runs as the Independence Party’s endorsed candidate, the backlash against him will be overwhelming. If he runs as a third party candidate, they’ll run him off the board at the TaxPayers League. I’d totally support TPL if they did that.

This statement is telling:

Sivarajah still intends to seek the Republican endorsement Saturday, but said she expects Emmer to garner delegates’ support on the first ballot.

Does Commissioner Sivarajah want to get thumped another time? She lost the straw poll by 50 points. She’s going to lose the endorsement on the first ballot. She’ll get thumped in the primary. That’s a helluva trifecta, though it isn’t one that’ll endear her to the activists.

Somewhere near Monticello, a fat lady is getting ready to sing. If I were a betting man, I’d bet she’ll sing a dirge sometime Saturday morning.

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After watching this video, it’s apparent that Gov. Dayton is attempting to hide something from Minnesotans:

This article has more than a whiff of desparation to it.

Gov. Mark Dayton vowed Tuesday not to cooperate with a legislative panel that wants to question top officials in his administration about technical problems that marred the Oct. 1 launch of MNsure, the state’s health insurance exchange.

If Gov. Dayton doesn’t change his attitude ASAP, this will hurt him. Here’s why:

Legislative Auditor James Nobles, who is conducting a review of MNsure, said Todd-Malmlov has so far declined to discuss her stewardship of the agency. Nobles said he will take the unusual step of issuing a subpoena and using the courts to compel her testimony if she does not come in voluntarily for an interview.

“We think there are a lot of questions that need to be answered in a thorough and objective way,” Nobles said. “We want to hear her perspective. … She was at center stage, so to speak, and knows more than probably anybody.”

Mr. Nobles has subpoena power, meaning his questions will get answered. If that means compelling Tina Smith’s and Lucinda Jesson’s testimony, then that’s what he’ll do. Gov. Dayton’s contrived diatribe sounded exceptionally desparate:

During a news conference Tuesday, Dayton said Republicans are “making a mockery of the word oversight” and engaging in a “propaganda campaign” aimed at destroying MNsure.

“It is really irresponsible,” Dayton said. “The fact that they can pretend this is part of the oversight process is just ludicrous. They want to trash MNsure. … They want MNsure to fail.”

Gov. Dayton’s faux outrage isn’t convincing. Gov. Dayton insists that Republicans are “making a mockery” of the oversight process. That won’t last long:

State Sen. Tony Lourey, the DFL co-chair of the oversight panel, said Republicans have “legitimate questions” that deserve to be answered.

“We do need to answer for how the rollout occurred, and we certainly will,” Lourey said. “I am totally open to that.”

This is political trouble for Gov. Dayton. Jim Nobles, the much-respected Legislative Auditor, launched an investigation into MNsure’s disastrous rollout. Sen. Tony Lourey, the DFL co-chair of the MNsure Legislative Oversight Committee, just said the Republicans’ questions are “legitimate” and that they deserve to be answered.

Most importantly, Gov. Dayton is acting like a monarch, telling the uppity peasants what he will and won’t do. If Gov. Dayton continues acting like royalty who can ignore legitimate questions, he’ll be in for a difficult re-election campaign.

It’s difficult to picture this turning out well for him if he continues acting like this.

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Who is Responsible for Creating a Great Place to Work?
Interpreting Survey Data
by Silence Dogood

If you look at the information from the Great Place to Work Institute (GPTWI) explaining the Survey Methodology for their Trust Index Survey it states:

“Employees are instructed to respond to each statement by selecting one of the following five choices, most accurately reflecting his or her experience in the workplace.

1 = Almost always untrue
2 = Often untrue
3 = Sometimes untrue/sometimes true
4 = Often true
5 = Almost always true

Your organization’s results are calculated and reflect the percentage of respondents indicating a statement to be “often true” or “almost always true.” For example, a result of 65 on a particular statement means that 65% of respondents that statement with either 4 or 5, and the remaining 35% rated it 1, 2, or 3. If a respondent did not rate a particular statement, it is excluded in the computation of the overall results for that statement. A rating of 4 or 5 reflects a consistently positive experience in the area the statement measures. The overall tally of 4s and 5s measures the consistency in employees experiencing the organization as a great workplace. Employees were asked to respond to each statement twice, once for their own work group and once for the organization as a whole. The following definitions of work group, organization and management are included in the instructions:

Work Group refers to all people in your immediate unit or department. Management of your workgroup refers to immediate supervisor.
Organization refers to your company as a whole. Management of the organization refers to the President and Executive management Group (or equivalent)”

All fifteen questions in the survey from the PowerPoint slides released on March 5th, 2014, which begin “Management…” are presented in what follows. Specifically, the results are presented for the response under the category of “Organization.” As a result, the cumulative effect of these fifteen survey items serves as a surrogate for a simple vote of confidence or no confidence in the management of the organization. These fifteen questions are a direct evaluation of the President and his management team. The data presented have not been edited except in the format used in presentation.

For all of the data, the red bar represents the average value for the “100 Best Companies.” All of blue bars represent the derived values from those who completed the survey at SCSU. Where there are no red bars, the question was generated locally so the number must be interpreted without a comparison.

From the methodology used by the GPTWI to create its index, a comparison of the blue bars with the red bars clearly indicates that the employees at SCSU have little confidence in the Potter management team. For some of the faculty, these results just put a number to the growing dissatisfaction in President Potter and the team of managers he has assembled.

For people who are interested in the reporting and analysis of data, the methodology used by the GPTWI is outside the norm for surveys using scaled responses. In fact, it is hard to believe that this type of methodology would be acceptable for any peer-reviewed scholarly publication except as an example of a poor methodology.

Essentially, the GPTWI is a public relations firm which is designed to make institutions look better than they really are—think advertising.

Consider the following example: “Management is competent.” The result for SCSU is 32 (as compared to the average of the top 100 great places to work value of 90). So the management at SCSU is not viewed as competent by 68% of respondents and if competent management is associated with great places to work SCSU doesn’t look much like a “Great Place to Work”. Remember a result of 32 means 32% of the respondents answered 4 or 5 and 68% responded 1, 2 or 3. However, without the raw data (the numbers of 1s, 2s, 3s, 4s, and 5s), it is not possible to calculate a true arithrimetric average response (mean), the response with the greatest number of responses (mode), the mid-point of the distribution of responses (median), and all of the normal statistics used in describing the results of surveys using scaled items.

The reason why this might be important is illustrated in these three possibilities. For a result of 32, consider the following three hypothetical distributions that all have 32% of responses being either a 4 or 5.

For distribution I, each of the responses 1, 2, and 3 have the same value and represent a total of 68% of the scores. Similarly the scores 4 and 5 have the same value and represent 32% of the scores. Calculating the arithmetic mean gives a value of 2.80.

For distribution II, 68% of the scores are 3s and 32% are 5s, which yields a mean of 3.64.

For distribution III, 68% of the scores are 1s and 32% are 4s, which yields a mean of 1.96.

According to the GPTWI, all three of these distributions have the same “result.” However, the same “result” gives three widely differing means and three very different findings, three different interpretations, and three different conclusions.

It’s a shame that the raw data is not available. If it were, it would be possible to perform a more thorough analysis. However, even with all of its shortcomings, the data as presented by GPTWI demonstrates that the employees feel there are significant problems of trust resulting from the competence and truthfulness of President Potter’s management team. Even after only a cursory look at the GPTWI findings, an obvious conclusion is that St. Cloud State University is a very long way a way from being a great place to work!

It is strange that President Potter has stated that the numbers from the survey are not where “we” would like them to be and “we” have some work to do (St. Cloud Times Editorial Board interview February 21, 2014). Who is the “we” President Potter refers to and is we the same each time he uses it? Perhaps it is simply a ‘royal we.’ It is hard to believe the employees at SCSU are responsible for these ten items that were surveyed.

  1. Management is approachable.
  2. Management shares information openly and transparently.
  3. Management keeps me informed.
  4. Management delivers on its promises.
  5. Management’s actions match its words.
  6. Management makes sound financial decisions.
  7. Management has a clear view.Management is competent.
  8. Management seeks suggestions.Management involves people in decisions

President Potter has said he is going to schedule “listening sessions.” In my opinion, there is not much that the faculty and staff can do about these ten items. All of the improvement regarding these ten items needs to come from President Potter and his team of managers. Perhaps if President Potter was on campus more and actually talked with faculty and staff more frequently some of these statements would receive higher ratings of truthfulness? It is time for President Potter and his ‘gang of thirty,’ to change their behaviors. Here’s a suggestion for a change in behavior:

Truly keep everyone informed and share information “openly and transparently” rather than just saying that management is being open and transparent. Saying something doesn’t make it true and actions speak louder than words.

The results from GPTWI show that management’s actions at SCSU do not match its words or that management delivers on its promises. How are the faculty and staff going to be able to “work” to make SCSU a better place when what is needed is a change in management’s behavior? All of the ten items from the GPTW survey that start with the word “Management” are items that must start with the managers. It is time for these managers to lead and lead by example.

The Potter management team has not involved people in decisions and certainly does not seek suggestions from the faculty and staff or involve people in making decisions. Case in point. The administration simply announced at a Meet and Confer that they had signed a contract with the GPTWI to conduct a “Trust Survey.” Had President Potter asked for input from the faculty and staff BEFORE making the decision, a better survey might have been performed. But finding out once again after the decision has been made shows President Potter’s seemingly utter contempt for the faculty and staff and their opinions and views.

President Potter has not shared his vision (see results for Management has a clear vision) for the future other than saying he’s “right sizing” the university. To date, no information has been shared as to the “right size.” A cynic might say that perhaps when we get there, he’ll tell us. However, an unexplained full-year enrollment drop from FY10 of 15,096 to FY14 of 12,401 represents a loss of 2,695 FYE or a drop of 17.9%. (The enrollment numbers come from the MnSCU website and are current as of April 7, 2014).

Without a doubt, it is not within the power of the SCSU faculty and staff to make the administration competent—there is simply nothing they can do to fix a belief that the administration is not competent. The only way the result for the competence question can improve is for President Potter to demonstrate competence. That might begin with his actually participating with the faculty and staff in shared governance.

“What you do is what matters, not what you think, say or plan.”
Jason Fried (from the book Rework)

From now through Election Day, Gov. Dayton and the DFL will employ an ostrich strategy. They’ll pretend they didn’t know MNsure would be a disaster ahead of time. This article proves that they knew but chose to pretend everything was fine:

Twelve days before Minnesota unveiled its $100 million health insurance exchange known as MNsure, a grim meeting was held at Gov. Mark Dayton’s residence in St. Paul.

April Todd-Malmlov, who had led the project, delivered a warning to the governor and his top advisers: No one was certain the new website built to help thousands of uninsured Minnesotans get health coverage would actually work.

The number of computer bugs in the system had recently surged from 237 to 270. And one-third of them were so severe that no stopgap fixes were possible.

After HealthCare.gov started with a crash, Gov. Dayton and the DFL trumpeted MNsure’s success compared with HealthCare.gov’s failures. At the time, the Twin Cities media just took their word for it. The Twin Cities media ignored complaints of systemic mismanagement at MNsure from Sen. Michelle Benson:

SEN. MICHELLE BENSON: I think we have a systemic management problem. Not prioritizing, not focusing on the things that are essential to have done on October 1. Data privacy is essential. Having good processes in place is essential. Now they made sure to roll out the Paul Bunyan ads and they made sure they had money for that and they kept that secret until they were ready to launch. But when it comes to the agents’ information, that wasn’t sequestered. It wasn’t treated with delicacy. The training — we found out today that navigator training isn’t moving at speed. Counties aren’t trained. Brokers aren’t trained. Those all should’ve been much higher priorities than the softer skill sets.

Sen. Benson made this statement during an interview given on Sept. 24, 2013. The list of things that weren’t ready is lengthy. These things were brought up that day at the MNsure Legislative Oversight Committee hearing earlier in the day. Despite this lengthy list of substantive problems, Sen. Lourey and Rep. Atkins, the co-chairs of the Committee, didn’t hold another meeting of the Committee until January, 2014.

By that time, data security had failed repeatedly. MNsure’s executive director, April Todd-Malmlov had resigned. That’s after she took a 2-week vacation in Costa Rica with her lover. By the time the next hearing was held, thousands of dollars in bonuses had been paid to people who’d totally screwed up the system.

Then there’s this:

“I lament that I didn’t ask the simple question: Do we really have to do all of this by Oct. 1?” said MNsure Board Member Thompson Aderinkomi. “I should have asked.”

That’s stunning. This confirms my suspicion that MNsure Board members weren’t serious about administering the program. They were there because they were told to be there. Gov. Dayton didn’t pick serious people to administer the program. The DFL legislature wasn’t interested in conducting serious oversight hearings.

That’s how disasters happen.

“It was a very complex project and there was never enough time,” Dayton said. “I don’t know of anybody who wasn’t operating with good intentions and trying their utmost to make this as good as possible.”

That’s insulting. I don’t care if people were “operating with good intentions.” I’m just interested in fixing things. Gov. Dayton apparently thinks that it’s ok to screw up as long as people operate “with good intentions.” The thousands of people who received cancellation notices because their policies didn’t meet Obamacare’s standards don’t care if these people operated “with good intentions.” They just wanted a system that worked so they weren’t without health insurance.

Five state agencies were involved in the project, and they weren’t always working together. The contractors also were having trouble coordinating efforts, “putting the project at risk,” according to a December 2012 e-mail from MN-IT Chief Information Officer Tom Baden, who was overseeing the vendors’ work.

“Those items need to be addressed within a week or [Houston], we have a problem,” Baden said in his e-mail, sent to Todd-Malmlov and another state official.

E-mails and internal reports show a lack of coordination among various groups throughout 2013. Program managers openly fretted about not catching major problems quickly enough.

Gov. Dayton should be criticized for not getting the right people working urgently on fixing this crisis. Sen. Lourey and Rep. Atkins should be criticized for not being interested in making sure the building of the website was on schedule. Apparently, they thought their chief responsibility was to be MNsure’s cheerleaders, praising the work being done whether the project was a disaster or not.

In May 2013, the first outside audit was delivered, revealing MNsure was below standard on most of the 135 tasks under review. Only one category earned a passing grade — project cost. At the same time, federal officials found dozens of problems, concluding the state had “underestimated” the scope of the work.

This election season, the DFL will undoubtedly attempt to paint the picture that things couldn’t be better. They should be called out each time they try lying like that. Things aren’t rosy. The website has improved. The product is still terrible.

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