UnitedHealth’s Optum subsidiary is not impressed with MNsure leadership. At MPR, Catharine Richert and Elizabeth Stawicki say: “MNsure’s management structure is “non-existent” according to Optum, a subsidiary of Minnetonka-based UnitedHealth Group, which recently performed a week-long analysis of the more than $100 million website. … In particular, Optum faulted IBM Curam for more than 100 defects in its software — more than twice as many as any other vendor on the MNsure project.” James Nord has MinnPost coverage here.
In the Strib, Lee Schaffer describes Target’s layoffs like this: “There has likely been a plan to skinny down the cost structure since well before Target discovered a data breach in December, and the layoffs happened this week because the Minneapolis-based company’s fiscal year always ends on the Saturday closest to Jan. 31. That means the company wanted to get the costs associated with eliminating 475 jobs booked in a fourth quarter that was already going to be a total washout. … Target’s U.S. sales growth had been sluggish and store traffic down well before the cybercrooks showed up, and the company has been signaling for months that controlling the growth of expenses is a top priority.”
At USA Today, John Mullaney says: “Target’s problems in Canada, and the data breach, are just further complications for a company that has been caught between fellow discounters Wal-Mart and Costco, and especially hard-hit by competition from Amazon.com, William Blair analyst Mark Miller said in a Jan. 10 report.‘They used to be the best at selling value, on a broad assortment, to a higher-end consumer,’ Miller said. ‘Now there is someone else who does a better job at the exact same thing.’ “
Likewise … Elizabeth Baier of MPR reports: “IBM leaders say they expect to lay off more employees this year after the company missed revenue expectations for the fourth consecutive quarter. It’s unclear how many of the job losses will hit the company’s facility in Rochester. … Revenue from the company’s hardware operations fell significantly in the fourth quarter of 2013. Company leaders also say they’ll forgo their annual personal incentive payments for 2013 as a result of the disappointing results.” Big of ’em.
On that new Senate office building, Doug Belden of the PiPress says: “Authorization for a new state Senate office building fit with the general purpose of the tax bill into which it was inserted last spring, and in any case, former state Rep. Jim Knoblach has no right to sue to stop construction, an attorney for the state argued Wednesday in Ramsey County District Court. Judge Lezlie Ott Marek heard more than an hour’s worth of arguments from both sides on Knoblach’s suit and said afterward that she would issue a written ruling as soon as possible.”
You know it’s getting serious when mere employees threaten to work only to the letter of their contract. Shannon Prather of the Strib says: “Anoka-Hennepin teachers, frustrated about a lack of progress in contract talks with the state’s largest school district, will now do only what work can be completed during the school day and is required by their contract. That means the district’s nearly 3,000 teachers will stop doing work after hours, including grading papers they haven’t graded during the day, checking e-mails, tweaking lesson plans and voluntarily attending after-school events. It’s called a ‘work-to-rule’ action.”
The State Fair is looking at a serious makeover. Jim Anderson of the Strib says: “A capital improvements budget that includes nearly $14 million for one of the biggest transformations of the Minnesota State Fair since a flurry of Depression-era projects in the 1930s has been approved by the board that oversees fair operations.”
Local author Paul Bogard has some thoughts on more lighting at the U of M … In a Strib commentary, he says: “When the goal is to improve our safety at night, installing brighter lights is rarely the answer. Because some light at night can undeniably improve our safety, we too often assume that ever-increasing amounts of light will make us evermore secure. Unfortunately, there is almost no research to support this belief. What research we do have on the relationship of light at night and crime is equivocal at best, and as often suggests that reducing lighting levels — rather than increasing them — improves safety most.”
Wisconsin’s outlier status keep on growing. At City Pages, Jesse Marx says: “Wisconsin legislators approved a bill Tuesday that gives local municipalities more power to punish marijuana use. As it stands, municipal courts in Wisconsin have the right to prosecute first-time offenders who are found in possession of less than 25 grams. Anyone arrested more than once goes to the circuit court level. But with Gov. Scott Walker’s signature, those same courts would have the right to punish repeat offenders, so long as the district attorney in that area declines to prosecute. In other words, Wisconsin is becoming tougher on pot while Minnesota — and the rest of the country — appears to be chilling out.”