Call volume suggests coordinated attack on MNsure

MNsure logoAs for Tuesday’s robocall attack on MNsure lines, Don Davis of the Forum News Service says, “Dramatic numbers show something was up when the MNsure state health insurance exchange opened individual health insurance policy sales. On Tuesday, MNsure’s telephone call center received 50,000 calls in the first hour it was open to sell 2017 policies. Throughout the day, 80,000 calls were attempted. On Wednesday, the number was 4,100 by 3 p.m., a figure that officials said was to be expected. … Jenna Covey, assistant commissioner of digital technology for the state’s information technology agency … said Minnesota government never had sustained a phone attack on this scale.”

The big dog has spoken. Christine Hauser of The New York Times says, “President Obama, in his first remarks on the standoff over an oil pipeline near the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation in North Dakota, called on both sides to show restraint, and revealed that the Army Corps of Engineers was considering an alternative route for the project. In an interview with NowThis news published late on Tuesday, Obama said: ‘We are monitoring this closely. I think as a general rule, my view is that there is a way for us to accommodate sacred lands of Native Americans. I think that right now the Army Corps is examining whether there are ways to reroute this pipeline.’

Speaking of dogs, here’s what has to be one tired mom. Says April Baumgarten of the Forum News Service, “Kelli Hewitt’s standard poodle looked like any other pregnant dog, the dog breeder from far northwestern Minnesota said. But she and her family couldn’t believe how many puppies were coming as the poodle named Crystal Diamond RD — Crystal, for short — gave birth Aug. 28 at their farm. When Crystal’s labor was over, the registered, purebred poodle had 16 puppies squirming around.”

Also energy-related. John Myers for the Forum News Service reports, “It’s almost certain your Minnesota Power monthly electric bill will go up in 2017. How much so will depend on the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission. Duluth-based Minnesota Power on Wednesday filed a request for a general rate increase, asking the PUC to approve an immediate 8 percent increase for homeowners on Jan. 1 and then another 10 percent increase after the state regulators’ lengthy rate case process. The utility says it needs the money to recover hundreds of millions of dollars invested in its electrical delivery infrastructure in recent years to better deliver a cleaner mix of energy to its customers.”

About what you’d imagine he’d say. Reena Flores for CBS News reports, “As the presidential race tightens in the lead up to Election Day, Sen. Al Franken, D-Minnesota, leveled criticisms at Donald Trump and defended his party’s nominee, Hillary Clinton, in an interview with ‘CBS This Morning’ early Wednesday. Franken, who has campaigned for Clinton, said he doesn’t believe Trump could make the decisions necessary to be in the Oval Office. ‘I think he’s a man with a very short attention span,’ said Franken, well-known for his career as a comedian and his long stint at ‘Saturday Night Live.’ ‘I don’t think he’s interested in policy.’

Do you really do want to know what John Hinderaker is saying about the election, or at least that poll of state school kids? The Power Line writer/attorney has this to say about The Donald’s chances. “If you assume that high school kids tend to vote the way they hear their parents talking at home, the results are fascinating. Trump absolutely slaughters Clinton in Greater Minnesota — not just the northern part of the state, but generally outside the Twin Cities metro area. To cite just one of many examples, Trump carried New Prague High School, in southern Minnesota, over Clinton by 374-151. On the other hand, Clinton clobbers Trump in the public schools in Minneapolis and St. Paul… Along with the public schools, elite private schools voted overwhelmingly for Clinton, while non-elite private religious schools went even more overwhelmingly for Trump. Clinton dominates the inner-tier suburbs, while the outer suburbs are variable, but trending toward Trump, while the exurbs went for Trump.”

Well, that’s like your opinion, man. Stephen Montemayor of the Strib tells us, “In a letter to the federal judge who will sentence him later this month, one of nine Twin Cities men convicted of trying to support ISIL denounced the terror group he once sought to join as ‘cowards’ and called himself a victim of the group’s ‘intense mental warfare.’ ‘Your Honor, I am against terrorism and I’m not a terrorist,’ Hanad Musse wrote Judge Michael Davis in a letter signed from an Elk River jail last month.”

News flash! Prince to make more money! For The New York Times, Ben Sisario says, “For months, the most closely watched contest in the music industry has been for the songs of Prince, who died in April. Now, the first major deal for Prince’s music has been reached: The star’s songwriting rights are going to the Universal Music Publishing Group for an undisclosed sum, the company and the Prince estate announced Wednesday. The deal gives Universal long-term administration rights for Prince’s hits like ‘Purple Rain’ and ‘When Doves Cry,’ and raises the possibility that the songs — which Prince withheld from many online services — could become more widely available.”

Patrick Reusse in the Strib has a darker view of the departure of Vikings offensive coordinator Norv Turner. “It would seem that [Mike] Zimmer had taken another long look at the disastrously failed game plan against the lowly Bears on Monday night in Soldier Field. And then the coach stayed in the office overnight, sure to be there when Turner arrived before dawn, as do assistant coaches. Zimmer said that ‘Norv came in at 6:30’ and that’s when Turner surprised him with the plan to resign. Tuesday, nothing’s different with Norv, according to the quarterback; Wednesday, the head coach is waiting to meet at 6:30, and then Norv drops the bombshell.”

Retired Supreme Court Justice Paul Anderson respectfully disagrees with former Sen. Norm Coleman that “rigging” goes on in Minnesota. In a Strib commentary, he says, “As a Minnesota Supreme Court justice, I served on several state canvassing boards and I heard many election cases, including the 2008 Coleman/Franken Senate contest. I have presented papers nationally and internationally on Minnesota elections. … No Minnesota election held, reviewed and scrutinized in the past two decades was ‘rigged’ — even though some continue to believe they were. In every case reviewed, there was little or no evidence of fraud or malfeasance by voters or public officials.” So what I hear you saying is that there was very likely rampant voter fraud.

Not what you’d call “rule-bound.” Stribber Paul Walsh says, “A warrant was issued Wednesday in Dakota County for the arrest of a Lakeville mother who was prevented last month from choosing prison time over probation for hiding her two teen daughters from their father. The warrant notes that Sandra Grazzini-Rucki, 51, has violated terms of her probation by not maintaining contact with probation officials and failing to notify them in a timely manner of any change of address, employment and telephone number.”

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Comments (7)

  1. Submitted by Ray Schoch on 11/03/2016 - 06:37 am.

    Rhetorical question

    Fortunately, as a certified old person with Medicare and a group health plan, I don’t personally have to deal with MNSure, but I nonetheless wonder who, or what organization, would be so hostile to a state-run health insurance agency – and have the resources, technical and financial, to coordinate such a phone attack – that they’d go to the trouble of setting up thousands of robocalls?

    It might also be worth pointing out that one of the more important terms in Mr. Hinderaker’s “Power Line” piece is the word “tend.” My experience, over 7 presidential elections while I was teaching high school, was that “tend” might be exactly the right word. Over the course of those elections, my students demonstrated that yes, they do “tend” to hold and express opinions similar to those of their parents, but that their opinions were also very often opposed to those of their parents, as adolescent opinions frequently are. Hinderaker’s point is an interesting one in this bizarre election, but not one to be taken as… um… holy writ.

    • Submitted by Pat Berg on 11/03/2016 - 08:45 am.

      They got what they wanted

      I was a little frustrated that the lead in most stories was
      “Problems with MNSure website on opening day” and that the detail about the robocalls was generally buried somewhere else in the story.

      Frankly, the lead SHOULD have been “Robocalls from unknown source swamp MNSure on opening day” with THAT being the focus of the ensuing story.

      As it is, the impression left in the public’s mind is that, once again, MNSure appears to not be up to the task. And that is exactly what the perpetrators of the robocalls wanted.

  2. Submitted by Robert Owen on 11/03/2016 - 08:59 am.


    Who did the robocall attack? Yesterday the Strib quoted the governor, “They’ve identified that culprit, and are acting … to exclude them from the system.”

    So Mark Dayton apparently knows. Either he isn’t sharing that information of the Strib reporter didn’t ask.

    • Submitted by Bill Schletzer on 11/03/2016 - 09:46 am.

      Just maybe…

      Dayton is holding himself to a higher standard than our FBI chief and is dealing only in known facts and not innuendo. Maybe he feels the need to not besmirch some Republican group this close to the election. I think the Republican ad with the couple who’s health insurance is 40K per year (yeah, right) is a joke. If the people paying for that ad had their way that couple would have no insurance.

  3. Submitted by Joseph Skar on 11/03/2016 - 11:07 am.

    Yeah, Right?

    There are multiple plans on MNSure that have premiums in excess of 40k for a couple. Being 60+ and living in greater MN will produce some ugly pricing.

    • Submitted by Pat Berg on 11/03/2016 - 11:30 am.


      Is that 40K with or without factoring in the available subsidies?

      • Submitted by Joseph Skar on 11/03/2016 - 12:47 pm.


        The subsidy tool on the website just cannot be correct. The subsidy tool for the hypothetical couple calculates a cliff at $64,080 of gross income. At that level of gross income the annual subsidy was $21,456, but at $64,081 the subsidy was zero. Very odd that a dollar of gross income would create that kind of net cost impact. Either way a 40k premium looks very possible.

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