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State says it needs $43 million to fix vehicle licensing and registration system

The hits just keep on coming. At MPR Tim Pugmire says, “State officials Wednesday unveiled an expensive plan for fixing the troubled computer system for vehicle licensing and registration. They say lawmakers would need to approve another $43 million early in the 2018 session to get the system back on track this year. One Republican lawmaker called the request ‘mind-boggling.’ The Minnesota Licensing and Registration System, or MNLARS, has been plagued by technical problems since its launch last summer. The cost of the statewide computer system, used for tab purchases, title transfers and other transactions, has already topped $93 million over eight years.” 

Lewis injured. Says Jennifer Brooks in the Strib, “A train carrying congressional Republicans collided with a truck Wednesday in Virginia, killing one person in the truck and sending several others to the hospital, including Minnesota Rep. Jason Lewis. Lewis, his staff said, suffered a concussion when the train slammed into a trash truck at a rural crossing. Members of the Republican caucus, their families and staff had chartered the Amtrak train for a policy retreat in West Virginia. … Lewis, the most seriously injured of the delegation, was diagnosed with a concussion but rejoined his colleagues despite the injury.”

Defendant in Harriet Island attack sentenced. In the PiPress, Sarah Horner reports, “‘Inhumane.’ ‘Sick.’ ‘Life-altering.’ ‘Shattering.’ Those were some of the words used to describe what Hodges and others did to two teenage girls and their male friends after dark on St. Paul’s Harriet Island last summer. … Ramsey County District Judge George Stephenson’s voice rang out in the courtroom as he admonished Hodges, who was the first of the four defendants in the case to be sentenced for his conduct in June. … Hodges and the other defendants … are accused of holding up the 18-year-old girls and their two male friends around 11 p.m. June 5, eventually forcing the two males to strip and lie face-down as three of the four took turns raping the young women.”

Also guilty. WCCO-TV reports: “A Cottage Grove man is guilty in the shooting death of his wife. Stephen Allwine was convicted Wednesday night of first-degree premeditated murder in the killing of Amy Allwine on Nov. 13, 2016. Stephen called 911 to report finding his wife dead of a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head. He had just returned home after going out to eat with the couple’s 9-year-old son.Investigators found inconsistencies with the suicide scenario. … Prosecutors successfully argued that Stephen’s motive was to collect his wife’s $700,000 life insurance policy, of which he was the sole benefactor. Stephen Allwine is expected to be sentenced Friday morning.”

More like a super bust, amiright?  MPR’s Martin Moylan hits the streets to see how the Super Bowl bonanza is working out for Uber and Lyft drivers. “[Jason] Seward is not the only Uber or Lyft driver hoping for a ride rally over the next few days. Michael Thorne of Apple Valley is in that camp. He drives for cash when he's not working as a comedian.…Thorne believes business is down because locals are avoiding downtown Minneapolis and maybe other spots they expect will be busy because of the Super Bowl. ‘I think anyone who can work from home, is, and therefore the normal rush is just not happening,’ he said.”

Seven million gallons … a day. The AP is reporting, “The public will get a chance to sound off in March about Racine officials' request to pull 7 million gallons of water per day from Lake Michigan to serve a massive Foxconn Technology plant. The state Department of Natural Resources announced Wednesday that they've scheduled a public hearing on the request for March 7 in Sturtevant. … For a sense of scale, Waukesha, a city of about 72,000 people, won approval in 2016 to withdraw 8.2 million gallons per day from Lake Michigan. Racine withdrew an average of 16.9 million gallons per day in 2016 to serve the city as well as Sturtevant, Mount Pleasant, Elmwood Park, North Bay, Wind Point and Caledonia.”

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Comments (5)

Water withdrawal

It's not just about the volume of water withdrawn - it's about what they are going to do to it.

What a city does to used water vs what Foxconn is likely to do to used water is apples and oranges.

When a city withdraws water for its residents' use, it's going to become contaminated with the normal kinds of contaminants that the wastewater plants have experience with and are set up to deal with before the water is returned to the lake.

But Foxconn wants this water for electronics manufacturing - a process that is almost certain to introduce far more problematic toxins to the water. Simply returning this used water to the area's wastewater treatment plant to deal with after they're through with it may be passing off a problem that the wastewater treatment plant is not set up to deal with adequately. What additional safeguards are in place for dealing with this industrial effluents, and who is going to foot the bill?

There are a lot of questions to be answered before this plan is allowed to move forward, and they should address issues far more inclusive than simply the volume of water used.

Lake Michigan water

How much of the water withdrawn by Racine and the other communities is returned to the lake each day? How much water will Foxconn return and what contaminants will remain? Water is, after all, pretty indestructible.

Questions, questions

Pat Berg's and Chuck Carlin's questions are precisely the kind that "big-thinking" industrial capitalists (especially those from other countries) and equally "big-thinking" Republicans like Scott Walker don't really want to address. The answers may not be so pretty for folks who don't own any Foxconn stock or who live in communities that rely on the lake for their water. Environmental concerns can be such an annoyance, eh? And, of course, much the same sort of concern, without even a municipal wastewater treatment plant to deal with it, surrounds the proposed sulfide mining operation on the edge of the BWCA.

But hey, there are jobs to be had, right?

MNLARS

I'd bet that any private company that found itself cheated to the tune of $93 million, and then another $43 million, with still no end in sight, would have taken legal action to recoup this monetary loss a long long long ago.

I find it hard to believe the Mnnesota state attorney general's office did not become fully involved in this mess as soon as problems started arising. What's going on, isn't that office responsible for looking out for us in cases like this? What have they done so far?

And why not return temporarily to the original system, which actually was working pretty darn good compared to what we have right now, until the new system is fully corrected, tested, tested, tested, and then rolled out once again when it is found to be in perfect operating order?

Computers and spending....

Stuff costs what it costs it costs, you can hand out $9 million a year, but if it costs $11 million your still underfunding the service. I remind everyone that Pawlenty privatized the licensing system during his term predicting it would be more efficient and less expensive. When THAT failed we brought the system back to the State which was then required to modernize. Furthermore, part of these costs have to do with producing the new Real ID, which Republicans refused to adopt until last year. And finally, since Republicans require different state ID's depending on citizenship status, that adds to the costs.