State official involved in development of vehicle licensing system fired

Paul Meekin

Paul Meekin

Says Karen Zamora for the Strib, “Minnesota’s multimillion-dollar computer system for vehicle licensing took another hit when a state official crucial to its development was fired, but he went out with a scathing rebuke of the system. … Paul Meekin, most recently the chief business technology officer for the department, was fired Friday, four months after being placed on a leave of absence. In a statement, Meekin blamed Gov. Mark Dayton’s office and the Legislature for ‘finger pointing and blame assigning’ instead of finding solutions for Minnesota Licensing and Registration System.”

Today in gun-grabbin’. Youseff Rddad of the AP reports, “Two Republican state senators with ties to the National Rifle Association publicly backed the renewed effort Monday to expand background checks on Minnesota gun sales, the latest reminder that gun issues often don’t follow party lines in state politics. The public support from Sens. Scott Jensen and Paul Anderson, both NRA members, could give the latest push for stronger gun laws a jolt. They joined several Democrats proposing legislation that would impose background checks on nearly all gun sales and transfers and another bill requiring gun owners to report a lost or stolen weapon.”

Also on guns. WCCO-TV’s Pat Kessler reports, “The State of Minnesota has invested $19.2 million into securities of companies that manufacture or sell firearms and ammunition. That’s according to figures compiled by the State Board of Investment at the request of WCCO-TV. The investments are part of the state’s $76 billion portfolio and includes the investments in firearms manufacturing companies, ‘and could represent a very small percentage of a company’s business,’ according to the Board.” 

The star-spangled kids of my people. Also from The Strib’s Zamora: “Tensions between Edina High School’s Young Conservatives Club and the school district flared Monday, even though a lawsuit the group filed against the district was settled earlier this month. Surrounded by American flags, the student group held a news conference to say that an American flag is now hanging in every classroom at the high school thanks to its victory in the group’s federal lawsuit against the district. However, in a statement earlier in March, the district said that allegations that it had refused to hang American flags in the classrooms were untrue.” 

Health care. The AP and MPR report: “Minnesota Republicans will push to impose a work requirement for the state’s health care program for those in poverty. A group of House and Senate Republicans introduced a bill Monday that would require Medical Assistance enrollees to work at least 80 hours a month, seek employment or enroll in job training programs. About 1.1 million Minnesotans get Medical Assistance — Minnesota’s name for Medicaid. That’s health care for people with low incomes, families with children, pregnant women, seniors and people who are blind or have a disability.”

Where else? Naples. Says Brian Bakst for MPR, “Republican Tim Pawlenty is fundraising toward a now-likely campaign for Minnesota governor. A fundraising invitation obtained Monday by MPR News contains a ‘Pawlenty for Governor’ committee disclaimer. It advertises a Naples, Fla., fundraiser next week that seeks up to the maximum donation of $4,000 per person. Pawlenty was known to travel to Naples for past fundraising swings when he was previously governor for two terms and during an abbreviated run for president in 2012. The area is known as a winter retreat for many well-off Minnesotans.”

It’s almost like this thing is complicated. Says Stribber Janet Moore, “A new wrinkle has surfaced involving plans for the $1.9 billion Southwest light-rail line to run alongside freight trains for a 6-mile portion of the route, including the Kenilworth corridor in Minneapolis. Before the Metropolitan Council applies for a critical federal grant to pay half of Southwest’s construction costs, it needs to reach agreements with three railroads that operate along part of the 14.5-mile LRT route between downtown Minneapolis and Eden Prairie. … But negotiations between the Met Council and TC&W [Twin Cities & Western Railroad] over how that relationship will be structured have broken down.”

Doesn’t look good. At MPR, Cody Nelson reports, “A renowned toxicology professor took at least $2 million in payments from 3M to help the company ‘command’ science regarding a toxic chemical that was at the heart of a lawsuit brought by the state of Minnesota, according to documents from Attorney General Lori Swanson’s office. John Giesy, an environmental toxicologist now working for the University of Saskatchewan, denied the allegations and accused Swanson’s office of trying to harm his reputation, Canada’s CBC News reported Sunday. … Public documents from Swanson’s office accuse Giesy of influencing PFC research in many ways while he worked at Michigan State University … .”

Comments (5)

  1. Submitted by Bill Schletzer on 03/13/2018 - 06:32 am.

    Poor Paul Meekin

    Now there’s a leader! He’s taking absolutely no responsibility for the mess he oversaw. Large private companies regularly install new enterprise software systems. There are always glitches and delays but nothing like the licensing system experienced. This was an amateurish operation from top to bottom and it never should have gone live.

    • Submitted by Henk Tobias on 03/13/2018 - 09:01 am.

      The difference between Public and Private is just that.

      When there is a failure in a public entity we all hear about it, but in the private sector we only hear what that entity wants us to hear. There have been monumental failures on the private side that you never hear about because those involved need to protect their reputations and most importantly stock prices must be protected. Failing projects equal falling stocks.

      All that is beside the point, while Meekin was managing the project Hewlett-Packard was the developer. They fumbled with various approaches to managing the project, first called the Waterfall approach, basically they did all the design and developement and the customer, (the state) didn’t see the finished project until it was done. This approached proved to be too inflexible so they went the “Agile” approach, Agile is the latest fad hitting the Software industry. It may be more flexible, but the fact that HP was fumbling around should be reported as well. Sure managers need to take responsibility, but the company doing the actual work bears the greatest responsibility for putting out a product. In this case a crappy product.

      • Submitted by James Hamilton on 03/13/2018 - 10:21 am.

        Thanks for the background.

        I am not a techie but have represented Fortune 500 companies in software development contracts and disputes involving delays in completion. The conversion of legacy systems was a particular problem, especially where data or operations from two or more old proprietary systems had to be merged.

        The matters in which I was involved never went public. In fact, the developers who encountered problems tended to demand that it not be made public.

        I hope the AG’s office can find the time to look into the State’s rights against HP in this case.

  2. Submitted by Jackson Cage on 03/13/2018 - 07:57 am.

    Seriously?

    So Meekin’s not taking responsibility?…and this makes him different than the Governor and the legislature how, exactly? Talk about failed leaders.

    • Submitted by James Hamilton on 03/13/2018 - 10:22 am.

      Nether the Legislature nor the Governor

      are likely to be qualified to understand what went wrong here or why.

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