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A Burden Don Fraser Learned to Bear

My favorite personal memory of Don Fraser, who died earlier this week at 95. Sometime in the mid-1980s, Don, who was then mayor of Minneapolis, said something about “unsupported women.”  By which he meant how it was personally unfair and socially unwise that so many women were left to raise their children without the help of husbands and fathers.  While he didn’t use politically risky terms such as “nonmarital births” or “out-of-wedlock births,” it still was a remarkably courageous – truly progressive – thing for a liberal Minnesota politician to talk and write about in the ‘80s – or still. I was...

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Obit Hits and Errors

Quick.  Think of one of the biggest and best things you’ve ever done. Now, think of one of the biggest mistakes you’ve ever made? Of the two, which one do you think is more likely to wind up in the first sentence of your eventual obituary?  For your family’s sake I hope it’s the former rather than the latter.  But it probably will come down to how good your good was compared to how bad your bad was, at least as recalled by a journalist likely on deadline.  Or maybe an editor will combine the two. A tease on CNN’s website on Monday...

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Legal Loophole in CCAP allows child care centers to bill for services they do not provide

Perhaps by coming together on the CCAP fraud issue, lawmakers can begin to plan for a complete overhaul of Minnesota’s generous and infamous welfare system. What other programs are being ripped off? Welfare fraud is nothing new in Minnesota and began long before Somali refugees started arriving in the 1990’s. Any major overhaul will require the support of Governor Walz to be successful. Perhaps the federal government could get the governor’s attention....

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Popular Scooters Boot Out Bike Sharing in St. Paul

Easy come, easy go. Electric scooters are making a move in St. Paul, booting out ride sharing bicycles just in time for more seasonable weather. The new company contracting with the city originally planned to offer bikes but abruptly changed its mind, according to the Star Tribune. St. Paul faces the prospect of a summer without bike sharing after its vendor dropped the service eight months after signing a contract with the city. In August, St. Paul contracted with Lime to provide dockless bike sharing, and as a result Nice Ride removed its docks at the end of the season. After Lime...

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Inspector General at DHS Placed on Paid Leave Following Report of Welfare Fraud

MPR News reported that Carolyn Ham, the Inspector General (IG) at the Department of Human Services (DHS), has been placed on paid leave pending the outcome of a “probe.” The Inspector General’s office is in charge of protecting welfare programs from illegal activity and fraud. Last week the Office of Legislative Auditor (OLA), released a report that found a “serious rift” between the IG’s office and the DHS investigators tasked with investigating fraud. The report also noted that the IG’s office reported directly to the politically appointed commissioner at DHS and thus, had no independent authority. (The OLA, in a letter to...

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Senate GOP takes action on Child Care Fraud: Calls for DHS Inspector General Ham to Step Down

In response to the legislative audit revealing wide-spread welfare fraud and other illegal activity connected to the Child Care Assistance Program (CCAP) summarized here, the Senate GOP Leadership sent out this news release last night: Senate Republicans heard legislation yesterday to address the shocking revelations of the Legislative Auditor’s report on the Child Care Assistance Program (CCAP).  Four bills in the Human Services Reform Committee focused on increasing oversight and maintaining the integrity of the funding. Senator John Jasinski (R- Faribault) presented two bills to address CCAP fraud. “When the man in charge of investigating CCAP says that fraud could be at least 50% of the entire...

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