At Issue: MNsure Controversy, Downtown East Development

Updated: 12/16/2013 6:05 PM By: Heidi Enninga

In this week's edition of At Issue, host Tom Hauser takes an in-depth look at the local political issues that affect you.

Governor Mark Dayton this week joined the mounting number of Minnesotans who aren’t happy with the state’s health care exchange. In the wake of a controversy around a Costa Rican vacation MNsure’s executive director took amidst roll-out problems, Dayton said the number of problems with MNsure has passed the point of acceptability.

MNsure officials said they have added and trained 27 call center staff representatives and plan to add 15 more in an effort to make sure applicants can get access to help.

Also this week, the state’s I.T. department acknowledged that MNsure’s website is vulnerable to hackers. A 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS series exposed the risk to users’ private information, and now the state is seeking help from the expert interviewed for the stories.

The Minneapolis City Council voted unanimously on Friday to approve financing for the Downtown East development near the Vikings stadium. Critics of the project said the added costs exceed the city’s $150 million spending limit for the stadium, which is spelled out in the bill. A Hennepin County judge will make a ruling next week, and the developer said Dec. 27 is the deadline to close the deal on a contract.

Over the next several decades, the partnership between the Mayo Clinic, the state of Minnesota and the city of Rochester could result in $6 billion of development. That development will be overseen by a board on which Tina Smith serves on. Smith is also Gov. Dayton’s chief of staff. Some are asking for her to step down from one of her dual roles, but the governor said anyone in the position would likely be associated with multiple organizations like Smith.

Students on college campuses are voicing safety concerns and asking for action. This year, there have been 29 robberies on the University of Minnesota campus, and nation-wide, there has been a dramatic increase in street-level robberies. Legislators said they will monitor the situation and decide whether or anything needs to be done.

In Political Analysis, Ben Golnik, Republican strategist, and Don Betzold, former DFL state senator, talked with host Tom Hauser about political fallout for the political parties from MNsure problems.

In Face Off, Javier Morillo, President of the Service Employees International Union, and Brian McDaniel, Republican strategist, discussed the effect of logistical and technical problems with MNsure.