This type of IT project was destined to falter

I am a supporter of President Obama and of the Affordable Care Act (a k a Obamacare). That said, as a retired information technology (IT) executive, I am completely unsurprised that the launch of such a large-scale Web-based system in such a short time frame is having serious problems. When the law was passed, I knew this was going to happen. “Train wreck” may be a bit of an overstatement, but the extent of the problems with such a complex system that links to many disparate government databases are obviously considerable. I have confidence that the various vendors and government departments will cobble things together well enough to get through the initial enrollments, possibly with an extension of the deadline. After that, the system will be incrementally improved until it works properly.

There is a lesson in this high-visibility fiasco for all senior executives — both in government and in private business: A “make it so” executive attitude toward IT projects is almost certain to cause those projects to fail or have serious problems. High-level executive commitment and involvement is critical to the success of major IT projects. President Obama and Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius have now learned this to their sorrow.


• • •

I see the president is attempting to change the subject. All of a sudden, it is imperative that we start reforming immigration immediately.

I have an idea. Before we allow the Democrats to destroy our immigration system by reforming it to match their vision, shouldn’t we insist they first fix the health care reform disaster they created? Let’s try to deal with one Democratic debacle at a time.

MIKE TIERNEY, Burnsville

• • •

Michael Gerson, in calling the Affordable Care Act “a multiyear, multifaceted fiasco” (“Obamacare: Glitch or fiasco?” Oct. 25), leaves completely unacknowledged the fiasco that is our current health care system. Alone among all other developed countries of the world, the United States fails to provide health care to millions of its citizens. At the same time, our system results in far higher costs and poorer health outcomes than these other countries. It is widely acknowledged, even among conservatives, that this ever-worsening scenario is unsustainable.

The ACA is the first honest attempt in decades to take action to fix this travesty. It is a huge and incredibly complicated task. Yes, federal bureaucracy is subject to burdensome rules and constrained resources that can make the process less than efficient. And it is made all the more difficult by the political headwinds created by opponents who want to see this effort fail at all costs.

Private industry has had its chance at running this country’s health care system. With thousands of uninsured dying needlessly and record numbers going into bankruptcy due to health care costs, it is obvious that we need to try something else. The private insurance marketplaces that have been set up by the ACA are the best thing we have going so far to achieve better health care for all Americans. Improving and perfecting what we have started should be our goal. It will take a lot of patience and work. Simply tearing down this effort gets us nowhere.




Hard to think hierarchy bumbled, no intention

“Errors” and “mistakes.” That’s what Archbishop John Neinstedt calls years of careful, hard work by the Twin Cities Catholic hierarchy to keep the crimes of sexually troubled priests under wraps.

To believe that claim would require us to believe that these savvy and well-educated men are somehow stupid bumblers. But they’re obviously not.

If only a bishop could find the courage to say, “We tried to hide all this. We were wrong do to so. We put our self-interest first. And we are sorry.”

But that would take courage.

JUDY JONES, Marthasville, Mo.


The writer is Midwest associate director for the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests.



Sure, but it’ll still be easily ignored

Regarding the Oct. 23 endorsement editorial “Update and clarify Minneapolis Charter,” of course it makes a great deal of sense to clean up such an archaic document. However, I wonder whether it matters much when our City Council can simply ignore parts it finds inconvenient, such as when it wanted to push for the city to help fund the Twins stadium. That was a clear violation of the part of the charter that was passed in 1997. Minneapolis funding for the stadium should have been put to a vote by the citizens of our city. It was not. So, the professional sports stadium funding language will remain in the proposed revision. One has to ask: “So what?”

Jerri Johnson, Minneapolis



Is Mayo donation part of ‘tyranny of the 1%’?

Perhaps the Minnesota Teacher of the Year, who at a union conference recently referred to the “tyranny of the 1 percent,” should look up the meaning of the word before making such a thoughtless accusation. Maybe she could look no further than the front page of the Oct. 24 Star Tribune, which features a story about Robert and Patricia Kern, who donated more than $67 million dollars to the Mayo Clinic. She need look no further, also, than the Kerns’ donations to public and private education. The teacher’s insinuation that the wealthy of this country are automatically “cruel, ruthless and brutal” is a disgrace to the very honor bestowed upon her. Hopefully this is not a lesson she passes on to her students.




The voice of reason? Well, it depends …

Indeed, kudos to the women in the U.S. Senate who worked together for a solution to the government shutdown impasse (Letter of the Day, Oct. 24, 2013). But their political voice of reason couldn’t have been just because they are women. Michele Bachmann is a woman.




John Levy, the coauthor of ”Let us eat lunch where our appetites lead us” (Opinion Exchange, Oct. 23), is the coowner of AZ Canteen, a food truck mentioned in the article.