Tributes continued to pour in after the death of former governor Art Link. With the benefit of a long look back, a speech by Link in 1973 is emerging as the hallmark of his time as governor. The speech was about the boom in coal mining and called for a measured response which permitted development of the resource, yet protected the landscape and returned it to productive use after mining. The speech provided an outline for the progressive coal mining policies later adopted in ND.
A number of editorials and columns have suggested that Link’s 1973 speech should be studied today in the context of the current energy boom. Lynn Helms, director of the ND Dept. of Mineral Resources, spoke to a Minot Kiwanis Club. He has been the state’s spokesman for the startling increases in oil and gas production. Helms told the Minot group that the state may also expect important expansions in the production of uranium, shallow gas, potash and sand (used in the oil industry). He also took note of developments in geothermal and wind energy. The implication of the editorials is the boom described by Helms calls for the same type of restraint and cautious policy that Link promoted in 1973.
“Nope. That’s what cardboard boxes are for.” -- Former ND Gov. Art Link. The quote was furnished by former aid Tom Campbell as evidence of the frugality and hard work of the late governor. Link frequently worked long hours and took additional work home in a cardboard box.
When Campbell told Link they would be glad to get him a briefcase, Link explained the adequacy of cardboard boxes.
The North Dakota History journal has published a series of oral history interviews with former ND governors in which the governors are given the freedom to describe their careers pretty much as they wish. Gov. Link was the subject of one of the interviews; the most recent is about Gov. George Sinner. In an aside, Sinner volunteered that he had not had a high opinion of actress Angie Dickinson, that is, until he had a two hour visit with her. Sinner became an admirer and, eventually, inducted Dickinson into the Theodore Roosevelt Roughrider Hall of Fame.
Forum Editorial Page Editor Jack Zaleski had difficulty concealing his outrage at the Red River Basin Commission’s decision to meet the Devils Lake crisis with yet another study. Zaleski noted “the water is only about 6 feet from the natural breakout at the Tolna Coulee on the east end of the lake. What few in officialdom want to talk about is that the breakout elevation might be lower because the coulee is plugged with silt and drift.” He said the commission was ignoring the common sense solution of lowering the water, and the Corps of Engineers will misspend millions more raising the dikes.
TREASURE ISLAND - COINS AND PRECIOUS METALS
A GF Herald article indicated that rain this year is six inches ahead of normal and the state is having a Top 10 wet spring. Another article describes the plight of farmers in Nelson and Walsh counties near the divide between the Devils Lake and Red River basins who are struggling with a 17-year wet cyle. They gradually lose roads, acreage and access to livestock, fields and farmsteads. Township officials are overwhelmed by the paperwork and complexity of dealing with FEMA disaster regulations and feel forgotten as state and federal officials focus on the more high profile problems at Devils Lake.
Fact one: ND has some of the youngest drivers in the country. Kids can get a license as young as 14-1/2 years old. Fact two: ND is the only state without a graduated driver’s license program. Under such a program, young drivers have a period in which they are licensed, but do not have complete driving freedom. A rather broad coalition ranging from insurers to law enforcement will introduce a bill for a graduated program in the next legislature.
The flu epidemic which began in 1918 and lasted until 1920 killed 675,000 in the U.S. -- roughly the population of ND today. Forum columnist Bob Lind says the 1918 epidemic in ND kicked off in New Rockford, where 11 residents died before cases were reported in Fargo and Grand Forks. The number of worldwide victims is inexact, but is believed to have been between 50 and 100 million.
Dorreen Yellow Bird is a former columnist for the GF Herald who now lives in Indian Country, but still writes an occasional column for the Herald. A recent column, like many in the past, is a bit drifty, brushing from one topic to another and taking few clear positions. She had expected her retirement in western ND to bring quietness, but that has not been the case. Oil development has in her words made the reservation “a busy anthill” with people “looking for a piece of the pie.” She attended a major oil conference in Bismarck to cover the participation of the Three Affiliated Tribes. She was surprised there to overhear conversations about the UND Fighting Sioux nickname -- this struck her as strange and a throwback to her GF days.
Yellow Bird never made a secret of her dislike for the Fighting Sioux nickname and logo and pretty much sided with UND activist opponents. She now considers it likely the nickname will be retired this year, but cautions opponents against too much celebration. She likens the retirement to the Indian view of killing an animal for food -- you honor and thank it.
Supporters of the Fighting Sioux nickname at the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation believe their members would vote in favor of the nickname if given a chance and have a meaningful petition calling for such a vote. But certain members of the Standing Rock Council have done everything within their power to prevent or delay the vote. On June 9, members of the council were to meet to consider the petition, but mysteriously “other things came up.” Tribal Chairman Charles Murphy said he would try again.
Voters are angry, odd and anti-incumbent, that’s the story line around the nation -- but not in ND. Across the state, voters in the spring election were kind to incumbents and mostly satisfied with the status quo in local government. Lauren Donovan of the Bismarck Tribune scours county weekly newspapers looking for anomalies. Napoleon in Lawrence Welk Country is very much “mind your own business” territory, nevertheless, Donovan reported voters there decided to make the town 100 percent smoke-free. The local bars were divided -- the Downtowner Bar was for it and Freddie’s was not. The measure passed 263 to 94.