“If there was a state program that was costing $185 million a year and only gave the money to lawyers and criminals, what would you do with it?” These are the words of a California man advocating repeal of that state’s death penalty, previously, he supported the penalty. He says the program is so wasteful it serves no effective purpose -- the number of people on California death row has grown to 720. Death row prisoners are most likely to die of old age. ND has no death penalty, but a federal death penalty was given to Alfonso Rodriguez Jr. for the 2003 kidnapping and murder of UND student Dru Sjodin. His appeals continue to this day in federal courts.
This week, two ND newspapers had editorials about the state’s higher education system. The first was a Bismarck Tribune editorial about repeated failures by the Board of Higher Education and outgoing chancellor William Goetz. The Tribune said Nodaks were profoundly disappointed, but the paper was vague about a solution, hinting that the new chancellor may need more authority. The Tribune was clear on only one point -- whatever has to be done, it is “Better to act now.”
The Tribune was vague; Tom Dennis at the GF Herald was opaque. Dennis normally takes a very logical approach to editorials: He identifies a problem, provides background and precedent, and arrives at a recommendation. His editorial about the upcoming statewide vote on the Fighting Sioux nickname was different. Dennis believes the upcoming vote could diminish UND and threatens its independence, and that, in turn, would reduce the independence and authority of NDSU. Therefore, Dennis recommends that NDSU and its president should encourage voters to retire the UND nickname. Doesn’t this seem like a tenuous chain of events?
A Tribune reader introduced yet another point of view: “It is finally time for our Legislature to confront this out-of-control beast (state University System) once and for all. Eleven institutions of ‘higher learning’ in a state with a population of 683,000? Most are diploma mills run by overpaid administrators.” Yes, some ND schools should be downsized or eliminated, but a gush of oil money now makes that unlikely.
For years I have observed and occasionally written about a pattern of embezzlement by mid-career women in ND. Finally, someone agrees. A Minneapolis Star Tribune article says five of the six most prolific alleged embezzlers in Minnesota last year were women. Nationwide, women represent 64 percent of alleged perpetrators. Embezzlement is the only offense nationwide where women outnumber men. Experts say motive and opportunity are the main factors, with gambling the key motive. Many ND cases involved casino gambling.
Bismarck will have a shortage of wizards. The Dakota Wizards minor league basketball team is moving to Santa Cruz, California. The Wizards are owned by Oakland’s Golden State Warriors and the move brings the two teams closer together. Santa Cruz is already the home of the awe-inspiring UC Santa Cruz Banana Slugs.
It’s hard to make money out of green stuff. The Jamestown/Stutsman Development Corp. is attempting to find investors for a $10 million lettuce greenhouse called Endless Harvest. To attract investors, JSDC is putting $65,000 into a demonstration operation in Minnesota. Simultaneously, JSDC is writing off a $140,000 loan to Dakota Fresh, a salad-processing operation which declared bankruptcy in Medina. Founders of the bankrupt company now plan to make ethanol out of sugar beets (they may wish to use the slogan "there is an ethanol investor born every minute").
The Jamestown Sun has weekly Bravo and Buffalo chip awards and usually pitches soft balls to locals and bullets to people elsewhere. This week was not disappointing -- local folks were praised for emphasizing the importance of reading, while a Colorado Springs couple were scolded for stealing the goodies at a children’s Easter egg hunt.
The Fargo Forum’s weekly Leafy Spurge and Prairie Roses are a little more serious. This week, they gave the weed to Nodaks with a double standard, that is, those who hate the federal government, but grab federal money whenever it’s available. Prairie Roses went to Jamestown’s Darin Erstad, possibly the most outstanding athlete in the history of ND and now the baseball coach for the U. of Nebraska. Erstad played two major sports at Nebraska and went on to a successful Major League Baseball career.
Former Fargo Police Chief Chris Magnus’ time there was largely uneventful. Then Magnus made a very risky decision -- he accepted the job of police chief in Richmond, California (S.F. Bay Area), considered one of the most dangerous cities in the U.S. That includes dangers he hadn’t anticipated. Richmond is a city with a history of racial tension and is less than one-third white. In an effort to reform the police department, Magnus made changes in leadership and became the target of racial discrimination lawsuits by black police officers. This week, in the first of two trials, a jury cleared Magnus of all charges.
Gordon Hansen enthusiastically joined almost any organization and rarely saw a game he didn’t want to play. He was the former owner and publisher of the Jamestown Sun and his obituary may be one of the longest ever published by the Sun. Hansen seemed jolly and friendly his entire 89-year life.
DAKTOIDS: Grand Forks should not look over its shoulder -- someone may be gaining on it. The city has a population of around 53,000 and is the third-largest city in ND. Officials in Minot say their city has reached 50,000 and is growing rapidly . . . The owner of Scenic Sports & Liquor in Williston reports that “some little old ladies are buying piles of mace and stun guns.” Nice combination: selling liquor and guns. Hey, I’ll have a .357 Magnum and a couple bottles of Old Crow . . . In terms of births to teenage girls, ND is about in the middle with 29 births per 1,000. Mississippi with 55 births per 1,000 teenage girls is the worst state; New Hampshire with 16 is the best . . . Parolees are moving into ND for jobs in the Oil Patch -- the increase is straining the staff of the state Parole and Probation Division . . . The Air Force logs 7 million miles annually tending to the 150 missiles served out of the Minot AFB.
Friday, April 13, 2012
TREASURE ISLAND - COINS AND PRECIOUS METALS