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Monday, April 23, 2018


MORE URBAN THAN YOU THINK  ND used to be considered the most rural state.  Don’t know how that stands today, but the state is becoming significantly more urban.  Take the four most populous counties, those in which the four largest cities (Fargo, Bismarck, Grand Fork and Minot) are located — they have 55 percent of the state population.  The next four largest counties (those housing Williston, Mandan, Dickinson and Jamestown) have 15 percent of the state population, bringing the eight largest counties (out of 53) to 70 percent.
LIFE EXPECTANCY at birth in ND is 80 years according to a 2016 study by an Institute at the U. of Washington ranking ND #12 in the nation.  In 1990, ND was ranked #4.  There was a similar slide at neighbors Montana (#18 to #27), South Dakota (#11 to #25) and Wyoming (#20 to #32).  Minnesota had a life expectancy of 81 and ranked #4 in the nation.  Only Hawaii, California and Connecticut ranked above MN.  Mississippi, W. Virginia and Alabama were in familiar territory at the bottom of the rankings.
NO AGREEMENT  A minimum wage of $15 an hour may be on the ND fall ballot.  A committee is gathering signatures to qualify a measure to raise the present minimum wage of $7.25 an hour in steps to $15 in 2021 — slightly more than doubling in three years.  Opponents believe the measure will hurt the economy, increase prices and lose jobs, particularly, in small communities.  Supporters note that most businesses already pay more than the minimum wage and the measure will help small communities by increasing incomes and allowing young people to stay.
“CAN THIS PRESIDENCY BE SAVED?”  No, columnist Mike Jacobs was not referring to Trump, it was UND President Mark Kennedy.  While the issue was presented as a question, there seemed to be little question in Jacob’s mind.  He hinted Kennedy may be fatally weakened and listed a number of leadership problems, not the least of which was Kennedy’s decision to apply for the presidency of the U. of Central Florida.  Jacobs also indicated there are problems below Kennedy where a number of key positions are vacant.
DISAPPOINTMENT IN JAMESTOWN  If you drive I-94 at night east of Jamestown, you see the bright lights of a large industrial plant to the north.  Connie Ova, CEO of Jamestown/Stutsman Development Corp., said she was at a loss for words regarding Cargill Malt which has 55 employees and is closing for lack of demand for its particular type of malt.  Cargill is Stutsman County’s largest taxpayer.  Cargill will still have operations in West Fargo and Wahpeton.  Jamestown suffered a major disappointment in 2015 when plans for a $3 billion nitrogen fertilizer plant at the same location were canceled.
THE HIGH COUNTRY NEWS is a left-leaning periodical dealing mainly with Indian matters.  Despite that leaning, HCN made a significant effort to investigate dodgy charities that raised millions of dollars for the Dakota Access Pipeline protests.  HCN focused particularly on Michael Wood, an activist who founded Veterans Stand, which raised more than $1.4 million in online donations.  HCN found “That money was, at best, squandered and at worst, egregiously misspent.”  It reported “Wood lives in a condo flanked by palm trees and luxury vehicles, financed by donations meant to help veterans and the Standing Rock Sioux.”  HCN’s findings were summarizted in Rob Port’s blog.
JENNI MONET is a freelance journalist whose family is from ND’s Turtle Mt. Reservation.  She reports for HCN and Indian Country Today, among other publications, and was acting as a journalist when arrested during the Dakota Access Pipeline demonstrations.  Monet is charged with criminal trespass and engaging in a riot.  She was arrested and held after leaving an area the police set aside for the press.  Monet’s defense is "I was there doing my job” — her case is not resolved.  Her role in the DAPL protests was part of a lengthy report by Patrick Springer in Forum papers.
IS PROSECUTION WARRANTED?  Critics say police may have been justified to arrest Monet in the "heat of the moment,” but prosecutors given more time should have dismissed the charges.  Mark Truant, a journalism professor at UND, said journalists such as Monet serve an important role which law enforcement and prosecutors should recognize.  He expressed disappointment that the regional and national press wasn't more outspoken about the arrests of Monet and other journalists.  Monet received support from a Forum editorial and spoke this week at a UND symposium, “Standing Rock & the Media.”
FBI AGENT CONFESSES  For several years the federal government has had a special FBI team and other programs in Minneapolis for counterterrorism.  The programs are designed to prevent terrorists from recruiting young men in the Somali community.  Terry Albury (39), a black former Minnesota FBI agent and member of the special team, has pleaded guilty to leaking classified documents to a reporter from The Intercept, which published classified information.  Albury says he was acting out of conscience to protest the profiling and intimidation of minority communities.  He faces a sentence of 3-5 years.
HIDING FROM TAXES  AOL identified five high-tax states where residents fled to adjoining states with lower taxes.  Minnesota has income tax rates that reach 9.85 percent — AOL said some MN residents relocated to Prairie Hills, SD, a luxury community near Sioux Falls.

GOVERNMENT CAN GET IN THE WAY  Attorney General Marty Jackley is one of four candidates for governor in SD.  He had this refreshing observation: "Government does not create jobs, it is the job of government to remove obstacles, and provide resources so jobs can be created by the private sector.”  SD is better than most states at keeping regulation and taxes low.
GRAY WOLVES may be fair game in Minnesota if federal rules change.  The Red Lake Nation will continue to be a sanctuary for wolves.  They summed up their view this way: "Many believe that if wolves prosper, the people of Red Lake will prosper, and if wolf populations suffer, so will the Red Lake Nation.”

DAKTOIDS:  The New York Times compared metro areas for similarity and found Fargo and Sioux Falls, SD, tended to look like each other.  Both regularly appear on lists of outstanding regional cities . . . The parent of Herberger’s department stores is in bankruptcy and is being liquidated — it has stores in Fargo, Bismarck, Minot and Dickinson.


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