Last week, we had reason to think Minnesota attitudes towards ND were becoming kinder and gentler. How is that working out? Sorry, not so well, the meanies are at it again. Minnesota state representative Matt Dean was trying to build support for restoring Minnesota’s ornate capitol building. In the course of debate, he said ND’s capitol is “terrible, it’s embarrassing,” likening it to a State Farm Insurance building. With characteristic restraint, Gov. Jack Dalrymple expressed pride in the ND capitol and hoped Dean’s architectural horizons could be expanded. Dean is a former architect. Then, another Minnesota legislator disparagingly referred to the Fargodome as “The Box in Fargo.” Do we have a trend?
Minneapolis Star Tribune columnist James Lileks defended the ND capitol as a clean and rational style of design. He said it “commands the prairie with simple, lean authority” and has aged well. He added that the interior holds pleasant surprises. A necessary footnote: Lileks is a ND native, as is Rep. Kurt Zellers, speaker of the Minnesota House.
Dean’s comments hit a sore spot, provoking a swarm of letters to ND papers. Meghan Strand made this eloquent tribute to the ND capitol: “It’s beautiful and simple. It’s a symbol of who we are. We many not be fancy people, but on the inside we are beautiful and good people . . . “ Tom Linnertz said, “It is rather plain and tall, simple and functional, just like North Dakotans.”
Tribune columnist Clay Jenkinson is a little dismayed that in some places, when the word “North Dakota” is invoked, people “laugh out loud.” He suggests the state use its oil money to offer free college tuition to all Nodaks and affordable tuition to others. In time, North Dakota would be seen as a wise and desirable state and people would “nod their head in respect” when its name was mentioned.
The State Board of Higher Education is losing three members for various reasons. But the Fargo Forum sees through the fog and knows the real reason: The board’s job “has been made nearly impossible because of an undisguised attempt by legislative leaders and their lemming-like followers to usurp the the board’s legal role.” So there!
The Wall Street Journal finds drones in unexpected places. One of those places is UND where unmanned aircraft are part of a UAS undergraduate degree program. The WSJ said UAS graduates find jobs with drone manufacturers or operators. By partnering with UND, the GF County Sheriff’s Department is also getting surveillance drones. Something may hover over your backyard.
NDSU President Dean Bresciani thinks his faculty is underpaid, although the average full professor makes $100,000. He uses as a comparison the $125,000 average for professors at the U. of Minnesota -- Twin Cities. UM is a larger and more prestigious school in a high priced urban location. Perhaps, Bresciani should look across the Red River where professors at Minnesota State average $80,000 and Concordia where the average is $76,000. In a GF Herald editorial, Tom Dennis asks Bresciani if his faculty is leaving in droves, in other words, is there any indication NDSU is paying below market rates.
Shame on you, Jessica! This week, the Jamestown Sun handed out many feel good Bravos to local folks. Then it reached clear across country to slip a Buffalo Chip on Jessica Vega, a New York woman who faked cancer to get sympathetic donations for her “dream wedding.” A few people in Jamestown may give Buffalo Chips to the Sun -- the newspaper is now being printed in W. Fargo.
It’s April and young Indians’ thoughts turn to -- arson. April is a month between snow melt and green up when grass is “flammable as gasoline.” The Spirit Lake Reservation near Devils Lake averages about 400 purposely set fires each April. The reservation chairwoman says this has been going on as long as she can remember. Five years ago the BIA sent investigation teams to Spirit Lake, but the fires continue and the annual cost runs into millions. This year, a $10,000 reward has been posted and the Ft. Totten Fire Department has hired an expert investigator.
In the world of affirmative action, if a large company wants a federal contract, it may have to partner with a firm considered to be economically “disadvantaged,” usually one owned by women or minorities. The idea is that the disadvantaged firm receives economic benefits and improves its qualifications. In the real world, the arrangements don’t always work well, so it is common practice for a large firm to “rent” the use of a disadvantaged firm. These subtle frauds are built into the cost of contracts and both parties go away happy. Occasionally, the arrangements unravel and result in federal fraud charges. Such is the case with R.J. Zavoral, an E. Grand Forks construction firm, which is being charged with using a member of the Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe Indians as a front for obtaining a federal project.
In the political season messages get very convoluted. Kristen Daum is a Forum writer who also blogs on the Forum website. Daum says Democratic Senate candidate Heidi Heitkamp was an ardent supporter of President Obama and his health care reform law. Daum criticizes a conservative PAC for failing to acknowledge that Heitkamp, to use Daum’s words, has been “backtracking of late.” Daum says the PAC was misleading because it failed to note “Heitkamp’s attempt to distance herself from the law she once praised.” She accuses the PAC of picking and choosing from Heitkamp’s shifting positions.
A little over a decade ago, ND had a methamphetamine epidemic. Many offenders were sentenced and the problem shrunk, but now the first wave of offenders is being released from prison and meth use and sales are increasing. Police Chief Scott Edinger says that is what's happening in Jamestown. Illegal drug dealing is hard to detect, Edinger said the most common busts occur because of traffic stops.
ND traffic accidents are rising and involve a high proportion of out-of-staters. Take this one: a Chevy Blazer crossed the center line on U.S. Hwy 85 in the Oil Patch and struck a Kenworth semitrailer head-on. The Blazer driver died, the semi driver was hospitalized. The deceased driver was from Greeley, Colo.; the other driver from Spokane, Wash.