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Wednesday, August 09, 2017


GENERAL FUND REVENUES in ND for the just ended 2015-17 biennium plunged 29 percent from the 2013-15 biennium and presented state government with an extraordinary budgetary challenge. Columnist Rob Port says things are looking up and the state’s revenues may have found “rock bottom.” He noted monthly revenues are beginning to exceed March 2017 forecasts.

AMBIGUOUS “But a $500 fine for littering compared to a $125 fine for driving 100 mph on the interstate?” A Forum editorial concluded “Well, that’s just ridiculous.” The editorial was unclear as to which fine was ridiculous. It hinted it might be the littering fine: “North Dakota should have a healthy—but not outrageous—fine for littering,” but also said “North Dakota should increase the fines for those who are caught speeding on our roadways.” The editorial reminded that the Forum supports an 80 mph speed limit on Interstate highways.

TOUGH STATE "North Dakota has the worst forfeiture laws in the nation." -- Lee McGrath of the Institute for Justice's Minnesota office. Civil asset forfeiture allows law enforcement to seize individual belongings suspected of being involved in a crime; the burden of proof is on the citizen to establish their property was not used in relation to a crime. Local law enforcement in ND can keep the first $200,000 of seizures each biennium before turning additional money over to the state.

SHIRVANI CAME AND WENT A little background: Forum columnist Mike McFeely is an outspoken supporter of NDSU and its president Dean Bresciani. So in 2012-13, when Bresciani tangled with Hamid Shirvani, leader of the ND University System, McFeely was at Bresciani’s side. Many people outside the Fargo area supported Shirvani, nevertheless, he accepted a $1 million buyout and left ND, later becoming president of Briar Cliff College in Iowa. Shirvani recently resigned that position.

TIME TO ATONE McFeely has not forgotten those he perceived to be Shirvani supporters in ND. He believes it is time for them to atone and admit error. He was clear about who he had in mind: “They would include people like former Rep. Bob Skarphol of Tioga, Rep. Roscoe Streyle of Minot, blogger Rob Port, former Grand Forks Herald Publisher Mike Jacobs and then-State Board of Higher Education chair Grant Shaft.” Port and Jacobs are McFeely’s colleagues at the Forum companies.

WHY THE TEARS? Chuck and Karen Anderson broke into tears. They were nearly speechless -- words like “awesome” and “once in a lifetime” tumbled out. The Jamestown couple and their grandsons were at the Philadelphia Eagles training camp and the object of their wonder was Eagles’ quarterback Carson Wentz, former NDSU star. Asked to explain their wonderment -- they couldn’t -- all they could say was “it’s just being here.” Wentz is a role model for the grandsons, who dutifully wore their Bison green No. 11 T-shirts.
WHO IS DRIEST? ND has serious drought, but South Dakota is worse -- 100 percent of the state is experiencing drought. The SD Secretary of Agriculture said “some of the areas experiencing drought this year were also hit last year, and when you add in the low commodity prices, they are concerned about losing individual operations.” Ag is the top industry in SD and state officials are concerned about the impact on the economy.

HAY LOTTERY NDSU and the ND Dept. of Agriculture are creating a lottery to bring hay from Wisconsin to ranchers in drought-stricken areas of ND. Farm Rescue will assist with transportation. A convoy of semis will transport the hay from donating states.

“IT’S A RARE SITUATION when you have a presidential library that almost opens into a national park, so it's a greater experience than going to a library or a museum, you have the outdoors that are also tied in with this." -- “Wally” Goulet, Jr., new chief operating officer for the proposed T. Roosevelt Library in Dickinson. Goulet is a retired business attorney.

THE PATTERSON HOTEL was once a source of pride and sophistication for Bismarck, but is now humbled and used for low-income housing. It opened in 1911 as the McKenzie Hotel and was the tallest structure in Bismarck The 10-story, 117-unit landmark is under contract to the federal government for subsidized housing -- eight years remain on the contract. The owners are attempting to sell the former hotel, but there is a lack of serious interest.

THE REAPER is a spindly unmanned aircraft with a wingspan that's nearly twice as long as the fuselage. The Reapers are planes that can loiter for as long as 27 hours and hunt and kill terrorists. The National Guard will fly a pair of Reapers for training purposes out of the Fargo airport, but is concerned the planes will inspire public fear about privacy and live weapons. Officials sponsored a media tour to stress the planes won’t spy on the American public and will haul only dummy weapons.

IMMIGRANTS Homeland Security reports the largest immigrant population in ND is from Bhutan; for neighbors it was Montana (Canada), South Dakota (Ethiopia) and Minnesota (Somali). What is the most common job held by immigrants? For ND it was nursing, Montana (truck drivers), SD (home health aides) and Minnesota (janitors).

DAKTOIDS: After 95 years, JC Penney is closing in Jamestown and 30 employees lose jobs -- online shopping is an important driver of the closure . . . Fargo was picked No. 13 among the nation’s top university towns . . . Almost a record -- a Kindred ND motorcyclist was ticketed in Moorhead for going 155 mph.

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