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Monday, February 20, 2017


A CONFRONTATION may be in the offing at the DAPL protest camp. State and federal officials met with the 300 remaining protestors and repeated their order that the camp be cleaned and evacuated by Feb, 22. That is not likely to happen. In advance of any such confrontation, the Legislature has approved three “fast-tracked" bills relating to penalties for riot offenses, wearing a mask while committing a crime and criminal trespass citations. During earlier demonstrations, law enforcement felt handicapped by old legislation.

DO THE NUMBERS Here are some impacts of the DAPL protests: Morton County says 705 people have been arrested; 92 percent are out-of-state and 212 had prior criminal records. Law enforcement spent $33 million. Scott Hennen’s Forum column was headed “GoFundMe's NoDAPL dollars put police in danger.” Hennen reported those funds totaled $11 million.

EMERSON, MANITOBA is about 80 miles north of Grand Forks on I-29. The Emerson border crossing has been in the U.S. national news this past week because of the increasing number of refugees, mostly Somalian, crossing from the U.S. Canadian authorities intercepted 28 people at Emerson this past weekend. The increases are believed to be related to Minnesota’s status as the leading U.S. landing spot for Somali immigrants, many of whom are being turned down for asylum because they lack documents to prove their identity.

A TITAN STRUGGLE West Fargo’s Titan Machinery is one of the country’s largest dealers of ag and construction equipment with 90 U.S.and 20 European stores. For several years the company has been reporting losses and downsizing its business. Last week It announced the closure of 15 stores of which four were in small ND communities. Titan acquired many small businesses in farm communities -- its problems are partially an outgrowth of those acquisitions and a weak farm economy.

REORG HURTS KULM Titan’s actions are a somewhat routine type of corporate reorganization, but for the small communities involved the effect can be traumatic. Kulm was home to one of the closed dealerships. The town of 350 about 50 miles south of Jamestown may have budget cuts because of the loss of sales tax revenue from Titan. Additionally, about a dozen households will feel the loss of a job. Some employees may get jobs with Titan in Jamestown.

THE FORUM IS SORRY “We owe the Catholic Church, its parishioners and the members of St. Mary's Cathedral in Fargo an apology.” -- Thus began a statement from the Forum editor about their interview at St. Mary’s with a man considered by some to be a racist. A front-page article and photos may have created the mistaken impression the church sympathized with his views.

UND PRESIDENT MARK KENNEDY has been largely sure-footed in his first year -- with a extensive Minnesota political background he knows how to package decisions and policy proposals. But he ran into a buzz saw when he wrote an overly cute newspaper letter defending the hiring of an event coordinator for his office. Columnists Tom Dennis, Mike McNeely and Rob Port jumped on him -- three who are not usually pointed in the same direction.

GANG OF THREE The Forum’s McNeely was toughest, hinting Kennedy’s letter smacked of “arrogance, aloofness and elitism.” Port, also with the Forum papers, said “the expectations most had was that Kennedy would be better at managing the political scrutiny.” Tom Dennis at the GF Herald offered the most balanced discussion, but quoted an irate UND professor who alleged Kennedy was slashing academic departments while “hiring a party planner.”

SAME OLD EMPIRE BUILDER Winter weather in Montana and mudslides in Washington forced Amtrak to halt service on the Empire Builder for the second time last week. Passengers traveling to destinations between the Twin Cities and Minot were put on buses.

DEVILS LAKE has a 25 percent chance of a 4-foot increase by early summer, which would push the lake past its June 2011 record elevation. That also would add about 43,000 acres of water surface to Devils Lake, which currently covers 150,000 acres.

PETTY GRIEVANCE It’s bad enough when an employee files a whistleblower complaint, but when the complainant is your attorney it gets dicey. That was the case when Minot City Attorney Colleen Auer filed her complaint -- she had been employed for about a month. U.S. District Judge Daniel Hovland dismissed the complaint saying, “The allegations are more in the nature of personal, petty grievances of a disgruntled probationary employee that do not constitute illegal acts by the City.” He noted the case should not have reached federal court.

WINONA LADUKE maintains high visibility in ND and Minnesota with newspaper letters and appearances about matters such as pipeline protests, the ND oil industry and the impact of Trump’s immigration policies. Her rambling commentaries contain many extreme, often unsupported assertions. LaDuke is an American Indian activist and former running mate of Ralph Nader. She grew up in California and Oregon. She ran unsuccessfully for tribal office in Minnesota and her activities suggest further political ambitions.

DAKTOIDS Over five percent of ND’s workforce is in manufacturing. Their annual compensation averages $60,000 versus $50,000 for other businesses . . . Among 41 states that have wind farms, ND is fourth in installation of wind energy . . . LM produces wind turbine blades and is one of the largest manufacturers in ND with more than 1,000 employees in the Grand Forks area. General Electric purchased LM . . . SmartAsset rated Valley City the most affordable city in ND.

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