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Friday, February 01, 2019

SCHMID: LOOKING BACK FROM THE LEFT COAST - JANUARY 28, 2019

HWY 52 BLUES  U.S. Highway 52 is the key transportation corridor for north central ND.  The route angles southeast from Portal on the Canadian border through Minot to Jamestown, where it continues east to Minnesota on I-94.  All along Hwy 52 there is a growing chorus to make four lanes, or next best, to install passing lanes.  Minot is most aggrieved — it sees a competitive disadvantage with Bismarck, Fargo and Grand Forks, all of which sit at the junction of two four-lane highways.  Minot says it must also sync with Canada which is improving its end of the highway.

ME TOO  Velva, Harvey and Carrington all make special cases for four lanes on their section of Hwy 52.  Carrington is the intersection of three highways (U.S. 52 and 281, and ND 200).  A new roundabout helps alleviate bottlenecks where the roads meet, but Carrington Mayor Tom Edman says they still need four lanes on Hwy 52 in both directions.

WAIT A MINUTE  Make no mistake, columnist Mike Jacobs does not like Gov. Burgum’s proposal to use $50 million of Legacy Fund earnings as a downpayment on a T. Roosevelt Library in Medora.  Jacobs favors Dickinson, a larger city with more visitor amenities.  He notes the Madera location will not actually be a library — that’s been largely done at Dickinson State.  Jacobs also hinted that Roosevelt’s accomplishments and association with ND are overstated.

MEDORA curls up in winter when it has no grocery store or cafe.  Gov. Burgum’s proposal to raise $150 million for a T. Roosevelt Library and make it ND’s No. 1 tourist attraction has profound implications for the town (pop. 100).  Local attitudes range from enthusiastic approval to caution — services would have to be expanded and there would be a need for employee housing. 

LESS IS MORE  Airline boardings in ND increased 5 percent in 2018.  Minot did a little better — it’s new terminal handled 6 percent more passengers than 2017.  However, the 152,000 passengers in 2018 were far fewer than the peak of 224,000 in 2012.  Rick Feltner, Minot’s airport director, said these days there is less traffic from oilfield workers, but more general business and leisure travelers.

A FILIAL SUPPORT LAW requires children to support indigent parents — ND’s law dates back to 1877.  The law most frequently comes into play when parents are in a nursing home.  An amendment is proposed which narrows and defines when the law applies.  Basically, the amendment limits liability to situations where the parents or children have acted in bad faith to minimize the parents’ assets.

AMBIVALENT  ND’s new logo slogan “Be Legendary” is not sitting well with many.  The GF Herald made an ambivalent defense: “Let's start by saying we neither strongly dislike nor rousingly applaud the new state logo and slogan being used by the North Dakota Tourism Division.”  Others are more direct, Rep. Marvin Nelson says everyone hates it and added, “The new logo looks like someone created it with a basic computer program on a standard business card.”  Nelson introduced a bill to start over by having a contest.

A CHILL WENT DOWN THE BACK of Minot State President Steve Shirley when he heard of HCR 3021, a legislative proposal to privatize his school and two others.  Shirley said “privatization was not an idea generated from within the university.”

NOTABLE MINNESOTAN  Loren Law was not a household name, but had sufficient leadership roles over a long career in corporate and municipal life to be the subject of a recent article in the Star Tribune.  The former mayor of Richfield, MN, was born in Bordulac, ND, and graduated from Valley City State.  Law died in December at age 101.

STARTING TO SEE THE PROBLEM  I’ve previously said here that, when the manager of the Ashby (Minnesota) Farmers Cooperative Elevator stole $5.5 million in broad daylight, the real problem was the board of directors.  An attorney representing members of the cooperative said this week “This was a real failure of the board of directors.”  Attorney Jason Lina said he and attorney Erik Ahlgren would bring claims against the elevator’s directors.  When tough legislative fixes were suggested for Minnesota elevators, an industry spokesman said, "It's not fair to punish our entire industry for one man's greed and a board of directors' complete failure to do their job."

REFUGEES  Minnesota accepted the lowest number of refugees in 2018 in over a decade.  Somalis, historically one of the largest refugee groups, had few MN resettlements in 2018, although refugees continue to arrive who were originally resettled in other states.  Lutheran Social Services of Minnesota reduced the number of employees serving refugees by 25 percent and Catholic Charities in the Twin Cities closed its refugee program.  ND continues to receive refugees who originally resettled in Minnesota.

ROOKIE CONGRESSWOMAN  The Star Tribune editorial board took the unusual step of rebuking U.S. Rep. Ilhan Omar (D), a first-term member of Congress from Minneapolis, for making ill-advised comments about a prominent U.S. Senator.  The editorial said she had “Absolutely nothing” to back up her comments, which she then shrugged them off as “just an opinion.”  The Tribune asked “Who will trust her? Who will want to work with her?” and said “Hamstringing her career so soon would be a real shame.”  The editorial noted it had taken former Rep. Michele Bachmann (R) to task for similar reasons — “Bachmann’s careless words undermined her political career.”

TRIBUNE READERS were somewhat split in their reaction to the editorial, although the majority were skeptical of Rep. Omar.  One reader said, “The paper has given Omar a free ride when they didn't pursue the fact that she committed a crime when she lied about her brother being her husband to get him into the US.”  Another said, “Maybe if the Strib had done its duty and dug deep and asked the tough questions regarding her OWN sketchy past her constituents wouldn't have elected this unqualified person to begin with.” 

DAKTOIDS:  A GF Herald poll asked who is responsible for the government shutdown —  the response was evenly divided between Trump and the Demo House . . . Legislation is proposed to bring all ND counties into the Central Time Zone — the proposal affects 11 southwestern counties in the Mountain Time Zone.

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