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Monday, January 30, 2017


THE DAKOTA ACCESS PIPELINE was expedited this week by a directive from the Trump administration. The action was hailed by government, business and labor leaders in ND, while opposed by some tribal leaders. Gov. Doug Burgum said, “After months of politically driven and costly delays by the Obama administration, President Trump has moved this important infrastructure project one step closer to completion. Burgum also asked for help from federal law enforcement as the project moves forward.

BOLD PREDICTIONS Congressman Kevin Cramer, while in Washington D.C., was interviewed last week on Rob Port’s ND radio program. Cramer made two predictions regarding the Dakota Access Pipeline. He said that as early as this week “the EIS (lengthy environmental study initiated by Obama) will be rescinded” and a decision granting permission for the pipeline to cross the Missouri is imminent.

PLEASE LEAVE The Cannon Ball District of Standing Rock asked all DAP protesters to leave the area and not set up a winter camp nearby. They are concerned about alcohol and drugs, and also want to repair and reclaim use of facilities, such as their gym, which has been used as a shelter. The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe formally told all protesters camping in flood zones that they need to pack up and move by Jan. 30, when they plan to bring in equipment to pack up waste and materials. Some out-of-state protestors are expected to refuse to leave.

GOV. BURGUM signed his first bill, but probably not his first choice. The bill authorizes the state to borrow an additional $8 million from the Bank of ND for law enforcement related to the DAP protests, bringing total borrowings for that purpose to $25 million. Burgum also urged evacuation of the protest camp, he said, "If we don't evacuate and get all the debris, the cars, the buildings and everything that are illegally on federal property ... then we're creating a water disaster that we were trying to prevent, which would be a sad irony."

HOUSE MAJORITY LEADER AL CARLSON gave the Minot Daily News “ten easy basics” for making a state budget. His basics emphasized that the Legislature, led by the Appropriations Committee chairs in each house, was the real boss of the budget process. Basic No. 4 was among several that made that point: “Budget suggestions that originate in the governor’s office are important but they are purely advisory. Legislators determine where money will be spent.”

YIN AND YANG The ND Legislature is considering a bill that would allow local government to ban refugee resettlement. Refugee advocates stoutly oppose the bill. Forum columnists came up on opposite sides. Mike McNeely sees the bill as an effort to keep refugees out of the state and strongly hints its purpose is racist. Rob Port, on the other hand, sees a legitimate concern about the impact of refugees on things like crime and social services and believes residents should have an avenue to measure those impacts.

HATERS ARE LOOSE “But is there a fringe that believes Trump's election has mainstreamed their hatred? Seems so.” -- Forum columnist Mike McNeely says he has experienced an increase in hate mail since the elections.

KILBOURNE GROUP Gov. Doug Burgum is no longer directly involved in real estate development in downtown Fargo, but Kilbourne, his development company, is involved in over $150 million of active construction, mostly clustered near downtown Broadway. A Forum article described the momentum that continues to transform downtown.

COLORFUL INAUGURAL GIFTS An old North Dakota map was combined with reproductions of George Catlin and Karl Bodmer paintings to create a collage background. Minot artist Walter Piehl painted a bison over the background of the 4x5-foot painting. -- An artwork commissioned by Gov. Doug Burgum and his wife to commemorate his inauguration. Catlin and Bodmer depicted the lives of Indians in ND’s Missouri River Valley. Prints made from the collage were given at inaugural events.

UND has agreed to join the Summit League in the fall of 2018 for all of its athletic programs outside of football and hockey, and is expected to join the Missouri Valley Football Conference. The 2017-18 season will be UND’ s last in the Big Sky Conference. The four largest universities in the Dakotas will then be in the same conferences.

THE GRAND FORKS METRO AREA economy is flat. Employment has lingered around 58,000 for several years and building permits are down. The departure of Macy’s is another negative. Looking for the bright side, the CEO of the area Chamber of Commerce said, “It's been two years, really, since the 'boom' was really over out west,” pointing out that the Grand Forks economy has had to work against falling agricultural and oil prices as well as the strength of the Canadian dollar. "You take all three of those economic headwinds, and Grand Forks is doing extremely well."

ARCTIC CAT, a pioneer in the snowmobile industry, has most of its 1,600 employees in Thief River Falls, a short distance northwest of Grand Forks. The Arctic business has been stumbling and is being sold to Textron for $250 million. Arctic did not have the resources to compete with the likes of Polaris and Honda.

RICH KIDS Where do the richest Minnesotans go to college? The Equality of Opportunity Project answered that question: Carleton, St. Olaf, Macalaster, St. Thomas and Saint Benedict (women’s college near St. Cloud). Carleton had nearly as many students from the richest one percent of households as it does from the bottom 60 percent -- St. Olaf wasn’t far behind.

“MOORHEAD’S BUSINESS COMMUNITY has been suffering from a disease called ‘socialist fiscal policy’ caused by over taxation and regulation. The only known cure, which businesses on the western Minnesota border have been seeking for years, is to move to North Dakota or South Dakota.” -- Excerpts from a letter to the Forum advocating relief from Minnesota for communities bordering the Dakotas.

DAKTOIDS: Kensal is a tiny central ND town. The Jamestown Sun gave a Bravo to the Kensal school for equipping all elementary students with tablets or laptops . . . WalletHub selected ND tops in the nation for family friendliness. Minnesota was No. 4 . . . U.S. Sen. John Hoeven will have a powerful voice in rural America -- he has been named chairman of a Senate Appropriations Committee that includes agriculture and rural development.

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