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Tuesday, January 31, 2012


Oops! We forgot to file seven years of income tax returns and, oh yea, we forgot to pay our property taxes too. ND Rep. RaeAnn Kelsch of Mandan laid out her problems at a press conference at ND Republican headquarters. RaeAnn employed the “innocent spouse” explanation -- her attorney husband takes care of messy things like tax returns and finances. This will be a hard sell for Kelsch who is a member of various legislative committees dealing with taxes and fiscal matters.

Do you ever peek at titillating “National Inquirer” headlines when you are stalled in a supermarket checkout line? At times, the Forum’s SheSays section provides the same experience. A recent article exclaims how a “trio of life-altering miracles
changed the future of a former Filipino medical student now living in Fargo. After surviving deadly brain inflammation, Roanne “Anne” Guerrero persevered to cure her mother’s cancer and save her infant son from a “potential full-blown
(speech) disorder.” Rather than seeing her experiences as misfortunes, Guerrero views them as miracles. The article was intended to show how “difficult times shape us for the better.”

How did this happen? Canada is blessed with beautiful scenery such as Vancouver and the Canadian Rockies, and dynamic cities like Toronto and Montreal. So what did Canadians pick as the top tourism spot in Canada? I’m afraid to tell you, it is
“The Forks” in Winnipeg. I’ve seen it -- it’s where the Red River from ND is joined by the Assiniboine River and together slowly wind their way north toLake Winnipeg.

Two billionaires benefit from President Obama’s decision to block the Keystone XL pipeline from Canada. Warren Buffet gains because his company Berkshire Hathaway owns BNSF Railway which hauls 75 percent of the oil that leaves ND. Oilman Harold Hamm benefits because he is the biggest operator in the ND Oil Patch and his reserves have greater value when there is less oil from Canada. Despite the boost, Hamm said, “I don’t think it’s a good thing for America.” There is no indication either man attempted to influence the decision.

Even Bismarck Tribune columnist Clay Jenkinson reluctantly endorses the Keystone pipeline. He is an
avid environmentalist. Who does that leave?

In January 2011, four American Indians were the shooting victims of what appeared to be closely related murders in Minot. A Somali man with a criminal background was arrested for one of the murders. Two of the victims also had criminal
backgrounds. A year has passed, the remaining murders are unsolved and the police and media have little to say about the victims or their relationship with the man accused of murder. The complete silence and lack of progress in the cases is hard to understand. The 2007 stabbing death of Minot college student Anita Knutson also remains unsolved with no suspects and little

What a pity -- he was doing such a good job! Poor Howard Kieffer. The Minnesota man was sentenced to four years and three months in prison for impersonating a lawyer in ND, oh yes, and at least nine other states.

“You won’t find a more Norwegian Christmas than in North Dakota.” Whose doing the bragging? Actually, the quote is from an article in the Norwegian magazine Kamille written by former UND students from Norway. Chuck Haga of the GF Herald traced the path of the writers as they researched Norwegian Christmas in ND. They particularly admired the lefse-making course offered at the Sons of Norway lodge in Grand Forks.

A Forum editorial was headed “Startling Oil Patch numbers.” There were many numbers, here are a few: Undocumented workers are flocking to the area and overwhelming authorities. The inmate population at the Williams County jail has doubled.
Trinity Hospital in Minot has hired 115 nurses from the Philippines. No, the Forum wasn’t suggesting hardworking Filipino nurses are causing trouble. The Forum was saying the boom may be getting out of hand and the oil industry should ratchet down until ND catches up. If that doesn’t happen, the Forum suggests the heavy hand of regulators may be necessary.

The beat goes on. Another hospital merger is being considered in western ND. St. Alexius in Bismarck and McKenzie County Healthcare (Watford City) are considering an affiliation. An Alexius representative said the purpose of the affiliation would be to allow McKenzie "to tap into our resources in order to help them get ahead of the growth on the western part of the state." The McKenzie CEO said emergency room volume has been doubling every year.

Recently, newspapers reported the discovery of a body along Montana’s Hi-Line near the ND border. What is the Hi-Line? Wikipedia says it’s that portion of the northern U.S. which runs along the mainline of the old Great Northern Railway and U.S.
Hwy 2. While the term usually refers to Montana, it can also mean the region from Minnesota to Spokane.

They left out one small detail. An article in the Bismarck Tribune said a court had approved the bankruptcy plan of Lee Enterprises, the publisher of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch and nearly 50 other newspapers. The missing detail -- the Tribune
is one of those 50 newspapers.

Devils Lake and Jamestown sighed with relief in early 2011 when efforts to repeal the Essential Air Services Act were defeated. The Act subsidizes air service in certain rural communities -- under the ACT each passenger that flies out of Jamestown on a commercial flight receives a federal subsidy of $380. That wasn’t enough, Delta Airlines threw in the towel. Great Lakes Aviation is stepping into the gap and will use 19-passenger planes to provide service from Devils Lake and
Jamestown to Minneapolis.

While I was a UND student, a meeting room filled with business students eager to hear a talk by entrepreneur Harold Schafer. He died in 2001 and his name is now familiar to only a few Nodaks. Schafer was the founder of the Gold Seal Co. known for household products such as Gold Seal Wax, and was also the father of Ed Shafer, whobecame governor of ND. After the sale of Gold Seal, the senior Shafer put personal money and energy into restoring the town of Medora and creating a
greater appreciation of the Badlands. Schafer’s 100th birthday is February 1.

Their communications skills were inadequate” -- the reason given when Dickinson State dismissed five Chinese students. Translated from university speak that means the students were unable to speak English. The students were placed at DSU by a contractor, the HECATE Center of Cultural Communication. The several hundred Chinese students at DSU contribute to the diversity and international flavor of the campus, but also bring something else -- valuable tuition revenue. The former president of DSU lost his job for, among other problems, inflating enrollment statistics.

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