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Monday, July 02, 2018


MANY RED CAPS  The rally had the chance to book the 24,000-seat Fargodome, “and we should have taken it,”  President Trump said, saying thousands didn’t make it into the 6,000-seat Scheels Arena.  In case you wondered, the wednesday event was not statesman like.  The GF Herald described "a rabidly partisan crowd."  Trump didn’t disappoint his loyalists — mentions of “Chuck, Nancy and Maxine” brought raucous boos as he went down the enemies list.  Heidi Heitkamp received relatively gentle treatment — no nickname — but Trump said she was not a substitute for his favorite son, Kevin Cramer.  Trump got rock-star treatment and left ND redder than he found it.

HEITKAMP IS SQUEEZED  “At the beginning of the month, I wondered if Heitkamp might have coattails. Today the question might be whether she has staying power.” — Columnist Mike Jacobs commenting on the shifting political sands in Heitkamp’s campaign for the U.S. Senate.  Until now she has had the luxury of defining herself, but the campaign changed as her opponent Kevin Cramer and President Trump went on the attack.  Jacobs asked, “Can she keep the focus on North Dakota issues, especially trade? Or will she be drawn into a national campaign focused on the president and his policies?”

THE SUPREME COURT upheld President Trump’s travel ban on seven countries including Somalia and Iran.  The ruling resonated in Minnesota and among tens of thousands of Somalis there and, to a lesser degree, Fargo and Grand Forks.  Divided views emerged.  U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison from Minnesota, the first Muslim member of Congress, alleged the ban legalizes discrimination “behind a thin veneer of national security.”  John Hagedorn, a Minnesota GOP candidate for Congress, said, “The United States and the state of Minnesota have assimilation, terrorism and welfare problems associated with those who migrate from countries that hate America.”

WEED ACROSS THE BORDER  “What Canada does, it does not do in a bubble. Inevitably the impact will be felt here in N.D., where Canadians are our near neighbors, frequent guests and friends.” — A Minot Daily News editorial discussed Canada’s approval of recreational marijuana.  The editorial noted, “Once marijuana can be purchased legally in Canada, it is much easier to establish smuggling routes.”  The MDN sees keeping marijuana off the streets as an “unwinnable war.”  A measure to approve recreational use may be on ND’s fall ballot.

THE DAKOTA ACCESS PIPELINE, which has been operating for a year, carries half of ND’s oil production and has improved the net price of Bakken oil by $3 a barrel.  The better prices generated an additional $111 million in taxes for the state.  Pipeline advocates also note the safety advantage — a BNSF derailment this week spilled 230,000 gallons of oil in an Iowa river.  Efficiencies steadily move ND towards a new oil production record.  New wells recover 20 percent more oil than predecessors.
 “IF YOU HAVE A PILOT SHORTAGE you're going to have a flight instructor shortage.” — Jeremy Roesler, chief flight instructor at the UND aviation school.  The school currently has 170 instructors, but would like 220.  Roesler explained that the instructors are usually pilots waiting for an opportunity to join an airline.  Those opportunities are suddenly more numerous and starting salaries with regional airlines have risen from $30,000 to $60,000.  UND will have difficulty keeping instructors who prefer to be pilots. 

HEY!  THEY FOUND THE MACHINE GUN at an airman’s off-base residence this week.  Good news, of course, but it came a little too late for the airman’s commander, a Minot AFB colonel, who has been relieved and assigned to a new job in Florida.  An investigation of the stolen gun by special agents continues.  A container of rocket grenade rounds which fell off an Air Force truck is still missing.

SURPRISE!  Both UND President Mark Kennedy and his boss, ND University System Chancellor Mark Hagerott, have been the subject of negative media reports in the last year.  But the situation brightened for both.  Hagerott gave Kennedy a positive annual evaluation saying Kennedy took charge of a serious budget situation and confronted many other campus challenges.  Hagerott encouraged Kennedy to be nice to his critics and patiently explain the university’s broader state mission.  In his turn, Hagerott received a positive evaluation from the State Board of Higher Education — the majority felt he “exceeded expectations.”  There was one strongly dissenting member frustrated by what he considered Hagerott’s poor staff relations.  Contracts for both men have been renewed.

SLIGHTLY DEFENSIVE  “I was going to be who I am. I am outspoken and bold and a risk taker and I set lofty goals. I don't apologize for those things but it didn't match up with the majority of those that showed up to vote in this election.” — Jamestown Mayor Katie Anderson who lost to elected Mayor Dwaine Heinrich by 1,283 to 1,101. 

“WHY DOES THIS SCAM GO ON?  It's because in the contest between an indifferent majority and an intense minority, the minority wins every time.  If Congress wants to pass a bill for food stamps, it must also support farm subsidies.” — Commentary about the farm bill in the Forum by retired political science teacher John Calvert.  He described the farm subsidies in an unflattering  manner very unpopular in ND.  But his explanation of how a small, but well-organized farm lobby tends to get its way is well accepted among those studying American farm policy.

THE BISMARCK TRIBUNE is owned by Lee Enterprises, which owns newspapers in 39 markets.  Lee will manage 30 newspapers owned by Warren Buffet’s Berkshire Hathaway.  The 5-year agreement gives Lee substantial discretion over the operations of the BH newspapers.

CRIME IS FLAT  Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem reported ND crime statistics for 2017.  Overall, the state’s crime rate and population were relatively unchanged from the prior year, although drug arrests continue to climb.  The Oil Patch with 28 percent of the state’s population had only 25 percent of its crime.

HOW TO STOP DRUG RUNNERS?  Law enforcement in ND knows millions of dollars of illegal drugs flow across I-94 headed for Midwest markets.  How do you spot them; how do you seize the drugs?  A Stutsman County sheriff’s deputy tried it his way.  He noticed a pickup with Minnesota plates (check), the occupants looked Asian (check), clearly the possible profile of drug runners (check).  Next, the deputy pulled over the pickup for a trivial traffic violation, bingo, a search of the vehicle discovered nearly 500 pounds of marijuana.  District court Judge Jay Schmitz easily concluded the deputy “did not have a reasonable basis for initiating a traffic stop” and the marijuana cannot be used as evidence.  The deputy needs to modify his technique.

DAKTOIDS:  In 2003, Alfonso Rodriquez Jr. kidnaped and murdered UND coed Dru Sjodin — after 15 years and millions of dollars of taxpayer money his death penalty appeals drag on . . . The bomb wing at Minot AFB is one of the oldest military aviation units in the world — both the bomb wing and a missile wing have been at Minot 50 years this summer.

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