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Thursday, July 06, 2017



DROUGHT is spreading rapidly in ND. Gov. Burgum declared a statewide fire and drought emergency. The Minot Daily News described the drought thusly: “Drought conditions of varying degrees persist from southern Ward County to the South Dakota border. A large section of the state along the U.S. Highway 83 corridor from Minot to approximately 25 miles south of Bismarck is ranked as being in extreme drought along with a sizable area of the southwest part of the state and a small region of the extreme northwest.”

F-M DIVERSION AUTHORITY OFFICIALS are dismayed because Minnesota regulators have pulled out of negotiations as they were close to a compromise. The MN Dept. of Natural Resources blames Diversion attorneys for running up costs and prolonging negotiations. The DNR legal budget was reduced by the MN Legislature.

POLITICALLY DIFFERENT GOVS “Dayton's business background is a legacy. Burgum's is self-made. Dayton's is old-fashioned. Burgum's is new-fangled.” -- Columnist Mike Jacobs referring to MN Gov. Mark Dayton and ND Gov. Doug Burgum. He said Dayton bears the name of one of Minnesota’s most famous brand names -- the Dayton department store family. He said Burgum’s family has a four generation pedigree in the grain trade and Burgum is an entrepreneur who built a software company. The comparison of the two governors was background for a column about their use of the line-item veto.

BECKER ECHOES BURGUM Gov. Doug Burgum has hinted ND may have a few too many public colleges and universities. Rep. Rick Becker, in an address to the state Board of Higher Education, said the state has 11 colleges because of ”parochialist economic development” and “That time is over.” He urged a greater emphasis on 2-year schools and tech certifications.

COLUMNIST LLOYD OMDAHL has healthy skepticism about ND’s plans for early release and rehab of drug criminals. Based on his experience in state government, he said, “Changing the orientation of people who have been in the drug trade will require years of intensive casework which in itself will be costly in the short run.” He added, “Recidivism will be higher than for other crimes.”

AN IMPROVEMENT? UND has replaced “Where Your Legacy Begins” with the exciting new brand slogan “Leaders in Action.” Shows what an expensive brand consultant can do.

SO LONG, PHIL, Jackson that is. ND’s most storied athlete may be Phil Jackson, who grew up in Williston and was a basketball star at UND. He became one of the most celebrated and successful coaches in the NBA. But his most recent stint as president of the NY Knicks did not go well, and he was dismissed this week. Don’t cry for Phil -- he has two years remaining on his contract.

THE ND SOYBEAN PROCESSORS are raising money for a $240 milliion plant near Jamestown that will crush about 42 million bushels per year -- roughly equal to the soybean production of Stutsman County and the adjoining counties of Barnes and LaMoure. The plant will employ 55 to 60 people and the owners plan to have it ready to receive the 2019 crop.

CITIZENS COMMUNITY CREDIT UNION based in Devils Lake was taken over by a federal regulator "because of unsafe and unsound practices." The move removed the bank's board and management. CCCU had a $1 million loss in the first quarter of 2017 and reported $11 million of delinquent loans, attributed in part to toxic ag loans. The bank has 11,400 members and branches in Grand Forks and East Grand Forks. Member accounts and services should not be affected.

CROP SHARING was once the dominant method for renting farmland in ND. In crop sharing the landowner agrees to receive a portion of the crop as rentals. The landlord does well when prices and yields are high and vice versa -- the landlord shares good and bad times. Only an estimated 10 percent of rental agreements are now structured that way and the remainder are some form of cash rent. It is believed that landlords, many several generations removed from the farm, no longer have personal connection to their tenants. They want their rent money regardless of what happens on their land.

HUMAN LOG JAM Immigration attorneys in Fargo and Grand Forks have seen a sharp uptick in deportation cases during the last year. A federal immigration court in Bloomington MN serves the Dakotas and has 5,700 pending cases. In fiscal year 2016, the court completed only 1,700 cases. Immigrants detained in a Grand Forks jail may not have their next hearing until 2019.

TELL THE WHOLE STORY “Many are tired of the harmful publicity concerning the university and long for this period of negativity to be over.” -- Editorial in Dickinson Press regarding the bankruptcy of the Dickinson State University Foundation. The editorial contends the only way to end the negativity is for the whole story to be told. They look to Kevin Thompson, DSUF CEO before it was placed in receivership.

SNUGGLED TOGETHER There is an increasing lack of diversity in ND’s daily newspapers. For starters, Forum Communications owns the newspapers in Dickinson, Fargo, Grand Forks and Jamestown. Statewide news in the Bismarck Tribune is largely supplied by the Forum News Service, described as a media partner. Certain Tribune reports are also run in the Forum papers. Newspapers on Highway 2 (Williston, Minot and Devils Lake) originate mostly local news.

TOP DONORS Rodney and Carolyn Paseka were selected as ND’s biggest charitable donors by the Chronicle of Philanthropy based on their $5 million gift in 2015 to Minnesota State University in Moorhead. Rodney is CEO of Hebron Brick in Fargo.

DAKTOIDS Minnesota was selected as the 8th best state for summer road trips; ND was 48th (fifth from last) -- the basic explanation, long distances and little to see . . . F-M had record floods in 1997 and 2009. The 2009 flood required 69 miles of emergency measures and 7 million sandbags . . . ND has frozen the salaries of its college presidents, which range from $174,000 a year at Lake Region College (Devils Lake) to $365,000 at UND and NDSU.


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