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Wednesday, June 13, 2018

SCHMID: LOOKING BACK FROM THE LEFT COAST - JUNE 12, 2018

WILL ND GET A SECOND CHANCE AT A BOOM?  Lawmakers are wary about proclaiming a second oil rush, but there are noticeable increases in oil and gas tax collections.  Gov. Burgum is still calling for significant budget cuts.  He said, ”While we have reason to be cautiously optimistic, we know our modest projected growth won't be enough to bring general fund revenues in line with our current ongoing expenditures.”

BELT TIGHTENING IN MINOT  “Future revenues are not adequate to cover future expenses at this point in time, and that needs to be addressed.” — Minot City Manager Tom Barry warned the city council that both sales and property taxes are down significantly.  He said, “You can see that we are headed for, again, another difficult budget year.”  Minot ambitiously overexpanded during the oil boom and is the ND city having the greatest difficulty dealing with aftereffects. 

MINOT MAYORAL CANDIDATE Shaun Sipma advocates a growth model that utilizes existing infrastructure and thousands of undeveloped lots.  He said, “Infilling our city with development before further expansion will be the biggest efficiency we can make as a community.”  Those thoughts come right out of Gov. Doug Burgum’s playbook.

AVOIDING THE TAX MAN  California is one of the West Coast states which legalized recreational marijuana.  The law required cannabis production and sales to be licensed.  Steep taxes were imposed upon the industry with the hope of a revenue boon for local government.  There has been an unexpected consequence — the majority of small growers did not register and continue to use the more profitable illegal black market — the Midwest is a primary target.  This week a traffic stop on I-94 near West Fargo confiscated 100 pounds of marijuana in a car driven by a man from Eureka, California.  Arrests of this type are rising and a half ton of marijuana has been confiscated on I-94 between Jamestown and Fargo in the past six months.

WENTZ MORE  "What a great role model for our children.” — From a lengthy and gushing commentary in the Philadelphia Inquirer about Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz.  The commentary applauded Wentz's modest manner and the relief work he is doing in Haiti.  President Trump withdrew a White House invitation to the Eagles team blaming the attitude of somel players.  Before Trump uninvited the team, Wentz had planned to be at the White House, emphasizing the Eagles' championship achievement rather than any political aspect of the team visit.  There will be no team visit.

FAST DAVID  In April, he was cited for driving 85 mph in a 55 mph zone near Grand Forks.  The Fargo Forum reported he “was cited for speeding in 2016 and 2017 in North Dakota, according to online court records. In 1992, he pleaded guilty to driving under suspension and possession of a suspended drivers license.”  This would not deserve special attention if David Thompson was not the Democratic candidate for ND attorney general.  Thompson said, "I travel a lot of miles, and it's wide open spaces here in North Dakota.”
LIFE IS STRANGER THAN FICTION  What is most interesting about what follows is that it was published in the Minneapolis Star Tribune rather than a ND paper.  The Tribune headline read “Grand Forks school board candidate seeks racial purity — Director of the white nationalist party wants voice in public schools.”  The candidate is James Kelso, a 69-year-old retiree, who is considered to have a chance of election.   A Tribune reader posted the following: “Hmmm.  First TM, then Buddhism, then Scientology, then John Birch, then the KKK, and now just general White Nationalism.  This guy clearly has emotional issues and has spent his life flopping around from one ideology to another to try to address them.  He needs counseling, not a seat on a school board.”

VIOLIN MUSIC FROM THE PRISON  Donna Nannenga is a retired Jamestown public school music teacher who volunteers violin lessons for prison inmates.  The community donates the violins.  Since her retirement in 2002, she taught almost 100 students at the James River Correctional Center.  Some early students now assist new students.  The JRCC chaplain Mark Haines said, “Music offers a sense of accomplishment for hard work and practice.  Especially when it's something that is completely foreign to them and they achieve something that is very powerful to them.”

LEAD BY EXAMPLE  Jon Hauser is a Fargo pastor and an occasional columnist for the Forum.  When he was a seminary student, he was overwhelmed by the conflicting demands placed on a pastor.  He asked his mother for advice on choosing priorities.  She ignored specific job responsibilities and said “the most important thing you will do as a pastor is to lead yourself well.”  His mother contended that people pay more attention to what you do than what you say.  She always expressed strong disagreement with the phrase, “Do as I say not as I do.”  He found her advice humbling and always helpful.

GF IS FRIENDLIER  St. Cloud has one of the largest Somali populations in Minnesota outside of the Twin Cities metro area and has become a center of racial conflict.  This is the background for a letter to the GF Herald headlined “Grand Forks a friendly place to be.”  The letter was written by  Ahmed Said, a Somali Muslim who moved from St. Cloud to Grand Forks.  Said said he moved to Grand Forks to train to be an English teacher and a journalist.  It’s his ambition to write stories that explain the Somali community.  He says Grand Forks is friendlier and more welcoming than St. Cloud and he can go about his business “without looking over my shoulder.”

MINNESOTA BITES THE BULLET  States and local governments across the country struggle with unfunded pension obligations.   Credit rating agencies warned Minnesota that it needed to get its unfunded liabilities in order.  In a bipartisan move, lawmakers and the governor eliminated $3.4 billion of unfunded pension liabilities and created a stable future pension path.   The state is increasing its contributions, employees will make increased contributions and retirees have agreed to benefit reductions.   A state senator who led the charge for reform said, “I just want to say to all the other states: You should stand up and watch what happened in Minnesota.”  

DAKTOIDS:  The USDA designated 21 drought counties in western ND.

    

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