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Monday, June 18, 2018


SNAKE IN THE GRASS  GF Herald Publisher Korie Wenzel began his column with an innocuous discussion of “Regeneration.”  He used an example of how Sears, which is closing in Grand Forks, will be replaced by Harbor Freight, a retailer of tools.  He shifted to examples of how the Herald was changing its business model to ensure relevance.  Then came the sleeper: “Early next year, the Herald will no longer give away all of its content online. The process will start with a new website in the coming months; a few months after the website debuts, all Forum Communications Co. newspapers will go behind a paywall, which means only subscribers will be able to see the Herald's entire lineup of content.”  

WHAT’S NEXT?  The Forum decision is an ominous change for this newsletter and other out-of-state readers — will a separate subscription be required for each of the Forum’s four daily newspapers in ND?  Going behind a paywall has been a prelude for some newspapers to cancel print editions and go exclusively online.

UNINTENDED CONSEQUENCES  Conservationists normally support both wind energy and wildlife habitat.  But concerns about the impact of wind farms on wildlife habitat divide conservationists.  There is a growing concern that wind turbines not only displace habitat, but have a larger indirect impact.  Research indicates wildlife widely avoid areas of wind development.  Guidelines proposed by the ND Game and Fish Dept. to mitigate the issue are opposed by both wind and ag industries.  One G&F proposal would require wind developers to offset each acre of direct impact by creating three acres of similar habitat elsewhere.  Industry wants involvement in developing a new set of regulations.  Amy Dalrymple at the Bismarck Tribune wrote an extensive article about the issue which ran in almost all of the state’s daily newspapers.

MINOT IN SPOTLIGHT  Minot had a glimmer of international attention this week in “The Economist” magazine.  An article traced the effects of the oil boom on Minot, “money and migrants, but also crime and inflation.”  The Economist said Minot’s Norwegian stock “was reeling from rapid change, immigration and inefficient government.”  The article shifted to a positive tone and cheered Minot for overhauling its government, taking charge of challenges and “making Minot more pleasant and reviving its centre.”  It said Minot was looking forward to another oil boomlet, but “is keen not to repeat the mistakes of the past.”

THEY’RE BACK!  If you need an index to measure recovery in the ND oil industry look no further than the utilization of workforce housing (you may recall them as "man camps").  Target Lodging with 1,850 beds in ND is near capacity in the state.  Target, the largest company of its kind in the country, will add housing for workers building a refinery near Dickinson.

MAN BASHING  Yes, that’s right.  Kelly Rusch, a controversial v-p for research at NDSU, is accused of creating a hostile workplace and gender discrimination.  She will step down to join the engineering faculty.  Her punishment is not very daunting — her annual salary will be reduced from $272,000 to $270,000.
DON'T MESS WITH MOOSE  Two people were hospitalized after a moose flew over the top of their vehicle on Highway 81 near Grand Forks.  Blossom Contreras and Juan Noles suffered face and head injuries from the impact.

PRAGMATIC  A Star Tribune article portrayed ND U.S. Sen. Heidi Heitkamp as a shrewd, pragmatic campaigner who frustrates Republican opponents by selectively allying herself with President Trump.  Although the article also noted she is probably the most vulnerable Democratic senator seeking reelection.  Columnist Rob Port charted her voting patterns and said it showed Heitkamp voting almost exclusively with Democrats near the beginning of her term, but then sliding toward the right as elections approach.

WHAT ACCENT?  Jim Davis at the ND State Archives says the regional accent parodied in “Fargo” is a big exaggeration.  A researcher at the U. of Minnesota disagrees — he says the “Minnesota” accent can easily be found in eastern ND and other states bordering Minnesota.  However, he says the dialect is only loosely tied to the region’s Scandinavian/German background — it evolved in a more complex way.

GOING SOFT  Minneapolis police stepped up their presence in downtown in response to safety concerns.  Using undercover officers, the police arrested 47 people for selling marijuana — 46 of those arrested were black — all were charged with felonies.  The Hennepin County Public Defender Mary Moriarty complained to the new mayor saying, "Approaching black men and women who are low income and homeless and then having the county attorney charge them with felony drug sales makes me very angry and disappointed.”  The mayor stopped further arrests and charges against the 47 people were dismissed.  This is a glimpse of evolving liberal policies in the Twin Cities.

PIPELINE TRIALS  Emily Johnston is one of four defendants in the Minnesota “valve-turner” trial.  Her group cut chains securing an Enbridge pipeline site and began turning valves to shut down the line, a dangerous practice.  She will assert a “necessity defense,” that is, her actions were a reasonable response to an unreasonable crisis.  She said, “We need to immediately stop the use of the dirtiest fuels — coal and tar sands — and reduce the use of other fossil fuels as quickly as possible.“  Trials related to the Dakota Access Pipeline protests in ND involve similar defenses.  The most prominent of those defendants is Chase Iron Eyes, a convicted felon who was the 2016 ND Democratic candidate for Congress.

DAKTOIDS:  Yawn! It’s so routine!  70 mph winds near Grand Forks tipped truck trailers and power lines . . . Private colleges had the best placement records for 2018 grads in Minnesota and the Dakotas: U. of St. Thomas (St. Paul), St. Mary’s (Bismarck) and U. of Sioux Falls . . . ND is the only state without voter registration — for some “a point of pride,” for others, the belief that changing demographics are a reason for reconsideration . . . ND may lead the nation in per-capita FFA membership.


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