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Tuesday, March 21, 2017


UNDERGROUND RAILROAD “In Minneapolis, people know how to do it." -- An immigrant, now in Winnipeg, describing the Minneapolis Underground Railroad that transports illegal immigrants to the Canadian border. The illegals congregate in Minnneapolis, where Somali friends usually drive them 400 miles through back roads to a border crossing near Pembina, ND. A Reuters article said, “After they have been dropped off, sometimes 20 miles from the border, they crunch across snowy fields. Once in Manitoba, asylum seekers phone Canadian police, who take them to the government border office to file claims.”

WEAK CASE FOR RECALL Fargo City Commissioner Dave Piepkorn has proposed a study of the cost of refugee resettlement in Fargo -- the city receives the bulk of refugees coming to ND. A group of refugees and their supporters seek to recall him because of his views and submitted its proposed petition to state officials for approval. The Forum conducted a poll asking readers if they would support the recall -- 66 percent voted no, 27 percent yes.

"THE MATH ISN’T WORKING VERY WELL." -- Frayne Olson, a NDSU crop economist, describing the weak case for bank loans to farmers who have low cash flows because of commodity prices. The falling value of land and equipment as collateral adds to the problem.

OMDAHL HAS A HUNCH “The proposal of House Majority Leader Al Carlson, R-Fargo, to launch six state-operated casinos is the most vindictive piece of legislation I have seen in 60 years of legislative tracking.” -- Columnist Lloyd Omdahl believes the proposal is “a thinly-disguised effort to punish Native Americans for their resistance to the Dakota Access Pipeline construction.”

“SUSPICION OF HIGHER EDUCATION, its methods and its motives, has crept into the state's politics.” -- Columnist Mike Jacobs. The universities are criticized for trends such as the emphasis on “political correctness.” Those concerns may be over emphasized -- Jacobs says there is a larger problem: “ The (university) system needs a thorough review aimed at administrative efficiencies and stronger academic programs. Those haven't been part of the discussion in Bismarck this legislative session.”

U.S. ATTORNEYS are customarily asked to resign by a new president. This year, ND and SD are exceptions to that rule. ND’s congressional delegation has recommended that U.S. Attorney Chris Myers be kept on the job.

SUSAN BALA of Fargo was convicted in July 2005 for crimes related to betting on horse racing. She was sentenced to a federal prison for 27 months, but was released after 17 months. Her convictions were later overturned by a federal appeals court. Her highly reported and technically complex case held public attention in ND for years. In a shocking turnaround, a bankruptcy court held last month that ND owes Bala’s Racing Services Inc. a refund of $13.5 million of betting taxes plus interest which could be as much as $12 million. Creditors of RSI will receive part of the settlement.

RONALD MCMARTIN JR was one of ND’s largest farmers -- he farmed 59,000 acres before scaling back to 39,000 acres. His company, McM Inc. based in St.Thomas, has declared bankruptcy with debts of $50 million and assets of $10 million. BMO Harris Bank is on the hook for $43 million of the debt.

XCEL ENERGY says renewable energy is becoming more important, especially in ND. Xcel’s principal manager in ND said, "For days . . . close to 50 percent of the energy we normally produce was being produced by renewable energy." Xcel says new technologies allow the wind turbines to harvest strong winds. The growth of wind energy in ND concerns supporters of a weakened lignite coal industry.

FARGO IS REGIONAL HEALTH CENTER “But healthcare is growing in a way that adds needed diversity to the Fargo-Moorhead economy.” -- James Garlin of the F-M Economic Corporation. He said F-M had a net population gain of 10,000 last year. Garlin believes, "They're coming here, ultimately, for the health care. They can come to this market and get incredible health care services." Sanford Health has just completed an 11-story, half billion dollar medical center in Fargo.

WANT TO EXERCISE YOUR CORVETTE? Go to ND where the average fine for speeding is $35 versus $100 in Minnesota. Also, you are roughly three times more likely to get a speeding ticket in Minnesota than in ND.

QUICK IN AND OUT UND made its first appearance in a NCAA Division I men’s basketball tournament last night in Salt Lake City. A highly ranked Arizona team quickly sent them back to Grand Forks.

END OF EAS? Airports in Jamestown, Devils Lake and Dickinson receive sizable subsidies under a federal program called Essential Air Service. Trump’s proposed budget leaves them flying without a parachute.

DAKTOIDS The Fargo-Moorhead Area (Cass and Clay Counties) is expected to grow 50 percent by 2045. A 2015 population of 233,000 will likely become 331,000 by 2045 . . . Bad neighborhood: Wyoming, ND, SD, and Montana are among the five worst states for DUI problems. Minnesota is ranked 37th . . . California with a population of 39 million has 120 state legislators; ND with a population of 760,000 has 141.

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