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Monday, March 26, 2018

SCHMID: LOOKING BACK FROM THE LEFT COAST - MARCH 26, 2018

THEY HAVE THEIR MOMENTS  Former VP Joseph Biden energized the ND Democratic convention in Grand Forks.  As he ended his remarks, Sen. Heidi Heitkamp handed him a signed Carson Wentz Philadelphia Eagles jersey.  Biden promptly hit the right button, "God bless North Dakota State.”  A GF Herald editorial said, while Biden did not show his hand regarding a presidential bid, he “is gauging interest and considering a run himself.”  Heitkamp, as expected, was renominated for the U.S. Senate, while Mac Schneider was picked to run for the House.
 
DEMOCRATIC POLICIES  The party platform includes some policies which are specific, but unrealistic: A $15 minimum wage for ND and eliminating the federal cap on taxing earnings for Social Security.  Other policies were more innocuous, such as pipeline work “be done in an environmentally and culturally responsible manner.”  A GF Herald editorial urged the Democrats to ignore the liberal playbook and, following Heitkamp’s lead, move to the center.
 
NOSTALGIA & OPTIMISM  Columnist Mike Jacobs covered the Demo convention and said there were two essential lubricants.  The first was nostalgia, he said, “Clearly this was a party whose members remembered when it amounted to something. They remembered days in power, and they clearly wanted more of them.”  The other was the “oil of optimism” flowing in the convention hall.  Heitkamp’s U.S. Senate seat is at stake and “that alone would attract (national) attention.” 
 
YOU SAID WHAT!  Sen. Heidi Heitkamp was asked when Hillary Clinton will “ride off into the sunset,” Heitkamp responded “Not soon enough.”  The question was asked by her brother Joel Heitkamp on Fargo’s KFGO Radio.  Heidi was previously critical when Clinton labeled Trump supporters as “deplorables.”  The senator faces a tough re-election fight in a conservative state.  She lined up against portions of the Dodd-Frank legislation saying, “Regulations designed for big Wall Street banks are hurting the small community banks and credit unions that North Dakotans rely on, limiting the services they’re able to provide in rural America.”
 
DISPUTE OVER GOVERNANCE  Gov. Doug Burgum said a lawsuit now before the ND Supreme Ct. will “resolve historic issues” regarding executive and legislative roles.  The issue is the degree of the governor’s veto power — the Legislature believes Burgum overstepped his authority in vetoing items in budget bills.  Burgum believes the Legislature is encroaching on executive authority.  A GF Herald editorial opined “Legislators feel the governor is overreaching . . . so do we.”  Don’t sit on the edge of your chair — the court typically takes a couple months to issue an opinion.
 
OIL BOOM HANGOVER  Minot and Ward County are on the eastern edge of the Oil Patch.  Early in the oil boom, the county prospered, but is now experiencing rocky times.  Minot high schools are overcrowded, but money is simply not available for expansions or a new school.  Courts are unable to schedule timely criminal trials because of underfunding in the public defender’s office.
 
AN ANTIQUATED 1909 UND STEAM PLANT burns coal trucked from Wyoming.  The facility is one of the worst-off at UND and would cost more to update than replace.  UND is contemplating a “lease-to-own” agreement with Johnson Controls which will finance and operate a new $50 million natural gas plant.  The plant will be paid off with steam revenues from UND and other customers.
 
HARD TO PLEASE  Dakota Indian tribes allege their interests were ignored in approving the Dakota Access Pipeline (despite their absence at most related public meetings).  The tribes obtained a court order for additional environmental study, but, guess what, the study can’t be completed on schedule because of difficulty getting information from the tribes.
 
A GINI COEFFICIENT measures income inequality — the gap between the richest people and the rest of the population.  Business Insider published the rankings and scores for all 50 states.  The top 5 best rankings were distinctively western with Alaska (#50), Utah (#49), Wyoming (#48), New Hampshire (#47) and Hawaii (#46).  ND (#31) and its neighbors SD (#41), MN (#38) and MT (#30) were all clustered in the upper middle rankings.  The bottom 5 were mostly large, diverse states: New York (#1), Connecticut (#2), Louisiana (#3), California (#4) and Florida (#5).
 
IT’S DIFFERENT THIS TIME  Black men are often the victims in controversial police shootings.  In Minneapolis, policeman Mohamed Noor has been charged with third degree murder for shooting a white woman.  Noor is Somali.  The black community is perplexed, while they have urged this type of charges against police, they didn’t expect them to fall so quickly on a black officer.  Noor graduated from an accelerated program to recruit and train Somali officers — the Somali community, which hailed his appointment, suspects the charges are racially motivated.
 
MASS EXODUS  Why did luxury cars hurriedly leave Minneapolis in almost all directions?  They were driven by Vikings’ free-agent quarterbacks: Sam Bradford going to Arizona, Case Keenum to Denver and Teddy Bridgewater to New York.  A new sheriff is coming to town to replace them — Kirk Cousins from the Washington Redskins.
 
MINNESOTA GROWS MORE URBAN  The seven primary counties in the Twin Cities metro area have over half of the state’s population.  But they accounted for 84 percent of the state’s growth since 2010.  Twin Cities growth rates are strong among large Midwest cities, but lag metros such as Seattle, Portland and Denver.  
 
DAKTOIDS:  Fargo weatherman John Wheeler said summer in ND is becoming warmer and stickier.  However, the warming shows up mostly at night — average daily highs have changed very little . . . Jamestown is near the top of my list of ND’s most peaceful cities — that’s why it was a little dismaying that the Runnin O’ the Green on Saturday resulted in 44 arrests . . . Historically, many Nodaks have gone to Minneapolis to enhance their careers.  Before you leave, save your pennies, the Economist says, based on 150 factors, Minneapolis is the third most expensive city in North America . . . Gov. Burgum and his wife occupied the new $5 million “Gov Mansion.”

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