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Tuesday, March 28, 2017


WRONG TIME, WRONG PLACE The Standing Rock Sioux have longstanding, unresolved grievances with government, but their ham-handed protests of the Dakota Access Pipeline cost the tribe in at least two significant ways. The tribe ambushed the multi-billion dollar project just short of its completion after the tribe failed to answer letters, attend hearings and assert claims. Matters worsened when they allowed the protests to be taken over by out-of-state activists who brought violence and chaos.

WHO WILL PAY? The pipeline is expected to be operational this week. Court after court rejected the tribe’s claims as insubstantial or inexcusably late. The tribe has incurred serious financial losses and what could be irreparable damage to its public image in ND. Few ND residents sympathize with the protestors. A representative of ND stockmen said they have “faced issues of trespassing, vandalism, roadblocks and situations they'd never dreamt they'd ever see.” Costs to state and local government are in the neighborhood of $38 million. Who is ultimately going to pay? The ND Legislature is seeking federal reimbursement.

BITTER IRONY Columnist Rob Port notes that the environmental activists who took over the DAPL protests left a mountain of debris and waste at the protest sites. The Corps of Engineers removed 600 dumpsters of debris at the main protest site. Further, activists have attacked the pipeline in SD and Iowa by burning holes in vulnerable sections.

ESSENTIAL WASTE Devils Lake, Dickinson and Jamestown airports receive federal Essential Air Services which the current Congress may be unwilling to review. Rob Port says it’s about time the wasteful EAS subsidies are ended. To his credit, Port digs beneath the news to get underlying facts. One example, Port determined that each one-way flight out of Devils Lake is subsidized nearly $640 a passenger. ND members of Congress should not be defending the waste.

GF NEEDS SOMETHING “All we know is that the retail closures, the budget cuts at UND, the Canadian exchange rate and the low commodity prices amount to a series of body blows to the Grand Forks economy.” -- Tom Dennis at the GF Herald sounding an alarm about the city’s economy. Dennis noted GF is unlikely to soon get a casino. He concluded: “But here's the thing: If not a casino, Grand Forks still needs something.”

JCPENNEY "We aren't going to go down without a fight." -- Wahpeton Mayor Meryl Hansey’s reaction to the announced closure of their JCPenney store. Some customers were reported to have wept at the news. Nearly identical comments came from Thief River Falls, Minnesota, where another store will die. JCP is closing stores in Dickinson, Jamestown, Wahpeton, 8 in MN, 4 in SD and 2 in MT. JCP is retreating to stores in larger cities.

CRAIG COBB, a professional antagonist, is in the news again. The 108-year-old church in Nome, ND, which he purchased for a residence, has burned to the ground -- arson is suspected. Cobb was considering opening a church called "the President Donald J. Trump Church of Rome."

THE ENCHANTED HIGHWAY runs 35 miles south from I-94 to Regent, a town of 200 people. The tourist attraction is noted for large metal sculptures created over 28 years by Gary Greff. However, the outcome is becoming less than enchanting. Greff, who self-funded the project, is running out of resources to maintain his creations, which demand an increasing amount of welding and other maintenance. He entertains the horrible thought of cannibalizing his work. Desperate, he has gone “hat in hand” to the state legislature.

CROP GROWING CONDITIONS in ND are more volatile than those in almost any other state, hence ND farmers are especially concerned about crop insurance. Federal crop insurance, which is heavily subsidized by taxpayers, is up for congressional review and will not be a slam dunk. Liberals view the insurance as a subsidy to big corporate farmers, while conservatives believe the insurance distorts free markets.

HAPPINESS WalletHub ranked states by that elusive quality. Utah, Minnesota and ND were No. 1, 2 and 3 in that order, followed by Hawaii and Colorado. Who was at the bottom? That distinction went to No. 51 W. Virginia where, among other ailments, folks suffer from depression and obesity. Mississippi could muster a little grin -- for once it was not the worst -- it ranked No. 48. SD was No. 9; Montana No. 22.

MINNESOTA’S ROADS & BRIDGES need a lot of help. A new study makes that help increasingly controversial. A Star Tribune review found “that metro and greater Minnesota taxpayers each provide about half the money for Minnesota’s roads and bridges, but greater Minnesota gets twice as much back in projects.” Put differently, greater Minnesota gets two-thirds.

ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS in the U.S. are crossing into Canada under the impression they will be more welcome. A poll this month found some 48 percent of Canadians supported “increasing the deportation of people living in Canada illegally.” That is roughly similar to U.S. attitudes.

DAKTOIDS: UND men’s hockey plays its first game of the NCAA tournament today against Boston University . . . The Great Grand Forks Flood of 1997 will have its 20th anniversary in April . . . UND’s basketball game last week with Arizona had the most TV viewers of any UND sports event . . . Fargo’s population is growing about 3 percent a year, but serious crime in Fargo is increasing annually in the 14-15 percent range. 

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