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Monday, March 06, 2017


MIXED VIEW “We refrained from endorsing Trump for the presidency—nor did we endorse his opponents—but we are not eager to join the chorus of Trump bashers.” -- Fargo Forum editorial urging a more balanced view of the President. The Forum said, “Amid all of the gnashing of teeth, some promising steps by Trump and his administration have been overshadowed.” Trump’s cabinet appointments were mentioned as one of the early bright spots. Readers didn’t know what to think. Early responses to a Forum poll question (Do you approve of the job President Trump is doing?) were almost evenly split, but later tipped in favor of “no.”

REFUGEE COST President Trump is accused of exaggerating Sweden’s immigrant problem. Leaders of Sweden’s Democrats say Trump has actually understated the problem. They say the country “spends an incredible amount” on new immigrants and the unemployment rate of immigrants is five times that of native Swedes. Somalis in Malmo have an 80 percent unemployment rate and are over represented in Sweden’s prison system. Legislation has been proposed in ND to study the full cost of refugee resettlement.

EMERSON, CANADA was the subject of a Reuters article. Emerson is a border town of 650 people near the point on I-29 where ND, MN and Manitoba meet. Reuters said, “The town has become the front line of an emerging political crisis that is testing Canada's will to welcome asylum seekers.” Some points from the article:

  • Prime Minister Trudeau is under pressure from the left to allow more refugees and pressure from the right to allow fewer.
  • In the first two months of 2017, 143 mainly Somali walked into Emerson from ND and MN, fearing deportation in the U.S.
  • Some Emerson residents fear the influx of unscreened migrants, while others are frustrated by the cost and effort forced on the community.

“NORTH DAKOTA TAXPAYERS are the real victims of the DAPL protest.” -- Minot Daily News editorial. The MDN said the victim was not the protesters “whose complaints are built on a foundation of misinformation and propaganda.” Another victim was the pipeline developer “who played by the rules and still got caught up in the partisan political machinations of the previous (Obama) administration.”

OIL OUTLOOK A letter to the Forum from an executive of a small oil service company said “2017 looks to be a promising year for the North Dakota oil industry.” The easement for Dakota Access will lower shipping costs for ND oil by as much as $8 per barrel -- gains to be shared amongst producers, mineral owners (18 percent) and state government (10 percent). An AP analysis indicates ND stands to gain more than $110 million annually in tax revenue after oil begins to flow through the pipeline.

DICKINSON STATE UNIVERSITY is still recovering from a period of fraud and mismanagement that tarnished its reputation and badly decreased enrollment. It was probably the worst higher education scandal in the state’s history. Most of these events occurred over five years ago and a new administration has been correcting the problems, some of which still linger.

BAD LOANS A group of banks is suing DSU for unpaid loans relating to what was formerly known as the Badlands Activity Center, now owned by the university. The loans were made to an insolvent DSU Foundation which was liquidated before repaying the loans. The banks contend the loans were also effectively made to DSU, while the university claims the foundation was a separate entity for which it is not responsible. There seems to be fault on both sides: The banks appear to have made the loans in a sloppy manner, while DSU hopes to get a free building. The matter goes to trial in 2018.

JCPENNEY is closing 10 percent of its U.S. stores -- JCP has eight business locations in ND. Jamestown is one of those locations. Mary Engels, manager of that store, said there is no word if it will be closed, but the store is “doing great.”

LEND ME YOUR NEWS Almost all statewide news in the Bismarck Tribune comes from the Forum News Service, a reflection of pressures on newspapers to cut reporting costs. Forum papers in Fargo and Jamestown announced a new wrinkle: “Starting March 1, a minimum of two pages featuring national and international news stories from USA Today will begin running in the newspapers.” Further along that line, Forum News Service is a media partner of the St. Paul Pioneer Press.

ND AND MINNESOTA IN TOP 5 U.S. News & World Report released its “Best States” rankings based on measurements in seven categories ranging from health care to government. Massachusetts received the top ranking, MN was third and ND fourth. SD was 15th and Louisiana last.

INTERSTATE 94 has electric car charging stations from Michigan to Minnesota, but they stop at the ND border. A Fargo clean energy advocacy group is applying for a grant for a network of charging stations located along Interstates 29 and 94 and U.S. Highway 2, to encourage the switch to electric vehicles.

THE LIGNITE COAL INDUSTRY in ND has a cloudy future -- “clean coal” technologies are seen as a possible solution. That hope has been dented by the experience of the Southern Co. in Mississippi. Southern’s new $7 billion clean coal power plant does not pencil out. Low gas prices and high operating costs render it cost inefficient. This week, Great River Energy closed its coal-fired plant at Stanton, ND.

A NATIONAL CHAMP The UND men’s hockey team is a perennial contender for national NCAA Division 1 championships, so it’s easy to overlook the Dakota College at Bottineau Lumberjacks, who captured their second straight NJCAA hockey championship this week. Yes, it is confusing for any ND school to be called Lumberjacks -- it’s a carryover from when the school was the Bottineau School of Forestry. But the Lumberjacks are the national junior college hockey champs. They were helped during the championship game when an opposing player from Erie Community College left the penalty box and slammed a referee to the ice.

“THE BOHEMIAN MELODY BOYS played on the radio on Sunday afternoons.” -- From the obituary of Charles Kadrmas (88) of Dickinson. Charles started the Melody Boys when he was 17, after he and his brother taught themselves to play crude musical instruments. They practiced while feeding their horses during fieldwork and eventually learned to read music. Charles mixed music and farming the rest of his life. He formed the Chuck Kadrmas Orchestra, wrote songs, made albums and was inducted into the Dakota Music Hall of Fame in Aberdeen. His wife Beatrice taught children to dance while he played the accordion.


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