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Wednesday, May 23, 2018


THE BAKKEN IS BACK  A Wall Street Journal article furthers that notion.  The WSJ says the number of oil rigs in ND rose from 24 in May 2016 to 57 in May 2018, encouraged by current $70 a barrel oil prices.  Production is expected to rise and break records, moreover, producers in ND are receiving prices close to the national average.  ND oil is just $4 below that average, compared to six years ago when the discount was $28 a barrel.  The improvement is attributable to a catch-up in pipeline infrastructure, particularly, the Dakota Access Pipeline.  Keep in mind the Bakken is small in relation to the Permian Basin in Texas, where over 460 rigs are working.

“AND IT’S HAPPENING RIGHT HERE IN NORTH DAKOTA.  That’s big news for the test site, the companies at Grand Sky Technology Park, our universities and the UAS industry across our state.” — From a news release by Sen. John Hoeven about the state’s selection as one of ten Unmanned Aircraft Systems Integration Pilot Programs.  It will involve the N. Plains UAS Test Site in Grand Forks.  Local UAS leaders labeled the program a “fantastic initiative” to grow the industry in ND.  

WHO HAS IT?  A 42-pound Air Force ammunition container bounced out the back of a Hummer last week on a rough gravel road between two missile sites in Mountrail County (Stanley).  The box contains dangerous grenade launcher ammunition and the AF is not taking it lightly.  Over 100 airman from Minot AFB made multiple searches of a six-mile stretch on the Ft. Berthold Reservation where the container was lost.  The grenades are still missing — the AF called off the search and appealed to the public for assistance.  The Mountrail County Sheriff’s office criticized the AF for not reporting the loss for several days.  The Minot AFB has ordered a weapons inventory after learning a machine gun is also missing.
HARDBALL  Kris Engelstad McGarry plays rough.  She is the daughter of the late UND mega-donor Ralph Engelstad and head of his $800 million foundation.  UND is on McGarry’s “blacklist” — in large part because of disagreements with UND President Mark Kennedy.  UND is not the only one in McGarry’s gunsights — she is aiming at the university system in Nevada and attempting to reconfigure the roles of the system’s chancellor and board.  She said donations to UND and UN Las Vegas are like putting money into a hole . . . “they don't have it, they need it.”
THERE’S MORE  Columnist Rob Port obtained copies of emails outlining a dispute between Kennedy and McGarry about the logo to be displayed on center court at the Betty Engelstad Sioux Center (a facility adjoining the Ralph Engelstad Arena).  Kennedy wanted “Fighting Hawks,” while the center plans to use the more neutral “North Dakota.”  Port added fuel to that fire by saying, ‘The ‘Fighting Hawks’ logo is the (deeply uninspiring and soul-suckingly generic) replacement chosen in the wake of the controversial ‘Fighting Sioux’ branding being retired.”  He added, “For Kennedy, this little food fight comes at a bad time.”  Previously, the Kennedy/McGarry disagreements were thought to be mostly about division of REA ticket revenues.
WESLEY COLLEGE  Mark Kennedy believes UND is overbuilt and has a plan to reduce its footprint and costs.  Buildings representing the last of the former Wesley College campus are included in demolition now underway.  The buildings have historical and architectural significance.  Columnist Mike Jacobs calls their destruction “vandalism.”  Jacobs didn’t stop there, he said, “By now, it's clear that Kennedy's arrogance has derailed his own presidency and now threatens UND.”  He indicated Kennedy’s run-in with Kris McGarry was additional evidence of the problem.
HIJACKING  “Seven months ago, it was all going to be in Dickinson . . . then it was going to be in Dickinson and Medora . . . and now today's vote will be to put it all in Medora.” — Senate Majority Leader Rich Wardner of Dickinson expressing his displeasure at the decision of the foundation board determining the location of the TR Library.  He said, “That's a hijacking, in my book.”  Wardner is on the board and was a dissenting vote when the board decided the Medora location was essential to getting national donor support. 
DRUG USE  ND is among five states with the fewest drug problems.  The state was #5 in a WalletHub study preceded by Minnesota (#1), Iowa, Utah and Kansas.  Locations with the most drug problems are Washington D.C., Missouri and New Hampshire.
MINNEAPOLIS-ST. PAUL metro made the “247wallst” list of ten worst cities for black people.  The black unemployment rate in the Twin Cities is several times the rate of whites, while black median income is 44 percent of white income.  Blacks are about 7 percent of the metro population — a higher percentage in the core cities.
SOCIAL ENGINEERING  “The Metropolitan Council wields more power than almost any regional governing body in the country.” — A reference by the Star Tribune to a seven-county regional body that operates, for example, the area’s transit system and controls “a massive pot of federal transportation money.”  The Council is appointed by the governor and has adopted a goal of chipping away at racial and economic disparities in the Twin Cities area.  Minorities and low income communities receive preference in choosing projects and allocating funds.  Suburban opponents of the policy see a regional government run amok and making decisions “on the basis of race or ethnicity.”  The Council will be an issue in the Minnesota governor’s race this fall.
MOSAIC, one of the world's largest fertilizer companies, is relocating from Minnesota to Florida.  Management provided diplomatic business reasons for leaving, but leaders of the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce and Minnesota Business Partnership aren’t buying it.  Both organization’s blame Minnesota’s unfriendly tax structure.  Speaking of the move, they said, “It gives the impression that Minnesota is not a competitive place to locate or expand a business.”
DAKTOIDS:  The ND Petroleum Council is planting 58,000 trees and shrubs in ND — two for each lost due to pipeline construction . . . Forum columnist Rob Port is being hounded for his criticism of Sen. Heidi Heitkamp — he says it’s because his comments resonate with the public . . . Grand Forks is taking a page from Fargo’s playbook and planning to use property tax credits to incentivize $10 million of downtown projects . . . About a fourth (121) of Dakota Access Pipeline protests criminal cases have yet to close . . . The juice is flowing — SkyWest (an affiliate of UAL) will receive $2.7 million a year for service from Jamestown to Denver; $3.9 million for the same service to Devils Lake.


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