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Monday, November 05, 2018


WE AREN’T THEM  “It’s beyond ugly out there. But at least… we aren’t them – peddling hate, tolerating violence, too afraid of disagreements to visit our own favorite coffee shop.”  — From a Minot Daily News editorial contending ND politics is largely free of the bitterness found in other parts of the country.
OUT-OF-STATE GRATITUDE  After Sen. Heidi Heitkamp voted not to confirm Judge Kavanaugh, she received a flood of out-of-state campaign donations.  A national news article indicated Heitkamp received $12.5 million in 17 days.  A campaign finance expert said “This stands in its own class.”  Recognizing this was more money than she could effectively use in a short time, the Star Tribune reported Heitkamp redirected $2.7 million to down-ticket ND races such as secretary of state and tax commissioner.
FLARING  “We’re chasing an accelerating vehicle and the only way to catch up with it is investment and innovation.” — Lynn Helms, Director of the ND Dept. of Mineral Resources, speaking to the state Industrial Commission about a record volume of natural gas flaring.  In August, 18 percent of gas production was flared; the target on Nov. 1 was 12 percent.  The principal problem is a shortage of pipelines and gas processing capacity.  The Commission has directed Helms to work with industry to devise new recommendations for gas capture.  The objective is to maintain gas capture goals, while improving the way they are achieved.
THE HORRIBLES WON  “We went to the Ralph [Ralph Engelstad Arena] last year and they are the worst fans in hockey. They throw beer on you. They spit at you. They curse and abuse you.  But we’re just going to win the game and shut up 7,000 North Dakota fans.” — From an interview with two Minnesota fans before the UND/Minnesota hockey match in Las Vegas last Saturday.  They echoed the prevailing view that #5 Minnesota would have its way with #17 ND.  The bottom line was an upset — UND 3-1.
HOWEVER, the Gopher fans may have been right about the 7,000 number — UND fans swarmed Las Vegas from 44 states and five Canadian provinces.  The fans attended a giant tailgate party fueled by free beer provided by former UND hockey players who were unable to attend the game.  An additional 100 former players were part of the UND crowd.  Ahead of the match, UND players wore special No. 23 jerseys to honor former UND goalie Ralph Engelstad, who donated $100 million to build “The Ralph” hockey arena in Grand Forks.  A former player said, “It was crazy.  I’ve been to a Frozen Four, played in a ton of games at The Ralph and the Fargo regional -- that was the craziest atmosphere I’ve ever been a part of.”
HAIL MARY  PASS  Last week, columnist Mile Jacobs seemed to be wavering in his belief that Heidi Heitkamp could pull a last minute upset in herU.S. Senate race.  This week, he was back in stride.  He cited a five-day bus tour Heitkamp has planned accompanied at different times by Joe Biden, former Sen. Kent Conrad and former Rep. Earl Pomeroy.  Jacobs speculated that Biden was “too valuable a political asset to deploy in an impossible cause,” signaling the national importance of the contest and her party’s belief that Heitkamp still has a chance. 
WIDE OPEN  With his usual restraint, columnist and former Forum editor Jack Zaleski called ND Measure 3 (recreational marijuana) a “dumb-ass” proposition.  He joins a number of more moderate Nodaks who oppose the measure because it is so open-ended, that if approved, the law would require legislative intervention.
WHERE DOES THIS GO?  The Forum ran a puzzling column by Katie Pinke, the publisher of Forum affiliate Agweek.  In short, Pinke rejected both candidates for ND Ag Commissioner: “I don’t see either as being able to take a stand and collaborate to create a stronger ag economy.”  Why such a self-canceling statement?  A possible hint, she included the following disclosure: “On a personal note, it has been well-documented I worked for the current agriculture commissioner (the incumbent candidate) from January 2012 to March 2013.”  Pinke expressed frustration with her choices and urged readers to ask questions and hold the winner accountable.  The Forum endorsed incumbent Doug Goehring.
ROGUE CPA?  A trial with a strange twist is taking place in federal court in Bismarck.  Some background: James Henrikson of Watford City is in prison for arranging the murder of two business associates and his ex-wife is on probation for investor fraud.  Their accountant and financial advisor, CPA Rene Johnson of Watford City, is also charged with investor fraud, false statements and lying to investigators.  Johnson is alleged to have misused investor funds in 2013 to enable her to make a high risk $400,000 loan to Henrikson.  A complicating fact is that Johnson paid back the defrauded investors with interest.  That becomes a central issue in the trial — does returning money diminish its theft?  The judge directed prosecutors not to introduce the murder-for-hire case into Johnson’s trial.
NO PASSION is the way consultants view Minot’s economic development efforts.  A team from the International Economic Development Counsel saw Minot’s efforts as disconnected and passive.  The IEDC said the city needed a proactive leader to connect the parts and convey a consistent message.
SAUERKRAUT DAY in Wishek brings out sausage lovers from around ND.  Sausage makers at Stan’s Supervalu pump out over a ton of sausage a day using closely-guarded 1909 recipes.  The recipes originated at Herr Mercantile, which became Red Owl and now Supervalu.  The popularity of its sausages is credited with keeping the small-town store alive.  Wishek (pop. 1,100) is in Macintosh County, near the heart of Lawrence Welk Country.  George Just (81) assisted with the sausage making for 47 years and is still on the job.
LITTLE TOWN LOSES BIG MONEY   “The elevator’s lawyer, Erik Ahlgren, of Fergus Falls, on Oct. 16 filed a civil complaint with Grant County District Court asking for $9.8 million in actual and punitive damages.” —  From a Forum article detailing further developments in the sell out and dissolution of the Ashby, Minnesota (Pop. 440), cooperative elevator.  The coop is asking double the actual damages of $4.9 million caused by their 30-year general manager Jerry Hennessy and his wife, Rebecca.  The couple were on an Australian safari using elevator funds near the time the fraud was discovered.  The costs of their many hunting trips were usually recorded as grain purchases.  The U.S. Attorney in St. Paul is developing a criminal complaint.
WHO ARE THEY?  A StarTribune headline read: “Up to 10 suspects rob, injure U (of Minnesota) student walking on campus late at night.”  Many related comments appeared on the website, almost all criticized the StarTrib’s (and UM’s) politically correct policy of not describing crime suspects.  Here is a typical comment: “Why not mention the ethnicity of the 10 attackers if the police and the Star Tribune are serious about solving this epidemic.”  There has been a rash of assaults on UM students — the west campus adjoins Cedar-Riverside low income housing.
DAKTOIDS:  NDSU football, 8-0, is ranked No. 1 in the nation; its quarterback Easton Stick is a finalist for the nation’s best scholar-athlete in football . . . Chilly, Minot’s average temperature in October was five degrees below the long-term average.


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