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Monday, October 22, 2018


WAS IT A DRAW?  The much anticipated debate between U.S. Senate candidates Heidi Heitkamp and Kevin Cramer appeared to end in a draw.  It was not likely to change the minds of supporters of either candidate, although it may influence the undecided.  Kramer emphasized his accessibility — Heitkamp her bipartisan record.  She may have been harmed by a last moment development.  Prior to the debate Heitkamp ran an ad against Kramer featuring 127 victims of sexual assault.  A number of the supposed victims said this was done without their permission and others said they were not victims.  A lawsuit is threatened.  Heitkamp apologized during the debate for what she described as a “horrible error” and “colossal mistake.”

WHY DO THEY CARE?  The U.S. Supreme Court validated a ND voter ID law which required voters to have a residential address rather than a P.O. Box number.  Ordinarily, this would not be of national interest, but follow the bouncing ball:  The requirement most affects reservation Indians, some of whom don’t have residential addresses.  Indians may have furnished Heidi Heitkamp’s slim margin of victory in the 2014 Senate race.  Heitkamp’s 2018 election contest holds national interest because it could determine control of the Senate.

REMEDY  According to court filings, at least 5,000 of those on ND Indian reservations may not have conventional addresses.  Those residents can vote by providing any document with a current address and date of birth.  Tribal governments plan to have an official at every reservation polling place to issue a letter that includes the date of birth and residential address of every eligible voter.

POOR LLOYD’S (OMDAHL) ALMANAC was a column with a series of wry observations about ND.  Here are a couple:  W. Fargo, with no college or university, has a population greater than college towns Wahpeton, Mayville, Valley City or Bottineau — a product of ND’s college legacy.  Omdahl observed western ND is drained by the Missouri River — eastern ND by Minneapolis.

REMARKABLE MOMENT  Columnist Mike Jacobs considers this an extraordinary time in ND higher education.  The Legislature is seriously considering a $100 million research grant to be shared by NDSU and UND.  Also, the governor’s task force on higher ed may recommend four separate boards to govern segments of the university system. 

FORUM AGAINST MEASURES  A Forum editorial urged a no vote on Measure 1 (ethics in government) viewing it as unnecessary, Measure 2 (only a citizen can vote) as redundant and Measure 3 (marijuana) because it would make ND “the Wild West for weed.”  It encouraged a yes vote on Measure 4 (special license plates for certain volunteers).

AN NPR/HARVARD STUDY of rural areas found drug addiction and weak local economies to be the top concerns.  Most rural residents said their lives were better than expected, but almost half did not expect their children’s lives to be better.  Half of rural children had moved away for jobs.  Rural residents did not think their economies will improve without outside help. 

THE ACT is taken by only 55 percent of the nation’s high school students.  In the 19 states where all students take the test, Minnesota had the highest scores and ND was fourth.  SD’s scores were higher than both, but only 77 percent of its students took the test.  The higher the participation rate, the lower the scores, because weaker students are pulled into the average.

“THERE’S WAY TOO MANY MOOSE” — A complaint from a resident of Lansford (20 mi. north of Minot) at a meeting about increasing intimidation by moose.  A state Game & Fish Dept. representative acknowledged they are “prolific animals” and promised to allow more hunting. 

ND COLLEGE STUDENTS stream north during breaks to enjoy Winnipeg’s art, culture and restaurants, as well as its more lenient liquor laws.  There is now another incentive — Canada has introduced recreational marijuana.  But students are warned not to bring pot back across the border.

DRONE FALCONS are being used to keep birds out of waste water treatment lagoons near the Grand Forks airport.  The “ro-birds” keep birds from settling in the lagoons and becoming a safety hazard to aircraft.  The problem goes away when the lagoons freeze.

SUNNY SIDE UP  “We can grieve or look forward and embrace other possibilities.” — From a Minot Daily News editorial about vacancies in shopping centers caused by the failure of “big box” stores.  Enterprising centers are finding a new mix of stores and services to replace businesses like Sears.  Anchor tenants such as Sears may have been attracted by particularly low rents and their departure is an opportunity to upgrade rent for the space.  Local government may be hurt by “big box” closings because those stores generate high sales taxes.

SPEAK TO ME  What’s the third or fourth most spoken language in Minnesota?  You think Norwegian or Swedish?  Get outa here — it’ Somali!  South Central College in Mankato is the first college in Minnesota to offer a Somali language course.

HUB CITIES  Three ND Oil Patch cities designated as Hub Cities will get special infrastructure money from oil taxes.  During the next biennium Williston is estimated to receive $55 million, Dickinson $26 million and Minot $12 million.  The distributions recognize the need to support infrastructure growth arising from the oil boom.

DAKTOIDS:  New ND oil production records in August: 1.3 million barrels per day and 40 million barrels in one month . . . In the year ended September 30, 2018, Lutheran Social Services reports only 174 refugees settled in ND, compared to 421 in the prior year.  The majority settle in Fargo . . . USDA plans to move significant research jobs out of Washington D.C. — a statewide effort has been organized in ND to apply for a portion of the jobs . . . Lower state support is causing Prairie Public TV to cut back and eliminate jobs . . . The early October snowstorm will become the “billion-dollar snow” if it prevents the harvest of late crops, particularly, soybeans . . . Gov. Burgum’s office has a strict new policy — employees can’t accept gifts or meals with values over $50. 

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