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Tuesday, October 16, 2018


A NEW ROUGH RIDER  “Hill says growing up in North Dakota instilled in him the values of hard work, dedication and integrity, and he's honored to be recognized by his home state.” — Retired Secret Service Agent Clint Hill after he was awarded ND’s highest honor, the Theodore Roosevelt Rough Rider Award.  Hill served five presidents, but is best known for using his body in an attempt to shield President Kennedy during the Dallas assassination. The selection was made by Governor Doug Burgum, himself a 2009 winner of the award and the first Rough Rider to award another.  Burgum said, “His (Hill’s) exemplary record of service at the highest level of national security continues to inspire pride and respect among North Dakotans, and we are deeply grateful for his lifetime of service.”

COLUMNIST MIKE JACOBS is in a scrappy mood.  Following is the meat of his October 9th column:  “Marijuana is far less destructive than alcohol; and the point is not insignificant in a state that ranks among the drunkest in the nation. Nor does marijuana cause the diseases and deaths that result from tobacco use.”  He noted marijuana has substantial benefits, but is the target of slurs and red-herrings.  Jacobs hinted he has been a past user and, if marijuana is legalized in ND, he will certainly be a grower.

SKEPTICISM  Jacobs continues to be skeptical of polling showing Republican Kevin Cramer leading Democrat Heidi Heitkamp in the U.S. Senate contest.  He believes her “patient, focused campaign” might carry the day.  Jacobs contends Heitkamp’s vote against Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation should benefit her campaign because it demonstrates independence.  The Forum poll mentioned below suggests otherwise.

HEIDI HEITKAMP faced a tough decision on the Kavanaugh vote — the Senate candidate could have turned right or left — each choice had political risks and benefits.  Heitkamp went left and voted against Kavanaugh’s confirmation.  Now, in the short run, it looks like a bad decision.  A Fargo Forum poll asked if readers agreed or disagreed with her.  The outcome was stunning — at one point late in the poll 2,257 disagreed and only 52 agreed (that’s more than 40:1) — and Fargo is a relatively moderate part of the state.

SOCIAL MOBILITY is a measure of the ability of people to improve their economic status, for example, for the children of poor parents to do better than their parents.  It measures how people may be held down by growing up in the wrong neighborhood.  A GF Herald editorial referenced a Harvard study that shows the Dakotas and western Minnesota have healthy levels of social mobility.  This is consistent with earlier studies showing that the rural areas and small towns of the Dakotas and Minnesota have above average social and economic mobility, unlike many urban areas.  Children in those rural areas are less likely, despite low family income, to see themselves as socially disadvantaged.

ONE MEANING OF “SALTING,” roughly translated, means adding something to a mix that deceives or gives a false impression.  This week the lead page of the online GF Herald included an obituary for “Private Warren Arthur Parker, 29, Grand Forks, North Dakota, died Monday, Oct. 14, in University of North Dakota from Spanish Influenza followed by pneumonia.”  Both sad and surprising, until you noticed the date of death, Oct. 14, 1918.  The same day this week a Forum headline read “Inmates not happy with amount of food served in Cass County jail.”  Interesting, until you notice the date, Oct. 10, 2015.  Are these items deliberately confusing or an oddity of software?

HIGHER ED REPORT  Gov. Burgum’s task force on higher education is wrapping up its work and is expected to issue a report by the end of the year.  The task force is considering a “multiple board approach” that could result in four boards — one for each of the research universities (UND and NDSU), one for the regional universities and another for the community colleges.  Any change requires a constitutional amendment.

STOPPING BAD GUYS  "It's becoming a major corridor for not only marijuana, but narcotics, burglary rings, scamming and human trafficking.” — ND Highway Patrol Capt. Bryan Niewind referring to I-94, the state’s main east-west corridor.  The problem — how to reduce illegal activity while still respecting civil rights of travelers.  Five marijuana cases along I-94 have been thrown out in the last year by ND judges because there was no probable cause to search the vehicles.  The combined cases involved 1,000 pounds of marijuana.  The Highway Patrol is trained to balance civil right considerations in making traffic stops — police and sheriff deputies need more training.

PIPELINE PROTESTORS  A judge in Clearwater County, Minnesota, dismissed charges against an environmental activist couple who disrupted a major pipeline.  A similar case in ND resulted in jail sentences.  A GF Herald editorial disagreed with the judge.

SMILE, YOU’RE ON TELEDENTRISTY  Indian reservations and many rural areas of ND are not served by dentists.  The state can learn from Minnesota, a leader in teledentristy, which permits dental hygienists and therapists to practice in underserved areas with electronic supervision from dentists.  A greater share of preventative care is being taken on by the hygienists whose salaries are roughly a third of dentists.  Dental therapists provide treatments previously limited to dentists.

PAYBACK  Minnesota schools close for two days in October to allow teachers to attend the annual Minnesota Educator Academy — continuing education for teachers.  This year there is a difference, nonunion teachers can’t attend.  The U.S. Supreme Court recently ruled that nonunion teachers do not have to pay for collective bargaining.  The union, sponsor of the academy, struck back by banning nonunion teachers.  The union refuses to disclose how many members have withdrawn because of the ruling.

DAKTOIDS  The U.S. Supreme Court cleared ND’s voter ID requirement . . . Employee buyouts were accepted by 224 ND state employees — cost: $7.4 million . . . An early October storm brought as much as 19 inches of snow to areas of eastern ND . . . High school graduation rates for American Indians in ND rose to 67 percent — Indian students are 10 percent of K-12 students in ND.

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