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Monday, October 08, 2018


APPLAUSE FOR THE TRADE DEAL  “The deal with Canada this week is a huge step in the right direction.” — Minot Daily News editorial.  The GF Herald was equally enthusiastic and pointed out that exports to Canada are 84 percent of ND exports.

WILL ND BE A TECHNOLOGY LEADER?  “North Dakota is a leader in many areas: energy, agriculture and the UAS sector to name a few. Why wouldn't we want to lead in technology innovation?” — State Chief Information Officer Shawn Riley.  He heads a multi-year project to modernize and integrate the state’s information systems and make them accessible to residents.

SENATE RACE  Columnist Rob Port summarized the results of polling for the Kevin Cramer/Heidi Heitkamp Senate race.  Early polls in February this year showed a close race — ensuing polls show Cramer gaining a lead.  A September poll by NBC shows Cramer with 51 percent support and Heitkamp with 41 percent.  Port's fellow columnist Mike McFeely says be cautious about using the NBC poll, because past polls have been badly wrong about Heitkamp.  He anticipates a tight race.

MARIJUANA  Columnist and former ND lieutenant governor Lloyd Omdahl came out strongly against Measure 3 legalizing recreational marijuana.  He said the drug is addictive and messes up teenagers.  He believes big marijuana money will control the ND market and eventually influence state politics.  Omdahl also noted leaders in law enforcement are uniformly against the measure.

MONEY STRUGGLE  The president and provost at UND have been in a dispute with the faculty of the Odegard Aerospace School.  The executives question the independence of the Aerospace School and demand a larger financial role for the university.  Paul Cline, a PhD graduate of the School, wrote, “The Odegard School is a remarkable economic engine for the university, Grand Forks, and the state of North Dakota.”  The Aerospace School, unlike other departments, is largely self-financed.  Cline said it is all about money and “This episode is simply another attempt to cash in on the Odegard School's well deserved success.”

HE WON’T GO FAR  Alan LaFave will be the new president of Valley City State.  Presently, he is provost and vice-president for academic affairs at Northern State in Aberdeen, South Dakota, less than 150 miles from Valley City.

SURPRISING MIDWEST CITIES  Most states in the Midwest are growing slowly, while states in the South and West have impressive growth.  In the Midwest, rural areas are depopulating and older industrial areas are shedding people and jobs according to Bloomberg News.  Counterintuitively, certain regional cities in the Midwest are fast-growing.  Fargo, Bismarck and Sioux Falls in that order were the fastest growing cities in the Midwest and Northeast during the past seven years.  Fargo and Bismarck grew over 15 percent during the period; Sioux Falls a couple points less.  Cities in Iowa and Nebraska were right behind.

WHAT DRIVES THE GROWTH?  Bloomberg attributed Bismarck’s growth to the oil boom and being a state capital.  Fargo is a university city, medical center and a regional distribution and manufacturing location.  Sioux Falls has a unique position as a financial center in a state with no individual or corporate income taxes.  The credit-card industry chose to locate there because of friendly state laws.  Like Fargo, Sioux Falls is an important medical center.  It has also become a refuge for high worth individuals fleeing Minnesota taxes.

FISH STORY  “It’s come to be known as a top walleye fishery in the U.S., and it’s also a unique experience.’’ — Johnnie Candle, a pro walleye tournament angler, referring to Devils Lake and explaining why so many Minnesotans are getting ND fishing licenses.  This season 25,500 anglers from Minnesota bought ND licenses.  According to the Star Tribune, bountiful walleye and generous limits are the main appeal.

GOING, GOING, GONE  Last week, I described an embezzlement scandal where the manager of a cooperative elevator in Ashby, Minnesota, stole $2 million to support his obviously extravagant life style.  Members were informed this week the losses may be more like $5 million and it may be necessary to dissolve the cooperative.  Directors aren’t saying much.

SUPPORT IN SPIRIT  The Standing Rock Sioux’s opposition to the Dakota Access Pipeline was both a financial and political defeat for the tribe.  The tribe lost millions of dollars and their image was damaged when the protests got out of control.  Yet, they are a symbol for protests against pipelines among Indians in states bordering ND.  The Standing Rock council pledged support last month to other tribes for protests in Minnesota, Montana and South Dakota.  The Standing Rock pledge is largely moral support, they carefully avoided any promise of money or other aid.

TRIBAL MEMBERS GET LEFTOVERS  The White Earth Reservation, about 50 miles northeast of Fargo, is going through a periodic financial crisis.  The new tribal council blames the old council for four years of deficit spending.  White Earth is Minnesota’s largest and poorest reservation.  The population of the reservation is about 9,000 half of whom live in poverty.  Prior to the budget crisis, the five members of the Tribal Council each had salaries averaging $170,000.

DAKTOIDS:  The Dakota Marker trophy returned to ND —the NDSU Bison beat the SDSU Jackrabbits 21-17 in Fargo . . . Ready for a good breakfast — People magazine says the best breakfast dish in ND can be found at The Shack on Broadway in Fargo . . . ND general fund revenues for the 2017-19 biennial are four percent ahead of forecast — looking further ahead the state expects moderate growth in revenues.

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