Grand Forks Herald
Confronted with shrinking revenues and neglected maintenance, University of North Dakota Interim President Ed Schafer didn’t hesitate: He freed up enough money to tackle the maintenance backlog. He did this...
Maybe we're all making it too complicated. Maybe there's an easy way for North Dakota Democrats to gain seats in the Legislature and regain their statewide popularity: They should take their lead from the state's most popular Democrat, Heidi Heitkamp. Because it's all a matter of triangulation — and Heitkamp has the key angles down. Heitkamp's formula for political success is the same as the one used by former Democratic Sens. Kent Conrad and Byron Dorgan:
Maybe you’re an eighth-grader. And maybe you’ll be pondering your algebra homework sometime today and thinking, “What’s the point?” Two things. First, the fact that you’re an eighth-grader who’s reading...
It's early yet. The June 14 primary election in North Dakota still is a month away. Then again, it's only a month away — actually, just under a month. In any case, it's worth pointing out a political curiosity about the very big Measure 1 on the ballot, which is that a campaign of strong and vocal support for the measure hasn't yet developed. Or if it has, we haven't seen it.
In a speech to criminal justice students at Minot State University last week, Wayne Stenehjem had this to say: "We have to redo our prison system," the North Dakota attorney general said. "We need to rethink in a fundamental way how we're dealing with punishment. We've built a brand-new prison in Bismarck, and it's full. If we don't get a handle on the addiction side of this and provide effective long-term effective treatment, we're never going to succeed. We're just going to see more and more of our citizens being lost."
In a marriage, when a couple disagrees, it's never a good idea to settle the issue by force. Sure, it's possible for the stronger partner to exert his or her dominance. But it's poisonous to the relationship — and dangerous, too. Because sooner or later, the aggrieved and angry partner will pop. Far better for the duo to talk through their differences. And the starting point in all such discussions is respect for the other's humanity and a willingness to listen to his or her point of view.
Typically, when reform advocates lose in the Legislature, then lose again the next time the reform gets put to a vote, the reform goes nowhere. After all, it lost. So...
Grand Forks Herald Wayne Stenehjem proudly mentions many of his achievements as attorney general, and it's an impressive list: breaking up drug rings, pulling meth components off shelves, putting human traffickers behind bars. But in all those actions, Stenehjem stood with many others. We see more significance in the time he stood alone: the time he stood in partial opposition to his fellow members of the Industrial Commission; the time he sparked an anti-Stenehjem lobbying drive from the oil and gas industry, among other powerful interests.
Sure, compliance is better than enforcement when it comes to environmental law, as the North Dakota Department of Health declares. When oil drillers ship their product without spilling it and safely dispose of fracking wastewater and other byproducts as well, that's terrific. The trouble is, a whole lot of rule-breaking has been going on, especially when it comes to wastewater spills.
The last time a theory by a couple of East Coast social scientists got applied to North Dakota, the result wasn't pretty. But just because the Buffalo Commons concept, as imagined by Frank and Deborah Popper — both of New Jersey's Rutgers University at the time — now gets rightly ridiculed is no reason to dismiss other insights that social science can offer. For example, here's an idea that's worth pondering, because it's both better supported than the Buffalo Commons and likely more in tune with North Dakota's culture: