The often violent and often unlawful #NoDAPL protests against the Dakota Access Pipeline made David Archambault, chairman of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, something of a national and even international celebrity. He appeared on national television shows. He’s been on something of a lecture tour of college campuses and other venues. He even visited a United Nations event in Geneva.
A committee convened by the Legislature to review the initiated measure process met this week, and it seems they’re taking a long and hard look at the amount of money from outside the state which has funded some recent measures.
Mark Hagerott, chancellor of the North Dakota University System, has come under fire in recent weeks for his behavior, his job performance and some curious personnel decisions. Now the man is demanding an investigation into an alleged incident of political pressure which took place nearly a year and a half ago. To hear Hagerott tell it, a cabal of politicos is out to get him, and it all stems from his refusal to terminate or otherwise discipline former Gov. Ed Schafer.
Back during their 2013 session North Dakota lawmakers voted to expand the state’s Medicaid program in accordance with Obamacare despite a Supreme Court ruling declaring any federal retribution for failing to pass that expansion to be unconstitutional.
I found myself thinking of that old Stealer’s Wheel song about being stuck in the middle. The one with line about how there are “clowns to the left of me, jokers to the right.” This controversy in the NFL – and now the MLB – over players kneeling or sitting out during the national anthem is frustrating for those of us who would much rather our nation’s attention be focused on much needed policy initiatives like healthcare and tax reforms.
Yet another scandal has erupted in the North Dakota University System. This time it's Chancellor Mark Hagerott, who has held that position since the spring of 2015, creating a stir when he fired Vice Chancellor Lisa Feldner. Feldner was a 20-year veteran of the university system and well-liked by many. Her abrupt termination — NDUS insiders have told me it wasn't at all expected with the decision being made unilaterally by the Chancellor — for allegedly making "derogatory comments" to staff caused an unflattering internal report about Hagerott to surface.
I’ve written some pretty negative stories about North Dakota University System Chancellor Mark Hagerott in recent days, and I’ve had trouble getting him to comment on them, but today he agreed to come on my radio show and talk. The full audio is below.
“It’s pretty obvious that Dr. Feldner, who’s had 20 plus years of dedicated service to the state, was fired in part because the Chancellor needed budget money to hire his former Navy buddy,” state Rep. Roscoe Streyle, a Republican from Minot, told me yesterday. Streyle is not alone in his opinion. In recent weeks I have received dozens of emails and phone calls from people in the university system – from people who work at the NDUS office to people who work on the campuses – upset about Hagerott’s hiring of an associate of his from the Navy.
Senator John Hoeven joined me on my radio show today to talk about healthcare reform. The Senator has indicated support for the latest version of Republican-flavored reform, the so-called Graham-Cassidy bill. The gist of the bill is that it replaces Obamacare’s stringent, top-down, federal-centric regulations with block grants and flexibility for state policymakers to tackle health care. Hoeven’s North Dakota colleague, junior Senator Heidi Heitkamp, has ripped the bill.
Until last week Lisa Feldner was a vice chancellor in the North Dakota University System, but Chancellor Mark Hagerott fired her. Allegedly for “making derogatory comments to staff” and “suggesting they could lose their jobs,” my colleague Patrick Springer reported yesterday. I’m told by university system sources that Feldner was fired by email but then had her email privileges suspended before she could read it. She had to first learn of her termination from colleagues.