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Not one Democrat voted for North Dakota's new Voter ID law. That's reason enough for Gov. Doug Burgum to veto it. Understand, it's not the only reason. The courts are likely to block the law, because it fails to address a federal judge's strong objections to North Dakota's previous Voter ID law.
Years ago, after giving a speech at his alma mater, Fay Vincent was asked by a student for the secret to success. Vincent would know; at the time, he was chairman of Columbia Pictures, and he'd go on to become executive vice president of Coca Cola and commissioner of Major League Baseball. So, what was his secret? "In my experience, the key is the ability to get along with others," he said. Not degrees; not smarts; not marketable skills, although all of those matter, Vincent continued.
It started with an act of nature. Fate took a glass of water and dumped it onto the tabletop that is the Red River Valley. The result was a staggering disaster that ruined homes, emptied bank accounts and submerged an entire metro area. But what started as an act of nature, ultimately was made right by acts of American society. And that's the biggest lesson from the flood of 1997. It's the lesson that permeates virtually every 20th-anniversary flood story: The system worked. Local government worked. State government worked. The federal government worked.
The year 1997 looms large in Grand Cities history—especially this week, the 20th anniversary of the great 1997 flood. And the Herald joins with every other organization in town in celebrating Grand Forks and East Grand Forks' spectacular recovery. We've chronicled that recovery for two decades now, and we'll proudly and happily keep doing so for decades to come. But at some point in all this commemorating, one other year deserves mention. The year is 1826.
When a roomful of otherwise quarrelsome consumers agree on something, marketers listen. That's the value of a focus group: It's not scientific, but it is a quick read on public opinion that executives know can be very valuable. Politicians know this, too. So, for the benefit of lawmakers in St. Paul, here's a Minnesota "focus group" that could point the way to bipartisan agreement this spring. It's the editorial boards of the state's newspapers, and the boards' idea is a good one: To get to "Yes" on tax and budget policy, start by cutting Minnesota's business property tax.
So, which would you rather have: a million dollars? Or a checkerboard that has one penny on the first square, two pennies on the second, four pennies on the third and so on, doubling each time through the 64 squares? Your answer probably should be, "It depends." And what it depends on is whether you mind losing your checkerboard, given that by the end of the penny sequence, it's going to be buried under 18 quintillion pennies.
It was a vast landscape of cuts, that budget that Gov. Doug Burgum presented in January. But across that windswept prairie, one "grain elevator" stood out. It was a program whose budget the governor actually wanted to increase. That would be the university Challenge Grants, the program that leverages private dollars by promising a partial state match.
City parks are special places. But they're not hallowed ground. That's the bottom line on Verizon Wireless' proposal to build a wireless communication tower in Grand Forks' University Park. Last week, the Planning and Zoning Commission tabled a decision on the project, asking Verizon Wireless to come back with more information. The vote was unanimous—as it should have been, because it was a smart move.
Here's a useful fact to remember when the talk turns to college-sports reform: The Ivy League got its start as a football conference. Sports has been a driving force in American higher education for a long, long time, in other words. Forum Communications columnist Rob Port decries that situation in his column today, and he's not alone.
Editor's note: In his Sunday column, Forum Communications columnist Rob Port says colleges should stop subsidizing their sports programs. Port had made that point earlier in the week at his political blog, SayAnythingBlog.com; the Herald happened to be talking with UND President Mark Kennedy at about that time, and we asked the president about it. Here is a transcript of that conversation, lightly edited for clarity. □ □ □