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On the calendar, it's just another Tuesday in June. But in homes and offices across North Dakota, especially Grand Forks, it's much more. For throughout the Flickertail State, this coming Tuesday—Election Day—represents a potentially historic turning point. At the state level, it'll likely determine who'll be North Dakota's governor for the next four years; and the voters will be choosing between two candidates with vastly different leadership styles.
It's unusual for a sitting UND president to endorse a candidate for governor. But "unusual" is not the same as "scandalous." Furthermore, if it's scandalous you want, forget Interim President Ed Schafer's endorsement of candidate Doug Burgum. Instead, look at the reaction of outraged lawmakers who contacted the North Dakota University System in response and "in my opinion, threatened retaliation," as Schafer said in a news story. Threatening to make UND or the North Dakota University System pay for the "sin" of a lame-duck, weeks-left-to-go president speaking his mind?
The trouble with playing chicken is that every now and then, your car really does fly off the cliff. That's not quite the situation Minnesota Republicans are in. Their "car" isn't sailing out over the void. But it is teetering on the cliff's lip. And the drop to the next ledge is long. Meanwhile, the guy with the tow-truck and the rescue rope—Gov. Mark Dayton—is parked nearby. He's whistling as he sits in the driver's seat, clearly in no hurry to pull the Republicans back onto solid ground.
Will Gov. Mark Dayton reconvene the Minnesota Legislature in special session? Will Republican lawmakers agree to the Democratic governor's conditions? As of this writing, the answers to those questions still are not clear. But here's what the recent session did make clear—as clear as the water from the most sparkling of the 10,000 lakes: Minnesota's legislative process needs reform.
In Grand Forks on June 14, the election for mayor could be a turning point, a Herald editorial suggested last week. But why could it be so? Here's why. And it's a reason that's important for voters to understand: In Grand Forks, the office of mayor comes with great power. True, that power has not been on full display in recent years. But make no mistake, it's there. The reason it hasn't shown up is that the current mayor chooses to share power rather than forcefully exercise it. Might that change, if challenger Terry Bjerke is elected?
On June 1, the Herald hosted a debate between Grand Forks' two mayoral candidates—incumbent Mayor Mike Brown, and Grand Forks City Council member Terry Bjerke. Here is a transcript of...
Face it: If a foundation that has been around for 25 years now carries a balance of $517, it's probably time to pull the plug. The North Dakota University System Foundation—not the North Dakota State University Foundation; more about the confusingly similar names in a minute—was founded in 1991 "to support the advancement of higher education in the state," a spokesman for the university system told the Herald in December.
The race for the White House isn't the only fascinating clash for top executive office in 2016. In Grand Forks, the race for the mayor's office also is worth following, with the contest between incumbent Mayor Mike Brown and City Council member Terry Bjerke offering the clearest contrast between candidates in years. And if you'd like to see it up close and hear the candidates speak about it themselves, now's your chance.
On a traffic island just south of downtown Grand Forks is a little bit of Gettysburg. It's the Grand Army of the Republic Monument, a 7-foot-tall statue of a Civil War soldier, much like the statues that adorn battlefields up and down the East Coast. Suppose that at sunrise on this Memorial Day, the dawn rays turned the granite uniform to blue wool, and warmed the soldier into blinking and breathing life. What would the surprised (and unusually tall) gent be thinking in the weeks to come, once he had climbed down off his pedestal and started to look around?
Q. Let's start with the Honesty Gap, the difference between North Dakotans' upbeat image of their schools and the sometimes-less-encouraging reality of the students' performances. For months, we have been talking about something that is absolutely, brutally important, and that is the Honesty Gap. We must make sure we communicate accurately to our schools, our students and their parents about how truly and honestly prepared the students are when they go on to that next level, whether they choose the military, a tech school, a four-year college or a research university.