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The Q&A on the Herald's editorial page today deals with city's proposed sales-tax increase. And deep in the feature's text, there's a web address. It would be easy to miss. For that reason, it's also worth calling attention to. The site is GrandForksGov.com, and if readers would like more information about Grand Forks' proposed sales-tax increase, it's an exceptionally useful source.
Last week, the Herald Editorial Board sat down with Grand Forks city officials to talk about the proposed ¾-cent sales tax increase, which will be on the November ballot. Present were Mayor Mike Brown, City Council President Dana Sande, Council Vice President Ken Vein, City Administrator Todd Feland and Community/Government Relations Officer Pete Haga. Below is a transcript, edited for clarity and length. □ □ □ Q. What's the main message about the proposed sales-tax increase that you're trying to communicate?
Fargo has started a debate on refugee immigration that Grand Forks should pay attention to. That's because while more refugees have settled in Fargo than in any other North Dakota city, Grand Forks hosts growing numbers of refugees, too. That means Grand Forks residents are asking the same questions that people in Fargo are asking. So, let's tune in to what's happening in Fargo, and use the best insights to craft policy in Grand Forks.
How to get off on the wrong foot with the press: Vote to become a public-arts "supergroup" and powerful public entity in Grand Forks, but do so at a closed gathering that apparently broke North Dakota's open meetings law. But all is not lost for the Public Arts Commission, which voted Friday to merge with the North Valley Arts Council. That's because the circumstances of the improperly closed meeting were confusing at best.
You don't have to look at a new dam or a new school to see an example of good governance. You just have to look at a plot of land a few steps long and a single step wide. With its grass cut. That's the case this week in Grand Forks, where the tall grass that had been growing on the berm outside of attorney Henry Howe's office got mowed on Monday. Howe himself didn't do the cutting—though he should have, in our view. In fact, he should have cut it months ago, like every other homeowner and business owner cuts the grass on their berm multiple times a year.
UND President Mark Kennedy is right to take action in response to the photos that went viral last week. We'd offer two cautions and an encouragement as the president acts. The most important caution is to first, find out what happened. The photos may seem self-explanatory. But as America has learned and relearned in recent years, these things very often are not what they seem. The first photo showed three girls, one of them wearing a UND sweatshirt, in what looks like a dorm room. They've taken a selfie, and the photo is captioned, "Locked the black b---- out."
Recently, Measure 4 supporters visited the Herald to talk about the measure, which will be on North Dakota's November ballot. The guests were Dr. Eric Johnson of Grand Forks, chairman of the sponsoring committee; Kristie Wolff of Bismarck, tobacco control program manager for the American Lung Association in North Dakota; and David Johnson of Bismarck, adjutant of the American Legion Department of North Dakota. The following is a transcript of the conversation, edited for clarity and length. Q. What happens if Measure 4 passes?
Lots of claims about Measure 4, the proposed tobacco-tax increase, will be raised between now and November. Here's the conclusion of the fact-checking service PolitiFact about one. Claim: Tobacco taxes "disproportionately burden middle and lower-income consumers," a claim made in response to President Barack Obama's 2013 proposal to raise cigarette taxes. Politifact's verdict: Mostly True.
At times, people die in accidents at parades. That's the bad news. The good news is America sees very few such deaths each year, despite an environment in which thousands of communities host parades, and millions of spectators line the routes. A 2014 report in Governing magazine listed eight parade-related deaths over the previous three years. And here in Grand Forks, people might be interested in another finding from the Governing story:
Some Dakota Access Pipeline protesters say they're motivated by "sacred sites" and other Standing Rock Reservation concerns. But a great many really are against fossil fuels in general, and are protesting pipelines in order to keep oil in the ground. Conservatives rightly criticize these protesters for masking their true motivations. But conservatives in North Dakota and elsewhere have their own masks they should answer for—or better yet, rip off and discard.