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On Facebook on Saturday, a reader responded this way to a Herald story about the conduct of two top Alerus Center officials: "Do you really think writing an article about someone's 'erratic' behavior in the workplace is appropriate?" Fair question. Here's the answer: Yes, it's appropriate. It's appropriate because the Alerus Center officials work for us—meaning the people of Grand Forks.
The outline of a compromise is emerging in the Dakota Access Pipeline debate. It's visible in Herald columnist Mike Jacobs' column on today's editorial page. Here's hoping the parties spot this outline, start to negotiate, and reach an agreement before more protesters and police officers get hurt. The bare bones of an agreement would be these: 1. This pipeline gets completed. 2. Federal, state and tribal governments change the process for approving the next pipeline (or bridge, highway or other infrastructure project) to make sure tribes don't feel the need to protest again.
They started as protesters. They prefer to be called protectors. But a better word is pretenders, because the claims being made by the people trying to block the Dakota Access Pipeline's construction are based more on pretense than in fact. That ruins the protesters' credibility, and makes it very unlikely that they'll gain majority support from the voters they need to convince. The activists near Cannon Ball, N.D., say they're peacefully protesting. But that's not the whole truth, at least not at the key moments over the past few weeks, including Thursday.
Funny thing about the First Amendment: It's a law. It's a law that the Dakota Access Pipeline protesters depend on, as they exercise their "right to peaceably assemble" and to express themselves, both of which the amendment guarantees. Funny thing about restrictions against trespass, riot and disorderly conduct: They're laws, too. And the protesters depend on these as well. Right now, the police are lined up facing the protesters, especially when the protesters trespass on construction sites.
In Grand Forks, one way to decide whether to support the city's proposed sales tax hike is to talk with people you respect. Business owners, for example. In fact, especially business owners, because sales tax hikes can hurt sales. Which means businesses have to consider such tax hikes with care, because raising the sales tax will raise prices and could turn some customers away.
No, the Dakota Access Pipeline is not going to cross sacred ground, as the presence of an existing pipeline in the previously dug-up corridor proves. Yes, the Standing Rock tribe had lots of chances to influence the pipeline's route during the two-year-long permitting process. No, the pipeline will not unduly threaten the Missouri River, any more than it will the James River, Big Sioux River, Des Moines River and Mississippi River, which it will also cross. As two federal courts have confirmed, pipeline supporters have the better of the original anti-pipeline arguments.
You're putting your address into an online form. You click on the little dropdown menu that lists the names of the states. And there it is: Right there on the list with CA, NY, TX, FL and the others, you see the initials ND. North Dakota. Only 740,000 people, but a full-fledged United State, an equal with the likes of California (pop. 39 million), Texas (27 million) and New York (20 million) in the structure of the greatest country on Earth.
A key word is missing from the ads opposing Measure 4, the proposed increase in North Dakota's tobacco tax. The word is "tobacco." Opponents of the law should recast the ads to include the word. Because as soon as voters spot its absence, they resent the attempt to manipulate them. And then they look skeptically at the rest of the ad, too. After all, if an ad deliberately omits such a vital piece of information, what else is it omitting? The ads we're referring to are the ones that instruct, "Say no to North Dakota's 400 percent tax increase."
A few years ago, North Dakota had a chancellor who took a chief executive's approach to running the state's system of higher education. He's no longer the chancellor. And the reason Hamid Shirvani lasted less than a year as chancellor is because the straightforward chief executive, decision-maker model doesn't work well in higher education. On Wednesday, Herald sportswriters Brad Schlossman and Tom Miller wrote penetrating columns about the spectacle of coaches and players pleading their teams' cases in front of UND's Intercollegiate Athletic Committee.
There's lots of talk about mental health in the proposal to remove the State Hospital and its Jamestown, N.D., location from the North Dakota Constitution. But sooner or later, the talk should turn to economics. Because lawmakers and voters will consider the economic impact of such a change on Jamestown, and rightly so. That impact might even be decisive. And if that's the case, then unless the proposal is revised, it seems likely to be shot down.