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Why are Americans losing confidence in health care reform even as Senate Democrats approach 60 votes? A big reason may be the partisanship found in those two words: "Senate Democrats." Nothing against Democrats, who of course are proud of their filibuster-proof majority in the World's Most Exclusive Club. But the public is skittish of big reforms that get pushed through with the support of only one party.
Tempest in a teapot time: There are nonstories and there are nonstories, but the revelation that Gov. John Hoeven spent $7,845 on travel during the first 10 months of this year may be the nonstoriest. True, the figure represents a big jump over the same period in 2008 -- but only because that 2008 number itself was absurdly low. The governor spent $2,705 on travel during the first 10 months of 2008, according to the story ("Hoeven's travel stats show mixed picture," Page B1, Dec. 13). The guy needs to get out more often.
When news broke that their presidential-residence construction projects had rung up big cost overruns, North Dakota's university foundations made unwanted headlines. It wasn't the first time, either in North Dakota or the nation. And it won't be the last, until the foundations start acting less like private organizations and more like public agencies, especially where transparency is concerned. That's the way the foundations can regain North Dakotans' trust.
Keith Reitmeier, Area IV director, Job Service North Dakota. <?b> Reitmeier, a Fosston, Minn. native, has served as Area IV director since 2005. As area director, he supervises the Job Service offices in Grand Forks, Devils Lake, Grafton, N.D., and Rolla, N.D. Before assuming his current job, he worked as a Job Service customer service consultant for five years. He has a background with business, economic development and civic leadership. He also serves at the state level as a member of the team responsible for carrying out agency goals.
Don't write off North Dakota's Centers of Excellence program just yet. Last week, an audit asked whether the program -- which is administered by the Department of Commerce -- was being adequately assessed. At the time of the audit, it wasn't, the report declared. This unsettling finding brought North Dakotans up short and is getting Commerce's full attention. But the audit looked only at how well the centers were being assessed. It didn't examine whether the centers are being successful. That's the more important question.
Grand Forks residents and officials are scrutinizing the Alerus Center again. Good. That's a never-ending obligation of ownership. In fact, city and Alerus Center leaders should make that scrutiny even easier for the public. The Alerus Center's finances and the minutes of the Events Center Commission aren't online, as far as we know. That should change, and the finances should be presented in a way that's easy to understand. Criticisms of the center in blog comments and elsewhere make much of the perception that the center operates in secret.
Giddy from the rush of their party's new power, House Democrats overreached. Senate Democrats now should re-center the debate. If they succeed -- if they craft a stimulus plan that's more about creating jobs and less about winning votes -- that plan can pass both houses with bipartisan support. Sen. Kent Conrad, D-N.D., should show the way. Now is the hour for Conrad; it's the moment he has trained for throughout his career.
No, the bottom hasn't dropped out of the economy in North Dakota. But the trend lines have all turned downward, and the sober stories about slowdowns and layoffs are showing up daily rather than weekly on the Herald's front page. Here's hoping the people who should be paying the most attention are doing so. That group would be the state lawmakers in Bismarck.
Completely inadequate. That's the best that can be said about Gov. Tim Pawlenty's State of the State address: It was a partisan screed at a time when Minnesota desperately needs bipartisan cooperation. What a shame. Pawlenty's speech was a disappointment because it presages senseless battles to come.
A teacher said it best: "That which can best be learned in the out-of-doors ... should be learned there." And that was in 1930. Now, North Dakota is taking a big step toward putting that philosophy into practice, as Turtle River State Park near Larimore, N.D., gears up to serve as one of three designated Outdoor Learning Centers in the state. Herald staff writer Brad Dokken reports on the move on the Outdoors Page in today's Herald.