Herald opinion highlights from November
Herald editorial board
Following are highlights from Herald editorials, Herald columnists and letter-writers from the Herald's opinion page in November:
The combined realities — that the new tax won't be cost prohibitive to consumers, that its proceeds would be used only for water and road repairs, and that others will help shoulder the burden of these debts — are why we endorse voting "yes" on the proposal at the polls next week. City voters will make the final decision Tuesday, Nov. 7. Voting will take place at the Alerus Center.
For way too long now, going back as long as we can remember, we have seen the media snipe at the university and its leaders, and we are tired of it. It is not just the media. Friends and members of the community pick it up from the media and knock the university. Far too often the conversation is about negative things, and not about the many positive things happening at UND.
Sandy and Doug Norby
We don't like the (proposed U.S. Customs and Border Protection plan to close Minnesota border crossings early) and adjusting the hours at these ports raises great concern.
Roseau, for example, has a population of more than 2,600. It has an airport and vibrant business community, with many of those businesses relying on night-time traffic to and from Canada. It is in a tourist-rich region.
It also has a hospital, and that's where our chief concern lies, since closing the border early could limit access to the facility.
I am currently traveling overland by bus and ferry though Botswana, Zimbabwe, Malawi and South Africa. It seemed it would be a pleasant escape from the toxic political environment that has been sustained in the US since long before the 2016 election.
But no. Very informed Africans engage me to express dismay and alarm that we have replaced a responsible, empathetic and intelligent leader in Barack Obama with our current maniacal, vindictive and incompetent President Donald Trump.
We all want to live in a city that values quality of life, supports job growth and attracts new businesses. In order to accomplish this, it is paramount to meet our city's basic infrastructure needs of clean water and safe roads.
Combined with greater demand brought on by local residents taking home a larger portion of their paycheck, federal tax cuts mean the Red River Valley's small businesses can grow, hiring more workers and further solidifying our economic prosperity.
State Rep. Jake Blum, R-Grand Forks
The assault (on President Trump) is simple: perpetually use a theme of "insanity" for a man who is far too "unstable" and "mentally incompetent" to occupy the White House. That derailment train is engineered by reeling Democrats, newly retired Establishment Republicans, collaborative media and billionaire left-wing activists from Silicon Valley. Same choir, different tune.
R.J. Ogaard, Crookston
We still don't believe a raise in the gas tax is too likely, since Congress has been staunchly against it for more than 20 years. But if the president wants to make a lasting impact, his infrastructure plan — funded in part by a modest and overdue boost to the federal fuel tax — might be the place to do it.
There is no question that we need a new water treatment plant and need to do a better job repairing our city streets and roads. The only real question is how do we pay for these infrastructure improvements?
With state and federal funding drying up, we need to look for new, innovative ways to maintain our basic infrastructure and minimize the cost to our citizens. That is why I proposed a half-percent sales tax dedicated to pay for street improvements, pothole repair and our new water treatment plant.
Mayor Mike Brown
The city chose to start building a new water treatment plant without having money in place to complete it. Why? The solution they offer for their mistake is to raise taxes. How about cutting non-infrastructure spending until the water plant and road fixes are paid up? Or how about spending some of the cash the city is holding or sell the downtown buildings the city owns and put those dollars toward infrastructure? Our infrastructure issues are not an income problem, they are a spending problem.
David Dunham, Grand Forks
Grand Forks is getting exactly what they voted for: High taxes and reduced services. The "fix" for this is not to increase the sales tax. Fixing the problem requires throwing the tax-and-spend politicians out of office.
Schurkey Swanke, Grand Forks
The front-page story on Wednesday's Grand Forks Herald should have read "Thousands of parents happy with 'no costume' policy of Grands Forks schools." They understand that costumes can be a distraction to the learning process, as well as a possible safety hazard.
Paul Anderson, Grand Forks
Recently, Michael Foster received a felony conviction for his incredibly dangerous act of vandalism against a pipeline in North Dakota. Strangely, what hit me hardest in the coverage was the photo choices the media made—one photo of him alongside a beautiful stream, and the other of him smiling outside the courthouse with his attorneys. Does the everyday criminal get such great PR? No.
Terry Bjerke, Grand Forks
The irony is thick. The same day Kmart announced another round of closings nationwide — including in Thief River Falls — a group of state attorneys general signed on to support an initiative to collect taxes from out-of-state internet retailers. ...
It's becoming an old argument, but it also is becoming an acute issue, because many internet retailers are at an advantage over companies that have made brick-and-mortar investments in our towns.
Richard Shafer, in his travels through Africa, would have us believe that the people of Africa are extremely concerned as to the fitness of Donald Trump to be president of the United States.
Maybe the supporters of Isis and Al Queda do. As to the general population, I suggest violence, hunger and health care are of a much greater concern. Mr. Shafer was and is a proponent of journalism—or so he would have us believe. I for one believe his personal animosity has overwhelmed objectivity. It's time for a look in the mirror.
Ron Schmidt, Tolna, N.D.
For North Dakota to reach its full potential, we need citizens equipped to compete in a global economy, which requires lifetime access to the best education at affordable prices. Creating such a system requires a governance structure that is nimble and empowers our educational leaders and faculty to make responsive decisions that enable our system to remain economically viable amid external forces transforming education across the world.
Gov. Doug Burgum
Because most Republicans are more educated than most Democrats, they understand the importance of burying differences in crucial situations. So they stick with Trump even though they acknowledge privately that he is the worst president since Warren Harding. Democrats get into barroom brawls.
Columnist Lloyd Omdahl
Burgum's action (to create a higher education task force in North Dakota) presages a vigorous debate but it doesn't predict specific consequences. Of course, that's what makes the initiative so important. Likely, it will dominate political discussion at least through the 2019 legislative session and potentially through the 2020 election cycle.
Columnist Mike Jacobs
I'm optimistic, and I'm particularly optimistic about UND. In fact, although my husband has tugged at my sleeve to get me to retire, it's bittersweet to leave my university and community at a time when we have the right leadership in President Mark Kennedy. He understands the fast pace of change happening in higher education, and the fast pace of change needed to keep UND at the forefront.
Laurie Betting, Grand Forks
America needs more women in politics, yet they face hurdles that men are able to avoid. Why have businesses figured out that mothers deserve accommodations but boards and panels — which are paying jobs — haven't?
This is an inequity that needs closer attention.
In North Dakota, there are still thousands of unfilled job openings and with unemployment at 1.9 percent, we really don't need more. Meanwhile, it's not the government's job to just declare higher wages. For example, we are against any effort to create a $15 minimum wage.
So what about a reduction in the corporate tax structure, which has been pushed by Republicans in recent weeks?
It doesn't take a degree in economics to know that a dollar spent on federal taxes is a dollar unavailable to the local economy. With some of the highest national business tax rates in the world, the United States ensures that not only do we lose the capital to finance our most successful local entrepreneurs, but we incentivize successful businesses to relocate overseas.
Congress' tax plan hopes to court the best and brightest business owners by being especially friendly to small businesses.
U.S. Rep. Kevin Cramer
By pointing to governance as the primary problem in higher education, time and money will be spent pursuing an unachievable goal of structural reform in a state that has rejected proposal after proposal to change the governance of higher education.
Columnist Lloyd Omdahl
Altru's main clinic closed earlier this year after a structural failure unexpectedly forced its evacuation. That was sad news—lemons.
In the 10 months since, hospital officials said they stepped back to "think about the big picture" of the region's health-care needs.
What they decided was, in their words, "a bold new era of care." That's the lemonade.
Ads currently exist on Backpage.com's Grand Forks dating section, including one that proclaims "Ayisia is back. ... Let me be your everything and more. I can make all your fantasies come true." The ad includes a phone number.
That doesn't sound like a "date" to us.
... The company is earning money off what appear to be prostitution ads, child slavery and sex trafficking, and it's not right. ... New legislation, called the Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act, may help.
I have been fortunate enough to travel widely in the United States and abroad. While there is beauty and great people everywhere, I have never returned home without thanking God that I live in North Dakota. The wide smiles and wide-open spaces are a big part of that, and the clean living, water and air makes this the best place that I can imagine to live.
Ed Steadman, Grand Forks
Rep. Kevin Cramer proclaims ... the tax cuts' benefits for small businesses. This sidesteps the fact that the wealthy are the main recipients, at the expense of the poor. It is unconscionable that Congress would enact massive tax cuts primarily for the rich while short-changing children, seniors, working families and people with disabilities.
Kathleen Ness, Grand Forks
It is cardinal rule of criminal justice that the punishment be commensurate to the crime. If lust is a factor, then sexual assault by anyone under 70 should be regarded as a capital offense; assault by those between 70 and 80 should be a felony; those between 80 and 90, a misdemeanor; and anyone over 90 a joke.
Columnist Lloyd Omdahl
No other governor since Bill Langer has taken an intimate interest in the state's colleges and universities. Doug Burgum promised re-invention in his campaign for the governorship, and he won handily.
His interest in higher education is appropriate. The relative indifference of some previous governors helped to diminish the prestige of service on the board; some governors made their choices from among political loyalists, thus shrinking the talent pool even more.
Columnist Mike Jacobs
If NAFTA goes away, it could have a sharp effect on blue-collar workers, small business owners, manufacturers and farmers—the very people who put Trump in office.
Farmers in the Dakotas and Minnesota are helping feed the world, but that won't be as easy if expensive tariffs return in a post-NAFTA economy. Putting America first is a fine negotiation tactic for the president, but it shouldn't be accompanied with a hit to the nation's ag economy.
Much attention in this region is focused on UND, and rightly so. The Grand Forks campus is an educational and economic driver of the region. But it's nice to know the small colleges nearby are pushing forward as well.
Crookston, and the entire region, should be proud of UMC's accomplishments.
Why not give (rural teachers) a competitive salary? Why not give them the health care coverage that is provided to most all other teachers across the country? That would go a lot further in attracting teachers than student loan forgiveness.
Kelly Stagnaro, Grand Forks
These are just a few of the accusations. If true, the board must consider firing Hagerott, whose annual salary ($372,000) and standing (leading a system of 11 institutions) demand leadership excellence.