Doug Burgum's picture was on the Herald's front page three days last week, Tuesday, Friday and Saturday, and it was in the same spot each day, in the left-hand column just above the fold. Even the headline type was the same. The news was bad, for the most part. Tuesday's headline read "Auditors look at Burgum office flights." The article reported that the state auditor is looking at "travel related expenditures and use of state resources" by the governor's office, which is already defensive.
It's meadowlark season, even though the season is about a month overdue. The western meadowlark is easy to identify when it's sitting on a fence post with its bright yellow breast exposed, but you're likely to see meadowlarks in other poses, and the truth is that a meadowlark that hides its breast is a pretty plain bird. The meadowlark is a roadside bird, often occurring in ditches, especially those with extensive grassland beyond them. That means meadowlarks can be spotted from the windows of cars traveling rural roads.
Can this presidency be saved? That's the question being asked at UND, not least by the president himself. Mark Kennedy has said he hopes to regain the confidence of the campus community and the state. He's begun an effort to achieve that goal. The question isn't new, but it's gained urgency in the wake of Kennedy's unsuccessful application for a different presidency, the one at the University of Central Florida. He was one of four finalists. Kennedy has insisted that he didn't seek the job but responded to an invitation to apply.
A new species, the first in a fortnight, showed up at my feeder array early last week, and I was happy to see it. It was an American tree sparrow, not unexpected at this time of year. The tree sparrow is an early migrant. Those passing through our area are probably bound for northern Manitoba, where tree sparrows are common nesting birds. My view of it was clear and full on. The top of the bird's head was red or rusty; the back was streaked with brown; the wings had white bars; the breast was clear except for some smudges.
North Dakota's political party conventions both occurred at the Alerus Center in Grand Forks, and the difference between them was apparent on entering the room. At the Democrats' convention, the corners were dark to obscure empty spaces while at the Republican meeting, they were lit to display overflow crowds. Greater numbers mean bigger vibes. The Democrats seemed compact and confident; the Republicans seemed large and in charge.
Standing at the window watching the weather can become a consuming activity. Even if the weather seems changeless, something will come into view. While so engaged one day last week, a large bird swept into sight over the tree line and headed straight for the window. It pulled up, veered away and disappeared. The bird was a red-tailed hawk, part of the "raptor surge" I mentioned last week and the first of its species I've seen this season.
North Dakota Republicans start their convention in Grand Forks Saturday, and it could be a lively one. Three big questions loom, with follow-ups trailing, of course. As of Monday morning's deadline for this column, the space next to "keynote speaker" remained blank on the convention's Saturday agenda, so the first looming question is, Will Trump come?
An election looms, but other than the date — Nov. 6 — little is certain. Well one thing: North Dakota will have a new member of the U.S. House of Representatives, unless Kevin Cramer changes his mind, or Republicans reject his candidacy for the U.S. Senate. Neither of those is likely.
The week of the falcon: That's what it was. Three species of the falcon family appeared in the area last week. That's as many as we can reasonably expect.
Every political convention needs at least two lubricants. The first of these is nostalgia. Delegates pat one another on the back, recalling the last time they met, the elections they helped to win and the candidates who won them. There was a lot of this at last week's Democratic-NPL convention.