Herald opinion highlights from July
Herald editorial board
Following are excerpts and highlights from Herald editorials, Herald columnists, submitted Viewpoints and letters to the editor that published in July:
In response to the statements made by the Herald editorial board on June 22 ("Rodriguez deserves sentence"), you say Rodriguez deserves to die and conclude by asking: "What good comes from keeping Rodriguez alive?"
What has happened to us as a society? Where is our humanism, civility, compassion, caring? Do we value life so little that we feel we have the right to take a person's life? ... Judging Mr. Rodriguez, perhaps many people believe as the Herald editorial board does. I certainly hope not. Everyone has a right to life. I do not believe we have the right to take a person's life.
Virginia Stainbrook, Crookston
Structure isn't the problem with higher education in North Dakota. The problem is governance of the structure we have. The Board of Higher Education hasn't succeeded in creating an integrated system. In fact, it appears to have abandoned the effort. ...
What we need in North Dakota is stronger, more focused and more attentive management of the colleges and universities the constitution gives us, with more shared programs and more administrative efficiency.
Herald columnist Mike Jacobs
Too often when politicians want to court voters they claim to be speaking for "the taxpayer" when they want to claim credit for cutting taxes. In reality, most taxpayers would be willing to pay slightly more in taxes if it meant they would have better roads and airports. And most business leaders would be willing to pay slightly more in income and corporate taxes if it meant stronger universities and colleges they could partner with. And almost every taxpayer would pay somewhat more to have their children go to strong public schools.
Herald columnist Eliot Glassheim
Gov. Burgum asked: "Does our Constitution or culture allow us to change rapidly or well, or does it hold us back?"
Maybe the fact that the Constitution names the (state university) locations in the first place means economic development is part of the schools' missions. North Dakota is a comparatively isolated place; good luck getting its residents to stop fighting hard to keep every economic anchor they can.
Graduating depends on academic success, financial resources, wellness and a feeling of belonging. No serious person would dispute that our students vary dramatically in academic preparation, financial means, and wellness. Yet some have criticized UND's efforts to engage diverse populations. Critics seem to imply that all students should be force-fitted into universities designed for the average student. That sounds like a sure recipe for good students to suffer uncontrolled crashes.
UND President Mark Kennedy
To fully understand the importance of the Red River Valley Water Supply Project, simply look at the Red's history. ... There were times when residents of Grand Forks and East Grand Forks didn't need a bridge to visit each other; they simply walked across the riverbed. Things have changed substantially since then.
Today's population along the Red River is much greater, and those people consume infinitely more water than did the residents of 80 years ago. So as drought worsens throughout the Dakotas and the region begins to wilt under the hot July sun, do two things.
First, pray for rain for the sake of Dakota farmers and ranchers. And second, throw unabashed support behind the Red River Valley Water Supply Project, since we may need it sooner than we think.
Instead of unnecessarily drawing out the permitting process, it's time for the PUC to act and approve this important project (Enbridge pipeline). The kind of runarounds put forth by our state regulatory commissions and agencies have driven away billions in investments and many good-paying jobs over the past several years.
Minnesota state Rep. Dan Fabian
Whether we are interested in civic lessons or not — and most people are not — we can learn something about separation of powers when the Legislature goes to the Supreme Court to challenge Gov. Doug Burgum's vetoes of six or seven bills passed in the 2017 session. Whether the governor is sustained by the court or not, his effort is commendable and will make a substantial contribution to the preservation of the doctrine of separation of powers. He is letting the Legislature know that there are four branches of government in North Dakota and each must fight encroachment by the others.
Herald columnist Lloyd Omdahl
A great truth about oil is that it will, without any doubt, find its way to market; if not through pipelines, then via above-ground modes. We prefer the former. Enbridge has done its due diligence and, we believe, so has the state of Minnesota. If the PUC approves the project, it deserves to be built — unimpeded by protesters whose efforts will not stop the process anyway.
Neighbors don't have to get along. But owning a home comes with certain responsibilities to ensure public safety and a relatively peaceful existence. As per city code, sidewalks should be shoveled and lawns should be maintained. For those unable to physically do it themselves, they must pay to have it done, without exception.
Also, a neighborhood shouldn't be home to a foul, smelly junkyard. Anyone who breaks this rule must be dealt with firmly. Lest anyone feel sorry for Masse, remember that he has chosen to own a home and therefore must conform and complete certain base responsibilities. He has vowed in the past to do so, but he has broken that promise.
For the sake of the neighborhood and those who live nearby, the city and courts need to do whatever they can to ensure Masse conforms. That means no more suspended fines. Make Masse clean up this mess once and for all, and hold him to it in the future.
It is sad for North Dakota journalism that the Herald devoted over 100 column inches of its limited space to praising its right-wing blogger Rob Port. Port self-righteously eschews journalistic professionalism and dedication to balance, to take endless cheap shots at the few liberals remaining in North Dakota, with no concern for balance and pursuit of truth.
Richard Schafer, Grand Forks
As our federal delegation returns to Washington, D.C., following the July 4 recess, the question is: Will Cramer and Hoeven continue to play politics, or will they listen to the voices of North Dakotans, go back to the drawing board, and seek bipartisan solutions that truly improve our health care system? Will they work to increase access to care and lower costs? Or, will they once again fall in line with their party leaders and pass a bill that rips health coverage away from tens of thousands of North Dakotans?
It is not just about saying "No" to bad legislation. It is about working together to find a better way.
Kylie Oversen, Grand Forks
Two police officers from Grand Forks have stated on TV and in the Herald that they do not charge those who violate the ban on fireworks in Grand Forks city limits. It should be time to be remove the law that the police refuse to enforce — or they should start doing their job.
Mark Kobe, Grand Forks
The way things are going now, Trump may not survive his first term in office, let alone re-election. And his impact on down-ballot Republican races has yet to be measured in any meaningful way. Trump could be a disaster for the GOP. Of course, it's equally possible that he could be a major success. That's the paradox of Trump. He can be both smart and stupid, both successful and a failure, at the same time.
Herald columnist Rob Port
Why the attention (on Digi-Key's expansion)? Because this is monumental news for the region. Grand Forks, East Grand Forks, Crookston and Thief River Falls are separate cities, each with their own leadership and destiny. But really, those four cities are intertwined through their shared interest in the region doing well. We're all in this together, whether it's sugar beets, potatoes, UAS or large employers such as Digi-Key.
(U.S. Sen. John) Hoeven is masterful. Nobody else works a crowd as well as he does. His memory is impressive and his ability to recognize faces and draw people to him is incredible. As governor, he took on roles as cheerleader and spokesman, delegating many details of policy to Jack Dalrymple, his lieutenant governor and successor.
Hoeven is also careful, and he has an uncanny ability to skirt controversy of almost every kind. Plus he's always on message, so he frames issues and directs conversation. He's able to bring his own concerns into any interview, sometimes changing the subject so deftly that a reporter wonders who asked a question about unmanned aerial vehicles or a new oil pipeline, for example.
Herald columnist Mike Jacobs
We don't agree with all of Trump's policies, although we do agree with some. His treatment of women and the media infuriates us and this Russia business raises all sorts of questions. But we acknowledge that Trump won the election and he won North Dakota with a great majority.
Same with Hoeven. And same with Republican U.S. Rep. Kevin Cramer, who won re-election to the House with 69 percent of North Dakota's support. And they did it with an electorate that knew full well that, if Republicans won, they would try to overhaul Obamacare with a radically different plan and probably in the same partisan approach that Democrats used to pass Obamacare in 2008.
So if North Dakotans wonder, in early 1970s fashion, "who voted for these people?" the answer is really simple: North Dakotans did, and overwhelmingly so.
Would your newspaper also publicly scorn the nation-shaping protests of Mandela, Gandhi and King in their day, just as you now rail against Native Americans who protest the admitted injustices of our day? How ironically the words of oppression now flow from the mouths of oppressors who, while enjoying the royal power, privilege and freedoms hard won by protest, now shamelessly protest against the less fortunate who also rise in protest to win those very same freedoms. How ironic and sad indeed.
Willis Mattison, Osage, Minn.
Large livestock operations hire workers and pay taxes. They deserve their chance, too. And if they can't do it in sparsely populated, ag-zoned areas, where can they do it? (Letter-writer Joan) Steinhaus may be onto something, so we back her in her efforts to raise public awareness. ...
But if the people are properly heard and the Department of Health still gives its blessing, we urge residents to let Grand Prairie do its necessary business.
So it's more than a little disingenuous for the Herald to claim "infuriation" concerning President Trump's use of offensive and inappropriate language toward women. As for the Russian "thing." The Herald's outrage over the "thing" defines their disconnected, mistrusted and highly unpopular beltway bubble brethren. The "thing" is hardball politics. It continues to lack fact, credibility and substance, enabled by offended and vindictive news media
R.J. Ogaard, Crookston
Too bad for North Dakota Democrats. No organization. No money. No candidates. All this when the political tide has turned in their direction.
Herald columnist Mike Jacobs
So history repeats itself. Don't be so shocked, and don't buy all of the rhetoric that comes from hyper-partisan sources. Too often, they seem more intent on throwing the press off the trail than on focusing on front-burner issues.
An example: A conversation U.S. Rep. Kevin Cramer, R-N.D., had with an MSNBC news team last week. "There is an unhealthy obsession with all things Russian and all things the last election," he said. "It is an unhealthy obsession when 90 percent of a newscast is focused on that when there are plenty of other things going on."
We contend that the "unhealthy obsession" goes both ways.
Can I remind the City Council members of our city that history has recorded that King George of Great Britain went to bed on the night of July 4, 1776, recording in his personal diary, "Nothing of significance has happened within the Empire this day." I recommend that politicians pay attention to their employers.
Larry Yurkovich, Grand Forks
North Dakota should increase the speed limit on rural stretches of interstate highways. North Dakota should have a healthy — but not outrageous — fine for littering. And North Dakota should increase the fines for those who are caught speeding on our roadways. It's fair, it's for the sake of public safety, and the state could use the money it raises. Moreover, the state needs realistic and effective punishments for these crimes.
But a $500 fine for littering compared to a $125 fine for driving 100 mph on the interstate? Well, that's just ridiculous.
I was amused by Mike Jacobs' column in the Herald, "Hoeven's luck faces health care test." Seems journalists often prefer politicians who make a lot of noise. After all, it makes for good news headlines. Unfortunately, the wild-eyed politician also tends to be more divisive than pragmatic and more successful obstructing action than making progress.
... When I worked for Hoeven, creating good jobs and improving people's lives was a priority, as it should be. Clearly, we would all be better off if more of government was preoccupied by economic development.
Ron Rauschenberger, Bismarck
I will not speak for every veteran, but I will speak for myself: if I were in a combat situation where my life was in the hands of another, the last thing I would care about was the gender identification of the person attempting to save me; "L" "G" "B" or "T" makes no difference to me, I would only care that the individual fight alongside and protect me the same way I would fight alongside and protect them.
Matt Eidson, Grand Forks
While hog facilities have rights, the rest of us also have the fundamental rights of clean water and clean air at Devils Lake. Along with those rights comes the responsibility to ensure that the water and the air at Devils Lake are kept clean. The proposed hog confinement facility in Pelican Lake Township does not support that responsibility.
Karry Kyllo, East Grand Forks
Who are the idiots leaving stringers of catfish to rot on the banks of the Red River in Grand Forks and East Grand Forks?
If we weren't so busy looking for anecdotes to support the political conclusions we've already arrived at, we might be more willing to focus on the latter as opposed to the former.
Herald columnist Rob Port
All along, I've said that health care reform will be a process, not one bill. We have worked diligently to get that process underway. We will continue those efforts and hope that Democrats will join us to make reforms to the health care system that will provide Americans with access to patient-centered health care and insurance at affordable rates.
U.S. Sen. John Hoeven
Our advice to fans is to be patient — the (Game Day Experience) group's goal is to bring a sea change by 2020. But just as when a football bounces on the artificial turf at the Alerus Center, nothing is certain. One problem will be funding. Ideas eventually cost money, and who will pay? The Alerus Center? Fans? UND? Sponsors? Possibly all of the above. And will fans embrace the changes? We hope so.
Although the probability is high to proceed with business as usual, I would challenge the hog factory to be a good, responsible neighbor and build a modern waste treatment facility. I would further challenge the state of North Dakota to revise the animal waste regulations to require a fully effective modern sewage treatment facility that is incorporated into all animal factory operations. I know that this effort is like pushing string, but what do we have to lose?
Mike Lukes, Grand Forks