Community Columnists

Public servants hostile to openness aren’t worthy of public service

Here’s one from the “give them an inch and they’ll take a mile” department. Earlier this year, state lawmakers passed a law exempting applicants for state government jobs from open records laws during the early rounds of the hiring process. I was a reluctant supporter of the ...

Higher ed board plays defense

LLeaders of the Board of Higher Education were remarkably defensive last week, even for a group that has been so often under siege. The evidence appeared in a single issue of the Grand Forks Herald, in a front-page story and in a letter to the editor, both printed on Oct. 12. The letter ...

Higher education shouldn’t be run by politicians

Whenever we think there is a problem in government, the first solution that comes to mind is to move the boxes on the organizational chart. If the street sweepers used a scandalous amount of water, change the form of government from commission to mayor-council. Or if we already have a ...

‘Completely perverse’ wind energy subsidies aren’t reducing emissions

We all see the hundreds of wind power turbines which dot the beautiful landscape of our region. We’re told, by the supporters of these wind farms, that they’re a boon to our society. That they’re reducing greenhouse gas emissions by providing cheap, reliable energy. Except, this week I ...

Clamor for change in governing colleges

The higher education system has proven to be dysfunctional once again, as every North Dakotan probably knows by now. This could be explained, and history may find it an important question. It is not today’s subject, however. An explanation would require more words than space allows, and it is ...

Re-examine minimum mandatory sentences for gun crimes

Regardless of the opinions on both sides of the gun control debate, all Americans agree that firearms should be responsibly used and respected for their inherent danger. Unlike cars, or axes, or golf clubs, or just about any other object, the principal function of a gun is to kill things. By ...

Big money dominates ballot measures

In its second meeting of the legislative interim, the Initiated and Referred Measures Study Commission puzzled over big money involved in measures on the North Dakota ballot. The first memorable campaign in which out-of-state money poured into the state was in the general election of 1956 ...

Breast Cancer Awareness Month

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month and a great time to refresh your knowledge of the disease. As more research is done and advancements are made, it can be difficult to determine the latest and most trusted information on breast cancer. Take the time to learn some common myths and facts ...

Suicide prevention would save more lives than gun control

Whenever there is a high-profile tragedy involving firearms, the national debate turns to gun control. That debate includes a lot statistics about gun deaths, but here’s one statistic you probably didn’t realize: Most gun deaths in America are suicides. According to a report from the ...

Permanent, fundamental tax reform can help North Dakota small businesses

Small businesses form the backbone of North Dakota’s economy. In 2016, 95.8 percent of companies in North Dakota were classified as small businesses, employing over 199,000 people - more than a quarter of the state’s population. Statistics like these speak to the drive and dynamism of ...

ND’s First Lady showed us that addicts are still good people

I will admit to being something of a cynic when it comes to so-called “first lady issues.” Most of them seem shallow and trite, and I’m not sure why we expect those married to the people we elect to lead us feel compelled to enter the public policy arena in the first place. We elect ...

Expanding democracy hasn’t helped much

American history reflects an unrelenting movement toward more and more democracy, apparently with the goal of producing a government that would become more and more representative of the aspirations of the people. After the era of elitism of limited voting with the Founding Fathers, the ...

Trouble bubbles up in higher ed

Looking over North Dakota’s higher education landscape, it’s hard not to be reminded of Yellowstone National Park, with bubbling mud pots all around and here and there a geyser, all against a background of tall trees. While the mud pots and the trees are many, it’s the geysers that ...

Property tax relief was increased in 2017 Session

Property taxes are a hot topic right now, especially in communities where property tax increases are being considered. Without exception, no one likes taxes, especially property taxes. That said, property taxes are necessary to fund local schools, law enforcement, emergency services and ...

ND rural health faces major challenges

North Dakota rural health faces at least four major challenges, according to Brad Gibbens, deputy director of the UND School of Medicine Center for Rural Health. Brad has spent 32 years researching and leading community discussions on the state’s rural health problems with the goal of ...

It’s time to change the way we govern the North Dakota University System

Yet another scandal has erupted in the North Dakota University System. This time it’s Chancellor Mark Hagerott, who has held that position since the spring of 2015, creating a stir when he fired Vice Chancellor Lisa Feldner. Feldner was a 20-year veteran of the university system and ...

Sentencing guidelines would promote efficiency and uniformity

Twenty-two states, the District of Columbia, and the federal government have sentencing guidelines for criminal offenses in their jurisdictions. Those guidelines convey a recommended range of punishment for specific crimes. Four of the eight states in our federal Eighth Circuit have them. North ...

With parenting, maybe less is more

Two things happened in the last week which got me thinking about parenting. First I saw “It,” a film adaptation of the classic Stephen King novel about a killer clown taken down by a group of plucky kids. The book version of the story was set in the late 1950’s. The film moved that ...