The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead
FARGO -- Those who cling desperately and foolishly to the University of North Dakota’s retired Fighting Sioux name and logo have taken to blaming the NCAA for bullying the university and the state of North Dakota into scrapping their precious moniker. It’s a strawman argument. The NCAA is a membership organization.
FARGO — If alcohol sales are to be permitted in the Fargodome at North Dakota State University football games, the best option is a beer garden that keeps beer out of the stands. That appears to be the choice of the Fargo Dome Authority; and it looks like this time NDSU is not opposed. The recommendation now goes to the Fargo City Commission for review.
North Dakota legislators will be sorting through a tangle of bills aimed at various forms of tax relief or other means of enabling residents to share in the state’s bursting coffers. The debate will be complicated by the plunge in oil prices and will be influenced by the best available revenue forecasts, a difficult biennial exercise at best.
Williston is moving to spruce up what arguably has been, until recently, a rather shabby downtown. The western oil country city could learn from Fargo’s experience with a downtown renaissance zone. Williston established a renaissance zone, but its development success has been uneven, a process complicated by pressures of the oil boom. However, a relatively new Williston Downtowners Association has ambitious plans for the central district. In just two years’ time, the association has grown from five members to more than 60.
Theodore Roosevelt had bad eyes, but they were good enough to see the vistas of North Dakota’s Badlands through crystal clear air when he came to the area in the 1880s. He would be hard-pressed today to find such pristine air quality in the national park that bears his name. Several ongoing studies confirm the degradation. The latest by Colorado State University and the National Park Service found significant spikes in airborne pollutants. A review of the studies recently was written by Nick Lund, manager of the landscape conservation program of the National Parks Conservation Association.
North Dakota’s appointed tax commissioner, Ryan Rauschenberger, should not resign because he is struggling with alcohol abuse. Calls for him to do so make no sense because, no matter what he does, his name will be on the ballot in November. The deadline to exit the ballot has passed.
What a grand time to live in North Dakota. What a historic era is underway in a state that for most of its history has been the poster child for being off the beaten path. Today, as North Dakota prepares to open celebrations observing the 125th anniversary of statehood, the nation is beating a path to North Dakota. Spurred by oil wealth, a strong agriculture sector, a diversified urban economy and mostly good political leadership, the state is now the poster child for extraordinary economic success.
A series of meetings in Minnesota to discuss the safety of oil trains originating in North Dakota’s Bakken oil play is symptomatic of states’ concern all along the rails that carry the volatile crude. Minnesota is one of several states, from Washington to Virginia, that are taking a new and intense look at the entire railroad oil transportation system. Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton conducted the first of his sessions on the subject Monday in Little Canada, Minn. He and his staff focused on training, or the lack thereof, of emergency services personnel when it comes to oil train disasters.
Proposed legislation that could stem North Dakota’s incarceration rates makes sense, not only for public safety but also for the efficiency of the court system. Draft bills reported out of a legislative commission last week aim to take pressure off crowded jails and prisons, and give judges more discretion over mandatory minimum sentencing for some offenses. That last initiative could go a long way toward restoring common-sense proportionality and judicial latitude in the state’s courtrooms.
Last week’s announcement of a major investment in a state-of-the-art natural gas processing plant is good news, not only for those who want to reduce the wasteful practice of flaring gas but also for an industry that has pledged to reduce flaring to 10 percent in six years.