Internal turmoil struck Minot Air Force Base this spring, with a barely-passing performance review resulting in 17 airmen getting canned from tube-watching duty. It’s the latest in a long string of incidents at Minot AFB that highlight the hazards of keeping an antiquated nuclear weapons system laying around past its useful life.
If even the Air Force officers at our missile silos feel that their job is irrelevant and unnecessary — is there any actual case to keep having 150 of these things strewn around our state? Maybe some foolhardy pride or something? If that’s the case, just decommission the 91st Space Wing shortly after the USS North Dakota gets underway. That’d be just spiffy.
Alex Pareene of Salon says North Dakota shouldn’t be a state, and we should abolish the US Senate. Whether North Dakota and South Dakota could be chimerically spliced back together, may make for a diverting thought experiment, but that’s hardly the point.
I rather think that the federal Congress needs serious reform, and the rules of the Senate and its equal apportionment are relics of a bygone aristocratic era. So too is the lack of proportional representation of the political parties Americans voted for, and the absence of citizen initiative and recall powers at the federal level.
I wasn’t at the “independent media” event in Jamestown on March 23rd. I was rather interested in some of the ideas I was hearing about, but didn’t have the time or the camera gear to cover something like that. Apparently, neither did the attendees, because in 2013 a media event is typically webstreamed or livetweeted and nobody did that.
From what little I hear, the event itself didn’t go very well. Since it’s happened, the only thing anyone has mustered to publish about it, aside from a few Facebook photos, is that they’re sorry Rob Port showed up.
Here’s a tip for next time: The word “independent” means anything the listener wants it to mean. It’s not a substitute for “progressive,” if the goal was, as it seemed by all appearances, to build a voice for non-conservative viewpoints in North Dakota. And it’s also no substitute for actually describing the challenge of getting smart, motivated journalists to ask tough questions across our state, when the only people offering paying news jobs never want to rock the boat.
We used to be the nice Dakota. We let the bunch in Pierre bungle around with the hot-button issues and waste their tax dollars on useless lawsuits, and give up after fruitless months in courtrooms. South Dakotans illuminated the path away from pragmatism, the hornet’s nest that is stirred by passing laws designed to sweep away the lonely outposts of Roe v. Wade on the plains.
Instead of learning from its namesake neighbour, North Dakota Legislature and Governor have chosen purity to an ideology, in a race to the bottom with Arkansas, of all places. It shall surely cost dearly, not simply in tears and treasure, but also in cancelled vacation time for attorneys everywhere, while Bismarck takes its vacation from pragmatism.
I must say that the governance of the North Dakota University System has seemed to be permanently bungled throughout my long career at UND. First Goetz, then Shirvani — it’s one scandal after another. But the end may be in sight.
Speaker Carlson has succeeded in passing HCR 3047 through the House. It is good in part but gravely bad in others.
The good part: it removes the State Board of Higher Education. As far as I can tell, it’s a job that one person can do. Each member is redundant with the byzantine bureaucracy located on the 11 campuses of the University System. Aside from the student member, they seem to contribute little to oversight and accountability.
The bad part: 3047 axes the student SBHE member along with the rest. There is no provision for student representation at the new Department of Higher Education, no special mention of the role of the various Student Senates, or of the North Dakota Student Association. Presently, the Student State Board Member is able to speak and vote at each SBHE meeting on issues that directly affect students. Will the new Director of Higher Education simply impose measures on students without any input? Under 3047, they absolutely can.
The other bad part: It encodes aristocracy into the law. Only Educational Leadership Ph.Ds riding the campus-governance carousel are allowed to be director. These bizarre provisions limit opportunities for North Dakotans to rise to the position, and it prevents the governor from appointing managers that have a view from outside the ivory tower.
If 3047 gets a Senate amendment that removes Section 1-3(a) through 1-3(c), and adds some meaningful responsibility to students into the mix, I would wholeheartedly support it.
North Dakota is indeed participating in the Medicaid expansion. It’s good news for a lot of people I know, many of whom are currently on a health plan called NobodyCares.
SB 2252, a bill to bring North Dakota’s equal housing laws in line with national norms, is being henpecked to death in the Senate; the latest effort of which is a hostile amendment to gut its protections for older people and keeping your landlord out of your bedroom
Since “discrimination” isn’t a word that really registers with North Dakotans. Let me tell you another word you might be familiar with — Pettiness.
If you’re a landlord and you get a stick in your craw about certain “types” of people, regardless of their clean background, then you’re a petty type of person. You don’t actually care about the fundamentally neutral nature of your business — taking money for providing housing — you’re on some half-cocked mission to engineer society toward whatever whim you’re presently fancying. In short, you’re petty and unprofessional.
Opposing SB 2252 is an endorsement of dilettantes with an axe to grind. North Dakota deserves better.
It’s not quite mid-February and we’re past the point where the North Dakota Legislature is going to spend any money on new ideas. This is one of the odd things that happen when you have a bicameral legislature running on a severe time constraint. There’s two quick fixes that could patch the system overnight: an end to bicameralism, and better scheduling of the 80-day biennial session.
Bicameralism ties up bills in needless red tape, and invites corrupt machinations in conference committees. Merging the House and Senate into a 140-member Senate modelled on Nebraska would be a way to ensure there’s still room for everyone, while doubling the productive working time each session. You’d think that merging the House and Senate might take a Constitutional amendment or something — but not necessarily. It could be accomplished without such difficulty just by changing the house rules so that the houses sit together and vote on bills simultaneously.
Time management could be improved as well. Floor sessions in the House and Senate rarely are a lengthy affair; condensing five days of business into one or two days a week would turn them into something closer to a full days’ work, leaving the rest of the week for committee sessions, constituency meetings, and bill drafting. Scheduled judiciously, North Dakota could have an active, responsive legislature ready to get things done 75% of the time, a fair sight better than the present situation, meeting actively for less than 16% of the biennium, with interim committee meetings maybe able to tack on an extra few points, depending on how you’d count it.