Legislative Council says Bank of North Dakota unconstitutional

Better watch out — there are legal opinions floating around saying that North Dakota can’t issue you your tax refund anymore.  It’s been thrown out with the bathwater now that the idea of cutting an oil rebate check to all North Dakotans is on the agenda.

Whose legal opinion are we talking about here?  Certainly not the opinions of our constitution’s drafters, or the Supreme Court, or even the Attorney General — in this case the Forum News Service provides us with the opinion of John Walstad of the North Dakota Legislative Council — someone whose opinion of the law greatly influences what does and does not get drafted into a bill.

A civil servant who sounds like an activist making this stand:

“The state’s money is to be used for state purposes and not for donations for some private purpose, no matter how worthwhile it might be,”

It sure sounds like tax refunds, tax credits, school scholarships, loan guarantees, and any number of public-private partnerships –all things that that State of North Dakota does– would be banned by that interpretation of the language.  The Bank of North Dakota, whose existence was actively challenged at inception, was never declared unconstitutional…. so what gives?

Then there’s another question:  On what basis does John Walstad allow himself to talk to the media this week? Because the last time I asked the Legislative Council a question, they quoted me their exception to the State’s Open Records Law. So the Legislative Council gets to pick and choose what it deems to be the public interest — and in this case, it’s “you can’t get a rebate check for oil.”

Everything wrong with Forum Communications in one screencap

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I think from recent events it’s pretty clear that no one should be voting for Ryan Rauschenberger. And I think that a news agency that portends itself as the paper of record for the region that runs a free ad for Rauschenberger on its front page is at best violating ethics, decorum, and public decency, if not the law.

What makes the Grand Forks Herald treat a Republican bake sale as a news event, when several League candidates have held quaint fundraisers of their own over the last month or so, but with no cameras from the Herald?

If you are a pie-eating Republican that can’t bring yourself to vote for Jason Astrup, then at least vote for Libertarian candidate Anthony Mangnall.  If you don’t vote in protest — if you yellow-dog and fill in the circle next to the name Ryan Rauschenberger, you are saying you are willing to put up with literally anyone the Republican Party bosses spackle onto your ballot.  You are saying that there is no accountability in the state of North Dakota.  There definitely isn’t at the Herald.

Scotland vote due soon

scotlandOn the 18th, there’s kind of a big thing going on in Scotland.  If I were voting, I’d be voting “yes” — Yes for Scotland, Yes to Europe, Yes to Social Justice.

From all accounts, it’s clear that Independence is not going down to a yawning defeat as suggested mere weeks ago.

Certainly, Scottish independence is not without pitfalls. The most troublesome problems Scotland faces are economic — forced by British intransigence to choose between sharing a currency and travel area with Britain or with wider Europe.

Scotland must also decide the fate of revenues from its oil production — production that won’t go on forever, but money that perhaps can if properly managed.  Like Alberta and North Dakota, Scotland is a subnational entity buoyed by a valuable but ultimately unlasting resource.

Before the Canadian Alliance put an end to western alienation, Alberta once talked of secession. Heck, there’s been a loon or two promoting independence for North Dakota. What makes Scotland different is that it had, and never lost, a sense of nationality. To be a Scot is to be someone unique and recognizable in the world. The United Kingdom, even after hundreds of years, is still a union of crowns, unlike the vague and impersonal ties that bind other federations.

The values dissonance between England and Scotland was perhaps best expressed in the most recent elections, where the victorious Conservative Party won exactly zero seats. The government interacts with Scotland through the coalition participation of the centre-left-centre Liberal Democrats, who despite breakthrough success in the campaign ended up forced to lackey an agenda they barely tolerate.

David Cameron’s government has had the distinct privilege of making its own coalition partner irrelevant, and soon, perhaps, of breaking up the country itself. Getting the UK into yet another messy war is probably exactly the excuse Scotland needs to say “No thanks” to the status quo.

You might ask, why do I support Scottish Independence when I would hardly be euphoric about, say, independence for Québec?  The simple answer is Europe.  The European Union is a place where nations can pursue individual identity and still participate in economic federalism.  One need only look at the slow breakup of Belgium to see that the EU has made small unions of dissimilar peoples in Europe obsolete.  Yeah, Europe has problems too.  Bigger problems.  Bigger solutions.

By contrast, une République Québecoise would look almost exactly like the province of Québec looks today, but tangibly worse for individual freedom and welfare.  In a best case scenario, Québec would lose its equalization payments and freedom of movement, to say nothing of the effect on the rest of Canada (say, losing French-language radio in cities like Regina).  Plus you can’t wear poutine like a kilt.

Thorson’s sweet event had cookies and milk

District 43 Representative-to-be Kyle Thorson held a modest fundraiser Thursday night attended by a crowd of regular folks. No wine and brie here; the fare was cookies and Milk — the Sean Penn biopic.

Grand Forks institution Ojata Records played host to the event. The comics, records, and food stop shows great flexibility as an equal-opportunity venue in advance of its big move to greener pastures at University & Washington.