Decency prevails

It’s official: the Dakota Access Pipeline is not going under that stretch north of Cannon Ball.  I welcome this news if it leads to Bismarck putting its drinking gourd where its mouth is, and peace can return to the Missouri.

But a certain metastability still exists with this solution.  There may be a lot of people who want to use money, power, and influence to ram the original route through on January 21st.

But to do that, you’d have to get really ugly.  As ugly as the breaking of the Winnipeg General Strike.  Perhaps even as ugly as Wounded Knee.  Is that North Dakota?

I had the personal luxury of hearing North Dakota Republicans muse about joining reprisal gangs before chomping down on Thanksgiving dinner. ‘Just deputize me, I’ll show them…’  Well, if that’s what’s considered civil family conversation, I’m ashamed to say that maybe it is North Dakota.

So maybe this time, it’s actually right to let the out-of-staters decide this one.


Blame (and maim) the victims

Wasn’t the great benefit of North Dakota oil supposed to be that it was bloodless?

If it wasn’t enough that it maimed and killed countless workers and left untold poison in our wells and waters, now our state is in the business of shredding limbs in an ostentatious display of corporate welfare.  Or should we now say warfare?  What else can an armed repression of this scale be called?

Governor Burgum has a responsibility to end the Dalrymple era of total corruption in the service of the oil industry.  Doug doesn’t even have to say no – just make one key tweak:  Reroute this pipe down the Main Avenue Bridge in Bismarck, where anyone can see if it leaks right away.

Not one more soul should be put at risk for the mere expediency of an engineering project.

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.”

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.

Remember Lac-Mégantic

Remember Lac-Mégantic.  Ron Schalow does. He’s petitioning the state to finally do something about explosive Bakken crude.

I know a lot of North Dakotans aren’t exactly jazzed about our well-to-do Canadian neighbours, who still have a middle class and the spending money to overwork our underpaid retailers.  Fewer still must pay any attention at all to the distant province of Québec, but North Dakota has an important connection with them:

We killed 57 Québecois with our oil. We are guilty of negligent mass homicide.

We killed them because we failed to do anything about natural gas flaring.  We killed them because we failed to build pipelines.  We killed them because we failed to regulate our oil development, to keep it within the bounds of our infrastructure, to keep oil development focused on the public interest and public safety.

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An All-Star lineup for PSC

Tyler Axness and Todd Reisenauer in Grand Forks this afternoon

Tyler Axness and Todd Reisenauer in Grand Forks this afternoon

Tyler Axness and Todd Reisenauer stumped in Grand Forks today, with a crowd of dozens of Dem-NPLers at hand to hear the urgent need for change and new ideas in Bismarck. Also along were the entire District 43 legislative slate, plus Kiara Kraus-Parr for Attorney General. Ryan Taylor, candidate for Agriculture Commissioner, sauntered into the saloon fashionably late, hot off the trail from a long day of campaigning.

All of these wonderful people have great ideas, like, for example, actually governing the state instead of allowing anarchy to reign in the west. They’ve got my vote!

Even the smallest of oil regulations get broken

Belfield’s city auditor has quit, after being forced to endure weeks on end dealing with ‘citizens’ that refuse to pay their water bills, plan for flooding, or generally follow any ordinance whatsoever. During the month of June, the city of Belfield has unsuccessfully attempted to ban new trailer homes and man camps — instead only raising the decibel level in Cindy Ewoniuk’s office.

Chippewa concerned: Carberry casino could cut Canadian customers

SkyDancer Resort in Belcourt is officially working alongside new competition today, as Sand Hills Casino opened just 150 km away in Carberry. Western Manitobans no longer have to drive to Winnipeg to gamble without a border check, something sure to cut into SkyDancer’s budget.

Partially to offset the projected losses, the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa recently expressed interest in building a new casino facility in the Grand Forks or the Bakken region, something that would require state legislation, in addition to local community support.