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June 23, 2014     Turtle Mountain Star
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June 23, 2014
 

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Page 4 The Star June 23, 2014 Other Views By Lloyd Omdahl li Summary." New rules are allowing a small minority of the super rich to control this country's most critical issues. Here's a startling fact on the sad state of affairs that is American pol- itics. According to the Center for Responsive Politics, a non-profit watch- dog group that tracks campaign spending, more outside money has been spent already on 2014 races than had been spent at this time in the 2012 election cycle. A minority of the super rich and major conglomerates have turned every critical issue we face into a big money game. While ordinary citi- zens still have the right to stand up and be heard, they are being drowned out by dollars. Four years ago, the Supreme Court, in Citizens United v. Federal Elec- tion Commission, swept away a century of precedent barring corporate money in our elections, treating these conglomerates as if they were peo- ple with political speech rights. Now, the Court has unleashed even more money into our elections. In McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission, a sharply-divided 5- 4 Court erased longstanding limits on the total amount of money that one person can contribute to candidates in federal elections. Prior to this de- cision, a donor was barred from giving more than $123,000 in the aggre- gate to federal candidates and parties in any two-year election cycle. Now, that same wealthy individual can contribute more than $3.5 million. To put the current situation into perspective, the Center for Responsive Politics estimates that, of the 310 million people in our country, just 0.4 percent of Americans are making political contributions of $200 or more. Despite this alarming trend, there may be a glimmer of hope. In just four years since the Supreme Court ruling, millions of citizens across the country have propelled a growing grassroots movement for a constitutional amendment to overturn the Supreme Court and to defend our democracy. Sixteen states have gone on record calling for such an amendment, including Montana and Colorado where roughly 75 percent of the voters in both states supported ballot initiatives in 2012 demand- ing action. More than 500 cities and towns and more than 160 Members of Congress have also made their support official. Even a former Supreme Court Justice, John Paul Stevens, has come forward with a similar proposal to regulate and limit campaign contribu- tions and spending. The tracks on which America's political train is traveling are shaky at best. Big money shouldn't give people a bigger voice. That violates a fun- damental right of equality for all. Americans need to overrule its highest court. How to contact the N.D. Congressional delegation Sen. John Hoeven - United States Senate Gll Dirksen Senate Office Building Washington, D,C. 20510 Phone: 202-224-2551 Sen. Heidi Heitkamp - United States Senate G55 Dirksen Senate Office Building Washington, DC 20510 Phone: 202-224-2043 Other Views Rep. Kevin Cramer United States House of Representatives 1032 LHOB Washington, DC 20515 Phone: 202-225-2611 Plans for Legacy Fund deserve statewide input When Moses came down from Mount Sinai with the Ten Com- mandments, he called the Israelites together and announced that here- after the Commandments would be the rules. "Did you have hearings?" a pass- ing North Dakotan asked. "Well, no," Moses responded. "Nothing can be the rules without hearings," the North Dakotan de- clared. With public hearings ingrained in our political culture, it should have been no surprise that we are already holding hearings to decide what will be done in 2017 with the billions of dollars of oil money in the Legacy Fund. Meetings this month will have been held in Watford City, Grand Forks, Lisbon and Velva. The Legacy Fund was created by a constitutional amendment proposed by the Legislature to lock up 30 per- cent of the oil revenue until 2017 with the stipulation that it take a two- thirds vote of both houses to spend any of the principal and then it cot~Jd spend no more than 15 percent of the fund in any one biennium. The Legislature proposed that the Legacy Fund be a part of the consti- tution because it didn't trust the Leg- islature. Some press reports on the foUr meetings suggest that the outcome of these meetings will be a white paper that will follow the suggestions of- fered by those who attended the meetings. A word of caution may be advisable. First of all, we need to be careful if we assume that the opinions of those in attendance are representative of the state as a whole. North Dakota policymakers often fall into this false reading of public opinion. In fact, legislators do it all of the time. When debating bills, legisla- tors will frequently rise to report that they have been back home and the people of their districts have ex- pressed the district's opinion on the issues. It is interesting that the folks back in the district always tell the legisla- tor what he/she wants to hear. That's because Republicans go home and talk to Republicans and Democrats talk to Democrats and independents get left out of the loop. It is all anec- dotal and unrepresentative. Experience tells us that the pur- pose of public hearings is not to get a reliable measurement of public opin- ion. As suggested to Moses, the pur- pose of public hearings is to validate the process and to defuse criticism. If questioned about public input, something that is critical in North Dakota's egalitarian culture, the sponsors can always so that "we held public hearings." That is supposed to shut up any critics or contrarians. The four meetings, sponsored by the nonprofit nonpartisan Great Plains Institute, provided a great op- portunity for interested citizens to sound off. I have found that the pub- lic has a lot of good ideas. However, any conclusions re- quire validation through a scientific sampling of public opinion across the state to capture the opinions of all of those folks who were unable to at- tend the meetings. Some of the major population centers were left out of the circuit. We already make too many policy decisions on the basis of anecdotal information. Partisan policymakers like it that way so they can continue to say that they have talked to the people and the people want to buy what they are selling. With an estimated $7 billion at stake, it seems that expenditure plans for the Legacy Fund should be based on reliable information. Public meet- ings are good icebreakers to launch discussion but only scientific sam- piing can validate conclusions. More oil production means more challenges North Dakota has reached the milestone of 1 million barrels of oil per day. Oil producers achieved the level of production in April. Preliminary figures released Tuesday show April production at 1,001,149 barrels per day an increase of nearly 24,000 from the March tally of 977,178 bar- rels per day. North Dakota joins Texas as the only states producing that much oil. "Pretty unique territory," Depart- ment of Mineral Resources Director Lynn Helms told reporters. Alberta in Canada and fewer than 20 other countries have production of more than 1 million barrels per day. North Dakota had expected to reach the mark earlier, but rough winter months and annual load re- strictions in the spring delayed hit- ting the milestone. What does it mean other than we are producing a lot of oil? , It shows an industry that continues to get more organized and efficient. Leases are in place and wells are scheduled to go into production. Plans are in order for constant production. And the ripple effects on the state's economy can't be denied. The job growth, especially in the western part of the state, has been amazing. North Dakota continues to have some of the lowest unemploy- ment in the nation. The oil boom has prompted growth in Minot and added to Bis- marck's robust economy. Companies doing business in the oil patch have established headquarters in Bis- marck. Tax revenues from oil and gas have benefited the entire state. Those revenues are helping meet the infra- structure needs in the West. And North Dakota is helping the nation become energy-independent. That's especially important with the new unrest in Iraq and the overall volatility in the Middle East. Yes, problems have come with the oil boom. But those problems are being tackled and progress is being made. With more wells comes more flar- ing. Hans have been made to reduce flaring, but the goals likely will be tough to meet. The percentage of natural gas flar- ing in the state fell to 30 percent in April, from 33 percent in March. Helms was disappointed. "I had hoped to see lower 20s," he said. Flaring had been high for several months while Hess Corp.'s Tioga gas plant was off line during an expan- sion project. Approximately 165 gas capture plans have been submitted to Helms' office since June 1, when a require- ment to submit them along with drilling permits took effect. The state has a goal to reduce flar- ing to 15 percent within two years and 10 percent within six years. While the industry has been coop- erative, Helms said, the state needed to take action. Reaching the 1 million barrel mark remains quite an achievement. But the industry won't have time to rest on its laurels. The expectations are high and there's no reason to believe they won't be achieved. (This editorial first appeared in the Bismarck Tribune.) s from the past... 10 years ago June 21, 2004 Father's Day is all about spend- ing quality time with dad. Two local daughters (Kayla Kakela and Sandra Johnson) tell about the bonds they share with their fathers through time they spend doing what they love. Farming has kept Sandra Johnson and father Larry Lindberg close throughout the years. Kayla Kakela and father Kevin stay close by shar- ing the love of curling. Rolla Drug welcomes a new pharmacist, Carolyn Counts. She graduated from NDSU with a degree in pharmacy. She grew up around the Dunseith area and is married to Willie Counts. They have a two year old daughter named Hallie. One prisoner was caught but an- other is still at large after a breakout at the Rolette County Jail. Sheriff Tony Sims said Robert Baker Jr. is still at large and suspects the pris- oner is either in Wisconsin or the Shell Valley Housing on the Turtle Mountain Reservation. Sims said he is not considered dangerous or vio- lent. The sheriff said Baker and his accomplice escaped from the jail after throwing a mattress over the wire fence surrounding the prison. Chris Lee begins his career as Rolla's new chief of police, a posi- tion in which he believes he can make a real difference. The added service Lee said he hopes to bring to the position lies in his training as an emergency medical technician (EMT). He has been an EMT for the past 10 years with the last four as an advanced level provider. 30 years ago June 18, 1984 Edna M. Brunelle of Belcourt de- cided to go to college at age 70. She will be studying gerontology, the sconce of working with older people. Mrs. Brunelle decided to go off to college "rather than sit home and de- teriorate," after raising six children and completing one career of 27 years as an employee at the William Langer Jewel bearing plant in Rolla. The line that once carried cattle to Chicago, fairgoers to Brandon and an army of boys off to war has now come to an end. Last week, the ties were removed from the Burlington Northern Railway tracks on the sec- tion from Rolla to St. John, aban- doned long after the train stopped hauling anybody or anything, any- where. 60 years ago June 24, 1954 Two officials from the company which manufactures the synthetic material from which jewel bearings are made, and two officials from the Pentagon in Washington arrived by air last Wednesday and make an in- spection of the Jewel Plant. They were impressed and intend to con- tinue business with the area. Joyce DesRoches of St. John was crowned Rolla Dairy Princess at the "Butter Ball," which climaxed activ- ities for the annual Rolla Dairy Day last Wednesday. Clarence Eller of Rolla placed the crown on the head of Miss DesRoches. She will com- pete for the title of State Dairy Queen at the North Dakota Dairy Show in Jamestown in September. We all know what it feels like with "it" hits the fan. In one case, it cost a politician his job. The mayor of an affluent Southern Califor- nia city was caught on camera leaving a bag of what appeared to be dog feces on his neigh- bor's property, police said, and the neighbor be- lieves this wasn't an accident. Dennis Kneier, mayor of San Marino, a town of approximately 13,000 people just south of Pasadena, was identified as the person placing a plastic bag in the private walkway of a home. According to San Marino Police, the bag was tied closed and appeared to have been intentionally place at the walkway entrance. Homeowner Philip Lao says that surveil- lance footage shows Kneier and his wife walk- ing. In the video, Kneier's wife is seen pointing to Lao's walkway, and then Kneier is seen toss- ing the bag onto it. Lao believes that Kneier was seeking re- venge for his opposition to the mayor's dog park proposal. Lao is against the dog park be- cause he believes dogs are left there for hours as their owners run errands, and the dogs tend picked up tho H-~tic bag before plaei-s it on to fight when left unattended. Lao's walkway. He acknowledged that he did Lao lives a block away from Lacy Park, and not reach down and place the bag on the walk- as such, has "no poop zone" signs in his front way, but instead that he was "standing up and lawn. According to Lao, Kneier does not like dropped it," adding that he "may have flicked him posting signs like that, but Lao believes it it off a bit." is his right as a homeowner. While images of a mayor flinging feces is a Kneier had previously said that he found the little unsettling, consider the case of the emer- bag near the sidewalk, but told a local TV sta- gerrcy landing due to - you guessed it - dog tion that he could not know for sure where he poop. There were several passenger complaints after a dog did his business in the middle of a Philadelphia-bound flight, forcing an emer- gency landing. Yes, you read right -- dog poop forced an emergency landing, according to passengers aboard US Airways Flight 598 from Los An- geles to Philadelphia. Those passengers took to social media to document the smelly ordeal. Passengers said that the large dog went to the bathroom in the plane's aisle as many as three times, making people nearby physically ill. "The second time after the dog pooped they ran out of paper towels, they didn't have any- thing else. The pilot comes on the radio, 'Hey, we have a situation in the back, we're going to have to emergency land,'" passenger Steve McCall said. The plane was diverted to Kansas City, Mis- souri, where a cleaning crew cleaned the messes, before eventually making its way to Philadelphia, according to passengers. The Turtle Mountain Star wel- comes letters to the editor. The letters must include the author's signature, address and phone number for verification of author- ship. Mail them to: The Turtle Mountain Star PO Box 849 Rolla, ND 58367 We reserve the fight to shorten letters, edit out factual errors and reject those deemed libelous, in poor taste or of a personal nature. We will not run letters from the same author two weeks in a row. All opinions expressed are those of the author and do not represent the opinions of The Star. E-mail us at: tmstar@utma.com