Letter: Police state tactics unacceptable in Fargo

Ryan is lucky, in days past, he would have a FPD squad car parked near his residence and received thinly veiled threats on social media after the police chief saw his letter. 

Letter: Police state tactics unacceptable in Fargo


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Letter: Ninety-five years ago today, women won the right to vote

There is no “right to vote” but this is the same woman who thinks the state income tax is still 14% of federal income tax. She has always masqueraded as a Republican, but she is not. Her goal has always been to tax the private sector as much as possible in order to further enrich the education cabal and herself, as well!  

Letter: Ninety-five years ago today, women won the right to vote

On Aug. 26, 1920, the amendment guaranteeing the right to vote for women became part of the U.S. Constitution. The anniversary of this historic achievement deserves recognition, celebration, and a huge “thank you” to those brave women who faced beatings, starvation, torture and false imprisonment so that women today might have the privilege of casting a ballot. It is 95 years later and, unfortunately, women, and men too, don’t take advantage of the right to vote and equality continues to elude many women.

Are we all truly equal when women, particularly women of color, are negatively impacted by almost every existing economic policy from low wages, outdated workplace policies that deny women paid leave, scheduling rules, affordable child care, fair promotions, to cuts in public services, pregnancy discrimination and access to health care?

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West Fargo School Board gives itself 78 percent raise

They didn’t even need guns to pull off this robbery.

WEST FARGO — The West Fargo School Board gave itself a 78 percent raise Monday, approving a new board salary policy that will give members an annual pay hike equal to the district’s staff.

The board unanimously approved board member Allan Skramstad’s motion to raise its members’ pay from $4,730 per year to $8,400 and pay the board president an additional $600 per year.

The salary for the seven-member board will then increase each year at the same percentage as staff raises.

Board member Dave Olson, who suggested the raise at the board’s Aug. 17 workshop, said West Fargo’s board pay was not on par with the rest of the state.

Fargo, the state’s largest district, pays each of its nine board members $11,145 per year. The Bismarck School Board pays members of its five-member board $9,000 per year. Grand Forks, which has about 7,723 students, pays its five-member members board $4,800 per year.

West Fargo, which the fourth-largest district in the state, had 6,955 students in 2009, but that number skyrocketed to 8,970 in 2014 and is expected to grow by 60 percent in the next 10 years.

Olson said the increase could help entice potential board members to serve who would have to incur expenses such as child care in order to serve on the board.

“That money, while it’s not a living wage or anything like that, there are things that it could help out [with],” Olson said.

Board member Jeff Shirley said he doesn’t think an increase in pay will necessarily increase interest in serving on the board. Shirley said the pay should not be a reason why someone wants to serve on the board.

“I think the part that folks don’t understand the most is the amount of time you actually lay awake in bed [and worry],” Shirley said.

Olson and Skramstad said they felt the board president should be paid more because of the additional time commitment and committee assignments the president is obligated to.

Board President Patti Stedman said she wasn’t comfortable with earning the additional salary.

“I put in extra time, but I’m not sure my time is more valuable than anybody elses,” she said.

The raise will begin immediately.


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Forum editorial: Let’s vote on medical marijuana

Why not let the people vote on everything; then we can dispense with the state legislature and executive branch? Just think of all the money we can save. 

A drive to put a medical marijuana measure on North Dakota’s 2016 general election ballot is the expected fallout from the 2015 Legislature’s refusal to consider even a study of the issue. Lawmakers wisely rejected a flawed medical pot bill, but then closed the door to an interim study. Medical marijuana has been adopted in various forms in more than 20 states, including neighboring Minnesota.

Rejecting a study was a mistake. It suggested that legislative minds are closed to even examining controlled medicinal uses of cannabis, the efficacy of which for some chronic conditions has been demonstrated. On this particular issue, it is safe to assume legislators are out of sync with a majority of North Dakotans.

Rilie Ray Morgan of Fargo is out to prove just that. He’s among leaders of a drive to secure enough signatures to get an initiated measure on the ballot, giving voters the opportunity to legalize medical marijuana. It’s likely the more than 13,000 signatures needed will be secured, and some sort of legal pot measure will be on the 2016 ballot. As yet, the language of the proposed measure has not been finalized, so the North Dakota secretary of state has not been asked to approve petitions.The language is important. While North Dakotans in all probability tilt in favor of medical marijuana, they also would want strict controls and limited application of cannabis-based medications. A wide-open approval of marijuana use masquerading as medicinal marijuana will not fly in the state. It is essential, therefore, that measure sponsors develop enabling language that speaks exclusively to medical uses of limited formulations of cannabis but does not send a signal that North Dakota is moving toward a broadly permissive Colorado-like pot law.Morgan’s idea for the ballot is a good one. It’s in keeping with North Dakotans’ tradition of spanking the Legislature when they think it’s done something wrong, or hasn’t done something right. But the language of the measure must call only for a restrictive regime for doctor-prescribed uses of medical marijuana. Seeking more than that guarantees failure at the ballot box.

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State Media Wants To “Spread Playground Equipment Around”

Are property taxes equal for everyone?  Good grief!

Forum editorial: Schools should fund playground

The variable quality of playgrounds at Fargo, Moorhead and West Fargo public schools is the result of policies that should be ended. The problem is a reflection of income and status differences among schools and neighborhoods. Some schools serve families that have resources to donate money for playgrounds. Other schools serve less well-off families. The application of donated money used exclusively for a specific playground at a specific school guarantees safe recreational opportunities for some children, but not for others. It’s the wrong way to go for public schools.

About three years ago, Fargo schools ended the practice of using funds raised by PTAs or other groups for playground equipment, but the damage was done years before. New schools include funds for state-of-the-art playgrounds. That’s progress.

West Fargo and Moorhead still rely on donated money, and the quality of school playgrounds reveals where the haves and have-nots live. School districts dedicated to equal education and equal opportunities for all students fail in that purpose when the playing field – in this case a playground – is tilted by affluence.The initial mistake was (and is) school districts relying on donations to fund what should be a basic responsibility of district budgeting. It got so out of bounds that in some school systems private money raised for playgrounds was more than appropriated by school boards. That’s nuts. It gives the schools a pass for not appropriating sufficient funds for playgrounds, which, educators say, are important to students’ attitudes about exercise, attention levels in class and development of social skills.One solution might be to continue to encourage private donations, but jackpot the money into a fund that can be used to upgrade obviously inadequate or deteriorated playgrounds.It’s about priorities. Local school districts that rely on donated money for playgrounds are hesitant to abandon the model because playground equipment is expensive. Districts are re-examining policies that have caused playground quality disparities. For example, West Fargo, where the differences in school playgrounds are stark, is looking at “standardizing playgrounds for safety and equity.”The well-designed playground is not an afterthought or merely a pretty schoolyard amenity. It’s an element in a complete educational curriculum that includes physical fitness, socialization and a developing intuitive sense among children that the school cares about their health and welfare. Children should not be denied access to a safe and modern public school playground because of where they live.


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Forum editorial: UND need not pander to protesters

State media berated UND nickname protesters yet celebrates protests over the  Aaron Knodel verdict.

PRAIRIE ROSES: To Maggie Wilken and two others who picketed last week outside West Fargo High School to protest the outcome of a criminal case against popular West Fargo teacher Aaron Knodel. He was charged with having improper relations with Wilken. He was acquitted on three of five felony charges, and the others were dropped after a mistrial was declared. Prosecutors declined another trial. No matter how one feels about Knodel and the convoluted legal proceedings, Wilken showed a measure of courage with her public protest at the school, and in a community where the sentiment is overwhelmingly with the acquitted teacher. He has full support from the school board and administration, and the state teacher licensing agency declined to pull his credentials. The odds Wilken’s protest will have any effect are slim to none. Yet, she was out there with a couple of supporters still making her case. Good for her.

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Fargo may owe feds $1 million for not asking first before adding court to bus complex

What assets does the city plan on selling in order to pay this? 

FARGO — The city may have to refund the federal government $1 million for turning a portion of the downtown bus terminal into municipal court, a use not allowed under the federal grant that helped pay for the building.

“The government says ‘Foul ball. You can’t do that without paying us some money,’ ” Mayor Tim Mahoney said during a budget discussion Friday with city commissioners. He warned it could become a budget issue.

The Ground Transportation Center on NP Avenue was built in 1983 with federal funds set aside for transit, City Planner Jim Gilmour said Monday. When the city decided to make room for the municipal court on the east wing, city staff knew the government would ask for a reimbursement, he said.

The city is now trying to figure out a good way to appraise the east wing since it sits on top of a parking garage that is still used for transit, Gilmour said. The $1 million the mayor cited might be on the high side, he said.

There’s a precedent for this.

After the city built its new Transit Garage in 2009, it used the old Transit Garage for police cars and other city vehicles, Gilmour said. The old garage, like the GTC, was mostly paid for with federal transit funds and appraised for about $700,000 to $800,000, he said.

The feds didn’t demand the money back that time, but asked the city to spend the equivalent on transit, he said, which is what he hopes will happen this time.

The GTC was built as a hub for various kinds of buses, including the metro area bus and long-distance buses, such as Jefferson Lines. The city decided to use it for something else because, by 2009, the long-distance bus companies were using it for fewer trips and a large waiting area wasn’t needed.

At the same time, city staff complained that municipal court and the Police Department were running out of space.

In 2010, the city renovated the east wing of the GTC to house the court and provide parking for some police vehicles.

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Letter: Highly qualified need not apply

Rachel is making state media and the education cabal sad!

Letter: Highly qualified need not apply

I  read the article in The Forum that says N.D. Superintendent of Public Instruction Kirsten Baesler supports hiring community experts to help a teacher shortage, and thought I would share my story.

For seven years, I was a high school Spanish teacher in San Antonio. I have a B.A. in Spanish and an M.A. in Applied Linguistics. I taught in Mexico for four years before moving to Texas. Texas allowed me to do an alternative certification program, where I was employed full time at a public school while taking the few courses I lacked to be certified in Texas.

Monitored teaching with a mentor for two years fulfilled my student teaching requirement. I went on to teach for five additional years as a full-time, certified teacher with excellent reviews every year.

I decided in 2012 that I wanted to move back to Fargo-Moorhead, where I grew up and my family still lived. However, I was turned away by both Minnesota and North Dakota for a teaching certificate due to how I became certified in Texas. They would require me to enroll back in college (out-of-state tuition), take additional courses and student teach. I had already amassed a large amount of student debt from my bachelor’s and master’s degrees, and did not feel I should need to go back and student teach after having been a teacher for 10 years; not to mention the financial burden of paying on the student loans I already had, accumulating more due to these requirements, and not being able to work full time while I student taught.

This is one of the reasons that there is a teacher shortage. I got frustrated by the ridiculous requirements being asked of me, and left the profession altogether. I was a highly qualified teacher. I was an experienced teacher. I had a master’s in my field. To turn away candidates like me is absolutely ridiculous.

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Letter: Clean Power Plan is about the future and our children

Rennae loves the EPA. How does she feel about them causing this?

By the numbers: The massive toll of the Animas River spill

Letter: Clean Power Plan is about the future and our children

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Letter: President’s overtime pay order exposed wage scam

John spent most of his life in higher education; he knows all about scams. 

Letter: President’s overtime pay order exposed wage scam

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