Unheralded

JIM FUGLIE: View From The Prairie — A Short, Sweet, Norwegian Celebration

Three groups have been cheering the appointment of Debra Haaland as President Biden’s Secretary of Interior. WOMEN. Although 21st century presidents have done better, over the years, probably only about 10 percent of all Cabinet secretaries have been women — I think I read somewhere the total is about 30 since we became a country — so when a woman gets …


Unheralded

JIM FUGLIE: View From The Prairie — April Is A Key Month For The ‘Bridge To Nowhere’

There are a couple of new developments in the ongoing saga of the proposed Little Missouri River Crossing north of Medora, N.D. I’ve written about this extensively, most recently in December. Here’s what’s going on right now: There’s a new look to the Billings County Commission. Longtime Commission Chairman Jim Arthaud, the driving force behind the bridge proposal, was defeated …


JIM FUGLIE: View From The Prairie — Pollert vs. Becker; Pollert Wins; Luke Who?

In the end, the vote this past week to kick Luke Simons out of the North Dakota Legislature wasn’t about Luke Simons at all. It was about Chet Pollert showing Ricky Becker who’s in charge. Pollert’s the Majority Leader in the North Dakota House of Representatives. He introduced the resolution to kick one of his own caucus members out of …

JIM FUGLIE: View From The Prairie — A REALLY GOOD FRIEND and a REALLY GOOD WIFE

This is a story about a REALLY GOOD FRIEND and a REALLY GOOD WIFE. It started about a year ago when my friend, Mike Jacobs, offered to place a bet on the 2020 June North Dakota primary election. It seems he had made a bet on a candidate in a contested primary race but was having second thoughts, so he …

JIM FUGLIE: View From The Prairie — The Winter Of Our Discontent

I’ve been away. It’s been nearly two months since I took a punch to the gut, the likes of which I have never experienced. I lost a brother in the COVID pandemic. He was younger, just 66. Unknown to his family or friends, he suffered from severe depression, which engulfed him during the isolation of the last year, taking him …

JIM FUGLIE: View From The Prairie — Democratic Attorneys General Respond

There are a lot of great things about writing on a blog. There are no deadlines. You can write when you feel like it. Late Saturday night. Early Sunday morning. It doesn’t cost anything. You don’t have staff to supervise. You don’t have editors looking over your shoulder. And you can pretty much say anything you like, which I often …

JIM FUGLIE: View From The Prairie — Yes, Yes And Yes, When Attorneys General Break The Law

My inbox has been full of messages saying, “Did you see this?” with links to stories about the Republican Attorneys General Association participating in Wednesday’s U.S. Capitol riots, and asking, “Is Wayne Stenehjem a member of this club?” My answers are “Yes” and “Yes.” The links they sent say that an arm of the Republican Attorneys General Association sent out …

JIM FUGLIE: View From The Prairie — Stenehjem Investigation Under Way; Does Our Attorney General Have Blood On His Hands?

I think that as you are reading this, an investigation is under way by the North Dakota Office of Disciplinary Counsel into whether our Attorney General, Wayne Stenehjem, acted unethically, and possibly illegally, using state resources for political purposes, when he joined one of the many frivolous lawsuits to try to overturn Joe Biden’s election as President of the United …

JIM FUGLIE: View From The Prairie — When Life Gives You 2020, Make Lemonade

Jan. 1, 2021. 2020 is finally over. It was a helluva year. It wasn’t ALL bad, but it was different. Very different. Here’s an example. At about 7:30 a.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 25, the day before Thanksgiving, just as hints of daylight were appearing in the southeast sky, four (relatively) old men huffed and puffed their way for about half …

JIM FUGLIE: View From The Prairie — Did Stenehjem Misuse State Funds? Investigation Sought

Earlier this week, North Dakota’s attorney general, Wayne Stenehjem, joined 17 other Republican attorneys general from across the country, all members of the Republican Attorneys General Association, an organization that in its various incarnations, has provided Stenehjem with at least $160,000 in campaign funds, in supporting a lawsuit filed by his counterpart in Texas, Republican Ken Paxton. Paxton, who it …

JIM FUGLIE: View From The Prairie — Two More Bad Guys Going After Our Public Lands: Stenehjem And Hoeven

On Thursday, I wrote about the jerk who runs the Bureau of Land Management and his attack on the public land he “manages,” land he would like to turn over to the energy industry before he leaves office in January. Today, I want to talk about the other federal agency so important to North Dakota, the U.S. Forest Service, which …

JIM FUGLIE: View From The Prairie — Public Lands Under Attack In Trump’s Final Days

In their agony, deep in the death throes of the Trump administration, America’s public lands managers are scrambling to put their final stamp on the worst conservation, environmental and public lands record in our country’s history. At risk are millions of acres of wildlife habitat and pristine recreational areas across America’s West, including the last remaining undeveloped roadless areas in …

JIM FUGLIE: View From The Prairie — A Tale Of Two Bridges (Continued)

I wrote in a recent edition of Dakota Country magazine about the continuing saga of a pair of bridges — one built, the other proposed — over the Little Missouri State Scenic River, part of the ongoing effort of politicians and captains of industry to industrialize the state’s only officially designated scenic river. It seems like there’s no end to …

JIM FUGLIE: View From The Prairie — ‘Responsibility Is Not Applicable’

Only the most cynical among us could have come up with a scenario for the game that played out in the election of legislators from legislative District 8, a scenario that came to an end Tuesday when the North Dakota Supreme Court settled it. Final score: Jeff Delzer 5 Doug Burgum 0. It started in the spring of 2016, when …

JIM FUGLIE: View From The Prairie — Orgiastic Politics: The Strange Case Of District 8

Dang it, the Bismarck Tribune stole my headline this morning, pointing out on the front page there’s going to be a “3-way” over in the North Dakota Supreme Court on Friday morning, in the case involving the District legislative seat. If it turns out to be a good “3-way,” somebody’s going to get screwed. In fact, more than one somebody …

JIM FUGLIE: View From The Prairie — Summer’s Gone, And Still No Refinery; Yay!

November. Another construction season has come and gone in North Dakota. It’s about the fourth construction season that Meridian Energy Group has promised (threatened?) to build an oil refinery three miles from Theodore Roosevelt National Park. So far, we’ve dodged a bullet. The company has been plagued by financial problems. The company has a $2 million lien placed against it …

JIM FUGLIE: View From The Prairie — Vacancy? What Vacancy?

Here’s the thing about North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum’s move Wednesday to jump in the middle of the bizarre District 8 legislative mess and appoint a coal company executive to fill the vacancy left by the death and subsequent election of Dave Andahl: Right now, there’s no vacancy to be filled. By now, all the newspapers are telling the story …

JIM FUGLIE: View From The Prairie — Requiescant In Pace, North Dakota Democrats

Here’s my short analysis of Tuesday’s election results in North Dakota. There were 69 legislative seats on the ballot across the state in 23 legislative districts. One Senate seat and two House seats in each district. Republicans won 65 of those seats. Democrats won four. The absolute worst performance by a political party (excluding fringe parties) in state history. RIP, …

JIM FUGLIE: View From The Prairie — I Think The Rodeo’s Over

Four years ago, a couple of days after the 2016 presidential election, when the results had sunk in and America realized what it had just done, I wrote: “Here’s what I think of the election. We got all dressed up to go to the ball, and we ended up at a rodeo.” Boy, was I right. I’ve been to a …

JIM FUGLIE: View From The Prairie — Up Sims Creek Without A Paddle — So Long Rodney Nelson

I’ve known a lot of funny people in my life. Rodney Nelson was probably the funniest. A cowboy rancher from down in the Heart River Valley west of Mandan, N.D., Rodney succumbed to cancer Wednesday. He was just 71 years old. Now 24 hour later, wherever he is, he’s making an audience laugh. You might remember Rodney as a cowboy …

JIM FUGLIE: View From The Prairie — Sweet Revenge

I promise, I’m not making this up because even someone with a mind as twisted as mine could not come up with a story this absurd. It’s the story of the race for the Legislature in North Dakota’s Legislative District 8. Yes, North Dakota’s attorney general says to the voters of District 8, you just go right ahead and vote …

JIM FUGLIE: View From The Prairie — Now Just Hold On A Minute Here, Al …

The five most dangerous words in the English language are “I’m not a lawyer, but …” More about that in a minute. On Wednesday, I wrote that Secretary of State Al Jaeger said it’s OK to vote for a dead Republican legislative candidate, and if that dead candidate gets more votes than two other Democratic-NPL candidates, he’ll be declared elected, …

JIM FUGLIE: View From The Prairie — Dear District 8 Republicans: Please Vote For The Dead Guy

As if this election year isn’t crazy enough already, in one of the most maudlin election tactics I’ve ever seen, North Dakota Republicans are urging voters to cast their ballots for a dead man. This bizarre recommendation comes from North Dakota Republican Party Chairman Rick Berg (not to be confused with Rick Becker, a real bizarre Republican) in the case …

JIM FUGLIE: View From The Prairie — The Critters Are Benefiting From The Oil Patch Slowdown

Let me tell you who really appreciated it when the Bakken Boom went bust — at least temporarily — in 2020. The critters. Whether it’s sharptails nesting, bighorn sheep lambing, mule deer fawning, elk calving or foxes denning, they all appreciate being left alone at critical times of the year. The clanging of pipe on the drilling rigs, the screaming …

JIM FUGLIE: View From The Prairie — Well, Then, Welcome To North Dakota, Mr. Jones

Earlier this week, the North Dakota Supreme Court asked Fargo Judge Frank Racek to hold an evidentiary hearing to help it determine whether North Dakota Rep. Terry B. Jones is a legal resident of North Dakota and can have his name remain on the District 4 ballot for re-election in November, after North Dakota Democrats filed a lawsuit claiming Jones …

JIM FUGLIE: View From The Prairie — Look At Those Supreme Court Justices Go!

The strange case of Wyoming’s delegate to the North Dakota Legislature has the North Dakota court system moving at the speed of light, something we’re not used to seeing. I wrote last week about Terry B. Jones, the fellow who carries the title state representative from District 4 in the North Dakota Legislature but whose right to serve in that …

JIM FUGLIE: View From The Prairie — Keeping Up With The Joneses

I wrote here the other day about this fellow Terry B. Jones, a North Dakota legislator who says he’s from New Town, N.D., but actually lives in Wyoming. He’s been serving as Wyoming’s representative to the North Dakota Legislature since 2017. As I was finishing up that story, the North Dakota Democrats were figuring out if they wanted to challenge …

JIM FUGLIE: View From The Prairie — U.S. DOT To Billings County: Go Find Money For Your Bridge Somewhere Else

Score one for the Little Missouri State Scenic River. When U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao announced the recipients of a billion dollars worth of discretionary grants for infrastructure projects all over the United States this morning, including one in North Dakota, a $12.3 million grant to build a new bridge over the Little Missouri wasn’t among them. That’s the best …

JIM FUGLIE: View From The Prairie — Knock A Republican Candidate Off The Ballot? Not Likely

The North Dakota Supreme Court might get one more chance to knock a candidate off the November General Election ballot. But don’t bet on the justices doing it because the candidate in question is a Republican this time, and the North Dakota Supreme Court likes Republicans. Let me introduce you to the strange case of North Dakota State Rep. Terry …

JIM FUGLIE: View From The Prairie — North Dakota Supreme Court: Dancing With Those That Brung You

Three times in less than a month, the North Dakota Republican Party has flexed its muscles and gone to the North Dakota Supreme Court and asked the state’s top five judges to keep something off the November 2020 General Election ballot. Three times they have succeeded. The result is that: A.  A measure to bring some election reform ideas before …

JIM FUGLIE: View From The Prairie — Who’s REALLY At Fault For The Failures Of Measure 3?

Labor Day. Ah, September. The “Dog Days of August” are behind us. Except that this year the dogs never showed up. August used to be the month the politicians took time off to take the kids (and the dog) to the lake, while preparing for a campaign to begin after Labor Day. Not this year. In August 2020, the North …

JIM FUGLIE: View From The Prairie — Election Reform

So we won’t be voting on Measure 3 in November. Because there is no Measure 3. The North Dakota Supreme Court says so. And it, not Al Jaeger, gets the final say. I’m actually a little disappointed. I told a few friends this past week I was going to hold my nose and vote for it because there some things …

JIM FUGLIE: View From The Prairie — ‘I’ve Lived My Life’

My friend Bill Bowman died. I’m sad about that. Bill and I both grew up in southwest North Dakota, he on a ranch north of Rhame, and I down the road on state Highway 12 in Hettinger. Our paths first crossed in the 1960s, at Dickinson State College, and they crossed many times more in the 50-plus years since, more …

JIM FUGLIE: View From The Prairie — Would You Buy A Used ‘ROCET” From This Company?

I have a new friend who I’ll call “Chris,” who knows something about petroleum engineering. This new friend is some kind of engineer. I haven’t met this friend in person, but I’ve talked to Chris a few times on the computer and the phone recently. Chris sent me an e-mail this week after reading a couple of the columns I’ve …

JIM FUGLIE: View From The Prairie — Of License Plates And Things

Taking a break from picking on refinery companies, I decided to lighten up today and talk about fun things like license plates. Way back in 1992, the North Dakota Legislature and Gov. George Sinner agreed that it was time the state got a new design for our license plates. The license plate we had been using for five years featured …

JIM FUGLIE: View From The Prairie — More Words Of Caution About The Refinery

My phone keeps ringing, with calls from people who want to talk about Meridian Energy Group, the company that wants to build an oil refinery beside Theodore Roosevelt National Park. I’ve talked to engineers, accountants, investors and salesmen, and all are pretty skeptical about this company’s intent. There’s a common theme: A lot of people stand to lose a lot …

JIM FUGLIE: View From The Prairie — Refinery Company’s Employees Sue For $600,000 In Unpaid Wages

A group of seven former and current (but likely to soon be former) employees of Meridian Energy Group, the California company that wants to build an oil refinery next to Theodore Roosevelt National Park in the North Dakota Bad Lands, has filed a lawsuit against Meridian seeking to recover more than $600,000 in unpaid wages, salaries and bonuses. The lawsuit …

JIM FUGLIE: View From The Prairie — Two Very Important Letters

A week or so ago, I wrote here about the Billings County Commission’s actions seeking federal funds to build their “Bridge to Nowhere” across the Little Missouri State Scenic River north of Medora, N.D., encouraging my readers to send letters in opposition to their scheme. My wife, Lillian, and I did so the very next day.  Shortly, I was pleased …

JIM FUGLIE: View From The Prairie — Saying Good-Bye To An Old Soldier

At noon Friday, July 10, 2020, on a somber hillside south of Mandan, N.D., a lone bugler will blow Taps, and a squad of American Veterans will fire a 21-gun salute to 1st Sgt. Hubert Garland Crook, U.S. Army (retired) as his cremated ashes are laid under a white marble headstone, joining thousands of his fellow Soldiers, Sailors, Marines and …

JIM FUGLIE: View From The Prairie — Quick Takes, Fast Tracks And The Destruction Of A Historic Ranch And A State Scenic River

“(Commission chairman) Jim Arthaud and the Billings County commissioners have the fight of their lives ahead of them if they plan on using eminent domain to put a bridge across our land.” That was Sandy Short, wife of the late Con Short and daughter-in-law of former U.S. Congressman Don Short, in an interview with The Bismarck Tribune three years ago. …

JIM FUGLIE: View From The Prairie — I’m Pretty Ashamed Of North Dakota Today

Meridian Energy Group, the fly-by-night California startup company that proposes to put an oil refinery next to Theodore Roosevelt National Park in western North Dakota, came one step closer to being able to start construction this week when the North Dakota Supreme Court upheld the Permit to Construct the refinery, issued by the state’s Department of Environmental Quality, formerly the …

JIM FUGLIE: View From The Prairie — Ribs And Tacos: It’s The Little Things That Matter, After A Long Trip Through The Darkness

And so we’re a week into Summer, emerging from what I think is the darkest Spring of my life (my personal style book says capitalize the seasons, but I am almost reluctant to do so this year — this Spring doesn’t really deserve any recognition). The only Springs darker that I can recall are 1968, the year I got drafted, …

JIM FUGLIE: View From The Prairie — Congratulations, Jocelyne And Monique

The Lamoureux twins, Jocelyne and Monique, who led the U.S. Women’s hockey team to a gold medal in the 2018 Winter Olympics, have been named recipients of the North Dakota Theodore Roosevelt  Rough Rider Award, the state’s highest honor. Finally. They are the first and only North Dakotans ever to win Winter Olympic Gold. And they did it in a …

JIM FUGLIE: View From The Prairie — Nobody Ever Got Rich Betting Against Doug Burgum

Four years ago, on the morning after the 2016 North Dakota Primary Election, I wrote a column with the headline “What The Hell Just Happened?” Doug Burgum pulled off one of the biggest upsets in North Dakota political history, giving Wayne Stenehjem a sound beating in their race for the Republican nomination for governor. Burgum did it by spending a …