10/11/2006 – Editorials



By Richard Peterson

According to the ND Democratic-NPL Party’s Web site, "Last week, we received a letter from Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem warning us that automated calls are illegal in North Dakota, so if you’re thinking about hiring an out-of-state calling company to make pre-recorded phone calls on behalf of your campaign, don’t do it, Wayne said. Could cost you a $2,000 fine for each violation.

"Well, Saturday, our communications director Rick Gion was at work at the office and the phone rang. Guess what? It was an automated phone call from National Republican Chairman Ken Mehlman, urging Rick to vote for Republicans. Boy, was THAT a wrong number! The Attorney General’s press release said you should call 1-800-472-2600 and report it if you get any of these calls."

Guess what? Gion called the Republican attorney general, who warned the Republicans that they were flirting with fines of $2,000 per call if the calls continued.

The calls apparently stopped before the attorney general had to take legal action against his own party.

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Democrats sent out mailings to those they consider reliable sympathizers, urging them to vote early by mail with absentee ballots. Janelle Cole of The Forum reports Public Service Commissioner Tony Clark and Secretary of State Al Jaeger, both Republicans, received the mailing from the Democrats.

I guess maybe somebody better look at that mailing list.

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North Dakotans will be voting on three measures in the November 7 election. Bowing to tradition, I’ll give you my thoughts on the three issues.

Measure No. 1 was placed on the ballot by the ND State Legislature.

It amends two sections of the ND Constitution, which are restricting the efficient and proper management of trust funds managed by the state. This is a simple housekeeping measure which will provide more flexibility. I’m voting yes.

Measure No. 2 is an Initiated Measure placed on the ballot by petition. The measure provides that private property taken by government for public use does not include property for economic development benefits and that private property cannot be taken for the benefit of the private sector, unless necessary for common carriers, such as railroads, or for airports or utility businesses.

This measure was precipitated by a Supreme Court decision which declared that it is legal for private property to be taken for economic development and turned over to a private developer. This created a firestorm of controversy and Measure No. 2 would prohibit such actions.

The exercise of eminent domain should be limited to public uses. I agree with the measure’s intent and will be voting yes.

Measure No. 3 is an Initiated Measure placed on the ballot by petition. The measure was created by fathers who are unhappy with the present child custody laws in divorce cases. The rules are heavily weighted in favor of the mother.

The measure provides that in the event of a divorce, separation or custody battle, each parent would be entitled to joint legal and physical custody unless one of the parents is deemed unfit. The measure further requires that parents must develop a joint parenting plan with the courts becoming involved only if parents do not agree on a plan. Child support payments are based on the parenting plan and could not be greater than the actual cost of providing for the basic needs of each child.

It sounds reasonable, but at present 85 percent of divorce cases do not involve a court hearing. The measure could put every divorce in court. At a minimum a new state bureaucracy would be created to accept parenting plans. I fear this is going to be costly for taxpayers and a possible bonanza for attorneys. I’m leaning toward a no vote.

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A Spanish teacher was explaining to her class that in Spanish, unlike English, nouns are designated as either masculine or feminine.

"House" for instance, is feminine: "la casa." "Pencil," however, is

masculine: "el lapiz."

A student asked, "What gender is ‘computer’?" Instead of giving the answer, the teacher split the class into two groups, male and female, and asked them to decide for themselves whether "computer" should be a masculine or a feminine noun. Each group was asked to give four reasons for its recommendation.

The men’s group decided that "computer" should definitely be of the feminine gender ("la computadora"), because:

1. No one but their creator understands their internal logic; 2. The native language they use to communicate with other computers is incomprehensible to everyone else; 3. Even the smallest mistakes are stored in long term memory for possible later retrieval; and 4. As soon as you make a commitment to one, you find yourself spending half your paycheck on accessories for it.

The women’s group, however, concluded that computers should be masculine ("el computador"), because:

1. In order to do anything with them, you have to turn them on; 2. They have a lot of data, but still can’t think for themselves; 3. They are supposed to help you solve problems, but half the time they ARE the problem; and 4. As soon as you commit to one, you realize that if you had waited a little longer, you could have gotten a better model.

The women won.


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