10/15/2008 – Editorials


By Richard Peterson

Next week’s issue will be the last issue we will accept letters to the editor prior to the election, so you’d better get your letter in by Sunday, Oct. 19. Letters received on Monday will go directly to the wastebasket. We don’t have time or room to fiddle with them on Mondays.

We will accept letters to the editor for the October 29 issue which rebut letters or editorials which appear in the October 22 issue. We will not accept letters for the October 29 issue which rebut letters or editorials which appeared prior to October 22. So if you want to get your original two cents worth in the newspaper, October 22 is your last chance.

There are four measures on the ballot. It is my opinion that Measures 1 and 2 are not in the best interests of the people of North Dakota and we ran an editorial to that effect in the September 24 issue.

Another editorial on the same subject appears on this page.

Here’s another example. Rep. Merle Boucher (D-Rolette) stopped in the other day to promote Tim Mathern’s plan for the health care system.

Mathern is running for governor and Boucher is his running mate for the lieutenant governorship. Boucher said health care is extremely expensive and we’ve now come to a point where health care may not even be available at any price in rural areas.

Twenty-two rural hospitals are operating at a deficit and could close if nothing is done. If the state’s hands are tied financially by socking away savings rather than investing the money where it is needed, we’re all going to suffer.

Counties and townships are struggling and some type of revenue sharing program from the state is essential if property taxes are going to be reduced. This program would not be a one-year transfer, but would have to continue indefinitely. But if most of the money is locked up, it can’t be invested in the infrastructure we need today and tomorrow and next year.

If Measure 2 passes and income taxes are cut, the counties may not get the financial help from the state they need. If that happens, counties will have no choice but to raise property taxes. The property taxes are the most unfair and that’s where we most need tax relief.

People who say the elected officials are spending money wildly are blinded by their incorrect preconceived notions. I watch the commissioners struggle with the most minor expenses. There’s no wild spending in Benson County, I can assure you.

The electorate wants decent roads, but the cost of fuel has required the Benson County highway department to cut back on routine maintenance of the roads we now have. Rebuilding roads or additional paving is simply out of the question because money is so short and expenses are so high.

There are many mandates the county has no control over that require spending local money, such as signing county roads for 911. The land coming off the county’s tax rolls for the benefit of the Spirit Lake Nation is just one example of a difficult situation the county is facing.

I’m definitely voting no on Measures 1 and 2.

Measure 3 relates to tobacco prevention money received from tobacco companies. The state gets about $36.8 million each year in the tobacco settlement. Currently the state allocates 45 percent of this money ($16.56 million) to the common schools trust fund, 45 percent ($16.56 million) to the water development fund and 10 percent ($3.6 million) to the community health fund. The State Health Department currently spends about $3 million each year from the community health fund for tobacco prevention and control programs.

If Measure 3 passes the new tobacco prevention and control trust fund would get $13.8 million, the schools would get $10.35 million, water development would get $10.35 million and the community health fund would get $2.3 million.

The measure would require the establishment of a prevention and control advisory committee and executive committee which would administer the funds. Their salaries would come out of the $13.8 million.

It seems like overkill to me. I think I’ll vote no.

Measure No. 4 would put Workforce Safety and Insurance under the governor’s control. Currently a board administers the agency. The past couple years we’ve witnessed a fiasco in this agency and the board has not acquitted itself very well. The agency belongs under the control of the governor and I’m going to vote yes on this one.

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Don’t believe any of those attack ads on radio and television.

They’re lies and distortions almost without exception. If you believe those ads, you’re basing your vote on lies and distortions.

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A guy walks into a bar in Minneapolis wearing a Vikings jersey and carrying a cat that also has a Vikings jersey on with a little Vikings helmet on his head, too.

The guy says to the bartender, "Can my cat and I watch the Vikings-Saints game here? My TV at home broke down and my cat and I always watch the game together."

The bartender replies, "Normally, cats wouldn’t be allowed in the bar, but it’s not very busy in here right now, so you and the cat can have a seat at the end of the bar. But, if there’s any trouble with you or the cat, I’ll have to ask you to leave."

The guy agrees, and he and his cat start watching the game. Pretty soon Minnesota manages to kick a field goal and the excited cat jumps up on the bar, walks all the way down and gives everyone a high five.

The bartender says, "Hey, that’s pretty cool! What does he do for a touchdown?"

The guys answers, "I don’t know, I’ve only had him for three years."


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