Zaleski: Here are three of the worst ideas of 2017
Instead of New Year's resolutions, I tallied up the worst ideas of 2017. Here are three from a long list.
The North Dakota recreational marijuana petition is a mess. It's badly written and fraught with pitfalls. Should it pass, it will be a legislative nightmare.
Recreational pot for North Dakota might be a good idea. That debate is not over. But petitioners have done an awful job in scribbling ballot language. Should the question reach the ballot and voters say OK, the real work would fall to legislators. The proposed ballot language is so foggy that implementation could take years.
Initial language for the petition was such a fiasco that the secretary of state suggested changes. Some were made, some were not. The latest iteration features an absurd provision that old convictions for pot crimes would be expunged, and if not done, the state could be sued with local taxpayers picking up the tab. It also includes a catch-all (more lazy work by petitioners) which would nullify marijuana laws.
Whether North Dakotans want recreational marijuana is a valid question. But the petition language is a quagmire-in-waiting. Reads like the writers were as high as kites.
A proposal to build an industrial-type piglet gestation barn in the watershed of North Dakota's largest natural lake stinks worse than a manure pit. The project threatens the waters of Devils Lake. The location is foolish. It is surrounded by the lake and its tributaries. The water table is high. A plan to spread pig waste on nearby farmland guarantees that tainted runoff will pollute a lake that is sensitive to nutrient loading.
The pig barn's pig-headed backers say it will provide jobs. That's a crock. At best, the barn will create a couple of good-paying management jobs and a handful of low-paying worker jobs. But that's not the issue.
The risk to one of the best sport fisheries in the state—an economic driver for the city of Devils Lake—cannot be dismissed. Opposition from rural and lakeshore neighbors is fierce.
The investors behind the debacle should be embarrassed. The city should be up in arms. Regulators should stop it.
The idea of a President Trump was outrageous. The fact of President Trump is worse. He is the greatest divider in the history of the modern presidency. He has dragged civil discourse into a slimy gutter of his own making. He has stamped his imprimatur on lying, thus making prevarication acceptable to potential liars everywhere. Latest example: his Christmas greeting.
The liar-in-chief claimed he was the only recent president who said "Merry Christmas" in his holiday message. Not true. Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama used the traditional holiday words routinely during the collective 16 years of their presidencies. It's all on record—media video and audio and White House archives—for anyone, including Trump, too see.
Instead of using his Christmas missive to honor the spirit of the season, Trump pandered to phony cultural warriors. He deepened divisions. He lied. Again.
More of 2017's bad ideas next week.
Zaleski retired in February after nearly 30 years as The Forum’s editorial page editor. He continues to write a Sunday column. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or 701-241-5521.