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Zaleski: Concerned about 'good government'?

Interested in good government, North Dakota style? Curious about how political bent distorts definitions of good government? Concerned that governance has been corrupted by hyper-partisanship and big money? Think "good government" is an oxymoron?

If so, program your GPS for the North Dakota Heritage Center in Bismarck one week from today. On April 15, the center's Sensational Sunday Series will host "The Good Government Summit: What Makes Good Government," a wide-ranging discussion that will feature scholars and media professionals. There will be opportunities for audience questions. It won't be a quick hit. It goes from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m., plenty of time for thoughtful and maybe a little raucous debate.

Summit sponsors have assembled quite a lineup:

Clay Jenkinson, known for his portrayal of Thomas Jefferson on Prairie Public's "The Thomas Jefferson Hour," will provide a learned perspective on politics and government in North Dakota. An author and humanities scholar of national repute, Jenkinson's attention to the history and heritage of the state can frame the session in a constructive context. He's also a regular guest on Mike McFeely's show on WDAY AM radio, and in that setting, he never hesitates to express informed opinions on politics and politicians.

Cecile Wehrman is owner/publisher of newspapers in Crosby and Tioga. The inheritor of the three-generation journalism tradition of the Andrist family, Wehrman is past president of the North Dakota Newspaper Association. An award-winning journalist, she convinced NDNA to convene its annual meeting in Crosby a few years ago, despite opposition from some members. Too far out, they said. The Crosby convention was one of the best in the association's history.

Doug Hamilton, host of Prairie Public's "Main Street," is moderator. His bio includes experience as a Fargo broadcast journalist and in communications on the staff at Minnesota State University Moorhead.

Robert Foresman is a doctoral student and graduate assistant in the Department of History, Philosophy and Religious Studies at North Dakota State University. His focus is on the history of the Great Plains, environment and women and gender.

Mike Jacobs, retired publisher of the Grand Forks Herald, writes a weekly column on politics. He's been a student of the state's political culture for decades. He led the team that won the Pulitzer Prize for the Herald's work during the 1997 Grand Forks flood.

Amy Dalrymple, a reporter for the Bismarck Tribune, also worked as Oil Patch reporter in Williston for Forum News Service, and before that as a reporter for The Forum. She's one of the best journalists in the state.

Dave Thompson is news director for Prairie Public and dean of broadcast political reporters. His morning newscast from Bismarck is the only one that reaches all corners of the state. No one knows more about the Legislature, past and present.

I'm on the panel. Like the others, I've been writing about politics and government for a long time.

It will be a lively session. Good timing, as another political season steps off. It's free, thanks to sponsors: ThinkND, Northern Plains Ethics Institute, N.D. Humanities Council and Bush Foundation. Be there.

Zaleski retired in 2017 after nearly 30 years as The Forum’s editorial page editor. He continues to write a Sunday column. Contact him at or (701) 241-5521.