Matthew Von Pinnon
Von Pinnon is editor of The Forum.
- Member for
- 3 years 10 months
We learned last week that North Dakota government expects to have $1.5 billion in surplus and reserves by the middle of next year. By most measures, that's an extremely conservative estimate. Tax collections from almost all categories continue to blow away projections, and the pace of oil production is only picking up. It's why The Forum launched the "Billion-dollar Bracket" contest on today's front page. We asked readers to submit their ideas for how the state should best spend its immense and rapidly growing public wealth.
Whenever local folks gather these days, the Fighting Sioux issue inevitably comes up. Everybody's got an opinion about it, but the prevailing response lately seems to be: "I wish it was over." It's a noncommittal comment that doesn't pick sides. It suggests sharing an opinion is likely to guarantee the debate will never end.
I have lived within a half-mile of railroad tracks my entire life. I suspect others in Fargo-Moorhead - two cities named after railroad men - can say the same. I like the rhythmic clickety-clack of train cars moving along the track and the ding-dong warning song of the crossing arms, especially on an open-window summer night.
Meet the seven new members of The Forum's Readers Board. They join five returning members whose terms expire in June. Members stay on for a year, but terms are staggered by a half-year. The paper's community sounding board chooses its own successors. We want to first thank departing members whose terms expired in December: Gurnee Bridgman, Lisa Dahlen, Marcy Matson, Kevin Melicher, Tom Thoreson and Joshua Voytek. New members are: Mary Batcheller, 29, of Fargo is director of business development for the Greater Fargo Moorhead Economic Development Corp.
Last weekend, on this very page, we ran a letter critical of our reporting on the criminal case of Dr. Jon Norberg. The letter writer specifically criticized The Forum's decision to not initially name Norberg's sexual assault victim as his wife. The letter writer was not alone in her criticism. I took several calls - all from women - who were upset that we did not identify the victim as Norberg's spouse until she later chose to make her name public. "The fact that his wife accused him of rape changes everything," one woman told me.
On a day every December for the past six years, about a dozen editors sit down to determine who will be The Forum's Area Person of the Year. Before that day comes, we always solicit nominations from our readers. Editors also bring their own nominations. The criteria for the selection? Simply, who had the most impact on our area this past year? The meeting in which the selection is narrowed and ultimately chosen can get pretty heated.
Forget the presents and the food, though those are nice, too.
North Dakota should buy the Minnesota Vikings, or at least loan its eastern neighbor the cash needed to build a $1 billion stadium that would keep the team in the region. Ludicrous, you say? Well, let's consider all the facts. Minnesota can't seem to figure out a funding formula to solve the stadium dilemma that won't either bankrupt the state or make a gambling addict of everyone. Meanwhile, North Dakota has at least a billion dollars burning a hole in its britches - even after conservative state leaders have locked up hundreds of millions of dollars in barely touchable "rainy day" funds.
Cape Canaveral, Fla. - We came here for the surf. We left with a new appreciation for voyages beyond our waters. Hotels in eastern Florida were busy over the long Thanksgiving weekend.
Our handling of a news story last week upset a few of our readers who called me or wrote letters to the editor. The complaints involved our reporting on the death of longtime pediatrician Dr. David Blehm, who worked at Sanford Health the past 12 years and last May was named a medical director at Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Dakota. Last Monday morning, Dr. Blehm took his own life at his south Fargo home. We learned of that news a day later, prompted by our routine check of police records and a sharp spike in people searching inforum.com for news containing Dr.