It's time to remind public officials of a good rule of thumb. Never name anything after a living person. Sometimes would-be heroes turn out to be rogues.
For instance, naming a medical complex after South Dakota billionaire Denny Sanford seems ill-advised in light of a recent child porn investigation. But in America, you're innocent until proven guilty, and early indications are that Sanford must be innocent because he hasn't been shot in the back, yet.
Likewise, the Jeffrey Epstein Childcare Center or the Stormy Daniels Chastity Award would be bad ideas.
That brings us to last week's ribbon-cutting at the $11 million University of Mary School of Engineering building in Bismarck which features the Kevin Cramer Design Center. Cramer, R-N.D., is sort of the Buckminster Fuller of the Senate, the architect of a $2 billion border wall contract for Fisher Sand & Gravel, Dickinson, N.D., motto: “If we build it, they'll still come.”
I'm not saying the company is swampy, but it squishes when it walks. In 2005, former CEO David Fisher went to prison on child porn charges. In 2009, former co-owner Michael Fisher was imprisoned for tax fraud. In 2017, Arizona fined the company millions for environmental violations. In short, Donald Trump's kind of guys.
And Cramer's — and let's not forget that Rep. Kelly Armstrong, R-N.D., also lobbied for the company, but apparently not hard enough to have anything named after him. Fisher Sand & Gravel sure could use a name change. They may be running out of Fishers.
Surviving CEO Tommy Fisher is no slouch as a pitchman, either. If he ever resigns, he could sell pillows to insomniacs. A frequent guest on Fox News, he extolled the company's engineering prowess, and in the process, flattered the only audience that really mattered — the president.
Well, flattery will get you everywhere. Trump loved it. Until Armstrong Sand & Gravel (oops, I'm getting ahead of myself) built a private wall, funded, one assumes, by Mexican donors, that almost immediately began falling into the Rio Grande River. Apparently, the engineers missed class the day they discussed erosion. (Excuse: “Nobody told us there'd be weather!”)
In the beginning, the National Butterfly Center sued to block the wall based on environmental concerns, and possibly because this impenetrable engineering marvel might stop butterflies dead in their tracks. Meanwhile, in North Dakota, Cass County Vector Control was like, “Here, hold my beer.” If not for the Fargo Butterfly Massacre in August (Explanation: “They had a knife”) the Monarchs would've had little trouble migrating past the Great Wall of Fisher.
It gets better. (Or worse.) Now, Rumpelsuitskin Steve Bannon, who calls Tommy Fisher “a mentor,” has been indicted in yet another Deep Swamp witch hunt for skimming more than $1 million from donations. Maybe they'll name a prison after him. The important thing is Trump hardly knows the guy. We're still waiting to hear from Armstrong or Cramer. Fischer, a generous donor to Cramer’s campaign, was his guest at the 2018 State of the Union Address.
As it stands, the wall is a moot point. Thanks to Trump's strategic handling of the COVID crisis, no one from Mexico wants in. But if Americans want out, there's a three-mile stretch in Texas that's wide open.
Tony Bender writes an exclusive weekly column for Forum News Service.