Say Anything

​Lets get more teachers by cutting the red tape

by Rob Port | .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) | August 12th, 2015

North Dakota has a teaching shortage, and state Superintendent Kirsten Baesler thinks we can address it by slashing through some of the red tape surrounding the process by which one becomes a teacher.

She has asked the state’s teaching licensing officials to allow “community experts” to fill teacher positions. It’s a recommendation from a task force she’s formed to address teacher shortages in the state.

“Community experts” are people with expertise and training in a given…

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​One nation ruled by a social media mob

by Rob Port | .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) | August 5th, 2015

The rise of social media mob justice makes me think of a toddler wielding a loaded handgun.

Two weeks ago a man in Fargo was the target of thousands of online postings, mostly on Facebook, calling him a pervert and demanding his arrest and even physical harm because he’d been observed engaged in the perfectly legal activity of taking pictures in that city’s Island Park.

Not one of the angry online ranters called the police. Rather, this man went to authorities himself, scared out of…

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​University system chancellor gets his first challenge

by Rob Port | .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) | July 29th, 2015

Photo from NDSU.eduweb

North Dakota University System Chancellor Mark Hagerott has an opportunity to prove what sort of leader he will be. How he responds to it will be instructive, going a long way toward showing whether he has the mettle to lead what has proven to be an almost ungovernable collection of egos and runaway bureaucracy.

More on that in a moment. First, some background.

In a recent interview with the Grand Forks Herald Hagerott shared some details from his “listening tour” around our state.

One…

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​When Facebook attacks

by Rob Port | .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) | July 22nd, 2015

Here's something to make you think about how you use social media.

On Thursday night last week I found myself talking to a man who told me that I’d made his mother cry.

The man was Fargo resident Kirk Ludwig, who found himself the target of hundreds of Facebook comments calling him a pervert and suggesting he be arrested and even physically harmed. The reason I made his mother cry was because she saw me defending her son on Chris Berg’s 6:30 Point of View program on Fargo’s KVLY…

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​When the crusaders for tolerance are intolerant

by Rob Port | .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) | July 15th, 2015

Photo by WikipediaA Supreme Court ruling striking down laws banning gay marriage isn’t the same thing as acceptance of homosexuals. On that front we’ve still got a long way to go.

"John Marshall has made his decision,” President Andrew Jackson supposedly said in response to the Supreme Court’s 1832 decision in Worcester v. Georgia, “now let him enforce it.”

That case had nothing to do with homosexuals, and Jackson probably didn’t utter those exact words, but his reaction is instructive as…

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Wildfire haze can make us thankful

by Rob Port | .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) | July 9th, 2015

There is an aphorism which tells us that we do not appreciate what we have until it is gone.

Over the last couple of weeks we North Dakotans, forced to celebrate the anniversary of our nation’s independence through a smoky haze blown down from Canadian wildfires, were left appreciating our state’s normally pristine air quality. That’s because it disappeared on us, at least temporarily.

After decades of coal development and a more recent uptick in oil-related industrial activity in…

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​Joy for gay rights, regret for a missed opportunity

by Rob Port | .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) | July 1st, 2015

The news that gay marriage is now legal in all 50 states is joyous. I watched glady as my gay friends celebrated on social media. Open to them now is an institution that has long brought joy to those of us who are straight.

My marriage to my lovely wife is a deep well of satisfaction and stability for me. It is the foundation upon which I build the rest of my life. To know that the homosexual community can now enjoy that same bond is news worthy of rejoice.

Some on social media were not…

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Farmers Union has a credibility gap on corporate farming referendum

by Rob Port | .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) | June 24th, 2015

With the North Dakota Farmers Union having turned in over 22,000 petition signatures to refer the Legislature’s reforms to our state’s corporate farming ban to the June 2016 ballot voters will likely be debating this archaic law thoroughly in the coming months.

Yet, already, the Farmers Union folks have a serious credibility gap on the issue.

For one thing, let’s keep in mind who the Farmers Union people are. They founded Cenex, the almost ubiquitous gas station and convenience…

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​In Kelley retirement we see hint of larger higher education problems

by Rob Port | .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) | June 17th, 2015

Photo by Port Blog Over the past year one of North Dakota’s most prominent and highest paid public officials has presided over a revolt from his customers and employees, a costly bailout of a supposedly private foundation, and an ugly brawl with the former head of an affiliated organization that’s now headed to litigation.

Yet, despite this not-at-all exhaustive list of problems, this public official has got a glowing and thoroughly uncritical review from his superior.

How can that be?

University of…

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We need to protect farmers from attacks

by Rob Port | .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) | June 10th, 2015

Photo by flickr user Guila Van Port I don’t spend a lot of time scrolling through Facebook because I have better things to do than be bombarded with misleading clickbait stories and personal drama of the sort some people insist on sharing with the global internet community. But the other day a friend of mine posed an interesting question in a post.

She asked, by way of provoking a discussion, what the most important discovery of all time was.

That got me thinking, because there are a lot of really good responses to a…

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