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North Dakota Flood News and Info Aggregator
Written by Chet   
Road Crew on South Washington builds a dyke across the road near Solheim School

Click on these links for Part I (Tuesday), Part II (Wednesday), Part III (Thursday), Part IV (Friday), Part V (Saturday), Part VI (Sunday), Part VII (Monday) and Part VIII (Tuesday).

1.  Bismarck.org -- Official "City of Bismarck" Website with information, call for volunteers, etc.

2.  Bismarck/Burleigh is urgently requesting sandbagging volunteers at the Bismarck Civic Center. Volunteers should be at least 14 years old, wear work clothes and gloves, and bring a shovel and a water bottle.  (From KFYRTV.com.)  Park in the south parking lot.  I think they said (on public radio) to enter in the Southeast entrance (entrance E-52), closest to Denny's.

3.  KXNet.com -- North Dakota School Cancellation Announcements and Community Announcements

4.  NDPR -- Fargo Teens Join The Flood Fight

5.  CNN -- River Threatens historic flooding in North Dakota

6.  Fargo Forum -- McFeely:  Students save day one bag at a time

7.  Google (AP) -- In race against river, Fargo pulls together

8.  Minneapolis Star Tribune -- Red River Valley:  Snow adds to the pain

9.  Google (AP) -- Ice jams make flooding worse around Bismarck

10.  WZZM13.com (Grand Rapids, MI) -- Local volunteers help flood victims in North Dakota

11.  DaveArntson.com (Photojournalist) -- Lots of great photos of the Fargo flood and sandbagging efforts

12.  KXNet.com -- Bismarck Officials ask for sandbagging help (with hotline phone number 701-355-1579)

13.  MyFox9.com (Twin Cities, MN) -- Red River at 34 feet, Volunteers head north

14.  The ice jam north of Bismarck just broke.  Hold on tight.  The development north of Bismarck near Papa's Pumpkin Patch has just been evacuated.  Kirkwood Mall is closed.  Flash flood WARNING for south Bismarck

[I should note that callers are calling in to KFYR 550AM and saying the north ice jam is still in place. No need to panic?] 
Now 10:36 am they are now confirming that the ice jam has not broken north of Bismarck.

15.  They're reporting that police are going door to door in the "German street names" neighborhood in southwest Bismarck, telling people to be prepared to leave their homes.  


16.  Low lying areas in Mandan are dealing with a mandatory evacuation.

The Morton County Office of Emergency Management and the City of Mandan have issued a mandatory evacuation notice for residents in the Missouri River area south of the MDU Heskett Plant and east of 40th Avenue SE. Areas at risk include the Riverbend, Captain’s Landing, Bridgeview Bay, Marina Bay, Borden Harbor, Lakewood and 40th Avenue residential areas.


(This evacuation is now voluntary -- CityOfMandan.com )



Eastbound Lanes of Memorial Highway Closing on West End

Eastbound lanes on the west end of Memorial Highway (the Strip) are being closed in order to enclose an earthen dike system for the Heart River.  This is near the intersection of Memorial Highway, Main Street and Mandan Avenue south of Burger King.

This action is being taken per an agreement between the North Dakota Department of Transportation, the City of Mandan and Lower Heart River Water Management officials.

Traffic should detour to Main Street in Mandan or Interstate 94. Memorial Bridge remains open.

City of Mandan

17.  Reports of the ice jam on the Missouri River north of Bismarck breaking have been grossly exaggerated (apparently).

18.  Google (AP) -- Ice jam break spills more water into Bismarck area

19.  Grand Forks Herald (AP) -- Flooding forces ND Legislature to recess

20.  National Post (Canada) -- North Dakota flooding declared a disaster

21.  FreeTV.org (Bismarck/Mandan Community Access TV) -- watch the live meeting with Bismarck's Mayor and law enforcement people by clicking on the "On Air" graphic.  [It's over now.]

22.  KTIV (AP) -- ND officials say lice jam intact, though leaking

23.  Williston Herald (AP) --  ND officials say ice jam intact, though leaking -- (Longer version)

24.  Willston Herald (AP) -- Heavy snow shuts down part of Eastern ND

25.  Williston Herald (AP) -- Coast Guard evacuating homes in Oxbow, near Fargo

26.  Google (AP) -- Blizzard dumps snow on flooded North Dakota

27.  KodakGallery.com -- Photos of Lake Tschida from Monday of this week (and the water has gone up since then).  Photo #38 depicts the trailer at Northshore Marina.  

28.  Scientific American -- Obama cites North Dakota floods in call for climate change action

29.  Minneapolis Star Tribune -- Flooding woes ebb and flow (renamed "Heavy snow hobbles flood fighters")

30.  Times of the Internet -- Fargo digs in against rising river

31.  Fargo Forum -- Bismarc officials ask for sandbagging help

32.  WGRZ.com (Buffalo, NY) -- Midwest Braces for Severe Flooding

33.  Williston Herald -- Grafton fights Park River

34.  KARE11.com (Minneapolis - St. Paul) -- Residential dike breech forces rescues near Fargo

35.  KQCD.com (Dickinson, ND) -- This is a link to all the NBC affiliate "Sky Spy Photos."  They are photos submitted by people all over the Western North Dakota area (i.e. Bismarck, Dickinson, Minot, etc.) recently.  This must be a very popular website.  It's a horribly slow download.  KFYR, etc., need to upgrade their server.

36.  Fargo Forum -- Flood Update:  Fargo makes final push to protect city; officials still asking for volunteers

37.  MSNBC (from yesterday) -- Fargo welcomes lower flood forecast upriver

38.  KFYR -- 1806 temporarily closing...

Highway 1806 Closing for Blast of Ice Jam & Other Flood Updates

The Morton County Sheriff’s Department and Mandan Police Department have been informed by the N.D. Department of Emergency Services that they need to close Highway 1806 from 19th Street south to County Road 138 immediately so that experts can blast the ice jam.  
Residents in the area of the blast are being notified of the blast via the reverse 911 system. 
The blast is expected to occur between 1 p.m. and 2 p.m.  
Residents south of 19th Street and north of County Road 138 should stay away from exterior windows and move to interior locations should shock waves occur from the blast. 
More than one blast may be required depending upon results of the first attempt. 

In other flood news, Ron Manchester of the Lower Heart River Management reports that Heart River’s water levels are receding.


39.  Williston Herald (AP) -- New weapon in ND flooding: Explosives

40.  Williston Herald (AP) -- Crews blowing up ice jam on Mo River

41.  YouTube --BiggerBlast -- This is the YouTube page for the company that's doing the explosives work on the Missouri River today

42.  National Guard -- National Guard battles winter storms in five states

43.  WDAY -- Obama meets with ND delegation on flooding

44.  Marketwire (press release) -- Water Damage Company, Damage Control, Inc., Prepared for Flood Restoration in Fargo, Moorhead, and Bismarck

45.  KFYR Radio -- If you live out of town or are at work and don't have a radio, but you want to listen to KFYR radio's broadcast over the internet, you can do that today.  They don't normally stream their audio, but they're doing it today because of the flooding.  So far today it has been a non-stop flood news and information show.

46.  Minneapolis Star Tribune -- Record flood bearing down on Fargo Moorhead

47.  Baltimore Sun (AP) -- White House says Obama is keeping close tabs on flooding in North Dakota

48.  Fargo Forum -- "It's time to get busy again:" Area flood-fight leaders plead for massive volunteer effort as crest level raised to 41 feet

49.  Facebook -- The "Fargo-Moorhead Flood Information" Facebook group has 4,750 members as of 3:07 p.m., today.  (120 photos)

50.  Fargo Forum -- Flood update:  Snowstorm, flooding hampers mail delivery in SD, ND and MN

51.  NY Times -- Fears of Major Floods in North Dakota

52.   KMEG (Sioux City, IA) -- Corps: Runoff gets Lake Oahe level back to average

53.  CBS -- You Tube Video

54.  Bloomberg -- North Dakota River May Reach Record Level, Hurt Crops

55.  MyFoxTwinCities -- Fargo Builds Dikes Higher, Red River to Crest Saturday at 41 Feet

56.  Google (AP) -- Demo experts work to blast Bismarck, ND, ice jam

57.  LJWorld.com (Lawrence, KS) -- Jayhawk' first-round foes back in North Dakota battling flooding river

58.  WQOW (Eau Claire, WI) -- Fargo to build dikes foot higher

59.  Bismarck Tribune -- Photos submitted by readers

60.  A bridge collapsed on Hwy 200 between Stanton and Pick City.

61.  Townhall -- ND Mayor 'optimistic' after blast to clear ice jam

62.  There probably won't be any more updates here for a few hours.  If you see any new news online, please post a link in the comments.  Please use this format:  Source name, title of story and then the link.  If you put the link first, it messes up the format for a while.  Thanks.

63.  President Obama met this morning with Senators Kent Conrad and Byron Dorgan and Congressman Earl Pomeroy to get up to speed on the flooding in North Dakota.

President Barack Obama meets Wednesday, March 25, 2009, at the U.S. Capitol with representatives from North Dakota and Minnesota, areas hard hit by flooding. With the President in front of a display of area news coverage are, from left, Rep. Collin Peterson, and behind him Sen. Amy Klobuchar, both of Minnesota, and Sen. Ken Conrad, Sen. Byron Dorgan and Rep. Earl Pomeroy, all of North Dakota.   The White House / Pete Souza
Click on these links for Part I (Tuesday), Part II (Wednesday), Part III (Thursday), Part IV (Friday), Part V (Saturday), Part VI (Sunday), Part VII (Monday) and Part VIII (Tuesday).


Statewide Flooding Open Thread
Written by Chet   
Click on these links for Part I (Tuesday), Part II (Wednesday), Part III (Thursday), Part IV (Friday), Part V (Saturday), Part VI (Sunday), Part VII (Monday) and Part VIII (Tuesday).

I'm not sure what we can do here to help people around the state, but if anybody has anything to report or needs help or shelter or wants to volunteer, please use the comments to speak your mind.

As I type this, there's a blizzard going on out there (in Bismarck).  There are two ice jams on the Missouri near Bis/Man; one north of town, one south.  They're flying in explosives experts to try to deal with the ice jams.  Parts of Bismarck -- Southport and [oops] Fox Island have been evacuated.  The folks at the City are recommending that anybody who lives south of the Bismarck Expressway and West of Washington Street might want to move valuables out of their basement, and put a row or two of sandbags around their houses.  Water is backing up into the south part of town because of the south ice jam.  The powers-that-be are worried the north ice jam might break and send a bunch more water down to get further backed up by the south jam.  It's nasty.

People are sandbagging like crazy in Fargo. The universities were closed (right?).  People were using Facebook, among other things, to invite people to "sandbagging events."  People are driving in to Fargo from all over to help with their sandbagging efforts.

They've started distributing sandbags in Bismarck and Mandan.  Mandan is experiencing some flooding in low-lying areas.  Here's a photo from Mandan:


Part of Linton is flooded.  Washburn is recommending that people boil their water.  Part of Mott is flooding.  Part of Beulah has some water trouble.  A bunch of rural courthouses were closed today, as were quite a few schools.  After school programs closed early today.  Lake Tschida is very near record water levels.  It's just crazy out there.  

Please, share your stories...  Send me your photos...

I've been adding to the list of news updates all evening.  I'm going to put a link to Flood Information right here -- KXMB -- because it has a lot of useful information, contact numbers, evacuation information, etc.

Flood-Related News -- Updates -- Information

1.  USA Today -- Evacuation ordered near Missouri River in Bismarck (photos and video )

2.  Fargo Forum -- 'We will beat this challenge,' flood battle continues as officials plead for help

3.  Bismarck Tribune -- Fox Island, Southport told to evacuate by 3 p.m.  (photos and video ) (more photos )

4.  Bismarck Tribune -- Missouri at critical level; evacuations urged

5.  Fargo Forum -- FLOOD UPDATE: Parts of interstates closed due to water over roads

6.  Dickinson Press -- Absolutely no travel in Dickinson

7.  Minot Daily News -- The Wait For The Water

8.  Valley City Times Record -- Officials update public on flood fight

9.  Williston Herald -- Cherry Creek cuts loose through Watford City

10.  Williston Herald -- Midwest flooding fears turn to Bismarck

11.  Williston Herald --  ND officials consider blowing up Mo River ice jam

12.  Kansas City Star -- Volunteers leaving today to help North Dakota flood victims

13.  DVIDS.com -- 800 Guardsmen on Duty to Fight Flood in Eastern North Dakota

14.  Grand Forks Herald -- Bismarck Prison Evacuated [editor:  misleading title; it's actually the MRCC "state farm" that was evacuated.]

15.  US News and World Report -- N.D. and Minn. Students Drive Hours to Aid in Flood Efforts

16.  The Catholic Spirit --  As floodwaters rise, Fargo bishop asks Catholics to pray, help one another

17.  PETA -- Group Warns Against Leaving Animals Behind to Fend for Themselves During Evacuation

18.  Fargo Forum -- Breckenridge, Wahpeton breathe sigh of relief

19.  KFYR TV --  ND Legislature May Recess Because of Flooding

20.  Williston Herald (AP) -- More than a foot of snow hits southwestern ND

21.  Williston Herald (AP) -- ND Legislature may recess because of flooding

22.  Air Mobility Command -- Warriors of the North dedicate time, energy to flood preparations

23.  KXMC -- Flooding Halts Amtrak Service

23.  KXMC --  Red River Continues Rise - Fargo Braces

24.  KXMC -- Mandatory Evacuations in Bismarck

25.  Associated Press (YouTube video)

26.  KXNet -- Flood Reaction

27.  KXNet -- Comparing the Disasters

28.  KARE 11 -- Flood Central 

28.  Minneapolis Star Tribune -- Editorial: Volunteer to Fight Red River Flooding

29.  WREX (Rockford, IL) -- Local Red Cross Worker Helping in Fargo

30.  MN Public Radio (with video) -- The Young People's Flood

31.  St. Cloud Times --  5 buses of Central Minnesota volunteers will head to Fargo

32.  MN Public Radio (with audio) -- Protecting neighborhoods from their first Red River flood

33.  PR Newswire --  Red Cross Moving Supplies and Volunteers as Fargo Races Against Floodwaters

34.  Google (AFP) --  North Dakota braces for record floods

35.  Gazette Online (Cedar Rapids, IA) -- More Volunteers Headed to Help With Flooding In North Dakota

36.  Army.mil --  Corps of Engineers helps states in predicted flood area

37.  DailyGlobe.com (Worthington, MN) -- West central Minnesota volunteers answer call to fight Red River flood

38.  KWCH.com -- Wichita Red Cross Volunteers Head to Fargo Flood

39.  Grand Forks Herald -- Minto Makes Over With Sandbags

40.  MN Daily --  Students head north to help with flood

41.  Minneapolis Star Tribune --  Geology set the Red River on a course for flooding

42.  Grand Forks Herald -- Grafton Sends Out Emergency Call For Sandbaggers

43.  Minneapolis Star Tribune -- 'You've been through it so many times and you can only do so much.'

44.  Grand Forks Herald -- Fargo officials call for another massive sandbagging effort

45.  KXMB -- Bismarck Burleigh Flood Information Update  (LOTS OF USEFUL INFORMATION HERE)

46.  Grand Forks Herald -- N.D. Receives Disaster Declaration

47.  KXNet -- Beulah Flooding

48.  Boston Herald (AP) -- Rising North Dakota Rivers Lead To Evacuations

Click on these links for Part I (Tuesday), Part II (Wednesday), Part III (Thursday), Part IV (Friday), Part V (Saturday), Part VI (Sunday), Part VII (Monday) and Part VIII (Tuesday).


Hate Your Neighbor
Written by Chet   

LTNI will not blog about how offended I am by the Westboro Baptist Church's protest of Natasha Richardson's funeral. They need to be ignored.

I will not blog about how offended I am by the Westboro Baptist Church's protest of Natasha Richardson's funeral. They need to be ignored.

I will not blog about how offended I am by the Westboro Baptist Church's protest of Natasha Richardson's funeral. They need to be ignored.

I will not blog about how offended I am by the Westboro Baptist Church's protest of Natasha Richardson's funeral. They need to be ignored.

I will not blog about how offended I am by the Westboro Baptist Church's protest of Natasha Richardson's funeral. They need to be ignored.

Interview With The ND Corruption Reporter
Written by Chet   

NDCorruptionYou may have seen my blog post on the ad in the Bismarck Tribune seeking reports of corruption in North Dakota.  (If not, click here.)  I expressed some concern about the ad.  I had questions so I connected with the person behind the ad. 

Here's our question and answer session: 


NorthDecoder:  Who are you, where are you from, what do you do? 
ND Corruption Reporter:  [The ND Corruption reporter indicated he's from Northeastern ND, identified himself to me, but asked that I not disclose here who he is.  He indicated he has some concern for his personal safety.  For the record, I had gotten a tip as to who he was before he told me, but I didn't tell him that.  He probably knows now.]

ND:  What inspired you to place the ad in the Bismarck Tribune?  (Are you, by chance, the victim of some government corruption?)
NDCR:  I had some dealings with corruption but a friend of mine is the reason I decided to get involved in this. 

ND:  Did you put the ad in any other newspapers or magazines?  Any radio or TV ads?
NDCR:  I put the ad in the Grand Forks Herald, Cavalier Chronicle, Bismarck Trib, and Walsh Cty Record. I haven't done TV ads yet, because I wanted to see how many stories I got from the newspaper ads. I have only gotten a few stories. I think its because people think saying something will come back to bite them in the ass. I don't want names of private individuals because I can't print them without getting sued. You can say just about anything about ELECTED OFFICIALS THOUGH. 

ND:  How many people have you heard from?  How many stories have you been able to verify?
NDCR:  I have only heard from about 3 people. I heard from one that I think is from the Gov's office or Atty Generals office who wanted to know who I was and I told them. I am sure the BCI and swat team will be at my door soon! 

ND:  Before you do your Corruption Report, will you do any independent verification of the stories people tell you?  If so, are you willing to give an example or two of what kind of verification you're doing (generally or specifically)?
NDCR:  Yes I will do some independent verification of the stories if I get enough to print. I can give an example of what kind of verification I am going to do when it happens. I have a regular job, so I have to do this at night. If someone does send a story, about the only way I can verify it is through court transcripts and affidavits I think. 
ND: When and where do you plan to release your report?  
NDCR:  I was going to print a small tabloid type paper and deliver them to stores and gas stations and various places all over North Dakota. Not sure when. 
ND:  Are you planning to focus on any particular kind(s) of corruption?  
NDCR:  I have heard mostly stories about family courts and the corruption of judges and social services so I was going to focus on that aspect mostly.  If it is one thing I hate, it is child abuse, and people that do the child abuse and the people in the courts, and social services that enable people to abuse children. NOTHING MAKES ME MORE ANGRY THAN PEOPLE ABUSING HELPLESS CHILDREN! 
ND:  I noticed your ad references "family courts" first.  Do you have a special interest in family courts?
NDCR:  I do have a special interest in family courts.  I have a friend who had his children taken away from him by a corrupt judge and he never did anything to hurt the kids, but the judge told him that he can NEVER see or talk to his kids ever again!  Gee, I didn't know that was legal. Oh yeah, it isn't but the judge let the order stand. 

ND:  I also noticed your ad doesn't include "state agencies," "city government offices" or "county government offices."  Did you exclude those intentionally because you're not interested in corruption in those kinds of offices, or is there some other reason you didn't ask for those types of corruption?  (I'm wondering if you're interested in pursuing reports of corruption in those types of offices.)
NDCR:  Yes I am interested in it, but didn't really think about it when I put the ad in the paper. 

ND:  What about corruption in private businesses?  Say, for example, a business that has a "cost plus" contract with the state and is cheating on what its costs are; are you interested in those kinds of stories of corruption?  
NDCR:  Iam interested in those kinds of corruption. I just didn't have any first hand experiences or stories of that type of corruption. 
ND:  Are people asking you to protect their anonymity?  Are you offering to protect reporters' anonymity?
NDCR:  Yes they are asking to protect anonymity and I will protect them. I will need to verify stories and I wouldn't print any names of anyone except Elected Officials. I can only use fake names or initials or fake initials. 
ND:  What kinds of assurances can (and do) you make to people who send their stories to you regarding anonymity?  I'm thinking of a whistleblower whose job might be at risk if they are identified after you release your report and it becomes clear you've gotten inside information from a state or county office, or a business.
NDCR:  I would have to make sure to show the person that sent the story to me gets to read it to make sure it is ok to print before it is printed. I would never want to jeopardize someones job, personal life, or safety for any reason. I think of the people that worked for WSI and went to the AG and said give me whistleblower status and he said he would and then they got fired. Another example of a criminal in power as far as I am concerned. 

ND:  Besides outrageous outcomes in family law cases, are you willing to share a "teaser" (before your report comes out) on some of the corruption that's been reported to you?
NDCR:  Yes I will. 

That's our Q&A exchange.  I should note that I've edited exactly two things in this:  (1) there was one typo [an extra letter "L" that I've taken out]; and (2) there was something that I assume was directed to me, personally, and I took that out. 

Though I'm interested in seeing what comes of this, I have to admit I'm really not all that interested in hearing people's complaints about the outcomes in their divorce cases.  I get enough of that in my job and in my personal life, so I'm not all that interested in those cases even if some of you are.  

I'm just not.

But stay tuned...

Volunteers needed!
Written by Adam   

I got this in an email and decided to make an announcement for those of us in the Fargo area that are able-bodied

The flood forecast changed drastically yesterday with the raising of the projected river crest and changing the date of the projected crest  from mid April to March 28th.  If you look at your calendar you will see that the 28th is only a little over a week away.

So, what can you do?  The City of Fargo will open Sandbag Central tomorrow at 8:00 AM and run through 8:00 PM and then reopen on Saturday morning and then basically run 24 hours a day until they have enough sandbags.  So, the city needs sandbags, lots of sandbags, over a million sandbags. 

Sandbags don’t fill themselves, so they need people, lots of people, not millions, but still lots.  What they would like is people to come over to Sandbag Central to work 4 hour shifts to fill sandbags.  It is hard, dirty, sweaty work – a lot like going to the gym, without the cost and fancy workout clothes.  As an added benefit, the Salvation Army will serve up coffee to keep you energized.

So, what can you do?  You can forward the request for help and information on to your associates and friends.  You can organize your friends to have a sandbag filling party sometime this weekend at Sandbag Central – it can be fun!  The contact information and parking information is listed below. 

How To Volunteer

Volunteer Hotline - 476-4000
Call between 8 a.m.- 8 p.m.

All volunteers are asked to park at the Fargodome and take shuttles to sandbag headquarters. To make sure shifts are equally covered, volunteers are also asked to call the volunteer hotline, 476-4000, before arriving on site. 

40 feet will break the '97 record, I moved up here immediately following the flood, but lived in SD, which was only less bad than it was here.  Well...let's get moving!

I plan on helping out sometime on Saturday.  Email me if you care to go with me then.  (Adam.Blomeme@DON'TSPAMMEgmail.com)


ND EMS Problem
Written by Chet   

EMSMaybe you saw this story in the papers yesterday and today...

ND: Group used federal disaster funds for booze, other questionable items, misspending $200K

BISMARCK, N.D. - Nearly a quarter of the federal disaster planning money spent by a North Dakota nonprofit was used for "unallowable or questionable" items, including alcohol, a state official said.

The North Dakota EMS Association, which represents about 1,800 ambulance and emergency workers, also spent money it shouldn't have on lobbying, cell phones, meals and some salaries and bonuses, an internal association audit and other records obtained by The Associated Press show.

Tim Wiedrich, chief of the North Dakota Health Department's emergency preparedness and response section, said Wednesday that the "unallowable or questionable" items made up nearly $200,000 of the roughly $810,000 the Bismarck-based group received between 2004 and last year to help produce a plan to fight bioterrorism and other mass disasters.

Minneapolis Star Tribune (AP)

As is noted in the story, this has the potential to turn into a federal criminal case. 

A notable quote was  in the middle of the story.  It went something like this: 

"I think we felt we spent money for the right reasons and that we were spending that money appropriately," Weber said. "We have nothing to hide. Every dime we spent was to promote EMS."

Bismarck Tribune (You know that game where you insert the words "in bed" at the end of your fortune cookie phrase?  Well, I like to insert the words "on beer" or "for beer" in spots throughout this story and this quotation.  For example, "Every dime we spent ON BEER was spent to promote EMS.")

Is it just me, or does that sound strangely familiar to anybody else?

I know a good lawyer who would have suggested to the good folks at the ND EMS Association that they should not talk to the press and they cannot talk to anybody else about these allegations.  They might not have done anything wrong, but... I'm just sayin'.

It'll be interesting to see if Steve Cates sees this story in the papers and takes up the banner for all people accused of misspending public money on booze, lobbying and meals (or limos and hookers, for that matter).  Maybe there will be another "guaranteed to have no lies, misrepresentations or inaccuracies" (ha!) 20 page, illegibly small font  "story" that nobody reads in the Dakota Beacon.

The EMS Association has the potential to do some really important and really good things in a state like North Dakota, where we have vast expanses of rural areas that need adequate emergency medical services.  I sure hope this story falls apart.

President Obama on Ed Schultz's Show Today
Written by Chet   

North Dakota's top local and national progressive radio talker Ed Schultz will have President Barack Obama on his afternoon "national" show TODAY.  We get his local/regional show in the morning, but I don't think you can get his national show on the radio out here in Western North Dakota unless you have XM radio service or stream it online (click here for places to get the stream).  You can get a tape-delayed version of it in Fargo on KFGO from 7 to 10 pm, Central Time.  According to his website the show is live from 12pm to 3pm Eastern (or 11am to 2 pm CST). 

I don't know what time the interview will be on and don't know if I'll have time to tune in.  If anyone knows what time the President will be on, please post the time in a comment.  I'd kind of like to tune in while he's on, if I'm not too busy.

Former WSI Director Blunt Appeals Felony Conviction
Written by Chet   

JusticeOn Tuesday of last week -- March 10th -- the Clerk of Court in Burleigh County received a Notice of Appeal from the judgment of conviction of former North Dakota Workforce Safety & Insurance (WSI) director, Charles "Sandy" Blunt.  (Click here for PDF of the docket sheet from NDCourts.com) 

Blunt has also asked for a "stay of execution."  Apparently Blunt doesn't want to have to start doing the community service work he was ordered to do.  Heaven forbid he serve the community.

You'll recall Blunt was charged with and convicted of "Misapplication of Entrusted Property" for abusing public money while he was the director of North Dakota's worker's comp agency.  Blunt and his apologists have blamed everyone in sight for his problems at WSI.  I may get this out of order, but it seems like first they blamed it on the Democrats, then they blamed it on disgruntled former WSI employees, then they blamed it on the State Auditor's Office (run by a Republican), then they blamed it on the highway patrol investigators (under North Dakota's Republican Governor's control), then they blamed it on a reporter at the Fargo Forum, then they blamed left-wing bloggers (e.g. yours truly), then they blamed it on overzealous prosecutors, then they blamed it on whistleblowers who -- before being retaliated against -- worked in top positions at WSi.  Now, it seems, they're blaming it on twelve jurors and the trial judge.   

Have I missed anybody? 

Oh yeah.  I forgot.  They blamed previous administrators at WSI.  

Anyone else? 

Oh yeah.  And the WSI legal department.  It was their fault, too.  Bad legal advice, apparently.

Now... Did I get everyone?

Do you suppose North Dakota's media has time to tell the public about Blunt's appeal?

Nah.  It's probably not news anymore.  It happened so long ago.  

Gosh, it was eight whole days ago.  

It's in the past. 

Let it go, already. 


(But seriously... is anybody surprised?)

A Tiff In North Dakota Law Enforcement
Written by Chet   

CageI sat through a short legislative committee hearing Tuesday morning that got kind of spicy.  It was the North Dakota Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on House Bill 1416.  The part people seemed to be fighting about is this:

12-60-08.1. Power of the attorney general to issue subpoenas in bureau investigations. The attorney general may issue an administrative subpoena compelling the recipient to provide records or information to an agent of the bureau of criminal investigation in any criminal matter being investigated by the bureau.

HB 1416 

The horribly unconstitutional (in my opinion) provision is being pushed through the legislature by Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem.  It's kind of flown under the radar so far this session.  It was passed in the House and is now in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee.  What was interesting is that the States Attorneys showed up and testified in opposition to the bill.  So we had local prosecutors arguing with the state's top prosecutor about the legitimacy of his claimed need for this bill.  Here's how it played out:

Assistant Attorney General Jon Byers got up first, and testified that there's only one way for prosecutors to get subpoenas issued for out-of-state internet Internet Protocol (IP) information and that is by contacting a cop in the state where the Internet Service Provider (ISP) is located, convince them to set aside all their other work and go talk to a local prosecutor, and get the prosecutor convinced to seek the issuance of a subpoena by a judge.  Byers and the BCI cop who testified in support of this bill acknowledged that this relates, almost exclusively, to internet-related crimes.  He made it sound like the process for getting these out-of-state subpoenas is horribly burdensome, but it's the only way this can get done.  He claimed states attorneys can get subpoenas through the "States Attorney Inquiry" process, but that the subpoenas ultimately are issued without court participation.  He was wrong.

After Byers and the other A.G. employee supporter of the bill got done testifying about how the A.G.'s office needs this subpoena power, then McLean County States Attorney Ladd Erickson got up and essentially said -- without saying it -- that Jon Byers has no idea what he's talking about.  He pointed out that there's a process that involves both a state and federal statute that he and other states attorneys use all the time to get this out-of-state internet information.  He described the process.  It included court participation and the issuance of a court order.  He said states attorneys all around the state use the same process all the time.  It sounded like it was quick and easy and not a big deal, but that it also protected citizens' privacy and due process rights by involving the court and requiring a minimal showing of proof (something the A.G.'s bill doesn't include).  Intentionally or otherwise, Byers was made to look like he was completely clueless about how subpoenas are issued by prosecutors "in the real world."  I watched Byers as Erickson described this process.  His face turned redder and redder as Erickson explained how the real world works.  I couldn't tell if he was angry or embarassed.  Perhaps both.

Bottom line?  The A.G.'s office was either wrong, or they were deliberately providing false information to the committee.  I'll give them the benefit of the doubt and say they probably just didn't know what they were talking about.  They usually don't.

Erickson was asked by the committee's chairman, David Nething, why he hadn't testified about this bill when it was in front of the House committee.  Erickson explained he had tried to work something out with the Attorney General.  It sounded as though the A.G. wasn't willing to work with him.  Erickson said he had some proposed amendments, but it sounded as though the A.G. wasn't interested in looking at them.  Erickson provided copies of the proposed amendments to the committee members.

What's interesting -- and controversial -- about this bill is that it purports to create a process for issuance of an "administrative subpoena" by the A.G.'s office -- without any checks or balances by the judicial branch -- in ALL criminal cases being investigated by the A.G.'s office and it's investigative arm, the Bureau of Criminal Investigations.  For people who aren't law trained, that might not seem like a big deal, but it is.  Generally speaking, subpoenas can only be issued in the name of a court.  An exception probably exists in investigations by administrative agencies.  An example might be that the Department of Human Services has authority to issue administrative subpoenas when it is investigating a licensed daycare provider.  Or the Securities Department might issue an administrative subpoena when it is investigating a stock broker.  Same with the North Dakota Insurance Commissioner's office.  Those sorts of administrative subpoenas in non-criminal cases are fairly normal.  If evidence of criminal conduct is discovered during the course of information obtained with an administrative investigation, the agency might involve a prosecutor.  Again, that's normal. 

But this bill would open the door wide open for the A.G. to issue subpoenas in every criminal investigation with no standards being imposed and no judicial oversight.  It would essentially invalidate and/or circumvent Rule 17 of the North Dakota Rules of Criminal Procedure, which requires that all subpoenas in criminal investigations have to be issued "in the court's name."  If you're a constitutional law buff, you might know that the legislature has tried invalidating/circumventing court procedural rules in the past, with little success.  State v. Hanson comes to mind.  That was a case where the legislature tried to override the Supreme Court's rules relating to the exchange of information between defendants and prosecutors in criminal cases.  The Supreme Court said that's a power limited to the government courts  and threw out an entire section of the North Dakota Century Code.

A nearly identical proposal was the subject of much debate in Washington, D.C., last month.  D.C. cops made all the same arguments being made by North Dakota's A.G.  The A.C.L.U. got involved in fighting the D.C. law, but we don't have any civil liberties in North Dakota, so they haven't engaged here.  This is an area of the law that's pretty hot around the country, yet our local media hasn't written anything about the fact there's a fight going on here.  They're too busy not writing about the way our legislators are trying to mis-use the stimulus money to not write about big fights between North Datota's law enforcement entities.

Those of us who work with this stuff sometimes wonder how the Attorney General -- a guy who has sworn to uphold the laws and constitution of the State of North Dakota and of the United States -- can be the person advocating for what appears, pretty clearly, to be an unconstitutional law.  It must be awkward for him and his staff, especially when they show up at the hearing so unprepared and end up making significant misrepresentations to the committee members.

It was interesting to see local states attorneys fighting for people's rights while our Republican Attorney General was fighting to circumvent the constitution.   One thing one of the county prosecutors said in his testimony was that he hates to ever be on the opposite side of the A.G.'s office on a bill.  You could cut the tension in the room with a knife.  This bill has obviously caused some stress in the relationship between the A.G.'s office and the local prosecutors.

It'll be interesting to see where this horrible bill ends up.  

Look for a story on this in tomorrow's Bismarck Tribune or Fargo For 'em, but don't hold your breath while you look.  This stuff is too hard for them.

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