North Dakotans vote to let UND retire Fighting Sioux nickname

2012-06-12T20:32:00Z 2012-09-17T16:18:22Z North Dakotans vote to let UND retire Fighting Sioux nicknameBy NICK SMITH | Bismarck Tribune Bismarck Tribune

Voters made their voices clear Tuesday: it's time to retire University of North Dakota's Fighting Sioux nickname.

With 97 percent of precincts reporting, more than 67 percent of voters had voted yes on Measure 4, rejecting this latest effort by nickname supporters to preserve the moniker. The Associated Press called the Measure 4 race at approximately 10 p.m.

University of North Dakota Alumni Association and Foundation CEO Tim O’Keefe said Tuesday’s yes vote was bittersweet.

“This is an issue that doesn’t come with celebration,” O’Keefe said.

With its passage, Measure 4 repeals Senate Bill 2370, which was passed during the Legislature’s November 2011 special session. The bill repealed Section 15-10-46 of North Dakota Century Code, which the Legislature passed in spring 2011. Section 15-10-46 required UND to use the Fighting Sioux nickname and logo.

The yes vote allows UND to discontinue use of the nickname and logo. The Board of Higher Education and UND also will be barred from allowing the implementation of a new nickname or logo before Jan. 1, 2015. A no vote would’ve required the nickname’s use to continue.

The Spirit Lake Committee for Understanding and Respect was the group that worked to get Measure 4 on the ballot. Its members, along with the Fighting Sioux Ballot Measures committee, have worked to retain the nickname.

Sean Johnson with the Spirit Lake Committee for Understanding and Respect said efforts to maintain the name aren’t over. He said the group has gathered more than enough signatures to get a proposed constitutional measure to preserve the Fighting Sioux name on the November ballot.

“At this point we’re still looking to push forward with the initiated measure,” Johnson said.

UND Foundation members argued that UND would pay too high a price long-term if forced to remain the Fighting Sioux. Officials said the inability to host playoff series could cost the city of Grand Forks millions of dollars in hospitality and retail sales dollars. Athletic coaches said NCAA sanctions could hurt recruiting efforts and erode the overall quality of their programs.

Nickname supporters have said the moniker has been a source of pride for decades. They’ve argued that the impacts of NCAA sanctions and economic impact to the city of Grand Forks by those in favor of retiring the nickname are exaggerated.

O’Keefe said he would be disappointed if nickname supporters bring the issue back to the ballot in November.

“It would seem as though the voters of North Dakota have spoken loud and clear,” O’Keefe said.

Reach Nick Smith at 250-8255 or 223-8482 or at

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(46) Comments

  1. Artist1
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    Artist1 - July 02, 2012 7:36 pm
    Finally we can be over this and now get on to the next pressing more important issue....should the toilet paper be displayed over or under?! Over! Sad waste of money and people's intelligence.
  2. Lonewolvie
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    Lonewolvie - June 19, 2012 11:17 pm
    We needed to retire all of the Indian head logos in ND such as the logos on highway patrol cars and the state highway signs.
  3. Report Abuse
    - June 19, 2012 2:43 pm

    I do live here, and my vote counted just like yours. I voted yes and will keep sending my dollars to the college I attended/graduated from. Happens to be on the west coast, though. If/when the constitutional measure comes up, I will vote no since I have no stake in the outcome and it is fun to watch those of you who take the issue way to seriously whine. No one bowed to the NCAA, but then it might have been difficult for the hockey team to play The Sisters of Perpetual Mercy with any enthusiasm. Might be a little drop off in recruiting and coaching too but that would be OK with you just to prove a point. Not sure what the point would be, though.
  4. Report Abuse
    - June 19, 2012 2:25 pm
    Hey, Roger

    What an irony ! I did not grow up here and went to school in the PAC 10, yet I got to vote just like you. I voted yes hoping the whole sad episode will go away. BTW, none of the PAC 10 schools have offensive nicknames and many have won D1 championships. Dollars are really pretty good for good D1 schools, particularly ones who go to major BCS games. Speak for yourself about pushovers, the school I attended has no issues with the NCAA and a lot of championship banners. Think I will start planning for the next major bowl game-can't get started too early. By the way, it was fun voting yes since I had no feelings about UND-just wanted the controversy to go away.
  5. HanpaSunka
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    HanpaSunka - June 19, 2012 12:39 pm
    And high time it is, too, to finally be rid of this demeaning mascoting of living people. Now to get 1 of those t-shirts that says "UND - Fighting Whioux?" I saw on BisManOnline while we find a new - SUITABLE - mascot. I propose "Prairie Thunder". And while we're at it, why not put the beautiful artwork of the old logo on ND LICENSE PLATES, THE STATE'S WEB SITE, & 'PRIDE OF DAKOTA' LABELS? That would be a good use for the artwork while acknowledging that this state & 'South' Dakota are named for Native people. Not that the ridiculous claim that "the memory of Ndns in N.D. would just faaade away", but it would be a good use of the artwork.
  6. Lonewolvie
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    Lonewolvie - June 18, 2012 12:59 am
    Universities need to get back to their real purpose such as education, there is too much emphasis on sports entertainment. This was brought on by having to go division one to better the entertainment business of the university.
  7. Iceberg Louie
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    Iceberg Louie - June 16, 2012 9:44 pm
    I am an alumni of UND, and I voted for retiring the name. Why, some might ask? Because I'm Native American? No. Because I am offended by it's political incorrectness and racial insensitivity? Not particularly. Because I gave a hoot whether it would affect UND's relationship with NCAA? I could care less, I am not a hockey fan.

    I voted for retiring the Fighting Sioux name because I wanted to see an end to this idiotic "debate". A "debate" which, when I was a student at UND years ago, filled the campus with protests and took center stage in student and local press, elbowing aside issues of more tangible importance (like our country being shanghaied into a fraudulent war by an unelected president, for example). I also voted for it because the real racism behind the issue goes back to the estate of Ralph Engelstad. Engelstad's history as a one-time bench-warmer for the hockey team and his fetish for Nazi memorabilia are well storied at this point. That he dangled the carrot of his new $104 million arena as leverage to stave back those who fought to retire the name showed not only his own narcissism but the cowardice and money-hunger of the school's administration then and since.

    Here's an interesting read that pretty much lays out Engelstad's hyperinflated egotism regarding this matter:

    Did I think the name "Fighting Sioux" was offensive? I didn't, but then, I am not a Native American, so I really have no authority to make such a ruling. If the people whose ancestry the name was derived from deem it offensive, it is our responsibility as a so-called civilized nation to respect these feelings.
  8. Dudley
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    Dudley - June 16, 2012 8:35 pm
  9. TheNon-Enrollee
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    TheNon-Enrollee - June 14, 2012 6:55 pm
    The student body at the University of North Dakota has been working hard to change the racist depiction of native peoples since the 1970s. This issue is so convoluted now it is hard to see what really matters. That is, no living people should ever be used as an icon to represent a sports team, even if a number of those people think it is okay. This is especially true for Native Americans considering the racist and ethnocentric policies of the United States government and the state of North Dakota. Since when do European Americans ever really want to be associated with Native Americans, except in a stereotypical manner only. Educate yourselves folks.

    As far as the tribal membership is concerned at Standing Rock, there is no referendum vote at Standing Rock. It cannot be taken to the people because the tribal code does not allow for the vote to be taken to the general populace. The tribal governmental body, the tribal council, has voted at least three times to NOT support the keeping of this racist logo. Respect tribal sovereignty and let it go.

    If you want to honor and respect Native Americans, even if you are Native American yourself, then go educate yourself on race relations and the subjugation of an entire group of people to the whims of a society that has always degraded the people. Don't talk to me about respect and honor. There is no honor in representing a people in a logo or any iconic fashion. Be real. Get real. Realize that we are human beings living in this world today. All, Indian and non-Indian alike, in respect to this manner need to come to the 21st Century. Those of us who remember the history of sport rivalry between the so-called Fighting Sioux and the so-called Bison remember all too well the t-shirts that were made by NDSU students depicting the iconic figure of an Indian male giving a blow --- to a bison that was put on t-shirts by NDSU students in the 1980s.

    Show respect by letting this issue fade into history. No more tax payer dollars should be spent on this issue. What a disgrace to Indian people and especially to the state of North Dakota.
  10. Dudley
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    Dudley - June 14, 2012 6:11 pm
  11. Dudley
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    Dudley - June 14, 2012 6:06 pm
    Would you be cool with "Fighting Scheisse" then? (German word for $h!t)
  12. Martydawg
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    Martydawg - June 14, 2012 5:04 pm
    Now come on you wanted all along, a vote from the people, and you are still sour with it. Maybe you won't go assuming what the "majority" of the people want. LOL! one forced UND to join the NCAA. What part of that don't you understand?
  13. Report Abuse
    - June 14, 2012 2:24 pm
    I would have liked to have a vote from Sioux County and the entire State as to whether voters wanted to keep the Fighting Sioux name WITHOUT the NCAA's sanctions. Voting FOR the name change was also a vote FOR the NCAA. A vote AGAINST the name change would have pummeled UND with NCAA sanctions. So UND was damned either way - - oh well, so much for the Politically Correct jerks, you won this one, but it took you 7 years to do it. It was definitely worth the fight - ND did everything they could to keep the FIGHTING SIOUX name. Long live the FIGHTING SIOUX!! The NCAA will NEVER negate the true FIGHTING SIOUX.
  14. Camdens
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    Camdens - June 14, 2012 12:28 pm
    Honor: Yes! I helped and what are you going to do about it? Nothing just thought you needed to know you seem so nosey because you didn't get your way!
    Report Abuse
    NAPOLEON - June 13, 2012 8:36 pm
    The Hooples have spoken, loud and clear:

  16. gjs58501
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    gjs58501 - June 13, 2012 8:15 pm
    I agree with Camden's. Therefore I support a movement to stop all subsidies to SRST until they end the use of the Sioux name. Money ends until their name is officially changed, new letterhead is purchased, new signage on buildings/road, and execute a new constitution stating such.

    Until then they are under sanction for use of a hostile and abusive name, deemed so by there own leaders. Quite an impact it would be, wouldn't it?? Hmmmmmmmm
  17. Honor
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    Honor - June 13, 2012 5:01 pm
    Camdens, I sure hope you are the Native American that starts the petition drive to remove the terrribly horrible "Sioux" name from our entire society. If it weren'f for the NCAA this probably would have never crossed your mind!!
  18. Camdens
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    Camdens - June 13, 2012 4:48 pm
    As a Native American, I hope I never have to see any person wearing this name again. you voted you didn't want the name we vote we don't want to have to ever see it on any persons body again! Coming from a state that has so much disrespect for Native Americans. Makes me sick!
  19. Goliath
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    Goliath - June 13, 2012 4:27 pm
    Yes they should retire this positive nickname that shouldn't offend anyone. After all the Sioux quite fighting a long time ago.
  20. Honor
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    Honor - June 13, 2012 4:19 pm
    Where does the power of the NCAA end? What is there to prevent them from enacting rules such as member teams must have a certain level of minority participants, gay/lesbian participants, in-state participants, etc.
  21. da boss
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    da boss - June 13, 2012 2:39 pm
    I beleive in keeping my word,and my committment to others. Just like The Sioux name and the right to use it forever, by the state of N. Dak., in a sacred ceremony, years ago. Many sacred ceremonies and promises, to the Indians have been broken, by the "White Man". I too am ashamed of N.D. people who backed a yes vote, that broke yet one more promise to them. LONG LIVE THE "FIGHTING SIOUX"
  22. mdngal
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    mdngal - June 13, 2012 11:42 am
    I still stand by my opinion of the people being strong armed into voting like this because of all the school had to lose.. Someone else not even closely associated with this state made these decisions and threats. I suppose the people of ND looked more into the future of UND than the past, and decided to just give it up. We all heard about the team not being able to be a part of this and not being able to host that.... sanctions passed by someone who had no business in this issue. But whatever...I voted to keep it, BTW. This has been such an issue for so long, the real reason for it has gotten lost in the shuffle. Can anyone tell me EXACTLY where this started, or how it started? I mean the very first rumble. I can't even recall anymore.
  23. Honor
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    Honor - June 13, 2012 11:34 am
    If Sioux is so derogatory, why do the tribes continue to use it as one of their school nicknames? And why aren't they up in arms over "Sioux Falls, Sioux City, etc."? They should be demanding that all of these cities change their name. It just makes no sense at all. And for those of you that say that UND had a choice to join the NCAA, you are not being realistic. It would be great if the NCAA did have some real competetion, but don't tell me that the NAIA is competition for the NCAA. The bottom line is we were all bullied into this decision, and it only shows that North Dakotan's have NO BACKBONE when standing up to the NCAA!!
  24. Becker
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    Becker - June 13, 2012 11:23 am
    Actually, I don't see a problem with Kraut...don't understand the Jerry reference. To me, when I hear Kraut, I think of that tangy topping on hotdogs, or that wonderful addition to Knoephla. I don't think so negative all the time. There are words that will always have a negative undertone, and I'll never mention them on here or say some of them outloud, but overall I've never seen Sioux as meaning "snake people". I know plenty of people who belong to the Sioux tribe and have never heard a complaint from them about the name. I think it's all about hwo much you let it bother you. And yes, I'm German, and would be happy to be called a Kraut, because afterall, MOST people think of Sauerkraut first and foremost.
  25. Louisiana Offshore
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    Louisiana Offshore - June 13, 2012 10:15 am
    I do not live in North Dakota, but this vote does show the "true colors" of the majority of voters. They bowed down to the NCAA and the Alumni Association of UND. Sad. All I can say is I will NEVER send another dollar to the UND, that is how I will vote on this issue.
  26. Martydawg
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    Martydawg - June 13, 2012 10:04 am
    The real overwhelming majority has spoken on this issue.
  27. Martydawg
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    Martydawg - June 13, 2012 10:02 am
    I think what amazes me the most, is the stupidity of those that think UND was FORCED to join the NCAA.....they volunteered to join and abide by their terms...not the other way around. Keep the nickname and go back a level..does not take a rocket scientest to figure that one out.
  28. Point to Ponder
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    Point to Ponder - June 13, 2012 9:55 am
    In three years, UND will pick a new nickname and logo.
    In five years, UND althetics will replace season ticket holders who are boycotting over the change.
    Within ten years, the students and supporters will rally behind their favorite UND sports team and support them as surely some of them will make playoff rounds. Nobody attending those games will care what the former mascot and name was.

    Time heals all wounds.

    The Indiana University of Pennsylvania Crimson Hawks, commonly known as the IUP Crimson Hawks and formerly called the IUP Indians are the varsity athletic teams that represent Indiana University of Pennsylvania. IUP originally dubbed its sports teams the "Indians", in reference to the town and school's name, and used a costumed student as a mascot. Following movements to eliminate Native American-related mascots, the university eliminated the Indian mascot in 1991, replacing it with an American black bear named Cherokee - deriving from the name of the university's fight song, though retained the Indian nickname.

    In the early 2000s, the university actively moved to change the nickname as well. In May 2006, the NCAA ruled that IUP would be prohibited from hosting postseason championship games and using the Indian nickname in postseason events, a year after the university was placed on a list of 18 schools whose mascots were non-compliant with NCAA policies.

    In December 2006, the Council of Trustees adopted the "Crimson Hawk" The mascot was introduced during the 2007 season-opening football game against Cheyney.

    I was at an IUP Football game last fall. NOBODY cared that the name and mascot was changed. Their team sucked, but that's another story.
  29. Becker
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    Becker - June 13, 2012 9:39 am
    Thanks for the laugh! :)
  30. iloveidiots
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    iloveidiots - June 13, 2012 9:11 am
    I have friends from high school and college who live all over the United States. From what they tell me the nation doesn't think we have grown soft because we gave in to the NCAA, they think we are dumb for fighting over something as frivolous as a mascot while there are many in this country who are dealing with real problems.

    I didn't find it offensive, but then again I am an Irish/Norwegian/German so I don't really have a say in the matter. I just had a problem wasting a lot of time and resources when we have bigger fish to fry. North Dakota is far from being perfect.
  31. LFG
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    LFG - June 13, 2012 9:02 am
    This was more about UND's horrific handling of the issue than anything else. They deserved to get punished because they couldn't handle their business.

    Regardless, I was hoping UND was going to get forced to join the NAIA. Maybe UND and Jamestown can form a 2 team conference!
  32. JBenson
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    JBenson - June 13, 2012 8:40 am
    People, grow up! It's a stupid nickname - not worth what UND could lose, in the long run. Many people who have been whining about this aren't even UND graduates. I am, and I'm far more concerned about the university, as a whole, than this nickname. A majority of people recognized what UND could be losing, which was far greater than the consequences of retiring the nickname, and voted accordingly. People were not "strong armed" into anything - they were sick and tired of seeing a group of childish people potentially ruining a great university. The same thing happened with the smoking ban - because it didn't go the way that certain people wanted, they claimed that voters didn't understand the measure. People do understand - they understand what is important, and what the consequences might be of an action. If anyone was using tactics, it was the nickname supporters - basically, the same tactics as those opposing the smoking ban, which fell into the category of "Don't let people tell you what to do," or "Your rights are being taken away."
  33. Phyloc
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    Phyloc - June 13, 2012 8:15 am
    Arkanpyra---Irish, Seminole, Illini are not abusive terms given to a race of people by French trappers. Irish are Irish, as are Seminole and Illini. Sioux (snake people) was an abusive term given to the many distinct tribes. Instead of being referred to as a German, do you think it would be OK to replace that with Kraut? Or Jerry? Can you understand why a person of German descent would feel that to be abusive? Until you walk in someone's shoes, stop telling them how to feel.

  34. Rodgerdodger
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    Rodgerdodger - June 13, 2012 8:05 am
    Ralphs family should shut it down..... burn it to the ground..... he would be rolling over in his grave today.....
  35. Rodgerdodger
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    Rodgerdodger - June 13, 2012 8:04 am
    Dickinson Midgets, Bismarck Demons, Mandan "BRAVES" they all need to be changed...

    I cant believe that the people of ND actually let this happen... You let us be bullied by the NCAA and a few others...... way to show your true colors ND.. act like a bunch of Cowards in search of the All mighty dollar..... Having a backbone is more important than any NCAA tournament... We had a chance to show the nation that we have not grown soft up here.... Thanks a ton for making us look like pushovers.... but then again.... I guess we are a bunch of pushovers up here..... Line forms to the left.
  36. Report Abuse
    - June 13, 2012 7:54 am
    What part of voluntary association don't you understand ? If you belong to the Kiwanis, you accept their rules or don't belong. Same with the NCAA. UND chose to affiliate with the NCAA and were free to leave if the rules were not to their liking. Probably would have trouble with extra curricular activities, but could have chosen to keep the nickname. However, the people have spoken and it is now long past time to move on.
  37. gjs58501
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    gjs58501 - June 13, 2012 7:44 am
    The Alumni Assoc. spent $300,000 on advertising. Now, they expect to lose $7mil in donations and $8mil in revenue from licensed clothing/products. Maybe the taxpayer will help fund an increase this winter when Pres. Kelley comes to Bismarck in acts of desperation?? Might as well, they have your property to take away if you don't pay it out! lol

    Do you really expect the Sioux Shop inside Engelstad Arena to sell jerseys with a flame inside of the UND letters? ha ha ha
  38. tictac
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    tictac - June 13, 2012 7:44 am
    Martydog - This was not a vote to get rid of the Fighting Sioux nickname. It was a vote to preserve the athletic programs at UND. It was pounded into us that retaining the nickname would doom UND sports. Please don't tell me that this vote showed that the people of North Dakota think that the Fighting Sioux nickname was discriminatory or demeaning.
  39. Martydawg
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    Martydawg - June 13, 2012 7:20 am
    Next order of business, vote out Al Carlson! He has wasted enough of the taxpayers money!
  40. Martydawg
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    Martydawg - June 13, 2012 5:46 am
    I am quite certain that a number of bloggers on this site continously said that, should this go to the voters, the fighting sioux nickname will stay. How do you like your crow prepared Michael R? LOL!
  41. Purplestater
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    Purplestater - June 13, 2012 4:50 am
    Poppycock and balderdash.
  42. arkanpyra
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    arkanpyra - June 12, 2012 11:33 pm
    We could change it to the Fighting Germans. The NCAA has no consideration of any other ethnicity being discriminated against. Haven't heard one word about the Fighting Irish being offensive to the NCAA. Heck we can even try the Fighting Mad, which is what I am after a private organization asserted its might against the citizens of North Dakota. NCAA= More powerful than any government. If they tell us what to eat and when to sleep they apparently have the power to make us do as they wish. All bow to our true leader the NCAA.
  43. WeThePeople
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    WeThePeople - June 12, 2012 11:15 pm
    This is great news.

    Now we need to come up with a new name that meets NCAA approval and move on with more pressing problems.
  44. sehr windig
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    sehr windig - June 12, 2012 11:03 pm
    You must be proud, Mr. Carlson. Cass county rejected this nicely (as did the rest of the state)
  45. mdngal
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    mdngal - June 12, 2012 10:46 pm
    Citizens were rather strong armed into voting to get rid of the name just to stop the fight. They were sick of the fight but not sick of the name. Sad.
  46. Kimberly
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    Kimberly - June 12, 2012 10:18 pm
    Third paragraph, I believe the first sentence should say "Measure 4 upholds SB2370" (not repeals).
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