This is Up and Down, where we give a brief thumbs up or thumbs down on the issues from the past week.
The 24-hour fundraising event Giving Hearts Day broke another record last week, raising nearly $22 million from 41,955 donors, according to preliminary figures. The campaign, which benefits nearly 500 charities in North Dakota and Minnesota, is hosted by Dakota Medical Foundation, Impact Foundation and the Alex Stern Family Foundation. Nonprofit organizations including the Great Plains Food Bank have reported seeing record need throughout the pandemic. It’s good to see so many generous people step up to help fill those needs. The event raised about $2.7 million more than last year, with 7,244 more donors than in 2020. Since the event began in 2008, it has raised more than $111 million.
North Dakota mineral owners are again at the state Capitol with concerns about deductions oil companies are taking from their royalty payments. It’s a complex issue and not the first time it’s been brought before lawmakers. In 2019, legislators approved a study of royalty deductions that would have included input from the oil and gas industry, mineral owners and state agencies. Mineral owners and the North Dakota Petroleum Council testified in support of the study. But Legislative Management did not select the study, so it never occurred. Now legislators are considering a bill promoted by mineral owners and opposed by industry. It’s unfortunate lawmakers didn’t do the study between sessions. The concerns are far too complex to solve in a two-hour committee hearing.
Bismarck Public Schools updated a policy that addresses symbols of intolerance after a student asked for the Confederate flag to be banned. Sixteen-year-old Marianna Miller, who is Black, told school board members the flag causes distractions and makes people of color feel unsafe, citing a recent confrontation. The policy says items that disrupt the educational environment or infringe upon the rights of other students to participate in a welcome environment will be prohibited. The school district did the right thing by updating its policy, and Miller should be commended for coming forward with her concerns. However, the wording of the policy seems vague, so it will take education to make sure people are aware of the policy and its implications.
Two Minot men were convicted last week of using deceptive tactics and intimidation in a construction fraud scheme that preyed on the elderly. Bartley Gorman Jr. and Sean Gorman Jr. were sentenced to 15 months in prison and have paid more than $700,000 in restitution to victims of the scams. As legislators consider restricting the public release of mug shots, it’s worth noting that two victims contacted McLean County authorities after seeing media reports, including a suspect’s mug shot, according to a court affidavit.