Saturday, April 16, 2016

Paul Murphy Accuses Commissioners of Political Paybacks. As Usual, He Offers No Facts To Support His Accusation.


Former Foster County State's Attorney Paul Murphy

Take a look at Paul Murphy's recent press release which states that he wants to be Foster County State's Attorney AGAIN.  As you remember, he was our Foster County State's Attorney who abruptly quit when the commissioners questioned his ability to do his job.  Not only had the county lost $15,000 directly because of his unlawful advice, but the commission was tired of Mr. Murphy not getting back to them with answers to their legal questions.  He often did not attend the commission meetings, and when he did, he seemed unsure of the law, said he would get back to them with information, and seldom followed through with providing the legal support that they needed to run the county efficiently.   

In Murphy's press release, he accuses the commissioners of doing a "bad job of governing."  Ironically, it is Murphy's own poor performance as a State's Attorney that was a catalyst for any bad government that took place.  In one instance, he even encouraged the commission to break the law, saying that any repercussions would be taken care of by the County's insurance.

When Mr. Murphy did attend commission meetings, he would normally sit silently involved with his cellphone, or when asked a question, he would ramble on rather ambiguously without giving any concrete answers with legal authority.  A good example of Murphy's ambiguity is in his press release when he accuses certain commissioners of "reckless spending, political paybacks and possibly nepotism."  Where are the FACTS to support his serious allegations? Is he referring to Josh Dreher, Roger Gussiaas, Pat Copenhaver - or all of them? He just throws these accusations out there, without any details or facts, obviously trying to paint a "bad" picture of the commissioners.  Who wants a State's Attorney like this who INSINUATES bad actions without offering proof? 

If necessary, we'd be happy to retrieve Murphy's outgoing statements and press releases from January when he quit.  In those, he claimed that he has a very successful private practice to attend to without all the headaches of being State's Attorney. Could it be possible that his private practice was just as unsuccessful as the one he did for the County, and he is missing the regular salary-with-benefits which we taxpayers provided?  

It is interesting that Murphy served 12 plus years as a prosecutor for Foster County, and in those years it has been reported that he won only one single criminal jury trial.  That's quite a record for 12 years.  

A better question is... how many times did Paul walk away in defeat? 90%? 95%?  One needs to look at his record and compare that to prosecuting attorneys across the country.  He does have a similar win/loss ratio of all the other prosecutors.  It's just IN REVERSE.  It's too bad that he abruptly resigned after winning his first criminal jury trial, because if someone inquired as to his record as a prosecutor, he could have said his criminal jury trial record was perfect.

Sad to say, Paul Murphy will be elected because he is running unopposed.  If only one person votes for him, he will win.  Fortunately there is a way to prevent our EX-State's Attorney from obtaining office again.  That is to vote in favor of having the State's Attorney's position in Foster County be APPOINTED instead of elected. A vote in favor of this measure (which is on the June primary ballot) is a vote against Paul Murphy.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Foster County's BELIEVE IT OR NOT!

Ex-Foster-County-State's-Attorney Paul Murphy wants his old job back and has applied to run for that office in the coming election.

How can anybody forget our old State's Attorney Paul Murphy and how he left office?

As you remember, Murphy was the one who abruptly quit because the commissioners were wondering why he wasn't responsible for the $15,000 loss on the county shop project. His counsel to the commissioners in regard to the shop project was that it was okay to break the law because they had insurance to cover it. Unfortunately, the insurance failed to cover the loss, and Foster County was out $15,000.

When confronted by Commissioners Dreher and Gussiaas about the shop fiasco as well as his other incompetent actions or lack of action, Murphy stormed out of the meeting and tendered his resignation - effective immediately. In other words, he was so unconcerned with the welfare of the citizens of Foster County that he left us with no state's attorney.

Murphy also decided to push all the County's legal files and property out on the city sidewalk, completely unprotected to the elements and whatever incident that might harm them. Several citizens were appalled to see all the filing cabinets and loose files sitting out on the street with no one around to protect them.

At that time, Murphy also had no problem contacting every single news agency... talking about how Foster County was so hostile to him personally, and that he couldn't work under those circumstances.

It will be interesting to find out why Murphy has had a change of heart and why he thinks the commissioners will put up with his incompetence again in the future.

Thursday, March 31, 2016

Way to go, Bowdon!!!

"When The Local Grocery Story Failed, These Folks Stepped In To Lend It A Lifeline" -- This is an excellent article/radio-broadcast about the Bowdon grocery store and the resilience of its community members to keep it going. 

This small North Dakota town has a lot going for it... mainly its caring people! For years I've admired their spirit... particularly when it comes to organizing their summer Farmers Markets and their annual DuckFest event. Friends and I look forward to their Farmers Markets on Wednesdays during the summer where we find fresh produce, delicious baked goods, a yummy meal for the day, as well as local entertainment. 

Then during October's annual DuckFest, people come from all over the state to enjoy all the down-home, fun activities that take place. With all the planning and organization that go into these two events, one can see how the community could succeed at operating their own grocery store! Kudos to all the people who are involved in supporting the grocery store and making sure that it stays successful!   Way to go, Bowdon!!!

(Thanks to Reporter Meg Lindholm from National Public Radio for this report... and to Jane Zink for calling it to our attention.) 

Monday, February 15, 2016


The question before the voters of the Carrington School District will economically impact every single property owner. That question is, will the property tax payers of the district pay $23.5 million plus interest and other costs for a new elementary school?  

Numerous supporters have given their opinion over and over that each property taxpayer can afford to take out another mortgage on their property (disguised as a bond) for the next twenty years. Their favorite slogan is “pay it forward.” 

Some supporters claim that the opponents are uneducated because they fail to see how inadequate our current school is and how much better the new school will serve the children.  As well, those taxpayers who don’t want to contribute their “fair share” are cheap, mean-spirited and don’t care for the welfare of our children.

If your home is most likely valued at $100,000, supporters argue that  it will only cost a little over $300 per year extra for the next twenty years.  They say no homeowner should object to an extra $300 per year in property taxes.  Apparently their opinion, like a local politician mentioned,  is you shouldn’t mind giving up one weekend a year in Fargo for the school.

What about the farmers?  Based on their figures, the average farmer in the district will be facing about $9,000 extra each year for the next twenty years.  One school board member said if that little of a property tax increase made a difference to a farmer, he should throw the keys to his tractor as far as he could and run away.  Another school board member claimed if that little bit of money made a difference, they had no business farming.  What statements of empathy!

The proponents have been less than honest selling this measure. As an example, their own enrollment figures show a steady declining enrollment.  Their sales brochure shows the same decline but they refer to it as “steady enrollment.”  They stated the $23.5 million is all inclusive.  Not true.  That is only the starting point.   There is no funding to demolish and remove the current school or the cost of the bond offering.   Will we be looking at an another bond measure to demolish the present school?  They claim there is no plan “B.”   Not true.  There is and was a plan for about $6 million to bring the present school up to date, remove the asbestos, enlarge and upgrade various parts of the current school.

The financial well being of our community rests on the financial health of our farming community. The real farmer (not the hobby politician type) will be kicked directly in the month if this passes. This impact will ripple through every part of the business community in this school  district.

Show your support for our farmers, homeowners, landlords, business owners and our community and vote NO.

Thursday, February 11, 2016


I wish we could start over with some of our back-and-forth conversations regarding the school bond measure and come at the issue with the understanding that we all ultimately want what's best for our schools, our children and our community.  Somewhere along the line, people have said things that show they truly don't understand that we all have the same goals in mind - that is the well-being of our children, which includes a good education and good learning environment for them - AND the well-being of our community.  The problem is that we don't agree on the way and/or the time to accomplish those goals. 

If one is a thoughtful person, each side of this issue should be understandable to the other side.

Those persons who hope the present school bond measure will pass with a "yes" vote think that there is no better way to spend money than on our kids.  They think that our children deserve a better structural environment in which to be educated.  They want easier access to classrooms for special needs children and for visiting adults with movement disabilities.  They want more room for children to spread out for group learning.  They want a large gymnasium for physical education and the sports which our community values greatly.  They want an auditorium where all kinds of special activities can take place for both school and community events.  Many of these "yes" people have put a great amount of time and effort into helping plan the new school.  Many of them are educators and community members with excellent ideas about how to create a successful learning environment.  In addition, they've called in experts in architectural and school management fields to help them with their goals.  Their efforts should be appreciated whether or not one agrees with their outcome.

Those persons who hope the school bond measure will be defeated at this time want many of the same things that the bond-supporters want.  They also love and value the children of our community and want them to have an excellent education.  The disagreement over the bond issue revolves around the high cost of the proposed school structure and the high property taxes that will have to be paid for the next 20 years.  Many of these "no" people worry about the community members (the elderly, the disabled, people with low or fixed incomes) whose lives will be drastically impacted with such a high tax burden added to what they are already paying.  They also worry about the huge impact on farmers who are already suffering from our current recession and low commodity prices.  They don't think that such a huge, forced investment "at this time" is such a good idea.  Many of these community members (successful business persons, farmers, persons with low incomes, our older population)  wonder why the school district didn't present them with several different choices/proposals before forcing a vote for a school bond on them in such a very short period of time .  They are concerned that a "yes" vote at this time will ultimately be detrimental to everyone because of the negative effect on the livelihood of many of our community taxpayers.  The concerns of this group should be acknowledged and appreciated whether or not one agrees with them.

My question is... can we possibly  work together to come up with a less burdensome plan that will address the problem issues at Carrington Elementary School - without having to build a new school?  I've heard that during their meetings the school district came up with a $5-6 million upgrade which they discarded.  Perhaps the Carrington School District community would gladly approve of this amount instead of the $23.5 to $35 million dollar tax responsibility that will be forced on them with a "yes" vote on the present measure.  Is it too late to do something like this?  Can we defeat this measure, and then proceed to accomplish a much less expensive fix?

The Carrington School District community is filled with people who are talented and knowledgeable in all the areas necessary to accomplish any goal on which they focus.  The key to success is to WORK TOGETHER and FOCUS on creating an outcome that is BENEFICIAL TO EVERYONE.

Monday, February 1, 2016

Why Isn't the State Funding Carrington School District To Build a New School?

I found this article by the Williston Post to be very interesting - especially the views of Charles Cartier and Attorney Robert Hale regarding the constitutional responsibility of North Dakota to provide good schools to our communities.  

Monday, January 25, 2016

Carrington School District's New School Initiative

Russ Heidt: Concerned about Heavy Tax Burden

Carrington School District is in the process of presenting informational meetings to the public regarding a New School Bond Initiative which, according to them, will add $23.5 million dollars  (plus interest and other costs) to our local property taxes.  On Tuesday, February 16, 2016, school district residents will vote yes or no toward building a new elementary school complex, including a new gymnasium and separate auditorium.

The long-range planning meeting which I attended on January 13, 2016, consisted of Superintendent Brian Duchscherer showing a PowerPoint presentation -- during and after which he answered questions from people in the audience.  (You can find a copy of his PowerPoint presentation at the following location on the Carrington School District website: )   

This video consists of clips of local taxpayers responding to the presentation -- asking questions and commenting at the January 13th meeting.  I recorded the meeting for myself, not with the intention of publishing it.  However, after seeing how The Independent is covering the new school issue, I decided to let our community hear directly from local people expressing their concerns.

Please excuse the poor quality of the video.  I tried to include a short clip of most people who spoke up at the meeting, so at times it's like being on a roller coaster with quick starts and stops.  Also, the audio may go up and down according to how far the speaker was from my camera.  All in all, however, I think you can get a good idea of the concerns that were voiced by members of the community that night ... which is not particularly reflected in the reports of The Independent.

You will notice that most of the comments and questions were from taxpayers (business persons, farmers, home-owners) -- persons who are not employed by the Carrington School District.  There were many teachers and board members present, but I got the impression that they were not supposed to speak up... that Superintendent Duchscherer was speaking for them.  

One noticeable exception took place when a teacher retorted to a taxpayer who was voicing her concerns about the huge financial impact for  people on fixed incomes, the elderly and the disabled.  The taxpayer said that her children had received a good education in Carrington in the school to be replaced, whereupon the teacher interrupted the taxpayer with the statement, "It's not about you, ____."  What did she mean by that?  Shouldn't this teacher and the school district be concerned about the effect this bond will have on people with low and/or fixed incomes?  

And, what about the local farmers who will carry the biggest tax burden?  Why did Superintendent Duchscherer give an example of a tax burden based on marginal cropland which is not indicative of the value of the average cropland in the district? Some farmers are worried that if this School Bond Initiative passes, it will mean the end of farming for them.  Doesn't everyone know that Foster County depends upon the health and wealth of our farming community?  It appears that many in this community don't mind biting the hand that feeds them.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Children -- Self-Taught Computer Whizzes

Okay, are you a person who can relate to this cartoon? I certainly can! Many of you know that I was a teacher before I moved to Carrington. At the last school where I taught 6th grade, I had a 30-computer lab right outside my door which we used for various activities every day. At that time, and even more-so today, by the time a child was 11-12 years old, he/she could be a computer whiz -- actually more advanced in computer technology than many teachers. 
Besides being advisor for our yearbook with a group of students who met after school every day, I also created and advised a group of students called "webmasters" who maintained a website for our school. They would interview the principal, teachers, students and parents in order to write news articles for our website. During class time, sometimes a teacher would ask if one of my students could come and help with computer or software problems. If the student was caught up on classwork and wouldn't miss anything important, he/she could go to help the teacher. The students loved to do this, the teachers appreciated it, and I considered it a great learning situation all around.
If I were teaching today, especially at the high school level, I'm sure I would constantly be calling on students to help me with computer situations. Did you know that many of our young people have much more advanced computer skills than their teachers with advanced degrees? They know how to get around the internet faster and find information quicker than most adults. Many of them have already taken apart many computers and put them back together again -- usually with improvements! Many of them have learned computer languages/codes so they can create their own software. And, what's so impressive, to me as a teacher, is they are mostly self-taught or peer-taught. 
It's truly amazing what young minds can accomplish if focused and really interested in something. We should never underestimate their capabilities!

Thursday, January 14, 2016

School Bond Initiative? Yes or No

On Wednesday evening, January 13, 2016, Carrington School District convened a special informative meeting conducted by Superintendent Brian Duchscherer. He gave a PowerPoint presentation detailing the scope of the new school project and how it would impact property owners' taxes.
During the meeting, numerous tax payers expressed concerns as to the affordability of the 23.5 million dollar project. A Carrington resident and taxpayer, Russ Heidt, expressed deep concerns with the impact of this new tax on top of all the other current taxes and obligations facing Carrington homeowners. He questioned Duchscherer about the validity of the total cost for the project and determined that with interest/other expenses/etc. it will more likely cost around $35 million.
Another concern coming from the audience was the potential $700/sq.ft. cost for construction. Two men in the audience questioned why the project was costing so much and gave examples of other schools which were recently being built for much less ($150-$350/sq.ft.) Carter Kleinsauser wondered out loud if we were getting ripped off, and the audience laughed.
Marlene Boyer, a retired teacher from the school district, was particularly concerned about the ability of the elderly, the disabled, and people on fixed incomes to be able to pay for this project. She expressed that her family had received a good education there in the past and wondered if some of the seemingly extra components could be cut from the project.
Charles Linderman stated, "We've got to decide what are our priorities. ... I think the school is our number one priority. ... If you want nice things, you have to pay for them." He compared the $320-a-year-extra cost for a $100K house to a trip that he and his wife might take to Fargo for the weekend, where they would spend much more than that.
Superintendent Duchscherer did an excellent job of answering questions from the audience and presenting facts in favor of the new school project - valid concerns as to why the school district hopes that tax payers will vote yes on February 16th to encumber their properties for the next 20 years.
(For more information, you might want to take a look at the Cardinal Pride Vote Yes Committee page on Facebook: Also, the "Long Range Planning" page at the Carrington Public Schools site adds ongoing information:…/bulle…/longrangeplan2.html.)
Also, if you're interested, you may want to attend an information meeting, being hosted by Angela Kutz in Sykeston on Sunday, January 17th at the Parish Hall. It will be at noon with lunch served to everyone who attends. Angela's goal is to get as many facts out as possible so people can make an educated vote.