Capitol quandary

This sign could work well as a picture metaphor of the state legislature and property tax “reform”. They’re throwing hundreds of millions of dollars in “relief” at a problem which isn’t inherently theirs.

– The state legislature doesn’t assess property values;

– The state legislature doesn’t levy property taxes;

– The state legislature doesn’t collect property taxes…

And yet they’ve managed to not only tie the noose of public anger at property taxes, but they’ve also stuck their head in the loop and tightened the knot. Meanwhile, the culprits behind high property taxes at the county level get a free pass without any accountability.

I’d expect another Measure Two type initiated measure to appear on the radar soon. In fact, while I opposed Measure Two on the last ballot I would certainly vote for the abolition of property taxes in North Dakota. I just saw the bad mechanics of the last attempt and didn’t want to put the state in a bind. If it had simply said “No governing entity may levy property taxes” I’d have voted yes. I imagine that a lot more people will be voting yes for whatever property tax measure hits the ballot, regardless.

I met one of my representatives for coffee back when Governor Hoeven got this ill-fated “reform” shell game started and pretty much predicted the debacle we’re facing now. I warned that the legislature will assume responsibility for the tax & spend behavior of the counties, and will be the bad guys in the eyes of voters no matter what they can and can’t do to relieve property tax burdens. Here we are.

Some days the legislature makes just about as much sense as the signs pictured above – and those signs would work even better as a descriptor of the failed transparency bills in this session, but I’m not going there…yet.

The hottest cheerleaders in Class B Basketball

It was a nail-biter, but sadly the Shiloh Skyhawks girls’ basketball team did not come away with the overtime win tonight. It was a packed house at good ol’ Mandan High, and enthusiasm was running high on all sides.

Part of that high energy was the cheer team for the Shiloh ladies: these dudes. I don’t really know what to say about them other than that they took team spirit to the max, and offered ample support to the girls on the court tonight!

Restrictions, you say? They’re coming next week…whatever they are (Load)

The City of Bismarck has put out a notice that load restrictions on the city’s roads will start next week. It gives me the perfect opportunity for a little good-natured ribbing over the “Restrictions in Effect” signs traditionally seen around Bismarck this time of year. Restrictions of what nature, you ask? If your only source of information was these signs, I suppose it’s anyone’s guess.

I first saw these signs go up a few years ago (and every Spring since) and thought they were pretty funny. It’s because of the load restrictions I mentioned, but the signs are omit that detail. It’s only after someone figured out what was missing (maybe they read this blog) and wedged a little “Load” in there that the signs made sense:

This is how the corrected signs look. I am still occasionally surprised to find an unmodified one posted. As you can see in this previous post, I was almost second-guessing whether I’d even seen the signs without the word “Load” inserted. If there are any of the original vague signs remaining, someone’s going to have to dig through a drawer for another “Load” sticker!

That Internet, she’s a two-edged sword

You can’t make this sort of thing up. First there’s the funny yet touching story of a guy spending decades to find a long-lost sibling, only to have an elementary school kid types her name into Facebook and finds her in an instant. Irony? Sure. Sappy? You betcha. Until you look at the top comment in the graphic above. Some savvy internet wizard did a cursory web search of his own and came up with:

Yikes. Apparently the elderly chap’s got priors. Still got the warm fuzzies around your heart from the tale above? I always find AGGRAVATED CRIMINAL SEXUAL ASSAULT to be a major buzzkill. Assuming, of course, that it’s the same fella…the birth date appears to line up. Not that I want to spend another second pondering it. Someone out there made the connection, though, so the moment is ruined…even if they got the wrong guy. If the long-lost sister has done her own web search or read the comments in that article, I predict an awkward family reunion – whether it’s the right guy or not.

Ah, “teh Intarwebz”…is there anything they can’t do?

He’s BACK: the Whirling Chicken of Doom™

I don’t find myself in this part of Mandan often, but when I do pass the former Village Mart I always look for it: the metal chicken statue. I was surprised recently when I drove by, because it’s back after a lengthy absence.

The chicken’s hiatus began roughly around the time that the Village Mart, home of fond remembrances from my adolescence, became the Petro Serve. It spent some time in an unused part of the store and was even the target of at least one attempted theft.

Well, he’s back…and better than ever. After some jackhole damaged the chicken trying to steal him, he went in for some body work. There again he was almost stolen, as the trailer belonging to the people repairing him was also stolen. All of that having played out, he did manage to find his way back – and in better form than ever. In fact, the leading edges of those menacing spinning wings have been lined with plastic to avoid the unthinkable from happening.

I’m not exactly Johnny-on-the-spot with this news; employees I spoke to say he’s been back for a few weeks now. In any case, it’s good to see this local oddity back again, spinning its wings, tongue sticking out almost defiantly, sporting that red-crested smile of resilience.

Arnold Schwarzenegger’s tenuous North Dakota holiday connection


I’ve been down for the count the past few days, sick and staying in bed with my Netbook and iPod. I happened to come across something extremely painful: an Arnold Schwarzenegger-hosted segment of a “Very Special Christmas” special from 1988. Don’t bother watching it…in fact, I only got through the first thirty seconds of it. What I did see, however, was apparently a champion granny bowler from North Dakota! If you’re a glutton for punishment, you can view the video here:

Notice the misspelling of granny’s town? Sigh. It seems that even when they get North Dakota identified correctly, some sort of other typographical error slips in.

I make no apologies if you watched after the mention of the bowler from “Wanpeton”…you were warned. I’m starting to feel a little better, so rest assured I’ll try to find something more genuinely Christmas-like and far less horrifying than Arnold’s demented television disaster.

Meme Monday

I didn’t go out with the camera this weekend as I was busy with Daddy duties, but I do have one contribution to the blog. This is one of my favorite memes: Success Kid. While he most often appears in front of a colored pinwheel background, I opted for the original this morning.

This little guy is now five years old, just like my two little fellas. One reason why I don’t put photos of them on the web is so they don’t end up as memes! 🙂

The graphic is true, though. I forgot to set my alarm last night. Thankfully I woke up one minute before it would have gone off if properly set…thus my feeling of victory. Have a great week!

How to summon Bruce Wayne if you’re in Dickinson

I spot weird things from time to time, and this phone in the Dickinson armory caught my eye. I was pretty busy at the time so I didn’t venture to either stick my hand into those wires to see if they were live or, more pragmatically, lift the receiver to see what would happen on the other end if I did.

In any case, someone has a sense of humor about this phone. I suppose there’s a Guardsman who can help shed some light on this thing, perhaps. In the mean time, I’ll it will have to remain shrouded in mystery.

The next time I’m in Dickinson I’ll give Mr. Wayne a call, and as I drive by the armory I’ll check the roof for a Bat Signal.

I think I know why it won’t start

I was hunting around in my photo library when I came across this shot from quite a while back, and I don’t remember sharing it before. That’s why there’s snow on the ground, so if you haven’t looked out the window recently, don’t panic.

Clearly this vehicle has sat in place for quite some time to get such a lovely arrangement of trees populating its engine compartment! I may have to look through my GPS and find its location next spring so I can see how it looks with some foliage.

Now THAT is a pile of mowers

I didn’t have time to explore this pile more thoroughly but I had to stop and snap a quick shot of it. This rather large assembly of mowers in various states of disrepair stood outside a repair shop near downtown Rapid City. I managed to grab (and stylize) a photo the day before it vanished. I wonder if it will now be replaced with a pile of old snow blowers? I hear those are harder to stack…