John Andrist: Some Good News and a Confession

North Dakota Superintendent Kirsten Baesler

Amid the chaos of these times something wonderful happened this week.

There apparently was worldwide condemnation of the Syrian use of poisoned gas. It came from Republicans, Democrats, and virtually all of the countries of the free world.

It seems like the military response of President Trump, which normally would have created sharp dissent, was even muted.

It was as if the whole world was saying, we can not let this kind of savagery stand — whether or not we question the response.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if this could be the beginning of more bipartisanship?

One more piece of good news: Ever since a federal consortium established standards for high school graduation, called Common Core, there has been strong opposition in North Dakota and a few other states.

Last week Kirsten Baesler, North Dakota’s Department of Public Instruction Superintendent, announced the roll-out of North Dakota’s own standards, developed with the participation of educators.

And everybody seems to be happy. Life is more fun when you are living among happy people.

Renouncing bullying

I read a long article in the Wall Street Journal that convinced me I owe an apology to everyone I have chided over the years for preferring well-done steaks.

Particularly Barb, my daughter-in-law, to whom I often asked from behind my barbecue apron, “Do you want to eat yours, or do you want to wear it?”

Mind you, even though I turn my nose when I get a piece of beef without any pink, I now applaud all of the “well done” lovers who have stood up to the mean side of me.

The article pointed out that those persecuted ones sometimes have to fight for their right to have their steak cooked the way they want it, even among waiters in the more persnickety restaurants.

In the event you are interested statistics indicate that medium rare is the choice of 30 percent of us; 19% still choose well done or very well done.

The story didn’t say how the rest of you order your steak. One friend of mine usually asked for raw. He didn’t really mean it, but it helped him get a piece of beef that was really bleeding.

The Journal noted that many well done crowd which like a two-inch thick fillet, are happy to have it butter flied to get rid of the pink.

In my new environment it is pretty difficult to get a piece of beef, a chicken breast, and many fresh vegetables (under)cooked the way I like it.

And when I do go out to eat I have a propensity to order seafood. That all the more makes me savor a bleeding steak once in a while.

But for the rest of you I’m going straight. No more bullying. Confession is good for the soul.

A tale of two schools

NDSU and UND, our two major universities, have a lot in common. Both have similar size student bodies. Both duplicate too many majors. Both offer many sports programs, but each has one cash cow.

Yet in these days of pinched budgets, UND seems to have much more trouble downsizing for our more difficult financial circumstances.

The Forum provided some insight this week when they detailed athletic spending — noting NDSU runs a sports deficit of $5 million, less than half of the UND deficit of $11 million.

Both schools have developed significant private support,  and UND raises in excess of $4 million more than NDSU, so in the final analysis deficits are not that much different.

But my question still is why the huge disparity in spending. The four largest programs at UND have a $6.4 million deficit; the four largest program deficits at NDSU are about $2.5 million.

So it seems there has been a substantial difference in money management between the two.

In any business there are ups and downs, and fiscal management dictates understanding that principal, and uses caution in the good times to cover the darker days.

Under the previous president, Bob Kelly didn’t do that.

He was a really nice guy, but he gets an F in fiscal management. Now others must pick up the pieces.

Rob Port is the editor of, a columnist for the Forum News Service, and the host of the Rob (Re)Port on Fargo-based WDAY AM970 from noon-2pm weekdays.

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