On Television: Democrats Just Playing Politics With Student Info Accusations



During my television segment last night on Valley News Live’s 6:30 Point of View program we discussed several topics, and one of the discussions surprised me. Host Chris Berg brought up Democrat accusations against Republican-aligned marketing firm Odney Advertising claiming the company’s president, Pat Finken, had made an unethical and possibly illegal request for student directory information from the state’s universities.

Democrats have even gone so far as to suggest that this request might be a violation of the state’s corrupt practices act, and they’ve asked Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem to put a halt to it. Which is a bit ridiculous given that the student data is a) public record (it’s literally akin to telephone directory information) and b) frequently requested for all manner of purposes from political to marketing.

In fact, Democrats themselves haven’t responded to an inquiry about whether or not they’ve ever requested such data.

What surprised me about the television segment was that the two liberal members of the panel – former Byron Dorgan staffer Nathan Berseth and left-wing activist Cindy Gomez-Schemp – agreed that this was much ado about nothing. That it was Democrats playing election year politics.

That doesn’t speak highly for the strategy hatched by Democrats.

We also discussed the Devils Lake dress code imbroglio. My position is that the clash between adults and teens over fashion choices is about as old as fashion. On one hand, I’m not sure the administrators at the school in Devils Lake handled it well (using the movie “Pretty Woman” insinuated that the young ladies at the school were dressing like hookers), but on the other hand I’m not against schools enforcing a minimum dress code.

The thing is, something like a dress code is a pretty subjective thing (we all have our opinions about what is and is not appropriate), but each school can work out for itself what is and is not appropriate for the boys and girls to wear. If they’re applying those standards evenly – and I think the school officials would probably have objected if the boys had started showing up in skin-tight yoga pants – there’s no problem.

The last issue we discussed was Measure 7 to abolish North Dakota’s pharmacy protectionism. We didn’t discuss it much, but I made the point that price is a red herring in this debate. Of much more importance is a level playing field where all drug providers, and all drug consumers, get a choice. Currently we have an uneven playing field that favors independent operators.

That’s not something we should be promoting.