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Forum Editorial Board, Published May 11 2009

Forum editorial: An honor for Webb wins roses

PRAIRIE ROSES: To U.S. District Court Judge Rodney Webb on his receipt of an award recognizing his role in protecting the rights of citizens and preserving the civil justice system. The award, which was presented to the senior judge last week, cites the Seventh Amendment to the U.S. Constitution as its basis. The amendment goes to the right of trial by jury. Webb, who has presided over many high-profile cases in his time, also regards his work to swear in new citizens as among his most important. His long and distinguished career ranges from a county prosecutor to federal judge. The award last week from the North Dakota Association for Justice was well deserved.

PRAIRIE ROSES: To North Dakota Senate Majority Leader Bob Stenehjem, R-Bismarck, who is credited with brokering the compromise that broke the legislative logjam over implementation of Measure 3, the tobacco control measure that was approved by the voters last November. The chairwoman of the tobacco measure committee, Heidi Heitkamp, credited the majority leader with securing a unanimous vote in the Senate for funding the measure’s provisions. That vote, and intervention by Gov. John Hoeven, pressured a reluctant House to go along with the Senate. The impasse was ended and the measure was funded pretty much in accordance with the voters’ wishes. The entire saga should be a lesson to legislators who try to upend the results of an initiated measure: Don’t do it.

LEAFY SPURGE: To North Dakota State University Bison football players who have embarrassed themselves and their school by violating team rules and in some instances violating the law. Players have been booted off the team or otherwise disciplined. Coach Craig Bohl, who is obviously disappointed by the behavior of a few players, has moved quickly and appropriately to clean house. It’s never a guarantee that young athletes will stay out of trouble. But the reality is they are held to a higher standard because they often are in the spotlight and expect attention for their prowess on the football field. Coach Bohl is right to get rid of players who ignore the rules. The credibility of the entire football program is at stake.

PRAIRIE ROSES: To the North Dakota Legislature for ending a two-session debate about funding an expansion and addition to the State Penitentiary in Bismarck, and stripping out proposals to move the Missouri River Correctional Center to the main prison site from a

100-acre location south of Bismarck near the river. The work at the prison is necessary, but no good case could be made to move the MRCC, unless it was to hand over a nice piece of wooded land to developers and real estate agents. Lawmakers did the right thing for the main prison and for the MRCC.

Forum editorials represent the opinion of Forum management and the newspaper’s Editorial Board.