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Published May 10 2010

Forum editorial: Roses for Rothsay students

PRAIRIE ROSES: To students in Rothsay, Minn., who have thrown themselves energetically into an experiment to reduce the town’s energy consumption by up to 15 percent by 2015. The town is a pilot project under a $300,000 initiative by Otter Tail Power Co., which has a similar energy conservation campaign at the University of Minnesota’s Crookston campus. The program aims to trim energy use by 1.5 percent per year. Students have been circulating pledges to residents, who have committed to taking conservation steps, such as washing only full loads of laundry or air-drying dishes. It seems that special kudos go to the elementary students, who were described as “super-duper excited” about the effort.

LEAFY SPURGE: To the arch partisans who call themselves the Committee to Recall Kent Conrad. Their recall effort, heavily promoted by a conservative blogger and radio talk-show host, Rob Port, and station head Scott Hennen, is really driven by their undisguised distaste for Conrad’s policies, not his official conduct. Their remedy is the ballot box, not a recall movement, which has drawn skepticism concerning its constitutionality by North Dakota’s Republican secretary of state, Al Jaeger. Whatever happened to the days when radio “personalities” camped out on billboards as a publicity stunt? Honk if you agree.

PRAIRIE ROSES: To Charley Johnson, who announced last week that he will retire from his position as general manager of television stations KVLY-KXJB. Most viewers, of course, know Johnson for his many years of anchoring newscasts, a reassuring presence with his level and straightforward delivery of news in the Red River Valley. More recently, his onscreen appearances have been his folksy airing of letters in “Manager’s Mailbag” segments. “There’s no scandal, and my health is good,” Johnson said of his departure. For many, many viewers, it was bad news indeed. We’ll miss Charley Johnson, if this is the end of his broadcast news career, but wish him well in his new adventure.

LEAFY SPURGE: To North Dakota’s cigarette tax, which is 44 cents for a pack. That’s far below the level for most neighboring states and the national average, which is $1.34 per pack. Higher taxes are an important deterrent to tobacco use, especially in discouraging minors from ever taking up the destructive habit. The tax code is a valid means of curbing harmful behaviors – especially one that is so costly, in both financial and human terms, as smoking. North Dakota voters repeatedly have shown their support for measures to restrict tobacco use and use public funds to promote smoking cessation and anti-smoking education programs. Sinfully low tobacco taxes contribute to North Dakota’s higher-than-average incidence of youth smoking rates.

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