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Jim Shaw

Commentary: There was no need for UND's Kennedy to apologize

So, Mark Kennedy, president of the University of North Dakota, has apologized for criticizing the Legislature's massive budget cuts to higher education. . .

I wish he hadn't. There was no need to apologize. Kennedy was right. The Legislature hammered higher education with a 31 percent spending cut. Academic programs were cut, people lost their jobs, classes got larger, salaries were frozen and athletic teams were dropped.

Legislators will tell you the cuts were necessary because of drops in oil and commodity prices, but that's only part of the story. In 2015, the Legislature foolishly cut oil, income and corporate taxes, costing the state hundreds of millions of dollars. Without those tax cuts, higher education would be in much better shape.

We need leaders in North Dakota higher education to speak out against a Legislature that's often hostile to the universities, and not be afraid of the lawmakers.

--A woman with an incredible story will soon be coming to Fargo. Immaculee Ilibagiza will be speaking at Saint Anthony's Church in Fargo on May 4th and 5th. She lived through the Rwandan Holocaust.

From April to July 1994, between 500,000 and one million Rwandans were brutally murdered by Hutu extremists. Torture and beatings were rampant. Immaculee's parents and two brothers were killed. She survived by hiding in a small bathroom for three months. Immaculee will speak of her experience and how her Christian faith got her through this nightmare. Contact the church for tickets.

--Speaking of stories, I believe the Fargo School Board's Jennifer Benson. Benson accused then School Board President Jim Johnson of cornering her after a Board meeting and saying, "Don't you ever f***ing blindside me again."

I have spoken to someone else who told me that he/she heard Johnson make that comment. Thus, the board did the right thing in removing Johnson as president. Bullying is not allowed in Fargo schools, and that should apply to school board members as well.

--Another story I believe is the one told by Stormy Daniels. We know President Donald Trump has cheated on his wives, and we know Stormy's story of their alleged sexual encounter could have damaged Trump during the presidential campaign. Thus, the $130,000 in hush money.

Incidentally, Stormy performed at The Northern in Fargo in 2001. A friend of mine showed me a picture of him with her there, and said she was very nice. For the record, I have only been in The Northern once. That was for a bachelor party about 20 years ago.

--If I was Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, and was repeatedly called rotten things by columnist Rob Port, I wouldn't talk to him either.

--Nice to see North Dakota Governor Doug Burgum and first lady Kathryn Helgaas Burgum have moved into the new governor's residence. Seeing how Governor Burgum calls it, "The people's house," I would like to book a stay there for three days next week.

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