616 episodes

Plain Talk is a podcast hosted by Rob Port and Chad Oban focusing on political news and current events in North Dakota. Port is a columnist for the Forum News Service published in papers including the Fargo Forum, Grand Forks Herald, Jamestown Sun, and the Dickinson Press. Oban is a long-time political consultant.

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    • 3.4 • 62 Ratings

Plain Talk is a podcast hosted by Rob Port and Chad Oban focusing on political news and current events in North Dakota. Port is a columnist for the Forum News Service published in papers including the Fargo Forum, Grand Forks Herald, Jamestown Sun, and the Dickinson Press. Oban is a long-time political consultant.

    516: 'They all had love for him at a certain point'

    516: 'They all had love for him at a certain point'

    Gov. Doug Burgum has gone through a "transformation."
    That's what reporter Stephen Rodrick said on this episode of Plain Talk. He spent a lot of time in North Dakota for a profile of Burgum published recently by Politico. He wrote that the governor has been "rebranding" on his way to a potential place on former President Donald Trump's national ticket.
    That means that Burgum has, along the arc of his political career, but a lot of different things to different people. What Rodrick found, talking to people who knew Burgum during times in his life, is that many of them feel that many who liked him in the past perhaps feel differently now.
    "They all had love for him at a certain point," he said, even those who today might be fairly described as Burgum's enemies.
    "His transformation over the past 3 or 4 months if baffling," Rodrick told my co-host Chad Oban and I.
    And how will Burgum be received on the national stage if he is Trumps VP pick? Rodrick thinks observers will be surprised. "They're going to be like, 'wow he really didn't want anyone who has his own level of national charisma.'"
    Also on this episode, Oban and I discuss April Baumgarten's story about North Dakota First Lady Katyrn Burgum's primary ballot getting rejected because of a handwriting mismatch. Burgum World isn't offering anything in the way of an explanation for why that happened, which leaves an information vacuum that could be filled with some not-so-great conclusions.
    Want to subscribe to Plain Talk? Search for the show wherever you get your podcasts, or click here for more information.

    • 1 hr 7 min
    515: 'The idea that the pipeline is dangerous, I reject that'

    515: 'The idea that the pipeline is dangerous, I reject that'

    Senate Majority Leader David Houge, a Republican from Minot, says that if voters approve a ballot measure eliminating property taxes, state lawmakers will be left with a mess.
    He said that the legislature's appropriators will be tasked with making big spending cuts. He said that members of the taxation and finance committees will have to find new ways to bring in revenues. He also said that reserve funds would likely have to be tapped to make up the roughly $2.6 billion in revenues property taxes generate for local governments every budget cycle.
    But in 2012, voters rejected a similar ballot measure to eliminate property taxes, in part based on promises from lawmakers that they would fix the problem. My co-host, Chad Oban, asked Hogue why voters should trust them this time around.
    "We have tried other things that haven't necessarily worked," he said, but this time he sees more willingness from his colleagues to implement things like caps on taxation.
    We also spoke with Hogue about his recent letter to the editor, which he co-authored with House Majority Leader Mike Lefor (R - Dickinson), making the case for carbon capture in North Dakota. He likened the debate over the opposition to the Summit Carbon pipeline to the protests against the Dakota Access Pipeline, pointing out that in both instances, the opposition said the pipelines were unsafe.
    "The idea that the pipeline is dangerous, I reject that," he said, going on to point out that capturing and sequestering carbon in North Dakota has many benefits for the state's agriculture and energy industries, though he also acknowledged that Summy Carton Solutions, the company behind the project, has made some mistakes.
    "They lowballed some landowners," he said, and acknowledged that Summit may have been too aggressive in using a state statute that allows surveyors to go on private land without permission. "That was a misstep as well," he said, though he added that since Summit has "corrected" a lot of its mistakes.
    Want to subscribe to Plain Talk? Search for the show wherever you get your podcasts, or click here for more information.

    • 1 hr
    514: 'The public does not yet have any sense of the breadth and depth of what's going to be coming out'

    514: 'The public does not yet have any sense of the breadth and depth of what's going to be coming out'

    Disgraced former state Sen. Ray Holmberg has indicated, through his legal counsel, that he will be pleading guilty to federal criminal charges related to international travel to solicit sex with children. "When that happens," Attorney General Drew Wrigley said on this episode of Plain Talk, "everything that we have becomes a public record."
    An untold number of public documents, including email messages and more, are currently inaccessible by the news media and the public due to state law that exempts records related to on-going criminal investigations. But once Holmberg official pleads guilty, which will happen later this year, that exemption will go away, and Wrigley says his office will work to preemptively make as much information available to the public as possible.
    Wrigley also spoke with me and my co-host Chad Oban about the on-going rift between North Dakota and Minnesota over fossil-fuel energy. Minnesota has passed a law mandating that all energy used in the state be from sources that don't emit carbon by 2040. North Dakota, which has successfully sued Minnesota over similar legislation in the past, and which provides the bulk of Minnesota's electricity, much of it from coal-fired power plants, is objecting.
    Wrigley sits on the North Dakota Industrial Commission, which recently sent Minnesota a letter asking the state to reconsider or reform the law. "We're not at war with Minnesota," he said. "We're not even at war with their statute. But we could be."
    Also on this episode, Gannon University Professor Jeff Bloodworth, who authored a recent Washington Post article about the struggles Democrats are having with rural voters, took our questions about how Democrats might go about fixing that problem.
    "Urban educated liberals took over the Democratic Party and started booting out working class Democrats," he said. He argues that the party's leaders currently see little need to figure out why rural Americans aren't voting for them. "It's  just easier to stereotype rural voters," he said.
    Want to subscribe to Plain Talk? Search for the show wherever you get your podcasts, or click here for more information.

    • 1 hr 11 min
    513: Chancellor Mark Hagerott, Rep. Brandy Pyle, and that terrible debate performance from President Joe Biden

    513: Chancellor Mark Hagerott, Rep. Brandy Pyle, and that terrible debate performance from President Joe Biden

    We covered a lot of ground on this episode of Plain Talk.
    Rep. Brandy Pyle, a Republican from Casselton, joined to talk about her efforts to curb distractions from devices in the legislative committee she chairs, and to talk about the struggles our society is having with our phone addictions.
    North Dakota University System Chancellor Mark Hagerott also joined to discuss the State Board of Higher Education's decision to move on from his leadership. Hagerott characterized it as an amicable transition, though he acknowledged that he doesn't get along with one board member. "I'm not on his Christmast list," Hagerott said, though he declined to mention which board member.
    Also on this episode, me and co-host Chad Oban discuss what we both agreed was a terrible, really bad, no good debate performance from President Joe Biden last night.
    Want to subscribe to Plain Talk? Search for the show wherever you get your podcasts, or click here for more information.

    • 1 hr 25 min
    512: Trygve Hammer and Keep It Local ND

    512: Trygve Hammer and Keep It Local ND

    The signature turn-in deadline for the committee backing a ballot measure to abolish North Dakota's tax on property value (but not, it's important to note, other types of property taxes) arrives on Saturday, June 29. The committee is expected to turn in the requisite number of signatures, which, if they pass muster, will kick off a repeat of a debate over property taxes voters here have had before.
    In 2012 a similar proposal to eliminate the tax on property value was put before voters, and it failed spectacularly. A coalition group calling itself Keep It Local ND rallied to persuade more than 70% of voters to cast their ballots against the measure.
    That coalition is back, and two of its organizers -- Andrea Pfennig from the Greater North Dakota Chamber of Commerce and my co-host Chad Oban, whose day job is with North Dakota United -- were on this episode of Plain Talk to discuss it.
    Their arguments against the measure? It would eliminate about $2.6 billion in revenues for local governments every budget cycle with no real plan for how to replace it. And those voters who are frustrated with the Legislature's impotence in addressing this issue should consider, they argue, that it would be that same Legislature tasked with coming up with a revenue alternative.
    Also on this episode, Democratic-NPL U.S. House candidate Trygve Hammer, fresh off his victory in the June primary, joined to discuss his general election campaign. He wants to make it clear to North Dakota voters that a Democrat winning a statewide vote in North Dakota is "not impossible."
    "I have an experience that's closer to what most North Dakotan's have experienced," he said, touting his military background and blue-collar resume. "I've been boots on the ground in the oil patch."
    Hammer spoke about everything from border security to foreign affairs.
    Of Ukraine, "Putin has to be stopped," Hammer said. "Putin is a butcher." In the middle-east, Hammer said Israel absolutely has a right to protect itself, but sees a toxic relationship between the Islamic extremists who are a threat to the Jewish state and its current leadership. "Netanyahu needs Hamas and Hamas needs Netanyahu," he said, referring to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
    To subscribe to Plain Talk, search for the show wherever you get your podcasts, or click here for more information.

    • 59 min
    511: 'You can't take these things seriously'

    511: 'You can't take these things seriously'

    North Dakota's primary elecitons this year were brutal. Attack ads and dirty tricks are endemic to politics, but I think most people would admit that, by the standards of our state, the Republican campaigns in this cycle were rough.
    In legislative races, we saw ads suggesting that some incumbent lawmakers promote pornography to children, or that they would be unsafe to allow your children around. In the U.S. House primary, some unknown entity supporting Rick Becker's campaign was sending out text messages trying to fool voters into thinking Julie Fedorchak, who ultimately won that race, had pulled out. And in the gubernatorial race, Tammy Miller's campaign ran ads accusing Kelly Armstrong of enriching himself by helping child molesters avoid justice.
    But when Armstrong appeared on this episode of Plain Talk to recap the race, he shrugged the attacks off. "You can't take these things seriously," he told me and my co-host Corey Mock.
    Armstrong now faces Democratic-NPL candidate Merrill Piepkorn in the general election, but we asked him, if he should win in November, what the top priorities of his administration would be.
    "Property taxes," he said, pointing out that consternation about those tax bills are running so high that a ballot measure to abolish them, which may appear on the November ballot as well, could well pass. "If it passes, you have a real problem," he said.
    Armstrong said another problem is access to labor. He said past political leaders in North Dakota have campaigned on creating jobs, but that doesn't make a lot of sense right now. "We have 30,000 open jobs," he said. "Campaigning on jobs is great...trying to figure out how to get people here to take them is a harder conversation."
    Also, in this episode, Mock and I discussed the seemingly intractable problem of property taxes, and what the primary election results mean for the future of the divide in the North Dakota Republican Party.
    Want to subscribe to Plain Talk? Search for the show wherever you get your podcasts, or click here for more information.

    • 1 hr 7 min

Customer Reviews

3.4 out of 5
62 Ratings

62 Ratings

LaxGuy21 ,

Good for local ND politics.

I like that Rob brings in co-hosts with different political views than his own to discuss local ND politics. It makes for a nice discussion that isn’t always one sided. Don’t always agree with Rob’s views, but find his take informative.

booooda1 ,

A Disappointing Echo Chamber

I approached this podcast expecting thoughtful political discourse but found myself deeply disappointed. It primarily serves as an echo chamber, heavily favoring a single perspective and discouraging the exploration of diverse viewpoints. The content lacks depth, with both host and guests offering analysis that feels superficial and unenlightened. This lack of rigor and the absence of deep, meaningful discussions significantly undermines the podcast’s value. Moreover, technical issues such as poor audio quality detract from the listening experience. Overall, the podcast falls short of delivering the insightful and balanced conversation promised, with subpar performances by the host and guests alike.

Silkpop ,

Would stay away in general

Generally biased point of view. His talking points generally align with extremist right wing agenda masquerading under a thin veil of non partisanship. He picks and chooses his “guests” to further a specific agenda he already has. Not worth your time

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