What’s Going On: Chances for a wall, legal pot and Shopko

After driving into winter storm Gia last weekend and watching another round of winter weather roll into southwest Minnesota Friday, my appreciation for the accuracy of 21st century meteorologists continues to increase.

While I have no quantifiable data to support this, it would appear the art of predicting the weather has truly been honed into an exact science over the last 30 years … at least, within reason and especially in the winter, when seemingly I pay most attention.

When I hear a weather forecast 24-48 hours predicting a significant snowfall, many more times than not, that forecast is spot on, and when that window closes to less than 24 hours, meteorologists seem pretty adept at being able to even pinpoint the start time to within an hour or two.

With that in mind, I thought I would make a few predictions regarding events currently dominating the news cycle:

Will President Trump get his wall funding approved before ending the government shutdown? In a word, no. After being empowered by voters in the mid-terms, allowing them to regain control of the House, Democrats have absolutely zero incentive to compromise on this point. In fact, one could argue they have been charged by their supporters to do exactly what they are doing: block the wall at all costs. Chance Democrats approve wall funding: 0 percent.

Will President Trump declare a national emergency to fund his wall? In a word, maybe. The question isn’t will he, but can he because if he can, I absolutely think he will since there’s no chance funding is passed through the legislature. Chance a national emergency is declared to fund wall: 100 percent, if Trump can.

Will the wall actually be built? Recognizing the only way Trump can get the money for it is by declaring a national emergency, which will be the equivalent of a political nuclear bomb, I doubt it. Once he declares the national emergency, there will be plenty of court fights over whether he has the authority to do so, followed by more court fights regarding land acquisition for the wall. If all those hurdles are cleared, (which is a HUGE if) it will be 2020 and Trump will be up for re-election, which will essentially serve as a referendum on the wall. Elect him … wall is built. Don’t, no wall. Chance the wall actually gets built: 20 percent.

Will Minnesota approve recreational marijuana? Despite the fact 10 other states have already approved recreational marijuana sales and cannabis oil can be used for medicinal purposes in Minnesota, the debate and discussion over legal recreational sales this week in Minneapolis caught me by surprise. In most states, medicinal marijuana in all its forms are legal for a year or two before discussion begins on recreational sales, but here in Minnesota, where only oils became legal last year, the recreational debate began soon after. The debate will be the same as other states, with supporters advocating for its tax benefits and medicinal uses (including reduced opioid use) while opponents will talk about long term health issues, increase in teen use and how it serves as a gateway drug. In the end though, the money will win out. It always does. And quite frankly, within 10 years, I see this being approved nationwide. Legal pot in Minnesota in 2019: 35 percent chance (still too early). Legal pot in Minnesota by end of Gov. Walz’s first term: 90 percent.

Will Shopko be open at the end of the year? Following the Herbergers and Sears of the world, Shopko declared bankruptcy earlier this week, another one of the many fatalities in the ongoing retail wars. I don’t understand how a world where your two retail options are Amazon and Wal-Mart is ideal, but that appears to be the direction anyone who lives in a town of less than 20,000 is headed. Chances Shopko are open in 2020: 35 percent.


Gregory Orear is the publisher of The Journal. His award-winning weekly column, “What’s Going On,” has been published in four newspapers in three states for more than 20 years. He can be contacted at gorear@nujournal.com.