Thursday, February 11, 2016

Beyond clergy: Ex-Boy Scouts tap Minn. law to press sex abuse claims

[Audio version is here: MPR News]

Jim McDonough was a kid from St. Paul's east side who, like a lot of city kids, longed for an outdoor adventure. In 1967, at age 12, he got his chance. He joined the Boy Scouts, happily donned its khaki-colored uniform, and headed into the fall weather on his first camping trip.

"I was the tenderfoot," McDonough recalled. "You couldn't make fires until you passed the test. You couldn't chop the wood."

So young McDonough gathered sticks and logs for the fire. After dinner, he did the dishes. He was fine with that.

One night he was in a tent with a few other boys. Instead of sleeping, they were telling stories, joking around, giggling. The noise brought in Scoutmaster Leland James Opalinski.

"All of a sudden, he pulled open the door. 'I can't have this. You guys need to quiet down. Jim, I'm going to have to take you out of the tent,'" McDonough said. "He just picked me up in my sleeping bag and he took me to his tent. When we got into his tent, he pulled my sleeping bag off, opened up his. He said, 'C'mon in here and lay down on my nice sleeping bag.'"

And then, McDonough said, Opalinski fondled him.

"I was just frozen because of confusion, fear. I didn't move," McDonough said. "In the morning, he did the same thing. Got up. Got dressed. And the rest of the day it was like nothing ever happened. That was the start of it."

[Remainder of story at MPR News]

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Hello USA

"Black Gold Boom," a television documentary airing on PBS stations nationwide, has aired on PBS World Channel, statewide networks in New Mexico, North Dakota, Alaska and Wyoming and individual PBS stations in Minneapolis/St.Paul, Denver, South Texas and Daytona Beach, Florida. It's also airing soon Sacramento, California. The documentary centers on the debate over fracking among the Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara people of western North Dakota. I worked on this project for two years so I'm really happy people are getting to see it. There's more information here.

Sunday, August 9, 2015

This Is Our Home Now

Kendra Hill moved to the Bakken with her husband a few years ago. Thanks to a high-paying oilfield job, the young couple could afford to start a family and buy a house. No matter what happens in oil country, they’re planning to stay in North Dakota. This story aired on Prairie Public and Marketplace as part of my "Black Gold Boom" series.

Hoping The Downplay Hurts The Greed

Don Williams offers up an unexpected side effect to the oil patch slowdown: lower prices. When the boom was churning at full speed, rents were too darn high. And now? Williams still has job at transload company in Ross, North Dakota, and things aren’t so expensive. This story aired on Prairie Public and Marketplace as part of my "Black Gold Boom" series.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

'Oil To Die For'

For the third year in a row, North Dakota ranks as the most deadly place to work in America and its oilfields are nearly seven times more dangerous than elsewhere in the U.S. “Oil To Die For,” a new interactive documentary from Black Gold Boom, examines how Dustin Bergsing died of hydrocarbon poisoning at a North Dakota well site just days before his 22nd birthday. He was engaged to be married and the father of an infant. The interactive examines the circumstances surrounding Bergsing’s death, including accusations by a Marathon Oil whistleblower who says his safety warnings were ignored by company bosses. “Oil To Die For” is compatible with all devices, including Apple and Android mobile phones and tablets. Experience it now.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

PBS stations to air 'Black Gold Boom'

Some Native American tribes have banned fracking on tribal lands. With vast deposits of oil underneath its borders, Three Affiliated Tribes is at a crossroads. Should the Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara Nation in western North Dakota drill for black gold or outlaw oil exploration on its land? Tribal member Marty Young Bear worries about environmental effects. Meanwhile, local leaders rush to form a tribal-owned oil company with the motto “Sovereignty by the Barrel.” “Black Gold Boom,” aired May 18 on Prairie Public in North Dakota. The documentary airs on other PBS stations later this year.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Sounds of Silents

Silent film may be a thing of the past, but scoring music to flickering screen classics isn't. This documentary focuses on three Minneapolis bands who are intrigued, perhaps even obsessed, by silents.