At the meeting hosted by Governor Dayton in Moorhead in early September, Representative Paul Marquart suggested that it was time for different leadership on the FM Diversion Authority. A cursory review of recent decisions made by Chairman Vanyo and “unanimously” supported by the Clay and Moorhead representatives, confirms Marquart’s conclusion.
Fargo is no closer now to permanent flood protection than it was three years ago. Affordable permanent levees and dikes, such as the one discussed for Fargo’s 2nd street, have been delayed to manipulate public opinion in favor of the current diversion plan. Diversion Authority leaders have neglected affordable protection for over three years and spent 70 million tax dollars to promote a plan that primarily protects development interests, including a private golf course 15 miles south of Fargo. By their decision to prematurely commence construction in defiance of Minnesota’s laws and leaders, the FM Diversion Authority board has jeopardized the entire project.
The current plan to dam and divert the Red River provides little to no benefit for Minnesota. Governor Dayton was right to point out that the high hazard dam would flood 35 square miles in Clay and Wilkin counties that do not currently flood. Why should Clay County sacrifice for the benefit of Fargo’s commercial developers? Paul Marquart was correct to call out the leaders in Moorhead and Clay counties that supported this plan. Two of those leaders, Jon Evert and Kevin Campbell, are running for re-election. Clay County voters should carefully consider whether they should keep their jobs.
Jon Evert has no excuse for his votes in favor of this plan. A native of Comstock, Jon voted to flood his own community. As a former board member of the Red River Basin Commission, Jon knew full well that there are better alternatives to Fargo’s problems than flooding his neighbors, yet he said nothing. He should have been the voice for his constituents in Barnsville, Comstock, and rural Clay County. Instead he has been the voice of Fargo’s development interests, supporting their plan to transfer Fargo’s flood problem to Clay County with a dam on the Red River. Jon’s eleventh hour flip flop on the eve an election challenge should not be taken seriously.
Commissioner Keven Campbell is also trying to keep his job. As Clay County’s representative on the Diversion Authority Board, Kevin has supported the plan to flood Clay County, voting lock step with Darrel Vanyo and Fargo’s development interests. He approved the decision to have Fargo’s lawyers try to nullify Minnesota laws that protect Clay County citizens from Fargo’s overreach. He opposed his own state’s efforts to insure Minnesota’s laws were respected. At the August meeting of the Diversion Authority Board Kevin actually argued against trusting common sense when it conflicts with Fargo’s Diversion plan.
As Governor Dayton pointed out, this is a development plan for Fargo that does little to nothing for Minnesota. The purposeful flooding of rural Clay County is not acceptable. Clay County needs leadership that will stand up for Clay County residents, and not be hoodwinked by Fargo’s leaders. Clay County needs representation that will stand with Paul Marquart and Governor Dayton, not against them. Jon Evert and Kevin Campbell need to go.