Richland-Wilkin Joint Powers Authority
Original Publication Date:
Aug 21st, 2014
Wahpeton Daily News
Republished with permission from:
JPA Editorial Team
“Hey Rocky, watch me pull a rabbit out of my hat!” Bullwinkle fans know that the Moose’s sleight of hand never worked out for him. Instead of a docile rabbit the hat produced a roaring tiger, a lion, bear and even a rhinoceros.
Fargo’s Diversion leaders also hoped to pull a rabbit out of a hat, selling a multibillion dollar development subsidy as a flood protection plan. Despite the zealous assistance of Fargo’s chief media provider and a top notch sales team, no rabbits have materialized. Instead, the voice of upstream opposition grows with every prominent leader who publicly criticizes Fargo’s scheme.
Early out of the hat was the Minnesota DNR. The written concerns they filed in response to the proposed high hazard dam remain unanswered and were deliberately ignored by Fargo until they were echoed by upstream opponents. Earlier this year, the DNR bluntly warned the Diversion Authority that the premature start of construction would violate Minnesota’s law. Fargo’s defiant response was to start construction and to file a request in federal court asking the judge to find that Minnesota’s laws don’t matter.
Next out of the hat was the Rep. Paul Marquart who diplomatically requested that Fargo’s diversion leaders respect Minnesota’s laws and stop construction pending Minnesota’s environmental review. The state of Minnesota has few leaders, as well respected and honored as Marquart. Fargo’s leaders ignored him and their media supporter attacked him. Hard to fathom the thinking behind this move, but there can be little doubt it prompted the Minnesota Attorney General’s office to enter the fray. In a legal brief filed in federal court harshly critical of Fargo’s actions, the Minnesota Attorney General’s office requested to have a voice in the lawsuit filed against Fargo’s Diversion Authority by Richland and Wilkin counties. Last week the judge refused to find Minnesota’s laws don’t matter and overruled Fargo’s attempt to prevent the state of Minnesota from participating in the legal battle.
Next a roaring lion appeared in the form of a strongly worded statement from Gov. Dayton. Dayton called Fargo’s plan and the damage it would cause to Minnesota “unacceptable” and pledged to do everything in his power to stop Fargo from trampling Minnesota’s rights.
Dayton’s condemnation was followed by a statement from Minn. Congressman Collin Peterson on a local news station. For the past two years Peterson has been a steady and tireless voice of reason trying to broker a compromise between the Diversion Authority and its opponents. He has met with both sides separately, together, and with other leaders, acting as a moderator by prodding and pushing both sides to come to an accommodation. Asked by a local television reporter to comment on the present state of affairs with the diversion, Peterson stated he had repeatedly tried to talk with Fargo’s Diversion Authority leaders and warned them of the dangers of provoking Minnesota. Visibly frustrated, Peterson reported that instead of taking his advice, Fargo’s Diversion leaders just “blew me off.” North Dakota’s Congressman Kevin Cramer then echoed those sentiments, criticizing Fargo leaders for failing to take the advice of the entire North Dakota federal delegation and Minnesota Senators Franken and Klobuchar recommending they settle the concerns of upstream opponents. Finally, in Minnesota’s primary election last week, political newcomer and vocal diversion critic, Jenny Mongeau, soundly trounced incumbent Clay County Commissioner Jon Evert. Evert is an on-again-off-again supporter of Fargo’s plan to flood his Comstock community.
Like the hapless moose Bullwinkle, Fargo’s Diversion Authority leaders have nothing up their sleeves and produce only opposition with their inept and arrogant sleight of hand.