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FM Diversion and Dam Increases national debt

Denial is NOT Just a River in Egypt

Despite NOT ONE PERMIT from Minnesota or North Dakota being issued for the proposed diversion project, the spin-doctors and talking heads of the Fargo Diversion Authority are attempting to claim victory to revive a project that is slipping through their fingers by no other fault than their own.

People are simply sick and tired of the arrogance in Fargo & Cass leadership from Bismarck, ND to Washington D.C.

Is there any reason for Fargo, as a self-proclaimed economic engine, to need the equivalent of state and federal welfare installments to retain their alleged economic engine status?

This Fargo/Cass myopic imperialism has worn thin and like clockwork, the propaganda machine for the Fargo Diversion Authority is in full swing.

Here is the April 3, 2016 Fargo Forum Editorial Board with commentary:

Forum editorial: Diversion variables affect cost; Apr 3, 2016
The news that the cost of the local share of the Fargo-Moorhead diversion project is up should come as no surprise.

 

FMDA

So exactly why did some of the talking heads of the Fargo Diversion Authority (FMDA) appear so uncharacteristically sober during the the March 31st, 2016 finance committee and monthly Delusion Authority meetings?

Despite several warnings from project opponents within Fargo and outside its jurisdictional boundaries, the FMDA ignored those warnings and kept spending.

Even members of the Fargo city council have publicly expressed concerns that the project may bankrupt the city and would like to stop further advancements until funding issues can be solidified and addressed.

Could it be that the predicted mission creep and ballooning costs associated with nearly every U.S. Army Corps of Engineers project are coming true, despite Fargo Diversion Authorities earlier suggestions the project cost will go down if they pursue P3 funding.

Forum editorial: Diversion variables affect cost; Apr 3, 2016
The huge undertaking has a total price tag of approximately $2 billion. That’s up from early estimates. Again, no surprise.

 

Isn’t it interesting that the Fargo Diversion Authority mouthpiece (Fargo Forum) has tried to downplay the rising costs associated with the project, to cover up their lack of journalism associated with costs since inception of the proposed project. The project, as presented on March 31st, 2016 stand at an estimated $2.126 billion and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers costs have not been certified. The mere range of $1.9 to $2.4 billion is equivalent to building 10.4 FargoDome’s (approx 6.2 in 2016 dollars).

Where are the watchdog stories on costs? Where are the investigative reports on the Oxbow, ND project – which was purported to be all done for $64 million…, and now is estimated to be $126 million or more…? Why are Fargo and Cass county tax payers subsidizing 200-500 percent buyouts to build approximately 40 mansions, which could have been relocated for around $4 million?

Where was the Fargo Foolem’ investigative reporting on the corrupt DPAC gerrymandering, which usurped over 66 percent of a property owners voting rights on the proposed project?

Forum editorial: Diversion variables affect cost; Apr 3, 2016
The longer the project is delayed by Minnesota’s regulators and obstructionist lawsuits, the more it will cost.

 
WOW! Victim blaming?

Sorry, blaming “obstructionists” for rising project costs is a gross mis-characterization of the matter at hand. However, it does appear that the Fargo Foolem’ fully expects opponents to waive their property rights and roll-over for the FMDA bully-tactics without a fight.

It’s rather obvious from the outset! The FMDA simply did not want to include upstream and downstream interests at the table to draft a project that could benefit the region, because it could have jeopardized Fargo’s development agenda. Even FEMA had the good sense to withdraw funding and bail on Fargo’s Southside Development Plan.

The “seat at the table”, as set forth in the newly proposed JPA document, is nothing more than window dressing, with no framework to change any component of the project, wherein, the damage has already been done. Any fool willing to fill that chair would look like an accomplice to appease the Assistant Secretary Army Corp of Engineer and Civil Works review board.

The FMDA is a prisoner of their own device. They have spent more on exploiting loopholes for P3 funding, temporary financing and DPAC than any lawsuits against the proposed project.

Ironically, the FMDA has spent more on a brand new Oxbow golf course, clubhouse and swimming pool than “obstructionist lawsuits”. (courtesy of North Dakota, Cass County and Fargo taxpayers)

Here is how it really breaks down:

Year Est. Cost Memo
2010 $ 1.3 billion Original Minnesota Alignment FCP
2011 $ 1.8 billion FMDA decided on North Dakota Aligment LPP
2016 $ 2.126 billion Mission Creep: In Town Levees,
Oxbow Country Club, OHB Ring Dike
POTENTIAL $ 3.6 billion Minimum Potential Cost (in 2016 dollars)

 

Here’s a thought…, maybe…, just maybe…, had the Fargo Dam and FM Diversion Authority included upstream and downstream interests with a seat at the table and equal voting rights in the beginning, perhaps this project would be a lot further along. The Richland – Wilkin JPA lawsuit is a result of the FDMA leadership covering their ears and repeating la..la..la..la..la..

The sheer incompetence of any FMDA, city or county official in setting aside their smug-ass arrogance to avoid a legal battle is testimony to how in-effective these individuals have handled the matter. One diversion authority member was overheard inferring: “…we’ll simply outspend them in legal costs…”

I personally spoke to Kevin Campbell, Clay county commissioner, in Dec 2010 and inquired about how upstream interests could have a seat at the table, to which he replied: “there is a financial ‘buy-in’, you need to have a financial stake, you have to have taxing authority”.

Hmmm…, it appears that every property owner upstream and downstream have a financial stake in the matter. It is evident in land and structures impacted in the USACE cost/benefit documents. As to financial buy-in and taxing authority…, sorry Campbell, but you’re full of (insert wording of choice).

Forum editorial: Diversion variables affect cost; Apr 3, 2016
Additionally, the Diversion Authority in concert with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has advanced modifications to the project to accommodate upstream and downstream concerns. Every change adds to the cost.

 

There have been ZERO modifications to accommodate upstream and downstream actual concerns.

The current VE13A alignment documentation indicates nearly 17 inches more water on Drayton, ND than the highest crest in 1997.

Forum editorial: Diversion variables affect cost; Apr 3, 2016
Nevertheless, the authority, the corps and members of the congressional delegations of North Dakota and Minnesota have encouraged the so-called P3 funding mechanism (public, private partnership), by which the “local” share of the project is funded in part by private investors. Thus, when the authority reports the local share is up, that potential private portion – that is, non-taxpayer dollars – will contribute to the local share.

 

The aforementioned paragraph is just asinine!

There is no grant or contribution…, it is a loan, with interest, that must be paid back.

With a proposed $2.126 billion price, less $450 million in federal funding, indicates a $1.676 billion local and state share. Which in roughly a $751 million project cost increase since 2011.

P3 is not a savings at all! It is $400 million in instant up-front costs for the local share, which will be funded directly and indirectly via sales and property tax.

In addition, there have been two – 50 million dollar loans already taken by Fargo and Cass county without voter consent that have not been factored into the numbers above.

The talking heads want you to believe in the hyperbole that you can save money by borrowing money.

Yet…, interest is paid on a greater principle, over a longer period of time, which will generally outpace any savings offset against future inflation.

Hmmm…

Forum editorial: Diversion variables affect cost; Apr 3, 2016
Also, the projections of city and county sales taxes that contribute to the diversion project and other flood mitigation projects have always been conservative. Figures from the taxes that are folded into project costs reliably underestimate actual collections. The sales tax base is growing at a good clip, and there are no indications growth will slow.

 

The only underestimating taking place is the cost estimates that have ZERO CHANCE of coming in under the recent estimates advanced by the FM Delusion Authority.

Forum editorial: Diversion variables affect cost; Apr 3, 2016
As authority members have said repeatedly, the diversion cost is a moving target.

 
No, it is not!

The FMDA talking heads are allowing the diversion cost to be a moving target because these buffoons have no idea how deeply in-over their heads they are.

Public interest is not served, when elected officials fail to present a final cost estimate for approval of the taxpayers that are expected to shoulder the cost.

Forum editorial: Diversion variables affect cost; Apr 3, 2016
The variables are many and complicated. The authority is in the process of working with financial experts to finalize, as much as possible, a solid estimate of costs, including up-to-date changes, that will be the basis for construction bids. Overall, the project is sound – so sound that the Diversion Authority said contractors are lining up to bid the work, and P3 investors are ready to participate.

 
Hogs at trough squealing for money doesn’t ensure the soundness of the project.

It does, however, suggest an environment “rife” with a lack of oversight.

Forum editorial: Diversion variables affect cost; Apr 3, 2016
No one expected a project of such magnitude and complexity to be easy. But the threat of a catastrophic flood is still real, and the only way to secure permanent protection for the metro and its environs is the diversion. Compared to potential losses from such a flood, the diversion price tag is a bargain.

 

Ahh…, there it is…, the incessant appeal to fear!

BEST scientific minds at work.  They either got it wrong THEN or NOW.

If they got it wrong THEN.
Do they have it wrong NOW?

Fact is, the Fargo-Moorhead area is at NO GREATER RISK of catastrophic flooding than before the concept of the Fargo Dam and FM Diversion project.

There is a 99.98% chance that the FM metro will not experience a catastrophic 500 year flood in any given year.

However, encroachment and irresponsible development of natural flood plain ensures that areas not previously prone to flooding may face mandatory flood insurance requirements.

Despite the lies employed to support the theoretical assumptions of the EOE (Expert Opinion Elicitation), the Fargo Moorhead area exceeded a 100 year flood in 1997 and 2009.

FEAR! FEAR! FEAR!

Wouldn’t it be a breath of fresh air for the Fargo Foolem’ to lead with the flood protections and improvements constructed since 2009?

After-all, there have been MILLIONS purportedly spent on some alleged internal flood protection that never seems to get any press.

Probably, because that would undermine the message of fear

Forum editorial: Diversion variables affect cost; Apr 3, 2016
Editorials represent the opinion of Forum management and the newspaper’s Editorial Board.

 

Forum editorials represent the abandonment of any journalistic integrity and fiscal accountability of elected officials.

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