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FM Diversion and Dam Increases national debt

Fargo Forum Gets It Completely Wrong Again

Fargo Media

It isn’t surprising that the mouthpiece for Fargo Diversion Authority continues to champion Fargo’s cause and get nearly every aspect wrong.

Despite clear and present hurdles in Minnesota state permitting, the Fargo Forum editorial board continues to act like a vapid version of a cheerleaders encouraging the most arrogant, self centered high school clique to plan a high end prom that only the cool kids will be allowed to attend.

This is and will always be why Imperial Fargo – Imperial Cass are reviled as exclusive elitists with a propensity to take what is not theirs and give to those that do not deserve it.

Here is the editorial with commentary:

Forum editorial: Don’t alter diversion board’s structure
Posted on Oct 13, 2014 at 11:40 p.m.

It’s reassuring to see that not every officeholder in Minnesota is eager to pander to the shrill voices of opposition to the Fargo-Moorhead flood diversion coming from entrenched upstream opponents. In the midst of a heated election season, Minnesota’s governor and several legislators have made comments that are counter-productive, including demands that Minnesota be given greater representation on the Diversion Authority board.

 

It is shameful that “certain” Minnesota office holders are willing to pander to needs of Fargo before their own city, county and state.

The Fargo Diversion Authority chose to move defiantly forward with a segment of the overall project prior to Minnesota DNR completely its EIS process during an election year.

Minnesota agencies did their best to communicate towards a productive goal, however, the Fargo Diversion Authority continued to willfully ignore processes that protect Minnesota’s rights and territories until it inevitably reached MN Gov Mark Dayton’s desk.

Zaleski and his crew: By mutual agreement when the authority was formed, North Dakota entities were given seven votes on the governing board and Minnesota entities got two votes. The reasons are simple, sound and warranted: North Dakota is paying monumentally more toward the $1.8 billion project. Fargo and Cass County passed special sales taxes, and North Dakota has pledged to provide its share, a promise backed by appropriations. Minnesota, meanwhile, has given no assurances, to say nothing of appropriations. Think of it as one dollar, one vote.

 

The formation of the authority was anything but mutual, simple, sound and warranted.

The original authority had NO REPRESENTATION from impacted areas downstream or upstream, which is a problem that still exists today. The original authority was never voted upon by the public it is purported to represent. It morphed out of the the Southside Flood Protection Coalition through a process of arbitrary appointments from local governments, excluding representation for those outside the jurisdictional boundaries of Fargo, Moorhead and West Fargo into its current form, assuming powers not truly granted by either Minnesota or North Dakota constitutions.

I personally asked Kevin Campbell at the first meeting held at Bennett Elementary to announce upstream impacts on how my community would be able to have a seat at the table and address impacts they presented to us without our consent.

Campbell’s reply: “It would be up to the rest of the board, there is a financial buy in and you must have taxing authority. Stakeholders make the decisions.”

So I asked: “If the stakeholders make the decisions, why aren’t we included, we definitely have a stake in the matter, your plan completely wipes out our community and I’ve never had a drop of flood water on my land.”

Kevin Campbell: “I mean financial…, monetary stakeholders…, I’m sorry but I really have to catch this person.”

Hmmm…

Isn’t it curious that a MN representative claiming there is a financial stake in the matter did not have Minnesota state funding behind him when he made the statement(s), yet felt he had the exclusive right to determine the futures of those not represented at the table? That’s just one on many reasons Kevin Campbell should NOT be re-elected to the Clay county commission in November.

Yes, Fargo and Cass county passed special sales taxes, however, the editorial board conveniently left out the a key detail that upstream impacts were with held from voters until after the outcome of the tax vote and Fargo’s most recent sales tax vote narrowly passed by only 63 votes.

It would be interesting to see if either sales tax would pass today based on what people know about the project and how unjustly the impacts have been placed.

Zaleski and his crew: At a recent Diversion Authority board meeting, Moorhead City Councilor Nancy Otto and Clay County Commissioner Kevin Campbell were voices of reason and clarity. They provided welcome reminders that Minnesota members of the Diversion Authority board remain firmly committed to the flood protection project – and its governing structure.

 

Shame on Moorhead City Councilor Nancy Otto and Clay County Commissioner Kevin Campbell for abandoning their state law and constituents. They do not have the funding, MN DNR EIS or permit authorization to be advancing the project.

They have not been voices of reason and clarity. On the contrary, they have repeatedly parroted project embellishments to foster continued flood fears despite the construction of considerable permanent flood protection that protect Moorhead residents.

Otto and Campbell have voted in lockstep with the Fargo Diversion Authority to the detriment of Minnesota interests, even after they were made aware that continued behavior on that course would necessitate a change.

The only “welcome reminder” to the Fargo Diversion Authority is that Otto and Campbell like the taste of Fargo kool-aid and prostituted their values for Fargo’s future development area.

Zaleski and his crew: The diversion, which has been authorized by Congress and deemed environmentally sound by the Army Corps of Engineers, was moving steadily along until a dispute erupted this summer. After the Diversion Authority began building a ring dike to protect the North Dakota communities of Oxbow, Hickson and Bakke, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources and Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton objected vehemently.

 

Ahh yes…, the tired old misinformation that the U.S. congress specifically authorized the Fargo project. Anyone with a lick of common sense understands that the U.S. Congress never independently weighed the pro’s & con’s of the Fargo dam and diversion in the halls of the White House.

Even so, congressional authorization does not relate to automatic funding. With a moratorium on new project starts, a nation nearly $18 trillion in debt, the likely-hood of congressional funding is many times smaller than the mythical flood the Fargo Dam and FM Diversion is purported to protect against.

Yes, the Fargo project was stuffed into the WRRDA bill, however, what the Fargo Forum refuses to report upon is that the “swift speed” in which the Fargo project made it through the U.S. Army Corps process has more to do with Minnesota agreeing to conduct their DNR Environmental Impact Statement after the Corps was done with theirs. Fargo, Cass county and other players were well aware of the congressional cycle and deadline and accelerated the process to meet that goal.

The Fargo project may never have been included into the WRRDA bill, had Minnesota conducted it’s EIS in conjunction with the Corps of Engineers, because it would have missed the cycle of the WRRDA bill it was placed into, which was approved in June 2014.

As for the false claim that the project “was moving steadily along until a dispute erupted this summer”, dated federal documents illustrate a much more accurate reality than the fiction being disseminated by the Forum’s editorial board.

Zaleski and his crew: Minnesota officials argued that construction shouldn’t have started until the Minnesota DNR completed its environmental review. That study – which has received generous financial support from the diversion – was delayed and now is expected next spring. Faced with a slow-moving Minnesota bureaucracy, and reasoning that the ring dike would be needed with or without the diversion, the Diversion Authority went ahead, even though Minnesota asked it to wait for the study.

 

On the contrary. The Fargo Diversion Authority defied the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers chiefs report issued released December 19th, 2011 by failing to comply with all applicable Federal and State law and regulations. Although attempts by the Corps and Fargo Diversion Authority to assert that passing of the WRRDA bill grants them permission to do as they please, Minnesota has not signed off on the project.

On August 28th, 2014 Randall Doneen and Kent Lokkesmoe, MN DNR met with the Fargo Diversion Authority.

Two fundamental points were made crystal clear.

1) MN filed their Amicus Curaie brief to ensure preemption of state law does not occur.

Kent Lokkesmoe (MN DNR) – August 28th, 2014:

2) MN agreed to conduct their EIS review, at the request of the Fargo Diversion Authority, after the Corps completed their EIS.

Randall Donneen response to Ken Pawluk’s – August 28th, 2014:

There is no issue of generous financial support, delays or slow-moving Minnesota bureaucracy in play. These things would have normally occurred in conjunction with Corps process.

Regarding the wholly unnecessary OHB ring dike-levee. The Fargo Diversion Authority continues to live in its fantasy world that it would be needed with or without the diversion.

Zaleski and his crew: Then the rhetorical sparks flew, including the recent demands for equal Minnesota board representation. In a conciliatory gesture, the diversion board has agreed to hold construction of the ring dike to the 100-year level, at least pending the outcome of Minnesota’s review. The board has appropriately refused, however, to bow to demands that Minnesota have equal board representation.

 

It is unfortunate that impact results provided to Minnesota as a result of the April 2014 technical memorandum used the FEMA regulatory 100 year flood plain to determine impacts to MN but the 100 year elevation that the Fargo Diversion Authority is building the project to is based on higher Corps EOE data.

So why the subterfuge? Why base impacts on an elevation that is feet lower than the benchmark being used for the levee height?

One thing is for certain. The “conciliatory gesture” is as deceitful as the reasoning behind the Fargo Diversion Authorities empty gesture of a “seat at the table”.

Zaleski and his crew: We hope that once the election is over, Minnesota officials will move away from the incendiary rhetoric, and work to ensure that vital flood protection for Fargo-Moorhead keeps moving ahead.

 

If Fargo or the Diversion Authority were truly interested in protecting the city, they would complete internal flood protection. They’ve had over 5 long years since 2009 and over 17 years since the 1997 flood to address flooding issues and restrict encroachment into the natural flood plain.

Since the Fargo Diversion Authority was formed to September 30th, 2014 over $85 million has been spent toward a project that may never receive federal funding and Fargo residents sit without flood protection for those receiving new flood insurance requirements.

$85 million that could have shored up internal defenses to safeguard the city, residents and businesses.

The Fargo Diversion Authority is nothing more than the “illusion” of credibility with a propensity to spend money on flood control for future growth rather than the residents that are paying for protection in the here and now.

Zaleski and his crew: Forum 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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