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Spinning a Wide Web of Deceit

Darrell Vanyo and other Fargo Diversion Authority proponents are so accomplished at bending the truth, that they’ve perfected circular reasoning in an effort to justify their actions.

During the August 27th, 2014 broadcast of 6:30 Point of View ( facebook 630pov), Fargo Diversion Authority chairman Darrell Vanyo makes misleading statements to quell legitimate concerns regarding the status of the Oxbow, Hickson, Bakke ring-dike-levee (OHB Project)status.

Here is the excerpt, transcript and commentary:

Darrell Vanyo F-M Diversion Authority Chairman 6:30 Point of View

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6:30 POV (Point of View) 8-27-2014 Transcript Excerpt
Chris Berg: …but I guess my question is what I heard saying, correct me if I’m wrong, is you just said…, YES this Oxbow ring dike IS part of the project.
Darrell Vanyo: Okay, and I’ve explained this many times, and it, it, it’s a…, you have to be careful with the words, because we have never stated it wasn’t part of the project, it has it’s origination with the project but it carries independent utility.

The reason it carries independent utility and this get’s into legal issues of which I’m not a judge and we aren’t in a courtroom so I’ll just give you my side of it. Independent utility, we’ve got four reasons why we moved on this:

one to get people out of limbo that they’ve been in since year 2010,

market values went down, this can restore market values,

they do not have 100…uuhhh..year flood protection certified,

the Kindred School District lost revenues when the state board of equalization lowered property values in Oxbow

Four reasons that brings about independent utility of why we’re doing it simp…, uhhh…, y’know as part of the project but it still can carry independent utility. So our attorneys say you can be both. You’re part of a project but you can carry independent utility to do a project, we voted unanimously to the project…., and.., we’re doing it.



Kudos to Chris Berg for asked a pertinent question, mere seconds after Darrell Vanyo admits openly that the OHB Project is part of the overall project, which the local residents, Richland-Wilkin JPA, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Minnesota DNR and Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton have all concluded.

Where it get’s interesting is when Darrell Vanyo tries to spin public relations terminology to justify the Fargo Diversion Authority position.

First off…, Commissioner Vanyo… GROW UP!

Just because you hold an elected title, doesn’t mean you’ve earned the respect that would normally accompany your station. In fact, your actions in this matter, prove the contrary.

The Fargo Diversion Authority and Dorsey Whitney lawyers (who have received over $1.1 million in taxpayer dollars) are clearly wrong both on the OHB project status and ethical issues tied to the flip flopping done relating to the matter. Further attempts to save face in light of the obvious distortion of facts regarding the OHB project only serve to ensure the legacy that you will be remembered for.

The entire attempt for the Fargo Diversion Authority to seek a 404 permit to justify an alleged “independent status” was withdrawn in June 2014 by the applicant (Fargo Diversion Authority) because it did not pass the metrics needed to warrant independent utility. U.S. Army Corps of engineers Omaha District ND Regulatory office stated VERY CLEARLY that: “The application for a stand-alone project is no longer necessary, as the OHB Project is part of the overall Federal Project.”.

Actions, as they pertain to the OHB project were premeditated and withheld from the public.

On June 11th, 2014 the Fargo Diversion Authority traveled to Omaha to find a solution for the box they placed themselves into with the (2014) 404 application and considerable comments and requests for a public hearing.

Out of that field trip, on taxpayer dollars, the Fargo Diversion Authority cut a deal via the USACE with Ducks Unlimited for $587,180 to replace wetlands or they would not get their 404 permit under the Regulatory Guidance Letter 88-09 that expired December 31st, 1990.

Before the Fargo Diversion Authority withdrew their 404 permit application Wednesday June 18th, 2014, Riley Brothers Construction Inc. was given “limited notice to proceed” on Tuesday June 17th, 2014. Isn’t that interesting…, one day before the 404 permit is withdrawn, permission to bring in equipment was granted and Cass county 25 was closed without due process…, all without any public notice to local residents or the Cass county taxpayers at large.

Where were the Cass County Commissioners?

Darrell Vanyo didn’t present these things to local residents…
Mary Scherling didn’t present these things to local residents…
Ken Pawluk didn’t present these things to local residents…
Vern Bennett didn’t present these things to local residents…
Chad Peterson didn’t present these things to local residents…

Even more suspect is Cass county giving “notice to proceed” the very same day the Fargo Diversion Authority filed a motion in an attempt to thwart the Richland Wilkin JPA from filing an injunction to stop the very work being authorized before the Minnesota DNR has had adequate time to complete their state EIS.

Darrell, whether or not you’re in a courtroom or not is irrelevant. As a public servant, you are in the court of public opinion and cannot legally manipulate the “truth” on a technicality as you see fit…, and the public can judge your actions from miles away.

To address the 4 reasons that Darrell Vanyo would like people to buy into are further examples of the falsehoods and lengths the Fargo Diversion Authority and Cass county commissioners are willing to employ in the attempt to solicit public support for an immoral project.

Limbo: The state of limbo was created by the aggressive actions of Fargo Diversion Authority and Cass county commissioners moving project impacts onto upstream property owners that never had their best interests represented at the county of Fargo Diversion Authority level, nor did any of the property owners accept the proposed impacts by any legal vote. The condition of “limbo” never existed prior to the willful placement of project impacts onto entities upstream.

Market Values: The aforementioned actions by the Fargo Diversion Authority and Cass county blighted upstream property values and there is no existing “substantial proof” market valuations will return to levels equal to or greater than levels prior to the proposed project and impacts. There is only an assumption made by Cass county commissioners and Fargo Diversion Authority, recklessly devoid of any guarantee that property owners will be made fairly and equitably “whole”.

Fargo Diversion Authority records indicate severe losses to market valuation in Oxbow, ND – despite the proposal of the OHB project, which is claimed to restore the valuations.

105 Oxbow Drive buyout expense – $216.401.85 and net cost after sale $35,411.08
121 Oxbow Drive buyout expense – $375,581.20 and net cost after sales $212,963.41

Anyone with the ability to add and subtract can see that a $248,374.49 loss on these two properties is not a robustly rebounding real estate market for the communities of Oxbow, ND.

100 year Flood Protection: Darrell Vanyo is distorting facts and disseminating misinformation in his attempt to justify wrongful actions.

Bakke and Hickson have never flooded and all but five homes in Oxbow area are above the new 100 year flood level. Which should prompt the most obvious question. If approximately 5 of the remaining 178 OHB project area homes are below the 100 year FEMA regulatory flood plain, what “existing” need is there for superfluous city-wide “certified” flood protection?

Roads, highways and other natural features are not generally classified as “certified flood protection”, however, their existence can significantly reduce or remove flood insurance requirement to properties located on the “dry side” of these features.

Road Acting as Levee (certified)

Perhaps the most indelible distortion in Vanyo’s claims alluding to the lack of certifiable 100 year flood protection. By comparison, Oxbow experienced a near 350 year FEMA regulatory flood in 2009.

In 2010-11, Oxbow constructed permanent flood protection which the North Dakota State Water commission approved and permitted and has the ability to withstand, with typical temporary measures, a flood greater than 2009.

In 2010, the city of Oxbow received permit #2240 from the ND State Water Commission for flood control. In 2012, the city submitted a revised #2398 to the ND State Water Commission, setting the minimum levee height at 917.5 feet, which exceeds the FEMA 500 year flood level.

2009 crest Oxbow, ND 916.473 feet.  Near 350 year flood event according to FEMA regulatory flood plain, USGS gage and CFS discharge records.

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2009 crest Oxbow, ND 916.473 feet.
Near 350 year flood event according to FEMA regulatory flood plain, USGS gage and CFS discharge records.

Kindred School District: Completely fraudulent claim by Darrell Vanyo.

The city of Oxbow petitioned for property tax reduction in 2012, which was denied by the Cass county commission.

The city of Oxbow then forwarded their property tax reduction claim to the State Board of Equalization, which granted Oxbow’s request.

The Kindred School District then requested the Diversion Board of Authority to reimburse the school district for revenues they claim were lost because of a 20% reduction in property tax valuations for Oxbow, which was granted by the State Board of Equalization. Mr. Montplaisir said the school district did not lose any tax dollars; Oxbow residents will pay less in taxes, and the remaining residents of the school district will pay more to compensate for the reduction.

PLEASE NOTE: other property owners in Hickson and Bakke within the proposed OHB rind-dike-levee project area are not receiving the property tax reduction. The property tax reduction solely benefits Oxbow, ND property owners that are receiving the $65-$90 million dollar golf course, swimming pool, clubhouse, community relocation and ring-dike-levee.

During the December 13th, 2012 Flood Diversion Board of Authority meeting, Darrell Vanyo is on record claiming:

“…since the school district did not lose any revenue, the board
is not responsible to reimburse the school district…” – Darrell Vanyo

That doesn’t sound at all like a person remotely interested in reconciling impacts caused by the proposed project(s). The mere fact that the Cass county commissioners refused to compensate the Kindred School Districts for property tax loss and subsequent shifting of those impacts onto remaining school district property owners, clearly defines the callous nature of the individuals serving as proponents of the Fargo Dam and FM Diversion project(s).

No siree Darrell…, you are not an honest elected official. You are small man, with screwed up ethics and willingness to abuse your position rather than serving Cass county constituents equitably, fairly and without prejudice.

I’ve said it before and I will say it again…, you should step down as Cass county commissioner.

You are the very essence of everything that is wrong with Imperial Cass and show no remorse for you immoral actions.

You openly insult MN Gov. Mark Dayton and other MN state agencies and refuse to entertain any flood protection discussion that leaves the natural flood plain south of Fargo intact without further encroachment.

You and the Fargo Diversion Authority are negligent for not simultaneously pursuing a PLAN B scenario, if and when funding never comes or the project fails to receive appropriate permitting from the state of Minnesota.

Acting as the Fargo Diversion Authority chair, you abused your authority and arbitrarily urged the Cass county commission to deny a development plat, that met existing requirements, in an area where Fargo and the Diversion Authority would like to place water impacts long before the WRRDA bill was ever passed and still has no realistic timeline, if any, for federal funding approval. How dare you and your ilk, under conflict of interest, deny a property owner their legal right to fully embrace the value of their property.

Your legacy will be one that reflects the nature of your actions. The facts speak for themselves.

I, for one, am ashamed that I ever bought into Darrell Vanyo’s empty election promises and checked the box next to his name.

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6 Responses to “ Spinning a Wide Web of Deceit ”

  1. Thankful. For the information, I would like to shake your hand some day Mr.Larson.

  2. Thank you, Marcus, for sharing the facts. I agree that Vanyo should resign from his positions as Chairman of the DA and as Cass County Commissioner. If he chooses not to do so, necessary action should be taken to have him removed from office.

  3. Mr. Larson, if only you were as smart as you think you are. The personal insults you throw out against people, particularly Mr. Vanyo, speak to your character as well as your ignorance. I never heard Mr. Vanyo insult the governor, or anyone else for that matter. He has worked on this project for years donating hundreds of hours on behalf of our community. He doesn’t reap any personal benefits nor any financial gain for the hundreds of hours he has put into this project. You criticize Mr. Vanyo for insulting others but apparently you think it is acceptable to insult whoever you wish, with such hatred that I have no respect for a single word you have spoken. As Darrell said in his meeting in Moorhead, if we are gentlemen we can work out our differences. The world doesn’t need “reporters” such as yourself who think that the way to be a solution is to attack, not communicate respectfully. I think your statement, “GROW UP,” suits you very well.

  4. Valerie,

    Thank you for your reply. Chairman Vanyo and the Fargo Diversion Authority has systematically excluded entities, bearing the largest burden of impact, from any represented seat where decisions are made relating to the proposed dam and diversion.

    Darrell Vanyo has NOT donated hundreds of hours on behalf of the community, it is an appointment that falls within his paid responsibilities as an elected official.

    However, the hundreds upon thousands of hours that opponents have invested to defend their property rights against the aggressive stance taken by the Fargo, Cass and the Diversion Authority is probably closer to your intended example. If Fargo/Cass/Diversion Authority win, their conquest nets development land, construction contracts and access to “forced sale land” on the taxpayer dime with the impacts being placed outside Fargo’s jurisdictional boundaries. Whereas, if opponents win, Fargo has to complete much needed internal flood protection – and opponents return to their lives, a little richer in community and a little lighter in the bank account due to out of pocket expenses battling the bullies.

    Whether you choose to agree or disagree with a position that is contrary to a pro-Fargo agenda is your choice. You obviously see a side to Darrell Vanyo that others do not.

    The arrogance and tenor displayed towards governor Dayton by Vanyo and others suggesting that he is misinformed by rogue MN agencies or that he is somehow “supplicant” to a Cass county commissioner serving as a chairman of a Diversion Board of Authority with a representation imbalanced is sufficient proof of insults to the station earned and achieved by Gov Mark Dayton and the state agencies that protect Minnesota interests.

    The consistent misinformation from the Fargo Diversion Authority and Chairman Darrell Vanyo defines the legacy and leaders and how history will remember them.

    We live in a great nation where the idea of pluralism still exists and citizens still have to right to question leaders for their actions and to redress them for the same. It appears that the “sand kicked in the face” of Minnesota representatives is how Dayton and other MN representatives feel that Darrell Vanyo, Cass county and the Fargo Diversion Authority etal have behaved.

    Yes, Darrell Vanyo and the Fargo Diversion Authority at large need to “Grow Up” and be honest with the public. The proposed project is not a flood control project. It is a development project built upon augmented data to support a cost benefit ratio capable of facilitating natural flood plain development that has only served to increase flood risk to the greater metro area…, which in turn, has related to new flood insurance requirements for many unwary homeowners.

    If Darrell Vanyo and others on the Fargo Diversion Authority were truly civilized adults, they would have included opponents from the outset…, and not a feigned offer after the damage has already been done.

  5. When Cass County commissioner and Chair of the FM Diversion Board of Authority, said to the upstream group who meet with “Darrel” and other DA members at the Cass County Court house we expected to have a respectful discussion of the issues as they relate to the impacts to the upstream communities . This was a error on our part. Darrell stated we only exist because of Fargo, the implication was that we are indebted for our existence to Fargo and therefor they can impact us as they see fit.
    We lost all expecting of civil and respectful dialog with the chair of the FM Diversion Board of authority. TR

  6. In response to Governor Dayton’s criticism, the Associated a Press reported that Darrel Vanyo stated: “The corps of engineers does not take their marching orders from Fargo. . . So this is not something that is designed in a vacuum and then placed out there as though this is for the purpose of development for Fargo.”

    This is blatantly false and contradicts the Army Corps’ repeated explanations that Darrel Vanyo and the Diversion Aurhority a.k.a. “the local sponsors” did precisely that – drew lines and gave the Army Corps it’s marching orders. Further – the Army Corps reports that these marching orders were given to protect Fargo’s future development.

    You don’t have to take Mr. Larson’ word that Darrel Vanyo is less than honest – you merely have to check his facts with the Army Corps’ records of this boondoggle of a project.

    Furthermore – the fact that Fargo still lacks permanent flood protection can also be attributed to Vanyo’s failed leadership. What competent leader spends 10’s of millions of taxpayer dollars on a private golf course 15 south of Fargo – while neglecting Fargo’s permanent levees? Oxbow, Bakke and Hickson are above the 100 year flood plain – yet they get 70 millions of tax dollars given for Fargo’s flood protection -while Fargo remains unprotected and at risk! Talk about Nero’s fiddle!

    If Fargo loses a flood fight because of it’s neglected internal protections – it won’t be because of men like Mr. Larson defending their homes and communities. Rather it will be directly attributable to failed leaders like Darrel Vanyo pushing a development plan instead of protecting Fargo.

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