Guest Post: Rep. Al Carlson Is Right About Diversion Amendments

alcarlson

Last week, on February 28th, Fargo’s Mayor Walaker was interviewed by Chris Berg on POV (Point of View), on Fargo’s KX-KVLY.

The topic was Fargo’s reaction over to HB 1020. The bill would give Fargo $1O2 million dollars to bring the city’s  flood protection measures up to 42.5 feet, nearly two feet more than the height of the greatest Fargo flood in recorded history.  Far from being grateful,  the Fargo Mayor complained that the ND House, by amendment, would limit the use of the state funds to building up internal protections, and prohibit the use of those tax dollars for Fargo’s Army Corps’ diversion project.

Fargo has been working with the Army Corps designing a project, estimated to cost in excess of $2 billion dollars, to dam and divert area’s rivers. Federal approval and funding of the project is uncertain at best and several years down the road at the earliest.

In last week’s interview Fargo’s Mayor lamented about the restrictions placed on the money. He was clear that he intended to have the restriction removed so that Fargo could begin immediate construction on the mammoth project.

Thus was Rep. Al Carlson wholly vindicated by his support of the controls placed on the funds.  Fargo’s leaders do  not care whether or when federal funding is approved, if ever.  If left to their own discretion they will use state monies to commit state and local taxpayers to a multi-billion dollar project for which federal funding may never appear. Fargo wants this project even if that means obligating the state for 100 percent of its $2 billion dollar price tag.  Fargo legislator Carlson made the right decision for North Dakota.

If Fargo leaders want an Army Corps project – let them secure the federal funds before obligating the state of North Dakota.

Marcus Larson, born in Roseau, MN has lived in MN, ND and SD until returning to the Fargo/Moorhead area where he studied Industrial Technology, Engineering, Business Administration, Criminal Justice, Mass Communications with an emphasis in Broadcast Journalism and Integrated Ad & PR at Moorhead State University. He resides in Bakke, ND, with his wife, Debra, and two boys. He is a frank speaking property rights advocate and is active in community affairs as well as MNDak Upstream Coalition and the Richland Wilkin JPA.

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  • TexasJew

    When the mayors of RED western counties say that they need over a billion dollars of infrastructure money RIGHT NOW and then build 80 million dollar rec centers, the control should not be local, in any case
    Imagine what the eastern Dims would demand..
    Carlson is right on this.

  • Roy_Bean

    The same week that the US passes $16 trillion in debt the mayor of Fargo is out looking for $2 billion in federal money to build a diversion that they really don’t need and his idea of a “local share” is using money from a sales tax collected from people who don’t live there.

    • Thresherman

      I wouldn’t go so far as to say Fargo doesn’t need it, anyone who went through the floods and the aftermath would agree that it is at minimum a debatable point. But here is the catch to it all and that is the price tag that they are looking for the Feds to pay.

      There are a great many projects that are in competition with Fargo for federal funding and the sad fact is that the ratio of people who benefit verses the amount of money spent is far from being in Fargo’s favor. In fact, the diversion commission hired a former member of the Corps of Engineers to report on the feasibility of the project including federal funding. He reported that given the relatively few people that would benefit in comparison to the cost would make the project practically unfundable. There are simply too many other projects that will impact more people in the same price range and that is where the money will go. Naturally the Fargo media failed to cover this and it was quickly hushed up.

      Given that information, does it now make sense why Fargo wants to get the state committed to the project before federal funding is approved?

      • Thresherman

        One further point that I would like to add, since the diversion commission knows that federal funding is unlikely, is it not tantamount to criminality to continue to subject the property owners, who are due to be impacted by the proposed course of the diversion, to the continued devaluation of their property and uncertainty of their futures?

        • Roy_Bean

          That’s another good point, and why should people who built away from the river lose their property to divert water away from a flood plain that has existed since the beginning of time? Why should people in the Sheyenne valley suffer a permanent flood to prevent a temporary flood once in a while in Fargo? If we must spend $2 billion why don’t we spend it relocating houses to open a path for water to flow?

          • toppr8

            This is the BIGGESTof all concerns, and is a travesty. Water causes problems for buildings and when you build close to it you need to remember that you are putting your property in a zone of danger. Why should those who did not build in this area be subjected to the short sighted decisions of those who did. COME ON, this is just plain WRONG!!! This diversion project should be put to rest. What message are we sending by rewarding those that couldn’t make the right decision in the first place.

          • jimmypop

            easy answer; how many people are being affected …with harm and benefit?

            why should people have to lose their property just to build a highway?

          • Marcus

            Losing land for any reason is tragic.

            However, you are arguing a fundamentally different situation to rationalize another.

            A highway supports commerce and any interest that chooses to utilize the roadway…, which is funded in part via fuel and excise taxes.

            Whereas, the proposed dam and diversion supports a local plan to develop the local natural flood plain south of Fargo for a “finite” expansion period that benefits local interests at the expense of non-local taxpayers.

    • two_amber_lamps

      From YOU according to diktat… to ME according to my “need.”

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pz2p4EQtEXs

    • RCND

      But it’s federal money so it’s free. That makes it OK

    • Drain52

      Yes, and the sales tax they are collecting isn’t even going towards flood control. Instead it’s being used for new bike lanes and to salvage the underfunded city pension plan. Fargo coerced the rest of the county to add their own 1/4% sales tax to help with flood protection, but Fargo’s spending it’s flood money on everything BUT flood protection. Carlson is right to do what he’s doing.

    • jimmypop

      sales taxes dont have to be paid by anyone that does not benefit from the Cass County area. dont want to pay, dont come here.

      if only all our taxes were that way….. here is an example…. can we have the last 40 years of Cass oil well and income tax money that went sent to fund the west back?

  • Opponent

    As someone whose community is in harm’s way of the proposed 80 square mile reservoir, I am very involved in the fight to stop this project. The opposition to Fargo’s project is very well organized and well funded. We have educated ourselves with all aspects of this project as well as the hurdles that must be cleared in order for Fargo’s project to be approved and funded. I can say with some confidence that I feel this project is unlikely to ever receive federal funding. The opposing organizations have authorized their attorney to commence litigation to challenge the project. That litigation has been postponed because Fargo can’t seem to finish their plans so as to allow the completion of the environmental reviews, or even to allow MN to begin its own environmental review. It’s likely to be two years down the road before the project is even ripe for litigation. Litigation won’t even be necessary if the MN DNR does not approve the project, something that will not even be considered until their yet to be commenced environmental review is completed. We are told that once commenced that process will take 18 months. Fargo’s project has no benefits for MN, only impacts.

    All this will take time, years. Meanwhile the costs for Fargo’s project, estimated at 2 Billion Dollars two yearse ago, will continue to grow.

    We understand that the competition for funding for Army Corp’s projects is very competitive – that few are funded. We further understand from credible authorities that the funding of these projects is not even seriously considered when there is litigation pending, and for which there is strong opposition.

    Rep. Carlson is spot on with his concerns. Federal funding is very unlikely. Fargo leaders should not be allowed to saddle state and local taxpayers with the bill for this unnecessary project.

    • jimmypop

      “Federal funding is very unlikely. ”

      first, we are getting federal money already…..

      again, where are you hearing its not likely to happen? names, dates and quotes please.

      • Emmet

        Minnesota Public Radio:
        Everyone agrees federal funding will be difficult. In fact, Fargo Mayor Dennis Walaker gives the project a less than 50 percent chance of being built.

        Valley News Live:
        Mayor Walaker says he’s confident they will get the 30 million from the state. But he only gave a 40-percent chance of securing any federal dollars for the diversion project.

  • Stuart

    Any one that complains about this state and its legislative competency is either a whiner, or a Democrat. With the Democrats we see a mantra or a old worn out response that says we’ve got to spend more. That is the best they’ve got? If the conservatives spend a billion then the Democrats come out and play the stingy card. We should have spent 1.5 Billion. Come on don’t fall for this class warfare politics!

    Now I was amazed at one comment by the Democrats choice to run against Hoeven. He had nothing on Hoeven,so he came up with a new unheard of narrative the Democrats never used when attempting to gain power. The guy and he was a weak candidate claimed Hoeven was a big spender? Wow! The state was in the black.and only two other states followed suit and were in the black also. I almost laughed my guts out. A democrat saying this?

    For all of the living room chair quarterbacks the political dynamics aren’t as easy as we proclaim them to be. But the narrative for the Democrts hasn’t changed in my life time. “It’s we didn’t do enough, and can my wife or husband get a lobbyist job so I can come to the end of my reign with wealth

    • camsaure

      You cannot say that Horven and Dullrumple are conservative and not big spenders. They are RINOs at their utmost and the dems actually should love them. The fact that ND is in the black is in spite of hoeven and dalrymple, not because of anything that they did.

  • jimmypop

    uh, no federal money? you all know the feds have already spent millions and millions on this project right?

    • Emmet

      jimmypop,

      It is rather apparent “to most” that Fargo is wanting and “waiting” for funding approval from the federal level.

      • jimmypop

        ok, ill ask again…. you know the state and feds already spent tens of millions on this project right?

        • Marcus

          jimmypop,

          You are qualifying your question(s) with subjective reason and taking implying feasibility funding is equal to construction dollars.

          The “skin in the game” that you are implying does not factually exist in the real world of a fully funded project.

          I stand by my previous reply.

          It is rather apparent “to most” that Fargo is wanting and “waiting” for funding approval from the federal level. Something, that your apparently refuse to accept as a reality.

        • Emmet

          jimmypop,

          You are qualifying your question(s) with subjective reason and taking implying feasibility funding is equal to construction dollars.

          The “skin in the game” that you are implying does not factually exist in the real world of a fully funded project.

          I stand by my previous reply.

          It is rather apparent “to most” that Fargo is wanting and “waiting” for funding approval from the federal level. Something, that your apparently refuse to accept as a reality.

  • jimmypop

    “If Fargo leaders want an Army Corps project – let them secure the federal funds before obligating the state of North Dakota.”

    it doesnt work like that. you see, the state has to endorse the project. if the state doesnt support it why should the nation? and that is a very fair question.

    • Opponent

      So ND taxpayers should commit and roll the dice on whether they get federal funding or not? Even when it appears very unlikely to ever happen? We should just let Fargo make this decision for every taxpayer in ND? If it doesn’t materialize then what? Oh well we played and lost – it’s only a couple billion. No thanks – not a prudent course for any responsible public leader – outside Cass Co anyway.

      • jimmypop

        they already have federal and state money spent on flood control. tens of millions. are you aware of that?

        also, where are you hearing its not likely to happen? names, dates and quotes please.

    • Emmet

      jimmypop,

      The state is under “no obligation” to endorse a Fargo project’s funding to receive federal funding.

      Why should the “nation” support a Fargo project driven by democrats with their hand out for free money?

      • jimmypop

        its in the states best interest to protect cass. thats the main thing the anti folks dont process. its not ‘evil fargo’s project’. its a project for EVERYONE that comes here or works here.

        to dumb it down further its no more complex than this; how many jobs exist outside the fm area?

        • homedakota

          No, jimmypop. You are wrong. This project is not for everyone. This project is for Fargo. There is a plan out there that has the possibility to protect the whole basin but Fargo does not want to look at this because their aim is to claim the land south of Fargo – which is in the flood plain.

          For you to down play the role of farmers in ND by stating “how many jobs exist outside the fm area” is totally off base. Farmers have provided tons of dollars to the ND economy in this area – not just “Fargo”.

          Fargo needs to stop building in the flood plain & protect the city they currently have – which can be easily done if they didn’t include the existing flood plain south of town. Stop destroying others & saying this is what’s best for the state of ND because there are other ways that are both more economical & can protect more people,

    • Rick Olson

      I think that’s what Al Carlson is forgetting. Remember, Al, it ain’t your money…it’s the people’s money! It looks like our penny pinching panzies in the Legislature would rather see Fargo go through a major flood, just like Grand Forks and Minot did. When those cities flooded, officials and politicians did everything they could not to trip and fall over each other to beat a path to those cities with the news media in tow. Just so they could be the first in line to offer their sincerest condolences and solemn promises that “We’re here for you!” I think our local government entities here in Fargo and Cass County are only trying to be proactive here. Like the Fram Oil Filter commercials used to say…”Pay a little now, or pay a lot more later!” Hopefully, the state Senate will put back into the bill what Carlson’s amendments took out of it.

      • Marcus

        Rick, you are correct. It is the “people’s money”.

        80% of ND does not receive a direct benefit from the tax dollars Fargo is getting, let alone requesting.

        It appears that HB 1020 is a message for Fargo to get its act together and complete its current flood internal flood projects to 42.5.

        Using “what if” arguments to support nonsense spending is foolish.

        Fargo got the Corps to ignore two floods that exceeded the 100 year levels by downgrading “real” life events.

        Doesn’t it strike people as odd that “IF” a 100 year flood get’s downgraded to a 50 year event that the most likely flood would be something just beyond the 50 year flood, like a 75 or 100 year flood.

        Yet, Fargo and the Corps have attempted to “leapfrog” what would seem to be most logical “next” event to create fears of a mythical 500 year event that may never ever happen. 99.98 percent odds against in any given year.

        Fargo needs to stop lying to legislators and taxpayer and finish the job they can…, which is building adequate flood protection to 42.5 feet with the funding that is included in HB 1020.

        Hysterical “pro-diversion” fear mongers need accept that the problems facing Fargo are of Fargo’s creation…, hence, Fargo’s responsibility to fix. FEMA warned Cass County about encroachment into the flood plain, yet a recent Fargo Fool’em article touted building permits on the rise.

        Encouraging development in the natural flood plain is dumb.

        Building irresponsibly in the natural flood plain is just plain stupid.

        Yet, pro-diversion supporters are ignorant enough to believe that the people that created the current mess and flood threats are going fix things with more encroachment into the natural flood plain.

  • 701beach

    This diversion is a travesty…… Water causes problems for buildings and when you build close to it you need to remember that you are putting your property in a zone of danger. Why should those who did not build in this area be subjected to the short sighted decisions of those who did. COME ON, this is just plain WRONG!!! This diversion project should be put to rest. What message are we sending by rewarding those that couldn’t make the right decision in the first place.

    • jimmypop

      where were you on the flood protection in grand forks? against it, right? further, does your logic follow with bismarck, minot, jamestown, valley city……. i presume it has to.

      • toppr8

        Stay away from the water if you don’t want to deal with the consequenses. There are many other places to build and live….

  • Rick Olson

    As we well know, despite our billions in the bank, North Dakota will not undertake any significant project until it is determined how much Uncle Sam is going to kick in. Case in point, the Legislature’s rejection of state money for the Red River diversion project. Al Carlson said as much…the state can’t proceed on this unless federal funding is a certainty. Unfortunately, this is a sign of just how addicted North Dakota really is to the federal government.

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