Sometimes It’s Hard To Tell Where The Public Sector Stops And The Private Sector Begins
In Bismarck the local economic development group is opening up its doors to members of local government, allowing them to sit on the group’s governing board.
The Bismarck-Mandan Development Association board of directors voted Sept. 6 to add elected officials to the board.
Members of the board made changes to the bylaws to allow one elected member of the Bismarck and Mandan city commissions and Burleigh and Morton county commissions to serve as voting members of the BMDA board.
“We want them on the board, we want them to participate and this our way of getting that done,” President Russ Staiger said.
According to the article, in order to get a seat on the board a municipal or county government must provide a certain level of funding. Which is interesting because not so long ago the Burleigh County Commission declined to contribute $75,000 to the BMDA feeling there was already plenty of “economic development” going on in the Bismarck/Mandan area. Which was the right decision.
Now the BMDA is saying that local governing entities can buy their way onto the board. Interesting.
You would think the conflict of interest in this would be obvious. The local government funnels money to the local economic development agency and then get a vote on which companies/organizations get the economic development money.
Which makes me wonder why we’re even bothering with the economic development boards any more. Why not just let the government start giving handouts directly to businesses? Because it seems like this is where we’re heading anyway.
Earlier this year Grand Forks saw a similarly unsettling union of interests that ought not be joined. Grand Forks Herald publisher Mike Jacobs joined the Grand Forks Region Economic Development Corporation, without a hint of question from anyone about the possible conflict of interest.
It’s hard to imagine that a news publication is going to publish any critical coverage of an economic development organization their publisher is a member of.
This seems par for the course here in North Dakota. The lines between the private sector and the government and even the media get blurrier all the time.Tags: bismarck-mandan development association, Grand Forks Herald, mike jacobs, North Dakota News