Today the Fargo Forum editorial board gives “prairie roses” to the members of the Fargo City Commission who voted to give municipal workers there Martin Luther King day as a paid day off.
It was a good move, “not necessarily because of the specific merits of a day off but rather because the issue gave commissioners and others an opportunity to discuss and consider the meaning of Dr. King’s life and legacy,” the Forum writes.
[mks_pullquote align=”left” width=”300″ size=”24″ bg_color=”#ffffff” txt_color=”#000000″]Now Fargo’s workers have another paid holiday off, at the expense of thousands and thousands of dollars annually to the taxpayers, and I suspect that reflection and appreciation of MLK’s legacy will likely increase exactly zero percent despite what the Forum’s editorial board would have us believe.[/mks_pullquote]
That’s a costly way to to prompt a discussion. I’m all for discussing Dr. King’s legacy and its importance in our nation’s history. I’m not sure why we think giving municipal workers another paid day off is going to contribute to that outcome. And it’s a little nauseating to see issues like this couched as though it’s a choice between a willingness to honor MLK and his accomplishments or ignore them.
It’s worth remembering that Fargo’s municipal employees already had a flex day they could have used to take the MLK holiday off. When Commissioner Tony Gehrig offered a compromise, taking that flex day and making it a static day off on MLK day, the commission’s left-wing majority rejected it.
Now Fargo’s workers have another paid holiday off, at the expense of thousands and thousands of dollars annually to the taxpayers, and I suspect that reflection and appreciation of MLK’s legacy will likely increase exactly zero percent despite what the Forum’s editorial board would have us believe.
What’s unfortunate is that MLK’s message was one of unity, but his legacy is so often used by opportunists to divide us. Which is exactly what happens when perfectly reasonable concerns about the cost to taxpayers of another paid holiday for public workers is portrayed as besmirching MLK’s memory.
There’s nothing wrong with thinking Fargo’s city workers should have MLK day off. There is something wrong, though, with portraying opposition to that day off as motivated by a lack of appreciation for Dr. King.