Kudos To Dalrymple For Being The Adult In Fargo Flood Diversion Fight

jack dalrymple

“North Dakota Gov. Jack Dalrymple should speak up forcefully against Minnesota’s opposition to the Fargo-Moorhead diversion,” reads a Forum News Service editorial from earlier this week. “His reason for not using his authority and credibility — that the matter is in litigation — makes no sense in light of an attempt by an agency of Minnesota state government to interfere in a flood control project that is wholly on the North Dakota side of the Red River.”

Here’s the conclusion:

No one doubts Dalrymple’s support for the diversion. He understands the need for the project. His administration is working behind the scenes to advance the work and at the same time help deal with opponents’ concerns. But the arrogant overreach by the state of Minnesota is a different animal, and merits a strong response from the state of North Dakota. Dalrymple should challenge the bully.

It’s ironic that the Forum editors would chastise the Minnesotans for arrogance given their cheerleading for Fargo’s efforts to steamroll criticism of the project from downstream communities and Minnesota officials.

This is a true “reap as you sow” moment. Fargo is getting back exactly what they’ve put into this project (FMDam.org is a good chronicle of how Fargo officials have behaved to this point).

Rather than trying to find common ground with landowners and community groups who are skeptical of the diversion, Fargo-area leaders assumed that their larger political footprint – amplified by friendly coverage from the Fargo media which dominates the region – would drown out (pun intended) the complaints.

They were wrong. Now they’re paying the price as the dispute has attracted the attention of Minnesota officials up to and including Governor Mark Dayton.

Dalrymple’s measured response to the issue strikes the right tone. After all, Dalrymple isn’t just the Governor of Fargo. He is the Governor of all of North Dakota. He has many constituencies to consider, and his call for compromise is what is needed. The intemperate gubernatorial response the Forum is calling for would just be more of what landed Fargo in this position in the first place.

Fargo officials and their media mouthpieces can bluster and shout all they want, but at this point the quickest way toward meaningful flood prevention in Fargo might be a total reset of their attitude about the diversion.

Start over. Find common ground. Do what’s best for the region – including downstream and Minnesota communities – not just what’s best for Fargo.