Grand Forks Herald Covers Nepotism Story First Reported On SAB


In a post yesterday about a bit of nepotism in a Grand Forks affordable housing program I wrote that it was a bit odd that the Grand Forks Herald had run an ad announcing the adverse action that resulted from said nepotism, but a week after running that ad they hadn’t run a news article about it.

The reader who sent me the tip thought it was odd too. Because it sure seems to me like a Grand Forks city official abusing his authority in that fashion would be news.

Well, today the Herald covered the story, and reporter Stephen Lee was kind enough to give SAB credit for breaking it. Even though it first appeared in their paper as an ad.

A state official said Tuesday, city officials had fixed an apparent conflict of interest in which the daughter of Grand Forks’ Director Urban Development director rented an apartment subsidized by federal funds that came through her father’s department.

The controversy became news when conservative blogger Rob Port wrote about it Tuesday on his Say Anything blog. Port wrote he had been tipped off by a reader about an April 1 public notice ad in the Herald paid for by the city revealing the “adverse finding” by the state Department of Commerce.

What’s interesting is that in the Herald article, Mayor Michael Brown and city Urban Development Director Greg Hoover (the father) both said Ashley Hoover wasn’t terminated because of the nepotism, but because she had already chosen to leave the job:

Mayor Brown and Greg Hoover both said Tuesday Ashley Hoover is leaving her job next month of her own choice, unrelated to the conflict of interest issue.

“She decided months ago, that she would quit at the end of the school year,” Greg Hoover said. His daughter has been attending UND and working part-time.

That’s not how the letter sent by the city to the North Dakota Commerce Department reads. The letter states it is an “update of the City of Grand Forks’…documented progress” following the Commerce Department notifying them that rules had been broken. “The City has progressed as follows,” the letter reads, with this following as one of several bulleted points of progress:

Ms. Ashley Hoover’s lease will be terminated effective April 30th, 2014 and her employment with the City of Grand Forks will terminate in May 2014.

That language doesn’t pregulde the idea that Hoover was going to quit this summer, but from the way it’s written there certainly seems to be an intention to imply that she is being fired. That’s usually what “terminate” means when it comes to employment.

Anyway, it’s nice to see the Herald cover this story. Whether or not you believe the whitewashing by Mayor Brown and others, who claim that this was all just a silly accident (and I find that explanation a little hard to believe), the public has a right to know when these things happen.