In North Dakota our state lawmakers are not full-time. When not attending to their legislative duties, most of them have day jobs.
Rep. Marie Strinden, a Democrat representing District 18 in Grand Forks, worked until just recently at the North Valley Arts Council. She has apparently resigned after being questioned by that group’s board of directors about financial irregularities.
The Grand Forks Herald, which doesn’t bother to highlight Strinden’s job as a legislator until the 8th paragraph or her party affiliation at all, has the story.
Interestingly, the same story published in the Jamestown Sun – far from District 18 in Grand Forks – has Strinden’s party affiliation and the specific district she represents listed. I wonder how that happens?
Regardless, it appears as though under Strinden’s leadership the NoVAC (which is the acronym they apparently use) was bouncing checks and had possibly even misused taxpayer dollars:
Minutes from an Aug. 27 board meeting show NoVAC had recently received “some bank notices of insufficient funds.”
“Their checks bounced,” Dana Harsell, past-president on NoVAC’s board, said this week.
Though that matter was resolved by NoVAC staff before it reached the board’s attention, the board still asked for “a better handle on financials” at the Aug. 27 meeting.
The board is also concerned that NoVAC staff had improperly used some revenue from Grand Cities Art Fest to pay for development and design, or “phase one,” of the in-progress downtown Arts Creation Center project, which is supposed to be funded on donations, Harsell said.
“That should have been a broader discussion,” he said. “Operating expenses should be operating expenses. … There was nothing wrong with using revenue to pay for the arts center, but you have to make sure there’s enough to pay for everything else.”
Apparently Strinden’s resignation came as a surprise to the board of director, who wouldn’t speculate as to why she stepped down.
Ironically enough, one of Strinden’s current committee assignments at the Legislature is the Finance and Taxation committee. Hopefully her fellow committee members are double-checking her work.