Here’s a fun fact about Measure 5: When supporters turned in their petitions to put it on the ballot the over 1,900 pages contained more than 41,000 signatures.
Last night, when voters cast their ballots, just over 51,000 of them said “yes” on Measure 5. Over two election cycles – including the effort in 2012 which was derailed by petition fraud – the conservationists spent more than $7.16 million to get roughly 10,000 more votes than petition signatures.
That works out to about $140 spent per vote.
No doubt, supporters of the measure are smarting a bit today. That would include Opinion Editor Tom Dennis at the Grand Forks Herald who blames Measure 5’s loss on the North Dakota Chamber of Commerce.
I think Mr. Dennis is feeling some sour grapes. While I don’t want to discredit the fine work the Chamber did in working to defeat Mesaure 5, we cannot discount the dozens of other groups that joined the Chamber in opposition. Groups like the Farmers Union, the Farm Bureau, the Corn Growers, and others.
But evey beyond that, let’s also acknowledge that it was the voters who ultimately decided that Measure 5 was a bad idea. It was a constitutional mandate to spend far too much money on conservation. Something that would inevitably lead to make-work programs for the profit of conservation groups.
Pointing a finger at the Chamber of Commerce misses the point. North Dakotans didn’t vote against Measure 5 because the Chamber of Commerce told them to (I’ll bet the folks at the Chamber wish they had that kind of clout with the public), but rather because they didn’t want to create a lavish feeding trough for environmental special interests.
That may be a tough truth for true believers in the conservation movement to grapple with, but the truth it remains.