City of Fargo Mayor Tim Mahoney wants to give city workers a day off for Martin Luther King Day.
That, in and of itself, isn’t an unreasonable proposal. State and federal workers have the day off, as do the schools. You could make an argument that the City of Fargo should add another day off to their holiday calendar in order to be competitive with other local governments,though that should be balanced with the potential cost for taxpayers.
Currently Fargo city employees get ten paid holidays off per year, including a flex day. In comparison, employees in West Fargo get eleven, including two flex days (West Fargo doesn’t give a paid day off for MLK Day either).
But Mahoney’s argument for the additional paid holiday is dripping with politics. He ties it to the hugely controversial and divisive Black Lives Matter protest movement:
Mayor Tim Mahoney proposed the plan, citing a variety of reasons, including racial tension around the country that’s led to the formation of the Black Lives Matter movement. The commission agreed to make MLK Jr. Day a city holiday two weeks ago but didn’t sign off on an adding a day off for employees.
“It’s my feeling that black lives do matter, and we have to address this issue. It should truly be a holiday,” he said. “Schools are off, federal holiday, state holiday, and I think for our employees with child care issues and such, it’s much easier for them to be able to do that.”
It’s ridiculous to the point of being insulting to suggest that the question of black lives mattering hinges on whether or not city workers in Fargo, North Dakota, get Martin Luther King Day off from work with pay. If we give city workers the day off, what do we expect will happen? That the sun will dawn on a new era of eased racial relations?
Give me a break. “What we’re talking about here today has nothing to do with Martin Luther King Jr. or remembering a great man. This is about politics and I’m not going to be a part of it,” Commissioner Tony Gehrig said during the commission’s debate per Tu-Uyen Tran’s report.
I think that’s exactly right.
This is low-brow, rabble-rousing politics at its worse. Mahoney’s push failed – the City Commission vote was split at 2-2 – but with far-left Commissioner Melissa Sobolik not on hand for the vote the chances are this could pass in the future.
And if it passes it wouldn’t be an inherently bad thing. Outside of the question of the cost for the taxpayers, I really have no objection to giving city workers MLK day off.
But process matters, and Mahoney framing the debate as a question of whether or not “black lives matter” is going to turn what would have been a routine question of days off for municipal workers into something much more divisive.
If there’s one thing our country needs less of, it’s divisive politics.