Tony Gehrig: Fargo Forum Presents A False Choice For City Hall

The Forum’s editorial response to the rising cost of Fargo’s new city hall to over $30 million is as predictable and over the top as the new price tag.

“As sure as sewage lagoons stink in spring, some candidates on the ballot for the April election for Fargo city commissioner will whine indignantly about the cost of a new Fargo City Hall.”

The Forum’s opinion attempts to shut down public discourse by issuing a false dichotomy, your choice being a lavish $30.4 million city hall, or a cheap undersized cement box. As though there were nothing in-between that is useful, affordable, and pleasing to the eye.

[mks_pullquote align=”right” width=”300″ size=”24″ bg_color=”#000000″ txt_color=”#ffffff”]Anyone who would dare question the wisdom of this new $30.4 million city hall is accused of settling for the “comfortable almost-there status”. We are labeled “visionless”, “naysayers”, “whiners”, “short-sighted”, “cheap”, “panderers”, “petty opportunists” and “braying” asses, among other things, for not shutting our mouths and accepting the ballooning price tag. The editor even used “utilitarian” as a slur.[/mks_pullquote]

Anyone who would dare question the wisdom of this new $30.4 million city hall is accused of settling for the “comfortable almost-there status”. We are labeled “visionless”, “naysayers”, “whiners”, “short-sighted”, “cheap”, “panderers”, “petty opportunists” and “braying” asses, among other things, for not shutting our mouths and accepting the ballooning price tag. The editor even used “utilitarian” as a slur.

One problem, none of that is true. In fact, only a few weeks ago I wrote a letter to the editor that went unpublished explaining that the price tag tripling is not the only issue. I explained that there are land space usage problems. This land could be better utilized by the private sector to further develop our economy, create jobs, and create a new focal point downtown. Now we find out that this city hall will be the first and only building constructed so close to the river since the commission voted to outlaw such development, in true, “Do as I say, not as I do” fashion.

Further, I offered another solution for the city hall in my unpublished opinion piece, and I have been offering solutions for over a year. Naysayers, whiners, petty opportunists and cheap panderers don’t usually offer solutions. Perhaps my letter was lost in the mail, but more likely, The Forum just doesn’t like the debate, or the fact that most voters agree with me that this iteration of city hall is out of touch with the people’s wishes.

While it is true we need more space at city hall, the current over the top plan is a want. We have many needs in Fargo including a new landfill, additional police officers, a new fire station in south Fargo, expanded water resources, and of course inner-city flood protection. Resources are finite, and raising taxes for unnecessarily expensive projects prevent us from meeting the true needs of Fargo.

The Forum’s editorials show us exactly why you should vote April 28th for me, Tony Gehrig.

Rob Port is the editor of SayAnythingBlog.com, a columnist for the Forum News Service, and host of the Plain Talk Podcast which you can subscribe to by clicking here.

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