Wrong Time for a Vacation Mr. Piepkorn

Fargo City Commissioner Dave Piepkorn

I don’t think the people trying to recall Fargo City Commissioner David Piepkorn will ultimately be successful (more on that here) but if they do manage a victory I think the turning point for voters will be Piepkorn’s behavior in office rather than his questions about refugee resettlement.

The latter issue was the casus belli for the recall effort, but the former has been more damning.

For instance, earlier this year was called out for making demonstrably false statements about the head of Lutheran Social Services in North Dakota. That organization handles refugee resettlement in this state, and while they deserve plenty of criticism, it was foolish of Piepkorn to say things that weren’t true. Either he didn’t know what he was saying was wrong or he made things up.

It doesn’t look good, after you’ve launched crusade to get more information about refugee resettlement, to be the only member of the city commission who didn’t show up to the presentation of information.

Neither is flattering for the Commissioner.

Another problem is that Piepkorn didn’t show up for a city meeting at which a report on refugee resettlement he and other commissioners requested was presented.

The meeting had been planned for six months, but Piepkorn is on vacation. I learned that earlier this week when I put in an interview request ahead of the meeting. He told me via email he’ll be back next week.

Public servants are human beings too. They take vacations just like the rest of us. That’s fine. But public servants also have a duty to, you know, serve the public.

It doesn’t look good, after you’ve launched crusade to get more information about refugee resettlement, to be the only member of the city commission who didn’t show up to the presentation of information.

And to be fair, the report was mostly worthless. It’s only use, I think, was as an illustration of just how little data we have available about the social and policy impacts of refugee resettlement.

But the optics of a city commissioner who is in the cross hairs of a recall effort not showing up to a high-profile meeting about the issue which prompted the recall are awful.

Do better, Mr. Piepkorn.

Rob Port is the editor of SayAnythingBlog.com, a columnist for the Forum News Service, and the host of the Rob (Re)Port on Fargo-based WDAY AM970 from 1-2pm weekdays.

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