Other views: ‘Unwritten agreement’ is not acceptableHey, what about us? Minot Mayor Curt Zimbelman is justified in being upset and requesting a meeting with Gov. Jack Dalrymple to discuss the inequity in distributing $33.5 million to cities impacted by the booming oil industry.
By: Minot Daily News, The Jamestown Sun
Hey, what about us?
Minot Mayor Curt Zimbelman is justified in being upset and requesting a meeting with Gov. Jack Dalrymple to discuss the inequity in distributing $33.5 million to cities impacted by the booming oil industry.
The 2011 Legislature allocated the money to be distributed by the North Dakota Land Board to the cities of Williston, Dickinson and Minot. But the bill included no details of how the money was to be divided. But some legislators and officials with the land board have said there is an unwritten agreement that Williston will get roughly $20 million, Dickinson $9.6 million and Minot $4.8 million.
We aren’t begrudging Williston and Dickinson their fair share of the money, but Minot has seen significant impact on its infrastructure in the past few years. Just drive around town and you’ll see what we mean.
Apparently, the “unwritten agreement” came about during discussion of the Appropriations Committee, where mention of a “gentlemen’s agreement” was made by Rep. Keith Kempenich, R-Bowman. Minot legislator Karen Krebsbach has been seeking clarification of the “gentlemen’s agreement,” noting that if lawmakers wanted the money split a specific way, it should have been written into the bill. But she’s not in favor of any “unwritten agreement,” and neither are Minot Republicans Matt Klein and Larry Bellew, both of whom served on the House Appropriations Committee and couldn’t recall any discussion of specific amounts going to each city.
The entire agreement needs to be investigated. Under no circumstances should some “unwritten agreement” be an acceptable way for the Legislature to do business. If legislators wanted Williston to get 60 percent of the $33.5 million, they should have put it in writing and gotten it formally approved by their fellow lawmakers. Under today’s supposedly open form of government in this state, backroom deals and “unwritten agreements” should be a thing of the past.
Zimbelman and Minot deserve answers.