TOM DAVIES: The Verdict — Campaigning On The City’s Nickel

What is $104,000 to you? Recently, the president of the United States visited Fargo to support a political candidate. That’s approximately what his stop here cost to the city.

Mayor Tim Mahoney had raised the question of the cost of presidential visits. When the total for the frankly political visit was revealed, Commissioners Dave Piepkorn and John Strand raised serious questions.

When the president comes for an official state visit, as opposed to a political rally or fund-raiser, the citizens rightly foot the bill. When his visit is for partisan political purposes, however, the cost ought to fall on the party he comes to support.

Commissioner Tony Grindberg was quoted in the media saying that the expenditure was “insignificant” in its overall cost to the city. In dollars and cents, that may be true when you’re looking at the entire annual budget. But then you have to ask yourself: How many of these so-called “insignificant” costs should be passed on to the citizens without a breakdown?

Strand and Piepkorn were right to question the cost and Mahoney was right to ask for the numbers. But once presented, we saw no profiles in courage on the City Commission. Instead of simply moving on to the next topic, it should have set a date for citizen input and open discussion.

If I were a betting man, I’d wager that neither of our two political parties wants to pay for their opposition’s campaign expenses — not here, not in Duluth a few days earlier, and not in Grand Forks later this month, when the vice president stops in to stump for the Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate.

Whatever political party you support, I do think it’s a matter of common sense how such large sums are spent accommodating officials’ highly partisan appearances. State visit — we pay. Political visit — the party should pay. Of course, enforcing that might take common sense, an item in short supply nowadays.

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A patriot is defined as “a person who vigorously supports their country and is prepared to defend it against its enemies or detractors.”

Treason is defined in 18.U.S.Code S 2381: “Whoever, owing allegiance to the United States, levies war against them or adheres to their enemies, giving them aid and comfort with the United States or elsewhere, is guilty of treason and shall suffer death, or shall be imprisoned for not less than five years and fined under this title but not less than $10,000; and shall be incapable of holding any office under the United States.”

Former CIA chief John Brennan minced no words Monday when he accused the president of treason. The president was in Finland, standing side by side with President Putin while he attacked, demeaned and insulted the Mueller investigation and the FBI, the CIA and in fact all federal law enforcement and investigative agencies.

The undisputed fact is that the president of this country, while on foreign soil, attacked his own country while supporting a Russian dictator. This isn’t a political issue. It is an issue of American security. All Americans should view the facts and come to their own conclusions.

To call the Mueller probe a “witch hunt” ignores the true facts including the number of perpetrators charged, the number who have pled guilty, the number cooperating in the probe and the fact that just last week 12 Russian citizens were charged with crimes. The investigation is ongoing and must be allowed to proceed, regardless of where it leads. Draw your own conclusions.

After watching the notorious news conference of the president and Putin on Monday, I ask you: Where are the leaders of our Republican and Democratic parties? The president’s own party ought to be up in arms about what he said about and to Putin. They ought to be further outraged by his treatment and comments he made about our nation’s loyal allies!

I also watched the video in dismay as our president disrespected the elderly queen of England during his visit to London, walking in front of her and blocking her. It was a complete lack of manners, both American and British protocol.

Last but certainly not least, his attacks on the media shake the foundations of our country. Without a free and unfettered press, democracy will die. Every time I hear his favorite term “fake news,” I (figuratively speaking) want to punch someone in the snout. Print, radio and TV news reporters endanger their lives, and sometimes die in action, bringing us the very real news every single day of the week. God bless the media and all they do for us. Amen.

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Tom Davies

Judge Tom Davies wielded the gavel in Fargo's Municipal Court for nearly 40 years, the longest term of any elected official in the city's history, until health problems forced his retirement in 2012. Born in Grand Forks, the UND business and law graduate has lived in Fargo since 1956, when his father, Ronald Davies, was appointed a federal judge. The outspoken, irreverent jurist remains an insatiable consumer of news, sharing his observations in Moorhead's weekly newspaper, The Extra … and now here on the Fish blog. As a child, Davies delivered the Grand Forks Herald and sold them on the street corner.

3 thoughts on “TOM DAVIES: The Verdict — Campaigning On The City’s Nickel”

  1. His treatment of the Queen of England was the most disrespectful thing I have ever seen. Not only is she a queen, she’s a very old lady. I guess he treats all women the same, regardless of their age and title. But dammit, she’s the QUEEN!.

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