TOM DAVIES: The Verdict — Gov. Burgum And The Five Mousketeers

Remember when Gov. Doug Burgum reimbursed Xcel Energy $37,000 for expenses it had paid for his and his wife’s trip to the Super Bowl? He made the repayment after questions of ethics in government were raised. That helped spur passage of Measure No. 1 last November — an initiated measure to counter the rampant gifts, meals, liquor and perks bestowed by corporate lobbyists and special interests on our elected officials and, specifically, members of the North Dakota Legislature.

Now the Five Mouseketeers — Sens. David Hogue, Dick Dever and Gary Lee and Reps. Scott Louser, Mike Nathe and West Fargo Superstar (in his own mind) Kim Koppelman — have taken it upon themselves to introduce Concurrent Resolution 4001. In simple terms, its passage means a measure initiated and passed by the people of North Dakota would have to go through a four-year wait and make it through two subsequent legislative sections before it would become a part of our Constitution and hence become law.

Now here’s where the Good Old Boys club gets its underwear breached! You see, the constitutional amendment the citizens of this state overwhelmingly approved last fall is Measure 1. It was set up and sponsored by two women, Republican Dina Butcher and Ellen Chaffee, a Democrat. Their legislation was drafted by the best of the best, Democratic Sen. Tim Mathern.Their campaign was powered by primarily in-state donations (no NRA types allowed) and hundreds of volunteers. The measure garnered over 54 percent of the vote in the statewide election..

So why, you may ask, is my nose out of joint today? Because of the actions of the Good Old Boys who’ll be affected by the measure — who are trying to thwart, delay and possibly kill this amendment because they say it’s not needed.

Not needed? Those legislative dolts must be seeking a seat in the Trump administration, where the only requirements seem to be that you be dishonest, unethical, greedy and convinced your duty as a public official lies with the party and not with the people who elected you to serve!

To say there is no need for ethics rules — and that’s exactly what they’re doing, couched in legislative language — flies in the face of the people who just said, “The need is there and we support it.” We the people did support it, as the final vote reflects.

With the transparency advocated by Measure One, the governor would not have accepted the Xcel Energy perk of $37,000, and he would therefore not have had to return it in the face of all the embarrassing reporting that brought it to light.

Guys (or gals) like Koppelman would have to disclose the perks from donors, such as meals, trips and gifts. Shouldn’t we taxpayers have the right to know who’s contributing to our elected representatives, what bills are promoted on their behalf in the Legislature and who votes taken to support their cause?

Individuals opposed to ethics and transparency have no place in government. Their actions to try to stall, water down and delay implementation of this much needed legislation show they have something to hide or don’t want exposed (the very reasons the legislation is sound).

We have many in our state government who fail to understand that when it comes to ethics and transparency, the issues are not Republican or Democrat, but American.

The president of the United States continues to say that he is “draining the political swamp” in Washington. With that, I can agree! He is, in fact, draining the swamp right into the White House and his own administration. It seems everyone the president appoints has records more attuned to a prison than the White House.

Never has there been more unethical behavior in the federal government than in the Trump administration. He has turned lying into a profession. It is truly sad there are so many people who support him in spite of his ugly acts and deeds. North Dakota voted overwhelmingly for Trump. Hmm, I wonder how many of our farmers think their vote was a good one now.

While we have a pattern of disgusting behavior at the federal level, it’s good to know the citizens of this state were not asleep at the switch when it comes to ethical breaches in our own state government.

So much legislation has been passed that only assists the extremely wealthy, with the middle and lower income folks seeing no advantage. The small number of North Dakota Democrats still put forth legislation and candidates that represent “we the people,” their constituents. Yet it’s the Republicans, who do little for the average person, who get the majority of their votes! You figure that one out. It’s beyond me.

While the governor can’t take a position on pending legislation (or so I’m told), he can indirectly voice his opinion. In allocating $200,000 to cover expenses in funding and implementation of the ethics legislation (that amounts to just $50,000 in each of four legislative sessions), he shows his lack of support for what we the people voted for and won.

The village idiot (I’m not referring to the governor — yet) would know that the sum of money proposed wouldn’t even cover mileage expense for those involved, much less any other costs. The sum Burgum proposes looks like a lot … until it isn’t. What, dear Governor, is your problem in supporting the will of people who put you in office?

When individuals oppose transparency and ethics in government or in the workplace, that should raise red flags and put you on guard as to whose interests they truly represent.

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I support Fargo Rep. Shannon Roers Jones’ bill on Sunday openings. Times were different back in the good old days when families attended services only on Sunday. In these modern times, you can buy groceries on Sunday and attend church at other times without conflict. Churches are involved in politics, so if the laws require the churches and their members to adjust, so be it.

Ellen Chaffee and Dina Butcher, keep on displaying why you represent the best in government … and why we need more female leaders of all ages in all elective positions. Amen.

One thought on “TOM DAVIES: The Verdict — Gov. Burgum And The Five Mousketeers”

  • Larry Heilmann January 8, 2019 at 2:52 pm

    What in the constitutional language authorizing Initiative and Referendum allows the legislature to, after the fact, change the rules? I thought if the measure or amendment passed it became law. Where does it say the legislature can totally change the rules?


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