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Pete Marinucci, Moorhead, Published September 05 2012

Letter: ‘Chicken’ editorial harsh, but factual and accurate

I have been following the responses that The Forum’s Aug. 22 snide editorial “Chickens top their agenda?” has elicited. The common proposition in all of them is: “Kill the messenger.”

The editorial, abrasive as it may seem, is factually accurate. Many, if not most, streets in longer established residential neighborhoods do resemble a “lunar landscape,” and even those few that have been reconstructed recently have manhole covers 1 to 3 inches below the driving surface. Only in the new residential developments surrounding Ellen Hopkins Elementary School are the streets in decent condition – and that’s because there is so little traffic on them due to the lack of houses built there.

At the northeast corner of Eighth Street and Center Avenue, there is a manhole that if you traverse it in excess of 10 miles per hour, will send you looking for a front-end alignment. It has been that way for years.

“The city’s traffic flow is a nightmare” and has been that way since our elected officials spent more than $7 million to stop the train horns, which were disrupting the alcohol-induced slumber of one of their own. For almost four years, we’ve been bombarded with a seemingly endless sequence of excuses why it’s not the city’s fault, and promises that solutions are in the offing.

That also goes for the “parking problems near two college campuses,” except there we’ve been fed the B.S. for at least 30 years by two administrations, several city managers and a steady progression of city councils, each more intellectually challenged than its predecessors.

The lack of ability of traffic to move north and south has driven even more Moorhead consumers to head west to access the goods and services they desire, and with them a “business flight to Fargo,” which is indeed becoming “epidemic.” That coupled with the ill-conceived “Gateway Overlay Zoning Districts,” which restrictively encumber new business development, has caused “rundown, unpainted, shabby buildings in forests of weeds” along the very thoroughfares they were meant to beautify.

Where lies the problem? Why aren’t solutions found? The immediate answer is the entrenched bureaucracy within City Hall. Go talk to any city of Moorhead department head and you walk away checking your pockets to make sure you have everything you had when you walked in. The notable exceptions are Finance Director Harland Ault, City Planner Kristie Leshovsky and Fire Chief Rich Duysen.

Except for council member Luther Stueland, no current elected city official has demonstrated ever having an original thought while serving in their official capacities. They collectively allow the bureaucrats to lead them around like sheep and thank them for doing so. They come to the conclusions these condescending, self-serving pencil pushers steer them toward and vote for measures without the benefit of cognitive reflection upon the possible negative aspects or financial repercussions of the actions they undertake. Consequently, they continually repeat variations of the same mistakes and learn nothing.

The long-term answer? The Moorhead Business Association has within its membership many astute and successful individuals with management expertise. Some of these people should be tapped to run for city offices.

With the backing of the MBA, I’m sure a successful campaign to replace the clueless representatives now in office could be mounted.