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Published February 12 2013

Forum editorial: Another Moorhead snow job

Monday night, Moorhead Councilman Steve Gehrtz asked the right question about the city’s snow removal parking declaration: “At what point,” he asked, “do you close the barn door and say, ‘This is our policy?’ ”

The right answer, which has eluded Gehrtz and the majority of the Moorhead City Council, is: When you get implementation of the policy right. The self-inflicted black eye in Moorhead confirms the first go-round of implementation was anything but right.

Gerhtz was speaking against a proposal to reimburse $50 of $95 that was assessed to those who were towed during the city’s first snow removal declaration at the end of last month. About 130 vehicles, many of them owned by college students, were towed and impounded, even as the city conceded that the timing and method of notification were not timely or effective. Thus, much of the mess and irritation that ensued was the city’s fault; but those who had their cars towed paid the price.

Councilman Mark Altenburg called the fiasco a “terrible mistake” and urged the council to approve a one-time reimbursement. No way, said the majority of council members present. Only Councilwoman Heidi Durand joined Altenburg in seeing the fairness and public relations benefit of the reimbursements. The city could have purchased a lot of good will for the $6,500 reimbursements would have cost.

Instead, college-town Moorhead, which should be raising its profile as a student-friendly city, is earning a bleak reputation among students. They will carry the memories and tell the stories long after they leave the city’s campuses. How’s that for brilliant public policy?

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Forum editorials represent the opinion of Forum management and the newspaper’s Editorial Board.