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Matt Von Pinnon, Published March 02 2013

Von Pinnon: We scrutinize Moorhead because we care about it

Moorhead officials recently discussed whether the city should continue spending tens of thousands of dollars to market Moorhead to potential new residents or spend that money improving services for its current residents.

Also discussed was whether the city should hire a media relations person to help it respond to what some officials see as negative media reports.

“Unfortunately, we’ve got media in town, especially print media, that seems to take satisfaction in pointing out negative aspects of Moorhead,” said Jeff Frider of Moorhead’s Economic Development Authority. “It’s almost a vendetta.”

The comment was directed at The Forum, whose opinions at times have been critical of Moorhead officials.

Those editorials are derived from what’s in the news, and the news comes from having our ear to the ground in Moorhead.

Residents contact us when they don’t feel streets are plowed in a timely manner. College students contact us when their cars are towed to their surprise. Motorists contact us when Main Avenue is being torn up one day and patched over the next. Everyone contacts us when they must idle for what seems like forever when a train goes through town. They contact us in hopes we can get them answers. So we ask the questions and convey the information.

There is no vendetta.

Editorially, we’ve been tough on Moorhead at times. But those opinions come from the belief that the city can improve. We are tough on Moorhead because we care about it. It’s a major piece of our larger community, home to outstanding schools, beautiful parks and great neighborhoods.

I was born at St. Ansgar Hospital on Moorhead’s north side. I grew up a block from Moorhead State, then went to school there after graduating a Spud. Moorhead was a great place to grow up in the ’70s and ’80s. Safe, clean and friendly.

Moorhead and Minnesota were financially strong and stable in those days. The “Minnesota Miracle” – the concept of cities equally sharing state tax dollars – stood in sharp contrast to the city and state next door.

Over the past 20 years, those fortunes have flipped. It’s no fault of Moorhead that Minnesota struggles financially, but Moorhead must also strive to lessen its reliance on St. Paul to make the city work. It also doesn’t help Moorhead’s image that it’s across from Fargo, the largest city and business center of go-go North Dakota.

While Fargo and North Dakota are wealthier today, their governments are also more nimble. Moorhead’s ward system of government may be ideal for greater local representation, but it’s also more bureaucratic. Moorhead has eight city councilors elected from four wards and a mayor elected at large compared to Fargo’s five city commissioners, all of whom could live on the same block.

This leads to different kinds of decision-making and debates, and those decisions and debates get covered here, warts and all.

A good newspaper is a reflection of its community. A strong community is an engaged community. The Forum will continue to closely cover Moorhead, and at times editorially praise or criticize its decisions, because it’s where we live, and we want it to be the best it can be.


Von Pinnon is editor of The Forum. Reach him at (701) 241-5579.