Help Us Get The Word Out Many of you have asked what you can do to help get the word out about the Bismarck Boondoggle. The first thing is forward t

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Help Us Get The Word Out

Many of you have asked what you can do to help get the word out about the Bismarck Boondoggle.

The first thing is forward this email to everyone in town you know and encourage them to take the community survey.

The second thing you can do is help us air this ad.

$25 - let's us reach 2,000 people on Facebook
$50 - let's us reach 5,000 people on Facebook
$100 - let's us run this ad once on KFYR Radio at prime listening times
$250 - let's us run this ad twice on KFYR and reach 5,000 people on Facebook.
$500 - let's us run this ad three times on KFYR and reach 20,000 on Facebook.

So take a listen to the ad and consider helping us get the word out with a donation to fund our Taxpayer Minute radio ad!

Bismarck Mayor's Tirade Against Private Citizens Should Worry Everyone

Mayor Mike Seminary took to the airwaves on Thursday with the intent of "bringing down" any private citizens who dare question the commission's actions. Seminary's defense of the Bismarck Boondoggle basically was that they are the city government and they can do whatever they want, regardless of process or cost to taxpayers.

7-minute audio summary shows the hubris of Mayor Seminary's claims with regard to selling city property at a loss. The taxpayers losing money on the deal does not matter because it is good for the University of Mary! - he claims.

June 6th, 2016

In a shocking hour-long appearance on KFYR Radio (click here for the full version) Mayor Mike Seminary went on a rambling, focus-less tirade against private citizens in Bismarck who dare question the decisions of the Bismarck City Commission.

Mayor Seminary had told host Todd Mitchell that "heads would explode" - little did anyone know that Mayor Seminary was talking about himself. (Listen to the full audio to understand the context).

Seminary KFYR

When it came to the substance of the argument against selling city property below-cost and below market-value, Seminary's approach was to say they were under no obligation to ensure the taxpayers did not lose out on the deal because of potential economic activity in the future.

For every resident in Bismarck: Next time the city or county raises your property values arbitrarily and you have to pay higher property taxes, try using that argument and see how far it gets you.

Listen to a 7-minute summary of that aspect by listening to Clint's audio report on YouTube (which has received over 2,000 views/listens already since Friday!

Rebuttal To Mayor

Todd Mitchell at KFYR gave me a chance to react to the mayor the same day he was on railing against private citizens for using their 1st Amendment Rights to get involved in the political process.

You can listen to that by clicking here.

Grossman Defends Deal Too

Mayor Seminary and City Commissioner Parrell Grossman (who is up for re-election this year) also took to TV to defend this deal on KFYR-TV.

KFYRTV Boondoggle

From KFYR-TV: They say the money put into the building has been for upkeep.

Parrell Grossman, Bismarck City Commission, "Every year we're putting more dollars towards that building. Not to make it more valuable but just to continue to allow it to be functional."

Money put into the building for general maintenance has NEVER been brought up, so this is a red haring. Obviously all buildings need upkeep, at question here is whether the $3.5 million for the purchase and renovation will be recouped by the city's taxpayers or whether taxpayers will now be subsidizing a private, religious, non-profit school which does not currently pay property tax at all due to its non-profit status.

Should Bismarck taxpayers be asked to subsidize every idea that may be a good idea years down the road?

How high will taxes get under that policy?

Mayor Seminary's short-term goal of doubling the city sales tax will only be the beginning.


From Last Week: June 2nd, 2016

Public Health Building

The story that won't go away in Bismarck continues to be The Bismarck Boondoggle.

KXMB News in Bismarck covered the story and obtained some quotes from city commissioner Parrell Grossman, and Mayor Mike Seminary. Both Grossman and Seminary are in full spin mode trying to justify the below-market-value and below-cash-investment sale of the property.

Grossman, fresh off his attempt to say the building was full of mold (followed by his backtrack on the mold on KFYR Radio) is now comparing the building deal to putting a new engine into an old truck:

"We needed to do that to keep the people there but my analogy is that if you have a 1974 pick up truck and you have to put $2 thousand into it to replace the engine, it doesn't make that truck worth anymore. Unfortunately that's the situation here," says Parrell Grossman, City Commissioner.

It's a fairly funny comparison. Commissioner Grossman compares the current building to a 1974 pickup that needs an engine for $2,000. First off, for $2,000 that better be a fresh crate engine. Secondly, if you do that, you plan to get many winters out of that pickup and you think it is worth the investment. You don't turn around and sell it for half of what you have into it right away. If it wasn't worth an engine, it will end up on BismanOnline for $500 bucks before you put good money after bad into it.

Since Commissioner Grossman himself said the building probably was not a very good investment to begin with, the analogy does not really hold water - unless he and the city consider the building to be a lemon.

Mayor Mike Seminary of course promoted the deal as good because of hypothetical future economic impact, and increases in property tax revenue. He did not mention the property is in the TIF District (Tax Increment Financing District), and that there will be no property tax revenue for the majority of the project because the University of Mary is a non-profit school and pays no property taxes the way it is already.

Why Sell Office Space (at a loss) When More Is Said To Be Needed?

city office space

Missing from any comments by local officials is the 2014 news story that the City of Bismarck was in desperate need of up-to $34 million worth of office space in the near and mid-term future.

According to this December 9th, 2014 KFYR-TV report, the city needs lots of office space:

Tonight, city commissioners learned which departments need more space.

Studies analyzed how effectively space is used, and consultants found that the city county building and the police department need to expand.

They said evidence storage needs to be expanded because it's already at capacity.

Renovation costs range from $590,000 to $34 million.

"It gives us a good concept of what we're hearing and seeing from our staff, as well as what we will be able to continue at this level of service, and what that will look like," says city commissioner Josh Askvig. "But I don't think, and I didn't hear that in the motion, is why I second it. This isn't an end all, be all."

The commission agreed to have staff look over the findings and prioritize the needs.

Obviously the city does not need $34 million worth of office space if they can sell one of their biggest office buildings at a loss.

And if they wanted to tear down the current Public Health Building and use the lot for a consolidated center for city offices, now they can't because they are selling the property at a loss to the University of Mary.

-Dustin Gawrylow, Managing Director

North Dakota Watchdog Network

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