I watched a live stream of the Greater North Dakota's Chamber of Commerce's Public Policy forum last week. Normally, these forums are thoughtful debates where both sides are presented in an unbiased way so that through reasoned and rational discussion, everyone can find their way through complicated issues.
Well, that certainly wasn't the case with the forum on the anti-corruption ballot measure. That forum was a partisan and biased attack on an issue that is important to all North Dakotans, and that is fair and transparent government.
The first sign of this bias was the Chamber's choice for the moderator, Rob Port, arguably the most partisan political commentator in our state today, and someone who has already viciously attacked this anti-corruption effort.
Who really thought that he would provide a fair and balanced moderation of the discussion? It was so bad that at one point one of the panelists had to remind him that he was supposed to moderate the discussion, not actively take a side. It was as if the referee of a fight jumped in to land a couple of blows himself.
Next, the opponent panelists were an oil field lobbyist and a legislator, both of whom benefit greatly from the current system where money buys politicians. They treated this forum like it was the Dr. Phil show and Port did little to keep it in balance. In fact, he got so worked up against the measure, he joined right in.
At best this was a poorly thought out forum, and at worst, this was a clumsy attempt to sway the Policy Summit's attendees.
The Greater North Dakota Chamber of Commerce should be embarrassed to have sponsored such a "performance."
Berg lives in Bismarck.