Other views: What is best way to help after storm?
How should the city of Fargo aid the victims of Hurricane Katrina? Here's where I stand on the proposal by Mayor Bruce Furness to donate $10,000 to the victims of Hurricane Katrina: Clearly, we can all agree that Fargo wants to help, particularly...
How should the city of Fargo aid the victims of Hurricane Katrina?
Here's where I stand on the proposal by Mayor Bruce Furness to donate $10,000 to the victims of Hurricane Katrina: Clearly, we can all agree that Fargo wants to help, particularly after the outpouring of support during our own flood disaster in 1997. The question is what is the best way to do that?
Last year Fargo, upon a 5-0 vote by the City Commission, donated $10,000 to the victims of the tsunami disaster. In response to that action there was an outcry of protest - from people of all political persuasions - that taxpayer dollars should not be used to make a direct donation outside of the community. The overwhelming response I heard, both then and now, is that it was an inappropriate use of taxpayer dollars. Many people suggested there were other ways that the city of Fargo could contribute or act as a facilitator for private donations, instead of simply writing a check.
When Mayor Furness made his proposal at the Sept. 12 City Commission meeting, there was no motion made or vote taken at that time, but I did bring alternative suggestions to the table for discussion.
The suggestions I made were twofold: one, to make it more convenient for citizens to donate by providing an additional outlet (they could add any amount to their monthly utilities payment and the city of Fargo would collect those donations and send them on) or two: present a big event that would be a citywide fundraiser and a way to get elected officials, city staff and area notables personally involved (fun events such as contests among elected bodies, sporting events, etc.) as participants and donors. I'm envisioning things like a dunking tank with all the city commissioners taking our turn (that should raise a bundle right there, don't you think?), perhaps a basketball game between the fire department and police department, maybe even an arm-wrestling match between rival radio talk show hosts, and so on.
I was also coming from a position of fiscal responsibility. The fund (social services) from which the tsunami donation was taken had a small contingency at the time. In the proposed 2006 budget, this fund was cut, while community needs are growing. If we are to make an additional donation of $10,000 I believe we also should revisit the overall funding in that area.
I would not be opposed to bringing up this issue again, and would possibly support it. However, I think it would be worthwhile to explore first what we could do together as a community. Perhaps we could raise far more than $10,000 by combining our efforts, using city resources and facilities, and working together.
Coates is a Fargo city commissioner. E-mail email@example.com