Fargo City Commission
November 13, 2000 meeting:
There was a discussion, unreported by The Forum, relating to housing inspection
fees. This ordinance was originally on the Consent Agenda (items that
are deemed to be so uncontroversial that they need not be discussed).
However, Jens Tennefos pointed out some confusing areas in the ordinance
and it was tabled so that it could be clarified and voted on later. Mr.
Tennefos felt that the ordinance, as it now stood, would allow the city
to raise inspection fees in the future without having to go through public
A presentation of a preliminary Downtown Plan, as conceived by city planners
along with an architectural firm, followed the regular Commission meeting
. One feature in the plan that seems to have already been accepted is
the construction of a permanent dike under 2nd St. N. where it runs next
to the present Civic Center parking lot. The planners discussed the fact
that private developers would have to be major players in any large downtown
Carol Sawicki, Observer
Fargo School Administration
During the months of January and February, the Fargo Public
School District Administration will provide information about the budget
shortfall and the possible money-saving option of closing one or more
schools. These meetings will take place at the sites listed in the Look
Ahead calendar. League members are urged to review the Leaguešs consensus
results reached in 1999:
- School size should be limited to 600 students per elementary school
and 1,000 per secondary school.
- Support the current Fargo Comprehensive Plan, which states that the
neighborhood character and community role of existing and future elementary
schools should be preserved.
- In both decisions, we hold the welfare of children as a top priority.
Horace Mann (258 students) and Hawthorne (185 students) Elementary Schools
and Woodrow Wilson Alternative High School (129 students) seem to be the
most seriously considered candidates for closing due to their locations
and low enrollments. On the surface it appears that students at the Alternative
High School could be more easily relocated, however, there are probably
other means of saving money as well. Once again our school board is faced
with difficult decisions and is asking for help. Attend one of the meetings
yourself to hear our administrators out and urge others to do the same.
Be prepared to express your concerns.
Audrey Richmond, School Issues Committee
Observers needed for 2001
Carol Sawicki and Betsy Vinz, Observer Corps Chairs, are
desperately seeking more observers. They want to develop a guide for what
should be the focus of observations and implify reporting but right now
the Corps has really dwindled. Observing can be such a meaningful experience
and a stepping stone to real community action.
Responsibilities for observing a governing body can be shared by partners.
Call or talk to Carol 232-5676 or Betsy 236-5226 soon
LWVND Board Reorganizes
A meeting of the League of Women Voters of North Dakota was called by
President Lois Altenburg on December 2, 2000.
In the executive report, Susan Helgeland was called upon to explain the
work of the North Dakotans Advisory Committee which has completed a study
of the need for a Human Rights Commission in North Dakota. The committee
recommended that a commission be established to enforce current legislation.
The board unanimously approved a motion to support a coalition for a ND
Human Rights Commission (NDHRC). The Board will ask that a League representative
serve on the NDHRC committee.
In further business, it was decided that the state League would adopt
the following program: "Study and Update on N.D. Election Law and Procedures."
Money from the League Education Fund will be used for the study.
In addition, the issue of voters guide publication will be revisited
closer to the 2002 election.
The league president will request the LWV files at Chester Fritz Library,
Grand Forks, be made available for research.
A nominating committee presented a partial slate of officers for 2001-02
and the following were elected: Suzanne Dobbins, president; Andrea Sather,
treasurer. The positions of secretary and vice president shall be appointed
by the president and treasurer. The new officers will begin their terms
on January 1, 2001. Dobbins and Sather will represent LWVND at the national
council in June 2001.
Many thanks to Lois Altenburg for staying at the helm of the North Dakota
State League of Women Voters through some trying times.
Promoting Democracy In America
Leaguešs Positions on Election of the U. S. President
Historically, a League study of the presidential process resulted in
a 1970 position supporting the direct election of the President by popular
vote as essential to representative government.
The League then testified and lobbied for legislation to amend the Constitution
to replace the electoral college with direct election of the President,
including provisions for a national run-off election in the event no candidates
(President or Vice President) received 40 percent of the vote. The measure,
which passed the House and nearly passed the Senate in 1971, has been
received in each Congress since without success.
In 1997, the LWVUS again called for abolition of the electoral college
and for direct election of the President and Vice President in testimony
before the Subcommittee on the Constitution.
The League believed that reform of the electoral college should only
be considered as a last resort. Should the electoral college be retained
the League feels reform should abolish the office of elector or amend
the Constitution to bind electors in each state to vote as directed by
the electorate or that electoral votes should be allocated proportionately
to the popular vote in each state eliminating electors.
The League has supported national voting qualifications and procedures
for presidential elections to ensure equity for voters from all states
and to facilitate the electoral process.
Following is the position statement on Election of the President, announced
in January, 1970 and revised in March 1982:
"The League of Women Voters of the United States believes that the direct
popular vote for President and Vice President is essential to representative
government. The League of Women Voters believes, therefore, that the electoral
college should be abolished. The League also supports uniform voting qualifications
and procedures for presidential elections."
- Suzanne Dobbins
Area Superintendents Address
First Friday Audience
Superintendents David Flowers of Fargo, Chuck Cheney of West Fargo, and
Larry Nybladh of Moorhead spoke about their respective school districts
at Decemberšs First Friday public meeting.
Dr. Flowers stated that although Fargo is the largest district in the
state, it is facing declining enrollment. The number of students has dropped
by 300 since his arrival a year ago. The decline would be worse without
the 650 refugees currently being served. Specific challenges are the inadequate
funds allotted by the state for special education services$312 per student
is not enough: the utilization of under-used buildings, replacement of
retiring teachers and perhaps the greatest problem, how to finance the
schools when there is a need for an increase of 1.8 mills in revenue to
avoid budget cuts. Fargo already has the highest mill levy of any city
in the state.
Dr. Cheney stated that West Fargošs enrollment stands at 5100 students
and has been increasing by 2% a year. There is only one classroom available
in the district which includes Horace and Harwood in addition to West
Fargo. The districtšs focus is on early literacy with a goal that 90%
of students read and compute at grade level by the end of grade three.
The Reading Recovery program is being used to reach this goal. Class size
averages 20 students. Some issues in West Fargo are: 1) the management
of growth and survival in a state with declining population; 2) how to
increase teacher salaries; and 3) finding a way to have an impact on student
use of drugs and alcohol.
Dr. Nybladh feels that declining enrollment is the chief problem in the
Moorhead Schools because student count drives state funding. There are
5700 students now but he expects an annual drop of 150 students. The goal
he sees is the maintenance of quality education in the face of declining
state payments. The state of Minnesota has come through with additional
money in the past and may do so again.
A question was asked about effective means of lobbying the legislature.
Answers indicated that personal, one-on-one contact with legislators,
coalitions of educational groups, and hosting of legislators for the purpose
of lobbying, are effective. Testifying before the legislature does not
often produce results.
In regard to educational standards, Dr. Nybladh said that the Department
of Children, Families and Learning creates the standards in Minnesota.
The coordination of standards into the curriculum has been good. Dr. Flowers
mentioned that assessment is important but "the devil is in the assessment
Question was inevitably raised about Fargo and West Fargo School districts
and West Acres property taxes. It was pointed out that the boundaries
of the two cities and their school districts are not the same. A business
advisory committee was established to provide information and understanding
of school finance. The committee is encouraged to give advice. The issue
might be different if North Dakota funded education like Minnesota.
The audience and guests agreed that the three administrations seem to
have a cooperative relationship.
Thanks To Kids Voting Volunteers
The LWVRRV adopted the precinct at Carl Ben Eielson for KIDS VOTING on
election day, Nov. 7.
Members who helped were Marge Corner, Jean Sanner,. Pat Johnson, Mary
Jenkins, Helen Rudie, Janet Van Amberg, Audrey Richmond, and Carol Zielinski.
Sue Petry filled in at Clara Barton.
Mary Davies and Andrea Sather, League Voters Service Chairs were overall
coordinators of the KIDS VOTING project which reached students in Fargo,
West Fargo, and Moorhead. About 7,500 ballots were cast.
- Mary Davies
Electoral College Vote Inequities
An article in the December 2000 Senior News, a Minnesota Senior Federation
newspaper, compared the electoral power of votes in several states. I
thought you might be interested in contemplating these differences.
The table shows that it takes 1.28 North Dakota votes, and 3.28 Minnesota
votes to equal 1 Wyoming vote. Or, you could say that a Minnesota vote
was worth 1/3rd as much as a vote from Wyoming. This, of course, is the
heart of the discussion on the electoral college and popular vote as a
mechanism for deciding the President and Vice President of the United
|Electoral College Ratio of Voters to Votes
equal to one
equal to one
WY electoral vote
Many Thanks to Our Financial Supporters
Mayoral (up to $49) Marlene Batterberry,
Frank Knox , Judith Strong, Joan C. Miller, Betsy Vinz, Mary Jenkins,
Kathy Kvalvog, Gini Duval, Janet VanAmburg, Patty Corwin, Helen Shirey,
Boulger Funeral Home
Gubernatorial ($50-$99) Korsmo Funeral
Home, Dakota Monument, Douglas Sillers, Judy Lee, Carolyn Bowe, Moorhead
Drug, Wold-Johnson- PC, Barbara Headrick, Warner & Co,. Sue Petry, Mary
Davies, James & Beth Postema, Maintenance Engineering
Presidential ($100 and up) Service Oil,
Suzanne Dobbins, State Bank of Fargo, Creative Kitchen, Gate City Federal
Savings Bank, Blue Cross/Blue Shield of ND, DC Publishing (Matching
Meet New Member: Kathie Kvalvog
Kathie currently serves as our committed Finance Drive Chairperson on
the board of directors. She first came to the League of Women Voters as
a friend of Suzanne Dobbins. Like Suzanne, she majored in political science
in college and was interested in joining an organization that dealt with
the political field. As a member of League she sees her goal as assisting
the residents of the Red River Valley Community to become aware and understand
political issues in a non-partisan manner.
As is true of most young people today, Kathie is a busy woman. She is
currently a stay-at-home mom with a young son and expects a new baby in
February. She enjoys gardening, reading, politics, and keeping up on current
events. She is also to be found in the classroom for three-year-olds on
Sundays at her church, and is a garden club member.
We are so fortunate that, in addition to all these things, she has organized
our successful fund drive and has pledged to continue making calls to
potential contributors in an effort to reach her substantial goal.
We express our appreciation and good wishes to Clay County Commissioner
Diane Meyer who retired from her seat on December 31. In fact, in an interview
with The Forum in December, she said her twenty-some years in public office
are "all because someone talked her into taking in a League of Women Voters
meeting in the early seventies."
She attended Moorhead School Board meetings for three years for the League
and then successfully ran for the board in 1976. She served for seven
Not long after ending her service to the schools she elected to run for
the Clay County Board of Commissioners and has now ended sixteen years
of service in that body. Fortunately, Diane is still a member of the LWVRRV
Some readers may be puzzled as to the identity of Andrea Sather, who is
mentioned prominently in this newsletter. It is none other than Andrea
Johnson who has resumed using her maiden name.
Saturday Unit Meetings:
Member Orientation & Discussion
As a means of re-establishing the unit meeting as a vital part of League
activity, Suzanne Dobbins, membership chair, has conducted two Saturday
morning sessions of orientation to various aspects of the Leaguešs work
for both new members and those who enjoy discussion among the longer term
The first part of each meeting is a presentation of some area and it
is followed by discussion of a timely topic. For instance, the November
meeting featured a discussion of the Leaguešs position on the presidential
electoral process (see article elsewhere).
The next meeting on January 13 at 10:00 a.m. will feature a presentation
of the Voters Service/Education arm of the Leaguešs program by Voters
Service co-chair Andrea Sather. Voters Service is probably the most important
function of the League and we should all know the philosophy behind it
as well as how it works.
Local Program Planning:
Time For Member Ideas
Local program for LWVRRV must be adopted at the annual meeting in March.
One of the greatest assets of the League is its credibility and much of
that goes back to our reputation for thorough study of issues before action.
Study of local issues begins with member ideas. Recommendations for local
study must be sent to the board of directors two months prior to the annual
meeting. The board then considers these recommendations and sends the
proposed program to all members one month prior to the annual meeting.
At the annual meeting the local program is adopted by a majority of the
members present and voting. Program recommendations submitted by members,
but not recommended by the board, may be considered if a majority of those
at the meeting vote for it and can be adopted by a two- thirds vote.
Now is your chance to have some input. Some time at the January unit
meeting will be spent discussing local issues and program possibilities.
The board will make their choices at the Feb. -21 board meeting.
The current program, adopted in March 1999, is: "Continuing Consideration
of School Issues and Regional Planning for further study and an eye to
action and that human rights issues be considered for some of our First
In considering program for the next two years, think about current issues
that are relevant to the newly enlarged area served by the LWVRRV.
- Questions to ask in considering new proposals for local league study:
- Can the problem be solved by government action?
- Is this a hot issue? is the timing right? Will League involvement
make a difference?
- Is the League the organization best qualified to study the issue?
Will it duplicate the work of some other group?
- Will the issue attract new members? Will it increase involvement of
- Does LWVRRV have the people to study the issue effectively?
Following are some possible local program topics:
- Land Use Planning: What are the issues that need to be addressed in
land-use planning on a local and metro basis?
- Housing: How is the need for affordable housing in the area being
- Local Government/Citizen Involvement: What are the appointed boards
and commissions? How are citizens appointed? What is the role of the
public in decision making? Are members satisfied with their participation?
- Water Resources: Availability, quality?
- Solid Waste: Are there some issues that should be addressed on a regional
- Visions in Project Tomorrow Report: Look at some of the action plans
particularly in Shared/Collective Governance.
- Economic Development &Growth
- Public Transportation: Is the system meeting resident needs?
- Immigration: What is the impact of recent immigrants on the economy,
society and education system? How accessible are services for this population?
Is English language learning available and accessible to all ages? Health
(Some of these issues may be state or federal.)
You may think of many others as you start brainstorming.
Come to the January 13th unit meeting to share your thoughts with others.
You can also send your topic suggestion (along with an explanation of
the scope of the study) to:
1001 10th St. S
Moorhead, MN, 56560
or e-mail to Mary at: marBob7@aol.com
Needs Your Help
The LWRRV nominating committee solicits suggestions for officers for
2001-2002. The committee will be recommending a slate of officers to the
annual meeting on March 31.
Officers to be elected in 2001 include president, 1st vice president,
and secretary. In addition, three directors are elected each year. Other
officers and directors will serve another year and their seats will be
open in 2002.
If you are ready to serve on the board, please, let one of the nominating
committee members or current board members know.
Serving on the local board is a wonderful experience. Board meetings
are run efficiently and assignments are geared to your interests.
Please consider offering your talents and time. The members of the nominating
committee are: Bea Arett, Barbara Sipson, Jackie Brodshaug, Julia Jones
and Audrey Richmond.