Full Disclosure: City Council Reform, #MakeMinot, and Some Seriously Biased Reporting

If you’ve been with The Minot Voice since the beginning,  you know one of the issues I’m passionate about and believe in is City Council reform. When you look back over the last few years and discover that only 6 of the last 25 ‘elections’ for City Council seats have been contested, you’d be crazy if you didn’t at least ask why that is.

And the thing is, asking why isn’t enough. For the health of this community, we have to discover the answer and fix the problem. The level of distrust in leadership and apathy among citizens is simply not acceptable. Every initiative, every effort to improve Minot is marginalized because it starts from a position of distrust and skepticism.

My conclusion as to the problem — the one I’ve written about openly —  is that we’ve got a broken system. Our method of elected leadership for Minot is archaic, outdated, and no longer serving this community. It’s long past due that we as citizens have an open and forthright discussion about the way we do things and ask if there are better ways.

There are. A quick look around the state at other large communities immediately exposes dramatic differences. The City of Minot has as many elected officials as Fargo, Bismarck, and Williston combined. Let me repeat that so it sinks in: The City of Minot has as many elected officials as Fargo, Bismarck, and Williston combined.

Oy vey.

So what do we do about it? For me, the solution is simple. We make City Council smaller, and we make our elections citywide. By reducing the size and making elections at large, we give every citizen a voice in every leadership position in Minot. And in so doing, we’ll immediately restore choice to our democratic process.

Democracy is not democracy without elections, but elections are not really elections unless we’re making a choice between two or more candidates or two or more ideas.

Hopefully, you now understand clearly that I as the publisher and editor of The Minot Voice am in favor of reforming City Council. But in the world of journalism and media, we like to put up this front that we’re unbiased so we can present a story from two sides. It’s a worthy ideal, but there come times when we — as the media — simply can’t and shouldn’t attempt to remain unbiased. For me and the Minot Voice, this is one of those times.

Since I started writing about the issue, lots of people reached out to me wondering how we get it done. With each call I took, each meeting I attended, and each introduction I made, it became harder and harder for me to remain on the sideline. Two months ago I officially gave up and joined the organizing process in earnest.

The result of that organizing process is a group of people who have come together under the banner of #MakeMinot. Our mission is to identify issues important to this community and advocate for them politically. Issue number one, you guessed it — City Council reform.

Tomorrow, you’ll see through traditional media that this group — #MakeMinot — will be bringing this issue front and center. The goal: collect enough signatures to get the issue on a ballot and give each of you the chance to weigh in with your vote.

So from here forward on this issue and others I become involved in through #MakeMinot, don’t expect the Minot Voice to always present an unbiased position. We’ll, of course, maintain that journalistic ideal and attempt to deliver both sides of a story, but when we’re heavily biased one way or another, you’ll get full disclosure obvious and at the top.

With that, if you’re curious about City Council reform in Minot, you should check out the #MakeMinot website or track the group down on Facebook.

Josh Wolsky

Developer & Writer @TheMinot Voice, Fan of the Souris River, There's a lot to Savor about Minot. Fortunate to be a 'former' City Council member ;)

One comment on “Full Disclosure: City Council Reform, #MakeMinot, and Some Seriously Biased Reporting

Jeff Fox

While I don’t see eye to eye with you on every issue, I can say that on this issue you are spot on. If I had to pick nits, it would be that Minot voters are not so much apathetic, they’re simply feeling defeated.

They feel that they have no voice. Their level of mistrust has soured them so much that the general feeling is; why vote when I already know the result?.

There is far too much cronyism in this town. There is far too much ineptitude in city government. Further complicating my last point is that there is an equal amount of ineptitude in Ward County government.

Just look at all of the unfinished projects here in the city. Four years after the flood and we’re nowhere near the establishment of an improved flood control plan. We still have flood ravaged areas of the city that are public eyesores and worse yet, public health hazards. Our streets have holes big enough to swallow small cars.

But rather than focus on those unfinished projects, our city chooses instead to propose multimillion dollar recreation facilities and new sports venues while at the same time attempting to pull the wool over citizens eyes by grossly understating the total cost of those projects.

Future city government candidates can be predicted simply by looking through the friends and business associate contact list of one rather wealthy Minot citizen.

So yes, change is needed.

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