Tuesday, February 19, 2008

He's ba-ack

Terry Bjerke, that lovable goofball who sat on the Grand Forks city council from the late 90s until 2002, wants his old job back. (Herald story) (City Beat post) The libertarian from Ward 1 has long been a critic of local government and, if you'll remember from the past, seems to think that virtually any spending by an entity such as the city of Grand Forks is inherently wasteful.

I'm all for oversight of government spending and obviously budgets at all levels of government are prone to being rather bloated at times, but on the other hand I quickly tire of Bjerke's type of mentality. Sure, we would all like our taxes to be a little lower...sometimes a whole lot lower...but wantonly cutting spending isn't the answer.

There is likely plenty of trimming that could be done on the city budget, but I feel that budget cuts should always be thoroughly scrutinized before being implemented. Bjerke, on the other hand, seems to think that we should simply cut for the sake of cutting. According to the candidate, "I have a four part plan: cut, cut, cut, cut." Cutting spending may sound nice, but as a taxpayer I still eschew cutting without thinking about what those cuts will do to the community.

I will argue until I'm blue in the face that residents of Grand Forks enjoy a very high quality of life. If Bjerke's minority suddenly became the majority, that quality of life would be quickly eroded all for the sake of a smaller tax bill. If people like Terry Bjerke dominated local politics...sure, you would pay less in taxes, but you would likely be missing a whole lot in the process.

Do you enjoy the Greenway? Do you appreciate the city's mosquito control program? How about the renaissance of downtown Grand Forks? Are you happy that the underprivileged and the disabled are able to use public transit to get around town? If people like Terry Bjerke suddenly became the majority at city hall, no doubt funding for things like these would be cripplingly reduced if not eliminated. Indeed, things like the Greenway or the flood control system likely never would have gotten off of the drawing board in the first place.

I'm all for sensible spending and Grand Forks can be a bit loose with the purse strings at times, but a candidate who favors cutting simply for the sake of cutting isn't going to get my vote. I say this as a taxpayer and as a resident of Ward 1.

59 comments:

Anonymous said...

first!

bethski said...

Is all this true about the second to last paragraph? I'm not good at keeping up on politics, but I'm quite happy with the greenway and everything. If this is all true I'm gonna be PISSED if this guy makes it.....

GrandForksGuy said...

Beth, please read my post a little closer. I'm not saying that Bjerke himself has proposed elimintaing funding for the things I mentioned (although he probably has!). What I'm saying is that if suddenly a majority of councilmembers shared Bjerke's mentality all of those things and many, many others would almost certainly be in jeopardy or wouldn't have gotten off of the ground in the first place. Luckily, even IF Bjerke is elected, he will still be in the minority and won't actually be able to slash/trash the city's budget like he would like to. Again, I'm all for sensible municipal spending and lower taxes, but at what cost? A city with someone like Terry Bjerke holding the pocketbook would be a very depressing and backwards kind of place.

GrandForksGuy said...

oops...elimintaing=eliminating

Matthew said...

YEAH GRANDFORKSGUY!

Sorry, I'm just a little excited that you've posted something that you really feel strongly about. I'm glad you took the time to write what you think.

Elucidarian said...

You want goofball politicians? I say we vote for dumpster-diving and reelect John Hoff! (I have nothing against sensible reuse.)

Anonymous said...

I'm sick of the tax and spend, tax and spend mentality of leaders in this town. I see the author of this blog falls into that same category.

I love how people say they are all for cutting wasteful spending, but we need to look at it closely before doing so.......when that happens....it never gets cut.

I'm not a fan of Mr. Bjerke, but I'm sick of seeing our taxes continue to rise every year and no attempt is made to lower them.

Anonymous said...

It is too bad that people who say they are for "sensible spending" didn't speak up when taxes(people's hard earned money) get wasted on things this city doesn't need.

Anonymous said...

GFG, thanks for the blog. Providing the forum, I mean. However, your input is useless. You aspire to be with the Grand Forks in crowd. Your aspirations come at the cost of your own ability to think for yourself. How about an opinion of your own? It would be refreshing.

Thanks again for the blog.

ec99 said...

"I will argue until I'm blue in the face that residents of Grand Forks enjoy a very high quality of life."

It seems this old chestnut gets dragged out just about everytime the question of GF comes up. Its advantage is that there is no objective definition of "quality of life," thus it can be applied to just about anything. When I got up this morning it was -31 with a -53 wind chill. Some may call that "quality of life", maintaining everything from "it keeps the riff raff out" to "it makes us stronger."

As for Bjerke, perhaps if he were to specify exactly what he would cut, what he doesn't see as the purview of city services, it would clarify his stance and render speculative rants like the one posted here moot.

Anonymous said...

The good ole' quality of life argument.

I love the Greenway and mosquito control program and don't mind paying taxes for it, but at what point do we need a change in our leadership to address the problems of out of control property taxes in this town.

Anonymous said...

I am hoping that Bjerke is defeated and in a significant fashion to send a message that not all of us share 80% of his "rant/message". No one wants higher taxes. I believe our property taxes are to high. I do not believe that Mr. Bjerke's ideology is the logical or intelligent way to proceed towards the goal we all share.

IMHO he is completely out of touch with reality. I see the people enjoying; the greenway, the dog park and other city amenities...

and granted, these things (greenway) cost money to take care of....but would we just let these areas go wild? Areas on the wet side of the dike are currently assets to the community...

Anonymous said...

Blah, blah, blah, give it up. Citizens, myself included, have enjoyed the Red River and surrounding parks for decades, and decades, and decades. Taking political credit for The Greenway is disingenuous. It came at the expense of our beautiful parks and historic neighborhoods. Community leaders were so busy protecting their own interests and trying to mold the community for their future interests and cronies, that they let the Corps, and other entities, tear the character of this historic community apart. Wake up! All muncipalities have parks and rec., not just Grand Forks. The Greenway, the Greenway....please.

Its time for Terry to get back on the council. Remember, the council members provide input, and then they vote. If Bjerke's such a whackadoo, why do your fear him on the council? You don't have to answer that, we all know.

Anonymous said...

Actually I enjoyed the episodes televised post flood...the more "Whakadoo's" on the council the better. Makes for great TV.

It's up to Ward I. Put up your best person!...If Terry Bjerke is that person then he should represent you.

Anonymous said...

Terry will bring strip clubs back to Grand Forks! He's against governemnt interference in private sector businesses and our private lives. Libertarians rock! He's got my vote

Kelly Clow said...

This one's a sticky bugger for me.

I agree that tax/spend is a serious disease in governments these days, but even as a registered Republican I have to admit that there are some things that need to paid for by the whole as well as things that should be paid for by the few.

As usual, it all comes down to want vs. need vs. common good. Does Grand Forks NEED a dog park, and does it fulfill the criteria of serving the common good? I seriously doubt it (and I'm a dog guy to boot!). I think it should be paid for by a non-profit organization, formed by a committee made up of proponents.

But, on the other hand, I believe that Grand Forks doesn't absolutely need the Greenway, but I believe it fulfills the criteria of serving the common good, therefore, it should be paid for by the whole by way of taxes.

The Alerus used to be something I thought should have been paid for by the whole, but after seeing the last eight years stumble by, I can now see the error in involving government in the affairs of entertaining the masses.

Long story short, (too late, I'm sure!) I think the council could stand to have one Terry Bjerke playing Devil's Advocate. One Terry Bjerke over that, however, and there could be lapses in judgment in the other direction.

Anonymous said...

Fellow geniuses, which programs should be cut, how much would each save, and how many mills would that cut your property tax burden?

Surely those advocating cuts in this space realize their arguments are just as ham-fisted, shallow, and fundamentally cliched as Grand Forks Guy's.

Do you really think it's creative or original to just rip someone else for being uncreative or unoriginal? That's irony at its base level, but it's still funny. ec99 ripping people for being too dogmatic or not specific enough? I always love that one.

It's similar to those who rip Marilyn Hagerty here. Your thinking that a tired criticism of dimwit writing is interesting or worth reading makes you even dumber than the concept of a KFC "review".

Wow, GFG wants to be part of the "in crowd" or every city in the nation thinks that they have good "quality of life." Thanks for that. But, if it makes you feel better, we're happy for you. May I suggest we all head down to the Listen Center for some snickering and finger pointing?

Angie said...

Might I suggest going to this site to get an idea of how your property taxes are divided out:
http://www.grandforkscountygov.com/homepage.htm

then under quick links choose: GIS and Property Searches

Anonymous said...

Angie.....what exactly is that supposed to tell me? Here comes the argument of, "we only take a fraction of your taxes, look at how much other taxing entities take."

I think all govt. entities are taking too much of my money. I really don't care if it is the city council, county, school, park board, state, etc.

Anonymous said...

It would be nice for someone with a conservative outlook for city spending to be on the council. I've lived in my house for almost 2 years and our "assessed value" and the taxes get higher and higher, I think they've gone up 4 times.

I do enjoy many of the projects the city has done to make GF a more pleasant place to live, however something needs to be done about the property taxes and I would be willing to sacrafice some of the nicities for lower taxes.

- Amber

dale said...
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jd said...

"Terry will bring strip clubs back to Grand Forks!"

If this is true, he has my vote!!!

Anonymous said...

Maybe Bjerke can pull some strings and bring an Olive Garden to Grand Forks!

Anonymous said...

Dale said, "But I don't think massive cuts at the city level will result in savings that outweigh the potentially significant loss."

This kind of thinking really scares me. Are you serious?

vcsuvike said...

I think people often forget the biggest spender of property taxes is the school system. Yes we need a great education system, but people should question why it costs so much. In my opinion, the educators have yet to prove a 15 to 1 ratio is prime. I had a great learning environment in GF when the ratio was close to 30 to 1. Pick on the city all you want, there are certain services we need and demand, and those expenses continually go up. The city made some cuts, I have yet to see any public school system give back any money.

ec99 said...

"I have yet to see any public school system give back any money."

And I have yet to see a great deal of accoutability from the GFPS. I always wonder why, if they bring in all this money, where it goes? Apparently not to the schools, since they continue to run candy, calandar, giftwrap, etc sales every year to support themselves.

Anonymous said...

The city made some cuts? Really.....oh yeah....property evaluations went up, so my taxes went up as well, but let's pat the city on the back for not raising taxes as much as they could have but cutting a few mills.

I've seen several posters on here already mention that all areas are to blame for high taxes, not just the city.

Anonymous said...

the current GFK council is a wonderful bunch of "governors", but it would be even better to have at least one libertarian. Every governing body would.

wakeup! said...

An honorable man steps up to run for Council because he cares about Grand Forks, and what he gets in return is GFG calling him a "goofball" and City Beat labels his campaign a "jihad". Wake up, people! There are SERIOUS problems with the current council. A fighter for the citizens, not his cronies, should be welcomed, not discredited.

Anonymous said...

Let's just continue to raise taxes in this town and see what kind of positive impact that has on the "quality of life".

I guess I'll shut up now because I might be labeled a goofball for speaking out about the taxes in this town.

Anonymous said...

How about a topless Olive Garden?

Anonymous said...

How would they carry the breadsticks?
Oops...never mind.

Charlie said...

School systems that don't give back money?

They do---when the kids make their homes in the same school district they grew up in. Over and over.

I'd guess GFKS is a clear example of how the school system gives back.

dale said...
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Anonymous said...

A hundred bucks isn't obviously much to you, but it is to some people.

I always love how you talk down to people on here.

You don't think that cutting any programs would help, so are you in favor of ever cutting a city service or job then?

Anonymous said...

Anon @ 4:34pm

obviously you are not a regular to this blog. Dale likes to talk-down to other people who post. It makes him feel better about himself.

Anonymous said...

Dale never talks down to me

dale said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Orator said...

Each one of us has a few ideas where money can be saved in government. They all share one thing in common: they're services we don't use. I'll never vote for anyone who screams "cut, cut, cut!". Rather, I'd like to see someone scream "audit!". Make sure each department is running efficiently first, then ask each department to cut 1%, 3%, 5% from their budget. Overall, it could lead to substantial savings without blindly cutting services that they think no one cares about.

C. Y. said...

The jail for instance is something that is required unless you want those folks walking around your neighborhood. The old jail was near to being shut down by the state. The way the commissioners tried to pay for it was not very good but at the same time it was needed. Mr Bjerke is playing on everyone's notion that the jail wasn't needed when we know it is a necessary and the rules it is run by are established by the state, not local commissioners.

wannagrapple said...

"Do you appreciate the city's mosquito control program?"

The prospect of being sprayed and fogged with toxins doesn't exactly fill me with an appreciative thrill. No it doesn't.

Anonymous said...

"The prospect of being sprayed and fogged with toxins doesn't exactly fill me with an appreciative thrill."

People have been falling over like flies haven't they? Just more ecological BS

bethski said...

GFG,
I did understand your post, I guess I'm not too good at wording things at 1:30am. I'll know better next time! :o)

Anonymous said...

I'd like to have a couple people like Bjerke on the council to keep spending and taxes in check, but NOT a whole council with the same political views. Just something to balance the tax and spend mentality in our city government. I liked the late Bob Brooks since he seemed to be the only one to speak up on overtaxing and overspending.

I will say we need constitutionalists/libertarians in federal politics (e.g. Ron Paul who I voted for in the caucus) since the current establishment is spending in bankruptcy.

Anonymous said...

Go Terry Go, you have these liberal boneheads wetting their pants ! Keep it up, bring on those topless Olive Garden waitresses ! greenglass4.

wannagrapple said...

"People have been falling over like flies haven't they? Just more ecological BS"

don't be trite. it's only becoming to fools.

obviously people don't drop "like flies" as the punny wit stated.

but they do have a higher incidence of certain cancers, reproductive issues, developmental abnormalities, neurological disorders and other assorted pleasantries when sprayed copiously with organophosphate and pyrethrum related goodies.

posting a pun sure is fun, but only when it isn't at the expense of reality.

Whistler said...

City spending is up 28% adjusted for inflation over the last ten years.

Even holding spending growth to the rate of inflation plus the increase of population would be better than what the city does.

It's apparent that the city decides what they want and leave it up to us to pay for it.

I don't mind spending for necessities but I don't like fluff.

dale said...
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Anonymous said...

For everyone who is happy with their taxes and all the city services, will you be happy with another 28% increase in city spending over the next 10 years?

That will be the case if something isn't done to steer this ship in another direction.

I'm waiting for the classic argument that some people will have to start eating dog food if any of the city services are cut.

dale said...
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Anonymous said...

Do we need them to make two sweeps across town to suck up the leaves in the fall? Seriously, one sweep should do.

Those are the little things that should be trimmed. It is a service that wouldn't be cut, just trimmed back.

I'm in favor of a major "audit" of all departments.

Kelly Clow said...

What is the status of the Riverside pool argument?

I tried to look up anything I could, but I couldn't find a conclusion to the debate.

I looked over the prepared report and it's recommendations, and I wonder if there's been any further developments on the matter.

It seems to me that this particular issue is one that could potentially fall into the "wasteful spending" category.

dale said...
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Anonymous said...

The so-called consultant the city hired about the Riverside pool had some pretty ridiculous numbers. If the city built a new pool, about half of the revenue would come from concessions. In their numbers about a basic remodel of the Riverside pool, their scenario did not contain any revenue from concessions. When the consultant was asked about this at the public meeting last summer, he explained that at a smaller pool, lifeguards give half of the pop and candy away to their friends so concessions don't make any money. What??? How much did the city pay this guy??

Kelly Clow said...

I saw the plans for a new pool with the concessions, bigger slide and zero depth entry.

Wouldn't an indoor pool make more sense?

As for accessibility, we have become a car culture over the past few decades, people should be used to that by now.

I really think this is one of those things that would be a prime candidate for inclusion in a city community center along with an indoor skate park and study hall/computer lab.

It would take time to raise funds and build it, years in fact, but putting all these amenities along with others under one roof would be the cheapest option.

Unfortunately for the Riverside residents, this would have to be located in a centralized spot, and not in their neighborhood. Plenty of neighborhoods are without pools, they can get by.

Want vs. need vs. common good.

Anonymous said...

Dale, are you originally from Canada or England... every now and a again a work like "favour" or colour" will slip into your comments? Just curious? If you are, it's interesting to get your take on our local political system.

Queen's English said...

Bollocks! Dale just knows how to spell properly. ;)

The real tax savings will come from cutting the school district. Start with administrator's salaries. I know of at least half a dozen teachers who could effectively step into the superintendent position and would be *ecstatic* to take a third of the current salary.

dale said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Angie said...

Hey Anon 11:23 AM, February 20, 2008

Just thought it was a site that had some value to this topic. You must be an angy person to interpret what I said as a negative. Since all I said was "Might I suggest going to this site to get an idea of how your property taxes are divided out".

It was meant simply as an informational tool,so that each individual could then further target what areas they feel may need to be cut.