There’s a lot of really dumb things that go on in politics. But Fargo City Commissioner Dave Piepkorn’s comments about his colleague Tony Gehrig, earlier this week, really take the cake. They were nothing short of idiotic.
To give you just a little context, Gehrig is well-known in Fargo’s political circles as being a staunch advocate of limited government and fiscal responsibility. To be even more specific, when it comes to special assessments, Commissioner Gehrig isn’t a fan. In fact, we published an article of his in May of 2018 on the dirty little secrets of special assessments. He followed that up by holding onto his seat in the June 12, 2018 election.
At Monday’s Fargo City Commission meeting, things got a little heated. With the City of Fargo looking at benefitting from the passage of House Bill 1066 — otherwise known as the “Prairie Dog Bill” — to the tune of $13 million, Gehrig has expressed his view that the state dollars should be used to eliminate specials. During the meeting, he also referred to the city’s funneling of excess sales tax dollars, for their water plant, to the general fund as “money laundering”. The comment didn’t set well with Commissioner Piepkorn, who said that Gehrig’s reference was “embarrassing” and “ridiculous”.
But Piepkorn went beyond taking exception with Gehrig’s comments to making what just might be some of the dumbest comments of 2019. Noting that Commissioner Gehrig was listed as absent from the August 6th Special Assessment Task Force meeting, Piepkorn said:
“The other thing I find a little ironic is, uh, in the attendance for the Special Assessment Task Force, Commissioner Gehrig wasn’t even there. So.”
Gehrig quickly interjected:
“Where was I? Deployed for the military. Sorry, Dave. Sorry about that.”
Rather than apologize, Piepkorn buckled down:
“No, it’s just ironic that you seem to be very upset about it but then you’re not at the meeting.”
As you can see on Commissioner Gehrig’s bio, he joined the North Dakota Air National Guard while still in high school, was commissioned as an officer, and currently serves as a pilot for the 119th wing. But apparently military obligations mean nothing to Dave Piepkorn.
What this moment boils down to is fairly simple. Piepkorn thought he had Tony Gehrig in a “gotcha” moment. When it turned out that wasn’t the case at all, rather than quell his disdain for his colleague and swallow his pride, Piepkorn put his poor judgment on full display. After all, does any thinking person honestly believe Gehrig should have shirked his military responsibilities to attend a task force meeting? Of course not. But apparently Mr. Piepkorn isn’t a thinking person.
Politics is filled with controversial issues, disagreements, and heated moments. It’s an environment that often fosters an atmosphere that creates political enemies. That being said, sometimes it’s best for some folks to just shut their mouths and maybe even apologize when they don’t. For Commissioner Dave Piepkorn, this was one of those moments— and he blew it. For that, he only has himself to blame.
You can see video of the exchange below.
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I can't believe what was said at the last Fargo City Commission mtg… Please watch this video and share your point of view with us. Commissioner Tony Gehrig will be on the show tonight with his response to this and much more. –Producer Josh
Posted by POVnow on Wednesday, September 11, 2019