Letter: Higher authority needs to step in

Five councilors are attacking Councilor Julia Butler for what they allege is a “conflict of interest," writes Jack Koochin.

Residents of Grand Forks should be really concerned about what’s happening within city council.

Five councilors are attacking Councilor Julia Butler for what they allege is a “conflict of interest.” She formerly operated a yard maintenance business, which she has now closed.

How was that even a conflict in the first place? It wasn’t. Why are they doing this?

• Councilor Butler was duly elected by a rather large proportion of the public vote, and therefore stands as a majority representative in council. She is doing her best to keep her election promises and supporting the majority of residents on issues despite a very difficult environment (present council) and should be lauded for doing so.

• There are strange things going on at council that should concern everyone. For example:

Councilor Wirishagin, before the last election, publicly proclaimed at a council meeting that he was against the water meter program. Then after the election, surprisingly put forth a motion in council to complete the water meter program.

He totally “about-faced” on the very issue that likely got him elected in the first place. Why is this?

• There are elements of the previous council that just can’t seem to let go of the old power. Are they interested in getting back in power again, slavering to sidle up to the trough, perhaps at the expense of Julia Butler?

• Doug Allin, CAO, was awarded a $192,000 severance by the previous administration when he was “let go,” which he was not asked to repay when he was rehired by the new administration. How can anyone justify council’s actions?

• All the secret “in camera” council meetings of the current and previous administration are extremely suspicious. Why all the secrecy? What are they hiding?

What is going on here? Is the previous council still pulling strings in the present council? One can only speculate. But whatever is going on, it’s not good for Grand Forks.

What is happening is that this town is being destroyed from the inside out. What is their agenda? This is no longer just about water meters.

It’s time for the previous council to take a hint… you LOST the election. We voted you out, with reason, so please get the message.

The actions from present council directed at Councilor Butler are inexcusable, and an embarrassment to the community. She has the integrity to stand up for the citizens of Grand Forks. Rather than have Julia leave council, it should be the soon-to-be “former five” that should be ejected from council under a dark cloud of suspicion, secrecy, and abuse of executive privilege.

It’s time for a higher government authority like the attorney general to step in and thoroughly investigate the current and previous councils.

– Jack Koochin, Grand Forks