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D46 GOP Candidates call NDSU nursing program an ‘inside deal’

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Mailers attacking District 46 Democratic-NPL candidates placed Jim Roers, Jim Kasper, and Shannon Roers-Jones squarely against the NDSU Nursing Program.

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The ‘inside deal’ referred to in this dishonest mailer was when the State Board of Higher Education, Chaired by Kirsten Diederich, approved NDSU’s assumption of Sanford’s nurse training program in Bismarck.

Background

In 2012 Medcenter One of Bismarck merged with Sanford Health.  Medcenter had the last remaining hospital based Registered Nurse education program in the state.  In Fargo, St. Lukes once had a similar program, but that was long ago before the transition to Meritcare which also merged with Sanford Health.

Sanford decided to end its financial support for the RN education program for the same reasons St. Lukes in Fargo ended its program years ago.  But since the program had value and there was an obvious shortage of nurses, Sanford looked for an education institution to assume responsibility.  In 2014, after reviewing options, Sanford selected NDSU’s School of Nursing as the most logical option to take over the program.  NDSU had both the educational capacity and the institutional support to make it work.  NDSU’s School of Nursing is also listed among the top 30 in the nation.

Here is where it gets interesting.

Almost immediately, Representative Bob Martinson (R-Bismarck) attacked the deal and the State Board of Higher Education’s approval in March of 2014.  Martinson called it a “bailout of a multi-million dollar health care company“.

One has to ask why Representative Martinson was so exercised about the NDSU announcement.  Could it be because the University of Mary’s School of Health Sciences also had a competing offer, but lost out to NDSU?  Could it be because the University of Mary would have to compete against NDSU for nursing students for their RN program?  Why would Representative Martinson care?

Here’s the thing that not one enterprising news organization ever reported. Representative Martinson’s wife is the Dean of Health Sciences at the University of Mary.

Martinson had a conflict of interest a mile wide that was never discussed or exposed.

Fast Forward to the District 46 Republican Campaign

Jim Roers, Shannon Roers-Jones, and Jim Kasper would like to claim they are big supporters of NDSU.   Yet they are approving of attacking District 46 Democrats for the ‘deal’ that resulted in NDSU’s Registered Nurse training presence in Bismarck.

The entire basis of this preposterous attack was not a news source.  Instead it was an opinion blog based on Martinson’s complaints against NDSU, written by a person often referred to as ‘the underwear blogger’.

And no resident of District 46 would ever know this unless they grabbed a high powered magnifying glass to read references on the mailers.

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The Republican campaign in District 46 has to go down as one of the most dishonest efforts in local political history.

So here is the thing.  Jim Roers claims to be among President Dean Bresciani’s best friends.  Yet he is relying on a dishonest campaign that attacks Bresciani’s decision to rescue a nursing program in Bismarck under the NDSU Banner.

If Jim Roers and Shannon Roers-Jones can do this, they will fit in well with Kasper in the ‘good ol’ boys network in Bismarck.  That’s politics as usual in Bismarck.

But if you want things to turn in a better direction, residents of District 46 MUST re-elect Senator George Sinner and elect Kirsten Diederich and Dan Fisher to the House.

It’s time….

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$40,000 Contribution Exposes Roers Conflicts at NDSU Foundation

Why would a California developer make the largest donation to a ND legislative race in the history of the state?

What’s the connection?

The answer is found within the NDSU Development Foundation where both serve as Trustees and until only a few months ago, were both on the Property Management committee of the Foundation.

The nexus between their activity on the Foundation Board and on the Property Management Committee exposes a troubling conflict of interest within the foundation.

On March 2nd, the Foundation’s Property Management committee met to discuss development of the 1600 Block of University Drive and 12th Street N.   Committee Chair Jeff Volk advised about conflicts of interest for people who would be serving on the Foundation Board and bidding on the project. According to the Forum report, Volk’s comments were directed at Jim Roers and Bob Challey.

“I caution those of you that want to be on the other side of the table at the end (bidder for the project) to figure out where the conflict starts,” said Volk.

Challey and Roers appeared to argue with Volk, not understanding the issue.

“I don’t think the committee should try to exclude the expertise that’s there, certainly in the early part of the process,” Challey said.

Jim Roers appeared to want to continue to serve on the Property  Management side of the project until it came to voting.

Other prospective developers likely heard is that Jim Roers would advise the Committee as they lay out the plans, timelines, and work on the requirements of the project.  They should have also understood that Roers Development would likely have inside information on the project well in advance of other firms – putting Roers in the drivers’ seat.

On March 6th, the Forum opined that both were missing the larger point. ‘some developers appear to have an inside track on foundation/university projects…, by virtue of insider status with the foundation, enjoy what other builders might see as unfair advantage’

Roers eventually resigned from the Property Management Committee, but not the Foundation that the Property Management Committee represents.

This fall, the Property Management Committee narrowed the list of proposals from developers down to three.  Roers Development was one of the three selected.  Robert Challey remains on the Property Management Committee as do numerous other members who served with Jim Roers.

The Forum editorial continued, ‘The university and foundation are being scrutinized as never before..  The foundation, in particular, has found itself in a harsh spotlight in the past couple of years.  If ignored or even minimized, the conflict-of-interest matter could be a headline-making blowup.’

Well, blowup time has arrived.  Given Bob Challey’s willingness to buy a win for Roers in a Senate race, why would anyone believe Challey wouldn’t try to deliver the 1600 project to him as well?

Roers Development already appears to have received favored treatment in several University area projects including: T Loft Apartments; Stop & Go Center; and STEM Building.

Given all of this, how could any other developer believe bidding on a Foundation driven project is anything other than a stacked deck?

Just because Jim Roers resigned from the Property Management Committee doesn’t mean that the conflict was removed.  Roers is still a Trustee and he submitted a development proposal for the 1600 block while still a Trustee.  And unless he resigns his position, Roers will be on the Development Foundation Board when the 1600 block project is awarded.  Roers will be on the board of a non-profit that may award a development contract to himself!

The ONLY WAY for Jim Roers to remove himself from this glaring conflict of interest is to withdraw his development proposal.

If Jim Roers is really concerned about the future of NDSU and possible harm that will come if Roers Development is selected as the contractor, he would withdraw now.  If he thinks people will believe Bob Challey (and other foundation friends) won’t give him favored treatment – he needs to think again.

If Jim Roers doesn’t want to harm President Bresciani as he faces challenges before the SBHE, he should pull his bid and quit attacking the NDSU’s Nursing Program with campaign fliers in the district.

District 46 already has one Legislator in Jim Kasper who can’t see a conflict of interest in a forest full of them.  We don’t need to elect someone else who doesn’t get it to join him in the State Senate.