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Rob Port, Minot, and C.T. Marhula, Grand Forks, letter: N.D. should audit NDSU research park

MINOT -- While we differ on our political beliefs, we do have some things in common. We both have a passion for transparency and the rule of law in government. We are familiar with the "untouchables" -- the politically or socially well-connected who never seem to be held accountable for their actions.

Does North Dakota also have its untouchables? It would appear so, given the lack of accountability at North Dakota State University and the lack of media coverage of it.

State Sen. Tony Grindberg, R-Fargo, is the executive director of the NDSU Technology Research Park. As we recently reported at SayAnythingBlog.com, we believe Grindberg double-dips on his salary. In order to avoid a conflict of interest, Grindberg (who sits on the Higher Education Committee in the Legislature) is supposed to reduce his NDSU salary by the amount of his legislative salary. To the best of our knowledge, he has not done this, and when it was brought to the attention of NDSU President Dean Bresciani and Chancellor Bill Goetz, they chose to do nothing about it.

We've also found evidence of spending at the Technology Research Park that may be against both state and NDSU policy. Some of the more outrageous expenditures we reported are more than $4,000 for Grindberg's Fargo Country Club membership, bottles of wine for more than $100 and a meal for the research park's staff and the board (which includes Bresciani) that cost well over $200 per person.

We also found more than $3,600 in charges for gifts and gift cards.

State law prohibits public entities from making such expenditures. Apologists claim the NDSU Technology Research Park is not a public entity. They ignore that the attorney general already has opined that the research park is a public entity for open records and meetings, which is how we found the receipts and reports disclosing the above data.

Bresciani and Goetz have chosen to cover this up and hope it goes away. It won't. Left unaddressed, these revelations will hurt the public's trust in NDSU.

We encourage Herald readers to contact the governor's office and their local legislators to insist on an independent audit of the practices NDSU's Technology Research Park.

Rob Port

C.T. Marhula

Port founded and runs the Say Anything blog, www.sayanythingblog.com . Marhula is a researcher for the Research Triangle Institute and a former member of the Grand Forks School Board.