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Pioneer Editorial: Cheers and Jeers

Communication gaffes raise some red flags

VenuWorks, the firm hired to manage and operate the Sanford Center, found itself in a quandary with its top management post at the facility.

After a review of executive director candidates, Bemidji officials interviewed one person for the job. While the candidate brings good qualities to the table, the city wants more candidates to compare before making a decision.

That seems reasonable and prudent.

VenuWorks has agreed to bring in at least one, if not more, candidates to interview for the position – but only after another communication breakdown about billing expenses to the city.

Make no mistake: staff members at the Sanford Center are qualified and hard-working. The current interim executive director, David Ross, is a steady, experienced hand capable of leading the transition.

But twice there have been communication breakdowns between VenuWorks’ executives and city leaders, who understand the community and staff deserve better.

The latest breakdown – the company billing the city for Ross’ salary – rightfully raised red flags among city councilors and Sanford Center advisory board members.

We’re hesitant but willing to give VenuWorks the benefit of the doubt for the two previous billing issues. A third, though, presents an unacceptable pattern.

Mail campaign

Election Day is one week away, and soon we’ll see the results of months and months of campaigning.

Perhaps more than any other year, candidates have used direct mailing to get their messages across to voters.

For many, checking the mail has become a daily exercise in thumbing through fliers touting candidates, pointing out weaknesses of their opponents and offering clear choices between them.

Many of the fliers, though, aren’t paid for or sent by the candidates themselves. Instead, the fine print remind us that lobbying and special interest groups are very much involved in determining who gets elected, particularly to the Minnesota Legislature.

A welcome sign

The Minnesota Department of Transportation has softened its position on a “Welcome to Bemidji” sign on the Paul Bunyan State Trail bridge.

After a visit by Gov. Mark Dayton, who visited Bemidji last week, MnDOT officials said they would reconsider a ban on the bridge sign.

It’s the right decision, especially considering MnDOT’s existing hard-to-read sign adds little aesthetic appeal and prompts its own concerns about distracting drivers.

Working together, the city and MnDOT should be able to come up with a design that represents the area’s cultural uniqueness while greeting visitors.