by Timothy Charles Holmseth
On May 27, 2014, at the EDHA Board meeting the public received some unique insight into the recent EDHA loan scandal.
George Wogaman, president, provided his thoughts into how the recent loan scandal could have likely happened, and reminded the other members that the incident at hand was one thing, but there were many successes, and this group was responsible for bringing in a large business.
“This was one thing. It was the same group that was involved in getting Cabela’s into town. It’s probably all I want to say right now. But remember the time,” Wogaman said.
As the meeting continued there remained an air of cynicism regarding the facts and circumstances that led up to the recent status of the unpaid $510,000 EDHA loan.
Wogaman again offered his insight.
According to Wogaman – the 2014 status of the $510,000 delinquent loan, which had been borrowed in 1999, but never once paid upon, despite a high level of file activity by officials, can also be explained by the conditions of the City when it was reeling from the flood.
“You know what people are forgetting about is the period of time we were in. I’m probably the only one here that went through that. There were five homes left in East Grand Forks. I was on the Administrative Committee – I was on the City Council – I was on the EDHA – and I know what they went through. And our main thing was to bring the city back,” Wogaman said.
Wogaman indicated the only real downside to the situation was the loan scandal itself because a great deal of business had been brought into town.
“It’s really a simple thing. There was a group that got together and working a lot of business to bring into town and the only problem is the fact that it went missing. We don’t know how that happened. But if you’re looking at that particular time it could have happened very easy,” Wogaman said.
Other members were not as certain and asked questions during the meeting that indicate Wogaman’s war stories from the flood days, and the ‘fog of war’ theory, was not being readily accepted as a good investigatory approach.
During a Q and A session between the EDHA Board and City Attorney Ronald Galstad, several members asked some poignant questions.
“Obviously you can understand the public’s perception of this whole thing is that yeah, it could have been crazy – it could have been whatever, but in 2006, this thing comes about in 2006, and he’s going, Mr. Richter at that time, was going to the County, for taxes, whatever he went there for, wouldn’t that have jarred a, something that says ‘I need to find that file [regarding the loan],’” one member said.
“But he wouldn’t have needed it at that time,” Wogaman reminded.
“So [the Boardwalk Enterprises issue] was brought up several times over the course of the past several years without any talk of why the payment hadn’t come in or why the loan hadn’t been being performed on?” another member said.