Rob Port, Minot
I was happy to read that the city council is putting some more thought into an ordinance that would give the mayor broad new emergency powers to shut down commerce and limit travel. The ordinance as proposed was seriously flawed, and seemed a solution in search of a problem.
Perhaps it can be argued, with hindsight on a disaster in our community that is still less than a year old, that we need some reform in the laws that govern disaster response, but we shouldn't let the disaster that is still fresh in our memories serve as justification for ill-advised policy.
The ordinance in question invokes these new mayoral powers with only the most vague of justifications, e.g. "unrest." While most of us find it hard to believe to our current city leadership would ever abuse these powers, let's keep in mind that when we enshrine them in law they're available for use by whatever leaders we may elect in the future. Leaders who may not have the scruples of the status quo.
Besides, giving the mayor these powers can lead to knee-jerk decisions that do more harm than good. As one example, while many demanded that businesses be shut down during the flood, it was good that they stayed open. They provided goods and services people needed, not to mention pay checks to workers who could hardly afford to be without their income during that time of crisis.
I'm not exactly sure why we need any changes in the law. We came through one of the worst disasters this community has ever seen with no deaths, few injuries and surprisingly little criminal activity. It seems to me that the policies already in place worked.