The Minot City Council's Finance and Improvements Committee recommended this week that the city hire a "legal consultant" to support Minot during the upcoming legislative session.
The cost of hiring Shane Goettle for the next year would be $58,000. Goettle would technically be hired as a special assistant city attorney, since cities are not allowed by law to hire lobbyists. But make no mistake about it, Goettle would be Minot's lobbyist when the 2013 North Dakota Legislature convenes in January, as well as being responsible for other work on government issues for the next two years.
Goettle is a familiar face in North Dakota. A native of Donnybrook, he was the state Commerce Commissioner from 2004 to 2010, then worked for Sen. John Hoeven before losing a bid for the Republican endorsement for U.S. House.
Minot has hired others in similar capacities previously, including for the 2011 legislative session, so hiring Goettle to represent Minot's interests at the Legislature isn't unprecedented.
Some will doubt the need for such assistance, and others will question the need to spend $58,000 to secure that representation.
Will Minot get its money's worth? That's nearly impossible to measure. What's it worth to Minot to have someone actively lobbying and meeting with legislators from across the state on a day-to-day basis during the 80 days of the Legislature? This city is in something of a unique situation, undergoing growing pains brought on by the oil boom while still in the infancy stages of recovering from the Souris River flood of 2011. Having someone like Goettle in Bismarck to help tell Minot's story to legislators who have no first-hand knowledge of our situation could be invaluable.
Will Minot get its money's worth? We believe it will. The city should hire Shane Goettle as a special assistant city attorney whose job duties include representing the city at the Legislature.