In a press conference held today in Fargo Senator Tim Mathern questioned the leadership of John Hoeven on the Northwest-Delta Airlines merger.
Mathern said the proposed merger of these two airlines is significant at all
levels-- local, state, national and international. "North Dakota cannot ignore or minimize the impact of these unfolding events," Mathern emphasized.
Last week Governor Hoeven said he would reserve judgment until there are reasons to take any action, saying, " It is important to recognize that this potential merger is in its early stages." However, according to Mathern, there is a basic problem of understanding in the Governor's Office.
Mathern pointed out sources which describe the merger process as far from being in the early stages. "This has been ongoing for many months, is now on the fast track, and is rapidly approaching the final decision stages", citing AP Business Writer Harry Weber and USA Today articles as far back as September 2005. Delta and Northwest officials insist that no hubs will be closed, but they are leaving open the possibility of further shrinkage and route changes.
The Daily News (Wahpeton) reported last week that Gov. John Hoeven supported the merger, quoting him as saying air service is "an essential component in supporting our growing and more diversified economy." According to the Associated Press, Northwest Airlines intends to cut domestic flights later this year. Probably after the election, Mathern speculated.
Mathern questioned Hoeven's rationale and methods in this case. "You lead North Dakota's public policy in a vital area like this with a full honest disclosure of your position and accurate facts to back it up", Mathern said. "Hoeven says wait and see, and it's too early to take positions- but he has taken a position- he supports the merger", Mathern pressed.
"This is a clear example of Hoeven avoiding the hard decisions and just letting things happen", Mathern said. Voters need to consider this when asking if John Hoeven should be given a third term as Governor, he added. "Hoeven's hesitation is evidence of his wait-and-see management style, and additionally in this case he just has too many facts wrong," Mathern charged; adding, "this is simply not good enough- now is just not the time to be coasting on auto pilot."
Hoeven either can't or won't put a team on the field for North Dakotans according to Mathern; "that's exactly why I'm running for this office. North Dakota needs a Governor who recognizes important issues, before they become scandals or lost opportunities".