In Dickinson, North Dakota, there is a group of men who own businesses, own properties, are on board of directors, are members of development associations, and are involved in city government, who control much of what goes on in Dickinson. Though they tell themselves, and each other, that what they decide is for the good of Dickinson, it happens to coincide with what benefits them personally.
In this blog, I have not yet listed the names of the members of the Dickinson Mafia, because I want to be able to write the truth about Dickinson without interference, but it is fairly well known in Dickinson who the members are. The members of the Dickinson Mafia have each lived in Dickinson for more than twenty years, their individual deeds are well known, and their influence has been seen again and again.
In a recent previous post to this blog, I wrote that prior to 2008, the wages in Dickinson had been very low, this was intentional, this was the work of the Dickinson Mafia. The purpose of the low wages in Dickinson, was to control the people. The wages were so low, that the workers could not save any money, they could not get ahead, they were paycheck-to-paycheck people. The workers could not save enough money to move away from Dickinson. The workers could not afford to be without a job even for a short time, so if the wages were low at their job, if they were not paid for all of their time, if they were treated badly, they had to stay in that job even if they wanted to quit. Also, if a worker did quit, he would be “black balled” by the Dickinson Mafia, so he could not get another job. The workers knew that if they quit a job, the Dickinson Mafia would prevent them from getting another job, so they were scared. This is what the Dickinson Mafia wanted, keeping most of the people in Dickinson like slaves, unable to get away, unable to get ahead, unable to speak out.
If you are a new resident of Dickinson, and you become acquainted with an older, long time resident of Dickinson, if you ask them in private about the things that I have written in this post, there are several possible reactions that you could get. They might get very angry about you asking anything about the Dickinson Mafia because they are still afraid. They might be both angry and embarrassed, they might still feel humiliated about what was done to them. They might laugh, “Ha ha ha ha, oohh, ha ha ha….” and walk away, thinking it is better to not talk about it. The only type of long time resident in Dickinson that would talk to you about it, is someone whose anger and stubbornness outweighs their fear.
I did not intend to write such a lengthy introduction to the Dickinson Mafia in this post, this information is given in two previous posts. Also, I wrote in a previous post that the way the Dickinson Mafia guided the property development in Dickinson, they actually did a good job. In this previous post, I described that Williston, Watford City, and Bismarck each were made a mess by the wrong type of development in the wrong area, it is hard to drive around town in those three cities. In contrast, it is still very easy to drive around Dickinson even though there is a great deal of new development.
So how did the Dickinson Mafia fare, now that the Oil Boom is over? Four of them did very well. These four that did very well, their families were from Dickinson, and these four sons continued to run their family businesses in a conservative manner, and these businesses did very, very well. They did begin paying higher wages to their workers, once they saw that they were losing essential workers to the oil field. These four sons of Dickinson families did financially back at least four new businesses in Dickinson that were very much needed. So I will admit, that in addition to exercising some beneficial control of development in Dickinson, the Dickinson Mafia did bring at least four greatly needed businesses to Dickinson.
One of the Dickinson Mafia, did not really do so well, in my opinion. In both his personal, and business life, he saw something that looked attractive, got involved, and controversy followed. He has had some problems, and it looks to me like he will continue to have problems. But, he was not from Dickinson.
I would like to point out, that now that the Oil Boom is over, I can not think of any out-of-town person, or out-of-town business that has clearly emerged as a winner. To date, I have never, never, met an oil field worker that was, or is financially well off. I can not think of one out-of-town business that is here in Dickinson now, that is doing well.
The out-of-town oil companies, they may have made enough money to be able to afford to shut down operations now, and still have made money overall. The out-of-town oil field service companies, it will really be close if they made any money now that they have shut down. The out-of-town real estate developers and property investors, they are probably going to go bankrupt in the next couple of years.
The Dickinson Mafia could have been real estate developers and property investors between 2008 to 2014, probably more easily than anyone else, but they didn’t. Why didn’t they? Because they are from here and their families are from here, their families have been successful here for the past fifty years. The Dickinson Mafia don’t lose money, they make money, again and again over a long period of time, they are not nouveau riche. The Dickinson Mafia were happy to see out-of-state developers and property investors come here and buy land. The real estate prices went up and up. For that matter, the Dickinson Mafia helped the real estate prices go up and up, the Dickinson Mafia made sure that man-camps and temporary housing were not permitted in Stark County, which created a housing shortage.
Out-of-state real estate developers, property investors, and oil field service companies have built commercial buildings, warehouses, houses, and apartment buildings all over Dickinson. In about one to two years, all of these newly constructed buildings will be selling for about sixty percent of what they cost to build. At that time, that is when the Dickinson Mafia will buy property.