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FARGO — A pair of evidentiary hearings in Alfonso Rodriguez Jr.'s appeal of his death sentence have been delayed again. An evidentiary hearing on forensic issues in the murder case was to start Tuesday, March 28, but it's now set to begin June 20. Seven days have been allotted for testimony, but only four days may be needed, court records stated. Another evidentiary hearing, focused on Rodriguez's mental health, was set for June 20 and could last four days or more. But that hearing will be moved to a later date, court records stated.
MOORHEAD — The Minnesota chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations is asking Moorhead authorities to file criminal charges against a man accused of harassing a pregnant Muslim woman wearing a hijab. "We urge law enforcement authorities to reconsider bringing charges in this case based on Minnesota statutes prohibiting stalking and harassment," CAIR-MN Executive Director Jaylani Hussein said in a statement.
MOORHEAD — Fardoso Mohamed had just walked into Hornbacher's supermarket on Saturday afternoon when a man stopped her and told her: "Hey, you need to remove the hijab." The man, a customer who looked to be in his 60s or 70s, was referring to Mohamed's head covering, the kind worn by some Muslim women in public. With her 1-year-old son in tow, Mohamed ignored the man. He, in turn, shouted at her, telling her not to enter the store. "He was very close to me, and he was yelling very hard, very mad," said Mohamed, who is pregnant.
FARGO — A newly released video shows a Cass County deputy cussing out a North Dakota trooper who arrested him for drunken driving in Barnes County. The deputy, Jesse Barbot, resigned before the Cass County Sheriff's Office reached a decision on how to discipline him for his arrest and subsequent berating of Trooper Jed Dahnke.
FARGO — A group seeking to recall City Commissioner Dave Piepkorn because of his views on refugee resettlement has submitted its proposed petition to state officials for approval. North Dakota Secretary of State Al Jaeger said his office will finish reviewing the petition's format no earlier than Thursday, March 16, and no later than Monday, March 20. If the petition format is OK'd, the group must collect 3,504 signatures of eligible Fargo voters to trigger a recall election for Piepkorn's seat, said City Auditor Steve Sprague.
KINDRED, N.D. — This Cass County town of about 700 people is without a mayor and auditor after both officials resigned during an explosive City Council meeting. A conflict between City Auditor Twila Morrison and City Councilor Julie Johnson boiled over at the March 1 meeting, with Morrison giving Johnson the ultimatum: "You go, or I go." Johnson stayed, so Morrison went. Soon afterward, Mayor Jeff Wanner, who happens to be Johnson's father, announced that he'd had enough and that it would be his last meeting, too.
FARGO — The Fargo Park District appears on track to outlaw the trapping of animals on its land. The move to criminalize trapping comes after Forum columnist and WDAY talk show host Mike McFeely wrote about a trap that clamped a dog's leg in January in Lions Conservancy Park near the Red River. The dog's owner freed it from the trap, and the animal, an Australian cattle dog, was not badly hurt. The episode highlighted the fact that trapping is legal in the city and its parks. "Who knew?" said Joel Vettel, the district's executive director.
FARGO — Every legislative session, hundreds of lobbyists descend upon the statehouses in Bismarck and St. Paul, trying to achieve their legislative agendas. Some are hired guns contracted by various groups to work on a variety of issues, while others are in-house lobbyists employed by the groups they represent. In North Dakota and Minnesota, a handful of groups stand out because of the number of lobbyists they have.
FARGO — With smoking being the No. 1 cause of preventable death in the U.S., tobacco companies and health groups seemingly would be clear opponents in statehouse politics. But that stark division can get blurred in North Dakota and Minnesota where, according to state records, at least a half dozen lobbyists are registered to represent both tobacco firms and health organizations — groups like the North Dakota Hospital Association and the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.
FARGO — The look of a public plaza that a developer intends to build at the foot of a planned high-rise in downtown Fargo is starting to come into focus. Detailed drawings and blueprints of the plaza near U.S. Bank call for a mechanically cooled open-air ice rink with warming huts in the winter and a lawn flanked by kid-friendly fountains in the summer. The plan also includes a stage for live performances and movie screenings.