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Attorney general cites Diversion Authority for open-records violation

The Diversion Authority here was wrong to withhold a draft report from a member of the public for three months, the state attorney general said this week.

FARGO-The Diversion Authority here was wrong to withhold a draft report from a member of the public for three months, the state attorney general said this week.

The report was produced by North Dakota State University, which has a contract with the Fargo-Moorhead Flood Diversion Board of Authority to study the impact of the diversion on upstream farmland and to determine a mechanism to compensate landowners.

In December, the university updated the authority's agriculture policy committee with a PowerPoint presentation. Trana Rogne, an opponent of the diversion and an upstream farmer, asked for a copy of the presentation and other material from the meeting, which was public, said Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem's office.

The committee told him Rogne considers the presentation to be uncompleted working material, which can remain confidential under state law. In fact, the committee's consultants said, hydraulic engineers realized after the meeting that the report was potentially misleading because it didn't include the effect of culverts on drainage. The committee sent Rogne a corrected report in February.

Stenehjem said the report is a public record because it was presented at a public meeting and must be provided within a reasonable time. He added that the committee is a public body because its powers were delegated to it by the Diversion Authority, which is a public body.

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On the Web: To see Stenehjem's opinion, go to 1.usa.gov/1PjQosH.

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