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Political notebook: Aid glitch could lead to tax raise

Gov. Tim Pawlenty warns Minnesotans to expect cities to raise property taxes because of a glitch in Local Government Aid payments. City leaders will use hysterics - "which they are good at" - and then raise taxes, he said. The problem is that the...

Gov. Tim Pawlenty warns Minnesotans to expect cities to raise property taxes because of a glitch in Local Government Aid payments.

City leaders will use hysterics - "which they are good at" - and then raise taxes, he said.

The problem is that the 2003 Legislature forgot to repeal part of an old local aid law, and then leaders decided to repair the problem in this year's session. Since little got done in this year's Legislature, the fix fell by the wayside.

A year ago, Pawlenty went along with the Legislature's intent in dividing up city aid. This year, however, he says he must follow the law since legislators did not change it. That means cities don't know how much aid they will receive, and may not until after they are well into the budgeting process.

Cities complain that they can't adequately prepare a budget until they know how much state aid is coming. If state aid appears ready to fall, many city leaders say they will have no choice but to raise taxes.


Too nice?

Columbia, S.C., newspaper The State seemed perturbed that one of its congressmen said nice things about North Dakota.

Rep. Joe Wilson, R-S.C., "got exceedingly mushy ... toward an Air Force base some 1,500 miles to the northwest," the paper's political column noted last week.

Wilson was in Grand Forks, N.D., to help Republican congressional candidate Duane Sand's campaign June 28.

"This base's future is very clear homeland security and border security," Wilson said, according to the quote The State picked up from the Grand Forks Herald. "There could not be a base better situated for this than Grand Forks."

The newspaper wanted to know, "What's Shaw Air Force Base right down the road in Sumter - chopped liver? And what about Charleston AFB? McEntire Air National Guard Station?"

The State reports Wilson explained that, "Obviously, our bases are better than all those other bases" and that he had "meant that Grand Forks had been the best base in the nation when it had come to its proximity to Canada."

Evenson promoted


An ex-Fargo resident and Fergus Falls (Minn.) Regional Treatment Center employee is Minnesota's new director of state-operated substance abuse treatment services.

Kevin Evenson started the Department of Human Services job July 1.

The department provides substance abuse treatment statewide in programs ranging from detoxification to continuing adult care at treatment centers in Anoka, Brainerd, Carlton, Fergus Falls and St. Peter.

Evenson has been chemical dependency services program director at the Fergus Falls facility. His career included serving Southeast Human Services in Fargo as a chemical dependency counselor and assistant director for adult services. He earned his bachelor's and master's degrees from the University of Mary in Fargo.

Three veterans rally

How many North Dakota veterans does it take to rally against Michael Moore?

"Veterans to rally against Michael Moore/Byron Dorgan Movie," said the headline on GOP Senate candidate Mike Liffrig's advisory last week. "Liffrig will be flanked by veterans of several wars."

The Friday events were the second set of news conferences Liffrig has called in three weeks to chastise Dorgan for his appearance in Moore's film, "Fahrenheit 9/11," which criticizes President Bush and the war in Iraq.


In Bismarck, Liffrig was accompanied by three veterans: two young guardsmen recently returned from Iraq, Derek Holt, 22, of Minot and Josh Churchill, 21, of Bismarck; and a Republican legislator, Sen. Dick Dever of Bismarck, an Army veteran who joined the service in 1971 and was stationed in Berlin.

The Fargo version of the veterans' rally had two veterans: Dever and Churchill.

The veterans and Liffrig called the film "propaganda."

The younger veterans complained that the film's depiction of U.S. soldiers in Iraq was inaccurate.

"Way off base and irresponsible," Holt said.

"We were both very surprised someone representing North Dakota" would be in the movie, Churchill said.

Dever said Dorgan voted in favor of the Iraq war and then, by appearing in the film, "has turned his back" on the troops.

"He should step forward and distance himself from the movie," he said.


Dorgan is shown briefly in two sections of the film. In one, he questions who in the U.S. government allowed Saudis citizens, including Osama bin Laden's relatives, to fly out of the United States shortly after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. Dorgan and other critics say the Saudis underwent too little questioning by the FBI.

In the other scene, Dorgan questions why the government allowed butane lighters on commercial aircraft if it was concerned about terrorists blowing up passenger planes.

Dorgan, through his campaign office, issued five pages of rebuttal statements within minutes of Liffrig's news conference. He said he won't apologize for addressing homeland security issues he raised in the film.

In an interview Friday, he said, "I stand behind the questions I asked. I'd ask them again today. I don't know why he's (Liffrig) seeking a seat in the Senate if he's not interested in the answers to those questions."

Pawlenty ready

Pawlenty says odds are 80-20 against a special session for Minnesota legislators to finish work they did not get done during the regular session.

"I stand ready to call a special session if they agree on anything," Pawlenty said, even rearranging parking spaces in front of the Capitol.

Legislative leaders cannot agree. Pawlenty, a Republican, blames Senate Democrats led by Dean Johnson of Willmar.


"Senator Johnson has an agreement-avoidance problem," Pawlenty said.

Johnson several times has called for a special session, but leaders cannot even agree on how to start negotiations.

Active campaign site

Republican agriculture commissioner candidate Doug Goehring's Web site has been activated. It's www.douggoehring.com .

Readers can reach Forum Capitol reporters Janell Cole at (701) 224-0830 or Don Davis at (651) 290-0707.

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