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Political notebook: Politicians, there's no Fargo, Minn.

Politicians on both sides of the political fence don't seem to understand that Moorhead is in Minnesota, but Fargo is not. "We're going to Fargo," Senate Majority Leader John Hottinger declared last week. The Minnesota Senate's top dog repeated i...

Politicians on both sides of the political fence don't seem to understand that Moorhead is in Minnesota, but Fargo is not.

"We're going to Fargo," Senate Majority Leader John Hottinger declared last week.

The Minnesota Senate's top dog repeated it several times. It was only after The Forum asked why he was going to Fargo instead of Moorhead that he corrected the goof.

Republicans and Democrats alike have been in hot water after flying into Fargo, often not realizing Moorhead has an airport. But Hottinger had no such excuse; he was driving and his schedule listed Moorhead as the destination.

Legislators frequently talk about "Fargo" when debating bills. Of course, little of what they do has a direct impact on North Dakota's largest city.


Republican Gov. Tim Pawlenty quickly changed plans earlier this year when he scheduled a flight to Fargo. Soon after The Forum asked his office why Moorhead was skipped, the governor's itinerary changed to Moorhead.

All of this raises the question: Where is the Moorhead public relations person? To that, Democrats probably would say: fired when Republicans cut city aid.

'Simply irrelevant'

Sen. Byron Dorgan, D-N.D., has the attention and scorn of the Washington, D.C., press after they caught wind of his hope that Democratic presidential hopefuls not overlook North Dakota this time.

Roll Call reporter Mark Preston told of Dorgan's letter to the nine candidates saying his support will come "only if they are going to run a national campaign" and visit states like North Dakota.

"The Gore-Lieberman ticket made no stops despite repeated requests. I am not going to go through that again," he told Preston.

Last week, Roll Call contributing columnist Stuart Rothenberg included Dorgan's comments in a list of bad political ideas whose time has not come.

"Any presidential hopeful who campaigns in Dorgan's state is simply wasting his or her time," Rothenberg sneered. "Like it or not, North Dakota is simply irrelevant in the race for the White House ... any White House hopeful who spends time in the state, rather than in West Virginia, Arkansas, Iowa, Wisconsin or any of a dozen other competitive states is simply making an irrational, illogical decision. Indeed, anyone who promises to spend time in North Dakota rather than in a politically competitive state is showing such poor judgment that he or she should be disqualified from being the Democratic nominee."


North Dakota Republicans are delighted.

State party chairman Dan Traynor of Devils Lake faxed Dorgan a letter last week, saying, "If you are not going to support the nominee of your own party, perhaps you would consider joining most of the rest of us in North Dakota and support our president. In order for you to show your support for President Bush, I have enclosed a bumper sticker for you to place on your car."

Residence open

Twin Cities visitors can see where Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty lives four days a week.

The official governor's residence is open for tours the last three Thursdays of June, July and August. The home was closed during the last months of the Ventura administration.

The home, at 1006 Summit Ave., sits amid many of St. Paul's most beautiful and expensive homes. It was donated to the state in 1965.

The tours are free, but a photo identification is required for admittance. For more information or to schedule a group tour, call (651) 297-2161.

By the way, Pawlenty lives in his Eagan home three nights a week; it is not open for public tours.


Another futile move

The House minority leaders think the North Dakota Legislative Council should write a letter to President Bush and the state congressional delegation asking for families earning $10,500 to $26,625 be included in the increase in per-child federal tax credits.

Rep. Merle Boucher, D-Rolette, made the motion at the council's meeting last week.

With the Legislature and council overwhelmingly Republican, it didn't get very far.

"What if I don't want to sign it?" asked Sen. Bob Stenehjem, the Senate majority leader and council chairman. Then the council voted it down along party lines.

Real e-recording

Some Minnesota real estate records may be filed online.

Secretary of State Mary Kiffmeyer recently looked on while Dakota County officials conducted the first electronic filing of real estate records. A task force Kiffmeyer headed spent four years drawing up standards for such processing.


"The proceedings of the task force have represented a dynamic public-private partnership in the development of statewide standards for e-recording of real estate records," Kiffmeyer said. "Both sides were talking and agreeing, and this is a necessary foundation when embarking on a project of this magnitude."

The first e-recording phase is acknowledgement of full payment of mortgage debt and notification of payment of mortgage debt. Both documents are simple, typically single-page documents.

The second phase will include more complex documents like deeds and mortgages.

Kiffmeyer did not say when e-recording would be available statewide.

Just garbage

The Midwest Office of the Council of State Governments reports that North Dakota's recycling rate is the poorest in the region.

It's the only one in the 11-state CSG region that doesn't have a grant or loan program to help stimulate recycling as a way to divert waste from landfills.

In the latest figures available, CSG reports North Dakota has an 11-percent recycling rate. Every state in the region except Nebraska (15 percent) recycles 20 percent or more.


Minnesota is the highest, at 46.6 percent and the next highest is Ohio.

But the disclaimer on the CSG's chart also says "comparing recycling rates is deceptive as each state defines its rate and collects such information differently."

Readers can reach The Forum's Capitol reporters Janell Cole at (701) 224-0830 and Don Davis at (651) 290-0707

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