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Forum staff reports, Published December 23 2008

City says media must pay $4,525 for e-mails

The city of Fargo says it needs $4,525 from area news outlets before it will continue processing 10,000 e-mails that may be related to a street problem linked to a fatal vehicle crash Dec. 10.

In response to separate requests from four area media companies, including The Forum, the city compiled a DVD containing e-mails going back to Oct. 1 that contained words such as “rut,” “pothole” and “El Cano.”

The request is aimed at uncovering information about what the city knew about a problem with a stretch of Fargo’s South University Drive that was the scene of several crashes earlier this month, including one near El Cano Drive that resulted in the death of

8-year-old Amanda Leininger of Fargo.

In a letter dated Monday that was sent to the four me-dia outlets, City Attorney Erik Johnson said it will take 167 hours for city workers to review the collected e-mails and redact personal information and other data deemed confidential under North Dakota law.

In addition, the city said it is charging $150 for six days worth of computer time de-voted to the inquiry.

The computer time aside, the city’s bill breaks down to about $26 an hour for work-ers’ time.

In his letter, Johnson sug-gested the companies work out an arrangement to share the bill.

Two outlets, KVRR (FOX) TV and KVLY/KXJB TV, indicated they do not want to participate in the cost.

WDAY and The Forum have not yet decided whether they will pay for the documents.