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Published May 08 2012

Forum requests AG’s opinion on Diversion Authority meetings

FARGO – The Forum filed a request Tuesday with North Dakota Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem, seeking his opinion about whether informal task forces acting on behalf of the Diversion Authority must hold open meetings.

The request was prompted after Diversion Authority leaders said the board’s Executive Leadership Council – which they described as an unofficial advisory board – is not subject to North Dakota’s open meetings law.

State law requires government boards and any of their subcommittees to hold meetings in public.

After The Forum published a story May 2 on the topic, diversion officials allowed local media to attend the executive council’s meeting May 3.

Cass County Administrator Keith Berndt wrote in an email: “While we do not believe this meeting is required to be an open meeting by North Dakota statute, we remain committed to conducting business in an open and transparent environment.”

The Executive Leadership Council is one of several informal working groups the Diversion Authority has unofficially endorsed to work on the Red River diversion.

With its request, The Forum aims to resolve the legal question that remains about whether such boards must adhere to North Dakota’s open meetings law, as the Diversion Authority itself and its official subcommittees do.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Kristen Daum at (701) 241-5541

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