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Published June 07 2012

Stenehjem seeking more details on Diversion Authority meetings

FARGO – North Dakota Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem is seeking more details from the Fargo-Moorhead Diversion Authority before he issues a formal opinion on an alleged violation of state open meetings law.

A June 5 letter to authority Chairman Darrell Vanyo and Fargo attorney Erik Johnson states Stenehjem’s office wants more information about the creation, membership and function of the authority’s Executive Leadership Council.

Stenehjem’s office will use the information to review the alleged violation, and “an opinion may be issued to the (council) indicating whether a violation has occurred.”

In May, The Forum filed a formal request seeking Stenehjem’s 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 – or any of their subcommittees – to hold meetings in public.

The Executive Leadership Council is one of several informal working groups the Diversion Authority has unofficially endorsed to work on the $1.78 billion Red River diversion project.

These groups, like the council, haven’t notified the public in advance of their meetings.

The Executive Leadership Council held one open meeting in May, after The Forum published a story about the board’s closed meetings.

Authority leaders maintained then that the meeting wasn’t required to be open under state law.


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