Ventura urges Roseau to be patient

By Patrick Howe

Associated Press

ST. PAUL -- Bristling at criticism of his response to summer flood damage, Gov. Jesse Ventura on Wednesday asked communities to be patient and said he might call a special legislative session under certain conditions.

Ventura said the purpose of his news conference was to "deflect what has been written and said" about the state's response. Northern Minnesota lawmakers, as well as gubernatorial candidates, have been critical of his refusal to call a special session.

"That's government, ladies and gentlemen," he said. "It's a big huge bureaucracy that moves along at a turtle's pace."


He and state officials repeatedly emphasized that the state follows a lengthy process before committing dollars.

"People who are calling for a special session now are calling for one at the wrong time," said Louis Jambois, an official in the Department of Trade &; Economic Development. He said it could take months before the state's seven-step flood response process is completed.

At the same time, a Ventura press aide distributed a sheet showing that $15 million has already been committed for some new flood mitigation efforts. Jambois said those funds address needs that were easily identifiable and provided an "important psychological boost."

Ventura said he'll consider calling a special session only if leaders of the House and Senate agree on a specific plan and how to pay for it.

"If I call one this week, it'll be turmoil and disaster," he said.

The sentiment was slightly different from what he said early this month, when he declared a special session unlikely, asking "Where do I get the money?"

Roseau Mayor Jeff Pelowski said he was disappointed in Ventura's message.

"We're trying to get the word out as best we can that this is an urgent life-or-death situation and we need to get some help this year," he said.


Pelowski, who listened via a radio simulcast, said Ventura ought to have set a date for a special session, saying home and business owners in his city are deciding now whether they ought to rebuild or move.

"Desperation has really set in around here, and we need to give people some hope," he said.

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