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Pawlenty brings weekly radio show to Willmar

WILLMAR -- Gov. Tim Pawlenty had hoped to broadcast his Friday morning radio show from the Town Talk Caf? in downtown Willmar where 50 to 60 customers and others had gathered to watch the governor and possibly ask him some questions.

WILLMAR -- Gov. Tim Pawlenty had hoped to broadcast his Friday morning radio show from the Town Talk Cafรฉ in downtown Willmar where 50 to 60 customers and others had gathered to watch the governor and possibly ask him some questions.

But the location of the 9 a.m. show was changed to KDJS Radio Station on North Business 71 with about 10 minutes to spare after Pawlenty's staff discovered a long-distance telephone line was not available at the Town Talk.

The change of scene was suggested by KDJS News Director Bev Ahlquist, who was covering the governor's appearance in Willmar Friday morning. Pawlenty and his staff motored over to KDJS, where arrangements were made to feed the show to WCCO Radio in Minneapolis, which carries the show.

KDJS General Manager Doug Hanson said he was glad to help out.

"Radio is such a spontaneous media that we can end up adapting real quickly,'' he said. "And Bev had worked closely with the governor's office before, so we're very happy to be able to accommodate his needs.''

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This was Pawlenty's second radio show from Willmar; the first was at Bixby's.

Pawlenty's usual "sidekick,'' communications director Brian McClung, was temporarily replaced by DFL Sen. Dean Johnson of Willmar, who had been among those waiting for the governor at the Town Talk.

"Welcome to Willmar and we appreciate KDJS hosting us,'' said Johnson after donning a headset in the small broadcast room. "I was down there in the back room having eggs, and they're down there uneaten. We do appreciate your coming to Willmar and west central Minnesota.''

Rep. Dean Urdahl, R-Grove City, sat in during the show.

Callers from around the state asked Pawlenty about immigration, crime and sports stadiums. Matt, from Willmar, said professional sports teams create a "ton'' of money for the state.

Pawlenty said experts differ on the effect of sports on the economy. Rather, Pawlenty said he viewed sports more as a quality of life enhancement. He said major league baseball may contract two teams in 2007, including the Twins.

The governor said sports isn't for everybody.

"But for a big chunk of our population they really get a lot of excitement and joy from sports. Like the arts, like so many other amenities, we don't want to be reckless about it. But within a reasonable way, we have to find opportunities to keep fun, exciting infrastructure and amenities in Minnesota to enhance and keep our quality of life,'' he said.

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"The Gopher stadium is a public entity for public purpose on campus. The university will pay for a big part of it. I think The Senate will pass it and I looking forward to signing the bill,'' said Pawlenty.

Johnson said stadiums for the Twins and Vikings are both in the Senate Tax Committee, "and we're looking at the revenue and funding streams and the taxes, and there seems to be a positive attitude in moving forward.''

On illegal immigration, Pawlenty said he favored toughening the borders, doing a better job of enforcement and promoting legal immigration.

Johnson said there will be immigration reform, recognizing that people need to be educated and helped with learning the English language.

"We're living in a community, in a region, where immigrants are very important to us, and we appreciate them,'' said Johnson. "So we're positive about immigrants in west central Minnesota.''

Pawlenty and Johnson disagreed on the proposed constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage. Pawlenty said he wants the Senate to vote on placing the amendment on this fall's general ballot.

"A lot of Minnesotans would like to see it on the ballot,'' said Pawlenty.

Johnson said the Judiciary Committee defeated the amendment 5-4 because state law is court-tested and already bans same-sex marriage. "Whether or not there is a vote on the Senate floor remains to be seen,'' he said.

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