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Fargo radio talk show host Scott Hennen to be part of Grand Forks 'Tea Party'; similar event planned for Fargo Aug. 13

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GRAND FORKS, N.D. - Former North Dakota Gov. Ed Schafer will headline the "tea party" scheduled for Tuesday evening in Grand Forks on the lawn of the county courthouse on South Fourth Street downtown.

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Grand Forks City Council Member Terry Bjerke; Fargo radio magnate Scott Hennen; Robert Harms, former legal counsel to Schafer and Gov. John Hoeven and president of Citizens for Responsible Government in Bismarck; and Bismarck blogger, Rob Port, also are slated to speak, said Randy Richards, the main organizer of the event, which will run 6 to 8 p.m.

The invited speakers will get three to five minutes, Richards said. But the main idea is to let whoever wants to speak to come to the microphone for about two minutes, said Richards, who works in civil service on Grand Forks Air Force Base.

Bjerke, who has promoted the tea party on local radio, said he's planning to "bring the red meat," during his short speech.

Although it's a national phenomenon sparked mostly by opposition to sharply increased levels of federal spending in the past year, Bjerke said the whole idea is relevant for local government, too.

"I think people want fiscal responsibility at all levels of government," he said. "The problem of overspending does not belong just at the Washington, D.C., level."

Bjerke, who works for the U.S. Postal Service in Grand Forks , said he and the tea party movement are not anti-government. "We just want government to be in their proper role."

Richards said it's part of the national phenomenon of hundreds of such events held, drawing thousands, to protest recent steep increases in federal spending.

While there obviously is a lot of networking, especially online, Richards said the whole tea party phenomenon is truly a "word-of-mouth, grass-roots effort," not organized by any national political group or party.

He's got no budget and has begged and borrowed all the equipment for the tea party, including sound equipment from Hennen and a generator from a friend. "I will buy the gas for the generator out of my own pocket," he said.

Hennen, who is strongly promoting the event on his "Flag" radio station, at 1100 AM, figures the event will draw 1,000 people, Richards said.

A tea party is being planned Aug. 13 for downtown Fargo on the lawn between the public library and the Civic Center, Richards said.

According to Perry Schumacher, of West Fargo, who has helped promote tea parties, there have been five tea parties so far in North Dakota, drawing almost 2,000 people total. Four of them were held on tax day, April 15 -- Bismarck, with 360 attendees, Dickinson with 200, Jamestown with 100 and Harvey with 75 -- fitting in with the acronym "Taxed Enough Already."

A July 2 event in Bismarck on the Capitol grounds drew 1,200, according to estimates, Schumacher said. A tea party in March in Thief River Falls drew about 70 people, organizers said. One in East Grand Forks July 19 drew about 110 people.

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