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Franken staff stops in Detroit Lakes

Although his office isn't quite set up, Sen. Al Franken's staff is already hard at work.

On Day 3 of a 66-city tour, one of the three teams of Franken's staff members stopped in Detroit Lakes Thursday to see what is on constituents' minds. In Detroit Lakes, they found topics varying from the delay in the whistle-free zone designation to health care and nursing homes to stimulus money for the historical society's new building.

"Sen. Franken felt it has been way, way (too long and the people) have waited long enough for two senators," Constituent Services Director Greg Buhr said.

Rather than waiting any longer for an office to be set up, Franken sent his team to take the "office on the road."

Usually, when an elected official starts, the senator, in this case, and staff have from the November election until the beginning of January to get everything in line. Since Franken and Norm Coleman have been battling for the seat since November's election, Franken's staff hasn't had the opportunity to start setting up an official office until last week, when a judge finally declared Franken the winner.

"We started from a dead stop a week ago Tuesday," Buhr said. "We were literally working at staff's kitchen tables with personal phones, personal laptops."

As for their work on the road, Buhr and his other team member met with residents as they walked through the day and were "finding out what's on people's minds."

So far, in general, the topics have been "reoccurring themes," he said, including health care, the economy and jobs and public education as the "emerging issues of the day."

After the teams return to St. Paul, they plan to "compile the information, brief Sen. Franken and let him know what's going on where."

That will help Franken know if there are any specific areas he can help with, Buhr added.

"It's good information that will be helpful in a lot of ways," he said.