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Crosslake meetings draw questions over open meeting law

Questions arose at Crosslake’s regular city council meeting Monday, Dec. 10, over whether meetings between the mayor and council members-elect were ethical or legal.

Mayor Darrell Schneider said he had met with the council members-elect, Gary Heacox and Mark Wessels.

“I have talked to these other council members,” the mayor said at the meeting. When asked to clarify who those council members were, he said, “The two council members-elect.”

Minnesota’s open meeting law states that a quorum (majority) of council members may not meet without proper public notice.

Crosslake city attorney Michael Couri said that because Wessels and Heacox are not yet sworn in, a meeting of the two with the mayor may not be illegal.

“I don’t think the law is clear about what the role of council members who are elected and not yet sworn in is,” Couri said.

He said he doesn’t believe it is a technical violation, but, “Would a court find it to be a violation of the intent of the open meeting law? Perhaps. I’m not aware of any case law to that effect.”

Pat Netko, owner of Lake Country Crafts and Cones, spoke during open forum.

“It might not be illegal to hold meetings, but it’s unethical. Frankly this new council scares me. I think the entire community of Crosslake needs to beware, watch, listen, pay attention to what’s going on."

Former city clerk Darlene Roach echoed Netko’s words during the open forum, calling the events of the evening’s council meeting appalling and unethical.