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Nisswa police chief offered one-year severance for resignation

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Nisswa police chief Craig Taylor said by phone Tuesday evening, Aug. 20, that the Nisswa City Council offered him a one-year severance in exchange for his resignation, confirming that he was the employee being discussed at a closed council meeting Aug. 14.

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Taylor said he denied the offer and expected to be terminated at a scheduled council meeting Wednesday morning, Aug. 21.

Go to pineandlakes.com for more information about that meeting, which occurred after the Lake Country Echo was published.

Taylor said he was suspended Thursday, Aug. 15, during a meeting with Nisswa mayor Brian Lehman and City Attorney Clyde Ahlquist. Taylor said he was offered a year’s severance pay and benefits to resign immediately, and was offered the pay with the condition that he not disparage the mayor or council members and that the details of the agreement remain confidential.

He went on to say that when he asked Lehman if there were complaints or allegations against him, he was told there were not. Taylor said that in his entire career he has not had any disciplinary action taken against him or any sustained complaints.

Furthermore, Taylor said he had never received any communication verbally or by email suggesting the council would like him to do anything differently or have the department do anything differently.

Taylor said he had until 4 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 20, to accept or reject the offer. He rejected it.

“I gave up a nearly $100,000 severance package because I didn’t think it’s right that the public be kept in the dark about how the employees are treated in the city of Nisswa,” he said.

Taylor also said, “I couldn’t live with the shame of collecting money, taxpayer money, to do nothing, and have people wonder, what did he do? Did he quit, did he resign, did he get fired, what dirt do they have on him?”

Taylor said he believed he would be fired at the Wednesday, Aug. 21, council meeting, and that he believed the reason was because he spoke up at the July 17 council meeting regarding hiring a city administrator.

“I can only make the assumption that they’re firing me because I spoke out against the (hiring of a) city administrator,” Taylor said, later adding, “This is just to get me out of the way.”

Contrary to the city’s advertisement that the Aug. 21 meeting would be closed, Taylor said the meeting Wednesday morning would be open. Taylor said he contacted the League of Minnesota Cities, and was told that if the city was holding a closed meeting about a member of city personnel, that person should be notified and given the opportunity to keep the meeting open or have it closed.

Taylor said he was not told he was the subject of the council’s Aug. 14 closed meeting and was not given the opportunity to choose whether to keep the meeting closed or open.

Taylor said he’s been with the department for 17 years.

Following the 8 a.m. meeting Wednesday, Aug. 21, at Ahlquist Law Office in Pequot Lakes, the council’s regular monthly meeting was scheduled for 7 p.m. that same day at Nisswa City Hall.

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