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City has not earned public's trust

The good news in Nisswa is the reinstatement of Craig Taylor as Nisswa’s police chief after having been suspended Aug. 15 by Nisswa mayor Brian Lehman and city attorney Clyde Ahlquist. Unless you have been out of the universe, you know the rest of the story.

At the regular council meeting on Aug. 21 there was a considerable amount of comments made by several of the 70 or so people gathered at Nisswa City Hall as to why and how the council justified the action taken against Chief Taylor.

In response, Mayor Lehman read from a prepared statement saying, “I think we’ve had a lot of damage done. I don’t know how long it will take to recover from the damage that has been done. I think the city council was given legal advice that I don’t necessarily know was in the best interest of the city or actually legal.” (There goes the attorney under the bus.)

Lehman commented that maybe the council needs to have some training as to how to address issues such as these. Lehman is in his seventh year on the council and in the position of mayor and the other council members have from three to five or six years. That is certainly plenty of time for on-the-job training, even if you don’t have a clue as to how local city governments are run.

As is stated in the Minnesota Mayors Handbook: “One of the easiest ways mayors can promote citizen involvement is by modeling compliance with the Minnesota Open Meeting Law, both the letter of the law and the intent and other laws aimed at soliciting public input."

The real question I have is what drives people who ask to be elected to a position so as to serve and represent the citizens of a community and then assume they have the power to discharge an employee with 17 years of spotless service for no cause? And at the same time we find that other employees had their jobs threatened by Lehman. When findings such as these are exposed, is it any reason why the public finds it difficult to have faith in public officials?

Where is the honesty, the trust, the integrity and the leadership that the public expects and deserves?

I said it at the council meeting last week and I say it again ... It’s time for you to resign.

(Harold Kraus, Nisswa, is a former Nisswa mayor and former Nisswa City Council member.)