At the end of a three-plus hour regular meeting Monday, July 12, Crosslake Mayor Dave Nevin told the council he’d scheduled an informal town hall meeting for later this week to discuss issues with citizens.
Nevin wanted to let the council know the meeting was at 6 p.m. Thursday, July 15, at the Crosslake Ideal Lions pavilion at the community center, and he dubbed it a “state of the city” type of event where he didn’t want council participation. Rather, he was looking for a dialogue with citizens.
Upon learning the council would have to call a special meeting to avoid violating the Open Meeting Law if there was a chance three or more council members would attend, council member Marcia Seibert-Volz tried to poll council members to determine whether they planned to be there.
Council member John Andrews said he just didn’t know if he’d attend or not.
On Tuesday, July 13, the city issued a notice that the council will hold a special meeting “to meet, greet and discuss topics that could have a community impact regarding taxes, neighborhoods and quality of life in Crosslake. Topics include road upgrade projects, sewer extension and operations, right of way vacations, assessments, available land behind Andy’s, police department future and respectful workplace.”
Saying he was uncomfortable bringing it up during the regular meeting, Nevin said he had to address Police Chief Erik Lee in a public meeting regarding a front page local newspaper story about Lee withdrawing a respectful workplace complaint.
Nevin asked how Lee found out information from a closed meeting. Lee said he didn’t talk about the substance of his complaint, but withdrew it because he didn’t have confidence in the process when subjects of a complaint are allowed to participate in a closed meeting.
Nevin said he recused himself at the closed session, but the council wanted his input.
Asking for other council members’ input, they said to let the issue be and move forward. Seibert-Volz said what happens in a closed session should never be discussed beyond a summary, and education was needed on data privacy and closed sessions. The procedure must be handled properly, she said.
“I just wanted to vent on that a little bit because it was hard for me to accept,” Nevin said.
Also at the end of Monday’s regular meeting, City Attorney Brad Person said the council should start providing a summary of closed sessions at the next regular council meetings to be included in meeting minutes.
Any action taken after a closed session must happen in open meetings. When discussion-only occurs in closed meetings, a summary should be provided.
Summarizing a June 14 closed meeting, Person said the council received and acknowledged two different respectful workplace complaints. After quite a bit of discussion, council consensus was not to hire a third party to investigate the complaints as it had done for a previous complaint.
Asking the council if that summary was accurate, council member Dave Schrupp said council members had different ideas on how to handle the complaints but never all agreed. In the end, they acknowledged receiving and reading the complaints. There was no action available to take, he said.
City hall sign
Nevin asked the status of a sign outside city hall. It was determined not to do anything with it.
An incident in January regarding where to place a sign eventually led to the first respectful workplace complaint being filed by Planning and Zoning Administrator Jon Kolstad and involving Nevin and Seibert-Volz.
Nancy Vogt may be reached at 218-855-5877 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Facebook and on Twitter at www.twitter.com/@PEJ_Nancy.