Little Falls Council refuses Little Falls Radio request for telephone recap of council meetings

Council not comfortable with use of staff time or a single outlook given

By Terry Lehrke, News Editor

The Little Falls Radio Station requested someone from the city be available after a Council meeting to give a recap of the meeting over the phone.

Dan Vogt, the interim city administrator for Little Falls, asked Council members if that was something they wanted him to do.

Council Member At Large Brian-Paul Crowder said the station occasionally called him for updates, and he didn’t mind that.

While he was the city administrator in Brainerd, Vogt said he did a monthly show on the radio with a radio station host.

“The local radio station would like a recap of what’s happening in the city,” he said. “I don’t want to step on any toes. … Let me know if you’d rather that I didn’t do that, that’s fine. If they want to be here, they can be here, and they’ll know what’s going on.”

“They could talk to any one of us, not just Mr. Crowder. Keeping the mayor off, that’s just not right,” said Council Member Frank Gosiak.

Crowder said the station called him for information, and if he didn’t understand a question, he referred them to staff.

“They called me a couple of years ago and I told them there was no reason why you can’t spent two hours down here, instead of getting it secondhand or third hand,” said Council Member Urban Otremba.

Pointing to Council Member LeeAnn Doucette, a former radio station employee, Otremba said, “She used to be down here all the time.”

Doucette was concerned about the station getting just one person’s outlook on things.

Council Member Loren Boyum pointed out no one from the radio station attended the Council meetings.

Mayor Cathy VanRisseghem told Vogt, “I’d rather you spent your time on other things. They (the radio station) can be here. Like everyone else, they are welcome to come here.”

Chris Grams, owner of Little Falls Radio, said it has always been the policy of the station to talk to Council members or citizens who have attended Council meetings.

Before Vogt started as interim administrator, Grams said the station would call Lori Kasella, the mayor or Jerry Lochner.

Kasella and Lochner have served as co-city administrators for more than two years before Vogt was brought on board.

“It stunned us that they refused to let the city administrator speak with the press,” Grams said Thursday.

“It’s not just us, can anyone contact him?” said Grams, listing other area newspapers and radio stations.

“Both the radio and newspaper are critical to a small town,” said Grams.

Radio station staff get the agenda, as anyone else can, from the city’s Web site.

“We used to run over there and pick up an agenda and a packet,” she said.