LF Council votes to move citizen appeals

By Terry Lehrke, News Editor

Where on the Little Falls City Council’s agenda citizen appeals should appear has been discussed during several work sessions and meetings.

Council Member Frank Gosiak initiated the discussion of putting it at the beginning of the Council’s untelevised work session. He made the suggestion after attending a League of Minnesota Cities session, where he learned other cities placed it at that part of their agendas.

Monday, the citizens appeals portion of the meeting was placed at the beginning of the work session, where City Administrator Dan Vogt had been asked to place it.

Resident Robin Hensel, during a citizen appeal, said she felt the citizen appeal time should not “hinge on the city administrator” and felt it violated the First Amendment right to free speech.

Vogt noted he had not made the decision to move the placement of citizens appeals, but took direction from the Council. The Council had not taken a formal vote on the matter.

Council Member At Large Brian-Paul Crowder said he felt that an issue that has potential conflict should have been voted on. He also said he had always wanted the work sessions to be televised.

Mayor Cathy VanRisseghem said she, too, has always felt the work sessions should be televised and that the Council needed to be more specific when giving direction to city staff.

During its regular meeting, the Council voted 7-1 to put the citizen appeals portion of the meeting at the beginning of the work session, with Crowder voting “no.”

The section of the agenda for petitions from citizens or others, however, remains at the end of the city’s regular agenda. This portion is often used for residents to petition the Council on various items.

During that time, resident Theresa Skorseth offered a petition Monday to request the work session be held in Council Chambers and that the work session be videotaped by Channel 6.

For the past several meetings, the work session has been held in the Council Chambers.

Hensel offered a petition to make Aug. 27 a city-wide holiday in Little Falls, in honor of the Kellogg-Briand Pact, signed in Aug. 27, 1928, by the U.S., France and Germany.

Little Falls City Council Briefs

In other business during its work session Monday, the Little Falls City Council:

• Heard a presentation by Sgt. Charles Strack, Randall police chief and Little Falls police officer, and an investigator with the Central Minnesota Violent Offenders Task Force. Strack has been making presentations to various government bodies asking that those councils and boards consider a resolution against the legalization of marijuana;

• Postponed for two weeks a proposed amendment to the city’s policy on the purchase of city property;

• Heard bids to repair the roof of the Pine Grove Park shelter will be taken until March 14;

• Were informed that members of the Council could have an e-mail account set up through the city if they wished, but would have to come to City Hall to access the e-mail account; and

• Were informed that resident Robin Hensel had issued a letter to the city regarding an incident during which Council Member Frank Gosiak asked her not to videotape a Park, Recreation and Tree Board meeting because a child was in the frame. Vogt told the Council there was nothing to prohibit taping of open meetings regardless of who attends, but noted schools have different policies on photos and videotaping of students.

During the regular meeting, the Council:

• Approved Mid-Minnesota Federal Credit Union’s request to hold the 2013 Dam Festival medallion hunt on public property the week prior to the June 14 – 16 event;

• Tabled a proposed policy regarding resolutions based on the city of Eagan’s policy until after discussion at the March 18 meeting;

• Approved the temporary closing of the street near 909 Ninth St. N.E., March 9, from 6:15 p.m. – 8 p.m. for a prayer vigil;

• Approved an agreement with Lincoln Elementary School to hold 2014 elections at the school’s gymnasium as in the past, with election judges posted at the two entrances;

• Voted unanimously to add language requiring notice of a meeting be posted three days before a meeting, as required by state statute, to the Golf Advisory Board, Sister City Committee and Economic Development Authority sections of the code;

• Accepted donations from October – December 2012, including: tree/flowers for Maple Island Park from Amanda Lease and Girls Scouts; $500 for the Dam Festival, $5,500 for the Lindbergh Lions Recreational Complex and $1,350 for the West Side Improvement Association (WSIA) all from Lindbergh Lions; $7,500 for Lions Park from the Little Falls Lions; a bench for the Lindbergh Lions Recreational Complex from Lisa Maslowski; an automated external defibrillator (AED) for the library from the St. Cloud Heart Center; $5,000 for JC Park from the WSIA and a tree for Maple Island Park from Stacy Westhoff and Nathan Becker;

• Gave approval to apply for a grant from the Minnesota Department of Health to implement the city’s Wellhead Protection Program; and

• Accepted the resignation of Mark Meyer as a city equipment operator in the Street Department and authorized posting the position.

The meeting was adjourned to a closed meeting which was held March 6, to discuss Robin Hensel’s lawsuit against the city with the city’s attorney in the matter, Paul Reuvers.

The Council’s next regular meeting will be held at 7:30 p.m., Monday, March 18, at City Hall.