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Preston Mayor claims open meeting law violated by council


Fri, Aug 15th, 2003
Posted in Features

When the Preston City Council meets tonight it will have one more issue to debate: the open meeting law.

In a letter to the Preston City Council dated August 11, 2003, Preston Mayor David Pechulis claimed that City Administrator Fred Nagel’s actions, in contacting individual council members for permission to retain attorneys Kennedy & Graven of Minneapolis, violated the Minnesota Open Meeting Law.

Kennedy & Graven had been hired previously to advise the city on zoning ordinance issues related to Heartland Energy & Recycling obtaining a conditional use permit. Recently Nagel wanted additional advice on how the city should proceed in issuing a building permit to the tire-burning company.

According to Pechulis, Nagel received permission to contact Kennedy & Graven by speaking individually with council members Mike McGarvey, Mike Gartner, Heath Mensink and Jerry Scheevel by phone or in person. Supposedly, the four agreed that Nagel should proceed and contact the attorneys.

Pechulis claims that this is a violation of the open meeting law, where the city council is taking action without holding a public meeting.

In his letter to the city council, Pechulis stated that he had discussed this matter with Preston City Attorney David Joerg “who concurred with the violation of the open meeting law.”

“I am hereby making public record of the violation of the open meeting law by Fred Nagle, City Administrator, and the City Council and the illegal retainment of Kennedy & Graven,” Pechulis wrote to the council.

But Joerg disputes Pechulis’ claim that he, as city attorney, concurred with the mayor’s assessment that the open meeting law had been violated.

In a disclaimer issued by email on August 12 to the city council and news media, Joerg wrote:

“I did not concur or conclude that there has been a violation of the open meeting law. I stated that I had no first hand knowledge of the facts involved and therefore was unable to say whether there was or was not such a violation. I have not investigated the facts and have not been requested to do so. If I were requested to investigate the matter, I would not do so but rather refer the matter to outside counsel.”

The Minnesota Open Meeting Law states clearly that meetings of public governing bodies must be open .....
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The scientist in the woods

Fri, Aug 8th, 2003
Posted in Features

There may be no other person in America that is more closely associated with woody agriculture than Phil Rutter.   In the June 2003 issue of The Atlantic Monthly, Senior Editor Corby Kummer, in his article A New Chestnut, cre ..... 
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2004 County Fair set for third week of July

Fri, Aug 8th, 2003
Posted in Features

Fair board members met Tuesday night, August 5 at the County Office Building conference room to evaluate their efforts and discuss results from the recent county fair.

President Tracy Hanson, Chatfield, Vice-President Jim Nels ..... 
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Commissioners’ Report: Courtroom moved to Chatfield temporarily

Fri, Aug 8th, 2003
Posted in Features

The Chatfield Municipal Building and the Thurber Community Center will become the temporary site for Fillmore County’s courtroom as construction moves forward at the courthouse. Judge Robert Benson, Court Administrator Jim Attwood, and Joel Young, Ch ..... 
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Fillmore County District Court: Trio arrested for Lanesboro break-ins

Fri, Aug 8th, 2003
Posted in Features

A man, a woman and a juvenile were charged in Fillmore County District Court on Thursday, August 7, with burglary following break-ins at the Das Wurst Haus and Coffee Street Wine Company in Lanesboro on August 5.

Law enforcement ..... 
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Lanesboro City Council Report: Art Center details “draw” council’s attention once again

Fri, Aug 8th, 2003
Posted in Features

At the August 4th Lanesboro City Council meeting, the council turned their attention to a letter in which Cornucopia, Commonweal, and Root River Valley Friends of the Arts (RRVFOA requested a waiver so the three groups could hire Twin Cities attorney ..... 
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Preston City Council Report: Bonding bid for County 17 accepted

Fri, Aug 8th, 2003
Posted in Features

Another busy agenda was tackled by the city council of Preston. Confusion, occasional disorder and conflicting personalities fueled a long meeting.

Mike Bubany of David Drown & Associates presented the bids for the County 17 bon ..... 
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Lanesboro lets Police Chief go

Fri, Aug 1st, 2003
Posted in Features

On Friday, August 25, in a special meeting, the Lanesboro City Council voted to release Stuart Stotts from his position as Lanesboro Chief of Police.

In a prepared statement released by City Attorney, Tom Manion’s office on Mon ..... 
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Fillmore County District Court: Board will consider a proposal to hold trial court in Chatfield

Fri, Aug 1st, 2003
Posted in Features

On Tuesday, August 5, the Fillmore County Board will consider a proposal to enter into an agreement with the city of Chatfield to hold trial court at Chatfield City Hall beginning the week of August 11. The court needs enough space for a courtroom an ..... 
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