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Red Wing council member kicked off committees after disagreement

Red Wing council member kicked off committees after disagreement

Council Member Kim Beise, the lone vote against firing then-Police Chief Roger Pohlman, was removed from five ad hoc committee assignments.

Written By: Brian Todd | 8:50 am, Jun. 15, 2021

Red Wing City Council members Evan Brown, center, and Kim Beise, right, sit together at Monday's Red Wing council meeting. Beise was recently removed from five committees on which he'd served after Brown complained to Council President Becky Norton, left, about opinions Beise holds. (Brian Todd/btodd@postbulletin.com)

RED WING — Red Wing City Council Member Kim Beise was surprised to find out his presence was not required.

Beise said he was preparing to attend the Service Contracts committee when he was informed he was no longer a member of that board. In addition, he was also removed from the cable franchise, marina, finance and audit, and social justice and equity committees.

Kim Beise

"It was my vote on the recall," Beise said, pointing out that he was the only council member whose vote was in favor of holding a special recall election for council members Andy Klitzke, Laurel Stinson and Becky Norton. "I said I was not sure we might not have violated the open meeting law."

The Red Wing Recall City Hall group has collected enough valid signatures to recall five members of the Red Wing City Council with the group still working to recall Council Member Dean Hove, who had enough signatures collected against him, but an error was found with the five signatures that started the process against Hove.

MORE READING:

The group did not collect enough signatures to recall Beise, who was the only council member who voted against firing then-Police Chief Roger Pohlman.

At the May 24 city council meeting, Beise said he was unsure the city had not violated Minnesota's open meeting law when it closed a meeting to discuss the firing of Pohlman. He added that he planned to look into the issue on his own outside the advice of City Attorney Amy Mace.

"Of course, the city attorney will defend them," Beise said, adding that going into closed session on the basis of attorney-client privilege was done on her advice. "She’s going to side with the city."

But Beise said there were things discussed during that Feb. 19 meeting that fell outside the scope of attorney-client privilege.

"From what I remember, and because there’s no documentation available to me, I questioned what we were discussing was only attorney-client advice," Beise said.

Beise's comments from the May 24 meeting rubbed Council Member Evan Brown the wrong way.

"I asked not to serve on these committees with with Council Member Beise because he insinuated that we all possibly violated the open meeting law, those being his words," Brown said.

Evan Brown

He added that Mace has provided case law showing the city council had not violated the open meeting law, but he has not seen any contradictory case law.

"(If) Beise does not trust the advice of the city attorney and city staff, or at the least seek clarification, I cannot trust that he will not act in the same manner again," Brown said, adding that, like other members of the city council, Beise also voted to go into closed session on Feb. 19. "(If) Council Member Beise believes he violated the OML, I think he should resign."

Brown sent an email to Council President Norton asking asking that the two no long work together on any committees, and that Beise particularly be removed from "all service contract committees."

Becky Norton

"I believe your statement and subsequent vote had the intent of placing the city at legal risk and financial burden," Brown wrote.

Beise said the effect of removing him from those committees equated to punishing him for having an opposing opinion, and for asking questions about the advice the city has received about both the recall and holding a closed meeting.

Norton disagreed.

While she admitted she did not discuss his removal – she called and left a message and emailed Beise – before taking action, she said any council member who cannot work with city staff to discuss issues and concerns and feel confident that what they are bringing to the full council is in the best interest of the city, then that individual cannot properly serve the community on those committees.

"He will continue to have input as all council members do," Norton said. "One could say yes, his direct involvement in these committees is a consequence of him not bringing these concerns forward to work through them."

Beise said he understands that as council president, Norton can make changes to the committee assignments. But he asked why he had to be removed if it was Brown who had the problem of the two of them serving together.

"If Evan doesn’t want to work with me, why doesn’t he get off the committees?" Beise asked. "I can’t have a different viewpoint. If you have a different viewpoint, they redirect and bully you."

https://www.postbulletin.com/news/government-and-politics/7073661-Red-Wing-council-member-kicked-off-committees-after-disagreement

Recall committee loses another round at Red Wing city council meeting

City council votes for a second time not to hold a special recall election, but recall leaders say the fight will go to court.

Written By: Brian Todd | 7:02 am, Jun. 15, 2021

A group of people wait outside Red Wing City Hall Monday, June 14, 2021, to show their support for city council members who potentially face recall. The Red Wing City Council voted 6-1 not to set a recall election. (Brian Todd/btodd@postbulletin.com)

RED WING — Echoing its actions from May 24, the Red Wing City Council again voted Monday night against holding a special recall election for members of the city council.

On a 6-1 vote, with Council Member Kim Beise voting against the motion, the city council voted to decline setting an election for the recall of council members Erin Buss and Evan Brown.

MORE READING:

The vote was preceded by more than a dozen people speaking either for or against the recall.

Most individuals against the recall stood up to express their appreciation for the work done by the city council and the elected members of the body. They also talked about how the recall effort was working as a way to cancel their votes which elected those members.

Catherine Friend, who said she was disappointed the recall effort continues, said, "Because a group of residents did not like the results of the city council election, it seems they’re trying to overturn the results by spreading disinformation by making false claims and by (convicing others) to sign the petitions."

Another opponent of the recall, Terese Bjornstad, called out Mayor Mike Wilson for "fanning division" in a recent story in the Red Wing newspaper. Bjornstad said she hoped Wilson would stand up to the recall committee and use his platform to encourage the recall committee to end its efforts.

Stacy Devries said the recall was taking up too much time and energy from the city council and city staff, which could be better spending its time helping people who are suffering in Red Wing.

A group Red Wing residents, may part of the Recall City Hall committee, wait for the Red Wing City Council meeting to begin Monday, June 14, 2021. The Red Wing City Council voted 6-1 not to set a recall election. (Brian Todd/btodd@postbulletin.com)

On the other side, Angela McGuire said she had voted for Evan Brown, but later found it "heartbreaking to hear about the removal of Chief Pohlman."

McGuire chastised the city council for firing a police chief who had a good "reputation across the county and across the state," adding that the process of Pohlman's firing included a "lot of closed doors and secret meetings.”

Jason Snyder also commented on a lack of transparency regarding Pohlman's firing, saying the council has never explained what Pohlman did or what rules set down by the city council he broke that warranted firing.

A Red Wing resident speaks about the recall effort during the Red Wing City Council meeting Monday, June 14, 2021, in Red Wing. (Brian Todd/btodd@postbulletin.com)

"Look what you’ve done to this community," Snyder said. "All you had to do was hold the meeting in public."

Recall City Hall committee leader George Hintz told the city council that voting not to hold an election would eventually end in litigation against the city.

George Hintz

"This will be a legal battle that we will fight and win in the courts," Hintz said.

What happened? The Red Wing City Council voted 6-1 against setting a date for a special recall election for council members Evan Brown and Erin Buss. The city council held an identical vote May 24, deciding not to hold a special recall election for council members Andy Klitzke, Laurel Stinson and Becky Norton.

Why does this matter? The Recall City Hall committee has collected enough valid signatures to recall five of the seven city council members in Red Wing. However, the city holds the position that the justification for the recall does not meet the state's legal standard of malfeasance or nonfeasance.

What's next? The recall committee is waiting on the results of efforts to recall Council Member Dean Hove. Once a determination is made on Hove, the committee will likely take its case for a recall to court.

A group of people wait inside Red Wing City Hall Monday, June 14, 2021, to show their support for city council members who potentially face recall. The Red Wing City Council voted 6-1 not to set a recall election. (Brian Todd/btodd@postbulletin.com)

https://www.postbulletin.com/news/government-and-politics/7073698-Recall-committee-loses-another-round-at-Red-Wing-city-council-meeting

SINCE THIS COMING OUT

Since this is coming out I thought I would share what I actually wrote.

Kim,

I am requesting of Council President Norton that I not work with you on any committees and that you be removed from those committees, specifically all service contract committees. I believe your statement and subsequent vote had the intent of placing the city at legal risk and financial burden. You certainly saw the same analysis from the city attorney that we all did. I can't work with someone who wants to discount the advice of the attorney, especially on committees that are working on contracts, and waste city resources on an effort where there has been no legal support provided.

You stated that the recall committees did everything right and complied with the charter:

That is absurd on its face. The very first line from the charter is “Any five registered voters may form themselves into a committee for the purpose of bringing about the recall of any elected Council Member or Mayor of the City for malfeasance or nonfeasance in office.” (emphasis added). These are the foundational conditions of a recall in our charter. Without these elements demonstrated, a recall is invalid, both by our city charter, and much more importantly, the state constitution.

You stated maybe we did violate the OML:

I want to be crystal clear. I do not believe we violated the OML. If you felt our actions truly violated the OML you should have refused to go into those sessions. You did not. You were there for all of them, unlike me.

Further, we got advice about whether to go into closed session from our attorney and city staff. To be clear, malfeasance requires intention. Never mind that the MN Supreme court has said that violations of the OML are not malfeasance.

Open meeting law violations are not decided by petition and recall elections. Is that how you believe we as a state decide legal questions? That people can just say.....hey you violated the open meeting law and if we get enough signatures then that is proof? No, the Minnesota Supreme Court has held that if public officials are found to have intentionally violated the statute “in three or more actions” they may be removed from office. That means three distinct court actions on three separate violations. That has not happened here. We have not violated the open meeting law, as our attorney has clearly laid out. There have been zero court actions, zero findings of wrongdoing. You are disagreeing with the sound legal advice of the city attorney, with ample case law examples, and have shared no evidence elsewise. You are purposely disregarding the multiple examples in case law that assert that the state constitution rules in this area.

A first step procedurally would be to see if the court agrees with the idea that the OML has been violated, and as stated, in three distinct court actions. Even if you believe one of our actions violated the OML, that would not be sufficient for a recall.

Your insinuation that maybe we did violate the law is reckless. If you believe that then you should probably resign yourself. More than the rest of us, you are hiding behind the fact that your petition did not receive enough signatures. It is the definition of privilege to try to argue that maybe we violated the law from your position.

Your willingness to pretend that this charade is justified means I cannot believe that you understand the legal advice we get is accurate. It means you are willing to waste city resources in time and money to pretend something that the city attorney has clearly researched and provided us with analysis is not justified. It means that I cannot trust that when you agree to go into closed session or meet in any capacity that you won’t pretend that away later. I do not know how to work with someone who has so little regard for our legal advice and staff process as to be willing to put the city at financial risk, and ultimately our taxpayers.

Evan Brown | Wards 3 & 4

Red Wing City Council

City of Red Wing

902 Central Avenue | Red Wing, MN 55066

Tel: 651.388.6229

Email: evan.brown@ci.red-wing.mn.us

Area briefs: Second effort to recall Dean Hove starts in Red Wing

Goodhue County opening services to walk-in customers; SMIF donates thousands of books for children.

Written By: Post Bulletin staff reports | 6:48 am, Jun. 11, 2021

RED WING — While the Red Wing Recall City Hall committee had collected enough signatures to recall City Council Member Dean Hove, the petition to recall Hove was rejected due to a technical mistake by the committee.

Tuesday, the committee met to launch a new recall effort for Hove, collecting about 50 signatures. Informational post cards have also been mailed to people who signed the rejected petition to let them know volunteers will be coming around to get a new signature on a petition that can be accepted by the city.

Currently, five of the seven members of the city council have completed petitions with enough signatures for a recall. However, the Red Wing City Council has voted against setting a recall election date, saying the basis for the recall does not meet the state standard or the standard in the city charter. Members of the recall committee have said they plan to take the city's decision to court

https://www.postbulletin.com/community/press-releases/7067370-Area-briefs-Second-effort-to-recall-Dean-Hove-starts-in-Red-Wing

A Minute with Mayor Mike Wilson – May 13, 2021 – Emergency Medical Services Week

A Minute with Mayor Mike Wilson Airs every second and fourth Thursday of the month at 9:00 AM This week: Red Wing Mayor Mike Wilson talks with News Director Greg Taylor about the proclamation of Emergency Medical Services Week, the Xcel Hydrogen Project, and the search for a new Red Wing Police Chief.

https://kcue.q-mediadigital.com/podcast/a-minute-with-mayor-mike-wilson-may-13-2021-emergency-medical-services-week/

Three petitions filed; no recall elections approved

RED WING-- The City Council voted 6-1 during its Monday meeting to decline calling special recall elections for members Andy Klitzke (Ward 2), Laurel Stinson (At-large) and Council President Becky Norton (Ward 3).

Council member Kim Beise (Ward 1) voted against the motion.

Petitions and allegations

On Monday, May 10, petitions to recall all seven council members were submitted to City Hall for counting. City Clerk Teri Swanson completed the verification process on Sunday, May 16. According to the staff report for Monday’s meeting, “of the seven recall initiatives, three recall efforts reached 20% of the registered voters for the appropriate ward(s).”

This does not mean that the petitions for the four other members -- Erin Buss, Evan Brown, Dean Hove and Beise -- are invalid.

“I questioned the validity of the process, where we get to vote on this. I think it should be somebody else and not us making that decision. I think that this process is wrong,” Beise said.

The city states, “if the petition does not contain the necessary number of legitimate signatures or is irregular in any way, the city will give the committee 10 more days in which to file additional signatures and to correct the petition in all other respects. No changes to the statement of the grounds for recall can be made. If the city finds the petition is still insufficient or irregular after those 10 days, the city clerk must notify the committee of that fact, and the city clerk will file the petition in his/her office as insufficient. After that, no further action is taken.”

The reasons listed for a recall election for the seven council members are based on Minnesota’s Close Meeting Law.

The reasons listed for a recall election for the seven council members are based on Minnesot…

City attorney’s view

City Attorney Amy Mace stated on Monday and in previous meetings, “elected officials, under the Minnesota Constitution, can only be removed from office for malfeasance or nonfeasance, and those are the same standards that are set forth in the Red Wing city charter and the Minnesota Supreme Court has held that even charter cities have to meet that constitutional standard.”

The Red Wing Charter states in Section 6.12, “any five registered voters may form themselves into a committee for the purpose of bringing about the recall of any elected council member or mayor of the city for malfeasance or nonfeasance in office.”

Minnesota’s Election Laws states, “the grounds for recall of an officer other than a judge are serious malfeasance or nonfeasance during the term of office in the performance of the duties of the office or conviction during the term of office of a serious crime.” An annotation by the Minnesota Attorney General Office reads, “this section is applicable to removal of elective municipal officers by recall, and they may not be so removed except for malfeasance or nonfeasance in office.”

Mace and the annotation both cite Jacobsen v. Nagel, a 1959 case to support their claim of malfeasance or nonfeasance being the grounds for recall elections.

George Hintz, Red Wing resident and member of the Commission to Recall City Hall, stated during Monday’s meeting, “The city attorney's legal analysis does not apply to Red Wing and demonstrates a clear misunderstanding of our city charter. We are confident the courts will uphold our position at the highest level.”

Mace replied, “I'm just not sure what the basis of that opinion is, as I mentioned, the Supreme Court has clearly stated charter cities have to meet the same malfeasance and nonfeasance standard that is set forth in the Minnesota Constitution.”

Malfeasance: Intentional conduct that is wrongful or unlawful, especially by officials or pu…

Council comments

The City Council members had a variety of things to say about the petitions and the possibility of calling a recall election. Brown responded to the claim that he voted to go into a closed meeting on Monday, Feb. 8. He stated, “On Feb. 7, I sent the following email to Council President Norton, Council Vice President Hove, and the council administrator, Kay Kuhlmann. … ‘My wife Laura is in hospice here at our house. While I do not want this information shared in a public meeting, I wanted to clarify why I will be missing the meeting.’ So I did not take that vote. I understand that still may not insulate me in certain ways, but I know what I did.”

Hove stated, “I don't think anybody on the council… has violated the Open Meeting Law, and that's what this recall is about. It's not about anything else other than the Open Meeting Law.”

Meanwhile Beise stated, “I really feel that the group followed what's in our charter. ... I can say I'm not 100% sure that we haven't violated the Open Meeting Law somewhere in one of these referenced ones, and I'm still researching them.”

Next steps

The council will likely discuss recall petitions for one or more of the City Council members in the coming weeks. It is also possible that the recall commission could take the city to court over this matter. The potential costs of a legal dispute are not known.

Meanwhile, the city estimates that a recall election would cost $4,000 to $5,000 per ward. If the four wards had a special election, the estimated cost would be $16,000 to $20,000

https://www.republicaneagle.com/news/three-petitions-filed-no-recall-elections-approved/article_10d05986-bd7b-11eb-8cdb-a7380382e938.html?fbclid=IwAR1DwG_WJUl57lAVoxT9kA3l1cJQNi_aaUW63luD0mwZtqZnggFChRn07ho#utm_campaign=blox&utm_source=facebook&utm_medium=social

GOVERNMENT AND POLITICS

Red Wing City Council votes 'no' on recall election

City attorney says she's confident in her advice to the city, lack of malfeasance or nonfeasance on behalf of the city council in closing public meetings.

ritten By: Brian Todd | 7:10 am, May 25, 2021

RED WING — "What I am pretty clear on here is my colleagues and I have not violated the Open Meeting Law," said Red Wing City Council member Evan Brown.

Brown was vocal in his stance against the recall effort Monday night as the city council voted 6-1 against calling a special election.

The Recall City Hall committee had turned in enough valid signatures to recall council members Becky Norton, Andy Klitzke and Laurel Stinson. However, City Attorney Amy Mace said the recall petition was not valid because the alleged reason for the recall did not meet the state's definition of malfeasance or nonfeasance, and the incidents where the committee claimed wrongdoing were valid closed sessions according to the state's open meeting law.

RELATED:

Furthermore, Mace said in order for violations of the open meeting law to qualify as malfeasance or nonfeasance, the council members would have had to been found guilty of three violations of the law. So far, she said, no court has found them guilty of anything.

Supporters of the recall did not give up, with several commenting that members of the council were not making good on promises, and one claiming that Mace's advice amounts to misinformation, and saying a court battle between the city and the recall committee would cost the city more money than simply holding a recall election.

The city council was not without its supporters as well. Several gave their unqualified support of all seven members of the city council, and they made complaints that the recall effort has already cost the city too much in money and time.

"These petitions are holding our town hostage for months now," said Ceri Everett.

Recall leader George Hintz addressed the council, saying, "The city attorney's legal analysis does not apply to Red Wing and demonstrates a clear misunderstanding of our city charter. We are confident the courts will uphold our position at the highest level."

While Brown, Nelson and council member Dean Hove spoke against the recall, member Kim Beise took an opposite stand.

Kim Beise

"I really feel the group followed what’s in our charter," Beise said. "I’m not 100 percent sure we haven’t violated the open meeting law in one of these cases, and I question the validity of us voting in the process of this."

The recall committee has said on social media that it will bring completed petitions against other members of the city council after it fixes items on those petitions, so the city council will face another vote regarding those members at an upcoming meeting.

https://www.postbulletin.com/news/government-and-politics/7042941-Red-Wing-City-Council-votes-no-on-recall-election

8:46 am, May 20, 2021 (click on the arrow to read the entire article)

Red Wing council members not worried about recall effort

Three petitions have enough signatures, and the recall committee is working to fix problems on three more.

Written By: Brian Todd | 8:46 am, May 20, 2021

RED WING — While the recall committee in Red Wing is busy fixing signatures on a few city council members' petitions, two members of the Red Wing City Council wonder what the point of the recall is all about.

"It’s not for malfeasance or nonfeasance," said Council Member Evan Brown. "That’s what the state constitution demands, what our city charter demands. It’s not for every gripe."

City Council President Becky Norton echoed those thoughts.

"The city council members can be recalled for malfeasance or nonfeasance in office," Norton said. "That’s the standard we’re still working under."

MORE READING: City attorney: Red Wing recall doesn't pass muster

According to the Minnesota Constitution, malfeasance, which is what the recall committee alleges occurred, means "the willful commission of an unlawful or wrongful act in the performance of a public official's duties which is outside the scope of the authority of the public official and which infringes on the rights of any person or entity."

The allegations made by the recall committee point to three meetings where, according to the committee's petitions against each member of the city council, the council held a closed meeting in violation of state statues. Norton, Brown and members of the city administration have said the council has not violated the state's open meeting law.

In fact, Brown said, he was not even in attendance at one of the meetings where the recall organizers claim an open meeting law violation.

Instead, Brown said he hears a lot of talk from the recall committee – he pointed to the recall committee's website – about issues that have nothing to do with the charges listed on the petitions.

"Look at the recall petition’s website, look at their literature, it doesn’t have anything to do with open meetings law violations," Brown said, adding that the charges of malfeasance don't meet the legal definition.

"I haven’t seen a single piece of case law that will dispute that," he said.

Meanwhile, the recall committee has until next week to fix irregularities with three of the petitions.

According to committee leaders, the city has verified that the committee has enough valid signatures for a recall of Norton and fellow council members Andy Klitzke and Laurel Stinson. The committee has 10 days from last Saturday to fix errors with signatures or find new signatures for Brown (80 signatures) and Council Member Erin Buss (60 signatures).

Meanwhile, a clerical error on the petitions against Council Member Dean Hove occurred and need to be fixed. When the completed petitions were submitted, the wrong names were listed as the original committee of five signatures from Hove's wards.

Norton said no matter how many council members receive enough verified signatures, she plans to follow the advice of City Attorney Amy Mace who, at this point, has said because the legal premise behind the recall is invalid, it would be irresponsible for the city council to vote to set an election.

If that's the case, members of the recall committee have said there may be a court challenge.

"They are alleging violations of the open meeting laws," Norton said. "But there's no evidence that anyone or all of the council members have violated the law.

“At what point do they realize this will go nowhere?” Norton asked.

Hintz: 'Almost 7 for 7' on Red Wing recal1

RED WING — George Hintz admitted he was "exhausted" Sunday night.

"The other members on our committee are feeling the same," Hintz said. The weekend was spent collecting signatures, sorting and copying, and verifying who collected what signatures for the Recall City Hall committee in Red Wing. "But we see the light at the end of the tunnel."

As of late Sunday, it looked like the recall committee would fall just short of collecting enough signatures to recall every member of the Red Wing City Council. Kim Beise, who took part in the closed meetings the group has cited as the acts of malfeasance that warrant recall but voted against firing of then-Police Chief Roger Pohlman, is the lone city council member who won't face recall.

Recall petitions hitting the mark, but Red Wing still has questions about chief's firing

City attorney: Red Wing recall doesn't pass muster

Hintz said he and his colleagues plan to bring the signed petitions to recall each member of the city council to City Hall Monday afternoon.

According to the Red Wing City Charter, the city clerk, Teri Swanson, has five days from the time she receives the signed petitions to examine them and verify whether they meet the requirements for recall. For example, signatures supporting recall of a particular city council member must be from registered voters from the ward or wards that council member represents. Each signature line must be completely filled in as well.

Using voter registration numbers provided by the city of Red Wing, the number of verified signatures needed to recall each member of the city council is:

Ward 1, Kim Beise, 569;

Ward 2, Andy Klitzke, 517;

Ward 3, Becky Norton, 525;

Ward 4, Erin Buss, 486;

Wards 1-2, Dean Hove, 1,086;

Ward 3-4, Evan Brown, 1,011;

At-large, Laurel Stinson, 2,097.

If enough signatures are verified, according to the city charter, "the clerical officer shall transmit it to the Council without delay and shall also officially notify the person sought to be recalled of the sufficiency of the petition and of the pending action. The Council shall, at its next meeting, by resolution provide for filing dates and other provisions necessary for the holding of a special recall election" not less than 45 days later or more than 60 days, unless another election is already scheduled within 90 days.

The Post Bulletin reached out to both City Council President Becky Norton and City Administrator Kay Kuhlman Sunday night but neither responded in time for deadline.

Hintz said he believes the council will do whatever it can to avoid a recall.

"So, in the future, I see a court case," Hintz said. "But the people are ready for a change."

Hintz said canvassers reported that at least half the people met face-to-face – not counting homes where canvassers did not find anyone at home – ended up signing the petitions.

"Some would say they were not interested," Hintz said. "Others would say 'We were waiting for you.'"

Over the weekend, the popup signing events proved to be a tremendous success, Hintz said.

"We were out on Old West Main, in front of hardware store and the auto repair," he said. "People were very receptive."

https://www.postbulletin.com/news/government-and-politics/7021447-Hintz-Almost-7-for-7-on-Red-Wing-recall?fbclid=IwAR3LNbyXVxRNrGCdeQ4PASWG5HxxI8RMn8vpu4IRk63E7wXWk2hobsNj5C0#.YJlhPQMvM44.facebook

Page A4 Republican Eagle Weekend, May 8-9

Recall petitions hitting the mark, but Red Wing still has questions about chief's firing (read more by clicking on the arrow)

Recall centered around lack of transparency, but residents can't stop talking about police chief's firing.

Written By: Brian Todd | 7:30 am, May 8, 2021



RED WING — With petitions due in City Hall early Monday, George Hintz said the Recall City Hall movement in Red Wing will likely have the signatures needed to bring six of the seven city council members back before the voters.


While the recall, which focuses on meetings the petitioners claim were illegally closed, seems ready for the next step, Red Wing citizens are still focused on the firing of Roger Pohlman.


"The public is extremely upset that Roger Pohlman is no longer police chief," said Thomas Wilder, who is helping with the recall efforts in Ward 2. Wilder said while the firing of Pohlman is not the legal reason behind the recall, it's something the public still wants answers about. "We can’t have a recall on the basis of that. Laws have to have been broken. What we’re hanging our hat on is where the council has broken the law."


RELATED:


City attorney: Red Wing recall doesn't pass muster


Red Wing recall movement hits the streets for signatures


Officially, the city council released a statement on Feb. 19 that stated the reasons for firing Pohlman include a loss of trust by some members of the city council, slow responses to emails and phone calls, and a reluctance to make recommended changes.


Email exchanges with Pohlman

However, emails obtained by the Post Bulletin between members of the city council and Pohlman from February 2020 and February 2021 show praise of Pohlman and his prompt attention to matters. For example, on June 26, an email exchange between Pohlman and City Council President Becky Norton concerning a meeting the two were trying to arrange included this statement from Norton: "Roger, Don't know how today has been so messed up. Thanks for getting back to me so promptly tonight."


In 161 pages of emails between Pohlman and members of the city council, Pohlman responded via email in less than a day in nearly every incident, and only a few emails showed any negative comments toward Pohlman. One was when Council Member Evan Brown was upset he was not CC'd on an email about a meeting in his ward.


The only other incident that seemed to draw concern was an August event at Colvill Park where individuals showed up for an impromptu gathering to show off their trucks and cars. Some of the individuals had Trump 2020 flags, and when the group was confronted by anti-Trump protesters, police responded by working to diffuse the situation but cited individuals who committed any vehicle infractions, Pohlman reported to Nelson.


But whether Pohlman was responding to questions about enforcing mask wearing, coordinating efforts on a boaters-for-Trump rally or giving quick updates on the status at polling stations during the Nov. 3 election, the interactions were quick and complete.


Why trust was lost?

According to Mayor Mike Wilson and discussions with two previous city council members, Pohlman had received glowing performance evaluations for several years in a row. But his evaluation for 2020 showed some negative comments, particularly in an anonymous survey of city council members who said they felt Pohlman could be more forthcoming, though they cited no concrete examples. Other comments referred to his tone of voice coming across as frustrated with questions from the city council. Again, none of these came with concrete examples.


The Post Bulletin did request examples of complaints made against Chief Pohlman between the dates of Dec. 1, 2019, and Feb. 20, 2021. According to City Clerk Teri Swanson, other than the complaints made as part of the survey for Pohlman's 2020 evaluation, the only other example came from December 2019 and was a complaint made against Pohlman by Council Member Dean Hove.


While the city would not release any details on that complaint, the Post Bulletin did obtain a copy of the complaint and the subsequent investigation for which the city paid nearly $7,500 for an outside agency to perform.


That complaint centered around a comment made to Hove by Pohlman's wife. Hove, hearing the comment, assumed Pohlman had violated the confidentiality of a juvenile by spreading gossip to his wife. However, the investigation showed no evidence Pohlman had leaked private information to his wife, and instead concluded that knowledge of the arrest record of the juvenile, a minor related to a public figure in Red Wing, was probably spread to Pohlman's wife through unofficial channels such as the "rumor mill."


But the city has so closely guarded this complaint and report that it took the city more than two months to acknowledge its existence at all, and when Pohlman was put on administrative leave on Feb. 8, access to the complaint and investigative report was denied to Mayor Wilson when he requested it at City Hall.


Behind closed doors

In the end, that effort to conduct business behind closed doors – whether justified as the city claims or in violation of state statutes as the recall committee claims – is what has led to the recall effort.


Kent Laugen, an attorney and Red Wing resident, said the city has denied access to meetings conducted by the Policy and Practice Project Advisory Team. Laugen said his request to address an issue under the scope of the team was denied. A review of minutes and videos of the Police Advisory Team meetings shows no public comment has been accepted by the committee working in an advisory capacity to the city council.


Furthermore, the group meets in private for at least half of each meeting, having discussions on policy issues regarding public safety and racial equity behind closed doors then, since January, meeting in public only after the private meetings.


Laugen said the city administration has said because the Policy Advisory Team is an ad-hoc committee it is not subject to the state's open meeting law.


However, City Administrator Kay Kuhlmann admitted the group's members are the only ad-hoc committee in the city of Red Wing where the committee members are paid a stipend for attending meetings. Of the city's 14 other committees, only the Housing and Redevelopment Agency and the Port Authority – both committees with their own levy dollars – pay board members.


Every other advisory committee, from the Airport Board to the Youth Commission, has its members volunteer their time for free. And those committees do not meet in closed session outside of normal statutory reasons such as personnel meetings, purchase agreements or negotiations.


"When we're denied access to the discussion, we're denied a look at who is influencing city council members," Laugen said.


And it's that effort to keep discussions out of the public eye that has individuals signing recall petitions by the hundreds.











Comments on Recall by City Attorney Amy Mace. Council President Norton has asked the City Attorney to make a brief statement about the recall process.

City attorney: Red Wing recall doesn't pass muster

"wrong on a number of levels."

Read more by clicking on the exand arrow.

RED WING — Not so fast, said Red Wing City Attorney Amy Mace.

At Monday's Red Wing City Council meeting, Mace gave her legal opinion on the validity of the claim of malfeasance, adding that the actions of the City Council members did not rise to the definition of malfeasance in the Minnesota Constitution.

The council had requested Mace's legal opinion to assist them in deciding whether to call a special election. A citizens group is collecting signatures on a petition to trigger a recount based on dissatisfaction with the council's handling of the firing of the former police chief, and allegations of an open meeting law violation.

Mace, in her analysis, said the definition for malfeasance means actions of a public official are "wholly illegal or wrong conduct," and cited examples such as commission of a felony, or involvement in bribery or using one's position for profit as actions that might warrant a recall.

Furthermore, she said a case from 1994, Claude v. Collins, found that even if City Council members were found to have violated the open meeting law, that violation does not meet the malfeasance standard.

"No court has found that any member of the Red Wing City Council has violated the open meeting law," Mace said.

She went on to say that the open meeting law allows some kinds of meetings to be closed. Specifically, she defended the actions of council members concerning the closing of a series of meetings for a land purchase deal in 2019, an example that is listed on the petition against the City Council members.

She also said that because the city was discussing disciplinary action in the instance of firing Roger Pohlman, the former police chief, at a pair of February meetings, the meetings were rightly closed.

Since it would be wrong to authorize an election based on charges that do not meet legal standards set in statute, Mace said, it would be inappropriate for the City Council to do so even if enough valid signatures are collected.

Mace's opinion aside, the recall effort continues full speed ahead with the recall committee's attorney dismissing her legal analysis.

"She’s wrong on a number of levels," said Greg Joseph, a Waseca-based attorney who is representing the Recall City Hall committee. "The first and most glaring point is that (the City Council has) an option of whether to put it on the ballot, which is not the case. You have to ignore the plain language of the charter to get to that position."

Joseph said the Red Wing City Charter is the key to the legal argument. For example, he noted that the case cited by Mace is regarding a statutory city, not a charter city, meaning its laws and definitions follow state statute to the letter. A charter city, like Red Wing, sets up its own recall rules.

Joseph said he's been involved in legal challenges where city councils have refused to set an election and won those cases, including recent examples against city councils in both Bloomington and St. Paul.

"These rights under city charter really do have teeth," Joseph said. "A recall election has meaning, and the rights people have under a charter matter."

One such right, he said, is clearly spelled out in the Red Wing charter, where it says if enough signatures have been certified on a recall petition, the City Council shall put it to a vote. Nowhere, he said, does it allow for the City Council to decide not to do so if the signature requirement is met.

While the charter does say the recall must meet a standard of "malfeasance or nonfeasance in office," Joseph said the city charter does not define those words, though even if the state's definition is used, the recall petitions outline instances that do meet that definition.

Meanwhile, George Hintz, one of the leaders of the recall movement, said the group is working hard to get enough signatures — 20% of those registered as of the last election in each ward or wards represented by a particular council member — the group is fighting some partisan misinformation in the community.

"We are receiving a little bit of pushback from our opponents, people who are in favor of the present City Council," Hintz said, adding that most of that opposition comes on social media.

He pointed to one person, whom he would not name, connected with the Democratic Party, who is advising people to engage with people canvassing for signatures in order to waste their time, then not sign the petitions.

"We’re nonpartisan," Hintz said, refuting a claim made during the City Council meeting by one public speaker who tried connecting the recall movement with climate change deniers. "We may not agree on certain things, but we agree on this. We’re focused on our City Council and straightening out our city government."

Definitions in statute

Open Meeting Law

2020 Minnesota Statute 13D.05, sub. 2(b): A public body shall close one or more meetings for preliminary consideration of allegations or charges against an individual subject to its authority. If the members conclude that discipline of any nature may be warranted as a result of those specific charges or allegations, further meetings or hearings relating to those specific charges or allegations held after that conclusion is reached must be open. A meeting must also be open at the request of the individual who is the subject of the meeting.

Definitions

2020 Minnesota Statute 351.14, sub 2: "Malfeasance" means the intentional commission of an unlawful or wrongful act by a state officer other than a judge in the performance of the officer's duties that is substantially outside the scope of the authority of the officer and that substantially infringes on the rights of any person or entity.

https://www.postbulletin.com/news/government-and-politics/7003800-City-attorney-Red-Wing-recall-doesnt-pass-muster

A Minute with Mayor Mike Wilson – April 15, 2021 KCUE RADIO

A Minute with Mayor Mike Wilson

Airs every second and fourth Thursday of the month at 9:00 AM

This week: Red Wing Mayor Mike Wilson talks with News Director Greg Taylor about downtown funding being available this spring, with relief grants for local businesses due to COVID-19, and the Name Clearing Hearing for former Red Wing Police Chief Roger Pohlman.

https://kcue.q-mediadigital.com/podcast/a-minute-with-mayor-mike-wilson-april-15-2021/

No recall election, Red Wing city attorney says

RED WING -- Despite the Committee to Recall City Hall’s work to collect signatures, city legal counsel is balking at calling a recall election.

The Committee to Recall City Hall formed in February after the firing of former police chief Roger Pohlman. The citizen group submitted a petition to the city stating that a recall election should be held in all seven wards due to Open Meeting Law violations.

City attorney Amy Mace commented on the submitted petition during Monday’s meeting.

“The city is aware of some correspondence in which citizens allege the recall is about other topics, but the recall petition, based on the language used in the recall, is only about alleged violations of open meetings. And I also want to note that no court has found that any member of the Red Wing City Council has violated the Open Meeting Law, that those are only allegations,” she said.

Mace later added, “Council members cannot be recalled on the basis that a citizen does not like how they voted on a particular issue. In Minnesota, the standard is malfeasance and nonfeasance, and that's what it says in the city charter and that is based on the Minnesota Constitution, which requires conduct to rise to the level of malfeasance or nonfeasance before an elected official can be recalled.”

Malfeasance

Malfeasance means illegal and wrongful conduct. Examples include felony convictions and bribery.

Mace explained that in the 1994 Minnesota Supreme Court case Claude v. Collins, the court found that members of the Hibbing City Council had violated the Open Meeting Law. However, even in finding that they had violated the Open Meeting Law, the court said that did not rise to the level of malfeasance.

Nonfeasance

Nonfeasance generally means neglect or refusal without sufficient excuse to do that which is the officer’s legal duty to do.

According to Mace, in Claude v. Collins, “the court found that for the constitutional removal of a public official under the Open Meeting Law, it must be established that there were three intentional, separate and unrelated violations of the law after the official had a reasonable amount of time to learn the responsibilities of the office.”

Mace added that the Minnesota Supreme Court found that there has to be three separate court actions on an elected official where the official is found to have violated the Open Meeting Law in order for the council member to be removed from the council.

In other words, a violation of the Open Meeting Law does not amount to nonfeasance unless there have been separate violations of the law proven in three separate court actions, in her view.

Mace concluded, “The statement on the petition is not sufficient to constitute nonfeasance because here, no court has found that any council member violated the Open Meeting Law, let alone three separate court actions.”

City attorney recommendations

The council has two options, according to Mace: call a special election or decline to call a special election.

“Based on the court cases that I referenced earlier, the council may decide that the petition does not allege nonfeasance,” Mace said. “And the basis for that decision would be one, because there's no court finding that any council member has violated the Open Meeting Law, and thus the petition is based on allegations rather than any established violations, and two … there would need to be three court actions in which the court found three intentional violations of the Open Meeting Law for the council members to be subject to removal for nonfeasance.”

https://www.republicaneagle.com/news/no-recall-election-red-wing-city-attorney-says/article_82a353cc-a770-11eb-b523-877392e6e50c.html

written by Rachel Fergus

Published on Apr 27, 2021

What Is A Recall Process?

NOTE: THIS IS FROM THE CITY OF RED WING

Information about the Current Recall Process Related to Red Wing's City Council Members.

https://www.red-wing.org/1064/You-Ask-We-Answer?fbclid=IwAR316dJcqpYc8gMF-rTKM_-jDDThnscjJ8AQVybNUmkfhYTnxjecEEnSIS8

Roger Pohlman has requested a name-clearing hearing and this meeting has been scheduled for that purpose.


City Council Special Meeting

Location: Meeting Held Virtually

Date: WEDNESDAY, APRIL 14, 2021

Time: 05:00 p.m.

Former Red Wing Police Chief Roger Pohlman statement


President Norton, Council Members, and Mayor Wilson. Thank you for the opportunity to restore my professional reputation with this name clearing hearing.

The purpose of this hearing is to restore my professional reputation and good name, both of which were damaged by the Red Wing City Council following the Special Meeting held on February 19, 2021.

I requested to attend that closed session meeting regarding “a proposed agreement and release of all claims” as stated in the meeting notice, but was denied; therefore, I was not given an opportunity to address your false claims. During this hearing, I will address 1) Inconsistency from paid administrative leave to termination; 2) Comments made by Council Member Brown in a Star Tribune interview; and 3) Comments made by Council President Norton in the termination letter and interview to media outlets.

Prior to discussing the events of the February 19th City Council meeting, we must back up to the February 8th City Council meeting. I first learned from Administrator Kuhlmann at 3:00 PM that the Council wished to discuss my job performance. She advised me that I could request the meeting to be opened or closed. Administrator Kuhlmann stated that during the previous year, a city employee was in a similar situation, and by keeping the meeting closed, the Council was able to develop a personal improvement plan for the employee and move forward successfully.

I consulted with an attorney and we determined to leave the meeting closed.

After the City Council adjourned on February 8th I received a telephone call from the Council Administrator and the City Attorney at approximately 10:00 PM. I recorded the phone conversation. In preparation for tonight’s hearing I listen to the recording several times, during which I was told repeatedly throughout the call that I was being placed on paid administrative leave for non-disciplinary reasons, and the City wishes to go a different direction. I trusted what they told me.

The Red Wing City Council created a false and defamatory impression about me in connection with my termination on February 19th. I was told repeatedly by City Attorney Amy Mace, during the February 8th call, that the paid administrative leave was for non-disciplinary reasons, and that if I did not resign, “Kay was authorized to terminate my employment” again for non-disciplinary reasons as the City wished

to go a different direction. Trusting their words, I proceeded to move forward with my professional career.

The Red Wing City Council then contradicted their initial statement and on February 19th voted to terminate me for disciplinary reasons. They also released the termination letter to the media, prior to my receipt of the notice. The City did not redact my home address, but did redact the section of the letter which contained instructions for requesting a Veterans Preference hearing.

In short, the Council told the world, in a document dated February 19, 2021, that I was an untrustworthy person. That statement creates a false and defamatory impression of me, limiting my options for future career opportunities, including high-security clearance positions.

This letter also contained a totally different message than the initial “non-disciplinary, going a different direction” tone of February 8th.

It is my constitutional right to work and earn a living. The comments made by the Council damaged my professional standing and association in our community and the professional world.

The Council’s attempts to interfere with and micromanage the day-to-day operations of the police department caused additional damage to my professional reputation. In a June 2020, email to Administrator Kuhlmann, I stated that the City Council was inappropriately injecting themselves into police communications with the public.

As an example, a Council member took it upon herself to provide police policies to a group even though I had stated at the June 6th event that the policies would all be posted online at the Police Department website. As a result, citizens immediately began contacting council members instead of working with me, which hampered my ability to build positive relationships with members of this group. I believe respectful, open communication is the best way to solve community problems.

Members of the Council have implied that I purposefully left them out of community meetings between citizens and the police. This is false. In fact, I fully implemented a process to involve Council members as stipulated in the Public Meeting Policy which was passed by the council on July 13, 2020.

Coordination was demonstrated for the July 2nd community meeting, which emails show coordinating efforts as early as June 17th.

The simple fact is – the Council was always invited to neighborhood meetings, and once the policy was implemented, a process was in place to comply with the Public Meeting Policy. I did express my concern to Administrator Kuhlmann that in certain situation this policy delays my community engagement efforts and gives community members the impression that I am slow to respond or that I don’t care.

Now let me continue with two examples of Council interference with building positive public relations and further damage to my reputation

The first example took place in July 2020, I expressed my concerns to my supervisor regarding a July 18th social media post from a City Council member on Facebook. My concern was that several council members were possibly undermining my community policing efforts to work with all residents. Again, damaging my professional reputation within the community.

The second example occurred on September 4th when the Council President participated in an anti-police protest outside my residence, which occurred from approximately 9:00 PM to after Midnight. Later, when I asked the Council President concerning his presence at the protest, he stated he was there to keep the peace. What he failed to recognize or understand is that his presence condoned their actions and implied support for the message on their signs, again damaging my professional reputation.

Now let me turn to my interaction with the Council regarding the “Advisory Team.”

On September 23, 2020, Administrator Kuhlmann and three Council members met with me to discuss the selection process of the officers for the Advisory Team. I explained why some officers that the Council wanted were not available. I explained the Department’s selection process of the two officers that were selected.

After reviewing the video of June 22nd City Council meeting and the June 29th Workshop. The Council did not state that they would be involved in picking the officers. Instead, I received guidance, noting that police would be at the table (equals) and at all meetings. That did not happen.

Moreover, based on guidance and direction that I received from the Council, our strategic plan for 2021 would heavily reflect the 2015 Presidential Task Force on 21st Century Policing and the 2020 MN Attorney General’s and DPS Commissioners Report from the Police Deadly Encounter Working Group, both of which provided

direction on improving relations within communities where those relationships are strained. The Police Department and I were also strong supporters of the City’s effort and involvement regarding the Government Alliance for Racial Equity.

Now to the question of prompt response to Council concerns.

Your statement that I did not respond to citizens or to council members in a timely manner is simply false.

Every week I responded to citizens' questions in a weekly column entitled 'Ask the Chief' and did so for years. Also, my records reflect that not one phone call, email, or meeting request was unanswered or denied. I cannot control voicemails that are not set up or full of messages and in some instances, I talked to the individual in person. Just because they did not agree with my response does not indicate that I did not respond to them.

My phone and email records also reflect countless communications with Council members. In fact, my phone logs show that since March of 2020 to February 2021 I spent approximately 4 hours on the phone with Council Member Brown and 6.4 hours on the phone with Council Member Norton.

To be clear, my mandate was to communicate with the Council through my

supervisor. Accordingly, I kept my supervisor current on police operations. If she

chose not to update council, I supposed she had good reason.

Now to the issue of my performance evaluation.

The 2020 DRAFT evaluation was initially covered with me by Administrator Kuhlmann in early January. The Council stated that they wanted input on all “officers of the council” evaluations and the Chief of Police was the first evaluation to be completed with this new input procedure from Council.

Council President Norton justified my termination based on comments in this DRAFT evaluation.

During my discussion with Administrator Kuhlmann, she stated that for 2020 she rated me an overall 4 out of possible 5. Looking at the draft report that City Hall released (which the release is questionable, as it is a personnel document, and never finalized let me repeat never finalized) Administrator Kuhlmann had adjusted her rating to an average 3.7 out of possible 5 and the six City Council Members that submitted their comments to Administrator Kuhlmann had an average rating of 3.3 out of 5, just above average overall performance.

2019 and prior year evaluations complimented me as an employee and made no reference to support Council Member Brown’s statement to the media that “this has been an issue for five years”.

Throughout the historically stressful year of 2020, I stayed true to the highest standards of professional conduct in service to ALL members of our community.

That brings me to the issue of trust.

I resent and deny your false allegations of untrustworthiness.

To be clear, I was entrusted with the lives of 40 US soldiers' and 200 Iraqi soldiers during Operation Iraqi Freedom. I brought every US soldier home. I lead a Department that was authorized for 35 employees, and was entrusted with a budget of $5.1 million dollars, and every penny is accounted for. I am an honest and trustworthy person.

I am a Christian, and I believe everyone is created in God’s image as stated in Genesis 1:27. I treat everyone with kindness and respect and believe that laws and constitutional rights equally apply to ALL members of our community.

On June 6th I stood in central park to demonstrate unity among our police and community members and addressed questions for over 30 minutes. Council Member Brown even stated in a social media post that “a moment blew my mind…when Chief of Police Roger Pohlman read a statement from (a local activist)”.

Also, I have emails that reflect my belief in the potential value and efforts of working with the Advisory Team in reviewing Department Policy and improving our relationships, which was the original direction provided by Council in June 2020. Through my implicit bias and equity training, I fully understand how important it is for all members of the community to be treated equally and fairly, and that is exactly what I attempted to do. I welcomed and support working on police reform. The Law Enforcement Profession can and needs to do better.

To close, the Fourteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution provides that no State shall deprive any person of life, liberty, or property without due process of law. The City of Red Wing failed to give me a meaningful opportunity to address the Council's concerns. I was denied due process; therefore, the name clearing hearing is the best way to address your defamatory statements publicly.

I have much more data but do not wish to cause “data fatigue” this evening.

Thank you for the opportunity to address the inconsistency with my release of employment, and comments made against me by council members. Your public statements damaged my professional record which was stellar.

I also want to thank the residents of Red Wing for the opportunity to serve them. I kept my oath of office and you were always my top priority. It was my honor.




https://www.republicaneagle.com/former-red-wing-police-chief-roger-pohlman-statement/article_eed64940-9d71-11eb-bc57-3ba59e7ca7c3.html

A protest June 6, 2020, in Red Wing's Central Park opened with attendees kneeling for more than eight minutes and chanting "I can't breathe" in recognition of the May 25 death of George Floyd while in Minneapolis police custody. Red Wing Police Chief Roger Pohlman, who spoke at the event, was asked to join the crowd in kneeling. Michael Brun / RiverTown Multimedia

Roger Pohlman gets his time to clear his name

https://www.republicaneagle.com/news/roger-pohlman-gets-his-time-to-clear-his-name/article_36b82848-9d70-11eb-b5b4-db146d79aa8e.html


RED WING-- Former Police Chief Roger Pohlman spoke before the Red Wing City Council on Monday during a virtual name clearing hearing that he requested.

The meeting came after Pohlman was fired by the city on Friday, Feb. 19. The reason stated in the opening paragraph of the termination letter was that he didn’t meet the council’s “performance expectations.” Pohlman responded to this in today's comments, which were about 15 minutes long.

Pohlman opened his time by stating, "the purpose of this hearing is to restore my professional reputation and good name, both of which were damaged by the Red Wing City Council following the Special Meeting held on Feb. 19."

Pohlman later added, "the Red Wing City Council created a false and defamatory impression about me in connection with my termination on Feb. 19. I was told repeatedly by City Attorney Amy Mace, during the Feb. 8 call, that the paid administrative leave was for non-disciplinary reasons, and that if I did not resign, 'Kay (Kuhlmann) was authorized to terminate my employment' again for non-disciplinary reasons as the city wished to go a different direction. Trusting their words, I proceeded to move forward with my professional career."

The entirety of Pohlman's comments are attached.

President Norton, Council Members, and Mayor Wilson. Thank you for the opportunity to resto…

Correia v. Jones from 2019 states, “the right to a name-clearing hearing is triggered where a public employer makes stigmatizing allegations, in connection with the employee's discharge, in any official or intentional manner. … The stigma must be significant, and it usually involves allegations of dishonesty, immorality, racism or a similar character-demeaning charge."

Whether or not the city believes that Pohlman’s firing resulted in a significant stigma, it agreed to provide him with time to speak. During the meeting neither the City Council nor community members spoke. When Pohlman finished his remarks Council President Becky Norton called the meeting adjourned.

On Friday, April 9, a Red Wing resident and retired attorney requested the city to add a public comment period to the meeting. This was denied.

During the virtual meeting a group of community members gathered outside of City Hall to protest Pohlman's firing and to promote "Recall City Hall."

This is an ongoing story.

Ron and Cathy Goggin, with the Recall City Hall Committee, speak with a person in their doorway while canvassing a neighborhood asking residents to sign petitions to recall city council members Monday, April 19, 2021, in Red Wing. (Joe Ahlquist / jahlquist@postbulletin.com)

Red Wing recall movement hits the streets for signatures

GOVERNMENT AND POLITICS

Red Wing recall movement hits the streets for signatures

Residents point to firing of Roger Pohlman along with open meeting violation as reason for signing petitions.

Written By: Brian Todd | 12:00 pm, Apr. 20, 2021


RED WING — Marching up Finrud Avenue and back, Cathy and Ron Goggin had a lot of conversations, fielded a bunch of questions, and collected enough signatures to call it a good day.

"Cathy and I got 18 for Dean (Hove), 19 for Laurel (Stinson) and six for Kim (Beise)," said Ron Goggin, after adding up the night's haul of signatures from Finrud Avenue and Hickory Street as well as a few other spots in their Ward 1 neighborhood. "I talked to two other volunteers that had just done Fern Avenue. They had 16 for Dean and Laurel. I don't know how many they had for Kim."

By Cathy Goggin's count, that was somewhere north of 100 signatures collected to recall Council Member Dean Hove, with just a few of the 19 volunteers in her ward reporting after three days of canvassing. That's of the 1,042 needed to recall Hove across two wards total, according to figures from the Minnesota Secretary of State's office. The signature requirement is calculated at 20 percent of the number of registered voters in those wards at the time of the most recent election, Nov. 3, 2020.

ccording to section 6.14 of the Red Wing City Charter, the original petitions must include five signatures from the city at-large or ward(s) from which the candidate was elected. So, for at-large council member Laurel Stinson, that would be all registered voters within the city. But for council member Becky Norton, those would only be registered voters from Ward 3, which she represents.


Then, within 30 days, in this case by May 7, the petitions must be accompanied by signatures from 20 percent of the registered voters at the last election in the ward(s) represented by the council member.


Below are the breakdowns of total registered voters in the ward (or wards) each council member represents, and the 20 percent threshold of signatures from that area that would be needed to trigger a recall election. Hover/tab on photo to view numbers.

Ward 1 Biese - 552

Ward 2 Klitzke 491

Ward 3 Norton 558

Ward 4 Buss 493

Wards 1 Hove & 2 1,042

Ward 3 & 4 Brown 1,051

At Large Stinson 2,093

A separate group of numbers from Red Wing City Clerk Teri Swanson put the number slightly higher, at 1,086 signatures needed. The state and the city's numbers vary by as much as 44 signatures in the case of Hove's race, and as few as three signatures in Stinson's case. The reason for the discrepancy was not explained.

In any event, volunteers are canvassing their ward or wards seeking signatures to recall all seven members of the city council.

George Hintz, who is helping to run the recall effort across the city, said he's confident the group will be able to collect, for each council member, more than enough signatures to advance the recall.

Each encounter recalled

When Roxanne Johnson and Rachelle Lampman invited the Goggins into their three-season porch, there were more questions than Ron Goggin said he could answer. Not that he didn't know the answers, but state statutes direct that recall canvassing door-knockers stick to the subject at hand.

Rachelle Lampman, left, and Roxanne Johnson sign petitions to recall city council members Monday, April 19, 2021, at their home in Red Wing. To the left and right are Cathy and Ron Goggin, with the Recall City Hall Committee, who were canvassing the neighborhood asking residents to sign petitions to recall the city council members. (Joe Ahlquist / jahlquist@postbulletin.com)

Goggin explained how the recall committee alleges that the city council members violated the state's open meeting law when it held discussions behind closed doors -- virtually speaking, because the meeting was conducted online -- when it decided to fire then-Police Chief Roger Pohlman on Feb. 19.

Lampman, who said her encounter with the Goggins was the first she's heard of the recall, listened and signed to recall Hove, who represents Wards 1 and 2, and Stinson, the city's at-large council member.

Ron and Cathy Goggin, with the Recall City Hall Committee, canvass a neighborhood asking residents to sign petitions to recall city council members Monday, April 19, 2021, in Red Wing. (Joe Ahlquist / jahlquist@postbulletin.com)

Neither signed the petition to recall Beise, who took part in the closed meeting on Feb. 19, but then voted against firing Pohlman.

"There was no good reason given to fire (Pohlman), and he was a great chief of police," Lampman said. "To up and fire someone because someone else wants it isn't right."

Johnson said she was shocked a police chief could be fired without his having done anything wrong, and she was further surprised it could happen to Pohlman.

"Something's got to be done," Johnson said.

One council member

If the public is shocked about Pohlman's firing now, Beise said he was equally shocked the week it happened.

The agenda from the city council's agenda committee -- made up of Hove and council members Evan Brown and Becky Norton -- did not indicate what employee was being discussed, and Beise said he didn't know it was Pohlman until mid-week. Furthermore, he said an email from City Administrator Kay Kuhlmann stated Pohlman requested the Feb. 19 meeting be closed, though Pohlman says that decision was made by the city without his input.

Ron and Cathy Goggin, with the Recall City Hall Committee, canvass a neighborhood asking residents to sign petitions to recall city council members Monday, April 19, 2021, in Red Wing. (Joe Ahlquist / jahlquist@postbulletin.com)

"I voted no," Beise said. "As a person who's hired and fired, and I look at the evidence that's there, I don't know why you'd fire the man."

Beise said there was no documentation in his file to support firing Pohlman.

"There's something wrong with this whole scenario, and I hope it comes out," Beise said. He added that after a name-clearing hearing held Wednesday, "I was hoping we'd be able to speak after that, even if it was just to say thank you, but they didn't let us."

The Post Bulletin left messages and emails with Stinson and Hove asking for comments, but those were not returned in time for publication.

Officially, the city has stated Pohlman was fired due to lack of trust by members of the city council, slow responses to emails or phone calls, and slow action on instituting new police policies the council hoped to see.

More feet on the streets

Hintz said that by Tuesday evening the group will have 60 volunteers trained for canvassing, with another 20 or so to be trained Thursday night.

"I feel that we can knock on the majority of the doors and reach our objective," Hintz said. "Some of the volunteers are coming to homes where no one is home. After the first pass, we'll come back to the homes where they've had no contact."

Hintz said the plan is to be organized and keep records of contacts with voters.

Monday night, the Goggins noted who wasn't home, who asked for more information -- the volunteers have pamphlets they can leave that explain the recall -- those who sign, and those who say no.

MORE READING: Red Wing City Council votes to fire Police Chief Roger Pohlman

In Ward 1 Monday, only a couple of individuals said no. The majority signed petitions, and most of the rest of the doorbells that were answered said they needed time to think.

Rich Lockwood walked down the street to catch up with the canvassing couple. After a brief discussion, he signed the petitions to recall Hove and Stinson. While the recall is technically about the malfeasance of closing what allegedly should have been an open meeting, Lockwood said that is simply part of a bigger problem with the city council.

"There was no good reason given to fire (Pohlman), and he was a great chief of police," Lampman said. "To up and fire someone because someone else wants it isn't right."

Johnson said she was shocked a police chief could be fired without his having done anything wrong, and she was further surprised it could happen to Pohlman.

"Something's got to be done," Johnson said.

One council member

If the public is shocked about Pohlman's firing now, Beise said he was equally shocked the week it happened.

The agenda from the city council's agenda committee -- made up of Hove and council members Evan Brown and Becky Norton -- did not indicate what employee was being discussed, and Beise said he didn't know it was Pohlman until mid-week. Furthermore, he said an email from City Administrator Kay Kuhlmann stated Pohlman requested the Feb. 19 meeting be closed, though Pohlman says that decision was made by the city without his input.

"I voted no," Beise said. "As a person who's hired and fired, and I look at the evidence that's there, I don't know why you'd fire the man."

Beise said there was no documentation in his file to support firing Pohlman.

"There's something wrong with this whole scenario, and I hope it comes out," Beise said. He added that after a name-clearing hearing held Wednesday, "I was hoping we'd be able to speak after that, even if it was just to say thank you, but they didn't let us."

The Post Bulletin left messages and emails with Stinson and Hove asking for comments, but those were not returned in time for publication.

Officially, the city has stated Pohlman was fired due to lack of trust by members of the city council, slow responses to emails or phone calls, and slow action on instituting new police policies the council hoped to see.

More feet on the streets

Hintz said that by Tuesday evening the group will have 60 volunteers trained for canvassing, with another 20 or so to be trained Thursday night.

"I feel that we can knock on the majority of the doors and reach our objective," Hintz said. "Some of the volunteers are coming to homes where no one is home. After the first pass, we'll come back to the homes where they've had no contact."

Hintz said the plan is to be organized and keep records of contacts with voters.

Monday night, the Goggins noted who wasn't home, who asked for more information -- the volunteers have pamphlets they can leave that explain the recall -- those who sign, and those who say no.

MORE READING: Red Wing City Council votes to fire Police Chief Roger Pohlman

In Ward 1 Monday, only a couple of individuals said no. The majority signed petitions, and most of the rest of the doorbells that were answered said they needed time to think.

Rich Lockwood walked down the street to catch up with the canvassing couple. After a brief discussion, he signed the petitions to recall Hove and Stinson. While the recall is technically about the malfeasance of closing what allegedly should have been an open meeting, Lockwood said that is simply part of a bigger problem with the city council.

"The biggest issue is the removal of a good civil steward to try to appease the angry mob," Lockwood said.

https://www.postbulletin.com/news/government-and-politics/6992274-Red-Wing-recall-movement-hits-the-streets-for-signatures

Pohlman to have a name-clearing hearing

Red Wing’s former police chief has asked for time to respond to his discharge.

Written By: Republican Eagle | 4:24 pm, Apr. 8, 2021


Former Red Wing Police Chief Roger Pohlman has requested a name-clearing hearing.

Correia v. Jones from 2019 states, “the right to a name-clearing hearing is triggered where a public employer makes stigmatizing allegations, in connection with the employee's discharge, in any official or intentional manner. … The stigma must be significant, and it usually involves allegations of dishonesty, immorality, racism or a similar character-demeaning charge."

Whether or not the city believes that Pohlman’s firing resulted in a significant stigma, it has agreed to provide him with time at 5 p.m. on Wednesday, April 14, to respond to his discharge. According to the city, this will be a public special meeting.

The city terminated Pohlman on Friday, Feb. 19. Since then, Pohlman has been hired as the police chief in Lakefield.

The hearing will be held virtually. To join this meeting via phone dial 415-655-0001. When prompted, enter access code 182 652 0674 and password 2021.

To join the meeting online, a link is available on the city of Red Wing’s website.

For more information, visit red-wing.org.

https://www.rivertowns.net/news/government-and-politics/6976409-Pohlman-to-have-a-name-clearing-hearing

By Babs Santos and FOX 9 Staff Published February 19 Updated February 20 Minnesota FOX 9

Full Statement from former Chief Pohlman

After deciding, in secret and behind closed doors, to "move in a different direction" with respect to the Police Department, the Red Wing City Council presented me with two options: Resign and retain some earned benefits or receive a non-disciplinary termination of employment. My oath of office to the community and Police Department is not completed, therefore resignation was not an option.

I am proud to have served the people of Red Wing over the past eight years – leading an outstanding group of dedicated police officers that would be the envy of any small community anywhere in America. I loved my job. And our record of keeping Red Wing safe, engaging our citizens through community policing, and keeping an open-door policy with respect for all, speaks for itself. Nothing the Council says or does can ever change that.

I want to thank the countless citizens of Red Wing who have reached out now and in the past with their support. High on that list are my fellow military veterans, Hispanic Outreach, our Faith-Based groups, business owners, some former City Council members, and our State Representative Barb Haley.

At this point, I don’t know what the future holds. But I know it will involve public service, and a continuing commitment to making the world a better place, however, and wherever I can.

KCUE RADIO 1-28-21

MINUTE WITH THE MAYOR

KCUE RADIO 2-11-21

MINUTE WITH THE MAYOR

KCUE RADIO 2-25-21

MINUTE WITH THE MAYOR

Recall group submits documents to Red Wing City Hall

The Recall City Hall effort hopes to start collecting signatures as soon as petitions are verified.

Written By: Brian Todd | 4:23 pm, Apr. 9, 2021

RED WING — Red Wing's Recall City Hall group has taken the first step to make council members face a special election.

On Friday, seven petitions – one for each member of the city council – with five signatures from voters in the ward from which the council member was elected, or from the city at large for the at-large council member, were submitted to the city clerk.

Those signatures went with 250-word statements that outline an accusation of malfeasance by each board member. The accusation is that the city council members violated the state's open meeting law during the hearings in which former Police Chief Roger Pohlman was put on paid leave and then subsequently fired in February.

"If the city clerk verifies that everything is correct, we have 30 days to collect the signatures on the petitions," said George Hintz, the organizer behind the recall effort.

RELATED: Committee outlines work needed to recall Red Wing City Council members

The recall group will need the signatures of 20 percent of registered voters from the last election in each ward (or whole city for the at-large candidate) to force the recall of a candidate.

If the second petition and signatures are valid, the city would set a recall election between 45 and 60 days from that point.

Hintz said the Recall City Hall group has voter rolls from the office of the Minnesota Secretary of State to help them find registered voters and to make certain they are getting correct signatures on the petitions.

Former Red Wing School Board Member Janie Farrar will be in charge of training the volunteers who will collect the signatures. Farrar said she'll use her previous experience both as a candidate and as a worker for a congressman in the Twin Cities in door-knocking to help train volunteers.

"The number one thing I’m going to be stressing is we have to have registered voters," Farrar said.

She'll also help prepare the volunteers on talking points, focusing on the stated reason for the recall and keeping the conversations short.

"When you are talking to neighbors and friends, keep to the nonpartisan truth of it," Farrar said. "We want to keep people on message. We obviously have to get quite a few signatures."

As for now, Hintz said, the petitions are in the hands of the city clerk to verify the 35 signatures on the petitions.

And while Hintz said the firing of Pohlman was the match that started this recall fire, replacing the city council members who he and others feel aren't representing the city needs to happen now.

"At this point, it's less about Roger and more about council members who can’t follow the law, who won’t listen to the people they represent," Hintz said.


https://www.postbulletin.com/news/government-and-politics/6977821-Recall-group-submits-documents-to-Red-Wing-City-Hall

Area briefs: Red Wing to hold special meeting at former police chief's request

Minnesota State College Southeast hosts virtual open house; MnDOT gets the word out on plans for Hwy. 56 in LeRoy.

Written By: Post Bulletin staff reports | 11:51 am, Apr. 8, 2021

Former Red Wing Police Chief Roger Pohlman was fired earlier this month after the Red Wing City Council voted 6-1 to terminate his employment after a closed session. Pohlman is photographed Thursday, Feb. 25, 2021, in Red Wing. (Joe Ahlquist / jahlquist@postbulletin.com)


RED WING — The city of Red Wing will hold a special city council meeting at 5 p.m. Wednesday at the request of former Police Chief Roger Pohlman.


Pohlman requested the meeting so he can "clear his name" regarding the reasons behind his termination on Feb. 19.


A letter signed by Council President Becky Norton states the city does not believe there is a need for such a hearing or that a name-clearing hearing is justified, but will honor Pohlman's request nonetheless.

"The right to a name-clearing hearing is triggered if a public employer makes stigmatizing allegations, in connection with the employee's discharge, in an official or intentional manner," Norton states in the letter, dated April 6. She goes on to quote a precedent-setting case, Correia v. Jones, that says any stigma must be significant and would usually involve allegations of "dishonesty, immorality, racism, or a similar character-demeaning charge."

"No allegations of dishonesty, immorality, racism, or similar character demeaning charges were made by the City against you," Norton states in the letter.

In the Feb. 19 letter firing Pohlman, Norton said the reasons for the firing included a lack of trust by some members of the city council, lack of leadership in implementing policy initiatives, and non-timely communication with city council members and Red Wing residents.

https://www.postbulletin.com/community/press-releases/6975199-Area-briefs-Red-Wing-to-hold-special-meeting-at-former-police-chiefs-request

Red Wing citizens ask City Council to hold in-person meetings

Several residents thank the council for "courage" in recent decisions.

Written By: Brian Todd | 8:59 pm, Mar. 23, 2021

RED WING — Amid other criticisms, the Red Wing City Council heard from residents about its decision to keep meeting virtually as restrictions on the pandemic ease.

During the public comment period of the meeting, City Administrator Kay Kulhmann read letters sent in from two Red Wing residents asking for the city to return to in-person City Council meetings.

"It is ridiculous you refuse to meet in person," Mike Montgomery wrote. "It show's you're hiding from the public. We, the citizens of Red Wing, deserve better leadership."

RELATED: Committee outlines work needed to recall Red Wing City Council members

The city's leadership was also called out by Ernie Stone, a member of the Recall City Hall movement in Red Wing. Stone said while he understood that sometimes employees need to be fired — a reference to last month's firing of Police Chief Roger Pohlman — the city leadership bears responsibility for not communicating with Pohlman their concerns or working with him.

"I'm still not clear why our chief of police was fired," Stone said during the public comment period of the City Council meeting. "I wonder how hard you worked with him."

Mayor Mike Wilson has said that prior to 2020, Pohlman had received excellent marks on his annual performance reviews. However, a draft copy of the chief's 2020 performance review dated Dec. 29, 2020, showed all categories of the evaluation ranked as "meets expectations" or higher.

Not everyone making comments criticized the City Council for recent actions.

Opposing Views

Red Wing resident Janae Vonch said she wanted to "express my heartfelt gratitude and trust for the City Council."

Vonch said the city suffers from a lack of racial equity, and that the residents of the city work to silence minorities and felons.

Another Red Wing resident, Stacy DeVries, said she appreciated City Council President Becky Norton for "uplifting our voices and your own, and making some much-needed changes in the community.”

DeVries said the City Council's recent actions showed it has the whole community's best interests at heart in working to make Red Wing a better place for everyone.

A third Red Wing resident, Chaz Neal, said the comments of some during the meeting showed people believe the city is "pretty little Red Wing for white people," but they are ignoring incidents such as a young woman being racially profiled.

"This isn’t even about race anymore," Neal said. "It’s about basic human rights."

As for holding meetings in person, council member Evan Brown said reasons to hold meetings virtually aren’t necessarily apparent to everybody.

People have plenty of ways to contact their government," he said.

Council member Dean Hove echoed that statement, saying 99% of the contact he has with the public is via email or a phone call.

The City Council decided to address the topic of in-person meetings at the April 12 City Council meeting.

Recall City Hall update

Earlier Monday, Red Wing resident Kent Laugen, an attorney who is helping the Committee to Recall City Hall, said the petition statements that are part of the first step in instigating a recall have been written and are awaiting final approval from the recall committee's executive committee.

"The malfeasance is based on the violation of the open meeting law in the meeting where they terminated (Pohlman)," Laugen said.

According to an information brief published by the Research Department of the Minnesota House of Representatives concerning the open meeting law, "A public body must close meetings for preliminary consideration of allegations or charges against an individual subject to its authority. If the members of the public body conclude that discipline may be warranted as a result of those charges, further meetings or hearings relating to the charges must be open. Meetings must also be open at the request of the individual who is the subject of the meeting."

Pohlman was put on paid administrative leave Feb. 8. At the subsequent hearing where he was fired Feb. 19, the City Council closed that meeting and discussed Pohlman's termination behind closed doors despite the fact that Pohlman himself had requested the meeting be open to the public.

Laugen said other offenses by the City Council, including other possible open meeting violations, were not included in the 250-word statements for the petition because he felt the recall committee should focus on the obvious case of malfeasance.

"The harm is to the public and Roger in denying what should have been an open session," Laugen said.

Laugen added that he was shocked but not surprised when the City Council fired Pohlman on Feb. 19.

"There were a lot of discussions that Roger was skating on thin ice with the council and some people were out to get him," he said.

https://www.postbulletin.com/news/government-and-politics/6949968-Red-Wing-citizens-ask-City-Council-to-hold-in-person-meetings

Politics is like mother's milk for reporters

When people take sides, I generally take notice, because that's where the story lies.

Written By: Brian Todd | 7:00 am, Mar. 18, 2021

Recall them all meeting

On Tuesday night, I found myself in Red Wing. A group of citizens wants to recall six of the seven members of the town's city council. Apparently, waiting for the next election is waiting too long to "throw the bums out."

RELATED:Committee outlines work needed to recall Red Wing City Council members

If you want to see politics alive and well in the public forum, visit the Red Wing Convo site on Facebook run by former City Council member John Becker. It's full of people happy to hash out their political differences in public.


For me, I'm just happy I now work for a newspaper. All this name-calling and political posturing is job security for a guy like me.

Regional Reporter Brian Todd covers Goodhue, Wabasha, Winona and Houston counties along with some cities in Olmsted County. In the After Deadline column every Thursday, he shares behind-the-scenes tales from the newsroom.

https://www.postbulletin.com/community/people/6939264-Politics-is-like-mothers-milk-for-reporters

Committee outlines work needed to recall Red Wing City Council members

A grassroots recall campaign is planning its steps to bring six of seven council members before a special election.

Written By: Brian Todd | 7:25 am, Mar. 17, 2021


George Hintz of the Committee to Recall City Hall shows off a yard sign Tuesday, March 16, 2021, at the New River Assembly of God Church in Red Wing. Committee members spoke to the public about their plans to recall the six members of the city council who voted to fire Police Chief Roger Pohlman. (Brian Todd/btodd@postbulletin.com)

RED WING — About 75 people showed up Tuesday night to hear leaders of an effort to recall six members of the Red Wing City Council.

George Hintz, who started the recall effort with a call to action during the public comment period of a city council meeting in February, said yard signs have been bought, a bank account has been opened and the committee is ready to collect signatures for a petition, which the group hopes to turn over to the city within a few weeks.

"Talk to friends," Hintz advised those in attendance Tuesday at New River Assembly of God Church. "Ask them to come to the next general meeting."

Hintz, former Red Wing City Council Member Peggy Rehder and Tom Wilder led the discussion about the recall steps taken so far and those that are planned.

The recall effort began as a response to the city council's 6-1 vote on Feb. 19 to fire then-Red Wing Police Chief Roger Pohlman. While Pohlman has moved onto a new job as chief of police in Lakefield, Minn., the city he's left behind is still asking how the city council can justify firing him.

Former Goodhue County Board member Ted Seifert, who ran and lost against City Council President Becky Norton in 2018, said Pohlman was the right man for the job.

"I couldn't think of anybody better to be chief of police in Red Wing than Roger Pohlman," Seifert said. "When the City Council fired him, well, they're going in the wrong direction."

MORE READING:Group looks into recalling 6 Red Wing City Council members

But Seifert said there are other concerns that show the council needs to be replaced before it does more harm. He cited the "bridge to nowhere" pedestrian bridge near Old Main Street and said the council is trying to mirror recent moves by the Minneapolis City Council.

"They have an agenda, and I don't think it's an agenda that works well in Red Wing," Seifert said.

Rehder said the next step in the recall effort is to write up 250-word complaints against each member of the city council that will outline their malfeasance or nonfeasance on the job, a statutory requirement.

Violations of the state's open meeting law, she said, is just one of the counts of malfeasance that works against the City Council members.

Other members of the audience said that firing Pohlman puts the city at risk since his job is now being done by a captain who still performs his own duties along with the chief's duties. Others complained that the whole process was done in secret without any input from the public.

During the meeting Tuesday there were several calls to action and requests for volunteers. For example, Rehder said the committee will likely need to raise funds for legal battles if the city or individual council members contest the validity of the petitions – either the signatures gathered during the two petition phases, or whether the charges meet the definition of malfeasance. Rehder asked for a volunteer to lead fundraising efforts for the committee.

"One of my big concerns is this is going to be pretty expensive," Rehder said. "We will be challenged by these council members in court."

Others suggested more grassroots efforts such as getting individuals to commit to showing up for city council meetings and talking about the recall movement during public comment periods, and writing letters to the editor to outline why the group wants to recall the six council members.

According to the Red Wing City Charter, there are several steps to the recall process. The first is for at least five registered voters from the ward (or whole city for at-large candidates) to bring a petition containing a 250-word statement of the grounds for removal to the city.

Once that petition is approved, the group has 30 days to collect signatures of 20 percent of registered voters from the last election in the ward (or whole city for at-large candidates) to force the recall of a specific candidate.

If the second petition and signatures are valid, the city would set a recall election between 45 and 60 days from that point.

Despite the hurdles, Wilder said he's ready, and from the phone calls he receives, he believes residents of Red Wing want this recall to happen.

"City Hall isn't concerned, City Hall doesn't think it's real," Wilder said. "But I get phone calls every day asking what this group has done."

Telling the full story means knowing the whole story

I beg, plead and demand information from sources, and that can take time to pay off.

Written By: Brian Todd | 6:00 am, Mar. 11, 2021


The world doesn't often surprise me.

In 20-plus years as a journalist, I've seen a lot of weird things, and heard a lot of odd statements from folks. That's part and parcel of conducting interviews with a vast cross-section of humanity.

So it's not every day something amazes me.

That's Amazing, Folks

When I interviewed Red Wing Mayor Mike Wilson concerning the firing of Police Chief Roger Pohlman, I heard something that kind of shocked me.

MORE READING:

First, let me back up a second. Before talking to Wilson, I was talking with another person. A person I won't name. This person told me about a complaint made against Pohlman in late 2018 that the city hired an outside investigator to look into to try judging the veracity of the complaint.

The complaint and the investigation, it seems, once delivered to the city council, Pohlman and a few others in 2019 was then confiscated by the city.

You read that right. After the report was handed out, Council member Dean Hove demanded – and City Administrator Kay Kuhlmann executed that demand – that all copies of the report be returned to the city.

Why? Well, that's complicated, and I suppose I could understand their reason. Sort of.

But here's the weird part. My unnamed person sent me copies of the super-secret report. Later when I was talking to Wilson I mentioned the complaint and investigation report, and Wilson told me he was not able to get a copy of it.

See, in the time between Pohlman being put on paid leave on Feb. 8 and being fired on Feb. 19, Wilson, who was only elected last November, was hoping to learn all he could about Pohlman's performance. But when he asked for the complaint and report about which he'd heard rumors, he was told no. No, Mr. Mayor, you can't see this relevant piece of information.

Even as I spoke to him, Wilson seemed bemused by this.

"I tried to get that information too," Wilson said. "I was told by Kay the city attorney said that information wasn’t available to me."

Freedom of Information

Here's the thing: If you ask the right people, you'll find what you need to know. I found someone who didn't mind passing along the super-secret report. For a city that had fired Pohlman, I can see why. The report basically debunks the complaint against Pohlman, then goes on to praise his honesty and integrity.

Two weeks ago, I sent a request to the city of Red Wing asking for more information on this subject. Basically, I'm still waiting. Some of the complaints against Pohlman have to do with his attitude toward city council members' suggestions about law enforcement and the timeliness of his responses to their emails.

I'd like to see how the actual emails and the complaints against Pohlman match up. After all, folks are talking about recalling six members of the city council, so I'm guessing there's a big contingent of residents who aren't happy the chief was fired.

I'm still digging for information, because people want answers, and the only way I can find them is to know a lot of information.

Regional Reporter Brian Todd covers Goodhue, Wabasha, Winona and Houston counties along with some cities in Olmsted County. In the After Deadline column every Thursday, he shares behind-the-scenes tales from the newsroom.

https://www.postbulletin.com/community/people/6926200-Telling-the-full-story-means-knowing-the-whole-story

Group looks into recalling 6 Red Wing City Council members

Firing of Police Chief Roger Pohlman ignites recall effort, but many steps need to happen.

Written By: Brian Todd | 2:29 pm, Mar. 2, 2021


RED WING — If you talk to George Hintz, you'll hear a litany of disagreements with the Red Wing City Council.

Hintz, a member of the city's Advisory Planning Commission, isn't happy with the pedestrian bridge proposal. He disagrees with aspects of the Advisory Team on Government Policies and Practices, a group started to deal with issues of race and policing.

But, like many in town, he was willing to let processes play out until Feb. 19, when the city council voted 6-1 to fire Police Chief Roger Pohlman, citing a lack of trust, defensiveness on his part and poor communication with council members and city residents.

"The underlying thing is the firing of the chief," Hintz said, who is among many in town who say the council's reasons for firing Pohlman are bogus.

Former Red Wing Police Chief Roger Pohlman was fired earlier this month after the Red Wing City Council voted 6-1 to terminate his employment after a closed session. Pohlman is photographed Thursday, Feb. 25, 2021, in Red Wing. (Joe Ahlquist / jahlquist@postbulletin.com)

Hintz is not alone. In fact, a quickly called meeting on Feb. 23 drew 75 people interested in talking about recalling the six council members – Dean Hove, Andy Klitzke, Evan Brown, Becky Norton, Erin Buss and Laurel Stinson – who voted to oust Pohlman. The group has more meetings planned, Hintz said, and is working on the steps for a recall. Eventually, the group hopes to force a recall of the council members at a special election.

MORE READING: Red Wing community has questions about firing Police Chief Roger Pohlman

Tom Wilder is one of those who showed up at the Feb. 23 meeting, and he is one of two individuals who will lead the charge to gather signatures for a recall in his ward, he said.

"What piqued my interest was what I saw as an unjust action of the city council to oust a fine police chief who has a stellar track record up until the council moved the goal posts and changed the rules," Wilder said.

Hintz said there are several steps needed before a recall would happen. First, the recall group must write a statement showing the cause for recall. In this instance, he said, they are looking at malfeasance, a term that is spelled out in the Minnesota Constitution as the act of "intentionally doing something unlawful or wrong while performing duties of the office; the act must be substantially outside of the scope of duties and substantially infringe upon another’s rights."

It's this first hurdle, said City Council President Becky Norton, that she believes will stop the group's efforts.

"I’m not concerned about the rumors about a recall," Norton said. "(Firing Pohlman) doesn’t rise to the level of malfeasance or nonfeasance. It doesn’t rise to the standard."

Norton said she's heard from Red Wing's city attorney about the process for a recall.

She believes she and her fellow council members are safe from a recall measure.

Hintz disagrees.

"I believe, mainly it’s the lack of the city council providing public safety for our citizens," he said. "Chief Pohlman was a fantastic and well-respected chief here. The council has been just out of control."

If the group can clear the hurdle for cause, the next step is gathering signatures. According to Red Wing's city charter, for each elected official being recalled, the group seeking recall must collect enough signatures to meet 20 percent of the registered voters at the last election.

So, for example, if there were 2,000 registered voters in a ward, recall organizers would need to collect 400 signatures in the ward to force a recall of that council member.

Wilder said he sees the recall effort as one to unite the city by taking back power from a group – and he includes those six city council members in that group – that is working to divide the city.

"We have people on both sides of the aisle asking to support us," Wilder said.

And many in that group feel, as he does, the city council was unjust in its firing of Pohlman.

"Roger never got to speak on his own behalf," Wilder said. "This has got me riled up, because I feel a great injustice to a fine man was done."

Steps to recall Red Wing City Council members

1. A committee of at least five registered voters may bring a petition for recall of any elected council member or mayor for malfeasance or nonfeasance in office. The committee must be made up of voters from the ward or city as a whole that elected that individual.

2. The committee shall certify to the clerical officer the name of the officer whose removal is sought, a statement of the grounds for removal in not more than 250 words, and their intention to bring about this recall.

3. Within 30 days after the filing of the original certificate, the committee shall file the completed petition in the office of the clerical officer.

4. Petitioners must be registered in the ward or wards said Council Member is elected from, and the number of valid signatures must be no less than 20 percent of the registered voters of the city or of the ward or wards said Council Member is elected from.

5. If the petition or amended petition is found sufficient, the city council would at its next meeting provide for filing dates and other provisions necessary for a special recall election not less than 45 nor more than 60 days after such meeting.

https://www.postbulletin.com/news/government-and-politics/6912649-Group-looks-into-recalling-6-Red-Wing-City-Council-members

5 stories you might have missed this week

A look at the most-read stories from the week you might have missed.

Written By: Andrew Link | 12:00 pm, Feb. 26, 2021

Former Red Wing Police Chief Roger Pohlman was fired earlier this month after the Red Wing City Council voted 6-1 to terminate his employment after a closed session. Pohlman is photographed Thursday, Feb. 25, 2021, in Red Wing. (Joe Ahlquist / jahlquist@postbulletin.com)

After digesting the firing of Red Wing Police Chief Roger Pohlman, residents in the city have been left with a bad taste in their mouths.

"This decision by the council does not pass the smell test," said Liz Rickert, who identified herself as a resident of Goodhue County, during Monday's Red Wing City Council meeting.

Rickert was one of a half-dozen individuals who questioned the city council's decision last Friday to fire Pohlman. Those individuals brought up concerns ranging from the speed of the process, the fairness in firing Pohlman, and how the city will find a replacement after what many see as an unjust firing.

Former Red Wing Police Chief Roger Pohlman was fired earlier this month after the Red Wing City Council voted 6-1 to terminate his employment after a closed session. Pohlman is photographed Thursday, Feb. 25, 2021, in Red Wing. (Joe Ahlquist / jahlquist@postbulletin.com)

https://www.postbulletin.com/news/6906705-5-stories-you-might-have-missed-this-week

Red Wing community has questions about firing Police Chief Roger Pohlman

A letter from the city to Roger Pohlman stated a lack of trust and communication as major factors in his being fired on Friday night.

Written By: Brian Todd | 5:44 pm, Feb. 23, 2021



Red Wing Police Chief Roger Pohlman, shown in this Feb. 20, 2018, file photo, was placed on paid administrative leave Monday while the city investigates allegations of misconduct.

RED WING — After digesting the firing of Red Wing Police Chief Roger Pohlman, residents in the city have been left with a bad taste in their mouths.

"This decision by the council does not pass the smell test," said Liz Rickert, who identified herself as a resident of Goodhue County, during Monday's Red Wing City Council meeting.

Rickert was one of a half-dozen individuals who questioned the city council's decision last Friday to fire Pohlman. Those individuals brought up concerns ranging from the speed of the process, the fairness in firing Pohlman, and how the city will find a replacement after what many see as an unjust firing.

RELATED: Red Wing City Council votes to fire Police Chief Roger Pohlman

Only one individual spoke in favor of firing Pohlman. Chaz Neal, a self-described community activist, said Pohlman had "hate-mongered" by using misleading or untrue information.

However, several individuals still wondered, what had Roger Pohlman done to justify getting fired?

Performance on the job

Mayor Mike Wilson, who was elected last November, said when the city council put Pohlman on paid administrative leave on Feb. 8, he looked up Pohlman's performance reviews for the past five years. What he found was four straight glowing reviews followed by a poor review for this past year.

"It’s pretty weak I think," Wilson said of the stated reasons for firing Pohlman. "There’s nothing really solid in there. But this didn't just happen overnight."

Wilson said, as someone who ran a business for years, it makes no sense to simply fire someone after years of good service when seeing one bad review.

Red Wing Mayor Mike Wilson

"When you have an employee you have issues with, you sit down and discuss it and carry on," he said.

Part of the problem, said John Becker, is the city changed the way it reviewed its top department heads this past year. Previously, reviews were conducted by City Administrator Kay Kuhlmann, but in 2020, the process changed so that city council members were given a voice via a questionnaire.

Becker, who served on the Red Wing City Council from January 2017 through December 2020, said one part of the review included a series of subjective questions such as how the individual being reviewed makes you feel, or whether you trust that person.

"It's what you do if you’re looking to build a case, and that’s what I felt was happening, is he was being set up," Becker said. "It wasn’t done professionally."

Two incidents stand out

If Pohlman had made any enemies in city leadership, Wilson said one incident stands out. That would be a complaint filed against Pohlman by Council Member Dean Hove, who got angry after a meeting about body cameras in December 2019. After the meeting, Hove was approached by Pohlman's wife, who asked whether a city council member whose family member was a "frequent flier" with the police department might vote no regarding body cameras.

Hove, visibly outraged according to witnesses, filed a complaint against Pohlman the next day, accusing Pohlman of sharing confidential police information with his wife.

The city then paid an outside firm nearly $7,500 to conduct an investigation of the issue. The investigators, in their conclusion, described Pohlman as "credible and forthright," and cited Pohlman's testimony as a demonstration of "his fidelity to the truth."

While the Post Bulletin has obtained a copy of this complaint and report, Wilson said when he went to review Pohlman's status after the Feb. 8 vote he was told by Kuhlmann that the city attorney said he was not permitted to see the documents.

"I tried to get that information too," Wilson said.

Wilson said after the city council and mayor at the time reviewed the investigation report, Hove got angry and Kuhlmann insisted the copies given to council members be returned.

Teens, cars and Covill Park

Becker pointed to a different incident occurring last summer where Pohlman earned the ire of several city council members.

On Aug. 15 a group of young adults gathered in Covill Park to talk and show off their cars. There were vehicles with loud exhaust pipes, tinted windows and, in the case of a few, individuals with "Trump 2020" or American flags, said Becker, who upon hearing about the incident drove down to the park to witness what was happening.

Becker said other council members "wanted them all locked up" for what he described as minor violations. ""They wanted Roger to put the hammer down," Becker said.

"This was not the Aryan Nation," said Becker.

While police and sheriff's deputies rolled through the area about every 15 minutes, at one point two young women got on a picnic table and began antagonizing the individuals with American or Trump flags, yelling "F--- Trump!", according to Becker, and trying to get a reaction out of the other members of the crowd.

Eventually, police arrived and broke up the meeting, and no one was arrested, which was the right call, Becker said.

Moving forward, new chief

The city has not announced its plans to hire a new police chief.

At Monday's meeting, Red Wing resident Deborah Cerkovnik told the council she had serious concerns about their decision to fire Pohlman, and wondered about replacing him, calling him fair-minded and just.

"Who could be more qualified?" she asked. "Our chief has faithfully served this city for eight years."

Janie Farrar, who ran unsuccessfully for mayor last year, said firing Pohlman won't improve the view of the city's leadership in the minds of the rank-and-file in the police department, which respected Pohlman but, according to a survey, showed little trust in the city council. And that reputation will make it hard to find a replacement.

Farrar had circulated a petition last week prior to the vote Friday night. Of the signatories of that petition, Farrar said, it was a good cross-section of Red Wing citizens including people from all political persuasions and differing racial and ethnic backgrounds.

"There were many different opinions that all stood behind him," Farrar said.

Council Member Kim Beise, the only "no" vote in firing Pohlman last week, said while he saw this coming, he still can't explain why the city council fired Pohlman, and the listed reasons just don't add up.

"I watched him in the community and listened to him. No matter who you were, what your status, he treated them all the same. He cared for them all the same," Beise said. "It just baffles me, knowing the type of man Roger is."

https://www.postbulletin.com/news/government-and-politics/6901194-Red-Wing-community-has-questions-about-firing-Police-Chief-Roger-Pohlman

Red Wing Police Chief Roger Pohlman on paid leave

The city of Red Wing has put the chief of police on paid administrative leave while it conducts an investigation.

Written By: Brian Todd | 1:18 pm, Feb. 10, 2021

Red Wing Police Chief Roger Pohlman, shown in this Feb. 20, 2018, file photo, was placed on paid administrative leave Monday while the city investigates allegations of misconduct.

RED WING — Red Wing Police Chief Roger Pohlman has been placed on paid administrative leave by the city pending an investigation into his conduct, according to a statement from the city.

Pohlman was placed on leave Monday after the Red Wing City Council met in closed session to discuss allegations against an employee. According to the agenda item, the council's closed session was designed to "discuss the allegations and possible next steps" concerning "allegations against an employee."

The city cited the Minnesota Government Data Practices Act as a reason for not disclosing any other information at this time.

"The City Council supports and values the role of the Police Department in our organization and community and is committed to working with them now and in the future," the statement from the city read.

Pohlman could not be reached for comment.




https://www.postbulletin.com/news/government-and-politics/6881193-Red-Wing-Police-Chief-Roger-Pohlman-on-paid-leave

Red Wing City Council to vote on policy task force

The group's first priority will be to work alongside the Police Department to explore policing policies and practices. Work with other departments will follow.

Written By: Rachel Fergus | 10:01 am, Jul. 11, 2020


Red Wing City Council will vote on the creation of a policy task force on Monday. The plan discussed by City Council members and staff is to begin the task force by focusing on the city's police department. File photo.

RED WING -- The City Council will vote Monday on the creation of a task force that will focus on city government policies and practices.

This topic has been discussed by staff and council members since the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis police custody on May 25 and the protests that followed.

Originally the discussion about the task force focused on the police department. However, council members and staff began thinking about using the task force to look at every branch of the city.

“What’s important to me is that we ultimately say that what we’re here to address is every nook and cranny of local government," Council member Evan Brown said during a workshop on the topic on June 29. "There’s no point in doing this if we’re not looking everywhere.”

The document that staff will present to the council on Monday states:

“The task force’s first priority will be to work alongside the police department to explore policing policies and practices, discuss best practices and options for Red Wing and make recommendations to City Council for positive changes. … When the task force meets at its first meeting, members will work together as a group to create priority focus areas of its choice. Staff and council will also keep apprised of any changes at the state level that may happen in the Minnesota Legislature’s special session regarding public safety policies.”

Staff recommends that the task force focuses on the police department for about 18 months. At the end of that period, there will be a short break before the next priority areas are decided. Now through 2021, task force members will regularly report what is being worked on to the City Council.

City staff is recommending that task force members receive $75 for each meeting attended.

Makeup of the task force

The council decided June 29 that the task force comprises 12 members, all of whom must be 18 or older. There will be two to three “alternates” in case a member needs to step down for any reason.

Staff members will attend meetings to answer any questions and to offer required assistance. During the first 18 months, Police Chief Roger Pohlman and other members of the Red Wing Police Department will participate in meetings.

The council and staff emphasized their desire to appoint a diverse group of people to the task force. The staff report for Monday’s meeting states:

“Emphasis will be on people who have not had past or present involvement in government. If someone is already a city board or commission member, this does not entirely make them ineligible for the task force.”

The proposal states that each council member will submit a list of names to Mayor Sean Dowse. He will then choose at least one name from each council member’s list when choosing the 12 members of the task force.

Timeline

If the council votes yes on Monday, the task force timeline will be:

  • Tuesday, July 14: Application and nomination forms go out to the public. These forms will be available in Spanish and English, online and in print.

  • Wednesday, Aug. 5, at 4 p.m.: Nomination forms are due.

  • Friday, Aug. 7, at 4 p.m.: Application forms are due.

  • Wednesday, Aug. 12, at 4 p.m.: Deadline for each council member to get his or her list of recommendations to Dowse.

  • Friday, Aug. 14: The mayor is expected to use his selection process and make his list of members and alternates

  • Week of Aug. 17: Dowse contacts people who have been selected.

  • Monday, Aug. 24: Dowse shares final names of task force members with the council and the public during the City Council meeting.

  • Mid-September: The task force convenes.

Application process

Short applications and nomination forms will be made available online and in hard copies on Tuesday, July 14, so members of the public can apply for or nominate someone they believe should serve on the task force.

Completed forms should be sent to Michelle Leise either by mail to City Hall, 315 W. Fourth St., Red Wing, MN 55066. Attn: Michelle Leise) or by email to michelle.leise@ci.red-wing.mn.us).

Background checks will not be done on applicants and applicants who might be undocumented will not be declined for that reason. The city will provide a translator if needed.

https://www.postbulletin.com/news/government-and-politics/6571199-Red-Wing-City-Council-to-vote-on-policy-task-force

Police task force forming in Red Wing

City Council will meet Monday night to discuss the parameters.

Written By: Rachel Fergus | 7:00 pm, Jun. 28, 2020

City Hall in Red Wing, Minn. File photo

After the death of George Floyd while in the custody of Minneapolis police, the country's attention has turned toward police departments and policing policies.

On Friday, the Minneapolis City Council voted unanimously to advance a plan to disband the Minneapolis Police Department. Under the plan, the department would be renamed the "department of community safety and violence prevention" and it would maintain a division of licensed officers but would be led by a non-law enforcement figure. The new department would be responsible for “public safety services prioritizing a holistic, public health-oriented approach."

In Red Wing, changes are also being discussed but disbanding the police department is not under consideration.

READ MORE: Use of force, citizen complaints and body cameras: Here’s where area law enforcement leaders stand on the issues | Trespassing citations not serious enough, says family that captured video of woman entering their Red Wing home

Instead, the Red Wing City Council voted on Monday to create a public safety policies and practices task force to bring community members and law enforcement officers together to look at local practices.

City Council President Dean Hove told Police Chief Roger Pohlman during Monday's meeting: “We actively want your participation. We don’t want you just sitting on the sidelines. That’s never been the intention.”

Pohlman has long been a strong advocate of a community approach to crime prevention. He came to Red Wing in 2012 and within two years implemented the Community Policing Program. The four goals are to build community relations, receive community input, reduce the fear of crime and lower the overall crime rate. In addition, the department has a Citizens Academy.

The council unanimously voted to create the task force but details of what it will focus on and how it will look will be determined at a workshop on Monday, June 29.

The plan briefly discussed during Monday's meeting was to have a group of nine or 11 members and a couple of police officers on the newly created task force.

https://www.postbulletin.com/news/government-and-politics/6553383-Police-task-force-forming-in-Red-Wing

© 2021 All Rights Reserved

Prepared and paid for by the Committee to Recall City Hall

P.O. Box 527 Red Wing, MN 55066

ADDRESS: PO BOX 527 RED WING, MN 55066 | WWW.RECALLCITYHALLRW.COM | RECALLCITYHALL@GMAIL.COM

Recall committee leader says the group has more than enough signatures to recall six of seven city council members.

Written By: Brian Todd | 9:00 am, May 10, 2021

RED WING — George Hintz admitted he was "exhausted" Sunday night.

"The other members on our committee are feeling the same," Hintz said. The weekend was spent collecting signatures, sorting and copying, and verifying who collected what signatures for the Recall City Hall committee in Red Wing. "But we see the light at the end of the tunnel."

As of late Sunday, it looked like the recall committee would fall just short of collecting enough signatures to recall every member of the Red Wing City Council. Kim Beise, who took part in the closed meetings the group has cited as the acts of malfeasance that warrant recall but voted against firing of then-Police Chief Roger Pohlman, is the lone city council member who won't face recall.

MORE READING:

Hintz said he and his colleagues plan to bring the signed petitions to recall each member of the city council to City Hall Monday afternoon.

According to the Red Wing City Charter, the city clerk, Teri Swanson, has five days from the time she receives the signed petitions to examine them and verify whether they meet the requirements for recall. For example, signatures supporting recall of a particular city council member must be from registered voters from the ward or wards that council member represents. Each signature line must be completely filled in as well.

Using voter registration numbers provided by the city of Red Wing, the number of verified signatures needed to recall each member of the city council is:

  • Ward 1, Kim Beise, 569;

  • Ward 2, Andy Klitzke, 517;

  • Ward 3, Becky Norton, 525;

  • Ward 4, Erin Buss, 486;

  • Wards 1-2, Dean Hove, 1,086;

  • Ward 3-4, Evan Brown, 1,011;

  • At-large, Laurel Stinson, 2,097.

If enough signatures are verified, according to the city charter, "the clerical officer shall transmit it to the Council without delay and shall also officially notify the person sought to be recalled of the sufficiency of the petition and of the pending action. The Council shall, at its next meeting, by resolution provide for filing dates and other provisions necessary for the holding of a special recall election" not less than 45 days later or more than 60 days, unless another election is already scheduled within 90 days.

The Post Bulletin reached out to both City Council President Becky Norton and City Administrator Kay Kuhlman Sunday night but neither responded in time for deadline.

Hintz said he believes the council will do whatever it can to avoid a recall.

"So, in the future, I see a court case," Hintz said. "But the people are ready for a change."

Hintz said canvassers reported that at least half the people met face-to-face – not counting homes where canvassers did not find anyone at home – ended up signing the petitions.

"Some would say they were not interested," Hintz said. "Others would say 'We were waiting for you.'"

Over the weekend, the popup signing events proved to be a tremendous success, Hintz said.

"We were out on Old West Main, in front of hardware store and the auto repair," he said. "People were very receptive."