Charter Commission meeting

April 1st, 2021


Agenda with links to attachments

A background Legalectric post:

“Recall” on Charter Commission agenda?!?

So I sent this missive to all, being oh-so-transparent with the ask and intent:

I then sent background info to support the request for recusal of Kent Laugen, Ernie Stone, and Shelley Pohlman, which was added to the agenda #11 documents. These primary documents are the Recall petition with Stone, Laugen (and Rehder) named; the Campaign Financial Report and Amended Report with contributions from Stone and Pohlman; a “Recall City Hall” flyer posted on Pohlman’s Red Wing Minnesota News page; and Post Bulletin article with quotes from Recall principals Ernie Stone and Kent Laugen:

Attachment – Email from C. Overland

I was told, “we will not be adding your requested item to the agenda as your concerns could be brought up under item 11.” You can see how that went.

No problem, if that’s what it takes to get it off the agenda, well, that’s what it takes.

Ultimately, yes, it was tabled. Good. However, the conflict issue was not addressed, and it should be if there are items relating to “recall” on the agenda. Note also that the changes to Charter 5.17 were not “technical changes” to align with the statute, but were substantive changes eliminating the run-off provision, something which needs to be discussed.

And did I mention that Ernie Stone said he’d talked to the City Attorney about me and my questioning of Shelley Pohlman at the last meeting? Wish I were a fly on that wall! Guess he doesn’t think I should challenge her false statements, documented, on refugee resettlement, and her claims of “conflict of interest” of County Commissioner Flanders. Oh well. Those false statements and pot-stirring continue with the recall effort.

Three new Charter Commission members were approved. In the section in the beginning where Peggy Rehder had applied, and was approved, there’s material background that was ignored. Rehder was voted in despite the 2018 formal complaint against her when she was on the City Council, the investigation, which resulted in the Council’s resolution that she participate in mediation with Marshall Hallock, and a firm directive that her out-of-bounds behavior not occur again. She resigned prior to mediation even being scheduled. What has changed to address these behavioral issues? That was not answered.

Watch the 4/23/2018 City Council video of Council deliberation and decision.

Something this serious should be addressed. It wasn’t. Instead, discussion was blocked, putting blinders on to a demonstrated problem.

In discussion of the other two applicants, Shelley Pohlman (a/k/a/ Rena Marsh) demanded to know if the names were their legal names! Shelley then wanted to know of Bjornstad was a member of League of Women Voters or AAUW! (I am not now nor have I ever been a member of…) Bjornstad noted that she was too young, maybe in a few years (SNORT!), but that she was a 5th grade civics teacher for a few years. Kent Laugen was wanting to know if they would be loyal to the Charter Commission, not the City Council, which was weird, questioning their integrity and ethics. Shelley questioned Greg Bolt about his “conflict of interest” because he is a pastor and the Council President is a parishioner, and his role in her election (he marched in a parade with a sign and something else inconsequential). Three people voted against Bolt!

Also, there was discussion of a comment made at the last meeting by Alan Muller, who thought there should be a requirement that committees of the Council be subject to the same charter provisions as the Council, and they asked about that, he was there at the meeting, raised his hand electronically, was ignored, I noted he was there, but they did not acknowledge him to address their questions to him directly. That was weird.

The rest of the meeting was a typical Charter Commission meeting…

Oh, and there is also supposed to be a public comment period at the beginning of each meeting which was not there this time, and I’ve requested that this be in the boilerplate agenda.

City of Red Wing, MN (@CityofRedWingMN) | Twitter

There’s a Charter Commission meeting next week – TUNE IN on Channel 6:

Red Wing Charter CommissionMar 31, 2021 – 06:00 PMAgenda

And look what’s on the agenda (click for larger version):

Here’s what’s at issue:

BFD? Well, not really, because there are at least three people on the Charter Commission who are championing the “Recall City Hall” effort.

So I sent this missive out as notice and request that I want to add an agenda item to the “Approve Agenda” section:

To which Shelley Pohlman, Queen of Conflict of Interest in this recall matter, replied, 7 minutes later:

“This an open meeting violation.”

It’s pretty basic — can’t have people involved in an active (though likely doomed) recall effort voting on changes to the Charter regarding recall!!

Active recall… yeah, it’s a stretch, because there’s a high bar for a recall petition, and after that, a high bar in the number of signatures required:

There’s roughly 2,500 registered voters per ward, twice that where two wards are combined, and roughly 10,000 registered voters for the “at large” Council seat…

Let’s do the math… if they want to recall all but Beise.. SNORT! How many registered voters in that councilor’s ward(s) are needed?

  • Hove – Wards 1 & 2 = 5,249, 20% = 1,049
  • Klitzke – Ward 2 = 2,575, 20% = 515
  • Norton – Ward 3 = 2,617, 20% – 523
  • Buss – Ward 4 = 2,424, 20% = 484
  • Brown – Wards 3 & 4, 20% = 5,041
  • Stinson – At Large – All Wards 9,905, 20% = 1,981

I can’t see them gathering 500, 1,000 or 2,000 voters’ signatures, but there it is, they can do it, it’s clearly allowed in the City Charter, and they’re at least being press hounds, though no evidence of a Petition yet, so get your popcorn and have a seat…

They’ve formed a “Committee to Recall City Hall” and here’s their first report:

Note the large anonymous donations?

Anonymous donations – NOT OK!! The rules clearly state that:

It’s stated pretty clearly… “This itemization must include name, address, employer or occupation if self-employed, amount and date for these contributions.”

Nope, folks active in a recall effort shouldn’t be participating in discussion or voting on Charter Commission recall provision language change.

And then there’s the recall effort itself — folks not wanting to accept that they lost by an “overwhelming majority” vote of 6-1 to fire Roger Pohlman. Just no, what a waste of time, effort, and money. Lots of distractivism, pot-, and outright lies. Lies? Yes, look at this and note the misstated order of things:

Here’s a link to the Pohlman support “petition.”

Above, from Shelley Pohlman’s “Red Wing Minnesota News” page, she states, “In response, citizens presented the counsel with a petition with more than 250 names…” “In response” isn’t true. The properties in the WORD version presented to the City show that the “Petition” was begun on February 17, and last saved and given to the City on February 19, BEFORE he was fired, yet the Petition was demanding Pohlman be “reinstated immediately.” The petition was not delivered to the City “in response” as stated above. Why the misrepresentation? Ummmm… yes, really, BEFORE he was fired. What information were they acting on when they put this “Petition” together and solicited names? Who was soliciting “signers” for this “Petition” before he was fired? What information were those ~250 people who “signed” given? Were they told that Pohlman was applying to be Chief in Lakefield, MN?

Potential for Pohlman to be fired? He knew there were issues, issues that had been raised before. Here are two documents from his 2020 evaluation, retrieved with a Data Practices Act Request to City:

And the termination letter:

Looks to me like ~250 people were played. Pohlman knew this was coming. Someone(s) struck up the band, got the bandwagon rolling, folks jumped on, and they didn’t have the full story. Over and over, as above, they’re continuing to parrot lines that Pohlman wasn’t given time to speak? The potential of firing was not new to Pohlman, and he was represented by counsel, wasn’t he?

Saying that “taxpaying Red Wing citizens were shut out of the meeting” is bizarre. What does that mean, shut out? Employee matters are confidential, is that CONFIDENTIAL closed session what they wanted “open” contrary to state law? Is it that they didn’t attend the open zoom meeting where the Council acted? I’ve heard that some wanted an “OPEN UP” meeting, and IN PERSON meeting, at City Hall where the doors were open and people could attend in person, and that this was denied. Is this what they’re referring to? Let’s get this clarified!

Ya say ya wanna do a recall, and I say, “NO NO NO!” There’s no legal basis for a recall. This is a PR push, and a sham. Just because you can do something doesn’t mean you should.


Bubble in the natural gas fracking world?  Is the fracking boom about to go BOOM?  From AlterNet:

Is Natural Gas the Next Bubble? Has Fracking Promised More Than It Can Deliver?

In this weekend’s Red Wing Republican Eagle — they edited my headline, this is the original, because my view of this is that those writing about how he is being abused, it’s a lynching, etc. are ignoring the crucial fact that he had the choice to disclose but he did not.  Let’s see what happens today:

It’s about disclosure!

It’s almost April Fools’ Day, the day Mayor Dennis Egan said he’d resign. Just last week, he was very visible, advocating for frac sand mining at the Rochester Chamber of Commerce’s “Public Affairs Series: Mining in Minnesota,” appearing on MPR’s Daily Circuit — and who knows what else – perfect examples of what the mayor of Red Wing should not be doing.

Meanwhile, there have been a number of painfully contorted letters to the editor, a comment at a City Council meeting supporting Egan and his actions, even a statement reported by a council member, saying “There are ways to recuse ourselves and move past that.”

Mayor Dennis Egan had his chance to disclose. He made his choice, and his choice was to be silent, his choice not to inform the Council or citizens of Red Wing. We learned about his employment as a frac sand lobbyist by reading about it in a Politics in Minnesota report.

Egan’s problem is magnified by number of people who condone his failure to disclose, his deception by omission and his steadfast failure to acknowledge the impropriety of his ethical breaches and the incompetence at conducting an internal examination of the situation. What does this say about our community’s moral base?

On with the special election. Hopefully we can find a mayor with a grounded sense of ethics who takes the oath of office seriously, understands the obligation to disclose, and respects those who trusted with their vote.

Carol A. Overland

Red Wing


Here’s my latest missive to the Red Wing City Council, the final comment before tonight’s City Council meeting.  CLICK HERE TO WATCH IT. We’ll be watching on the train – hope signal is good tonight!

My missive:

All –

Greetings from Chicago.  FYI, I’m beginning a long planned vacation, and it’s not possible to rebook Amtrak without significant penalty, so with regrets, I will not be able to attend tonight’s meeting.

You will have some difficult but necessary decisions to make tonight.

There’s an important point I want to make about “our” Mayor Dennis Egan, and the options before the City Council.  It’s not binary — it’s not either/or.  Several people have said that he needs to choose one position or the other, framing it that there needs to be a choice of whether he will be “our” mayor or to represent frac sand interests.  But it’s too late for that.  He has already betrayed the people of Red Wing and his oath of office.   He’s shown us his moral and ethical views, he’s demonstrated an inability or unwillingness to take the issue seriously, and he has shown the extent of his denial.  That can’t be undone.

The issue before the council is Egan’s fitness as mayor, and not whether he should be given a choice to resign one position or the other.  Whether he resigns as the “voice of frac sand” or whether he is removed from that position as the PR liability that he is, it doesn’t matter at this point if he’s no longer representing frac sand.  With the facts of this issue, and with the Mayor’s behavior and public statements, the bottom line is that he can’t continue as Mayor because has shown us that he cannot be trusted to put the City’s interests first.

Mayor Egan has demonstrated that he’s not fit for office.  He shouldn’t be mayor.

Not only that, Steve Murphy and I agree that this is an impermissible conflict.  If Steve Murphy and I agree on something, it MUST be right!!!

Thank you for our attention to this issue.  I urge you all to act mindful of the Code of Conduct for Red Wing elected officials and your oath of office.

Carol A. Overland
Vacationing in Chicago and on the way to L.A.

p.s. I believe there are records of citizen complaints and comments that are missing from the packet and hope that the packets will be updated with all comments to date just prior to the meeting.

There is a lot more in the papers leading up to tonight’s meeting.  I’m going to cut and paste so that when they disappear into archives, they’ll be accessible.  First is the RW Beagle’s coverage:

Some citizens push for Egan to leave; he’s staying

Some citizens have called for Mayor Dennis Egan to step down since learning he is executive director of the new Minnesota Industrial Sand Council.

By: Anne Jacobson, The Republican Eagle

Some citizens have called for Mayor Dennis Egan to step down since learning he is executive director of the new Minnesota Industrial Sand Council.

Dale Hanson has taken his displeasure a step further: He launched a recall effort Friday morning via email.

“Even if I supported sand mine fracking in Minnesota (which I DO NOT), the mere appearance of conflict of interest and many other potential improprieties is enough to motivate me to attempt to recall Mayor Egan,” Hanson said in his blanket email.

The mayor said he doesn’t intend to resign.

“The flip side is I’ve had some very sincere phone calls: ‘We like your leadership.’ ‘We like what you’ve done,’” Egan said.

That involvement includes serving on the National Mayor’s Association executive committee, the Lake Pepin Legacy Alliance and working to resolve Mississippi National Golf Links’ future.

Hanson wrote that Egan’s new lobbying post to promote and protect mining interests is an embarrassment to the city and an affront to the democratic process.

“I sent out a ton of emails and I am totally confident that I will be getting many responses before Monday night’s City Council meeting,” Hanson said Friday afternoon.

The Red Wing Charter requires that five people sign before a recall committee can form.

Hanson anticipates that forming a steering committee, drafting the recall petition and submitting the paperwork to the city will take a week to 10 days. He then must gather at least 1,900 signatures or 20 percent of registered voters.

Carol Overland, a local attorney, is asking City Council members to oust Egan if he doesn’t resign. She was among the first to cry foul after Politics in Minnesota reported Feb. 1 the Minnesota Industrial Sand Council had formed to give frac sand mining operations, railroad, trucking and petroleum interests “a voice at the Capitol.” She blogged about it, sent emails and contacted City Council members.

The council instituted a moratorium, studied silica sand mining and, in October, passed an ordinance that makes such mining essentially impossible within city limits. Overland said this remains an economic, safety, health, land-use and power issue for all of Goodhue County.

“This has just got my blood boiling, how dare he,” Overland said.

Barring Egan’s resignation or ouster by council vote, Hanson said his plan is to get the ball rolling and let the steering committee take the lead.

“My personal hope is that the added pressure of a real recall will create positive change for this community,” Hanson said.

Now from the Rochester Post Bulletin:

Our View: Red Wing mayor shouldn’t serve two masters

Posted: Friday, February 8, 2013 3:04 pm

Red Wing Mayor Dennis Egan says he doesn’t see a conflict interest between his new job as a lobbyist for the frac-sand industry and his role as an elected official.

The trouble is, a lot of people do.

One Red Wing resident described the situation succinctly. “How can you represent citizens and the industry at the same time?” asked John Tittle, a member of Save the Bluffs, a citizen’s group opposed to frac mining. “It seems like it would be a conflict. It seems kind of obvious.”

Egan said there are no applications before the city for frac-sand facilities and, more important, the city passed an ordinance in October that essentially bans frac-sand mining. If a new frac-sand project is proposed, Egan said he will recuse himself from the discussion.

“In my mind, there’s not a conflict,” Egan said.

Still, the Red Wing mayor’s role as executive director for the Minnesota Industrial Sand Council — a consortium of aggregate, trucking and petroleum companies with interests in frac sand and gravel — raises pertinent questions about whether he can balance his employer’s interests with his community’s.

The Mississippi River corridor is in the heart of the frac-sand boom. More than 100 silica mines and processing facilities have been permitted during the last four years in southeastern Minnesota and western Wisconsin. The region has rich deposits of silica sand, the hard, round grains used in hydraulic fracturing — commonly known as “fracking” — to tap hard-to-reach oil and natural gas deposits.

Regulation of the frac industry so far has been largely left up to county, city and township governments, several of which have declared moratoriums of silica mining and processing while the environmental concerns are studied. At the state level, a Minnesota Senate committee has scheduled a Feb. 19 hearing for bills on sand mining.

Red Wing City Council President Lisa Bayley said part of the agenda for this coming Monday’s council meeting is to discuss what position the city should take on frac-sand issues at the Legislature. Will Egan, who has registered in St. Paul to lobby for the sand council, recuse himself from that discussion?

Bayley and another city council member, Peggy Rehder, said Red Wing will continue to deal with issues regarding truck traffic and barge loading of frac sand from the city-owned dock. Will Egan, whose new employers rely on trucking and shipping to move silica sand, recuse himself from those discussions, too?

Rehder, a former lobbyist, said she wants the city attorney to issue an opinion as to whether the mayor has a legal conflict of interest.

“Would I ever be a lobbyist and hold public office at the same time?” Rehder said. “No.”

We agree with Rehder. Despite Egan’s explanation, he must avoid even the appearance of a conflict of interest. And it’s not as if he’s a lame-duck mayor with little time left in office. He was re-elected in November, so he could be wearing two hats for a long time.

And on to the letters.  The next two are a hoot, because Steve Murphy and I are actually agreeing on something.  As I told the Council, if Steve Murphy and I agree on something it must be right.

Letter: Council should act if Egan won’t

Shame on lobbyist-Mayor Dennis Egan. It’s time for him to resign. If not, it’s time to eject “our” mayor from office. By: Carol A. Overland, The Republican Eagle

To the Editor: Shame on lobbyist-Mayor Dennis Egan. It’s time for him to resign. If not, it’s time to eject “our” mayor from office.

Why? Because he’s lobbying as the executive director of the “Minnesota Industrial Sand Council. Egan isn’t speaking for us or the city of Red Wing. Egan is the voice of frac sand interests.

Frac sand has been before the city of Red Wing, first as a moratorium and then as an ordinance. It remains an economic, safety, health, land-use and power issue for our city and county.

Politics in Minnesota reported formation of the Minnesota Industrial Sand Council to give frac sand mining operations, railroad, trucking and petroleum interests “a voice at the Capitol.” “Our” mayor is executive director of that voice.

Under the City Charter, our mayor has duties and responsibilities as the titular head, recognized as the official head of the city for all ceremonial purposes, to review city operations and make recommendations as he/she believes to be desirable and to review concerns on city activities raised by citizens and make recommendations as he/she believes desirable as to any corrective actions necessary.

Egan is to be representing voter constituents. We didn’t elect frac sand interests to be mayor. The ethics should prevent this representational conflict, but instead he’s taken the position as the frac sand industry’s lobbying arm, and he’s putting the call of the sand industry, and their money, in conflict with his duties as the titular head of the city. That’s wrong.

The city can act when an elected official puts his own interests or those of another in conflict with his duties to the city, or has the cloak of his elected position at the same time as he is paid to gain access or favor for a private interest. An elected official may be removed for cause (Charter, Section 2.05), and the City may also initiate an “Investigation of City Affairs” (Charter, Section 2.09). The Charter also authorizes Recall of the Mayor (Section 6.13-6.18).

Mayor Egan, resign. If not, it’s time for the city of Red Wing to act.

Carol A. Overland

Red Wing

And now Steve Murphy’s editorial:

Letter: City painted with political disdain

The recent developments surrounding the mayor of Red Wing and his employment with the sand mining industry as a paid lobbyist are extremely troubling. It matters not how you feel about the issue of frac sand mining or the use of hydraulic fracturing to harvest gas and oil; the distressing concern at hand is both a matter of law and one of integrity. By: Steve Murphy, The Republican Eagle

To the Editor:

The recent developments surrounding the mayor of Red Wing and his employment with the sand mining industry as a paid lobbyist are extremely troubling. It matters not how you feel about the issue of frac sand mining or the use of hydraulic fracturing to harvest gas and oil; the distressing concern at hand is both a matter of law and one of integrity.

I cannot claim to be an expert in the matter of conflict-of-interest issues. But, during the dry-cask storage debates of the early ‘90s I was accused of having a “conflict of interest” because of my employment with NSP.

The resulting lawsuit was hauled in front of the Minnesota Supreme Court, where the legal opinion rendered by Chief Justice Kathleen Blatz absolved me of any conflict. In the opinion of the court, the conflict standard was not met due to the fact that I was not making any financial gain — not in retirement payouts or medical plans or hourly pay, nothing. Also, the outcome of the overall nuclear debate, whether or not to shutdown nuclear power in Minnesota, did not impact my employment with NSP.

Neither of these instances holds true in Dennis Egan’s case.

I have heard Egan’s reasoning for not stepping down as mayor. His reasoning is simply ridiculous.

Because of the mayor’s actions, damage is being done to the stellar reputation that Red Wing and its residents have earned from people all across our state. It is also painting the elected members of the City Council with the same brush of political disdain.

The profession of lobbyist is already under assault. For those many lobbyists who are above-board and provide factual, accurate and comprehensive information to elected office holders and the public, this is giving them yet another black-eye.

Egan should either immediately resign as mayor of Red Wing or void his contract with the sand mining industry. Not to do so is unethical and a breach of public trust.

Steve Murphy

St. Paul

Steve Murphy formerly represented the Red Wing area in the Minnesota Senate.