Letter to the editor

To the editor,

On Oct. 10, 2017, Tom Dougherty made a proposal to the Ranier Council regarding a safe harbor/transient dock. Mayor (Dennis) Wagner stated this was a “progressive idea.” “Councilmember (Todd) Coulombe suggested forming a committee of interested parties to discuss the type of dock and amenities we would want. Coulombe, (City Administrator Sherill) Gautreaux and Dougherty will work together to recruit stakeholders and set up a meeting.”

On Dec. 21, 2017, the minutes of the Ranier Council reflect that the Safe Harbor/Transient Dock steering committee met on Dec. 6, 2017, to begin discussion of the proposed project. The council voted unanimously to proceed with further exploration of the proposal.

On Jan. 10, 2018, Tom Dougherty and AMI Engineering representatives gave a presentation to the Ranier Council Committee of the Whole. “Mayor Wagner stated that if the council agrees to go ahead with planning, we would need to have a advisory board in place, draw up an engagement letter and grant application.”

At the Jan. 18, 2018, meeting the Ranier Council made a motion and it was carried unanimously to designate members to standing committees. Seven committees were listed including the Safe Harbor/Transient Dock Committee which designated Councilmembers Todd Coulombe and Ron Wilcox and City Administrator Sherill Gautreaux to serve on this committee.

Violations of the Minnesota Open Meeting Law (MN Statute 13D):

1. There was no public posting made available to residents of Ranier to participate in this steering committee. Residents and non-residents, with rare exception, were selected based on their business interests. (“Stakeholders” — 10/10/17)

2. There were no public postings of these meetings so residents were unaware of the meetings or that they could attend. Several meetings of the steering committee were held from 2017 – 2020. “Minnesota’s Open Meeting Law, which the state first enacted in 1957, applies to all branches and levels of government, including committees, subcommittees, boards, departments and commissions.” (MN Post 2/4/20 – Jessica Lee)

3. Would the LCCMR (Legislative -Citizen Commission on Minnesota Resources) have recommended funding of these Ranier projects if they were aware of repeated violations of the Open Meeting Law?

4. Would the Minnesota Legislature and governor have approved funding of these Ranier projects if they were aware of the repeated violations of the Open Meeting Law?

5. Should the Ranier Council attorney respond openly to the citizens of Ranier regarding these violations?

Sue Swendsen

Ranier, MN