Menahga prohibits unauthorized recordings by city officials
The new bylaw prohibits city elected officials from electronically recording any meetings related to city activities. It states that “electronic recording that is not authorized by the city council” creates “data practices, records retention, employment and other liability issues for the city.”
The Menahga City Council incorporated criteria for city officials’ recording of city meetings as part of its bylaws on Tuesday, May 31.
It states that “electronic recording that is not authorized by the city council” creates “data practices, records retention, employment and other liability issues for the city.”
The bylaw prohibits city elected officials from electronically recording any meetings related to city activities.
It further says that any city elected official that has electronically recorded any meeting related to city activities must provide the original recording to the city administrator and not retain any copy to ensure compliance with Minnesota data and records laws.
Flouting a city resolution that forbids unauthorized recordings, council member Art Huebner has live streamed the city council meetings to his personal Facebook page since March.
On Tuesday, Huebner claimed it was “unconstitutional” to stop anyone from recording a public meeting.
Mayor Liz Olson replied, “The attorneys did do this resolution. ”Then I’m afraid the attorney is wrong,” Huebner said.
The bylaw passed 3-2, with Huebner and council member Robyn Keranen opposed.
In other business, the council did as follows:
- Received a report from League of Minnesota Cities (LMC) collaboration services manager Aimee Gourlay. After interviewing council members and city staff, Gourlay said all eight agreed that the highest priority for the city council is to have accurate and complete financial information. Seven agreed that “acting consistently with the roles and responsibilities of each leadership position” was important. Six said that solid administration/human resources practices and maintaining a respectful tone at council meetings was important. No interest was expressed in moving forward with LMC collaboration services.
- Changed the terms of an internal loan. In 2012, $98,638 was used from the general fund for construction of the bathrooms at the city campground. The city “loaned” the money to the city parks fund at an interest rate of 2.3%. Interim City Administrator Betty Thomsen said it was discovered that loan payments have not been made since 2019. She recommended extending the duration of the loan by four years, from Feb. 1, 2028 to Feb. 1, 2032, in order to reduce the annual loan payment to $7,829.
- Accepted West Central Telephone Association’s quote of $3,880 to install five cameras at the public works building. Three are outdoor cameras and two are indoors. Keranen questioned the purpose of the indoor cameras. Thomsen explained the cameras protect the city if the building is broken into and the equipment is damaged. The motion passed 3-2, with Keranen and Huebner opposed.
- Approved purchasing plants from Greener Tomorrows, at a cost not to exceed $800, that will be placed in city planters. The motion passed 3-1-1, with Huebner opposed and Olson abstaining because she owns Greener Tomorrows. Keranen questioned whether a city should support a business owned by a council member. Olson pointed out the Greener Tomorrows has been supplying the city with plants for 15 years and it is the only greenhouse in town. The council advised Yliniemi to seek bids earlier in the growing season.
- Passed a motion requiring department heads to attend council workshops. They will be paid for the length of time that they report at the meeting, then they are dismissed. A union representative warned this would be an “unfair labor practice change.” The motion passed 3-2, with Hueber and Keranen opposed.
- Agreed to sell a 20-by-140-foot strip of land for $800, based on the Wadena County assessor’s recommendation.
- Received notice from the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development that the Small Cities Development Program Grant has been closed. The city realized a program income of $35,000 which may only be expended in accordance with federal requirements.
- Approved city administrative secretary Dustyne Hewitt to serve as election administrator, Alvina Kytta and Noelle Goriesky as head judges and Carol Ann Cleveland, Larry Murphy and Annamae Holzworth as election judges. They will be paid $15 per hour for training and election hours, plus mileage.
- Declined to regulate the sale of tobacco products within the city, which would involve licensing tobacco retailers. The city currently does not have a tobacco ordinance; rather, it will continue under the auspices of Wadena County.
- Approved a grave site plot location form that would be signed by the city, funeral home and/or a family member to avoid errors in burials.
- Approved squad car decals, at $420 from Innovative Sign & Graffix of Park Rapids.
- Denied an advertising request from Farm and Home Publishers for a plat publication.
- Set Menahga Fire Relief Association meetings for 7:30 p.m. June 21, Sept. 20 and Dec. 20.
The council changed its next regular meeting from Monday, June 13 to Wednesday, June 8 because Thomsen was unavailable. It will still be at 6 p.m. at city hall. The motion passed 4-1, with Huebner opposed.