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Manhattan Beach City Council

Web posted November 14, 2017
By Bill Monroe, Northland Press Correspondent

The Manhattan Beach City Council came a step closer to developing a procedure to determine how to reduce the conflict that arises when preparing City Council agendas at its regular monthly meeting November 7 at Manhattan Beach City Hall. Mayor Paul Allen, Council members Janis Allen, Marlene Yurek, Barb Hanson Wannebo and City Clerk and Treasurer Amy Wannebo were present. Also present was City Attorney Andrew Kalis.

The City’s bylaws direct the City Clerk and the Mayor to prepare the agenda. From time to time the Clerk receives requests from members of the public wishing to be put on the agenda that the Mayor believes do not belong on the agenda. In such cases, the Council votes on whether the agenda item should stand.

It happened again at the November meeting when citizen Doug Wannebo asked the Clerk to place on the agenda discussion of the city’s tax levy. Mayor Allen objected arguing that Wannebo had spoken on the subject at a previous Council meeting and that since the Council would discuss the levy in December, Wannebo should be allowed to speak on the subject then. The two sought the advice of City Attorney Andrew Kalis who said they should allow citizens to address the Council on such matters and so the item was placed on the agenda. But when Mayor Allen asked the Council’s opinion, the vote was to remove the item until the December meeting.

During an Open Forum session, Wannebo said he wanted to talk to the Council about its proposed budget of $70,000 and to request a levy freeze or a rebate of some of the city’s cash reserves, which Wannebo said amount to around $300,000. Since his remarks were made during an Open Forum, Council members had to stick to their policy of not replying to anything said. Had his remarks been made as an agenda item, the Council members could have responded.

At the October meeting, the Council asked Kalis to research policies on developing agendas. He cited several examples provided by the League of Minnesota Cities. He said it was his opinion that the goal should be to encourage public participation by providing a simple way to get something placed on the agenda while prohibiting speakers from saying the same thing meeting after meeting.

Mayor Allen asked if the Council has the authority to set the agenda. Kalis said yes but it’s important to agree on a process to develop an agenda. He said it’s good to have a more liberal policy so people can have the opportunity to be heard. But the Council should set firm time limits for such presentations.

He suggested there should be a deadline for submitting requests to be placed on the agenda so there is sufficient time to prepare the agenda and distribute it to the Council and the public prior to the meeting, he said. “No one person should be able to say someone cannot get on the agenda,” Kalis said. “So long as the subject is relevant to the City’s business,” Mayor Allen said. Kalis agreed.

Kalis said if there is a policy on how people can request to be heard at a meeting and if they are given time limits and not allowed to speak repeatedly on the same subject without bringing up new information on the topic, then there should be little or no conflict in developing the agenda.

The Council asked Kalis to prepare language to be considered at the December meeting to amend the City’s bylaws on writing the agenda. The council would also like to see proposed bylaws language on putting recordings of Council meetings on the City’s website, Open Forum procedures and who has the authority to contact the City Attorney.

Other Business
In other business, the Council:
• Gave the Mayor approval to seek bids on solar speed control signs;

• Gave Paul Davis of the Emily Telephone Company and Crosslake Communications the go-ahead to upgrade the city’s website at a cost of between $500 and $1,500 and to provide training of up to four Council members in two sessions to avoid breaking the Open Meetings Law;

• Tabled a discussion of whether to put recordings of Council minutes on the City’s website until the bylaws have been amended;

• Tabled purchase of a new printer pending review of additional options and

• Gave the Mayor approval to get quotes to survey Satchell and Goldenstein Roads.

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