LETTER: Remember how the city got here
To the Editor:
It has been nearly two months since the Cloquet police chief was placed on paid administrative leave and Sgt. Palmer was appointed interim police chief by the city council. Two city council members were on pre-planned vacations.
Because a complaint (a vote of no confidence in the police chief) was filed by the Cloquet police union, the meeting was closed (questionable) to discuss the complaint. Neither the complainant nor the police chief were present to answer questions. The city council (after lengthy debate) and mayor voted to place the police chief on paid administrative leave when the meeting was reopened.
They held a second vote to appoint an interim police chief. The police department has one chief and two commanders. One of the commanders was the obvious choice to become the interim chief. However, Councilor Langley made a motion to appoint Sgt. Palmer as the interim chief. After a lengthy silence with no second, Mayor Hallback seconded the motion. Why?
This vote was 2-2 among the councilors, with the mayor (a retired Cloquet police officer) the deciding vote. Connect the dots.
The vote of no confidence by the police union may have been the result of the police chief working to make changes and improvements directed by the previous mayor and city council when he was hired. These include abuse of sick leave, overtime and accountability, to mention just a few in the 72-page report.
Three weeks before the vote of no confidence, the police chief presented a progress report to the city council and mayor regarding the suggested changes.
If the full council had been present and the mayor had recused himself — abstained from the entire proceeding due to the appearance of a conflict of interest — and the acting mayor had presided over the closed meeting, we PROBABLY would not be where we are now.
The city has hired a firm to investigate the charges and report back to the city council.
We must not let this be forgotten.