To the Editor:
I should not have gone into the Cloquet City Council meeting Tuesday expecting much. This was a city council that may have violated the state public meeting law, put out a police chief with nary a public explanation, and cost the city tens of thousands of dollars in an investigation that found no evidence of misconduct or mismanagement. This was an investigation that not only found Chief Stracek had an open door policy for grievances, but that members of the city council actively colluded with members of the police department!
Yet somehow — following a discussion that revealed staff had quit the Cloquet Police Department at least in part due to mistreatment based on their support of Chief Stracek, that 14 letters of recommendation had spontaneously appeared in front of the council despite no decision having been reached about the chief position, and the contentious, testy, angry, bullying of opposing council members that left Cloquet's mayor looking foolish and irate — the representative government of this city honestly thought it appropriate to select a new police chief with no public comment, weeks ahead of its schedule.
Imagine my shock. A closed meeting caused this fiasco and ended a career in the first place. A second decision without public input has further eroded the trust the citizens of this city have in their government. So yes, to quote one council member, "angry Facebook posts" will come from this decision, but the representatives of this city who voted "yea" should understand that posts usually come from voters, and these voters will likely make a very open decision come election season.
The interim chief's leadership and policing results were not the question. The question was in the leadership of the council and whether they truly cared about public input in the debate. I proudly stand with the council members who opposed this decision, and am angered by this end result.