The Cloquet City Council voted to censure Ward 5 Councilor Steve Langley during its Tuesday, June 18, meeting after allegations of misconduct were substantiated by an independent investigator.
Former Cloquet Police Department Chief Wade Lamirande accused Langley was of eight instances of misconduct.
In a 5-0 vote, the council voted to censure Langley for his behavior and directed him to refrain in similar conduct in the future. Langley was prohibited from voting and Ward 3 Councilor Dakota Koski abstained.
In a complaint filed Jan. 30, Lamirande claimed Langley falsely accused him of crimes. He also claimed Langley engaged in a pattern of intimidation by sending unwanted text messages and contacting Stephanie Hammitt, the interim president of Cloquet's Fond du Lac Tribal and Community College, where Lamirande is the law enforcement program coordinator.
Langley filed a complaint charging Lamirande with assault and disorderly conduct following an argument July 16, 2018, in the parking lot of L&M Fleet Supply in Cloquet. Current CPD Chief Jeff Palmer referred the investigation to the Grand Rapids Police Department.
The independent law firm Dryer and Overom reviewed the Grand Rapids investigation and found insufficient evidence to warrant charges.
Langley filed a second complaint alleging Lamirande was yelling at him during the Cloquet Labor Day Parade on Sept. 4, 2018, but no investigation was initiated.
Independent investigator Michelle Soldo found only two of the eight charges were partially substantiated, including sending unwanted text messages and contacting Hammitt in his capacity as a councilor.
Speaking in his own defense, Langley noted that Lamirande had responded to the text messages and he had never requested that Hamitt fire Lamirande from his position at FDLTCC.
At-Large Councilor Lara Wilkinson said taking no action at all wasn’t an option because it would leave the door open for other councilors to engage in similar conduct.
“With these two claims to which we have evidence, I would be very concerned that this is in the realm of intimidation,” Wilkinson said. “I think it’s really important for the public to feel that they can trust their representatives to represent them and not feel that they will be penalized in any way for expressing an opinion.
"This is of concern to me and I don’t think that we can take a position of inaction because that’s just leaving the door open to any of us — or anyone in the future — to continue intimidating practices," she said. "I think that’s counter to what we’re here to do.”
Ward 2 Councilor Sheila Lamb also noted that it was important offer support to Langley as the council tries to put a number of contentious issues surrounding the CPD behind it and move forward.
“I hope that we as a council will support Councilor Langley in any way he needs so that this doesn’t happen in the future or whatever brought it to this point,” Lamb said. “He would know that there is that support there. It’s been a tough, long road with these issues, but I think it’s important we state that it’s not a personal thing. We’re doing what we need to do because it’s right.”