The Cloquet City Council has launched another investigation - this time into one of its own.
In a decision Tuesday, March 19, the council ordered an outside investigation into eight allegations of misconduct against Ward 5 Councilor Steve Langley made by former Cloquet Police Department Chief Wade Lamirande. The vote was unnopposed, but Ward 3 Councilor Dakota Koski abstained as a result of a personal relationship with Langley and Ward 1 Councilor Warren Carlson was absent.
In a complaint filed Jan. 30, Lamirande claimed Langley falsely accused him of crimes and engaged in a pattern of intimidation by contacting Stephanie Hammitt, the interim president of Cloquet's Fond du Lac Tribal and Community College, where Lamirande is the law enforcement program coordinator, among other allegations.
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 GRPD 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.
Robert Scott, an attorney from Flaherty & Hood in St. Paul who specializing in municipal law, told the councilors they should consider each of Lamirande's allegations as if they are 100 percent true and decide if the allegations violated the Cloquet City Council Values Statement adopted by the board in December 2015.
If the council concluded the allegations violated the statement, the council could order an outside investigation or investigate the matter itself.
Ward 4 Councilor Kerry Kolodge said he believes all eight allegations rise to the level of violations and the council should allow an outside investigation.
"I think in looking at those allegations, in my mind, at least I feel there were some things violated as far as the Council Values Statement, so I'm OK to go toward looking into those as a whole and not trying to separate each one of them out," Kolodge said. "We are not able to do an investigation on our own...we can't do that, there's no way we can do that as a council. There's too much emotion, there's too much water under the bridge for us to do that ourselves. This has to be done by somebody else in my opinion."
The city plans to use Michelle Soldo to investigate the claims against Langley, an investigation he encouraged.
"I actually welcome the investigation - I really do," Langley told the council. "It will show that these allegations are false and I think that will be proven with an investigation."
Soldo is also handling the investigation into Lamirande's complaints against three other city employees. In a separate complaint also filed Jan. 30, Lamirande leveled accusations of misconduct against Palmer, Cloquet City Administrator Aaron Reeves and Assistant City Administrator James Barclay.
Soldo was previously hired to conduct an investigation into Steve Stracek, Lamirande's replacement as CPD chief.
Stracek was hired as the CPD chief after Lamriande's retirement in 2014. Stracek was placed on administrative leave following a special meeting March 16, 2017, while Soldo conducted an investigation into allegations contained in a "vote of no confidence" filed by the Teamsters Local 346, which represents CPD officers and sergeants.
After a lengthy investigation, Stracek was exonerated of the allegations, but also retired as chief.