1. Call to Order. The regular meeting of the Council of the City of Rogers was called to order by Mayor Grimm on Tuesday, March 22, 2011 at 7:00 p.m. at Rogers Community Center, 21201 Memorial Drive, Rogers, MN, 55374.
Council present: Jay Bunting, Jason Grimm, Rick Ihli, and Maureen Stanley.
Council excused: Rob Bell.
Staff present: Stacy Doboszenski, Assistant City Administrator; Brad Feist, Fire Chief; Rose Lorsung, City Planner; John Seifert, Public Works Supt.; Steve Stahmer, City Administrator; John Thames, City Attorney; Bret Weiss, City Engineer; and Lisa Wieland, Finance Director.
2. Open Forum.
Chris Larabee, 13209 Oakwood Drive
Mr. Larabee read the following prepared statement to the Council:
March 22, 2011
Mayor and City Council Members:
I volunteered to be a member of the Rogers Police Commission over two years ago.
Chief Luther is the backbone of the Police Commission, as he is for the Police Department. Chief Luther is a true leader and has compassion for his job and the City of Rogers. Chief Luther strives for professionalism and accepts nothing less. His 30 years of law enforcement experience with a flawless discipline record speaks for itself.
I have known Sgt. Pitts for over 20 years, I worked with her father when he was the Chief of Police in Olivia Minnesota, I worked with Sgt. Pitts as a Police Officer, Investigator and Sergeant. Sgt. Pitts is a good friend, she is also a true professional with high moral and professional standards.
Allegations against both of these officers with over 50 years of combined service is an insult and inexcusable. I also call into question whether the allegations justify being placed on administrative leave. When words like “corruption” are used to describe a police officers actions, the first thought would be “what did they steal”. I would ask that whoever chose the word “corruption” to release to the press, that in the future, they choose their words wisely. The word “corruption” is not only harmful, but bring the dignity of the City of Rogers and the Police Department down with it. Remember, these officers have families outside of being police officers. Chief Luther has a wife, two grown children and a young son. Sgt. Pitts has a husband, daughter and son.
Can you imagine what their families have gone through since their faces in uniform were plastered all over the television for everyone to see. I will not support a city and its government, that treats their employees as Chief Luther and Sgt. Pitts have been treated.
As a city council, your job is to report the truth, make decisions that will impact the city and to be fiscally responsible. By having Chief Luther and Sgt. Pitts on administrative leave, your decisions are costing taxpayers over $12,000.00 per month plus benefits. This is not being fiscally responsible. Not to mention the staffing at the police department. My understanding is that morale, and staffing levels are low, this is concerning as a citizen of the community.
As a result of the questionable allegations, and subsequent investigation against Sgt. Pitts and Chief Luther, I am resigning my position with the Rogers Police Commission effective immediately. I would ask that you reinstate Chief Luther and Sgt. Pitts from their administrative leave.
13209 Oakwood Dr.
Rogers, MN 55374
Lorin Kramer, 13137 Curry Court
Mr. Kramer read the following prepared statement to the Council:
March 22, 2011
To: The Mayor and City Council Members of the City of Rogers
From: Lorin Kramer
Subject: Resignation from the Rogers Police Commission
When I interviewed for a position on the Rogers Police Comm., I was asked, “why do you want to be a member of the Comm.?”
My answer was, “because with my almost 40 years of law enforcement experience, I feel I am in an excellent position to give back something to the community; I think I can help make a difference.”
My enthusiasm was dashed a bit, when I learned of my appointment to the Comm., by reading about it in the Star News.
I thought to myself, “this is not the way you do things; I hope this is not a harbinger of things to come.” Fast forward to today, the “harbinger,” has brought more than I ever expected.
What is taking place at the Rogers Police Dept., largely, if not wholly, could only be done with the majority blessing of the Rogers City Council, and is wrong. It reeks of politics, and is nothing new. What’s happening is a “preemptive strike,” being fired at the Chief, et. al.; in other words, if whomever, can discredit the Chief and Sgt. Pitts before they can bring discipline to bear against other dept. members-I mean, isn’t that what this is all about? Then certainly they, the Chief and Sgt. Pitts, must be wrong and, any allegations of officer misconduct must be without merit.
Mr. Mayor and members of the Rogers City Council, it you do not think that the reputation of the Rogers Police Dept., and Rogers City Council has been called in to question, then think again. Police depts.., no matter where or what size; word of officer incidents, administrative response and City Council actions, spread faster than rumors at a church supper.
The law enforcement world is a very small one. Would you be shocked if I told you that cops talk? They talk to each other, they talk inter and intra-dept. The officer that was told not to talk about an issue; if the issue is another law enforcement member being-pardon the less than professional descrip0tion-screwed over, they’re going to talk. When some one is being wronged, cops are going to talk to other cops, and word is going to get back to your cops, “they are out to get you, watch out!”
You can’t fool cops! When you spend your life investigating the “why,” of things, you ask questions. You start asking questions like:
Why did Chief Luther suddenly fall under the microscope?
• After a confrontation with the Assistant Fire Chief at the scene of a motor vehicle accident
• After the arrest of the Assistant Fire Chief
• After the investigation of a highly publicized pursuit and subsequent crash, revealed that crucial facts were withheld
• After Chief Luther initiated termination procedures against two police dept. members
• Why are complaints from incidents that occurred one and two years ago, just now being made against the Chief. The allegation of misconduct made against Sgt. Pitts stems from an incident occurring in January, 2010
• Why is Sherburne County investigating the complaints against the Chief and not Hennepin County?
• Was staff from Sherburne Co. vetted to insure that there was no connection, personally or professionally, between any officers being investigated?
Mr. Mayor and members of the Rogers City Council, I would respectfully suggest, that the timing of allegations of misconduct against the Chief, is highly suspect and I promise you, because it’s a very small law enforcement world, if any of my previously stated concerns reveals anything other than honorable conduct by all parties involved, the damage to this city’s honor and reputation will be unrepairable.
There is an old saying, “it is never right, to do wrong, the ends never justify the means.” I urge the Rogers City Council to do the right thing and stop this train-wreck in the making, before it leaves the tracks. If you do not, your actions will leave a legacy that will not soon be forgotten. How do you ever expect to hire and retain the above average officers that we have come to expect at the City of Rogers, if they know that all that is necessary to get rid of them, is to dredge up some incident that they responded to; a year ago, two years ago, five years ago-deem their conduct inappropriate, and move to terminate them?
The incident that clarified for me, the necessity to resign from the Rogers Police Comm., was when a neighbor of mine, saw Channel 5’s story the first night it aired, reporting that Chief Luther and Sgt. Pitts were placed on administrative leave. My neighbor approached me and asked, “what’s going on at the Rogers Police Dept.?” I asked, looking like a complete fool, “nothing that I know of, why?” My neighbor said, “the news just showed Chief Luther and Sgt. Pitt’s photo together and said that they were being investigated for corruption, are they having an affair?” I assured my neighbor, they are not.
To be put in that situation was embarrassing to say very least. For me, a trusted member of the Rogers Police Comm., to hear that the Chief of police and a police supervisor were placed on admin. leave from a neighbor, much like my appointment to the Rogers Police Comm. is unacceptable. To continue my association with the Rogers Police Comm., given the current atmosphere would be an acquiesce of a situation I find deplorable.
Please accept this notification as my resignation from the Rogers Police Comm., effective immediately.
4. Approve agenda.
No items were added to the agenda. Agenda was set as submitted.
5. Consent Agenda.
5.01 Approval of Minutes March 8, 2011 City Council Work Session and March 8, 2011 City Council Meeting
5.02 Approval of Bills and Claims
5.03 Declaration of Restricted Covenants - Edgewater Wetland Mitigation
5.04 Approval of Resolution No. 2011-06, A Resolution Requesting an Advance from the Municipal State Aid Street Fund for Calendar Year 2011 for the 129th Avenue Reconstruction Project
Bunting moved, Ihli seconded a motion to approve the consent agenda. Motion carried 4-0.
6. Public Hearings
7. General Business
7.01 Approval of Ordinance No. 2011-03, Rezoning Orderly Annexed Phase II Land Within the City of Rogers from Agriculture to R-2, R-3, R-4, RE-5, MU-N, LI and B-2 Pursuant to the 2010-2030 Adopted Comprehensive Plan and Summary Ordinance
Planner Lorsung addressed the Council on the proposed Ordinance to rezone annexed properties. Lorsung stated notices were mailed and the Planning Commission meeting was well attended with great discussion, thoughtful comments, and the Planning Commission did recommend approval with one change to the Malmbourg’s nursery site. The owners of the nursery were present and had a discussion on not needing the industrial zoning district being proposed. After some discussion, the Planning Commission recommends retaining the agricultural zoning district for the site.
Each property owner was mailed an individual notice so they understood exactly what they were being rezoned to.
Grimm asked if basically everybody in attendance didn’t have a lot of debate. Lorsung stated there were good questions, spent a lot of time answering the questions raised, and everything seemed quite good after that discussion.
Bunting moved, Ihli seconded a motion adopting Ordinance No. 2011 -03, An Ordinance Rezoning Orderly Annexed Phase II Land Within the City of Rogers from Agriculture to R-2, R-3, R-4, RE-5, MU-N, LI and B-2 Pursuant to the 2010-2030 Adopted Comprehensive plan. Motion carried 4-0.
7.02 Approval of Site Plan Review for the Hennepin County Cell Tower (Res. 2011-07)
Planner Lorsung stated a public hearing was held at the Planning Commission and no comments were made. Lorsung stated the Planning Commission recommends approval of cell tower subject to one condition; coniferous trees around the six foot fencing.
John Gunderson from Hennepin County was present to answer any questions.
Bunting moved, Stanley seconded a motion to approve Resolution No. 2011 – 07, A Resolution Granting Site Plan Approval to Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office for the Construction of a Cell Tower for Public Purpose at Property Located at 22350 South Diamond Lake Road, Rogers, Minnesota, with the condition of the coniferous trees. Motion carried 4-0.
7.03 Approval of Proposal for Engineering Services for the preparation of a 2011 Surface Transportation Program (STP) Funding Application for the Fletcher Bypass Project
Engineer Weiss addressed the Council regarding the proposed application for STP Funding for the Fletcher Bypass Project for years 2015 and 2016. Weiss stated this project is high on the Council’s list of transportation projects to be completed. Weiss stated he is seeking approval of an $8000 proposal, funded by TIF 1. Applications are due July 18th with a final decision in late 2011 or January 2012. Staff believes it has a good opportunity to win funding.
Grimm questioned how supportive Hennepin County is in this project. Weiss stated Hennepin County has the project in their plan as a provisional project, but with no funding. Hennepin County does recognize this is a project that needs to be done, and when completed they would turn Main Street back to the City. Staff stated they will seek a letter of support from Hennepin County and Commissioner Johnson.
Bunting stated it continues to be in the City’s benefit to line up these projects. Bunting commented on the Brockton interchange coming into play with this project being completed.
Bunting moved, Stanley seconded a motion to approve the proposal from WSB & Associates, Inc. in the amount of $8,000 for providing professional engineering services as they relate to the preparation of a 2011 STP Funding Application for the Fletcher Bypass Project; funding from TIF 1. Motion carried 4-0.
8. Other Business
9. Correspondence and Reports
• January Financial Report
No action taken.
Bunting moved, Ihli seconded a motion to adjourn at 7:25 p.m. Motion carried 4-0.
Assistant City Administrator/Clerk