During last week's Little Falls council meeting City Attorney Toni Wetzel reported that the League of Minnesota Cities (LMC) advised the city that they were likely violating the "due process" of residents when they shovel or mow private property without permission and then bill the resident. Wetzel advised the city to begin holding hearings at city hall for residents who fail to mow or shovel or to begin an abatement process on a case by case basis at the cost of $300.00 per incident.
This is a significant pending change. It also makes an alarming statement regarding the legal implications of the city's history of handling such matters. What's more alarming is that this segment of the council meeting went unreported by the Morrison County Record (MCR).
The MCR has a long history of insulating government, elected officials, select area businesses and area nonprofits by handpicking what not to report. Earlier this year the MCR reported the forced shutdown and liquidation of St. Francis Credit Union by the FBI as an "acquisition". Elected officials notorious for tantrums and outbursts during council meetings are presented to the community by the MCR as respectful and polite.
Despite the LCM earlier advice that municipalities stop paying tax dollars to area newspapers for publishing public notices, Little Falls City Council voted to continue paying tens of thousands of dollars each year to the MCR as opposed to moving the notices to a free website. Is media bias and censorship the price this community pays for city funding of the MCR? Perhaps the MCR would fulfill its function in the democratic process by accurately educating the electorate and acting as watchdog rather than lapdog if it was forced back to the business of selling news rather than sucking up for its free ride on taxpayers.
Jody Scott Olson