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BRAINERD CITY COUNCIL: Resident gets public apology from mayor

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news Brainerd, 56401
Brainerd MN 506 James St. / PO Box 974 56401

Brainerd resident Jeff Czeczok waited almost two months for Mayor James Wallin to publicly apologize for statements Wallin made at the council’s Feb. 22 meeting. 

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The public apology didn’t happen, and Czeczok on Monday brought his grievance to the Brainerd City Council during the council’s public forum. 

Czeczok was appointed to the Transportation Committee Feb. 22. At the meeting, Wallin said if Czeczok was appointed he’d like proof that Czeczok completed the anger management course he was asked to take after he threatened a council member in 2003. In court proceedings following that incident, Czeczok pleaded guilty to misdemeanor disorderly conduct but was never ordered by a judge to attend an anger management class, which the Dispatch incorrectly stated in the story detailing Czeczok’s appointment at the Feb. 22 meeting. 

In recommending Czeczok, council member Kevin Goedker said the northeast Brainerd resident has been the most consistent and knowledgeable constituent the council member has had in the past six years.

On Monday, Czeczok said he didn’t want to be in front of the council about the issue but he wanted the truth, and an apology, to be made public. He said Wallin had apologized by email. 

“I came here tonight because it’s overdue,” Czeczok said. “I’ve been waiting and waiting and waiting.”

Council President Mary Koep said she didn’t allow a personal attack by Czeczok. He said it wasn’t an attack but a statement of fact.

Wallin responded Monday, saying though anger management classes weren’t ordered Czeczok still should have attended them. He said he wouldn’t have appointed Czeczok to any committee until he had taken one. 

“You still lack control over your anger. Enough said,” Wallin said. 

Council member Bob Olson, who attended Czeczok’s court hearings in 2003, said Wallin’s Feb. 22 comments were out of line and Czeczok had a right to address that with the council.  Czeczok said there were plenty of things he could be criticized for without resorting to fabrication. 

Wallin said his statement was not based on something in writing but from statements he’d heard from others. He said if it made Czeczok feel better, he apologized for that. Czeczok said the apology should have happened before Monday. 

In other action, the council:

Accepted a summary of conclusions from the April 12 performance evaluation of City Administrator Dan Vogt. Koep said Vogt was given high marks for his initiatives during the budget crisis, for being well organized, for following through with council and public requests and for general proficiency and professionalism. 

Vogt also was credited for a good working relationship with staff, good leadership and for the professional appearance of staff. Koep said Vogt was urged to provide more precise financial information when making recommendations and to get out into the field with city departments occasionally. 

“It was agreed that Dan has served the city well and his ability to listen and get along with all council members is appreciated,” Koep said. 

Vogt thanked the council for the evaluation.

Approved the 5 Points Partnership joint purchasing agreement with Baxter, Crow Wing County, Baxter School District and Central Lakes College. The purpose is to form a collaborative to save money in purchasing on items used by all entities. 

Approved a $258,000 grant to hire two full-time fire equipment operators for two years. The firefighters would fill positions left by retirements. The city, as previously believed, will not have to fund the third year of employment. The motion was approved with the understanding that the two firefighters hired, Cory Zeien and Clinton Langerud could not be paid on-call firefighters, which both currently are. 

Heard presentations from Sheila Haverkamp, executive director of Brainerd Lakes Area Economic Development Corp., and DeAnn Barry and Kathy Tusa of the Lakes Area Senior Activity Center. 

MATT ERICKSON may be reached at matt.erickson@brainerddispatch.com or 855-5857.

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