The Greenfield City Council conducted its last meeting of the year Dec. 18, and kicked things off with a plaque presentation recognizing Mayor Jerry Hertaus.
Councilor Brad Johnson remarked that Hertaus had accomplished much on behalf of the city in his role as mayor and in his years on the city’s planning commission, most notably work on the Comprehensive Land Use Plan, which has been met with some success in moving the city toward density rezoning to attract development. Johnson added that the council’s meetings have been cordial and business like, allowing the city to recoup a substantial piece of the League of Minnesota Cities Insurance Trust coverage lost in 2009.
Hertaus credited he city’s successes to the council, whose members he said displayed the ability to “agree to disagree in matters important to the city,” allowing city business to be handled at meetings with decorum and tolerance.
Hertaus will begin his term as a Minnesota State Representative for District 33A in January, and as the first state-level elected official from the city.
At its Dec. 4 meeting, the council was presented with a resolution to reappoint sitting commissioner, Chuck Tryon, to the Greenfield Planning Commission.
Subsequent discussion by council led to the question, posed first by Councilor Tom Cook, of a potential conflict of interest with Tryon serving as a school board member for the Rockford Area Schools. Councilor Mike Erickson added his concerns citing a previous council meeting at which Tryon addressed the council during discussion involving a grant for a new ball field with Greenfield Park as the proposed site; in particular, a question posed to him regarding a potential district referendum.
Action to appoint Tryon was tabled, and staff was directed to create a transcript of the portion of the Oct. 4, 2011, council meeting that dealt with the grant, and develop a timeline of district meetings/actions prefacing action to put the referendum on the ballot for voter consideration in February 2012. Council’s intention was to readdress this matter at its next meeting.
An agenda relating to a commission appointment at the Dec. 18 meeting resulted in no action being taken.
Annette Tryon was present and asked to read a letter to the Greenfield City Council, written by her husband regarding the planning commission appointment, into the meeting record since he was unable to attend.
“Gentleman: I missed the December 4, 2012 City Council meeting due to a scheduling conflict. I have listened to the audio recording of that meeting and, additionally, to the audio of the October 4, 2011, City Council meeting. Unfortunately, I am again not able to attend this meeting tonight due to a School Board related meeting. I have asked Annette to read the following comments:
“The question of ‘conflict of interest’ brought forward by Councilman Cook is one that I researched after being elected to the Rockford School Board. I was elected to the School Board by the voters of Greenfield, Rockford, Corcoran and Rockford Township. I found no potential for a conflict of interest and that ethical work could be done for both the School Board and Planning Commission. I feel strongly that I have served the City well for a combination of nine years on the Planning Commission.
“The questions from Councilman Erickson regarding my honesty are of great concern to me. In my personal life, business life, volunteer life and public service life, I have never had my honesty, ethics or moral character questioned. The question posed by Councilman Johnson regarding the issue of a bond referendum was answered truthfully Oct. 4, 2011. The Rockford School Board voted on a Resolution relating to the Issuance of a School Building Bond and Calling and Election Thereon Oct. 17, 2011; 13 days after the Oct. 4 City Council meeting. (p.5, School Board minutes of Oct. 17, 2011). In reply to Councilman Johnson’s question regarding a possible bond referendum, I answered truthfully that a bond referendum might be needed for roof or boiler replacement (refer to transcript from October 4, 2011 CC meeting).
“I mistakenly thought that the instances of slandering, vindictiveness and just plain bad manners were over in this City. I was wrong.
“I request that my name be withdrawn from consideration for re-appointment to the Greenfield Planning Commission. I feel my years of service and volunteering have been a waste. I will no longer be involved in any capacity in the City of Greenfield. In addition, I am disappointed that time has been wasted once again on pettiness and contentiousness when the City Council could make better use of all our time by addressing more important matters.
“The City of Greenfield needs good people, willing to work together in harmony for positive and healthy growth. I wish you all well in the future.
“Respectfully submitted, Chuck Tryon”
Annette Tryon further addressed the council with remarks primarily directed to Erickson, detailing some of her husband’s accomplishments, experiences on boards, and reputation for honesty. She stated that the city would now lose two volunteers, herself and her husband. She also told the council that it should consider adopting a policy that clearly outlines what is acceptable for a public service candidate regarding seats on other area entities, avoiding a situation like this in the future.
Erickson, responding at Tryon’s request, countered by acknowledging her husband for his service and noting that he, Erickson, had supported his appointments to the commission in the past. He added that he’d spent many hours thinking about the matter, and listening to the tapes, and did not feel he could support Tryon for another term with the possibility of a conflict of interest present in his decision-making.
The planning commission will now have two open seats.
In closing, Hertaus said that he hoped future council work would be done to build up Capitol Improvement Funds pertaining to street improvements, as well as setting an assessment policy to be in place when development picks up in the city.
The next regularly scheduled meeting of the Greenfield City Council is Tuesday, Jan. 15, at 7 p.m. at 6390 Town Hall Dr.
On Monday, Jan. 7, from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. at the same location, the city will host an open house with an “oath of office” ceremony at 6 p.m.