Council hears more public comments about Sargent
The Maple Grove City Council heard about the winning bid for the future Hwy. 610 project during its Monday, Aug. 18, meeting.
The council also heard several members of the public speak during the open forum regarding councilor Leann Sargent.
Here are some of the highlights from the meeting.
HWY. 610 Bid
City Administrator Al Madsen said the bids came in on the Hwy. 610 project. “The winning bid came in at $80,400,000,” he said.
Madsen added this bid does not 100 percent finish Hwy. 610. “There is probably still another $20 million or $25 million that is going to be needed for interchange work,” he said. “We are getting step by step closer to getting it done.”
Mayor Mark Steffenson said, “That bid was about $20 million to $25 million less than what the anticipated cost was. The state is saving significant monies based on the way its designed, but also the way the city of Maple Grove is helping to get the project done.”
Once again, members from the audience spoke during open forum regarding councilor Sargent. A total of four people spoke, two asking Sargent to step down and two telling Sargent to remain on the council.
Sargent was convicted of a gross misdemeanor for financial exploitation of a vulnerable adult but has vowed to serve the remainder of her term.
Resident Mary Pieri said she felt people were harassing and condemning Sargent. “I do not approve of course, by the decisions made by council member Sargent. But I also strongly disapprove of the methods to taunt and belittle her.”
Pieri also spoke directly to the audience. “I certainly wish you would see yourself as others are seeing you. At the very least you are judgemental, self-righteous and negative. At worst, you appear to me to be bullies. In my opinion, it is never, never okay to be cruel on social media sites and to dig into someone’s business past and accuse without the opportunity of defense … You can only continue to disrupt these council proceedings and bring negative attention to Maple Grove.”
Dave Lunt, resident, also spoke. He stated the Unseat Leann Sargent Facebook page continues to get more “likes” and the word is spreading. He added Senate Dist. 34 Republicans and DFL parties have issued statements supporting the council’s decision to ask for Sargent to resign. “I encourage the mayor and the council to take steps from preventing this from ever happening here again,” he said. “I’m going to contact our state representatives to encourage them to take action as well.”
Lunt added, “We learned in 1993 that Mrs. Sargent was censored, fined and banned from the securities industry for misappropriating client funds.” He also mentioned that Sargent’s real estate license was revoked and she was permanently barred. Lunt asked her to resign now.
Resident Mike Ostaffe read a letter from Commissioner of Commerce Michael Rothman regarding findings of why Sargent’s real estate license was revoked on May 20. The letter said that Sargent “provided false information under oath to the U.S. Bankruptcy Court by failing to disclose earned and unearned assets thereby engaging in a practice which demonstrates that [Sargent] is untrustworthy, financially irresponsible and otherwise incompetent and unqualified to act under license under the commissioner in violation of Minnesota state statute.”
Joy Schwartz, a former neighbor of Sargent’s father Bob. “I knew her as a daughter,” she said. “She is the one I saw repeatedly at her [father’s] house.”
She added Sargent’s father was quite competent when he was alive. Schwartz said Bob chose Sargent to the executor of his estate for a reason. “I don’t know how many of you in this room have ever had the responsibility of being an executor or have cared for an ailing parent,” she said.
Schwartz went on to say, “I have not seen her lash out at other people. I have seen her care for her father in hospice care. I admire Leann for what she’s been able to do for her father. I think it is unfortunate that a family squabble has become public knowledge and that her name has been dragged through the mud. I hope that doesn’t happen to any of you in the future.”
In other action, the council:
HEARD from the newly crowned Maple Grove Ambassadors, Kathryn Fox, Ellen Grabinski and Jillian Klasen. The Ambassadors spoke about the events they had participated during the last month and upcoming events, which include Mommy, Me and Tea and the Polar Plunge.
AUTHORIZED the recruitment process for a police officer position in the Police Department due to the resignation of Mark Ringgenberg, which was accepted with an effective date of Aug. 29.
ACCEPTED the resignation of Jaime Renner from the Maple Grove Transit Commission.