RED WING — "What I am pretty clear on here is my colleagues and I have not violated the Open Meeting Law," said Red Wing City Council member Evan Brown.
Brown was vocal in his stance against the recall effort Monday night as the city council voted 6-1 against calling a special election.
The Recall City Hall committee had turned in enough valid signatures to recall council members Becky Norton, Andy Klitzke and Laurel Stinson. However, City Attorney Amy Mace said the recall petition was not valid because the alleged reason for the recall did not meet the state's definition of malfeasance or nonfeasance, and the incidents where the committee claimed wrongdoing were valid closed sessions according to the state's open meeting law.
Furthermore, Mace said in order for violations of the open meeting law to qualify as malfeasance or nonfeasance, the council members would have had to been found guilty of three violations of the law. So far, she said, no court has found them guilty of anything.
Supporters of the recall did not give up, with several commenting that members of the council were not making good on promises, and one claiming that Mace's advice amounts to misinformation, and saying a court battle between the city and the recall committee would cost the city more money than simply holding a recall election.
The city council was not without its supporters as well. Several gave their unqualified support of all seven members of the city council, and they made complaints that the recall effort has already cost the city too much in money and time.
"These petitions are holding our town hostage for months now," said Ceri Everett.
Recall leader George Hintz addressed the council, saying, "The city attorney's legal analysis does not apply to Red Wing and demonstrates a clear misunderstanding of our city charter. We are confident the courts will uphold our position at the highest level."
While Brown, Norton and council member Dean Hove spoke against the recall, member Kim Beise took an opposite stand.
"I really feel the group followed what’s in our charter," Beise said. "I’m not 100 percent sure we haven’t violated the open meeting law in one of these cases, and I question the validity of us voting in the process of this."
The recall committee has said on social media that it will bring completed petitions against other members of the city council after it fixes items on those petitions, so the city council will face another vote regarding those members at an upcoming meeting.