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Library board violated open-meetings law

KASSON — The city of Kasson has been notified that the library board did not comply with the state "sunshine law" when members met on Oct. 21.

The library board called an emergency meeting that day to discuss terminating an employee, but the state commissioner of administration has determined that the meeting was not in fact an emergency meeting.

The opinion states: "Emergency meetings should be used rarely and for circumstances where public safety is jeopardized."

Because the meeting was not an emergency meeting, proper public notice should have been given.

City Administrator Randy Lenth informed the library board of the definition of an emergency meeting and was assured that the failure to notify the public would not occur again.


The commissioner also determined that the library board erred in not recording four closed meetings during which the employee’s job performance was discussed. The board may choose to not record a closed meeting if attorney-client privilege is cited but, in these four meetings, that was not the case.

Members of the library board were again counseled by Lenth and have acknowledged they were not in compliance with the public records law. They will avoid similar situations in the future.

The law requiring recording closed meetings was changed in 2010, Lenth said.

During a Kasson City Council meeting on March 21, a Kasson resident commented that meetings used to last much longer, and Mayor Tim Tjosaas replied that a lot of the city business was conducted through email.

During a later phone conversation, Lenth explained, "We’re very careful that we don’t discuss city business with the entire council through email. Every other Friday, I do send out an update of citizen inquiries or happenings that council members may get calls on. No one ever responds to those. I do email the mayor every day. I do make connections with council members all the time. But, the full council does not go back and forth about issues via email."

Lenth talked further about the open meeting law and public records law. "You always work to not violate the spirit of the law. In court cases there’s the letter of the law but as long as you’re trying to work with the spirit of the law, courts are generally sympathetic to cities. Nothing is intentional. It’s important trying not to keep secrets."

The council meets again at 6 p.m. April 11 at city hall.

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