Video camera interrupts county meetingThe county commissioners’ meeting on Tuesday, April 10, was fairly routine. Commissioners heard from the sheriff’s office, social services, land and resources and talked finances. There was, however, a portion that didn’t quite fit into the agenda.
By: Crystal Dey, Alexandria Echo Press
The county commissioners’ meeting on Tuesday, April 10, was fairly routine. Commissioners heard from the sheriff’s office, social services, land and resources and talked finances. There was, however, a portion that didn’t quite fit into the agenda.
Chairman Jerry Johnson was in mid-sentence announcing a closed session when all of a sudden a man appeared before the commissioners brandishing a video camera.
Alan Roebke had a few questions for the commissioners and pointedly at County Coordinator Bill Schalow. Roebke’s main concerns were closed session talks and the lack of video coverage of the commissioners’ meetings.
Last fall, the Echo Press made mention of Roebke’s attempt to record the commissioner’s dealings. Roebke has attended and recorded a meeting since that issue went to print.
Now, signs are posted outside the Commissioner’s Room in the courthouse prohibiting video recording equipment within the chamber. Schalow consulted the Attorney General’s office, which said the county is within its right to prevent disruptive behavior during meetings.
The board is, and has been, looking into video recording and broadcast of meetings. All meetings are audio recorded, and are available to the public after a period of two years.
Closed session negotiations are not open to the public per Minnesota statute. The Minnesota Open Meeting Law states: “A meeting may be closed to discuss labor negotiations.”
Roebke was interested in an agenda item that indicated it was protected by Minnesota Statute 13D and would involve discussing labor negotiations.
After Roebke made his case over the course of more than 20 minutes, the commissioners went into closed session. Upon return to the open meeting, Johnson stated that Roebke will need to request to be added to the agenda if he wishes to bring future concerns before the board.
Retirees are making way for new hires at Social Services. Mike Woods, Social Services director, requested authorization to fill a social worker and a financial worker vacancy. The board concurred.
Woods said he had originally intended to ask for the board’s permission to alleviate some of the paperwork processed by his staff until people are hired to fill open positions. One way of doing that was to temporarily cease processing MinnesotaCare applications.
“My staff stepped forward and said ‘we think it’s in the best interest of the people we serve to keep processing applications,’” Woods said.
Commissioners accepted two donations to the sheriff’s office at the board meeting on April 10. A $2,500 anonymous donation was made specifically for the department to purchase additional automated external defibrillators (AEDs). Sheriff Troy Wolbersen said the donation will allow for the acquisition of three devices. “We will now have one in every patrol vehicle,” Wolbersen said.
AEDs are computerized devices that can determine if a shock is needed in the event of a sudden cardiac arrest.
BlackRidgeBANK contributed $75 for DARE graduation.
Commissioners met with Carolyn Drude of Ehlers and Nate Meyer, chief financial officer of Douglas County Hospital (DCH), to discuss using bonds to pay for upcoming projects.
So far in 2012 the county has not issued any bonds, said County Auditor Char Rosenow.
Because of the county umbrella over DCH, and the pending merger with the Alexandria Clinic, the potential to bond for future plans was researched.
In order to qualify for bank-qualified bonds, an amount cannot exceed $10 million. Bank-qualified bonds are generally more attractive to investors and have a lower interest rate.
DCH projects will be paid from the revenues of the hospital. The county’s bonding is paid by levy. “Nothing has been approved by the hospital board at this point,” Meyer said.
Rosenow said the county will discuss bonding in the fall and it is too early to tell if bonds will be issued this year.