Open Forum for week of Sept. 5

EDITOR’S NOTE: Letters will be accepted for the Open Forum for publication in the next available issue after receipt. Letters may be sent to Forest Lake Times, 880 SW 15th St., Forest Lake, or by e-mail to clint.riese@ecm-inc.com. Letters should not exceed 250 words and must be signed with the writer’s name, address and telephone number. Deadline is noon Monday. The newspaper reserves the right to edit letters and assure that rules of libel and good taste are not violated.

 

Good Plan, Good Effort

I am one of the 372 people who voted “yes” in the Wyoming bond issue on Aug. 27.

I wish to express my thanks to Mayor Eric Peterson for his great efforts on our behalf.

His long-term plan for street improvement and upkeep is a splendid one. His great efforts to jump-start that plan by issuing a bond to cover the “catch-up” upgrading of the older parts of the city were impressive. Again, many thanks for his personal commitment of time and effort on our behalf.

By setting money aside for continual improvement, none of the newer parts of the city will fall into such disrepair as those in Heritage Heights have.

It is unfortunate that the more than 500 “no” voters couldn’t see that we will be putting money aside for their future upkeep and that the degradation of any part of the city affects them.

My corner lot has 285 feet of street frontage and our one-block-long Finley Avenue north of Viking has not been resurfaced since 1977.

If we are assessed for replacement of streets our city has let fall into disrepair, they will benefit from that, also.

Eric Peterson appreciated all of these points and has worked very hard on the behalf of all the residents of Wyoming.

And so, again, many thanks, Mayor Eric Peterson.

Dolores Weeda
Wyoming

 

Who Should Choose?

As many of you read in last week’s paper, Jeff Klein stepped down from his position on the City Council. While Mr. Klein and I haven’t always seen eye to eye on politics, I applaud his resolve to place his family first in making his decision to resign.

The matter of who will replace Mr. Klein appears to be the next great test of our leadership in this city.  The mayor and city administration have already begun their campaign to appoint Mr. Klein’s successor, and you shouldn’t be fooled by the pomp and circumstance. The council is very unlikely to agree on a replacement, meaning that Mayor Johnson will happily pick one of his friends and big-government allies to appoint to the vacated seat.

I want everyone to remember that the mayor and Councilperson Young just voted to raise revenues (taxes) to the city by 12.4 percent at the last council meeting when they all of a sudden become outraged at the suggestion that the city spend 0.1 percent of the annual budget in holding a special election this year rather than wait for next year.

The decision that is before all of us is this: Is it better for our government to concentrate power in the hands of one person when there is no reason that the people couldn’t speak in such an important matter? Mayor Johnson, I call on you to have a special election in 2013 so that the people can choose the successor to Mr. Klein’s vacated seat.

Cameron Piper
Forest Lake

  • Eric Langness

    Cameron Piper – You nailed it on this letter! As a fiscal conservative I hesitate on spending money unnecessarily but do believe that since we have elected officials that make all the important city decisions and the only true say the public ever gets is electing their council/mayor, they should have that opportunity now that a position is before us. Sadly, I anticipate our big government spending mayor to take the ‘low road’ and put in one of his buddies…

  • Jay Lad

    I agree Dolores Weeda on Mayor Eric Peterson’s tremendous efforts on trying to find a long-term plan for Wyoming’s street issues. As you pointed out, there is a huge disparity when it comes to private property street frontage throughout the City. Nevertheless the future now rests solely, on the tried and true method of individual assessments (typically no more then 33% of total project costs) tempered against the participating city paying for the remainder (typically 66% to 75% of assessed project costs). The assessment way, as we will now come to understand, still requires either bonding or a stiff increase in taxes or a occasional city-wide onetime special assessment (as has been done in the past for major projects). This to raise funds for the City’s share of the road work. Some citizens, who opposed the Mayor’s recommended plan, scoff that additional tax dollars will be needed. Instead, Dolores, they feel you and the neighbors across from you, will foot the entire cost of your own street improvements. I doubt you could be expected to come up with a $50,000 payment (or more) for your 285′ feet of street frontage, if the cost were put all on you and two or three other neighbors (they paying the same percentage times per-foot formula on street exposure). Regardless, by the time the truth in taxation hearing is held, I think all will, begin, to accept the new, hard reality, of just what street assessments mean. Bottom line, the battle is over as the voters have spoken. Now it’s just a matter of working out the details.

  • Food on a Stick

    I smell another frivolous lawsuit in the cooking

    • Cameron Piper

      Unlike The Mayor and his friends on The Council, there are those in this city who don’t believe that the law should be cooked, bent and twisted in order to build our own fiefdom. The statutes pertaining to this matter are very clear, and in my opinion concentrate far too much power in the hands of one person. That said, if the law is clear there is no reason to involve the courts in a matter.

      The Northland Mall Litigation which is the obvious subject of your post is progressing through the MN Court of Appeals and to date has yet to be dismissed as frivolous. Sadly whomever you are, it is apparent that you would rather throw out baseless accusations, rather than actually dig into what took place with the Northland Mall.

      For anyone that is interested in finding out what is taking place, please give me a call at 612-839-4202 and I will happily email you a copy of the three (Including the City’s) appellate briefs so that you can read what took place for yourself.

  • Food on a Stick

    Accusation? Don’t be so defensive

    • Cameron Piper

      Defensive? Don’t be so ignorant. The lawsuit isn’t frivolous – do yourself a favor and actually read the case and you will understand why.

      • Food on a Stick

        Name calling – Classy

        Just because people don’t agree doesn’t mean they are ignorant

        I happen to believe we elect people to make decisions and if we don’t like those decisions we vote them out

        If your lawsuit prevails and they broke the law, so be it; you will justified

        My guess is the courts will rule they didn’t and your lawsuit will have cost the taxpayers thousands of dollars

        If so, I hope you and your gang consider paying the city back

        Your comment reminded me of something a wise 1st grader told me when I was 6 years old
        sticks and stones may break your bones, but names will never hurt you

        • Cameron Piper

          Definition of Ignorance:

          1. lack of knowledge
          2. unawareness of something, often of something important

          Used in a sentence:

          Because he hadn’t read the lawsuit, Food on a stick was
          ignorant of the true facts surrounding the Northland Mall litigation.

          And I’m the defensive one?

          • Food on a Stick

            Both you and Mr. Piper both read a lot into things and make
            way to many assumptions,

            What is most humorous about you two is my comment was a sarcastic comment about frivolous lawsuits and the city council vacancy. Somehow you both jump the gun into a completely different subject and make the assumption that I am in favor of the new city hall and for some reason name
            calling.

            Here’s a couple of definitions that come to mind

            Arrogant (adjective) – proudly contemptuous
            + feeling or showing self-importance and contempt or disregard for others

            Defensive – quick to justify
            + aiming to deflect or avoid perceived criticism

            Mr. Piper, considering your letter was about the council
            vacancy and my original post was directed at that letter, defensive seems to be a bit of a understatement

          • Cameron Piper

            Don’t try to back yourself out of your statements now. Whether the comment was sarcastic or not is of no matter, the fact is you made the comment. You and I both know that what you said was aimed at the council vacancy but was rooted in your displeasure for what is taking place in the courts surrounding the Northland Mall Project.

            I reacted the way I reacted because the frivolity of the suit is an oft cited complaint of those who oppose the suit and are in favor of the city hall complex (something that is easily deduced by reading your other posts). The statement has absolutely no merit and whether it was sarcastic is of little concern to me at this time.

          • http://www.EricLangness.com/ Eric Langness

            Frivolous lawsuits simply do not reach the Supreme Court. In the words of the last judge this case isripe for just that. Secondly, frivolous lawsuits are tossed out but in fact this one has had ruling that in part favor both sides of the debate.

            Sue Happy is a term indicative of obtaining wealth from another party. In this case the citizen’s suit actually does not ask for any monetary damages. They are in fact trying for a greater good to set precedence, have a clear understanding of the law settled in court and are simply asking for a vote by the public. That vote could support or deny the project but they do feel it is a necessary vote.

          • Food on a Stick

            No more lawsuit if they didn’t appeal; thrown out seems to fit

          • Food on a Stick

            FYI – I posted the links to the studies about the Clear Lake/Winnick runoff issue on the comment section of the
            FL sets preliminary levy increase of 12.2 percent
            By Clint Riese on September 4, 2013 at 10:21 am
            article.
            Slanderous statements?

          • Cameron Piper

            Thank you for correcting my err – slander is the wrong term, libel is more appropriate.

            Libel: a published false statement that is damaging to a person’s reputation; a written defamation.

          • Jay Lad

            Very clever comeback Cameron, you score points for that, issue aside

        • http://www.EricLangness.com/ Eric Langness

          Stating a fact, that you’re ignorant, isn’t ‘name calling’ but rather pointing out that you’ve chosen to not obtain all the information.

          You clearly have issue with understanding facts, such as your ‘name calling’ of Cameron and referring to ‘his group’ as a gang. I assure you he’s not in a gang nor does he have appointed or purchased ownership of any group of people.

          Work on your facts a little bit more before you start spreading your ignorance further.

          • Food on a Stick

            Gang – people who enjoy each other’s company
            +a group of people with similar interest who like to spend time
            together

          • http://www.EricLangness.com/ Eric Langness

            Turns out your ignorant on the alternate meanings of gang as well.

  • Food on a Stick

    Like I said classy; you have no knowledge whatsoever of if I’ve read the lawsuit or me

    Apparently the fact that so far it has been dismissed and has to be appealed has sunk in yet that there is a strong possibility you are wrong

    Unless of course you do not believe in our judicial system

    Like I said time will tell; still hoping that you will pay back the taxpayers of FL if your lawsuit continues to get thrown out

    • Cameron Piper

      Thrown out? Dismissed? Now I know that you haven’t followed any of what has taken place. The district court verdict could not have gone any better for those that filed the lawsuit. You can accuse me of not understanding who you are, but then again I don’t see the need to hide behind a pseudonym. People might care more about who you are and your comments if you had the courage to attach your name to them.

  • Food on a Stick

    You have no idea if I think there is a need for a new city hall; no need to back away, my comments were directed at our sue crazed society

    assumption

    – the act of assuming or taking for granted
    – the act of taking possession of or power over something
    – audacious (even arrogant) behavior that you have no right to

    The last one is my favorite

    “The lawsuit couldn’t have gone any better”? If so, why is it you and your gang had to appeal and not the city?

    Why no comment about Councilman Winnick and your prove me wrong comment

    Has far as hiding, when there are far right and left nuts out there that are opposed to everything (even like people challenging the truthfulness of letter writers); I error on the side of my family. I am starting to think that shoe may fit you. You for one are a name caller and hurl insults and then deny or try to justify it. You are becoming the Max A of the right wing

    • Cassi Piper

      FOT,

      An easy way to correct any assumptions would be for you to simply state where you stand on the Northland Mall lawsuit and the call for a special election to fill Klein’s council seat. If you are against both, then Cameron’s assumptions are correct and we can move on with an open and honest debate on the issues. If you are for them, then there is no need to continue this string of dialogue.

      Cameron and I did take the time to go over the links that you posted regarding Winnick supply and your assertion that this business is polluting the Clear Lake watershed.

      Firstly, I do not consider newspaper articles to be objective renderings of fact so I am going to throw out the links to local press. The overall conclusion of the remaining studies is that there is too much phosphorus flowing into the “Winnick Ditch”. (Please be mindful that this ditch runs between Winnick Supply and the Northland Mall property and could just as easily be called the “Northland Mall Ditch”.) The studies further state that runoff from Winnick Supply is not the only source of runoff (and therefore pollutants) in the Winnick Ditch. In fact there are several districts (including the St Peter’s District from across Highway 61) that flow into the Winnick Ditch.

      The most common source of phosphorus in water supplies is lawn fertilizer. This makes sense as the majority of districts that flow into the Winnick Ditch are residential areas. Unless Mr. Winnick is fertilizing his scrap piles, it is highly more likely that the pollution in the Winnick Ditch is coming from the other districts.

      It should be noted that none of the studies drew any conclusions as to where exactly the phosphorus was coming from, merely that it was there. To assume that the sole or main polluter of the ditch is Winnick Supply without further testing and studies showing exactly where the phosphorus is coming from is premature at best.

      As for the Northland Mall lawsuit, in spite of what our local papers would have residents believe, we won a huge victory when the court determined we did not need to post a bond to continue with an appeal in order for the merits of our case to be heard. (It should be noted that the merits of our case were not fully presented at the district court level as the focus was on whether or not we would be forced to post a bond to cover potential damages to the city.) At the appellate level, the full merits of both sides will have the opportunity to be presented and a decision based on those merits can be made. Cameron would be more than happy to forward you the briefings to the court from both sides if you would like to see for yourself what the merits are.

      As his wife I stand behind Cameron’s use of his own name while debating issues that are important to him. Putting your name on something creates credibility and accountability. It would have been easy for him (and me) to create a pseudonym given the highly contentious issues we have found ourselves involved in but we both believe that if something is worth fighting for than we should be willing to attach our names to our views. One may argue that we might be putting our family at risk unnecessarily. I would argue that we are teaching our kids to stand strong in their beliefs.

      Most Sincerely,
      Cassi Piper

      • Food on a Stick

        Spin City

        A huge victory would have been the city appealing the lawsuit.
        Mr Piper wrote “Thrown out? Dismissed? Now I know that you haven’t followed any of what has taken place. The district court verdict could not have gone any better for those that filed the lawsuit.”
        Your husband is implying that this lawsuit continued on it’s own; if it hadn’t been appealed by him and his gang, wouldn’t it have gone away?

        Your husband assumed my position on the city hall, the comment was a sarcastic comment about the sue crazy society we live in.
        I need not correct anything about what I wrote about my position on city hall; your husband should stop assuming, name calling and being so defensive.

        Clear Lake – your husband basically said I made up the info that there were pollution studies about Winnick’s property: I did not and posted the links to prove it.

        Thank you for taking the time to look at the Clear Lake studies; although it seems a bit concerning you so casually write off what is reported about Mr. Winnick’s property and the runoff going into Clear Lake.

        A source is a source, the property looks like a junkyard with piles of who knows what paralleling the ditches in question; take a walk on the bikeway to the west of the property and then talk to the residents near the area and on Clear Lake. Listen to what they have to say after there is a heavy rain or heavy snow melt.

        It is great you want to teach your children to stand up for what they (you) believe in. I don’t know if turning a blind eye to a real (pollution) issue just because you and your husband are opposed to the city hall is standing up.
        I also hope you set a good example of paying back the taxpayers if your lawsuit is ultimately thrown out.

        Mr. Piper wrote “People might care more about who you are and your comments if you had the courage to attach your name to them.”

        Funny, you’ve been responding to me for over a week

        • Cameron Piper

          1. Huge Victory: I never stated that the lawsuit continued on its own. I simply stated that “my gang’s” trip to the district court wasn’t as ill-fated as you lead on (“dismissed”, and “thrown out”). This isn’t the first case where similar funding mechanisms have been litigated, but where our case has departed from those that went before us, is that we were not required to post a surety bond. Each of the previous cases were stopped prior to a hearing on the merits because they got hung up in pretrial procedural maneuvers arguing about bonds, we didn’t, and that is a huge victory.

          Additionally the case wasn’t thrown out, there was a hearing on the surety bond and the judge found for summary judgment without hearing the merits of the case. The only thing that was argued was the bond requirement and he found that in our favor, the remaining facts were “ripe for appeal” according to the judge’s written opinion and that is exactly what we did. Any attempt to twist those facts to say that “my gang” was thrown out of court is either a distortion of the truth or a gross misunderstanding (I will avoid the word ignorance as it appears to be inflammatory) of what took place, and since I don’t know who you are, I can’t say which it is.

          2. Position on the city hall: My “assumptions” were taken from your comments on the FL Times article about the 12.2% Levy Increase. It is obvious to me after reading those comments that you dislike Councilman Winnick and you think that he shouldn’t be allowed to vote on the New City Hall Project. As a citizen of this city I think it is perfectly within your right to hold those opinions. However, holding those opinions and contriving a reason to disqualify a Council member (and then posting it in a public forum) implies a greater than just passing interest in the Northland Mall Project. If your comments were attempting to disqualify Johnson or Young, I would assume that you were against the project. Since you are attempting to disqualify Mr. Winnick, it naturally follows that you have more than just a passing interest (why take the time to post on a public forum if it is just a casual interest?) in the project and since you are arguing to disqualify a person who has been very vocally against the project, it also follows that you support the project. Its simple logic really.

          With all of that in mind. I read you comment regarding the frivolity of the lawsuit and made a couple of inferences. First, you stated that you smell “another” frivolous lawsuit cooking. To have another, implies that there was one preceding. Knowing your more than passing feelings in support of the Northland Mall Project I made the broad leap of logic to assume that you feel “my gang” and I filed frivolous litigation there as well. Oddly you and I likely agree on our feelings that our society is a little too quick to run to court. Where we likely disagree is that my litmus test for whether or not something should be litigated is based on whether there is a true question of law at play, and not whether the suit would get in the way of one of my personal prerogatives.

          3. Clear Lake – I didn’t say you made up the studies. I said I didn’t think that you had any real evidence to support your accusations. I did an exhaustive review of the links you posted about Mr. Winnick’s business and as I suspected, most of what was brought forward was outdated (you do realize that Mr. Winnick recently remodeled and was required to contain runoff on site, but of course you do), and was mere conjecture and not actual evidence. A more detailed analysis of my thoughts can be found on the other post.

          4. Junkyard – One thing that we haven’t discussed is this idea that Mr. Winnick’s business has to somehow meet your personal standard of cleanliness. You state “the property looks like a junkyard”. I have news for you, the business is a junkyard and it is to the best of my knowledge a perfectly acceptable use for the current zoning of that property. What is it about our Nanny State Society that we all want to run around and tell everyone else what to do with their life and their property? Mr. Winnick and his family have run their business in this town for many years and who are you and I to tell them what it should look like? If you don’t care for the appearance – don’t shop there, but beyond that, it is his property and his business, and last time I checked we still live in a free society (albeit the very last vestiges).

          5. My kids – who are you to dictate what my kids should be learning? The best part about having kids in this country is that as their parents we are free to grow them up and mold them in any way that we see fit. As an aside, I think you completely missed my wife’s point about teaching our kids to stand up for what they believe in. It had nothing to do with the Northland Mall, your opinion (or mine for that matter) about pollution, or even Mr. Winnick, it was about not cowering in the shadows and hurling comments into the public sphere while fearing the repercussions.

          6. Pay back the taxpayers – the idea is so ridiculous that I actually got a small chuckle while reading it. Something tells me that Chris Johnson, Jeff Klein, and Susan Young won’t be reimbursing us from their personal checkbooks if they lose, so if its all the same I hope that we can dispense with the obvious double standard and end the conversation there. By the way, the city is only paying fraction of the costs and the money they use for that comes straight from my wallet (and yours if you live in the city). A bit hypocritical that they will happily spend our money to make sure that we can’t talk about how our money is spent.

          7. Responses – I enjoy the debate. As evidenced by the vast following and multiple newly engaged commentators to this post, I don’t know that either of us could claim to be changing the tide of perception in this town with this conversation. That said, I do stand by my original statement. Your opinion is far more credible when a person is allowed to weigh its source and the personal agenda along with its content. I’ve made very few friends in this town by making the statements that I have over the last year, but thankfully none of that matters. I will continue to stand up for what I believe and proudly place my name next to it, regardless of who does or does not like me as a result. I guess for me the popularity contest ended when I graduated from highschool.

          • Food on a Stick

            Arrogant (adjective) – proudly contemptuous
            + feeling or showing self-importance and contempt or disregard for others

            I rest my case; even the 2012 study on the run off issue you blow off. Outdated information? 2012

            Huge victory? Never heard of a huge lawsuit victory that would only continue if it is appealed to a higher court

            You still have no idea if I’m for or against the new city hall; you are still assuming (I’m against legislating by lawsuit; minority rule so to speak)
            Mr. Winnick’s property; you make yourself less credible with your comments about its appearance and run off issues. Your right, it is a lovely piece of property and it is just wonderful that a junkyard (now your term) eventually drains into a lake. For the record, I’m for stopping run off pollution into Clear Lake

            You said about my thoughts on Councilman Winnick abstaining and jumping to the conclusion (assuming) that I support the new city hall “Its simple logic really”
            Isn’t it logical that an elected city official abstain from voting on anything that may add or detract to/from the value of his property? Or maybe incur an expense if the run off issue needs to be corrected and he is required to make changes to his property. By the way, Councilman Winnick is an elected public official. By virtue of his position, he is fair game for comment in a public forum and considering his property borders the new city hall, especially so in this case.
            Your wife brought up your kids; my point was a Life Lesson; we don’t live in a “nanny” state, pay your own way; pay the legal cost if the law suit is dismissed again. The FL taxpayers shouldn’t have to pay the legal fees for a small group of people who want to legislate by lawsuit

            Mr. Piper said “People might care more about who you are and your comments if you had the courage to attach your name to them”

            Funny, you seem to care
            Defensive – quick to justify
            + aiming to deflect or avoid perceived criticism

          • Cameron Piper

            As is the natural course of most internet based debates, one party (in this case, me) will tire of the discussion and discontinue the conversation. I’ll give you the last word, but unless you can actually address something of substance that will move the conversation forward rather than rehashing the same post ideas over and over, I’ve lost interest.

            I find it ironic that on numerous occasions you have taken the opportunity to let me know that I am defensive, arrogant, and overly presumptive – yet you also lament that I have resorted to classless name calling – aren’t you doing the same thing? You accuse me of being presumptive because I read a few of your posts and make inferences on your position in a matter, yet you read my posts and presume to know my personality. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t care in the least if you think that I am arrogant (even if that is in your mind an arrogant statement), you and I have never met, how could possibly know anything about me?

            I posted my complete thoughts on the Clear Lake studies that you posted as a response to your posting that included the links themselves. To date you haven’t responded. If you would like to continue that discussion lets continue it there.

            http://forestlaketimes.com/2013/09/04/fl-sets-preliminary-levy-increase-12-2-percent/

            You continue to point out that I have no idea what your opinion on the city hall complex is or whether you have read the actual lawsuit. At first your point was valid but as my wife so eloquently pointed out 2 weeks ago, there is a real simple solution to that issue, tell us where you stand – or don’t for that matter, but your attempt to play the middle ground does nothing to further the conversation. Take a stand and defend it, or don’t take a stand but then what in the world is the point of discussing it any further? Frankly it reminds me quite a bit of the way a City Council member who recently resigned used to always try to have the middle ground by never taking a stand on anything.

            Councilman Winnick is absolutely fair game for public criticism, but as much as you have a right to berate him, I have the same right to defend – others can then read the conversation and decide where they stand. It would appear however that your litmus test for whether a councilperson should abstain would exclude nearly every council member on nearly every vote of significance. Bonding issue, all council members who live in Forest Lake are disqualified because the outcome would affect their property value. New comp plan or zoning regulation, all council members are disqualified because those items affect everyone’s property value.

            I’ve already addressed your assertion that I should repay the legal costs of The City as a blatant double standard, yet rather than respond to that, you continue to say it over and over. No matter how many times you say it, I will not be reimbursing The City for their legal costs because Council members Johnson, Young and Klein will not be reimbursing me if they lose.

            You can say that the lawsuit was dismissed over and over again as well, but it won’t add one shred of credibility or truth to the statement. The suit was not dismissed and is so UN-frivolous that judge Hoffman specifically stated that it was “ripe for appeal.” This last week we found out that the MN Court of Appeals has now reviewed the briefs that were submitted and has agreed to hear oral arguments in November. Why are they continuing with such a frivolous case?

            Legislate by lawsuit – ironic since the only thing that will take place if the suit prevails is that the people will get to vote on the complex. Then again you would know that since you have taken the time to review the case.

  • Food on a Stick

    Clint Riese
    News Editor

    Matters regarding the city’s plan to build a municipal campus at 1432 S. Lake St. are headed back to court.

    The plaintiffs in a recent lawsuit against the city of Forest Lake and its Economic Development Authority last Wednesday served Washington County District Court a notice of appeal to the Minnesota Court of Appeals. Lakes Area Business Association, Cameron Piper, Cassandra Piper and William Anderson also requested accelerated review of their appeal by the Minnesota Supreme Court.

    The city and EDA last month were granted summary judgment in 10th Judicial District Court. However, Judge John C. Hoffman called the dispute a pure legal issue that is “ripe for appellate review.”

    The plaintiffs foresee the appeal being a landmark case with statewide implications.

    “This case involves a serious dispute by the parties as to the proper interpretation of the statutes governing public funding of municipal ‘capital improvements,’” stated the petition to the Supreme Court submitted by attorneys Frederic Knaak and Wayne Holstad. “The District Court properly recognized that this is the appropriate case for a clarification of these statutes for the benefit of municipalities and the taxpayers.”

    At Issue

    The plaintiffs argue that state law was violated when the EDA in January issued more than $22 million in lease revenue bonds rather than having the city issue capital improvement bonds to fund a new public safety/city hall facility.

    “The procedure adopted by the city was a deliberate scheme to avoid taxpayer scrutiny and review,” the request to the Supreme Court said.

    In addition, the plaintiffs argue that the city, by denying a petition for an election on the bond issuance, failed to comply with state law.

    “The statutory requirements at issue need to be interpreted so that the taxpayers and the municipal corporations have the certainty to understand when an election is required for approval of public projects,” the request said.

    At the district court level, Judge Hoffman ruled that the city was not required to hold a referendum on the bond issuance.

    Regarding the assertion that the EDA’s bond issuance went against state statutes, Hoffman disagreed and wrote that, in fact, municipalities are provided flexibility from statutes that “intersect and seem to be complementary to each other.”

    City Stance

    News of the appeal came up at Monday night’s EDA and City Council meetings.

    Ben Winnick, a member of both boards, during the council meeting questioned the city’s plan, seeing as the litigation timeline will likely overlap with that of the facility’s design, bidding and construction.

    “Before we get to that point, we should know, are we just going to barrel straight forward and keep spending money or, this building we’re building for the next 40-50 years, can we step it back a month and wait or see,” Winnick said.

    Mayor Chris Johnson said that even if the case was fast-tracked, it would likely take at least six months for a ruling. The awarding of building contracts is scheduled for August.

    “I think we need to talk about that. … I think we need to look at those expenditures and timelines and make sure we’re doing the responsible thing,” Winnick said.

    City Administrator Aaron Parrish said he would try to schedule a closed session where the EDA and City Council could hear from James Thompson, the attorney handling the case’s defense.

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