The Crow Wing County Human Rights Commission was abolished by a 4-1 vote of the Crow Wing County Board on Oct. 11.
The controversial action, which drew about 40 people to the board room for a two-hour hearing, was ended by a 4-1 vote of the board. Commissioner Rachel Reabe Nystrom cast the sole vote opposing the bid to shut the panel down.
Human Rights Commission Chairman Josh Heintzeman and his wife, Secretary Keri Heintzeman, were among those who had previously told the board they thought the commission could be disbanded. Critics said the panel had seen difficulty in get quorums and didn’t have many successes.
County Commissioner Rosemary Franzen said at the hearing there were only two counties in the state with such commissions.
In a side issue, the Heintzemans had reported to police that a member of the commission, Taylor Stevenson, had made threatening comments aimed at county commissioners after the board had voted to consider disbanding the Human Rights Commission. Stevenson said he didn’t remember exactly what he said but that he probably said something he shouldn’t have and he apologized for it.
Crow Wing County Attorney Don Ryan announced in November that he would not bring charges in the case because there was no basis upon which to bring criminal charges of terroristic threats. While Ryan said inappropriate comments were made by Stevenson the comments did not rise to the level of criminal conduct.
Josh Heintzeman said Ryan’s decision to not prosecute Stevenson was fraudulent and made him feel less confident in the county’s legal system and less safe.