At the end of its regular meeting today the Brainerd City Council will go into a closed session to discuss a proposed settlement with a peace group that was prohibited from marching in the Brainerd Fourth of July parade.
The Brainerd Area Coalition for Peace is pursuing a settlement of claims with the city concerning the decision of Brainerd and Brainerd Community Action to bar it from the 2003 parade.
Larry Fisk, BACP spokesman, has said the city's and Brainerd Community Action's decision to bar the peace group from the parade violated that group's and its members' rights to free speech.
BACP has filed no lawsuit. In a phone interview today, Fisk said he couldn't discuss the specifics of the proposed settlement but he is hoping for a rapid resolution.
"We're looking now to attempt to settle without litigation," said Fisk. "If they accept our basic requests, hopefully we will avoid litigation. Our feeling has been their attorney has been fairly amenable to what we're asking for. Hopefully (the attorneys) are hammering out the finer points, hopefully."
Terry McCollough, Brainerd Dispatch publisher, said the newspaper would challenge the closed session.
"We're going to continue to challenge the closure of meetings until the city can show us why this discussion must be conducted in secrecy," he said. "What better place to have a discussion of a free speech issue than in public."
He said the newspaper would never challenge an attorney-client closed session if a lawsuit was filed but this case falls far short of that.
The anti-war group is working with an attorney from the Minnesota Civil Liberties Union. The city is represented by attorney Clifford Green of the Twin Cities. Green was unavailable for comment today.
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