The gavel fell just once in the Brainerd Council Chamber Tuesday night as a discussion of the city's transportation coordinator ranged beyond his recent resignation.
The council voted to accept Larry Nadeau's letter of resignation and cut his remaining time on the job down to a two-week notice -- effective Feb. 21. In his resignation letter, Nadeau asked that his last day be March 7.
Council President Jim Dehen said discussion should involve the resignation not Nadeau's comments about it. Council member Bob Olson said he wanted to make comments on what Nadeau said in The Dispatch Sunday.
Dehen said he did not believe that was appropriate. But Olson said some things pertained to a decision to speed up Nadeau's resignation time. Olson took issue with Nadeau's comments that the city lacked vision. He said county buses have been used in the city in order to pad the county's ridership numbers. And Olson said he had no knowledge there were problems with the transportation committee before he read Sunday's story in The Dispatch.
Olson said someone gave him a Nov. 26, 2002, letter addressed to the city engineer and Dehen as council liaison and copied to the city administrator. It was a letter, Olson said, he never saw. Olson said the letter was critical of the transportation provider.
"But I guess I'm more upset, I'm more upset, I'm more upset that we didn't get this letter," Olson said as Dehen tried to interject.
Dehen picked up his gavel and sharply struck it once against the sounding plate.
"What does this have to do with his resignation?" Dehen said.
"It has a lot to do with it," Olson said and chuckled. "The paper will see this letter. All right,Mr. Dehen, they will see this letter."
Dehen suggested Olson take the matter up with staff, saying the subject was not what the agenda item was for.
Olson responded by saying Dehen did not bring the letter to the council.
"Then file charges against me tomorrow," Dehen said.
Olson said: "There are no charges to be filed. It is common decency."
In other transportation related items, council member Mary Koep, who is also Transportation Committee chairwoman, said a subcommittee was appointed to meet with Reichert Bus Service about restructuring the contract. Committee members will include Minnesota Department of Transportation and Crow Wing County. Another subcommittee will review accuracy of ridership. Koep said use of county buses in the city to bolster ridership was not fair to residents in the city or county.
The council accepted the committee recommendation that city buses will be dispatched to pick up city residents unless a city bus is out of service. The council also agreed to reduce the transportation coordinator's position from 40 hours per week to 32.
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