The Brainerd City Council gave its stamp of approval to a settlement between the city and the Brainerd Area Coalition for Peace.
The council unanimously ratified the settlement, which a committee of three council members -- Kelly Bevans, Anne Nelson Fisher and Mary Koep -- worked out with the peace group at a mediation session March 22 at Cragun's Conference and Golf Resort.
The peace group was barred from the 2003 July Fourth parade when Brainerd Community Action officials cited concerns about security for the group.
In the settlement, Brainerd Community Action acknowledges constitutional violations may have occurred and Community Action and the city recognize that in order to protect free speech rights the procedures used to determine parade participation must be content-neutral.
In addition, a public symposium on free speech issues will be conducted this year with expenses borne by the League of Minnesota Cities or the league's insurance trust. The city and Brainerd Community Action agree to encourage attendance by the mayor, the city council, the executive director and the board of directors of Brainerd Community Action, the city attorney and the chief of police. Similarly, the protest group will encourage its members to attend the meeting.
"I think there may have been mistakes made, and I'm sorry they happened, and with the agreement they are worked out," said council member Lucy Nesheim. Nesheim, Koep and Mayor James Wallin thanked those involved in the mediation settlement.
Council member Bob Olson, while happy a settlement could be reached, said he was disturbed by the role Council President and Community Action council liaison Jim Dehen played in denying BACP a parade permit. Olson said the decision should have been made by the council as a whole.
"We had one alderman, Alderman Dehen, deny the use of public streets and I think that was wrong," said Olson.
In response, Dehen noted Community Action is an independent, non-profit group that works on behalf of the city of Brainerd. He said his involvement in denying the parade permit for BACP was as a member of the Community Action Board, not as a council member.
Council member Kelly Bevans questioned Olson's concerns because they had nothing to with the motion before the council. He also thanked BACP members for their work at the mediation settlement.
In other action, the council:
Held a public hearing and adopted a resolution ordering improvements and preparing plans and specifications for Highway 25 turn lane improvements, near the intersection with Highway 18.
Was given a presentation from Department of Public Safety and Safe and Sober officials about a new laser speed-tracking gun, which the Department of Public Safety awarded to the Brainerd Police Department.
Was given a rental housing inspection update from inspector Ron Anderson, who informed the city council he has inspected about 40 rental housing units to date, and is increasing the number to about 30 per week.
Approved, by a 6-1 vote, buying two trees and issuing an apology to Jason Baca, who owns property on First Avenue Northeast, for miscommunication between Baca and the city in taking down two trees in his front yard during a roadway project. Dehen voted against the motion.
Was reminded by City Administrator Dan Vogt that the public hearing on Brainerd's comprehensive plan update will be 7-9 p.m. April 14 at Mississippi Horizons Middle School.
Was informed by Vogt that there will be a land use training seminar for the council and Brainerd Planning Commission at 6 p.m. April 26.
Approved, by a 5-2 vote, frosted globe covering for lights on the Laurel Street reconstruction project. Voting against were Nesheim and Koep. Examples of both can be viewed on the steps of Brainerd City Hall.
Directed staffers to meet with the owners of the Northern Pacific Center about the possibility of purchasing land for future industrial park use.
Approved $100 to the Kiwanis Club for its ninth annual Community Cleanup Blitz, to be held May 1 in the Wal-Mart parking lot in Baxter.
Approved contract settlements with the unions for the Brainerd police officers and Brainerd police supervisors.
Were given information from Vogt, which also was directed to the television audience, that the city has nothing to do with negotiations between Victory Sports and Charter Communications to carry the sports channel on the local cable system. Vogt said a person called city hall upset about the local cable company not carrying the sports network and said they would flood city offices with phone calls.
Brainerd Dispatch ©2013. All Rights Reserved.