A discussion on a standing committee resignation turned into a shouting match at Tuesday's Brainerd City Council meeting.
Council member Bob Olson, who asked that his resignation from the Safety and Public Works Committee be placed on the city council agenda, focused part of his discussion on his resignation and part to attack council members Debbie Olander and Mark O'Day, Council President Lucy Nesheim, City Administrator Dan Vogt and The Brainerd Dispatch.
Though no council members responded to Olson's attack Tuesday, a Brainerd resident who was watching the council meeting on television, came to city hall to chastise Olson for his behavior.
"I'm appalled at the actions of what happened tonight and as someone who worked on Mr. Olson's campaign and voted for him, I'm saddened at the disregard for human feelings of his fellow council persons," said Kaylo Brooks, who apologized for being at the meeting wearing sandals and jeans because she said she was at home in her pajamas watching the city council meeting on Charter Cable channel 8 and wanted to respond to Olson. She arrived in time to speak during the public forum portion of the Brainerd City Council meeting.
"It's a great injustice to the community."
Olson had two items placed on Tuesday's agenda: his resignation from the Safety and Public Works Committee to work for council member Gary Scheeler and a question if there was conflict of interest in one council member working for another.
Olson resigned Aug. 7 from the Safety and Public Works Committee to do consulting work for Scheeler, who owns a lawn and garden retail business in east Brainerd.
On Tuesday Olson read his resignation letter and a letter from City Attorney Tom Fitzpatrick that stated there was nothing in the city charter requiring a city council member to serve on one of the council's two standing committees, Personnel and Finance, and Safety and Public Works.
Olson then responded to comments made by council member Debbie Olander in a story in Sunday's Dispatch. In that story Olander said Olson's resignation from the Safety and Public Works Committee to work with a fellow committee and city council member raised ethical questions. In the story Olson had said he would be a better Personnel and Finance member than Olander.
Olson Tuesday said it was Olander who had the ethics problem, claiming that when he was working on the city's facility needs project he asked Vogt if there would be enough votes on the city council for the project and Vogt said he would get one -- Olander's.
"You can shake your head Dan, but you know what I'm talking about," said Olson, adding there were other things he could say concerning Vogt.
Olson then said if Nesheim would appoint him to the Personnel and Finance Committee he felt he could work with O'Day, with whom he had traded barbs in The Dispatch and on his cable access television show concerning the city's financial state.
When O'Day asked him what that discussion had to do with his resignation, Olson berated O'Day for his Nov. 2, 2001, citation for misdemeanor open bottle.
When Nesheim tried to stop Olson's outburst, Olson became upset that Nesheim would try to cut him off.
"You know what, Mrs. Nesheim, this is your real game. You're very good at shutting off the conversation when it's getting hot," said Olson.
"My responsibility is to shut off the conversation when it gets personal," replied Nesheim.
Olson added he would still be addressing the Gregory Park water fountain issue with Nesheim, who in an Aug. 11 Dispatch story compared Olson's accusation of mismanaged city finances to his accusations concerning the city administration and the city council's handling of the water fountain repair.
At Tuesday's city council meeting, Olson said certain council members have tried to control his personal life, and he also said The Dispatch catered to those council members and the city administrator.
"As far as this newspaper goes, they're nothing but water boys for the (Brainerd city) administration and the Personnel and Finance Committee," said Olson, directing his comments to Dispatch Publisher Terry McCollough and Associate Editor Mike O'Rourke.
Scheeler also used the time to deny accusations of conflict of interest leveled against him because of his council actions in east Brainerd and the fact his business is located there.
As an example, Olson said Scheeler has the financial means to purchase the 61 acres the city bought near the Brainerd Regional Human Services Center, but didn't because he wanted to avoid a conflict of interest.
Scheeler also made another bid to disband the two city council standing committees, saying the city system has changed since the committee incorporation in 1971 and now there was no need for them.
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