Brainerd City Council member Bob Olson on Tuesday called for Brainerd Parks and Recreation Director Bruce Ericson's resignation over alleged allegations Ericson made to Olson and another city official.
Early in the council meeting Tuesday night, Olson said the meeting -- scheduled to discuss opposing memos between Mayor James Wallin and Olson regarding an information request policy -- was based on a different reason altogether.
"This request isn't so much about my memos as it is about a specific memo that I wrote to the police department," Olson said. "This memo had to do with an investigation. This memo just made the mayor ... and many of certain members of the council very angry because I had asked for an investigation about statements and remarks that were made in the city administrator's office to the city administrator and myself."
Olson said Ericson made remarks about two other employees and illegal behavior. Olson said he asked Ericson whether the employees had been spoken to and when the answer was no, he told Vogt an investigation was needed.
"Mr. Olson, I don't believe we want to deal in hearsay and gossip," Council President Lucy Nesheim said. "And I believe the police department has spent 32 hours investigating that gossip. The police found that this matter was unfounded and the investigation closed."
Olson said: "I don't believe we are dealing in hearsay and gossip. ... I can see right now that they want to cut me off because I have some information that I think is very important to you people. I'm prepared for this. I've asked the camera to stay if you adjourn the meeting."
Olson said he told Tom Fitzpatrick, city attorney, that he was going to bring the matter up but planned to be careful about what he said. Olson did not mention the names of employees.
"Mr. Ericson, those statements you made to Dan Vogt and I, are you standing behind those statements?" Olson asked, turning to Ericson who sat at a nearby table with other department heads.
Nesheim cut Olson off, saying the undisclosed matter was a personnel issue and not an agenda item. Olson laughed and leaned back in his chair.
"I don't find any humor in that, Bob," Wallin said.
"Well, I do," Olson said. "... I do a lot."
Members of the audience started to speak from their seats, several in favor of Olson. Wallin spoke forcefully and looked out at the audience.
"When we have a city employee that has allegations made towards him, until that is proven that man is innocent until proven guilty," Wallin said. "(Olson's) asking for a statement about a department employee."
Olson turned back to Ericson and asked again whether the parks and recreation director was standing behind allegations. Olson added he was not asking for names.
"I don't believe there were any allegations made," Ericson said.
"Will you stand behind the statement that you made?" Olson asked.
"You've already misquoted my answer earlier," Ericson said. "I'm not sure what statement you are talking about."
Olson said because of Ericson's statements and because of other improprieties, he was going to ask for Ericson's resignation.
"I think we can get a better park and rec director than what we have now," Olson said.
None of the other council members responded. Ericson said nothing else. The council adjourned without further comment until a meeting set Thursday with the Fair Board.
Ericson today declined comment, only restating that Olson had mentioned allegations Ericson had made, and Ericson said there were no allegations made.
Ericson had come under fire in August after alleged comments of indifference he made concerning a team van from Kansas with questionable writing on it at the Hap Dumont baseball tournament.
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