To the editor
In the April 14 City Council meeting, City Council Member Joyce Borchardt brought forth a motion to censure Mayor Kennedy and Council Member Blomquist and remove them from all committee assignments for testifying in a Senate committee meeting regarding their personal opposition to changing the North Branch Water and Light commission from three members to five members. The prior City Council, before Mayor Kennedy was sworn into office, voted in support of this change in legislation.
Kennedy and Blomquist testified as to their reservation in this change in law. Sen. Nienow spoke on behalf of the City Council’s position. The legislation failed to pass out of committee. Nienow explained to the committee that Kennedy and Blomquist were not speaking on behalf of the official City Council position but were in attendance as individuals and they had every right to be there as individuals.
Because this legislation failed, Borchardt wants to censure these two elected officials and remove them from committee assignments. Kennedy and Blomquist were represented by their own legal counsel for this meeting. The attorney for the mayor and councilor felt there was no justification for this kind of disciplinary action and it would be in violation of their First Amendment right to free speech and could result in a lawsuit against the city of North Branch based on the First Amendment violation.
Kennedy asked for the city attorney to give an legal opinion on the liability for the city should the censure and removal from committee be approved, and she was told there would need to be full council direction to get a legal opinion. She asked again at the full council meeting, after the motion was made and seconded. Now is he is going to do a full investigation and what is that going to cost us? None of the council members even asked.
As a tax payer in North Branch, I would like the council to have a packed parachute to protect our tax dollars before they jump out of the plane.