March 15, 2024 at 8:48 a.m.

LETTER TO THE EDITOR


By For the Woodrow Board, Gordy Reher, Chair | Comments: 0 | Leave a comment

   Regarding the Letter to the Editor from Ms. Scheibel on February 20, 2024:

   The Woodrow Board filled the Supervisor position created by the retirement of Dave Tanner per MN Statute 367.03 Subd. 6. Vacancies: 

   (a) When a vacancy occurs in a town office, the town board shall fill the vacancy by appointment … 

   (b) [does not apply]

   (c) A vacancy in the office of supervisor must be filled by an appointment committee comprised of the remaining supervisors and the town clerk. 

   The term expires in 2024 and the next election is November 2024. It will be on the ballot in November.

  The Board saw this as a unique opportunity for Woodrow to bring in a Supervisor with background, education, experience, and currency with problems that Woodrow is likely to encounter. 

   Regarding the ‘conflict of interest’ Ms. Scheibel brings up, the Board did ask for a legal opinion. Legally speaking, the term is ‘incompatible offices.’ At the heart of the issue is that the nature of the two offices could be so inherently inconsistent and repugnant to each other that it would be a violation of the public trust for the same person to hold both offices. The things creating such an incompatibility have been defined by Minnesota courts, as have the ‘Offices’ that can be incompatible. The court gave examples of incompatibility and the State went so far as to make a listing of Offices that are incompatible. That was the basis of our decision. 

   In determining compatibility, the term “Office” includes “all elected offices and those appointed positions involving independent authority under law to determine public policy or to make a final decision not subject to the supervisory approval or disapproval of another.” To fall within the prohibition, a person must be attempting to hold two “Offices” at the same time. 

   The question is if the new appointee to the Office of Township Supervisor has an incompatibility with his current employment as a county planner. A county planner is an employee who reports to the county board, doesn’t set budgets, doesn’t potentially pay money to the township, and doesn’t set county policy. Again, the basis for our decision was that our new appointee is not holding an “Office” at the County within the meaning of the prohibition and therefore there is no incompatibility. 

   Ms. Scheibel’s second area of concern was ‘transparency’ and that her email was not read in its entirety at the February meeting. It was read except for the last paragraph, which repeated the first part of the email. The entire email was made part of the record so the Board feels that transparency is not an issue.


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