W’bago continues its probe
It didn’t take an attorney long to start looking into allegations made against four Winnebago City Council members.
Friday afternoon, Nov. 20, Mayor Randy Nowak issued a written statement saying City Administrator Jennifer Feely’s complaint will be investigated by the attorney originally hired.
Nowak and City Attorney Douglas Johanson made their decision after addressing Councilman Chris Ziegler’s concern of a conflict of interest issue.
On Monday, attorney Jeff M. Zalasky of Bloomington arrived at City Hall early in the morning and didn’t leave until closing time.
Taped interviews were conducted in the council chambers behind closed doors.
Joseph Bromeland, who is Feely’s attorney, says his client was interviewed.
“I was present, even though I didn’t have to be. It took about one hour,” he says.
Bromeland says he wasn’t told if Zalasky would return for additional interviews or when a final report would be completed.
In her complaint, Feely accuses the council of:
• holding an illegal meeting where they decided to fire her in exchange for several employees voting not to join a union;
• violating the Open Meeting Law;
• not following the city’s personnel policy;
• and violating a determination order preventing the council from coercing employees to leave the union.
Bromeland says his client’s complaint was a “drastic measure” because she believed she was going to be fired at the Oct. 12 council meeting, when her performance evaluation was scheduled.
He says Feely and the public has been deprived of all fair process provided under the Open Meeting Law.
“I don’t think the public appreciates that. She (Feely) just wanted the public to know what is going on,” Bromeland says.
“She’s not doing this to get attention. It is not a lawsuit, so she is not going to get any money from anybody,” he adds.
At a Nov. 17 special council meeting, Councilman Chris Ziegler raised a conflict of interest issue concerning Zalasky, an attorney with Iverson Reuvers Law Firm.
At the time, Ziegler contended because Bromeland, Paul Reuvers and Jon Iverson are members of a lawyers association, there may be a conflict of interest.
In a letter to Nowak and Johanson, Zalasky says he also is member of the Minnesota Defense Lawyers Association (MDLA), but he does not know Bromeland or anyone else in his law firm.
Zalasky says he has asked Iverson and Reuvers about their association with Feely’s attorney.
“Their best recollection is that neither knows Mr. Bromeland and to the best of their recollection, Mr. Bromeland has not been at any MDLA committee member meetings,” wrote Zalasky.
Because the allegations did not involve the mayor, Nowak and Johanson were authorized to hire an investigator.
“Reviewing Mr. Zalasky’s letter noting that Joseph Bromeland is not being investigated himself and after conferring with the city attorney, I agree with Mr. Zalasky’s conclusion that there is no conflict of interest,” Nowak wrote in a memo to council members.