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More delays for W’bago report

By Staff | Dec 27, 2009

Jennifer Feely

An independent investigation of a complaint filed by Winnebago City Administrator Jennifer Feely has been completed.

But, the findings won’t be released for a while.

The city has sought the help of another attorney to determine what information can be made public.

On Friday, Dec. 18, Winnebago City Attorney Douglas Johanson and Mayor Randy Nowak issued a written statement saying the final report was finished on Dec. 16.

“To help ensure that we only make public that information which is legally public, and that we don’t release any non-public information, we are working with an outside attorney,” the statement says.

The city’s insurance provider, the League of Minnesota Cities Insurance Trust (LMCIT), has appointed Julie Fleming-Wolfe to assist Johanson and Nowak.

Fleming-Wolfe says she has handled such cases in the past.

As of Dec. 22, the attorney had not looked at the report yet.

“I’m quite sure I won’t get it reviewed by the first of the year,” she says.

Johanson says Fleming-Wolfe’s work will not cost the city anything because “it is to protect the interests of the city and LMCIT.”

In her complaint, Feely accuses the City Council of agreeing to fire her in exchange for city employees not joining a union.

She also contends the council violated the Open Meeting Law and did not follow the city’s personnel policy.Johanson and Nowak wrote Fleming-Wolfe’s assessment of the information should be completed on or before the next council meeting scheduled on Jan. 12.

The final report was delayed one week when investigator Jeff M. Zalasky, a Bloomington attorney, was granted an extension.

Nowak and Johanson had planned to release the findings within 48 hours after receiving them.

But, Councilman Dana Gates requested an opinion on whether the information can be made public because of the Minnesota Data Practices Act.

“It was prudent of him (Johanson) not to comment on the contents of the report without knowing what is protected as private information under the Data Practices Act,” says Fleming-Wolfe.