Toland: I’d do it again
Winnebago’s police chief was hoping all of his interview in an investigative report regarding alleged misconduct by four City Council members would be released.
Even though that did not happen, Bob Toland believes portions turned over to him accomplish what he wanted — clear his name and prove he was telling the truth.
“No one wins. We all lose in this thing. The city doesn’t move forward the way it should when we lose the ability to work together,” says Toland.
In the $10,000 report, investigator Jeff M. Zalasky wrote the following impressions of Toland:
“I believe Chief Toland was very sincere, direct and forthright with the information he provided to me. I truly believe he felt conflicted about even making the reports.”
City Administrator Jennifer Feely filed a formal complaint against the council members based on a conversation Toland says he heard at the city-owned duplex.
The police chief contends three public works employees and Councilman Dana Gates were at the duplex when Gates asked one of the workers if they still had an agreement not to join a union in exchange to fire Feely.
The 12-page report found the council did not commit any of the allegations made by Feely in her complaint.
On the advice of a League of Minnesota Cities Insurance Trust (LMCIT) attorney, the council did not release any details of the report at its Jan. 12 meeting because it would violate the Data Practices Act.
Toland told the council that under the city’s personnel policy he had the right to refute any information in the report pertaining to him.
City Attorney Douglas Johanson suggested Toland contact Julie Fleming-Wolfe, the attorney hired by the LMCIT, to discuss what information could be given to him.
The police chief contacted Fleming-Wolfe on Jan. 13 and by Friday, Jan. 15, a redacted copy was sent to him.
“The reason she gave for releasing the information was a portion of a statute I pointed out to Doug (Johanson). I was pretty glad about that,” Toland says.
The police chief says it was a difficult decision to go public with the copy he received because a lot of the information was omitted to protect the privacy of others.
Zalasky’s report says the police chief seemed sincerely concerned about the information he obtained at the duplex.
“He felt if he said something, it would be his word against four other people. He also was concerned the fallout from his disclosure could end his career and damage his credibility,” wrote Zalasky.
Despite his concerns, Toland reported the incident.
“I’d do it again because it’s the ethical thing to do. By staying silent I become part of something that was wrong. I’ve built my reputation and credibility over the years. I don’t think you can have that torn apart, it’s too important,” says Toland.