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BREAKING NEWS

Wells questions investigation slowdown

By Staff | Mar 1, 2010

Ron Gaines

An investigation into alleged misconduct of two Wells city employees is not moving along fast enough.

At least, that was the opinion of Councilman Ron Gaines at Monday’s council meeting.

“It seems to be taking way too long. When we first talked about this, it was going to take a week or two. It’s been about three months,” says Gaines.

In November, council members at a special meeting voted to retain the services of Setter & Associates of Brooklyn Park.

Shortly after, the firm began looking into a formal written complaint filed against a street department employee.

Jeremy Germann

When the Faribault County Sheriff’s Office cited “conflict of interest” for not being able to investigate reported misconduct by a police officer, Setter & Associates was hired later that month.

Gaines asked City Admini-strator Jeremy Germann to provide an update regarding the probe’s status.And, the answer probably was not what he wanted to hear.

“I don’t have any information. Even if I did, I couldn’t share that with the council,” Germann says.

A person close to the investigation says the probe involving the street department employee is taking a lot of time because it is “very complex.” The person says the complainant listed several points of the city’s personnel policy that were allegedly violated.

Also, the person says a pending court case involving a council member has slowed the police investigation. Councilman Mike Weber has been charged with burning without a permit, a misdemeanor.

City Attorney David Frundt says nothing can be said while the investigation is ongoing.

Frundt says it’s “a touchy issue,” referring to data privacy issues that surfaced regarding the release of a 12-page report of alleged misconduct by four Winnebago City Council members.

“We want to make sure what we do is done within state law and under the recommendation of our insurance provider,” he says.

Both Frundt and Germann have been tight-lipped on naming the two employees or what is contained in the complaints.

The city attorney says the employees remain on the job while the investigation is being conducted.

According to council minutes, Frundt, Police Chief Jim Ratelle and Street Supervisor Rick LaVallie also attended the Nov. 6 special meeting.

Cost of the investigation is estimated between $4,000 and $8,000