Local Gov't Accountability Roundup: 10/26/11

MANKATO: City Becomes First Fair Trade Town in Minnesota The city council handed out celebratory fair trade chocolate after voting unanimously to become the state’s first free trade city and the 25th in the U.S. A previous attempt to use fair trade coffee was a disappointment with one brand too expensive and the other not up to expected standards, according to the city manager. The milestone comes after more than two years of working on the initiative, which does not commit the city to spending more on fair trade products but to consider them in making purchases.

RED WING: County Board Conflicted Over Sentence to Serve Work Crews Goodhue County commissioners are struggling over the future of their three Sentence to Serve work crews. Currently the city of Red Wing shares a part-time crew at a cost of $48,000 per year, but now the city wants to have the crew full time. County commissioners are concerned they might have to hire staff if they have just two crews, while also being conflicted about letting other cities have a shot at their rent-a-crews. 

OAK GROVE: City Council Work Sessions to be Videotaped and Broadcast In a split 3-2 vote, the Oak Grove City council members decided transparency should extend to working sessions. Though no official decisions are made at the meetings, the discussions often lead to the basis for a formal vote at official council meetings. As City Councilman Mike Wylie said, “what’s wrong with people seeing how government works?”

WABASHA: Board Standoff Over County Administrator’s Future Continues County commissioners voted 3-2 to retain a Minneapolis attorney to render a legal opinion on the “possible consequences of firing County Administrator Dave Johnson.” Erick Kaardal, the outside attorney, charges $200 per hour with a cap of $5,000. The board will have his legal opinion within a week.  

SLEEPY EYE: Read All About It! Foundation Donates New Books for Local Childhood Education  One hundred new books valued at $1,750 were provided to Sleepy Eye’s Early Childhood and Family Education program. The books donated by the Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation will be incorporated into the children’s classes and each child will eventually take one home for good.

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