County may reject controversial new state seal for its own design

It’s no secret where the Crow Wing County Board comes down on the redesign of the Minnesota state flag rammed through out of the blue by the DFL-controlled state legislature in 2023. The commissioners were among several county elected officials that went on record in opposition to the banishment of the unique state banner replete with historic scenes and symbols in favor of a bland, blue replacement. Consequently, the Brainerd Dispatch notes there’s currently no state flag whatsoever in the former courtroom where the Crow Wing County Board meets.

An American flag and the state flag bordered the wooden backdrop, which still contains law books on its shelves. Commissioner Paul Koering donated the flags. He recently took the Minnesota state flag home. A POW/MIA flag replaced it.

“We know the flag has now changed, which I think was the dumbest thing that the state has ever done, but it’s done,” Koering said.

That said, there’s still the matter of the state seal that was also revamped as part of the same process. Local governments have until January 2025 to replace the retired state seal on official stationery and other items or until supplies with the expired seal run out. But Crow Wing County commissioners have another option in mind that entails scrapping the new state seal altogether, starting with the seal mounted on the woodwork behind them.

“What about if we decided that we wanted to maybe craft our own seal so if some idiot changes in again then we have our own seal and we can say we have our own seal so screw you,” Koering said.

He noted other government units like the city of Little Falls have their own seal.

There appears to be no prohibition against not using the official state seal or to creating a unique Crow Wing County seal in place of it.

County Administrator Deborah Erickson said there is no real statutory authority to create or not create a seal and it’s more at the board’s discretion if they choose to do so. The board could choose a seal and a future board could change it if they wanted to as it would be more for ceremonial displays or utilized in county correspondence. Erickson said it wouldn’t necessarily be forever.

If the commissioners decide to have a separate seal designed for the county, they may well be setting a precedent.

[County board chair Jon] Lubke asked Erickson if the former seal needed to be removed if the state seal is going to be displayed, Erickson said it should be the current one.

She said there is no requirement for the county board to display the state seal in the boardroom and the board could choose to create one. The county is working on an inventory of where the former state seal will need to be replaced, such as the courtrooms that serve a state function.

The consternation in Crow Wing County may seem like much ado about nothing to some observers. But then that’s probably how many here view the machinations of the State Emblems Redesign Commission that created the controversy in the first place.