Red Wing city council purges colleague over support for recall election

Apparently the Red Wing City Council never got the memo about being able to disagree on issues without being disagreeable, even when it involves the members’ potential ouster from office in the recall campaign underway. So when Kim Beise showed up for a routine committee meeting recently, the city councilor found out the hard way that he’d been stripped of all five committee assignments.

Beise was the only city councilor who voted in February against firing Red Wing’s popular former police chief Roger Pohlman, whose abrupt departure led to a citywide recall campaign by unhappy residents. But Beise’s decision to buck his colleagues by voting for the recall election and his concerns over a closed door council meeting that triggered the campaign were the last straw, according to the Post Bulletin.

[City Councilor Evan] Brown sent an email to Council President Norton asking asking that the two no long work together on any committees, and that Beise particularly be removed from “all service contract committees.”

“I believe your statement and subsequent vote had the intent of placing the city at legal risk and financial burden,” Brown wrote.

Beise said the effect of removing him from those committees equated to punishing him for having an opposing opinion, and for asking questions about the advice the city has received about both the recall and holding a closed meeting.

No one had the class to inform Beise of the decision to essentially cancel him face-to-face. Not even City Council President Becky Norton, who faces a potential recall election herself.

While she admitted she did not discuss his removal – she called and left a message and emailed Beise – before taking action, she said any council member who cannot work with city staff to discuss issues and concerns and feel confident that what they are bringing to the full council is in the best interest of the city, then that individual cannot properly serve the community on those committees.

“He will continue to have input as all council members do,” Norton said. “One could say yes, his direct involvement in these committees is a consequence of him not bringing these concerns forward to work through them.”

Recall City Hall activists have collected enough qualified signatures to move forward with a special election for five city council members to date. But the city council has twice voted against allowing themselves to be recalled on the basis that the campaign does not meet the legal standard for such an election.

Meantime, Beise continues to ask uncomfortable questions, including why he’s being ostracized instead of his colleague.

“If Evan doesn’t want to work with me, why doesn’t he get off the committees?” Beise asked. “I can’t have a different viewpoint. If you have a different viewpoint, they redirect and bully you.”

Both sides expect the standoff to likely wind up in court for a resolution that could potentially take longer to reach than the time some of the targets of the recall have left in office.