Cologne rescinds offer, administrator search to continue

For the second time in about as many months, the Cologne City Council has rescinded a job offer to a city administrator finalist. The latest development occurred during the council’s meeting on Monday, April 1.
The city of Cologne has been without an administrator since John Douville was fired in October 2012. According to then Mayor Bernie Shambour Jr., the decision was made because “The City of Cologne determined that Mr. Douville did not meet the City’s expectations of his expected performance as the City Administrator while he was placed on a performance improvement plan beginning in June of 2012.”
The first search for Douville’s replacement resulted in a job offer being made to finalist John Meyer in January. However, the offer was rescinded after the council became frustrated with a protracted negotiating process.
The second search appeared to be nearing an end with the recent announcement of a job offer being made to Brian Beeman, a former city administrator for the cities of Melrose, Minn., and Sutton, Neb. The offer was contingent on the completion of a background check and the contract negotiation.
At the meeting on April 1, the council learned that Beeman’s background check was fine but the city’s personnel committee (consisting of Mayor Matt Lein and Councilor Jill Skaaland) had developed concerns, partly based on information disclosed in Beeman’s performance reviews from Melrose in 2007, 2008 and 2009. Skaaland said the city followed the proper data privacy procedures in obtaining the reviews from Melrose.
After the other three council members spent several moments reviewing a packet related to the performance reviews, the council discussed its concerns. Although none of the council members cited specific issues from the material, several council members indicated an uneasiness with moving forward with Beeman.
Skaaland noted what she felt were conflicting verbal and written statements made by Beeman.
“I didn’t know what to believe and that concerned me,” she said. “I don’t want to start a relationship with someone I can’t trust.”
Councilor Jeff McInnis mentioned a desire to find a candidate who excelled at communication and based on what he had read, he wasn’t sure Beeman was that candidate. McInnis indicated the feeling that it would be somewhat “careless to go forward knowing what we know.” McInnis made the motion, with a Don Meyer second, to rescind the offer to Beeman. The motion passed unanimously.
Beeman will receive a letter informing him of the decision. The letter includes the following: “The City voted to unanimously rescind the contingent employment offer extended to you based upon the unfavorable data the city obtained regarding you from the City of Melrose and based upon your answers to the Personnel Committee’s questions regarding the unfavorable data that you provided last weekend.”
At this point, the council is going to contact three or four candidates of the leading candidates from both the first and second searches to gauge if they still have any interest in the position. A special meeting to discuss and/or speak with these candidates has been scheduled for 6 p.m. on Monday, April 8.
In other matters:
• Four citizens who live in downtown Cologne asked the council asking for help in dealing with a neighbor who allegedly burns garbage indoors, periodically causing problematic smoke and ash in the neighborhood. The citizens are upset because burning garbage is not allowed in that area of the city.
The citizens explained that the smoke creates foul odors, burns the eyes, and forces them to keep their windows shut and AC units turned off. The situation is appears to be an on-going issue for the neighborhood, as one of the citizens noted that this wasn’t the first time he has appeared before the council about this matter.
Lein explained that the council has consulted with its inspector and attorney, the Carver County Sheriff’s Office, the garbage hauler serving the residence in question, and even the individual himself. While it was understood that the neighbors want their rights protected, Lein explained there wasn’t much that could be done outside of catching the individual in the act, which, if it’s being done indoors, could be difficult.
Lein said he would attempt to talk to the citizen about the issue. In the meantime, the citizens were encouraged to continue contacting the Sheriff’s Office whenever the smoke gets out of hand.

Contact Todd Moen at todd.moen@ecm-inc.com

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