Bemidji City Council Stays Closemouthed About Closed-Door Meeting on City Manager
After a five-hour discussion regarding Bemidji city manager Nate Mathews’ job performance, the Bemidji City Council ended the long night with one motion – to adjourn.
At about 5 p.m., the council met in an open meeting to set a time for Mathews’ annual evaluation, which is laid out in the contract. After a back-and-forth of comments and a failed motion, the council came to a 4-2 decision to indefinitely postpone the annual evaluation. Councilors Lynn Eaton and Emelie Rivera dissented. In a statement read by Rivera, the regular evaluation could not be held due to the council and Mathews not reaching an agreement about the review process.
The next item on the agenda was the non-annual evaluation of performance. Immediately going into closed session, the meeting lasted until about 10:15 p.m. Only the city councilors and the legal council, city attorney Katie Nolting, and representation from Flaherty & Hood took part in the closed meeting.
Mathews started to work as the Bemidji city manager in spring of 2015. In 2019, there was an incident involving Mathews after a 22-page complaint filed against him. The meeting also lasted five hours and ended in the council voicing their support for Mathews.
Following the five hours of closed meeting talks, the city council opened the meeting once more. No comments were made. A motion to adjourn was made and passed. No more information is known on the council’s final decision or what took place during the meeting.
According to Minnesota Open Meeting Law, the council needs to address the reason and outcome of the closed meeting at their next open one on April 3. The statute also says the meeting must be recorded and that the recording must be kept for at least three years after the date of the meeting. After all labor contracts are signed by the governing body for the current budget period, then the recording will become publicly available.
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