Cold Spring

Job candidate had lapsed certifications

An e-mail from Cold Spring's city administrator to a police chief candidate seemed straightforward enough: "You have met all the conditions … to begin employment." But a legal analysis now says that was not enough to form a binding contract with Eric Johnson, the longtime chief of the Minneota Police Department 120 miles southwest of Cold Spring.

Never mind that administrator Paul Hetland's e-mail even told Johnson "to inform Minneota of your two-week notice to end employment with them." A St. Cloud law firm's nine-page investigation into the hiring imbroglio says Johnson's application was "misleading and less than diligent" because his CPR and first aid certifications expired more than a year before he applied.

Attorney Susan Kadlec, who prepared the analysis, told council members they ought to consider what the lapse in certifications "demonstrates as far as the ability to perform" as police chief.

Mayor Doug Schmitz said he'll have Hetland, acting Chief Chris Boucher and others "sit down and talk and try to come up with a game plan for what we're going to do next" during an April 8 council meeting. Look for a lawsuit from Johnson, who considers himself hired.

GRAND Rapids

Blandin continues broadband work

The Blandin Foundation announced last week that when it comes to high-speed Internet, work remains.

The Grand Rapids-based organization pledged two more years and $1.5 million in grants for rural broadband — an issue it's been pushing for a decade.

"Without the Internet, communities cannot survive — let alone thrive," said Bernadine Joselyn, Blandin's public policy director. "It's the new indispensable infrastructure."

Blandin first focused on broadband in 2003 and has since spent $9.8 million on projects in more than 60 communities. Its trustees decided to continue that work, providing up to $750,000 a year in 2015 and 2016 for matching grants.

Some legislators have proposed a separate $100 million matching grant program to expand broadband infrastructure.


Petition to pardon Dakota falls short

In City Council Member Jack Considine's "wildest dream," he hopes Mankato could become a national epicenter for dialogue and reconciliation between American Indians and whites, complete with a museum exploring the "history of abuse."

His first step stumbled, though. He tried to collect 100,000 signatures on a White House website, seeking a pardon for 40 Dakota hanged after the 1862 U.S.-Dakota War. Only about 2,000 people signed.

Some Dakota historians argued their ancestors needed no pardon because they did nothing wrong attempting to protect their homeland.