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Roseville Ethics Commission To Consider Former Mayor's Complaint

John Kysylyczyn contends the City Council wrongfully engaged in prohibited political activity when it took a stand on the proposed state Marriage Amendment. City attorney disagrees.

The Roseville Ethics Commission is expected tonight (Wednesday) to review a citizen's complaint that the City Council wrongfully engaged in political activity when it passed a resolution opposing the proposed Minnesota Marriage Amendment.

In a letter filed last month with the commission, former Roseville mayor John M. Kysylyczyn contended the city Human Rights Commission and later the City Council engaged in prohibited political activity when the two groups passed resolutions opposing the Marriage Amendment. That amendment, which Mnnesota voters rejected last week, would have defined marriage as only being between one man and one woman.

Kysylyczyn contended the Human Rights Commission and City Coucil violated the city's ethics policies in taking a stand on the issue. 

"The discussion on the issue instructing people how to vote on a state constitutional amendment is clearly an act of being engaged in political campaign activity," Kysylyczyn stated. "While it may be acceptable to use public funds to educate the public in a fair and balanced manner on an issue that is related to an operation of city government, that was clearly not the case in this situation."

But Roseville City Attorney Mark Gaughan is urging the Ethics Commission to dismss Kysylyczyn's complaint, contending the law allows the Council to collectively voice its stand on ballot iniatitives.

Gaughan added the League of Minnesota Cities issued an opinion advising that it was OK for a city council to take a stand on an constitutioal amendment.

To view the commission's agenda and see Gaughan's opinion, click on to this link. The commission's meeting is scheduled to begin at 6:30 p.m. today at Roseville City Hall, 2660 Civic Center Drive.

Tony Nickelsen November 14, 2012 at 05:37 PM
At a time when every sentence that is uttered seems to be placed under a microscope, we have Mr. K attempting to stir the pot with his baseless rhetoric. I agree with our city attorney, I don't see any harm for an elected body to take a stand on this issue, considering we are dealing with human and constitutional rights. Just let it go John!!!
John Kysylyczyn November 14, 2012 at 06:39 PM
Tony, Apparently you haven't read the complaint and the response from the city attorney. First, the city attorney cites a legal case and a League of Minnesota Cities memo. Guess what, neither was included in his information to the Ethics Commission. Rather poor legal work in my opinion. You always attach citing documents. I had previously reviewed the court case for personal business purposes a few months ago and I knew right away that it is not germane to the situation here. I reviewed the case again. The court case concerned a school district that had statutory authority to spend money to put out information about their levy referendum. The question in the court case was whether the school district had to fill out campaign finance reports and whether campaign laws concerning false advertising applied. The answer was yes. But this isn't about fair campaign practices or campaign finance. Claiming that the issue is about an elected body taking a stand on the issue is also not the issue here. Elected officials take stands on everything from the legitimate to the foolish. The question is whether taxpayer resources can be used to promote this. It is one thing for an elected official to submit and editorial of their own that for example condemns the treatment of people in Tibet. But is it allowed for that elected official to have an employee write it on taxpayer paid time for them to sign? That is the kind of question I am getting at.
John Kysylyczyn November 14, 2012 at 06:44 PM
I also forgot to mention that a League of Minnesota Cities memo is about as valuable in a court of law as something written on the back of a napkin. They carry no legal weight. They are a lobbying organization. For every report they write, I can find you another group that will say exactly the opposite. Statutory law that cities like Roseville operate under state that the city has only that authority granted to it by the legislature. Nothing in the city attorney's letter identifies any authority. Frankly I believe that his letter is intentionally vague because he is dancing around this issue of the use of taxpayer funds. He drags in this claim of first amendment. I never challenged that. The question is the expenditure of taxpayer funds. If we were to believe the city attorney's claim, that would mean that the city council could spend public dollars supporting school district levy referendums. You know what? School districts can't even do that. It could also mean that the city could run a vote yes committee for one of its own bond referendums.
John Kysylyczyn November 14, 2012 at 06:45 PM
Let me reiterate, taking a stand is one thing. Expending taxpayer funds to take a stand is a completely different situation.
Tony Nickelsen November 14, 2012 at 07:41 PM
Maybe not the city council, but the school district themselves have used our public dollars in the past to support school levy referendums. If they didn't, then people would be misinformed in why they are asking for one in the first place. Or, how the districts superintendent and school board came to there financial conclusions on how much to ask the taxpayers when they approve one.
John Kysylyczyn November 14, 2012 at 08:05 PM
Tony, a 1966 Attorney General opinion says that school districts may spend public funds to provide information on their own ballot question. They may not advocate for the passage or defeat of it. I can't recall the statute number off hand, but I believe there is a statute which says exactly the same thing the Attorney General opinion does. I believe the statute codified the 1966 opinion. My complaint concerns the city spending public dollars to take a position on an issue that the city has no direct relationship with and without any law authorizing such public expenditures. If these council members wish to wear vote yes or vote no shirts to the meeting, I could care less. But using public dollars and resources is not appropriate. Public dollars belong to all the public and people on both sides of an issue.. It is inappropriate to use these dollars for one side of any issue.
ginaunn April 02, 2013 at 12:48 PM
political tussles every where for more political issues try http://www.unn.edu.ng/department/political-science

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