Last night, City Councilman Jeff Goerger ambushed City Councilman Jeff Johnson by proposing a resolution that nobody had seen before last night’s meeting. The resolution was titled “A resolution in support of a just and welcoming community.” After I’d written about last night’s city council meeting here, I was contacted by Dr. John Palmer, who told me about a situation that happened after the city council meeting had adjourned for a second time. (More on that later.)
The St. Cloud Times article covering last night’s meeting showed a picture of Councilman Johnson surrounded by 5-7 Somali men. The caption for the Times’ photo read “St. Cloud City Council member Jeff Johnson talks with community leaders following a council meeting Monday, October 23, at city hall.” Dr. Palmer, a professor emeritus at St. Cloud State, issued a statement about what he saw happening. Dr. Palmer’s statement said “The Times’ article has a photo of Jeff surrounded. For the record, I was in the first row of the bleachers, directly behind where the city administrator sits. I was talking with a few people at the end of the council meeting when I noticed that Jeff was surrounded by 5 to 7 Somalian men. It appeared they were badgering Jeff and had him cornered. Fearing for his safety, I walked through the crowd and approached him, saying “Dr. Johnson, I need to talk to you right now.” I reached toward him and took his hand, saying let’s move near the door to talk. That is when I noticed the police officer and he was urging Jeff to go through the door. Once we were outside the Council Chamber, the officer asked that we move into the conference room located directly behind the chambers. When Jeff and I finished our conversation, the two officers in the conference room offered to escort Jeff and I to our cars. The uniformed officer previously told me that several of the men who surrounded Jeff were of concern. I think the officer was concerned for Jeff’s safety.”
This incident raises questions that can’t be ignored, though I’m certain that Mayor Kleis and the 5 ostriches that voted for Goerger’s resolution would rather ignore what happened. First, here’s Goerger’s resolution:
According to Dr. Palmer, these “community leaders” had trapped Councilman Johnson. It’s clear that they weren’t about to let him go until they’d scolded Councilman Johnson for his resolution. Abdi Mahad left this comment about what happened last night:
The controversial provision to put a moratorium on refugee resettlement in St. Cloud area was OBLITERATED. WAHOO. A few numbered hate groups don’t represent the majority here. Take your bigotry to other places! I know the dude seems like he did this thing as a publicity stunt!!!
Many of the people Mahad called members of hate groups are nothing of the sort. That’s an unsubstantiated accusation. Mahad’s use of the term hate group is designed to end debate on this issue. Rather than end the debate, Mahad’s intolerant statement likely guaranteed that this debate won’t end anytime soon.
Further, the 5 ostriches (Goerger, Masters, Libert, Lewis and Laraway) voted to ignore federal law. It’s indisputable that the Refugee Act of 1980 requires the federal government to consult with “local governments”, which St. Cloud certainly qualifies as, no less than 4 times a year. Specifically, the Refugee Act of 1980 states in 8 U.S.C. 1522(2)(A): “The Director and the Federal agency administering subsection (b)(1), shall consult regularly (not less often than quarterly) with State and local governments and private nonprofit voluntary agencies concerning the sponsorship process and the intended distribution of refugees among the States and localities before their placement in those States and localities.”
Goerger’s resolution stated that “the Refugee Act of 1980 does not create a mandate for local, city and county government.” Is Goerger that stupid? Or is he that dishonest? If Mayor Kleis and the councilmembers want to argue that 8 U.S.C. 1522(2)(A) isn’t enforced, that’s one thing. If they want to argue that that mandate doesn’t exist, that’s an entirely different thing.
As for the resolution’s status, it hasn’t passed officially. I don’t doubt that it will eventually pass but it didn’t pass last night. When Council President asked for the yeas and nays, that vote was on a motion to call the question. In her haste to end the meeting without additional controversy, Lewis adjourned last night’s meeting immediately after the vote to call the question. It wasn’t until some time afterwards that they realized their mistake that Lewis called the members back together and ‘re-opened’ the meeting. Once a meeting is adjourned, it can’t be re-opened.
About 1:15:00 into this video, President Lewis lost control:
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When Councilman Johnson wanted his resolution read into the record as part of the discussion, Lewis ruled that his motion was out of order. Johnson quickly corrected her and said that he wasn’t offering it as a motion. After that, Lewis went into a slow-motion meltdown, saying “Against my better wishes, I’m going to let you read it.”
Johnson replied “I thought the discussion was continuing here.”
Shortly after that, Councilman Masters called the question to end discussion on Goerger’s motion. That’s when President Lewis ordered the yeas and nays. Laraway, Lewis, Libert, Goerger and Masters voted yea, with Johnson voting nay.