Bemidji Alliance discussed at city work session

By: News Director Larissa Donovan

BEMIDJI– The Bemidji City Council further discussed Visit Bemidji during their special work session last night.

During the discussion, Ward 2 councilman Mike Beard expressed his disappointment that the city had serious objections to Visit Bemidji being a member of the Bemidji Alliance, which is a group that joins the efforts of Visit Bemidji, the Bemidji Downtown Alliance, the Chamber of Commerce and Greater Bemidji.

City Attorney Al Felix wrote a memo prior to the group’s first meeting last Friday, citing that the disclosure and confidentiality agreement requested by Bemidji Alliance may violate government data practice laws, which insist on transparency of elected officials and public dollars.

Visit Bemidji is the vessel that uses the citywide three-percent lodging tax for its marketing efforts.

The Bemidji Alliance held its first meeting last Friday.

According to a packet obtained by this station, the Alliance includes many members of different organizations, including superintendent of Bemidji Schools Tim Lutz, Mayor of Bemidji Rita Albrecht, and Beltrami county commissioner Jim Lucachick, as well as several leaders of the Bemidji business community.

In a draft of an “Agreement on Leader Council Duties, Confidentiality and Nondisclosure,” it states under a Duty of Loyalty that “All Leader Council members will put the interest of the organization and its objectives over their own personal interests and those of their family, friends or employers.”

This clause was cited in City Attorney Al Felix’s memo of some contention, which was discussed during last night City work session.

Felix’s memo says that “elected officials and public employees take an oath of office, to which this required ‘duty’ would be in direct contravention.”

There is also the issue with public officials signing non-disclosure and confidentiality agreements, according to the memo. 

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