City council sets some questions for Aug. 10 listening session

The Bemidji City Council have determined some guiding questions for the listening session scheduled for next week.

The council will hear from the public on what their thoughts and ideas are on a police advisory committee, such as who should serve on it, what priorities should the advisory committee have, and what kind of authority would be bestowed on this committee.

Mayor of Bemidji Rita Albrecht said most city commissions do not have direct authority.

Ward 5 council member Nancy Erickson was curious to see if the city could legally bestow authority to a citizen committee, but city Attorney Al Felix said he would look into it and will have that information available by the meeting August 10.

Erickson remarked that she was leery of “restricting the public,” but noted that without some parameters the meeting could last into the wee hours of the morning.

The council also heard a legislative update from a representative of the Coalition for Greater Minnesota Cities.

Elizabeth Wefel reported that the House will not take up the bonding bill during the August special session, since the state is selling bonds around that time and cannot legally change its financial position while those bonds are being sold.

Other agenda items:

  • The council held a public hearing and second reading of an ordinance amending the city charter amending Chapter 4, regarding nominations and elections. The amendment is to bring the charter in line with state law. No one spoke at the public hearing.
  • Final reading of an ordinance changing the name of Boring Ct. NW to Cooperative Ct. NW, and authorized publication of the ordinance’s summary.
  • The listening session on a police advisory committee will be held at 5:30 p.m. Monday, Aug. 10, over WebEx.
  • City Clerk Michelle Miller briefly discussed COVID-19 protocols for the Aug. 11 primary. She said voters should anticipate waiting in long lines because of the six foot social distancing rule. Each booth will be sanitized after every voter, hand sanitizer stations will be available, and masks are mandatory. Curbside voting will be available for those who need it, or are unable to wear masks due to a medical condition. Absentee voting will be open at the County Auditor’s office until 3 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 11.

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