LETTER TO THE EDITOR: We need to see fair treatment of city staff and better decision-making

The following is a letter to the editor submitted by a reader and does not reflect the views of the Pioneer. Letters can be sent to or P.O. Box 455, Bemidji, MN 56601.


The primary role of elected officials is to uphold public trust and act with fairness and transparency in matters of public funds and public business. We are left to speculate why the Bemidji City Council acted on a last-minute agenda change and chose to schedule a special meeting for the purpose of discussing the future of City Manager Nate Mathews' tenure with the city.

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This may stem back to the 2019 Bemidji Alliance letter or the view held by Sanford Health's then Vice President Bryan Nermoe that the city didn't adequately engage in expediting their new ice rinks with a hospitality tax. These old vendettas are surely simmering in the minds of those who view him as an obstacle to their plans. It may involve a controversy over the supervision of our fire department.

We simply don't know and are left to guess because it appears Councilors Audrey Thayer, Josh Peterson, Jorge Prince and Ron Johnson took dramatic, coordinated action with no discussion or expressed justification.

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Two things are immediately obvious: city staff are left anxious and demoralized by the council lunging around this way, and the aligned council members are acting discourteously and irresponsibly towards their colleagues and constituents by running in with last-minute changes to the agenda that prevent public input and informed discussion.

I hope we see more illumination, fair treatment of staff and better decision-making. I hope that the council returns to its long practice of adhering to the City Charter, employee contracts and their own precedent in making consequential decisions.

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