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Albertville Needs Cooler Heads to Prevail

While last week’s surprise resignation request is good for headlines, the Albertville City Council must be decisive when approaching its city administrator issue.

There’s a reason gossip, in its most simple nature, is popular.

It’s fun.

It gets you noticed by lots of people.

After all, we’ve been playing that “I know something you don’t know” game since we were in second grade, right?

But this isn’t a game.

This is a decision that could have direct consequences on the future of a once-growing community. And one that's poised to grow again.

Albertville’s decline into turmoil at the top last week came as a surprise to almost everybody. That alone made the issue worth talking about on St. Michael Patch, at the water cooler during work on Friday, and of course at Saturday morning’s government open house at (where, literally, no one was talking about it).

But what happens next is critical.

Both Mayor Mark Meehan and City Administrator Larry Kruse probably have valid points in their argument.

Kruse has been relieved of his duties before. That much is fact. The Baxter City Council grew frustrated with some of Kruse’s communication habits, and for one reason or another, sent him off.

Their loss appeared to be Albertville’s gain. Kruse guided Albertville through tremendous growth – residentially – from 2003 to present. He has helped guide the city to a solid relationship with the St. Michael-Albertville School District, lobbied for and got the Interstate 94 interchange (coming this summer) to fruition, and put Albertville on the map internationally with a new Ukrainian relationship.

Perhaps that isn’t enough.

Meehan, who has been rumored to want more communication from the city to the people, can point to the city’s website as evidence of lack of progress. A quarterly newsletter rarely has vital information for residents that they couldn’t have picked up from last year, and the city doesn’t even have a social media presence at all (see St .Michael).

However, if Meehan, or anyone else, wants to argue stagnation – the fact cities haven’t grown in the last four years – he’s not giving Kruse a chance, and he’s probably barking up the wrong tree.

If Albertville wants growth, it has to have proactive council. Again, the 2008 crash forced the city to cut several things, including any ideas of an economic development position.

Yet, in times of economic recovery, that position is essential for growth.

The council, Kruse and Meehan all need to look inward. There are faults in all three places (Meehan has been absent from several vital meetings, not the least of which was the Interstate 94 West Chamber of Commerce annual State of the Cities meeting in St. Michael).

If the city council and mayor decide those faults are rectified best by going in a different direction at the top of its city staff, then it must act decisively.

 If it doesn’t, it needs to give the city administrator a clear path to accomplish new goals.

And Meehan, who appears to have gone out on a limb here, might owe his city administrator, and his constituents, an apology.

Dieter April 16, 2012 at 10:15 PM
Very well put Mike. As a citizen of Albertville, I find the city website very frustrating. There has not been a new city council packet added since the Jan. 3rd meeting, how are residents supposed to keep themselves informed if the information is not made available to them? As far the Mayor having an issue with Mr Kruse, he has every right to question his job, but the decision to ask for his resignation should be made by the Council as a whole, not unilaterally by just the Mayor. I will be interested to here how things shake out. Having the perception of an unstable city government is not going to help attract businesses.
JK April 16, 2012 at 10:29 PM
I have to agree that the city flyer that is sent out is ridiculous. It has almost the same content every time it comes out - and I have lived in the community for almost 12 years. I remember a time when it would actually talk about what was happening in the community - new businesses opening, coming in, etc. If they are not going to put anything of substance in it, they should just house the redundant information on the city website. It is a waste of tax payers money.

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