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Albertville Council Terminates Administrator's Contract

The Albertville City Council, by a 3-2 vote, ended its contract with city administrator Larry Kruse, who had served the community since 2003.

A divided Albertville City Council voted 3-2 to end its relationship with Albertville City Administrator Larry Kruse, effective May 1, at its regular meeting held Monday night at .

Despite comments in support of Kruse during the public comment portion of the meeting, Mayor Mark Meehan discussed openly a "closed door" Monday meeting he had with Kruse, where he said he raised several issues expressed to him by city staff members, local businesses and in particular council member Jillian Hendrickson.

"Larry serves at the will of the council," Meehan said. "There was a consensus, among a number of people" that Kruse was not able to do the job as the council desired.

In dissenting, members Dan Wagner and Larry Sorensen each expressed their surprise in the matter. Member John Vetsch, who wound up being the "swing" vote, said Kruse's inability to grow the city's business sector was his deciding factor.

"What has he really done since he got here," Vetsch asked.

The official motion stated the council wanted a "change in direction" at the leadership position, something Kruse himself suggested.

A complete breakdown of the three hour meeting will be posted later on St. Michael Patch.

Dieter April 17, 2012 at 04:52 AM
I am embarrassed by what I witnessed tonight. The Mayor and his 2 sidekicks obviously had their own agenda for what went on tonight. Someone should look into whether or not th Mayor, councilman Vetch, and councilwoman Hendricks violated any open meeting laws. They had no proof other than heresay in their decision to fire Mr. Kruse. It was painfully obvious that at least the mayor and Hendricks went to great lengths to keep Councilman Sorenson and Warner out of the loop on what they were doing. I sincerely hope they did not do irreparable harm to the City's reputation.
Dieter April 17, 2012 at 05:13 AM
Oops, Councilman Wagner, not Warner
Hiram April 17, 2012 at 06:35 AM
Yea this was a set up for sure,,,,Im sure the taxpayer will enjoy the "PAYOUT" he will leave with,,,,,I hope everyone remembers this waste of TAXPAYER MONEY come election time !
Robert April 17, 2012 at 12:23 PM
If he worked at the will of the council arent they all responsible for the lack of forward progress?
Missy April 17, 2012 at 12:28 PM
How can you question a Council member's responsiblity to honor the open meeting law and complain they "went to great lengths" to keep other Council members out of the loop. I respect the due diligence that was displayed by the ENTIRE Council. Whether a Council member brings up an issue in private or a Concil meeting, somebody is going to be blindsided by the information. I think it was best that Mr. Kruse was not the person blindsided with this information. He was given time to present himself in an thoughtful manner.
Linda April 17, 2012 at 01:00 PM
The City Council did what they felt best on the information that came forth from community businesses and residents-there was alot of people that seemed to be in fear of retrobution. I felt there were things that had happened and were not said meaning the Council held back on some information for whatever reason; things Mr Kruse would have preferred not be made public. That is just my speculation as it seemed to me there were situations not said that could have been said. To me there were a few charges against Mr Kruse that maybe he could have defended himself better but for whatever reason did not, that is another reason to me there were extenuating circumstances that were better left between the Council and Mr Kruse. Not a pleasant experience but the Council did a good job handling an awkward situation. Thank you to Ms Hendrickson on her indepth investigation and reporting.
Anonymous April 17, 2012 at 01:00 PM
From what I saw last night there were some real concerns expressed by council member Hendrickson. Legitimate concerns about whether the Admin was a viable economic developer for the future of Albertville. From what I understand our town has a reputation for not being business friendly that developers intentionally avoid. Another 2 years of the Kruse at his current salary plus the potential tax revenue lost goes way above and beyond the payout to make a change now.
Rick Anderson April 17, 2012 at 01:00 PM
Everyone stay tuned with post termination effects on the taxpayers. I question the validity of the performance appraisal process, and agree with Councilman Larry Sorenson that how can Mr. Kruse fo from a 3.8 rating to termination in four months. In another related observation, the body language of the Mayor and councilwoman Hendrikson was horrible! Rolling his eyes, hand over the forehead, laughing at Mr. Kruse, slumping in his chair, are only a few of the obsevations. Councilwoman Hendriks taking issue with a member of the public? Really? The observation from the public side is definately one of Ego's by the three [obvious] councilpersons that voted for the termination. Mr. Kruse was definately more poised than the three voting for the termination. The whole thing was handled poorly and the entire council is responsible; what an embarassing meeting; there is our leadership!
Heidi Jo Highet April 17, 2012 at 01:15 PM
It sounds like Albertville has a serious leadership problem all around. This doesn't sound like the end of this situation.
Rob Rich April 17, 2012 at 02:16 PM
I do agree with Rick Anderson's comment. The mayor & councilwomen Hendrickson body language was unprofessional, from the mayor rolling his eyes, to eating, and checking his cell phone, Councilwomen Hendrickson smiling, talking back & forth to the mayor, it was very disrespectful to Mr. Kruse and almost childish at times. I know this was a difficult decision to make and I appreciate our council members taking time away from their family's for the good of our city. At the same time I feel the council as a whole may want to improve their communication with each other to avoid future issues.
Embarrassed Albertville Resident April 17, 2012 at 06:59 PM
I agree with Rob & Rick. It appeared that audience members (whether in favor or Mr. Kruse or against) realized that Mayor Meehan and Councilwoman Hendrickson and of course Councilman Vetsch had a personal vendetta with Mr. Kruse and had a had a plan last night. The tone was set when Mayor Meehan would NOT allow the public to weigh in on the meeting where council would address concerns with Mr. Kruse however, he allowed citizens to speak early in the meeting well before that agenda item was to be addressed. Meehan seemed very scatter brained and unorganized while changing his allegations / motions repeatedly and finally consulting with Mr. Couri (Albertville's legal consultant) as to how make a motion. It is no secret that Mayor Meehan and Councilman Vetsch have had personal differences with Mr. Kruse, What was surprising to me was the approach that our DISRESPECTFUL councilwoman Hendrickson took with the situation, specifically with an audience member. At one point, she stopped mid-statement and accused an audience member of giving her "looks" & "mouthing" her while sitting on the council panel. Not only did this seem "counter productive" (a term Hendrickson used often), but down right unprofessional and immature. At another point in the meeting, she stated that she had given Mr. Kruse an unfavorable 360 degree review (dec 2011) later to agree with Mr. Kruse that she had in fact given him a positive review. Which is it Jillian? I am embarrassed of 3/5 of our council!
Embarrassed Albertville Resident April 17, 2012 at 07:26 PM
In response to "Missy's" comment: Correct me if I am wrong, but when 2 Council Members plus the Mayor get together to discuss this (before and after the meeting with Mr. Kruse) and not involve the other 2 Council Members, doesn't that voilate the "Open Meeting" law? Again, if you know the law, please correct me if I'm mistaken.
Mike Schoemer (Editor) April 17, 2012 at 07:53 PM
Embarassed: The Mayor and Jillian admittedly met prior to the Mayor's meeting with Larry Kruse. However, John Vetsch was not privy to those meetings. So, no, the council did not violate any laws leading up to last night's open meeting. Jillian approached the Mayor with her findings, and the Mayor confronted Mr. Kruse April 9 with Jillian's and his concerns.
Embarrassed Albertville Resident April 17, 2012 at 08:46 PM
Mike, thank you for the clarification and I apologize for the mistake. I will rephrase; PERSONALLY, I think Johnny Vetsch was part of Jillian and Mark's plan. It sure seemed like a slam dunk considering Jillian's statement that it was to be a discussion and wasn't supposed to go "public" however, they still went forward with the motion to terminate Mr. Kruse. This is just my OPINION.
Nat April 17, 2012 at 09:10 PM
Seems like she is damned if she did, damned if she didn't! If people and businesses came to her expressing their concerns of Larry being unprofesional and not returning calls and she said nothing would she really have been doing a good job of representing our city? She was only doing her job while Larry apparently was not doing his. I am happy that there seems to be some honest and hard working people out there representing us! And hasn't he been let go from 2 other cities previous to Albertville, I am sure he is a great human being but maybe he needs to change his career path!
STMA Parent April 17, 2012 at 09:17 PM
Am I ever glad I moved from Albertville to St Michael...this is just down right embarrassing for the city. Obviously the poll above shows that most do not agree with what happened and I have a feeling the mayor and council members will pay for it at election time.
Embarrassed Albertville Resident April 17, 2012 at 09:59 PM
I am not saying the alleged issues shouldn't be addressed with Larry Kruse. Address the issues with him and give him a chance to react since 4 months prior they gave him a 3.89 rating on his performance review. Why didn't the council address these issues with Larry and give him a chance to work on their areas of concern WITHOUT terminating him all in the same meeting? If the 3 members of council that raised concern and voted to terminate Larry on Monday night were really looking out for the welfare of the City of Albertville and it's tax payers (instead of letting their egos and personal agendas get in the way), they would have looked at his recent review and given him a chance to work on his personality conflicts as they were described. It just doesn't add up. I don't care whose side you are on, if you can't see that the way this was handled was a good old fashioned witch hunt, you've already tasted the Kool-Aid and it's too late.
cc April 17, 2012 at 10:54 PM
Of course they didnt talk, there's no way that could've happened....yea right.
Nat April 17, 2012 at 11:39 PM
I just think that there may be more to this story that we do not know!
SH April 17, 2012 at 11:53 PM
I understand that Hendrickson had a list of issues which she received from residents and business owners. Did other council members have a similar lists of grievances? Is Hendrickson a point person for all incoming calls/emails/concerns? It seems unusual that she had pages of concerns, but other council members were surprised by the accusations.
JM April 18, 2012 at 12:56 AM
I thought the same thing, SH. Wagner has been on the council a long time but said he didn't get complaints about Kruse. Vetch even longer but didn't chime in. Thats alot of complaints in 16 months. Last night was hard to watch and embarrassing is an understatement.
Linda April 18, 2012 at 12:59 AM
To A-Town--thank you--those were my thoughts in my message from 8 am today; I really feel there is something more that has not been opened to the public; something the council has to keep quiet for the sake of all of us, I just had that feeling during the meeting too last night.Something that cannot be talked about and something that Larry Kruse cannot challenge, It felt like there was something just wanting to come out of everyones mouth but they just could not speak of it.There just has to be something more! I probably way off base.....but maybe not.
Rick April 18, 2012 at 06:19 AM
I'm rethinking opening my small business in Albertville now. This council appears to be pretty dysfunctional. And I agree with SH above. Why is Hendrickson the only person that had a list of complaints? One can wonder if we're going to see sexual harrassment allegations come out of the woodwork on this one.
Mike April 18, 2012 at 02:32 PM
Albertville, like the rest of the nation, is suffering a depression. I'm guessing there would be no firing and all would be well if we were still pre 2008. Kruse is a scapegoat for the pent-up frustration with our putrid economy. Grow business? How can anyone other than Dickenson North Dakota grow business in this economy! In addition, Albertville is running out of land and is land locked. Some 10 years ago, St. Michael and the Frankfort Township urged Albertville to join with them and make a powerhouse in the exurbs. Of course, we couldn't do that. Ancient towny rivalries and slights from the 1800's must be honored. And so we become New Osseo!
Katie April 18, 2012 at 02:32 PM
I'm not saying she (and the Council, in general) can't express their concerns of him being unprofessional. However, I think there are much better ways of handling it than the course they took. Talk to him, warn him, suspend him, fire him in the end if that is what they see needs to be done. What I have a problem with is them being quick and secretive about it, especially with two of the Council members being UNAWARE of the issues.
Rick April 18, 2012 at 09:26 PM
Mike, not to argue with you, but there is still plenty of undeveloped land in Albertville for building. The real issue here is (imho of course) people in this city for some unknown reason want Albertville to become some huge metropolis. I moved here to get away from that. Everything I need is within ten miles, yet people are clamoring for bix box stores (won't happen, population density isn't and won't be there) and industry to move into town. On another front, businesses and this economy will NOT move with the current regulatory environment that was elected in to office Nov. 2008. Business is now slighly growing and hiring namely because of the amount of people retiring. Businesses were not replacing those people at first, now they're forced to. When you have a gvmt. that wants to close every coal fired powerplant and prevent pipelines from being built adding to the cost of energy we ALL pay, we'll have a moribund economy. Look at your electric bill. If it goes up 5% can you afford it? Probably and if not you can unplug something. How about the factory whose bill is $5,000 A DAY? That's about an extra $7,500 a month. And that's just the electric bill. How about the health care bill that will soak business? How about 1,100 new regulations added to the books last year? Companies are being fined for violations they knew nothing about unless of course they hire a consulting firm to do it for them, adding to the cost of business.
Rick April 18, 2012 at 09:26 PM
Continued: So manufacturing goes overseas and people scratch their heads wondering why. The answer is to get this current crop out of DC and get business friendly people in there. Firing Larry Kruse was not the answer. Merging cities is not the answer. Getting useless regualtions and government out of our lives would certainly be a good start though
Rick April 18, 2012 at 09:45 PM
Mike Schoemer wrote and asked me to opine on this, a little more detail... Let me make myself perfectly clear; I have zero inside knowledge nor has anyone approached me about my comment above of sexual harrassment. What I did do was read all of the comments above particularly "SH's" comment that Hendrickson was the point person and had approached Meehan about this. No one else had received complaints about Kruse which leaves me to wonder since Hendrickson is the only female board member, she is obviously more approachable with women who have experienced or been subjected to harrassment. Was it all business members complaining? City employees? Both? It appears it was more business owners, but that's just my observation. What I am really disturbed about is how this whole episode came about. Obviously since Kruse refused to resign at the Mayors request, then I doubt there's a skeleton in the closet. I'm bothered because the whole scene took on the appearance of a hit job. If there was an issue with Kruse and it was justified, the Council should have done the dignified thing and met with Kruse closed door. Employees can receive reviews and feedback as often as the employer wants to give them. Then reading the comments about the body language by some of the council members reeks of arrogance. Maybe come this November it's clean sweep time of this council.
Mike Schoemer (Editor) April 24, 2012 at 04:55 PM
Rick, thanks for clarifying. (See follow-up)
Whitney Houston April 26, 2012 at 08:24 PM
Rick, since you and Mr. S seem close to this situation. Was the Councilwomen pressured to hold back the information? This whole thing stinks to high heaven and it all starts and ends here with assumptions and character assassinations. Why did the city hire this city administrator after he was "Let go of his previous 3 city's", He probably thought that he could hold strong and the councilwomen would backdown. Councilman Soraenson and Kruse seem to have a tight relationship. Strange.........

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