FREMONT – The Fremont City Council will hold their regular meeting tonight, Tuesday, February 12th, beginning at 7PM. Walnut Radio will broadcast the full city council meeting on our live stream. CLICK HERE TO LISTEN LIVE.
Parties interested in hearing the meeting can attend in person or listen to our live stream. The study session begins at 6:45PM at the City Council Chambers at 400 E Military Avenue, with the meeting following immediately afterward.
Last month’s contentious council meeting lasted for six hours – finally adjourning around 1:30AM. This month’s agenda is ten items shorter, but some items introduced by Council members Yerger and Jacobus are expected to generate discussion.
Among the unfinished business from the last meeting, Yerger has requested status updates on investigations the City Attorney is conducting at the behest of City Council into whether or not council committee meetings held with the mayor are subject to the Open Meetings Act. A report submitted by the City Attorney to the Council in January explained that the DCHS Committee meetings are not subject to the Open Meetings Act, but that the UDC (unified development code) committee meetings are.
“The City Council is still empowered to perform it functions and duties,” stated the City Attorney in his report. “The Open Meetings Act is enforced by voiding formal actions taken at an improper meeting. See Neb. Rev. Stat. § 84-1414. The UDC Committee did not take any formal actions, they simply performed advisory functions and at the most only made recommendations. We have no evidence that any motion, resolution, rule, regulation, ordinance or hearings occurred at the meetings.” The City Attorney continued his explanation: “The same is true of the DCHS Committee. Even if it were determined that the DCHS Committee violated the Open Meetings Act, it too did not take any voidable formal action.”
In short, the penalty for violating the Open Meetings Act is to void all formal decisions made at non-publicized meetings; no formal decisions were made by either committee and there is nothing to void.
Item 30 in the New Business section is a follow-up to an issue first investigated at the request of the Council and Councilwoman Jacobus: namely, the purchase agreement & unpaid earnest money from RTG Medical to the City. Mayor Getzschman reached a settlement with RTG for $10,000 after RTG decided not to purchase a certain piece of city-owned property; instead RTG will purchase property at Gallery 23 East, keeping dozens of well-paying, highly sought after jobs in the city of Fremont.
The City Attorney gave his report at the last meeting, summarizing his investigation by saying, “Under the circumstances as we know them, it appears that the settlement is reasonable and the City probably collected more than it would have if litigation was commenced and won, once the expense of litigation and interrupted duty time for city personnel is considered. Neither does it appear that any individuals within the city government personally benefited from the settlement.”
Councilwoman Jacobus found this report insufficient, emailing the City Attorney on February 5th to request a more complete written report. “The report offered/received by Council did not identify and reference State Statutes nor the Fremont Municipal Code sections that control and were violated, nor did it provide accountability as was intended.” Jacobus now requests that the City Attorney spell out all statutes and codes that were impacted or violated in this situation. Furthermore, her email requests that the City Attorney write an opinion as to who, individually, is responsible for what she says is, “unauthorized revenue due to the taxpayers of Fremont,” and what the repercussions should be.
The Councilwoman has proposed a resolution on tonight’s agenda to legally require the City Attorney to prepare such a supplemental report.
Item 31 on the agenda is also a request from Councilwoman Jacobus to discuss the City’s Internal Policy as it pertains to a previously passed resolution (2019-021) that allows the City Council and/or its members to request information from the City Staff about any and all City activities, so long as that information doesn’t contain protected information under HIPPA, Attorney/Client privilege laws, or Work Product privileged laws. The internal policy at the city states, “HIPPA sensitive information and personnel records are to be specifically excluded, as are investigative records of law enforcement, social security numbers and credit related information,” and lays out the procedure for providing information to City Council or individual members thereof.