Council votes on settlement with former Landfall employee

A settlement has been reached between a former Landfall employee who was fired by the city council in August 2012 and two elected officials.

Colleen Arndt was mobile park manager for the city of 700 residents for just five months in 2012. City administrator Mike Ericson said the council met in a special session Thursday, Oct. 23, and voted to approve a financial settlement agreement between attorneys representing Arndt and two city officials.

On Monday, Oct. 27, Ericson said he was unable to say anything publicly regarding the settlement amount and other details, but said the city would be releasing that information this week.

Arndt sued former mayor Greg Feldbrugge for alleged sexual harassment and council member Ron Sanoski for alleged wrongful termination. Additionally, she has sued the city's Housing and Redevelopment Authority.

An attorney representing them in this case, Chuck Bethel, declined to comment prior to the meeting.

The original firing

At an Aug. 8, 2012 meeting, council members voted to terminate Arndt and former city attorney Kevin Shoeberg, following the end of his contract, which expired 90 days after the motion passed 3-1.  In an August 2012 interview with the Review, council member Ron Sanoski said he was prompted to make the motion to fire Arndt and Shoeberg because he did not approve of the way the park was managed.

The move to fire the pair came as a surprise to most on the council, because the motion was not on the Aug. 8 Landfall City Council meeting agenda.

According to an agreement between the Washington County Housing and Redevelopment Authority and the Landfall Housing and Redevelopment Authority, council members must give the WCHRA written notice prior to making any property management decisions. The WCHRA owns the land the manufactured home park sits on; Landfall's HRA managed the park before the WCHRA took over.

Emotions ran high

In a 2012 interview with the Review, Sanoski said he and council member Sally Eral spoke about firing Arndt and Shoeberg and drafted letters of termination before the Aug. 8, 2012 meeting. Both council members said they were the only ones on the five-person council aware of the possible terminations.

According to Minnesota's open meeting law, a violation would have taken place if one other council member was aware of the motions before the meeting, but if a quorum was not established the law was not broken.

Sanoski said Arndt acted more like a “dictator” than a park manager, because of the way she treated residents and the council.  He and many in Landfall disagreed with her about the city's eviction process. 

After Arndt was fired, cheers and applause could be heard in the council chambers, mayor Jim Dumer told the Review.

“After she got fired, the crowd roared in applause,” he said. “It was jovial. There were people actually sobbing that this happened.”

The former park manager reportedly threw a fit after being fired by the council. A Maplewood police officer present at the meeting, deputy chief Dave Kvam, told the Review Arndt “flipped everyone off” outside of city hall when she exited the building, and she later broke a fish aquarium when packing up belongings from her office, he said.

Joshua Nielsen can be reached at jnielsen@lillienews.com or 651-748-7822.

 

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