Mayor to explain veto at tonight’s council meeting

 

A number of controversial legal issues the Dillon City Council has faced at its meetings this year could push their way back onto the rhetorical docket when the Council meets tonight.

Shortly after the start of the meeting, Dillon Mayor Mike Klakken will offer his explanation of his Monday veto of a resolution passed by the City Council at its last meeting on March 5, when the Council voted to make Klakken foot a $2,766 legal bill for work he hired a local attorney to perform on behalf of the city (see story on page A-1).

Klakken was not at the March 5 City Council meeting because he was attending a Montana Municipal Interlocal Authority (MMIA) Executive Academy conference in Bozeman that night. After finding out the MMIA event would conflict with the March 5 Dillon City Council meeting, Klakken had asked the Council members to reschedule their meeting, but they declined his request.

But Klakken will be on hand tonight, and has listed discussion of the Erb & Suenram bill as part of his Mayor’s Report to begin shortly after the start of the meeting.

Klakken had advised the Council at a meeting earlier this year that he hired Shaw under authority granted him in the city charter in order to answer a question that the Council itself had raised at its Jan. 15 meeting.

At that Jan. 15 meeting, the Council had refused to consent to Klakken’s appointments of Jim Dolan as city attorney and Neal D. Straus as city treasurer. Judiciary Committee Chair Lynn Westad told Klakken at that meeting that replacing current City Treasurer Ty Cobb and then-City Attorney Duke Gilbert with Straus and Dolan could open Dillon to an expensive legal fight, based on her interpretation of a recent Butte lawsuit.

Klakken subsequently hired Adam Shaw, of Dillon law firm Erb & Suenram, to review the matter and advise the city on his findings. Shaw told the Council at its Feb. 5 meeting that the Butte case did not apply to the situation facing Dillon.

But Cobb brought his own lawyer, Sherine D. Fernando—of Missoula law firm Datsopoulos, MacDonald & Lind — to the Feb. 5 meeting. Fernando asserted that even though Cobb’s latest two-year appointment as city treasurer expired at the end of last year, he remains an employee of the city.

Fernando put the City of Dillon “on notice” that it would open itself up to counter action based on the Wrongful Discharge Employment Act if Cobb was replaced without good cause.

The City Council tonight will also address some land and street issues recently moved forward by its Street & Alley Committee, which at its last meeting voted to recommend that the full Council:

 

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