MARISA AGHA, Pioneer Press
October 22, 2002

Roseville city leaders banned Monday night the use of the City Council's chamber during business hours by non-government organizations.

In a 3-2 vote, the council decided that the chamber should be restricted to city-related business.

The move came in response to an Aug. 22 news conference held in the chamber by the Roseville Citizens Council for Fair and Open Government that called for the resignation of Mayor John Kysylyczyn.

Kysylyczyn denied that his opposition to the group's use of the chamber was related to its opposition of him, but rather what he called the "disruption" to city staff.

"What we saw happen here was just unbelievable," Kysylyczyn said, referring to the news conference. "Any disruption of staff cost the taxpayers' money."

Council Member Craig Klausing, who voted against the motion, told the mayor that he was acting out of his anger over the group's calling for his resignation, and not thinking about the larger issues. Klausing argued that the mayor was now "trampling on (citizens') First Amendment rights."

The mayor went on to question a police department employee and the city's finance director about how much city staff time and money was lost. The city staff reported that the cost was about $140 to cover the roughly 45 minutes that three police employees spent monitoring the meeting.

Though the council discussed the possibility of charging groups like the Roseville Bird Club and the Golden K Kiwanis Club to meet at the John Rose Minnesota Oval, the new policy will not affect groups at the Oval.

In response to the council's decision, the Citizens Forum, a civic discussion group, announced that it would have to cancel its first Nov. 1 and Nov. 8 meetings.

"Since we do not have a place to meet, we will not hold the meetings," said Dave Norrgard, the group's chairman. "We are non-partisan."

In other council action, the City Council voted 4-1 to approve the firm of Jensen, Bell, Converse & Erickson to continue handling the duties of city prosecutor. Though the council rejected the re-appointment last week, Council Member Tom Kough and Mayor John Kysylyczyn said a meeting related to what Kough called "accusations" would alleviate concerns. Council Member Greg Schroeder was the sole dissenter.

In a 3-2 vote, the law firm of Ratwik, Roszak & Maloney was approved to take on the city attorney duties, replacing the firm of Campbell Knutson. Council Member Tom Kough broke the tie, arguing that "it's just time to make a change."

Marisa Agha, who covers north suburban Ramsey County, can be reached at magha@ or (651) 228-210.

2002 St. Paul Pioneer Press and wire service sources. All Rights Reserved.