Marisa Agha, Pioneer Press
August 1, 2003

It was a close call, but the city of Roseville will foot the bill for Mayor John Kysylyczyn's criminal defense.

In a 2-1 vote Thursday night, the Roseville City Council voted to reimburse the mayor $17,802.91 for his legal bill stemming from charges of misconduct and conflict-of-interest. Those charges, which were dismissed in March, related to Kysylyczyn voting last year to pay his legal bill on an earlier, unrelated matter.

Heeding the city attorney's advice, Kysylyczyn passed the gavel to a colleague and did not vote Thursday night. The council's decision hinged on a review by City Attorney Scott Anderson, who said Kysylyczyn's attorney Richard Kyle's bill was "within the range" of what he expected.

Council Members Tom Kough and Greg Schroeder voted in favor of the payment; Council Member Dean Maschka dissented. Council Member Craig Klausing was absent.

Schroeder, who presented the bill to the council on Thursday, said he raised the matter now because it was time "just to get it done."

Kough said he sympathized with the mayor's struggles.

"It's a very hard decision," Kough said. "I feel that the mayor's gone through an awful lot of hardships. We have to make a tough decision, and we have to go on with our business."

Maschka said he opposed action when the full council wasn't present, and he questioned why the special meeting was called when Klausing was gone. In addition, he said he needed to know how former City Attorney Joel Jamnik advised Kysylyczyn about paying the first legal bill.

Schroeder and Kough said they didn't know that Klausing would be gone when they called the meeting.

The money to pay the legal bill will come out of the city's reserves, city staff said.

The court case began last fall when White Bear Lake City Prosecutor Doug Meslow charged Kysylyczyn, after a five-week investigation by the Ramsey County Sheriff's Department. Meslow, now a state representative, took on the case when the law firm that handles Roseville's prosecutions said it had a conflict of interest.

The criminal case grew out of citizen Lillian Chiarella's complaint to the city's ethics commission. The Ethics Commission forwarded the criminal aspect of Chiarella's complaint to prosecutors before the panel's abrupt dissolution by the City Council.

In a related matter, Anderson told the council he found portions of a city ordinance related to the reimbursement of city officials' legal fees "exceedingly troubling" and he advised they talk about it soon.

After the decision, Kysylyczyn said he wants Anderson to research ways the council could be indemnified, both on criminal and civil fronts. The mayor stressed what he called the problem of "personal vendettas" in Roseville. Kysylyczyn suggested the prospect of each member having his or her own insurance policy to cover such matters.

Anderson said the council is covered for civil matters by a League of Minnesota Cities insurance trust and he didn't think insurance policies existed to cover criminal defense.

Marisa Agha, who covers north suburban Ramsey County, can be reached at or 651-228-2109.

2003 St. Paul Pioneer Press and wire service sources. All Rights Reserved.