Kysylyczyn 'cease and desist' demand
Police reports, allegations fly
George Fairbanks, Roseville Review news editor
Is it civic duty or slander? Free speech or harassment? A legal warning or fodder for a police report? The latest confrontation between former Roseville mayor John Kysylyczyn and current City Manager Neal Beets may end up with the courts having to decide.
'Cease and desist' Though there has long been friction between the pair, it's reached a new intensity as Beets applies for jobs with other cities. Unlike the process when someone seeks a job with a private employer, a city manager's search is often public from first application, and receives even more scrutiny when he or she is named a finalist for a position. However, Beets apparently feels the comments offered by Kysylyczyn to potential employers and to reporters have more to do with bashing than background. In a letter to Kysylyczyn dated May 18, Beets states: "This letter shall serve as your notice that I will not tolerate further efforts on your part, or on the part of people with whom you may associate, to sabotage my job search with slander and defamation. "For the last few months, you have stalked me through harassing e-mails and other communications designed to put me in a false light with potential employers. You have copies of e-mails, and I have obtained some from various cities. I also have obtained information from officials in West Linn, OR, and Framingham, MA, about the contacts you have made there about my employment applications."
Volleys through the press
Beets declined to be interviewed for this article, but Kysylyczyn was eager to share his perspective. According to Kysylyczyn, when he read in the April 27 edition of the MetroWest Daily News in Framingham, Mass. that Beets claimed he would bring "conciliation" to town meetings, he took exception. Kysylyczyn charges Beets has been unable to provide harmony at Roseville City Council meetings during his tenure. So, Kysylyczyn contacted the reporter who wrote the Metro West Daily News article and also sent an e-mail to elected officials in Framingham expressing his disagreement with Beets' statement. In a MetroWest article published April 29, Kysylyczyn explains his opposition to how Beets handled an alcohol compliance issue and is quoted as saying: "The key is he has violated the trust of the city council." Beets also responds to Kysylyczyn in the article, saying: "He has some obsession or fixation that drives him to do this stuff." The article then states: "Beets said he hopes the board considers Kysylyczyn's pattern of filing complaints against city officials. Selectmen doing the hiring in Framingham could "open the phone book at random" and talk to Roseville residents to learn about Kysylyczyn's history, Beets said. "They'll tell you the guy's got issues, and I hope people consider the source and understand the con," Beets said in the article. Kysylyczyn says he simply called the newspaper in Framingham to offer a differing opinion. He said he didn't call any officials in Framingham and hasn't called elected officials in any other of the communities where Beets has applied. But he thinks other people with similar concerns have been making phone calls. "I know for a fact people were calling out there," Kysylyczyn said. Kysylyczyn also said he has contacted communities with general questions about their hiring processes as part of a public information request. "It's no big deal," Kysylyczyn said, adding that in his work with city government, he's made countless public information requests. Kysylyczyn also said he was contacted by a reporter from Saginaw, Mich., where Beets applied for a position.
Police reports filed
After receiving Beets' cease-and-desist letter, Kysylyczyn took it to the Roseville Police Department to have police give it a case number and file it, not, he said, to pursue charges, but to make the letter part of the public record. Kysylyczyn thinks the letter was written in retaliation for his filing a police report in January accusing Beets of overstepping his position by reducing the punishments of Old Chicago, Green Mill and the Roseville VFW Post No. 7555, for failing liquor compliance checks last summer. The city's liquor ordinance designates the City Council to hear appeals of the penalties, which in each case called for a $500 fine and a one-day suspension. Beets stayed the one-day liquor license suspensions for the businesses and VFW post. Beets was cleared of criminal misconduct in the incident by the Maple Grove city attorney, who handled the matter in order to avoid conflict of interest. Kysylyczyn also thinks the City Council should address Beets' letter at an upcoming meeting. "The letter is an issue I believe they're obligated to discuss," he said. Kysylyczyn tried to read the letter at the podium during the May 22 Council meeting but was quickly rebuffed by Mayor Craig Klausing, who said he believed the letter was between two private citizens and therefore inappropriate to read at a public meeting. Klausing also criticized Kysylyczyn directly. "The degree of your personal animus, and the way you go after people individually, is just chilling and frightening to me," Klausing said at the meeting. For now, Kysylyczyn isn't taking any specific action with regard to Beets' letter. However, he has spoken to attorney and was told: "Don't respond until you're served, that's when you respond."
New web site At the June 20 city council meeting, Kysylyczyn announced he has opened a new web site called www.rosevillecitymanager.com. The site declares its mission as: "Seeking to disseminate factual documented information and clearly attributed opinions from community leaders about the work of Roseville City Manager Neal Beets." As with the letter, Beets declined to comment on the site. Council Member Dean Maschka, however, did comment. "I think it's typical of John," Maschka said. "I have no idea why he's doing this to Mr. Beets; he hired him." When asked why he did in fact vote to hire Beets during his term as mayor, Kysylyczyn responded: "I don't know if there was specifically one thing." For his part, Maschka doesn't think the site will see much action. "Oh, well, I'm sure it's getting thousands and thousands of hits," Maschka said dryly. As of Thursday afternoon, the site, according to its tracker, had received 2,070 hits. Mayor Klausing doesn't plan to frequent the site. "I haven't looked at it," he said. "I don't have any plans to look at it."
The search goes on
Beets is currently a finalist for the city manager's position in Eau Claire, as is former Maplewood city manager Richard Fursman. Additionally, both men are applicants in Federal Way, Wash. Beets and Fursman had their second interviews in Eau Claire on June 22. The opening in Eau Claire also includes an internal candidate with several years of experience in that city. Fursman was fired in Maplewood after a new mayor and two new council members were elected; Maplewood Mayor Diana Longrie said at a meeting that Fursman did not share her "vision" of the city's direction. Following the firing, rumors began circulating that Kysylyczyn was offered the position; however, Kysylyczyn was adamant he was not offered the position. "There's a lot of rumors of me being offered jobs in Maplewood," he said. Kysylyczyn added he's been asked about the position by community members, but not by anyone linked to Maplewood in any official capacity. However, had someone contacted him about the position, Kysylyczyn said he would have listened. "My philosophy is you look at every opportunity that comes down the road," he said. But for now, he's content to continue raising his two children full-time. "I already have a job," Kysylyczyn explained, "I'm not job hunting." Whatever the reason, the job searches Beets cited in his letter as having a Kysylyczyn contact ‹ and the one Kysylyczyn himself mentioned ‹ have so far come up empty. In West Linn, Ore., Chris Jordan, a former Lake Oswego assistant city manager, was chosen in November, 2005 as city manager out of a field of 26 applicants. In Framingham, Mass., in late May, selectmen hired Julian Suso, a former city manager from Mentor, Ohio. Similar to Fursman, Suso has supporters and detractors in Mentor; he reportedly was fired from his job there after three new council members were elected. And, most recently, in Saginaw, city councilors voted June 5 to hire interim manager Darnell Earley, the only other finalist besides Beets.
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