Attorney General: Fargo Park Board Broke the Law With Meeting at Which Former Director Joel Vettel Resigned


North Dakota Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem has concluded that the Fargo Park Board broke open meeting law with too-vague agenda for a meeting at which former parks director Joel Vettel resigned.

“The vague topic ‘HR/Staff review’ did not sufficiently describe the specific topic the commmission [sic] clearly knew it would be discussing at the special meeting. The Fargo Park District violated the open meetings law,” a press release from the AG’s office reads.

What are the consequences of that?

“The district must review the meeting minutes from the July 2, 2019, special meeting and add in further details of what was specifically discussed,” the release states.

You can read the full opinion below.

It’s hard to say what good this opinion – which was requested by Fargo Forum news editor Archie Ingersoll – will do. The meeting is done, and while it’s nice the park board got slapped for the way they handled it, I suspect even expanded minutes from that meeting provided to the public will do much to answer the questions about what happened with Vettel.

As I wrote at the time news of Vettel’s resignation broke, not even North Dakota’s very strong open records laws can compel state officials to explain themselves.

Vettel is getting a golden parachute paid for by the taxpayers – he’s collecting over $100,000 in combined pay and benefits through the end of the year while he looks for a new job – but the taxpayers still don’t have any good answers as to why he left his job.

We have guesses we can base on certain facts uncovered by reporters using the open records laws, but should it really be a mystery?

The Fargo Park Board hired Vettel. They’re now paying taxpayer dollars to make him go away. Voters should get to know why that happened, if for no other reason than to better evaluate the performance of the board ahead of the next election.

Here’s the full opinion:

[scribd id=421870613 key=key-QZsohQeQvB39KtIJH1mU mode=scroll]