Mayor addresses Norman petitionPublished 9:55am Wednesday, June 27, 2012
Albert Lea Mayor Vern Rasmussen gave a brief response Monday night to the petition submitted earlier this month regarding former City Manager Jim Norman.folks
The mayor said the decision to prosecute was not the city’s to make. It was the prosecutor’s.
The petition, submitted by Albert Lea resident Kathy Diaz, questioned the past actions of the Albert Lea City Council, the former city finance director and other city leaders regarding Norman’s departure and subsequent criminal trial.
Called Save Albert Lea, the petition was made online through www.ipetitions.com and had 34 signatures when it was turned into the council at its June 11 meeting. On Tuesday it had 42 signatures.
The petition questioned why the Waseca
County Attorney’s Office did not drop charges against Norman for misusing the city-issued credit card for personal use in 2010, even after the city requested the charges be dropped as part of a separation agreement with him. And it questioned why the former finance director was not charged for using the city-issued credit card for a personal use.
When the trial went on, Norman was ultimately convicted of seven out of eight counts. He is now appealing the decision, part of which restricts him from obtaining employment or acting in a nonemployment capacity that requires him to be a fiduciary for any other person or organization.
Rasmussen said the city was not the entity to press charges against Norman, but that the only role the city had was in referring the allegations out of its jurisdiction for investigation.
He said the Waseca County Attorney’s Office chose to press charges, and it was ultimately a Waseca County prosecutor who chose not to drop Norman’s charges after the city requested to do so.
Al “Minnow” Brooks, who was mayor pro-tem at the time, received a phone call from the Waseca County prosecutor acknowledging she had received the city’s letter that asked Norman’s charges be dismissed but she did not expand further, Rasmussen said.
Rasmussen did not address a question in the petition that asked why charges have not been pursued against former Finance Director Rhonda Moen, who reportedly admitted during Norman’s trial that she had also used her city credit card for a personal purchase.
What it says
The wording of the Save Albert Lea petition at ipetitions.com:
We want the mayor and city council to know that we care about our city and we want the truth of what you’re hiding regarding Rhonda Moen and the reasons you refuse to press charges against her for using the city credit card for personal use. We also want to know why the Waseca County attorney did not drop charges when you asked her to. There should be written proof of this and we want to see it. Choosing who to prosecute and who not to should not depend on who you are or who you know. If you do the crime, you do the time and the City Council and mayor should not be protecting anyone.