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No cause as board appointee is yanked by mayor

WILLMAR — Willmar Mayor Frank Yanish changed his mind Monday night and withdrew an appointment he had planned to make to the Kandiyohi County and City of Willmar Economic Development Commission’s Operations Board.

Yanish did not explain to the council why he withdrew from the consent agenda the appointment of Shirley Carter, Rice Health Foundation executive director.

On the appointment application to boards, committees and commissions, Carter wrote she wanted to serve the community and she selected the Operations Board.

The seven-member Operations Board is comprised of individuals appointed from communities throughout the county.

The Joint Powers Board — comprised of three Willmar City Council members and three Kandiyohi County Board members — is the governing authority of the Economic Development Commission and make the appointments to the Operations Board, typically accepting recommendations received from the city or county.

Carter listed her experience in governance, administration and nonprofit management as special background or experience, and listed her educational background as holding a master’s degree in business administration.

In addition, she listed membership on the governing board of the Willmar Community-Owned Grocery.

In an interview Wednesday, Yanish said he talked to Carter before the council meeting about removing her name from consideration for the Operations Board.

“I determined that she was more valuable in other positions, so I plan to nominate her for another position,’’ said Yanish, adding he would like to appoint her to the Planning Commission.

“It’s just that I found another person that I’m thinking about appointing to the EDC board that would probably fit a little bit better than (Carter) does,’’ Yanish said.

Asked how Carter would not fit, Yanish acknowledged Carter’s degree in business administration, but he said that he was thinking about another person who also has a business degree and is in the private sector, as compared to working for the city.

Carter said Rice Health Foundation exists to support Rice Memorial Hospital, which is a city entity. She said the foundation, however, is a separate, nonprofit organization and is not a city entity.

Yanish said it is separate but similar.

“It is under the wing of Rice Hospital. I think it is separate. I’m not sure on that, to tell you the truth,’’ he said. “In my mind I thought she was a city employee or worked for the city, somehow connected to the city, yes. But it had nothing to do with the decision whatsoever. I felt she would fit better someplace else.’’

Yanish has appointed others with city ties to serve on city boards and commissions. He appointed Carol Laumer to the Municipal Utilities Commission while she was employed by Rice Home Medical.

Laumer, who was appointed to the MUC in January 2012, said in an interview that Rice Home Medical is a for-profit structure of the city-owned hospital but it is not an organization of city government. Laumer served as executive director there until the end of 2013.

In an interview, Carter said she was not surprised and she has no hard feelings.

“It will all work out in the end, I think,’’ she said.

Yanish said there isn’t any problem. The mayor said he has two very capable people in Carter and another person he would not yet identify, and said, “I want to make the best use of both.’’

Yanish said he will probably be absent at the Jan. 21 council meeting and would not make the appointment to the EDC Operations Board until the first meeting in February.

The Operations Board has its first meeting of the new year today. It will have two openings.

Milan Schmiesing of Willmar has served the maximum three three-year terms. Rick Nordin of Lake Lillian was appointed in 2011 but is unable to continue to serve because his business is expanding.

EDC Executive Director Steve Renquist said Wednesday that the mayor’s appointments come to the EDC as recommendations. Under the EDC joint powers agreement, the commission is the final appointing authority for the seven-member operations board.

“The joint powers board always in the past automatically accepted the county’s and city’s recommendation,’’ said Renquist. “The joint powers board is reviewing its options.’’

David Little
David Little covers the Willmar City Council, Willmar Municipal Utilities and other city news.
(320) 235-1150