Despite signing a letter that KBEW’s general manager called “an attempt of extortion,” a Blue Earth councilman will continue to serve.
After nearly one hour of public comment, the City Council chose not to vote on whether Councilman John Huisman should be removed.
Mayor Rick Scholtes told those in attendance he decided to put discussion of the letter on the Monday meeting agenda because of public inquiries.
“In the past week and a half I received numerous emails, texts and phone calls about what we were going to do,” says Scholtes.
Huisman and 13 people —- members of the county’s DFL Party — signed a letter expressing their displeasure that KBEW was airing a program called The O’Reilly Update and sent it to station management.
“We wanted our voice heard and to me that is the American way,” he says. “None of the 14 people released the letter to social media, we didn’t want that to happen.”
Huisman speculates that it was a staff member at the radio station who took a copy of the letter and posted it on social media.
That drew a sharp denial from station general manager Ron Revere, saying that employees were told not to make any comments about the letter publicly.
“How it got there I have no idea. It does bother me we were blamed for putting it on social media,” he says. “That is absolutely false.”
Revere admits he did make copies for business owners who requested one.
When asked what the council could do to reprimand Huisman, Scholtes explained that five of the seven council members would need to vote in favor of removing him.
Huisman could have resigned, but chose not to. He also serves on the Economic Development Authority board and plans to explain at their next meeting why he should remain a member.
Scholtes says the fifth-term councilman could still be subjected to a recall vote if 250 eligible voters who voted in the last election sign a petition.
The signatures would have to be verified of being valid and then the council would need to pass a resolution to hold a special election.
In the letter, members of the community and area would be asked to refrain from listening to KBEW and businesses owners encouraged not to advertise on the station.
Huisman says the county’s DFL Party held a special meeting recently and did not take action on the group’s recommendations.
“My employees felt it was a threat to destroy the radio station. It was a deliberate attempt to harm our business, we didn’t take that very well,” says Revere. “It was an attempt to scare us.”
In issuing an apology, Huisman says the group never intended to cause any harm to anyone.
“I am sincerely, truly sorry that this happened. If I could take it back, I would. One hundred times over,” he says. “It clearly was a mistake on my part.”
Revere accepted Huisman’s apology, saying it was time to move on.
Scholtes says the city does not have a code of conduct pertaining to council members and it is something that should be addressed in the future.