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Council discusses concerns with proposed inclusion resolution

In response to LGBT flag vandalism in April, fliers stating ‘All are welcome’ were passed out in Hudson. The vandalism was one of several incidents that prompted citizens to propose an inclusion resolution, which was discussed at the Hudson Common Council meeting on Monday, Aug. 7. Hudson Star-Observer file photo.

A resolution designating Hudson as an inclusive city was debated at the Hudson Common Council meeting on Monday, Aug. 7.

Council member Joyce Hall, who requested discussion of the resolution, said it is a good idea for the city to show its support for people.

Council member Randy Morrissette said he was taken aback by the resolution, saying Hudson has always been a welcoming community.

"I'm offended that some in our community feel we are not inviting to all," he said.

PREVIOSULY: More LGBT flags stolen in Hudson

Morrissette said he was also concerned the resolution would conflict with Assembly Bill 190, a proposed bill that would prohibit local resolutions that prohibit the enforcement of federal and state law relating to undocumented immigrants.

Hall said there was clearly confusion around what the ordinance would do.

"It does not establish a sanctuary city. That is not true," she said. "It would not require us to take in refugees."

The language of the resolution, which was written by the citizens who presented it, could generate legal issues, city attorney Catherine Munkittrick said. The resolution does not define what inclusion means, or what steps the city would take to achieve it. As it's written now, Munkittrick said it sets up a standard of inclusion that opposes what's in the state and national constitution, which the council has sworn to uphold.

"I don't know that it's necessary and it opens up a Pandora's box of legal issues," she said.

With the floor open to citizen comments, Catherine Lange said she herself faced adversity when she first moved to Hudson as a child, but she got through it. She said she feels bad about the police reports of stolen LGBT flags, though she is suspicious whether anybody did it at all or why, but said adversity is a part of life. She said instead of diversity the community should focus learning to overcome adversity.

"There's no way you can mandate kindness," she said.

Wendy Zeller said the legal language of the resolution can be addressed, but the sentiment should remain. As an example she cited River Falls, which passed a resolution inclusion in 2007 with the National League of Cities.

"We're asking for your thoughtful conversation and willingness to work with us on this and willingness to at least feel that this is something to be inspired to," Zeller said. "and not something to treat immediately with hostility and ridicule."

Bob Long said though the proposal brings up real issues that need to be discussed, he does not see the need for a resolution.

"A resolution really doesn't do anything because what really matters is how we live our lives," Long said.

Liz Malanaphy said the community needs to think about and discuss diversity in the city.

"The people who are a minority in this city, and it's none of you in this room hardly at all, possibly one or two, do not understand what it's like to live in a city where you are different," she said.

Small statements, like flying LGBT flags or a resolution like this, do make a difference to those people, she said.

After hearing public comments, Council Member Jim Webber said the resolution needs work, but the city should continue the discussion.

"This room is not very diverse, this council is not very diverse so we really don't appreciate perhaps the people who are discriminated against," he said.

Mayor Rich O'Connor sent the resolution to the public safety committee, finance committee and plan commission to review the language.

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In other business, during the public comment section Paul Berning proposed a resolution to the council that states that if St. Croix County became a sanctuary county, the city would withhold its support. This would include withholding room tax revenue from the county.

"Step up and send a message showing that we stand behind the safety of our citizens," Berning said.

The idea of sanctuary was brought up by Supervisor Roy Sjoberg at the January St. Croix County Board of Supervisors meeting. Sjoberg said it should be a part of the county's discussion while setting policy. The topic has not appeared on a meeting agenda, and has not been discussed by the board since then. It has come up in a few public comments at meetings.

Council Member John Hoggatt asked if this is something the city should wait on until the county makes a decision on it. Mayor Rich O'Connor said he and city staff would look into it.

Rebecca Mariscal

Rebecca Mariscal joined the Hudson Star Observer as a reporter in 2016. She graduated from the University of St. Thomas with a degree in communication and journalism. 

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