To the Editor:
My name is Dan Waltenberg and I am running for the Plymouth City Council At-Large position. I have been working hard for the last few months and have had the pleasure meeting many great lifelong residents of Plymouth.
As I have been door knocking many people have brought to my attention that the incumbent was asked to resign from his position as city manager of Plymouth in 1992 because he was paid more than allowed by state law. I was initially doubtful that the citizens of Plymouth would have elected a city councilman having a history of accepting illegal payments.
One Plymouth resident, however, directed my attention to the following link (http://www.ag.state.mn.us/Resources/opinions/091493.HTM) and persuaded me to find additional records.
The current citizens of Plymouth have a right to know that Jim Willis accepted over $25,000 more than allowed by state law, that he resigned to avoid liability, and that Mark Dayton singled out Jim Willis’s severance package as being excessive. I have attached a copy of the News clip from the Star Tribune dated Oct. 1, 1992, which corroborates the stories that I have heard on the campaign trail.
Given the importance of elected officials keeping the public trust, I believe that this issue must be publicized and covered so that the citizens of Plymouth can make an informed decision come Tuesday, Nov. 6.
Thank you for your help with this matter.
Below and posted with this letter is the Star Tribune article.
Published: October 1, 1992
Ex-Plymouth official to give back overpayment with interest
By Dan Freeborn; Staff Writer
A former Plymouth city manager recently agreed to repay the city $25,782 with interest after an internal review showed that he had been overpaid.
Plymouth Mayor Kim Bergman said in a statement that the city's contract with former City Manager Jim Willis violated a state law that limits salaries for public officials. The City Council inherited the 1989 contract from the previous Plymouth administration.
Willis' extra compensation came in the form of premium payments on a life insurance policy and a $17,500 car for personal and business use. His contract included a city-paid $450,000 insurance policy under which Willis picked the beneficiary. There also were two other city-paid policies on Willis' life: one with the city as beneficiary and the other with a beneficiary named by Willis.
The review showed the city had been paying $32,169 annually for Willis' life insurance.
In July, the City Council forced Willis to resign and his $169,718 severance package was criticized by state Auditor Mark Dayton.
The package included one year's salary, a consulting contract, the car, the life insurance policy and other benefits. Dayton called the deal "excessive and outrageous" and urged the city to review it.
Judith Johnson, a spokeswoman for the state auditor's office, said Willis' repayment combined with the $13,000 cash value of two of the insurance policies amounts to a savings of nearly $40,000 for Plymouth taxpayers.
Under the agreement, Willis will repay the money without admitting liability, wrongdoing or that he violated any state or federal laws.
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