The Brooklyn Park City Council on Monday, March 7, 2022 voted to censure Concilmember Boyd Morson for violation of the city's respectful workplace policy. Photo: Courtesy City of Brooklyn Park
The Brooklyn Park City Council on Monday, March 7, 2022 voted to censure Concilmember Boyd Morson for violation of the city's respectful workplace policy. Photo: Courtesy City of Brooklyn Park

Boyd Morson, elected in November 2020 to the Brooklyn Park City Council to represent the Central District, will be removed from his committee assignments and formally censured on Monday, March 7 after his six colleagues voted to direct the city’s attorney to prepare a resolution to that effect. He is accused of violating the city’s respectful workplace policy and elected officials code of conduct.

The move came after a closed session the Council held after all regular business had been concluded.

After emerging from the closed session, Mayor Lisa Jacobson tabled a motion “to direct the city attorney to prepare a resolution for adoption by the City Council censuring Councilmember Morson based on violations of the city’s respectful workplace policy and elected officials code of conduct.”

Mayor Jacobson’s direction to the city attorney said the resolution should include the removal of Councilmember Morson from all committees, commissions task forces and group assignments.

Most significantly, Morson will be barred from communicating directly with the rank-and-file city employees, instead channeling that communication through the city manager.

Among the points that the city council wants the resolution to include is that going forward, communication from Councilmember Morson directed to city staff and his council colleagues via email and social media, including public statements, “shall be professional and no longer threatening, abusive or disparaging.”

Mayor Jacobson immediately adjourned the meeting after the censure vote.

Contacted by phone Tuesday morning for comment, the outspoken Morson characterized the censure vote as mostly political.

“I am just being punished for speaking out on behalf of the marginalized in the city … they don’t like it — the city employees especially — the council just usually goes along with what staff want,” said Councilmember Morson.

Morson said in cities such as Brooklyn Park, the city manager and their staff wield too much influence on the part time Councilmembers.

“They don’t want someone like me coming in here and upsetting the status quo,” Morson said.

Ask whether his being stripped of committee assignments and ability to communicate with city staff restricted would make him a less effective Councilmember, Morson disagreed.

Without prompting Morson also offered that he is a ‘hugger’ and sometimes calls women “Babe” during conversations. He claimed some have interpreted it as sexual.

“If I call you ‘babe’ its just a term of endearment I don’t mean anything more than it is,” said Morson declining to elaborate further on whether sexual harassment is part of the reason his colleagues went into a closed session.

Morson’s term ends in 2024. The city’s Charter Commission which is tasked with the required redistricting after each census is in the process of completing new district maps. What appears to be the final map places Morson in the East District if adopted.

Councilmember Morson also viewed the resolution as an attempt to thwart his mayoral bid in November.

“That’s part of what this is all about,” Morson said.

After Mshale’s story on Tuesday, the city today released a redacted copy of findings of an investigation conducted by a Fergus Falls law firm that shed more light on what the closed session was about.  The law firm was hired to look into allegations of misconduct against Councilmember Morson. The complaint alleged that Morson aggressively communicated by email with a city employee and that he “engaged in some level of unwanted physical contact.”

The investigator’s report to the city found the employee’s allegations to be credible and that “she gains nothing by raising her concerns regarding the interaction with Morson.”

The report of findings also states that Morson did not avail himself for an interview with the investigator. Mayor Jacobson on January 27, 2022 had notified Morson in writing of the complaint against him by a city employee and that an outside attorney will be conducting the investigation.

The investigator in her final report states that she made multiple attempts to meet with Councilmember Morson to no avail. One of the exhibits that the investigator presented shows correspondence between her and Morson where the latter characterizes the investigation as a waste of taxpayers’ money that the city attorney, city manager and the mayor have “conjured up and found it necessary to advance.”

Among documents the city released Wednesday was a written statement from Mayor Lisa Jacobson that read “The people of Brooklyn Park – our residents, business owners, and city staff – expect their Mayor and City Council to govern the city with the highest degree of professionalism. Last night, we took steps that may lead to the censure of a councilmember due to the violation of the City’s Respectful Workplace Policy and the Elected Official Code of Conduct. I and my City Council colleagues will continue to work to ensure a safe and welcoming workplace for all.”

This story has been updated to include the statement from Mayor Jacobson and the release of the investigator’s findings against Councilmember Morson. The headline has also been updated to correctly reflect that the City Council did not censure him on Monday, Feb. 28 but that it voted for a resolution to be drafted so Councilmember Morson can be censured formally at the next Council meeting on March 7.

About Tom Gitaa Gitaa, Editor-in-Chief

Born and raised in Kenya's coastal city of Mombasa, Tom is the Founder, Editor-in-Chief and Publisher of Mshale which has been reporting on the news and culture of African immigrants in the United States since 1995. He has a BA in Business from Metro State University and a Public Leadership Credential from Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government. He was the original host of Talking Drum, the signature current affairs show on the African Broadcasting Network (ABN-America), which was available nationwide in the United States via the Dish Network satellite service. On the show, he interviewed Nobel laureates such as 2004 Nobel Peace prize winner, Professor Wangari Maathai, the first woman from Africa to win the peace prize and heads of states. Tom has served and chaired various boards including Global Minnesota (formerly Minnesota International Center), the sixth largest World Affairs Council in the United States. He has previously served as the first Black President of the Board of Directors at Books for Africa. He also serves on the boards of New Vision Foundation and the Minnesota Multicultural Media Consortium. He has previously served two terms on the board of the United Nations Association. An avid runner, he retired from running full marathons after turning 50 and now only focuses on training for half marathons.

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