The Ramsey County Commission made a bold move Friday in special session.

The Ramsey County Commission made a bold move Friday in special session.
In an effort to help the Lake Region Law Enforcement Center (LEC) move forward through a complicated bout of administration difficulties, commissioners carried a four-to-one motion, appointing Ed Brown as a new LEC board member, to replace Bill Mertens, the former LEC board chairman.

Emotions were high Friday at the meeting, as both Brown and Mertens are also Ramsey County Commissioners.
“I’m the most informed person on that board, by far,” declared Mertens to a room full of commission and audience members Friday morning. “And your answer to asking me to resign on that {LEC} board is, no.”

“I am not going to be involved in a dictatorship,” added Mertens. “I am going to voice my opinion and the opinion of people that I . . .”
“This is not a dictatorship,” interrupted  Brown. “All of us are elected people.”
“Just because you want something doesn’t mean that everyone else does … I am the most informed person,” Mertens replied to Brown.

“It really doesn’t take a lot to be informed,” said Brown calmly.
“If this continues, the citizens of Ramsey County will pay,” said Mertens. “We need cooperation. We don’t need arguments and disappointments by everybody that can’t get along.”
Brown waited for a moment and when the room fell into a brief silence he announced, “I’d like to make a motion to remove Bill Mertens as a representative [on] the LEC board.”

Just a moment later, commissioner Myrna Heisler seconded the motion, followed by Mark Olson and Scott Diseth, Mertens was the only opposing vote. Following that, the commission voted to have Ed Brown act as a new LEC board member, replacing Mertens.
Mark Olson, the Ramsey County commission chair, addressed Mertens in closing: “I’m not out on, to use your word, a ‘witch hunt.’ I just want [the LEC] to run the way it’s supposed to run … I’m just talking about the center as a whole.”

Olson continued on, “When you have judges and lawyers and states attorneys and sheriffs and social workers – all these professional people working there day in and day out – that are calling for change, I just have to say that there’s a problem in the building. I really do,” stated Olson.
Next, Olson announced that Brown’s new LEC board member position was “effective immediately” before adjournment of Friday’s meeting.

Following the meeting, the audience members quickly vacated, leaving the council chambers empty, while Mertens stood silently near a hallway entrance.
Mertens then told the Journal, “Ramsey county commissioners decided that they wanted to have a different voice on the LEC board and,” he briefly paused to clear his throat. “That’s fine with me – as long as the intentions of the commissioners are to move the board forward and make the LEC problems less in the community.”

“The reason I seconded the motion for Brown is, I believe Ed Brown has the capacity to put emotion aside and work as a collected, thoughtful member of the Law Enforcement Center Board. He will not rest on his laurels,” said Heisler. “He will study the situation and he will help to lead the law enforcement center board forward in what needs to be done.”

“I think that removing someone who stands squarely behind everything that the [LEC]  administration has done over the last year, is the first step in fixing what’s wrong at the Law Enforcement Center … I have been listening to the professionals who are telling me that the law enforcement center is broken.”
“It was four to one so … Mertens was voted off,” reaffirmed Brown, on the commission appointing him as a new LEC board member.

Brown has agreed to act as an LEC board member in place of Mertens until November.
“I think [Mertens] got too involved in micromanaging,” said the newly appointed Brown. “I don’t think there’s any question about that.”

“He got too emotionally involved with it,” Brown told the Journal. “You’ve got to be able to take a step back and make good decisions and do the best thing you can for the community.”
Moving forward, Brown hopes “to get the LEC back on track” and advise it correctly.
“I think that’s the key,” he said.

“People need to get behind the situation and help us work through this as a law enforcement center board.”