On March 7, three out of the five members of the Silver Bay City Council voted to remove Bent Paddle Brewing Co. products from the shelves of the municipal liquor store. This action caused Silver Bay to end up in headlines all over the state, and not for a good reason. The retaliatory action of another councilor on April 11 to not release the funds for a new truck for the fire department continued this saga of irresponsible behavior.
The question of removing Bent Paddle came up after an email was written to the council by Kevin Berglund, a Silver Bay resident of 18 years, asking for the removal due to the brewery's membership in the Downstream Business Coalition, a group of 89 businesses who oppose proposed copper mining projects in Northeastern Minnesota.
Councilors Richard DeRosier, Shane Hoff and Dustin Goutermont, who voted to remove Bent Paddle, all said they were concerned about a boycott of the liquor store by mine employees who feel that the brewery's involvement with the Downstream Business Coalition means the company is against all mining. Bent Paddle has said that isn't the case. There has never been any proof of a possible boycott and Berglund's email said nothing of the sort.
Councilor Carlene Perfetto said she felt the actions of the three councilors, who all serve on the volunteer fire department, constituted micromanaging the liquor store as well as its manager. Perfetto also said she felt that the vote could set a precedent of unnecessary micromanagement of city departments. The liquor commission had addressed the removal of Bent Paddle before the council meeting and recommended that the product remain on the shelves to allow consumers to decide whether to buy the product - because if a product isn't selling at the store, the manager won't buy it anymore for economic reasons.
Perfetto, who serves on the liquor commission, was not happy with the councilors' decision to ignore the unanimous vote by the liquor commission and decided to take matters into her own hands as a way of protesting that decision. Because DeRosier, Hoff and Goutermont serve as volunteer firefighters, a policy was put in place last year that requires a unanimous vote of all five councilors for any motion or resolution regarding the fire department. Perfetto was the only one to vote no on releasing the funds to purchase a new truck, causing the motion to fail.
Perfetto has told the News-Chronicle that she won't release the funds for the truck until either DeRosier, Hoff or Goutermont decide to reverse their decision on the removal of Bent Paddle. If the funds are not released soon, the truck may not arrive until next year and could cause a budgeting headache for the city.
We have serious concerns about the actions of these four councilors. Before this situation gets anymore out of hand, the councilors need to sit down and make things right. The City Council meets at 7 p.m. Monday at City Hall and we encourage Silver Bay residents to show up and make your voices heard. If this goes any further, the city may come to a standstill.