Johnson resolution fails at council meeting

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by Dennis Dalman

A resolution concerning refugees submitted by council member Jeff Johnson was defeated by fellow members at the Nov. 6 St. Cloud City Council meeting.

The vote was 6-1 with only Johnson voting in favor.

Johnson’s resolution, which he first proposed several weeks ago, caused controversy, including support and opposition, from many residents in the greater St. Cloud area. A story about local reactions to the proposal was published recently in the Newsleaders.

Johnson, who represents Ward 4 in the city, called for a moratorium on new (“primary”) refugees to St. Cloud until there is a full accounting from Lutheran Social Service of Minnesota, which aids refugees with federal funds. Johnson also requested a study to determine how much city money is spent on refugee settlement.

St. Cloud Mayor Dave Kleis said several times that no city money is spent on refugees. Lutheran Social Service has stated it has always been transparent about its work with refugees.

In late October, in reaction to Johnson’s proposal, fellow council members voted 5-1 to pass their own resolution describing St. Cloud as supporting a “just and welcoming community.” St. Cloud council member George Hontos, who was absent when that resolution was approved in late October, said later he believes the impact of refugees should be discussed by the council, but he is not in favor of Johnson’s resolution because, in his opinion, it’s misguided and inappropriate.

The “just and welcoming” resolution was then approved again at the Nov. 6 meeting on a vote of 6-1, with Johnson voting against it.

Johnson’s resolution also drew opposition and some support from other areas of Minnesota.

contributed photo
St. Cloud City Council member Jeff Johnson9

Author: Dennis Dalman

Dalman was born and raised in South St. Cloud, graduated from St. Cloud Tech High School, then graduated from St. Cloud State University with a degree in English (emphasis on American and British literature) and mass communications (emphasis on print journalism). He studied in London, England for a year (1980-81) where he concentrated on British literature, political science, the history of Great Britain and wrote a book-length study of the British writer V.S. Naipaul. Dalman has been a reporter and weekly columnist for more than 30 years and worked for 16 of those years for the Alexandria Echo Press.

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