Lisa Hanson, Owner of the Interchange: Wine and Coffee Bistro needs your help! 

For various reasons, the City Of Albert Lea has opted not to renew the lease with Lisa and The Interchange. 

Email Exchange Between Lisa and City Manager Ian Riggs: 

—- On Wed, 02 Jun 2021 09:02:46 -0500 Ian Rigg <IRigg@ci.albertlea.mn.us> wrote —-

Lisa Hanson,

Below is Chapter 6 of the City Charter.  Section 6.02 sub 1 with Section 6.06 gives the City Manager Authority to approve contracts and bids that are below the City’s threshold dollar amount (currently $100,000 per our policy).  Given this lease is a contract, and below the threshold, even if said threshold included revenue, I have authority to both approve and let lapse the lease agreement with the Interchange. Even though I do have this authority to manage, it does not mean I am not without direction from the elected representatives of the community. I have determined that the Jacobson building should remain empty once the lease has naturally expired. Excluding the huge liability implication, the costs to work around a tenant, contractor flexibility, storage of materials and more to the loss of revenue from the tenant for approximately one year are not equal. In addition to the construction project that closes off the leasing potential of the space for approximately all of 2022, we have to consider other factors such as payment history and other lease adherence matters.

The reason this is important is post construction staff and Council may wish to re-evaluate rent levels, use of the building and more.  This project is going to require $300,000 of City funds to fix the façade and we have an obligation to look at the most viable way to recuperate as much of the cost as possible. As I stated to you earlier the construction aspect is key and we are obligated to make those repairs. That obligation will leave us in a new position to consider all options from rent increases, use of the remaining levels, and maybe selling to a potential investor if the grants used to pay the other $300,000 allows it. While you may look at the withholding of 12 months of rent as a standard or harmless negotiation tactic to get rent free space, justifying this action as the fault of the City’s protective scaffolding in November/December 2019 significantly harming your business, I feel differently when it comes to protecting the public’s financial interests.

CHAPTER 6. – ADMINISTRATION OF CITY

Sec. 6.01. – City manager.

Subdivision 1. The city manager is the chief administrative officer of the city. The manager is appointed by the city council solely on the basis of training, experience, and executive and administrative qualifications. With the approval of the council, the manager may designate some properly qualified person to perform the duties of the manager during the absence or disability of the manager or while the office is vacant.

Subdivision 2. The city manager is appointed for an indefinite term and may be removed at any time by an affirmative vote of a majority of the council. After having served for one year, the manager may demand written charges and a public hearing on the charges before the council prior to the date when the final removal takes effect. After the hearing, if one is demanded, the council may either reinstate the manager or make the removal final. Pending the hearing and removal, the council may suspend the manager from office and appoint an acting manager.

Sec. 6.02. – Manager, powers and duties.

Subdivision 1. The manager is responsible to the council for the administration of the city’s affairs. The manager has the powers and duties specified in this section.

Subdivision 2. The manager must [ensure] that this Charter, the laws, ordinances and resolutions of the city council are enforced.

Subdivision 3. The manager appoints officers and employees of the city on the basis of merit and fitness. The manager’s appointment of a department head is subject to city council approval and that approval must be given no later than 30 days after the date of appointment. If the council does not approve the appointment within the 30-day period, the appointment is not approved. The manager may remove or suspend appointed officers and employees of the city.

Subdivision 4. Except as otherwise provided by this Charter or law, the manager directs departments and divisions of the city administration.

Subdivision 5. The manager must attend meetings of the council. The manager may take part in discussion at council meetings but may not vote. The council may exclude the manager from a meeting at which the manager’s removal is considered.

Subdivision 6. The manager may recommend to the council for adoption measures deemed necessary for the welfare of the people and the efficient administration of the city’s affairs.

Subdivision 7. The manager must keep the council fully advised on the financial condition and needs of the city and prepare and submit the annual budget to the council.

Subdivision 8. The manager performs the other duties prescribed by law, this Charter or by the council.

Sec. 6.03. – Departments.

The council may create departments, divisions and other units of the city administration consistent with this Charter and law.

Sec. 6.04. – Officers.

The other officers of the city are the city clerk and the other officers subordinate to the city manager created by the council by ordinance or resolution. The clerk is responsible for the keeping of city records, and, under the direction of the manager, the general administration of the city’s affairs. The council may by ordinance abolish offices that have been created by ordinance and combine the duties of various offices.

Sec. 6.05. – Purchases and contracts.

The manager is the chief purchasing agent of the city. Purchases and contracts may be made by the manager when the amount of the purchase or contract does not exceed the amount for which competitive bids are required by law unless a lower limit is set by the council by resolution. Other purchases and contracts are made by the council on recommendation of the manager. Except for contracts that the manager is authorized to make by this section, contracts, bonds and instruments to which the city is a party must be signed by the mayor and the manager on behalf of the city.

Sec. 6.06. – Contracts; bids.

City contracts must be made in compliance with law. When competitive bids are submitted the contract must be awarded to the lowest responsible bidder. The council may by ordinance adopt additional regulations for making city contracts.

Ian Rigg

City Manager
City of Albert Lea

221 E Clark Street, Albert Lea, MN 

56007-2421

507-377-4330   

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Lisa’s Response: 

Greetings Ian,

The Section 6.02 to which you referred as granting you the unilateral authority to cancel my lease is misplaced if not outright fraud.  It is clear from this section that your power to make contracts is in the nature of your function as the chief purchasing agent for the city.  There is no delegated authority for you to act as you have with respect to terminating my lease as a “contract” in your function as a purchasing agent.  At best, you may make a recommendation to city council to adopt measures for the welfare of the people and the efficient administration of the city’s affairs.   See Sec. 6.02, subd. 6.  However, you have not made such a recommendation to city council and you have acted in this matter without its direction to do so and without authority of the city ordinance.

Without direction from city council, you have usurped your delegated authority and have acted to harm my business by terminating the lease under which my business operates.  From appearances, you have made the personal determination to end my lease and have then “justified” the personal decision with “airy” financials purporting to put the city in a better financial position in the future.

As you have made claim to have unilaterally acted to terminate my lease through the City Attorney and without the delegated authority and without the direction of City Council, the act of termination must be considered void as having no authority in the ordinance.

I will be making an appearance at an upcoming city council meeting to make an issue of your ultra vires* act.

Sincerely,

Lisa Hanson

The Interchange

211 S Broadway Av

Albert Lea, MN 56007

*Ultra vires: beyond one’s legal power or authority.

Lisa’s Email to City Council and Mayor: 

Hello Gentlemen,

I am writing you today as I have CC’d each of you on an email response sent to Ian Rigg. (Previously sent)  Please take the time to read this email in it’s entirety.  

To my knowledge, you were informed, after the fact, that Ian Rigg had acted unilaterally to terminate my lease with the city at end of term being December 31, 2021. The letter of termination came soley with the signature of Kelly Martinez, Albert Lea City Attorney. I spoke with Ms. Martinez to inquire why the lease had been terminated. In speaking with her she infomed me the decision to terminate had come soley from Ian Rigg. 

I called Mr. Rigg to inquire why he had terminated the lease. In our conversation he informed me that he had made the decision to terminate without consulting with the city council. I asked him if he had the authority as city manager to make a unilateral decision of this nature. He responded that he believed he did in fact have the authority and would look at the city charter to confirm. Hence, the email from Ian I have CC’d you on.

Gentlemen, I implore you to consider your duty to serve the People of Albert Lea and hold those that work for the city accountable. I ask you to support the business owners of the community. I ask you to support the people, like myself and my family, who have been an asset to the city for more than a quarter of a century. My husband, Vern and I, have raised our 8 children, raised and continue to run two businesses where we employ many families, and have been involved for many years in community efforts as volunteers. 

Most of our children live and work in the city and are raising their own families here as well. Four of our children have recently purchased homes in the city/county. They attend church in Albert Lea. They volunteer. They spend money and pay taxes in the city. They are voters.

Our businesses are somewhat unique in that they not only serve the good people of this community but in addition they attract clients and guests from surrounding communities and states. We’re not the biggest and most influential businesses in the city, however our businesses are a very important part of this community for many reasons.

A-Best Sew & Vac, established in 1994, has grown to become one of the largest single location ‘sew & vac’ stores in the country. It employs/supports 15 families. It brings guests from hundreds of miles away as well as locally to special multi-day events. Some of these guests stay overnight in our hotels, eat at our restaurants, purchase fuel, shop in other stores, etc. It’s very exciting and rewarding to be a part of building a busniness that has been a great asset to our community. 

The Interchange’s story is much the same although a much younger business of 7 1/2 years, it draws guests from I-90 and I-35 as they are literally travelling from coast to coast, and border to border. We have repeat guests that come from other countries; Germany, Sweden, and more. They fly into MSP and on their way through they pull off the interstate just to come and have a great cup of coffee, grab a bite to eat, etc. While in our city we know some also shop other stores and enjoy our beautiful, historic downtown. We are known as a well-loved gathering place by locals and surrounding communities.  

When The Interchange was fully operating it employed up to 10 people, full and part time. Every Friday night for several years we offered Live Music where local and regional musicians and bands came to entertain our guests. We loved hosting Trivia Night, Wine & Beer Tasting events, Art shows, community and private events including but not limited to: graduation open houses, bridal showers, baby showers, groom’s dinners, retirement parties, fashion shows, Wind Down Wednesdays, just to name a few. It is our hope we will open again and be that well-loved coffee shop we have been known for the last several years.

The termination of the lease dashes all hopes of reopening and I am left with all the debt and nothing to sell. 

Each of you, as our elected officials, have a duty to serve the people of the community and support and promote local businesses. Through hard work, blood, sweat and tears we have built our businesses in Albert Lea, MN. The city will sometimes incentivize companies to move into the city. Our businesses are what are considered to be ‘organic’ businesses. Organic growth is the process by which a company expands on its own capacity. In an organic growth strategy, a business utilizes all its own resources. 

In addition:

To my knowledge Albert Lea is the only city in the state that allowed the city attorney to do the Attorney General’s dirty work and criminally charge one of its own for standing on God-given, unalienable rights protected by the Minnesota Constitution and the Constitution for the United States of America. I’m asking you to perform your duty, use your voice and your authority to put an end to the insanity coming from the city attorney’s office.

Thank you for your time. Feel free to call me.

Lisa Hanson

MLH Enterprises, LLC

d/b/a The Interchange


City Of Albert Lea Employee Contact Info: 

City Council

Vern Rasmussen, Jr.
Mayor

1426 Edgewater Dr.
507-377-1540

mayor@ci.albertlea.mn.us
Term Expires 12/31/22

Rich Murray
First Ward Councilor

124 Ridge Road
507-383-1530
rmurray@ci.albertlea.mn.us
Term Expires 12/31/24

Larry Baker
Second Ward Councilor

1315 Lakeview Blvd.
507-402-6313
lbaker@ci.albertlea.mn.us
Term Expires 12/31/22

Jason Howland
Third Ward Councilor

1023 4th Avenue South
507-438-1098
jhowland@ci.albertlea.mn.us
Term Expires 12/31/24

Reid Olson
Fourth Ward Councilor

1110 Richway Dr.
507-373-2769
reolson@ci.albertlea.mn.us
Term Expires 12/31/22

Robert Rasmussen
Fifth Ward Councilor

603 St. Peter Avenue
507-279-7635
rrasmussen@ci.albertlea.mn.us
Term Expires 12/31/24

Al “Minnow” Brooks
Sixth Ward Councilor

1402 Academy
507-373-9024
abrooks@ci.albertlea.mn.us
Term Expires 12/31/22

 

 

 

City Staff

Ian Rigg
City Manager

221 E. Clark Street
507-377-4330
irigg@ci.albertlea.mn.us

Kristi Brutlag
Finance Director

221 E. Clark Street
507-377-4305
kbrutlag@ci.albertlea.mn.us

JD Carlson
Director of Public Safety

411 S. Broadway
507-377-5665
jcarlson@ci.albertlea.mn.us

Peggy Havener
Library Director

211 E. Clark Street
507-377-4350
phavener@ci.albertlea.mn.us

Steven Jahnke
Public Works Director

221 E. Clark Street
507-377-4325
sjahnke@ci.albertlea.mn.us

Daphney Maras
City Clerk

221 E. Clark Street
507-377-4335
dmaras@ci.albertlea.mn.us

Kelly Martinez
City Attorney

221 E. Clark Street
507-377-4320
kmartinez@ci.albertlea.mn.us

Wayne Sorensen
Building Official
Zoning Administrator

221 E. Clark Street
507-377-4340
wsorensen@ci.albertlea.mn.us

Mike Zelenak
Human Resources Director

221 E. Clark Street
507-377-4333
mzelenak@ci.albertlea.mn.us

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