Isanti city attorney Clark Joslin took the opportunity at Tuesday night’s city council meeting to address the council and public regarding a KSTP Channel 5 investigative report into the firing of Isanti police chief Gene Hill.
In that report, which aired during the 10 p.m. newscast on Sunday, June 2, Joslin was portrayed as refusing to take action against Hill after concerns were raised by a judge regarding Hill’s apparent lack of credibility during a trial involving former Isanti police officer Rod Barrows.
“No doubt, most everyone here this evening have seen the media reports concerning matters that were addressed with regard to how it was handled, and how that was portrayed in terms of my role,” Joslin began. “I felt it was only appropriate, that I owe it to the council as well as the public, to make a comment regarding that situation.”
Apologizing for what the city is going through in this situation and how it reflects on everyone, including himself, Joslin said the role of city attorney is difficult at times.
Citing that public attorneys have to balance data privacy that affects employees, former employees and others with the right and obligation to keep the public informed, they also have a responsibility to adhere to professional ethics, “which should come naturally,” he added, noting it is not always easy to foresee and address issues that may be called into question.
Over the time he has served Isanti, which is approximately 40 years as assistant city attorney and city attorney, Joslin said he tried to do the job well, and he believes he has done it well.
“The portrayal of my role in the matter by the press called into question my integrity, and I want to tell the council and the public that I stand by the advice, and how I handled my advice, to the city in that matter,” Joslin said. “I will continue to try to do my utmost to represent the best interest of the city at all times. It’s what I’ve always done, and I will always continue to do that.”
He added that “there is information that cannot be relayed to the press or the public due to the data practices act, data privacy and attorney/client privilege. For that reason, it is not appropriate for me to address a number of specifics that would be nice to address in public. But it isn’t public data and is not to be shared, and could have consequences negatively to the city if I breach any of those duties.”
Noting he can share information with the council, and that he has and will continue to do so, Joslin said he believes he acted appropriately. He also said he does not think the coverage of this situation depicted a lot of the information that went into the decisions he made in advising the council.
Stating that the council will continue to have his support as it always has, and he will continue to do the best job he can for the city, doing it ethically and to the best of his judgment and ability, Joslin concluded, “There are occasions when reasonable minds may differ over the appropriate course of action or steps to be taken. That happens. But always I’ve tried – in instances where I have disagreed with opinions of others – I do that respectfully and in an appropriate manner and not to disparage or create controversies that are not beneficial to the resolution of matters moving forward with city business. That’s my style and will continue to be so.”