VC Resident Robert Drake Denied from Addressing Commission

Heidi Harris
Staff Writer

Valley City resident Robert Drake, the man behind a proposed petition to eliminate the Valley City Police Department and transfer law enforcement responsibility to the Barnes County Sheriff's Department, has been denied from speaking to the Valley City City Commission at its regular meeting this evening.

Drake said he was planning to urge city commissioners to immediately terminate Police Chief Fred Thompson, who announced last month that he will resign in January.

A letter addressed to Drake and signed by City Administrator David Schelkoph says, "After receiving advice from the City Attorney, we are removing your agenda item from the next Commission meeting on the 17th of November."

The letter came with an emailed explanation from City Attorney Russ Myhre why he advised the city not to let him speak.

Myhre's email concluded that Drake bringing a complaint against the police chief to the city without a formal written complaint and an opportunity for the chief to respond would violate the due process rights of the chief.

Myhre said in the email that he first had no legal opinion on Drake's request to speak.

"However, yesterday I was advised by City Administrator David Schelkoph that Drake was not only going to reference the gun pointing incident, but also had indicated that Drake was going to allege 'new' charges and allegations against the Chief," Myrhe said in the email.

Drake said Tuesday morning that he did not tell Schelkoph that he was planning to speak about anything other than terminating Thompson and he does not know where Schelkoph received that information.

Schelkoph's letter says, "It is my hope that you will see the necessity of protecting city employees from an unfair and unconstitutional process that does not give the accused proper legal protections. Everyone is entitled to a fair and discrimination free work place."

Schelkoph wrote Drake that he requests that any future accusations against a city employee be put in writing so that the city can give that document to the accused, allowing him or her a chance to defend himself or herself.

The Valley City City Commission meets for its regular meeting at 5 p.m. at City Hall.