Rochester Council member Molly Dennis refutes censure investigations findings

(ABC 6 News) – An investigation by a St. Paul law firm found that Rochester City Council did not censure member Molly Dennis based on her ADHD disability.

Dennis claimed that the censure was placed on her due to fellow council members not understanding her ADHD. However, it was originally done due to ongoing inflammatory and unfound allegations she had made against fellow council members and city staff.

The investigation was conducted by Ann Goering of Ratwik, Roszak, and Maloney, and she had been appointed by the city. And it’s because of this appointment, Dennis believes the findings of this investigation to be unfair.

“I definitely feel this as an injustice,” said Dennis. “The censoring of an elected official limits the ability for me or anyone who would be in my position to do our jobs effectively. I do feel this is an issue that impacts not just ward six, but also the entire city of Rochester. When you start severing contacts, when you start ostracizing council members and limiting the information, you have an issue of just not having the informed and engaged and connected representative that I was hired to be and elected to be.”

Dennis has still not read the report which was released by the City of Rochester on Thursday, June 22.

Some people that live in ward six, which is the ward Dennis represents, feel the censure was warranted against her. They believe she let too many council issues, such as trying to fix parking tickets brought up to her by citizens, become a part of her personal agenda when they were not her responsibility.

But other ward six residents, such as Mark Szurgot, who voted for Dennis in 2020, believe Dennis and the rest of the council need to drop the matter and get back to helping the city.

“I think she’s doing a good job and I think she’ll continue to do a good job, but give her a chance and with that condition,” said Szurgot. “There’s ways to deal with that. And I’ve been in heated meetings before. They just have to work together.”

Dennis filed a complaint on the matter with the Equal Opportunity Employment Commission on June 1 and filed for mediation on June 19. The city has had an attorney appointed in this matter through the League of Minnesota Cities insurance per Michael Spindler-Krage, the Rochester City Attorney.

Dennis believes the involvement of EOEC will provide a more neutral investigation than that appointed by the city.

“You know, to truly have a neutral and an independent investigation, it needs to be a collaboration of both parties or a completely neutral source,” said Dennis.

While the Federal investigation is just beginning, those represented by Dennis are curious to hear all sides of the on that just ended.

“I’d like to hear all their opinions and I think all their opinions count but at the same time they just need to work together,” said Szurgot.

The city council will meet again on Monday, June 26, for a study session and a regular meeting. Other council members have confirmed that there will be no time allocated to the agenda for their own comments on the investigation into Dennis.

However, they will not stop Council member Dennis from sharing her own opinions on the investigation during the meeting.