The Free Press, Mankato, MN

Local News

November 24, 2012

Judge decides which group is the real historical society

On June 29, 2011, two groups claiming to be the Le Sueur County Historical Society held meetings at the same time at different locations.

The legal fight over which of the two groups was the real historical society ended Monday. A Le Sueur County judge ruled that a splinter group’s effort to elect a new board of Trustees was invalid.

Judge Thomas G. McCarthy wrote that the “parties’ interpretations of the facts are wildly different,” but his decision came down to one simple fact.

Neither the president nor vice president of the board were at the splinter group’s first meeting, a requirement of the bylaws for a meeting. That makes the meeting invalid, he wrote, and it invalidates the new Board of Trustees the group elected.

“Without the President present, presiding over the meeting, under an agenda determined by the President, the meeting was invalid and the elections held at that meeting were invalid,” he wrote.

Mick McGuire, elected as the president during the splinter meeting, said he was disappointed.

“I think the judge took an easy way out with a summary judgment and never really gave us an opportunity to explain why we were there,” said McGuire, former mayor of Montgomery.

“The big issue here all along has been basically the disenfranchising of the majority of the Le Sueur County Historical Society members by the current director,” he said, referring to Kathy Burns, the society’s coordinator.

But the ruling didn’t touch those issues, and neither did defense attorney Quentin Wittrock, who represented the original group for free. He works for the Minneapolis firm Gray Plant Mooty.

Wittrock said the plaintiffs’ group was confusing the public, the members and even the commissioners of Le Sueur County, who are responsible for the $50,000 or so the historical society gives out every year.

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