Councilman Craig Hedqust Won't Attend Informal Hearing

Email sent to Casper City Council Members April 25, 2014 at 8:34:29 AM MDT, forwarded to News 13 by Craig Hedquist's attorney, Michael Lansing.

Subject: Hearing

Dear fellow Council members:

As you know it’s been a long 218 (and counting) days of “he said, she said”. While I wasn't able to make the work session last Tuesday, I was able to listen to the audio, review the proposed informal hearing procedures and confer with my attorneys. It seems apparent this exercise will continue with or without real or legal procedures in place. Because of this lack of real or legal procedures and meaningful discovery or ability to examine and cross examine witnesses,  I won’t be attending this “special” hearing, nor will my representatives’ (legal or other). The City has completed full discovery through the work place violence investigation which I was not allowed to be involved, except my interview.  I have requested the information obtained in the investigation but to date I have not received them even though they were released to Wes Reeves.  With the ongoing Federal Lawsuit  I will (under actual  rules and legal procedures) present my case of which I’m completely comfortable and ready to do so. I don’t have the luxury of taxpayers dollars to pay my attorneys and maybe you don’t need to spend anymore on this symbolic informal hearing. Although you obviously don’t need my permission please feel free to vote as you see fit (and although I’m inclined to believe some of the Council' minds are made up) do as you feel compelled. Finally if you decide to pass a resolution and/or ask for me to resign, I must respectively decline.  I will leave that decision up to the voters of my Ward.  I know I am ready to move forward with City business and hope you are to.  

Councilman, Craig P. Hedquist

Casper Councilman Craig Hedqust isn't coming to his own informal hearing, and he won't send any of his attorneys either. In an email sent to council members Friday morning, Hedquist says the informal hearing lacks any "real or legal procedures," so he won't be a part of it. Hedquist adds he wasn't a part of the City's investigation through the workplace violence incident and didn't get a chance to examine the evidence.

Mayor Paul Meyer tells News 13 he's disappointed, but council "can't stop the ball rolling now" and will move forward with the hearing. "At this point it's too late to pull back from the brink," Meyer added, saying it's also the only way they could find to let Hedquist make his case to the public. While Council now concedes it don't have authority to remove Hedquist from office, the body could still ask him to resign or censure him, although that amounts to a slap on the wrist: Hedquist made clear in his letter he wouldn't leave City Council unless voted out. "...if you decide to pass a resolution and/or ask for me to resign, I must respectively [sic] decline. I will leave that decision up to the voters of my Ward," Hedquist said in his email.

Meyer says council members most likely won't make any decisions at the time of the hearing. "We're giving ourselves two weeks to draw any conclusions," said Meyer.

Meanwhile Hedquist says he's pursuing the federal lawsuit, but because Council dropped the contested case hearing, part of the lawsuit are now void. At this point it essentially deals with accusations that the City and City Manager John Patterson violated Hedquist's free speech rights and undermined the democratic process. The lawsuit wouldn't really address Hedquist's alleged conflict of interest.

See sidebar to read Councilman Hedquist's email to council members, and attached document for the latest version of the lawsuit.

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