Historical Society fights back

By: 
Wade Young

Le Sueur County Historical Society (LCHS) is pushing back in the lawsuit brought by members who are asking for access to its documents and a “democratic” board election.

 

The response from LCHS was filed in Le Sueur County District Court on March 28 in response to a lawsuit from 16 members who allege the existing board of LCHS has mismanaged the society, has murky financial dealings, and has held anti-democratic processes, which, they state are contrary to Minnesota law and LCHS bylaws. In a filing on February 21, the citizens asked for a judge to intervene.

 

In its response, LCHS claims that all but two of the members (David Winter and Margie Cooney) listed as plaintiffs are members. This also includes William Stangler, a former Le Sueur County Commissioner who is leading the plaintiffs. LCHS also denies it has 64 members and that the plaintiffs make up 25 percent of the voting power. LCHS stated the plaintiffs do not make up the state-required 10 percent to bring on the lawsuit.

 

According to the response, the society denies any “abusive behaviors” and argues that it did operate according to law and its own governing documents. It also denied that there have been problems with its leadership and operations, rebuffing the plaintiffs’ allegations that it held undemocratic elections, or improperly governed and led the society.

 

The response also pushes back on the plaintiffs’ assertion that laws allow the plaintiffs or their attorney to examine their books and records.

 

LCHS’ response was filed by Raymond Kong and Molly Littman of the firm Gray, Plant, Mooty, Mooty and Bennett, P.A. out of Minneapolis.

 

The Society’s management issues imploded at its annual meeting on October 7 when some members left the meeting shortly after it started because of what they called "verbal fighting and unprofessional behavior. At the meeting, the board of three made it partly through the Society’s list of future plans before the meeting fell apart and a deputy sheriff told everyone to go home.

 

The plaintiffs assert that President Jenifer Morsching failed to get re-elected at that meeting, leaving a two-member board of an interim member (Morsching’s mother, Donna) and treasurer Evelyn Fierst.

 

Another agenda item at that meeting was the Society’s incomplete financial summary for which left many members searching for more answers. Stangler said the board never answered what the net worth of the Society is; its indebtedness; the income and expenses for 2017, and what is included in “Professional Fees of $33,530” that he assumed to be Coordinator Kathy Burns’ salary.

 

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