Robbinsdale City Council Member Tyler Kline has been censured from committee assignments as his colleagues say they want to hold him accountable for the "black eye" his pending drunken-driving case has brought on the city.
"In 42 years on the council, we never have even brought up censuring somebody else, so this is a very serious thing, and I know you know that," said Mayor Bill Blonigan to Kline during Tuesday night's council meeting.
Kline was the only member on the council to vote against the resolution that removes him from his appointment as a delegate to the League of Minnesota Cities, liaison to the School District 281 government advisory committee, and as a city representative on the Bottineau Community Works steering committee — so long as there's a felony charge.
Kline was charged with a felony for fleeing police and two gross misdemeanor charges for driving under the influence on Jan. 24, when his blood alcohol content was more than double the legal limit.
He was forcibly removed from his minivan and arrested after the hit-and-run crash while driving the wrong way on Hwy. 100. As a half dozen squad cars attempted to stop him, he continued fleeing police and damaged two Robbinsdale squad cars, for which he owes $7,315 in an insurance claim issued by the League of Minnesota Cities.
Council Member George Selman asked staff to draft the resolution and said he volunteered to fill Kline's committee assignments. He and Council Member Pat Backen have asked Kline to resign during several meetings, and residents have asked the City Council to take some type of action in the fallout of Kline's arrest four months ago.
"It is a black eye on Robbinsdale. This is very small step toward showing an action that we can take," Selman said. "I guess my only regret is that we've taken this long to take it."
Only if Kline is convicted of a felony can the council remove him from office by declaring a vacancy and holding a special election for Kline's First Ward seat that he was elected to in 2021.
Meanwhile, a group of citizens are gathering signatures on a petition to recall Kline, which could also bring a special election. But it's unclear if they will get enough signatures by the deadline Saturday, as the group was about 100 signatures shy of its target.
In a phone interview, Kline said that he recently completed outpatient treatment and has been sober more than 100 days.
"I think I've let everyone know who will listen how sorry I am for all of this and how much regret there is," he said.
Kline pleaded not guilty to the charges and said he will not step down, though he did resign from his role as legislative assistant for Sen. Ann Rest, D-New Hope.
A jury trial is slated for June 6, but Kline's attorney, Aaron Morrison, said the case is unlikely to go to trial that week since it's of low priority in comparison to murder and sexual-assault cases.
"Mr. Kline has taken responsibility for his actions from day one and we're continuing to work through the legal process," Morrison said.