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Lake Park Council Can't Talk To Media Without Approval

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The mayor of Lake Park and all city council members are now forbidden from speaking to the media, without approval from the council.

The city council passed the motion at a recent special meeting to weigh options on what to do about Mayor Aaron Wittnebel.

The past two months have put the city of Lake Park in the spotlight,

with multiple meetings held for its citizens to express concerns over the mayor.

Now, the citizens are the only ones who can ask questions about the mayoral controversy to city council members and likely get a timely response.

Mayor Wittnebel said he will not resign or apologize at Monday's City Council meeting.

Wittnebel has been asked to step down multiple times from both Lake Park residents and

the city council.

A 200-person petition was also handed in asking for Wittnebel to step down.

He entered an Alford plea for a charge of stealing from his special needs sister and has been accused of not following through with duties of his office.

After hearing tv and radio interviews council members deemed not representative of the city, the council drafted and passed the media blackout resolution on June 23rd.

All council members must first get approval to speak on behalf of the city,

and those messages must be sent through the clerk's office.

"The idea behind it was to take away the ability of the mayor to talk on behalf of the city without the city council or staff knowing what he's talking about or going off on his own doing things without the city council as a whole approving," says Lake Park City Clerk Lonnie Neuner.

It could take as long as a month for interview request to get city council approval.

Neuner says the policy could change once the controversy dies down.

Neuner also says since there's no law to remove Wittnebel from office,

they're stuck with him and will try to work around him to get things done.

Brian Abel
Brian joined WDAZ in October of 2014, after reporting and anchoring at WDAY in Fargo since October 2013. He currently co-anchors the 6 and 10pm WDAZ News weekdays, and co-anchors the Saturday 6 and 10pm WDAY/WDAZ simulcast news. He was born and raised in Grand Rapids, Michigan and graduated from Western Michigan University with a degree in Journalism. Brian has traveled across the country as a spokesperson for the automotive industry. He has also lived in Los Angeles, working in entertainment before pursuing his career in broadcasting. It’s experiences like these that give him a unique perspective when reporting. Brian is a Michigan Wolverines fan with an avid interest in politics and golf.  He is thrilled to be sharing stories with the Greater Grand Forks community working at WDAZ and looks forward to hearing any of your comments, concerns and story ideas.