Watch: Forest Lake mayor calls planning commissioner 'piece of s---' during council meeting

The heated exchange happened on Monday evening.
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An exchange between Forest Lake's mayor and its planning commissioner turned nasty on Monday evening.

The five-minute exchange at the start of the meeting saw Planning Commissioner Eric Langness accus Mayor Ben Winnick of "cowardice," before Winnick ended the exchange by calling Langness a "piece of s---."

You can see the brief exchange above, and the full exchange at the bottom of this page.

What was it about?

The dispute relates to the city council voting against allowing a clinic to provide children's mental health services in the city, something the planning commission had recommended they approve.

At an earlier meeting, Langness objected to Winnick calling out his commission and its staff for not doing their jobs properly. This prompted Winnick to accuse Langness of using his "bully pulpit" to call him out, as MPR reports.

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At Monday's meeting, Langness said: "I'm going to make the record crystal clear for you given you chose to tell lies about me during those few minutes.

"During my comments in the planning commission, I specifically said that the children's mental health facility and the associated tax amendment vote were the power of council and I respect it's your decision."

The debate unraveled, with both speaking over each other before Langness said: "For someone who has showed such cowardice behavior to our community in recent times you have a lot of nerve to call me a liar."

"You're really, really pushing it Eric," Winnick said. "We'll see you sometime when you're not in here. We'll see who's a coward then, you piece of s---."

"Whoa, whoa, whoa, that's over the line," council member Mara Bain then told the mayor.

The fallout

There may be more to the argument than just resentment over the mental health vote, with KARE 11 reporting that Winnick claims it's because he didn't appoint Langness to the city council when a vacant spot opened up.

Langness is now considering filing a police report for threatening behavior, and has called on Winnick to resign.

Speaking to the Pioneer Press on Tuesday, Winnick said Langness had been "lashing out like a child" at him since he didn't appoint Langness to the empty seat.

But he admitted he lost his temper and apologized.  "I shouldn’t have said those things in a council meeting. … I got frustrated. It’s not how I behave. It’s not how I expect others to behave."

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