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Launched in 2014 by journalist Sean Baker, Med City Beat is an independent news source covering government, business and culture in Rochester, Minnesota.

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Chamber reaches settlement with Braatz

The Rochester Area Chamber of Commerce confirmed this week it has reached a legal settlement with former employee Judy Braatz.

The settlement comes eight months after Braatz was abruptly fired by the organization under the leadership of then-president Rob Miller.

Details of the settlement were not disclosed.

"The Chamber appreciates Judy Braatz’s decades of service to this organization and its members," said interim President Kathleen Harrington. "Her efforts over the years contributed to our success. We wish her well in her new endeavor and look forward to seeing her at Chamber events."

Braatz, the chamber's longtime membership director, was let go by the organization last August. In response to the move, Braatz wrote a letter to the chamber's board alleging she was being forced out of her job "due to the discrimination and bullying behavior" of Miller.

Miller resigned soon after the letter was made public. The chamber later brought in an outside firm to look into Braatz's claims. Details of the report were not made public.

Braatz, who has since been hired by Think Bank as a business development representative, said this week she is pleased the two parties were able to work out their differences "in a way that is fair to all concerned."

The mystery of Mitzi Baker

The best kept secret in Rochester right now is what happened to Mitzi Baker.

Baker, the city/county planning director, was placed on administrative leave over a month ago. Since then, officials have remained mum on why.

"The Board has been and will be kept informed of personnel actions, but in the County system, the County Administrator has responsibility for managing all personnel matters," said Olmsted County Commissioner Sheila Kiscaden. "The County takes the requirements of the Minnesota data privacy laws seriously, so there is really no more to be said at this time."

As planning director, Baker helped lead the city's efforts to adopt its first new comprehensive plan in decades. The plan, considered one of the city's most important documents, was approved by the city council on Monday. 

Council Member Michael Wocjik said Baker's efforts, including the comprehensive plan, were "among the finest bodies of work" he has seen since assuming office. Wojcik and other council members said they have not been informed as to why Baker was placed on leave. 

    "With complete honesty, I can tell you I do not know any more than what you’ve stated," said Council President Randy Staver.

    In Baker's absence, Ben Griffith, deputy director for of the planning department, has assumed the role of interim director. 

    County officials have not offered a timeline for when a final decision will be made regarding Baker's status. An automatic response from her county email simply says she will be out of the office for an "indefinite amount of time."

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