What issues would you like to see us focus on between now and the end of 2010? Help us design a straw poll.

Straw Poll One of the changes we’re considering for Locally Grown is to treat some issues with more depth than we typically do. So to help us decide which issues might qualify for this, we’d like to put up a straw poll next week that would ask people to rank/rate the issues.

Here’s what I’m thinking:

The straw poll might look like this:

Tick the checkboxes next to the 3 (5?) items that you’d like to see LG focus on this fall:

  • City Council election
  • School Board election
  • County Commissioner election
  • State House and Senate races
  • Governor’s race
  • Congressional race (District 2)
  • City Finances
  • Chemical abuse
  • Social media for businesses, non-profits, etc.
  • Business development
  • etc

1. Got more suggestions for topics/issues

2. Got suggestions on how to better design the straw poll?

56 thoughts on “What issues would you like to see us focus on between now and the end of 2010? Help us design a straw poll.”

  1. NNews says they will be endorsing candidates, which they evidently had not been doing in recent years. Wish they’d stay out of it. All the more reason for LG to get involved. Cover all the campaigns this time, especially Rice County Board. The issues will come up as candidates bat them back and forth.

    There’s a farm forum put on by Farm Bureau for Senate candidates Dahle, DeKruif and ? tonight at a bank in New Prague, 7 pm. Wish there was a carpool.

  2. 1. re: NF budget; I’d hope you could get Wm. Siemers to give you the really thorough comparative analyses that he put on Councilor Buckheit’s blog; that would get some conversation on the budget going.

    2. I also think an update on the annexation issues with Waterford and Bridgewater could use an update, given the Council discussion on 9.14.

    3. I think there is an interesting discussion to be had around the merging of the Police and Fire depts. under one Administrative head; they are very different creatures.
    Budget issues with the police are already being discussed on the NFNews website; centering on the DARE program, Mobile Command Center, and number of officers.

    4. Last but probably most important *** I think each of the candidates for election should have a question and answer column on LG.
    The newspaper is endorsing their ‘candy-dates’ this year, and that will be an influence that although hard to measure, should be taken seriously .
    A more diverse set of opinions, given in more than the 75 words that the newspaper allows for answering their questions, would be very valuable. The 75 word limitation encourages the worst of responses: the ‘sound bite’.

  3. I would like to see a very honest discussion about how to help and decide if we as a state or nation will finally make Long-Term Care a priority it affects everyone in the community Thanks David

  4. I second Kiffi’s suggestion to talk to William Siemers. He’s done some interesting comparisons of our city budget with that of some other similar-sized cities in MN. It’d be worth seeing if he’d be interested in putting what he’s learned together in an post for further discussion.

    He posted some of his budget comparisons in the comment section on the News, here:
    http://www.northfieldnews.com/news.php?viewStory=54041

  5. Patrick –

    I know that you don’t care to listen to Kiffi but she really has a good point on this subject. Councilor Buckheit’s website has more information on this topic than what is available on that of the Northfield News.

    Readers who can look beyond the media-created reputation of the commenter and objectively consider the actual quality of the content should check it out: http://betseybuckheit.wordpress.com/2010/08/22/financial-policies/#comments

    In particular, William has produced a valuable analysis, once again, available on Councilor Buckheit’s website: http://betseybuckheit.files.wordpress.com/2010/08/comparecity.pdf

    Finally, Councilor Buckheit posted (in an earlier, but related piece) a City document that she obtained after many months of requests that may provide at least a partial answer to William’s question: http://betseybuckheit.files.wordpress.com/2010/08/northfield-personnel-costs.pdf

    1. Ross,

      I do agree that William wrote some good stuff on Betsey’s blog, as Kiffi mentioned above, and I agreed with Kiffi about, above. Thanks for linking to it.

      But Ross, if you could: please don’t speculate about my personal thoughts and preferences. It’s neither polite, nor accurate. Thanks again.

      1. Sorry Patrick, didn’t mean to hurt your feelings, make you mad, or in any way upset you.

        However, I’ve followed your comments for several years now and I believe that I have noticed a strong bias for Suzy Rook and the Northfield News and against Kiffi Summa and Locally Grown. Perhaps you’re right, and it’s not “polite”, however, my personal view, is that it’s spot-on “accurate”.

        Personally, I don’t think the Northfield News has done a very good job in the past few years of offering objective and substantive analysis of local politics. It is my opinion that the town has suffered greatly for the newspaper’s failings.

        Personally, I think the amateurs, the “citizen journalists”, have provided both more substantive information and better analysis than the “professionals” regarding local politics. In a tightly related comparison, again in my personal opinion, I think the “amateur leaders”, the volunteers who participate in our local government, have provided more substance in their exploration of topics and better analysis in their offerings of recommendations than the highly-paid “professionals”.

        In my admittedly highly personal opinion, I think people like you, Patrick, who (again based on my reading of your comments over the years) appear to have a strong tendency to champion the opinions of the “professionals” and dismiss the opinions of the “amateurs” bear a substantial responsibility for our dire municipal financial and organizational situation. In my admittedly judgmental opinion, I have not lived up to my personal values by remaining silent while observing people like you praising the the professionals and dissing the amateurs.

        So, once again Patrick, I am sorry but I am giving up my probably-not-very-successful efforts to be “polite”. I am going to form my opinions about people based on the their comments and their actions and if I believe they are favoring the professionals and dissing the amateurs, instead of comparing analyses and recommendations, regardless of the comparative compensation levels of the sources, I am going to call them on it…again, and again, and again.

  6. Patrick –

    On further reflection, I probably over-reacted to your comment. In addition, I certainly under-reacted to your recognition of Kiffi’s reference to Betsey’s blog.

    Perhaps more than some citizens, I am very disturbed by the situation, both financial and organizational, down at City Hall. I sincerely believe that there were a few among us who offered warnings over the past few years and were, at best, ignored, and, at worst, ridiculed.

    However, I think it is totally inappropriate for me to take to task a comment-maker on a local blog. I should instead focus my attention on those who had the power to lead us down this road…and a potholed road it is indeed.

    I thank you for your comment, it caused me to rethink my current strategy. If I am going to tightly hold on to every comment that you, Suzy Rook, Noah Cashman, Scott Davis, Al Roder or Anne Bretts ever made, I’m probably going to have difficulty moving forward.

    If you are recognizing Kiffi’s contributions to the community discussion, I should recognize the Northfield News’ article about the potholes. In these times, we should all look to both sides of the issues in hopes of finding better solutions. (However, I will note, that the Northfield News failed to put the discussion of the deteriorating streets in a context of recent operational expenses or future capital investments.)

    So, if the king or queen walked down Division Street two or three years ago in their birthday suit, it might not be constructive to bring it up now. However, if today I see the bare ass of the king or queen, I am going to confront their nakedness until they either convince me it’s clothed in invisible silk or they go home to change.

  7. Ross,
    Thank you for continuing to speculate about the inner workings of my brain. Have fun with that.

    It’s really not a very effective way to encourage a broad-based dialogue on your opinion page that you’re trying to breathe new life into, though.

    Perhaps it might’ve been better to say, “Hey, Patrick and Kiffi agreed on something; let’s build on that.”?

  8. Ross wins on logic points and rationale theory, not to mention strong observer credentials … plus his unflagging support of the Kifter!

    Meanwhile back to the issue as posed by the big three.

    Seasonal threat: Is the Mid Term Crisis coming to land in Northfield?

    Possible title: Are the same crazies out there in the Big Woods as those who vote in Delaware?

    I’d like to see this group discuss the emerging power of the christian right movement and its influence on our governing process … with special notice to the impact locally. Whose running? Ties? Impact value?. Threat level? Benefits? Motives?

      1. ANSWER TO GRIFF, RE: my Christian right reference and do I mean Tea Partiers.

        Actually I think the cost of running government – bailouts, taxing the rich, etc, are often red herrings. As I understand that’s the mantle the TEA Party wrapped itself in. I’m far more concerned about the nature of their deepseated motives and social values. Tax wise, we’ll come out of it someday and be better off from our struggle. If we can find a way to sustain and do so sufficiently, not with GLUT, then we’re going to be okay.

        Is that an answer? Deepseated motives and social values.

  9. I’d like to see some more opinion on the budget in general and specifically the latest proposal for consolidation and cuts. Said to take personnel costs down by about 250k.

    Kiffi has a good idea about candidate question and answer forums.

    Regarding the comparison of city budgets: That was an eye opener. Initially I got the response that “you can’t compare Faribault with Northfield because….” I didn’t buy that. City budgets can be easily compared. They may put one cost or another on different budget lines, but with enough detail (which is generally available on line), one can put together an accurate enough comparison to at least raise questions. I initially raised these questions by email to the mayor and councilpersons, Dennison, Pownell, Vohs. The mayor made several comments generally of the ‘apples to oranges’ variety. Councilperson Pownell responded by forwarding the questions to administration and then getting back with their response. Neither Dennison, nor Vohs, commented or responded at all. Later I started posting the info on councilperson Buckheit’s blog. She did the city a big favor by encouraging discussion of the budget, particularly in the absence of LG.

    1. Wow William, you managed to summarize the “budget balancing” process of the past two years in six sentences. You, as an interested and motivated citizen, presented your analysis to some of our elected officials; Rossing dismissed it, Pownell referred it to staff, Dennison and Vohs ignored you, and Buckheit posted it on her blog. Thanks again for all your fine work on this issue.

    2. In Number 12 – Mr. Siemers has some really telling remarks, especially regarding the nature of the various Councilor’s response processes. These are NOT ubiquitous … very definitely personal methods, that are employed … or not, by design, apathy or level of skill. NO answer is an answer. Read between the lines – or make of it what you will, when you get no response.

      Incidentally Currier’s comment in number 12.1 hits the target dead center!

      From Mr. Siemers’ comments, I come to these conclusions: Ms. Rossing is (IMHO) determined to appear timely, transparent and “your leader” Good! Effective? Who knows, but I see the Mayor as being an expert at dodging, in the game of dodge ball politics.

      Ms Pownell, as always, responds with business like fluff … ladened with control.

      Mr. Siemers, you didn’t mention Councilor Pokorney in you comment. Was that because you didn’t address him, or he too did not respond? And, I assume, for whatever reasons, you did not initially include Buckheit and Zweifel in your Council Query as well.

      That’s telling too; your choice I mean, and definitely okay … no criticism intended.

      What’s remarkable here is you got the most valid response from Betsey Buckheit, clear, up front little bitty-betsey, a giant in her own way.

      Why do I go on to this extent? Because I believe above all else, it is the personality quirks (of our leaders in this case) that most drive the process. Perhaps that’s why we need to vote knowing the candidates’ preference in ice cream flavors among many other things.

      I too think Mr. Siemers’ research is laudable. In fact I believe I remarked of it to Kiffi when first reading it in the Buckheit Blog, calling attention to its value. Certainly to the work effort.

      My comment here to regarding your latest statement about comparing towns, Mr. Siemers, you wrote:

      “Regarding the comparison of city budgets: That was an eye opener.”

      While we might learn from other communities, we should not be satisfied to be led by their actions.

      You can always look for comparative towns (or movies .. or the way eggs might be cooked ….) but these are not necessarily comparable. So, be careful of drawing conclusions from Red Wing, Hutchinson or Apple Valley, (or the guy who eats raw eggs!) I prefer to think other communities are hoping Northfield, city of stars, will come up with a maneuver that will enable their growth.

      1. Little-bitty Betsey here. Victor, your characterization of me made me smile and reminded me of a recent visit to the post office. The clerk said “Oh, I’ve seen your picture in the paper…I thought you’d be taller!” She must have noticed my “inner giant.”

  10. I’d like to see LoGro go into more depth on serious topics, and create a repository of information – or better yet, a wiki – on Northfield issues.

    On the lighter side, I like fluff, feel-good community boosting, and Griff’s photos.

    And while I’m doing my “beggars would ride” thing, I’d love it if we can get more of our dozens? hundreds? of daily visitors to chime in.

  11. I’d like to see a discussion on the Latinos in Northfield. The Nfld News just did a 5-part series titled ‘Invisible Minority.’

    Related: there’s been a public reaction against the DJJD committee’s decision to translate one of the bank raid re-enactments into Spanish.

      1. What kind of discussion?

        Mr. Poyner – citizen’s perspectives on the appropriateness of taking bi-lingual issues as preeminent in the ongoing re-weaving of the fabric of the community.

        Not attending the soiree loosely called: Shoot Up the Town on Horseback, I was not privy to the “Defeat” crew’s efforts to exercise pluralism in the Raid Re-enactment. I may wonder how many none english speaking Latinos were in attendance. But I’d bet there were some … and some of these were no doubt children. Wonder how they might have felt knowing their non english speaking elders might understand the saga of The James Gang as it was told in spanish.

        Kudos to the Defeat crew.

  12. CAVATE: I’m not certain how to sequence these messages. I’m having troubles making the font larger so’s I can read it with aging eyes.

    Ross – in 11/1/2 you make a succinct statement expressing the difference you see in the C Right and the TEAPs. You may be right – I’m may be conflating terms, but it seems while the TEAPs initially focus their angst on fiscal policies, their deepseated motives are what you call social conservatism.

    In any event, they dog the President based on the notion they can tar him for not solving his inherited fiscal problems and in doing so, take advantage of the usual mid term turn-around. These Mid Term events happen ever two years to both parties and for the most part reflect the voters fickleness (word?).

    Meanwhile the C Right and/or the TEAPs, both wrapped in similar sackcloth snap at the President’s heels, vie for power … and what I’m suggesting for LG is an open dialogue about how these perspectives shape the future for Northfield. I am concerned about fiscal issues but the more frightening issues are those that you might include labled as social conservatism.

    1. I don’t think you’re conflating terms, at least not as things stand at present. It seems to me that groups are merging, or perhaps co-opting each other’s message. As evidence I’d look no further than Glenn Beck’s rally at the Lincoln Memorial. It seemed that most there would self-identify as tea-partiers (or supporters of tea-party beliefs) while the rally itself had social conservatism as it’s basic theme. Tea Party endorsed candidates would re-enforce the idea of merging ideologies…are any of them NOT social conservatives? I can’t think of a one. No, if you are concerned social conservatism then it would just make sense, in my opinion, to be wary of the tea-party political movement.

  13. Hey Ross, in re #8, how do I get onto your Enemies List? Seriously, naming a list of people whose comments irritate you in a post in which you are nominally apologizing for completely misreading my husband’s note irritates the heck out of me. Why would I come back to LoGro to read comments like this?

    1. Hey Felicity, I could quote your husband, “Please don’t speculate about my personal thoughts and preferences” but I actually am greatly amused by people speculating abut my personal thoughts and preferences. My apology was sincere, I linked way too many instances (what I, personally, see as a pattern) of corruption, incompetence, and injustice to a few comments that Patrick has made over the years.

      As I’ve had time to reflect even further, I realized that reading about Al Roder’s latest buy-out got me worked up again, after I thought I had it under control. In my opinion, those people who I named were all part of a group in town that was so quick to convict Lee Lansing and so quick to defend Al Roder. Again, my comments to your husband were way over the top and, again, I apologize to him.

      I guess I feel like that old adage “he who has the gold makes the rules” (or perhaps more appropriately in this case “he who taxes the gold makes the rules”) is the link, at least in my mind, between Al Roder (or others, past and present, down at City Hall) and those in town who seem (by their comments) to favor the professionals over the amateurs in matters (and analysis) of local governance.

      As I’ve seen it play out in Northfield in recent years, “he who taxes the gold can use taxpayers’ gold to bring retribution against taxpayers who question the professionals’ authority”. People have a right to favor the professionals over the amateurs, but I have a right to challenge their stance, even if they try to undermine my challenge by saying that it is not “polite”.

    2. Ross,
      And still, you persist in your assertion that I “favor the professionals over the amateurs.”

      First off, I still have no idea what in the world prompted you to bring that accusation up at this time, or why – in comment after comment in this thread – you can’t seem to let it go.

      Second, I do believe you are mistaken in your assertion. I do believe that am fairly skeptical regarding pretty much everything that I read – whether written by a professional, or by an amateur. One pretty much has to be, because a lot of people (myself included) write a lot of things that they believe, but which may or may not be based upon verifiable facts.

      Third, you persist in maligning my capacity for critical thought. Therefore, I apologize, but the rest of this post will have to be rather long, because I feel the need to properly defend myself.

      I’ll have to start by guessing at what made you think about me in this way, since you have only spoken in vague generalities. I’m guessing your caricature of my opinion of citizen journalism is mostly based upon this thread:

      http://locallygrownnorthfield.org/post/4839/comment-page-1/#comments

      You probably recall it – it’s the one you titled “Were Citizens Mean to Administrator?”, which you illustrated with a picture of Stalin and his cronies.

      If you reread my posts on that thread, you will find that my comments were not much of a defense of Al Roder. Rather, I was consistent in my demand for evidence against Al Roder, and my refusal to accept the hearsay of self-appointed citizen journalists.

      Several examples of my comments from that discussion:

      I agree that Al Roder was treated harshly. I don’t mind the criticism of policies he advocated. Heck, I agree with criticisms of some of his proposals. However, I was quite disturbed by the cloud of innuendo put out into the community regarding not-quite-stated misdeeds, and something dark and terrible that happened in Dennison Iowa.
      So I too have sympathy for Mr. Roder. But I don’t think he deserves a severance package for it.

      No, I haven’t read “Denison, Iowa.” And yes, I believe in the presumption of innocence. So I’m withholding judgement on any alleged misdeeds of Mr. Roder here in Northfield, until I see them described in detail, and supported by evidence.
      To me, it seems dangerously close to slander to repeat third-hand non-specific, whispered accusations, even if the whispering started with a (former) Northfield Police Chief.

      And again, I’m not losing any sleep over Mr. Roder’s departure, and I don’t advcate any kind of pay-off to him. But I believe the whisper campaign against him is a bad thing for the health of the town.

      Kiffi,
      You’ve just presented a whole lot of hearsay, and not a single shred of evidence. Perhaps you could encourage Luis, or anyone else from Denison, to come forward and present their evidence – publicly, or to the Goodhue investigators. Or maybe you could link to, or transcribe, your collection of newspaper articles. Heck, maybe you should even present that signed letter you talk about. Any of those things might be far more convincing and useful than spreading vague whispers of rumors of terrible deeds.

      As I have mentioned above on post #8, I definitely disagree with some of his known actions and documented positions. Based on what I know of Mr. Roder’s positions, I am not actually sad to see him go.
      Furthermore, as I wrote back on Jan 11: “I am perfectly willing to hear evidence against Al Roder.” Still, it is not clear to me that Goodhue County is even investigating Al Roder at all. Their warrants are under seal, and thus far, the only ones they have executed were used to search the properties of Mr. Lansing and his family’s business partner.
      Mercifully, the departure of Mr. Roder from our fair city gives us the option to let the question of possible criminal activity on his part rest until someone brings forth some actual evidence of wrongdoing, and/or until Goodhue finally tells us what the heck they’ve been looking in to.

      Kiffi,
      No. I am saying that I will not be persuaded by your hearsay regarding what you have read, or what you have heard. Post your letter, or post your articles, or get someone with firsthand knowledge of Al Roders’ activities to speak on the subject, and I will be happy to consider your case.

      Kiffi,
      Hoo boy. I believe you misrepresent me….

      I never called you a liar. I warned against “spreading vague whispers of rumors of terrible deeds.” If those whispers are about concerns that turn out to be founded, then they are not lies. I have no way of knowing the validity of your statements, because you don’t present the articles that you have read, the letters you hold in your posession, or the people you have talked to. Only when you present these things will I have any ability to judge the value of your criticisms.

      Additionally, you conflate the assertion that Al Roder has made some poor decisions (I agree with this in some cases), with an assertion to that he has acted criminally. We have enough public information to have an inteligent discussion on the former topic, but we have next to nothing concrete regarding the latter.
      Again, why not just present your articles, letters, and witnesses? When you do, if your case is good, I might even agree with you. Until then, I wait.

      If you back up your accusations with evidence, and your evidence is good, then those accusations would no longer be “mean” – they would be responsible citizen journalism.

      Your word about what you have read is rumor regarding the contents of those articles and that purported letter. Those articles, and that letter – if it exists – would be evidence that could be judged on its merits

      I think it is fairly clear that I was merely holding ‘citizen journalists’ to the same evidentiary standard that I would expect of professional journalists.

      No, I’m not likely to change my stance on that.

      1. Apologies to other readers for the length of that last post, but I do feel the need to defend myself against Ross’s ongoing misrepresentations of my beliefs and my capacity for critical thought.

  14. Patrick… I must say, I really do NOT see why I am in the middle of ‘this’, but as long as you have put me squarely in the position of ‘the citizen you most like to disbelieve/denigrate, although she spoke to the source, and was just expressing her POV, as were you, etc” … I will just say that after the third major example of Mr. Roder’s MO, I hope the councilors who supported him, at the cost of our taxpayers dollars, to mention just the LEAST of it, will feel just a teeny tad chagrined . (that would be, in alphabetical order: Cashman, Davis, Denison, Pokorney, and Vohs.

    And what is really the worst part of it? The taxpayers of Northfield AND Goodhue County just keep paying and paying for the Politics of Personality…

    1. Kiffi,
      I am sorry to have dragged you in to “the middle of ‘this'”. That was not my intent at all.

      The quotes of myself that I posted above are over two years old, and are in regards to comments that you made over two years ago. My intent in bringing them up was not to re-fight that ancient disagreement over journalistic standards. Rather, my intent was solely to defend myself from Ross’s extraordinary, unsubstantiated, and unretracted accusations that I “favor the professionals over the amateurs,” and that as a result, I “bear a substantial responsibility for our [city’s] dire municipal financial and organizational situation.”

      I stated my current thoughts about you, and about good citizen journalism, early on in this thread when I said:

      “I second Kiffi’s suggestion to talk to William Siemers. He’s done some interesting comparisons of our city budget with that of some other similar-sized cities in MN.”

      I agree that a discussion around William Siemer’s research would be much more productive than rehashing old battles. Unfortunately, I cannot let Ross Currier’s unprovoked and unsubstantiated attacks against me go unchallenged.

      I am sorry that I inadvertently brought you into this ridiculous little battle in my effort to defend my reputation. Again, that was not my intent, and I am not looking to pick a fight with you about battles that should be, but apparently aren’t, long-dead-and-buried.

      1. Patrick, I certainly would never underestimate your capacity for critical thought. Just to be completely clear, I have great respect for your critical thinking, even if I sometimes, maybe often, disagree with your conclusions.

        Days ago, I apologized for making you feel as if I was somehow linking you to Al Roder. More specifically, I apologized for any suggestion that you bore some responsibility for the leaders of our community not questioning Roder’s role in the “mess at City Hall” or not responding to the concerns from some amateurs about what they thought were “irregularities” in the City process. Ultimately, I think our leaders bear sole responsibility for their actions…or inactions.

        Based on your comments over the past couple of years, I personally believe that you give more credibility to the opinions of the professionals than those of the amateurs. I have made it clear that I respect your capacity for critical thinking, I have apologized for giving anyone the impression that there was a link between you and Al Roder or our leaders decision-making in this matter, but I will not “retract” my opinion.

        People reading my comments over the past several years might suggest that I favored the opinions of amateurs over those of professionals. In fact, professional staff at both the Northfield News and City Hall have said just that to me in meetings over the years. Perhaps there is some validity to their opinions.

        Personally, I think even the most critical thinkers tend to lean one way or the other. In fact, I would be more skeptical of someone claiming to be philosophically unformed and totally open to all opinions than someone who is honest and up-front about their philosophical leanings and emerging opinions from the beginning.

        Let’s give the readers of LoGroNo some credit for their capacity for critical thinking. They can read your comments and my comments and reach their own conclusions.

        Frankly, I hope they have better things to do with their time.

      2. Ross,
        Thank you for apologizing for linking me in any way with the actions of Al Roder, and for retracting your suggestion that I am responsible for the actions of city leaders who were in office well before I even moved to town.

        Unfortunately, I have to note that – even as you apologize – you keep on accusing me of “giv[ing] more credibility to the opinions of the professionals than those of the amateurs,” without bothering to support that accusation with any examples, illustrations, or indeed any evidence of any kind whatsoever.

        I humbly suggest the following: either present supporting evidence for your public assertions against me, or keep your still-unsubstantiated criticisms to yourself.

        Thank you in advance.

      3. Patrick: in 17.1.2 you are still asking Ross to give you “evidence” of what he has said is an opinion… there is no “evidence’ of an opinion except the stating of it as formed by other comments.
        For God’s sake, do you think everyone should keep folders of comments they may need to use to prove a point in the future? to prove a point stated as an opinion?

        This is crazy; Griff is going to be saying “ARRRRRRGH, any minute now.

  15. Patrick… Thank you… but there is a problem here… NOBODY should be worried that what they say on Locally Grown. The idea that what opinion someone may express here in some way impugns their reputation is a BIG problem, as I see it.

    I think this forum should be more than a ‘fight’.

    I was often much too insistent upon trying to convince those who looked to the newspaper for an unbiased evaluation of the Roder/Lansing situation; trying to convince those people that they would not get the whole picture there.

    Unfortunately, what I call “the Politics of Personality” will always prevail to some extent, and especially in a small town.
    But… I feel that in a small town is exactly where those politics should NOT prevail. We have the opportunity in this small community, to witness the legislative process (now more than ever , thanks to KYMN) and to speak to the councilors (although Mr. Siemers didn’t get an overwhelming response) and to evaluate for ourselves.

    We, the collective ‘we’, will still have differences… but I think it is incredibly misguided to think that Locally Grown defines any one person; it only is a venue for that person’s opinion, and general discussion.

    As to “battles that should be… long-dead-and-buried” , one of those ‘battlers’ is still in court after two years; the second is enforcing a pattern of behavior that should, IMO, remove him from the occupational field in which he has maneuvered in recent years.

      1. Patrick…I’ve been reading your posts for a couple of years and agree with your defense. I think you have been independent in your opinion- without any agenda favoring ‘authority’ for its own sake.

      2. Thanks William.

        I’d also like to expand upon my comments at the beginning of this thread, and say that I think that your comparative analysis of the Northfield city budget is an excellent piece of good citizen journalism, which covers the issue from a point of view that others (including the Nfld News and LGN) have not.

        Your work really deserves to be used as a point of reference for discussions of the city budget taken as a whole. Unfortunately, other public discussions of the issue have sometimes started with particular proposed cuts – with too little consideration for the big picture of the scope, organization, and funding of the city government as a whole.

  16. Patrick,

    In your comments on the previous thread you posted here, you say you believe in the presumption of innocence. Most people would agree with that, on principle.

    I just wish Mayor Lansing had been given the benefit of the doubt that Roder enjoyed. The way he was treated in the media still comes back to haunt me.

  17. I totally don’t want to get in the middle of the spat between Ross and Patrick, but I wanted to say I could empathize with Ross’ frustration described in post # 8 and 7.1.1.

    I feel in a very similar position vis-a-vis the school as he describes being in relation to the city. That is, extremely frustrated that, despite repeated warnings, things are going down hill, very rapidly, while the local norm is to try to stifle criticism on the grounds that it isn’t polite.

    It gets maddening at times, when my kids are still IN the public schools (as opposed to the kids of several friends and acquaintances, who have quietly left), in part because I do (or at least did) value the whole concept of public schools, common good, etc.–only to see my own kids’ education put at risk because I’m trying to hang in. And, improve things. And point out when the emperor (or in this case, the superintendent) isn’t (metaphorically) wearing much.

    I don’t know what the answer is, because it’s clear that getting so mad that you just jump down the nearest commentator’s throat doesn’t work very well. But quietly leaving and moving kids to a private or charter school is also harmful to the public schools. Maybe that’s what it’s going to take, though.

    In any case, my general point (yes, I do have one, thanks for asking) is simply that this Northfield norm of prizing politeness over candor and critical inquiry really hurts all of us in the long run. Both at the city level as exemplified in all the fiascos with city officials leaving, getting sued, countersuing etc.,…and more quietly in the schools with our drain of families who stay in the general population.

  18. I wasn’t going to comment, but I feel this discussion is exactly what keeps Locally Grown from drawing the large, diverse group of commenters Tracy says she is seeking.
    This thread has devolved into a discussion of the worthiness of some Patrick’s opinions — and some other opinions that were give two years ago. Imagine my surprise when I dropped in for a visit to see how the reboot was going and found a story about Roder and my name among a list of civic troublemakers. John George, it seems that indeed nothing has changed.
    Really?
    Ross, I moved away almost two years ago. Noah and Scott are long since out of office. I might be flattered that you feel I made such an impact, but I don’t care. I just care that your comments make many people feel that speaking here isn’t worth being put on a permanent enemies list. It seems you need a little more work on that whole letting go and moving on thing.
    Don’t worry, Patrick. Even the most casual reader is able to see the quality of your comments — and make reasonable judgments about the others who comment here. I admit that sometimes I got too involved in trying to defend myself and took some comments too personally. I always admired the way you stuck to the topic and the evidence.
    It’s good to be far enough away to have some perspective — and great opportunities for civil discussion, but it makes me sad that the potential of this site still gets blocked by such diversions. This thread, for example, started out with some great points. And the debate about professionals versus amateurs is one that’s being played out across the country. I wonder whether the people who are so willing to ridicule professionals in government would be willing to have their car fixed or their hair colored or their teeth pulled by passionate amateurs. We need skill and passion — and respect for what everyone brings to the table.
    Finally, Griff, you say Ross doesn’t speak for you and Tracy, but he does. If people are intimidated by his comments, nothing you and Tracy can do will get them to participate.
    Good luck with the site…and best wishes to all.

  19. Listen up, Y’all… I’m the oldest person here, and that deserves some respect, even in today’s society!

    This Ross/Patrick ( equal time: Patrick/Ross) has to stop. Period.

    In itself, it is a good subject for discussion, i.e. “how do people of differing opinions have a productive discussion” … but it appears that it cannot go there, because it cannot go beyond the personal.
    Patrick made a statement to which Ross, admittedly over-reacted to, and Ross apologized for that repeatedly.
    Patrick feels as if he has to defend himself, although Ross has apologized multiple times.
    Ross, nor Patrick, need to change their opinion; obviously they are not going to agree, opinion-wise.

    ***There is no Need for their opinions to agree***

    Opinions, and their makers, cannot necessarily become congruent, no matter how hard and eloquently anyone argues.

    Facts CAN be agreed to, unless the demand is for those facts to be proven, up front , in what lawyers would call ‘black letter law’. Opinions cannot be verified except by reiteration, and not even then, and that leads to 100K threads

    As Councilor Buckheit said, (now famously) in a recent council meeting : “This is NOT a hill I’m willing to die on!”

    Take heed of that; we are adults, and we can disagree as much as we want. I just think this disagreement of OPINION, given statements made, and apologies proffered, has gone way too far.

  20. Hi, Anne, I’m glad you chimed in. Bet you miss us. 🙂

    One of the conclusions I’ve come to, after 15+ years of working with Griff trying to figure out ways the Internet & related technologies can be used to enhance community, is that it works best when people know each other in a context beyond cyberspace.

    It’s not always easy – in fact, it’s quite difficult – to have a context in which to understand an individual’s frame of reference, or history behind his/her remarks. It’s much easier for readers to hear the voice behind the comments of people like you, Anne, and Rob Hardy, or Randy Jennings, who work with words and communicate for a living.

    If I didn’t know Ross, it would be understandable if I’d jump to the conclusion that he’s an ornery curmudgeon. However, I do know Ross; and, well, he’s an ornery curmudgeon. Sometimes. He’s also passionately committed to this community, voluntarily working for an income far below his earning capacity simply because he believes in the possibility of making Northfield a better place. He chose to bring up his children here. It’s even possible that he and I may be sitting in rocking chairs next to each other in the retirement center someday.

    But if I didn’t have another context for understanding some of Ross’s remarks, I wouldn’t know any of the other things about him. In fact, when we first started LoGro, I really didn’t know Ross; my only connection with him was in his position as Executive Director of the NDDC as I was a member of the EDA at the time. (A total fluke; back in 2000 or so, they needed a technology person and a token broad, and at the time I fit the bill for both.) I was impressed because the NDDC was the only organization the EDA funded that consistently showed demonstrable progress against measurable goals.

    Anyway, Anne, to your point that Ross does speak for Griff and me insofar as he’s part of the face of Locally Grown: I can accept that. I don’t think his comments are any more intimidating than any of the other participants here. And maybe the best thing we could do to recharge Locally Grown is to have a regular place and time for face-to-face gatherings. That would help a lot of things.

    – from Tracy “I’m not really a bitch; I just play one in your life” Davis

    1. Actually Tracy, you’re wrong, or at least your memory of the events, in my opinion, is incorrect. When we started LoGroNo so, so long ago, you were on the EDA and I was on the Planning Commission. We both bought Griff’s pitch that he was trying to raise the visibility of the role that these citizen boards and commission played in local government. It had nothing to do with the NDDC. At least that’s what I heard.

      Some commenters have expressed hope that through facing these tough challenges in our current situation, we’ll come through with better ideas and improved approaches. I know at least a couple of the candidates for City Council believe that we can save money, and more efficiently and effectively pursue our priorities, by shifting some authority and responsibility from costly staff to volunteer citizens through strengthening these boards and commissions.

      I think there are some of our leaders who have and will vigorously resist such a shift. I hope there will be some discussion of this concept in upcoming candidate forums. Depending on the outcome of the November elections, we may be working within a different paradigm.

      1. Ross – you misunderstood me. What I meant was that when we started LoGro, I didn’t know you in any capacity other than your position with the NDDC. Your memory of Griff’s pitch to the two of us, in our capacity as appointed officials on the EDA and Planning Commission respectively, is the same as mine.

        One of this council’s stated goals for both 2009 and 2010 was to make better use of the boards and commissions. Some organizational changes may be warranted, but the idea of “getting rid of the boards & commissions because they cost too much” (Keeping the lights on for meetings? Staff time?) is quite short-sighted, and I suspect that wasn’t what was intended in the goal.

        I wish I knew what changed.

      2. Ross…Having sat through some of those Board and Commission discussions early on in this council’s term, it FELT like it was a sort of ‘power thing’; i.e., some members of the Council kept referring to the need for B/Cs to be working only at Council direction, not ever ‘going off on their own’.
        That’s a good thing: for the B/Cs to be working on specific things the Council wants advice on ; but it is NOT a good thing to insist that these citizen volunteers cannot use their expertise to work on things that the Council will simply not have the time to get around to.

        Like all things, the correct balance must be sought.

        In thinking about this, I’m back to my oft-used statement: City halls don’t spring unbidden from cornfields. Cities only form because a group of people, now they’ll become citizens, get together and decide to organize a governmental structure for themselves. Key words: the last two: “for themselves”, and that is what is too often forgotten.

        Being an elected official, or a city employee, is to be a public servant. All those who don’t wish to engage in a service industry should not apply; they, and the people they work for, will not be happy.

        I very much look forward to a new Council perspective in January which will engage and profit from the work of the volunteer citizen Boards and Commissions, rather than considering them in any sort of adversarial manner related to ‘power’, or unnecessary use of city dollars.

  21. I think Bright is dead-on with the idea that we should start really talking about developing self-sufficiency, and the tools/skills we need to remain viable as federal and state aid continues to decline. The growing deficit? Continued land degradation? I feel we are fortunate to have some time remaining to get busy creating the town and environs we want to have.

    1. I’d be a lot happier with the huge acreage of annexations if it was considered to be primarily an agricultural land bank … hydroponic greenhouses… all sorts of really up to date food production support.
      Is it possible to think that a small community might benefit from providing much of their own agricultural needs?
      More local food crops, less paving, growing season crops on the best land, hydro greenhouses on the lesser quality land… and entirely different model for “development”. Look at each parcel of land: What is its highest and best use?

      I wish the EDA had explored a more philosophical-for-the-future model that what seems like an outdated development model, which seems especially ‘iffy’ in a lesser economically viable time. I would really have liked to have seen what a good planning firm like HKgi had come up with, if an entirely different development goal had been assigned.

      IF businesses come and want to locate there also, as long as the food production is not disrupted… then fine. That’s the kind of “mixed use” I’d like to see.

  22. My apologies for the delay on getting the issues-related straw poll posted. I was goofing off all weekend with my camera and today’s webinar has me preoccupied. I hope to have it up by Wed. morning.

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