Leaked, redacted, photocopied: the ongoing saga of a City Council packet

Back on July 25, I commented that I’d made a data request of the Council packet that was the focus of the July 23 special City Council meeting. My request went from City Clerk Deb Little at Northfield City Hall to the City Attorney Maren Swanson who then asked the Special Counsel Cliff Greene to do whatever redaction might be needed before releasing it. One day later, on July 25, I commented about reporter Suzanne Rook’s story on the Northfield News website, Memos from mayor push son’s site for liquor store, and then the following day, I wondered how she got the info since it had not been released by City Hall.

Yesterday I got a call from Deb Little, wondering if I wanted all 700 pages, as there was a $75 charge for photocopying. Yikes. Imagine how much it cost us taxpayers to have the attorney in the Cities go through all 700 pages for redaction. And a 55 gal. drum of whiteout can’t be cheap, either. I passed, knowing that our colleagues at KYMN, Dusty Budd and Jeff Johnson, had made a similar request and the packet would be at their studio by the time we met for our show at 5:30. It was.

IMG_3756.JPG IMG_3757.JPG
Here’s Jeff with his bedtime reading material for the next 6-12 months. I took a photo (click to enlarge) of one of the items that had a redaction: a letter from Mayor Lee Lansing to City Administrator Al Roder, dated a long time ago, March of 2006. Item #6 says: “600 Division speaks for itself” and the rest of it is whited out.

I don’t have time to go through the pile, but it’s probably not necessary, since Northfield News reporter Suzanne Rook already has. And she had access to the original packet which she used for her follow-up story on Mayor Lansing’s finances published last week (linked from this comment).

Is finding the source of the leak important? I’m not sure, but it’ll be interesting to see how the council deals with all this at next Monday’s meeting. It could exacerbate the already heightened tensions that seem to pervade City Hall this summer, the 40th anniversary of the Summer of Love.

58 thoughts on “Leaked, redacted, photocopied: the ongoing saga of a City Council packet”

  1. Griff: See posts #40-46. My thought would be that the City Council, Mayor, and City Administrator get together in a controlled, mediated environment so that they can try to hammer out some issues with the 6 points that are being sent to the State Auditor, and the 8 points that they can’t figure out what to do.

    It would appear that at least the 6 points are going to end up back on the Council table anyway. So, why not all of them get together and see if they can reach a mediated agreement.

    I broached the idea with Lundblad. He didn’t say no. It would be good for the whole town if they can reach an agreement. (The soundness of the idea is that verfied by Victor’s agreement in post #41.)

  2. ……….And also by how Happy the Herd was/were after they Heard the WORD!

    We’re all mooing for you, oh great Mediator!

    At least bring the “Lost Eight”out of the darkness and into the bloody daylight!

  3. I’m confused. Nfld News managing editor Jaci Smith has revived the packet saga with 4 points in her Saturday column.

    In this column she mentions nothing of the redacted copy of the packet that KYMN got when it made the request (I made a request too, but declined to get a copy when told I’d have to pay the photocopy expenses). In her related blog post, she says that whatever was redacted could also be gotten from public documents. The implication is that any citizen could get the unredacted copy. I’m not sure that’s accurate.

    But she does reveal that the paper initiated the request on their own and that councillor Noah Cashman was the one who initiated the request resulting in its distribution to the entire council.

  4. IMHHO, the Jaci Smith retelling of the packet issue, as well as the rest of the “myth-busting” was very simplistic, and could not begin to illuminate any of the issues, which are so complexly interwoven. It may even be an actual disservice , or act of mis-information ,to deal with these important issues, which are all tangled with the personality/power struggles of Mayor, Council and the City Administrator, in such an almost dismissive way …as if none had any substantive bearing on the general situation.

    I’ll just say this once again, since the packet that miraculously flew on the wings of serendipity, all on its own, to the NFNews was all negative to the Mayor, we can assume he is the only one cleared of its delivery.

  5. Evidently Nfld News managing editor Jaci Smith doesn’t have it quite right. I wrote to City Clerk Deb Little about this issue (see #55 above) asking:

    But in her [Jaci Smith’s] related blog post, she says that whatever was redacted could also be gotten from public documents. The implication is that any citizen could get the unredacted copy. Is this accurate?

    Deb Little replied via email:

    Citizens do not have access to the unredacted documents.

  6. At the bottom of this blog post, Nfld News managing editor Jaci Smith responds to my comment above that her statement about the availability of the unredacted packet doesn’t square with city clerk Deb Little’s statement.

    Keep in mind the difference between the “redacted material” (private, withheld) and what we’ve been referring to as the “redacted packet” (publicly available). Jaci wrote:

    What I meant was, that while the redacted material was in fact private, there wasn’t any information in there that we couldn’t have also found in public documents. In other words, the materials themselves were not public, but the information (the facts, not the hyperbole) contained therein was verifiable from other, public sources.

    Thanks, Jaci. Since the paper is the only non-public entity in possession of the unredacted packet, it seems like it would help if they published some of it, for example:

    * Here’s unredacted memo A
    * Here’s the redacted memo A
    * Here is another source of that redacted information

    Could that be done?

Leave a Reply