Scott Davis, My Hero of The Week

A few comment-makers on this site have offered that they really like the City Administrator or the Mayor or a Council Member. I feel like they are implying that maybe we folks at Locally Grown don’t really like them and that’s why we seem to be stubbornly asking questions about their actions week after week.

Let me make something very clear, I like them at least as much as those comment makers, and maybe even a lot more.

Let’s start with the City Administrator, Al Roder. Gosh, I can’t tell you how excited I was when Al first came to town. Positive, cheerful, friendly, and energetic, he was like a breath of fresh air. I’ve had many a lunch with him, he works hard to find time to meet with me, and we always have a forthright exchange of ideas and opinions.

Next there’s the Mayor, Lee Lansing. Lee has been a friend of mine for a long time. He ran for office so that he could increase the business-friendliness of Northfield by clearing away unnecessary bureaucracy and giving more decision-making responsibility to citizen-staffed boards and commissions. I was, and continue to be, very supportive of that effort.

Then there’s Council Member Jim Pokorney. No other elected official has been as willing to meet with stakeholders as Jim. Whether it’s pedestrian safety, deteriorating infrastructure, or saving the downtown library, Jim is always willing to make time to sit down and listen. Perhaps more than any other Council Member, Jim makes me feel like we really share the same values.

Council Member Noah Cashman raised the hopes of all who know him when he ran for office. I first met him at the Contented Cow (where you used to shout, between songs performed by Blue Moon String Band, “Let Ross sing another one!”) and he was really concerned that citizens be given a chance to shape the future of their community. I loved to hear him talk about his goals for citizen empowerment.

Council Member Jon Denison has had no truer believer than me, just ask Griff or Tracy or Jane or Keith. From the very first days, I was impressed by Jon’s eagerness to immerse himself in the big issues, put in the time, talk to the participants, and try to identify the key issues and support the key initiatives in our political processes.

Finally, there’s Scott Davis. Scott and I have worked closely together on countless efforts on a wide range of objectives. Not only were we Community Day of Service Co-Chairs and were, are, and ever will be Blandin Buddies, he actually served for several years on an NDDC Committee. If he hadn’t made that fateful decision to enter politics, he’d be on the NDDC Board by now.

In fact, I made Scott my Hero of the Week. His efforts at last Monday night’s Council Meeting to try to turn the page on some of the issues that have been dogging local government and move on to a new chapter could be considered truly admirable.

However…

37 thoughts on “Scott Davis, My Hero of The Week”

  1. However … What happened to them all? How did they get caught up in a process that has become increasingly unproductive, and frankly unrepresentative of, or for, the community good.
    One thing I don’t like, and I have seen this happen with most council people since I’ve been here (1994) is that it seems there’s “a room with the electrodes”. That started out as a joke, but I can’t explain why it often seems that is is more important for them to band together than to be the separate individuals we voted for, because we thought they were the candidate that would best represent our personal feelings.
    Whatever that “room with the electrodes” stands for, let’s lock the door and never go there again.

  2. Councilor Scott Davis is our radio show/podcast guest this week. We’re recording at 3 pm on Wed. again. It’ll air at 5:30 pm on KYMN 1080 AM. I’ll have the podcast published by 10 pm or so.

    If you have questions you’d like us to consider asking Scott, post ’em here. We’ll be asking him about Judy Dirks, the $85,000 city website, and rumors of trouble at City Hall.

  3. On the Nfld News website tonight: Councilor Davis talks.

    City councilor Scott Davis says he’s ending the secrecy surrounding issues of possible misdeeds at city hall. This week, Davis will post on the Internet the list of 14 questions the council had for the state auditor along with a listing of how the council voted on each issue. Davis said he believes how council and the mayor voted is telling. On a Web site still under construction, Davis will answer Northfielders’ questions, including those regarding the issues first sent to the state auditor. Some of those questions may now be under review by an independent investigator.

  4. And in today’s paper: Davis speaks out on city issues: Councilman’s blog aims to answer residents’ questions

    Davis said he hasn’t worked out all the kinks. He’s working on setting up his blog and plans to list all 14 questions alongside the vote breakdown. That alone, he believes, will give residents a good deal of information. And, he said, he’ll answer questions on his blog from residents – unless state law won’t allow discussion. Some data, such a personnel information, can’t be disclosed publicly.

  5. I’m glad Scott is doing this, however …
    The vote on the original 14 was done in public, at a council meeting; it does allow you to speculate, but is not any factual info except for the vote tally.
    A more important revelation would be which council person put each issue up for consideration and why.
    The newspaper could have printed the vote tally on the original 14 right after the meeting. I have wondered why they didn’t.
    If this information is considered to be enlightening now, why wasn’t it printed in the paper then?
    Was the paper making choices about a “slant” to their story?

  6. Kudos to Scott for taking a leadership role in clearing the air. Questions for him:

    1–What is the status of the Police Chief position? Is it reasonable to expect a town in an alleged heroin crisis to go for six months or more without a chief?

    2–Any new news in the “Rate Search” situation? Is anyone from the city, ie auditors or police etc, involved at this point, or is it in outside hands, ie FBI? What is the actual amount missing?

  7. Missing chief? Missing $4 million? That’s old news, Curt. We’ve got new shit that’s hitting the fan every day, right here in River City!

    Hey, I’ve got an idea: someone should start a new website called MoveOnNorthfield.org !

  8. Griff, if the missing $4 million is found, it could be used to create an endowment with the interest going to fund the apparently never ending investigations and attorney’s fees. $4m x 5% = 200,000/yearly.

    Speaking of old news, did you know the city’s website cost $85,000 and city staffers apparently don’t know how to update it? I think this one might have slipped by you…..

  9. Questions to ask:

    How can we get more interaction with city councilors? Specifically, WHY is there no interaction during open mic? It’s a perfect opportunity to either address the citizen’s concern or say it’s too big to address at that moment but put it on the agenda for the next meeting. Certainly every issue raised by a citizen at a council meeting should be addressed or responded to in some form within a reasonable timeframe (I would suggest a week or two).

    Planning for action: Why can’t the council identify a timeline in which issues will both return to the council and a timeline for resolution? We seem to have a perennial problem with items that aren’t resolved. This seems particularly important given the inevitable impact of the lawsuit on city activities.

    Transparency: what steps can the city council take to require greater transparency of city activities? How can the council then ensure that the steps have been taken?

    __________________________

    Separately, on the topic of fora for open discussions, has the city ever held town meetings? That could be a good way to provide a venue to discuss some topics, but the city council would need to commit to attending. (That might be question for today or just a question for the blogosphere.)

  10. Felicity : and et al… The League of Women Voters is working on the issue of lack of interaction at Open Mic. Watch for a statement at the next regular meeting (1st week of Nov. )

  11. There are inherent problems in reacting to open mike comments. Councilors have an agenda and can’t take up additional items at will. It would violate open meeting laws and gum up already long meetings. It shows tremendous disrespect to people who have shown up to deal with scheduled items to allow others to ‘cut in line’ and hijack the meeting. Councilors and staff don’t always have information available to give an answer. And forcing responses to unexpected public attacks pushes councilors into confrontation instead of conversation. Of course, that seems the goal of some speakers.
    It seems to me that the approach to open mike comments should be 1) answer simple questions immediately, 2) refer more complicated questions to the appropriate staff/elected person, with a date set to receive an answer, 3) receive comments on an issue when a person just wants to speak, 4) put an issue on the agenda of a future meeting if there seems to be a need to do so.
    If there are a stack of requests for comment, councilors could set aside a work session as a question and answer session, but it seems this need to speak isn’t so much a groundswell of public concern as it is a concerted effort to distract people from the real issues that need to be resolved.
    It’s sad to think there needs to be a policy for something that’s just common sense. But common sense seems the item most lacking from meetings these days.

  12. I just saw on Councilor Davis’s blog that there is a special council meeting on Nov. 1. With Nelson, Vohs, and Davis being the only councilors not in the suit, perhaps Scott should step forward to chair the meeting.

  13. A small reminder for those not familiar with city process: The Northfield City Charter, Section 4.4, Hearing of the Public. ” At each regular meeting of the council a time shall be set aside for the hearing of citizens.”
    relevant ordinances: 545, 739.
    There is no way this is an unexpected procedure or a violation of open meeting law. No one is “cutting in line”; this is an item on every agenda, of every regular session. It is neither inherently disrespectful, nor a “hijacking” of the meeting. This section of the Charter was unanimously voted on/approved, by the council.

  14. I’m sorry, apparently my comment wasn’t clear. I never said this was an unexpected procedure, and after 20 years of attending public meetings in three states, I understand the concept.
    The provision is for the hearing of citizen comments…not for discussion and interaction. A strict interpretation could allow no council comment at all, which I have seen in some places. My comment was that interaction should have common sense limitations to avoid the problems I listed, not that citizen comments should be eliminated.

  15. Excuse me if I found these comments to be negative: “gum up already long meetings, shows tremendous disrespect, cutting in line, hijack the meeting, unexpected public attacks”.
    But I am still curious how you think open mic comments are a violation of the open meeting law?

  16. Ms Brettes referred to the Open mic Comments as follows:

    “forcing responses to unexpected public attacks pushes councilors into confrontation instead of conversation.”

    I think that qualifies for a reader’s interpretation that this Blog’s discussion of the Open Mic procedure is by her assessment: UNEXPECTED PROCEDURE. After all, she’s the one who called the Open Mic comments “attacks”.

    Clearly, one could conclude that she would understand after 20 years (or is it more than…?) that an action exercising the privilege provided for in the City’s Charter: the Open Mic policy, can not be unexpected… even if it rubs her, the city Staff or the Council, the wrong way.

    Unpleasant… unfortunate? Perhaps, but never unexpected.

    Her harangue this outing suffers from the same misunderstanding of allowable discourse as did City Administrator Roder’s rebuttal comment to Judy Dirks some weeks back… when he allowed, Ms Dirks had crossed a line in her use of the Open Mic.

    Brette often plays the: I’ve been there card – Her latest series of comments expressing disdain for what I’d term informed and curious dialogue is another example proving; having been there, whether as a union representative or after 20 years in the trenches, or covering like situations… does not make her rhetoric the accepted word. It does get tiresome to read these endless misinterpretations of other’s thoughtful and informed point of view.

  17. David L.,
    I like your idea of Scott leading the meeting. Maybe the three councilors could take turns leading meetings until this all blows over. And maybe that won’t be too long in coming. It seems the next week or so could get very interesting.
    Of course, it’s important to keep this in persective. Throughout 150 years as a city, Northfield has survived quite a few bouts of foolishness and mayhem. And the details are fogotten just as these will be. It’s encouraging to know that our government system is far stronger than the squabbling today would indicate.

  18. David L. : since there is a mayor pro tem, elected by council (Kris Vohs) don’t you think it would be appropriate for him to lead any meeting that the mayor is not in charge of?
    I take your comment to mean that you think the mayor, having instigated this lawsuit, should not function in his mayoral role…But I’m pretty certain that role cannot be taken from him except by recall … I could be wrong about that; I’ll have to look it up. I can’t imagine that the elected mayor can have his leadership role taken away by a council vote; that would be a political “sinkhole”.
    When the dynamics of interactions are this “messy”, I think it is imperative to hold to their accepted protocols in a very strict way, i.e. Charter, Code, Robt’s Rules of Order, etc.
    To do otherwise creates an unmanageable environment , to some extent we already have that unfavorable situation; let’s not exacerbate it.

  19. Lisa -you’re right I will stand by Kiffi… but support of her comment in question was not my intent. She needs no support in this dialogue.

    Her FACTS are accurate and her opinion is based on empirical proof and unassailable principle.

    Having said that, the remarks which you credit me with: “Standing by my woman… ” should not first be assumed to be mere protection of the spousal unit.

    Those remarks are based on my read of Anne Bretts comments which repeatedly are laced with smug innuendo (and I believe few if any facts) and are formed to push her desire to prove to the reading world the breadth of her wisdom.

    If the “other’ world doesn’t end before I can take time to comment on another thread, which find you in a verbal duel with Anne Bretts and Brendon Etter, I will comment. Stay tuned.

    FYI, My read on Bretts position in those remarks is parallel to most of her other comments.

    Meanwhile, I wonder if Mr Etter and Ms Bretts could provide their definition of: facts. Especially: Facts vs. testimony, Facts vs eyewitness interpretation… Facts vs. “the way I saw it”. Facts, that fall short of smoking guns.

  20. Well, Victor, I am asking for what facts Lisa G. has. I’m perfectly willing to believe there was something messy, inappropriate or even illegal regarding Roder and Roder’s former pastor winning a contract with the city. Those are, however, mere allegations.

    I am asking Ms. Guidry if she has any facts, beyond the two men’s previous acquaintance, that support her allegations. If she can produce those facts, then I will have to take her allegation much more seriously. She made the charge; she has the onus of proof on her.

    Are you implying some secret knowledge on your part regarding this contract for City Hall TV/audio refurbishment?

    If so, cough it up.

    Otherwise, all Lisa has provided is an allegation, and an exaggerated one at that since she originally said she knew of Roder’s former pastor “getting several contracts with the city.” Then, when I asked what those contracts (plural) were she cited only one. What are the others? What is her evidence that there was any malfeasance?

    As I said in the other thread: I’m not an apologist for anyone, certainly not Mr. Roder, but neither can I support allegations not bolstered by fact.

    They are only allegations. Anyone can make them. Just like I can tell everyone that you have a tattoo of Shakespeare on your butt.

    Please, everyone, that was only a spurious allegation, I have no backing for that accusation, and don’t ask Victor to “prove” it.

    So to speak.

  21. Nice, Lisa. Even if you wish to insult my capabilities, I think you have an obligation to back up your claims to others who read this blog. You made the charge on a public forum, not to only me. So, tell everyone else your facts.

  22. I always would expect them to back up their allegations.

    You’re avoiding the issue. You want to throw a bomb into the discussion, raise your citizen-vigilante profile in the community, and then back away without supporting your assertions?

    What are the facts, Lisa?

  23. Oh, STOP!
    Maybe she can’t tell how she knows what she says she knows. Maybe she has mutual acquaintances that know several of the parties involved. Maybe people are afraid to get too specific in their questions about the City Administrator, or ANYONE, because of the level of negative behavior exhibited.
    Think about all the questions in the “original 14”. I’d be willing to bet there is an element of truth in ALL of them, and yet there is little information forthcoming. Even the councilpersons who put some of the issues on the original list don’t want to own up to their issue … think of the dramatic motivation for that (lack of) action…faced with too much adversity at the moment, maybe?
    Good material for a playwright, Brendon; someone may as well profit from this mess! David Mamet is not the only one who can write tough stuff.

  24. Kiffi,

    It’s annoying to read allegations, however titillating, that are left out there as if they are the truth. Even more annoying to have the accuser state that she knows the truth, that she has the facts, but she’s going to withhold them. I guess we are just supposed to trust her on this?

    It has been very frustrating to see that behavior from city leaders, and it frustrates here as well. I have asked for openness on the City Hall issues, as you have, and I ask for it in this instance as well.

    I am not claiming to know the truth; I typically offer opinions here, but baseless accusations bring nothing to the discussion. Your questions are much more insightful on the matter.

    Lisa G. has claimed to have special knowledge of facts in this particular matter, but clams up when asked to offer them. Worse, she resorts to an insult of me, then tries to divert the topic when further pressed for the basis of her claim. That’s standard operating procedure for a meaningless allegation.

    So, I say, again, to Lisa: please, make me look like a fool; I’m leaving myself wide open to it. State the facts. If you prove your case enough to make me believe you, I will apologize for my persistence. Openly. Honestly.

  25. Victor, you and Kiffi and I agree completely. The provision of the open mike is not unexpected at all, but a useful and standard tool at government meetings. And as usual, I am flattered by your attention to the smallest details of my life and posts.
    It seems you simply have made a rebuttal to a point I never made and have defended Kiffi where no attack occurred.
    My post in #13, restated in #16, states that my concern is not with the public mike provision but for the potential problems caused by unlimited interaction with the council in the open mike segment. I have explained it three times now. We have all made our points, so I think we should let the rest of the readers make up their own minds and move on.
    As for your personal attacks, I will abide by Griff’s rules and not respond.
    And Lisa, I am more than willing to wait for the council’s review of the contract matter. I agree with Brendon that we need facts, which seem to be lacking.

  26. I am not stopping anyone from calling Roder, and asking him about his relationship with Dave Sohl.

    Brendon I did not insult you. I gave the info. that I know to investigators, and that in fact is not you. Take a cold shower & cool off, or write another script.

  27. Lansing could call the meeting to order, and then step down as the chair, and let the mayor pro tem take over. I volunteered Scott because he has taken an active interest in getting some resolution.

  28. No one said you were “stopping anyone from calling Roder”. You claim to know the truth in this matter. What is it? More importantly, why is it the truth? What are the facts, Lisa?

  29. Brendon,

    Just because I’m 4’11 you can’t push me around. I decide on what I will say & what I will not say. I’ve said enough for today. Ta Ta :)!

  30. Lisa,

    That’s the good thing about an electronic forum, the debate has nothing to do with physical size. You make your points on the strength of your argument. You bring up your physical size as if it’s what? Relevant? A barely-disguised attempt to make it sound like I’m a big, bad man bullying you? Well, just because I’m 6’4″, doesn’t mean you can duck under my question: What are the facts?

    You made the allegation. You back it up.

    If you were seeking to defame Mr. Roder, you’ve probably accomplished the opposite by making him seem the target of a groundless attack. You could have been so much more effective by merely stating what “public info” (your words from comment #59 in the “Mayor Lansing sues…” thread) you had.

    Ironically, you have “said enough for today” by not saying much of anything at all. Your silence on this speaks volumes.

  31. In today’s Strib: Stillwater: Barbs prompt end of school-funding blog

    Citizens for Responsible Spending 834, which opposes a Stillwater levy referendum, said its attempt at starting a civil discussion about the issues turned nasty.

    Folks, take a break and reread our Guidelines. We’ve got a reputation (Northfield.org 1995-2005; Locally Grown since then) as an online place where civility rules. I’m not going to let what happened in Stillwater happen here.

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