It’s Not about the Admirable Qualities of Our Leaders…

CouncilChambersUnmountedArt.jpg…it’s about the validity of issues that have been raised and whether or not they’ve been resolved to the satisfaction of the stakeholders, in this case, the citizens of Northfield.

I can appreciate the desire of Council Members to want to put some of these issues behind them and move forward on important issues facing the city. There’s certainly something to be said for such progress.

For at least some of us, it’s not that easy. Issues have been raised, all of which sound as if they have significant, if not substantial, implications for our governmental process and the future of our community. Personally, I am not comfortable being told by my elected officials (to paraphrase), “We looked at the issue and took care of it”.

Perhaps I’m attaching too much importance to the list of 14 items that was generated for the state auditor. However, every time that I review the list, all of the items seem to have fairly significant, if not substantial, implications, at the very least, for our governmental process and, potentially, for the future of our community.

It could be due to my liberal arts undergraduate degree. Rather than learn to accept the passed-down wisdom of the experts, I was taught to ask questions, and to continue to ask questions, until I had made the knowledge my own.

There has been much speculation and many rumors in the community about what incident actually occurred or was thought to have occurred to generate each of the 14 items on the list. I think that I am not alone in wanting more thorough answers on these items.

I would suggest that if the Council does not want the Leftover Eight independently and publicly investigated, that at the very least they owe the citizens a clear explanation of the incident or incidents that resulted in the generation of each item on the list, so that all interested citizens can understand what is or is not being investigated. I also think that if the Council believes that an item has been resolved, then that resolution should also be clearly explained to all interested citizens so that the citizens can decided for themselves if they believe that the item has or has not been satisfactorily resolved.

If I’m the only one who feels this way, then I’ll drop it.

9 thoughts on “It’s Not about the Admirable Qualities of Our Leaders…”

  1. Thanks for bestowing upon me the “Hero of the Week” honor. I am looking forward to receiving the crown and the bullet-proof cape… or can I chose the invisibility cape!

    Would you do me a favor and repost the “original” list of 14 items without someones added underlining? Or repost the document with a notation at the top that the underlining represents your or LG’s personal feelings. I feel it is hard to have an open and fair discussion if right out of the shoot, information provided has been manipulated. I know that that was not your intentions, and you may have done it to provide more clarity to the issues, but you are, how did Perry Mason say it… “leading the witness”.

    I will be posting more about the list of 14 items tomorrow!

    Can’t say anymore as I am heading up to the cities to celebrate my fathers 73rd birthday! And that is way more important to me than today, than the Leftover 8 or the __________ 14.

  2. I don’t think anyone who lives in Northfield should “drop it”. As a citizen of Northfield, I and you, have every right to know the answers to all 14 questions.

  3. Well then maybe it’s about the LESS admirable qualities of our leaders … I think they have forgotten, in the midst of a lot of sincere emotional angst, that they are not just there as themselves.
    They are there to represent US. As difficult as these times may be, they must see that they cannot fulfill their responsibilities to the people who elected them if they are sweeping issues under the rug. That sounds harsh, but the first two issues of the leftover eight, that they now say have been dealt with, have not been resolved to all of their satisfactions, and until that is done, they cannot truly be said to BE resolved.
    Remember, a councilperson put each of those issues on a list to possibly go to the state auditor. Anyone who did that, without a genuine concern for the process, should be ashamed. If anyone put an issue on that list as a “gotcha”, then they should be ashamed.
    They are adults, who have a large weighty responsibility, and their problems…whether with process or personalities… must be discussed in an open forum. We, the public, are not such babies that we cannot tolerate some differing POVs within our city council/staff.
    What we should NOT tolerate are the ways they have chosen to handle their differences.

  4. I look forward to Scott’s posting. Maybe those of us reading his post will have a clearer idea of what is going on!

    However, what about the rest of the public who may not read LG?

    With the current lack of leadership in the city, communication has been silent. The result is mistrust. Reading between the lines of lists like the one from the August 20 council meeting (approval of the list to go to the State Auditor) encourages suspicion. Not providing a list at the October 15 council meeting (of items to be investigated by Mr. Everett) increases suspicion.

    And now, there’s the Mayor’s lawsuit! One more blow to communication. Suspicion is justified!

    Do the council members have the Everett list? Is there a legal justification for not making it public?

    The council and the administration, rather than needing lawyers and judges, need a mediator who will effect communication between city officials so that there can be real communication to the public. Without such a force, our city is doomed to months of dissention and inaction.

  5. The most important question is how the Mayor and the Council can lead the City when the lawsuit, Chief Smith’s allegations, and the 14 “issues” are hanging over everyone’s heads.

    Jane’s right about the Council working together. It doesn’t matter what the answers are to the above questions if the Council can’t get along.

    Personally, I’m of the opinion that the above matters are like the heroin press conference – much ado about ordinary problems. Rather than sweeping the issues under the rug, the Council should sweep them out the door.

  6. We should probably agreed on terms to use for the Issues for Examination by the State Auditor and now by the special investigator. I suggest:

    Original 11
    Amended 14
    Leftover 8
    Select 6
    Cluster of 14 (currently unknown, expanded from the Select 6 by the special investigator)

    Scott, the PDF of the Amended 14 is on the city’s website. Here they are for all our convenience:

    ISSUES FOR EXAMINATION BY STATE AUDITOR (AMENDED)

    The following issues have been identified by the Mayor and City Council of the City of Northfield for referral to the Minnesota State Auditor under authority of Minn. Stat. Sec. 6.55, or to another independent examiner if the Auditor declines to undertake the examination of any issues or cannot do so within 90 days. This request is made pursuant to Northfield City Council Resolution # 2007-084. The State Auditor is requested to respond as to whether the Auditor will examine these issues, whether the Auditor declines to examine any of these issues, and an approximate timeframe within which the Auditor will examine the issues accepted by the Auditor.

    The issues pertain to the City of Northfield, Minnesota, and to the period of time beginning January 1, 2005:

    1. Has there been any improper influence exerted or any improper action taken by any City official, employee, consultant or private party with regard to the site selection process for a new municipal liquor store within the City, including the potential site located at 600 Division Street South?

    2. Have City officials and employees observed proper boundaries between actions taken as individuals and actions taken on behalf of the City (e.g., requests for professional services by City officials or employees, directions given to City staff or elected officials, use of public office or position of employment or use of public property for private purposes or private gain)?

    3. Has there been any improper influence exerted or any improper action taken by City officials or employees with regard to the issuance or termination of a temporary certificate of occupancy by the City for office space on the second floor of the property located at 618 Division Street South?

    4. Has there been any improper influence exerted or any improper action taken by any City official or employee with regard to personnel decisions, including threats or retaliation, failure to properly document personnel matters in personnel files, and failure to properly address complaints or questions regarding personnel matters?

    5. Is there a proper understanding and observance of the different roles and responsibilities of City officials and City employees, and are interactions between officials and employees properly respectful?

    6. Were proper municipal contracting laws followed with regard to contracts including a contract for the rewiring of City Hall and other City facilities for telephone and computer access, a contract for engineering services, and a

    consultant’s contract for services related to the relocation of the municipal liquor store? Were there any improprieties on the part of City officials or employees outside of but related to that contract those contracts?

    7. Has there been a violation of the Minnesota government data practices act or a breach of computer security by or among City officials or employees? Have data requests been properly honored and managed? Are employee privacy expectations properly addressed by the City’s personnel policy and have employee privacy expectations been honored?

    8. Has there been a violation by City officials or employees of the proper separation of church and state?

    9. Has there been proper oversight and management of TIF projects in which the City is involved, including the project known as The Crossing? Has the City followed proper procedures and practices with regard to TIF projects, tax abatement, and other financial incentives to private development offered by the City?

    10. Has there been misuse of public funds related to any of the foregoing issues (to include an examination of cash received and disbursed and transactions related thereto, as provided by Minn. Stat. Sec. 6.55)?

    11. Are there any issues otherwise brought to the attention of the Auditor and determined by the Auditor to merit examination?

    12. Have there been violations of the open meeting law?

    13. Is there a purchasing policy in place in the City and has it been followed? Have the City’s purchasing practices conformed to state and federal requirements?

    14. Has the City’s pay plan been implemented and followed and have any deviations from the plan been reported to the Council?

  7. You know, I’m just having a really hard time with the fact that none of these adults we have elected to lead/represent us have the guts to have a discussion of their problems in the public venue of a council meeting.
    Having been at the work session last night, it just became so apparent that the process is “verschmiggled” (one of my kid’s favorite descriptive words) because of their group dynamics.
    There are small snide remarks, heated glances, questions meant to provoke, cautionary statements … all the symptoms of a group that can’t talk to each other, through their basic level of irritation with each other.
    Enough already; since July it has been said to “be patient, wait and see, there’s more that will come out, trust me”!
    We’ve been patient.
    We’ve waited and only seen more complications.
    Virtually nothing has “Come out”.
    Trust is worn to the breaking point.

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