Why is the Northfield Rescue Squad Association retaining attorney David Hvistendahl?

I was surprised to see on page 17 of the April 24 Council packet that there’s a letter (separate PDF here) from Northfield attorney David Hvistendahl to the CPA firm of Abdo, Eick & Meyers in which he’s telling them to not disclose any financial info about the Northfield Rescue Squad Association to the City of Northfield:

Hvistendahl NRSA letter to AbdoRemember your firm’s fiduciary duty owed to the Association on the basis of your professional services to the Association. We assume you will honor that duty and not disclose any information pertaining to the Association without our written consent.

Unless the city has a written agreement with the Association that gives them the power to request such an audit, or unless a Minnesota statute grants the authority to a municipality to compel an audit, the city lacks the standing to request an audit.

The Northfield Rescue Squad Association (NRSA) is separate from the Northfield Fire Relief Association (NFRA). The NRSA runs the bingo and duck race fundraisers during DJJD. I don’t know the history on why there’s a need for two organizations. I don’t understand how the gambling/pull-tab revenue is handled.

But regardless, why is it important that the City not know the Northfield Rescue Squad Association financials?

6 comments to Why is the Northfield Rescue Squad Association retaining attorney David Hvistendahl?

  • 1
    Curt Benson says:

    So Hvistendahl has found another place to wet his beak.

    You ask a good question, “Why is it important that the City not know the Northfield Rescue Squad Association financials?”

  • 2
    Robert Palmquist says:

    If Hvistendahl’s motivation was to keep the financials from getting known, his submitting a memo like that just really backfired. I agree, why would these financials be such a secret??? And why did the NRSA hire a lawyer to keep the financials under wraps??? If on the other hand business is slow and he was looking to create some more billable hours, then writing memos could be a way to do that. Guess it’s all just speculation from what we know at this point in time.

  • 3
    Griff Wigley says:

    Curt/Robert,

    There’s a summary of the Rescue Squad on Page 21 of the 2009 NFD report to the City.

    It doesn’t mention that there’s a Rescue Squad Association.

    The last paragraph states:

    The Northfield Rescue Squad is funded almost completely by donations. These donations have provided for the majority of the trucks and equipment the Northfield Rescue Squad currently has. The Northfield Rescue Squad also provides BLS Service (Basic Life Support) to Elko Speedway during the summer months. Proceeds from Elko Speedway are also used to purchase rescue equipment.

    So I’m guessing the City wants to know just how much revenue is brought in by this service to Elko plus the bingo and duck race, and what it’s being spent on. I’d like to know, too.

  • 4
    Griff Wigley says:

    Posted to Northfield News at 1pm:

    Ethical questions arise over Northfield Fire Relief Association expenses

    Donations made to Northfield Fire Relief Association aren’t public dollars, but that hasn’t extinguished city officials’ concerns over how those funds are being spent. City officials have asked for documents showing all association accounts, income and expenditures, but Fire Department leaders have so far failed to deliver the requested paperwork, said Administrator Tim Madigan.

    Madigan last week declined to detail his concerns, saying he wanted to review all pertinent information before commenting on specifics. But he and Public Safety Director Mark Taylor, who oversees the Fire Department, worry that donors who expected their money was supporting the department were unaware those dollars were going toward non-firefighting expenses, including an annual party for firefighters and their invited guests.

  • 5
    Griff Wigley says:

    Props to the newspaper and Suzy Rook for mentioning LoGro twice in the story:

    Fire Department officials, including Fire Chief Gerry Franek, did not respond to several requests from the News for association financial records or comment. Assistant Fire Chief Tom Nelson at an April 24 City Council meeting said documents posted on the blog Locally Grown are 2010 and 2011 relief association check registers. But those registers don’t clearly state how and where monies were spent, and are likely a listing of transactions from several accounts compiled into a single document…

    The association had a net revenue of $14,263 in 2011, according to a Gambling Control Board report to the Legislature. Of that, $4,110 was used for what’s termed lawful purpose expenditures. In 2010, its net receipts were $17,730. Of that, $8,354 was used for lawful expenditures. Figures provided to the state Gambling Control Board don’t match the association’s 2010 tax return, a document Assistant Fire Chief Tom Nelson says he provided Locally Grown. According to that document, the association lost $2,209 in 2010.

  • 6
    Curt Benson says:

    Hvistendahl’s strange request for omerta from the Rescue Squad’s auditors doesn’t seem so strange today, after Suzy Rook’s NFN article:

    http://www.southernminn.com/northfield_news/news/article_140da8f7-ac82-57c4-8cc4-8382b3d59b40.html

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