Podcast: last week’s Council meeting; streetscape plans

Locally Grown trio

In this week’s episode of Locally Grown radio show, we opine ad nauseum about last week’s contentious Council meeting.

But we segued nicely to the downtown streetscape planning process and finished with a flourish about industrial land development.

Unlike last week’s R rating, this week’s show is PG-13, with Tracy providing a colorful adjective and verb. Ross, by contrast, was amazingly restrained, at one point saying, “That’s a bunch of… of… balderdash!” when he clearly wanted to say ‘bullshit.’

Click play to listen. 30 minutes.

Our radio show/podcast, Locally Grown, usually airs Wednesdays at 5:30 PM on KYMN 1080 AM. You can also subscribe to the podcast feed, or subscribe with iTunes. We seek your comments and suggestions.

22 thoughts on “Podcast: last week’s Council meeting; streetscape plans”

  1. Just listened to the podcast of this week’s show and I want to say it was a really good one. Why? Because a lot of opinions on controversial subjects (re: City Hall mess) were brought up and discussed from differing POVs.
    I must say Tracy got in there, big time, and framed a lot of the important questions very succinctly.
    I completely agree that we must continue to move forward on community accomplishments, but we do need to balance that with holding “their” feet to the fire on the accountability factor… How to balance?
    Aye, there’s the rub! (Did someone already say that ?)

  2. I just got aroung to listening to this. There is one thing that I feel I need to clarify in you comments.

    The council thought that the Mayor took a bathroom break to go out and talk to his lawyer. I happened to be sitting in the front “spectator” row right on the end by the door. From my perspective, the Mayor went out and entered the bathroom. His lawyer followed, but stood in the hall (I could see him through the side window). The Mayor exited the bathroom and came right back into the council chambers without having any verbal contact with his lawyer. The guy simply wanted to go to the bathroom, not consult with his lawyer. I could not help be amazed that the council was so paranoid. It made me wonder how many other conflicts arise because someone “thinks” something is happening.

  3. I am not sure who commented, but even without the comments, the tone in the room was measurable. That is probably on of the things we do not see or hear when watching or listening to a tape. You had to be there….

  4. Christine: Thank you for bringing the truth , witnessed by you, to this element of the discussion. (Those glass windows are pretty convenient; they allowed me to witness mr. Roder shepherding the prayer ladies out of his office just before the Judy Dirks’s comments; he then implied to the council, by his word choice, that the issue had been resolved some time ago…).

    This is why I have a problem with the “selectivity” of the Newspaper’s reporting… quote from the Nov. 3 NFNews: “…he (Pokorney) noted that halfway through the council’s discussion, Lansing excused himself to consult with his attorney.” Certainly the reporter heard the Mayor ask for a five minute break, as we all did; and when the councilor’s all resisted, he finally said, “I have to use the bathroom”. But the reporter, who heard the same discussion, chose only to report the councilperson’s assumption. That looks like biased reporting to me, because it colors/interprets the actions of those present.

    Good reporting, Christine.

  5. Kiffi- You wrote, “That looks like biased reporting to me, because it colors/interprets the actions of those present.” And what reporting is NOT “unbiased?” We all have our slants and filters that affect our perceptions of events. If we didn’t, I think we would have to be some type of robot. Does this make the report invalid because it is incomplete on what it reports? Was the omission of this detail deliberate or the result of copy space requirements on the page? I still ask what news medium is unbiased? Unless the author of the story steps forward to admit a mistake, then these conclusions of misproprietry are speculation. If a person doesn’t like the leaning of a particular publication or broadcaster, they don’t have to buy and read it or listen to it. I just don’t believe you are an “unbiased” person, and neither am I. And, any time anyone writes something, they will be reporting from their particular bias.

  6. Griff: I think what C. Vohs is referring to is the fact that the mayor asked the council if they wished to allow open mic comments at that meeting, and they said no, based on the fact that it was a “special meeting”. And you can make what you will of that response.

    If you recall, I think people had asked both here and on C. Davis’s blog ,if there would be open mic comments allowed at that special meeting, because there were a significant number of citizens who wanted to comment. It is actually correct to Not allow them at a special meeting according to a strict interpretation of the Charter language. One could debate whether it would have been a wise thing to do, considering the public “angst”.

    I had given a written statement to each of the councilors before the meeting, asking that they allow it because of the “special” circumstances. I assume the Mayor also thought it might be a good thing to do, seeing the number of people in the room, and hall, and therefore raised the question to the council, which then declined to entertain the idea.

    I do not think the Mayor changed any rules; he only asked the council if they wished to make an exception, and they did not .

  7. John,
    In your comment #7 you asked the question”Does this make the report invalid because it is incomplete on what it reports?” I have to say YES!
    My father used to tell me “don’t believe anything you read or hear and only half of what you see”. This may seem quite cynical and yet it is true all too often.
    A reporter for the Northfield News interviewed Norman Butler (my boss) about the difficulties in expanding The Contented Cow Pub. I was present during this interview. We both expressed very clearly that the codes were NOT the issue. The title of the article that was written was “Code Blues” and painted a very negative picture of a Northfield businessman. What?! The entire article was so far off from what was said I was appalled. This is not the first time this has happened, unfortunately.

    I agree with Kiffi. The paper is extremely biased and this is a disservice to those who read it. I was also at that “special meeting” and heard the Mayor say he needed to use the restroom. (Thank you Christine for your eye witness report on what happened.) I also heard Jon Denison later say it made him uncomfortable that the Mayor “stepped out to speak with his attorney”. Doesn’t it seem obvious that the reporter wanted to influence those who read the article? (It just so happens that it is the same reporter that wrote “Code Blues”.)
    Julie

  8. Regarding the Mayors request for a break – I went in the hallway and found the Mayor confabbing with his attorney… he had enough time to go into the bathroom – count to 3 and come back out again. Was it serendipitous that his attorney just happened to be standing in the hall and that it was the “perfect” time to to go over papers as I observed them doing?

    IMHO it was a thinly veiled attempt to meet with his attorney before we made our decision… interesting since he is no longer suing the city, why would he need to meet with an attorney? Should each councilor have an attorney standing in the wings in case we need to get their opinion on something?

  9. Regarding Kris Vohs comment about the in the NfldNews about “Lansing changing “the rules during the open mic part of the meeting”? That was in reference to the meeting we had last Monday where the Mayor spent 15 minutes outlining how he would take responsibiltiy for mananging the Open Mic part of the meetings and how the rules would work.

    What Kris may have been eluding to was the Mayor promptly broke the rule when Mr, Hvistendahl got up and spoke for quite some time about an item on the regular agenda (item #14) and when it was brought to the Mayor’s attention, he just said “Let him finish”.

    Besides being a clear violation of the rules, it was made even more frustrating by the fact that the Mayor just got done making a special presentation as to what the new rules were and that he would take responsibility for managing them.

  10. Julie- If you take a look at my last line of my comment #7, “And, any time anyone writes something, they will be reporting from their particular bias,” I think you maybe missed my point. Kiffi is making a big issue abiout the News being “biased.” My point is that there is no news publication out there that is not biased. I use your quote about hearing and seeing quite often, as It was a particularly favorite comment of my father, also. I just don’t believe we should expect a news publication to do something that is not possible, and to take them to task for being “biased” is putting unrealistic expectations on them. That propaganda analysis course I took in college kind of ruined my expectations of the news media.

    Scott- At the risk of offending half the contributors here, and some good friends as well, I think this country has enough influence from the legal profession. It would be interesting to see how many lawyers were members of the Continental Congress that framed the constitution. I really don’t know ALL the make up of the group. If the local government members cannot conduct business without constantly refering to their lawyer, then we have fallen into a dismal abyss for sure. I have higher hopes for them, though.

  11. Scott, maybe my eyes deceived me, but I did not see the Mayor’s lawyer pull out any papers. He had his briefcase, but I never saw him open it. My take was that the lawyer thought Lansing wanted to talk, which is why he exited the chambers and stood in the hallway. From what I could see, he just stood there in the hall (visible in the side window of the door); I did not even see his lips move. If Lansing was going to discuss something with his lawyer, I doubt he would do it in front of the people in the hallway. There were people sitting in the hallway who would be able to tell us what they saw. If any of you who were sitting there read this blog, could you comment?

    As far as the attorneys “waiting in the wings”, I was a little stunned at the meeting when “the guy,” who had been silent up to that time, suddenly leaned over and said that the council could not discuss some information because of the lawsuit. “The guy” I learned was the attorney for the city. So, some council members actually did have their attorney “waiting in the wings.”

    I guess that I belive that sometimes we see what we want to see because of our perceptions. However, what we see and think is not always the truth. I can be as guilty of this as anybody; we all have a different perspective. The important thing is that we acknowledge it and realize we are not always “right.” (With that, I stand corrected if my visual “reporting” about the Mayor and his lawyer in the hall was not correct.)

    In response to your post about Kris Vohs’ comment, this may be a perception that the Mayor was trying to change the rules, just because he did it in the past. Because of that instance in the past, nobody was really listening to what the Mayor was trying to say; they were only referring to what happened in the past.

    Personally, that was the first council meeting I had ever attended. What stood out to me was that nobody on the council, including the Mayor, seemed to be listening to what eachother said. There was no conversation, just people voicing their opinion. After the first item on the agenda (which lasted for two hours) we left. My husband and I both looked at eachother when we got in the car and commented how it was amazing that anything was ever accomplished.

    There, now I said it. I held back from commenting on my experience at the meeting on earlier posts, because I did not feel that more “slamming” was beneficial. Yet, after your last two posts, I could not help but comment. Just for the record, I do not want any of the council members or the Mayor to step down. I want to see you work through it. In my mind, that is the only way someting can be learned from the mess.

  12. When I first saw the comments that were made on Nov 12 and 13 about the councils assumptions that the mayor consulted with his attorney in the hall during his stated bathroom break, I was rather upset as were several of my constituents whom I’ve had discussions with in the last few days, but wasn’t sure I should make a comment about that here.

    Seeing that Councilperson Davis has stepped up to the plate, I feel I should say something about it as well, because while one councilperson may be seen as seeing something one way, if two or more see it the same way maybe there is something to it.

    I cannot attest to seeing the mayor talking to his lawyer in the hall as I did not go out during that break, I can state that more than one council member did state that as having seen the same thing Scott saw. In retrospect I feel the appropriate thing at the time would’ve been for the council to ask that the meeting continue with Mayor Pro-Tem Vohs faciltating while the Mayor took his little break, since the council stated that the council wanted to finish up that item before taking a break.

    However, we didn’t. So what happened, happened. But, I would like to point out that when the mayor came back the first thing I picked up on was Mr. Lansing said something about “challenging” the proposed resolution. I took that to mean possible further legal action, which I as a councilmember have a “fiduciary responsibility” to the city to prevent.

  13. Thank you Councilors Scott Davis and Jon Denison for adding your perspective here.

    Jon, I could be wrong but I think it was Councilor Jim Pokorney, in his remarks after the Mayor’s break, who referenced the possibility of further legal action if the Davis resolution was passed… and indicated that that was part of his rationale for changing his position on it from being supportive to opposing it.

    I don’t have time to re-listen to the audio today and I could easily be wrong about this so additional input from anyone would be appreciated.

  14. Scott: as Christine pointed out (#16) the council certainly had their attorney there, not just “waiting in the wings” but sitting right up there with city staff and council; therefore your complaint about the Mayor having his attorney “waiting in the wings” seems a bit specious.

    I am taken off guard by these very punitive sounding remarks of yours, here, in the same way i was surprised by some of the very same sort of punitive
    remarks at the council meeting. I don’t think of you as being the sort of unreasonable person that some of the remarks made seem to indicate, and I personally have a hard time putting the remarks, and your attitude, together with what I have known of you for years.

    It makes me feel even worse about the whole situation, because it is getting into such personal realms.

  15. I may be an optimist, but I thought that the Council turned the corner at the meeting. Here’s why:

    1. Lansing deserves kudos for withdrawing from the lawsuit. I think that he still has problems if he is a trustee, and some appearance problems if his son is still suing the City, but he headed the meeting in the right direction. He also stood tall and took a sound tongue-lashing (which judging by the Councilors’ comments, he deserved.).

    2. Davis’s resolution backed by Cashman with the City Charter was necessary. Without the resolution, I don’t think the Council or Lansing would have had the necessary procedural ammunition to advance the discussion.

    3. Vohs did a nice job of letting Lansing know that the Council was not ganging up on him, and that issues have existed for a while.

    4. Denison and Nelson added some needed depth to the Davis resolution in light of the Lansing announcement.

    5. Pokorney showed some real wisdom and courage when he announced that he wasn’t going to vote for the resolution because it wouldn’t solve the problem(s).

    We can forget about the issue of talking to the lawyers, because that is in the past. The Mayor and the Council agreed to get together and discuss how they can communicate better. That is a good thing in anyone’s book.

    I went to the Council meeting expecting good theater. What I got instead was some painful, but nevertheless, solid local government. I left convinced that the Mayor and each and every one of the Councilors have a true public servant’s heart. I didn’t sense any personal agendas – just a desire to work together to solve their issues so that they can work on the City’s issues.

  16. Griff, I don’t have that option with the pdf. (Maybe it is because of the fruit logo on my computer.) If I am the only one having this problem, I will just print it out.

  17. If you look at the posts by Christine, Kiffi, Scott Davis, Jon Denison , and Dave Ludescher, you come to a clear understanding of why “Rashomon” was such a brilliant piece of work…

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