Podcast: Victor Summa on City Hall, etc

Tracy Davis, Victor Summa, Ross Currier

Our guest this week: Victor Summa, member of the Northfield Charter Commission and the Northfield Economic Development Authority (EDA).

Ross’ and Tracy’s fluff took up most of the show but we did manage to allow Victor a few minutes.

Click play to listen. 30 minutes. You can also subscribe to the podcast feed, or subscribe directly with iTunes. Our radio show/podcast, Locally Grown, usually airs Wednesdays at 5:30 PM on KYMN 1080 AM.

33 thoughts on “Podcast: Victor Summa on City Hall, etc”

  1. Thanks for an interesting show. I’m glad you talked about the Goodhue investigation, which commenced about 15 months ago.

    To put the length of the Goodhue investigation into context, the woman who initiated the Petters investigation approached the Feds one month ago. She plead guilty yesterday, and Petters has been charged.

    The replacement bridge over 35W was completed 364 days after the contract was signed.

    ….and it took about 11 months after D Day for the Allies to get the Nazis to surrender.

    So what does this all mean? Darned if I know. Either Goodhue is hopelessly incompetent or this investigation has grown into something way bigger than initially thought.

  2. How long did it take for the state to put the Younger Brothers behind bars from the time they were captured near Madelia? (Not that that’s any more relevant than defeating the Nazis!)

  3. Griff, do you have any idea how much it stings to be called irrelevant because of one reference to the Nazis?

    Are you not aware that any grouping of analogies must contain at least one reference to Nazis (or in Ross’s case, Stalin)?

    I regret to inform you that I must now move you from my group of friends, into my group of former friends. You know, like Hitler did with Claus von Stauffenberg, after von Stauffenberg attempted to assassinate der Fuerher with a briefcase bomb.

  4. To answer your question, Griff, the Younger brothers were captured near Madelia on September 20, 1876, not quite two weeks after the bank raid on Sept. 7. On Sept. 16, Judge Samuel Lord held court in jail and they were bound over without bail and arraigned to Rice County District Court on November 14. They went to trial on November 18 (“The boys looked well–they were neatly dressed and were cool and colleced,” said the St. Paul Pioneer Press). All pleaded guilty (thus escaping capital punishment) and on November 22, they entered Stillwater Penitentiary.
    A St. Louis newspaper praised Minnesota for its “Minnesota pluck” in pursuing the robbers and said “it is safe to say that it will be a long day before a quiet village of Minnesota will be disturbed by a daylight murder and a fierce dash of robbers through its streets.”
    Read all about it in John Koblas’ book “Faithful unto Death,” available at the Northfield Historical Society.

  5. OK, I suppose if I comment on this the “dread spectres” will start coming out like crazy …it is close to the witching day … but full disclosure here as Griff always says: I’ve been married to the guy ( VMFS II ) for 52 years, and this show was a really good discussion of a bunch of things that people are concerned about right here in town.

    Everyone had good questions and good observations, and there was a lot of good information packed in there also.

    Focussing more on news of the community, or the functioning of the community, could be a real needed journalism gift TO the community; just think of all the questions over the last year that you have raised/dealt with/considered, which our local versions of mainstream media have never
    raised/dealt with/considered…

    Less fluff ! More journalism !
    I’ll sit back now and wait for the onslaught of criticism…

  6. Ross, Tracy, and Victor: You talk about transparency at the City government. How about some transparencies about all the rumors you are spreading – like the source of your information.

    Ross: Who told you that a City Council person was involved in the Goodhue County investigation? I thought the information was sealed. Is someone violating the law by disclosing investigation data to you?

  7. I, too, was surprised by the number of unattributed rumors in that last podcast – I’ve never before heard it suggested that a City Councilperson (or any other persons outside of Lansing, Roder, and the other guy whose property was searched) is the subject of this investigation.

    It will be interesting to see if any of this is eventually substantiated.

  8. David and Patrick –

    Your continuing distortions of my statements, whether intentional or innocent, are causing me to rapidly lose interest in participating in the discussions on Locally Grown.

    I did NOT say that I had heard rumors that a City Councilor was subject of the Goodhue County investigation. You both must have heard that particular, and apparently widespread, rumor from another source.

    I said that I had recently been told that my focus on the Mayor and the former City Administrator was perhaps too narrow. It was suggested to me that such an investigation would probably, perhaps properly, look at ALL individuals involved with the events in question, with the possibility that this investigation would include other elected officials, other city staff, and even private individuals.

    In light of that broadened view, I expressed my PERSONAL opinion that it seemed at least questionable, and even improper, TO ME that people who could be subjects of the aforementioned investigation could vote to give taxpayer-provided, in Tracy’s words (and I fear that she may be right) “hush money”, to other subjects of that investigation.

    Perhaps you two find nothing objectionable in these actions. You have a right to your opinions.

    – Ross

  9. Ross,
    I get most of my rumors from LGN, and I don’t think I am distorting your comments.

    In this case, at 18:40 in the podcast, you said:

    But I was told recently that I am too focused on those two individuals; that in fact this investigation, Goodhue County, could look at a number of people who were involved. I mean, there could be City Council—Well, it could be the City C—… (Tracy and Ross speak over each other a bit, then Ross continues…)

    You know, we’re talking about a process here, and the City Council members could have had a role in this, too. And then I think well, is it appropriate if a City Councilperson might be involved in this investigation, that they are voting to give, as you say Tracy, hush money – seems a little weird to me.

    Maybe your information is right – I don’t know. Still, I am saddened that you are so quick to be offended by people who disagree with, or critique, statements that you have made. These kind of criticisms certainly happen over on the national politics thread. When people criticize my statements, I like to think that I try to respond by addressing the critique, elaborating on my previous post, or by disagreeing with the critique. Sometimes I change the subject, and sometimes I just ignore it. But in the end, something resembling a conversation usually takes place. Even if we never do end up agreeing with each other, at least we come to an understanding of each others’ point of view.

    Scott Oney and I have had disagreements over on that thread, and we ran into each other downtown this morning. As we both said to each other today, our disagreements are not personal, but about the ideas that we are disagreeing over. I look at this present disagreement with you in the same way – it’s not at all personal, but I am bothered by something you have said. That is because I am truly concerned about the harm that can be caused by unsubstantiated rumors – with deeply negative implications – being spread about people who may (or may not be) completely innocent.

  10. Just a general comment, although stimulated by Patrick’s rebuttal…

    First of all, the election thread on LG should not be held up as a model for anything; it has been personally accusatory to the max, rather than a discussion of principles and issues, BUT that is SOP for election times.

    Secondly, if one’s main source of news is the NFNews, then you have no idea of much that goes on in City Hall. Examples: the editorial and the Charter Commission article in yesterdays(10.11) paper; Both of those pieces of writing are flawed to the point of uselessness. The editorial attacks the Planning Commission, giving no credence to the statements made at open mic by members of that group, and which were in direct conflict with the statements re: the trans plan process as said by two staff members. Why does the editorial not question to ascertain the truth of the matter? Why does it assume the staff is correct and the Planning Commisioners wrong?

    The article on the hospital amendment offered by the Charter Commission leaves out all the intervening events of the last few months, the public hearing, etc, and most importantly the council meeting of Sept. 15, where the commissions agenda item motion failed for lack of a second, without a single word of discussion. For the council NOT to vote on that issue within the statutorily mandated 30 day time period is a violation of MN statute 410.12. (hope that # is correct, going on memory here) None of those salient facts are mentioned in the NFNews article.

    The newspaper has chosen to “pick sides”, early on in the last year or eighteen months, and has never wavered from that point of view, even when reasonable persons would have asked reasonable questions by what they were witnessing at meetings. They have supported city hall to the point of, IMHO, slavishness, and it has done this community a great disservice.

    If one attends a lot of meetings, or is on one of the more involved boards/commissions, they see a pattern of behavior that is inappropriate for elected officials and staff who are supposed to ALL be working for the good of the community.

    This is a basic , and timeless, political issue of “speak truth to power”.
    People who are afraid to question the status quo, and always sublimate their questioning to the hierarchy, are doomed to live in an oppressive society.

    I am surprised, Patrick, that for a person who has been such an avid Obama supporter, you find this questioning of the status quo difficult to accept.
    It is easy to label some information/ thought/ idea as “rumor” … and therfor try to weaken the principles of the questioner.

    Instead of trying to nitpick any one comment on a commentary program, one should be looking to question what might … or might NOT … substantiate that commenter’s POV. But if we listen only to the newspaper, or their website especially, we will find that it is always hunting season on the messenger.

    I would be willing to bet, that the “rumors”on the street, from the “kids” of this town, last August/ September, will be the accurate substance of the central core of the Goodhue investigation, but that it will have through its investigation spread to a much wider pattern of problematic practices.

  11. Kiffi,
    You and I have already discussed the difference I see between ‘evidence’ and ‘unsubstantiated rumor.’ It can be found in the thread with the picture of Stalin at the top – I don’t remember the title of that one off the top of my head. I see nothing much to be gained by discussing that distinction with you again.

    I will be happy to discuss the Goodhue investigation with you – as soon as there is something concrete to discuss. As it is, I do not know for certain who or what is being investigated, except that 1) they were forwarded accusations about Mr. Roder, and 2) they executed search warrants at two downtown businesses – Mr. Lansing’s, and his business partner’s.

    Everything else seems to be speculation, or ‘unsubstantiated rumor.’

    Maybe the rumors about Mr. Roder, or even these new rumors about unnamed Councilpersons, will turn out to be true. But if those accusations are untrue, then making vague, false suggestions about non-existent misdeeds these persons have supposedly committed will have been a deeply uncivil, and potentially personally devastating, thing to have done to them.

    As I have told you before, I am not defending any past actions of Mr. Roder (or, now, of unnamed Councilpersons). I’m defending a principle: do no harm, and presume innocence, until there is actual evidence to be considered.

  12. Patrick –

    I did NOT say a “City Councilperson…is the subject of this investigation”. YOU said it.

    I said “the City Council members could have had a role”, referencing the wider scope of the investigation that had recently been suggested as a possibility to me.

    YOUR statement suggests some special knowledge, even accusation, of a specific Councilor being investigated. MY statement contemplates a wider involvement of individuals, not just other elected officials but other staff members and even private citizens, in the events that took place over the eighteen months between early March ’06 and late July ’07.

    I think that you did distort my comments.

    – Ross

  13. OK, Patrick … on your above stated principle: “do no harm, and presume innocence,until there is actual evidence to be considered.”

    How do you relate that to the newspaper’s reporting? … which must adhere to an accepted standard of journalism if they wish to be productive members of the fourth estate… as opposed to the questioning and insight that the LG radio show tries to bring to light, in a CONVERSATIONAL manner? (Assuming it’s not a “fluff” day, but a serious conversation)

    My point being, they ( R, T, and G) sometimes do the questioning journalism “bit”, which the newspaper does NOT do, has NOT done, and you would seem to want them held to higher standards in a conversation, than the “professionals” reporting.

    You did not reply to my commenting on the principle of “speak truth to power”; you only posited “wait and see”, and “don’t question the status quo” which surprised me given your oft expressed political desire for change.

  14. Ross,
    I guess I misunderstood what you meant by “a City Councilperson might be involved in this investigation.”

    I am glad that you did not mean to suggest that a City Councilperson might be a subject of this investigation, and I am sorry that I misunderstood your intent.

  15. Ross: What evidence do you have that the investigation may include City Council members? Why is the Roder settlement “hush money”?

    I don’t find anything objectionable about the Council members voting on the settlement, because, quite frankly, I don’t have any “inside” information about the investigation. I don’t think that you do either.

  16. Kiffi: If we are going to “speak truth to power” then we should discuss the ex-police chief’s role in creating this fiasco.

    Gary Smith filed this complaint against his own boss, and then went on medical leave. Why shouldn’t the general public assume that the complaint is a thinly disguised attempt for him to save his job? (Which, by the way, worked.) Why else would he hire an attorney?

    Ross: Any reason why you have never pursued this angle?

  17. Kiffi,
    I have no answer for your “speak truth to power” thing. I find the phrase to be largely meaningless, and generally self-serving, whenever it is used. It gets thrown around a lot, but it is dependent upon first proving that you are speaking the truth. As you have offered no specific evidence to support any particular assertion that I can see, I don’t see how it applies in this situation.

    Also, I don’t see any place in my posts where I used either the phrase “wait and see”, or “don’t question the status quo,” – as you have placed in quotation marks, attributed to me. Please do not quote me falsely.

  18. Kiffi, you asked:

    OK, Patrick … on your above stated principle: “do no harm, and presume innocence,until there is actual evidence to be considered.”

    How do you relate that to the newspaper’s reporting?

    My principle doesn’t seem to relate to the Nfld News much at all, at the moment. It has been a long time since the Nfld News has posted any facts or evidence relevant to any aspect of the Goodhue investigation. Therefore, they’ve done no harm, but they’ve done no good on this issue, either.

  19. David : re # 18…
    How do you know it was Chief Smith who filed the complaint against Mr. Roder? Rumor or fact?
    If that is the case, then Chief Smith DID “speak truth to power”, didn’t he? (i.e. employee to boss)
    I would assume a police chief in a small town always needs to have an attorney … I wouldn’t make of that what you seem to imply.
    I imagine (speaking for Ross now) that the reason it’s not been followed up on, is that SUPPOSEDLY who filed the complaint is not yet known, so I’d have to ask you again, David, Fact … or rumor?

  20. Patrick : re: your # 19…
    Another “Patrick” .. Patrick Henry by name .. is now churning in his patriot’s grave at your evaluation of “essentially meaningless” of the phrase “speak truth to power”.

    I would have thought that all of us Obama supporters value him, among other issues, for just that general sentiment he broadly applies to the problems we see with the current administration.

    As to quoting you, I apologize for using the essence of what you said, instead of the actual words, in quotes. I’ve never bothered to learn the blockquote commands. But I do think it was an accurate interpretation of your meaning, and only meant to further the discussion, not “quote you falsely”.

    Are we a tad “prickly” today?

    Re: # 20… You and many others, have assumed that the Mayor caused great detriment to this community, while you SEEM to give Mr. Roder a “by” on the detriment/problems he may or may not have been/caused to this community. I lay that at the newspaper’s “doorstep”.

    One example only, as this has been thoroughly discussed on many other threads: Every time the newspaper writes about the Mayor/ Goodhue, they say a criminal investigation of conflict of interest ( give me a wee bit of slack here because I’m not going back to verify every article’s wording) BUT every time they talk about Mr. Roder/Goodhue they use terms like “alleged” or “purported” investigation, often not even using the word “criminal” in front of investigation.

    That is biased, unfactual reporting. They have been doing that for approximately a year and a half, and it has, in my opinion done great harm.

  21. Kiffi,
    1. I did not say anything equivalent to your paraphrased “don’t question the status quo.” On the other hand, I do strongly agree that we should “wait and see” (your words, not mine).

    2. I hold no disrespect towards Patrick Henry. I just don’t see where his words are relevant to the present situation being discussed – or a lot of other situations where people claim to “speak truth to power.” You’ve got to prove it, not just say it.

    3. What is the ‘truth’ you have to tell – stated clearly, and succinctly? Please provide supporting evidence.

  22. Kiffi, regarding your question in your comment #21–“how do you know you know it was Chief Smith who filed the complaint?” This is hardly a rumor. A minute with google entering “Smith, Hvistendahl, Northfield” will yield several sources, quoting Smith’s own attorney, Hvistendahl. Here for example:

    http://minnesota.publicradio.org/display/web/2007/07/19/midmorning4/

    Of course, it would seem that the investigation later turned in another direction.

  23. Kiffi wrote,

    How do you know it was Chief Smith who filed the complaint against Mr. Roder? Rumor or fact?
    If that is the case, then Chief Smith DID “speak truth to power”, didn’t he? (i.e. employee to boss)

    Only if whatever he told the Goodhue investigators turns out to be true.

  24. Curt: My comment to David L ( #18) was with reference to all the ‘historical’ questioning and positioning around this issue, and the conclusions that have been arrived at… who knows or says they know what about the investigation … or what is surmised about motives for filing a complaint, etc.
    It’s too convoluted to go back through all of it; lets’ talk next time we see each other.

  25. Patrick : re #’s 23 and 25…..
    I’m interested in what you choose to challenge in my comments and what you choose not to reply to…

    For a long time the phrase “speak truth to power” has not been used literally, but as a basis for challenging authority. It is the philosophical basis for whistleblower law. I’m sure you know that.

    re: your specific comment in #25 , a complaint was filed that was deemed worthy of investigation, and it may or may not be what you refer to as to “true”; it may be true but not able to be prosecuted for lack of evidence other than opposing testimony; it may be true but Goodhue county decides it cannot afford to prosecute based on priorities; it may be true but is somehow settled without trial; there are endless multitudes of scenarios.

    I believe that it IS true that Barack Obama “speaks truth to power” … whether or not all the explicit votes and numbers he quotes are irrefutably accurate … and that is because he is challenging the status quo, challenging the in-house(WhiteHouse) authority, saying to the existing hierarchy that there is a better way to govern … and for all those reasons he “speaks truth to power”, i.e. challenges authority.

    To conclude: in my opinion, you are just being argumentative with me because you have always commented AGAINST the Mayor, who you know I have always commented FOR , in this ongoing controversy.

  26. Kiffi, in your post #22 you wrote:

    “Another “Patrick” .. Patrick Henry by name .. is now churning in his patriot’s grave at your evaluation of “essentially meaningless” of the phrase “speak truth to power”.”

    I think Patrick Henry was dead for about 200 years when the phrase “speak truth to power” was coined. –0r maybe you weren’t attributing that phrase to Henry.

  27. Kiffi,
    you wrote:

    To conclude: in my opinion, you are just being argumentative with me because you have always commented AGAINST the Mayor, who you know I have always commented FOR , in this ongoing controversy.

    If you notice, the interaction between you and me started with post #12, where you wrote,

    I am surprised, Patrick, that for a person who has been such an avid Obama supporter, you find this questioning of the status quo difficult to accept.
    It is easy to label some information/ thought/ idea as “rumor” … and therfor try to weaken the principles of the questioner.

    Before that, I was discussing the podcast with Ross.

  28. No, Patrick, you were trying to tell Ross what you insisted he said, although he repeatedly told you that was NOT what he said…which is what led me to enter the discussion.

  29. Curt: Are you and Patrick a tag team or what?
    If you look back at #22, I didn’t say that Patrick Henry SAID “speak truth to power”; I said that he was churning in his patriot’s grave at Patrick’s evaluation of that phrase as “largely meaningless”.

    Take a deep breath,dude!

  30. Kiffi wrote,

    No, Patrick, you were trying to tell Ross what you insisted he said, although he repeatedly told you that was NOT what he said…which is what led me to enter the discussion.

    Mercifully, Ross’s words are recorded for posterity, and people can just listen to them for themselves. As I have stated, I was glad to learn that what he meant by his words was not the same as what I understood his words to imply.

  31. Ross: I’m not sure what you meant. I understood you to say that you had some credible information that one or more City Council members were part of the Goodhue County investigation. Is that what you were saying, or were you just engaging in idle speculation (i.e. gossip)?

    If you do have credible information , where did you get such information if the investigation is sealed?

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