Tag Archives: League of Women Voters

LWV Observers offering opinions on local issues: I like it. However…

League of Women Voters Northfield-Cannon Falls

In a comment thread discussion last week about the EDA and the City Council, Victor Summa referenced a recent council work session report by League of Women Voters Northfield-Cannon Falls (LWVNCF) Observer Jane McWilliams:

If you’re interested in a point of view on this subject, you might visit the League of Women Voters Observer Reports. Jane McWilliams covers the UN-events of the Council/Clough discussions, the meeting of sorts of the EDA and the Council and in her recent post adds an informed comment on her personal perspective.

Here’s an excerpt of Jane’s comments:

After Tom Cough’s interviews with council and EDA, in April he and City Administrator Tim Madigan recommended a series of steps for the council. Rather than take the radical approach evolving in tonight’s discussion, which will further delay effective attention to economic development during the transition, in this observer’s view, council would have been wise to adopt those recommendations on April 5:

Should the LVW Observers be commenting? Patrick Enders noted in the EDA discussion:

I remember when the LWV used to sponsor Presidential debates, and as a kid, I thought of the League as a neutral arbiter and provider of information. As an adult, I’m not quite clear how the League’s non-partisan “education” role is reconciled with it’s “advocacy” role.

I assume (perhaps incorrectly) that the purpose of the LWV logs of meetings and sessions is primarily dedicated toward the “informed voter” mission. But what about the comments? Are these part of the “advocacy” mission? Are they only the opinions of the observer themselves? Does the presence of these comments imply a position by the League?

It all seems a bit muddied to me.

Their Mission (from the LWVNCF About Page) says:

The League of Women Voters, a nonpartisan political organization, encourages informed and active participation in government, works to increase understanding of major public policy issues, and influences public policy through education and advocacy.

We don’t support or oppose candidates.

  • We support issues.
  • We support legislation.
  • We focus on the future by tuning in to issues that affect us all.
  • We shape public policy.

I really like it that the Observers are opinionating. (LWVNCF observers have been doing these occasional middle-of-the-report commentaries for many months but I’d forgotten about it.) As citizen volunteers with months (years?) of observing public bodies, they’re well-informed about the issues and the players. They surely have their biases but by being more transparent about their positions, we can all benefit, whether or not we agree.

I think the format for Observers’ commentary is problematic. Yes, their comments are embedded in the reports in bold or italics but without a separate blog post or attached comment with an associated permalink, I can’t easily link to them, subscribe to them, forward them, or tweet them. The format is not social-media friendly.

Moreover, the format presumes that reading the report first is the best way to engage the reader. It’s like school: Class, read this article and then we’ll discuss it. I prefer the salon approach: Let’s have some juicy conversation about this issue first and then some of us might be inspired to do some background reading about it.

Also, the League’s own Observers don’t seem to be getting the hang of the discussion format. Northfield Hospital Board Observer Dave Emery’s May 26 report has a comment by fellow Observer Jane McWilliams attached it to it but there’s no response from Dave. Other examples of a single comment but no reply are here, here, and here.

Looking at the League’s website at the top level where the reports (blog posts) are visible, it’s not evident that there’s A) commentary happening; or B) discussion happening. When viewing the same content with the blog view, one has to look very carefully after each post summary to see if there are comments (e.g., "View comments (1)"). It would help to have a Recent Comments widget in the sidebar of the site to make the discussions more obvious. It would also help to have 1) an RSS feed for the comments; and 2) permalinks for each comment.

My techie quibbles are minor, though.  Again, I’m happy to see the opinions by Observers and will be paying more close attention to them from now on.

Superintendent Chris Richardson: He’s not a real doctor!

Superintendent Chris RichardsonIn a town with a thousand PhD’s, nobody refers to or addresses any of them with ‘Dr.’ or ‘Doctor.’ 

But for some reason, KYMN (example here) and the League of Women Voters of Northfield (example here) use it with the superintendent of schools. The Northfield News used to do it (2008 example here) but appears to have discontinued it.  I was glad to see that Northfield Patch did NOT do this last week in its first district-related story. Not even the school district itself does it, sticking instead to "Superintendent Richardson" in its minutes, though some school board members have a tendency to address him as ‘Doctor’ during the course of a board meeting.

I have nothing against Chris Richardson or the previous Northfield District superintendents, but IMHO, only medical physicians should be addressed as ‘Doctor’ or have the ‘Dr.’ in front of their names. Why treat superintendents as if they’re somehow special?

Our local college presidents (one has a Doctor of Philosophy/PhD, the other a Juris Doctor/JD) don’t get the Doctor/Dr. treatment from KYMN (example here). Not even former school superintendent Charlie Kyte (example here) does. So if they don’t, then neither should Richardson.

How about it, Jeff? How about it, Jessica?

Northfield School Board election: Which seats are up? Who’s filing? Anyone? Anyone?

Northfield Public Schools ISD 659 I picked up a Northfield League of Women Voters brochure last week at the HideAway titled “Brief guide to starting your run for office”

I noticed that filing for the Northfield School Board is Aug. 2-17, and that 4 seats are up for election.

There’s no information about whose seats are up on Northfield School Board page nor on the LWV site. Anyone? Anyone?

Former City Attorney hired to fulfill Goodhue Cty data request on Lansing investigation

dollars flowing out

More dollars are going to be flowing out the door at a time when the City of Northfield can least afford it.

Jane McWilliams, observer for the Northfield League of Women Voters, has blogged her report on Tuesday’s City Council Work Session. The last paragraph (links are mine):

Continue reading Former City Attorney hired to fulfill Goodhue Cty data request on Lansing investigation