Southwest Neighborhood files discrimination lawsuit against the City of Northfield for misspelt street signs

DSC08855 DSC08856 DSC08857 DSC08859
In what is perceived as a social stigma in a two-college town, members of Northfield Southwest Neighborhood Association (NSWNA) have filed a discrimination law suit against the City of Northfield for it’s refusal to replace the four street signs in the neighborhood which have the words ‘W Nineth St’ on them in stead of ‘W Ninth St.’

img-46701Three of the neighbors in particular are perturbed because they are accomplished spellers, finishing 2nd as a Northfield Rotary team in the Friends of the Northfield Public Library Spelling  Bee in 2007. NSWNA neighbors Jeb Flufkin, Ricky Coldman, and Mitch ‘Penny’ Lane say that its not just the image of the neighborhood that’s at stake.

"Northfield is known for it’s educational values and the value of our homes in the neighborhood are likely to be negatively effected the longer that we have to live under this cloud of misspelling," said Flufkin. "My stomache just churns when I drive down the street every day and see those signs."

The group has retained the services of Northfield attorney Dave Hviscerate. "This is yet another sign of the incompetence at City Hall, and their intransigence is unconscionable. How hard or expensive could it be to change four signs? These people have suffered enough. Residents of 9th St. east of Division don’t have to put up with this embarrassment. Neither should those west of Division."

Ward 4 Councilor Jesse Anderson Black declined to comment on the suit but Public Works Director and City Engineer Jose Staphylo said it was with out merit. "We know their misspelt and we plan to fix them. But its not cheap. We tentatively have it in the department budget for 2014. Its not like people will be unable to navigate the neighborhood in the meantime."

Below are photos of the Ninth St. signs west of Division St.

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Should the City wait till March to begin the process for hiring a police chief?

Northfield Safety CenterWith the Jan. 4th departure of Northfield Public Safety Director/Police Chief Mark Taylor (see the Dec. 28 rehash of the Dec. 6 story in the Nfld News), the Northfield City Council needs to decide if it should wait till the results of a fire services study by Emergency Service Consulting International (ESCI) are delivered in March. (See the Nov. 30 Nfld News Study will look at consolidating Northfield area fire services; also the June 12 2012 City Council meeting packet for background.)

The Dec. 18 Fbo Daily News editorial urges the City to wait:  Let’s see the results of the fire study before acting on Northfield Public Safety director

Fast forward two years and now the opportunity of further collaboration and sharing of services may be available, depending upon the result of the fire services study. If the study indicates consolidation/collaboration is not only possible, but recommended, maybe a regional fire services director versus a public safety director is the answer. With an open position as yet undefined, that’s a possibility. Perhaps the study will suggest such collaboration would not work. The new city council will then have the opportunity to review the post, especially considering the strides the fire department has made in improving its bookkeeping and operations.

Or is having the best possible police chief more important to the City than whatever secondary fire-related role might be included with the position? Are there downsides to waiting 4 months or longer to having a permanent police chief?

Council receives Parks Board skatepark recommendation: Riverside Park plus $30K

Park and Recreation Advisory Board meets with the Northfield City CouncilPRAB member Nathan KnutsonPRAB member Neil LutskyPRAB member David HvistendahlPRAB member Grace Clark

Members of the Park and Recreation Advisory Board (PRAB) skatepark met with the Northfield City Council last night in a work session to discuss the recommendation to permanently locate the skatepark at Riverside Park and to contribute $30,000 towards its construction (concrete).

PRAB members Neil Lutsky and David Hvistendahl presented the details of their report which was approved earlier this month by the PRAB. Chair Nathan Knutson was there to make sure they didn’t screw up. Member Grace Clark presented her dissenting view that the skatepark should be located in Babcock Park.

I was pleased with the thoroughness of the discussion last night and if I was on the council, I’d vote to accept the PRAB’s recommendation.

I’ve turned off comments on this blog post because the current discussion about skatepark issue is happening over here (117 comments to-date).

See Rob Hardy’s amazing comprehensive collection of skatepark-related news and resources on Northfield.org.

The Davids are coming, the Davids are coming

David-DeLong minnesota not so nice David-Ludescher
‘The Davids’ (David DeLong and David Ludescher) will be joining the Northfield City Council in January.  Every time I hear the phrase, it seems to indicate some anxiety on the part of the speaker, given that both men have a reputation for not always practicing Minnesota Nice in the arena of public affairs.

I like plain speaking but I’m hoping that both Davids will consider the how of governing, not just the what, once they begin serving.  We elected them to get things done and in the world of politics, that requires developing and maintaining relationships.

(If you were a movie-goer in 1966, the title of my blog post will likely strike a chord. See this Wikipedia entry if you’re curious.)

Join mayor-elect Dana Graham for a live text chat today, 8-9 pm

Dana Graham and Griff WigleyNorthfield Mayor-elect Dana Graham stopped by my corner office stand-up table at the Spur this morning. He’d finally gotten some sleep after being up all night for the election on Tuesday so he was more than marginally coherent.

Lately I’ve been sermonizing lecturing brow-beating suggesting to him and a few other city officials that the time is ripe for using a variety of online tools to ramp up citizen engagement. The City’s new website will launch early next year but the technology by itself won’t automatically make citizen engagement happen.

So I proposed a few different ways that he could do a "Q&A with the Mayor-elect" here on LoGro and he opted for a live, one-hour text chat.

Here’s the FAQ:

WHEN IS IT? Monday, Nov. 12, 8-9 pm.

WHERE? Right here in this LoGro blog post.  I’ll move it to the top of the page on Monday so it’ll be easy to find.

WHAT DO I NEED TO PARTICIPATE? If you’re reading this on an internet-connected device, you’ll need nothing beyond what you’re using now. 

HOW DO I PARTICIPATE? Just type your comments or questions in the text box.  I’ll select the ones that I think are best for Dana to respond to.

WHAT?! HE MIGHT NOT EVEN SEE MY QUESTION OR COMMENT? Correct. I’m the emperor moderator.

WHAT IF I CAN’T ATTEND? You can submit a comment or question ahead of time. Attach it to this blog post just like any comment.  I’ll archive a transcript of the chat here so after it’s all over, you can read what happened at your leisure.

 

The race for Northfield Mayor: Graham vs. Pownell

Dana Graham Rhonda Pownell 
It’s one month till the election and the race for Northfield Mayor is between Dana Graham and Rhonda Pownell.

If you’re looking for an online venue to discuss the race with your fellow Northfielders, this is it.

The race for Northfield City Council: Buckheit vs. Ludescher; Balster vs. DeLong; Denison vs. Zweifel

David Ludescher Betsey Buckheit Frank Balster David DeLong Jon Denison Erica Zweifel
It’s one month till the election and the races for Northfield City Council are: At-Large, Betsey Buckheit vs. David Ludescher; 2nd Ward, Frank Balster vs. David DeLong; 3rd Ward, Jon Denison vs. Erica Zweifel.

If you’re looking for an online venue to discuss the race with your fellow Northfielders, this is it.

City Council candidates’ forum at the Cow: a much better format in a fun venue

L to R: Wade Schulz, Paul Reiland, Frank Balster, Steve Engler, Joe Gasior, David Ludescher, Betsey Buckheit Norman Butler Steve Engler L to R: Wade Schulz, Paul Reiland, Frank Balster, Steve Engler, Joe Gasior, David Ludescher, Betsey Buckheit,
Contented Cow proprietor Norman Butler hosted a two-hour forum for Northfield City Council Ward 2 and At-Large candidates last night on the Cow’s outdoor patio.

  • At-Large Council candidates: Betsey Buckheit, Joe Gasior, David Ludescher
  • 2nd Ward Council candidates: Frank Balster, Paul Reiland, Wade Schulz; David DeLong did not attend.

Steve Engler moderated the panel and made it much more interesting by interacting with the candidates when he thought their comments needed to be clarified. I loved it whenever he refused to accept empty platitudes.

Norman Butler, Lance Heisler Don McGee Elizabeth!
Norman goaded citizen/patrons into expressing their opinions instead of just asking questions.

The primary election is Aug. 14. Absentee voting info here.

Who’s running for mayor and City Council?

City-of-Northfield-MNAt last night’s City Council meeting (Nfld News story here), 3rd Ward Council Erica Zweifel announced her intent to file for re-election.

Two weeks ago, Nfld News reporter Suzy Rook mentioned some filing-related rumors, one of which was squelched by Councilor Betsey Buckheit, i.e., that she’s not considering a run for Rice County commissioner.

Other Council seats expiring this year:

  • Mayor (currently Mary Rossing)
  • 2nd Ward (currently Betsey Buckheit)
  • At-Large (currently Ivan Imm)

The City’s Candidate Filing page says that the “filing period for Northfield Council positions will begin on Tuesday, May 22 at 8:00 am and continue through Tuesday, June 5 at 5:00 pm in the City Clerk’s office. The filing fee is $5.00.”

Attorney and Parks board member David Hvistendahl: 3-minute mashup of trash-talking Northfield City Hall

David Hvistendahl David Hvistendahl David Hvistendahl David Hvistendahl Roger Schroder and David Hvistendahl
While listening to archived Law Review radio shows on KYMN recently, I noticed that Attorney David Hvistendahl, a member of the Northfield Park & Rec Advisory Board (PRAB), was particularly disparaging of the Northfield City Council, Northfield City Administrator Tim Madigan, and Northfield Safety Center Director and Police Chief Mark Taylor.

Here is a compilation of some of these remarks, all rolled together into a single 3-minute audio clip.

If you have trouble with the above audio player, try playing and/or downloading this MP3.

What’s up with the Northfield Fire Department?

In Saturday’s Nfld News: Firefighters want to air concerns to Northfield council

Nfld Fire Dept letter to councilIn a Dec. 28 letter, 27 of the department’s 32 firefighters asked that the City Council schedule a work session “to discuss improvement to the road map for the Fire Department, specifically the selection or election of the fire chief and appointment of officers and the new fire hall.”

Northfield Fire Chief Gerry Franek said last week that he believes a meeting with the council will alleviate some of the firefighters’ concerns. In meetings with the city’s administrator and public safety director, who oversees the Fire Department, several firefighters have voiced their unhappiness with proposed changes the city plans to make when choosing a fire chief…

The mayor also prefers to honor the established chain of command, and continue communicating through the city’ administrator, public safety director and fire chief.

I’m way behind on understanding all the issues with the Fire Department, going back to early last year when an OSHA inspection raised issues and a subsequent report by a consultant cited criticisms.

It’s an odd request for nearly an entire department (27 people) to want to meet directly with the City Council, seemingly without the involvement of their supervisor, in this case, Public Safety Director Mark Taylor. Imagine if all the public works employees made a similar request, going around their supervisor.  Something’s amiss here and I don’t understand what it is.

The pros and cons of having Council wards and deciding about it now

In this week’s Nfld News:  Redistrict? Council wants to eliminate wards

Northfield Ward and Precinct MapA discussion about how Northfield should go about redistricting took a left turn Tuesday as the city council approved a proposal to do away with its four wards and elect all its councilors at-large… “I don’t think we have a need for wards at all,” said Patrick Ganey, who represents Ward Four. “I feel we could do a much better job with at-large representatives.”

Councilors Suzie Nakasian and Erica Zweifel said their positions as ward representatives foster relationships between council member and residents. Rhonda Pownell, who at one time suggested doing away with wards, said she’s since changed her mind, agreeing with Nakasian and Zweifel, saying that electing councilors only at-large eliminates the personal connection residents can have with their ward rep.

Having discussions about eliminating wards while considering redistricting irritated Nakasian, who said parallel discussions would be “prejudicial;” Zweifel added that they would “feel disingenuous.”

Ganey defended his proposal, saying that the time and energy needed to redivide the city into voting wards is too great and that the city isn’t large enough to have sections of town with similar issues. “I’d like to avoid the redistricting process,” he said.

Anyone know if Rossing, Buckheit or Imm weighed in on the issue with their rationale for supporting Ganey’s position?

I’m undecided about whether 1) wards for a city the size of Northfield make sense and 2) if this is a good time to consider the issue. See Northfield’s Ward and Precinct map (PDF) and chime in.

Randy Jennings excoriates the City Council for its economic development practices

Northfield Economic Development banner

Randy Jennings has a guest column in yesterday’s Nfld News titled What is economic development? Yawn? Nosiree. It is a benign title for a hard-hitting piece.  (I assume the headline was crafted by the editorial staff at the paper, hence my use of the word ‘excoriates’ in the blog post title. It essentially means ‘kicks the ass of’ but you can look it up.)

It’s a well-written piece, so I encourage you to read the whole thing. But here are some excerpts:

With its takeover of the Economic Development Authority and the resignation of yet another member of the city’s professional staff, the city council has completed its dismantling of Northfield’s economic development, community development and city planning efforts…

Since then, the city council has new members with their own agendas and priorities. Community re-engineering ideas with clever names like “green steps,” “strong towns” and “complete streets” get attention. Job creation and tax base expansion do not…

Several current council members are actively opposed to commercial and industrial development. They spent more than a year angling to take control of the EDA without advancing a single idea about job creation or tax base expansion. They are instead funding specific organizations and activities that enhance their definitions of quality of life in Northfield. No impact on attracting jobs or expanding the tax base. Not economic development…

Perhaps the next election will serve as a referendum on what kind of a future Northfield would like to develop: more quality of life re-engineering, or more jobs and an expanded tax base…

I’m not well-informed on matters of economic development but I’m more supportive of the direction the current City Council has taken.  Two large Northfield employers, Monster Games and Perkins Specialized Transportation Contracting, were featured in the Northfield Community Video project for which Randy was hired to be the Project Coordinator by the EDA. If you watch the videos that feature their owners (here and here), you’ll see that they attribute their location of their businesses in Northfield in large part to the very things that Randy criticizes in his column: Northfield’s vibrant downtown and overall quality of life.

So let’s talk Northfield economic development: the good, the bad, the ugly.

Proposed: City of Northfield Statement for Our Safe and Welcoming Community

Ross Currier has sent this to City of Northfield Mayor Mary Rossing and other members of the City Council.

City of Northfield Statement for Our Safe and Welcoming CommunityMary -

I am writing to you not as executive director of the NDDC but as a citizen of Northfield.  It is on a subject about which I have very strong beliefs.

Northfield’s economy is driven by knowledge workers, the "creative class", or economic innovators.  These individuals, businesses, and institutions "export" their information-based products and services around the country and the world.  Their clients and customers reflect the diversity our our country and our world.  In addition, our economic future is based on our community’s ability to continue to attract and retain these people and these organizations.  Northfield must be safe and welcoming to all people.

Working with a small group of Northfield citizens, I have drafted a statement (which I have attached) that I hope the Council will adopt for MLK Day 2012.  For many Americans, Dr. King has come to symbolize the on-going struggle for human rights.  I thought adopting the statement for his birthday was a way of honoring his work.

I have only managed to share this idea with a dozen or so people.  I plan to come to the January 3rd City Council meeting to ask for Council adoption of the statement.  I may be alone or I may be joined by others.

Thank you for considering my request and thank you for all you do for Northfield,

Ross

Straw poll: Which applicant do you think will be selected by the City Council to fill the vacancy?

First see the blog post 9 guys apply for vacant City Council seat. What’s known about them? What are their pros and cons? and the attached discussion thread.

Then take the straw poll. Note: I’m not asking for your preference. I’m asking for your prediction.

Feel free to chime in with a comment here as to why you think the Council will pick that applicant.

9 guys apply for vacant City Council seat. What’s known about them? What are their pros and cons?

These are the citizens who’ve applied for the City Council seat to soon be vacated by At-Large Councilor Kris Vohs:

  • City of NorthfieldThomas Bisel
  • David DeLong
  • Jon Denison
  • Joe Gasior
  • Charles Michael Hayes
  • Ivan Imms
  • David Ludescher
  • Don McGee
  • Sean Daniel Hayford O’Leary

I’ll try to contact the applicants and ask them to copy/paste the info that they submitted in the application packet into a comment attached to this blog post, specifically their replies to:

Please summarize why you are interested in the appointment

Please list your education, training and/or experience that is relevant to the appointment

No, we don’t get to vote. The Council interviews the applicants and then chooses. (I don’t know how they do it exactly. I checked the Code/Charter here but it didn’t have details. Anyone?)

But an online discussion about/with the applicants might be helpful to members of the City Council when it comes time for them to make a decision.

Last day to file for Northfield City Council vacancy

Tuesday at 5 pm is the deadline, sayeth the City’s website here:

City-of-NorthfieldThe Northfield City Council invites persons interested in being appointed to fill the vacancy on the Council created by Councilor Kris Vohs’ resignation, to submit an application to the City Clerk no later than 5 p.m. on November 29, 2011. The term of the appointment will be January 1, 2012 through December 31, 2012. Additional information can be found in the attached press release and attached application packet.

Five have filed thus far:

  • Jon Denison
  • Joe Gasior
  • Sean Daniel Hayford Oleary
  • Ivan Imms
  • Don McGee

Details at Nfld Patch and Nfld News.

Public humiliation, put downs, harsh treatment: Mayor Rossing & Councilors Vohs, Pownell unhappy with their colleagues

The Nfld News has a story today titled Mayor: Disrespectfulness unacceptable based on comments Mayor Mary Rossing made to the Northfield City Council at Tuesday’s meeting.  The text of her written statement:

Northfield Mayor Mary RossingOn a number of occasions during my tenure as Mayor I have felt the need to address the Council publicly, and to remind my colleagues that in order to be be effective in our jobs it is important that we maintain a level of protocol and respect in our deliberations. This is expressed in how we speak to each other, to the public or to our City Staff. In recent weeks I have personally observed, and have had it pointed out to me by various members of our community that it appears that it has become acceptable for staff to be discredited and put down in public.

That is not right and it should not be acceptable in these Chambers. That is not to say that we must agree with staff opinions or with their recommendations or that we cannot question the basis for such opinions. But when they speak from their position as professionals, they must be respected.

Councilors Kris Vohs and Rhonda Pownell are quoted in the article as also being unhappy with the tenor at times at meetings and elsewhere. No word from the others:

Councilors Betsey Buckheit and Suzie Nakasian declined to comment for this story. Councilors Patrick Ganey and Erica Zweifel could not be reached for comment.

Since I’m someone often accused of having a bug up his ass about the importance of civility in conversations, I’m interested in this issue. But neither the article nor Rossing’s statement mention any specifics, so it’s hard to know what’s going on. Sometimes when people are critical of others, that’s seen as automatic disrespect, whereas I believe that public criticism can be done in a way that’s respectful.

Back in March, Councilor Kris Vohs was unhappy with the interactions among the Councilors. I was critical of how he handled it but there were never any examples mentioned of what he was talking about. In May of 2010, Mayor Rossing was also critical of council decorum.

Can anyone who’s been at Council meetings lately or who has watched the proceedings via cable TV or live streaming cite some interactions that might be examples of disrespect towards city staff by councilors?

Complete Streets: what are the pros and cons?

National Complete Streets Coalition

Ever since the Plum St. reconstruction debacle, the City Council has shown interest in rethinking our streets and roads.

Nfld News:  City Council is considering new plans to make Northfield roads ‘complete’

The Minnesota Complete Streets Coalition is a cooperative effort that began in 2009 through the work of Fresh Energy, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota and Transit for Livable Communities. The coalition “seeks to improve and ensure access to safe travel choices for Minnesotans” by encouraging cities to build their roads with all users in mind, not just cars.

For a street to be "complete," it must take into account what types of transportation the road is used for, how heavy the traffic is and what the surrounding area is like. Along with attending to the needs of road users, the coalition urges cities to make wise environmental choices during construction projects.

More at: National Complete Streets Coalition

Gleeson removed from Parking Quality Control Commission; Council seeks replacement

improperly parked truck, owned by former PQQC member Jim GleesonOn Monday, an alert citizen used his cell phone camera to capture this photo of a truck parked improperly in front of the Goodbye Blue Monday.  He used the Tell the City form on the City of Northfield’s website to report the problem.

City staff traced the ownership of the truck to Jim Gleeson, a member of the City of Northfield’s Parking Quality Control Commission (PQQC) since it was formed back in October of 2006.

The incident came before the City Council on Tuesday.

"We simply can’t have a member of a city commission flagrantly disregarding the very municipal code that they’ve been charged to monitor," said First Ward Councilor Suzanna Kardashian. "How would it look if a member of the Hospital Board bought a pack of cigarettes from the City’s Municipal Liquor Store or Hospital Gift Shop and then tossed a butt out  the window of their car onto the sidewalk as they drove off? We’d be outraged.  This is on a par with that."

Councilors voted unanimously to remove Gleeson from the PQQC and to seek a replacement. Likely candidate: Nancy Hammermann, who has previously exhibited an interest and expertise in matters of parking quality.

Former PQQC member Jim Gleeson Former PQQC member Jim Gleeson
Gleeson was spotted departing the Council chambers via its back door on Tuesday night.  When asked to comment on the Council’s decision to remove him from the PQQC, had virtually nothing to say.

Survey of Northfield residents: what did we get for $12,500?

Decision Resources Survey - NorthfieldLast week’s Council packet (page 0-135) has the results of the 2011 Northfield community survey  conducted by Bill Morris of Decision Resources, Inc.

Councilor Betsey Buckheit published her opinion about the survey in a new blog post yesterday. She was not impressed.

Northfield City Councilor Kris Vohs, pissed at some fellow councilors, handles it poorly

Kris Vohs letter to councilors Kris Vohs
This is a PDF of Northfield City Councilor Kris Vohs’ letter to his fellow councilors last week. In it, he addresses issues related to:

  • Inaccuracy of information from citizens
  • EDA/NDDC
  • Safety Center
  • Comprehensive Plan and Land Development Code
  • Business Park Master Plan

The short paragraph at the end addresses his concerns about council relationships:

Bulling [sic] is a big focus among young people now. I don’t think it’s a council we are doing a very good job in this area. We have bordered on bulling at some of our meetings. We call it disrespect and we are setting an example for our young people. This is my opinion.

In Saturday’s Nfld News, he expands on his frustrations with fellow councilors: Vohs fed up with council’s bickering

Vohs, who holds one of the council’s two at-large seats, says that the stress caused by the regular battles between council members is wearing thin and that if they don’t abate he’ll call it quits. “It’s just not worth it,” Vohs said on Thursday after issuing an open letter to his fellow council members.

Vohs said he would have preferred to speak publicly, but recent agenda changes gave him no forum. Now in his third term, Vohs said this council — out of all he has been part of — is the “hardest to work with.” And, he added, “They just don’t like each other.”

Vohs’ vague statement about bullying in a letter and then detailed critical comments to a newspaper reporter seem to me to be a very poor approach to trying to solve relationship problems. 

Whether or not his complaints are justified/accurate, why wouldn’t he bring this up at the end of a council meeting? Why not call individual councilors on the phone or meet with them 1 to 1? 

City Council: No public referendum on financing safety center. Will taxpayers petition to reverse that?

Northfield-safety-centerLast June, I was pleased that the Northfield City Council voted 4-2 to have the citizens vote in November on whether or not the city should issue bonds to pay for new police and fire facilities. (In August, they voted to put the Safety Center project on hold.)  Last night, they voted instead to issue Capital Improvement (CIP) general obligation bonds. I’m eager to hear the rationale. 

In this economic climate, I don’t understand why the Council doesn’t want the public to weigh in on such an important decision. Getting it built a little sooner hardly seems reason enough.  I’m not the only one. See this Nov. 19 Northfield News editorial:

Now that the Northfield City Council has agreed on the scope and cost of a new Safety Center, we want to reiterate our belief that the question of how to fund the facility needs to go before the voters…  There’s little doubt that the police and fire departments need a new facility, one out of the flood plain that will allow their staffs to work more effectively and efficiently. But we believe those shouldering the burden need to decide if the added cost is a payment they’re willing to make.

For those of us taxpayers who object, we can gather signatures to try to reverse the council’s financing decision, forcing the Council to put it before the voters in November. The City’s website says:

A reverse referendum petition must be signed by voters equal to five percent of the votes cast in the city in the last general election and is filed with the City Clerk within 30 days after the public hearing. Should the decision be made to issue CIP bonds and should a reverse referendum petition succeed, the question would be put to the voters in the fall general election.

More:

KYMN:  Council opts for CIP, general obligation bonds to finance safety center

Northfield Patch:  Northfield City Councilors Approve Safety Center Financing

Nfld News: Safety Center financing selected

Surgeon General: Just one cigarette can harm you. City of Northfield: Buy it from us.

Last week saw many stories in the media like this one from USA Today, Just one cigarette can harm DNA, Surgeon General says:

Smooth ReaperEven brief exposure to tobacco smoke causes immediate harm to the body, damaging cells and inflaming tissue in ways that can lead to serious illness and death, according to the U.S. Surgeon General’s new report on tobacco, the first such report in four years.

While the report, out today, focuses on the medical effects of smoke on the body, it also sheds light on why cigarettes are so addictive: They are designed to deliver nicotine more quickly and more efficiently than cigarettes did decades ago.

Unlike (many? most? all?) municipal liquor stores in the Twin Cities area, the Northfield Municipal Liquor Store continues to sell cigarettes, hundreds of dollars worth every month, for an annual profit of aboutf $5,000/year.

I last whined about this policy in August of 2007 (Should the City of Northfield be selling gateway drugs to its citizens? Alcohol, yes. Tobacco, no) and before that in January of ’07 with a faux news post, Northfield Hospital board opts for cigarette revenue.

I really don’t understand why the Northfield Hospital Board, the Northfield Mayor’s Task Force on Youth Alcohol and Drug Use (MTF), the Northfield School Board, and other local organizations concerned with health and youth chemical issues don’t pressure the Northfield City Council to get out of the tobacco business. Don’t they take ClearWay Minnesota‘s campaign We all pay the price for tobacco seriously?

One month to go: How is the City Council doing on its 2010 communication goals?

Northfield City Council Strategic Direction 2010In early June, the Northfield City Council published its Strategic Direction for 2010 (5-page PDF). Strategic Direction 1 of 3 was: "Continuously improving communication with staff, citizen advisory groups and community."

Let’s take a closer look to see how the Council is doing on these with one month to go.

Goal #1: Develop and implement a communication plan for 2010 Council Goals.

  • 1.1.1 Establish Council Goals.
  • 1.1.2 Communicate Council Goals to staff.
  • 1.1.3 Communicate Council Goals to citizen advisory groups.
  • 1.1.4 Communicate Council Goals to public.

Goal #2 Develop and implement a plan for sustainable citizen communication.

  • 1.2.1 Complete laser fiche project.
  • 1.2.2 Update city website/sustain and improve city website.
  • 1.2.3 Add council pages to website (info, liaisons, map of ward, area of interest).
  • 1.2.4 Consider including social media as part of communications plans.
  • 1.2.5 Establish face-to-face communication plan.
  • 1.2.6 Evaluate cable broadcast.
  • 1.2.7 Consider live streaming.
  • 1.2.8 Maximize print/traditional media use.

Goal #3 Involve citizens/groups in work of the City

  • 1.3.1 Establish book of projects format and approval process.
  • 1.3.2 Establish adopt a park procedure and oversight.

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