The Lee Lansing Chronicles, chapter 72

Lansing Garden CenterIn yesterday’s Northfield News: Lansing trespassing, says owner of 600 Division site:

A no trespassing order, served by police Wednesday on Lee Lansing, says the former mayor must close his Division Street garden center. Lansing has been given until Sunday to remove his personal belongings, mostly bedding plants and hanging baskets. The new property owner, Voyager Bank, asked the police to issue a no trespass order against Lansing… The bank is in negotiations with Jerry Anderson, a local entrepreneur interested in buying the property. Anderson said Friday he told Lansing he could open the shop.

126 thoughts on “The Lee Lansing Chronicles, chapter 72”

    1. Jerry,
      I said that, didn’t I? Oh well; some claim that brevity is the soul of wit, and I am rarely described as witty.

      BTW, I like your simian visage.

  1. I thought that show was most interesting. Britt and David did a great job of explaining last week’s omnibus hearing. Lots of interesting technical information.

    A couple highlights were David’s predictions that the trial probably won’t start until 2010 and may last three to four weeks, and that the defense may cost in the six figures. He said that Goodhue may still charge Roder at some point. Britt listed the prosecution witnesses, which, of course, contained very familiar names.

    My question for Britt and David would be this: Goodhue County has had to have spent 100’s of thousands of dollars on this investigation and prosecution. Does Rice County have any obligation to reimburse them?

    Now that KYMN is streaming, I have it on much of the day. Previously, I just couldn’t get it. Patrick, forget the am antenna and just stream it.

    1. Can it be streamed on an iPhone? My work office has terrible radio reception (too many interference sources), so during the day I have to stream radio over my phone, off the 3G network up in Lakeville.

  2. I listened to David’s (and Britt’s) show and I found it very disturbing.

    I cannot understand why Rice County and Goodhue County would prosecute this case. The alleged crime is unlikely to be repeated. Lee Lansing will not be likely to have a conflict of interest somewhere and be in a position to use undue influence for which he would benefit.

    In these times when our courts are overburdened by a failure to fund on the part of our government, why are we pursuing a case with very little “criminal” behavior? Who is driving this GROSS WASTE of public funds? How about we get an independent prosecutor from SIBLEY county and hire him to sue the city of Northfield and Rice and Goodhue counties for wasting taxpayers money on ridiculous prosecutions?

    20,000 pages of documents in order to prove a gross misdemeanor? Well, that will be clear as mud.

    And Rice county will have to reimburse Goodhue county for 2 prosecutors and all of their preparation time? Is there an adult in charge around here?

    I suggest that we get out the old fashioned pen and paper and write letters to

    1. City of Northfield,

    2. Paul Beaumaster at Rice County, RCattorney@co.rice.mn.us

    3. Stephen Betcher at Goodhue County
      454 W. 6th St.
      Red Wing, MN 55066
      http://www.co.goodhue.mn.us

    and beg them to drop this case due to the waste of the courts time, the lack of severity of the charges, knowing that no one benefited from the alleged crime, and with the unliklihood of the defendant ever repeating any of the behavior, and the overall lack of ability by the taxpayers to fund such a fruitless endeavor.

    What in Sam Hill is going on around here? Has everyone lost their marbles?

  3. Jane- I can empathize with you about the expense of this whole thing, but where do we draw the line? What kind of precedent would this set if we take the position that, yes, perghaps a law was broken, but we don’t want to take time or money to prove a person either guilty or innocent? Taking this to the national level, what about all the charges against the Bush administration and their handling of the Quantanamo Bay incarceration facility? Applying your same logic, none of them are in a position to commit these crimes agqain in the future. Why waste the money on more investigations and attempts at prosecution? Now, the severity of the Bush administration’s actions are certainly greater than those of the former mayor, but do you understand my principle? If we are going to be a nation of laws, what good does it do to not enforce them, distasteful, expensive, or repulsive as it might be? I would love to save the time and money, also, but I would like even less to support an action that sets a precedent that undermines our society in the future.

  4. I don’t think what Lee Lansing was doing was water-boarding.

    John, your argument is boardering on the insane–you don’t have any principle to worry about. Lee Lansing was caught and punished. He lost his job, his business, his buildings, he is in terrible debt. His health is shot. He was villified in the paper and the subject of public meetings that went on and on. If anybody in this mess had principles, they would have shut down Lee at the beginning. This is not an example for a future mayor-want-a-be.

    Everyone KNEW Lee owned the property and was lobbying for its choice. He did not hide it. He did not conspire to fool the public. He was very open and public with which property he felt was the best.

    There were many people who wanted that location for a liqour store. There were many people who wanted any discussion of how much revenue a different location would generate suppressed because they did not want the decision made based on how much money the city could make selling liqour. It wasn’t just Lee.

    And Lee could have been stopped if Al Roder had done his job or Maren Swanson done hers.

    And the whole thing would have gone away with the election.

    This is a huge waste of taxpayer money.

    Don’t get me started on how Bush broke U S and International laws. You have got to be kidding to think that the same principle is involved. Bush was a U S president who abused his position resulting in the deaths of thousands. Lee Lansing was a mayor who abused his position resulting in a bunch of newspaper articles, a bunch of crappy meetings, the hiring of an incompetent City Administrator and the waste (by the city council’s choice) of a bunch of money on an investigation. Nobody but Lee Lansing was hurt. Not even their little finger. Some of the city council think they really suffered because of the lawsuits.

    Lee Lansing did not order the kidnapping of foreign nationals, their incarceration and torture, did not invade any foreign country, did not lie to congress and the American people, did not spy on U S Citizen.

    Blindly following the law without using any judgement in understanding the scope and severity of the crime is inhuman.

    Ask any police officer who witnesses hundreds of small infractions everyday and does not choose to act on those law breakers. Choosing to prosecute Lee Lansing is just nuts–

    This is not about principles. This is about a witch hunt. It took 20,000 pages to find a gross misdemeanor. Frankly, I could look through 2 years of anyone’s tax returns and I bet I could find a crime –and that would only be about 10 pages. They had to really fish to come up with what they did, and it is a waste of our money and court time.

  5. Jane : Thanks for saving me the time and blood-pressure raising effort to reply to the absolute ‘mumbo-jumbo ‘ of comment #54.

    John: In addition to agreeing with every argument of Jane’s (#55 ), I’d just like to say this… You argue here for the “rule of law”, and if LL is not prosecuted, it will undermine the societal structure of this country … That’s an absurd enough statement on its own… But you have consistently argued against the “rule of law” on other threads, and feel that is often the constructed, voted upon, and passed/ruled law that undermines the society which is the one you wish to promulgate.

    You can’t have it your own way, based on your strongly held personal prejudices, and your arguments on both sides of the “rule of law” … depending where you personally ‘fall’ … is an obviously empty and non-logical absurdity.

  6. In response to the KYMN radio show, which discusses the Lansing case, and speculates on many levels, about many aspects of this case… Isn’t this just adding fuel to the request for a change of venue?… after all, the front pages of the NFNews have already been submitted as evidence in the request for venue change.

    I have really appreciated the clarifying and insightful comments made by Britt Ackerman, on various threads, but I am sincerely questioning whether or not such discussion, as occurred on D. Hvistendahl’s show, furthered the cause of justice, or complicated matters.

    What should attorney’s positions be on discussing such an intensely local case?

  7. Jane,
    The same principle applies – the rule of law. Just at very different degrees. The jury will, in the end, decide whether or not the prosecution was warranted or proven.

  8. Patrick- Thank you. You understand my point, and I did refrence the degree in my post. The idea that someone suffers for their actions and therefore fulfills the requirements of the law just doesn’t connect with me. The laws are established to bring some level of order to society. They, in themselves, do not infer punitive measures. A lot of what has happened here could have been avoided with an open, sincere discussion within the city government, and an attitude that everyone is subject to the law. When the denial of wrongdoing does not align with the evidence presented, then, unfortunately, the legal system is required to intervene.

    Kiffi- I think your comment-

    What should attorney’s positions be on
    discussing such an intensely local
    case?

    is spot on. I, too, question the wisdom of this, but I have not listened to the broadcast.

  9. I think the Dave and Britt show was an awesome display of new media. And bringing real analysis so close to home – GREAT JOB !!!

    (20,000 pages – you have got to be kidding)

  10. I would draw the line on a huge waste of taxpayer’s money. Obviously. These charges are so bad they are gross misdemeanors. (That was sarcasm.) I draw the line at torture and water-boarding and spying on U S citizens. You may have a lower tolerance for petty crimes, but I think it is a crime to waste taxpayer’s dollars.

    Curt–I don’t need to review the charges. Lee behaved badly. In my opinion, it did not reach a criminal offense. Everybody knew he owned the property and that he wanted it chosen. There was no big criminal conspiracy. It took them months and months to come up with any charges. That is a witch hunt. As I said, if I wanted to dig up dirt on just about anybody in Northfield, I bet I could find a few gross misdemeanors. Especially if I dedicate a bunch of professionals going through the paperwork. This is a bunch of hooey.

  11. The story here is not personal greed. The story is how a ruling class of government professionals via lawyers and civil servants have usurped the power of voters and created mechanisms to torture locally elected officials who do not follow the prescribed protocol.

  12. David : re: your number 65… That’s a very good beginning, but it needs to be added that this was a huge struggle between very strong personalities: the mayor and administrator, and the mayor and council… and Yes, the thing no one wants to say: Church and State… as expressed by the administrator having secret prayer meetings in his office while the council meetings were going on.

    Some of you out there may not find that offensive on a ‘small’ and local level, and say that it does not rise to the level of separation of Church and State.

    I would ask , “How could it not? They were praying for outcomes for the city of Northfield which had nothing to do with the openly conducted policy or business of the city of Northfield?”

    So, now we’re back to not only the ‘witch hunt’, but to the “prayer ladies”…

    The council at the time of the discovery .. what I call this ‘convolution’ of an orderly open government process… CHOSE to do nothing about it. (Except attack the chair of the Board that revealed the infraction)

    WHY?

    They chose to do nothing about it because they were already in the position of protecting the administrator. And to continue to protect the administrator, they had to continue to deflect ALL the blame somewhere else… and away from themselves for the position they took. And the most effective way to deflect blame is to place it squarely at someone else’s feet… the Mayor’s.

    And none of this, none of it, will go away unless it is dealt with in the nature of an ‘intervention’. And so far , all we have is the situation with the former mayor that Jane describes so well.

    Well, that’s not quite complete… we still have 3 of the former councilors on the current council: one who signed the complaint against the Mayor, one who meddles , tattletales, and manipulates, and one who moved his seat away from the mayor, saying he felt ‘tainted’… and then one of the “prayer ladies” , duly elected, and she works very hard at the job.

    What’s criminal here, in my mind, is the misplaced ‘morality’, and the absurd waste of time, and taxpayers, and private persons dollars. And the YEARS of anguish to specific people, as well as to the community.

  13. Kiffi,
    There is no “separation of church and state” issue regarding the Prayer Ladies. That was an unequal access / preferential treatment problem.

    The First Amendment simply states:

    Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

    Al Roder was not establishing prayer lady-ism as the official religion of Northfield. He was not trumpeting their value to the community. He was not even telling anyone (AFAIK) that he had given them his office to use.

    The problem was, as I said, was Al Roder’s preferential treatment of the Prayer Ladies. He gave them use of his public office for their private meetings, while the same access was not allowed to any other group.

    Still, I’m impressed that you’ve now managed to bring Al Roder and the prayer ladies into this discussion. Nice distraction.

  14. Kiffi, you also wrote,

    Well, that’s not quite complete… we still have 3 of the former councilors on the current council: one who signed the complaint against the Mayor, one who meddles , tattletales, and manipulates, and one who moved his seat away from the mayor, saying he felt ‘tainted’… and then one of the “prayer ladies” , duly elected, and she works very hard at the job.

    Kiffi, is there anyone in elected office that you like? Of the many recipients of your criticism here, two have not been up for reelection since the events of which you complain. However, the other two have both been elected to office by the citizens of Northfield with full knowledge (or at least access to full knowledge) of where they stood in the events that you decry. Well, at least the criticisms that I can follow. “Meddles, tattletales, and manipulates” is clearly a bit of shorthand that must make more sense to you than it does to those of us less steeped in your personal view of how local politics works.

  15. Patrick : Yes, there are many people in elected office that I like… but if you are speaking of the current council which I think you are… I have great respect for Betsey Buckheit who always speaks to the policy which underlies the issue being discussed , and does so in a manner both philosophically and intellectually sound; I have great respect for the amount of work and time which Rhonda Pownell devotes to her job as councilor; and I have great respect for the much needed environmental focus which Erica Zweifel brings to every discussion as well as her sense of responsibility to the bigger picture; and although I don’t always totally agree with her choices, I have great respect for Mayor Rossing, in that her overwhelming plurality was totally impressive, and as soon as she ‘sorts out’ (sorry, Mayor, you know I think this is an issue) the dynamics between the Council as ’employer’ and the staff as ’employees’ (no less valued for that position) we have a chance for better process than the last council.

    But Patrick, you turn to a PERSONAL attack of my POV, not the SUBSTANCE of my POV. You did the same thing with David Henson when he disagreed with you.

    We disagree on the church/state issue; I think you need to review some Supreme Court decisions, and see if you think they only speak to “establishment”, or if you think they speak to ‘endorsement’. I presume we will continue to disagree.

    Furthermore, what is, and has, happened to Lee Lansing is not a function of the community’s will, that will did not re-elect him; this group of charges is the previous council defending itself, and its choices/actions.

  16. Kiffi,
    I’m glad to have offered you the opportunity to say so many nice things about so many people. I agree with every one of your compliments.

    I further believe that every one of our current councilpersons truly does seek to uphold the best interests of Northfield in all of their official acts. I also believe the same of departed councilpersons Scott, Noah, Arnie, and Dixon.

  17. I’m not even going to address 69.1. It is pointless.

    re: #70 : So basically, what you’re saying, Patrick is that you have no problem with any of the actions of the current returning councilors, and no problem with those who resigned, did not run again or retired.
    And with your lack of specificity, it kind of looks like you may not believe it is right to ‘question authority’, regardless of their actions.
    But that isn’t probably accurate either; it seems you have questioned both the former President, and those who would deny equal human/civil rights to all …

    So if we just go on direct sequential logic on the subject of past and present council, that means you believe all the councilors, past and present, were or have been correct in all their actions, and you would support those actions.

    So we will never agree; I think that is obvious… Let’s let it go.

  18. Kiffi,
    This is not a blanket blessing of all politicians. I complimented a specific set of elected persons – among those Northfield politicians with whom I am familiar.

    These specific persons seem, from my observations, to all have worked very hard to do well for our community.

    With that general presumption of goodwill, based partly upon observation of their actions, it is possible to have a civil – and possibly productive – discussion of the issues before us. I am less in favor of antagonistic, often non-productive, political discourse based upon attacking those with whom one disagrees.

    Ironically, however, I do sometimes feel the need to disagree with, and sometimes criticize, persons who spend a great deal of their time attacking their perceived opponents.

    1. It is now also obvious that you cannot let “it” go … just keep throwing one more personal observation about the person you are speaking to rather than speaking to the core substance of the issue…

      There IS a difference between being the “last man standing”, and speaking to the attendant problems which many people feel need to be identified , in order to be corrected…

  19. Patrick : I DO follow you, your implication is clear.
    How does your insult to me help to clarify the issues or provide any new information?

  20. Kiffi,
    I am suggesting that your great passion for local politics would be put to far better use if you spent more time speaking, writing, and acting constructively on the issues, and less time publicly maligning the motives and actions of Jaci, Suzy, Jon, Kris, Jim, Al, and all the employees of the city.

  21. And since I am NOT “Pietro”, maybe your time (as long as you feel now is the time to be instructive to me, I will feel free to reciprocate ) would be better spent reading the citations that he/she gives to better inform yourself and less time trying to assume that anyone who had some of the same thoughts must in fact BE me, as there could not possibly be another with the same, what you would call, prejudices!

    You need to analyze the citations and documents, and statutes and even council tapes, Patrick, not the opinions of people who have not done so either. You need to get off the ‘trollwagon’, and look at the facts first-hand, before continuing to personally assail anyone who doesn’t think the way you do,rather than doing the intellectual work of making an argument which has some substantive base.

    Your list of people that you think I “malign” is interesting for the many assumptions on your part…

    Let me make clear, I do not “malign” “all the employees of the city” ; that is such a gross misstatement of fact, and stated as a fact rather than opinion, that I will ask you to either retract it, or prove it.

    1. Kiffi,
      I do not think that you are Pietro. You have stated that you do not post under pseudonyms, and I believe you.

      You wrote,

      Let me make clear, I do not “malign” “all the employees of the city” ; that is such a gross misstatement of fact, and stated as a fact rather than opinion, that I will ask you to either retract it, or prove it.

      I’m sorry, you merely denounce “city staff” with blanket statements:

      In post #6, you wrote:
      “How Long is the ‘City’ of Northfield Going to Continue to Brutalize its Citizens?” (subtitle: “Will a New City Council be Able to, or Have the Strength to, Realize that there is No Shame for Either Party in Being the Employers of their Employees, i.e. the City Staff?”

      In post #8, you wrote:
      the city staff has no right to interfere in anyones private business transactions, including the foreclosure -holding bank.
      There was no one”squatting’; there were business transactions ongoing between private parties. How would you like to have the city staff call one of your production factories , and make comments about whether or not that factory should be involved with you in an ongoing business transaction? Do you think that is appropriate behavior for city staff?

      In post #12.1, you wrote:
      There was , and is, harassment.
      There was definitely improper involvement of the city staff with the bank.

      In post #13, you wrote:
      “bad blood” is no excuse for city staff interfering with a bank, and the people they are doing business with, and the private business arrangements those two people have with each other.

      In post #15, you wrote:
      quite a few people have heard of the city staff’s interference in this whole process, including their phone calls to the bank, and also their ‘threatening’ the bank if they (city staff) did not get the desired result.

      In post #26, you wrote:
      And no one seems to want to deal with the actions of the city staff…

      Perhaps you could clarify the difference between “city staff” and “employees of the city,” so that I can better understand your distinction.

    2. Clarification:
      Perhaps you could clarify the difference between “the city staff” and “all employees of the city,” so that I can better understand your distinction.

  22. The “City Staff” means those department heads directly responsible to the council for the implementation of council policy , and who are responsible for directing the employees under them .

    You are being extremely combative, Patrick, and I think you should have better things to do than read back, and cut and paste parts of six comments, in six different #’d comments, just to parse out the difference between “city staff” and “all employees of the city”, when obviously, in none of the comments you cite ,could the CONTEXT have been “all the employees of the City”. I did not “malign” “all the employees of the city”.

    One cannot malign someone by reporting on an action they have in fact done.

    Why is it that you expect answers to all your irrelevant comparisons, but you will reply to nothing of substance yourself. IMO, you are taking NO responsibility for any of your beliefs, but only continue to question others. Your goal seems to be obfuscation.

    Through this entire word battle, you have said nothing to further your case… or indeed … even to make a case for what you believe; you have only criticized me for what I believe. That’s an old prosecutorial tactic, i.e., what you can’t defend leads one to initiate the position of attack.

    And that’s the technique that was used on Lee Lansing… IMO… much to the disgrace of the previous council.

  23. Kiffi,
    I have already posted several of my own beliefs. Here’s a sampling from this thread:

    Post #19:
    The core facts of this case do seem to be primary-sourced. The Northfield Police are the primary source.

    Post #19:
    It is always unfortunate when any landowner is unable to pay their home (or business) loan… It is also, sadly, very common this year.

    Post #40:
    Sad as the personal situation may be (and, based on the experiences of my evicted neighbors, these situations can certainly be sad, to say the least), the legal situation is in fact very simple:
    When property owners ask someone to leave their property, those people have to leave the property.

    Post #58:
    The same principle applies – the rule of law. Just at very different degrees. The jury will, in the end, decide whether or not the prosecution was warranted or proven.

    Post #67:
    There is no “separation of church and state” issue regarding the Prayer Ladies. That was an unequal access / preferential treatment problem.

    Post #68:
    I agree with every one of your compliments.
    I further believe that every one of our current councilpersons truly does seek to uphold the best interests of Northfield in all of their official acts. I also believe the same of departed councilpersons Scott, Noah, Arnie, and Dixon.

    Post #72:
    I complimented a specific set of elected persons…
    These specific persons seem, from my observations, to all have worked very hard to do well for our community.
    With that general presumption of goodwill, based partly upon observation of their actions, it is possible to have a civil – and possibly productive – discussion of the issues before us. I am less in favor of antagonistic, often non-productive, political discourse based upon attacking those with whom one disagrees.
    Ironically, however, I do sometimes feel the need to disagree with, and sometimes criticize, persons who spend a great deal of their time attacking their perceived opponents.

  24. Okay, okay, Patrick and Kiffi, I’ve heard you both. Thank you. Now can we go back to the excellent suggestion in #71 and “let it go”?

    Just for a bit.

  25. A thought occurred to me while I was making a pot of tea this morning… I have a small poster of Paul Wellstone which sits on the shelf of my kitchen hutch. He always was, and will always be a true hero, in my mind. Many people who did not agree with him on every political point had a great personal respect for him, because he was such an honest and passionate, committed person.

    Paul Wellstone and Lee Lansing were very good friends, that’s a fact. The Lansings would visit the Wellstones in Washington, stay with them, and sit up far into the night talking about issues and reminiscing about Northfield.

    I wonder what Paul and Sheila Wellstone would think about what is happening to their friends, the Lansings. I know they would be appalled to see what has happened to their friends lives, and business; and I know they would not have jumped to any conclusions of wrongdoing.

    Isn’t there a bumpersticker that says “What would Wellstone do?”
    Think about it…

    1. Kiffi- I feel that both Lee Lansing and Al Roder have been unfairly judged and condemned in the press and posts on the various local blogs. Having an opinion about what has happened is everyone’s right, but I feel some things have gone a little far. Bob Woodward opened up a whole new emphasis with his investigative reporting. This is something I believe has been carried to far in this country when public figures are tried and convicted in the media. Lee can’t even get a fair trial in Rice County because of the publicity. I feel this reflects badly upon the whole community. My analogy makes about as much sense as some of the accusations that have been flung around. I feel there has been too much negativity expressed based just on association.

  26. Today’s Nfld News: The fate of former mayor Lansing to be decided

    More than two and a half years after the city’s former mayor was charged with violating state ethics laws, a district court judge is set to decide whether to hold Lee Lansing over for trial.

    A contested omnibus hearing for Lansing is set for 9 a.m. Wednesday in Steele County, where the case was moved due to pre-trial publicity.

  27. Nfld News: Lansing’s ex-friend speaks at pre-trial

    Paul Norby, a man who at one time considered Lee Lansing a best friend, took the stand today in a pre-trial hearing that will decide if the ethics case against the former Northfield mayor goes to a jury.

    Norby, on the stand for more than two hours, talked about loans made between himself, Lansing and Lansing’s son David Lansing, who at one time owned property considered for a new city liquor store. Norby also testified about his business dealings with the Lansings, including the liquor store project.

    Aarrgghh. It would be helpful to know something specific of what Norby actually said about Lansing. “Talked about…” and “testified about…” doesn’t give us much.

  28. From the nature of the Norby remarks, there’s the sense that he may have been granted immunity to testify against his former “best friend”.

    With this incomplete report on the Wednesday proceedings, the NORTHFIELD NEWS continues what I’d call its witch hunt against Lee Lansing. Why indeed is it so incomplete?

    This so called report from S. Rook filed at 3:19 PM on Wednesday is time stamped 1 hour before the proceedings adjourned until tomorrow, Thursday 5/18, when Al Roder will take the stand — presumedly also with the promise of immunity. Tomorrow, Roder’s past employment performance and his “fit” for the job is likely to be a major part of the Lansing defense.

    I’ll be surprised if Roder doesn’t reveal a pattern of unsuccessful jobs in four states.

    We’ll also see how Lee Lansing responds to the prosecution’s attempt to get to him, when he takes the stand for the “cross”. If Lansing holds the line, look for egg on the face of Goodhue County.

    Norby was actually a bit of the final act of today’s session … coming on after the lunch break, before which most of the time was taken up earlier by Tom Dunnwald (Lansing’s attorney) presenting exhibits (about 50, I lost count) which purport to counter all the charges filed by Goodhue County’s County Attorneys, Carol Lee and Stephen Betcher. Of course the Northfield City Council’s pricy but questionable Everett Report came under some fire as well.

    My read of the facts presented by Dunnwald and testified to by Lansing is, they blew holes in every count the County was pursuing. Rook saw this, as she sat through the entire day’s events … with Lansing on the witness stand in his own behalf … and the Norby surprising exit. BUT — what’s most egregious in Rook’s report is she leaves out the stunning end to Norby’s testimony, when Steel County Judge Buetel stopped the attorney witness exchange between Norby and Dunnwald.

    Minutes earlier, Carol Lee had examined her witness. Virtually nothing was revealed other than the character of her witness and his work ethic. Then, with Dunnwald in charge and in pursuit, Buetel interrupted the revealing testimony and advised Norby he was flirting with a possible major personal dilemma.

    The Judge suggested Mr Norby might think again about continuing on the stand and pointed out that he (Norby) could take the fifth … and/or seek legal counsel.

    Norby, after some stammering, was told no less than three times by Buetel that while he (the Judge) was not advising him — he (Norby) had options other than continuing in the witness box and one could be, taking the fifth amendment against self incrimination. “So much” for the state’s witness!

    Whether Rook’s interpretation agrees with mine … who knows … who cares? But she leaves her readers with a skewed view.

    There’s no telling how the court will find after this two day opus which may end tomorrow, or there may be an act three with Norby coming back in a few weeks.

    I’d say, the defense is leading tonight so don’t be surprised when the Judge eventually rules on the Probable Cause to see the whole thing go down as unfounded accusations. Too bad the News can’t own up to the real facts — even though these seem to cut the pins from under Northfield’s award winning ‘fourth estate’.

  29. Northfield taxpayers are taking a hit on this trial. Al Roder’s counsel is David Lillehaug who reportedly has the highest hourly rate of any attorney in the state of MN.

  30. Nfld News last night: Lansing pre-trial update: Hearing goes into third day

    The ethics trial of Lee Lansing picked up Thursday in Steele County District Court with the former Northfield mayor back on the stand, discussing his repeated efforts to make his interests in two downtown properties known…

    Former Northfield City Administrator Al Roder, who took the stand late in the day Thursday, characterized his relationship with the former mayor as particularly stormy and said that six months into his tenure Lansing suggested Roder resign because the administrator failed to deliver the liquor store project on David Lansing¹s property.

    Roder later said Lansing threatened the administrator’s job several times during his more than two-year tenure when Roder wouldn’t bend to Lansing’s will.

  31. Griff: I have been in the courtroom all of these three omnibus hearing days. I can IMO, but I think factually, say you will not understand the procedures, or the very slow progress being made in this (interminable) Omnibus hearing… or indeed the content of the testimony… by these reports coming from the NFNews.
    Again, my opinion is that the NFNew’s reports have been very abbreviated and also selective in content.

    The News was not there today, as the conclusion was reached by the Judge that both Mr. Norby and Mr. Roder will have to be back with more testimony; and indeed in Mr. Roder’s case, more documents, which he has been holding from his time in Northfield.

  32. Kiffi, it would appear that the Nfld News was there today. Posted at 10 pm:

    Lansing hearing: Following the money trail

    A litany of questions from Lee Lansing’s defense counsel about the one-time city administrator’s personnel records have postponed the former mayor’s probable cause hearing in the ethics case against him by at least six weeks.

    District Court Judge Joseph A. Bueltel Friday asked both sides to submit written arguments regarding documents from the city of Norfolk, Neb., by June 10.

    1. Well, Griff, I was there all day and there are but two rows of seats in a small courtroom. In fact they are not seats but ‘pews’. In the back one was Jon Denison and also his mother, and in the front one were Helen Medin, Kiffi Summa, and Victor Summa.

      I also wondered how they did what was the best reporting done this week, as a matter of fact a rather comprehensive report considering the many new elements in Friday’s portion of this hearing.

      Arranged to buy a transcript? very expensive…
      One of those five persons observing/reporting? It certainly wasn’t me, and I’m pretty sure it wasn’t Victor…

      Audio recording in the courtroom by someone who was there? sounds a bit far fetched and I would think not be legal?

      I have no idea; maybe it was Claude Raines, if anyone is old enough to remember that movie…

      Maybe you should ask the NFNews?

  33. Griff: I am very curious why you would (rightly so) make a ‘fuss’ about the fact that the NFNews used an incorrect photo in their Plum/Linden trees story, but not remark at all about the fact that the NFNews wrote an extensive article, about a hearing which they did not attend?

    As I noted, there was no NFNews reporter there, there was no attribution to another source( which from those in attendance could only have been Jon Denison, or his mother, Mrs Denison, or Helen Medin, and there was seemingly very little chance of obtaining a transcript of the full day’s proceedings, as the bailiff was locking the building with the exit of those who had been in the courtroom and the employees.

    Don’t you think the source of the reporting, and the necessary attribution of material reported on, but not witnessed, is important?

  34. Al Roder was in the hallway outside that small courtroom when I arrived Thursday afternoon. Roder was sworn in and gave testimony for 2-l/2 hours. He was given immunity, so he was free, I assume, to say anything and everything to make Lee look bad. I came home feeling very low, indeed. And wishing all this would come to an end for everyone involved.

    And we ARE all involved, every Northfield area resident who stood by and let certain members of Northfield Council take us down this long, expensive path. It has taken a toll on us all.

  35. Al Roder has always been free to say things which might incriminate Lee Lansing. Immunity gives him protection from prosecution for statements which might also incriminate himself.

    1. David: I’m sure you could tell us who could stop “ridiculous” prosecution… I have heard
      many councilors say, over the years, that what they do could be reversed by a subsequent council…

      SO… is there anything this current council could do to at least reverse some of the $$$ continually exiting the NF taxpayers pocket as we continue to pay for Mr. Roder’s legal fees?
      (Mr. Roder is represented by David Lillehaug; reputed to be one of the most expensive attorneys in the state at $500 an hour.)

      Also, wouldn’t you think the Goodhue county residents would be ‘up in arms’ about the time spent on this by their County prosecutor and his Assistant/co-prosecutor? There are no actual dollars be paid (the counties have reciprocity with each other) but how much time over the last two and a half years have the Goodhue staff NOT been able to spend on their own county’s business?

      Got any opinion on the current Council’s possible role in this, David?

    2. David- This is just my opinion, but there is nothing like transparency and the truth to dispell situations like this. If one of the parties involved would step up and say, “I was wrong in what I did. I thought I was right at the time, but I am willing to take responsibility for my actions that caused all this turmoil.” Then, charges could be dropped by the other parties involved, and we wouldn’t have to suffer through yet another “investigation” and the acompanying court proceedings. Unfortunately, I don’t have a lot of hope for this happening, but I think the idea is good.

    3. Kiffi,

      I can’t find the complaint anymore. If there are Northfield city ordinance violations, then the City Council should have authority to stop the prosecution.

      1. David, the complaints against Lansing are listed in this article:

        http://northfieldnews.com/content/mayor-charged-following-goodhue-investigation

        Interestingly, this started with an investigation by former Police Chief Gary Smith of Roder. It couldn’t be investigated in Rice County because of conflicts of interest. Goodhue County took the case and changed the focus to Lansing and charged him, not Roder. I don’t see how the Northfield City Council could undo actions taken by another county. But, of course, I’m just guessing.

        Kiffi, it is my understanding that there is no dollar limit and no time limit on Roder’s free attorney’s fees in this matter. KYMN’s Law Review covered this last week, but I don’t see that that particular show is archived on the KYMN site. Hvistendahl, predictibly, was scathing in his assessment of the free attorney aggreement–and the agreement to give Roder a bonus if he is not charged with a crime. If I recall correctly, HVI didn’t discuss the idea of undoing that aggreement.

        Kiffi, who was the Northfield City attorney who approved the agreement that gave Roder the endless unlimited, free ride?

      2. Curt: The agreement with Mr. Roder was negotiated by two of the council members as I recall: Kris Vohs, and Jim Pokorney (with whom Mr. Roder used to play poker; Councilperson Pokorney joked about that at a council meeting!)

        The City Attorney at the time was Maren Swanson, but Roger Knutson was brought in to help with the severance agreement as I also recall, and of course an Attorney Greene (can’t remember his first name) was brought in to help with the complaint against Lansing, along with Wm. Everett, he of the ‘report’.

    1. I understand that Hvisty thought that Suzi Rook/NFNews wrote a good article…

      I’m still wondering who reported for her since she was NOT there and no one else from the News was either.
      Since it was neither Victor nor I, the only other possibilities were Jon Denison, Ms Denison/Jon’s mother, and Helen Medin. There was no one else in the courtroom but the principal parties and the five audience.

  36. I wouldn’t have thought the Denisons and Helen Medin could put together such a complete report for Northfield News on that last day. This is indeed a mystery. I did not see anyone using a tape recorder the day before….

    I remember the News starting a signup of people interested in providing news to them. Maybe these folks are on it?

  37. Nfld News: Judge: No reason to search Roder’s records in Lansing case

    The judge presiding over the ethics case against former Mayor Lee Lansing has denied a defense request that would have had prosecutors digging up a former city administrator’s old employment records.

    In a June 22 order, Steele County Judge Joseph A. Bueltel found that Lansing’s attorney offered no evidence that personnel records from the one-time administrator and prosecution witness, Al Roder, would benefit the defense.

  38. Might one question the journalistic equity which in the first paragraph quoted names the “former’ Mayor , but does not name the “former city administrator” ?

    1. Kiffi- Uh, I hate to start this, but paragraph two seems pretty obvious, “…one-time administrator and prosecution witness, Al Roder…”

  39. I am disappointed w/Bueltel’s decision not to draw on Roder’s employment record. I believe his history at other locations could shed a light on what happened here. There is an element of boldness in his activities, such as having prayer groups in his office. As if he believed God was on his side.

    1. STephanie- To the chagrin of many people, the defendent in this trial is Lee Lansing, not Al Roder. I would assume that Judge Bueltel reviewed this information and did not consider that it had any bearing upon the trial.

  40. What has never been elucidated in the NFNews accounts of the Roder/Lansing struggles is why Mr. Roder was granted immunity … and from what specific prosecution… for what?

    One is not granted immunity from prosecution if there is nothing for which they can be prosecuted.

    So… the granting of immunity to Mr. Roder means that Goodhue County has granted him immunity in exchange for something they want; i.e. a conviction. of the case they are prosecuting.

    Immunity does not mean innocence; it means an escape from something for which there are likely to be serious ramifications, if prosecuted.

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