EDA struggles with its by-laws, process, effectiveness, election of officers

January 14, 2009 EDA meeting I sat in for the part of today’s meeting of the City of Northfield Economic Development Authority (EDA) and the first 30 minutes of the agenda were devoted to whether or not the election of EDA officers for 2010 should be removed from the agenda until the by-laws are amended.

Victor Summa made the motion to delay the election and it was approved on 5-2 vote with Jim Pokorney and Rick Estenson dissenting.  It was a contentiousness discussion and later, a visibly-troubled Estenson expressed a strong desire to no longer serve as president but that he was willing for today’s meeting and the next in two weeks. A subsequent discussion of the proposed meeting schedule and committee structure for 2010 was also contentious.

Maybe those who were there can help make sense of it all.


  1. Tracy Davis said:

    Griff, was there a LWV observer at the meeting this morning?

    January 14, 2010
  2. kiffi summa said:

    Tracy… there has never. to my knowledge, been an observer from the LWV at the EDA … and I might hasten to add, the need has never been as great to have one!
    I will reiterate… although this council has made a priority of transparency, I would like to see a list of the concrete steps in that direction as opposed to the concrete steps backwards.
    It cannot be tolerated that a citizen has to fill out a data practice request in order to obtain unprotected, public information. As I have said elsewhere, how can this council tolerate that sort of decision being adminisitratively made, in light of their oft-proclaimed goal of openness?
    Some council members have the idea that the law need not be followed,neither the open meeting law, nor the by-laws of a taxing authority. That comment is substantiated by comments made by both council members of the EDA at this mornings meetings… just go ahead and do what we’re asking and we can correct the process or catch up with the law later. That is the essence of the attitude.
    Councilor Pokorney may say he didn’t MEAN to say what he said about the newspaper at Monday’s council meeting, but he made the same sort of comment at the EDA this morning by saying “we want staff to manage the EDA…”

    All parties need to remember the oaths they took, fiscal and statutory responsibilities, and that they are elected to represent the people and have the respect for their staff, but no need to ‘protect’ the staff.

    January 14, 2010
  3. john george said:

    Kiffi- Your statement-
    “Some council members have the idea that the law need not be followed…” fits more than just the council and staff. How about the warming house by the hockey rink? For that matter, how about the cyclists that ride on the sidewalks and ignore traffic signs? Or, the youth that decided to use the closed depot as a hang-out? For that matter, take a look at what goes on on the national level. I think I would agree with the mayor in her assessment that there is a cultural trend that we are fighting.

    January 14, 2010
  4. Griff Wigley said:

    Nfld News: EDA meeting derailed by arguments.

    The election of new officers and other agenda items fell by the wayside Thursday morning at the Northfield Economic Development Authority’s regular meeting, after the meeting devolved into a heated argument over the division of responsibility between city staff and the board itself.

    EDA board member Victor Summa expressed concern at the level of staff control of the board, saying that the board should be giving directions to city staff, not the other way around. While others, including EDA board member and City Council member Jim Pokorney, argued that the board needs to become more efficient and should rely more on the professional expertise of the city’s economic development director, Jody Gunderson.

    January 14, 2010
  5. kiffi summa said:

    John: we are not discussing here the entire world and it’s defects… I could cite the non-adherence to the law by church groups who wish to discriminate based on sexual orientation.
    The issue is elected and appointed ‘officials’ who have taken oaths to uphold law…local through federal, and that IS what they swear to… and their lack of adherence to those oaths. and the local laws, policies, and By-laws of groups of which they are members.

    You are all for support of the ‘heierarchy’ in other situations; I’m wondering why you now think the law should not be followed?

    January 14, 2010
  6. Patrick Enders said:

    I know with differ on our point of view on many things, but one of the things I have always appreciated is that you generally come down on the principle that the law should be followed.

    Still, it is strange that sometimes persons consider following the letter of the law to be vitally important, while at other times (such as the building of the aforementioned shed) the letter of the law is perceived to merely be an impediment to people who just want to do what they consider to be The Right Thing.

    I would hope that the Council can follow both the spirit as well as the letter of the law – just as shed builders, bicyclists, and petitioners should. Unfortunately, they may have, at the least, come close to neglecting that duty in the case of the Waterford agreement discussions.

    I guess the question is: now what? And what the heck is going on at the EDA? Clearly different members have a serious disagreement about how the EDA should operate, but the information here and at the News doesn’t make the nature of the dispute all that clear to an outsider.

    January 14, 2010
  7. Patrick Enders said:

    (that’s “WE differ,” not “with differ”)

    January 14, 2010
  8. john george said:

    Kiffi & Patrick- I’m sorry if I somehow inferred that we shouldn’t follow the law on this issue. I am very opposed to the idea that people can just do whatever they like with disregard for the law. It fits the warming house builders and the city councilors just the same. My only point was that I see a cultural trend toward lawlessness, and its not just the city councilors who are guilty of it. I think that is what the mayor was inferring in her comment, but I have not talked to her directly to confirm that. Just because the the majority of the population sees fit to ignore laws does not justify their actions by any means. I thought you said in one of your comments about councilor Buckheit that you admired her honesty about wrong proceedures and that we needed people to own up to their mistakes, correct their actions and move on. I agree wholeheartedly. Hopefully the council can do this and the citizenry will allow them to follow through.

    January 14, 2010
  9. Patrick Enders said:

    I understood you point, and was trying to agree with it – and your consistency on favoring observing the law. I’m sorry that I was unclear.

    January 14, 2010
  10. john george said:

    Patrick- Well, now that all that is clear…! Thanks.

    January 14, 2010
  11. kiffi summa said:

    There are a lot of questions about procedural discrepancies, and activities/interactions of the Executive committee with the staff member

    The Main Issue is this: There is nothing in either the enabling ordinance for the EDA, their by-laws, or the state statute re: the EDA, that allows for this taxing authority to be directed, governed (whatever), by a city staff member.
    As noted above: this morning Councilor Pokorney, who is a member of the EDA stated … in response to a discussion about the origin of changes to by-laws and meetings, and procedures… “we want staff to manage the EDA”.
    It is not legally possible for a staff member to “manage” the EDA.

    If council members are dissatisfied with the operations of the EDA, then it should be disbanded, and the Council should take on that additional role, which they are allowed to assume, operating as an EDA Board.

    January 15, 2010
  12. Jon Denison said:

    WOW!!! I couldn’t agree with Mrs. Summa more. The council should disband the EDA and assume those additional responsibilities at least temporarily.

    January 15, 2010
  13. Griff Wigley said:

    Good to have you chime in on this, Councilor Denison. Can you give us a little more of your rationale on the need to temporarily disband the EDA? And will this be brought to the Council for consideration?

    January 15, 2010
  14. Griff Wigley said:

    Kiffi, I’ve removed your comment directed at Jon Denison. I don’t know if he was being sarcastic or not with his remarks. I assumed he wasn’t. But regardless, it doesn’t warrant your sarcastic remark about personal matters not related to this issue and not related to his role as Councilor.

    January 15, 2010
  15. Patrick Enders said:

    I’m pretty sure that Jon was not being sarcastic.

    There’s clearly a fairly fundamental disagreement between EDA President Rick Estenson and Councilor Pokorney on the one hand, and Victor Summa and VP Steve Engler on the other. Unfortunately for those of us trying to make sense of it from the outside, the whole thing is being reported in generalities about “division of responsibility,” “staff control,” and “people’s lives and people’s businesses.”

    It all sounds vague, but pretty irreconcilable. I hope that our elected Councilpersons will attend to this matter, and find a resolution to this breakdown that serves the best interests of the city.

    January 15, 2010
  16. Griff Wigley said:

    The Nfld News has updated its story: EDA meeting derailed by arguments.

    The constant difficulties have led Councilor Jon Denison to call for the EDA to be temporarily disbanded.

    The rising fractiousness between board members, Denison said, has impaired its ability to move forward on important issues, like master planning of the city’s proposed business park in Greenvale Township and a second possible park located in Bridgewater Township — a process expected to cost nearly $250,000. The EDA’s current duties, Denison said, could be assumed by the council.

    “They’re spending a quarter of a million dollars, and yet they have trouble passing a simple agenda?” Denison said. “The citizens of Northfield, I feel, are suffering from it.”

    January 16, 2010
  17. kiffi summa said:

    The fiscal responsibility exhibited by a councilperson , or an EDA member , is certainly relevant to the oaths of responsibility they take, in either of those positions…
    How could you possibly say otherwise?

    January 16, 2010
  18. kiffi summa said:

    Please note as stated in griff’s original paragraph under this heading that 5 of the 7 members of the EDA voted to delay the election of officers…

    That is in no way a minority vote.

    In #9, Mr. Denison is quoted in the paper as saying that “fractiousness” has “impaired its (EDA) ability to move forward on important issues, like the master planning of the business park”…
    I would ask what step has not been taken?
    How are the citizens of Northfield “suffering from it”

    Let’s be specific here…

    Councilor Pokorney said , in the meeting, “we want staff to manage the EDA”…
    That perspective might cause some “suffering”, IMO; do the citizens of Northfield want the staff to levy taxes?

    January 16, 2010
  19. john george said:

    Griff- You did the correct thing, here. If personal shortcomings were relevant to public officials’ abilities to carry out their official responsibilities, then probably most of the elected officials we have would be disqualified. This is more of a political campaign issue. I still support you in your decision.

    January 17, 2010
  20. Griff Wigley said:

    Today’s Nfld News: Mending a board divided.

    Rick Estenson calls it a “fundamental” disagreement in the ideology of the Northfield Economic Development Authority.

    Estenson, the president of the EDA, is talking about the board’s ongoing argument over the division of responsibilities between the board and the city’s economic development director, Jody Gunderson.

    January 20, 2010
  21. Griff Wigley said:

    Today’s Nlfd News editorial: Put ‘development’ back into the EDA.

    The EDA clearly needs guidance, the council should provide it. It needs to put the board on a brief hiatus and resolve the issue of city staff’s input/control of the board.

    But it needs to do it quickly. This community can’t afford any more bad publicity about how difficult it is to locate a business here.

    January 20, 2010
  22. Griff Wigley said:

    Huh? EDA pres Rick Estenson has a guest column in today’s Nfld News titled Development requires a long-term view.

    It’s a generic piece that speaks to NONE of the current EDA internal issues that have been raging in the past week.  Why would he squander all that valuable media real estate at a time when citizens are desperate for authenticity and transparency? All we know what he thinks is a tiny quote in the Nfld News story and we don’t know if that’s accurate.

    January 20, 2010
  23. Patrick Enders said:

    The timing of the letter could be a coincidence. Physicians who I work with have occasionally written such letters, and there is sometimes quite a disconnect between when they are conceived and when they are published.

    January 20, 2010
  24. Kiffi Summa said:

    The guest opinion column which appears over Rick Estenson’s name was in fact written, for his approval, by the publicist hired by the EDA last summer. This has been discussed at EDA meetings, so essentially public knowledge.

    I would have to agree with Griff… and I don’t uniformly do that … that this was a foolish time to use it, when there are serious problems with the process at the EDA.

    It shows, once again, the lack of sensitivity of some of ‘the powers that be’ to the effect their actions have on the public perception.

    There is no reason, except for the removal of control from the statutory Board, that some of the past and existing problems are occurring.

    January 20, 2010
  25. Randy Jennings said:

    Rick Estenson’s op-ed, which I helped prepare, was submitted to the News in early December, and was intended to draw attention to the three kinds of work the EDA is charged to accomplish. It was lost in the shuffle at the paper, and we resubmitted it earlier this month, before the last EDA meeting.

    If anything, the juxtaposition of the op-ed and the paper’s reporting and editorial simply demonstrates how the differences of opinion over governance issues have temporarily overshadowed the real work of the EDA. Up until the last meeting, the EDA board was still managing to move its work forward, particularly with respect to the Master Planning for the recently annexed northwest land, and preliminary thinking about the proposed southwest land. The master planning consultants, Hoisington Koegler Group, have been proceeding with their work. The design charrette they facilitated in early December was imaginative and sensitive to a wide range of interests and aspirations. Although the News didn’t cover it in any substantial way, several comments here on your blog spoke to what a thoughtful process the charrette represented.

    The master planning project, plus the smaller infill projects and the financial assistance to local businesses through the EDA’s loan and grant programs, is where the EDA’s real work and value is found.

    It’s easy to get distracted by personality conflicts and honest differences of opinion about the role of board members and staff. Those conflicts are not unique to the EDA board. They are issues that will work themselves out, and the EDA will continue to do its work.

    January 20, 2010
  26. David Ludescher said:

    I am not one of those citizens desperate for authenticity and transparency. Right now, I am more interested in councilors who will exercise good judgment. With the Safety Center, Library, and the City Attorneys, the Council set up processes. But, in the end, they ignored the legitimate concerns of the citizens, and even the recommendations of their own task force, and did what they wanted.

    January 20, 2010
  27. Kiffi Summa said:

    At last night’s council meeting the EDA director brought a resolution to the Council asking them to approve a change to the EDA By Laws which had been unanimously approved by the Board at their Dec 17th meeting. Councilor Pokorney said this was being done only as a “courtesy” to EDA members who felt it was necessitated by their governing documents.

    Jody Gunderson, the EDA Director said there was nothing in any governing documents that would require them to ask for Council approval.

    I would then draw your attention to these documents:
    1. Enabling resolution 90-187, establishing the EDA. Section 3-c):
    “the EDA must submit administrative practices to the council for approval”…
    2. Memo to NF City Council from Staff/Dan Rogness, 5.31,1990, Summary of
    Enabling Resolution, Section B-6: “The EDA must submit its administrative structure and management practices to the Council for approval”.
    3. MN. Statute 469.02, Subd. 1, #7: “that the authority submit its administrative structure and management practices to the City Council for approval”.

    The key words here are “administrative structure and management practices”. Having been involved in writing By-laws for the League of Women Voters, the NDDC, The Friends of Way Park, to just mention the most recent involvements, I believe that those words are indicative of the rules that govern the operation of the body, i.e. its By-Laws.

    Some councilors did not vote in the affirmative because they stated that they believed the By-law change was to effect the election of a specific person or persons. Given the “underground” on who was the preferred candidate (a council member!) and the Staff saying that there was no reason for the council to have to approve a By-law change, it was easy to understand their vote.

    Do we now need a legal authority (“neutral entity”, please ) to advise on whether or not council approval was needed, given the quoted documents?

    January 20, 2010
  28. Griff Wigley said:

    Randy, thanks for the background.

    I don’t understand your rationale for relying on the Nfld News as the main way for Rick and the EDA to communicate with the public.

    “It was lost in the shuffle at the paper…”

    “Although the News didn’t cover it in any substantial way…”

    Although it has its flaws, the Council asked Boards and Commissions last year to contribute to a monthly Board And Commission Memo. I checked the Sept. or Oct. memos for an EDA summary. Nothing. Why not include that as one of several ways to communicate with the public, especially since the Council asked for it?

    The current EDA flap may work itself out quickly but when the shit is hitting the public fan, I think the person in a leadership position needs to speak directly to the public about it.

    I should emphasize that I’m not criticizing the recent work of the EDA or Rick’s leadership of it. I’ve not been paying extremely close attention but by most accounts, he’s done a darn good job. I’m only criticizing their communications with the public and since you’ve been hired in part to help them with that, I’m making my case to you.

    January 21, 2010
  29. Randy Jennings said:

    The Northfield News is the paper of record in this community, so it is the logical vehicle for an EDA op-ed.

    January 21, 2010
  30. Griff Wigley said:

    Randy, I agree, the paper should be the vehicle for Rick’s op-ed. I’m just arguing that it just shouldn’t be the only vehicle for an EDA president’s voice.

    I would say the same thing if Rick was only communicating with the public in Locally Grown’s comments threads.

    A person in that position of leadership/influence/power needs their own bully pulpit, eg, their own blog, radio show, podcast, column, newsletter, TV show, etc etc.

    January 21, 2010
  31. Kiffi Summa said:

    Randy and Griff: If the NFNews is the “paper of record”… shouldn’t they be able to keep the record, and the facts… straight?

    I personally see them from their writing of meetings, etc., which I have witnessed, to be the paper not of record, but of opinion…. or maybe the paper of omission.

    January 22, 2010
  32. Jane Moline said:

    Ditto, Kiffi

    January 25, 2010
  33. So what happened at the EDA meeting this morning?

    January 28, 2010
  34. Griff Wigley said:

    Nfld News: EDA elects new officers, says goodbye to one.

    Jenelle Teppen, inducted onto the board last fall, was elected president. She will replace former president Rick Estenson, who will continue as a board member on the EDA. Steve Engler, the current board vice president, was chosen to continue in his role by the board.


    January 28, 2010
  35. Tracy Davis said:

    I’m going to venture out on a limb here and provide a tidbit of info about Jenelle – she’s new to the Northfield EDA, but not to public service. I believe she’s currently the assistant city administrator in Inver Grove Heights. (If I don’t have the details of her title right, I hope someone chimes in with a correction.)

    January 28, 2010
  36. Kiffi Summa said:

    Randy Jennings (contractor/ consultant for EDA publicity) when asked that question , in GBM this AM: “civility restored”…

    January 29, 2010
  37. Randy Jennings said:

    If you are going to quote a private conversation I had with Victor, then please also mention that my observation was of the conduct of the meeting itself. I had to leave as it was ending, and missed whatever transpired after.

    January 29, 2010
  38. Kiffi Summa said:

    Sorry, Randy… I didn’t think a comment made to the table where both Victor and I were sitting in the coffee house could possibly be construed as “private”.

    January 29, 2010
  39. Patrick Enders said:

    Civility at the EDA is still a work in progress, I guess. Jaci reports in a comment on the Nfld News that:

    “our city reporter, David Henke, is tracking on what happened after the EDA meeting. There is a police report that has been filed and an ongoing investigation, by the county since the city has an apparent conflict of interest, according to Police Chief Mark Taylor. Because it is ongoing, no further information will be available until it concludes.”


    February 1, 2010
  40. Griff Wigley said:

    I’ve had two people alert me to talk of an incident — supposedly a physical altercation of some kind involving public officials — that occurred at City Hall immediately after last week’s EDA meeting.

    I began to be concerned when I asked an EDA member about it who said they didn’t see the incident but that they’d heard about it from a public official (some who wasn’t involved in the altercation).

    And now I’ve been alerted that Nfld News Editor Jaci Smith has just posted a commment attached to David Henke’s article on the meeting. She writes:

    …city reporter, David Henke, is tracking on what happened after the EDA meeting. There is a police report that has been filed and an ongoing investigation, by the county since the city has an apparent conflict of interest, according to Police Chief Mark Taylor. Because it is ongoing, no further information will be available until it concludes.

    February 1, 2010
  41. john george said:

    “Physical altercation”??? This is Northfield, Mn., for crying out in the night!! What on earth is so controversial about the EDA meetings that would precipitate a “physical altercation?” Are we going to have to post police sentries at all the meetings, now? How is this going to encourage anyone to become involved in local governance? Lets see, now. We have an ongoing investigation of the former mayor, the former city manager, and now a “physical altercation.” What next?

    February 1, 2010
  42. Anthony Pierre said:

    they were probably fighting about which god to pray to.

    February 1, 2010
  43. john george said:

    Was this a fracus between the “prayer ladies?”

    February 1, 2010
  44. Kiffi Summa said:

    A spiritual altercation?

    February 1, 2010
  45. john george said:

    If that is the case, then maybe this is the proof Patrick was looking for, where the spiritual realm manifests itself in the physical realm.

    February 1, 2010
  46. Patrick Enders said:

    Spiritual wrath expressed as physical violence?

    February 1, 2010
  47. Kiffi Summa said:

    Griff: I think 21.6 is meant to be over on the God/ Haiti earthquake thread?

    February 1, 2010
  48. john george said:

    Better ask Patrick. He posted 21.6.

    February 1, 2010
  49. Patrick Enders said:

    No, 21.6 was a response to 21.5.

    February 1, 2010
  50. john george said:

    Patrick- Re. 21.6. Ok, it could be, as in these references in the Bible describe: Acts 19:13-15 and Luke 8:29 (I’ll let you look up the passages). Or, it could be an angry outburst by a person given to angry outbursts. I wasn’t at the meeting, so my response is speculative, but I though your question deserved an answer.

    February 1, 2010
  51. Patrick Enders said:

    Yes, an angry outburst by a person given to angry outbursts would seem to be a far more likely explanation than a supernatural event.

    February 2, 2010
  52. john george said:

    Patrick- I agree with you in this case. For something to be supernatural, it really has to be out of the ordinary.

    February 2, 2010
  53. Patrick Enders said:

    This is the thread where recent discussions of EDA issues has taken place.

    February 11, 2010
  54. Patrick Enders said:

    There was another EDA meeting this morning. How’d it go?

    Was the presence of the Prayer Ladies enough to prevent any further hullabaloo?

    February 11, 2010
  55. Patrick Enders said:

    Nfld News:

    Answers few and far between for divided EDA

    A lasting solution may be elusive for the Northfield Economic Development Authority, which tried to settle a dispute between board members over the role of the city’s economic development director.

    At the EDA’s regular meeting on Thursday morning, the group unanimously passed a resolution acknowledging the role and responsibilities of economic development director as outlined in job description approved by the Northfield City Council.

    A majority of board members believe the EDA should rely on the professional expertise of Economic Development Director Jody Gunderson, who was appointed by the Northfield City Council in 2008 to facilitate business development in the city.

    But two members feel that the director has too much control over the board and that the EDA should take on an expanded role in the implementation of policy.


    February 25, 2010
  56. kiffi summa said:

    Firstly,Please let us not fail to notice the arrival of the other gender into the “Prayer Ladies at the EDA” scene; there are now two ladies, and at least two gentlemen.

    Secondly, if words are wanting to be parsed, I think ‘donnybrook’ is far more apt than ‘hullabaloo’.
    I had quite a discussion with Norm Butler earlier this evening about the word “donnybrook” and it was humorous to me that he, a Brit, was not familiar with it, Since it is defined by an occasion which bears some similarity to the traditional Irish Donnybrook Fair (mid 19th C.) which usually ended up as a brawl, the description might be apt… depending on your POV.

    Personally, I see the EDA conflict as a struggle in which one side refuses to address, with substance, the concerns of the other…instead depending on the strength of a well established voting bloc.

    In the NFNews article quoted in #24, the explanation may not be as clear to the general public as it could be… Let’s try it with bullet points to see if that helps:
    *The EDA, statutorily, may or may not choose to hire an “employee” (MN Statutes 469. 097) . That employee, which may be an “executive director” may have “their duties, qualifications, and compensation” determined by the EDA who hires them.
    * The City of Northfield has an Economic Development Director, Mr. Jody Gunderson, and the documentation in today’s EDA packet clearly outlines his role in his employment responsibilities to the CITY PORTION of his job.
    (herein lies the bind in which Mr. Gunderson finds himself relevant to the struggle of defining the TWO ROLES in which he is asked to provide service to the community)
    *The salary of this two faceted job used to be paid 50% by the City budget and 50% by the EDA budget.
    * Mr. Gunderson’s salary is now paid 100% by the EDA, that determined by council resolution.
    *Mr. Gunderson’s position was filled by the City Administrator, interviews, and Council approval.
    * The EDA had no say in the hiring, no participation in the interviews, no representation in the process of having an employee (???) whose salary is paid 100% out of their budget.
    * the hierarchal flow chart provided in the packet shows the position reporting directly to the City Administrator; the EDA is not on the chart.

    *** Let me make it perfectly clear that the “struggle” seems to not be personally about Mr. Gunderson, but about the nature of the EDA Board’s role in “determine the duties,qualifications, and compensation” (again, 469.097), and I would have to say is focussed NOT on qualifications or compensation but “duties” and the originating determination of such duties when performing as an employee of the EDA, rather than as an employee of the City.

    *What determines how the EDA works? supposedly their “Work Plan”.
    *Where does their Work Plan originate? from their retreat discussion.
    *Who actually writes the Work Plan? Good question; I guess that will be revealed when that plan is brought forward (by whom?) at a future meeting…

    ***There is dissension about what was actually resolved in this regard at their retreat, and so far I have seen no notes , transcript, record of what was decided there.
    *Tune in to further meetings to hopefully hear/see more documentation of that event.

    That’s enough bullet points for now, because that only deals with the ‘tip of the iceberg’.
    Example: Today Mr. Gunderson advised that the new city attorney suggested calling the EDA sub-committees “ad hoc work groups”, there then being no open meeting law conflict!
    However, the application of this principle to the EXEC committee was not mentioned, although clearly it would also be affected . And, in fairness to Mr. Gunderson, when I asked him about that after the meeting, he agreed that it was indeed subject to that law, but that he hadn’t the opportunity to discuss that today, when the other, NOW “adhoc”, committee structure was discussed in reference to the OML.

    IMO, the newspaper coverage of this issue has been woefully inadequate to the complexity of the “struggle”, and has made the journalistic error of only presenting the majority opinion, so that the general public can only see dissension, rather than the search for policy clarity.

    There’s way more, but it is late… Maybe some of the problem is best summed up by Councilman Pokorney’s statement today that he does not have the time nor the expertise (his words, NOT mine) , for the details or the discussion; he is there for the establishment of policy.
    In direct response , one of the ‘minority voters’ asked Mr. Pokorney, “How long has it been since you sat at this table and discussed/defined/ voted on a policy issue”?
    Mr. Pokorney looked down, hesitated, and said, “A long time”.

    February 26, 2010
  57. Patrick Enders said:

    Prayer People! I’m glad to see them demonstrate such egalitarianism.

    Kiffi, you wrote:

    ***There is dissension about what was actually resolved in this regard at their retreat, and so far I have seen no notes , transcript, record of what was decided there.

    Perhaps routine video recording, or at least audio recording, of all EDA meetings (and other committee meetings, as well) might be of help with that?

    February 26, 2010
  58. William Siemers said:

    So…I checked out the EDA meeting yesterday morning. Unbelievable! If the average citizen in Northfield knew that tax dollars were going to support this waste of time, they would be appalled, if not outraged. Not one second was devoted to substantive economic development issues… and according to a fellow I met as I left…nothing has been accomplished in the last six meetings.

    I am not an expert on the governance or even the exact mission of the committee. That being said it, here’s my take on it…The ‘process’ of how the EDA works with the paid staff is the issue. Two members seem to have one opinion and the other 5 have another opinion…and never the twain shall meet. I don’t care who’s opinion is more valid. The problem seems to be that the majority can not get the minority to support their consensus. And the minority seems to bring up their opposition to the ‘process’ whenever anything is discussed, since everything is part of the ‘process’. So the committee seems paralyzed.

    If, this was just one meeting it could be understandable. But 6 meetings!
    If that is truly the case, then I’d suggest that the minority should limit their comments about the process to a few minutes a meeting, thus letting the work of economic development go forward, or resign. Either they can work with the process that the majority supports or they can’t.

    February 26, 2010
  59. Patrick Enders said:

    I am very sorry to hear that. I hope that the Council will attend to the problem quickly, and get the EDA back to work.

    Although I understand that the term of one of the two dissenting members on the EDA will expire at the end of this year, we really can’t afford to wait that long (or longer, if both of them need to be removed) for the EDA to start functioning again.

    February 26, 2010
  60. kiffi summa said:

    Patrick; If there was any thorough written record of the EDA’s meetings, you would see that Victor Summa has been asking for, at a minimum, audio recordings of their meetings for months now.

    As long as the city staff and council agree to continually ‘dumb down’ meeting minutes by only recording voted on actions, and not allowing even audio recordings of these meetings, there will be no accurate records kept.

    February 26, 2010
  61. Patrick Enders said:

    I’m glad to hear that Victor has a good suggestion in this case. Perhaps the LWV could join Victor in advocating for the recording of all major committee, commission, and authority meetings?

    February 26, 2010
  62. kiffi summa said:

    Mr. Siemers: You have attended one meeting at the end, so far, of a long period of contention. That cannot give you an understanding or even an overview of the process (lack of it) as it has developed.
    But thank you for attending, and sorry you found the disarray so appalling; I would agree that the current situation is appalling.

    In 2009, the EDA retreat was very productive, established new ways of working with partners such as the Chamber, NDDC. One of the most important guidelines to come out of that session was that the EDD , mr. Gunderson, asked for more economic development “tools” for his “toolbox”.
    Since two levels of DT revolving loans existed, and also a small grant for entrepreneurs to take an extra step (The Clem Shearer Micro Grant), this was a good suggestion.
    To that end , an NDDC subcommittee worked on developing 3-4 smaller diverse loan programs to support local businesses in a variety of ways.
    These loan proposals were brought to the EDA subcommittee known as “3 P’s”, where they found approval to move to the next step: the full EDA board for a POLICY discussion.
    When these loans, mostly focussed on working capital in small manageable units , or with bank support, came to the full EDA Board , they were immediately ‘shot down’ by the staff and majority voting bloc of the board. They never even GOT to the point of a POLICY discussion. and were the direct outcome of the staff request and the retreat members’ desire!
    AND … now go back and see where you have, after 1 visit, laid the blame.
    There will be no money spent by the EDA, except for the “business park” (which their own 250K consultant has told them that they cannot hope to begin to absorb that number of Acres in even 50 years), and subsequently no POLICY discussions to move forward!

    I’m afraid you need more perspective to come to a complete understanding.
    Please continue to attend.
    You can read all the back packets, I suggest two years, at the Public Library

    February 26, 2010
  63. kiffi summa said:

    Patrick: Victor has been requesting the recording, at least by audio, of not only all the EDA meetings, but also the Charter Commission meetings.
    These are important discussions for the interested public to understand.
    Perhaps it is you, the citizen, who should come to the council and make such a request.
    Be prepared that you will not get an answer, but maybe I’m too cynical… maybe you will! Wouldn’t that be special? It would certainly be rare.

    February 26, 2010
  64. Patrick Enders said:

    As I have mentioned, it is not easy for me to attend evening meetings since the birth of my young daughter. You may recall that I did attend meetings now and again prior to that event. No doubt I will again when she is a bit older.

    As for getting an answer from a Councilperson, I have found that talking to them individually, outside of Council meetings, is a highly effective approach. It also seems to be an effective way to offer them my thoughts, when I feel the need.

    February 26, 2010
  65. kiffi summa said:

    Patrick: 1. nothing better could happen, IMO, that this EDA be disbanded and re-established with all new members, and hoping that there not be two well established voting blocs.
    2. nothing better could happen than members being “removed”, as you say, BECAUSE that process as defined in the MN Statutes requires a public hearing for those members to defend themselves, AND then all the mis-proprieties: illegalities, open meeting law violations,fiscal reporting non-compliances, could at least get a public airing.
    I would speculate that is why that process has not been initiated.

    February 26, 2010
  66. kiffi summa said:

    Patrick: then write a letter to the full council, and ask for it to be read into the record, which substitutes for an open mic appearance. …Then you have put your request in the public mix.

    February 26, 2010
  67. Patrick Enders said:


    nothing better could happen, IMO, that this EDA be disbanded…

    I’m glad that you continue to agree with Jon Denison on that point. I do, too. However, I don’t see the need to replace all members of the EDA. If they are capable of working together towards the common goal of fostering economic development, they should be retained.

    February 26, 2010
  68. kiffi summa said:

    And they should be retained, the members you refer to, even though they neither request nor honor that the fiscal procedures which are statutorily established be followed.. i.e. possibly treading toward fiscal malfeasance?
    Remember the oaths that both council and EDA members take…having a responsibility to the disbursements of public monies.

    Also, Patrick, please list any accomplishments of economic development activity that have been brought by the majority members… I”ll give you a while to research that one before you

    February 26, 2010
  69. john george said:

    Patrick- Just for fun, look up Proverns 22:10. I think there is a reason King Solomon was sought out for his wisdom.

    February 26, 2010
  70. john george said:

    Oops! That’s “Proverbs,” not “Proverns”! Sheesh!

    February 26, 2010
  71. Patrick Enders said:

    Reread my post. I would leave it to my elected representatives to decide who should be retained. There does seem to be ample evidence, from multiple sources, as to two members who are not able to work together with the rest of the EDA to help it fulfill its mission.

    February 26, 2010
  72. kiffi summa said:

    Patrick: I have read your post and do not need to be instructed to read it again.
    Since you have put this into instruction mode: Read my comment , 27.2.1, and have the common courtesy to reply to that, rather than digressing.

    February 26, 2010
  73. kiffi summa said:

    “Just for fun” , John, try to function w/o your concordance..
    Proverbs 22:10 says: “Cast out the scoffer, and contention will go out.
    Yea, strife and ignominy will cease”

    BUT… that will NOT cease the “ignominy” …which IS the disgrace and dishonor of those who will not honor their public responsibility , and only seek to dishonor those who repeatedly ask for accountability.

    February 26, 2010
  74. William Siemers said:

    Ms Summa:
    I don’t have to read 2 years of back packets to see the obvious…and your description of the ‘period of contention’ quite clearly exemplifies just that: The minority proposal was ‘shot down’ and there has been hell to pay since.

    February 26, 2010
  75. john george said:

    William- Hear! Hear! The question I have is why the council even puts up with this? I haven’t had time to research all the city documents, but I found this one proceedure concerning an appointed administrator-

    “Section 7.2. Removal of the Administrator.
    The administrator shall serve at the pleasure of the council, and may be removed by the council by written notice at any time. After one year of service, the administrator may demand written charges and a public hearing on the charges before final removal may take effect. Such demands must be made in writing and delivered to the city clerk. A demand for written charges must be made within five days of receipt of notice of the council’s decision to remove the administrator. A demand for a public hearing must be made within ten days after receipt of written charges. If the administrator does not request a public hearing, removal of the administrator shall be final upon the expiration of the ten day period. If the administrator requests a public hearing, the council shall hold the hearing within thirty days after receipt of the administrator’s request. The council shall notify the administrator of its decision in writing within five days after the hearing. Pending final removal of an administrator who has served for one year, the council may suspend the administrator by written notice but shall continue the administrator’s salary until the date of final removal.”

    It seems that if the council has authority in the case of this appointed official, they would have the same authority with members of appointed boards. I would appreciate any input on this from anyone qualified to delineate the council’s authority in this case as defined by the city charter. If they in fact do have this authority, I think it is time they exercised it.

    February 26, 2010
  76. Patrick Enders said:

    It is not my job to make your case for you.

    February 26, 2010
  77. kiffi summa said:

    Mr. Siemers: the reason you need to start back two years or so , is that it would provide to you a record of what are now called the “minority voters’ being derided for OBJECTING TO BEING ASKED TO APPROVE THE EXPENDITURES OF PUBLIC DOLLARS FOR PAYMENT OF CONSULTANT SERVICES, WHEN THEY WERE NOT PROVIDED WITH THE CONTRACTS THEY WERE BEING ASKED TO APPROVE.

    Certainly you would not approve of that, either?

    From that point in time, it has been a pattern of bloc voting.

    As to “the minority proposal” … it was not that: the loans proposed, and developed by the subcommittee, were the “tools” mr. Gunderson had asked for and the entire board had INITIALLY thought should be developed.
    You simply do not have the knowledge or information to evaluate this fairly, which is why I asked for you to inform yourself by acquiring the historic knowledge.
    If you don’t wish to acquaint yourself with the facts that have led up to the current situation, you are of course well within your rights to just offer opinions.

    February 26, 2010
  78. Phil Poyner said:

    Has anybody ever consider putting together a point paper explaining how the EDA came to be, what it’s really supposed to be doing, what it actually does, and where this latest tiff stems from? Frankly, most the time I have no idea what the heck this is all about, although my purely gut feeling is currently running along the lines of what William has stated so far.

    It seems to be that most problems can be summarized in a one page statement…or at the very least in a manner that’s clear enough for any adult to understand.

    February 26, 2010
  79. William Siemers said:

    Ms. Summa,

    You said…”You simply do not have the knowledge or information to evaluate this fairly,… If you don’t wish to acquaint yourself with the facts that have led up to the current situation, you are of course well within your rights to just offer opinions.”

    I daresay that any reasonably intelligent person whose first experience with the EDA was that meeting, would come to the same conclusion I did.
    One does not need two years of history and back packets to recognize a situation so disfunctional that it bordered on comedy. Can you imagine the reaction of a potential player in local economic development getting their first experience with ‘official’ Northfield at that meeting?

    Maybe it is your degree of involvement in the detail and minutiae of ‘the current situation’ that prevents you from seeing the spectacle going on right in front of your eyes.

    February 26, 2010
  80. kiffi summa said:

    Sorry, but they… the majority voters, are “outside the law’ and I have no qualms about saying that because it is the truth.
    And the “spectacle” is NOT even close to “comedy”…

    “They” simply have no achievements to point to, which is why the discussion about “holding up progress” is so ludicrous.

    February 26, 2010
  81. kiffi summa said:

    There is an enabling ordinance .
    There is a whole section of state statutes; numbers have been referred to in this thread.
    There is a record of EDA packets.

    I welcome your interest, Mr. Poyner, but “purely gut feelings” do not cut it unless you are inclined to live by Mr. George’s Proverbs 22:10.

    February 26, 2010
  82. kiffi summa said:

    Ah… Sunday morning… time for a rash of rants! At least three from good ole’ FandB… he of the dichotomous moniker.

    Here’s my Sunday AM ‘sermon’… both for those of you who have already attended church today, and those who have not: Go to see the movie: “The White Ribbon” and contemplate what happens in a small community when everyone is fearful of confronting the truth.

    February 28, 2010
  83. Griff Wigley said:

    Today’s Nfld News editorial: Time to end debate on EDA’s policy role

    Engler and Summa have had their day in court, so to speak, and their peers on the board have said, through their votes, that they do not agree. Now it’s time for the two to make a choice: Accept the status quo or decide they can’t and step down.  Continuing to raise this issue pushes back more important business to which the EDA should attend and could give businesses looking to move here a reason to move on to another town.

    March 3, 2010
  84. john george said:

    Griff- I think the NN’s use of the term “debate” to descride what has been going on in the EDA meetings is quite charitable.

    March 3, 2010
  85. kiffi summa said:

    And how , John, would you KNOW what has “been going on at the EDA meetings” since you have not been there, and since the NFNews has not presented both sides of the story?

    March 3, 2010
  86. john george said:

    Trusted observers.

    March 3, 2010
  87. Jane Moline said:

    Firstly, it is Prayer Ladies of both genders, not Prayer People.

    Secondly, can’t we all just get along?

    Thirdly, it is hard for me to believe that both V. Summa and Steve Engler are just crackpots–can’t anybody address their concerns? Or do we just tell them majority rules? Seems there could be some explanation of their concerns and why the majority believe them unimportant.

    March 3, 2010
  88. john george said:

    Prayer Ladies of both genders?

    Regarding the concerns of the minority/majority, how many months of how much explanation does it take? But then, that’s just my opinion, and since I’m not a participant, it probably has little relevance.

    March 3, 2010
  89. kiffi summa said:

    Yes, “We” just tell them majority rules , Jane…
    And “we” also just tell them that “We want the staff to direct the EDA”, Jane…
    And “we” also do not care to review documents that pay out taxpayers dollars…
    and “we” do not follow the statutes regarding the reporting, ‘treasuring’, or disbursal of dollars…
    and “we will not record the meetings, even by audio, although that “unhealthily paranoid” minority has been asking for that to happen, for months..

    and “I” say it will not be dealt with if everyone is afraid to ‘sit in the front pew’… and even the Prayer Ladies/People don’t do that!

    March 4, 2010
  90. Patrick Enders said:

    Perhaps Mr. Summa and Mr. Engler could better explain their concerns, in a manner such as Phil Poyner suggests above.

    If their concerns are valid, someone should understand them and agree with them – and those persons could join Kiffi in speaking up in support of Victor and Steve’s cause.

    March 4, 2010
  91. Jane Moline said:

    Patrick: my understanding is that the EDA is a statutory board required by the state–and it seems the majority think the EDA should be directed by city staff to rubber stamp the city staff decisions and the minortiy believe they should follow what they believe is the intent of the statute and oversee what the city is doing with EDA funds. Actually a big difference–the minority think they have a responsibility to the taxpayers and the taxpayer’s funds and the majority think they let the city staff decide what to do with taxpayer funds and have no requirement or responsibility to question city staff.

    Remember, city staff didn’t think $9600 for a hotel market study was a big deal.

    March 4, 2010
  92. Patrick Enders said:

    The EDA is not required by the state, it is an option that a city is allowed to choose, if it wants to.

    Subdivision 1.Establishment.

    A city may, by adopting an enabling resolution in compliance with the procedural requirements of section 469.093, establish an economic development authority…


    The full(?) body of MN law on EDA’s appears to be available here:

    However, it looks like the particular powers of any city’s EDA are determined largely by the city’s enabling resolution that established the EDA:

    469.092 LIMIT OF POWERS.
    Subdivision 1.Resolution.

    The enabling resolution may impose the following limits upon the actions of the authority:

    (1) that the authority must not exercise any specified powers contained in sections 469.001 to 469.047, 469.090 to 469.108, and 469.124 to 469.134 or that the authority must not exercise any powers without the prior approval of the city council;



    Note that cities have a lot of latitude in choosing the level of independence for its EDA. Indeed, an EDA can be allowed only to act with the prior approval of the city council.

    I tried to find the Nfld EDA enabling resolution online, but had no luck. It seems that that document would be the only one which could answer what exaclty the powers of this particular EDA are, if any, independent from the council itself. Furthermore, it would seem that the city council could revise the enabling resolution fairly easily, to clarify these issues, if it so chose:

    March 4, 2010
  93. Phil Poyner said:

    Patrick, I’ve also attempted to find that enabling resolution. I thought it might be buried among the city ordinances, but if it is they buried it extremely well!

    Also, for anyone else interested in reading the state statutes regarding a city EDA, the relevant sections appear to be 469.090 to 469.108.

    March 4, 2010
  94. Jane Moline said:

    You are right Patrick–I should have said “provided for statutorily by the state”–meaning that there is state statute to look to so why is there so much disagreement?

    March 5, 2010
  95. Patrick Enders said:

    I think that there is so much disagreement because state statute does not say what Mr. Summa and Mr. Engler think it says.

    The fact are that that 1) the council may, if it so chooses, forbid the EDA from exerting any power whatsoever without express prior approval from the council, and 2) the council can alter the EDA’s enabling resolution at any time it chooses, expanding or contracting the EDA’s powers essentially at will. This clearly shows that the EDA is not an independent body, but rather a subsidiary one to the Council.

    March 5, 2010
  96. kiffi summa said:

    Oh, OH, Jane… you have now become a victim of that old classical attack: shoot the messenger! The second stage of that tactic is: defame the messenger.

    and maybe the third is :declare you somehow KNOW what everyone else thinks, because you are somehow empowered to at least presume you CAN know what everyone else thinks, but you are at least certain enough of your own self worth to think you MAY at least express the knowledge of knowing what everyone else thinks.

    Do you see how utterly ridiculous this parsing of words is?

    Deal with the facts…

    March 5, 2010
  97. Patrick Enders said:

    Who in the world do you think is ‘shoot[ing] the messenger!’? Everything seemed pretty civil around here I like Jane, respect her, and do not believe that I have in any way attacked her – personally or otherwise. I don’t detect any attack on Jane by Phil or John, either.

    Perhaps you misread something?

    March 5, 2010
  98. kiffi summa said:

    Patrick: you have consistently, throughout this comment thread, laid blame at the desks of the minority members of the EDA, blaming them for the poor process. You have spoken of the need to remove them, ‘before the end of the year, as we must resolve this’.(paraphrased as I did not wish to go back for the exact quote).

    You have repeatedly and consistently “shot the messengers” for bringing the irregularities of the EDA process to the public attention…. or trying to, when they cannot get the NFNews to report the current situation except for the “disruption”.

    March 5, 2010
  99. Patrick Enders said:

    Nobody has been shot – least of all Jane. But in 36 you said to Jane:

    you have now become a victim of that old classical attack: shoot the messenger!

    Clearly, you were talking about an attack on Jane – not my earlier criticisms of the actions of Mr. Engler and Mr. Summa.

    Still, if you were somehow referring to my criticisms of Mr. Engler and Mr. Summa: those were not attacks on any messenger. Rather, they were criticisms of actors for the actions that they have taken.

    March 5, 2010
  100. kiffi summa said:

    Patrick… here we go again… in # 27 you state that the people who are causing the trouble need to be removed. It is clear that you consider those who are stating they wish to follow the law, to be those that are causing the problem.
    That in itself seems to be an anachronism to me, but I guess I am simply objecting to what you seem to think is your superior knowledge, gained from the NFNews.

    You reinforce your idea of who should be retained or removed in 27.2.2… once again evaluating those who are seeking statutory compliance with being the ones who are keeping the EDA from moving forward to “fulfill its mission”.

    You apparently do not care if that mission is fulfilled with statutory compliance or not. These are NOT “actors”; these are real people being truthful to a factual responsibility, not assumed positions or actions.

    If you wish to continue your analogy… the majority vote ‘actors’ continue to mouth the lines of scripts they have not read!

    March 5, 2010
  101. kiffi summa said:

    Patrick… Having gone to my kitchen and made, and eaten, three toasted marshmallows while thinking about this… I suggest that you and I make a pact.

    We seem to really get on each other’s “last nerve” (as a southern friend of mine once said was her mother’s last threat to the children) so… let’s say that we do not engage on the personal actions of others, or each other, but only on the substantive issue, and leave all elements of persons, or the personal, out of any discussion we may both be following.


    March 5, 2010
  102. Patrick Enders said:

    My criticism of the position of Mr. Engler and Mr. Summa’s position is twofold: 1) their assertion of EDA autonomy does not appear to be supported by the law (that is, the “statutory compliance” complaint does not seem to be valid) and 2) their tactics used in making their point has ground all work at the EDA to a halt. The EDA is, as I understand it, supposed to foster economic development and to some degree work with businesses that might consider expanding or relocating in Northfield. William Seimer’s description of the last EDA meeting shows that the actions of Mr. Engler and Mr. Summa are hurting the EDA’s capacity to fulfill that mission.

    As for any questions of unwise expenditures or poor decisions, those are issues that could’ve been addressed in other venues, and by other means. See the examples of David Ludescher and Ray Cox in the last year for positive examples of how to raise such issues.

    March 5, 2010
  103. Patrick Enders said:

    If you look back at my posts on this page, you will see that when I am addressing you, I am only addressing the substance of what you have written.

    March 5, 2010
  104. kiffi summa said:

    Ok Patrick… since you don’t ever care to stop criticizing persons, tell me what actions at the EDA , what agenda items, have not been able to be moved forward because of the process discussion that has been trying to take place there?

    Please list, instead of using rhetorical phrases.

    March 5, 2010
  105. Patrick Enders said:

    To your suggestion: I cannot promise that I will never comment on your public words or actions. You and Victor take a very active, and sometimes controversial, public role in Northfield’s political life, and I cannot promise that I will never say anything about your public activities.

    However, I can say that any disagreement will be expressed in concrete, substantive terms. Also, I take no interest in your life outside the public sphere, and I can say that I will not make any comment or criticism based on your private actions or personal lives outside the public sphere.

    March 5, 2010
  106. kiffi summa said:


    You have NOT addressed the substance of what I have written, but you HAVE addressed the substance of what others ( mostly Wm.Siemers,here; Jon Denison on the NFNews website, and David Henke, in the paper)) have written.

    You have never responded to a direct citation and linked comment; your response is to remove the ‘troublemakers’. You shy away when asked for a direct response, and respond with personal accusation.

    And as for Ray Cox, and David Ludescher’s opposing opinions, they have both expressed over and over their dissatisfaction with the process that is supposed to accept and answer a ‘minority’ opinion, before dismissing it.

    There was, and is, not a single action item on the EDA’s recent agendas… aside from their own work plan which is the subject of some of the process discussion… which has not been acted on.
    If I am mistaken in that statement, please elucidate, and please not with general boilerplate phrases like “fulfill their mission”.

    March 5, 2010
  107. Phil Poyner said:

    OK, everyone back to their corners…

    As an aside, if anyone could post a copy of the EDA enabling resolution and the by-laws online…well, that would be mighty appreciated.

    March 5, 2010
  108. Patrick Enders said:

    I agree: I’m also interested in seeing the enabling resolution.

    March 5, 2010
  109. Phil Poyner said:

    Yeah, I think you’re in the same boat I am. I’m still trying to get my head around some of the basics of the EDA, and I’m constantly running into knowledge gaps I need to fill. I never wanted to go “blind on paperwork” trying to figure out this issue, but I don’t see where I have a choice.

    March 5, 2010
  110. john george said:

    Phil and Patrick- If you find the enabling resolution please link to it. I have searched for it, also, but to no avail. If there is no enabling act, does this leave the EDA disabled or just unable?

    March 6, 2010
  111. Phil Poyner said:

    Tracy, thank you…that was exactly what I needed. Patrick, I was able to open your .pdf, and it contained the same material as Tracy’s.

    Now, my next questions are:
    1). How does the Economic Development Director fit into all this? Is there documentation outlining his role?
    2). What exactly is the EDA trying to do right now that is causing such disagreement from some of it’s members.

    March 6, 2010
  112. David DeLong said:

    I’m glad someone found a source for the EDA pdf.-enabling resolution. Please take the time to read it.

    Now if only someone could find a signed copy of the original enabling resolution passed as amended. It seems this document is missing and has been missing for awhile. That didn’t stop the city from modifying it on December 15 2008. That’s the meeting packet where this info came from.

    The EDA had modified it’s bylaws on 2/28/02 to allow persons to serve on the EDA if they reside, own property or work in Northfield, before this change you had to reside within the city limits. In the fall of 2008 it came to light that it was not just the bylaws that required a member to live inside the city limits it was also in the enabling resolution. How it came to light, I’m not sure. Perhaps it was someone who didn’t get the don’t ask, don’t tell memo. Don’t ask staff will tell you every thing they think you need to know, don’t tell staff you think they have been incorrect in some action or interpretation.

    We have the state mandated enabling resolution that’s been in effect for 28 years. But for the last six years the EDA has been operating outside of the authorized limits set by the City Council. What to do? Do we admit we’ve been in violation of the original resolution for 6 years and have all those decisions, bond sales, loans, and grants potentially questioned or perhaps voided, or do we have staff draft a resolution that changes the original resolution.

    The later was picked and the results are contained in the pdf file.

    But then you have to read between the lines.

    “Staff researched the minutes” This really means we only had the minutes because we can’t find the original document.

    “expressed a desire” This really means seven elected officials after notices in the paper and a public hearing made it a required condition for allowing the creation of the EDA.

    “allows the EDA board to create bylaws” This really means allows the EDA to create bylaws that don’t conflict with the requirements we’ve out lined but since they didn’t write down that last part we will just ignore what should have been understood.

    “Minnesota Statute Section 469 does not place a residency restriction on an EDA board” This really means don’t look at 469.092 subd. 8 which says “any other limitation or control established by the city council by the enabling resolution.” And if you do stumble across this refer to “expressed a desire” above.

    If you have time read the whole “Economic Development Authority Act” and judge for yourself what parts we comply with and the parts we are in violation of.

    March 6, 2010
  113. victor summa said:

    Thank you David. The key instruction for LG bloggers is, read and get informed …but I’d add, read the right thing.

    And, I’m sorry, but I must admit I’ve sort of enjoyed my LG reading as Mr Poyner and the good Doctor Enders rumbled around, looking for smoking guns. Sorry guys … There’s no smoke there to support your festering effort .. in fact there’s no enabling resolution there.

    IN FACT … there’s no enabling resolution!

    Evidently never signed… no real copy. just a lot of notes. And, I believe a careful read of the notes and the statute, will support my position. Of course, you have to know what the staff and the EDA have done instead of dealing with the rules, to truly undrstand.

    For 20 years there’s been no resolution on file … and staff after staff — EDA after EDA and Council after Council have never realized nor dealt with the problem. What the EDA … and its support staff have done is slip around ,bending twisting and slanting, whatever it was they used as guidelines to support their minimum development effort.

    Need a new loan program? Don’t examine the situation or spend time coming up with a solution, adopt it, have it codified by Council action … just do it! Why worry about process? Then, move on and do something else … all staff driven, and all slathered with a great heap of EDA apathy.

    Now comes this current major effort. 1000 acres of new land plus hundreds more of acres of the entire Highway 3 infill. How do you make things happen at that level?

    After all … we’re only volunteers. And, oh and by the way .. let’s do it in small groups so we can operate in the dark so to speak. And, if we can, pack the Authority with friendly voices … that’s even better.

    Walk in my shoes (or Steve Engler’s) then you’d realize how FUBAR this has all been. But more importantly, you’d realize how elusive real progress in Northfield’s’ economic development is. I certainly don’t have the answers, but I know they don’t lie in scoffing at the statute and conveniently changing the rules or wildly spending money in drips and drabs on ineffectual schemes. (Q Block Plan) I also know that just because some of the EDA want us to all play together like in a sand box … that this is not homeschooling, kindergarten or church ice cream socials.

    Have you read about SAGE development in Faribault? If you were on the EDA, you might have expected a heads up there … than again you might not. We didn’t know about SAGE, or Malt-o-meal. But these weren’t kept from us … we just didn’t know. Where’s the professionals, the experts? These were never never mentioned at the EDA meetings. Were they mentioned at the “smaller more private meetings? Don’t know. I wasn’t there. Wasn’t allowed to be there.

    Did the experts — our professionals even know? Read the director’s reports. NADA.

    I will admit economic development … it’s an up-hill sell and the grade is getting steeper. Maybe we need a commission ($$) system. Maybe we need a more creative EDA. Maybe we need new members. Mr Poyner? Doctor Enders? Interested? Or, maybe we need the Council leadership to show us the light.

    In any event, Gentlemen, you should be able to open the site F&B gave you … but if you still can’t, or if David Delong’s missive doesn’t get through to you, go to the Council archives… December 15 2008, Items 8a and 8b.

    Read to your heart’s content, then, after either being thoroughly misinformed by the conclusions you’ve drawn … or just thoroughly confused, come back and ask me for the explanation of what that’s all about … and how in fact this essential piece of EDA Housekeeping finally came to the council for action nineteen years later.

    How? I’ll GIVE YOU A HINT: Victor Summa’s persistence.

    Unfortunately the materials you’ll read are only the tip of the iceberg of confusion and ineptness — and yes, it goes even deeper. More or less basic disinterest in refining the process of effectively spending the community’s money … but perhaps more important, being virtually 100% ineffective in creating ANY measurable economic development.

    Look at the cost of the EDA and look at it accomplishments. Show me how I held up any important action. Read the packet not the Northfield News … and especially … don’t rely on the self reenforcement you get by back-slapping each other on the blogs.

    Through the years I’ve watched as new appointees came on to the EDA. Initially most were enthusiastic … some just performed a task, taken with their titles, felt privileged. Regardless, by harvest time most had settled for less … far less, and eventually, just move on. After all, nothing’s really going to happen anyway … and they might get a plaque of service for their wall. I wonder how many bother to hang it up.

    What’s particularly offensive to me about your pursuit Messers. Poyner and Enders is you guys haven’t a clue about what you’re looking for. You won’t find it in the Newspaper – NEVER … and unless you dig deep into the process and the related material and spend the time David Delong and Steve Engler and I have spent watching the ebb and flow of bureaucratic syndrome (BS) you’ll never know.

    Sorry boys, but for all your lofty intellect and curiosity, It appears to me it is precisely the old axiom about a bunch of blind men groping an elephant. I hate that kind of metaphor, but it fits …believe me, it fits. You guys can’t tell heads from tails.

    We’re currently spending $250 K in 2010 for a plan that very likely will be similar to Alaska’s bridge to nowhere. I voted for it for three reasons: 1) it would pass anyway, and might just want to move to rescind someday. 2) I believe HKGI are excellent consultants. 3) They have a thankless job. but what they do will be well done and you can hold that up to the Development Code fiasco. 4) with hindsight: HKGi’s early work on the Prawer Gill site is quite exciting. Far better than someone trying to mine the sand and gravel out of there some day, and I bet that 40 K willl lead to a better development agreement between Bridgewater and Northfield .. and someday, an exciting use of that acreage, that fits well into Northfield’s plan.

    Meanwhile, on the not so wise list of spending, watch for another Tiger Grant type deal. (Minnesotan speak?) We may be spending another 65K-80K with some cockamamie plan to STUDY and design infrastructure along North Avenue past the St Olaf part of the North West Territories. “Shovel ready” says the Mayor. Yeah right! Sounds like another Tiger Grant deal; But if memory serves me that was only 58K. Well ,you can’t blame the EDA for those deals. We wern’t even asked to weigh-in. So much for the volunters on the EDA … or, perhaps they were afraid someone on the EDA might ask the hard questions.

    But wait, there’s more! In the past two or three years, we’ve spent tens of thousands of dollars in rambling consultant fees … and staff salaries. WHAT have we got for all of that? Well, a new department: Economic Development and a new department head called Economic Development Director … and there’s every indication that the majority on the EDA will vote to spend another 200 K each year on feel-good development efforts for the NW territory … spend until we’re out of money, then sit on the side of the road and wait … wait for Godot!

    Meanwhile there’s no new EDA planning discussions.

    Perhaps the 250 K we’re paying HKGI will wake up someone

    So now LG Bloggers, read the statute and tell me me what it is that I’m clamoring for that’s holding up the process? How can you say I’m wrong? If you wanted to support me with empirical knowledge you couldn’t even do that. Why? Because you don’t know, and you’ll never know if you sit in your office glued to the computer scanning the internet.

    And I feel compelled to say, if you don’t like my tone here… you try to be responsible to dispensing a taxing authority’s dollars in a legal manner, in a way complies with the statutory requiurements, and be continually criticized for “disrupting” the (‘illegal’) process.

    Winding down: I’m amused at Mr Poyner’s last comment (question)

    He asks: ? 1) How does the Economic Development Director fit into all this? Is there documentation outlining his role??
    Good question. I ask the same thing, hoping the EDA will engage on this very important policy discussion … only I know some answer[s] and these are embedded in other questionable actions taken by the Council, led by the staff – look at Council packet April 6 2009, for the EDA’s big hire. but Jim Pokorney says: Victor you don’t trust the staff. Well duh!
    Next, Poyner, showing more frustration with the convoluted language in the materials now asks: 2). What exactly is the EDA trying to do right now that is causing such disagreement from some of it’s members.
    Well, two of us are trying to straighten out the mess – but the majority wants to adjourn on time … meet only once each month and change the name of the illegal Sub-Committee meetings to Ad hoc Committee meetings, thinking that maneuver will get them out from under the Open Meeting Law.
    Oh, incidentally, I’ve been “hammering” on that, and recording the meetings, for two years … but the N News never even picked up on the question. Maybe that’s because CP Pownell keeps calling the question!
    So, do you guys really care, or just like to rant?

    Google Victor Summa and the FBI. You might find something there.

    March 6, 2010
  114. john george said:

    Victor- Thanks for some clarification on all these issues. Pragmatic as I am, can we fix the whole mess and move on? I certainly don’t know what all that would entail, but it would seem that making the EDA official would be a good start. If we can’t fix some organization on the local level, then I see no hope for fixing ANYTHING on the national level. The other question that comes to mind is why this took 6 months of contention and a physical altercation to get some answers?

    March 7, 2010
  115. Tracy Davis said:

    Victor and David D.:

    Can we begin by agreeing on the premise that the City of Northfield established an Economic Development Authority in 1990 as allowed by MS 469.090-469.108?

    March 8, 2010
  116. Griff Wigley said:

    We’ve invited EDA VP Steve Engler to be on our radio show/podcast today.

    It’ll air today at 6 pm on KYMN 1080. I’ll have the podcast episode posted here on LG tomorrow.

    March 8, 2010
  117. William Siemers said:

    A couple comments on the latest posts and podcast.

    During the podcast there seemed to be a consensus that the enabling laws were passed, and the hullabaloo about that is, beyond a general dissatisfaction with city hall record keeping, not a particularly important issue.

    Mr. Summa and Mr. Currier make the point that the work of the EDA has not been impeded by the ongoing controversy. Or to put it another way, things are not totally screwed up…it just looks like it.

    March 9, 2010
  118. Phil Poyner said:

    Griff, a very interesting blogcast; lots of great information. I appreciate you posting this.

    March 9, 2010
  119. john george said:

    Griff- Thanks for posting that interview. I would posite that the great majority of the Northfield citizenry are much like me. They really have no understanding of the function of the EDA, and probably don’t really care. But, as word gets out that they are collecting and spending our money, there will probably be a greater ammount of pressure for transparency and accountability, as Mr. Engler is proposing. I think there is a cultural pattern that enters in here. We are a culture that trusts “experts” to carry out our business, and we really don’t want to be bothered with the details. One of the effects of the economic upheavals of the last year or so is to open our eyes to the fact that that attitude is probably not wise. I think that a shake-up now and then can be productive if it is done in a way that doesn’t alienate people.

    March 9, 2010
  120. Kiffi Summa said:

    EDA meeting this AM… It has become increasingly obvious that the two councilors, as well as the rest of the majority ‘voting block’ are determined to direct all the meaningful work at the EDA to the EXEC committee.
    In Section 6 of the by-laws,the phrase ” will meet only on an as-needed basis” would seem to mean that the Exec. committee meets not on a regular basis, but as a ‘problem solver’.

    That section continues to say” The Exec. committee will have no authority to bind or obligate the EDA”. That would obviously mean that all issues will come to the full EDA board for vote.

    OK… That’s exactly the problem… If the Exec. committee is going to PREVIEW all the important work of the EDA, and if they then bring to the full Board , and there is a 4-2 (Board is one member short at this point) majority voting bloc, then the Full EDA board is, for all practical purpose, being run by the Exec. committee. That is obviously NOT the intent.
    This is simply the result of numbers, and has been shown again to be the actuality of what is happening, and then reinforced by the two councilors’ statements in this morning’s meetings.

    Steve Engler brought a list of concerns to this meeting; some very serious requests for financial accountability among others. It was allowed for this to be tabled, and reviewed by the exec committee, and then come back to the Agenda, “some time in the future”.

    The Mayor and Councilor Zweifel were both at this morning’s meeting; I hope they can see the effect of what is the current situation.
    I sincerely hope they, if not the entire council, will read the financial requirements for EDA process in the MN statutes, and then ask the EDA Director to reply to each of these for statutory congruity, and settle this matter once and for all.

    *** There will be no resolution to the functioning of the EDA if they , the majority, continue to refuse to deal with their general structural problems, as refusing to do the ‘housekeeping’ allows those problems to surface during every agenda item which is affected by the problem.

    March 11, 2010
  121. Kiffi Summa said:

    I’m sorry … but there is a P.S. I must add…

    I simply cannot understand why the two councilors who are on the EDA do not care to deal with the disparities between the statutes’ financial structure for the EDA and the actual practice ongoing.
    They, the two councilors , have two sworn fiscal oaths, and IMO, they are not fulfilling either of them.

    If the two minority members are wrong in bringing these concerns of an incorrect fiscal structure and practice, then prove them wrong, not just by vote, but by analysis.
    I think the State Office of Policy Analysis should be brought into this debate… $200 well spent, IMO.

    March 11, 2010

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