Podcast: Northfield Mayor Mary Rossing

img-2065We’re having Northfield Mayor Mary Rossing on our show today, live at 6 pm on KYMN 1080 AM. (The photo is from our January, 2009 podcast.)

Do you have questions for her that you’d like us to consider asking?  (Note the word consider, please.) If so, attach a comment here or use our Contact Us form.

Update: 2/2, 7:25 am: Ross wasn’t able to attend. And the live show went for a full hour. Yikes!

Click play to listen. 60 minutes:

You can also download the MP3 or subscribe to the podcast feed, or subscribe directly with iTunes. Our radio show/podcast, Locally Grown, usually airs Mondays at 6:00 PM and Sundays at 10 AM on KYMN 1080 AM.

123 thoughts on “Podcast: Northfield Mayor Mary Rossing”

  1. Tracy,
    Perhaps you should update your “Guidelines” with a list of topics that are forbidden? I don’t see anything there that covers your deleted discussion, and it seems best if we all know what exactly the rules of this sandbox are up front.

    1. Patrick, this isn’t a forbidden topic. It’s just my judgment as a moderator that it’s not helpful to keep referring to the anonymous comments of others on other sites when our policy here is to have discussions with real people using their real names.

      If you or Kiffi or any other Locally Grown member want to author a sideblog post about the comment policies at the Northfield News, KYMN, Northfield.org or any other site in town, it’s fine with me. Otherwise, you’ll have to wait till Ross or Tracy or I blog about it.

      A variation of this theme for a different reason: my objection a while back to people who were injecting the abortion debate into multiple topics. Abortion isn’t off-limits here on LG either. Just wait for a blog post on it, or author a sideblog post on it.

      1. Griff,
        I’m a bit confused by your last post. Are you saying is that these topics are not forbidden – if someone has paid in order to be able to bring them up?

  2. Maddening.

    There’s a public meeting on the 4th St. reconstruction project today. Surprised? I was.

    It’s not on the City Calendar nor on the list of public notices; nor is it mentioned in the Friday Memo for the week of March 8-12, 2010.

    There’s a teeny mention of it on the project web page. The email list signup there? There’s a link but it has never worked. The alternative is onerous.

    Mayor Mary Rossing alerted people to it via private email. Private email?


  3. That’s strange, Griff, I send Jennifer Nash an email asking about this, and when I get a reply, I’ll let you know. Have you talked with any landowners in the project area to find out how they were notified?

  4. Jane, I’ve not talked to anyone else. But this is more than just a local landowner/local downtown neighborhood concern. All Northfield citizens should know about the meeting.

    And by the way, there’s no mention of the open house on:

    Northfield.org’s calendar:

    Northfield News calendar

    KYMN’s news of the day blog post:

  5. Thanks for calling attention to this, Griff. I didn’t know about the open house either.

    I subscribe to the City Project Feeds RSS, but the way it’s currently being used is pretty much worthless, because updates do not post to the feed. (The Fourth St. Improvements page was posted in October of last year.)

    At the very least, the City should add every public official and the regular media outlets to every email distribution list they create.

  6. All: The meeting was noticed in the very obvious box in the NFNews article on page 3, in Saturday’s edition.

    I do agree it should definitely have been on the City’s website Calendar, but somehow… even the staff doesn’t seem to think of using that!

    Usually notices are sent out to property owners 350 feet or less away; we did not receive a notice for 306 Division.

    And since Mary was the dissenting vote to Nix the big corner bump out planters, she may have sent a “private e-mail” to those she thought might be interested.

  7. Here’s the response I got from Brian Welch from the city staff. (Jennifer Nash forwarded my question to him.)

    There is a neighborhood meeting/open house for the 4th Street Improvement project tonight (3/15/2010) at 6PM in the Council Chambers of City Hall. All property owners within 350 ft. of the project corridor were notified of the meeting by mail as required by state law. The meeting date and time were also posted on the project website and was listed in the Northfield News on Saturday. The neighborhood meeting is for informational purposes regarding the project status, construction plans, recent council decisions, board and commission input, and to solicit feedback from those affected directly by the project. No Council decisions will be made at this meeting.

    If you are interested in future meetings related to the project you could sign up to the project email list. Instructions are posted on the project webste: http://www.ci.northfield.mn.us/assets/p/projects/FourthStreet_2010/index.html

    Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions.

  8. I’m not making the argument that the City is obligated to notify the Locally Grown, Northfield.org, and KYMN, all so-called private media that are not the “paper of record” like the Northfield News.

    But if one wants citizens to be aware of an important open house with many thousands of dollars of taxpayer dollars being spent, why not make the effort, especially since public communications is the #1 city/council goal for two years running?

    Why not put it on the City’s own online calendar and mention it in the Friday Memo which are the two most widely followed online communication vehicles?

    1. I think the root of all this is “online”. We all know that the city continues to falter in this arena.

  9. Brian Welch’s response is woefully inadequate. “All property owners within 350 ft. of the project corridor were notified of the meeting by mail as required by state law.”

    True enough, but this was more than a neighborhood meeting. The Streetscape Task Force and Heritage Preservation Commission have both weighed in on this issue because of the streetscape design issues re: trees, buildings, pedestrians, etc for the one-block segment between Division and Washington.

    They’re cutting down 11 downtown trees and are not going to replace them. Isn’t that an issue of public concern beyond those who own buildings on 4th St?

    Didn’t anyone learn anything from 5th St?  See the blog post: A dozen big trees on 5th Street are gone. Are you surprised?

    Jane, thanks so much for getting the response from Brian via Jennifer.  Note that he didn’t answer the questions as to why the meeting wasn’t publicized via the City calendar, project list, Friday Memo, etc.

    1. Griff,

      As you may recall, the same thing happened with the Woodley street project. They only notified to 350 feet, although many of us, just over that distance utilize that crosswalk at Woodley and Prairie.

      It takes a very aggressive, attentive citizen to keep up, and they must be constantly vigilant.

  10. Given the lack of broad communication on this issue, I think you have to chalk it up, at least initially, to avoidance over another controversy.

    It just makes no sense that the staff doesn’t improve their use of their own website.

    Since the Council has talked repeatedly about better communication, who is dropping the ball?
    Is Staff not following Council direction?
    Is Council not directing Staff?

  11. Kiffi and others, I suspect it is some of both. The notice requirements only define our legal duty to notify the property owners within 350 feet. This should be the floor, not the ceiling. Staff should not be faulted for doing what they were legally required to do. Beyond that, staff did not take the initiative (and when they do, they are often slapped down for it, so bear that in mind) to broaden the notice and publicity (which is really what we’re taking about). The Council shouldn’t be trying to set communications parameters for each project, but we should set policy for how staff should manage various types of projects and events.

    What criteria would you LoGro readers propose should guide that policy?
    .-= (Betsey Buckheit is a blogger. See a recent post titled Council goals) =-.

  12. Hey Betsey –

    Thanks for asking for our ideas. I’ll bounce back to that question in a minute but first…

    …I want to point out that Mayor Rossing made an effort to broaden stakeholder involvement by sending an e-mail to some of the NDDC’s leadership. True, such an approach might not be specified by state statute; true, such an approach might be characterized as random and unscientific; true, such an approach might be considered by some to be a short-term fix rather than a long-term solution…

    …however, perhaps LoGroNo commentators might take a break from their efforts to determine which incompetent staff person should be hung from the utility pole for not fully leveraging the City’s website and recognize that one of our community’s elected leaders made an effort to use perhaps the most primitive form of electronic social communication media in an effort to further spread the word among presumably interested parties.

    Now back to Betsey’s question.

    When I was earning my MBA at the College of St. Thomas in St. Paul (now St. Thomas University in Minneapolis), I took a class on business ethics. The class conducted an exercise focused on getting feedback on a theoretical project that was going to have a significant impact on the community.

    The professors (the class was “team taught”) strongly recommended that you work long and hard (take the time and make the effort) to essentially define stakeholders as broadly as possible, including any group that might be in any way affected by the project. This was back in mid-eighties, so I think expanding stakeholders beyond the top executives, major investors, and even the employees to include customers, suppliers, and even the people living in the surrounding community was probably pretty progressive at the time.

    However, it’s now 2010, a quarter of a century later, and I think it’s long overdue for our leaders to go beyond the approach of the bare minimum as required by law to one of trying to reach as many people as possible. I have trouble seeing a downside; using some more contemporary communication channels shouldn’t cost more money or involve more work, as long as you’re just posting an informative public notice and not launching an extensive p.r. campaign.

    The only risk that I can see is if there are so many public announcements about important decisions to be be made that people begin to tune them out. Then you’d be back to complaints of “nobody told me” as specific topics of interest were lost in a sunami of meeting notifications.

    So Betsey, I guess I’m suggesting that stakeholders in a particular decision be defined as broadly as possible and opportunities for participation in the decision-making process be publicized as widely as possible. Unless I’m missing some potential downsides, I see mostly potential upsides from such an approach.

  13. Betsey, it seems that there might be three things for the Council to consider for setting policy guidelines on project communications:

    * Use the City’s existing online tools (calendar, RSS feeds, Friday Memo, project page updates, etc)

    * Use the best of the new online tools (eg, departmental blogs, departmental Twitter accounts, City Facebook page, project email lists, etc)

    * Collaborate with area media (radio, TV, print, online)

    Does that help?

  14. In today’s Strib: For cities, friending Facebook is trickier than a click or two.

    Unnerved by Facebook’s freewheeling nature, cities that have held back from joining the rush to the website are asking questions that in many cases don’t yet have definitive answers.

    Do they need to keep copies of Facebook pages as public records? Is it censorship to remove an obscene comment? If City Council members join a discussion on a city’s Facebook page, does that mean the give and take has suddenly become a meeting subject to the requirements of the state’s open meeting law?


  15. Minnpost: Pawlenty to hold a Facebook town hall meeting Wednesday, make ‘major announcement’

    Gov. Tim Pawlenty will hold an electronic town hall meeting Wednesday night on his Facebook page.

    Today on the page, he’s promising a “major announcement” on his first-ever “Facebook Town Hall” meeting at 6:15 p.m.

    He also says he’ll “seek input from Facebook users on helping Republicans win the 2010 elections and stop runaway Washington spending.”

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