Anonymous comments on the Northfield News website

Point of View by Kiffi Summa.

[show_avatar]I have been for several years, and continue to be, seriously opposed to the Northfield News practice of allowing anonymous comments on their website.

You might ask,  “Why? How seriously does anyone take comments to which a person does not care to attach their name?”

My answer is this: Some people  take those anonymous comments seriously enough to bring some of that defamatory material, mis-representations of fact,  outright lies, etc.,   to this opinion based community discussion, thereby convoluting the discussion in a way which, I believe, is a  detriment to community relationships.

Griff gets angry with me if  I refer to the Northfield News’s anonymous commenters, and says they are not relevant simply because of their anonymity and being “off-site” , even if they relate to a current subject thread on Locally Grown.

I disagree, strenuously.

There is no journalistic purpose served by allowing anonymous comments; the ‘gossip’ factor drives hits to their website, which then encourages advertising sales.

A good portion of their website comments do not deal with being for or against an issue brought forward by an article in the print version of the newspaper; instead they are personal attacks  meant to harm, if not actually libel; they are often attached to an article to which there is no relevant content link.

Example: A few weeks ago  a rash of escalating offensive comments were attached to various articles, including one to that week’s City Administrator’s Memo. The one attached to the administrator’s memo was removed, and an admonition (citing lack of relevance to the city memo as reason for removal) was posted from Jaci Smith, the Northfield News Editor; however, all the other comments were allowed to remain in place.

Anonymous comments allowed on newspaper websites have been the subject of some spirited debate. What do you think is their impact in our community?


  1. Griff Wigley said:

    Kiffi, I don’t like the policy either as I think it encourages irresponsible and sometimes destructive behavior. This week, the Star Tribune newspaper removed all comments to their story about the Northfield teacher who was arrested, as the nastiness and racism in the comment thread evidently got out of control.

    The Pioneer Press likewise allows anonymous comments, whereas MinnPost does not. MPR doesn’t allow comments on their stories at all. One has to go to the national site to comment.

    Here in Northfield, most if not all of the blogs allow anonymous comments, including

    So while I don’t like the policy myself, I’m fine with having a range of choices: local, state, and national.

    And as I’ve told you several times, I think anytime you participate in a comment thread with anonymous commenters, you make the problem worse. The best antidote is to ignore them. We all hate to have our comments ignored… it’s just human nature.

    So do your blood pressure and the community a favor: don’t read anonymous comments and don’t respond to them.

    March 19, 2010
  2. john george said:

    Griff- I agree with your comment completely. That is why I only read and paricipate in this blog. I much prefer to support a viable, authentic opinion forum than wade into some quagmire. If the NN wants to allow anonymous comments, then that is their business. I really appreciate you keeping this blog transparent.

    March 19, 2010
  3. Kiffi Summa said:

    Well, Griff, I agree it is best not to read them at all, but many people do, and some do not seem to be able to remember if they have read something on the website or in the paper version of the News, where the story has the likelihood of being a bit more accurate.

    Then the information, some accurate, and some not accurate, is conflated in their mind.

    But Griff, you did not deal at all with the “intent to harm” at all in your comment.

    How can it possibly be good for the community to have false information, meant only to denigrate a person, constantly repeated there? and what do you think of the paper’s motives? and am I correct in my assumption of their tolerance for the purpose of driving up the number of hits to their site?

    March 20, 2010
  4. Rob Hardy said:

    Griff: has stopped allowing anonymous comments. You must now be a registered user to post a comment.
    .-= (Rob Hardy is a blogger. See a recent post titled Thomas Who?) =-.

    March 20, 2010
  5. Griff Wigley said:

    Thanks, Rob. I’ve stricken that reference. Was this policy change blogged on If so, I missed it.

    I did check the Big List of Recent Comments page and saw a few “Anonymous User (not verified)” comments in the listing so that’s why I assumed the policy was still in place.

    March 20, 2010
  6. Griff Wigley said:

    Kiffi, I did say that I thought anonymous comments policy “encourages irresponsible and sometimes destructive behavior” so yes, I think it’s bad for the community if people are making comments there with the “intent to harm.”

    As for the paper’s motives, sure, comments can increase the pageviews to a website and that’s important for any advertising-supported web site, including LG when we do ads.

    However, publisher Sam Gett made the case for others motives when he announced the change in their policy two years ago, To be or not to be, anonymous:

    Some Internet posters disguise their identity because they fear retribution. I’ve spoken to a several people during the past year who declined invitations to write letters to the editor on an issue, despite strong opinions, because they believed their livelihoods could be negatively impacted.

    I think his point is valid and I’ve used a similar rationale occasionally here on LG, most notably regarding the heroin issue so that we could hear from drug users, current and former, and their parents.

    March 20, 2010
  7. Rob Hardy said:

    We were getting literally hundreds of spam comments that, for some reason, the filters didn’t stop. I finally disabled anonymous commenting in frustration at having to delete so much spam. Then spammers actually started registering as users and posting hundreds of spam comments. So now, in fact, user registration is moderated; you have to be approved as a user before you can post anything. This is explained when you register as a new user, but we should definitely blog about it, too.
    .-= (Rob Hardy is a blogger. See a recent post titled Thomas Who?) =-.

    March 20, 2010
  8. Kiffi Summa said:

    Griff… I have much appreciated your careful acceptance of anonymous comments in the manner you used on the drug issues; however I do not ‘buy’ Mr.Gett’s explanation which is, IMO, contradicted by what the NFNews DOES allow.

    I would point out all the mis-representations of fact about Locally Grown, how it has been characterized repeatedly by a certain “troll” (sorry, but that is an accepted term, and I’m already tired of typing out the long”anonymous commenters” phrase ) as ” Locally Bought and Paid For” and some extremely negative( and non-factual) comments about your practices on this site.

    Other businesses in town, and certain non-profits, have had non-factual remarks made about them, and they just sit there, without further comment, usually.
    If a person does take issue with the negative comment , then a response generally turns PERSONALLY negative, accusatory, or just downright defamatory.
    So the ‘lie’ persists…

    March 20, 2010
  9. Tracy Davis said:

    Kiffi, I’ll just add some anecdotal info. I occasionally look at the Northfield News website to check headlines or look for something. I almost NEVER read the comments; anonymous comments simply aren’t credible.

    In the internet age, fewer people than you think give any credence to anonymous comments; especially when they’re ad hominem attacks.

    March 21, 2010
  10. Phil Poyner said:

    I believe that a lot of reactions to anonymous comments are similar to Tracy’s. Personally, I read them for their amusement value more than anything else, and seldom do I find enough value in them to make me glad I made the effort. But as a history buff I feel I must defend the anonymous entries in the local paper, including those in the format that the comment sections of today’s online technologies provide us. America has a long history of anonymous articles and pamphlets, stetching well back into the pre-revolutionary period.

    As early as 1735, the Zenger trial centered around anonymous political pamphlets. The case involved a printer, John Peter Zenger, who refused to reveal the anonymous authors of published attacks on the Crown governor of New York. When the governor and his council could not discover the identity of the authors, they prosecuted Zenger himself for seditious libel. The anger this case provoked showed the extent to which anonymity and the freedom of the press were intertwined in the early American mind.

    Justice Thomas (not my favorite Supreme, generally), in his concurrence opinion of the McINTYRE v. OHIO ELECTIONS COMMISSION case, gave a very interesting summary of the history of anonymity and the press in the days of the founding fathers:

    I hope nobody sees my comments as being supportive of many of the things said in anonymous comments; more often than not that isn’t the way I feel about them . But I still like that there is a forum in which they can be made.

    March 21, 2010
  11. Kiffi Summa said:

    Tracy, my good friend… I agree that anonymous remarks are NOT credible.
    But that has not stopped people from bringing some of the non-credible remarks here, or to other community gatherings as if they are credible, and a lot of time is spent trying to explain the facts to people who just know they have read something “in the paper” and have forgotten whether it was in the paper or e-version.

    You and Griff have both been very concerned about the quality of the City’s website; I am very concerned about the quality o journalism we have in this town … in all forms… I think we deserve better, don’t you?

    March 21, 2010
  12. Kiffi Summa said:

    Mr. Poyner: I’m sorry, but to confuse the issue with the history of the press and anonymity in the 1700’s is just not relevant to the broad exposure that any comment on the internet gets, but its existence in perpetuity.

    Certainly you can see the difference between news and malicious gossip?
    Why should everyone not be willing to stand by their principles? We are not talking about ‘whistleblowers’ here, who fear for their lives if they expose wrongdoing; we are talking about the intent to harm others by defamation, and the only reason this type of comment is anonymous is that the person making it does not have the courage to attach their name to that comment.

    Protecting a news source’s anonymity is appropriate to the dissemination of fact; encouraging a supporting the spreading of misinformation is not … by any stretch of the imagination… a journalistic ethic.

    March 21, 2010
  13. john george said:

    It seems that this “…intent to harm others by defamation…” can only be controled by someone weilding a master delete button on a blog. Griff has done a pretty good job of that on LG, although some offending posts were left long enough for some people to have read them, I’m sure. The only way to have complete control of this is to moderate EVERY submission. I’m sure Griff doesn’t have that kind of time available to do such a feat, and besides, it really smacks of censorship. Freedom of speech presupposes a uniform understanding of decency and decorum. This, unfortunately, is lacking across contemporary society as a whole.

    March 21, 2010
  14. Kiffi Summa said:

    John: you have often cited various issues which you believe to be current societal failings.

    Since Griff does not allow anonymous comments except in VERY SENSITIVE situations, this discussion is not about LG; it is about the anonymous comments on the newspaper’s website, and their possible influence on the political comity of Northfield.

    So, my question to you is this: Within your evaluation of “contemporary society”, do you think that anonymous comments on a newspaper website hold any value to the community, and if yes, or no… please explain.

    P.S. obviously I am NOT talking about revolutionaries in the 1700s, or political or corporate ‘whistleblowers’ today.

    March 22, 2010
  15. john george said:

    Kiffi- I regard these anonymous comments as just what they are- they are opinions. I suspect, just from the opinions you express, that you and I simply hold a different esteem for media news sources. I place a pretty low value on much of the “news” published both in print and electronically. You have a greater set of expectations on it, and that is admirable. Ever since I took a propaganda analysis course in college, it has ruined me to fully trust or believe news reports. You put a value on reporting “facts.” In any media, the “facts” reported are the writer’s/reporter’s analysis of what he is seeing. They really aren’t “facts.” What most of us look for is a news source that evaluates events along the lines that we evaluate them. We tend to accept those observations and discount observations that are different. I really just see this as examples of the differences between people, and I don’t put any moral evaluations on them.

    March 22, 2010
  16. Griff Wigley said:

    MinnPost’s David Brauer: Star Tribune shuts down commenters ripping Target, CEO Steinhafel


    Still, after news broke Thursday morning that the Emily Program had bailed on the plan, commenters were livid. They weren’t just angry that Steinhafel’s apparent NIMBY-ism nixed a good cause, but that the Strib deleted comments on Márquez Estrada’s original March 8 story.

    The Strib’s response? They took down the newest comments, too, and erased those on a March 9 piece, where feedback had been untouched until today’s eruption.

    March 22, 2010
  17. Yes, comments have to be “owned” by authors with names attached. I pretty much allow anything on my Legalectric site’s comments, but I’ve got the IP address and with one exception, a pretty good idea where it came from. On NoCapX, because it’s issue oriented, I’m stricter, requiring relevance and insight (not incite) and delete a lot of them because people get confused with requests for comments on dockets and to judges and legislators and write in comments to them on the site?!? And with those, I redirect them to the proper recipient. Comments on a newspaper article are different, and a newspaper shouldn’t be adding credibility to anon comments by publishing. That’s something that utterly irritates me about the STrib… sigh… oh well, the STrib is one world I would not want to rule.
    .-= (Carol Overland is a blogger. See a recent post titled NRG’s Corneli in the news!) =-.

    March 23, 2010
  18. kiffi summa said:

    Patrick: Could you be specific on why your referral back to Patty Gallivan’s comment on the Teacher Incident thread is insightful… she brings up several points…

    March 24, 2010
  19. norman butler said:

    I agree 100% with Kiffi and say that anonymous blogging is cowardly and almost always malicious and thus reflects the quality of the new media that encourages it. And the fact that the moderator, and only the moderator, may know the identity of the blogger does not change this.

    This exchange took place recently on the NNews website:

    By: fairandbalanced on 3/2/10
    September 15, 2009 City council meeting.

    From NLWV Observer Jane McWilliams comments: “Norman Butler said he really doesn’t know what is going on, but that Summa is a principled person, and “to think that he might be arrested is beyond my understanding.” He asked that the council do something about it.

    Mr Butler said this at the open mic regarding Mr Summa’s issues with taking documents from city hall. How nice of him! Weeks later, Summa was in a EDA meeting discussion regarding a 20K loan for Butler’s Steak and Ale.

    When others suggested Mr Butler should give some sort of personal guarantee, Mr Summa apparently objected (go read the minutes) saying the loan should be completely unsecured.

    First of all, I’m shocked that we ever gave out unsecured loans. If someone isn’t confident enough in their business plan to give some type of guarantee, why would we be confident enough to loan them our tax money?

    Mr Butler is a business man, would he give out a loan without some personal guarantee? Doubt it. Funny that someone who is so consistently critical of and at odds with our city government suddenly forgets all that and has his hand out when there’s money to be had.

    So some on the EDA thought it was good to get some kind of guarantee for this loan. Good for them, finally! Better late than never. By the way, what’s the current practice?

    So why was Mr Summa so adamant about getting Mr Butler an UNSECURED, UNGUARANTEED loan? Why is it so important to give Butler a loan with no assurance of payback? What a great deal, you get 20K, and if the business doesn’t work, you don’t even have to pay back the money.

    Sweeeet! Quid pro quo?

    By: EditorJaci on 3/7/10
    NB, your comment has been removed. Please refrain from attacking other posters.

    By: NB on 3/7/10 [Delete]
    And what praytell do you call the above slander by fair&balanced 3/2/10?

    By: NB on 3/7/10 [Delete]
    How about fair&balanced is Council Person Jon Denison. OK?

    By: EditorJaci on 3/7/10
    NB, fairandbalanced’s comment discusses public comments made at a public meeting as well as the motives of a public official. That’s fair game. However, your comment personally attacked a poster, which is not allowed under our standards.

    Standards? What standards?

    March 24, 2010
  20. Patrick Enders said:

    Sometimes, people are hesitant to post anything online under their own name, for fear of being attacked.

    Mercifully, Patty says she is “ready to stand up to my slam.” Others… not so much.

    As she said,

    “What it is is very mean, it’s very vindictive, and seems to have very deep roots on some people’s own agendas.

    Have you ever wondered why you don’t get more comments here from Northfield citizens? This is a citizen’s arena, isn’t it? Most people I talk to wouldn’t leave a comment here, though many do read these posts.

    I’ve never posted here before, though I am ready to stand up to my slam.”

    March 24, 2010
  21. Patrick Enders said:

    Why do you think that fairandbalanced is Jon Denison? I’ve communicated a fair bit with both of them (Jon in the real world, and fnb on the NfldNews comments section), and I do not believe that they are one and the same.

    March 24, 2010
  22. Patrick Enders said:

    I posted on the NfldNews under a pseudonym once.

    Normally, I am quite comfortable posting my thoughts under my own full name. However, in this case someone had posted a disturbingly racist (and quite paranoid-sounding) comment. I felt that the post demanded a response, but – quite frankly, given the paranoid thoughts reflected in the comment – I feared just a tiny bit for my own safety if I responded to it. So I posted my disagreement with the original post anonymously.

    I have no regrets about doing so.

    March 24, 2010
  23. Phil Poyner said:

    You know, that does bring up one strange upside to the anonymous comment. We tend to surround ourselves with like-minded people, we tend to read and watch information sources that jive with our world-view, and it’s possible to come to believe that things like racism and sexism don’t exist anymore. This is particularly true if you are, like me, a white anglo-saxon protestant male. Even when we do acknowledge that things like racism still exist, they can become nebulous, abstract sorts of concepts as we never experience them personally. The type of comment that Patrick describes is incontrovertable proof that those things still exist…not in some big city miles away but in your backyard. Awareness that the problem still exists motivates people to continue the fight to try and end it. It keeps us from just declaring victory. In a strange way bigots running their mouths works against them.

    Of course, I’m not addressing personal slander of the type Mr Butler is refering to. It’s just a random thought on my part.

    March 24, 2010
  24. john george said:

    Phil- You touched on the same characteristic I addressed in 6.1. I don’t want to get into a whole discussion on racism here, but I think your and Pat’s comments belie a trend in we humans. For centuries, we have tended to gather around the “tribe”, if I may, and concentrate on what makes our “tribe” different than “other tribes.” Even though we have equal rights laws, they do not, in and of themselves, change attitudes. I see it as the same with speed limit signs. They declare what the law states, but unless people obey them, they will drive whatever speed they deem appropriate at the time. I would suggest that the fear of enforcement, and the associated consequences, is what brings the law into effect in their lives. If there are no consequences, then there will probably be no conformation. I see the same with anonymous comments. If there is no one to declare and enforce a standard, then peoples’ true attitudes will some out. We mustn’t walk away from the looking glass and forget what we have actually seen in its image.

    March 24, 2010
  25. kiffi summa said:

    But John, if I take your point correctly in the last two sentences of your comment (11.2) what image have we actually seen in the “looking glass” of an anonymous comment?

    A true image, or a false one?

    Example: in Wednesday’s NFNews there was an article about the Arts and culture Commission, and some of its ideas to be considered for the future. Attached to that article, on the website version, is a comment by “fairandbalanced” which ranges all over the place from personal opinion to outright lie.

    What should the general public take from this? It being incorrect in part, is not only NO information, it is Lying ‘information’. As a matter of fact I have been told by the Manager of the Riverwalk Arts Quarter project, that the newspaper has been informed , in the past when brought up by “fandb”, of the misrepresentation of fact, and yet they let the information stand there, not just this once, but several times now.

    So… having read the same non-truth repeatedly, might a person think it is true, since the newspaper does not remove it?

    What is the newspaper’s responsibility to monitor an untrue comment, given their stated guidelines?

    March 25, 2010
  26. Phil Poyner said:

    I wonder if comments of the sort Ms Summa is referring to might actually meet the legal definition of defamation (libel or slander) in MN court? I believe defamation is defined as:
    (1) a defamatory statement;
    (2) published to third parties; and
    (3) which the speaker or publisher knew or should have known was false.
    I know that there have been cases of a similar nature in other states that have resulted in anonymous bloggers being publically revealed. This website has some examples…
    Further, I would wonder what sort of liability would an newspaper incur if there were a case where a defamatory statement was so obvious that an editor could be reasonably expected to recognize it as such?

    OK, I’m starting to ramble again…

    March 25, 2010
  27. Patrick Enders said:

    Perhaps you, or someone else who is better informed than fairandbalanced, might post something on the NFLD News comment section correcting fnb’s error?

    If as you say, some of it is true, and some of it is not, it would be helpful to clarify that distinction. Doing so might not only better inform the public, it might even undercut fnb’s credibility for the next claim that he/she/it makes.

    There was a vaguely interesting exchange this winter over a series of weeks in the “Letters” section between dapa2 (an easily identifiable ‘anonymous’ poster) and other climate change deniers, versus people like Norm Vig and some anonymous posters who are more accepting of the scientific evidence.

    I actually found the various posts (and links) from the deniers – and the anonymous and non-anonymous posters who exposed the deniers’ extremely flimsy evidence – to be quite educational. Both about what climate change deniers think, and about the evidence supporting ongoing man-made climate change. Also, those few who were reading probably ended up knowing that much more about the thought processes of dapa2 and other deniers.

    March 25, 2010
  28. john george said:

    Kiffi- A looking glass only reflects the image of what/whom is in front of it. There is no “true or false” image. My point is that we need to regognize OUR OWN weaknesses/shortcomings when we read these things. It is more an observastion about people per se than the anonymous comments format. I just don’t favor anonymity in these forums, with the exception of what Patrick intimated, so I don’t participate where I cannot directly discuss an issue with someone. In fact, I have not accessed the NN site for so long that I can’t remember my password.

    March 25, 2010
  29. john george said:

    Phil- Regarding legal libel, I found this definition quite interesting:

    Ad hominem abusive
    Ad hominem abusive usually involves insulting or belittling one’s opponent, but can also involve pointing out factual but ostensible character flaws or actions which are irrelevant to the opponent’s argument. This tactic is logically fallacious because insults and even true negative facts about the opponent’s personal character have nothing to do with the logical merits of the opponent’s arguments or assertions.


    “You can’t believe Jack when he says God exists. He doesn’t even have a job.”
    “Candidate Jane’s proposal about zoning is ridiculous. She was caught cheating on her taxes in 2003.”

    [edit] Slander and libel
    The common law origins of defamation lie in the torts of slander (harmful statement in a transitory form, especially speech) and libel[5][6] (harmful statement in a fixed medium, especially writing but also a picture, sign, or electronic broadcast), each of which gives a common law right of action.

    March 25, 2010
  30. kiffi summa said:

    Never again, Patrick, will I write on the NFNews website. Using my real name, I tried that about 18 months ago, and correcting the record by stating the actual, documentable facts brought on such an onslaught of personal, defamatory, and libelous abuse that I will NEVER do that again.

    The newspaper is selective, IMO, in their editing and removal of comments, and why their agenda is what it SEEMS to be, Heaven only knows.

    March 25, 2010
  31. kiffi summa said:

    In reply to 11.2.2,Mr. Poyner… IMO, YES. comments there are defamatory, and rise to the level of libel when printed, as that IS the distinction between slander and libel.

    When the newspaper receives complaints from the general public about the serious responsibility of allowing some comments to stay in place, they should have a responsibility to ferret out the truth (Isn’t that what true news organizations do, i.e., present the facts.?) and then edit the comments or better yet, just do not allow anonymous comments at all.

    I continue to believe they are not a productive resource for the community.

    March 25, 2010
  32. Patrick Enders said:

    “Ad hominem abusive”… interesting. That does sorta remind me of some comments that I have seen posted now and again, in places.

    What is your source for that?

    March 25, 2010
  33. john george said:

    Patrick- Not that I fully trust Wikipedia, but here is the link-

    Just scroll down to the “ad homininem abusive” entry. I originally looked it up some time back in response to a comment posted here. The comment was moderated, so all the linked replies went with it.

    March 25, 2010
  34. john george said:

    Phil, and anyone else- There was a movie made many years ago, starring Paul Newman and Sally Fields, called “Absence of Malice.” I thought it was a pretty good carricature of investigative reporting left unbridled. I still enjoy getting it out and watching it, if I can find it somewhere to rent. It provides a pretty good commentary on the reporting of “facts”, IMO.

    March 25, 2010
  35. Jane Moline said:

    Agreed, John. Great movie but I would not call it a caricature–it was an example, even if fictionalized, that makes you think about the real ethical issues involved.

    March 25, 2010
  36. john george said:

    Jane- Yes, “example” is a better word. Sometimes I can’t quite get ahold of the right term when I am composing on the fly. Glad you enjoy the movie, also.

    March 25, 2010
  37. kiffi summa said:

    Norman: It is interesting to me that you posted a very specific incident in your comment # 10, and no one specifically replied to it… except for Patrick on the possible identity issue you raised.

    I have noticed that when a comment that is made contains a serious issue that is within Northfield, and/or its gov’t. process, there is little response… or it tends to focus on personalities substituting for the central issue.

    Everyone can be serious about National politics, or inconsequential issues, but when there is a comment that cuts close to the bone in the Northfield Arena, there’s a big “oh-oh!” out there… and it sort of stops the discussion dead… or at least until someone tosses in another opinion. In this case, it restarted when Patrick told why he once commented anonymously.

    So, it leads me to wonder about the whole nature of an enterprise such as this… what REAL community discussion does it foster? is it just another extension of the ‘koffee klatsch’ , or can it really provide some useful productive discussion for the community? Is it predominantly ‘gossip’ or an on-line town( small portion of, admittedly) meeting?

    Then, as Patty Gallivan asked on the ‘teacher incident’ thread, does it help, or hinder? or does that question matter? What’s the impact on all the people who read it, but would never write here…

    March 27, 2010
  38. John S. Thomas said:

    I am going to try to post something here, purely for information, and try to remain completely neutral in doing so.

    The Northfield news has a quarterly reader advisory board where they discuss coverage and service issues. Sam and Jacki meet with 6 to 8 individuals to get the citizens view of their operations. I know that several months ago, they were looking for folks to participate. Perhaps asking to participate by calling Sam and Jacki are in order, or by requesting a private meeting with them.

    Again, just for information… sometimes to effect change, one has to go to the person in charge of the organization, and discuss it with them again.

    March 27, 2010
  39. John S. Thomas said:

    Ok, now to post my opinion.

    Honesty, I see more noise than I do true signal with the anonymous posts on the NN site. I often think they do more harm than good. I also wonder if they are allowed, as the posts and rhetoric increase the hit count to the site.

    When I initially signed up several years ago, there were no standards, and it asked me for a simple user name. I am fairly confident that nearly anyone can figure out what my ID is, and I post appropriately.

    I believe that there are only few instances where an anonymous postings should be allowed. Slanderous and libelous statements should be removed, using a strict policy. I personally like to feel that a true gentleman is strong enough to stand up to his remarks made in public.

    I will tell you that I attempted to change my login to my real name, and was rebuffed both by the site:

    That email address is already registered on this site. Please choose another one or click here to retrieve your login information.

    I did contact the NNews about it, and was told that it could not be changed. Yes, I could sign up with a different e-mail address, but why would I?

    Honestly, I would like to see the news just turn off comments and be done with it. If someone has NEWS to post, contact the editor or the reporter.

    March 27, 2010
  40. kiffi summa said:

    Thank you, John.. for both information and opinion.. didn’t mean to scare you into ‘submission’… 🙂

    In reply to #17, the NFnews has been ‘complained to’ many times,and by various persons, both on-line, by telephone, and in private meetings. Their position is adamant in general principle; and IMO, selective in specific cases, in what offensive comments they choose to allow, (or after complaints) allow to remain.

    March 27, 2010
  41. William Siemers said:

    I’ll suggest that posting anonymously might allow a person with unpopular or radical ideas to present opinion without fear of retribution in the community. Of course the same provision would allow someone to post without fear of taking responsibility for their opinion. But that seems to me to be the price to be paid.

    March 28, 2010
  42. Patrick Enders said:

    Perhaps if Norman had written more regarding the “incident” than “Standards? What standards?” (I think that last line was supposed to be a new comment, and not a quote from the incident), then people might’ve had more to respond to. As it is, it is simply a quote and a statement that he does not approve of what transpired in the quote.

    March 28, 2010
  43. Kathie Galotti said:


    I think you are exactly right. Northfield is a very difficult place to voice an unpopular opinion. There’s a lot of blowback and attempts to silence and squelch anyone who posts a criticism that upsets the status quo. We aren’t very good, as a community, of tolerating different points of view–we much prefer homogenization of opinion.

    March 28, 2010
  44. john george said:

    William & Kathie- You are correct, I believe, in your estimation of expressing a counter opinion here. I think this is typical of a “small town” character. Also, I think it is characteristic of the whole “tribe” concept that allows racism to continue. I’m not afraid to express my opinion on a subject, and I try to do so as diplomatically as I can, but I assume that I am in the minority when I express something. If someone else agrees with me, I take it with surprise. It is a sad commentary when everyone in a town feels they have to express their true opinions anonymously for fear of retribution. I remember someone a few years ago who had garbage dumped in their yard because of an opinion they expressed. There have been others who experienced stalking for their positions. It seems that with the level of higher education in our citizens that we would not see such things, but that evidently isn’t true.

    March 28, 2010
  45. Phil Poyner said:

    Although I’ve only been here a couple of years now, William’s, Kathie’s, and John’s comments certainly mirror the general sense I’ve gotten about Northfield as well. And I thought I was just a little paranoid!

    March 28, 2010
  46. kiffi summa said:

    OK… in response to the three or so prior comments: You advocate just letting people say anything they want, true or false, even if their intention is to damage another person … when they repeatedly and continually make the same false statements…in many cases with the knowledge that they are false?

    What “price (is) to be paid” by the anonymous commenter, William… or do you mean “the price to be paid” by the community,whose comity is disrupted?

    Then if the Northfield ‘culture’ makes it so difficult to deal with ‘unpleasant’ issues, we should just capitulate? and hope to get a “bit of herring for Christmas dinner” if we are all good children?

    If that is the preferred model, then why, Kathie, would you continue to try to straighten out things you consider to have gone awry in the schools’ process? I think you have brought some important issues to the foreground of discussion. Do you think it would have been equally successful if done anonymously?

    March 28, 2010
  47. Kathie Galotti said:


    No, I don’t think it is right to have anonymous comments that make the kind of attacks that I’ve seen made on the Northfield News web site. But/and I don’t think it’s right that unpopular opinions get squelched. All I am saying is, I understand WHY people in Northfield might choose to post anonymously. There’s a price to be paid for attaching your name to unpopular posts on LoGroNo. People say crummy things about you. You get a reputation as a curmudgeon. Your child’s elementary school principal lectures you on how you are not welcome on their site council because you are not a nice person and you are not trusted. And, although for me most of the time these sort of roll off my back, there are plenty of other folks for whom these ‘sanctions’ are perceived as awful. There are a bunch of different folks who (privately or secretly) tell me how ‘brave’ they think I am to post criticisms—and others who warn me that my kids will pay a price.

    I still believe in free (responsible) speech. I put my criticisms out there, and I sign my name to them. But, yeah, there have been instances where I think my kids or I have paid a price, or are paying a price. I think it stinks, but I think there HAVE to be avenues where things are expressed. Complacency and arrogance are, in my opinion, Northfield’s two biggest problems.

    So, should the NNews block all anonymous comments? No, unfortunately, I don’t think so. I wish everyone would be as brave and as forthright as you (and Jane, John, Rob, Griff, and others) but reality in this town doesn’t seem to work that way. In the meanwhile, I think we all need to put pressure on the News to moderate out the racist, vicious, personal, and irrelevant attacks. Doing so is a judgment call, however, so it will never be perfect.

    March 28, 2010
  48. john george said:

    Kathie- I second your observation-
    ” Complacency and arrogance are, in my opinion, Northfield’s two biggest problems.”
    with contentiousness following a close third, although that may just be an expression of arrogance.

    March 28, 2010
  49. William Siemers said:

    Kiffi…By the ‘price to be paid’, I meant accepting the negative consequences of promoting freedom of expression. And yes, as you know, that includes disrupting the ‘comity of the community’.

    March 29, 2010
  50. Phil Poyner said:

    I would like to see the Northfield News comments policy stay as it is, but with an additional restriction on libelous comments (as defined by MN law). This is to protect not only the victims of the comments, but possibly the newspaper as well. And I do think recent comments about Mr Summa, Mr Engler, and Mr Butler in the NNews comments section rise to the level of libel, in case anyone wonders what I would classify as libel, but obviously I’m not a lawyer. I believe everyone has the right to face their accuser, so if someone wants to accuse someone of unlawful behavior they should do so outside of an anonymous forum.

    March 29, 2010
  51. john george said:

    In thinking more about this thread, I’m not sure of the goal to be accomplished here. Is it just to foment discourse on a policy by a private business to allow comments on its web site? If that is the case, then it will probably be effective. I would venture to say that if the goal is to somehow coerce the NN to change its comment policy, then that probably won’t happen. This is their site, and they can do with it whatever they like, as long as it falls within the requirements of Minnesota & federal laws. All our collective opinions here don’t have any more effect than a whisper in a hurricane to effect change. Now, if there was a collection of subscribers that organized and threatened suspension of their subciptions if there was not a policy change, then that might get their attention. If some of the local big-ticket advertisers threatened to pull their ads over the issue, then that might actually accomplish something. Some methods are more effective than others in affecting change. Just getting a bunch of people huffed up about it probably won’t, especially when we all have the choice of whether or not to partipate on the site.

    March 29, 2010
  52. Griff Wigley said:

    It’s possible that the folks running the Northfield News might be handcuffed by corporate policies. Sam Gett and Jaci Smith both live here with their families and seem like community-minded people to me, though I don’t know them well.

    They might be inclined to adopt more community-friendly policies on their website, like being less tolerant of nasty anonymous comments, or being more willing to link to other websites in the community.

    But they have to answer to higher-ups and former publisher Renee Huckle Mittelstaedt is now running the show (CEO and President) for all their area newspapers and the newly combined company called Huckle Media LLC (a merger of Huckle Publishing Inc., and Mainstream Publications LLC). See last week’s story: Newspaper group announces board, merger

    So while people here might object to the nasty tone of anonymous comments, Sam has to deliver the profit margins. If lots of comments, nasty or otherwise, help the pageviews/web traffic which in turn drive online ad  sales margins, that’s a higher calling for him.

    Likewise their policy on links, in essence, “We link to nobody unless they pay for it in an ad.”  That seems even more anti community-minded to me than allowing the nasty anonymous comments (Link to the Community Action Center in a story? A community fundraiser? No way, make ’em pay!)

    But again, that may not be Sam Gett’s preference but a corporate-wide policy handed down by Renee.

    March 29, 2010
  53. Griff Wigley said:

    John (comment #26), I think you’re right:

    Now, if there was a collection of subscribers that organized and threatened suspension of their subscriptions if there was not a policy change, then that might get their attention. If some of the local big-ticket advertisers threatened to pull their ads over the issue, then that might actually accomplish something.

    Now here’s an opportunity for whomever might want to take action.

    Posted to the Nfld News this aft: Task force arrests woman for selling heroin

    Anonymous comments as of 11:30 PM tonight:

    Member Opinions:
    By: zoocruzz on 3/29/10
    ah. The Kwik Trip bust.

    By: .Repeat on 3/29/10
    She looks like a mental health facility would be more suitable for her.

    By: fairandbalanced on 3/29/10
    She was probably encouraged by all that graffiti downtown…..

    By: zoocruzz on 3/29/10
    lol @fairandbalanced

    Nothing libelous but the comment “She looks like a mental health facility would be more suitable for her” just perpetuates prejudice towards people with substance use and mental health problems.

    Notice that there are local businesses running banner ads adjacent to those comments.  Here are 5 (there are others, just keep refreshing the page as the ad banners rotate):

    James Gang Coffeehouse

    Frandsen Bank

    River Valley Vision Centers

    Northfield Retirement Community

    Benjamin Bus

    NNews-drugbust-comments (Northfield Retirement Community) NNews-drugbust-comments (Benjamin Bus) NNews-drugbust-comments (James Gang Coffeehouse) NNews-drugbust-comments (River Valley Vision Centers) NNews-drugbust-comments (Frandsen Bank)

    Contact them and let them know you object to their support (unintended, of course, so be nice) of content on the Northfield News website that perpetuates prejudice towards people with substance use and mental health problems; let them know your thoughts in general about the often corrosive results of the paper’s policy allowing anonymous comments.

    If you want to email one or more of these screenshots, just click on the thumbnails and then right-click on the larger images and save them to your hard drive.

    March 29, 2010
  54. William Siemers said:

    Griff…I happen to agree that substance abuse problems should be treated in a mental health facility rather than the county jail. So, if I saw a picture of a woman arrested for selling drugs, it’s possible that I might say that she looks like she should be treated rather than incarcerated. You seem to assume the worst about the person posting the comment. But you have no real way of knowing the intention of the words. Given the ambiquity, does the situation warrant the loss of advertising revenue for the News?

    March 30, 2010
  55. Griff Wigley said:

    William, I’m a big believer in using the threat of incarceration as a stick to get people into chemical dependency treatment.

    But I’m not sure what the photo of the woman has to do with it (You wrote, “I might say that she looks like she should be treated…”).

    The article says she was living out of truck, so it’s not surprising that her arrest photo isn’t flattering.

    It’s clear to me that the anonymous remark was meant as a put-down and not as an argument for intervention.

    March 30, 2010
  56. William Siemers said:

    Griff, what I might say, if not watching my words, but intending to convey an opinion of treatment over incarceration, is exactly what “Repeat” said in the example.

    March 30, 2010
  57. kiffi summa said:

    Maybe you have hit upon a very salient point, William; Maybe it is especially important to ‘watch one’s words’ when commenting on any blog…

    March 30, 2010
  58. kiffi summa said:

    In reply to John’s # 26 (have to be careful here , folks, that is not a bible verse reference… just kidding, john, 🙂 )and Griff’s #s 27, 28:

    I started this thread for several reasons;
    1. Griff: I got tired of you not letting me make comments about the NFNews websites when you are ‘all over’ the News and City and School websites for what you feel are inadequacies…
    2. I am very concerned about the erosion of what I will call ‘guiding principles’, and how I feel the anonymous comments contribute to that erosion, and ,
    3.what I feel is the importance of a journalistic source of information in a small town, and the need for that source to be reliable in the true sense of journalism’s accepted standards of verification, non-bias, etc.

    Having said that, I find it very interesting that the ‘Quality’ of the Newspaper, and the journalism it puts forth, does not seem to be of concern to most people who have commented here.
    I think we need to remember that freedom of speech was initially, at least partially or primarily, to allow criticism of the government and was not to be used in an attempt to destroy people’s lives; hence concurrent laws of slander, libel, etc.
    Maybe most people do not consider the paper’s online version to be an integral part of the entire ethic… I do.

    But as to your suggestions in #28, Griff, I think if that proceeds to an attitude of ‘shunning’ that is going way too far. I was appalled when I first moved here to hear people say they would never patronize this business or that, because of a political stand the business had taken, or a vote the business owner had made.
    I find that kind of economic shunning of small town businesses to be preposterous, and without much solid reasoning.
    I would never cancel my subscription to the NFNews just because I heartily DIS-agree with many of their practices. A small town needs a newspaper; my issue is that we need to support it while trying to persuade it to be more journalistically ‘pure’.
    Example: I found Saturday’s front page article on the snowmobile accident, and especially the large staged photograph, to be verging on an editorial.

    So… when the practice of allowing anonymous comments , and especially from one particular person, become as unfactual, defamatory/libelous, and destructive to the ‘community conversation’,
    happens with the newspaper’s blessing…. and if they don’t remove such comments they ARE approving them… then I believed it was time to have a discussion of this issue.

    I would like to thank all those who have participated… and Griff: does the member’s sidebar posts also carry the discretion of when to discontinue, or close the comments?

    March 30, 2010
  59. Patrick Enders said:

    Why close it? For a variety of reasons – be it today, tomorrow, or at some day in the near future – someone may want to continue a discussion on this topic. That person might even be you.

    Otherwise, if we can’t discuss things here, we might have to discuss them (anonymously?) over at the Nfld News.

    March 30, 2010
  60. john george said:

    Kiffi- That reference to “a Bible verse” brought a chuckle, and I am not offended at all. I would rather be known for a liberal use of Bible references than hide behind some anonymous moniker. I appreciate your desire to “raise the level of quality” of the local newspaper. I think Griff’suggestion in post 28 and his links might be an effective approach. But, I will qualify that comment with your own above, “I find that kind of economic shunning of small town businesses to be preposterous, and without much solid reasoning.” Either we tolerate those practices we do not agree with or we work to change them. I guess the choice is our own.

    March 30, 2010
  61. William Siemers said:

    Kiffi…I agree we should try to watch our words. My point was that not everyone does.

    I think we should commend forums that promote the free expression of opinion, credited or anonymous…there is a place for both.
    I do not agree with the impulse to stifle that expression by threatening to cause economic harm to the sponser of the forum. And I am surprised when it is done by a journalist in the cause of nothing more than political correctness. (Never mind that it it is done based on a anonymous statement that could be construed to be even more politically correct than your opinion about treatment vs. incarceration.)
    I don’t get it, I thought journalists were supposed to be the bulwarks against infringments on freedom of expression, not instigators of moves to limit it.

    March 30, 2010
  62. john george said:

    William- I will refer back to your comment in your post #20:

    “I’ll suggest that posting anonymously might allow a person with unpopular or radical ideas to present opinion without fear of retribution in the community.”

    in that I think you struck upon the real problem we are facing in Northfield. It is not comments made by anonymous posters. It is the diatribes a person has to endure when they post an opinion that goes counter to a few people. We all form our opinions relative to our past experiences, education, etc. I make no bones about interpreting current events relative to my understanding of scriptures. Because of that, I have been labeled narrow, arrogant, bigoted, intolerant, and a few other choice terms. I have yet for someone to ask me why I happen to interpret an event relative to a specific scripture, even though I have offered it unilaterally. It seems that tolerance is a term easy to use but difficult to actually live, at least for some people. Sometimes, when we look in the mirror, we are not pleased with what we see. That doesn’t mean the mirror is defective.

    March 30, 2010
  63. kiffi summa said:

    Good ole FandB is back at it today on the NFnews website…
    He/she has had comments removed by Jaci Smith, the editor, on the heroin sale article, being told to stick to the subject.
    On the movie theatre article there is an outright lie about Jerry Anderson by FandB and his attempt to purchase the Tires Plus property; it says the bank didn’t know who he was… ( and how would Fandb be in the middle of a private business man’s deal with a bank, unless it had a ‘city’ component of either zoning or permitting, in which Fandb was also involved?)
    Now why is the paper allowing that comment to remain?

    There are many people who are quite sure of FandB’s identity; he pretty much gives himself away with some ‘insider’ comments and often speaks with the royal ‘we’ on council matters. So either he has delusions of grandeur,and of being in control; or actually is a decision maker in this community.

    Why then, does the newspaper allow untrue comments to stand in one place, but remove them in another?

    They won’t answer me when I have asked, someone else want to try?

    March 31, 2010
  64. norman butler said:

    Kiffi: You are asking the NNEWS to bite the hand that feeds it. Won’t happen.

    April 1, 2010
  65. kiffi summa said:

    Norman: Did you see the FandB comments today? I don’t understand why the NDDC doesn’t get involved… this just cannot be allowed to continue.
    Sorry, NDDC… The ‘High Road’ is NOT ignoring these constant attacks on both your organization and your employee, Ross Currier.

    Norman: I think what you mean is that FandB is the person (supposedly from City Hall) who is always feeding info to the newspaper. Is that right?

    April 1, 2010
  66. norman butler said:

    Correctomundo, Kiffi.

    What about the following slur today on the NNEWS website on their theater thread…?

    ” By: fairandbalanced on 4/1/10
    deacond: Since you’re critical of the NDDC, what do you think about this? Victor Summa is on the EDA. He voted to give money to the NDDC. Then the NDDC lobbies to try to reduce taxes for downtown business owners. Mr Summa owns a business downtown. Is Mr Summa voting to use our tax money to try to reduce the taxes on his building? How do you feel about that?….”


    April 1, 2010
  67. Patrick Enders said:

    It’s interesting that in the article comments being discussed at , it is not only F&B who raises questions about city priorities, and the relationship between downtown advocates and city development decision-making.

    As it is, I live downtown, and most of my friends live downtown. Given my small social circle, and the limited perspectives that I come across here on LGN, it is good to be reminded once in a while that not everyone in Northfield shares a “downtown first” perspective.

    And I do agree that the NDDC should speak up. The city needs to make some very difficult budget decisions due to state funding cuts, and as such it seems to be a very good time for every city-funded organization to ‘justify your existence’, so to speak.

    April 1, 2010
  68. kiffi summa said:

    In response to #’s 37 and 38….
    There is no discussion of city priorities in the paragraph which Norman copied; it is pure malicious character defamation and done with a knowingly false perspective.

    **** If a city councilor , or a member of a city board or commission, votes on an issue which may have a related benefit to them, there is NO conflict of interest if all other members of the same”class” are equally benefitted. ****

    FandB has once again engaged on a smear campaign, using misleading if not outright false information against a person, and an organization.
    FandBknows better, and the paper knows better, but for some reason the paper chooses to enable this ‘crap’.

    to #38, specifically: The NDDC, as a funded partner of the EDA does a more than adequate job of its required quarterly reporting of its actions and finances. It has met all possible requirements to “justify its existence”… I might note even more so than the EDA which has not complied with its required monthly reports to the Council.
    IMO, You need to stop relying on FandB’s comments as being factual, Patrick…

    April 1, 2010
  69. Patrick Enders said:

    Thank you for sharing your O regarding my ability to differentiate assertion from fact. I will try to remember that when I read things in the future.

    Interestingly, it is not just F&B that brings up the issue of the NDDC, it is also brought up by anonymous users under the pseudonyms of northfieldseniors123 and deacond. Each expresses a point of view (factual or not), that I rarely see expressed by the non-anonymous, largely pro-downtown commentocracy here on LGN. They seem to raise some interesting points (although it may be that I’ve simply failed to realize that everything that they have written is a complete lie). See comment 34 and 34.1 above.

    Everyone reports to the city (except maybe the EDA, if your assertion is true). However, these are tough times, and merely accounting for one’s expenses does not necessarily mean that those expenses are as essential as other expenses. Something is going to have to give, so again, I do think it is in the best interests of all publicly-funded groups to make their usefulness apparent. To enlighten myself re: the NDDC (since they were brought up by deacond, and I shouldn’t trust deacond to be telling the truth) I tried to google the NDDC website, and the city website, to find the NDDC’s budget and how it spends it – but I had no luck. I’m sure it’s there somewhere. Perhaps you could find it for me?

    April 1, 2010
  70. kiffi summa said:

    Sarcasm… Patrick,… sarcasm… Griff doesn’t allow!

    April 1, 2010
  71. Patrick Enders said:

    I am sincere when I say that I think that anonymous comments can reveal otherwise hidden, but possibly valid, points of view.

    I am sincere when I say that everything in the Nfld city budget should be thought over carefully, and that all programs should be carefully considered for cuts.

    I am also sincere when I say that I will continue to be skeptical regarding the difference between fact and assertion in everything that I read.

    That just leaves “Thank you,” which is not sarcastic – it is simply a pleasantry, acknowledging that I have heard your advice.

    April 1, 2010
  72. William Siemers said:


    I agree that FandB seems to have a bee in his bonnet about the Summas, the NDDC and Mr. Butler. But rather than call for an end to anonymous posts (which, as Patrick pointed out, do sometimes facilitate new pov’s in a discussion), why not just answer the question that has been asked? (FandB does seem to be quite adept at asking the question rather than making an outright accusation.)

    You answer it here… “If a city councilor , or a member of a city board or commission, votes on an issue which may have a related benefit to them, there is NO conflict of interest if all other members of the same”class” are equally benefitted.”…so why give that answer on the forum where the ‘question’ was asked.

    It seems to me the way to confront misleading questioning is to confront it. I appreciate your anger over the ‘questions’ raised about the motives of your and yours. But calling for a ban on all anonymous posting throws the baby out with the bath water.

    April 1, 2010
  73. kiffi summa said:

    William: as I have previously stated , I will Never write on the NFNews site because of my experiences there two years ago.

    *** the truth, no matter how well documented, simply does not matter on that website. ***

    Why is it that IF you believe, and I think you sincerely DO believe that there is a value in anonymous comments, that there should not then be some standard such as having to tell the truth… which any person who comments with their name is held to, i.e. being responsible for what they say?
    We are not talking here about anonymous comments which may surface an issue, but then cause the commenter to endanger THEMSELF, i.e. some of the comments on drug issues.

    Obviously FandB is not a ‘whistleblower’ in the do-gooder sense of that word.

    There is nothing he is protecting himself from except discovery of his identity, which would totally discredit his position in the community. It is the position of a coward, and it is a well known tactic of a coward.

    April 1, 2010
  74. norman butler said:

    William: We are all busy people and have not much time to defend ourselves against things that are not true.

    BTW (as we discussed the other day in the Cow) I congratulate you on your battle against the demon drink (I hear you are making champion progress) and as for the good news that you have stopped beating your wife.. Wonderful!

    April 1, 2010
  75. kiffi summa said:

    Thank you, Mr. Poyner. This is the sentence I think is most Important: “For every person who brings up some telling fact, there are dozens whose “facts” are fantasies freshly made up to suit the exigencies of arguments they otherwise cannot win”.

    This is precisely what is so dangerous and damaging… the anonymous poster who has enough knowledge to make it seem like what they say MIGHT be plausible, but in truth (no pun intended) is only seeking to create vicious gossip and rile everyone up over some supposed issue that IN TRUTH does not exist is , IMO, sick. It should be apparent … when it goes on and on… just how sick. And when those types are defended by those who SHOULD know better, it is sickening.

    There are so many people who are concerned about this problem, and do nothing even though they say they are sure of an identity… they say it is “embarrassing’, and they “don’t know how to handle it”, and they “have sought professional help”, but…

    And another quote from the article you cite: ” and it is the story of newspaper message boards, which have inadvertently licensed and tacitly approved the worst of human nature under the guise of free speech”.

    And here, I will thank John George for a quote: “AMEN!”

    April 2, 2010
  76. john george said:

    Phil- Really good link. I agree. One thought I had is if we who disdain the anonymous pattern would simply not participate, or even honor the sight by linking to it, would a decrease in hits have any effect on the policy? I don’t know. And, actually, I don’t consider it my concern, anyway. To me, blogging is a way to discuss an issue with someone with whom I do not have a natural interaction, like work, or church, or service club. I really don’t get any enjoyment out of relating to someone here with whom I could not call up and invite to coffee. Perhaps it fills more of a social need for me than just an opportunity to spew contention.

    April 2, 2010
  77. William Siemers said:


    I could answer the statements you chose to make. It would take about 15 seconds to type it out. However, given the nature of your post, my lawyer advises that I refrain from commenting.


    In your quest to stifle free expression, you say it is ‘sick’ to bring up a scenario that ‘might be plausible’, when in ‘TRUTH’ it did not happen according to that scenario. And that it is ‘sickening’ for someone to support the right to bring up a scenario that might be plausible.

    This assumes that the TRUTH is, in fact, known to both the person making the post (and asking the question) and everyone reading it. But let me assure you, I, as a reader, do not know the facts of these matters, let alone the TRUTH. Most of the offending posts posit the possibility of the use of the political process for the pursuit of personal economic gain. Coming from a jurisdiction where such behavior is commonplace, I don’t think allowing the question to be asked is beyond the pale of what a responsible newspaper would allow in a reader forum. And, from my jaded perspective, refusing to answer the offending posts, with the TRUTH, simply adds to their legitimacy. And finally, given my experience, I might see an effort to squash such posts as an effort to enable corruption.

    Of course, this is Northfield, so it’s ‘sickening’ to defend the right to post anonymously and healthy to stop such questions from being asked.
    After all such things can’t possibly happen here and that’s the TRUTH!

    April 3, 2010
  78. kiffi summa said:

    William: first of all you totally misunderstood Norman’s comment which is only giving an example of how easy it is to malign someone. Norman didn’t say you did something; he said you were not doing something, and still you were obviously angry because it implied you might have in the past done those things.

    You say “coming from a jurisdiction where such behavior is commonplace” and that refers back to ” use of the political process for the pursuit of personal economic gain”… well, I think that is a broad brush of tar.
    What examples might you give of that”behavior” and where did you confirm that opinion into fact?

    I have NO desire to stifle free expression ; I am just trying to keep slander and libel laws in control of that” free expression”.

    Ask any questions you want of the people you are critical of, whether it be Board/Commission members, City Councilors, or ??? but do not rely on answers from a person who speaks anonymously and therefor need not present his/her POV to the public for evaluation as to its veracity.

    April 3, 2010
  79. William Siemers said:

    No…I wasn’t at all angry with Norman…just giving him a little s..t.
    I was refering to my home in New Orleans as a place where cronyism at best, and corruption at worst, was commonplace.

    April 3, 2010
  80. Griff Wigley said:

    Today’s Washington Post: Online readers need a chance to comment, but not to abuse by Ombudsman Andrew Alexander:

    The solution is in moderating — not limiting — comments. In a few months, The Post will implement a system that should help. It’s still being developed, but Straus said the broad outlines envision commenters being assigned to different “tiers” based on their past behavior and other factors. Those with a track record of staying within the guidelines, and those providing their real names, will likely be considered “trusted commenters.” Repeat violators or discourteous agitators will be grouped elsewhere or blocked outright. Comments of first-timers will be screened by a human being.

    When visitors click to read story comments, only those from the “trusted” group will appear. If they want to see inflammatory or off-topic comments from “trolls,” they’ll need to click to access a different “tier.”

    I like the approach because it doesn’t limit speech. Anonymous loudmouths can still shout. But “trusted commenters” will be easier to hear.

    April 4, 2010
  81. kiffi summa said:

    So Griff.. you also still cannot distinguish between “free speech” and ‘free speech’ which is illegal because it breaks existing laws on slander and libel?

    As I have previously said, I would exempt my criticism of anonymity for drug related comments which would endanger the commenter… BUT…

    Please give me one example of libelous speech which is informative, in any way productive , for the community?

    April 4, 2010
  82. john george said:

    Here’s an interesting link to a letter by former governor Arne Carlson in today’s Strib (April 4).

    Seems that the reporting of “truth” and “facts” in any news media is always presented through the bias of the reporter. In this case, there is at least someone to hold accountable for inacuracies and point out the bias. When anonymous news sources are used, it is no different than anonymous comments by bloggers, IMO. There is no one to hold accountable. I think Kiffi raises a good point about “free speech.” Free speech does not necessarily mean speech without accountability. If I remember my history correctly, some of the framers of the Bill of Rights and the Constitution published opinions under pseudonyms. But, I’m not sure the case can be made that the framers of these documents had in mind to provide license to libel.

    April 4, 2010
  83. kiffi summa said:

    Meanwhile… over at the NFNews, FandB continues to rant on against the downtown building owners…

    No other ‘news’ today!

    P.S. I wonder what kind of a person FandBreally is;
    Where does he live?
    Does it matter where he lives?
    What kind of financial obligations does he have?
    (He’s always instructing others about their financial obligations)
    Does he have a job?
    Does he pay taxes?
    Does he pay his rent?
    Does he pay his hospital bills?
    Does he pay his court costs?

    One would imagine he has to be a VERY upstanding citizen to be so hard on other peoples’ ‘Cases’ !!!

    April 5, 2010
  84. Tracy Davis said:

    Kiffi…. I understand your frustration with the anonymous comments and commentors. But after you’ve made your point several times in different ways, it seems reasonable to conclude that the people who own and run the Northfield News are not as concerned about journalistic standards as one might hope.

    At some point, isn’t it wiser simply leave it alone, and quit raising the profiles of people like FandB who don’t deserve any additional attention?! There is some merit to the approach of “I won’t dignify that with a response” (or a link, or extended discussion, or whatever).

    Sometimes the best way to deal with people like that is just to ignore them. I know that’s not the Summa way, but I’d like to try to persuade you to try it…. once.

    April 5, 2010
  85. kiffi summa said:

    There’s a lot of things I ignore, Tracy… I think we each follow, relentlessly, the things we care a lot about.

    For you , it would seem to be inadequate websites, and e-communications, as well as the LDC.

    For me, it is an anonymous person who doesn’t have the nerve to make his accusations with his name, as he knows he CAN’T do so legally , or WON’T because he would out himself as to the vulnerability of his position, so he chooses to be an outrageous coward.
    I’d just as soon cowards didn’t have negative influence in this community.

    This creep is not going to quit of his own accord; after years of harassment, I think that’s obvious.
    You deal with your, what you call “Crap”; I’ll continue to deal with what I call, the “Creep”.

    April 5, 2010
  86. Tracy Davis said:


    Touché 🙂 I just LOATHE giving those ignorant yet opinionated anonymous commentors any more airtime or attention, so I hate seeing them brought up here as though they have any credibility.

    April 5, 2010
  87. kiffi summa said:

    Tracy: They are NOT brought up here as if they have credibility; that’s the whole point of continuing to talk about it. They Have NO credibility BECAUSE they are anonymous; they would not dare to say what they do if they had to attach their real name to it.

    That is precisely why it must be drawn attention to, and stopped. It inserts a dynamic into the community which is nothing but wasteful of what could be productive time and effort.
    And if the main offender, “fairandbalanced” is in a position of making decisions for the community, or even linked to a decision maker, then the negative impact is exponentially increased.

    This is NOT a situation where everyone can be expected to “play well with others” and just continue to hope that it might go away . But it is a very sick situation, where people are inhibited by the lack of social inhibition on the part of the offender.

    I for one, am obviously tired of waiting for the cure …

    April 6, 2010
  88. kiffi summa said:

    How strange and extraordinary! After coming home from the city council meeting tonight (adjourned at 11:35), I check the NfNews website as an attorney has asked me to do, and lo, and behold! there is Councilor Denison’s entire argument FOR the graffiti ordinance coming right out of fairandbalanced’s key board!

    Hmmm… who is feeding who, are they joined at the hip, or are they just one and the same, as so many people seem to think.

    What are the implications, what is the importance of the possibility that these two commenters, one in public, one anonymous, might be the same person?

    What is the importance to the community dynamic if an anonymous commenter on the NFNews website is a city councilor?

    Is that an issue that is important to the functioning of the council?
    How does it affect the veracity of some council decisions, if at all?
    Is it important that a councilor might choose to operate in an anonymous fashion in such a personally aggressive manner?
    If a councilor was an anonymous councilor would you be concerned about their decision making process?
    Would you be concerned about their character in general?
    Would you be concerned about their general truthfulness?

    Would you have any concerns at all about this possibility?

    April 7, 2010
  89. William Siemers said:

    Kiffi…You raise some interesting questions in regard to the possiblility that an ‘aggressive’ anonymous commentator on the News site might be, in fact, a certain city council person…’as so many people believe’. If this is the case, I agree that anonymous posting would not reflect well on the council person. But that does not mean that anonymous posting reflects badly on everyone who does it. As has been mentioned here, time and again, there are some good reasons for anonymity in posting. This is a position you refuse to accept, and you would take away the rights of these people to air their opinions, without fear of repercussion, because of your problems with one guy.

    On another issue, you have said that the comments made by this anonymous poster, ‘…rise to the level of libel’; since they are ‘meant to defame’; and are ‘knowingly false’. And you have written the name of the person who you think is guilty of making the posts. So, are you not, for all intent and purpose, accusing this elected official of criminal conduct. And, if the person in question is not the poster, of what might you be guilty? Or, if he is the person and admits it, but the comments are not libelous under the statutes, of what might you be guilty?

    April 7, 2010
  90. kiffi summa said:

    William: I disagree that there is any “good reasons for anonymity in Posting”; you are correct. That is definitely my position. Canyou give me a good reason for this activity? And please don’t fall back on the ‘free speech’ issue which we all understand is a separate matter.

    As to your second point, I have been told by ‘city officials’ that they believe my assumption is correct; as a matter of fact it is a city official who first came to me with that certainty in their mind and I did not solicit that information from them. The concern of that ‘official’ was the problem for the council, and the general community.

    Further,”fairandbalanced” has been told the facts of many of the assertions he makes… not told by me… but by the persons he accuses of “conflicts”.. and he continues with his same unfounded accusations.

    As to libel, I will take my chances there, as the newspaper seems willing to do.

    As to false accusations… well, that’s a whole other story… we could talk a long time about the abuse of office, non-recusal on inappropriate votes, residency issues, destruction of others’ private property while renting, evictions, court cases for non- payment of rent, debts to city entities, and pleading the hardship of a “pauper” (legal term, not defamatory) so that even 60$$ court costs are paid by taxpayers of Rice County…

    April 7, 2010
  91. Patrick Enders said:

    One interesting question to contemplate: if a libel case were raised, would censored messages, such as those expunged from LGN from time to time, be subpoenable? Or are they removed entirely from the site’s database?

    April 7, 2010
  92. Tracy Davis said:

    Patrick, I don’t know the legal answer, but the admin/technical one is simple. Comments can be “unpublished” (in which case they still exist in the database, but don’t display publicly) or they can be deleted entirely, in which case there’d be nothing to subpoena.

    April 7, 2010
  93. If they’re a party, that info is discoverable, if they’re not a party, you may be able to get subpoena (I think you’re using the term subpoena when you mean discoverable). Whether or not it’s been deleted by a party doesn’t mean the info can’t be sought, and not being able to produce it would be a problem with inferences allowed! So, delete at your own risk!

    April 7, 2010
  94. Kathie Galotti said:

    Just a semi-idle legal question: Could someone who felt slandered or libeled by the anonymous comments of a poster to the NNews (say, f and b), compel the NNews to produce his or her identity? (The NNews makes you register with them–so presumably they have the ip addresses of all commenters)

    April 7, 2010
  95. Patrick Enders said:

    I do believe the answer is yes, through legal action.

    April 7, 2010
  96. Griff Wigley said:

    I do hang onto all submitted comments that I’ve moderated/removed from public view.

    I also hang onto those non-spam comments that have never been published but that I judged to be unacceptable by either first-time commenters or by those people who, at the time, had been placed on ‘moderate’ mode so that all their submitted comments had to be approved.

    Current tally: 336 comments held out of a total of 32,357 comments approved.

    April 7, 2010
  97. William Siemers said:

    You request an example:

    A Police Officer has come to believe that arresting and prosecuting those involved with drugs (insert any victimless crime here) is counterproductive. There is a thread regarding drugs on a community website. This officer would very much like to make his opinion known but feels his career might be at risk if he did so.

    Teaching practices at a middle school are under discussion. A mother wants very much to comment, but fears her child would suffer some consequence if she did so.

    A industrial worker is a committed anarchist (inset any unpopular political philosphy here). A thread is ongoing about ways to balance the budget. She would like to frame her comments within the context of revolutionary anarchism so that she might begin bring others to share that viewpoint, but fears reprisals on the job and in the community.

    It took me a couple of minutes to think of these examples, I am surprised that you have not been able to think of any over the course of this thread.

    April 7, 2010
  98. kiffi summa said:

    William: I have consistently said that a person who would endanger their well being , such as some of the commenters on the heroin issue who speak of their personal experiences… I completely understand their need for anonymity, and think that their comments can be a productive addition to discussion.

    But the only thing being protected by fairandbalanced’s comments is his untruthful self which he does not wish to expose while he is trying to do harm to multiple other persons.

    I am surprised that you do not see the difference.

    April 7, 2010
  99. William Siemers said:

    Kiffi…’nuff said. I am glad we finally agree that anonymous posting should not be banned at the News. According to your comment…”I have consistently said that a person who would endanger their well being…I completely understand their need for anonymity, and think that their comments can be a productive addition to discussion.”

    April 7, 2010
  100. kiffi summa said:

    William.. you are being very perverse, IMO. I agreed to no such thing. I made a special exception, the way Griff does when he needs to, and that is a very specific… not general… acceptance of a VERY limited acceptance of anonymity.

    April 7, 2010
  101. john george said:

    Griff- That’s just a little over 1% of all the comments here. I would say that is a pretty good record, considering the volatile nature of some of the subjects that have been discussed here.

    April 7, 2010
  102. john george said:

    William- Perverse, huh? Hmmmm. Here is what Mr Webster has to say-

    “1 a : turned away from what is right or good : corrupt b : improper, incorrect c : contrary to the evidence or the direction of the judge on a point of law
    2 a : obstinate in opposing what is right, reasonable, or accepted : wrongheaded b : arising from or indicative of stubbornness or obstinacy
    3 : marked by peevishness or petulance : cranky
    4 : marked by perversion : perverted

    synonyms see contrary”

    Well, William, if you fit this, then I suppose I am guilty of it, also. Of course, I have been openly accused of all these synonyms, so I will accept that I am in good company.

    Seems there are a lot of judgement calls being espoused on this thread. Is there some objective set of rules by which these judgements can be made? If not, then to whose set of rules are we to abide? The News’? Kiffi’s? Griff’s? Patrick’s?

    April 7, 2010
  103. kiffi summa said:

    For goodness sake, John… are you just trying to stir up trouble?

    William is pulling my chain because he doesn’t agree with me, and I say he’s being perverse because he’s obviously a smart fellow who is just being ‘obstinate’, i.e. my definition of “perverse”; you needn’t make such a big deal out of it.

    Furthermore, John, I am making NO rules… and yes, those capital letters indicate a ‘shout’.

    This whole editorial, as it began, was to have an opinion based discussion on a matter of concern in the way we live our lives, and the way others impact on our lives.

    You are always telling people to look in the mirror, and see if they like what they see…

    April 8, 2010
  104. William Siemers said:


    You asked with regard to anonymous posts…”Can you give me a good reason for this activity?”

    I answered with 3 examples (where someone’s ‘personal well being’ would be at risk by posting without anonymity) .

    You replied that you “completely understand’ that anonymity is necessary for someone whose personal well being is ‘endangered’.

    I replied, good…we agree.

    You replied that I was being perverse and obstinate. ?????

    I’ll say it again…Your problem is with one guy. Eliminating all anonymous posting because of your problem with one guy is a selfish, if not self-serving, solution when there are literally hundreds, if not an infinite, number of situations where anonymous posting is necessary so as to not ‘endanger personal well being’.

    ThThThThThat’s All Folks!

    April 8, 2010
  105. john george said:

    Kiffi- You said:

    “This whole editorial, as it began, was to have an opinion based discussion on a matter of concern in the way we live our lives, and the way others impact on our lives.”

    So, some of us gave you our opinions, and it is unclear to me if you like them or not. But, either way, it really doesn’t matter. As William so aptly put it:

    “ThThThThThat’s All Folks!”

    April 8, 2010
  106. kiffi summa said:

    John: re 62.2.2…
    I agree that it matters not one whit whether or not I “like” , as you said, the opinions expressed here.

    The point was only to have a forum for discussing the subject matter.

    And it is NOT just about my ‘fight’ with FandB; other anonymous commenters have challenged FandB about why he makes such untruthful accusations against a group of people.
    Most recently “theone” has named about 5 or 6 people have either most recently, or continually been attacked by FandB.

    I wonder how you would feel if FandB attacked you personally, your fellow parishoners, or your church.
    Would you try to set the record ‘straight’… or would you try to save the poor soul?
    and there is no sarcasm in the last phrase of that sentence.

    April 9, 2010
  107. kiffi summa said:

    I made an error in #64; it was “wxmanvet”, NOT “theone” who named 5-6 people who have been attacked regularly by FandB.

    Sorry for the error…

    April 9, 2010
  108. John S. Thomas said:

    Ladies and Gentlemen,

    As a public service message, if you wish to remove this stream of e-mails from your mailbox, you can click below on “Manage your subscriptions”, then check the box next to “Anonymous comments on the Northfield News website” and click the words “Remove selected subscriptions”.

    April 9, 2010
  109. William Siemers said:

    John T…That’s pretty cute. Of course it kind of begs the question…’Who acts more the fool: The person who ‘over-posts’ on an issue that he is interested in, or the person who ‘over-reads’ a topic that he is not interested in, and then complains about doing so.

    Griff…Maybe we can have a new topic on little quips that can be used to convey…”This thread is really boring”, without actually having to say that. It could even be expanded to discover passive-aggresive ways of saying things like…”This is just stupid’, or “Who gives a shit about that?”, while remaining ‘nice’ in a Minnesota kind of way.

    April 10, 2010
  110. Bill – we do have that phrase. It may be hard to pull off in writing, but pause, take a deep breath, look over your glasses, sigh, and say, “…That’s different…” and sigh again.

    However, I personally wouldn’t apply it to this thread. I’m in the camp that has no time for anon comments, people not owning their beliefs, and those not openly and doggedly standing up to the injustices of the world (from whatever viewpoint). If you’re not passionately involved in life and filled with purpose and drive and opinions, what’s the point?
    .-= (Carol Overland is a blogger. See a recent post titled Goodhue Wind ain’t C-BED!) =-.

    April 10, 2010
  111. Phil Poyner said:

    Two thumbs up for this comment. I’m pretty sure that had I been drinking milk when I first read it, that milk would have come shooting out my nose. And is there really any greater praise than that?

    April 10, 2010
  112. Jane Moline said:

    Interesting development–I can’t remember where this occurred–(they said on MPR-I didn’t listen close enough), but the newspaper is the “Plain Dealer”. An editor was checking on the annonymous comment that referred to a relative’s mental health–which fact was not widely known–and discovered that one of the annonymous commentators was a judge who was commenting on court cases she had presided over or was CURRENTLY presiding over (including a murder trial.) The paper decided to “out” the judge. The judge is suing the paper for 50 MILLION dollars! The judge’s comments were supposedly very strongly worded and critical of somebody–and no doubt there has to be SOME ethical violations for a judge–so what’s up with that?

    April 11, 2010
  113. Phil Poyner said:

    That would be the Cleveland Plain Dealer.

    April 11, 2010
  114. John S. Thomas said:

    No complaint was intended. I was just simply (and not so elegantly) stating that folks can choose to opt-out. I do not want to continue spending time “over-reading”.

    I chose to opt out of the 50+ e-mails when the conversation changed from the topic of anonymous posting to the comments of fairandbalanced.

    I choose not to continue, and want to move on. I was merely stating that the option was available to those that wanted out.

    Have a great evening, and a great debate.

    April 11, 2010
  115. Griff Wigley said:

    Thanks for that link, Betsey.  Two paragraphs stood out for me:

    He said news organizations were willing to reconsider anonymity in part because comment pages brought in little revenue; advertisers generally do not like to buy space next to opinions, especially incendiary ones.

    The debate over anonymity is entwined with the question of giving more weight to comments from some readers than others, based in part on how highly other readers regard them. Some sites already use a version of this approach; Wikipedia users can earn increasing editing rights by gaining the trust of other editors, and when reviews are posted on, those displayed most prominently are those that readers have voted “most helpful” — and they are often written under real names.

    April 12, 2010
  116. Nathan White said:

    I liked the reference to Leonard Pitts Jr.’s column Anonymity brings out the worst instincts.
    In the article, he says:

    Far from validating some high-minded ideal of public debate, message boards — particularly those inadequately policed by their newspapers and/or dealing with highly emotional matters — have become havens for a level of crudity, bigotry, meanness and plain nastiness that shocks the tattered remnants of our propriety.

    April 12, 2010
  117. john george said:

    Carol- Just caught your comment here:
    “If you’re not passionately involved in life and filled with purpose and drive and opinions, what’s the point?”
    I will tell you, I’ve been married to someone for 42 years, and she still accuses me of having one purpose in life- just getting her stirred up out of her peaceful state! Actually, I learned many years ago that stirring her out of her phlegmatic state of calm was NOT a wise thing to undertake. But, she has accomplished more in her peaceful, mercy filled life than many a rabble rouser of which I know. Just goes to show that it takes all kinds of people to keep life going.

    April 12, 2010
  118. Griff Wigley said:

    Harvard’s Nieman Journalism Lab blog: Tough love: Gawker finds making it harder for comments to be seen leads to more (and better) comments

    In essence, Gawker’s “class system” means unknown commenters get stuck behind a “show all discussions” link few users will click. What most readers will see are only the musings of trusted commenters and the few comments from the riff-raff that either Gawker staff or trusted commenters have decided to promote — the “featured discussions.” (The system also put the most recent comments on top, not on bottom as at most sites. That would seem to reduce the possibility that a dumb early comment would sway the chain of comments that follow it into irrelevance.)

    April 13, 2010
  119. Griff Wigley said:

    Howard Owens, publisher of The Batavian (Batavia, NY): The why and how of a real names policy on comments.

    Newspapers set themselves up for a horrendous ethical dilemma when they create a situation whereby public officials, who have obvious conflicts of interests, can support their own agenda, or oppose another’s, through anonymous, unfiltered and unvetted commenting. The public, for example, has a right to know if the person pushing cuts to local bus routes is the politician who wrote the legislation or just some well informed citizen.

    As another example, if the mayor is promoting a zoning change downtown, and a persistent commenter keeps arguing against it, the mayor has a right to know if that is a future electoral opponent or the local competing developer who stands to lose by the change. And so do the readers.

    April 13, 2010
  120. kiffi summa said:

    Hear! Hear! and an “Amen”, just for John !

    April 14, 2010
  121. kiffi summa said:

    Here’s another ‘wrinkle’… Suzy Rook’s current staff column on the NFNews website is about “council angst”.

    Ms. Rook says three councilors spoke to her about their irritation with the length of council meetings due to packed agendas.

    I think if councilors speak to the paper , they should be comfortable with having their names included. This may not have been intentional ‘anonymity’, just ‘editorial anonymity’; however, I think their opinions should be ‘owned’.

    April 16, 2010
  122. kiffi summa said:

    This morning, “fairandbalanced’ is once again bemoaning the council’s decision to put the trees back on 4th street, basing his complaint on the cost, which he/she says is $64K… then he/she says ‘You could almost build a skatepark for 64K’ .

    I don’t know what the cost of the trees on 4th street is: i would be very surprised if it is $64K; but I do know that the cost of the skatepark was close to 3x that amount.

    So, if “fandb” IS a councilor, what is the effect of that kind of incorrect information constantly being put into the public pool? and especially when, IF that commenter is a councilor who has the correct information available?

    April 21, 2010
  123. Tracy Davis said:

    I thought it was quite clear at the Council meeting when this was discussed that there was no significant cost difference between the two options. In fact the in-ground trees were a couple of thousand less, if I remember correctly.

    April 21, 2010
  124. Tracy Davis said:

    For whatever it’s worth, Kiffi, I suspect that “fandb” is just a toady. In which case the best answer is to counter bad information with good information.

    April 21, 2010
  125. kiffi summa said:

    Thanks for making my point, Tracy… Bad information disseminated for what reason?

    April 21, 2010
  126. kiffi summa said:

    Counter it where? Some people can’t write on the NFNews site without bringing on a barrage of personal attacks.

    This situation has gone on for far too long; The council persons who feel certain of who this ‘person’ is need to deal with it.

    Sorry… back to my original point: this kind of constant, purposeful mis-information is counter productive to the community process, and should be exposed for what it is.

    April 21, 2010
  127. Tracy Davis said:

    Kiffi, I wish you luck in convincing The Powers That Be at Huckle Media to change their policy. What’s your Plan B if they don’t?

    April 21, 2010
  128. kiffi summa said:

    Is it stupid to put out false information for the purpose of ‘influence’, or is it obsessively in need of ‘power’ ?

    April 21, 2010
  129. kiffi summa said:

    I have heard from various sources that I’m not the only one trying to do that… but they are stubborn…

    Do you think “planB” should include statements at Open Mic, since some Council people are either wanting to know, or terrified to know?

    April 21, 2010
  130. Tracy Davis said:

    Kiffi, re: your question in 76.1.2, I was thinking that Plan B would be to lobby those who advertise in the NNews to put the pressure on about changing the anonymous comments policy. Nothing like the threat of diminishing ad revenues to get people’s attention.
    .-= (Tracy Davis is a blogger. See a recent post titled Serving on MNDoT’s Complete Streets Advisory Group) =-.

    April 22, 2010
  131. kiffi summa said:

    Good idea, Tracy… But that would be not only hard to do, but have possible legal ramifications.

    Hopefully enough attention to the issue will cause some self-selection of where advertising dollars go.

    How much does it cost to advertise in the NF Entertainment Guide?
    What are that publication’s circulation numbers?

    April 23, 2010
  132. kiffi summa said:

    Tracy: Yesterday, on the NFNews site, “fairandbalanced” attached a long comment to the older article about Mayo questioning whether the chair of the NF Planning Commission should be commenting about disrupting business relationships (quoting your comment #77) including a long Wikipedia quote on “tortious interference”, and coming to the conclusionary suggestion that if a chair of the NF Planning Commission made such comments , might it scare business, including Mayo, away from Northfield.
    I suggest you get your personal law service to look at this.

    This is a perfect example of the sort of ‘malicious mischief’ that is continually put forward by this anonymous commenter, and the question remains…
    WHY does the NFNews continue to support this kind of negative community dynamic?

    Just yesterday, in a conversation with a former NF city councilor, he/she asked the same question, and said they just couldn’t figure out WHY the news would continue to support that behavior… except for the supposition that the councilor had that this is a person who is at the News continually, supplying them with Information from City Hall… but still the councilor asked WHY?

    April 25, 2010
  133. Tracy Davis said:

    Kiffi, I’m not that easily baited. And I didn’t give up my right to freedom of speech, freedom of association, or freedom to peaceably assemble (physically or virtually – about any cause whatsoever, including pressuring a local business to change its policies if I choose) when I was appointed to serve on a City board.

    I think the Northfield News’ anonymous comments policy is short-sighted and does their reputation more harm than good, but hey, that’s their call (and the call of those who spend their money advertising with the News).

    I’m afraid it doesn’t concern me very much what the anonymous “fandb” says anywhere if it’s as lacking in substance and specifics as what I’ve seen so far.

    April 25, 2010
  134. Phil Poyner said:

    Yeah, I always dread when this topic comes up. And there is no way in hell I would ever want to get involved in the discussion! It would be like a physician having to discuss the effects of the four humours in the average modern American, and whether blood-letting is truly the best mechanism for bringing the humours into balance!

    April 25, 2010
  135. Kiffi. The notion that Tracy’s comments (1) are anti-business and (2) may constitute tortious interference with contract are misguided and misinformed.

    First, it is not anti-business to criticize bad business practices. On the contrary, it is the lack of such criticism which fosters an environment in which bad business practices flourish, which in turn hurts all of us (as illustrated time and again in the recent financial industry crisis. It is certainly reasonable to take the position that the facilitation of anonymous criticism i.e. criticism without accountability or responsibility, is a bad business practice and to label it as such. I cannot imagine any honorable business shying away from Northfield, or any other community, because a city official objects to bad business practices.

    Second, to voice concerns to advertisers about the bad business practices of the media in which they advertise is not, in my opinion, an unlawful interference with the contractual relationship between the advertiser and the media involved (I will assume for these purposes that in fact such a contract, which is a prerequisite, exists). The key here is that the contact with the advertiser must be accompanied by an unlawful act such as a threat, an act of violence, a trespass, defamation, misrepresentation of fact etc.

    Indeed, efforts to shape conduct by attempting to influence advertisers is as old as, well, advertising. For example, if Tiger Wood’s recent foibles prompted someone to contact one of the business concerns who sponsors Woods to suggest that the contractual relationship with Woods be severed, such a contact would not have been unlawful, unless accompanied by a wrongful act of the kind specified above.

    In short, it is not unlawful to urge advertisers to rethink their advertising strategy based upon the conduct of the recipient of those advertising dollars.

    April 25, 2010
  136. kiffi summa said:

    Thanks, Lance… good to have the facts.

    I know that “fandb” twists everything to his/her own misguided purposes, but not everyone does… as is witnessed by the support that that particular ‘anonymity’ often gets.

    April 26, 2010
  137. kiffi summa said:

    Tracy… Good for you; I should have known that a person who cannot be daunted by the LDC would not be bothered by the rantings of a ‘troll’ !

    April 26, 2010
  138. William Siemers said:

    Ok…I read the News comments on global warming and the Mayo center. A large majority of commenters were anonymous. As I read the comments, it was easy to imagine why those posting might not want their identity known. It was also evident that the policy of the News facilitated their participation in the discussion. Almost all of these comments were completely innocuous, if occasionally hare-brained. These folks wanted to make their opinions known, and the News gave them a place to do so without fear of repurcusion. And for that the paper should lose advertising? Let me suggest that if anything meets the standard of a ‘negative community dynamic’ it is the call for a boycott of a newspaper for allowing freedom of expression.

    April 26, 2010
  139. William: You express eloquently the counter argument. The newspaper should be free to invite anonymous comment in the name of freedom of expression. And so it is. That is exactly what is happening. This is America and it is perfectly lawful and within the newspaper’s right to solicit and print that form of expression. However, it is just as legitimate for people who disagree with that approach and, who in fact find it harmful, to express their displeasure in any lawful format available to them. This includes trying to persuade advertisers to reconsider their commitment to a newspaper with this policy.

    I don’t believe this fosters a “negative community dynamic”. The newspaper is not the community. It is a single, private business within the community. Its policies and practices are subject to criticism, as are those of any other business within the community which purports to serve the public. For example, one could complain about the predatory pricing and miserly wages and benefits paid to Wal-Mart workers,and encourage people not to patronize such a business. In the short term, this might create what seems like a “negative community dynamic” but in the long term may in fact result in a much better community dynamic (which I believe has actually been the case in some communities where Walmart does business).

    The point is, people express their views about businesses with their pocketbooks all the time, and they attempt to persuade others to do likewise, whether the product be good or bad. The newspaper is not and should not be immune from this form of expression.

    April 26, 2010
  140. Tracy Davis said:

    I obviously failed to make my original point very well in comment #77 above.

    I didn’t suggest boycotting the newspaper (“not that there’s anything wrong with that”, as Lance pointed out).

    I was simply trying to say that if one wants to try to get an organization like the Northfield News to change a policy with which one disagrees, making a statement at the Open Mic portion of a City Council meeting is probably a less effective method than lobbying the paper’s advertisers. (What I said specifically was “lobby those who advertise in the NNews to put the pressure on about changing the anonymous comments policy.”)

    April 26, 2010
  141. kiffi summa said:

    Lance: William’s use (80.2) of “negative community dynamic” is quoting me in my comment #78; he disagrees with my basic premise and is, IMO, using my words to refute my words, in his opinion.

    I, as I’ve said many times, don’t ‘buy’ the freedom of speech argument as persuasive here; but William is arguing with me on that issue as well as the result that I see, as used by some anonymous commenters , which is to CREATE a negative community dynamic.

    Thanks for your comments, Lance… there’s a lot of specificity to parse out here; maybe I’m not always clear enough…

    April 27, 2010
  142. William Siemers said:

    Lance…I agree that people have the right to bring negative economic pressure against a business for the policies of that business with which they do not agree. And that doing so, would not necessarily constitute a ‘negative community dynamic’. However, if that business is subject to that kind of economic pressure for promoting a shared core value of the community, not to mention the entire country, I’d have to say that a negative community dynamic was at work.

    April 27, 2010
  143. kiffi summa said:

    Tracy: NF’s most obvious ‘troll’ continues his/her rant against you in today’s anonymous comments, and this is the most relevant thing one could say about “Fandb”s comments in general: no matter what checkable facts are given to refute the ludicrous statements this person makes, there is only dogged perseverance at continuing the same line of misinformation…

    and that is why I will continue to insist that these comments are intended to create (that now oft-quoted term) a “negative community dynamic”.

    April 27, 2010
  144. Tracy Davis said:

    Thanks for the heads-up, Kiffi, but I don’t care to get sucked into the vortex. Feel free to defend me if you like. 🙂

    April 27, 2010
  145. kiffi summa said:

    Question of the week: Will fairandbalanced keep commenting and criticizing the city, as well as some of its commissions, and other various familiar targets, now that his/her ‘doppleganger’ has announced running for office?

    May 8, 2010
  146. Answer: Why would he/she stop? Isn’t that the whole point of the anonymity?

    May 8, 2010
  147. Tracy Davis said:

    I recently read a great post on “7 Great Principles for Dealing with Haters” which dovetails nicely with my own philosophy. Points #2, #6, and #7 are especially relevant here.

    Of course, this doesn’t get to Kiffi’s original point about the Northfield News’ obligation to journalism, etc. but it does provide a way of thinking about how to deal with anonymous morons.
    .-= (Tracy Davis is a blogger. See a recent post titled Serving on MNDoT’s Complete Streets Advisory Group) =-.

    May 8, 2010
  148. Kathie Galotti said:

    Great article, Tracy. Thanks for posting that link!

    May 8, 2010
  149. john george said:

    Indeed, an excellent article! A secpnd thanks for posting the link.

    May 8, 2010
  150. Tracy Davis said:

    Kathy, John, glad you liked it.

    May 10, 2010
  151. kiffi summa said:

    Well… he ( fairandbalanced) just can’t resist…
    Once again he/she is making false accusations,out of pique at not getting his way with making False Accusations!

    But here’s the funny part… as soon as someone ( “PatriotUSA”) doesn’t agree with fandb, he/she accuses that person of being Victor Summa!

    Well, we all know who Victor Summa is….and IF he writes anything, anywhere, it is under his real name; and a lot of people think they know who fandb is, and the more who agree with that identification, the more aggressive he/she gets…

    May 17, 2010
  152. Kathie Galotti said:


    For what it is worth: F & B’s previous nasty and mean-spirited comments have outed him or her for what he is–a coward. When I see that name attached to a comment, I no longer even bother reading it. I bet I’m not alone.

    May 17, 2010
  153. kiffi summa said:

    last night I went to hear Prof David Chapman speak at Carleton on the subject of Global Warming. Prof Chapman is a geothermal physicist at the Univ. of Utah; he has a distinguished career and is widely published.

    The talk started out with some quotes from an anonymous commenter on the NFNews site, “Dapa2”, a person who disputes global warming/climate change at its very core (no pun intended). That , of course, is his right.

    However facts cannot be disputed, and Prof Chapman’s lecture was fact based, on quantitative experiments… a very statistically oriented presentation which eschewed a style of terrifying predictions, relying instead on quantitative analysis of fact-bound statistics and measurements.

    At the end of the presentation , the hosting professor offered all the time necessary for the NFNews anonymous commenter, “Dapa2”, to present his case, or version of the ‘facts’… but naturally the anonymous wish to remain so; that is their perceived source of power.

    I felt it was embarrassing for a community so rooted in the ideals of education to have to deal with our newspaper’s support of anonymous
    commenters; it seems antithetical to so much of what this community values.

    The visiting Professor handled it with humor; the hosting Professor with the offer of rebuttal… But an open appearance, within an open forum, does not serve the goals of an anonymous commenter.

    May 18, 2010
  154. Patrick Enders said:

    There’s nothing very secret about dapa2. He is David Anderson of Lonsdale, who has recent letters to the editor under his own name on the same subjects, and is also the Minnesota Editor of

    He uses the same ‘dapa2’ name for his twitter account, and when he posts similar comments on several other local newspaper websites.

    May 18, 2010
  155. William Siemers said:

    You seem unable to deal with the idea that there is a time to share one’s name and a time to not do so. But we’ve been over that…

    As to your latest example on the horror of anonymity: Leaving aside the fact that, as Patrick points out, the guy is known. Would the visiting professor still have quoted Dapa2 if he had used his actual name? Or did his anonymity (such as it is) actually facilitate the discussion? Did it make any difference at all whether Dapa2’s comments were anonymous or not? Was this a debate? Was Dapa2 invited to attend? How could he have been if he is anonymous? If, uninvited, he was still in attendance, was he under some obligation to answer this professor? Why should our community be ’embarrassed’ because some guy in town blogs anonymously about global warming? What the heck are you getting at?

    May 19, 2010
  156. kiffi summa said:

    William: I think it is obvious that we must agree to disagree…

    I do not think it is ever appropriate to express your opinion anonymously…exempting the possibility of being in a witness protection program.

    Take a breath…

    May 19, 2010
  157. William Siemers said:

    Ok…sorry for the overstatement…I should have just said, “What the heck are you getting at?”

    I’ll be happy to ‘take a breath’…as long as I don’t have to be concerned about the keepers of ‘community ideals and values’ working to limit freedom of expression.

    May 19, 2010
  158. kiffi summa said:

    Tiresome, Tiresome, but there is always an unpleasant task that someone has to do…
    Today “fairandbalanced”, in a comment attached to the election update article, is having a little ‘hissy fit’ about what he continually refers to as the anonymous person who shoved ms Pownell at an EDA meeting. (This has been a constant refrain of his)

    He/she asks: “Is it disturbing that an anonymous shover might end up running for city council against a person that they shoved at a political meeting, possibly for political reasons, and that the voters might not know about it? ”

    I would ask this similarly phrased and possibly related question: Is it disturbing that an elected official, running for office on a basis of “fiscal responsibility”, has numerous court convictions for eviction/non-payment of rent, as well as, according to public court records, a multi-thousand $$ debt to the Northfield Hospital, and to top all that off, does not even pay his/her own court costs ( presenting ‘in pauperis’ ), so that the citizens of Rice County have to assume that cost … and that the voters might not know about it?

    May 21, 2010
  159. Patrick Enders said:

    Are you thinking about running for Council?

    May 21, 2010
  160. kiffi summa said:

    Absolutely NOT thinking about running for council, Patrick!
    I have been asked many times to do so; I have never wanted to do so at a time there was an appropriate opening.

    John: Of course Patrick and everyone else knows what ‘ad hominem’ means.
    Why don’t you just say what you want to say? It is not making an ad hominem remark to report the truth of the court records which are in the public realm.

    May 22, 2010
  161. kiffi summa said:

    Today’s NFNews website shows a new commentary from Suzy Rook, on the Mayor’s comments to Jon Denison (last CC meeting) re: asking him to address the Chair rather than making comments to the other councilperson whom he was taking issue with. Suzy then takes issue with the Mayor’s comments to C. Denison.
    An anonymous commenter named “Mary” then points out some corrections to Ms. Rook… now the really hilarious thing here is IF the “Mary”, doing the correcting is the Mayor!

    The Mayor feels the need to be anonymous? What the ‘ho-tel’ is going on?

    By the way, I would offer a further correction: it was Ms. Buckheit that C. Denison was addressing his comments to; he called her by name. He was referring to her comments about the city’s relationship with private sports organizations/clubs.

    YIKES! and what the ‘ho-tel’ does THAT mean?

    June 3, 2010
  162. kiffi summa said:

    Oh OH! Guess who’s back? that nasty little “fairandbalanced” has reared his nasty little head again with a new bunch of innuendo that is so close to lying that it might as well just be called that…

    The newest tack (I thought maybe he was running for office, he’s been so quiet… wouldn’t want to give the voters the wrong impression, you know) is to attack Tracy Davis , the Chair of the Planning Commission because they haven’t been working hard enough to suit his highness!
    Come on.. the councilors and the staff have been asking for their Land Development Code according to him, and those lazy ole Planning Commissioners have only been meeting once a week, sometimes even twice a week , for a year or so, and they just aren’t working hard enough!

    You know, he says he’s accumulated a lot of power! and people should listen to him… and some do… the newspaper seems to let him say whatever he wants, whether it violates their stated policy or not!

    I’d like to know what kind of job he has… probably makes a full time job out of hanging out at City Hall, snooping around to see that those PC’ers have their nose to the grindstone … Oh well, some people have to do ALL the work… no matter how objectionable!

    June 18, 2010
  163. Patrick Enders said:

    Thanks for the update.

    Interestingly, the easiest way to know when fairandbalanced has posted a new rant is now to simply wait for your announcement of it. He/she/it probably appreciates the attention you help drive his/her/its way. After all, NNews comments can be hard to keep track of without actively digging through their website on a regular basis.

    June 18, 2010
  164. kiffi summa said:

    Just going after the inexplicably unfairly applied “policy” here, Patrick…

    Last week a comment was removed that was attached to a letter to the editor, stating “Please refrain from personal attacks”.

    If that policy of the NFNews is equally enforced, then why does li’l ole fandb get to say whatever he/she/it pleases, and especially when it presents as facts, comments that are so questionable as to their implied veracity?

    Is there a ‘connection’ between fandb and the NFNews?

    June 18, 2010
  165. Griff Wigley said:

    Patrick, I heartily agree.

    Kiffi, the more public attention you pay, the more you encourage it. Plus, you just get upset. Just don’t go there anymore.

    June 18, 2010
  166. kiffi summa said:

    Records being kept for a purpose, Griff…

    I’m not upset; we’re back to the same old discussion of “don’t make waves”…

    I don’t believe in letting problems fester for lack of light.

    June 18, 2010
  167. kiffi summa said:

    Now that Sam Gett ( NFNews) has been appointed to the NDDC Board, I would think “fairandbalanced” would be even more of a problem for the Newspaper.

    However, it has also created a ‘double bind’, because if Mr. Gett did anything about ‘fandb”‘s libelous comments now, after letting them go on and on for years, it would look like he was doing it because of his new appointment, so there’s another layer to this personal and professional dilemma.

    Still, it must be embarrassing for Mr. Gett when “fandb” constantly twangs on that old saw about the NDDC getting funded by the EDA.
    Of course it is true that V. Summa and S. Engler voted to fund the NDDC, but two votes don’t pass anything… so once again a partial truth from “fandb”, meant to denigrate,constructed to harm both people he disagrees with and organizations that he doesn’t support, meant to raise questions about the existence of the NDDC.

    This is the core problem with “fandb”, just a partial fact to twist the truth, and then sit back and watch his peculiar brand of fun.

    Example: His current rants about Councilor Buckheit’s support of the Library’s FUTURE funding through the City’s Capital Improvement Plan. He knows very well that the Council voted (6 months ago? ) to support that CIP, but he acts like it was all the ‘work’ of one person who he disagrees with.

    Freedom of Speech or Perversion of Truth?

    June 21, 2010
  168. john george said:

    Phil- That is a really good article. I especially appreciated this comment made by one of the anonymous commenters in the article,
    “…“Although I can say anything I want without consequences,” she says, “you should behave as though there are consequences.””
    I think that attitude is lacking in our culture right now. Why it is lacking is another whole thread.

    June 22, 2010
  169. victor summa said:

    This posted eariler this evening by Northfield News on its WEBSITE

    Northfield News to implement new online comment policy
    By: Sam Gett,
    Tuesday, June 22, 2010 9:03 pm

    Effective July 12, the Northfield News will change its policy regarding anonymous online comments.

    Going forward, only readers who identify themselves by name will be permitted to automatically post comments to website stories. Those people can still attach “user names” to comments, but anyone who wishes to determine the author will be able to do so by clicking the user name and accessing a profile. No other personal information will be visible – just the poster’s name. The newspaper will verify the identity of named members before authorizing automatic posting credentials.

    Those who wish to submit a comment anonymously will still be able to do so, but those comments will fall into a pending queue, where they’ll be reviewed for approval within 24 hours under a very strict set of standards. Essentially, if those comments contribute to the online conversation in a thoughtful, respectful, civil manner, we’ll post them. Otherwise, we won’t.

    June 23, 2010
  170. Kiffi Summa said:


    Thank you, Mr Gett…

    June 23, 2010
  171. john george said:

    This is certainly a step in the right direction. Now you have some competition, Griff.

    June 23, 2010
  172. Kathie Galotti said:

    Good for you, Kiffi! This never would have happened, I believe, without your bringing up the issue and debating it vigorously. Although I don’t always see eye-to-eye with you on all aspects of this issue, I do admire your determination, and it’s nice to see it have a tangible payoff.

    June 23, 2010
  173. Patrick Enders said:

    It sounds like a good policy. There is this caveat:

    Those who wish to submit a comment anonymously will still be able to do so, but those comments will fall into a pending queue, where they’ll be reviewed for approval within 24 hours under a very strict set of standards. Essentially, if those comments contribute to the online conversation in a thoughtful, respectful, civil manner, we’ll post them.

    It will be interesting to see where exactly this new demarcation line will fall.

    June 23, 2010
  174. Griff Wigley said:

    Victor, I’ve edited your comment, removing most of the content of Sam Gett’s column and linking to it. You can only excerpt a small amount of text.

    June 23, 2010
  175. Phil Poyner said:

    John, you and I may disagree on WHY it may be lacking, but I think we would both agree that it’s lack lessens us as a society. There may be some that disagree with that, and their reasons may even be interesting and compelling, but that’s certainly how I feel about it. Our country may have a historical precedent of anonymous mud-slinging (dating back to as long as there have been news broadsheets here), but it’s not necessarily one of our better national attributes!

    June 23, 2010
  176. William Siemers said:

    It looks like folks that want to comment anonymously will be able to do so, albeit in a delayed fashion. This seems like a reasonable compromise.

    Hopefully the NEWS will make their own determination of what constitutes, personal attack, libel and FALSE ACCUSATIONS! From their comments on the site, it seems that the NEWS will allow FairandBalanced to continue to make his (or her) opinion known.

    June 23, 2010
  177. Griff Wigley said:

    I wonder how much the upcoming local elections had to do with their decision to change their policy.

    June 24, 2010
  178. Kiffi Summa said:

    Virtually ZERO if fandb is who most people think he/she/it is…. or do you mean that the NFNews might be protecting he/she/it from his/her/ its self?

    June 24, 2010
  179. If I had a business or was a prominent member of this city or region and had something to say that goes against the grain, I would post anonymously because of the hard core opposition and life time snubbing that goes on here and many other communities across the country. (Or if I had children in the schools, etc.)

    In a world where there is real ongoing compassion and understanding, no one would feel a need to hide.

    June 25, 2010
  180. PS, I have not read any of the anon comments at NN.

    June 25, 2010
  181. We are all in positions from time to time where we make the choice, for various reasons, not to speak up. We make that decision because we have decided (rightly or wrongly) that the benefits of speaking do not outweigh the perceived negative consequences. But like most things in life, you can’t have it both ways. A comment without authorship is by definition lacking in context, credibility, and accountability. It strikes me as being akin to rumor and gossip. There may be a nugget of wisdom or truth tucked in among all that secrecy, but for my money it just isn’t worth the time to try to find it.

    June 25, 2010
  182. I think the choice is made for people when they know their livelihood may be in jeopardy simply for one view held and expressed. Although we may not agree with the viewpoint, unless it has been previously stated by someone else, all viewpoints have some validity. Even if they come from someone who is very different from ourselves. To dismiss the view offhand, simply because you don’t know who authored it is doing a great disservice to yourself.

    We don’t know most of the people whose views we read, but most people will give the opinion a look over if the subject is interesting or pertinent enough. What’s in a name? And how many people do we know who have secretly held agendas while saying one thing and meaning another?

    June 25, 2010
  183. William Siemers said:

    Well said, Bright.

    There are thousands of circumstances where a person stands to be damaged in the community by voicing an unpopular opinion. The attitude of those who oppose anonymous posting is… ‘too bad for them’. If they can’t afford to lose their job, then they best keep quiet. Or, in this case, wait until the NEWS gets around to checking their post…24 hours being the ‘minimum’ before an anonymous post gets published. (Which, given the time sensitive nature of most topics, will really the limit access of those who need to protect their identity.) So perhaps this ‘Main Street’ mission was, in deed, accomplished. And by Main Street, I mean both Division and Gopher Prairie.

    I think I understand the NEWS’ position. With a relatively small staff they were forced to do ‘real time’ monitoring in order to discover the (very) rare post containing personal nastiness. At least I hope that’s why they made the change. If, on the other hand, they changed a policy that best enabled free expression in order to accommodate a couple of strident, but well connected, community members, then they ought to be ashamed.

    June 25, 2010
  184. kiffi summa said:

    Bright: I am puzzled by your statements in #107 as they seem to go against precepts of trying to attain a better world, which you have often expressed…

    If you think “life time snubbing” is a bad thing, why would you passively sustain it by succumbing to its pressures?

    You have made many principled statements against such subtle, and often not so subtle, tactics. I am surprised to see you advocate for avoidance.

    How would one attain the world you say you seek without exposing its ”ills’?

    June 26, 2010
  185. kiffi summa said:

    Again, Bright… I find it unusual for you to be completely uniformed on a subject, and without having read these comments over a period of time, may I respectfully say you simply do not have a frame of reference… except in a purely theoretical way.

    June 26, 2010
  186. kiffi summa said:

    Your implication is clear, William…

    You may find me “strident”… I would caution you from seeming to be “the pot who …” ; furthermore, I am certainly not “well connected”.

    And yes, you have provoked me to respond on a personal level, rather than focussing on the issue, and I am provoked with myself for doing so… but I think I’ll let it stand.

    Why ‘let it stand’ ? I think by doing so it makes clear the destructiveness of negative attitudes that are personally abusive rather than issue oriented; and so I’ll use this example of my, in this case, defensive anger to exemplify the lack of any positive results in such an interchange.

    June 26, 2010
  187. Kiffi, what do we have if not theory? Theoretically speaking, of course.

    June 26, 2010
  188. Michelle Hawkins said:

    I believe I have commented here, long ago, and am ladyfriend2 @ NN. While I like the new policy @ NN I seriously doubt any one factor, whether logrono, ear biting or threats (even made towards me at times),resulted in this change. A combination of all over a period of time has probably resulted in an “enough is enough” conclusion.

    I’ve read both consistantly and have a couple humble thoughts:
    I’ve seen as much nastiness here, cloaked in false polite, as any harassing, threatening and boldly stated obscenity in Northfield News comments.
    Triumverate and personalities here and there, need to get over themselves. What matters is NORTHFIELD.

    June 26, 2010
  189. Tracy Davis said:


    You wouldn’t believe how over myself I am.

    Wow, that was ungrammatical.

    June 26, 2010
  190. Tracy Davis said:

    And I think Griff is probably correct: That the upcoming elections, and the laws governing the access candidates have to various media (including newspapers) had a lot to do with the policy change.

    June 26, 2010
  191. Michelle Hawkins said:

    Comment 52…I just LOATHE giving those ignorant yet opinionated anonymous commentors any more airtime or attention, so I hate seeing them brought up here as though they have any credibility.


    While “opinionated” due to a real love for our town and it’s young&old citizenry
    I am neither ignorant nor lacking credibility. General inclusive statements such as this, and no you are not alone by any stretch of the imagination, are self-righteous, and reek of a condescending nature. As if in effort to raise oneself up by pointing out fault, real,imagined, or manufactured.

    Not saying this is you in any way, perhaps you just got caught up in the commenting already going on, perhaps not. I don’t know.

    I just read, alot, everywhere. And listen, alot, to everyone willing to speak.
    Anonymous or not, a person’s opinion and information can lead to insight as long as contempt prior to investigation is not in effect and a holier-than-thou attitude is left at the door.

    (don’t ask how i know this… ;-P

    June 26, 2010
  192. Tracy Davis said:

    Michelle, I’m not saying that all anonymous comments are ignorant, as though anonymity and ignorance are the same thing.

    I’m saying that comments that demonstrate ignorance or malice (or both), and are also anonymous, do not have any credibility with me; there is no reason to respond to those comments or treat them as though they are reasoned responses to whatever the issue is.

    June 26, 2010
  193. Michelle Hawkins said:

    Access to politicians hasn’t effected a change in anonymity standards in recent past years. But -ok. Take it as part of a wider group of reasons for the change. I do doubt it was any greater a factor than that. Peoples lives,livelihoods, and property were being threatened too.
    So I agree with you about malicious anonymous posting with one exception, all threats should be taken as credible, to do any less is at one’s own peril.

    If I read comment 52 all by itself, and never read any of the other comments in this and other threads, I see and accept completely your explanation. However, your comment cannot be read without having already digested the voluminous comments posted in those threads. The context dictates the impression @ LoGroNo and at NN.

    Malicious and scarily threatening anonymous comments have led to my being guilty of contempt prior to investigation myself, and meeting with that person( a thing that had me shaking in fear & suspiscion on the way to that meeting) led to an honorable conclusion of our seeing our similarities, accepting our differences. I have attempted to humble myself, allow for differing perspectives, and a persons anonymity has not influenced that either way. I do emphasize the word AttemPteD. Only human here.

    I didn’t bring the nastiness up to start a disagreement, was only commenting on a reader’s perspective. I hope LoGroNo understands.

    June 26, 2010
  194. victor summa said:

    This may be thread drift, but Patrick started it.

    I’d say the comment over “here” as you put it Patrick, is largely uninformed, off point and largely irrelevant to the implementation of TIF policy in Minnesota and the limited use of local TIF District’s tax revenue.

    While it may seem to make sense (not unlike affirmative action, title nine covenants. and school desegregation law of the 50s/60s) TIF deals with local business development, not social inequalities.

    The major difference making the discussion “over here” (there?) moot is that all those issues I listed are Federal mandates, and I guess can be categorized as social ills … ills which local government has little power and/or perhaps political heart to make rules seek to govern conduct in these areas of concern. Such concern, is usually limited to a toothless City Council Proclamation of Support … easy to vote for and safe to assume it may have no real impact on some politician’s NIMBY perspective.

    To me that list and others fall under the umbrella of welfare, and the elimination of prejudicial government, and that almost most assuredly has to come from the Federal government, to direct the state and local governments. It is not uncommon for the State Lawmakers to try to intervene. State’s Rights!

    See Texas and redistricting as an example.

    TIF on the other hand most closely resembles those kinds of programs in that it also provides SUPORT … but for business development which in turn (in theory) promotes the local well being … by strengthening the local economy. It i all about money, and Laddybird2 is right, but it is not taking away form the needy.

    “Over there”, there seems to be some hue and cry about: Forget the downtown, spend money on programs that directly impact the needy.

    The TIF funds from tax payments in the district, are designed by state law to be plowed back into the area that is included in the geographic district.

    To the extent that upgrading the DT does serve the needy and the not so needy by providing for improvements to THEIR community within the “District” all parties … those living on Mayflower Hill (buzz-word for those who have too much) to those living in subsidized housing .. or in lower property valued neighborhoods – all these citizens should see a value (in this TIF case) in the core downtown being supported.

    Redistributing the wealth is another issues.

    Robin Hood worked in redistributing the wealth because he challenged the King’s authority. We may have some who think they are princes or princesses on our City Council. but you elected them. You’ll have another shot at that in November when some of them are running to hold their seat.

    How about some energies over here and “there” on who’s in and who’s out.

    More thread drift?

    Hold on to your hats!

    June 27, 2010
  195. Kiffi Summa said:

    I just looked at that thread on the NFNews site, and FandB, who claims to have found the Map that proves he’s right not only doesn’t have the facts, but would seem to be lacking in some reading skills, unless he/she/it is deliberately trying to mislead…

    The Map in question does have a boldly marked dotted red line that goes all the way down the highway, and is labeled (by the Key at the top) as the Master Development AREA.
    That is different from the Downtown TIF District which is shown on the map in Brown ,(again look at the Key on top which lists the TIF Districts) and is now called the Commercial District #4 (downtown) or something like that (Don’t have the map in front of me).

    There has been legitimate confusion about the “Master Development” designation, but if fandb is looking at the map, and reading the Key on that map, it should be clear that the MD AREA, and the Commercial District #4 (shown in Brown) are not related.

    Again, a deliberate attempt to mislead?

    June 27, 2010
  196. Kiffi, I didn’t see this reply earlier. I’ll just stand by my view that it is fine to be anonymous for whatever reason, but I think people may be confusing the issues of not agreeing with what is said, rather than if the person’s name is known or not.

    If someone said I was wonderful, and didn’t want to say who it was, I’d just have to agree and go on my way. Same if the person said I was a (%(*#72-.

    I don’t feel that the person who wishes to remain anonymous is the ill one. I think a person trying to harm people is the ill one. In the case of the former, the illness lies in why the person felt forced to hide while stating their viewpoint.

    June 27, 2010
  197. victor summa said:

    Bright – somewhere back in this voluminous pile of discourse, (210 comments!) I think I recall you having said you really don’t read the N News web comments. If that’s accurate, then sincerely, I don’t think your stand on why some might find it essential to hide behind a pseudonym in this case, holds much water. If I’m wrong and you have read these remarks on the News’ blog then I can only say I don’t understand how you could read some of that and not question the writer’s sincerity … their motives.

    I’ll grant those that say “let it alone” are right, but human nature is to give-in to the need to respond.

    I’ll grant those who need protection might be out there. But if they were, they’d be taking on their employeers or the Council.

    Don’t think there’s a whistle blower in the que.

    A snow ball fight might be a game of silly rivalry, but when someone in a ski-mask stands hidden behind a fence and packs a rock into the snow .. and throws it at someone whom he is otherwise antagonistic toward … then I see no reason to consider that rock thrower doing anything but intending to do cowardly harm.

    A lot of that kind’a stuff was throw at me back in January over the open position I was taking on the EDA. The News hardly covered the issue in any depth, because had they, that coverage would have invited a reasonable response. Instead, they merely reported that two members of the EDA were hammering on process, wasting time The cowards piled on.

    Nothing’s changed … except Now I’m told, you can watch the EDA on KYMN’s streaming podcast, and if you listen to the arguments there, make a better informed decision.

    You might do that with the recent Micro Grant discussion concerning the Mandarin Garden,s new sign. then read the News’ slanted misleading coverage of the same event and the spin put on the EDA decision by some of the players – staff and EDA.

    I was right in this recent issue and I can defend it if there’s some intelligence behind the questions … and I was right back in January … whether you, or those using funky names to hide behind, think I was.

    What do I have to gain?

    What pray tell do they have to lose by OPENLY going after me? Only be exposed in the public’s eye and to give me credibility. It’s easier and safer to throw out false statements and there’s no recourse to be meted out to the unnamed.

    As a political person I realize this is the game and simply let it fall in the dust … usually.

    One whiner here on LG, who sees it appropriate to come after those he won’t name but clearly suggests, with defining attributes, who he alludes to, came to one meeting (EDA) and concluded because he saw my challenges to the status quo, that I was wrong. Why not right? Really, why not right? Whom else do you distrust?

    So, do you think Kiffi makes up facts?

    June 27, 2010
  198. Michelle Hawkins said:

    Bear with me as I have had a long arduous and sad day. I just wanted to clarify one thing. *I* am not asking for any aid to “the needy” Shoot, in these times, we’re ALL needy in one way or the other!

    Yes, I have an agenda. Never made any secret of that. And if you’ve read the history of my posts you know my priorities lie with the youth of our town, things for them to do instead of getting drunk and high, driving out of town on unlit roads, cruising along rivers @ 4am, skating on unsafe streets and byways, doing bike tricks in parking lots without benefit of any safety..OD’ing on drugs,drowning while drunk,getting pregnant after pot..
    Heroin and other addictives are flowinginto Northfield, and an element from the cites is encroaching and moving into Northfield you really don’t want your daughters, or sons, hangin with.
    This has resulted in that same element pulling along side me after I posted such and warned me if I didnt shut up I could be Northfields first drive-by. Property managers, upset at my quoting them, neighbors telling me mgmt would probably make up a reason to evict me, tho I live a clean quiet life and pay my rent on time.

    I love Northfield. And I am a blue dog. Socially conscious fiscal conservative. I don’t wish business owners any ill here, I adore our downtown. But to spend money in it looks incredibly horrible when kids can raise $10,000 for a skate park and be told no.

    I work with some of those kids at my job. I used to serve virtually all of them, and probably most of you for a quick bite at my last job. You and they are part of why I fell in love with this little place of a big heart.

    I started calling the spending Fluff&Stuff in one of my comments. It caught on. Not because it’s catchy, but because people feel like they may agree, if not in legal manner, in moral ethics of the economic times.
    I don’t know these people by their usernames, and unless i saw their face probably wouldn’t know all of them by given name.

    So.. after this horrific day for all mothers who’ve lost a child and live in this fair area,after the horrific weeks of waiting, to know that it was another car load of loaded kids that has broken a mother’s heart, and shattered a mans breath in his being,…

    I ask you

    What is first, your signs and streets, and flowers, and trees and and and and and
    or the potential ability to stem the tide of intoxicant use by our youth and others, while at the same time building an activity park, give kids something to do, a 4 season usage, a place to go on dates with dances too, perhaps thru a group of business investors, that would also serve the purpose of adding revenue, tax dollars, and attractivenes to professional families that would watch a $38,000 video of just flowers and old wonderful shops, plain parks and little else.

    A skate park, bike ramp lap area circling a youth oriented “coffee shop, dance club, etc, such as “the DEPOt’ teen club/coffee shop in Hopkins,where alateen could also meet, and sober fun could be had,even in winter, with the ramps converted to sledding and small ski practice.

    A pipedream, you all might say. She’s crazy (probably) that could never be done here, we don’t have that kind of funding….

    Then you don’t know how to dream.

    My name is Michelle Lorraine Hawkins-Hazelwood. Possibly the most uninformed opinionated loudmouth Northfield has had to suffer.
    I have two missing sons, reported such in different years and a daughter whose circumstances pains so much to speak of, I just can’t..

    My priorities are not misplaced.

    And i mean no one any ill.

    June 28, 2010
  199. Griff Wigley said:

    Michelle, thus far, your contributions here seem genuine and helpful. I haven’t seen the “uninformed opinionated loudmouth” tho maybe I should attach a ‘yet’ to that. 😉

    Since this message thread is attached to a blog post about the pros and cons of anonymous comments, I contend that your heartfelt and well-reasoned plea for more money for area youth programs and projects has a lot more impact/influence because your real name is attached to it.

    June 28, 2010
  200. William Siemers said:


    The only reason I said “…a couple of strident, but well connected community members” was because I assumed everyone reading this thread knew who I meant. However, since you insist: Kiffi and Victor Summa. Still…If ‘coming after those he will not name’ causes you such trouble, why not name me rather than calling me ‘one whiner’?

    As to the post after my visit to the EDA meeting: It was clearly composed from the perspective of someone who was not personally familiar with what was going on there at the time…someone who ‘came to one meeting’ to see what all the publicity was about. While this may not be a completely informed perspective, it might still be a valid perspective. Interestingly, the opinions I expressed were echoed by the Northfield News a few days later in an editorial:

    “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.”

    Victor, could this recap help explain why I felt you were “not right”?

    June 28, 2010
  201. Kiffi Summa said:

    Michelle: thanks for your openness and your concern for the youth of this community.
    Your concerns for the youth are well placed, and maybe should be one of the very top priorities for the community; they are our living future.

    I will admit that my obvious concern about the damage to people and community done by the intentionally harmful anonymous comments on the NFNews has taken over some other priorities for me. I despise the destructiveness of the misinformation that is constantly pushed there.

    Your “pipedream” sounds wonderful, and I agree wholeheartedly that more youth focussed activities are needed. Sadly, I think when even a real skateboard park is denied… and denied it was by our city gov’t … and even when the citizen volunteer Park Board was very supportive… then dreams will disappear.

    Thanks for your comments, and your name, because now there’s a real person attached to the words.

    Thanks again…

    June 28, 2010
  202. Kiffi Summa said:

    William: I did use your name in 108.2.1, but because I was angry… and I said I let that comment stand as a testament as to why these opinions should not be personal but construed around the issue .

    Obviously we all make ‘performance’ errors in our daily functioning; mine very often center on making the immediate response… as I am doing now.

    But I do get really annoyed by uniformed personal criticism; donate as many volunteer hours as those “strident” ones have; learn the facts instead of relying on the one-sided reporting of the local news; volunteer on city boards/commissions or in the schools or youth organizations, have an opinion that has some basis in understanding, and then I personally would have a lot more respect for your differing POV, because then it would have some depth to it, presumably…

    June 28, 2010
  203. Michelle Hawkins said:

    I may repeat myself by posting a version of what I have said here… over there. With no intention of “spam” tactics, rather only in sending out what this voter wishes to say at a time it is very hard to think and breath. I AM on a seemingly “one-woman/voter” campaign. Not for anything *I* need in life as a “needy” person. Rather for those we should be addressing first, hold in our wallets first, provide for FIRST.
    There many things F&B says i don’t agree with, there are some I have researched that, despite anything said here by some, have proved to be true. I will take any help I can get, from anyone willing to give it. to further my message, all or in part.

    Thus i fully expect to be bar-b-qued by those people so full of resentment and hate they can’t get over themselves to see there are no innocent parties in their “dispute”. There rarely is in any disagreement.

    Before dirt was invented, I was taught by my father:
    If you’re not part of the solution,
    You’re part of the problem.

    It’s taken decade for me to learn the true meaning of that.

    June 28, 2010
  204. Patrick Enders said:


    Just an observation:
    On this site, both you and Victor have recently dismissed the opinions of others for the simple reason that we (myself and William) do not devote as much time as the two of you do to meetings, commissions, and committees. It is an unusual standard, and certainly one that very few people other than yourselves can be said to attain.

    However, if amount of time dedicated to committees and meetings is a measure of the validity of one’s opinion, I find it remarkable that you spend so much time denigrating and dismissing the opinions and proposals of Councilperson Jon Denison. He is one of the few people who can hold a candle to the accomplishments of the two of you in this regard.

    Perhaps it might be more useful to deal with the substance of the opinions, rather than the credentials of the persons holding them?

    June 28, 2010
  205. Michelle Hawkins said:

    Wow, Kiffi, you surprise me! Thank you. Know this, the dream is NOT dead. I won’t stop my efforts til it happens. Also know if it means I speak loud and long about Fluff&stuff, TIF,EDA, and any other ABC of money not going to our future voters, in this and any other economy, it’s not a personal attack, it’s just a very personally felt cause.

    June 28, 2010
  206. Michelle Hawkins said:

    I find it remarkable that you spend so much time denigrating and dismissing the opinions and proposals of Councilperson Jon Denison. He is one of the few people who can hold a candle to the accomplishments of the two of you in this regard.

    Perhaps it might be more useful to deal with the substance of the opinions, rather than the credentials of the persons holding them?>>>


    June 28, 2010
  207. Michelle Hawkins said:

    Griff, i believe I am approaching opinionated loudmouth -now . 😉
    I’m just old enough to have earned wisdom, not yet old enough to close my mind.

    So I offer hard earned “wisdom:” NoW.

    There’s a lot of “Fluff” and “Stuff” in the choice of disagreements in this town. It’s distracting and takes time from real issues.

    I have never held shame for a local political body’s actions or inactions ( I SAID LoCaL) before, however I am embarassed to think I may have voted for some of those powers-that-be in the past.
    (Won’t make that mistake twice!)

    Could WE please begin TODAY, in choosing our fights (and thus discussions disagreements)more carefully?
    To borrow a phrase from an ANONYMOUS group:
    Principles before personalities. a.k.a. Don’t shoot the messenger (just because you don’t like..or agree..with the message.)

    Civil Debate, despite when other’s digress from it’s employ, produces educated and thoughtful response on the ISSUES. If we become petty and sling personal arrows at those who have shot at us, we appear no better than what we think of them.
    And we’ve allowed ourselves to be robbed of energy better dedicated.

    I see this @ NN. I certainly see this here. I am appalled @ this in our city government.

    Just thoughts..knee-jerk in nature, from an almost old woman with her own big mouth to reign in!.

    June 28, 2010
  208. Michelle Hawkins said:

    I think your enforcement is no better or worse than other places, if I have violated policy here, feel free to delete my post, I am always openminded when perception may not be what I meant to convey.

    Having seen people spoken negatively about without the use of their names, I guess I need to read those policies closer….

    I try to hold myself to my own standards, higher than some, not as developed as others. principled, but allowing for my own Human.

    If sarcasm is disallowed, perhaps I have been reading other posts with the wrong eyeglasses. And perhaps what has been said is more disturbing than I saw it. Note I use the word PERHAPS.
    Will reread your policies -yet again. I have CRS, reminders are good and I do run at the mouth without them on my mind, I just TRY to be polite.

    June 28, 2010
  209. Griff Wigley said:


    Depending on my schedule/available time, I sometimes neglect my moderator duties. With hundreds of comments per month and 1-2 hours of blogging each day, it’s a juggling act, especially since I still have to earn a living!

    June 28, 2010
  210. Kiffi Summa said:

    Once again Patrick, you have mis-read my thoughts or possibly the way I express them.

    I do NOT think everyone need engage in a deep level of civic participation BUT if they are going to criticize then they need to get the facts straight.
    The amount of time spent in civic engagement is in NO WAY a guarantee of good outcomes, BUT it should provide a clearer understanding of facts.
    Any opinion is valid simply as that, an opinion; but if you link incorrect facts to a personal criticism based on an incomplete understanding, then that opinion loses its validity.

    Please do not compare me in any way to Councilor Denison; comparisons are odious.

    I’m sorry that you seem to find it “unusual” for an older person to be very engaged in a civic life. From your own statements, you do not have the time… I believe that very few younger people have the time; the pressures of life, work and family are extreme on those in your age group.

    I do have the right to have an opinion about an elected official, and I believe I always complain about mr. Denison’s conclusions based on the substance of them.

    I will continue to feel completely secure in the POV that attending one EDA meeting, in the midst of a by-laws, statutes, procedural crisis is not enough to then be personally critical of those who are trying to operate in a legal manner.

    Jon Denison: Since Patrick has brought you into the conversation once again and made assumptions, I will address those in reply to Patrick: I also feel completely secure in my POV that although he does his homework, I do not approve of the conclusions reached by mr. Denison, his lack of representation rather than ‘troublemaking’ with regard to his 4-1 constituents, his personal vendettas, and his lack of political savvy in dealing with many societal matters, i.e. most recently Waterford. IMHO, mr. Denison represents the Staff and Administrative POV far too often, and spends far too much time at City Hall following citizens around as they go about their business.

    I have said before Patrick, that I think it is better if we do not engage with each other, but you always start it up again… and then I must reply, or allow you to continue to misrepresent what I say.

    June 28, 2010
  211. Kiffi Summa said:

    Michelle: as I said previously , I agree fervently with your dreams for NF’s youth and the need for money to be spent on youth activities.

    I believed a complex (not unsimiliar to your dream) of youth oriented activities, skateboard plaza and music venue to begin with, would be ideally situated in Ames Park ( Floodplain, noise etc. considerations all easily dealt with at that site)

    I also believed, and wrote and spoke many times, about the ‘gateway’ siting of such a facility would show that NF was a town that valued its youth… It was not to be, much to my disappointment.

    Now the 30-40 K ( more than the 10K you quoted) the kids had raised towards their goal of a permanent park has been mostly absorbed by a temporary facility.

    In your evaluation of candidates , and how they align with your personal values and aspirations, it would be important for you to check the voting record which shows that at a minimum of at least three decisive votes to determine the future of a city Skateboard Plaza, Councilor Denison consistently voted against the project…even at the March 18, 2008 vote of 4-3 FOR the Plaza at Ames Park, C. Denison voted against the project.

    That is but one reason why I cannot support Councilor Denison’s conclusions.

    June 28, 2010
  212. Kiffi Summa said:

    Michelle: Please look back at my reply to you in 119.1.1…

    Didn’t want you to miss it because it was out of sequence; hope it begins to provide an explanation…

    June 28, 2010
  213. Michelle Hawkins said:

    I didn’t know that about Jon Dennison, that is disappointing, however I always believe in giving a person a decent way out, a second chance, upon my meeting them.

    I spoke with a young man, associated as a “key Kid” this evening. He was on his skateboard with a friend. He knows of my efforts and opinion since I’ve fed him at my last job and watched him grow “taller” over the last few years. He feels it’s hopeless, the city doesn’t care about them or their future, cares only for the three blocks of Division they can “market”. He also worked very hard raising money for a skate park, says”it’ll never happen”. “People in Northfield don’t care about the kids.”

    I can’t promise my children anything anymore. Life has ripped them away from this mother’s love. But I made a promise to this young man, and make a promise to all of Northfield kids that they are not shoved aside, they do have value if only to this one old woman. That I will never cave in, never give up, even if they have to wait til it’s their kids that need something to do and I am too old to walk anymore. I promised him that it would be said publicly, loudly and constantly, that they ARE important, and valuable. I promised to remind Northfield that they are losing kids at an alarming rate, and this tide of death can be stemmed.

    I told him to not lose hope, that I wasn’t done.

    I am a loudmouth, I am opinionated. I am stubborn. I am a mother.

    I pray, Kiffi, I have had a misimpression of you based on incomplete information. I pray there are people willing to join my voice no matter what disagreements they have with one another. I’m not savvy as to the politics and politicians of Northfield, but am a quick study. Any info and advice that can be vetted is gratefully accepted.
    Who knows… maybe I’ll run… for office… someday. But that would be a sad state of affairs if it was the only way to get this done.

    Shame on Northfield, SHAME, that the City cares so little for their own children.

    Okay, I get a little worked up about this, as you can see, Kiffi. It is passion. If I’ve violated any LG policies here, I apologize….
    but I will never be quiet.

    “Lead, follow, or get out of the way”. It’s one of my mottos.

    June 28, 2010
  214. john george said:

    Michelle- I’m with you on the Key. I know this is thread drift from Kiffi’s original discussion on the NN anonymous posting policy, but since that seems to be resolved, I will express support for your comment while it is fresh. Each of us can do something for the youth in this town, especially those of us who are enjoying grandkids now. There is a small band of us that has taken up a small project to just demonstrate love and appreciation for those youth. It won’t net them a skate park, but we hope to asuage, if only just a minute amount, some of the disappointment they are experiencing. They need to know that someone cares and is for them. Keep up the good work!

    June 28, 2010
  215. Michelle Hawkins said:

    John, Kiffi, and anyone who walks their talk: I apparently have too much time off this week, including tomorrow, tuesday 6-28. The 15th anniversary of my finding out about my oldest son’s disappearance.

    I will make it a point to be at Blue Monday around 11am. If anyone can join me ,they are welcome, I’ll wear my work name tag.. just in case you haven’t put a face to my name -yet.

    I’m interested in whatever you have to say. Might have some questions too.

    June 28, 2010
  216. Michelle Hawkins said:

    TYPO! tomorrow-tuesday 6-29!!

    June 28, 2010
  217. William Siemers said:


    Thanks for posting your opinions, here and at the NEWS site. I enjoy your perspective and your sense of humor.

    Since this thread is drifting:

    Kids have been saying they don’t have enough to do since humans began to speak. I’d wager that every parent has heard, “You just don’t care about me!”. Obviously with some kids that may be true. But for the vast majority it is just a typical adolescent guilt trip and one that can work quite well.

    From casual observation I’d suggest that there at least three times as many activities available for kids as there were 50 years ago when I was a mid-teen. The opportunities for extra-curricular activities in the schools are seemingly endless. If I remember right, the administrators at the high school even started an activity for kids who didn’t want to be involved in activities. But rest assured, it will never be enough. We will always hear… “I don’t have anything to do…”, and “People in this town just don’t care about us…”. It’s just the nature of the beast.

    Which is not to say suggestions for new activities should be ignored. I’m all for the skateboard park. But I sure don’t feel ashamed because it wasn’t built. Its funding had to be prioritized within the overall budget. A budget that considers the needs of all citizens, not just children. A disappointment for some I’m sure. But I still see kids happily cruising on their boards all over town, often in some pretty unlikely locations. Maybe they even have the Stones on their Ipods…”You can’t always get what you want…But if you try sometime, you just might find, you get what you need.”

    June 29, 2010
  218. Michelle Hawkins said:

    Willam, yes kids have been complaining about nothing to do, I’m bored, since the beginning of time when rocks were toys. Yes there are things here, however they are sparse. I worked fast food not too long ago, but for quite awhile. I listened to them. Not just the very young 13-16 yr old, but those also 16-25.
    Many had nowhere else to go so were meeting there.
    Many came through the drive-thru drunk, high and dangerously impaired. “Whatcha been doing tonite”, I’d ask them all, adding a couple extras as treat.”oh you know, Michelle, nothing, party, that’s all we have to do here”

    Don’t get me wrong, sports teams and other competitors like dancers etc, also came in. Busy kids, from a parents perspective. Welll…not somuch later on! Once the organized activity was over, they would be back to their “Northfield has nothing for us” and show up in conditions I’m sure their parents weren’t aware of.

    Yes the complaint of the young is as old as the hills, however is truth on this fair city. I made it my business to compare this place to others I have lived in (many,unfortunately). It doesn’t even have the standard of involvement with youth past-times that Compton, Ca or Barrio Logan has with all it’s gangs and fights and drugs (at least when I was there.

    We have a good place to live, but it is only thorough tenacity we can keep it that way. Already considered “South Metro” by the cities!

    There’s no excuse for this. None. We ARE losing kids to jails, institutions and death at alarming rate. We can’t completely stop that,but we must employ all possibilities of investment in our children before any other issue or need is addressed.

    June 29, 2010
  219. Michelle Hawkins said:

    Hey William, one more, I hope not so long-winded thang (lord does this woman ever shutuP?..I know, I hear it all the time..)
    This phrase..”funding had to be prioritized within the overall budget”
    is exactly the problem.
    Flowers and trees and signs and and and bathrooms no one can find unless they are from Northfield, and and and..
    we put our kids behind plants and signs and tee-tee.

    June 29, 2010
  220. Phil Poyner said:

    I agree with William on this one, although he put it much more eloquently than I ever could have. And ever since I was in Haiti in 1994 I’ve never underestimated the value of having somewhere nice to go “tee-tee”.

    June 29, 2010
  221. I’m sorry to hear that there is no skateboard track being built. I guess it’s because of the injuries possible when I look at the national emergency room statistics.

    Couldn’t we do stuff like downhill skateboard races…I have great hill outside my door just waiting for it…the kids know where it is.

    How about a double dutch jump rope contest for the girls? When I was young we jumped and twirled the ropes every day at recess…it’s a gas, can be done anywhere and requires very little equipment. I’ll even provide the ropes!

    What about beach style volley ball? Does everything have to cost a million dollars?
    Don’t you know the best things in life are free, except for Locally Grown, that’s just a drop in the bucket…Griff works tirelessly and I hope you call get off your wallets and purses and drop some dimes in the LGN bucket. And no, I wasn’t paid to say that.

    June 29, 2010
  222. To get back on track, I say don’t close the anonymous lines of communication, becuz if you do, you close another avenue to important information that otherwise may not be heard.

    June 29, 2010
  223. john george said:

    Michelle- Sorry I missed you this morning. I turned off the computer after my last post, and didn’t turn it back on until now. One of my daughters brought over one of our grand-daughters about that time, so it wouldn’t have worked for me anyway. At least I could have responded earlier. Didn’t want you to feel snubbed.

    June 29, 2010
  224. Michelle Hawkins said:

    All, John, Kiffi,
    I did make it the Blue M. this a.m. and ran into Councilman Dennison. We had a chat and I hope that isn’t why anyone else -here- with resentments or whatever, didn’t join in the conversation. Principles before personalities folks.
    I like to have all sides to an issue before I make any decisions, judgements or vote. Or campaign for or against issues and people.

    I am told by more than a few people today that this town, this council, considers the children’s desires a dead issue. That the kids did everything they were told they were supposed to do within the framework presented. They were betrayed by our city. Ames park location was doomed to fail anyway, this town is growing and that area is limited in what I have in mind.
    I’m not dead yet, so neither is the skatepark, and the idea we can also stem the tide of city dope dealer incursion and the lifestyle attached to that.
    And if I must find a group of business investors, buy the property and get it done that way,it’s still going to happen and I will continue to increase the volumn until it is.
    After Mr Dennison left I stuck around outside for awhile where another Gentleman joined me, having heard parts of my other conversations. He grew up here also and clued me in that most people who’ve lived here all their lives, don’t care about the politics of this city. They consider it hopeless in it’s current state. That if this town is changed it is done so by those who come here and haven’t been beaten up the past and present powers.

    I used the very expensive teetee room in The Archer. Struck up a conversation with a mature woman outside there, she tells me this town rots with resentment and hostility in our Council, and certain members she has known since before they were in office lack any real people skills or idea of family or even how to be part their own nuclear family. Said these are the things that dictate what is decided to do in northfield, and she too has given up on any hope of anything better in local government.
    There is more..I would rather have met some of you too, and look forward to lively conversation perhaps in the future.

    Just relaying what I’ve heard in our city, from it’s citizens, even one’s who say they’d have to be truly inspired by someone with respect for others before they’d vote again, and weren’t expecting anyone to ask them about such in their day.
    Don’t you love “man-on-the-street” walking tours?
    weigh in on any or all of this, if you like, I am quite amused.

    All you have to do is ASK and Listen. People have quite a disappointed and occassionally hilarious view of our “Lo-Cal” gov’t.

    I gotta do this MORE!

    June 29, 2010
  225. Michelle Hawkins said:

    Cool Bright! I know about 60 kids that could be right over. They’re gonna want to know how much lighting you have, for after dark. oh and make some icecubes, it gets hot when you’re boarding. Do they bring they’re own music or do you have a bassline?

    No, not being sacastic. I mean every word. Can we count on availability 18/7?

    June 29, 2010
  226. Michelle Hawkins said:

    Bright, I tend to agree with you on this one. I stepped out with my name at NN asap, after the announcement,but it’s only because I have nothing and nobody left to lose. The risk is only mine and what I speak on is worth all to me.

    Other’s have their own reasons,and it’s not anyone elses place to judge their choice in the matter UNLESS the judgement maker has already walked a mile in their shoes, lived the same life and had the same risk to take.

    Communication is the only way we can really know our neighbors, our families, and our town. You can call yourself Bright, or MickeyMouse, what you say willbe just as important to me.

    Threats & abusive comments, negative statements, are also valuable information at times. They let you know where the sore nerves are!

    Be well..

    June 29, 2010
  227. I myself have sometime written anonymous letters in the 21st century in order to AVOID embarassing someone who I thought should have thought about the ideas I was presenting sometime in the 20th century!

    Now when those people see me, they don’t have to think, “oh oh, I better hide my sorry do nothing face.”

    I judge, but I’m kind about it.

    June 29, 2010
  228. Michelle Hawkins said:

    That one, Bright, I completely understand! We all make judgements, much of the time based (atleast for me) on whatever limited perspective we have. Avoiding the knee-jerk and investigating the other perspectives and truth before speaking, is the quality that separates Human Beings from the flesh-based. The mature from the childish.

    Guess how I know that? 😉

    June 29, 2010
  229. Kiffi Summa said:

    OK… I had houseguests yesterday and today, a close relative I had to spend every valuable moment with, so didn’t get to look at this ’til this evening…

    Now, we are all guilty of thread drift at times, and maybe often, but this is a veritable tsunami! why don’t you bring back the skateboard park thread and apply some pressure there?

    Griff… oh, Griff…

    June 29, 2010
  230. Michelle Hawkins said:

    GUilty as charged. I am a sinner. 🙁

    June 30, 2010
  231. Kiffi Summa said:

    Good example going on right now on the NFNews website in the comments attached to the fireworks article, and Norman Butler’s contribution.

    Everyone has an idea, mostly negative, about why Mr. Butler made this contribution at this time, and there are off the wall comments about what loans or other benefits Mr. Butler may have received from the city.

    Whatever loans Mr. Butler received from the EDA/City were passed by the EDA where majority votes rule, and that can’t be passed off with slurs about ‘friends’ etc.

    It is precisely that kind of insinuation, made anonymously, and in such an uninformed manner, is why those comments should not be allowed.

    For the FACTUAL record: Mr. Butler did receive a 20K loan from the City, through the EDA’s downtown revolving loan process. He provided all the information required of him, as well as signing a personal guarantee for that loan ( which is in my estimate unfair as others have not had to do that, and you can’t constantly be changing the rules on these loans if you want to insure equitable treatment for all).

    Some questions: 1. does that mean that no one who has ever gotten a loan can have any other relationship with the city? Obviously impossible…
    2. Should there be any bankers on the EDA since they often have business dealings with loan, or even grant ,applicants?
    3. Should getting a loan from the city, under a proffered loan program , qualify as a “handout” ?

    Many of the comments on this article in the NFNews are nothing but monumental BS, in my opinion, uninformed, off topic, and intended to prejudice the reader

    July 12th can’t come soon enough for me!…. Come to think of it, why did the paper have to wait ’til July 12th to discontinue the almost entirely unmonitored anonymous comments?

    July 1, 2010
  232. Phil Poyner said:

    Yeah, that entire comment thread has been to my mind (and I know I’m understating here) “tacky”.

    July 1, 2010
  233. Kiffi Summa said:

    AND … if you look at not only that thread , but the one about the Mandarin Garden restaurant, it is obvious that these people are so off base,have so little true information, that it is not even valid opinion, IMO; it’s just blather.
    AND good li’l ole fairandbalanced leads the poor ‘children’ through the streets of the town like an evil Pied Piper, spewing destruction, defamation , and outright falsehood with that blowhard trumpet of his… it’s just disgusting!

    I’d really like to know why the News had to wait ’til July 12th to clean up this charade…

    July 1, 2010
  234. Patrick Enders said:

    I suspect that things after July 12 may not be quite as sunny as you hope. We shall see.

    July 1, 2010
  235. William Siemers said:

    Kiffi… Most of the comments (anonymous and otherwise) are positive about Mr. Butler’s fireworks display. Some see other motives, real and imagined. Most people are not idiots. They can tell the difference.

    July 1, 2010
  236. Kiffi Summa said:

    fairandbalanced; you have gone beyond your usual twisted reasoning and are now , once again, approaching outright lying.

    IMO, you have such a need for your perceived “accumulation of power” that you will escalate this ongoing rant of misinformation until the 12th of July … and then it is up for grabs what will happen.

    You have had, and continue to have, extraordinarily supportive and lenient behavior from the NFNews… who have only selectively edited your false accusations.

    I ask: WHY?

    July 2, 2010
  237. Phil Poyner said:

    Because fairandbalanced is artful in the way he phrases his attacks so as to make them less personal. Let me give you an example from my own experiences with NNews…I once submitted a post in which I flat out called someone a bigot. I don’t apologize for it; he was a bigot. But that was deemed a personal attack (because it was!) and it was removed. So I reworded it by restating the bigot’s post in a new way, and then basically called anyone that held those views a bigot. Voila! The post stayed! As I was no longer attacking an actual person but rather the nebulous concept of a person that held similar views(who may or may not exist), I got away with it. Of course, we all knew who I was talking about…just as we often know who fairandbalanced is talking about.

    Yeah, I know it sounds stupid as heck, but I didn’t make up the rules.

    July 2, 2010
  238. Kiffi Summa said:

    The matter of TIFs and the possible decertification of the Downtown TIF district has been front and center… in between fireworks… on the NFNews website for the last few days.

    But today, Ms. Rook, who used to be the City Hall reporter, writes a staff opinion column, apparently with a lot of help from someone whose financial expertise she must value to have quoted multiple times, Jon Denison!

    Now my question is: why would the person/reporter who has the most expertise on matters at city hall quote remarks that I assume she feels contribute to the validity of her article, remarks made by a councilor whose numerous examples of fiscal non-responsibility (multiple evictions and non-payment of rent) have been reported on the front page of the same newspaper?

    This column is so out of whack, IMO, with the material presented in the council packet for this week, that I must believe that pertinent research was not done, and so Ms. Rook’s column must be seen ONLY as the personal opinions of herself, and of course her most quoted source material (?), Jon Denison.

    Oh… maybe it’s a political endorsement…

    July 3, 2010
  239. Patrick Enders said:

    It is a column, and therefore by definition an opinion piece.

    Also, Ms. Rook’s column might’ve better been discussed under one of the two “how do we balance the budget?” posts. It doesn’t seem to have anything to do with anonymous posts, but it does possibly have something to do with fixing our budget mess.

    Our budget deficit is bad enough that all measures need to be on the table, including possibly decertifying TIF’s. (Decertifying TIFs would, for example, probably be preferential to laying off police or fire personnel – if there is actually any revenue to be recovered from TIFs). Kudos to Jon Denison and Suzy Rook for thinking outside the box on this budget issue.

    July 5, 2010
  240. Kiffi Summa said:

    Excusez moi!

    and expanded upon…

    July 5, 2010
  241. Kiffi Summa said:

    I would be interested in opinions on the comments attached to the NFNews article:
    “TIF Districts, Community Survey on Council Agenda” posted 7.6.10:45 AM…
    Let me perfectly clear, I am not at all concerned about the references to me, or to Victor, I will take all that ‘crap’ and think it is clear that people will divide along philosophical lines in their support.

    But, imbedded in that line of comments, up through this AM, are such a list of misconceptions, uniformed attitudes, actual misinformation about downtown properties, who’s on various boards and commission, speculations about motives , etc, and some of these comments may actually prove that the commenter has not been downtown for a year or so… so where’s the validity?
    Are they anything but harmful gossip?

    But the one that really p—– me off, yeah it did, was the one which referenced a former Mayor, in his reading of an organization’s letter to the council, and pretty much engaged in barely disguised ridicule…

    If one of these people gave as much time to the community as that former official has then I’d like to know it… but of course that would require them to speak with their own voice and name.

    Another series of destructive, incorrect, vicious comments , with incorrect ‘facts’, and meant to harm…
    Defending this by calling it ‘free speech’ is to ignore the essence of that principle, established tp protect people from their governments.

    July 7, 2010
  242. Chris Daly said:

    Kiffi, if you are so opposed to anonyomous commenting, why do you have a picture of your hand as your avatar? Seems like you are remaining partially anonymous yourself.

    July 8, 2010
  243. Tracy Davis said:

    I love Kiffi’s gravatar pic, even though it doesn’t fit our original goal (see the post “Put faces to names in the LoGro community“). Brendon Etter was the original bad boy who bucked the “requirements”, but I’ve come around to liking the creativity.

    I’d still prefer to be able to recognize people on the street, but oh well.

    July 8, 2010
  244. Kiffi Summa said:

    Because Griff was insisting on Gravatars/ photos, and I didn’t want my picture taken by him at that moment, preferring to select something myself … but he went ahead and took it anyway, so I went ahead and told him he could use it anyway.

    See how agreeable I am ! 🙂

    July 8, 2010
  245. Kiffi Summa said:

    Yeah… well, feel free to use that one of Paul Niemisto as yourself, cause you don’t have one either…

    July 8, 2010
  246. Kiffi Summa said:

    An open letter to Michelle Hawkins:
    Ms. Hawkins: In a comment written today on the NFNews site, under the name ladyfriend2, but signed Michelle Hawkins-Hazelwood, you wrote this ” The Summas have more time behind than ahead of them; they won’t be the force they think they are much longer”

    IMO, that comment , and your implication of years left to live, is about as far beyond the bounds of propriety as one can get. You, and your cohorts will, I am sure, be delighted that you have really made me angry… because no matter what YOU say repeatedly,I am neither an “angry”, nor a “bitter” person. And those that do know me, as opposed that those who gossip without knowing me, know me to be a very issue oriented person, but not operating in a perpetual “angry” or “bitter” mode.
    I speak to the facts, not the personality.

    Frankly, from only reading what you write, I would think those descriptors might be more accurately applied to you, but ONLY knowing what you write, I would not do so.

    For the record Ms. Hawkins-Hazelwood, in the 10+ years that I have worked on ‘teen issues’ in this town, from the Key Board, to Youth Plus, to Risky Behavior Seminars, to Spotlight on Youth, to frequent appearances at both the Council and the Park Board to speak strongly for the SkatePlaza as well as youth issues in general,writing small checks to the Skateboard Coalition whenever I could, and too many more forums to list… I have NEVER seen you at any one of those venues where there was a public opportunity to support the Youth of this community.

    You’re damn right I’m Mad; I am really angry now, because the heartlessness of your comment today is beyond the proverbial ‘pale’ !

    The irony of your misplaced comments of the Summas as ‘insiders’ is all too well understood by the actual insiders…. it is laughable.
    I don’t own a building downtown because I’m one of the supposed rich who are trying to take advantage of you; I own a building downtown because as two former artists trying to financially survive, we have to supplement our inadequate Social Security.
    And I support the Downtown not because it is to my advantage to do so… actually for the angst it brings, it isn’t to my advantage at all… but for the truth of the matter… that if the core of the town dies, it is nothing but the ubiquitous suburb.

    I applaud anyone with the guts to challenge the status quo, but if you want anyone but a few to listen to you, you better start getting your facts straight, and get involved on a participatory level other than with only your self-proclaimed loud voice/big mouth.

    Kathryn Wolcott Summa

    July 8, 2010
  247. Michelle Hawkins said:

    You’re right, Kiffi. We don’t know each other. I have sent a contact email
    thru LGN to you. I really think we have much in common, despite our differences.
    Consider the request I’ve made thru LGN contact, let’s end this online crew vs crew whatever it’s become, and find our common ground.

    If you’re willing.

    July 8, 2010
  248. Kiffi Summa said:

    Thank you for the offer, but I will decline.

    In this instance, as many others, actions speak louder than words… However, the words you have used, to spur others to take ‘action WITH words’, cannot be easily excused or explained away as ‘just kidding’ or ‘just passionate’ or even just wrong, because it was always so personal… and personal ABOUT persons you knew nothing of … but continued to attack, for whatever your reason may have been.

    I need to spend the rest of my days, which you have so rudely noted may not be many, in ways that I find more productive, and less painful.

    July 9, 2010
  249. Michelle Hawkins said:

    ok, Kiffi. I’ve always kept an open mind to critisizm. Was willing and ready to sit and listen to everything you had to say, in effort to learn from you. Rarely have I learned much from anyone in complete agreement with me, but have gained incredible amounts of insight and wisdom from those with differing perspectives and backgrounds. I live by “A closed mind is fed as much as a closed mouth”.

    My pastor says tomorrow is promised to no man and my physician agrees in my case, so as far as time left, I most likely have less than you. But let’s not race each other on that one.

    I apologize for my part in all of this, that has so sorely affected you. You are right, issues should be the articles of discussion, not harmful intent of people.
    Be well.

    July 9, 2010
  250. Griff Wigley said:

    Received via email:

    A message for registered members of  regarding our new comment policy.

    Effective Monday, July 12, only those who identify themselves by name will be authorized to automatically post comments to the newspaper’s website. Readers who wish to post anonymously will submit comments to a pending queue, where they will be reviewed for approval.

    Members who receive automatic posting credentials will be identified by the same user name now in place, but readers will be able to click on the user name to identify the author. No other information will be visible.

    As a registered member, here’s what you need to know:

    To receive automatic posting credentials:

    1. Visit
    2. Roll your cursor over the “Site Forms” tab in the navigation bar below the weather link
    3. Click on the “Edit Profile” link in the drop down menu
    4. Enter your name and phone number in the appropriate spaces
    5. Click the “save changes” button at the bottom of the form

    A representative from the newspaper will call to verify your request. Once verification is completed, we’ll authorize you to automatically post comments to stories. Please note that we reserve to right to delete comments that are profane, abusive, libelous, off topic or otherwise don’t meet our standards, even if the author is identified by name.

    You do not need to wait until July 12 to update your profile and begin the verification process.

    To continue posting anonymously, you do not need to do anything. At approximately, 10:00 p.m. Sunday, July 11, anonymous comments will fall into a pending queue, where they will be reviewed for approval. Comments will be approved or rej ected within 24 hours of their submission.

    Only those anonymous comments that contribute to the conversation in a thoughtful, respectful, civil manner will be approved. The decision to approve or reject a comment is admittedly a subjective one and establishing firm, comprehensive standards is difficult. But those who identify themselves will be given broader boundaries to express their opinion. Authors of rejected comments will receive an email response.

    Thank you for reading and for engaging with fellow citizens. We hope the evolution of the comment policy encourages even more people to participate.

    Publisher – Sam Gett

    July 10, 2010
  251. […] on Monday, July 12.   There’s been an active discussion by non-anonymous commenters over on Locally Grown about this […]

    July 10, 2010
  252. Scott Oney said:

    Griff: I think the scurrilous Radiofreenorthfield still allows anonymous comments. Do any other blogs of local interest, or is that one the last to do so?

    I’ve been posting at Nfld News under the cleverly disguised name of “ScottOney” (because it seemed as if their software wouldn’t accept names with spaces). But if I got one of these e-mails from Sam Gett, I guess that means the comments were considered anonymous anyway, so I’ll still have to fill out their form tonight if I want to keep posting.

    Now that I think of it, if you got the e-mail you must post on Nfld News too.

    Kiffi: Have you been able to figure out Griff’s alias yet?

    July 11, 2010
  253. kiffi summa said:

    I would imagine that Griff would comment under his own name.

    July 11, 2010
  254. kiffi summa said:

    Hey! I’ve got an offer… I’ll bet a $25.00 coffee card for Goodbye Blue Monday that “fair andbalanced” will NOT give up his anonymous status !

    Really, why should he? he is very often allowed to comment with no relevance to the article his comment is attached to, and his comments are often outside the stated boundaries, but who knows? MAYBE the News will be more strict now.

    Any Takers?

    July 11, 2010
  255. Griff Wigley said:

    Scott, I’m registered there with the username griff.wigley but I can’t remember if I’ve ever added a comment.

    July 11, 2010
  256. victor summa said:

    I’ll take that bet. ALL BET’s are closed!

    If kiffi’s wrong, does she lose $25? If she’s right does she win, and if so, from whom? When and how might she win? Bad bet!

    To protect my family’s treasury, I’m calling her bet, although I don’t know how anyone could prove one way or the other (short of the N News records) who was, is, or might now be masquerading as F&B.

    What with the rising commercial property taxes, the potential threat on MY TIF … I’ve got to protect every dollar. (Joke Ladybug2)

    This ban on use of pseudonyms for the duration of the political campaigns – (probably the best way to avoid threat of Law suit) after the election,will likely allow trollers to come back close to the surface once again.

    I can read it now .. “the great American experiment on public comment, having failed to condemn the practice of questionable commenting, is closed.” The News might even win the Egalitarian Award from their industry’s next self aggrandizing promotion fest

    Other scurrilous contributors over there who seem to have disappeared earlier from that ink blot included a commenter who used “Curious” as its nom deplume.

    Where do the dead pidgins go?

    So what’s it look like on the News’ website today, a desert? A vast sewage treatment plant? One has to wonder why LG’s own P Enders dabbled his toe over there? Questionable associations. Is there a secret Handshake? Do you feel a bit like you’re being scanned at the airport and your privates are clear images? Do most male contributors show up then as not only clueless but also con no cojones? Don’t need a scan to see that.

    Where’s the down-side for les femmes?

    PS to KWS – the problem with the way you framed the bet, is there’s no sunset when Ms FAB might reveal all. Possibly, you can’t win, forever, as the revelation might not be made until … when??? or worse yet, until after your passing (was that prophesied by someone anonymously recently?) Then again, at any moment, someone might fess-up, just to collect the money. What if there’s three takers?

    Bets are closed!

    July 12, 2010
  257. Can a husband legally close a bet that the wife makes?

    Also, and more to the point –

    I wonder if something bad said about someone is more damaging in the mind of the reader if it is done anonymously vs. openly, given the exact same disparaging words are used publicly?

    July 12, 2010
  258. Michelle Hawkins said:

    Victor, I was the one that referred to “passing on” and have offered apologies for such personal comments, and an opportunity to meet in private, at a nonpolitical setting (emmeaus church) to listen to whatever Kiffi had to say. The invitation is open to you also.
    I have been refused that offer of the olive branch.

    We -you, Kiffi, me, may not agree on issues in part or entirety, and we are all entitled to our perspectives. I’ve never learned anything from one who shared the exact same perspective as me.
    Such a sharing, debating, exchanging of life experience can be enlightening for those who engage in it with an open mind and tolerance for a differing point of view.

    I was wrong to hurt personal feelings. Perhaps having “end of life” on my own mind lately influenced my writing in a very offensive way, it’s noexcuse for attack of others.

    I have always searched out the story, the knowledge and wisdom of those with more time spent living than I.

    I can’t say I meant no disrespect, having reread what I’ve written in the comments in question, and putting myself in your and Kiffi’s place, I understand her anger. I make no excuse for my choice of words and was out of line.

    I have been attacked too, many times. At NN, and here.

    I’ve never understood refusing peace and deeper understanding of others,especially if views are opposing. Always thought it was ok to agree to disagree and get on with being neighbors, friends, family, community, whatever.
    I’m coming to the realization that at least here in Northfield, I may be in a minority holding that principle. And that I violated my own standard in regards to you two.

    I am Human. I’ll never be eligible for hanging on a cross.

    We may see each other, on opposing sides of issues,(maybe on the same side of some!) in the future, I just wanted you to know I wish neither you, nor your bride any ill.
    And I’m sorry for any I have caused.

    Michelle Hawkins-Hazlewood

    July 12, 2010
  259. Michelle – The detour this thread is taking is disturbing. Your admittedly hurtful statements, and then when Kiffi expresses her anger, request to meet with Summas and then stating they’ve refused (implying you’re not happy with that)… This seems a classic abuse cycle, hurting another, the “I’m sorry,” the reaching out/pulling in, and wanting to make amends and return to the pre-hurtful state. People are under no obligation to deal with someone who has been hurtful. I wish you would ALL keep it internal, and in your case look at your actions and address the issues that bring you to the point of making such statements about someone you admittedly don’t know (or if you did know, to make public statements like that); and for Summas keep it internal, look at issues that trigger the engagement and to pull back from these interactions. I don’t think this public list is the place to be doing this work. Color me jaundiced and opinionated from too many years of family law and counseling.

    July 12, 2010
  260. Michelle Hawkins said:

    Carol, It was Victor brought my name up, but that’s neither here nor there. I WAS one of the anonymous commenters, then came forward with my name. I DID try to take this disagreement offsite, and am sincere in my apology.
    It’s a well meant standing invitation to the Summas. If there were a possible way to communicate it elsewhere, I wouldn’t be stating it here.

    Your weighing in, while certainly respected, isn’t helpful, and is way off base in regards to the type of person I am.
    It’s exactly the kind of thing I sought to overcome between me and Kiffi& Victor. All of us speaking without correct info about each other, something that has colored BOTH LG and NN in a negative way.

    July 12, 2010
  261. Jane Moline said:


    Interesting question. I think, though, that someone who believes they are anonymous may say something offensive or hurtful or damaging while those that are not anonymous may be more careful in their statements.

    However, I am less likely to read or respond to anonymous comments so I would be more damaged or hurt by comments from a “real” person- partly because if someone is unwilling to take credit for their opinions those opinions must not be very meaningful. So I do not think anonymous comments are meaningful, and I don’t think they deserve publication–on the web or anywhere.

    I do think sometimes it is necessary to remain anonymous–say if you are afraid a teacher will retaliate against your child when you criticize a school policy–but those instances are few and can be identified as such. I remember letters to the editor where names are withheld but the newspaper cretainly knew who sent it.

    July 12, 2010
  262. kiffi summa said:

    Back to # 138… I offered the bet and Victor can’t close it because we don’t have a pre-nup, and either fortunately or un-fortunately… I leave that to the reader … all the dollars in this household come out of one small pot.

    However, it’s No Big Deal… was more in fun than anything… I’ll still honor my offer if anyone come up with an opposition POV.
    Let’s give it a time limit … until August 15th, O.K.?

    July 12, 2010
  263. Jane, do are you saying that when I read a named commenter. I should try to look between the lines (which I don’t do well) or that I should consider that the named commenter is not saying what they really mean, especially in the case of a negative comment? Because if my understanding is correct, I think I’d rather everyone be anonymous provided they were telling the truth, or must I now assume that all anonymous people are lying, unless they are protecting children.

    See, it all just gets a bit too cut and dry for a gray girl like me. Can someone straighten me poor ol’ head out?

    July 12, 2010
  264. john george said:

    Kiffi- I think you have pretty good odds of winning your wager. I wouldn’t want to bet against you, and your last paragraph in post 138 states the reason very succinctly.

    July 12, 2010
  265. If the NN closes up anonymous comments then I wonder what other outlets people have to get their views heard without coming forward with their ID?

    The more rules you have, the more crime becomes an alternative, and the less free we all feel.

    July 13, 2010
  266. Scott Oney said:

    Bright: Radiofreenorthfield still allows anonymous comments, I think.

    July 14, 2010
  267. kiffi summa said:

    Just to counter the accusation that I am against free speech, any one wishing to comment anonymously on NF News articles may visit a site called
    northfieldersanonymous, a wordpress blog which “zoocruz” said would be established.

    July 16, 2010
  268. William Siemers said:

    News now has few comments about anything: “Mission Accomplished!”

    July 16, 2010
  269. If I was going to be anonymous online, I wouldn’t even try to do it, if it was about anything deadly serious. Any online offering can be traced eventually even if it is from the library, or via one of the proxy or anonymizer locations, or an encryption program like TOR.

    To be truly anonymous, and stay that way, you have to let no one else know who you are, where you are coming from and where you are going to be in the future or what your email addy is.

    July 16, 2010
  270. kiffi summa said:

    recent comments by “fairandbalanced” and “ladybird2” attached to “another farewell”in the NFNews are good examples of the incessant pursuit of unrealistic , maybe even totally false perceptions, that are the have the persistent degree of negativity of those they complain about… and it would be just to say that I am adding a third layer in pointing them out. I excuse myself by saying I am pursuing the truth; maybe they do the same… but I think you could prove that is not the case if you could confront some of these ‘anons’ by name.

    And I will speak to Michelle Hawkins, as she has id’d herself as “ladybird2”, and thank you for that, Michelle.
    What bothers me is the incessant repetition of the same accusations, hinted at crimes or misdemeanors, and general social injustices at the hands of some unidentified “clicque”.
    You Michelle, are not victimized in any way by my not wishing to meet personally with you, I explained my reason here, and you accepted that here, although you now seem to feel it was not adequate. As for forgiveness, I don’t see how I or anyone else, can forgive you for a difference of opinion.

    As for the newspaper , I don’t wish for them to go out of business; I most emphatically do NOT wish that.
    I wish for them not to be a venue for personal attacks, off-topic personal comments and insinuations of vague crimes… I think that is beneath a responsible journalistic presentation.
    I wish for them to report both sides of stories that deeply affect this community, and to ask hard questions of our local government units when those questions need to be asked.

    I try very hard to speak my convictions truthfully, and I do it under my own name… regardless of the differing, even critical, opinions that might bring.
    I do not feel victimized by differing opinions, but I do … definitely do think that anonymity is showing a lack of conviction, or a lack of responsibility, to play the ‘game’ fairly.

    July 22, 2010
  271. Michelle Hawkins said:

    The apology I offered was for the hurtfull statement I made whilst expressing my opinion. The apology was then extended to Victor, as I felt it was only right to do so and was indeed sorry for insulting either of you in the way it was done.
    I was ready to leave it at that however apparently your followers(Phil and carol)weren’t. They took up your banner, and I might add, when truly you need no defending. I find you a quite capable woman. Thus the word clique.

    If you click on my username “ladyFRIEND2” (not ladybird2) you will find my name at NN.

    We do differ on things,Kiffi, however I bet we agree on many more. We are alike in at least these respects; we are wordy women of opinion and a sense of fairness, a desire for better in our little part of the world.

    And our approaches at voicing that.. are very similar indeed.

    July 22, 2010
  272. Michelle Hawkins said:

    Kiffi -just a side note, I in NO WAY mean to offend ANYONE WITH, just an observation I’ve commented up front about -here;
    “a venue for personal attacks, off-topic personal comments and insinuations of vague crimes…”
    describes what i have found here at LG quite well and why i started posting at NN shortly after trying the LG venue.

    What i find pleaseantly surprising is that seeing most of Northfield citizenry in the course of my work, at least once a month, many several times a week; the friendly neighborliness and joy all bring to my day and one another’s, is in direct opposition and stark contrast to what I find at both LG and NN.
    Is it that we vent and get on with being Community? Perhaps this is a healthy thing despite our wordy opinions! Maybe because of them?

    July 22, 2010
  273. kiffi summa said:

    Michelle: The comments you make here are related neither in tone nor content to those you make at the NFNews. There you repeatedly bring up, as does “fairandbalanced”, old accusations and innuendo, and you also congratulate “fanb” when he does… telling him he speaks truly and even bravely !
    And so very often, the content of what I will call ‘rants’, on the NFNews site do not even bear relevance to the article they are attached to … so it is very difficult to ascertain what position you actually espouse.
    Obviously, I find that duplicity one of the major problems.

    More on “fandb” and duplicity, later…

    July 23, 2010
  274. Michelle Hawkins said:

    Kiffi- I often disagree with f&b, I don’t take it personally. I have observed you engage in the same as he with bringing up past slings&arrows, innuendo, whatever, and it does READ like it’s very personal to you. That right or wrong, you just can’t stand anyone agreeing with F&B, on anything.

    I could be wrong, I don’t know the history between the two of you, but anyone with only the knowledge ascertained by what they read on both sites, would draw the same conclusion. You hate him with a vengeance.

    Not my concern, my opinions are my own. I agree with SOME of what he says as much as I agree with some of what you say.

    I retain an open mind, and am willing to sit face to face with people, all people, and listen to their perspectives. every person is my better in that I may learn from them. When one writes, the emotion another reads it with can be vastly different than the writer is having or intending to convey, a calmly stated position can be interpreted as a rant. sarcasm and parody are often taken as a position in all earnest. It’s happened to me, and I’ve been guilty of doing it. Thus to me face to face has far more value than what ANYONE, including myself, posts ANYWHERE.

    Perhaps that’s due to my being face to face with much of Northfield on a daily basis.

    July 23, 2010
  275. kiffi summa said:

    Michelle: Please do Not make definitive statements about who I do or do not “hate”; I do not “hate” anyone… It is not for you to make such an assumption and express it in such a definitive tone, as is often done anonymously.

    …but there are persons who’s anonymous comments I find extremely distasteful.

    July 23, 2010
  276. Michelle Hawkins said:

    I did not say you hate him. I said anyone with only what can be ascertained from writings on both sites would draw the same conclusion, that you hate him.

    See? Vastly different.

    July 23, 2010
  277. Michelle Hawkins said:

    By the way, I haven’t changed anything in expressing myself on NN since the anonymous comment policy changed. The only differance between then and now is that I now HAVE to move as a result of a dangerous element identifying me, where I live, and becoming “troublesome” to understate it.

    When anonymous, I had more wiggle room in writing about the reality of living in these apartments. Now I am not safe living here.

    I felt,as you did, that perhaps anonymous commenting had drawbacks so put my name on things. Now I am not so sure that was wise, but in the real world, staying anonymous would have only perhaps delayed this circumstance.

    As a result, I no longer judge those who remain anonymous. I don’t live in their head or hearts, I don’t know what their risk level is, or what they could lose, if they posted their names. I only know what I lost. My sense of safety in my own home.

    July 23, 2010
  278. kiffi summa said:

    Direct quote from #150 : “you hate him with a vengeance”… It’s right there; that is what you said.

    July 24, 2010
  279. Michelle Hawkins said:

    Kiffi- you can parse the paragraph and edit it’s context but you only cheat yourself of it’s meaning, and thus take what is a false read. It proves my point that what a writer may be trying to convey can often be read as something it is not.

    In effort to further understanding just in case comprehension is compromised by one word and/or period due to literary training, here you go:
    I could be wrong, I don’t know the history between the two of you, but anyone with only the knowledge ascertained by what they read on both sites, would draw THIS conclusion; you hate him with a vengeance.
    That is what this writer meant to convey. I apologize for the misunderstanding, it does however, prove the point. A writer’s intention is not necessarily a reader’s understanding. A reader will always bring the emotion and perspective they carry in their mind, heart, and gut, to script before them.

    This high-tech world of blogging, texting, and commenting online has eliminated in many regards the in-person contact that even the Christian figure of Jesus insisted on without needing, before he healed.

    We all misunderstand one another at times, we all have written or said something that others didn’t take right, and we’ve all been the others.
    We don’t all always agree either. That’s why crayola came out with different colors, so contrast and pleasing definition could be achieved in the pursuit of beauty.
    If we operate with closed minds, we all cheat ourselves of one another.
    We can become like the crab that has shaken all the meat off the bone to worry one little ligament, and thus misses the real dinner before it.

    July 24, 2010
  280. Michelle Hawkins said:

    Just to make sure the emphasis is correctly deployed, here is capitalization on what the key part of the thought is
    I could be wrong, I don’t know the history between the two of you, but anyone WITH ONLY THE KNOWLEDGE ASCERTAINED BY WHAT THEY READ ON BOTH SITES, would draw this conclusion; you hate him with a vengeance.

    July 24, 2010
  281. kiffi summa said:

    Michelle: you did not write the phrase as a CONCLUSIVE thought which followed a semicolon; you wrote it as a statement, i.e., a separate sentence.
    You try to make a case for being reasonable here; you write with a completely different tone there.

    Just my opinion: open YOUR mind and accept it as such… no more or less important than your opinion.
    I do not think we are likely to agree on this matter; let’s drop it before we bore everyone else to death.

    July 24, 2010
  282. Michelle Hawkins said:

    You missed the point once again Kiffi. It was an effort for you to understand what my intention was in the writing.
    Periods are used to eliminate the use of run-on sentences. They are not always seperate thought.

    and thus.. the point of comprehension is proven. Particularly when one side must do all the giving/explaining and the other is steadfastly stuck on one tiny ligament taken completely out of context.

    Crab for dinner anyone?

    You are right,you’re never going to accept anything other than your own opinion and what other’s have to say is either wrong if in disagreement with that opinion, or interpreted by you to fit your “controversy du jour” if even slightly in agreement with you.

    Yes kiffi, this must be boring to others onsite. Predictably so.

    Wordy women of opinion, such as we, often are.

    July 24, 2010
  283. Michelle Hawkins said:

    Just one more thing tho – it’s not for you to say what I meant in what i wrote, anymore than it would be for me to say you hate. Which I did not.

    July 24, 2010
  284. Michelle Hawkins said:

    It HAS been nice chatting with you though. Even if we bored the shoes off everyone else!

    July 24, 2010
  285. Barb Kuhlman said:


    Would it be possible to eliminate any posts which are strictly personal in nature, such as these latest posts by Michelle, which actually have nothing to do with any issue? I would like to see any replies which have comments about the person expressing an opinion about an issue, and not the issue itself, discouraged and if possible, deleted. This would include any posts with mind-reading and speaking for another person(“you think, you hate, you feel, you’ll never agree”). Opinions expressed should be about issues, not about other people. When I read this kind of stuff, I want to give up reading this blog.

    July 26, 2010
  286. William Siemers said:

    Barb: I disagree. It’s obvious, but I’ll say it anyway: People have diverse communication styles. These styles are based on many factors: background, experience, class, ethnicity, geography, etc. As you know (whoops), the dissonance that results from the clash of those styles is one of the most common underlying themes in literature, theatre and film. In fact, I’d wager that these little exchanges between Kiffi and Michelle might fit in that tradition.

    Saying (or writing), “You hate; you feel; you think; you know,” may not be common phrases in the discussions in which you engage, but for many of us, if not most of us, they are quite common. Eliminating these ‘mind reading’ phrases would only serve to further limit discussions here to an increasingly narrow slice of Northfield culture.

    July 27, 2010
  287. Barb Kuhlman said:

    William, well of course I disagree. I believe opinions expressed should be about the issues, not judgments or projections about other people’s character, thoughts, or feelings that only the person involved knows. People should speak for themselves, not for others.

    You are absolutely correct that that type of communication is very common. It is also s contributing factor to many divorces and rifts in families and communities. And personally, I find it insulting to the “average person” to suggest that only a narrow slice of Northfield culture can understand the importance of speaking for oneself and sticking to the issues.

    I can certainly ignore anything which Michelle writes, or I can ignore Locally Grown altogether. I wanted Griff to know that if this type of “communication” continues to be allowed, I am more likely to simly not bother reading anything here.

    July 27, 2010
  288. William Siemers said:

    Barb…You said… “I find it insulting”…in regard to a comment of mine. Is this sticking to the issues? Is this remaining impersonal? Is it ok to make such a statement because you avoid the phrase…”You insult”, but make the same point quite clearly?

    I do not criticize your post. It’s fine as far as I am concerned, and your point is well taken. But it strikes me that your comment could perhaps be banned from locally grown under the guidelines you suggest. My point remains that over sensitivity to certain politically correct language can inhibit discussion.

    July 27, 2010
  289. kiffi summa said:

    OK… OK… I think it is simply a difference of opinion ABOUT the ISSUE that underlies the expression of opinion that might be more personal than it should be….
    For instance: I agree with both Barb AND William, i.e., I have sought to discuss this issue of anonymous comments on an issue-based level. However, it is often impossible not to speak about the ISSUE through an an example of what the PERSON says. Maybe that’s too difficult to parse out in what only deserves a casual read… sorry if I am also at fault in trying to deal with a difference in what I see, as a difference, but what I sometime think needs a response… maybe more personal… to a specific action or writing.

    I obviously take this entire subject of anonymous commenting to be mucho more serious than most do, so I may also get drawn in more to its controversy.

    Example for MY ‘bottom line’ : Maybe I’m just way too explicit, but I see a huge difference in saying “I find it insulting” or saying “you insult”…. the first seems to be more about the subject matter, and the second seems to be more a direct comment on another’s behavior.

    July 27, 2010
  290. Michelle Hawkins said:

    Griff- I have no problem with any of my posts being removed… as long a every single comment ever posted here that insulted anyone else for whatever reason, or had the potential to do so,or could possibly be perceived as personal or insulting by anyone anywhere, is also removed at the same time.

    Be broad, all-inclusive of every member, throughout all threads.

    Then take a look at what is left. It’s my guess, the spark of lively dialog, point making, and/or the spirited of differences in ideas, will be gone also.

    Kiffi- I enjoyed our little exchange, I took none of it personally, I found it enlightening and entertaining. To discuss writing, the english language, employ of words, structure of thought, and the myriad of perspectives that contribute to a reader’s comprehension, has always been an engaging topic to me and the circles I am part of.
    Thank you for taking the time out to do so.

    July 27, 2010
  291. Nathan E. Kuhlman said:

    Mrs. Kuhlman, I am afraid I must agree with you.

    One of the things that make LoGroNo worth following as a venue for discussion is its relatively favorable signal-to-noise ratio. Compare this forum with any of the (ugh) discussions on topix or msn or yahoo or usenet. The arguments here are of a higher quality in general; but perhaps most important to the S/N ratio, the moderator usually intervenes against serious thread drift, personal attacks, spam and other problems. I frequently disagree with Mr. Wigley’s judgments w/r/t moderating, but it is the moderating that holds off the descent of this online community into internet anarchy.

    By design there’s meant to be a difference between a chat room and a discussion forum. I think that the tone of recent posts on this thread has become excessively personal, which is a form of thread drift if nothing else. Certainly this opinion will prompt some pithy observations along the lines of “Nobody’s forcing you to read it,” &c. I will hold on to the opinion that such noise is detrimental to the community.

    It’s been some time since last there was any discussion of the *issue* raised by the OP. Mr. Wigley, tear down this ‘blog!

    July 27, 2010
  292. Michelle Hawkins said:

    Nathan-“It’s been some time since last there was any discussion of the *issue* raised by the OP”.
    I would respectfully disagree. The entire content of the recent discussion between Kiffi and i was about an anonymous commenter (f&b), and perspectives of readers, me, kiffi, and others who may read discussions of such people and us. What direction the readers came from, the comprehension levels and interpretations of what is read and how it is colored by their mind, heart and gut.
    Anonimity was very much part of the myriad of perspectives, visceral reactions to such, and educated philosophy on opinions expressed and how they are written or read.

    This “blog” as it has been called, is a very active and quite engaging discussion.
    I care not if Griff takes it down, however do so for the right reasons. If it is removed for insults, real or imagined, ot would dictate a “fairness” doctrine. ALL posts that could insult anyone, anytime, anywhere, with real or imagined affront would then need removing. One must keep in mind that more than a few people seem to become insulted by the very act of disagreeing with them.

    What a very boring place this would be. Not worth the click.

    July 27, 2010
  293. Barb Kuhlman said:

    William, I do not agree that my post would be banned by LGN by the guidelines I suggested. I offered my opinion on a comment (or opinion) you offered. I did not comment on you personally. I did not label you, make any generalizations about you, or tell you what you feel or think. Kiffi gets it. And Nathan and I actually agree on something. Smart guy. (Yes, that is a personal comment, and I would welcome comments that are positive rather than, as Nathan said, detrimental to the community.

    July 27, 2010
  294. kiffi summa said:

    Back in comment # 149, I said “more on “fandb” and duplicity, later…

    I’m finally getting back to it, after wondering how to say it; I guess I’ll just have to come right out with it: Back on July 9, “fair and balanced” wrote a comment attached to the article on “reconsidering community events funding(Updated version)”, on the NFNews website.
    In this comment he/she made a remark about a councilor walking over to the Summas after the meeting,then asked which councilors always voted for downtown interests, then commented on influence, and then said: “Can you say
    Toady ?”

    The importance of this is that there was no one else (aside from Victor and I) but the councilors there at the time, and two other audience members, Mr. McGee and Mr. Engler. Neither one of them is writing anonymously as “fandb”, I can assure you. The live streamed video ended on a shot of the dais with councilor Vohs just starting to stand up, i.e. it did NOT show the remaining audience, and a councilor walking over to the Summas.

    Whoever wrote that comment was either in the council chamber at that moment or had the information passed to them by someone who was there.

    So regardless of who actually wrote that anonymous comment, IF it was a councilor, there is some very bad ‘juju’ going on… and a less than honest, one might say duplicitous, working relationship. I find it hard to believe that a councilor would anonymously work against another councilor, and in a way that is so destructive to the entire working relationship, and IMO undermines the functioning of our elected officials, but I cannot explain this circumstance in any other way. It IS possible that a councilor who has striking differences with another councilor might speak to an acquaintance in such a vindictive manner , and then the acquaintance would write anonymously as “fandb’ but that is very close to being as bad as if it were the councilor doing the writing.

    There has long been a somewhat widely held speculation that Councilor Denison writes as “fandb” because of the way things are reported by that anonymous writer, and the focus on repeatedly bringing up issues which that councilor has felt strongly about, but ‘lost’ in votes. In the past comments have even occurred immediately after the council meeting where there was only the ‘usual suspects’ in the audience, no newspaper report yet, and before the meetings were live-streamed.

    This is obviously a VERY difficult subject to bring up, and I’m sure I’ll get all kinds of blowback … but I think it is also VERY serious.
    If I’m wrong, I’d like to be proven wrong; and I’ll shut up about it, and apologize profusely for my speculation.

    If I’m right about this, then I think the structural dynamics of the City Council need to be considered.

    July 28, 2010
  295. Michelle Hawkins said:

    Wow, Kiffi, If you’re right it brings up all kinds of issues, legal, ethical, and moral.
    That’s a tough piece of meat to chew on!

    You’re correct in treading very carefully and caution is understandable,as if you’re wrong, it opens up the door for tedious lawsuits, however if right, Northfield is open to scandalous publicity on our council. It would be naive to think the nosies attracted to such would stop with Denison, every council member could be scrutinized in a way that regardless of anything found or not, would not be good for our town.

    Again, I say -WoW.

    July 28, 2010
  296. William Siemers said:

    Barb; I think I “get it”: A critical response to a person’s opinion should not refer to that person. It is best that we respond as if the person’s opinion we wish to criticize simply originated in thin air, rather than with that actual person. If this is not possible, then we can change the perspective to the first person and say, for example…”I find it insulting”, or “I consider it hateful”. This keeps things civil, and avoids labeling the person who wrote the insulting or hateful words as insulting or hateful. Those who understand this kind of ‘positive’ language can then draw their own conclusions about whether or not we think that person was, at least in one case, insulting or hateful. As for those who communicate pretty much same thing, but more bluntly, writing for example, “You are insulting when you say…”; we should ban these comments.

    July 29, 2010
  297. Nathan E. Kuhlman said:

    Mr, Siemers,

    The distinction you note, i.e. ‘you insult’ vs. ‘I feel insulted’, has a vaguely PC/psychobabble feel. Still, this choice of language is rooted in the idea of taking responsibility for one’s own internal mental states. For example, I feel insulted by almost everything that you post. There are certain reasons thematic and stylistic reasons why this is so, but the responsibility for my feeling this way lies ultimately with me.

    This differs from the initial shark-jump in this thread (circa post 150). Ms. Hawkins’ assertion that Ms. Summa ‘hates’ so and so is a circumstantial ad hominem attack, against which Ms. Summa has every right to defend. Irrespective of punctuation, the intent is to undermine Ms. Summa’s position by insinuating that she just is a certain way—hateful, vindictive, vengeful &c. I have used this form of attack previously in this forum and been ‘moderated’ for it.

    July 29, 2010
  298. Michelle Hawkins said:

    Online Author Roenain:
    I once had a dream in which I found my long lost poppy dog with some friends from another nationality after missing it for about 2 years or more. When I finally went to collect my poppy, which naturally should have been all grown up, I found out that my dog was still a poppy; same size and all. Not only that but it was full of ticks and could not stand on its own or walk! Apparently, it had been locked up somewhere and deprived of air, light and even food! It was never given the opportunity to grow. Lucky was so happy to see me and I also could not wait to take him away with me. Yet I was also wondering how I was going to carry it away without having the ticks all over my body. I was also worried about re-nourishing him to fit into his dog society. The guy in whose custody my poppy had been was also anxious for me to take away the poppy before his relatives and friends realised that he had dared to keep the poppy in their home by giving it shelter.

    There are 3 parts to this dream. (1) My poppy dog was lost and was being sheltered by a “kind-hearted”, dog-lover; (2) This dog lover and “sweet neighbour” never tried to take care of the poppy dog, let alone show the poppy any love; he never made an effort to understand the needs of the poppy; (3) He was the only person kind enough to take the poppy dog in yet was afraid to offer the poppy its basic need of love and understanding. He could not afford to be seen as “loving and accepting” towards the poppy. He had the good heart to take the poppy in but could not nourish it in any way. Thus instead of the poppy growing up in a healthy manner and in a healthy environment to its full size and potential, it regressed into a filthy and not-so-sociable beast! All these because, the kind poppy-lover was scared that he would be perceived as “not-so-conforming” with the norms of his family and society. He allowed his patriotic feeling to take precedence over human values – or should we say dog values!

    This dream can be used as an analogy to define some of the problems we face in our society today. We have got so many distorted views and expectations of people from different races and culture, we never give them the chance to “grow”; the chance just to be themselves. We do not trust them enough to operate the way we think would be socially acceptable. We expect them to conform to our ways of life. We label them and put them into categories and subsequently expect them to behave exactly in a way that fits the category into which we have placed them. Those who dare to welcome this group of people are also so scared to give them a chance in case they become identified with them. They are therefore willing to give them a chance up to a certain point without necessarily compromising their status in life.

    I’m not the author. He has nailed it though. More than culture and race, it applies to any group, neighborhood, city, whatever, that is subject to employ subtle (and sometimes not so subtle) exclusivity based on expectations without regard to differences and time needed to grow past them or assimilate.

    July 29, 2010
  299. William Siemers said:

    Mr. Kuhlman:

    You say…

    “For example, I feel insulted by almost everything that you post. There are certain reasons thematic and stylistic reasons why this is so, but the responsibility for my feeling this way lies ultimately with me.”

    I’d say, that if I didn’t post, you wouldn’t feel that way. So, in fact, the responsibility for your feeling really ultimately lies with me. Why not just say so?

    It’s in defense of this kind of hair splitting that the unenlightened should have their posts censored? I don’t think people should have to take a course in Northfield Minnesota middle class communication norms in order to post here.

    Kiffi seemed willing and able to take issue with Michelle over her statement. Griff didn’t ‘moderate’ Michelle. Everyone got on with it, until the Kuhlmans propose a solution in search of a problem. Let the posts roll, it will all work out.

    July 29, 2010
  300. kiffi summa said:

    OK… here’s another twist on the Anonymous comments issue: The NFNews had on its website earlier today, an article about the driving cases/ judgements against a challenger to the incumbent 4th ward councilor. It detailed the charges, going back to the person’s college days, and the description of the charges , and the fines assessed, which were all paid.
    I complained loudly, vociferously , on the candidate thread here (comment #16) and sent an email entitled “bias?” to the NFNews, asking them 4 questions relevant to the discrepancies between today’s website article and the one on the 4th ward incumbent which appeared in the paper, July24-5. In that article on the 4th ward incumbent , they mentioned his landlord problems but said they had been resolved… no specifics, no dates, no fines or judgements mentioned… and no payments detailed.

    Here’s the twist on the Anonymous issue: I called the candidate to say that I was infuriated with the newspaper’s bias, and I felt sorry for him having to deal with that unfair situation. He said that when the reporter called him to inquire about the situation, the reporter said that he had gotten a ‘tip’, a ‘comment’, that he felt necessary to follow up on… I wonder if it was an anonymous tip?

    And why was it necessary to follow up on this ‘tip’, when they have never followed up on the incumbent’s path through the courts with like specificity and details?

    July 29, 2010
  301. Patrick Enders said:

    Take a look at Scott Oney’s comment on the News. It will likely solve your little mystery.

    July 29, 2010
  302. Michelle Hawkins said:

    I believe, though could be wrong, that the ‘tip’ was posted in a comment that followed Denison’s article. Not by an anonymous commenter either. Criminal arrests info is easily attained on people through public access databases, and anyone with a desire to really know a candidate’s background, if any, can find it.

    It may well have been the mention of Denison’s Civil matter that brought all this on the other candidates. If anything is implied or boldly stated about one candidate’s past, even though resolved, in the interest of equal reporting, all other candidates are subject to such scrutiny.The news didn’t BREAK the story. It’s a matter of public records.

    July 29, 2010
  303. Michelle Hawkins said:

    The difference is one is a Civil matter, the other is repeated Criminal offenses.

    The similarity is they are both in the past and resolved.

    And many people can identify with one or the other’s,(or both) problems and cheer them on for their desire to be better through service to their community.

    July 29, 2010
  304. kiffi summa said:

    Most people don’t peruse the court records unless they have a reason to do so, and so, IMO, the News DID break the story, and they have never detailed the Denison story in the same way.

    Of course, maybe the length of the Denison case record is the reason, it would be a very long story for the News to give all the same attention to detail on all of Denison’s twelve cases, wouldn’t it?

    July 29, 2010
  305. kiffi summa said:

    Whoops… forgot something… How do you know that Mr. Denison’s civil cases are all resolved, Miichelle?

    July 29, 2010
  306. Michelle Hawkins said:

    I comprehend what I read, if I don’t, I ask questions. I live in Northfield, it’s a relatively small town. I keep my circle of aquaintances very broad. I work in customer service and see most of Northfield many times a month, some many times a week. I talk to people in an inquiring manner and -listen.

    I understand there are some debts (shoot we all have debts), I also understand there are financial income/asset issues. The judge does too and ruled.

    It’s a story many have lived through, and while I have never been evicted, I have had to file bankruptcy many decades ago. I was being harassed terribly for debts incurred by my then husband. It was the only responsible thing left I could do.

    So there will be many who will vote for Denison because of his past issues, as much as there will be those who don’t.

    Concentrating on those only makes this town go through a dirty election process resulting from the inevitable scrutiny that will be brought to all candidates and maybe even non- running incumbants.. and their families. It’s an unfortunate fact of politics I have a great contempt for.

    It will distract from the issues of Northfield as a whole that, in my opinion, are a more important subject matter.

    (So how’d i do , kiffi? I really am trying to fit here and observe etiquette of this new culture for me at LG. I know I’ll never be perfect at it, but am trying to make progress in adapting.)

    July 29, 2010
  307. Michelle Hawkins said:

    Oh, and I guess I’m not most people either, nor are many who I know. They and I cruise court records and Rice county jail racords, and prison databases quite abit. Minnesota is very acommodating in making such available and easy to access.

    With the size and population of all familiar faces, it’s interesting to see who is where, been where, done what, or is accused of what. It also tells the story of the increasing pervasiveness of alcohol and drug abuse.

    July 30, 2010
  308. Michelle Hawkins said:

    oops, wire dying on keyboard is becoming quite a nuisance, first sentance of last paragraph in previous post shoudl read “With the size and population of Northfield being all familiar faces,…”


    July 30, 2010
  309. kiffi summa said:

    I must admit. I am appalled at what you say is general “cruising” of court records. If it doesn’t matter, why do it just to see “who is there… accused of what”.

    Isn’t that a bit like looking in your neighbors windows?

    July 30, 2010
  310. Patrick Enders said:

    Your opinion above stands in stark contrast to the remarkably persistent interest that you have shown in the backgrounds and records of Jon Denison and Al Roder, as examples.

    Why is it okay to peruse (and repeatedly allude to) records of people you are intensely interested in, but not to do so for other people whom we might elect to office?

    Scott Oney presumably alluded to this record when he posted his comment on the News site that started this. He also posted about his searches re: Jerry Friedman during the election cycle 2 years ago. His interest in checking out candidates seems to be consistent in this regard.

    July 30, 2010
  311. Kiffi – don’t be surprised if others use investigative tools that are out there. It’s important to do, though I imagine it could get out of hand.

    Patrick – now I’m curious about Jerry Friedman,nothing there…

    Here’s the link for looking up Minnesota civil and criminal cases:

    Just search names, and if you don’t know exactly, use the “Soundex” option, though a lot will pop up, i.e., Denison v. Dennison, Jon v. John. Middle name helps, i.e., is it Michelle “Marie” Hawkins? Kiffi Summa won’t show up, and I don’t remember if it’s Katherine, Catherine or Kathryn.

    To look at a particular file, click on the link that will be displayed on the left. But what is there doesn’t always represent reality, there’s no “click here for the rest of the story” option. My “Junk Ordinance” was a bizarre occurrence between neighbor and my dog. My file about county taxes shows after clicking the case link that the judgment has been satisfied. That’s all it takes to tell if a matter has been “resolved” or if it’s still hanging.

    I check this often, if I’m thinking of getting into an intense case, it’s a matter of course part of an initial investigation, and I want to have some background both on the other side and of my client (clients aren’t always honest about prior convictions). A google search is also pretty basic, but careful, credibility can be dicey. In this computer age, it’s stupid not to check on people you’re dealing with, i.e., I sure don’t want to use an engineer as an expert who’s got a record as a child sex offender! And for sure I checked out Alan’s arrest record thoroughly, and it’s quite extensive, being arrested at Gov. Minner’s inauguration, for putting up a “No swimming” sign warning that Wilmington sewer dumps directly into the river, at a mall on “Buy Nothing Day,” on and on and on…

    July 30, 2010
  312. kiffi summa said:

    Patrick: once again you disagree with me on a personal level as to who I support vs. who you support. It is clear you support Mr. Denison; that’s fine for you; it is clear I do NOT, and that’s fine for me.

    I do not repeatedly peruse Mr. Denison’s court records ( or indeed anyone else’s) ; I do allude to them as it is pertinent to do so in my ongoing quest for some … I’ll just say … ‘better’ journalistic practices from the NFNews.

    ***To this specific issue: On the day of the forum, the News prints a detailed record of a challenger’s driving offenses going back to 1991 when he was in college; detailed to the points of specific charges, blood alcohol levels, fines and his payment (resolve) of those fines.

    The NEWS has never printed that sort of DETAILED information about Mr. Denison’s record, and indeed I don’t believe ever mentioned his hospital debt at all.

    In their July 24-5 article about the incumbent they say: “He’s been sued by former landlords who say he owed them rent when he moved out. Those issues have since been resolved”.
    NO details including number of cases and charges, NO fines, NO judgement dollars, NO details of the ‘resolve’.
    **Note the use of the word “say” with reference to the landlords’ charges, and the indeterminate phrase “have since been resolved”.
    It would seem impossible to make an argument for equal treatment..***

    (Also, I don’t find your assessment of Mr. Oney’s ‘consistency’ valid either or else he would be checking, and reporting on ALL candidates in the same manner. Maybe he has, but obviously not at the same time to offer a fair comparison. But that is aside from the NFNews issue)

    My issue here is not Mr. Denison’s record, well known as it is; it is the, IMO, widely unbalanced coverage the NFNews displayed between the incumbent , and one of his challengers.

    I will continue to ask, WHY?

    July 30, 2010
  313. kiffi summa said:

    Carol: what surprised me was not that a person would check court records of someone they had a specific conflict with , but as Michelle Hawkins says in 163.2.2 just “cruising” court records for the reasons she gives..
    Sorry, but I find that totally bizarre…

    I haven’t looked at Alan’s arrest records that you refer to, but I’d be willing to bet, from the examples you give, that they are in the realm of productive ( and protective of the citizenry) civil disobedience. Go, Alan!

    P.S. It’s Kathryn Wolcott Summa… yeah, OK… I’m so old I have my husband’s last name! and its not even hyphenated with mine.

    July 30, 2010
  314. Michelle Hawkins said:

    Carol -Wanna look me up,? My full name is Michelle Lorraine Hawkins-Hazelwood.

    July 30, 2010
  315. Michelle Hawkins said:

    Carol- P.s. You will find that I have no criminal record,my last traffic ticket was decades ago on vacation in another state and was dismissed.
    Wanna do an all-state? I was arrested for “illegal camping” in another state, decades ago, when involved with activism for the homeless. Also a related Disturbing the peace, tho can’t remember whether that was before or after the illegal camping infraction. (it was against the law to even sit on the sidewalks or sleep in public including parks in the daytime)
    I have been involved in a custody battle where I had a protection order repeatedly put on the father of my child for 6 years. He violated that order and northfield police were called. Don’t know if that’s part of public record, but have at it.
    I don’t drink or do drugs, I abide by all laws, including speed limits(often to the great consternation of those behind me on Hwy 3!

    Be my guest, I am not afraid of my past.

    July 30, 2010
  316. Michelle Hawkins said:

    Kiffi- When one is interested in addressing the drug/alcohol problems and the associated crime that goes with it, in their community, on a one to one or even community basis, it is a great aid to “cruise” the sites that can provide background and statistics.

    July 30, 2010
  317. Michelle Hawkins said:

    Oh yeah -Carol, while I haven’t been evicted, I HAVE sued a landlord for return of my deposit. He didn’t think he was liable because he had just bought the property.

    July 30, 2010
  318. Phil Poyner said:

    How far is all this going to go? Maybe prescriptions are next? I can see it now; “Oh, Council member X is on Prozac…not good. And Council member Y…Viagra? You old dog, you!” Hey, it’s not like things aren’t tacky already.

    July 30, 2010
  319. kiffi summa said:

    Agreed , Mr. Poyner…. I don’t agree with “cruising” court records. Statistics are available ; court records are facts,not organized statistics.

    I do NOT want everyone’s records perused; I just want the NFNews to report fairly on the situations they are already aware of, rather than digging around, and coming up with records of a challenger, against an incumbent (who I think the News cuts a lot of slack for) and then printing that on the day of the candidates’ forum…

    And then to top off their IMO ridiculously obvious bias, having the nerve to say that no other candidates had enough violations, or serious enough violations, to report !
    Whew, That’s just unbelievable, considering even the small PARTS of Mr. Denison’s record that they have discussed in the past.

    It is NOT about Mr. Denison’s record; it IS, in my opinion, all about Bias.

    July 30, 2010
  320. Patrick Enders said:

    Jerry was a plaintiff in a lawsuit in California which Scott found interesting. Scott posted about it here on LGN, and Jerry (Jerold) answered about it here.

    July 30, 2010
  321. Michelle Hawkins said:

    If a person lives in a drug infested,alcoholic ridden apartment complex and also works on a one to one basis with such while at the same time receives threats as a result of that volunteer work and their work with battered women on the same one to one basis, can you not think of any reason therefore to know who is or was in jail,for what, who’s hitting bottom and so ready for a hand up, or a potential hazard to your safety and that of others around you?

    The info is amazingly helpful.

    July 31, 2010
  322. Michelle Hawkins said:

    As far as Mr Denison and past records of those serving or wishing to serve in public office, I think the public is smart enough to judge for themselves rather than rely on only what they find in a newspaper, for their votes.
    Bias will always exist, in everybody and all reporting institutions. Whether NN has it for one councilmember is not for me to say. I found much more on Denison’s past than any other candidate in the NN. Many articles spanning a goodly amount of time, which would serve to keep it on the minds of readers more so than one article on Gehring would have, had people not cried foul and/or bias, and caused a flurry of more interest.

    July 31, 2010

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