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?

338 thoughts on “Anonymous comments on the Northfield News website”

  1. 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.

    1. 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.

      1. 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.

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

  2. 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.

    1. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

    1. 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.

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

  5. Griff,

    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.

    1. 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.

      1. 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.

    2. 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!

  6. 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.

    1. 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.

      1. 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.

      2. 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.

      3. 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.

      4. 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.

  7. 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.

  8. 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.

  9. 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.

  10. 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.

  11. 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.

  12. 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?

  13. 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.

    1. 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.

      1. Whoops… forgot something… How do you know that Mr. Denison’s civil cases are all resolved, Miichelle?

    2. 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?

      1. 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.)

      2. 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.

      3. 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,…”


      4. 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?

  14. Kiffi,
    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.

    1. 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?

  15. 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…

    1. 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.

      1. 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.

      1. 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.

      2. 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.

    2. Carol,
      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.

  16. 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.

  17. 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.

  18. 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.

    1. 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.

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