Psst… an almost-secret meeting at City Hall tonight!

Late last week the City website put up notice for tonight’s  Green Step Cities Presentation meeting.  The notice doesn’t say what it’s about, who it’s for, who’s making the presentation, or anything other than the place and time, which is unfortunate because it may be of interest to citizens.

The Minnesota Green Step Cities program is a State-sponsored program described as  a voluntary program for all Minnesota cities to identify, support, and recognize implementation of a set of sustainable development best practices focusing on greenhouse gas reductions that lead cities beyond compliance and encourage a culture of innovation.

The program is new and will be available this summer;  the purpose of the presentation is to inform the City Council about the program. Tonight’s presentation will be made by Phillipp Muessig of the MPCA.

Since the program’s “best practices” have many implications for land use, I’ve encouraged my fellow Planning Commissioners to attend as well, even though we were not notified/invited.  (I don’t know why not. )

The meeting is tonight (Monday) in the Council Chambers from 7-9p. Wouldn’t it be awful if “too many people” showed up?


  1. kiffi summa said:

    This is a program which CCouncilor Zweifel has been talking about for some time; she believes it offers a good format on which NF might base similar policy, if not accepting the program as is.

    It seems that CCouncilor Zweifel has had a hard time getting this into the mix, and I have theories, but no facts as to why that may be.

    It’s too bad this is being presented as a standalone meeting, rather than at a council work session,(there is a work session tomorrow night) which would then grant it the prominence and wider dissemination that the KYMN broadcast and archive would allow it to have.

    May 24, 2010
  2. Thank you for covering this Tracy. Here is a little more information about the GreenStep program. The best practices for cities are divided into five categories; land use, lighting and building, transportation, environmental management, and economic and community development. These best practices are designed to focus on energy efficiency and cost savings that will lead cities beyond compliance and encourage a culture of innovation. I would encourage you to check out the MN GreenStep cities website and come to our meeting tonight.

    May 24, 2010
  3. kiffi summa said:

    Hey! Good for KYMN… This wasn’t announced as a “special” council meeting by the city’s meeting schedule, except with the usual disclaimer about if a quorum turns up…
    So what’s the deal with KYMN? are they just broadcasting all meetings that occur in the Council Chambers, or how are they choosing? or who chooses which will be covered?

    I remember the contract being for all Council meetings,Planning Commission and EDA; but the EDA was not televised last week… maybe because that was a special meeting.

    Will this Thursday’s EDA meeting be covered? That would be good, so that people can actually see what happens if they are interested.
    The NFNews reporter almost always speaks only with Staff, or former EDA Pres. Estenson, after the meetings, so it’s not exactly a well rounded report from the paper.
    It’s also rather bizarre in that the newspaper wrote an Editorial about the Key property supporting the ‘one’ in a 6-1 vote, but would never quote the ‘one’ in an article.
    Bias, anyone?

    Excuse me, I digress…

    May 25, 2010
  4. Tracy Davis said:

    Kiffi, the agenda item on the work session tonight that was listed as “communications policy” was really “Which board/commission meetings will be subject to video recording for live streaming?”

    The conclusion was that it would be limited to the boards and commissions with statutory authority, i.e. the Planning Commission, EDA, and HRA. It wasn’t clear when this would begin, but it’s my understanding from talking to Jeff Johnson that the City Council had to make a policy decision before things would move forward. Looks like that’s been done now, so we’ll see about Thursday!

    May 25, 2010
  5. kiffi summa said:

    Who you talkin’ to, Babe? I was there, remember? Had to sub for Jane mcWilliams/LWV observer duties.

    Actually it’s not settled quite yet; the Council agreed that the statutorily mandated Boards, in addition to the Planning Commission, should be the first added to the Council broadcasts, but there is an issue with having a staff person at each of those who can run the camera equip (as opposed to having a fixed camera on the dais). So some staff time/$$ questions, and then should those meetings that are live streamed also be put on DVDs for cable broadcast at later times on NTV. (Ms Reeder says two different technologies which do not at this time interface).

    No kidding: issue of ‘stagefright’ also brought up: would people not want to be on a Board/Commission that was broadcast?

    Mayor Rossing said “dress up” (jokingly?)… (alert to councilperson who wears KISS t-shirts to Council meetings; Ms. Pownell asked for a “Code of Conduct”… (alert to any number of people!)


    May 25, 2010
  6. Tracy Davis said:

    Sorry, Kiffi, after I made the comment I realized that you were there and heard the whole thing…

    but, MAJOR THREAD DRIFT ~ the City really needs to review the issue of the equipment/cost argument.

    If they’re talking about someone in the front who can switch views, I get that they have to have a staff person there; although it doesn’t seem exactly “extra”, since there’s already a staff person taking minutes at the meetings. (At Planning Commission meetings, Sandy Bremer does the minutes and flips the camera switches. She’d be there to take the minutes whether she was flipping camera switches or no.)

    If they’re talking about whomever it is that they’ve contracted with who drives an hour one-way from somewhere like Belle Plaine in order to unlock the back equipment room and let the KYMN radio people in there, there’s probably room for cost savings. Tim Freeland from KYMN knows quite well how to run the equipment; I can’t believe the administration can’t develop an authorization process to let him have access to that room, in which case there might not be any additional staff time involved at all.

    Questions must be asked!
    .-= (Tracy Davis is a blogger. See a recent post titled Monday roundup) =-.

    May 25, 2010
  7. kiffi summa said:

    Yes… AGREED… Questions must be asked, always.

    But you must also agree that the Council did wade into a big policy discussion area re: communications, and that is very good… and it is not so simple as to be resolved in one discussion.

    May 26, 2010
  8. Tracy Davis said:

    I admit to being a little confused by the discussion. Apparently the “communications policy” agenda item was specifically about which b/c meetings to stream, but I really couldn’t understand where the rest of the conversation was going.

    The City is already doing the bare minimum it needs to do to satisfy legal and regulatory requirements for public notices, etc. Was the discussion about “What other methods or tools should we use to augment or enhance the baseline communication we’re already doing?” Or was it “What *more* should be communicated than we’re currently doing, and what methods should be used to do so?”

    Oh well. I hope this council makes it clear to city staff that they don’t want Northfield to remain a provincial backwater, technologically speaking. At the very least our hiring processes from this point forward should include a technological literacy test.

    May 26, 2010

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