A Tale of Two Cities: former Northfield City Administrators are in the news

Al RoderI got an email tip this morning that former Northfield City Administrator Al Roder is in the news. 

In today’s Omaha World-Herald:

Norfolk city admin. out of a job?

Mayor Sue Fuchtman has called a special meeting of the City Council Thursday to consider terminating the employment of Al Roder, who was hired two years ago.

Former Northfield City Administrator Scott Neal was in the Sept. 1 Strib:

Edina picks Eden Prairie’s boss

Scott NealEdina has picked the city manager of neighboring Eden Prairie to take its top city management job. Now it’s a matter of making a deal. Edina’s City Council voted unanimously Tuesday night to offer the position of city manager to Scott Neal, who has been Eden Prairie’s city manager since 2002. 

12 thoughts on “A Tale of Two Cities: former Northfield City Administrators are in the news”

  1. I’m hoping that KYMN and the Northfield News contact former Northfield Mayor Lee Lansing and former Police Chief Gary Smith for a reaction to the news about Al Roder.

    Lansing’s misconduct and conflict of interest trials should happen this fall in Steele County and they might involve testimony from Al Roder. More at:



    This could be an interesting autumn!

  2. Norfolk Daily News: Council tables termination of administrator

    The Norfolk City Council on Thursday tabled Mayor Sue Fuchtman’s request to fire City Administrator Al Roder. The unanimous vote followed a two-hour executive session. After reconvening in public session, Fuchtman announced there would a resolution of the issue at the next council meeting on Monday.

    Both the mayor and Roder, who had their attorneys, as well as the city attorney, sitting in on the council’s executive session, declined comment after the meeting. No reason has been given for the proposed termination of Roder’s 2008 employment agreement with the city.

  3. Omaha World-Herald: City admin likely gone – for $75K

    An agenda packet prepared Friday morning contains a proposed agreement that says Roder would voluntarily resign, effective Dec 1. The city would pay him $12,500 a month for six months and continue insurance coverage for Roder and his family. He also would agree not to sue the city. Roder would have up to 21 days to decide whether to accept the terms.

    The agreement apparently was outlined during the council’s two-hour executive session Thursday to consider Mayor Sue Fuchtman’s request to fire Roder. After the council emerged from the closed session, it voted to table consideration of the matter. The mayor then said the issue would be resolved at Monday’s council meeting. Her statement:

    “I want to let you know there was a good discussion that was carried on in that room, and I think probably the most important piece of this puzzle is, I want to maybe take care of some of the rumors that have come out and some of the publicity.

    “Certainly the proposed termination of our city administrator was not for just cause, and certainly the integrity of the city administrator has been one of great admiration, I think, by all of us, as far the council goes. With that being said, there will be resolution reached Monday evening.”

    Same story with a little more info on the Norfolk Daily News site:

  4. Norfolk Daily News: Council OK’s severance pact with Al Roder

    The Norfolk City Council unanimously approved a severance agreement Monday with City Administrator Al Roder, who will stay on the job until Dec. 1. Neither Mayor Sue Fuchtman, who sought the resignation, nor Roder commented on a reason for the termination.

    Roder has signed the agreement, which was finalized during a two-hour executive session last week. He will receive $75,000 and continued insurance benefits for six months after he leaves. He also agreed not to sue the city.

    1. Maybe one of our lawyer friends can answer this question: Is there such a thing as something like municipal termination lawsuit insurance? It seems to me that many of these terminations end up being settled simply because doing so is cheaper than the cost of litigation (even when the municipality wins). Now, I don’t have a problem with an employee defending him/herself in court when they believe they have been wronged. But I would like to see municipalities actually face a court challenge when they believe they are in the right, and I don’t like the cost of a court battle being the most heavily weighed factor in determining whether to do so or not.

      1. Couldn’t agree with you more, Phil.

        Our council was advised, by their own legal counsel at the time, to pay up to avoid the threat of litigation… and they swallowed the bait, hook line and sinker. And because the majority of that counsel was on Roder’s ‘side’, they entered into an agreement to continue paying his legal fees, and have been doing so, for anything related to his leaving NF.

        It was personality politics, and it has cost this city dearly.

        It appears to be a lesson cities have a hard time learning; this is the third repetition of a pattern, and Northfield was warned by Denison, Iowa… and Norfolk should have been warned by Northfield’s experience.
        Maybe Mr. Roder has God on his side! Will anyone ever forget the prayer group in his office during Council meetings?

      2. Kiffi, I certainly hope Norfolk NE get a better deal than that!

        I know Faribault has had a couple of high profile termination settlements this last year, one with a police officer that cost the city $130,000, and one with a middle-school principal that cost the city $40,000. One of my problems with these types of settlements is that, for the most part, they are sealed. I know the intent of non-disclosure is often to protect the employee, but in some cases it protects the employer as well. When that employer is an elected official, or an administrator-level person appointed by elected officials, then I think the electorate is best served by knowing whether those officials are “behaving badly” when it comes to city business. After all, do we really want to re-elect someone that treats an employee (or other entity) so badly that they set the city up for a well-deserved lawsuit? Do we really want to re-elect someone that would hire people that would do the same? Some might answer those questions differently than me, but I think all would benefit from having all the relevant information. At least with a public court case that information would be revealed.

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